Friday, September 9, 2016

Saskatchewan history & historical literature

SASKATCHEWAN HISTORY & HISTORICAL LITERATURE: I enjoyed speaking on this topic in Humboldt, Saskatchewan on August 31, 2016. Here's the Humboldt Journal article about the event:

Page 3 Humboldt Journal
September 7, 2016

Schemenauer brings her book to Humboldt

By Christopher Lee
Journal Reporter

Humboldt got a small history
lesson on Aug. 31 when Elma
Schemenauer came to the Reid-
Thompson Public Library.
Schemenauer brought her book
Consider the Sunflowers to the
library for a reading and while she
was there she spent some time going
over the history of Saskatchewan as
well as Humboldt.

“I’ve done a lot of writing about
history in the past and I just love it.
I like to share it and I’m also very
interested in literature so historical
fiction is interesting to me. I just
wanted to share that with people,”
she said.

Schemenauer started her presentation
in 1692 when fur-trader
Henry Kelsey became the first European
to explore Saskatchewan
and moved through time touching
on Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché
becoming one of the first missionairies
in Saskatchewan in 1846, the
Louis Riel-led rebellion in 1885,
the promise of free or cheap land in
Saskatchewan in 1885, the landing
of the Schemenauer family near
Humboldt in 1902, and continued
on touching on the war, and the
Depression among other events.

The presentation was specially
created for her show in Humboldt,
says Schemenauer, but added
that she would very much like to
continue giving the presentation to
other communities as well.

Schemenauer’s book is about a
woman who lives in Vancouver,
which she enjoys very much, but
makes the decision to move back
to Saskatchewan to marry her
boyfriend. Once moved back she
discovers she does not enjoy
country living nearly as much as
she expected.

The book took Schemenauer 14
years to write and is based loosely
on her parents, she says.

Reid-Thompson Public Library
Librarian Rose Ward says the book
provided a great insight into the
lives of pioneers including their lack
of medicare, the terrible weather
they faced, and the everyday things
we take for granted today.
“They persevered, they just kept
going and they were happy.”

Bringing Schemenauer to Humboldt
made a lot of sense, says
Ward, because of her connection to
the Humboldt area, having grown
up in Elbow, and having married
into the Schemenauer family from

Ward was very pleased with how
the reading went noting that she
saw an entirely different crowd than
are normally at the library's book

“That’s good to know that there’s
other faces in the community that are
willing to come to the library and
listen to readings.”

Seeing all those faces meant a
great deal to Schemenauer as well
because as a writer she notices how
lonely it can be at times.

“You sit at your computer day
after day all by yourself just inhabiting
with people in your mind
They’re totally imaginary or partly
imaginary… it’s worth it when you
can talk to people about your work
and have them be interested.”
Schemenauer says it makes all
those hours at the computer worth

The next book reading will be
held at the Humboldt & District Gallery
on Oct. 3, when Mary Harlkin-
Bishop brings her Tunnel of Time
series to town.


If you're interested in my 1940s-era Saskatchewan Mennonite novel Consider the Sunflowers, please note it's available in some libraries including the one in Humboldt. It's also available in stores including:
* The Whimsy Store, Saskatoon, SK
* Station Arts Centre, Rosthern, SK
* Back Home Bakery, Elbow, SK
* Galloway's Pharmacy, Central Butte, SK
* Chapters, Kamloops, BC
* University Bookstore in Kamloops, BC
* House of James, Abbotsford, BC
Or order from Chapters Indigo online, or the publisher, Borealis Press, . More information at .



  1. Elma Schemenauer is thorough in her research. I recently attended a lecture on Mennonite history which she presented in the Abbotsford, BC public library. Suddenly she showed a slide of a Mennonite Church in Oita, Japan, which she had picked at random from the internet. "That's our church!" I cried out. My husband and I started that church in 1967. She stopped her presentation and asked me to share my story. What a gracious lady! Mary Derksen