Monday, June 12, 2017

Mennonite background & YesterCanada

The following article about my Mennonite background & my book YesterCanada appeared in QC [Regina Leader] & Bridges [Saskatoon Star Phoenix] Feb 10, 2017.




“Who wants to move to Canada?” asked my grandfather, Jacob Peter Martens. He glanced around the table at his wife and five children. Were they willing to leave their familiar Mennonite village in Russia and sail across the Atlantic to the new land?


“Yes, Canada!” the children said. Their mother shook her head. The majority won and the Martens arrived in Saskatchewan in May 1926. At first, they lived with relatives in the Swift Current-Herbert area. Later, they settled in the Elbow-Loreburn area, where I was born and grew up.


Life in the new land was challenging, but my relatives’ prevailing attitude was “Yes, Canada!” That’s my attitude, too. Love for this country and its history inspired my new book YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure.


Published by Borealis Press of Ottawa, the book presents 30 historical tales spanning this great land and the centuries from the 1200s to the 1900s.


Some of the mysteries in YesterCanada involve eccentrics whose motives puzzle people to this day. One was a Finnish farmer who built an ocean-going ship near Macrorie, Saskatchewan, far from any ocean. Another was a hermit obsessed with the beauties of Niagara Falls.
Elma (Martens) Schemenauer, author of YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure.


Other mysteries in the book involve the supernatural, or seem to. For example, who rang the chapel bell in Tadoussac, Quebec one foggy April night in 1782? What mysterious power told an Atlantic Sea captain to change course and “sail to the nor’west?” Who put a jinx on Alberta’s lost Lemon Mine?


I’ve always been interested in faith, values, and the adventures they inspire. Stories in YesterCanada that especially reflect such themes include “Dr. Elizabeth of Onion Lake, Saskatchewan,” “A Nova Scotia Noah and His Ark,” “Lily of the Peace River,” and “Abigail Becker, Heroine of Lake Erie.”


I’m also interested in animals. Among those in the book are Manitoba’s haunted horse, the ten-armed monster of Newfoundland, and the camels of British Columbia’s Cariboo gold rush.


The narratives in YesterCanada are based on Canadian history, biography, folklore, and Aboriginal traditions. The bibliography in the back of the book lists my sources for each story.


YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure is a 248-page paperback with 30 illustrations, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-88887-650-8. Ask for it in a store or library. You can also order it online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo, or Borealis Press. For more information, please visit .






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