Quite often I read books about how people lived generations before I was born, especially in a diary or memoir format. It was, therefore, to my delight to stumble upon this local book compiled by Thunder Bay resident, Irene Winslow. In just over 100 pages, Ms. Winslow gathered stories from many residents of the Thunder Bay and surrounding region about what life was like in the 1920s-1940s. There were quite a variety of stories since the storytellers were from all over- some from either Fort William or Port Arthur, some from the townships in the outlying areas, others originally from different provinces. Regardless of where each person was from, each story was interesting and provided a new way of looking at my city and what life was like in Canada in general during that time.
The book is divided up into chapters on different topics- winter, summer, Christmas, school days, etc. How each storyteller experienced these various things largely depended on where s/he was living at the time. For example, rural farm kids in summer were busy working very hard while city kids in Fort William had a fair amount of leisure time! Also, “city” kids at that time were a lot more likely to attend high school since transportation wasn’t as big of an issue.
There are some commonalities between the storytellers though: the biggest one I noticed being the Christmas season. All of the storytellers remarked that during this time they usually got one gift, and most of the time it was a practical gift such as warm clothing. As I read more articles about how many Canadians blow their budget around this time of the year, I really want to learn from these storytellers about simplicity and appreciating every possession and not coveting material goods. After all, things do not equal happiness.
In all, I really enjoyed this local book and look forward to seeking out more like it. I encourage everyone to read about their own local history; there is a lot to learn from the people who lived before us.