Saskatchewan-born author Elma Schemenauer is ready to release her new book “YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure”.
The new book, her 77th published book, has taken nearly a lifetime to work on.
The new book contains 30 historical tales spanning from the 1200s to the 1900s.
The stories spread across the country and include tales from multiple cultures found in Canada.
“I really wanted to make sure I represented as much of Canada as I could,” Schemenauer told the Advance Times in a recent interview.
The stories and tales told in “YesterCanada” are ones of adventure and mystery solely unique to Canada.
One such story that fascinated Schemenauer is that of Lady Agnes MacDonald, wife of Canada’s first prime minister Sir John A. MacDonald.
Schemenauer says she was absolutely amazed by the strength Mrs. MacDonald had.
“She was traveling across country by train and while she was in the mountains she was frustrated she couldn’t see the view,” Schemenauer details.
In order to see the view she strapped herself to the cow catcher at the front of the train and spent the ride through the mountains enjoying the views that way, according to Schemenauer.
She says mysteries intrigue her but it isn’t always the “who done-it” style like how Canadian painter Tom Thompson died.
She is also greatly moved by the mystery of people; why they do something or how their brain works.
“Take Tom Sukanen for example. He built a ship because he wanted to return home to Finland. Why did he build a ship in the prairies instead of buying a ticket back home?”
Schemenauer collected these stories and bits of history over the years while she found a way to be a writer, a life-long dream for the girl from Elbow, Sask.
Not knowing how to accomplish her dream, Schemenauer packed up and moved to Toronto after graduating from the University of Saskatchewan and working as a teacher, where she eventually found a job at a publishing house.
While working she would often come across various stories and bits of history that stuck with her and fascinated her.
“They stayed with me for years. I would research and interview people about each tidbit I came across until I felt I had the story,” Schemenauer said.
Eventually she began to travel across the country along with her husband to visit the sites of these stories.
Schemenauer believed it was important to actually see the place where the story takes place, to breathe in the air and feel the ground.
Her love of Canada, which began at an early age from her Russian Mennonite immigrant parents, grew as she studied the histories behind each story that drew her attention.
“I chose each story because they were interesting to me. I don’t want to write something that I don’t find interesting.”
Schemenauer says she believes anyone who loves Canadian history or a good mystery or adventure story will love her new book.
“YesterCanada” will also give the reader a sense of what Canada’s forebearers went through on the journey to make the country what it is today.
“I love Canada and its histories. I hope others will feel the same way.”
“YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure” is available online through Chapters Indigo, Amazon.ca or from the publisher Borealis Press for $19.95