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Jane L. Aberson
Regina, Canadian Plains Research Center, 1991. 177pp, paper, $18.00
ISBN 0-88977-064-6. CIP

Grades 8 and up/Ages 13 and up

Reviewed by Charles Ottosen.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

Diaries or letters to home can be quite tedious, if not downright boring. However, every so often a writer is discovered who knows about how to write as well as what to write about. Such is the case with Jane Aberson, who wrote the letters that appear in this book.

Born in the Netherlands in the early 1900s into financially comfortable families, Bob and Jane Aberson were married in 1921 and then immigrated to Canada in 1924. With no farming experience, the Abersons settled on a farmstead in Manitoba just as the Great Depression was set to begin.

Starting in 1929 Jane Aberson began writing letters about their experiences on the farm back to her home town in the Netherlands, where they were published in the local newspaper. The letters became a major attraction for the newspaper.

The letters give a feel for what life was like on a farm in the "Dirty Thir­ties." While not a technical treatise on farm life, they explain enough of the day-to-day routines to show the joys and frustrations of the life they were living. Although great difficulties are often described by Aberson, she never seems quite ready to give in to despair. As such these letters truly represent the optimistic nature of the pioneer farmer.

Aberson's letters have the further advantage of being from the pen of a non-British /French settler in Canada. This is especially useful in this day of official multiculturalism.

This is not a scholarly study of farming in the Great Depression. It is a layperson's description of life on the farm during hard times. Additional background information on the Abersons is provided to round out the picture. Several pages of photographs are also included.

This book compares favourably with similar titles such as Challenge of the Homestead by Clyde and Myrle Campbell (Alberta Records Publications Board, 1988). It would be useful as background material when studying the settling of the Canadian west or the Great Depression.

Recommended for junior and senior high school libraries and public librar­ies.

Charles Ottosen, Airdrie Public Library, Airdrie, Alta.
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