CM . . . . Volume XX Number 28 . . . . March 21, 2014
In this excellent introductory nonfiction text, students learn many important aspects of the storekeeper's life and role in Canada's early communities. The community store was the centre of a community's life. Canada's pioneers, readers are told, were resourceful people, but, because they could not grow or make everything they needed to survive, the store was indispensable. It was also the "hub", a gathering place, where pioneers met their neighbors while buying goods, shared information and picked up their mail.
The storekeeper was busy from dawn-till-dusk servicing the needs of the community. Unlike today's stores, the shopkeeper did not have computers or scanners; he used a few simple tools: a cash register, a scale and an account book in which to keep track of the credit he gave to customers. Sometimes, he was paid in produce: eggs, meat, milk, butter or even cows.
Although the series is called "Early Canadians", and the book is called The Storekeeper, a reader might expect to see something relating to New France or pioneer life in Upper and Lower Canada in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, as the illustrations specifically show, this book relates to life in southern Alberta prairies in the early 20th century.
Ian Stewart, the scion of Alberta pioneer farmers, teaches at Cecil Rhodes School in Winnipeg, MB.
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