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Bill Freeman.
Toronto, James Lorimer, 1983.
128pp., paper, $12.95 (cloth), $5.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88862-672-X (cloth), 0-88862-673-8 (paper).

Grades 3 and up.
Reviewed by JoAnna Burns Patton.

Volume 12 Number 2
1984 March

Montréal during the 1870s was a place of industrial development and economic gain. However, the life of the working class was filled with poverty, long working hours, low wages and strikes. Trouble at Lachine Mill, fourth in a series about the Bains family, describes this period quite well.

When the story begins, Meg and Jamie Bains, fourteen and twelve respectively, have been hired to work at Lachine Mill. What they find is a twelve-hour work day, a room in an attic with no heat, and a picket line to cross every morning. In addition, the work is hard, the workers are mostly women and children and the mill has an underground, damp, dark cellar, called "the black hole," for punishing belligerent workers.

Although author Freeman paints a bleak but realistic picture of the period, this emphasis on the setting does not diminish the importance of the strike or the statement being made about workers' rights. In the story, the fledgling union discovers that it can only win when all workers - both strikers and scabs realize that they all want the same things, improved working conditions, higher pay, and more humane treatment.

A very readable, moving story about an historical era, highlighted with a sixteen-page photographic view of nineteenth century Canada. A welcome addition to both public and school libraries, either as part of the series or alone.

JoAnna Burns Patton, Côte St. Luc P. L., Côte St. Luc, PQ.
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