All the Journey Through
Our knowledge and appreciation of the nineteenth century seem largely to have vanished. In this book, the author reconstructs that world, basing her story on a vast family correspondence that was meant to be destroyed. With their fair share of eccentricities and human failings, several generations provide a microcosmic view of the building of a nation.
All the Journey Through is also the story of the making of a Toronto family, though much of the narrative takes place outside the city. Recollecting her childhood in the 1920s and 1930s, the author begins with the large weekly family dinner parties and the Sunday afternoon teas for the children held at her grandmother's house in Toronto, and the happy times spent at that grandmother's summer house on Lake Simcoe. Then, quoting extensively from the letters, which date from 1817 to 1919, the author reaches further back into the past.
Individuals meet with success or failure, they triumph or are crushed. We read of Methodism in the early days of the saddle-bag preachers in Upper Canada, milling, beginning with the Terrebonne Seigniory in Lower Canada, banking and distilling in Toronto, western expansion, politics and Confederation, the Cariboo gold mines and later mining in British Columbia, prairie land settlement, and the gradual emancipation of women. Finally, the Great War, a war that further defines the nation but at the expense of a generation of young men, throws its long shadow over the land and brings an end to 'the long century.'
This perceptive tale evokes nineteenth century British Canada with wit and grace, leaving the reader with a wonderful sense of the continuity of place and family.