Village of the Small Houses: A Memoir of Sorts
In 1959, just one step ahead of the law, Ian Ferguson’s parents left the sophisticated big-city life of Edmonton and ended up in Fort Vermilion, 846 km due north. It was meant to be a temporary move. Ian’s father lasted ten years before he made his escape; his mother remained until recently. Fort Vermilion, once a fur-trapping frontier town, was predominantly aboriginal, the third poorest community in Canada. Like their neighbours, the Ferguson kids—Ian and his six brothers and sisters—grew up without indoor plumbing, central heating or electricity. Living closer to the Arctic Circle than to the American border, without the influences of television or radio, Canada was a dream to them, as faraway and exotic as England or Australia.
Beginning with the dramatic events surrounding his birth—including a paddlewheel ferry heading for destruction, a legendary rowboat trip, and a life-and-death race against time—Ferguson moves on to recreate adventures involving loophole ceremonies, life-saving encounters with indigenous medicines, tea dances, stolen hockey sticks and a boy lost in the woods.
Funny with sad bits–and sometimes the other way around—The Village of Small Houses is an unforgettable story that lives, as Ferguson says, somewhere between Angela’s Ashes and Who Has Seen the Wind.
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