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Recommendations? > Books about pioneers, homesteaders, and settlers

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message 1: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Hi, I am immersed in pioneer memoirs right now and I wonder if you have recommendations for any fiction or non-fiction books about pioneers. I'm specifically interested in Canada, but the pioneer experience was similar in many ways across North America so I will read anything on this topic. Little House on the Prairie still has to be my favourite!


message 2: by Ashley Marie (new)

Ashley Marie  | 529 comments Speaking of Little House on the Prairie, Laura's autobiography is on top of my TBR right now: Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, along with The Ghost in the Little House: A Life of Rose Wilder Lane


message 3: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 17 comments I've read a lot of this author's books that are on the U.S. side of North America, but this series takes place in Canada. Very sweet :).

When Calls the Heart


message 4: by Kandice (last edited Oct 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new)

Kandice I cannot recommend anything by Lucia St. Clair Robson more strongly. Only a few of hers are not about American Settlers or the Native Americans, which always also includes some of the other. Here are a few you may be interested in: Shadow Patriots: A Novel of the Revolution, Mary's Land, Fearless: A Novel of Sarah Bowman and Last Train from Cuernavaca just to name a few.


message 5: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 463 comments I recently read Mollie Cox Bryan's book, Memory of Light about a blind survivor of Gettysburg who eventually settled with his wife and children in Nebraska. It was excellent. Very moving.


message 6: by Carrie (new)

Carrie | 48 comments Our book group has read and enjoyed One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus


message 7: by Harold (new)

Harold Titus (haroldtitus) | 108 comments I have read the first two novels of Conrad Richter's "The Awakening Land" trilogy of settlement of the forest area of southern Ohio after the Revolutionary War. Excellent works.
The Trees by Conrad Richter , The Fields by Conrad Richter , The Town by Conrad Richter .


message 8: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Hurley (fiona_hurley) | 245 comments Try Voyageurs: A Novel (Canada) and All Together in One Place (Oregon Trail)


message 9: by Blueberry (new)

Blueberry (blueberry1) Song of Sampo Lake by William Durbin, I thought was good. The author rights of early pioneer and voyagers days in northern Minnesota (just across the river from Canada). His books are children's I think but I enjoy them, being fron northern Minnesota myself. Sorry, can't link on my phone.


message 10: by Phair (new)

Phair (sphair) | 49 comments These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 and it's follow up novels were good, although set in American Southwest.


message 11: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Marie wrote: "I've read a lot of this author's books that are on the U.S. side of North America, but this series takes place in Canada. Very sweet :).

When Calls the Heart"


Thanks, Marie! I have put it on my list. I'm working on my own novel about Canadian pioneers so I'm fascinated by the subject. A little romance never hurts, either.


message 12: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Kandice wrote: "I cannot recommend anything by Lucia St. Clair Robson more strongly. Only a few of hers are not about American Settlers or the Native Americans, which always also includes some of th..."

Good to know! Thank you for this recommendation. I'll definitely try reading something of hers.


message 13: by Jackie (new)

Jackie (thenightowl) | 2416 comments Marie wrote: "I've read a lot of this author's books that are on the U.S. side of North America, but this series takes place in Canada. Very sweet :).

When Calls the Heart"


Have you seen the show on Netflix? I only saw the first season, but it was pretty good. I can't compare it to the book since I haven't read it.


message 14: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Eileen wrote: "I recently read Mollie Cox Bryan's book, Memory of Light about a blind survivor of Gettysburg who eventually settled with his wife and children in Nebraska. It was excellent. Very m..."

Thanks, Eileen. It's quite a different topic than usual but it sounds fascinating.


message 15: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Harold wrote: "I have read the first two novels of Conrad Richter's "The Awakening Land" trilogy of settlement of the forest area of southern Ohio after the Revolutionary War. Excellent works.
[bookcover:The Tree..."


I can't believe I have never heard of Conrad Richter before. I will start with the first novel. Thanks for the tip!


message 16: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Fiona wrote: "Try Voyageurs: A Novel (Canada) and All Together in One Place (Oregon Trail)"

I'm going to tackle the one about the Oregon Trail. Thanks for the suggestion!


message 17: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Phair wrote: "These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 and it's follow up novels were good, although set in American Southwest."

Yes, someone else recommended this author as well. I like the American Southwest as a setting, too. I'll take a look, thank you.


message 18: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Blueberry wrote: "Song of Sampo Lake by William Durbin, I thought was good. The author rights of early pioneer and voyagers days in northern Minnesota (just across the river from Canada). His books are children's I ..."

Sometimes children's books are the best ones for research. Thanks for your suggestion.


message 19: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Carrie wrote: "Our book group has read and enjoyed One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus"

Thanks, Carrie. I see the book got mixed reviews, so it's good to know that your book club enjoyed it.


message 20: by Eileen (new)

Eileen Iciek | 463 comments Elinor wrote: "Eileen wrote: "I recently read Mollie Cox Bryan's book, Memory of Light about a blind survivor of Gettysburg who eventually settled with his wife and children in Nebraska. It was ex..."

The book was based on the life of an actual survivor of Gettysburg and his wife. It had me crying at the end.


message 21: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Crampton (cramptonmargaret) | 8006 comments I enjoyed The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 405 comments Somehow that doesn't sound like what Elinor was looking for...


message 23: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 688 comments Do you know about the novels of Mazo de la Roche? Pioneers (of a sort) in Ontario, Canada.

Also Mary Doria Russell's two-part series about Tombstone, Arizona: Doc and Epitaph.


message 24: by Elinor (last edited Nov 01, 2016 07:40AM) (new)

Elinor C.P. wrote: "Do you know about the novels of Mazo de la Roche? Pioneers (of a sort) in Ontario, Canada.

Also Mary Doria Russell's two-part series about Tombstone, Arizona: Do..."</i>

I loved the family saga by Mazo de la Roche called The Whiteoaks of Jalna. It was made into a popular TV series here in Canada.

[book:The Building Of Jalna


I'll check out the other one, thanks!



message 25: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Thank you so much, everyone, for all the great suggestions. I see I'll be busy reading pioneer books for months to come!


message 26: by C.B. Matson (new)

C.B. Matson | 6 comments Elinor, let me add one more. This one is a true story, told by her descendants: Portrait of a Prairie Woman. Just out on Amazon.

Blurb: Mable Richmond's childhood was defined by lace, social acceptance, and a proper education in the thriving city of Melrose, Minnesota. But less than eight years later, at age twenty-four, she was unmarried, pregnant, and abandoned on a homestead in the Montana prairie.

Just an amazing woman...


message 27: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 24 comments I really don't know much about this area, but right after I saw your thread one of my Canadian GR friends posted reviews on these two sisters' memoirs which seem to fit right in. Might be of interest:

The Backwoods of Canada
Roughing It in the Bush


message 28: by Tammy (new)

Tammy You might like Prairie Prairie  by Anna Lee Waldo


message 29: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Miss M wrote: "I really don't know much about this area, but right after I saw your thread one of my Canadian GR friends posted reviews on these two sisters' memoirs which seem to fit right in. Might be of intere..."

I have read both of these books by the Moodie sisters. Roughing it in the Bush is a Canadian classic that I read in university for my English degree. Thanks for your suggestion.


message 30: by Elinor (new)

Elinor C.B. Matson wrote: "Elinor, let me add one more. This one is a true story, told by her descendants: Portrait of a Prairie Woman. Just out on Amazon.

Blurb: Mable Richmond's childhood was defined by lace, social acce..."


Yes, this looks like a great story. Thanks!


message 31: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Tammy wrote: "You might like PrairiePrairie  by Anna Lee Waldo"

I will definitely check this one out. My To-Read list is growing!


message 32: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Crampton (cramptonmargaret) | 8006 comments I'm
Reading a fascinating book set in the Eastern Cape in South Africa as World War 1 raged in Europe. Piet Barol and his wife Stacey are building up a furniture
Making business in Cape Town The story tracks their travels and explorations: encounters with mining magnates in Johannesburg and wealthy settlers in Cape Town. The book becomes really interesting when Piet travels to the coastal forests seeking furniture wood guided by two Xhosa men. He becomes embroiled in tribal believes and intrigue: Who killed Piet Barol by Richard Mason


message 33: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) I'm about half-way through Mrs. Mike ... set in Canada. Wonderful!


message 34: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Book Concierge wrote: "I'm about half-way through Mrs. Mike ... set in Canada. Wonderful!"

Mrs. Mike is one of my all-time favourites. I read it years ago, and then picked up another copy when I was on a cruise to Alaska when our ship stopped in Ketchikan!


message 35: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Crampton (cramptonmargaret) | 8006 comments I'm
Reading News of the world:a novel by Paulette Jules. It's set in Texas and involves a girl captured by Indians and the journey with a newsreader to return her to her family. I'm 70% through and am really enjoying it. It is nominated for Goodreads choice.


message 36: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Margaret wrote: "I'm
Reading News of the world:a novel by Paulette Jules. It's set in Texas and involves a girl captured by Indians and the journey with a newsreader to return her to her family. I'm 70% thr..."


That sounds like a gripping tale! It's on my list, thank you.


message 37: by Belle (new)

Belle Blackburn | 61 comments Not sure if this is old enough for you but I am reading Trials of the Earth by Mary Mann Hamilton. It is mostly in the late 1800s but she was definitely a pioneer woman. Leaving Independence by Leanne Smith is about a wagon train on the Oregon trail.


message 38: by Pam (new)

Pam Walker | 12 comments Hi. I have just finished The Old Blue Coat by Robert W. Walker which I really enjoyed. The author has used journals from his own family to put together the story of his ancestor, Molly, a young girl who came to America from Ireland in 1735 and follows the adventures of her family as they struggle to survive on the frontier and her son who becomes a Revolutionary War hero.


message 39: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Belle wrote: "Not sure if this is old enough for you but I am reading Trials of the Earth by Mary Mann Hamilton. It is mostly in the late 1800s but she was definitely a pioneer woman. Leaving Independence by Lea..."

Yes, that's definitely old enough. I consider a pioneer to be anyone who settled on unclaimed land, and that happened in Canada right up into the 1920s and 1930s. Thanks for the suggestion.


message 40: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Pam wrote: "Hi. I have just finished The Old Blue Coat by Robert W. Walker which I really enjoyed. The author has used journals from his own family to put together the story o..."

Thanks, Pam. I love the title, too.


message 41: by Bibliothekerin (new)

Bibliothekerin | 4 comments I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Willa Cather's Nebraska trilogy: 'My Antonia', 'O Pioneers!, and 'The Song of the Lark'. These are CLASSICS--well worth reading.
They do take place in America, not Canada, but I imagine that the pioneer experience on the Plains of America was similar to that of immigrants to the plains of Canada, foreigners facing enormous challenges and terrible odds.
Willa Cather moved with her family to Nebraska from Virginia in the 1880s, and she learned to know all the local immigrant families by delivering mail in horseback. Like the young woman in The Song of the Lark, Cather eventually left the Plains for New York City in order to pursue her art.
There is a fabulous essay about the Nebraska trilogy and a bio of Cather here : http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmaste...


message 42: by Bibliothekerin (new)

Bibliothekerin | 4 comments Another author of historical fiction that takes place near the Canadian border is Louise Erdrich. Most of her books take place in northern Minnesota and North Dakota.

You know the adage 'Write what you know'? That's exactly what Erdrich does. She is part Ojibwe (Chippewa) and part German. Her book 'The Master Butchers Singing Club' (2003; recently turned into a play) is her only novel featuring German immigrants,

Another novel, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001), is about a young white woman who disguises herself as a circuit priest, i.e., a priest who rides between villages and towns of the region.

Erdrich's books are predominantly about the Ojibwe people, though, many of whom have French names to reflect their part French Canadian trapper heritage.

Erdrich has won many awards for her novels. A list of her books and poetry collections can be found here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis...


message 43: by Bibliothekerin (new)

Bibliothekerin | 4 comments Another classic immigrant pioneer novel is 'Giants in the Earth' by Norwegian American Ole Edvart Rølvaag.
It's about Norwegian immigrant pioneers in the Dakota Territory in the 1870s.
Rølvaag wrote it and 2 subsequent novels that form a trilogy while a professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. He wrote in Norwegian, and the books were later translated into English.


message 44: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Bibliothekerin wrote: "I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Willa Cather's Nebraska trilogy: 'My Antonia', 'O Pioneers!, and 'The Song of the Lark'. These are CLASSICS--well worth reading.
They do take place in Ameri..."


Thanks so much. I did read My Antonia and loved it. Now I will read the others. I posted a review and you can see the other books on my Pioneer bookshelf here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list...


message 45: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Bibliothekerin wrote: "Another author of historical fiction that takes place near the Canadian border is Louise Erdrich. Most of her books take place in northern Minnesota and North Dakota.

You know the adage 'Write wha..."


Thanks for all these great recommendations!


message 46: by Carol (new)

Carol Keefer | 74 comments I didn't know this thread was here. How great to see the prairie going strong in written form. I didn't realize there were so many good reads. Thank you.


message 47: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Dalby This is a coming-of-age (main character, homesteader, is 16) and set in Montana.
Hattie Big Sky (Hattie, #1) by Kirby Larson


message 48: by Elinor (new)

Elinor Carrie wrote: "This is a coming-of-age (main character, homesteader, is 16) and set in Montana.
Hattie Big Sky (Hattie, #1) by Kirby Larson"


What we now call a Young Adult was an Adult back in homesteading days. My godfather emigrated to Canada from England alone at the age of 16! Thanks for your suggestion, it looks good.


message 49: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 688 comments [p[book:Wolfsangel|18717717]

Also Blackout and its sequel All Clear.

For an Eastern Front perspective, try Tasa's Song and Paullina Simons's novels, starting with The Bronze Horseman.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 405 comments Uh, those are all novels about World War 2?


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