About the author
Susan (Williams) Minsos lives in Edmonton with her husband, the good-looking and excellent Ove Minsos.
In imagining the life and times of the eponymous Squire Tehawennihárhos Davis, Minsos draws on her background as a Canadianist at the University of Alberta.
From this institution she holds a PhD in English, specializing in the Canadian novel and the opus of Sara Jeannette Duncan, and an MA, specializing in Canadian Drama. She has theorized on and studied and written about Canada over her entire career–both in her academic life and while wearing her writing hat. Until 2001, she was coordinator of the Canadian Studies program at U of A. She lectured (the Universal I) to the Japanese Association for Canadian Studies at Meiji University, Tokyo, in 2000, and previously acted as a U of A consultant to Chandra Mohan, president of the Indian Association of Canadian Studies. She was the Canadianist representative from U of A to the British Centres of Canadian Studies at the conference in Stoke-on-Trent. For NeWest Review she wrote articles on Canadian performance drama. Post 2001, she has written five books: two of which are theoretical. MacEwan University, fall 2014, appointed Minsos as writer-in-residence. After 30 years of volunteering at various theatres in Edmonton, including holding directorships on the boards of Theatre 3 and the Citadel Theatre, she remains an avid theatre-goer.
In 2000 the Canadian Studies students stood poised to recognize the great Edmontonian/Canadian (publisher of the Canadian Encyclopedia), Mel Hurtig, but plans fell through. The University of Alberta cancelled the multicultural Canadian Studies program (north campus) in 2001, retaining the French language program (Campus Saint-Jean). With pleasure, Ove and Susan Minsos honour the Canadian Studies graduates of the multicultural, interdisciplinary program (north campus), and pay respect to the students’ initiative by donating to the annual Mel Hurtig lectureship in Canadian citizenship. The Minsos’ are the co-founding sponsors and the principal donors of the lectureship, which the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta hosts to great acclaim. Susan Minsos values Canada and engaged citizenship and received a 150th anniversary, service-to-Canada award.
In the Sky Walker books, she writes about conflicting manners in the 19th-century province of Canada. Action covers one year as the four seasons settle on the spaces between Uxbridge, and Brantford and Indiana on the Grand River within the Haldimand tract. Her theory about the cradle of socialization, Weird Tit-for-tat: the game of our lives, informs the ongoing motif of the novels, which is about individual choice and how the central characters play the matrix game, eventually to create a new culture club. The Mohawk Trilogy alludes to stories from Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Skunny Wundy and Brooklea-on-the-Grand to create a narrative of Canada’s past––a saga, which, if one listens to the message in the #IdleNoMore movement, also relates to the present.
From the author
With gratitude I acknowledge some remarkable people, who, when asked or when needed, read manuscripts, give either plot advice or editing help or that most elusive of all great gifts–encouragement: Paige Ainslie, Faye Boer, Kaela Caron, Mary Danskin, Lisa Davis, Eric Evius, Murray Dorin, Nancy Foulds, Heather Ibbotson, Elijah Lucian, Ian MacLaren, Margaret MacLaren, Merle and Jerome Martin, David Mills, Franklin Miller, Rosemary Shipton, Malinda Smith, J Mark Smith, Kathy van Denderen, Gary Whyte.
The Canadian Studies’ graduates from the University of Alberta are fine people, exceptionally fine. For sure, they have taught me more than I ever taught them. To each student I say thank you, and Je me souviens.
Writers are forever beholden to special readers, the likes of Jane Ainslie, Janine Brodie, Elly Buck, Lesley Clarke and Laraine Orthlieb, who read books with intelligence, hope and generosity. You make the difference. You’re awesome. I can’t thank you enough.
One would be remiss in not acknowledging the numerous authors who write the valuable books and dissertations, which continue to inspire and inform us about Chief Joseph Thayendanegea Brant, Uxbridge Township, the Home District, the Haldimand Tract, the City of Brantford, the Navigation Company and the Grand River. Thanks especially to David Faux, Barbara Graymont, Isabel Thompson Kelsay, Bruce E. Hill, James Laxer, James Paxton, F Douglas Reville, Barbara Sivertsen, Donald Smith, Laura Quirk, and many others on the readings list.
From Reville, I learned of the Brantford clearance of “coloureds” in the 1840s–but in the Sky Walker books I pick the exact date and the particular hue of the people whom the community clears. The effects of the War of 1812 and the uprisings in Upper and Lower Canada, 1837, are very much felt in 1845. Characters in the Sky Walker books refer to the big disturbances and their offshoot events, such as the Bloody Assize, which takes place in Ancaster in 1815, or the Markham gangsters, who are active in the early 1840s. The most informative historian, however, is Bruce Hill. You simply cannot write about the Grand River, mid-19th century, without consulting Hill.
Bruce Hill, author of The Grand River Navigation Company, is an intrepid historian who, some decades ago, decided to dig into a cold case no one else had touched–certainly not from the perspective of the Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Confederacy: Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, Cayuga and Tuscarora). The story of the Navigation contains depths of deceit. To this day, many Canadians avoid facing the reality of colonial malfeasance with a self-serving observation: corruption before Confederation is not our business. It is. Forgetting the past dooms the present–to paraphrase Santayana–and Hill clears the path for those who want to remember the past and want to know how events of yesterday and today connect. What are the facts behind the rise and fall of the Navigation? And, in addition, how does an old story about river transportation lead to modern complications between the Haudenosaunee and Canada? As the primary expert on “the Navigation,” Bruce Hill deserves national attention for his timely compilation.
The late Mel Hurtig was inspirational––a model Canadian, and I thank him for his generous, unstinting help. Because of their insight and interest and research, professors Janine Brodie, J Mark Smith and Ian MacLaren are excellent role models, and encouraged me to finish this series.
Writing for educators, Jane Ainslie, long-time member of the EPSB, offers, with my heartfelt gratitude, a kind and positive review of Charter for the Friesen Press book catalogue.
Never high enough praise goes to award-winning artists Gerry Dotto, who designed jacket covers for the trilogy, and Michael Swanson, who designed the Crazy River jacket, and created the imprint of the house that Thompson built, used in the final book.
Good friends, who, despite all odds against a writer’s completing and/or gaining anyone’s interest in a saga about 19th-century Canadian outliers, those friends who laugh and cheer and believe and guide, such friends are marvellous. Thank heavens for Anita Jenkins and Dianne Gillespie. They are the fellow flyers on Sky Walker’s crazy-river carpet lo! these many years. Stalwart, sharp-eyed Anita kept our heads level and the goal in view, not always the easiest of tasks. In her gentle way, Dianne tweaked and queried, and inspired one to produce a better manuscript. There are no adequate words to thank these two wonderful women for their wisdom and heart.
Special kudos to family researchers, most particularly Stephen Heeney, who digs out the life-story of Squire Davis and Janet Ferguson and who, bravely, with Shelagh Heeney and their DNA tests, verifies the family’s research regarding the fabulous, I should say the magnificent seven: Stephen, Nancy, Peter, Martha, Shelagh, Sally and me.
Without boundless support from Sally, and our parents, and without Ove and his parents, and our children, Jennifer, Gillian, Clark, Chris, Jen-G, Tyghe, and all the super, kind and vastly talented grandkids, each of whom we love to distraction, there would be no muse, and certainly no inspiration to leave a fictional but researched account of seminal events in pre-Confederation Canada West.
The Mohawk trilogy is fiction. For histories and non-fiction sources see readings. The Sky Walker books, aka the Mohawk trilogy, cover one-year-in-the-life, 1845-1846, and emerge from intensive research. For more details, information and opinion about our gg-grandparents, i.e., about Squire Davis and Jennet/Janet Ferguson Davis, please see Stephen Heeney, Scratchings Across cultures: a memoir of denial and discovery. 2011
You can buy Sky Walker Tehawennihárhos books from Friesen Press, Chapters, Amazon.ca. Or Lone Pine Publishing. Books are NOT for sale through this website but if you have a question or comment about the site’s historical perspective please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Red Cap and wolf, from Grimm Brothers, Carl Larsson (1853-1919); Brooklea and Grand River (1, 2 & 4), courtesy Juniper Photos, Scouting Party (on the Grand River), courtesy Michael Swanson. La vie des Iroquoiens dans une maison-longue. La maison-longue abrite plusieurs familles iroquoiennes. Elle représente le centre de la société iroquoienne.