Tuesday 2 January 2024

January Book Tuesday

 We hope you all had a great Christmas and New Years!

For the first Book Tuesday of 2024 we have a collection of love letters from the 1880s.
Not just anyone's love letters but those between Sam Steele, Superintendent in the North-West Mounted Police at the time, and his fiancee, soon to be wife, Marie de Lotbinière Harwood.

They had met in the summer of 1888 following his return to Fort Macleod from the Kootenay Valley. They fell in love and became engaged in October. Harwood came from a highly respected Quebec political and business family that could trace its roots to seigneurial families of New France; in December, she returned to Vaudreuil, QC to prepare for their marriage.

The book is the correspondence of the two betrothed between Oct 1888 and June 1889.
A fascinating look at the West from opposite sides of the country. 

Talk about long distance relationships.

The Victorian Society of Alberta

The Engagement Letters of Marie Harwood and Sam Steele,
Oct 1888-June 1889

Edited by Connor J. Thompson
Published by the Historical Society of Alberta, 2023

In this book, Connor Thompson has transcribed, edited, and introduced the first months of their correspondence. The letters offer insight into the personal side of Sam Steele. Readers will be immersed in their expressions of love and affection. And as Steele and Harwood prepare for their marriage and future life at Fort Macleod, they discuss their families, their family business interests, politics and religious considerations, the social and political life within the NWMP, and the life and society of Fort Macleod, their intended home. Steele writes about the dances, dinner parties, social activities, and gossip at Fort Macleod. Harwood talks about her family’s perspectives on the NWMP, on her perception of life at Fort Macleod, and on their potential life together. At the same time, they discuss the potential for promotion with the NWMP, the political issues of the era such as the Jesuit Estates controversy, and business opportunities.

The collection will be invaluable to researchers, but it is also exciting and entertaining to just read these intimate, private, and enlightening letters.

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