A 19TH Century Canadian Time Capsule

Dusting off the Time Capsule

It was difficult to completely separate Little Grace’s present day (1843-1846) from her history (1479-1766) when I was trying to remove the “time capsule” because the reactions and attitudes of the characters in 1843 to the historical events that they discussed were intermixed.

The historical events covered the period from John Cabot’s voyage in the spring of 1497 to the 1776 emigration of loyalist and slave refugees from the U.S. War of Independence. As I mentioned earlier my interest was in discovering more about the author and her world. She apparently wrote the story in ‘real time’ completing the book in May 1846 shortly after Queen Victoria’s birthday.

Indications of the real time-line noted in the book start simply as a reference to the year 1843 on Page 10, but throughout the book other dates are presented:

Summer 1843
End of Summer vacation 1843;

Page 104 – December 1st, 1844;
Page 161 – latter part of June (1845);
Page 167 – 29th April (1846?); and the final indication is on Page 172 – 24th May as Queen Victoria’s Birthday. The book’s dedication “To those children, who, like “Little Grace,” are interested in the history of Nova Scotia, this Book is addressed, by their friend THE AUTHOR” was dated May, 1846.

The majority of the story occurs in 1843 and events that the fictional family participated in may have actually taken place with the author’s involvement, providing her with material for the book.

On page 19 she writes:”… and even now you know people sometimes lose their way in the woods. Do you not remember the two poor little children that were lost in the woods at Dartmouth, and perished?

Robert Harvey provided the following information on 13 Jan 2001:

Your reference to the children lost near Dartmouth from the book is a true story which is recalled from time to time even now. It happened in 1842.

The children lost were Jane Elizabeth and Margaret Meagher ages 6 and 4. They were the children of John Meagher and his wife of Lake Loon near Dartmouth.