Early Voices


This selection of writings by 29 women, known and unknown, professional and amateur, presents a unique portrait of Canada through time and space, from the 17th to the early 20th century, from the Maritimes to British Columbia and the Far North. There is a range of voices from high-born wives of governors general, to an Icelandic immigrant and a fisherman’s wife in Labrador. A Loyalist wife and mother describes the first hard weather in New Brunswick, a seasick nun tells of a dangerous voyage out from France, a famous children’s writer writes home about the fun of canoeing, and a German general’s wife describes habitant customs. All demonstrate how women’s experiences not only shared, but helped shape this new country.


During the holidays, theres nothing better than settling down with a good read and a hot cocoa, or something stronger, while the snow falls softly outside. Such a treat calls for a special book, and Early Voices: Portraits of Canada by Women Writers, 1638-1914 is just the ticket.


The writings are often short but poignant, especially those which deal with the tough conditions in pioneer times.

The Kingston Whig Standard

Some of the women writers were wealthy. Some were poor. Some wrote professional. Others kept journals. Together, they richly portray Canadas geography and early culture.

Road Stories

a splendid selection of the observations and experiences of twenty-nine women.

OHS Bulletin

Early Voices is replete with intellectually provocative commentary on womens experience of life in Canada.

Ontario History magazine

About the Authors

Mary Alice Downie

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Mary Alice Downie

Mary Alice Downie has written and edited twenty-eight books for children and adults. Her many books include And Some Brought Flowers with Mary Hamilton, and The Well-Filled Cupboard with Barbara Robertson. She lives in Kingston, Ontario.