What Wildwood is About
“One of the Best Canadian Books
Broke and desperate, single mother Molly Bannister of Phoenix, Arizona, accepts the condition laid down in her great-aunt’s will: to spend one year in an abandoned farmhouse deep in the remote backwoods of northern Alberta. If she does, she can sell the farm and fund her four-year-old daughter Bridget’s badly needed medical treatments.
With grim determination, Molly teaches herself the basic pioneer skills, chopping firewood and washing her clothes with melted snow. But her greatest perils come from the brutal wilderness itself, from blizzards to grizzly bears. The journal written by her great-aunt, the original homesteader, inspires her to struggle on.
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My Book Launch
Held at the historical Pynelogs Art Gallery in Invermere, B.C., in March 2018, my book launch drew an eager crowd to hear me talk about Wildwood, eat homemade pie, and dress in pioneer garb. Here my daughter Katie Niddrie (who was seven months pregnant) and I pose in our best homesteader outfits.
My book launch featured a Blue Ribbon Pie Contest. There were 80 guests and 20 pies, and after the judge Tony Berryman awarded the Blue Ribbon to Brenda Marsman for her Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, we all tucked in and ate our fill of delicious pies!
The winner received this embroidered hoop, handmade by my daughter Katie Niddrie!
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Images That Inspired Wildwood
Since one of the characters in Wildwood is a four-year-old girl, it seemed appropriate that the book should be introduced by my two adorable granddaughters, Nora and Juliet.
This is an old photograph of a foursquare farmhouse in Oyen, Alberta, an original catalogue house from the T. Eaton Company, used as the model for my farmhouse in Wildwood.
This authentic foursquare home is a historic site in Peace River, Alberta. It was built in 1916 for the Commanding Officer of the Royal North West Mounted Police.
This farmhouse in Oyen, Alberta has some wonderful period features, such as stained glass kitchen cabinets.
My heroine Molly uses a Belleek tea set bearing the classic shamrock motif that her great-aunt brought from Ireland.
Molly finds a copy of the original 1913 Five Roses Cook Book, and learns to bake in a wood oven, just like her great-aunt did.
When Molly inherits the old farmhouse, she finds a journal written by the original homesteader, her great-aunt Mary Margaret. This image reminds me of the young bride.
One pipe leading to the well under the house, and one pump over the kitchen sink that produces ice-cold water — that’s what my heroine has in the way of plumbing.
This biffy reminds me of my childhood farm in Saskatchewan, which didn’t have indoor plumbing installed until I was fourteen years old!
The local indigenous population knew that mukluks kept their feet warm in winter. My Métis great-grandmother wore mukluks like this beautifully-decorated pair.
This old cookstove still sits in the house where I grew up, on a grain farm outside North Battleford, Saskatchewan. In Wildwood, Molly has to cook on a stove just like this one.
The combination of golden fields, dark boreal forest, and blue skies makes for an incredible landscape in northern Alberta. I took this photo not far from Grand Prairie.
The old house that Molly inherits has no electricity, so she relies on oil lamps for lighting those dark winter nights.
A sparkling creek runs past the farmhouse in Wildwood, looking much like the one in this photo I took in northern Alberta.
Finally, no old house would be complete without the iconic striped Hudson Bay trading blanket!