When Christmas Crossed “the Peace”

When Christmas Crossed “the Peace” by Nellie L. McClung is a 1923 original printing. I read it while on the plane flying from Toronto to Halifax on December 20. Christmas plans both down east and back at home in Ontario this week have kept me from writing any reviews until now. This was a lightweight read, 149 small pages printed in enormous type with wide margins and headers and gaping spaces between the lines. It can easily be read within an hour. The story centred on one woman’s plans to thwart a bootlegging operation on Christmas Eve by putting on a sumptuous celebration and dinner instead. Nurse Downey resorts to disguising herself as “Sergeant Downs” and enlists the help of other women in her endeavour. It is a feminist tale from one hundred years ago. It was not an easy read at first, as I had to get used to the run-on sentences which struck me from the opening sentence:

“The north bank of the Peace, in its autumn dress of tawny gray, was over-washed with the pale December sunshine, as the empty grain wagons returning from the Crossing, leisurely wound their way through the shaded valley below, over the gravelly road that roughly follows the turns in the river.”

After a while I just reread these run-ons and let them pass.

A century after its original publication and meanings of words may change, with humorous results a hundred years later. While trying to elicit support for her idea of holding a Christmas celebration, Miss Downey says to Madge:

“This is going to be one grand occasion, Madge, and you and I will have to see it through. Don’t be frightened, Madge, I’m full of hope that it will bring your mother right and save the other women from going queer! They haven’t enough excitement in their lives, and it just gets them!”

This was a charming little Christmas story at the start of my holiday down east.

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