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humanities 257 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 STEVENSON) Eunice M.L. Harrison. The Judge=s Wife: Memoirs of A British Columbia Pioneer Ronsdale. 288. $19.95 Eunice M.L. Harrison started to construct her memoirs when she was eighty-five years of age in 1945. She consulted her diaries and other written materials to assure some degree of accuracy. The finished product consists of forty short chapters with a very useful introduction by British Columbia historian Jean Barman. The book concerns the period from 1880 to 1906, but is not necessarily a chronological narrative. Rather it is a set of short vignettes mainly about Harrison=s travels and the people she met both in Victoria and in her periodic trips around British Columbia and beyond. As such Harrison does not provide much depth, but rather touches on, or moves in and out of, landscapes and lives. We learn that Harrison=s father, like hundreds of others, was lured by the prospect of gold and convinced that it was possible to strike it rich by the charming Captain Lewis Agassiz. After her father=s first sojourn he decided that he would return to Ontario to fetch his wife and daughter. They eventually all settled in Victoria. And like others, as his daughter recalled, he did not quite strike it rich: >he tried prospecting, and a bit of ranching on the mainland, and without the timely arrival of remittance from Stowe or relatives in England, he would have been in a bad way.= Despite her father=s financial concerns, Harrison seemed to get on with life, and after she completed her years at finishing school she took trips to visit friends in Granville, where she not only enjoyed dancing and parties but also, much to the later chagrin of her parents, was crowned the first bathing suit contest winner on the coast. At one of many social outings, this time a Masonic ball, Eunice met her future husband, crown prosecutor of New Westminster, Eli Harrison. They eventually had six children, all of whom attended private schools in Victoria and Yale. Harrison himself appeared to be preoccupied by his work, for which he frequently travelled throughout the interior of the province. His opinions on the various communities and characters he encountered are also included in this memoir. But the intricate details of home life are not provided here. Rather, Harrison is much more interested in her husband=s legal cases and his travels as well as the social connections that her husband=s job provided her. She was delighted with the company of men like Matthew Bailie Begbie and Gordon Sproat, and claimed to have just missed Sir John A. Macdonald=s visit to their home in Victoria: she was out for a walk. At the same time, she wrote in blatantly derogatory terms about the Chinese house boys hired by her family and constructed cardboard images of British Columbia=s Aboriginal inhabitants. 258 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Apart from being introduced to her social acquaintances, we also glean some information on the social life of Victoria. Sports, particularly cricket and rounders, occupied many hours, as did the dramatic societies of the city. Another leisurely pursuit enjoyed by some Victorians during summer was to set up camp at the local beaches: >It was an old Victoria custom, until about the start of the first Great War, for a great summer exodus of residents to beach camps in the long vacation. Some of the beaches were practically under canvas for the summer months, so numerous were the parties of campers.= In the end we are left with a rather lighthearted account of the social life and travels of a judge=s wife in Edwardian Victoria. We do not discover Eunice Harrison=s personal views on social issues. Instead we learn much about the politics of social visiting and card leaving. (MYRA RUTHERDALE) Jo Fraser Jones, editor. Hobnobbing with a Countess and Other Okanagan Adventures: The Diaries of Alice Barrett Parke 1891B1900 University of British Columbia Press. xiv, 349. $85.00 Historians and scholars interested in women=s...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 257-258
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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