February 10, 2012 17:46
Gumption and Grit:
Women of the Cariboo Chilcotin
Edited by Sage Birchwater
Caitlin Press, 2009
Soft Cover, $24.95
Available at bookstores and on Amazon
Reviewed by Carol M. Upton – www.dreamsaloud.ca
They just do what they have to do, with love and humor, be it making a home in the wilderness, writing books, breaking horses, trying to make the world a better place, raising families, raising spectacular gardens, putting their lives back together after some disaster, sometimes all of the above.
~ Diana French, Foreword to Gumption and Grit
The women of British Columbia’s Cariboo region were and are strong souls, experienced with hardship and adversity. Gumption and Grit is the first book in a new series that will showcase the lives and history of these women. This collection of 35 stories, some beginning in the early 1900’s, will resonate with ranch folks and history lovers everywhere.
Often living miles deep in unpredictable wilderness, Cariboo women had to summon their courage to overcome the day-to-day hardships. Jessie Moon had her foot stepped on by a horse while in late pregnancy, triggering premature labor, leaving her crippled and needing help to care for the new baby. Josephine Gregg recalls how her family coped with the toughest times by living entirely from the land – hunting, trapping, fishing, canning and preserving. Maddie Jack was 12 years old when she traveled with relatives through icy wilderness by horse-drawn sleigh to celebrate Christmas Mass with the one priest at Burns Lake. Chiwid was a reclusive first nations woman who lived outside, shunning the company of others and surviving the extremes of the frigid Chilcotin winters, for 50 years.
The women all had to fulfill multiple roles – from mother to trapper to rancher to homesteader, volunteer and business owner. Gumption and Grit is a fascinating tribute to their triumphs and survivorship.
Royalties from book sales will go to the Williams Lake Women’s Contact Society whose members originally started collecting stories back in 2002.
Sage Birchwater is the author of several historical books. He was a staff writer for the Williams Lake Tribune until his recent retirement. He still lives in Williams Lake and he has seven grandkids, a dog and a cat.