"Eminently readable ... An important resource for historians beginning research in the area of women's history, the history of ethnic relations in BC, or the history of the Okanagan." -- Ruth Sandwell, editor of Beyond the City Limits: A Rural History of British ColumbiaAt the turn of the nineteenth century, the Okanagan valley in British Columbia's interior was still a relatively new destination for white settlers. The discovery of gold and the promise of a successful farming life led many people to the region in the mid-1800s. By 1891, settlements were becoming towns that attracted migrants from across the country. One such migrant was a young woman by the name of Alice Barrett, who, at the age of twenty-nine, left her native Port Dover, Ontario, to seek a western adventure. For nearly a decade, Alice recorded the day-to-day activities and adventures of her new life in both the Spallumcheen Valley and Vernon in thirty-one notebooks. One such adventure saw her hobnob with the Countess of Aberdeen, an imposing socialite whose outspoken feminism frequently challenged those around her. Through her diaries, Alice conducts her own witty and lucid debate about her society's opinions on religion, trade, politics, race, and women's rights. The result is an expansive yet personal narrative of pioneer life in British Columbia. Jo Fraser Jones has arranged her excerpts from Alice's diaries both chronologically and thematically, and her comprehensive commentary makes Hobnobbing with a Countess a significant contribution to the historical record of British Columbia. This book will be of interest to regional historians, pioneer history buffs, and those with a more general interest in Canadian women's history.
Jo Fraser Jones (editor) lives in Vernon, B.C. She is a contributor to Framing our Past: Canadian Women's History in the Twentieth Century and has published articles on regional history.
Abbreviations Acknowledgments Introduction "Quite away from all my people": Arriving in the Spallumcheen Valley "The real, the useful, the necessary - these occupy one here": Life in the Spallumcheen Valley "A very cosy, happy home": At Home in Vernon "How many people I have got to know!": Vernon Friends and Acquaintances "Oh! I do hope I'll be able to do something useful and good": A One-Woman Social Welfare Service "A great many people have ailments here": Health and Social Issues in the 1890s "How I love them all": Some Members of the Barrett Family "Oh! I wish I could hear someone who would stir me up": Religion in the West "A man of Mr. Parke's ability": A Husband of Unusual Accomplishment "I have been as busy as I could be": Life at the BX Ranch and Encounters with the Chinese "There is much of the untamed animal nature in me": Confessions to the Diaries "The women work much harder than the men": Attitudes towards Other Races "Hob-nobbing with a Countess": Early Feminism in Western Canada "I think if I were a man I'd want to go in for [politics]": Political Life at the End of the 1800s "People really seem to be getting sanguine over the mining prospects around here": Exploration and Prospecting in the Okanagan "It really is shameful the way I neglect my poor old diary lately": The End of the Journals "I wonder when I'm a grey haired old woman if I will enjoy reading these papers!": The Final Years Notes Appendix: Chronology of the diaries Bibliography Index