The Hivernante is based on a true-life account of Marie Anne Lajimoniere, née Gaboury, born 6 November l792 in Maskinongé, Lower Canada, a village on the Mastigouche River near Trois Rivieres. She died in St Boniface in 1878 at the age of ninety-six, mother of eight children.
Her husband, Jean Baptiste Lajimoniere, went out on the buffalo hunt every year until his death in the mid 1880s. None of the four boys hunted. They all farmed, and the girls each married a farmer.
Marie Anne became the grandmother of the patriot, Louis Riel. She spent her last years with her eldest son, also Jean Baptiste, who wrote an obituary for his remarkable mother. This was augmented by M. l’Abbe G. Dugast who gathered anecdotes by word of mouth from the oldest inhabitants of the Red River and published The First White Mother of the West in Montreal in 1883.
A century later Lise Perrault of Val Marie, Saskatchewan, translated the work into English, and it is this account which has been the basis of my researches and the spelling of the Lajimoniere name (read the author’s account of how the book came to be…).
Mary Willan Mason’s latest book, The Hivernante, brings to life an era of Canadian history rarely explored in popular literature. The central character develops from a shy and dutiful young girl into a strong, resourceful, generous, and brave pioneer wife and mother. Her challenges are almost unbelievable, yet the whole story is based on the journals of a real-life figure, the true Hivernante.
Carefully crafted, this book engages from the very first page. A ‘must-read’ from the past, going forward.
~ Caroline Morgan Di Giovanni
Toronto poet and editor
Mary Mason has written an upbeat adventure story containing resilience, faith, strife, and struggle. The main character, the magnanimous Marie Anne Lajimoniere, gives us a respectable understanding about life in northern Canada during the late 17 and early 18 hundreds.
This book brings history alive and makes history significant and relevant.
~ Karen Hendrick
Artist and archivist, Ryerson University