Emily Carr

emily-carrEmily Carr was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1871. Her mother and father both died by the time she was sixteen leaving her eldest sister in charge. Emily decided to go to San Francisco to study art, and then later to London and Cornwall in Britain, and later Paris. She travelled to the aboriginal communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and later the Queen Charlotte Islands, Upper Skeena River and Alert Bay to sketch and paint the life of the indigenous people. Her work was not appreciated at the time and she built a house with apartments and ran it like a boarding house for the next 15 years. During this time she did little painting although she enjoyed teaching art to children.

She began to paint again after meeting Lawren Harris, of the Group of Seven in Ontario. For awhile she painted indigenous subjects, but gradually changed to painting the natural world around her: forests, beaches and skies. Many of her paintings depict her feelings about trees: “Trees are so much more sensible than people, steadier and more enduring.” 

In 1937, Emily suffered a heart attack and eventually had to stop painting. She began to take her writing and form it into a book. Her first book was published in 1941, Klee Wyck, about her experiences with the indigenous people of the west coast. She wrote six more books, some of which were published after her death in 1945: The Book of Small, The House of All Sorts, Growing Pains, The Heart of a Peacock, Pause, and Hundreds and Thousands.

For more information:

Some of her paintings:

Books to read:

Art Activities:

And if you are near Victoria, you can visit the house where she grew up when it opens again in May 2019: Emily Carr House.

Canada’s Aboriginal People

My ancestors are not from Canada. They came from England and Scotland four generations ago to settle here. Their experiences were very different than our lives today, and those of the native people of this land, different again. It is important to see Canada as it was before it was “discovered” by explorers from Europe, and also try to understand the reasons why people came to America from Europe, so that we can better understand the opposing values, and the issues and ramifications of colonization.

Here are several non-fiction books that help to give a broad understanding of Canada’s First Nations:


We looked through these books and then made a chart for our timeline book in which we compared the homes, food, and transportation of the Pacific, Plains, Great Lakes, and Atlantic people.


It was difficult to find fiction that was easily available and went along with the pre-contact period, especially when restricted to Canada. In the end, we chose to read and do a book report on Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac. It is a story set in a Mohawk village in what would become New York State during the late 15th century.

We also read aloud the unabridged version of Indian Boyhood, by Charles Eastman. It is also available in an adapted version for young children as a picture book. Charles was born in Minnesota in 1858, the youngest of five children. His mother died when he was a baby and the family fled to British Columbia following the Sioux Indian Uprising of 1862. His father was put in prison for his part in the uprising and so he was raised by his grandmother until his father came back for him ten years later.

Archibald Lampman

lampmanArchibald was born on the 11th of November, 1861 to Archibald and Susannah Lampman. His father was rector of Trinity Church in a small town near Lake Erie called Morpeth in what is now Ontario. Three sisters followed and his early childhood was happy and uneventful.

In 1866, the family moved to Perrytown for a short while, and then to Gore’s Landing on Rice Lake. It was a beautiful place to live with the delights of forest, fields and lake. He attended school here, run by Frederick William Barron and did very well. Around this time, Archibald contracted Rheumatic Fever and was very sick. As a result, he became lame and for about four years he had to use crutches to get around. Despite his illness, he maintained an active interest in life.

His family moved to Cobourg when he was 13 and he attended school there until he was sent to Trinity College School in Port Hope not far away. When he completed his studies there he went on to Trinity College in Toronto and graduated in 1882.

After graduation, he took a teaching post at a high school in Orangeville. This did not work out well, however, and three months later he moved back to Toronto. He was offered a position at the Post Office in Ottawa and began this new job in January 1883.

Archibald was an outdoorsman and spent much of his non-working time hiking or canoeing through the surrounding countryside. In 1877 he married Maud Emma Playter. They had three children although the second child, a boy, died a few months later. He also spent his free time writing poetry, some of which was published in various literary magazines. Although he did attempt different topics and styles of writing, his strong suit was nature poetry.

In 1888, he published his first book of poetry called Among the millet and other poems. Seven years later, he published a second volume called Lyrics of Earth. Sadly, his early bout with rheumatic fever had weakened his heart, and he died in 1899. Shortly afterwards, a comprehensive memorial volume was published through the efforts of Duncan Campbell Scott.

You can read the poetry of Archibald Lampman here: The Poems of Archibald Lampman

You can download a pdf of selected poems to illustrate here: ALpoetry




Our attempt at an archaeological dig…

Whenever you dig up a piece of ground, there is potential for finding something from the past. I have not found anything too exciting myself – bent nails, pieces of glass, and a bottle top or two. However, the back of our yard seems to have been the dumping ground for whoever lived here before as we have found an old car engine, a rusted foot-pedal Singer sewing machine, and countless other bits and pieces of metal.

Many other places in Canada yield information about the people who lived here first and tell us about their lives and habits. Some of the finds may include tools made from bone, metal or stone, pottery, and decorative objects.

You can find a list of archaeological sites in Canada here:  Canadian Encyclopedia

You can view archaeological specimens and historical collections here at The Canadian Museum of History. They also have a couple fun lesson plans for learning about Aboriginal heritage and culture.


For our timeline book, we printed off pictures of some of the archaeological specimens to glue in. And we read a little about what archaeological sites there are in our province and what has been found there.




Out of the moons of long ago, these stories have come. Then every tribe of the Iroquois had its story-teller.

When the Old Man of the North came out of his lodge, and the forests and rivers of the Red Children grew white with his breath, these story-tellers wandered from wigwam to wigwam.

Seated on warm skins by the fire, the story-teller would exclaim, “Hanio!” This meant, “Come, gather round, and I will tell a story.”

Then all the Red Children would cry, “Heh,” and draw close to the fire. This meant that they were glad to hear the story. And as the flames leaped and chased one another along the fire trail, they would listen to these wonder stories of the Little People, of the trees and flowers, of birds, of animals, and men. When the story-teller had finished, he said, “Na ho.” This meant, “It is the end.”

The earth was very young, when the Red Children first learned how everything came to be, and just why it is that things are as they are. They told these wonderful things to their children, and their children in turn told them to their children; and those children again in turn told them to theirs, that these things might not be forgotten.

Now, but few of the Red Children know these stories that the grandmothers and old men of the tribe used to tell. The story-teller is no longer seen wandering from wigwam to wigwam.

(Excerpt from Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children by Mabel Powers)

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like the idea of telling stories by a fire on a dark winter night (or any other time really). Of course, today, we have many other sources of entertainment and maybe do not tell enough of our own stories, but who wouldn’t want to once in awhile go on adventures, or be scared stiff, or have the world brought close without having to go to any effort ourselves.

We all, to some degree, want to know where we have come from and how to make sense of what we see, and the story that we accept is instrumental in how we see the world and ourselves in it. The story that we may tell of North America today, is one of a people who came by sea or over a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska in the distant past, but the people who first lived here have their own stories to explain where they came from and why the world was the way it was.

Here are a few picture books to have a look at:

If you are interested in reading more about the story of North America’s First People, you may want to have a look at the following:

Turtle IslandFor our timeline book we illustrated the Creation Story of Turtle Island.

Homeschooling Canadian History 1

P126 A CANADIAN INDIANSchool starts up again in a few weeks, and since we are committed to another year of homeschooling, it is always a bit of a busy time getting prepared. This year we are doing Grade 3.  We’ve done a little bit of learning about Canada the last few years, but this year we are going to try to dive in a little bit deeper. And since I am a bit of a recent fan of Charlotte Mason, we will be doing it in a Charlotte-Mason-inspired format.

Want to join me?

First Peoples:

These books are not all written by Canadians, but they contain relevant information.

Indian Boyhood, by Charles Eastman (Libravox Recording)

Indian Hero Tales, by Gilbert Wilson

Two Little Savages, by Ernest Thompson Seton

Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac

North American Wildlife:

Ways of Wild Folk, by William J. Long (Libravox Recording)


We will also be considering some Canadian poetry and art.

Poet: Archibald Lampman

Artist: Emily Carr 

None of this has been tried and tested yet… but we will blog infrequently about how it is going. If you decide to do it too, follow me so you don’t miss Term 2 and 3.

Nature Study and Journaling

I am not an expert at nature study and journaling, but I have always found it intriguing. The problem was that I didn’t really know how to start and keep going. So this past year we made up a plan and tried to stick to it, and at the end of the year we had a nice start on a nature journal.


I have put what we did into a fun little schedule for the year below. If you try it out, come back and let me know how you like it in the comments.


Get to Know Canada – Nature Study

May Nature Walk

After a long winter it is fun to go on a walk to find all the things that are growing again. Of course, this time of year there are also lots of little pesky insects to deal with as well, but going out in the morning while it is still cool helps out a bit.

Here are some of the things we found on our nature walk.


Marsh marigold growing in a drainage ditch.


Gigantic dandelions growing on the side of the road.


Wild blueberry blossoms and moss growing on a rock.


Fiddleheads unfolding.


More fiddleheads.


Lots of green at the river.


Wild lily of the valley getting ready to bloom.


Wild hydrangea.

Nature Walk:

Take a walk in a park or wooded area and see what you can find blooming. Make a sketch of what you see in your journal.


Ferns can be found in every part of the world. It is fun to go out and look for them in the springtime as they pop out of the ground and begin to unroll.



I could not find many children’s books about ferns, but here are two. One is about how ferns and other ancient plants became the fuel that we use today (it can be fun to also look at fossils of ferns that have been found), and the other is about spore-producing plants like ferns.


You can borrow this older book: Ferns, Plants without flowers.

This is another fantastic book: Fern Finder


Find the answers to these questions and any others that you may have, and include them in your nature journal.

  1. Since ferns do not have flowers, how do they reproduce?
  2. Where can you find the “fruit dots” on a fern?

Nature Journal:

Draw a fern in your nature journal and label its parts (rootstock, fiddlehead, frond, blade, pinnae, pinnules, sori, sporangia).

Go for a nature walk and pick a frond from every fern that you find. Press them and add them to your journal and identify them if you can.

Here are few more ideas: Fern Study

Count the dandelions

This time of year it seems pretty obvious that there will never be a shortage of dandelions. They seem to be everywhere and I do enjoy their sunny faces and I know the bees do too.


Find a place where dandelions grow and look at them carefully. What do their leaves look like? What do the flower buds look like? Look at the flower carefully – notice the curly stigmas, and the notches on the ends of the petals. If they have turned into white fuzz balls, pull off one of the little seeds and look at it closely – what does the seed look like? What does the “parachute” look like?


Draw all that you find in your nature journal. You may want to press a few flower petals and a little parachute and stick them in your journal too.

Read this little story about a dandelion from the book Little Wanderers by M. Morley: Dandelions.

Things to do with dandelions:

  • Eat them – pick the leaves before they flower and make a salad.
  • Pick a flower and write a message in your journal with dandelion juice.
  • Make a dandelion flower crown.
  • Pick a dandelion puffball and make a wish before blowing the parachutes away.
  • Paint with a dandelion flower.
  • or try your hand at some more complicated concoctions