Dear Canada: A step back in time


Flame and Ashes

Flame and Ashes
The Great Fire Diary of Triffie Winsor
St. John’s, Newfoundland, 1892

By Janet McNaughton

ISBN: 978-1-4431-2443-01 Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-4431-3901-4 Ebook
220 pages | Ages 9-12 | 5 1⁄4" x 7 5/8"

A touching "riches to rags" story set during the second-worst disaster in the history of Atlantic Canada.

Eleven-year-old Triffie is the middle daughter of a well-to-do merchant. Triffie knows nothing about what it means to be poor — until the disastrous fire of 1892 burns down most of St. John’s, Newfoundland, leaving Triffie’s family and 15,000 others homeless.

The fire claims everything but their underwear, Mother’s best china . . . and Triffie’s journal. With no other options, Triffie’s family moves into a filthy warehouse while they attempt to rebuild their lives from the ground up.

The aftermath of the fire teaches Triffie a lot about what it means to survive. More importantly, she comes face to face with her own prejudices, and begins to develop a much greater appreciation for how the less fortunate live.

read an excerpt read an excerpt

From Triffie's diary:

Friday, July 8th

I am so ashamed. I have been sent to my bedroom without supper. The whole summer is ruined and it’s all my fault.

I knew that Alfie barely fit into the dumb waiter last fall, and I knew he was growing, but somehow I failed to connect those two things as any sensible big sister ought. The dumb waiter isn’t intended to be hauling little boys. I only put Alfie in the dumb waiter when Mama and Nettie were both out of the house, which seldom happens. No one ever forbade us to put Alfie in there, but I knew, if anyone ever thought about it, they would, and it was so much fun. We never did it over the winter, of course. Alfie was too sick.

Oh! Mouser just rushed into my room and rushed out again. I almost spilled the ink. The wind is so high today, the cat is galey. Whenever high winds make her rush around, Nettie says she has a gale of wind up her tail. Mouser is a very pretty cat with fluffy black fur and white socks and a bib. I wish she was a pet but she’s a working cat who lives in the basement to protect the kitchen, so she’s hardly tame and some - times scratches. In the uproar I caused today, she got out of the kitchen. I should tell someone, but Mama is so angry, I’m afraid to leave my room.

From Dear Canada: Flame and Ashes, copyright © 2014 by Janet McNaughton.