What Readers Say

The title of Millie Morton’s book Grace  is not just her mother’s name but also an apt description of the spirit of the story. A gentle memoir written with grace and insight, the book moves skilfully between interview and story. Showing how one woman created a meaningful and creative life during a time when women had few advantages, Grace  offers a unique and personal perspective on an entire century of social history in Canada.
Diane Schoemperlen
Author of Forms of Devotion and Our Lady of the Lost and Found
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Grace is a remarkable piece of social history. Through the details of her mother’s long and productive life, Millie Morton has given us a picture of rural living in southern Ontario during the whole of the twentieth century, a major transitional time for Canada. With fine storytelling skills she has been able to see past the details of her mother’s life to provide insights into the lives of women in small communities. This is history seen not through the glorified lives of statesmen or businessmen, but through the everyday dramas of the lives of Canada’s people. As someone who has spent most of her life in major cities, I have appreciated this opportunity to peek in and eavesdrop on another world.
Laurie Lewis
Author of the memoirs Little Comrades and Love, and all that Jazz
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When I finished reading Grace, I turned back to the first page and read it again. I began teaching in 1967, when there were few one-room schools remaining. As a young teacher, that seemed to be a very good thing. Grace helped me understand that these schools were the heart and soul of small communities. Their closing was a death knell for the community. Reading the book put parts of my life in perspective. I feel as though I knew Grace.
Catherine Milks
Retired Teacher
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I recently visited a (friend) who had just celebrated her 80th birthday (and brought her a copy of your book). As it turns out (she) . . . was also the daughter of a one-room school teacher. She has since called me to say how very much she was enjoying the book. She had started reading it that very night and was having difficulty putting it down. She said that it captured a bygone era and that people were so out of touch with their roots in rural Ontario.
Mary Lou
Guelph, Ontario
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Millie Morton has given me a special gift with this memoir. My mother was a teacher, born in 1905 on a farm in rural New Jersey. She also taught in one-room schools and eventually in consolidated schools, raised a family, and gave to her community. I didn’t always listen enough. Millie Morton did.
Carolyn Owen Holden
Book review in Vista, September 2013
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I read Grace a chapter at a time. It was like that line in Tom Hank’s movie – “life is like a box of chocolates” to be savoured one at a time. I have so many parallel memories, starting with summers at my grandfather’s farm when I was 7-10 years old – no electricity, big garden, pumping water for the cows, going to the mill behind a team of horses to have the wheat and oats ground, taking cream to the dairy for a little cash.
And then the school descriptions – I practise taught in one-room schools and later inspected several in a township near Fort Erie – smelling the chemical toilets while in the doorway looking at the skyscrapers of Buffalo.
Thank you for writing the book. It’s beautifully written, too. I finished reading it on the balcony of a boathouse last week. Life can be beautiful and you caught it so well.
Kelvin
Toronto
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Thank you very much for writing the book Grace. I appreciated every part of it from beginning to end. Years ago my family experienced a tragedy involving a train accident. My 23 year old sister-in-law was killed instantly. My brother and his son survived but as you can understand it was a life altering experience for all of us. I really identified with your description of the accident in your community.
Your Mom was a remarkable woman. Through your book she will continue to influence many lives now and in the future.
Mary
Kingston, Ontario
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Thanks so much for that lovely book . . . you have no idea how much pleasure it gave us as Betty (my sister) and I read it together! She was here for five days and we were totally entertained over Thanksgiving. The book brought back so many memories of our elementary education. . . Also, Betty taught in a one-room school for four years. It was all the details that made the book so enjoyable.
Excerpt from a letter sent to Victoria H., who lives in Vancouver, B.C., after she sent Grace: a teacher’s life to Dorothy L, her aunt who lives in North Bay, Ontario.
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Grace told me a lot I never knew about my mother and my aunts who taught in rural Ontario schools in the thirties. Sometimes I laughed and a couple of times I wiped away a tear as I read about this woman I wish I had known. I’m still thinking and talking about this mother and her daughter.
Ann Langton
Ottawa
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The stories in Grace reveal faith, hope, and love, lived by her and people in small Ontario towns. They are the real jewels in our history. Grace is a must read.
Eleanor C
Kingston
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Your book brought back memories of living in the Wellman’s community until I was eight, but also, still feeling a part of that group whenever I meet community members. As a child, I felt Wellman’s was the most secure place in the world.
I knew Grace quite well, but never had the privilege of being her student. She taught my father, Lorne, preparing him for the Senior Fourth departmental exams. His grades were second highest in the county, just behind the son of the school inspector. That’s a testament to her teaching. Your account provides so many details about her struggles in life that were not evident to, at least, some of us. She always seemed confident, perceptive, and wise.
The information about Uncle Jim and the train accident was illuminating. It was not talked about in the family. Consequently I have known only bits and pieces, and wondered about the rest. Yet I have always felt its pain.
The quotation, “Stories are memories that must be shared with the Universe because if they aren’t the Universe becomes a much smaller place” is fitting. I thank you for sharing the story of your mother’s life and Wellman’s Corners so that neither story is lost.
Anne
Oshawa
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I read your book yesterday and felt it resonate. In the early 1980s, I taught in a three-room school in Cobourg. My students were all farm children, so I experienced the community you describe so well. One of our students died in a tragic farm accident and the community instantly came together just as in your book.
Another point of resonance for me was the mention of John Matheson. I went to high school in Brockville where he was MP during the development of our national flag.
I couldn’t put your book down until I had finished it. What a beautiful story, so well written. It was a real thrill for me to read about places and events that resonated with my own personal experience. We have been privileged to witness the development of Can. Lit. It is so important for people to be able to read their own stories of their own land and people. Thank you.
Patricia Calder
www.patriciacalder.ca
Author of Roadblock, a novel about a family’s grief recovery
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For additional comments from readers, scroll down on the Home page of this website or see the Post entitled What Readers Tell Me.
M

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