A Prairie Story of Bigotry and Belonging
Available September 24, 2019
A renowned author investigates the dark and shocking history of her prairie house.
When researching the first occupant of her Saskatoon home, Candace Savage discovers a family more fascinating and heartbreaking than she expected.
Napoléon Sureau dit Blondin built the house in the 1920s, an era when French-speakers like him were deemed “undesirable” by the political and social elite, who sought to populate the Canadian prairies with WASPs only. In an atmosphere poisoned first by the Orange Order and then by the Ku Klux Klan, Napoléon and his young family adopted anglicized names and did their best to disguise their “foreignness.”
In Strangers in the House, Savage scours public records and historical accounts and interviews several of Napoléon’s descendants, including his youngest son, to reveal a family story marked by challenge and resilience. In the process, she examines a troubling episode in Canadian history, one with surprising relevance today.
“Riveting and poignant. Savage captures the tragedy and tenacity that define the history of Québec and its diaspora across North America. A rare sympathetic view from an Anglo-Canadian.”
—David Vermette, A Distinct Alien Race: The Untold Story of Franco-Americans
“Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Strangers in the House is a remarkable achievement.”
—Roy MacGregor, Canadians: A Portrait of a Country and Its People
“Strangers in the House puts the past in conversation with the present to show how certain events and decisions can have a ripple effect that lasts for generations.”
—Guillaume Morissette, The Original Face
“In Strangers in the House, Candace Savage has deftly reached across time and space to tell another, less comfortable side of Saskatchewan history through the lives of the people who once lived in her Saskatoon home. It’s as though they’re sitting together at the kitchen table, speaking from the heart, baring their souls.”
—Bill Waiser, historian and author of A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905
“Strangers in the House tells the story of a French Canadian family whose dreams and aspirations are dashed by the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant vision of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, whereby Québec could be French, but the rest of the country would be English. As Candace Savage unravels the history of her Saskatoon home, her search for the family who built the house in 1928 leads her to understand that the French in Canada have often been forced to abandon their language and culture in order to integrate into the English community. I was captivated by this book from the first page to the last. A very well-written story that needed to be told.”
—Laurier Gareau, La Trahison and De poussière et du vent