The first in the series, The Mystery in the Moonlight Murder, will always remain closest to my heart as it features, John Diefenbaker, the only Saskatchewan born future Prime Minister. It is set in 1908 near Borden, Saskatchewan where Diefenbaker’s father had homesteaded and was teaching school. Young Diefenbaker grows up working hard on the farm while acquiring an education in a one room school for his elementary education. It is a struggle as the family works to establish a farm and Diefenbaker’s father is so busy between teaching and farming.
The second book, The Legends of the Lake, is set in rural Ontario near Kingston almost a century earlier in 1928 and involves, John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister. Macdonald’s father is operating a flour mill which uses the water from a waterfall. Macdonald also works in the mill when he is not away at school in Kingston. The Macdonald family is doing well but is certainly not wealthy.
The third is Showdown at Bordertown set in the area of Windsor, Ontario across the river from Detroit. It is set in 1950 with young Paul Martin. His father, Paul Martin Sr., is a federal government Member of Parliament for the Liberal Party. At the time of the book Martin Sr. is the Minister of Health for Canada. The Martins live comfortably in a middle class neighbourhood.
Martin Jr. (never known as Jr.) is the only living Prime Minister to be the subject matter of a book and participated in the project including writing the foreword and joining the author, Caroline Woodward, for a book signing event that garnered great publicity.
Most unique about this book is that it was written by a teenager who won a contest to write the book.
The fourth book, The Hero of Hopewell Hill, returns to the 19th Century. It is set on the coast of New Brunswick in 1888. Richard Bennett, our 11th Prime Minister, is living on the family farm. His grandfather had owned a prosperous shipbuilding business but the advent of steel hulled ships brought an end to the family business. Bennett’s father main focus is his blacksmith business. Bennett is expected to work hard on the farm even though he is only 13. Bennett’s mother understands his desire to become a teacher as she had trained as a teacher.
The fifth book, mentioned above, is The Wail of the Wendigo, and features Pierre Elliot Trudeau when he was 11 years old. Trudeau grew up in Montreal. While his father came from a modest background he has prospered and owns a chain of gas stations in Quebec. Despite the Depression of the 1930’s the Trudeau family is doing very well financially.
The five future Prime Ministers come from four different provinces.
Of the quintet four come from rural backgrounds which is not a surprise. Until after World War II most Canadians did not reside in major urban centres.
There is no consistency in the occupations of their fathers.
None of the mothers worked outside the home in jobs. Once again these books are set at times when relatively few women had occupations away from home. Certainly three of the mothers worked on the farm or in the family business.
I acknowledge there is not as much inspiration for girls in reading the series. All the Prime Ministers of the series have been men. It will remain that way in future books as Canada has had but one female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, and she was in power for only a short time before an election decimated the Conservative Party.
What is common to the character of these boys who became Prime Ministers is that they came from families who valued education, hard work and discipline. Those traits remain a sound foundation for young Canadian boys and girls.
I look forward to future books in the series to provide more interesting adventures about the men and woman who have been our Prime Ministers for 149 years.