Stories of the Road Allowance People, The Revised Edition

11 November 2011

Stories of the Road Allowance People, The Revised Edition
By Maria Campbell
Published by Gabriel Dumont Institute
Reviewed by Jackie Blakely
$30.00 ISBN 978-0-920915-99-8

Stories of the Road Allowance People by Maria Campbell is a beautifully woven tapestry of Métis remembrances and story telling by Métis elders. Carefully translated into print, Campbell captures the true nature of the Métis people and their culture through stories that are delightfully illustrated with paintings by Sherry Farrell Racette. By retelling these stories using phonetically-correct vernacular of the Métis culture, Campbell is able to recreate a place and time in history.

These stories are populated with unforgettable characters, such as Dah Red-Headed Fur Buyer, Crow and Chi Kaw Chee. And the stories take place in the early 1900’s, set in the context of World War, Diefenbaker, early automobiles, and canned ‘buloney’, set in and around Batoche and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

The stories are peppered with interesting asides, like how in Rou Garous, it’s mentioned that not all Métis embraced Catholicism and many of them still fooled around with ‘dah ole way’. And how in La Beau Sha Shoo, a story of how one man obtained inspiration for his song, we hear also of how the Métis were no longer able to wear their distinctive Red River sash. This approach to story telling offers the reader a chance to see deeper into the Métis society with each passing side note, like a whisper from the soul of the culture itself.

These stories are best read aloud, to truly enable the reader to embrace the spirit in which they were originally told. The book is accompanied by a CD that contains some stories from the book and traditional fiddle music. Listen to the CD prior to reading the book to truly enhance the reading experience.


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