Broad Is the Way
Stories from Mayerthorpe
Paper 120 pp.
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Online discount: 50%
In 1949, Margaret Norquay moved with her new husband, a minister with the United Church of Canada, to Mayerthorpe, in northern Alberta, a village in the centre of what was in those days a pioneer hinterland. Broad Is the Way is a collection of stories from their seven years there. Told with affection and gentle humour, the stories cover the challenges, heartaches, and delights of a young community and a minister and his wife in a very new marriage. Topics include the experience of orphan children sent to work on Western farms, manoeuvring for a restroom downtown for farmers’ wives in need of a place to change their babies while their husbands did business, dealing with the RCMP over liquor found in the church basement, and the generosity of spirit shown by the community to the Norquays. Throughout the book, Margaret Norquay’s indomitable spirit and determination are evident and illustrate her passionate belief in making positive change and having fun while doing it.
A lifelong pioneer, Margaret Norquay has always been involved in community development, first with Farm Radio Forum and then with the Canadian army, where she served as a welfare officer. Postwar, in Dunnville, she was the first woman in Ontario to be appointed a community recreation director. Her marriage took her to Mayerthorpe, Alberta, as a minister’s wife and community volunteer. Later she wrote documentaries for CBC’s Take Thirty and became the director of studies for Open College, Ryerson.
“Reading...memoirs of mid-century working lives [such as] Margaret Norquay’s leads to a first conclusion: what happened to people like this? It is a cliché that our culture with its steady diet of celebrity vanity fails to notice quiet lives of service and integrity.... [M]eeting [her] if only in print, is refreshing and welcome.... Norquay’s gift is her lack of sentimentality.... Hers is not a personal book, rarely touching on what might be the difficulties of raising four children; instead, she relates memories of starting a lending library, sitting on community boards, dealing with her husband’s head injury, and organizing a children’s camp. These bracing tales are told by a woman who looks back on her life with little sense of self-importance and a good deal of humour.”
— Kathryn Carter, Canadian Literature
“A lot can happen in seven years, even in a small town. Broad Is the Way: Stories from Mayerthorpe is a compilation of anecdotal stories by author Margaret Norquay, about the time she spent in Mayerthorpe, a small village in Alberta in western Canada. She speaks of the toil of orphaned children, the challenges of everyday life, and encouters with Mounties investigating teh church. A somber but inspiring view of small town life, Broad Is the Way: Stories from Mayerthorpe is a virtual window on small-town Canada’s past, and a top pick for community library memoir collections.”
— Midwest Book Review