Charles Web Journal

My blog is intended to show how I construct and write a historical novel. It will be a journal of my daily writing activity, as I write a new historical novel.

Location: Evansburg, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired school teacher with a B. Ed in English literature a B.A. in History. After a long career as a teacher of English and history, I now write historical novels based on Canadian history.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Pregnancy problems

Daniel and Harriet are extremely happy now that she is pregnant, but this does not last too long as the pregnancy becomes difficult.

Doctors are few so women rely on midwifes for help and advice. Usually all goes well, but not for Harriet. She becomes very sick and the midwife advises bed rest and quiet. Harriet obeys and all seems to be progressing satisfactorily until Harriet ignores the midwife’s advice.

The result: she miscarries to her disbelief and to Daniel’s anger.

Such occurrences were common during the early pioneer days in Alberta and for that matter in most areas of Canada and the USA.

Some were due to the scarcity of doctors, others to ignorance, and still others to poor conditions in the homes—hard work, poor diet, poor sanitation, and little regard for germs, bacteria, and viruses.

This is 1894. Although Edmonton is growing into a town with doctors and a hospital, the women in the rural areas were often far from such resources. Twenty miles was a long distance in those days, usually five or six hours travel by horse or oxen. In any case, life was not as valued as it is today because deaths were common.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Daniel and Harriet's marriage starts almost ideally as they are very compatible in most ways. But as time passes they wanted children, they find that their desire is not fulfilled.
Although they are happy, and their life is satsifying, they look forward to children. Each think they are the reason for their lack of success, yet they continue stiving for their desire.
Eventually, Harriet does become pregnant to their great joy.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Today I started Chapter Nine, which I’ve titled The Husband. Daniel and Harriet are married but her family is not present, and since Daniel is an orphan without family in the North West, the marriage is a simple affair.

Another anomaly is the fact that Harriet does not belong to Daniel’s faith and naturally is uncomfortable with the rite and ceremony.

Daniel and Harriet are very much in love so that compensates for any problems and difficulties. One of these difficulties is the fact that Harriet appears to have difficulty becoming pregnant since both are looking forward to many children that are really necessary to help with the work on the farm.

Whether that will continue to be a problem remains to be seen!

Friday, April 22, 2005

A happy ending?

Today I completed Chapter Eight that I gave the working title The Bridegroom. Daniel and Harriet fall in love but are hampered by her parent’s rejection of Daniel. Daniel tries to convince her parents that they love each other, but to no avail and he is banished from their homestead.

Frustrated and rejected, he throws himself into work on his homestead when to his surprise and elation Harriet arrives because she has been banished by her father when she tells him that she and Daniel have made love.

She finds Daniel and his homestead, and they plan to marry.

Again, writing the chapter was very different from the plan although the outcome was the same. Although I have a vague idea of what I expect to happen in each chapter, seldom does it turn out as I originally plan. Circumstances, events, emotions, etc. dictate what will happen and how it will happen, often to my surprise.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Love or passion?

Today Daniel decides to revisit the Dyer homestead in order to determine whether he is infatuated with Harriet or if he has actually fallen in love. As he rides toward their home, he speculates on how he will handle the meeting since he realizes that her parents are not in favor of his interest in their daughter.

When he arrives he is pleasantly surprised to find that the parents are away and Harriet is alone at the campsite. Their mutual attraction immediately surfaces, and their passion finds them embracing each other.

Daniel is exhilarated when Harriet confess her attraction and love for him. He ask her to marry him, but she knows that will be impossible and tells him so.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Another scene

Today I wrote scene three of this chapter. Daniel has become obsessed with Harriet and decides to find the location of her family’s homestead. Soon he arrives and his feelings for her increase but her parents are not very sympathetic to his desire to court their daughter although she does nothing to discourage Daniel’s attention.

This was an easy scene to write as the characters’ motivations were clear-cut. Sometimes a scene is difficult because the intent and motivation of the characters is not obvious. The greatest difficulty, I find, is to keep in mind the mores and culture of the period and the milieu of the characters.

Presentism can become a problem if a write is not careful when working on a historical novel based on a time long past. Even language—the idioms and colloquialisms of the period—must be adhered, in my opinion.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A possible romance?

The spring of 1892 in Alberta was one of bad weather—cold, snow storms, melts, freezes, etc.—not a good time for farmers, new settlers, and anyone expecting the land to provide.

As well, a new group of settlers arrived at Strathcona on the south shore of the Saskatchewan River that was the railroad terminal as no bridge was built to cross the river. An ice road in winter and a ferry in summer joined the two communities.

Alfred Dyer, his wife, and his daughter, Harriet, are headed for their homestead north and east of Fort Saskatchewan when Daniel meets them on the trail. Instantly, Daniel is attracted to Harriet, and she reciprocates, but a romance is unlikely as they will be far apart in distance as well as culture. He is French and Catholic, while her family is Anglo-Saxon and Protestant.

That is as far as the chapter progressed today.


I've been posting regularly, but they haven't been appearing. I'm not sure what the problem is, but it is frustrating to write and not have it posted.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Chapter Eight

I started chapter eight today with a leap of seven years from 1885 to 1892. By now the insurrection has been squashed, and, of course, Daniel is no longer in jail.

For the past years he has worked on his homestead improving it to the point where he now has title to the land because he cleared twenty-five acres, built a barn, acquired several animals—four draft horses, two cows, some pigs and chickens. In other words, he has become a prosperous farmer.

He lacks a wife and is now seriously thinking of rectifying that situation although he still dreams of Geraldine and what he considers a missed opportunity. Although he knows he can never love Marguerite, he even considers her as a possible mate.

That’s the first part of chapter eight.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A good day!

Today was one of those great writing days, unlike yesterday that was a ‘bust.’ Today the words flowed, the characters worked, the action moved the story along. So the scene was written quickly and with satisfaction.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that it is perfect or even that it will remain as part of the book, but it was easy to write. Maybe it was because I gave it more thought, and although I had it planned it didn’t follow the script.

I’m not sure if the characters took over or whether the plot line was drive behind the scene. Nevertheless, I’m satisfied with the way it turned out.

Basically, Daniel went to visit the people of St. Albert who belong to the mission served by the Oblate priests and brother missionaries. His purpose was to ascertain the attitude of the Métis there, and to find out how the Cree first nation is considering its options.

He is assured that the Métis and the Cree have no quarrel with the settlers and citizens of Edmonton, but once he returns to Edmonton he learns that several incidents have occurred where some settlers have been forced from their farms and a Cree band invades the Hudson’s Bay post at Lac Ste. Anne demanding provision for the hungry.

Obviously, the situation is tense!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Back on track

I’m back working on my WIP after a hiatus of several days. Today, I was in the middle of chapter seven, and as usual I planned the scene that I intended to write with a goal for my protagonist, Daniel Martin, now twenty year old and working to improve his homestead. His plans are thwarted by the troubles brewed up by the Metis and Indians.

It’s the spring of 1885 and trouble is really brewing in the Saskatchewan Territory around the town of Prince Albert, Batoche, and Duck Lake, the centers most riled up.

Danny is sympathetic to the Metis and Indian cause and tries to convince the people in and around Edmonton that violence is unlikely when the Duck Lake debacle takes place and several North West Mounted Police and Metis are killed in a clash between the two.

At this point, young Margerite Beauregarde rides out to Daniel’s homestead to apprise him of the situation.

The interesting thing about this scene was the intrusion of Marguerite Beauregarde as the deliver of the news to Daniel. It surprised me, but it was fitting. I’m not sure what significance this will have for the story.

But it is fun to speculate!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


I haven't been posting because I've been away and so have not written much in the past week. I will get at it tomorrow and will post my progress then.