The Bargain


237 pages
Contains Maps
ISBN 0-921556-67-5
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Darleen R. Golke

Darleen R. Golke is a high-school teacher-librarian in Winnipeg,


In 1864, 16-year-old Elizabeth Skinner marries sea captain James Walker
and moves from Janvrins Island to Walkerville in Cape Breton. Although
she is half Walker’s age, Elizabeth enters “the bargain” with a
sense of commitment and determination. In three parts—the union, fruit
of the union, and coming to terms—The Bargain chronicles the history
of the Walker family, up to Elizabeth’s death in 1930.

The story spans significant events in Maritime history and politics.
The colorful journalist and politician, Joseph Howe, expresses the
conflicting attitudes of many Maritimers toward Maritime union and
Canadian union. Also serving as a backdrop to the Walker saga are such
social and economic factors as trade with the United States, the
development and building of the national and local railroad systems, the
Riel execution, the women’s suffrage movement, the conflict between
Protestants and Catholics, the temperance movement, the Glace Bay
miner’s strike, World War I, and the emergence of the automobile.

A rich cast of characters inhabits the Walker world, including James
and Elizabeth’s seven children and their families. In the best
tradition of historical fiction, Cude uses realistic dialogue and a
wealth of descriptive detail in presenting the daily lives of ordinary
people. Senior high students interested in Canadian and Maritime history
will find The Bargain informative and interesting, although challenging
and somewhat lengthy. Recommended.


Cude, Mary Pat., “The Bargain,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,