"Mush-Hole": Memories of a Residential School


24 pages
ISBN 0-920813-98-4
DDC j371.97'9702




Illustrations by Carlos Freire

Margaret Bunel Edwards writes novels for young adults. She is the author
of Little Stitch and The Ocean Between.


This account of life at a residential school for Native children is
given by a former student who attended one in 1914. It paints a bleak
picture of a cheerless life under the direction of a religious order.
The title refers to the “mush” that is always served at breakfast.

The story highlights the dilemma of a child forced to give up language
and religion. In her adult years, she tries to reclaim her heritage and
spirituality. Before this can be accomplished, there is a struggle with
alcoholism and loneliness and a return to the Christian church for

Despite this support, an emptiness remains until the writer meets
Native elders. They introduce her to a forgotten culture and a
spirituality that she finds very comforting. She goes on to teach these
values as she works with her immediate family and with indigenous people
in other countries. The story ends on a hopeful note and will help young
North American Indians to understand the experiences of their

The illustrations complement the story and are appropriate. No attempt
is made to soften the storyline with happy pictures. Recommended.


Harper, Maddie., “"Mush-Hole": Memories of a Residential School,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/20363.