Keeley, Book 2: Keeley's Big Story
Marie St. Onge-Davidson is president of the Essential English Centre in
There are 20 books in the Our Canadian Girl series, which include
stories about 12 different girls living in our Canadian past. The Girl
from Turtle Mountain (2004) introduced us to a young tomboy, Keeley.
Keeley had just moved to the frontier coal-mining town of Frank,
Alberta, with her father. Her mother had passed away six months earlier.
In the first story, Keeley discovered how dangerous the mines could be.
In this continuing saga, Keeley has decided to become a newspaper
reporter. She starts by attempting to solve a local mystery and writing
an article about it for the local paper. The town of Frank has had
reports of numerous items disappearing: a shirt from Mrs. Johnston’s
clothesline, Mrs. Greer’s axe, and Andy Grissick’s frying pan. The
year is 1902 and while Canada is at war, some of the local women are
protesting in the street.
Keeley’s meeting with Cora Hind, one of the first women’s rights
activists of that time, spurs her on to set up a private detective
agency to solve the local thefts. Her investigations lead her into
dangerous situations, but she soon learns that there are connections
between one mystery and another, just as there are connections between
many things in life. Keeley is obliged to accept facts and resolutions,
which are difficult for a young girl her age.
More of Greg Banning’s and Janet Wilson’s delightful illustrations
would have made this novel more interesting. Canadian Girl “towns”
on the map of Canada at the beginning of the book would highlight the
whole series in geographical terms. “Canada’s Timeline” at the end
of the book enables the young reader to place each Canadian Girl in
history as the series evolves.
Deborah Ellis has woven a story filled with spirited characters and the
challenges they had to face at a very different time in our early
Canadian history. The story flows at an interesting pace and includes
realistic dialogue laced with Keeley’s own personal observations.