Winter of Peril: The Newfoundland Diary of Sophie Loveridge


220 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps
ISBN 0-7791-1409-4
DDC jC813'.54






Reviewed by Susan Merskey

Susan Merskey is freelance writer in London, Ontario.


In 1721, Sophie and her parents left their home in Deer Park, Poole,
Dorset—in England’s West Country—to sail to Newfoundland. They
settled in an inlet later named Mairie’s Cove.

Sophie’s diary recounts the family’s first year there—their
successes, frustrations, and hardships. She vividly describes the trials
of “wintering over,” such as the bitter cold and lack of fresh food.
While she herself was quite content and enjoyed the company of other
people living in the cove, her parents were less so. She tells her story
well, and it is easy for readers to picture the living conditions she
experienced. Her descriptions of the encounters between Mairie’s Cove
residents and a group of Beothuk Indians are particularly interesting.

Sophie’s diary ceased when she exhausted her paper supply. However,
this was not the end of her story, and the author’s epilogue
chronicles what happened next. After that first year, Sophie’s Uncle
Thaddeus sent money from England, enabling the family to move to a
larger settlement, Trinity. There her mother’s latent artistic talent
came to the fore. Her paintings of the region sold well in England, but
the artist’s identity was never disclosed because it was not
considered suitable for a woman to earn her living in this way. Sophie
herself first ran the home for her parents, and later became bookkeeper
to a local merchant before marrying happily and returning to settle in
Mairie’s Cove with her husband.

Winter of Peril is part of the Dear Canada series, which chronicles
periods of Canadian history through diaries. While each diary is
fictional, the stories they tell are believable and a good means of
introducing young readers to elements of Canadian history. Highly


Andrews, Jan., “Winter of Peril: The Newfoundland Diary of Sophie Loveridge,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,