Roses in December


219 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-919599-07-9





Reviewed by Percy Maddox

Percy Maddox was a Vancouver librarian.


Roses in December is not a very exciting title for the variegated life story of a United Church of Canada minister who was born in Newfoundland in 1902 and had stirring experiences in New York, California, Winnipeg, Toronto, and far corners of the globe as well as in his native province. It is subtitled “The Autobiography of Ernest Marshall Howse,” who wrote this after he had turned 80. He was also the author of other books and of numerous newspaper columns and countless sermons.

The book starts at the very beginning, and the descriptions of life in Newfoundland in the early years of the century are vivid, bringing the reader close to all that the author experienced. He did not at first intend to be a clergyman, and his account of his life adequately explains how destiny put him into that profession.

Indeed, we see the hand of fate all through the story, although the author never points that out — one thing led to another and opportunities popped up of their own accord.

The author has an excellent command of English and seldom gives way to current slang. Sadly, he does not give us as many dates as we would like to see in a book of this kind, but the story flows along in a logical manner.

The first part of the book tells a more connected story; toward the end the narrative becomes a mere recital of events and people and places, as though the author were trying to catalogue his various honours and achievements.


Howse, Ernest Marshall, “Roses in December,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,