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Christine, won’t you come and play?

Mélina Roy, the author's mother, with her first six children. (SHSB 26232)

Mélina Roy, the author’s mother, with her first six children. (SHSB 26232)

“Chris-tine-will-you-come-and-play? At-store-keep-ing-come-and-play? At-bear-train-ing-come-and-play?” (Petite Misère, Street of Riches, McClelland & Stewart, p. 17)

Through play, a child seeks to explore the world, often pretending to be grown-up. This was as true of children at the beginning of the 20th century as it is today. Here you will see toys that the Roy children might have played with. Outdoors, there were stilts and swings and skates, and snowbanks to enjoy; a child could both play and learn to dream in the company of trees, flowers… and even frogs.

What a strange and wonderful little street it was! Where the pavement ended, the open prairie began; there I would make believe I was the great explorer La Vérendrye, setting forth on foot to conquer the unexplored lands to the west in the name of the King of France… there was also a stand of little old oak trees that I thought of as friends.” (Ma petite rue qui m’a menée au bout du monde, Éditions du blé.)

[This work has not been published in English; the title means “The little street that led me to the ends of the Earth”.]

In the pages of her tales and short stories, Gabrielle evokes the child and its inborn attachment to nature.

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