The lives of European women who lived in or visited Canada's Northwest Territories are examined.
It has been estimated that over 500 European women travelled or lived in Canada's Northwest Territories before 1940. They came as visiters, journalists, and artists, or worked as nurses, scientists, and missionaries. In Alone in Silence Barbara Kelcey describes the women who lived and worked in the north and the unique situations they faced.
Kelcey details their struggles with the domestic realities of setting up a home or living in the hostile conditions imposed by the geography, as well as their need to adjust the way they worked. The rich sources left by Christian missionaries provide details of missionary women caught up in the zeal of their vocation but held within the confines of a paternal church. The letters and reports of the Grey Nuns who worked alongside the Oblate Fathers in the Mackenzie indicate the hardships imposed by their situation but also show how driven they were by their missionary purpose.
Alone in Silence is the first book to address the anonymity of European women in the north. Kelcey draws from a diverse field of sources, making use of published and primary sources so scattered that there has been no previous sense of collective memories. By giving voice to this neglected group she offers a unique perspective on the vast literature on life in the north.