Winnipeg private-school students publish history book
St. John’s-Ravenscourt classroom join ranks of published authors
They’re only 16-years-old, but a group of Winnipeg high-school students are now all published authors.
A Grade 11 social-studies class at St. John’s-Ravenscourt School has published Because of a Hat, a collection of 20 stories based on records of the Red River Settlement in the 1700s and 1800s.
The book is now being launched at bookstore McNally Robinson.
"It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m a published author," said student Jonathan Lee.
The idea for the project came from their teacher Matt Henderson, who wanted a way to get his students thinking about what the Red River area would have been like 200 years ago.
Henderson took his students to the Hudson’s Bay Company archives, where students got a chance to comb through baptism records, shipping logs and even the personal journal of the wife of HBC benefactor George Simpson.
"Sometimes the place can be the curriculum. You know, just being in a place where we can do a lot of learning," said Henderson.
Henderson then had each student write a fictional story, inspired by what they learned at the archives.
Student Stephanie Fennell wrote about the HBC and the North-West Company before they merged.
"It’s pretty cool, I think. It’s a really interesting way to explore history," said Fennell.
Jeremy Baker chose to write from the perspective of fur-trader-turned-politician John Pritchard and the Massacre at Seven Oaks.
"I had enough background, from this and other sources. I felt like I had a picture of what it was like."
Now Fennell and Baker are preparing for their first book reading, along with the rest of their class.
The book launch and reading is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in McNally Robinson Booksellers at Grant Park Shopping Centre.