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Days of Toil and Tears: The Child Labour Diary of Flora Rutherford is the twenty-first book in the Dear Canada series by Scholastic Canada. The book was written by Sarah Ellis and is her second entry for the series. It was published in January 2008. The book was followed by Julie Lawson's Where the River Takes Me.


"For Delaney, whose olden days are yet to come
Thanks to the staff of the American Textile History Museum; the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum; Mississippi Mills Public Library, Almonte Branch; Keith Bunnell of the University of British Columbia Library; Vera Rosenbluth and the other generous members of the Association of Personal Historians; and Ruth McBride for her hospitality in Almonte.

Book description[]

"June 27, 1887
Back to work today. As soon as Auntie Janet and I got up to the spinning room the noise made my head start to pound again. The first time I had to twist a broken thread, I didn't want to go under the machine. It seemed alive. I didn't want to be a piecer or a doffer girl. I wanted to run down the stairs and out the front door, over the bridge, up Mill Street, along the railway tracks and over the fence into the Edward Street garden where I could hide under a bush and make believe all day.
But I am a mill girl, so I made myself go under the machine. The second time was not so hard.

"Le 27 juin 1887
De retour au travail, aujourd'hui. Dès l'instant où tante Janet et moi sommes entrées dans l'atelier de filature, ma tête s'est remise à faire mal à cause du bruit. Au premier fil que j'ai eu à rattacher, je ne voulais pas aller sous la machine. Elle me semblait vivante. Je ne voulais plus rattacher les fils ni lever les bobines. Je voulais dévaler l'escalier, sortir par la grande porte, traverser le pont, courir dans la rue Mill en longeant le chemin de fer, puis franchir la clôture du Jardin de la rue Edward où je serais restée cachée toute la journée dans les buissons, à jouer à faire semblant.
Mais je suis ouvrière de filature, alors je me suis forcée à aller sous la machine. La deuxième fois, c'était moins dur.



Historical Note[]


Main article: List of Days of Toil and Tears characters


Main article: Sarah Ellis



  • Resource Links, Best of the Year (2008) - commended[5]
  • Hackmatack Children's Choice Award, Atlantic Canada (2010) - short-listed[6]
  • Chocolate Lily Book Award, BC Children's Choice (2010) - short-listed[5]


"The publisher would like to thank Dr. Joy Parr for providing her expertise on the manuscript. She is the author of Labouring Children British Immigrant Apprentices to Canada, 1869—1924, as well as The Gender of Breadwinners, a book about the textile families of Paris, Ontario. She is the editor of two collections on children's history, Childhood and Family in Canadian History and Histories of Canadian Children and Youth. Thanks also to Michael Dunn for the generous use of his collection of Almonte photographs and for supplying map references, and to Barbara Hehner for her valuable assistance in fact-checking the manuscript."



See also[]

Dear Canada

Orphan at My Door | A Prairie as Wide as the Sea | With Nothing But Our Courage | Footsteps in the Snow
A Ribbon of Shining Steel | Whispers of War | Alone in an Untamed Land | Brothers Far from Home | An Ocean Apart
A Trail of Broken Dreams | Banished from Our Home | Winter of Peril | Turned Away | The Death of My Country
No Safe Harbour | A Rebel's Daughter | A Season for Miracles | If I Die Before I Wake | Not a Nickel to Spare
Prisoners in the Promised Land | Days of Toil and Tears | Where the River Takes Me | Blood Upon Our Land
A Desperate Road to Freedom | A Christmas to Remember | Exiles from the War | To Stand On My Own
Hoping for Home | That Fatal Night | Torn Apart | A Sea of Sorrows | Pieces of the Past | A Country of Our Own
All Fall Down | Flame and Ashes | A Time for Giving | These Are My Words

External links[]