Book cover image for: Mendel’s Children: A Family Chronicle

Mendel's Children: A Family Chronicle

Cherie Smith

$19.95 CAD / $22.95 USD

191 pages, 53 illustration

6 x 9 inches

978-1-89517-685-8 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-402-2 (Institutional PDF)

September 1997

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About the Book

Through a unique combination of biography, memoir, and autobiography, Cherie Smith traces four generations of her immigrant family and, in doing so, charts the very course of Russian-Jewish immigration to the Canadian prairies over the last one hundred years.

Starting in the shtetles of Poland and Latvia in the 1890s, Mendel’s Children follows an often wild and woolly assortment of relatives as they strive to become Canadians.

Meet Great-Grandfather Mendel, the dairyman, who started it all by siring five sons and four daughters. Meet Robert and Sarah, who are conned out of their tickets to gold-rushing San Francisco and stranded in Winnipeg; Iser, a boy of 14, who is inspired to leave Russia after reading The Last of the Mohicans.

Meet Maxwell, the rum-runner; Jake, the quintessential schlemiel; and Morris, with his ever-diminishing thumb; Big Bessie and Ida, the battling aunts who fight to the death in their own private strudel war; Solomon, the Gentle, and gutsy Etza, caught up in war, revolution, and exile; and finally, the long-lost Margarita, who leaves the Soviet Union in 1990 to make a new life for herself and her children in Vancouver.

About the Author

Cherie Smith  was born in Saskatchewan and graduated from the University of British Columbia. A founding member of UBC’s Prismmagazine, she was an editor with November House for several years.

Praise for Mendel’s Children

Mendel’s Children is not just another story about the immigration experiences of eastern European Jews . . . informing and entertaining.

—Susan J. Landeau-Chark, Canadian Jewish Studies

Table of Contents

The Finn Family Photograph
The Schlemiel and the Schlimazel
Lady Baltimore Cake
The Great Finnigan
Melting Moments
Great-Uncle Morris’s Ever-Diminishing Thumb
This Store is Not for Burning
Big Bessie and Me
Mendel’s Children
The Boy Who Loved James Fenimore Cooper
The Gentle Exile
Country Doctor
Flying High
The Last of Our Mohicans