A renowned author investigates the dark and shocking history of her prairie house.
When researching the first occupant of her Saskatoon home, Candace Savage discovers a family more fascinating and heartbreaking than she expected
Napoléon Sureau dit Blondin built the house in the 1920s, an era when French-speakers like him were deemed “undesirable” by the political and social elite, who sought to populate the Canadian prairies with WASPs only. In an atmosphere poisoned first by the Orange Order and then by the Ku Klux Klan, Napoléon and his young family adopted anglicized names and did their best to disguise their “foreignness.”
In Strangers in the House, Savage scours public records and historical accounts and interviews several of Napoléon’s descendants, including his youngest son, to reveal a family story marked by challenge and resilience. In the process, she examines a troubling episode in Canadian history, one with surprising relevance today.
Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute
About the author
Candace Savage is the author of numerous internationally acclaimed books on subjects ranging from natural history and science to popular culture. She is the author of the best-selling natural history titles Bird Brains: The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies and Jays and Prairie: A Natural History, for which she won two Saskatchewan Book Awards and a Gold Medal from ForeWord Magazine in 2004. She is also a frequent contributor to numerous periodicals, including Canadian Geographic. She lives in Saskatoon, SK.
"The book’s charm lies in its first-person narrative, which poignantly conjures the Blondin family’s challenges along with the author’s reactions to historical events."
"Riveting and poignant. Savage captures the tragedy and tenacity that define the history of Québec and its diaspora across North America. A rare sympathetic view from an Anglo-Canadian."
—David Vermette, A Distinct Alien Race: The Untold Story of Franco-Americans
"Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Strangers in the House is a remarkable achievement."
—Roy MacGregor, Canadians: A Portrait of a Country and Its People
"Strangers in the House puts the past in conversation with the present to show how certain events and decisions can have a ripple effect that lasts for generations."
—Guillaume Morissette, The Original Face
"In Strangers in the House, Candace Savage has deftly reached across time and space to tell another, less comfortable side of Saskatchewan history through the lives of the people who once lived in her Saskatoon home. It’s as though they’re sitting together at the kitchen table, speaking from the heart, baring their souls."
—Bill Waiser, historian and author of A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan Before 1905
"As Candace Savage unravels the history of her Saskatoon home, her search for the family who built the house in 1928 leads her to understand that the French in Canada have often been forced to abandon their language and culture in order to integrate into the English community. I was captivated by [Strangers in the House] from the first page to the last. A very well-written story that needed to be told."
—Laurier Gareau, La Trahison and De poussière et du vent
Other titles by Candace Savage
A Natural History of the Heart of North America Tagline: Revised Edition
The Intelligence of Crows, Ravens, Magpies, and Jays
Best Places to Bird in the Prairies
A Geography of Blood
Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape
Curious By Nature
One Woman's Exploration of the Natural World
Nature's Little Wonders
Encounters with the Wise Guys of the Avian World
An Amazing Journey through the Last Great Age of Magic
The Wild Ride from Wicked to Wicca