Marie-Claire (Our Canadian Girl)

Published by Penguin Canada

A treasury of 4 novels set during and following a smallpox epidemic in 1885 Montreal.

Age Level

Grades 3 to 7

Curriculum Connections

Canadian history, Montreal, family, friendship, religion, class, disease, French-English relations


Offer to read the book to some women at a senior’s residence in your community. You may want to spread your reading over a few or several visits. On the day of your last visit, invite the women to talk about when they were girls. Ask how things were different from, and the same as, both now and when Marie-Claire was a girl.

Write a letter to Marie-Claire. Tell her what surprised you most about life in Montreal in 1885 as you read her story. Invite her to come (if she could) to visit you where you live. Mention what aspects of your home and community you think would surprise her most. (Since there’s no way (is there?) to send mail back in time, send your letter to Kathy Stinson instead. She may have a way of getting Marie-Claire to answer your letter.


Dark Spring

… is infused with a warm tone, rich dialogue and believable situations… an engaging and comforting book filled with family love and positive examples of human ingenuity in misfortune.

Kelly Holmes, Off the Shelf

A Season of Sorrow

Stinson vividly details the textures of life for Marie-Claire and her family during the [smallpox] epidemic. She does a terrific job setting the historical scene and dramatically embodying the religious and social issues of the times in the personal crises of the characters.

Quill & Quire


Feisty as ever, Marie-Claire barrels into life, waging a constant – though not always successful – battle with her fiery temper.

CM Magazine, January 2004

Angels In Winter

… finds the people of Montreal preparing for Christmas and the New Year. Through Marie-Claire’s association with Laura, the reader becomes privy both to the French and English ways of celebrating the season.

CM Magazine, September 2004

History comes alive in this story. The writing style makes for easy comprehension, and the story flows well.

Resource Links

Our Canadian Girl - Marie-Claire

Learn More

Read an excerpt.

Read about a connection between Kathy and one of her Marie-Claire fans.

Read how this book fit into one of the best intros Kathy has ever been given.


Marie-Claire 1: Dark Spring was a Diamond Willow Award Nominee and a Starred Choice of the Canadian Children's Book Centre.

Marie-Claire 2: A Season of Sorrow was a Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award Nominee and a Starred Choice of the Canadian Children's Book Centre.