"Yes, Miss Thompson" tells the captivating story of schoolteacher, Marjory Thompson and the four generations of the Manitoba family who live in the shadow of a catastrophic decision, perhaps without even knowing it.
With insight and imagination, Amy Boyes brings her great-grandmother's past alive in this tale of immigration, struggle, and the long reach of history.
Marjory loved socials, but instead of dancing at the schoolhouse, we'd like to connect with you on Facebook.
When plain, outspoken Yorkshire schoolgirl Marjory Thompson immigrates with her rambunctious family to Canada in 1904, her parents are convinced that fortune waits in the flat farmland of Manitoba. Before long, the impatient Marjory realizes that her parents have got it all wrong: nothing but hard work, loneliness, and boredom lie before them.
Desperate to escape, Marjory takes one rural teaching post after another, scrimping and saving, until she can afford to attend university. After graduation, she is employed as a high school principal, a rare feat for a woman in the 1930s.
What comes next, at the dawn of the feminist age, is not deserved success but a single act of terrible judgement that will haunt Marjory for the rest of her life.
Now a century later, great-granddaughter, Amy Boyes, searches for clues about Marjory’s past before memories fade and evidence is lost forever. From a derelict prairie homestead, to the horrors of Passchendaele, the deprivation of the Great Depression, the swinging ‘60s, and the internet age, the triumphs and follies of a remarkable woman and her descendants are explored in this fictionalized biography.
With insight and imagination, Amy Boyes brings the past alive in “Yes, Miss Thompson,” a story of immigration, struggle, and the long reach of history.
Marjory Thompson Smith
1892 to 1969
1931 to 2020
Betty Smith Esler
Amy Esler Boyes
Beginning in 1901
I imagined this moment over and over—on the train; in a cold attic bedroom last night. I had my gestures, my introductions planned beautifully. But now that I’m standing in front of my eight pupils, I have a sudden loss of confidence. I’m just sixteen. I’ve completed grade 10 and four weeks of teacher training. That’s all. I have a third-class teaching certificate but no experience whatsoever. I just know I’ve been handed an opportunity, as young and inexperienced as I am. This is my chance to make something of myself, to prove myself as a teacher. Who knows? Maybe I can even complete my second-class certificate someday. If I don’t, I’ll be condemned to teach in these tiny one-room schools forever.
Amy Boyes is a writer and music teacher in Ottawa, Ontario. Her first book, Micro Miracle was published by Signature Editions in 2019.
Amy's writing explores family, parenting and teaching and the places where they intersect. Her work can be found in The Globe and Mail, In Parentheses, The Humber Literary Review, Piano Professional, American Music Teachers’ Magazine, Piano Magazine, and the Canadian Music Teachers’ Magazine. She has been a guest blog writer for the Melanie Spanswick, No Dead Guys, PianoDao and Crossed Eyed Pianist blogs and is a content editor for Notes Magazine.
Amy is a speaker and clinician and has given radio, television and print interviews.
Yes, Miss Thompson has been a labour of love as Amy discovered the history of her remarkable great-grandmother, Marjory Thompson Smith.
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