The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet is a must-read for all homeschooling moms. It’s a memoir written by a widow and a mother of five children, who, during the 1920s and 30s, took her children on their 25-foot cruiser, The Caprice, to explore the waters of British Columbia every summer. During the winter, they lived in their Little House, which overlooked the water, and she home educated her children. This was at a time when there were still relatively few white residents in this area.
There is information that is not given in the book, such as what exactly happened to her husband, or where her children went after they grew up. If you aren’t familiar with British Columbia, you may not understand exactly where every inlet and fjord is that they explored, but none of that bothered me. I was enthralled with each chapter, which is a short account of each of their adventures. They followed the orcas, had an encounter with a bear and cougar, talked to locals, and explored the winter villages of Native Americans who were still living there at that time. (I didn’t exactly approve of how they entered the villages without permission, but considering this was written in a different time, I decided to appreciate this first-person account of this primary document.)
As I was reading the book, I marveled at this woman who not only was raising five young children all by herself, she also had to be a captain, navigator, meteorologist, and mechanic. I traveled on these waters many years ago with my father in his boat, so I know it’s important to understand the tides and how deep the water is before you attempt to enter any small cove. And Wylie Blanchet had no technology to help her! There was no such thing as a depth finder in her day. Then I thought about the challenges of raising and homeschooling two boys on land with my husband, and I wondered if she might be a super woman.
Or, perhaps she found it easier to contain all five children into a small boat. There was no end to the entertainment they found on the beaches and in the woods, catching fish for dinner, picking berries, escaping bears, finding small fresh water lakes, and making friends with other settlers along the way. I appreciated her details about the flora and fauna. I felt like I was in The Caprice and seeing a world that I’ll never be able to go to. I was sad when the book ended because I wanted the adventures to continue.
This book might be a little boring for the younger crowd, but it would be a good book to include in history studies or as a selection of Canadian literature for high school students. The 50th anniversary edition includes black and white family photographs taken by Blanchet’s family, which will bring you closer to this endearing family.
SHELLI BOND PABIS is home | school | life magazine’s senior editor. She writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at www.mamaofletters.com.