Read My Book: The Englishman in the Valley shares a family’s history

In 1892, Aubrey Rooke left behind his prestigious family in England and moved to a small shack in Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley

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It all started with a little black binder.

This particular binder had been around for years, transported along with all the other household possessions as my family moved from city to city. Its contents had always interested me — a few photocopied pages of information about a man I never knew. Whenever this binder was brought into the light, my mom would tell me stories about this man and the relationship he once had with several generations of our family. The stories always intrigued me, but the binder was inevitably put back in the cupboard and life carried on.

In 2019 I came across the binder once again and decided it was time to give this story a closer look. I conducted extensive research and what emerged was a tale too amazing to just sit in a cupboard. COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and, like everyone else, I went into lockdown with no clear time frame as to when things would open up. I knew it was time to start writing.

This book is for anyone who enjoys true stories with a local focus, but also has an interest in national and international events. It is an historical biography that takes the reader through the epic journey of Aubrey Rooke who, in 1892, left behind his prestigious, aristocratic family in England and travelled to Canada, taking up residence in a small shack in the hills of Saskatchewan’s Qu’Appelle Valley. It traces Rooke’s fascinating life, including his remarkable community involvement, Indigenous friendships, and the impact he had on people around him.

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Spanning a period from 1742 to 1966, the second section of the book introduces the reader to several members of the Rooke family, each intriguing in their own right. While the emphasis of each story is on the individual themselves, in the background is an event of historical significance. Numerous photographs throughout the book help bring these stories to life and create a visually beautiful product.

Stories of a royal inheritance, father of a queen, dining with an empress, a tragedy at sea, and murder may seem like tales of fantasy and fiction, but are in fact true! Perhaps that is what makes this book such a compelling read.

And it all started with a little black binder.

The Englishman in the Valley is available from friesenpress.com, Amazon, McNally Robinson, Kobo.

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