Emily-Jane Hills Orford
Published Books
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Published Books

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Fantasy/ Fairy Tale

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Historical Fiction/Fantasy

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Young Adult - Coming of Age

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It Happened in Canada Series

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Creative Nonfiction Series

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The Four Seasons Series

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Music and the Arts Series

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Edited Anthologies

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Recipe Collections

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SpringIn 1725, Antonio Vivaldi wrote the music for The Four Seasons. He penned a poem for each of the four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. Each season has its reason, its significance, its purpose, its own symbolism. Life is like the four seasons. Spring is Melanie Harris’s story. She is a talented young violinist with a valuable Grancino violin. There is a secret inside her violin, a secret only she and her mother should know; but somehow others have found out. The story follows a journey of Melanie’s growth as a musician, the people she meets, the friends she makes, the losses she suffers. Vivaldi’s music is the cornerstone of Melanie’s musical career as well as her life as she takes her instrument and her music around the world. Each stage of Melanie’s life progresses like a season of the year, a musical/poetic symbol as in Vivaldi’s music. Melanie is the music she loves best, The Four Seasons.


PublishAmerica (Nov 7 2005)

ISBN-10: 1413776159
ISBN-13: 978-1413776157
Paperback: 256 pages



SummerIn 1725, Antonio Vivaldi wrote the music for The Four Seasons. He penned a poem for each of the four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Each season has its reason, its significance, its purpose, its own symbolism. Life is like the four seasons. Summer is but one of the seasons of the year; one of the seasons of Vivaldi’s masterpiece The Four Seasons. Summer is the story of Hope Jones, a young Gitxsan fiddler from northern British Columbia, Canada. Hope has a rare musical talent and what everyone believes is a very valuable Stradivarius violin. Is it the mysterious missing ‘Juliet’? As Hope grows and matures in her music, she learns more about her violin, the romance and mystery that surrounds it and the very dangerous family that continually threatens her in their attempts to claim it. Hope’s life follows the four seasons of Vivaldi’s music, much like life unfolds through the seasons. Summer is but one story in Vivaldi’s musical journey.

Summer is the sequel to the popular novel, Spring published by PublishAmerica (2006).


Baico Publishing (December 2007)



AutumnMartha Kapakatoak is a young Inuit girl with a passion for music. She has a talent and an instrument that was passed down to her by her ancestors. She is a self-taught pianist because in Iqaluit, the capital city of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut, there are no piano teachers. In fact, her piano is the only real acoustic piano in the entire community and it is sadly in need of repair and a good tuning. A square piano, the instrument was brought over to Canada’s Far North in the mid-1800s, and dragged across the tundra on a dogsled. It is the family’s most treasured heirloom, and one of the music world’s greatest unsolved mysteries. Autumn is Martha’s story, a story that takes music from the concert hall to the vacant spaces of the northern tundra. It is a story that interweaves with the other stories from The Four Seasons series and its characters. Melanie Harris, the famous violinist from Spring (PublishAmerica, 2005), the first book in The Four Seasons series, and Hope Jones, the Gitxsan fiddler-turned-classical violinist from Summer (Baico, 2008), the second book in The Four Seasons series, join Martha in an adventure of music and mystery and a race to discover the piano’s true history before someone else gets hurt. Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s Autumn is the third book in The Four Seasons series. It follows rave reviews of the first two books, which were described as having “a classic charm” (Strings May 2008) with a plot that “grows on you with its deepening chords and situations” (Writer’s Digest 2009).


Baico Publishing (December 2009)

Songs Of The Voyageurs


Songs Of The VoyageursCanada’s musical heritage begins long before white man invaded this land. The beginning of European music in this country began with the voyageurs who opened up the land for future settlers. As these men (and sometimes women) paddled their way across this great land, they sang. Music was a source of entertainment, a means to ease the tedium of life in the wilderness and a way to keep the strokes of the paddle in time with one’s fellow voyageurs. It was a hard life; but music carried the voyageurs across thousands of miles of uncharted territory. Songs of the Voyageurs is a collection of stories and music from Canada’s first explorers, the voyageurs.


Baico Publishing (July 2010)

Beyond The Ordinary


Beyond The OrdinaryOttawa author, Emily-Jane Hills Orford is pleased to announce the premiere launch of ABC (Association for Bright Children, Ottawa Region Chapter) Saturday Take-off’s first student-written book of short stories, Beyond the Ordinary. Each story is an extra-ordinary story about an extra-ordinary Canadian, written by truly extra-ordinary young Canadian writers. For six weeks, eight truly amazing young author’s, Charlotte Creskeyallan, Samantha Downs, Cecilia Lee, Grace Shimokura, Velda Wong, Alex Xiao, Chuheng Xing and Brontë McGillis explored the stories of some truly extra-ordinary Canadian stories. These young writers wrote about parents and grandparents. Then they did some research and wrote stories on Canadian personalities from the past – Canada’s first international opera star, the owner of the first Canadian horse to win the Kentucky Derby, hockey players from the Original Six, the creator of the Jalna stories, a Canadian doctor who made international medical history, a murderess who inspired writers both past and present, and a Bishop who ate his boots to ward off starvation. These are truly extra-ordinary people with stories that helped embroider the complex fabric of Canada today. These stories need to be shared and preserved for generations to come. These stories are our stories, stories of truly extra-ordinary Canadians, those people who have gone beyond the ordinary to make this country what it is today. Beyond the Ordinary is only the first of many ventures the author plans to undertake.


Baico Publishing (June 2008)

Beyond The Ordinary and More


Beyond The Ordinary... and MoreOttawa author, Emily-Jane Hills Orford is pleased to announce the launch of yet another ABC (Association for Bright Children, Ottawa Region Chapter) Saturday Take-off student-written book of short stories, Beyond the Ordinary… and More. Each story is an extra-ordinary story about an extra-ordinary Canadian, written by truly extra-ordinary young Canadian writers. For six weeks, several truly amazing young author’s have gathered to spend their Saturday mornings learning the craft of writing, editing and preparing a manuscript for publication. Their stories are our stories, stories of truly extra-ordinary Canadians, those people who have gone beyond the ordinary to make this country what it is today. These young writers wrote about parents and grandparents. Then they did some research and wrote stories on Canadian personalities from the past – people associated with the building of the National Dream (the Canadian Pacific Railway), the young man who adopted a bear named Winnie that became a favourite to children around the world, a Canadian classical music icon, a First Nations impersonator/conservationist, a farmer who grafted the popular McIntosh apple, one of the men who made the great discovery in the Klondike that sparked a gold rush, a First World War flying ace, an historic photographer, a politician who promoted the idea of hydro-electric power, and a dog from Meaford, Ontario, who impersonated all that is good in Canada and in Canadians. These are truly extra-ordinary stories that have embroidered the complex fabric of the Canada we know today. These stories need to be shared and preserved for generations to come. In Beyond the Ordinary…and More, we have presented a small collection of valuable stories. Read them and enjoy the richness of a truly extra-ordinary country. Beyond the Ordinary…and More is only one of the many ventures the author has undertaken with young people.


Baico Publishing (January 2009)

It Happened In Canada


It Happened In CanadaCalixa Lavallée and Marc Lescarbot were composers. Catherine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie were writers. Emily Carr and Frances Anne Hopkins were artists. Anne Leonowens and Frances Hawkins were teachers. Étienne Verrier and James Dickson were mapmakers. George Storm was a murderer. These people all had one thing in common. They were extra-ordinary people with extra-ordinary talents. These people were a vital part of this fascinating mosaic known as Canada. Little known people or little known deeds make for an interesting read through Canada’s history. It Happened in Canada is a collection of short stories about extra-ordinary people with extra-ordinary stories. The author comes from a long line of storytellers. Each one of these people she brings to life with a unique story that needs to be told. It is important to remember that it is people like these that have made our country what it is today, a great nation and a great place to live.


Baico Publishing (April 2007)

It Happened In Canada - Book 2


It Happened In Canada - Book 2What makes a great Canadian? It must be something deeper, stronger, more profound than mere fame and fortune. Greatest is not measured in success, but rather in the humble means by which an individual does a job and does it well, sees a need and fulfills it, acts where action is required without being asked. These are the qualities that are so uniquely Canadian. Following the tradition of the first book, It Happened in Canada, It Happened in Canada Book 2 is a collection of stories about ten more truly extra-ordinary Canadians, including a First World War soldier, a marine photographer, a doctor, a piano builder, a gardener, a farmer, two writers, a legend and a dog.


Baico Publishing

It Happened In Canada - Book 3


It Happened In Canada - Book 3It Happened in Canada Book 3 is another collection of stories to sing the praises that are long overdue. The Canadians in this book come from a wide range of backgrounds and offered a wide variety of talents. Our sweet nature is found in our sweet tooth, the famous Nanaimo Bars and Eastern Canada’s maple syrup. The creative Canadian is found in our writers and painters, many of whom, sadly, we have all but erased from our libraries and galleries. The industrious Canadian changed time, made a mark on women’s rights, and recorded our natural habitat. These are the Canadians that made our history, that made our country such a wonderful place. Canadians would do well to learn more about Canadians, to promote the lesser known talents and gifts, to support our own talent before importing talent from outside the country. Through knowledge comes excellence, and, extra-ordinary though we Canadians might be, we do excel at excellence.


Baico Publishing (2012)
ISBN: 978-1-926945-96-5

Letters From Inside: The Notes and Nuggets of Margaret Marsh


Letters From InsideWhen Henry Marsh became Bishop of Yukon in 1962 and took his wife, Margaret, north, he was 64 years old and Margaret was 50. It was a daunting task, a diocese in debt, a rugged land with many miles of dirt-roads or no roads at all between each tiny parish. Bishop Marsh undertook his ministry with the same love and compassion and energy that had helped him build a thriving parish in north Toronto, the Church of St. Timothy. Margaret Marsh supported her husband in all that he did and took her creativity with her on this northern adventure. She took countless photographs. She catalogued and photographed, for her own research, bird and flower species. She wrote stories and articles which she sent to publications all over North America. She was Editor of Northern Lights, the Anglican magazine of Yukon. Her greatest creations were her wonderful letters to those of us who stayed in the south, those of us who continued to live ‘Outside’ Yukon. Her Notes and Nuggets are what her title suggests, little snippets and treasures of her life and the Bishop’s life in this northern frontier. Margaret’s writing is a fitting tribute to a very powerful creative force, a strong loving couple, and to the north that she quickly came to love. Letters From Inside: The Notes and Nuggets of Margaret Marsh with Mrs. Orford’s insightful introductory comments is an invaluable research tool of the 1960s in Canada’s far north.


Baico Publishing (November 2006)

Personal Notes


Personal NotesThe long awaited story of Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s grandmother has finally been published. This is the story of Margaret Murray Downer (née Dickson), who was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1902. Her life spanned the twentieth century and two continents. She was a vital force alive and a fond, beloved memory after her death. She was full of love, laughter, tears of joy and sorrow, and, most importantly, stories. She was a vivid storyteller and a great friend, companion, and, for the author, a wonderful grandmother. When she passed away, Margaret left a wide collection of notebooks full of her daily jottings. She had written something each day of her life. One of these journals was a scratch pad entitled, Personal Notes. This is Margaret’s story, jottings of a life well lived, as recalled and remembered by her granddaughter, the author.


Moose Hide Books (October 2008)

The Creative Spirit: Stories of 20th Century Artists


The Creative SpiritThe twentieth-century marks one hundred years of strife and political unrest, wars and struggles for individual freedoms. Nowhere is this better illustrated and documented than in the arts. Writing, music and the visual arts have made their mark throughout history. In the twentieth-century, one sees so many styles or expression, that it is almost impossible to categorize and document it all. Artists have sought to represent and to de-represent the world as they saw it. Artists have sought to challenge all the confines of visual expression. Artists have indeed brought their blatant comments on society and all its woes to the forefront. The Creative Spirit: Stories of 20th Century Artists is a collection of short stories based on the life of twenty artists who made their contributions to the visual statement of the twentieth-century. These stories seek to open up minds to understand and appreciate what the creative mind expresses.

Olivia McGuire was born in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Currently a student in Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Ms. McGuire studied art at various summer camps in Mississauga. She has done illustrations for the Chamber Music Society of Mississauga and her work was exhibited at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga in 2000. Her illustrations for The Creative Spirit demonstrate her artistic talent and her love for detail.


Baico Publishing (March 2008)

The Whistling Bishop


The Whistling BishopFor thirty-five years, James Charles MacLeod Clarke (1920-2006) toted a military-issue rifle and a Bible as he sledded, walked, boated, and flew across thousands of miles of northern tundra to minister to his scattered congregation. He slept in whatever shelter was available: tents, snowhouses, and poorly insulated houses. Most important to his service in the North, James Clarke (Jamie to his friends and family) was loved and trusted by the Inuit and all who lived in the North. Fluent in Eskimo (Inuktitut), German, and several other languages, he is best remembered for his mischievous smile, quick wit, and his glorious whistle. Wherever he went, he whistled. He whistled popular songs, children’s songs, folk songs, operas, as well as his favourite music, church hymns. The Whistling Bishop is the story of the late Bishop James C.M. Clarke’s life. It chronicles a life that began as a minister’s son through his growing-up years in Belleville, Ontario, and Toronto, until the Second World War took him overseas trained as military intelligence. After the war, his ministry began in Calgary before taking him to Canada’s far north at Fort Chimo (now Kuujjuaq) on Ungava Bay. The Whistling Bishop is a story of love and courage. It is also the story of how the power of music (even in the form of whistling) can transcend the many language and cultural barriers to win hearts and bring all humans together.


Baico Publishing (October 2008)


Jamie stood at the rear of the Peterhead boat. It was good to be out on the waters breathing in the fresh, cold air. He had spent weeks burying the dead from the measles epidemic that had decimated the population of Ungava Bay just a few months ago. The disease had wiped out a tenth of his people. It had been a long, arduous task to bury so many. Each person was given their due respect with proper burial honors. Each family had trekked up the steep hill behind Fort Chimo bearing the remains of their dearly beloved, taken by the dreaded measles, carrying them to their final resting place in the newly consecrated cemetery. It was a hard climb, weighed down by the physical and emotional burdens of the occasion.

Jamie hoped and prayed to God that he would never again have to bury so many people at one time. It was enough to make any man teeter on the edge and fall into the grave himself. He certainly felt like he was falling. Only his faith kept him sane. That and his sense of awe as he witnessed his community bond together and carry on. Never before had he seen such strength and determination to survive in the aftermath of such devastating loss.


Having completed the task of burying the dead at Fort Chimo, Jamie had finally been able to leave the community to continue his ministry, and possibly more burials, around the bay. He was sure he would be burying more victims over the coming weeks, but for now, he could marvel in God’s wonders all around him and enjoy the brisk breeze that brushed against his cheeks.

Many of the families in Jamie’s parish owned a boat of some description. They made their living fishing during the summer months when the northern waters were free of ice. Most of the boats were umiak’s. Jamie had already been out on one of these large, open boats. It was significantly larger than the one-man, enclosed kayak, sometimes holding up to twenty people. The construction of the sturdy boat was a marvel in itself. The umiak was about thirty feet in length and it consisted of a driftwood frame, usually six to ten meters, which was pegged or lashed together. Walrus skin or bearded seal skins, usually about seven skins, were stretched over the framework. These sturdy boats were ideal for the northern waters. It was used for hauling people and freight and was also beneficial for hunting walrus or whales. While the umiak was the frequently used, mostly by the women, many of the families had Peterheads and these were more comfortable for longer jaunts around Ungava Bay.

Joshua and Elijah, two of Fort Chimo’s families, had volunteered to take Jamie to visit the isolated communities. The family had suffered their losses like every other family for miles around. The grief had been duly expressed, but life went on and the very survival of the remaining family members depended on the continuance of their occupation. The families would fish along the way. It was a good time for fishing seal, whale, Atlantic salmon, and Arctic Char. The wide variety of seafood was a welcome addition to the northern diet. Seal and whale skin was useful for making the warm, waterproof outdoor clothing for the long winter months. Sealskin was also a valuable trade item at the Hudson’s Bay Store.

The open space at the rear was sufficient in size to collect fish of all sizes. The large, flat deck space provided a place to clean and sort the catch. However, once the fish was loaded onto the boat, there was barely room enough to turn around. So far the weather had been cold, overcast, but not unduly nasty. The previous day, the family had caught a seal. This was considered a great catch. The meat would serve the family well and the skin could be used for making the much needed winter clothing or it could be traded at the Hudson’s Bay Store for other essentials. Sheila and Lydia had been busy all morning, working the skin off the seal and cutting the seal meat into portions. Charlie divided his time between the cabin, where his father taught him how to steer the boat, and the outdoors, where seal was now scattered all over the deck.

Jamie watched from his perch at the rear, content to take in the busy activities while he prepared for his next community visit. He was gradually adapting to the cold chill of the damp wind that blew off the northern waters. His feet were adjusting to the constant rocking motion of the boat as it crested the many waves that blew through the bay. He shivered every so often as the wind picked up. Leaning against the side of the deck, he could keep his balance fairly well.

Charlie wandered over to see what Jamie was doing. He was short for his age, but sturdy. His dark skin had deepened during the long hours of the summer sun. He chewed vigorously as he stood facing his minister. He did not speak. He just stared at Jamie and chewed.

Jamie looked up from his notebook where he had been scribbling phonetic interpretations of countless Eskimo words. He was constantly studying this fascinating language that calmly spoke to his soul. He smiled at the young man and asked, “Is it good?”

The boy nodded and continued chewing.

“What are you chewing?” Jamie asked.

“A seal eye,” the boy barely muttered because his mouth was so full. “I have another one, would you like it?”

Jamie’s eyes sparkled with a forced appreciation of the gift being offered; but his stomach churned at the thought of chewing a seal’s eye. “No thank you,” he politely refused the offer. “I wouldn’t be able to whistle with an eye in my mouth, now would I?”

Jamie’s reputation as a gifted whistler had been firmly established in his northern community. Charlie smiled in appreciation and chuckled with Jamie as he continued to chew on the eye.

It must be good, Jamie thought to himself as he started to whistle the popular children’s hymn, “All Things Bright and Beautiful”. Charlie smiled and leaned against the side of the boat next to Jamie, content to listen. While Charlie chewed, Jamie looked out on the cold waters of Ungava Bay, marveled at the enormous floating mountains of ice, and whistled his merry tune of God’s wonderful creations, “all creatures great and small”.

Ukulele Yukon


Ukulele Yukon“Ukulele Yukon” is Ned and Charlie’s story. It is also the story of Bishop Henry Marsh and his wife, Margaret, who ventured north to Yukon in the 1960s to be their spiritual leader. Ned was Metis; Charlie was Loucheux. Today, the boys would be known as First Nations; but in the 1960s, they were either Metis or Loucheux. Both boys came from isolated communities in Canada’s far northern territory, Yukon. The boys were best friends at the Indian Residential School in Carcross. The Canadian government had made a law way back in 1911 that forced all Indian and Metis children to leave their families and live at a residential school where they would learn how to be “white”. In the 1960s, Choutla Residential School in Carcross was one of the last of the residential schools. That is when Charlie and Ned met Bishop Henry Marsh and his wife, Margaret. Choutla was run by the Anglican Church and Henry Marsh was Yukon’s Anglican Bishop. The children called him Ukulele Yukon, because he always carried his ukulele with him ready with a song in his heart and a song on the tip of his tongue. Ukulele Yukon and his wife were the childrens’ friends. They did not like the residential schools. They did not like the children being taken from their families and never learning the ways of their ancestors. They taught Ned and Charlie and all the children at Choutla that it was O.K. to be Indian and it was O.K. to be Metis. Ned was a strong believer in what Ukulele Yukon told him. Ned knew that Indians and Metis did not have to be the losers. Ned was proud of being Metis. Charlie followed his example and was proud to be Loucheux.


Baico Publishing (2006)

ISBN-10: 1897072783
ISBN-13: 978-1897072783

Amazingly Extra-Ordinary Women


Amazingly Extra-Ordinary WomenWomen are amazing! How many times have women heard that phrase over the years? Certainly not enough! Women do many things, have done many things. Women are caregivers, teachers, friends, mothers, daughters, sisters. Women work at home; they work in the outside world. Women are missionaries, medical professionals, lawyers, leaders and faithful followers. The bottom line, though, is that women make a difference. Women reach beyond their societal prejudices to do that little extra, to make this world a better place for themselves and for all of us. Sadly, too often, the commonly heard phrase is: “Behind every great man, there is a woman.” Never have we heard anyone quote: “Behind every great woman, there is a man.” Perhaps it has something to do with a woman’s perseverance: her ability to do things by herself, for herself, and without the help of others, particularly a man. Women can and do love. They also nurture, encourage, legislate, and, quite simply, they accomplish, they live. Throughout history, women have done all of these things and more. Women have made a difference and their stories, most of which are relatively unknown, speak of their abilities to go the extra mile, to give just a little bit more, to reach out and care. Amazingly Extra-Ordinary Women is a collection of these stories: from the women who outshone others as young girls, to the women as adults who selflessly gave of themselves in so many different ways.


Baico Publishing (2013)

ISBN: 978-1-927481-75-2

F-Stop: A Life in Pictures


F-Stop: A Life in PicturesLife is a series of snapshots, a collage of images that flash through one’s mind, triggering memories of years gone by. Jean Hills, born Jean Downer, was, among many other things, a photographer. A creative individual, she captured life’s fleeting moments on film: black-and-white, colour slide, colour print and 8 mm movie film. She adjusted the lens of her camera (her camera changing over the years to accommodate advancing photographic technology and her growing artistic sophistication) to alter the light exposure. In other words, she adjusted the F-Stop on the camera lens to create the image that she wanted. In a way, Jean’s life was a series of F-Stops, an adjustment of the lens to allow or disallow more light to illuminate the subject. F-Stop: A Life in Pictures is one woman’s story, Jean’s story, a creative journey through life.


Baico Publishing (December 2011)
ISBN: 978-1-926945-68-2


The following excerpt is the Introduction to Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s latest book: F-Stop: A Life in Pictures (Baico: 2011). The book was named Finalist and received a silver medal in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. The Introduction was entered as a short story to the Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award and was named one of the finalists in 2009.


London, Ontario, Canada – December 2007

I should be doing something, anything. My body will not function. It does not seem to read my mind nor does it respond to my commands. In short, my body is no longer working. I just lie here, mostly in a daze, thinking about all of the things that I should be doing, could be doing, yet cannot do. I do not understand why this is happening to me. I have never been one to lie around idle. My hands have always been busy and my mind has always been active. I should be teaching, taking care of Norman, looking after the great grandchildren, painting, knitting, sewing, working on my embroidery, baking, taking pictures, reading, doing my pottery, working on my genealogy, writing to someone, talking on the phone, helping sort out a problem…. the list is endless. I never could run out of things to do. So why this? Why now?

A voice is singing to me. Norman, bless his heart, is singing me a love song. For sixty-one years we have stood together, loved one another and took care of each other. Usually it was Norman who was very sick. This is the first time that it is me and I do not like it one bit! I should be singing along with him. Music is my great gift. It is a gift I have shared and passed on to so many others: my children, my grandchildren, my students and the many choirs that I have led. I had so much fun leading choirs at church and helping young voices sing their praises to God. I wish I could still sing. I want to sing. There is so much that I want to do. There is too much yet for me to do. I have so many unfinished projects. Now, I am unable to even sit up without rolling over sideways. I think, I try to talk; but nothing comes out. What is that song? Norman is singing me a song. I should know what it is.

“Let me call you sweetheart, I’m in love with you.” He is singing me a love song from our courting days. The song actually came out about eight years before we met. Leo Friedman wrote the music. It was a bestseller for many years. I know all of these details. Music is my life. At least, it was.


Norman finishes singing the song as he bustles around me. I can see that it is morning. The sun is shining brightly outside my picture window. My bed is lying next to the window so that I can look outside. There is not much to see, just the weather, which, at this time of the year, is not always pleasant.

I hear another voice. It is Emily. She is visiting. “Oh, Dad,” she sniffles. Has she been crying? Why would she be crying? I should be able to take her into my arms and make her feel better like I did when she was a child. It really was not all that long ago. But now, I cannot move my arms. They lie useless by my side. Oh! This is so frustrating.

“You are such a romantic,” Emily says. “A real knight in shining armour.”

Norman laughs. “I just do what I have to do,” he defends himself. I smile to myself. I am not sure if my smile is evident; but I am smiling. I know better. Norman has always been my knight in shining armour. “We do what we have to do in life,” he says again and hustles off to make me some breakfast.

“Good morning, Mom.” Emily comes over, greeting me with a forced cheeriness in her voice. She kisses me on the forehead. I hear her shuffle away. Then I hear the piano. Emily is playing for me. She is playing one of my favourite Christmas carols. It must be almost Christmas. The days are a blur. It was September when they diagnosed my cancer. Can it be so close to Christmas already? I love the sounds of Christmas.

“Oh come all ye faithful,” I force myself to sing. My voice sounds croaky, but I believe that I really am singing. Peggy was here a few days ago. At least, I think it was a few days ago. Time seems so abstract, indefinable. She played Christmas carols on her violin and I sang along. I always loved to sing. “Joyful and triumphant.” I can be triumphant. My music will see me through. It always has. Music, my life is music. “Oh come ye, oh come ye to Bethlehem.” I will come to Bethlehem. I will come to my Saviour, but do I have to come now? The doctors told me that I only had three weeks to live. Then they did surgery on my spine. They said it would prolong my life. They said nothing about the quality of life that I would experience after surgery. They did not specify how much longer the surgery would extend my life. They do not know. They like to play God; but there is only one God. Only He knows.

The doctors have insisted on administering some new chemo drug. It does not help. Nothing seems to help. I am stuck in this useless body that continues to fail me more and more each day. I am a prisoner of a life that is quickly draining away. My body, my physical temple, cannot hold out much longer. I must not despair and yet I do. I must look to my Saviour for strength.

“Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,” I sing huskily. My voice is not what it used to be. “Oh come let us adore Him. Oh come let us adore Him. Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

Emily is crying. I can hear her sniffles, but she plays on. “Silent Night”, “Joy to the World”, “Deck the Halls”, and more. They are all my favourites. The music stops and I hear Emily blow her nose. She comes to sit beside me. She takes hold of my hand and says, “I love you, Mom. I love to hear you sing.” So she can hear my voice. I was not just imagining that I could still sing. I really was singing!

I try to smile. “Where’s Mother?” I ask. “I haven’t seen her in such a long time.” I wrench my eyes open only to notice the look of confusion on my daughter’s face. I close my eyes for a moment to think. When I reopen them, I realize that I must have been dreaming about my mother. “She’s dead, isn’t she?” I ask Emily. She sniffs and nods her head sadly. I let out a deep sigh. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get better,” I whisper softly. I try to lick my lips. They are so dry. “I just don’t know,” I whisper. “I don’t know how I got this thing. I just don’t know.”

“We keep hoping and praying that you will get better,” Emily replies, patting my hand. “You have to write your story, Mom. You have so many stories to write, so many stories to share.”

“You write it,” I tell her. “You write my story.” I let my hand rest in hers and drift off again into the void that continually engulfs me, drowning my senses, obliterating any sense of equilibrium. “You write my story,” I whisper again ever so softly. My eyes are already tightly closed.



WinterJoseph Alon Tomah has some serious issues to sort out. Not only is he sure that his parents’ deaths were no mere accident; he also believes that there is a long list of mysterious deaths in the family that are slowly tracking their path to his door. His music quickly becomes his solace, his passion as he excels in both performance and composition. His Rugeri cello is a treasure; but it is not his only cello and they are all valuable instruments. Is it the instruments that make him the target? Or, is it his heritage, his ancestry? These questions and more plague his mind as he struggles to recover all that he has lost. Winter is the chilling conclusion to Emily-Jane Hills Orford’s popular Four Seasons series. Like Vivaldi wrote in his poems, there is a time and a reason for each season and everyone must live through the four seasons of their life.


Baico Publishing (September 2012)
ISBN: 978-1-927481-07-3


Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada – Autumn, 1981

“Joseph Alon Tomah, what are you doing?” Aunt Eloise called out back. As she leaned against the door to prop it open, she rubbed the small arch of her lower back. She had to admit that she was starting to feel the aches and pains of her age. She really could not complain. She had turned seventy this year. She had outlived everyone else in the family. Her sister had died in Paris, along with her husband, just as the Germans marched into the city and took what they thought was theirs by right. Her own husband had died shortly after the war, leaving her a widow. She and her husband had not been blessed with children. When her older sister’s daughter, Adina, arrived from Germany at the beginning of the war, the couple had taken on the role of parenting her niece. She knew that her husband would have liked to raise a boy, but unfortunately, Adina’s twin brother, Alon, had died before the ship reached port in Halifax.

Adina, too, was dead, recently taken tragically, along with her husband, when their station wagon had careened off a cliff onto the sandy banks of the Bay of Fundy. Joseph was their only child. Adina had married in her late thirties. She had thought she was long past childbearing age when Joseph came along. It had been difficult carrying and then raising a child, especially a first child, in her early forties. Joseph, like any child, had never thought of his parents as old. Or, perhaps he did, in that timeless way that all children perceive adults as having existed in an age long before the dinosaurs.

“Joseph Alon Tomah,” she called again, louder this time, but still eliciting no response from her niece’s son. She shook her head sadly. Oh, how she wished it had been her in the car rather than Adina. Her niece still had so much to live for and, now, sadly, it was Eloise’s job, once again, to raise a child that was not her own. Eloise was Joseph’s only living relative. She had taken to calling him Joe. She couldn’t erase from her mind the other Joseph, her brother-in-law, Adina’s father. The younger Joseph didn’t seem to mind being called Joe. At least, if he did, he never let on. If Joe ever considered his parents as old, he must consider his great aunt as ancient. His ancestry dictated deep respect for all of his elders. After all, Joe was part Mi’kmaw and very proud of it. His father, John Tomah, was from the Bear River Muin Sipi ancestral group. Joe was proud of his Mi’kmaw heritage, perhaps too proud. He had balked at leaving his home, at coming to live in Halifax, to live with his aging great aunt, a white woman at that.


Eloise called again, louder this time. “Joseph!” The boy barely acknowledged her, turning abruptly away so that his back was facing her, but not before she could see the smudges over his cheeks and forehead, smudges that he had obviously rubbed on his face from the ashes he was creating from the burning grass. He continued to wave strands of burning grass above him and then swished it around. Sparks flew everywhere as the grass embers crumbled and fell to the ground. The smoke lifted gently and swirled magically around the boy’s head creating a nebulous halo. Puffs of smoke drifted towards the house. Eloise took a deep breath, inhaling the sweetness. It was sweetgrass, she thought to herself. Joe was performing a cleansing ritual, for what reason, Eloise could only surmise. It was an act that would be encouraged in Bear River. However, this was Halifax. Burning anything within the city limits, especially grass, was prohibited. It was also very dangerous. Although Eloise lived in a prosperous neighbourhood with a large property, there were numerous trees, very old trees, and shrubbery that could easily and instantly catch fire from a mere spark. Joe, with his waving wand of burning grass, was certainly spreading enough sparks to ignite quite a fire.

“Joseph!” she called again. Grabbing her jacket from behind the door to ward off the November chill, she shrugged into it as she jogged across the backyard. “Joseph Alon Tomah! What do you think you are doing?” She demanded, reaching the boy before he could react. She grabbed the handful of burning sweetgrass and dumped it quickly on the ground, stomping on it to obliterate the flames. She continued to stomp around the general vicinity, extinguishing the sparks that had escaped during the ritual.

“What are you trying to do?” she asked, anger etched in her voice. “Are you trying to burn down the entire city?”

“What would you know?” Joe snorted in response. For all of his twelve years, he stood like a man, convinced of his maturity and his right to do as he pleased. “Get me a bucket of water, now!” Eloise chose to avoid argument until she was satisfied that there was no further threat of a fire. “Now!” she added with even more force. She pointed her stormy eyes to stare directly into the young boy’s without flinching. “Quickly!” she insisted with a voice that allowed no argument.

“Humph!” Joe glared back for a minute. When Eloise did not lower her eyes, he turned away to do as he was instructed. Eloise continued stomping on the charred grass while she waited. Joe returned with the bucket. Before Eloise could back off, he threw the contents over the charred remains making sure to thoroughly douse his aunt’s feet in the process.

“Thank you,” she snapped with sarcasm. “I really needed that. Wet feet on a cold day like today? Just what I needed!”

“Serves you right,” Joe muttered and stomped back to the house.

Eloise sighed in despair. What was she supposed to do? The law was the law! She could not allow Joe to burn things in her backyard, even if it was a part of some sacred ritual. He had to understand that! He had to respect the law! More to the point, he had to understand her and learn to appreciate the fact that she was doing her duty by taking him in. He was family. She would have it no other way. He was her beloved niece, Adina’s son. She had loved him from a distance, since the day he was born, and she had enjoyed each and every one of his visits over the past twelve years.

Perhaps, she sighed, she was getting too old for this. Raising another child was not in her plans for growing old gracefully. Besides, Joe seemed to come with a great deal of baggage. She recalled more recent conversations with Adina. Before the accident, the two had talked on the telephone at least once a week. Adina always kept her up-to-date on Joe’s accomplishments. Lately, there had been expressions of concern. Joe had been chumming around with a group that was very militant in their aboriginal status. Eloise had tried to quell her niece’s concerns, but now she was seeing things first hand. It would appear that Adina’s fears were more than justified. Joe was obviously enmeshed in his Indian-ness, his Mi’kmaw heritage. He could not, or perhaps more likely would not, look at things, at life, from any other perspective. It was what her husband, Ben, always referred to as tunnel vision. Joe definitely had tunnel vision! In spite of the fact that he was just as much white, European French and Canadian, as he was Mi’kmaw, Joe only saw, only believed, his own visions, his own viewpoint.

Eloise stomped around for a few more minutes, making sure that everything was thoroughly doused and no sparks lingered. Satisfied, she made her way inside and quickly discarded her wet shoes and socks before going up to her room for a hot shower and some clean, dry, warm clothes. It certainly would not do for her to catch pneumonia and be too sick to care for her great nephew. Although, perhaps Joe would prefer it that way.

Thoughts and concerns rattled through her head as she cleaned up. She sighed in comfort as she pulled her favourite warm turtleneck over her head. Satisfied that she was warm again and that she had not suffered any adverse effects from Joe’s dumping, Eloise went down the hall to the room that Joe had always claimed as his own whenever the family came to visit. He had quickly settled into the space when Eloise brought him back to Halifax after his parents’ funeral.

Eloise knocked on the door and waited for a response. “Joseph!” she called when there was no acknowledgement from the other side of the door.

“What?” he snarled.

“May I come in?” Eloise asked, trying to keep her voice calm, but firm.

"What for?” Joe snarled.

“I think we need to talk,” Eloise responded.

“About what?” Joe grunted. “I ain’t got nothin to say.”

“Well, I do,” Eloise insisted. “And, I’d much rather say it to your face than through a closed door.”

“Whatever,” Joe muttered. “Door’s open. ‘Sides, it’s your place. Guess you can do as you like.”

Eloise opened the door slowly and walked purposefully into the room. She looked around. It was as if she had stepped into a communal lodge at the reserve. The posters bore images of Mi’kmaw art and Mi’kmaws in ceremonial dress. A hand-woven blanket on the bed imitated the colourful abstract designs found on Mi’kmaw baskets. Several baskets rested on top of the bookcase, which was full of books by and about the Mi’kmaw. A pair of snowshoes, the ones Eloise knew Joe’s father had helped him make, stood in the corner. Joe had put his stamp on the space, using it to define the pride he felt for his heritage.

“I’m glad to see you’re making yourself at home,” she nodded as she surveyed the room. “You have a lot of treasures, a lot of memories.”

“So, what do you care?” Joe snorted.

“I do care,” Eloise turned to her niece’s son. “I cared when your mother arrived on a boat from Germany, destitute because she had just lost her brother at sea and she had left her parents back in Paris to die at the hands of the Germans. I cared for your mother as she struggled with her sense of guilt that she couldn’t save her twin brother, that she didn’t stay with her parents and try to save them. I cared about my sister, too, your mother’s mother. I couldn’t help her. I couldn’t save her. We all have our cares. We all have our guilt trips. That’s life.”

“Whatever,” Joe shrugged, trying to sound tough, trying to sound like he really did not care.

“You did not kill your parents,” Eloise continued, trying to keep her voice calm. “You could not save them. It was an accident. It was a tragedy. Life is full of tragedies. We, the ones who survive, have to carry on, to preserve the beauty of the love that we once shared with those departed. Life is a gift and we must cherish it to its fullest.”

“You sound like a priest,” Joe all but growled. “I don’t need preaching from you or from anyone else.”

“Perhaps not,” Eloise said rather sadly. “But you do need to get your priorities straight. First of all, this is Halifax, not Bear River. We have laws within the city limits, laws made to protect everyone who lives here. One of those laws prohibits burning grass in the backyard.”

“I was just performing the sweetgrass ceremony,” Joe defended himself. “I was trying to purify myself. I was using the hair of Mother Earth to give myself strength so that I could endure living here where I don’t belong. I wasn’t starting a bonfire for God’s sake.”

“Watch your language!” Eloise commanded. “You will show respect when you live in my house. I am your Elder, now, and you will respect me.”

“I don’t want to live in your house,” Joe retorted. “You’re white. Your people demoralized my people. Your people took our land. They took our rights. They took our pride. You are nothing to me.” He spat out the last words with accented vehemence. It hurt Eloise to hear Joe speak to her in this manner.

“I did no such thing,” she snapped back, trying her best to maintain some modicum of self-control. “My ancestors did no such thing and neither did your mother. How could you dishonour her so? How could you dishonour me? You are only half Mi’kmaw, Joe, only half. The other half of you is white. Don’t forget that. You need to learn about your white heritage. We are not bad people. We have worked hard all of our lives. We have worked hard for the benefit of our families and for the benefit of our community. We are not so different from your Mi’kmaw ancestors. Come with me, now!” she snapped, grabbing hold of Joe’s arm.

He yanked his arm out of her grasp and glared at her with disdain. “Why should I?” he snarled.

“Because I say so,” Eloise retorted.

Still Delicious


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ISBN: 978-1-62135-740-7

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Mrs. Murray's Ghost [YouTube]


Tell-Tale Publishing (August 2018)

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ISBN: 978-1-62135-842-8

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ISBN-10 : 1952020093
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Book Trailer:



Tell-Tale Publishing Group, LLC (Feb. 25 2022)