a novel by Doris Ray
In the fall of 1911 twenty-year-old Nell Baines, her sister Madeline, and brothers Bert and George Junior board a passenger liner leaving Southhampton, England, for the far-off colony of the British Empire that was Canada. Madeline's Canadian fiancé, Hugh Maclean, had recently obtained employment as "Assistant to the Superintendent of Chinese Immigration" - a government bureaucracy set up in the city of Vancouver to curtail the number of Chinese immigrants. A 500-dollar Head Tax had been imposed on every applicant from China. But in the minds of many Canadian citizens, including politicians, there should be nothing less than a total ban on all Chinese immigration.
Nell soon learns that the "Land of Opportunity" is not as gainfully promising as had been acclaimed. The lonely, unemployed Englishwoman becomes acquainted with a handsome, charismatic man, originally from Hoi Ping, China. Unforeseen circumstances evolve, causing the budding friendship to develop into a romance - with Stanley Park being the wilderness backdrop. Nell is five months pregnant when she marries the father of her baby. But her husband becomes mentally unstable and the marriage breaks up after the birth of their third daughter. During the war years (WW1) Nell suffers from espousal abuse, racial bigotry, a younger brother's death on the battlefield and her own near fatal battle with influenza. Her mother in England refuses to receive her and her children back into the family. Nell eventually finds it necessary to erase from her past, all connections to her biracial marriage.
- Doris Ray discusses "Common Threads" on Mixed Race Radio
Mixed Race Radio – Nov 28, 2012
- Doris Ray to read at Burnaby Public Library
Libros Libertad – Apr 21, 2011
- Fraser Lake author uncovers family history
Burns Lake District News – Feb 18, 2011
- Book Reading: Common Threads
Libros Libertad – Sep 15, 2010
- Doris Ray reads aloud at Vanderhoof Public Library
Omineca Express – Nov 10, 2009
– Jim McGregor
About the Author
Doris Ray is a retired home support worker who resides with her husband in the Fraser Lake-Endako area of North Central British Columbia. Doris's first book The Ghosts Behind Him (Caitlin Press 1999) chronicling her family's devastating experiences with her son Bruce's schizophrenia, was the recipient of a BC2000 Book award. Over the years she has self-published volumes of poetry and short fiction. In 1998 Doris received a phone call relaying some previously unknown and intriguing information concerning her mother's family history. The book Common Threads is based upon bits and pieces of archival data and personal reminiscences, which have been strung together with a whole lot of conjecture on the part of the author.
"Ray's book is part biographical, part fiction with a hard-edged look at racism in Canada during the early part of the last century. The gripping story, told in a gentle voice is compelling for any reader."
– Vivien Lougheed (Website)
author of Understanding Bolivia
"Common Threads weaves through so many places familiar to a life long resident of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. This time, taking the journeys accompanied by the author's ancestors, made the travels both entertaining and educational and brought intrigue to the many common settings we pass by each day. The story provides a living history of a growing Province and the diversity of its people. Doris has brought her family tree to blossom."
– Jim McGregor, columnist, The Langley Times, and former Fire Chief, Langley City