A tone of cynical critique at the prevailing practices
of white people runs throughout the stories John Maclean wrote for a younger audience.
An illustrative example is
"The White Man's Bride," as published in The Warden of the
A white man, Major Brown, spends some time on the
Blood reserve. This "fine specimen of that educated class of his
countrymen who, being possessed of private means, are able to indulge
their desire of change and adventure" marries an Aboriginal woman,
and has a child with her. After some time the man returns to England
"to attend to some important business". The woman with her young
son is brought back to her father who, after waiting two years in vain for
Brown's return, sells her to an old Indian.
The woman is not worth much
because she has been the wife of a white man. As the fourth wife of the
old man she enjoys the treatment of a slave, becomes ill and dies.
"In a large and busy manufacturing town in the west of England, a
merchant sat in his office reading his letters . . . Among the others was a
paper from the Canadian North-west in which a parked paragraph caught his
eye. 'There died last Friday on the Blood Reserve, Napiake, and Indian
squaw . . . Forgotten? No! He could never forget her. But in that busy
English town he is a merchant prince, [married and] holding an honoured
position in society . . . Little Charlie Brown finds a home among the
Indians, depending on them for food and clothing, and sometimes an
old-timer takes compassion on him . . . He endures the poverty of an Indian
lodge, while over the sea his father enjoys the comfort of an English
in the Fur Trade, Part 9: Discrimination
Maclean, John. The Warden of the Plains and Other Stories of Life in
the Canadian North-West. Toronto: William Briggs, 1896.