The Jalna House

The Jalna House

Posted on April 23 by admin
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Before coming to work at Dundurn (some two and half years ago, almost), I had never heard of the Jalna series of books by Mazo de la Roche. When I mentioned to friends with English degrees that Dundurn was re-releasing every title in this famed series, my friends were shocked at my ignorance. It was required reading for many Canadian Lit classes, I was told. Made sense that I missed it, I responded. I stuck to Shakespeare and the Brits, and running around an acting studio.

To give you some context on how important Jalna was to Canadian literature in its time, Robertson Davies said this in 1961: “”The creation of the Jalna books is the most single feat of literary invention in the brief history of Canada’s literature.”

As I came to learn more about the Jalna series, though, I found it interesting that there was an actual house that inspired the epic Whiteoak estate, and that house was in my hometown and current city of residence, Mississauga!

I’ve lived in “The Saug” all of my life (minus four years of temporary residence at University), and had never before researching the Jalna series heard of Benares Historic House. Turns our, Jalna mastermind Mazo de la Roche had been living on what was part of the original Benares estate, and the landscape shaped her vision for Jalna.

I’ve never ventured out to Benares House, but this discovery got me thinking about other famous literary landmarks that were inspired by actual locations. What are some of the most popular fictional houses, locales, or elsewise, that were inspired by real places? Share your suggestions in the comments!