The Umbrella Mender

The Umbrella Mender

by Christine Fischer Guy
  • from-the-north
  • historical
  • women-s

A sweeping tale of personal courage in a distant Indigenous community, The Umbrella Mender is reminiscent of Stef Penney's The Tenderness of Wolves and Wayne Johnson's The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. It is destined to become a pivotal entry in the canon of northern literature.

Though a stroke has left her mute, the story Hazel has to share is unforgettable. As a talented nurse in the early 1950s, she went north to Moose Factory to help fight the epidemic of tuberculosis that was ravaging the indigenous people. Each week the boat brought new patients from the Nunavik region to the little hospital. It was a desperate undertaking, fraught with cultural and language difficulties that hampered the urgent, sometimes reckless, efforts of the medical staff. Hazel is soon distracted from the tensions of the hospital by an enigmatic drifter named Gideon White, an itinerant umbrella mender who has walked away from society, searching for the Northwest Passage. From her own hospital bed, the older Hazel struggles to pass to her grandniece the harrowing tale of her life in the north, including the fate of Gideon and the heartbreaking secrets she left behind.

With arresting characters, a richly drawn setting and impeccable prose, author Christine Fischer Guy weaves a story that lingers long after the book is closed.


Christine Fischer Guy, author

Christine Fischer Guy’s fiction has appeared in journals across Canada and has been nominated for the Journey Prize. She reviews for the Globe and Mail, contributes to and and teaches creative writing at the School for Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. She is also an award-winning journalist. She lives in Toronto. See for more information.


  • Fischer Guy writes supple sentences that rarely call attention to themselves. They are as fluid and forceful as the river, uncommonly beautiful. - Ottawa Review of Books
  • The evocative setting of a TB hospital in remote Moose Factory, a passionate and clandestine love affair, and the irresistible voice of intrepid nurse Hazel join forces to make "The Umbrella Mender" an absolutely compelling read from start to finish. - Miriam Toews, author of A Complicated Kindness
  • “The Umbrella Mender" is a gem of hope, denial and blind faith. Nurse Hazel MacPherson’s travels, both physical and spiritual, haul you toward true North, and do their very best to leave you knowing every inch of the trip as if it were worn under your skin and marked deep in your lungs, the shadowed scar visible only by X-ray. Wonderfully, carefully written, this is a book you will not soon forget." - Russell Wangersky, Giller-nominated author of Whirl Away and Walt
  • The arc of the narrative is a tragic one, and the turn of events shocking and distressing…. Guy, fortunately, keeps the reader interested partly because she avoids setting up stereotypical opposites. - National Post

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: Shaun Bradley (Transatlantic Agency)



rights available: World, excl. English North America (Wolsak & Wynn)

Additional Information

age range: Adult

number of pages: 300

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book