Study Guide

The Family of Canadians in Travels with Charley

By John Steinbeck

The Family of Canadians

While he's traveling in Maine, Steinbeck comes across a family of Canadians who (like many other "Canucks") have come across the Canada/U.S. border at harvest time to get some work. He lures them into conversation by "losing" Charley and then retrieving him from them. Then he invites them back for a drink in Rocinante.

As with other characters and groups Steinbeck describes, we get more sociology than characterization, but we do learn a few things about this group. They own their own farm in Quebec, but they shut it down while coming down for the harvest work. According to Steinbeck, "They even carried a little feeling of holiday with them almost like the hops- and strawberry-pickers from London and the Midland cities of England. These were a hardy and self-sufficient people, quite capable of taking care of themselves" (2.3.41).

Beyond that, in terms of notables in the group, there's a "chieftain" who is impressed with Steinbeck's brandy, a "patriarch" who's missing some teeth, and lots of pregnant women. It's quite a crew.