Catherine’s Christmas is set in the small but bustling town of Inverness, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, circa 1920. The events in the story are true, as recalled and told to the author by her mother Catherine Ann MacLellan (Forsyth). She was born in Inverness in the year 1913, to Neil and Rachel (MacDonald) MacLellan. However, events of the story are not in chronological order; rather, the author has taken the liberty to interweave them wherever she chose.
In the late 19th century, many people emigrated from Scotland, to Inverness and other areas of Cape Breton, drawn to the employment offered by the coal mines dotted over the island. They brought the Gaelic language with them and it is still alive and spoken by many, at the writing of this story. Name places on Cape Breton echo those of home areas left behind by the settlers. They also brought with them, a generous spirit, unique sense of humor, love of dance, music and tradition which helped mold the island into its current shape.
This children’s story was to capture a little of Catherine and a little of the flavor of her era so they could both become known and appreciated by her grandchildren and great grandchildren. The innocence and simple life of these times deserve to be remembered.