Brown Tom's Schooldays (2nd Edition)


Residential school life through the eyes of a child

Enos Montour’s Brown Tom’s Schooldays, self-published in 1985, tells the story of a young boy’s life at residential school. Drawn from Montour’s first-hand experiences at Mount Elgin Indian Residential School between 1910 and 1915, the book is an ironic play on “the school novel,” namely 1857’s Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Thomas Hughes.

An accomplished literary text and uncommon chronicle of federal Indian schooling in the early twentieth century, Brown Tom’s Schooldays positions Brown Tom and his schoolmates as citizens of three worlds: the reserve, the “white man’s world,” and the school in between. It follows Tom leaving his family home, making friends, witnessing ill health and death, and enduring constant hunger.

Born at Six Nations of the Grand River in 1899, Montour earned degrees in Arts and Divinity at McGill University and served as a United Church minister for more than thirty years, honing his writing in newspapers and magazines and publishing two books of family history. Brown Tom’s Schooldays reflects Montour’s intelligence and skill as well as his love of history, parody, and literature.

This critical edition includes a foreword by the book’s original editor, Elizabeth Graham, and an afterword by Montour’s granddaughters, Mary Anderson and Margaret McKenzie. In her introduction, historian Mary Jane Logan McCallum documents Montour’s life and work, details Brown Tom’s Schooldays’s publication history, and offers further insight into the operations of Mount Elgin. Entertaining and emotionally riveting, Montour’s book opens a unique window into a key period in Canada’s residential school history.


“A fantastic read. People need more books like this, which are directly related to the TRC but are also a testament to the strength and creativity of Indigenous literature.”

Crystal Fraser, University of Alberta

"Brown Tom’s Schooldays is a literary artifact from the residential school era. In this fictionalized coming of age account, Enos Montour captures the youthful hopes, dreams, and disappointments of his real life upbringing at Mount Elgin, one of Canada’s earliest and longest running residential schools. Unique in style, tone, and perspective, Schooldays is an important read for anyone interested in understanding the residential school system and for all of us who call the lower Great Lakes home."

Thomas Peace, Huron at Western University

About the Authors

Enos T. Montour (1899–1984), BA, BD, DD (honoris causa) was a Delaware writer and United Church Minister from Six Nations of the Grand River. His work includes Brown Tom’s Schooldays, The Rockhound of New Jerusalem, and The Feathered U.E.L.s.

Mary Jane Logan McCallum is a Professor in the Department of History at University of Winnipeg.

Table of Contents

Foreword: On A Personal Note, The Making of Brown Tom’s Schooldays, 1982–1984 by Elizabeth Graham

Introduction: Enos Montour, Brown Tom, and “Ontario Indian” Literature by Mary Jane Logan McCallum

Brown Tom’s Schooldays by Enos Montour

Chapter 1: Salad Days

Chapter 2: Brown Tom Arrives

Chapter 3: Brown Tom's Three Worlds

Chapter 4: The Milling Herd

Chapter 5: Loaf 'n' Lard

Chapter 6: Brown Tom Makes a Deal

Chapter 7: Too Big for Santa Claus

Chapter 8: Brown Tom's Happy Days

Chapter 9: Trial By Fire

Chapter 10: Brown Tom "Has It Bad"

Chapter 11: Brown Tom Gets Religion

Chapter 12: The Roar of Mighty Waters

Chapter 13: Happy Hunting Ground for Noah

Chapter 14: War Clouds Over Mt. Elgin

Chapter 15: Brown Tom "Arrives"

Afterword by Mary Anderson and Margaret McKenzie

Appendix 1: Glossary of Idioms and References in Brown Tom’s Schooldays

Appendix 2: Bibliography of Works by Enos Montour



University of Manitoba Press is grateful for the support it receives for its publishing program from the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund; the Canada Council for the Arts; the Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage, and Tourism; the Manitoba Arts Council; and the Aid to Scholarly Publishing Programme.