The Message in the Maggie MacDThe Message in the Maggie MacD is an adventure story set in Muskoka. Kate plans to spend the summer painting scenes of the lake. When Sandy, a cousin from Scotland, arrives he turns her life upside down. Kate enjoys paddling her canoe and listening to the sounds of nature. Sandy is a city kid who would rather plug into rock music.

When Gramps inherits the Maggie MacD from the Maritimes, the fishing boat brings a message. Kate and Sandy discover a trunk filled with old family letters and journals. The children come together tracing their family history back to Mingary Castle. When Sandy returns home to Scotland, Kate joins him to explore the ancient castle. Sam, an old friend, shares the skills from his Native ancestors and tells stories of the early days in Muskoka.

This story contains quotes from a collection of the author’s family letters, written at the time of their emigration in 1819. Kathy’s ancestor Margaret MacDougall was born in Mingary Castle in 1806 and her journal entries are based on research about life at that time and draw on real events. The author has visited the medieval castle, now a ruin, three times.

Praise from our Readers

"When a children's book keeps an adult reader intrigued and excited, it has to be a good one. Kathy Myers Krogh has outdone herself with this sequel to Polka Dot and the Segwun. Kate and her Scottish cousin Sandy discover a trunk of old family letters that trace their ancestors back to Mingary Castle. Sam, the hermit, shares the skills from his Native roots and tells stories of early Muskoka."
   -- Mary Storey, Classic Boat Magazine


The Discovery

I was surprised to see an old wooden trunk with cracked leather handles on each side. With the sleeve of my sweatshirt, I rubbed a layer of dust from the front of the trunk. I could make out the words: “Allan MacDougall, Mingary Castle, Scotland.”

Stretching my head as high as I could, I lifted the lid just enough to see inside. When I shone the flashlight back and forth over the contents, I could see several bundles of folded letters neatly tied with blue ribbon. To one side there were several small notebooks. Then I reached in and removed the one on top. I let the lid close before I climbed back down off my desk.

The pages of the small book were brown with age and very brittle to the touch. The centre of the book looked as if it had been hand stitched together with thread. It looked nothing like the journal I was writing in today. Turning to the first page I struggled to make out the words. Mingary Castle, March 10,1819

The Diary

Muskoka, July Dear Diary. I’m afraid my summer will be ruined. This Scottish cousin of mine is a real pain. He seems angry at the world. He doesn’t know that eating salad is good for you. I wish I could turn back the clock to when Gramps read me the letter. I could have voted against him coming here.

With all the excitement, there wasn’t any private time to ask Gramps about where the trunk came from. I feel strange about reading Margaret’s diary. I wouldn’t like anyone reading my journal. It is amazing that she wrote those words nearly 200 years ago! I hoped she wouldn’t mind me knowing about her life in the castle. Goodnight Kate.

The Love Letters

Sandy slowly began to fold up the letter and I reached over to tie the blue ribbon around the bundle. “You know I usually don’t like letters. But these ones are different. They are starting to tell a story, aren’t they Kate?”

“Yeah. Allan and Harriet, the star-struck lovers,” I sighed as I turned to look into my cousin’s face. “Why would you say that about letters, Sandy?”

“I hate getting letters. They always come on my birthday and at Christmas. I get angry and throw them in my bottom drawer. I never open any of his letters. They are from my father, you know? It’s his fault that my mother has to work so hard. He just packed up his suitcase and left us one day.