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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $21.95

368 pp.
6" x 9"


Publication date:
August 2013

Imprint: OUP Canada

High Bright Buggy Wheels

The late Luella Creighton
Introduction by Cynthia Flood

Series : The Wynford Project

Eighteen-year-old Tillie Shantz is soon to be married to Simon Goudie, a spiritually intense young man from her Mennonite community in southwestern Ontario. When the young couple undergo their own transformative experiences, Tillie's interests start to wander to the outside world. Refusing one day to join her family at church, she stands alone, "feeling life tingle through her arms as she stretched them to some unknown compass point . . . in an ecstasy of well-being." Tillie wrestles with both the personal and spiritual consequences of her actions, eventually leaving the community to live in a nearby city, where she begins a forbidden relationship with a boy outside the Mennonite faith. Filled with heartbreak, tragedy, and loss, this is also a story of self-discovery and hope during a young woman's most formative years.

Author Luella Creighton, wife of historian Donald Creighton, had one foot in the Mennonite community through her troubled relationship with her stepmother. She published High Bright Buggy Wheels in 1951, presenting a fascinating look inside the Ontario Mennonite community. Through characters who live insular yet spiritually connected lives, Creighton wonderfully depicts the deep sense of belonging and community underneath the arduous work and ongoing sense of distrust. Her writing can be considered a predecessor to the works of Miriam Toews, Barbara Smucker, and Rudy Wiebe. The Wynford edition is introduced by Cynthia Flood, award-winning writer and daughter of the author.

Readership : The Ontario Mennonite community, as depicted in Creighton's novel, live in a fascinating world that is unknown to many readers of contemporary Canadian fiction. Those who read and loved Miriam Toews's A Complicated Kindness, although portraying a distinctly different Mennonite community in Manitoba, will find here a similar coming-of-age story of isolation and longing set against the backdrop of a traditional society.


  • "Creighton has much skill as a story-teller; this book . . . [is] hard to put down."

    --Canadian Forum

  • "The Mennonites are not peculiar to the district Luella Creighton knows; in an exaggerated form they are the non-conformists of Ontario, and what has happened to them has happened to all of us who have moved from the country to the city. We have all been lured to George's drugstore or suffered the awful fate of Simon. To me this is as near to being the novel about the Ontario our generation knows as we are likely to have."

    --Harold Innis, author and economist

  • "Sensitively written, this moving story of separation, estrangement, and reconciliation between a Mennonite patriarch and his daughter is all the more poignant because the author shows deep and sympathetic understanding of both the old and the new. The problem, while sharpened by its localization, is in fact universal."

    --J.D. Robins, author

  • "This is a very interesting first novel. The story itself holds the reader, but the fresh and vital characters give the greatest promise for the author's future as a novelist."

    --Malcolm W. Wallace, professor emeritus, University of Toronto

  • "Mrs. Creighton has surmounted the dangers and difficulties of her subject with great skill, partly because she has concentrated on character rather than on theme. Her story is intensely interesting and alive."

    --Roderick Kennedy, editor

  • "Competent handling of idiom and background throws into relief characters who live on in the mind when the book is reluctantly closed."

    --Edith Honey, librarian

  • "As I laid the book aside, I wondered at the power of its author and felt strangely stirred and proud that a Canadian woman had written a novel of such merit."

    --Gertrude Green, editor

  • "Through delicate and skilled characterization, Mrs. Creighton portrays the conflict between pure though narrow goodness and the spiritual happiness of rejoicing in all beauty."

    --Ethel Sealy, reviewer

Introduction to the Wynford Edition
High Bright Buggy Wheels

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

Luella Creighton (1901-1996) was born in Stouffville, Ontario. After studying at the University of Toronto under E.J. Pratt and at the Sorbonne, she married historian and writer Donald Creighton, with whom she had two children. A writer of fiction, non-fiction, and children's stories, she is also the author of The Elegant Canadians (1967, reissued in 2013), which depicts high society Canadian life in the years leading to Confederation. The Wynford edition of High Bright Buggy Wheels is introduced by award-winning writer Cynthia Flood, Luella Creighton's daughter.

The Elegant Canadians - The late Luella Creighton
Introduction by Don Wright
The Road to Confederation - The late Donald Creighton and Donald Wright
Canada's First Century (Reissue) - The late Donald Creighton and Donald Wright
The Devil Is a Travelling Man - W. O. Mitchell
Edited by Ormond Mitchell and Barbara Mitchell

Special Features

  • Lost gemstone of Canadian literature. Perhaps an early inspiration for writers like Barbara Smucker and Miriam Toews, Creighton depicts Mennonite life based on her family's experience.
  • New introduction by Creighton's daughter. Award-winning writer Cynthia Flood introduces the Wynford edition.
  • Controversial novel. To this day the Mennonite community depicted in the novel remains resentful of the work, and there remains little else published about them.
  • Insight into an isolated community. Creighton had unique access to the Mennonite world through her step-mother. With meticulous accuracy she depicts the warmth, community belonging, and spiritual bonding of faith, highlighting an often poorly understood aspect of what, from the outside, can feel like a narrow lifestyle.
  • Intimate look at culture clash. From the insulated and hard-working life in the Mennonite community, an inquisitive young woman comes to experience music, literature, and fashion in the outside world, not to mention a forbidden relationship. She experiences a myriad of emotions as the comforting fabric of her daily life is torn apart, and her home community responds with anger and denial.
  • Beautiful descriptions of Mennonite culture. From age-old techniques associated with baking bread to hand-knitted socks, the book presents a fascinating portrait of people living off the land.
  • Linguistic accuracy. Descended from the Swiss, Ontario Mennonites speak a variant of the almost entirely oral Pennsylvania Deitsch, reflected in the language spoken by Creighton's characters.
  • Packed with drama. A series of events brings excitement and interest to the novel, from accidents suffered in the Mennonites' often dangerous work to fights between individuals from within and outside the Mennonite community.
  • Unusual look into the spiritual life of women. Daily physical work and the sacred are woven together in women's lives, providing meaning and continuity from birth to death.
  • Filled with imagery and symbolism. Warmth, light, direction, movement are all beautifully drawn metaphors for changes undergone by the characters.