In 1927 Mazo de la Roche’s Jalna won the prestigious Atlantic Monthly prize. The Whiteoak Chronicles became an enormously popular series, selling more than eleven million copies in English and foreign editions during the lifetime of the author.
The series traces several generations of the Whiteoak family and centres on an estate on Lake Ontario named Jalna. The setting may have been inspired by Mazo de la Roche’s summers at Trail Cottage on the Benares estate in Clarkson. The author maintained that she pictured no particular house or family, but it is widely speculated that Jalna is in fact Benares, a home she would have visited frequently as a friend of the family. Benares Historic House is now a Mississauga landmark and museum.
The Jalna Series in narrative order:
The Building of Jalna (Jalna Series 1)
Captain Philip Whiteoak brings his beautiful and headstrong young bride, Adeline, from India to the shores of Lake Ontario, Canada. For their future home they choose the name Jalna, a seal on their past in India and a good omen for the future. Local intrigue beckons even as the house takes shape and the family enjoys a flurry of winter parties. Baby Ernest joins siblings Augusta and Nicholas and plans proceed for a grand christening.
Morning at Jalna (Jalna Series 2)
The Civil War reaches into Upper Canada as two unexpected guests arrive at Jalna. Are Curtis and Lucy Sinclair simply seeking refuge or do they have more sinister motives? Their polite invitation inadvertently sets off a frightening chain of events for the Whiteoak children.
Mary Wakefield (Jalna Series 3)
A beautiful young governess joins the family to care for Philip’s motherless children, Meg and Renny. When Philip falls in love with her, the community is scandalized and his mother, Adeline, does all she can to break up the relationship.
Young Renny (Jalna Series 4)
Handsome but indolent Philip is now master of Jalna. Meg’s engagement brings family from overseas, but is called off after a bitter disappointment. Cousin Malahide creates a rift in the family which Adeline and Renny barely overcome.
Whiteoak Heritage (Jalna Series 5)
Renny returns from World War I. His father and step-mother have died and his uncles’ extravagance threatens the stability of the estate. Renny engages an expert horsewoman to help run the stables and soon finds himself in love.
The Whiteoak Brothers (Jalna Series 6)
Eden longs to live in Europe and plans to finance his way by persuading family members to invest in lucrative mining stocks. Excitement mounts as uncles and even grandmother Adeline become secretly involved in the scheme. Romance develops between Piers and Pheasant.
Jalna (Jalna Series 7)
Adeline continues as the indomitable matriarch of the family. Piers and Pheasant announce their marriage. Eden arrives home with his American bride, Alayne, but all is not well between them. Other attractions blossom and desperation and tragedy follow.
Whiteoaks (Jalna Series 8)
Finch, the misunderstood musical genius of the family, tries to escape the constraints of Jalna. His problems intensify when his grandmother dies and leaves him her fortune. Renny is caught up in an illicit love affair he is powerless to control.
Finch's Fortune (Jalna Series 9)
To the dismay of the family, Finch has inherited Adeline’s fortune. Renny witholds advice, but others are quick to accept Finch’s generosity. Finch travels to England where he falls in and out of love with the lovely Sarah Court.
The Master of Jalna (Jalna Series 10)
After the death of his grandfather, Renny attempts to carry the role of master of Jalna. He faces a financial crisis as he attempts to keep the estate intact during the Great Depression.
Whiteoak Harvest (Jalna Series 11)
Uncles Nicholas and Ernest return to Jalna as Renny and Alayne reach a crisis in their marriage. Finch and Sarah add further upset when they return from their honeymoon with Eden’s love-child. Wakefield is torn between his engagement to Pauline and a religious calling.
Wakefield's Course (Jalna Series 12)
Renny travels to Ireland to buy a race horse. He meets up with Finch and Wakefield who are pursuing careers in music and the theatre, and is disquieted by Wakefield’s love affair with a young actress. Canada enters World War II and as Piers enlists, Wakefield joins the R.A.F., and Renny and Wragge rejoin their regiment, the family waits anxiously for their safe return.
Return to Jalna (Jalna Series 13)
The dark years of World War II are not yet over when young Maurice returns from Ireland and Finch arrives back from a concert tour. Piers is released from prison camp and as the war ends, Wakefield and Renny Whiteoak, also return. The extended family is together again, but not completely at peace.
Renny's Daughter (Jalna Series 14)
Young Adeline sails to Ireland and is captivated by an attractive, but reticent, Irishman. Uncle Finch and cousin Maurice have their own reasons to intervene, but Maitland Fitzturgis’ true circumstances are the real impediment to a future together.
Variable Winds at Jalna (Jalna Series 15)
Adeline anticipates marriage to Fitzgturgis, but he is apprehensive about joining the Whiteoak clan and increasingly half hearted about the relationship. Adeline’s response is dramatic. Finch rebuilds the neighbouring estate. Love comes to Meg, Finch, and Patience.
Centenary at Jalna (Jalna Series 16)
The Whiteoak family gathers for the centenary celebration of the estate. Tension and unhappiness surround Adeline’s forthcoming marriage to Philip, young Dennis risks tragedy, and Wakefield finds himself in an ill-starred relationship.
City of Mississauga, 300 City Centre Drive, Mississauga, Ontario Canada L5B 3C1