Iconic Canadian writer Mazo de la Roche’s (1879 to 1961) life is shrouded in mystery and contradiction. While living in Clarkson in 1927, she wrote the award-winning book, ‘Jalna’, the first of sixteen in her best-selling series about the fictional ‘Whiteoaks’ family.
The books have sold more than twelve million copies around the world and inspired plays, movies, and television series. Mississauga’s Benares House is believed to be the inspiration for ‘Jalna’, as both Benares and Jalna are names of British military garrisons in India. Furthermore, Mazo was a close friend of the Harris family, who lived at Benares, and owned a small house nearby that she named ‘Trail Cottage’.
Whiteoaks Park is named in honour of the series, as is a nearby elementary school. Streets in the Clarkson area also bear names such as ‘Mazo Crescent’, ‘Jalna Avenue’, and ‘Whiteoaks Avenue’.
Many items related to Mazo were donated to the Museums of Mississauga by Mazo’s daughter-in-law, Bianca. These include first edition books, two awards, personal items, photographs and her only remaining diaries.
In April 2008, Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board unveiled a plaque at Benares House, honouring Mazo de la Roche as a person of historic national significance.