The series of Wind at My Back premiere centers on the hardships of the Bailey family: Jack, Honey, and their children: Hub, Fat and Violet. The Baileys were your average Canadian family, and the Great Depression threatened to swallow them up. Their lives are thrown into a world of extremes when Jack loses his business and the family is thrown into ruin. Honey is turned away by her mother-in-law, May Bailey, and is forced to give up her children and they are divided amongst relatives. Honey and her kids try desperately to find a way to maintain their independence and pride through adversity caused by the Great Depression and family tensions.
The Bailey boys try to escape the grasp of their grandmother’s control by running away; Honey loses everything when she ties up her money in her irresponsible brother Joe’s dreams; The boys try to make ends meet by attempting to win the Fall Fair’s Human Pyramid contest; Hub and Fat convince their grandmother to let their mother, Honey, come live with them; Honey falls in love with the local athletics teacher, Max Sutton; Uncle Bob and Aunt Toppy stage one of Max’s plays for the local community theatre; Grace disobeys May by attending a wedding with Judd Wainwright and considers his marriage proposal; May faces bankruptcy when the price of silver hits rock bottom; and Honey turns to Max for help when May refuses to allow Violet back into their lives.
1.1: Four Walls and a Roof Part 1
The Great Depression is hitting everybody hard and Jack and Honey Bailey are no exception. Their once thriving hardware store in the Northern Ontario town of North Bridge teeters on the verge of bankruptcy. Honey has tried to impress upon Jack the severity of the situation, but he continues to provide credit to whoever needs it; which is basically everybody. Inevitably, in spite of Honey’s pleading and subsequent angry public outburst at the bank manager, the store goes bankrupt. Honey and Jack along with their two pre-teen sons Hubert (Hub) and Henry (Fat) and baby daughter Violet are now homeless.
1.2: Four Walls and a Roof Part 2
Now that their mother has gone to look for a job, Hub and Fat are left to cope with living with their demanding and strict grandmother May. Watching Violet being taken away to live with yet more relatives they barely know gets Hub’s blood boiling. The boys feel angry and unwanted and lash out at May and her entire family.
1.3: No Way of Telling
Hub and Fat are enjoying their visits with their mother and Uncle Joe, but are eager to get Violet back and be a full-time family again. Honey believes she’s one step closer to making that happen when she finally gets a job working as a clerk at a Molloy’s Grocery Store. The pay is low, but it’s definitely better than nothing. Joe’s financial situation however has taken a turn for the worse as the bank manager is threatening foreclosure on his apartment building. He has a plan to start a catalogue business, but the bank manager refuses to lend him any money to get started.
1.4: A Family of Independent Means
Honey’s financial situation gets significantly worse when the bank, her landlord since Joe lost the building, increases her rent. If she doesn’t have enough money for her next month’s rent plus the increase she will be evicted. Now that Honey has a job, she’s sure she can pay her rent and tells Hub and Fat not to worry
about it. They are worried about it though and offer to get jobs to help her out.
1.5: My Dog Pal
Hub and Fat are still watching George Murphy’s dog, Pal and are growing quite attached to him. Fat is especially fond of Pal and wants to keep him. May on the other hand is fed up with the dog sleeping on the beds, bringing in dead birds and generally wreaking havoc and can’t wait to be rid of him. Her patience reaches its end when their neighbour Mrs. Grady complains about the dog running through her yard.
1.6: Something from Nothing
Honey has given up on finding a job in North Bridge and has decided to try her luck in Toronto. Hub and Fat are upset that she will be living so far away and want to get jobs so she can stay in New Bedford. They are also determined to convince their grandmother to let her stay with them, but she refuses.
1.7: Moonshine Struck
Honey is now living in May’s house with the boys and has a job at the mine office under Bob’s supervision. She’s grateful, but still feels like an outsider and desperately wants to get Violet back and find a place of her own. Reluctantly, Honey accepts the invitation of mine co-worker, Marjorie Behan, to play Bridge with a group of local singles. Honey goes to the Bridge game for fun, but manages to attract the attention of two men. One of them is Percy Ardley, a constable with the New Bedford Police Department and the other is Max Sutton. Percy is an Englishman with an over inflated ego, but his dashing good looks make the women swoon, especially Marjorie.
1.8: Train to Nowhere
Max Sutton, as it turns out is an aspiring writer as well as a teacher. Once Honey and Grace discover this, they encourage Max to submit a one-act play to a radio station for a chance at winning a new car. Max eagerly enters the contest and although he doesn’t win, he receives a letter asking him to submit more plays. The radio station’s only criticism of Max’s writing was that his dialogue was wooden, so Honey and Grace suggest that his play be actually performed on stage so he can hear the dialogue actually being spoken. Max agrees and the consensus is that the New Bedford Drama League will stage a performance of Max’s play Train to Nowhere.
1.9: Aunt Grace’s Wedding
Honey is concerned that cousin Hugh and Matilda Morrison want to keep Violet when they send May a photo that refers her to as Violet Morrison. May tells Honey she’s overreacting, but she isn’t convinced and wants Violet to come home. May refuses because she claims they will be too busy once her latest town project, a mission to assist the down and out in New Bedford, is up and running. Meanwhile, Grace receives an invitation to attend a wedding with Judd Wainright. She knows her mother won’t approve, but she accepts anyway because she doesn’t want to lose Judd. Unfortunately, the wedding is on the same day as the mission opening which May insists that Grace attend.
1.10: No Place like Home
Honey’s brother Joe, who hasn’t been heard from since he abandoned Honey in North Bridge, shows up in New Bedford totally down and out. He is reduced to living in his rattle trap car and taking handouts. Joe’s reunion with Honey isn’t a happy one as he gets into a scuffle with the police during a hobo roundup and put in jail. In the time since Joe left with Honey’s savings he has gotten involved with some shady business deals that have left him even further in the hole.
1.11: Chasing Rainbows
Honey’s birthday is approaching and the boys want to get her something special. Instead of a little knick-knack, Hub thinks the best gift would be a visit from Violet. Getting this gift will be difficult though as May will not allow it. Hub, with Max’s help, drives three hours to Hugh and Matilda’s to convince them to come. Matilda eventually gives in, but Hugh and Matilda obviously don’t have any intention of giving Violet back to Honey permanently. For this visit, Hub offers to pay Matilda and Violet’s bus fare so he and Fat need to raise the money.
1.12: Moving Mountains
Grace receives some devastating news for her ego. Judd has decided to call off the wedding, as he is moving west to British Columbia without her. He did not feel that he and the Bailey family were a good match. Grace, feeling humiliated, decides not to tell anyone and even buys herself an engagement ring to continue with the façade. Honey inadvertently gives Grace an idea of how to escape her troubles.
1.13: Back In My Arms Again
Despite May giving the boys her assurance that she will let Violet come back home, Honey and the boys continue their preoccupation with the ‘bring Violet back home’ fund since they do not trust May to keep her word. In an effort to expand her hairdressing business, Honey decides to go to a two day course in North Bridge to get her hairdressing diploma. Hub and Fat take more direct measures by going to speak to Mr. Walker, the bank manager, about a creative solution in buying the house. Hub’s single-mindedness with getting Violet back continues as his school work still suffers, until another distraction enters his life, namely eighth grade tutor, Suzanne Nelson, Iris Barlow’s niece, on who Hub has a crush.