Dry Water tells the story of Donald Strand, from the time of his arrival as a ten-year-old orphan at his relatives’ Manitoba farm in 1890 to his apogee as a successful farmer. It recounts the crises he faces during a troubled marriage and the great stock market crash of 1929. His life parallels the growth and development of Manitoba during the same period.
Stead considered Dry Water, written in 1934–1935, to be his crowning achievement. He was unable to find a publisher for it during his lifetime, although an abridged edition was published by Tecumseh Press in 1983. This new edition includes the complete typescript, a critical introduction, and explanatory notes that place this novel in its proper literary and historical context.