John and Meg Bains are impressed by Toronto when they first arrive there in 1875: its long boardwalks, tall hotels, elegant shops and fancy restaurants. Not that they can afford to stay in a hotel or eat in a restaurant.
Canada is suffering from a Depression in the 1870s, and it hits the Bains hard. They try desperately to raise the money to get back to their mother and home in Ottawa, but work is hard to find. John and Meg get jobs selling the Globe newspaper on the streets, but the competition is fierce. Soon John starts hanging out with some very tough street kids and some equally unpleasant adults. He's pressured into a gang of burglars and is caught by the police. Things look very dark for the Bains, and their only chance for freedom is if John can recover the stolen loot from its hiding place on Toronto Island.
Set against the gritty background of a big, 19th century Canadian city, Harbour Thieves is the story of the great difficulties one family faces to stay together, and how they overcome them.
This is the fifth book in the Bains series of historical novels, well-researched, action-filled narratives following the travels of one family across Canada--from Newfoundland to Alberta-- in search of a better life during the hard times of the 1870s.