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The Backwoods of Canada
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The Backwoods of Canada

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  8 reviews
The toils, troubles, and satisfactions of pioneer life are recorded with charm and vivacity in this portrayal of pioneer life by Catharine Parr Traill, who, like her sister Susanna Moodie, left the comforts of genteel English society for the rigours of a new, young land.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 1st 1989 by New Canadian Library (first published 1836)
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These are the letters of a British Army Officer's wife writing back to her family in England as she begins her new life in the untouched Backwoods of Canada in 1832. They arrive on their newly purchased plot of land at 10pm at night, the wagon driver throws their belongings from his wagon and drives off. I very much enjoyed Catharine's story, and feel like I've made a new friend in her. She touches on many points of important history, including describing the Chippewa and Otonabee people she mee...more
Though written in the early 1800's (the editor rightly accords it the tone of Elizabeth Bennet "if...she and Mr. Darcy had deemed emigration necessary for the future of their family fortunes), Mrs. Traill seems surprisingly prescient. She predicts the patterns of future population, the regret for all the great forests necessarily destroyed to populate Ontario, even notes the local climatic effects of deforestation.
The letters give a very vivid sense of social differences in the emigrants (her...more
Marsali Taylor
What a difference from 'Roughing it in the Bush'! Susanna Moodie's younger sister Catherine went out to Canada not only prepared, but determined, to get her hands dirty (the book ends with some very useful recipes for maple sugar, bran bread, maple vinegar etc) As soon as their log cabin was finished, she was planting, carrying water, and, I have no doubt, milking cows and making butter and cheese. Every time she looked around her, she saw something to enjoy - the trees, the lake, the red squirr...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: Reading letters, journals and diaries is one of my most favourite types of genres whether they be non-fiction, as here, or fictional.

McClelland & Stewart's New Canadian Library series is a staple of Canadian Literature publishing. The series started in the 1960s and continues to this day re-printing the classics of Canadian authors of the past. This version I read of The Backwoods of Canada is New Canadian Library's original 1966 edition with a 1971 introduction, in which...more
After reading Susannah Moodie's memoir of settling in Canada and absolutely hating it, I was dubious about committing myself to reading her sister's published letters on the same subject. I need not have worried, Catherine Parr Traill comes over as a much more pleasant person and I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with many of her views of life in her new country. I share her obsessions with the wildlife and flora of Ontario and am equally fascinated by the weather and the formations of ice...more
In the 1830s, when people left England for Canada, they didn't expect to return. Catherine's mother, left behind in England, must have treasured these evocative letters.
Must be read along with Roughing it in the Bush by her sister Susanna Moodie - because the sister's experiences are similar but their different personalities and interests convey very different perspectives.

Great early history of what life was like in and around Peterborough, Ontario in the mid 19th century.

Catharine was a botanist as well as a writer, so lots of info and images of plant life enrich her book.

She was less socially inclined as her sister Susanna - more the historian.

An interesting read about early life in the backcountry of upper eastern Canada. There were times that it got quite wordy but all in all a good read.
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