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The Backwoods of Canada

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  136 Ratings  ·  13 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
Nicola Mansfield
Oct 18, 2010 Nicola Mansfield rated it it was ok
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
Aug 07, 2014 Bob rated it really liked it
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
Jul 13, 2012 A.J. rated it really liked it
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
Marsali Taylor
Jan 26, 2014 Marsali Taylor rated it really liked it
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
May 30, 2016 Kate rated it it was ok
Shelves: school, can-lit
I read this along side Susanna Moodie's Roughing it in the Bush. And I have studied both texts twice. I prefered Moodie's text to Parr Traill's but the only real way to draw a comparison between the two is that they were sisters and that they are taking place around the same time. The portrait of Canada that Parr Traill presents I had a hard time finding the motives. I'm also not a fan of novels that are written in letter format. Publishing letters that have been sent, I find publishing it as a ...more
Dec 03, 2011 Nancy rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian-authors
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.

Susan Roach
Dec 07, 2014 Susan Roach rated it it was amazing
This is a book I have waited to read for some time, acquired my copy from the used book sale at Word on the Street, Toronto. Quite enjoyed the stories as told by the writer. They faced many adversities, both themselves and their neighbours, however came out as they had planned for their lives. A great read! I understand her sister Susanna Moodie wrote a book as well...will keep my eyes open for it also. Enjoy early Canada fellow readers.
Feb 20, 2016 Deanna rated it it was amazing
I am partial to Canadian pioneer authors. Although Parr Traill didn't set out to be a writer, she was the first pioneer to name most of the native plants in Eastern Canada. She does chronicle the move, the first shack they lived in, building, the desperate hardships of early emmigrants to Canada.
Leonel Richard
Sep 20, 2015 Leonel Richard rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable to read after a run of fiction. There is something romantic in the fashioning of an agrarian life from a forest. My ancestors were of Acadian stock and undertook the task no less than five times in the last four hundred years. Their view of it was likely more that of hard work and misery however.
Joelle Tiessen
Mar 17, 2016 Joelle Tiessen rated it really liked it
This was a captivating story of Canadian pioneer life from the perspective of a woman facing severe hardships. It is hard to imagine such a difficult life until I immersed myself in this book. The pacing and emotion gives an honest feel for the events.
Jul 26, 2014 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 08, 2014 Joanne rated it really liked it
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.
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Catharine Parr Traill was an English-Canadian author and naturalist who wrote about life as a settler in Canada.
More about Catharine Parr Traill...

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