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Roughing It in the Bush

3.28  ·  Rating Details ·  927 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
When "Roughing It in the Bush" was published in 1852, it created an international sensation, not only for Susanna Moodie's "glowing narrative of personal incident," but also for her firm determination to puncture the illusions European land-agents were circulating about life in Canada. This frank and fascinating chronicle details her harsh - and humorous - experiences in h ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 238 pages
Published January 1st 1962 by New Canadian Library (first published 1852)
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Roughing it in the Bush is one of those books that is undeniably important (within its own limited sphere of influence). But it is also way more important than it is readable.

As an icon of Canadian Literature, Susanna Moodie has particular importance for Feminist Canadian writers. Her work has directly inspired many Canadian memoirs by women, and Margaret Atwood, one of Canada's most honoured writers, found inspiration in it for her poetry cycle, The Journals of Susanna Moodie.

But Moodie's memoi
Sep 14, 2016 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because the author was living in the same area of Canada, at the same time, as my ancestor Peter Huffman (near Port Hope, Ontario in the 1830s). It was fascinating to hear of her account and see just how "rough" the American immigrants were (and Peter was an ex-American). Also, Peter was black, and I wanted to see how that small community was treated by the white (Americans and British). There was one story about a black ex-American barber who met with a tragic end. Although Sus ...more
Jun 12, 2007 Andy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Never want to enter Moodie's bush again. Boring book.
I once saw Jon Stewart on Just for Laughs doing a bit of standup, talking about Canadians (paraphrased here). " It's amazing", he said, "that your ancestors got off the boat at the first frozen port and, looking around at the snow and ice and wilderness, said, 'Yep, looks good to me'. And stayed. 'What's that? You heard they've got palm trees and sunshine if we keep heading south? Nah, this is good right here'." I've marvelled at that myself: that my own ancestors chose Canada, and having surviv ...more
I was initially put off by the verbosity and exaggeration of her writing style. I did not appreciate the poetry and after slogging through the first few, chose to skip the rest. I felt she over played the many characters who seemed to live all around her. Even some of the hardships she endured seemed to be exaggerated or downright unbelievable.

That said as I read, I got into the rhythm of her prose and stopped resisting. I became interested in her encounters with the Indians. I also saw her cha
Apr 01, 2008 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
I usually enjoy the stuff I read in school but this was brutal. The whole time I wanted her to get eaten by a bear or something. Her husbands writing (which is put into the novel in different parts) is even more brutal than hers. Prof's who make their students read this are performing cruel and unusual punishment on their students!
Jun 16, 2014 Maryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susanna Moodie was a published writer when she emigrated from England to Upper Canada with her husband in 1832. This account of life as a settler from 1832-1839 in the bush around what is now Cobourg and Peterborough Ontario is a classic in Canadian Literature. The book chronicles the hardships and triumphs faced by mid 19th century settlers in Upper Canada. The book was intended to inform those in England who might want to emigrate about the harsh realities of life in the bush. Susanna soon lea ...more
Jul 24, 2015 Marlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Moodie's memoir appealed to me because:

1. her first settlement in Canada is near where I live
2. I am passionate about Canadian history
3. I am interested in social geography, in particular the settlement of people
4. Consequently I teach Canadian geography and history to high school students and I'm always looking for something new.

Although the book is long, there are wonderful nuggets that are educational and/or entertaining. I especially enjoyed reading about her first impressions of Cobourg and
Marsali Taylor
I read this after 'Two sisters in the Wilderness', a biography of Susanna Moodie and her sister, Catherine Parr Traill, who emigrated to Ontario in the 1830s. The jury seems out on whether this book is autobiographical or a shaped, partly-fictional account. The descriptions in the start of the book were interesting and vivid, but once Moodie got out to the wilderness ... oh, dear. I found it hard to keep going, because of everyone else's behaviour towards her: the family from hell were in the ho ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was a bit like taking medicine--helpful in the long run while not necessarily pleasant on the short term. Definitely worth wading through the language of the times (although after one poem I could not read more)in order to learn about the settlement of Canada in the mid-eighteen hundreds. And to learn a little about the arduous experience of women as homemakers, mothers, wives, neighbours. Susanna Moodie was an excellent writer and story teller of her day.
Gabriele Wills
Mar 31, 2009 Gabriele Wills rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
I have immense admiration for those gentlewomen from cultured Europe who found themselves hacking out a life - literally - in the backwoods of Canada. This account of immigrant life in what is now Ontario (Upper Canada then) certainly details the hardships and struggles, making me question whether I could have survived with those challenges. If Susanna Moodie's voice grates a little, we have to remember the privileged society from which she came.
Perry Whitford
Sep 06, 2016 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susanna Moodie and her husband, a retired soldier invalided on half-pay, arrived in colonial Quebec with high hopes of a prosperous emigration in September 1832, at the height of an historic cholera epidemic.

They were both utterly unsuited to the harsh realities of farming life in the bush. He was not used to doing a labourer's work, she didn't even know how to bake bread or wash clothes, and further more was afraid of cows!

She hears of Stephen Ayres, the mysterious cholera doctor, who appeared
Janice Dick
Although a bit cumbersome in places due to the older style of writing (the "Dear Reader" style), this book was fascinating. It's a detailed record of what it was like for Susanna Moodie to move with her husband from England to the northern Canadian forest in the early 1800s. It is also a lesson for those of us who have never really had to endure hardship, at least not compared with what the Moodie family suffered. And yet, the author sets forth a positive and pragmatic attitude to life and the b ...more
Lichenia Green
Jul 31, 2015 Lichenia Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of a womans experiences trying to survive with her family in a cold northern part of Canada in the early part of the 19th century. The physical environment is hard enough but what's really interesting is the interaction with the neighbours and how they were the main problem. Borrowing and damage to each others livestock and property, moving in and not lifting a finger to help, were common events which made the struggle so much harder. The descriptions of the cold can be fel ...more
Oct 21, 2013 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be long and writen sometimes in a language that is nowadays non-existant. Considering it was first published in 1852 it is understandable that the words and writing styles seem so far from the modern.

Although a true account of the story of Susanna Moodie and her family during their travel and settling in Canada, there were (admittedly stated in the forward) a few stories interwoven to keep content a reader tired of hearing about the bush and crops.

There were points througho
Tom Gee
Sep 26, 2014 Tom Gee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb book. For those who didn't like it when assigned the book as literature homework, I encourage you to re-read it on your own time and pace. She is an engaging, surprisingly parsimonious storyteller with an unique ability to describe a person's character and appearance in a single sentence or phrase, which often has a very British backhanded sense to it (e.g. one man had "a dark manly face that would have been a splendid property for a bandit chief").

Five enthusiastic stars!
Apr 26, 2009 C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book about one woman's experience in settling in Canada from England and the difference between what they were told in England and the reality in Canada.

I really enjoyed reading about her interactions with the First Nations people and the Americans who were settled in southern Ontario. The First Nations were described as a very kind and friendly people while she seemed to have a very low opinion of the Americans who came off as thieving dishonest.

Format was easy to read, her
May 17, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Free on the Kindle as well, which is a bonus. You can't help but feel sorry for poor old Susanna Moodie. She has to emigrate to Canada with her husband because of financial problems, but when they get there they go through a whole litany of problems, money issues, and terrible circumstances. One truly memorable passage has a farm worker setting all the fields round her house on fire by mistake. Susanna and her kids are trapped in the cottage by a huge ring of fire, minutes awa ...more
This is not the type of book you read for leisure. It can be difficult to read and drag on, but it is interesting to read a woman's first-hand account of settling in Upper Canada. Moodie does not glamorize the settler life, and this makes the book an important read for those interested in Canadian Studies.
Mar 27, 2016 Gisele rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eye opening account of Canada's colonization. Its title "Roughing it in the Bush" has got to be the understatement of all time! I know I would have been on the first boat out of there! This should actually be a 3.5 stars... really well written.
Theryn Fleming
Roughing It in the Bush is an account of the middle-class Moodies' first years in North America. Susanna and her husband John were woefully unprepared for life in the "bush," which made for lots of good material for Susanna to write about. Although it's supposed to be non-fiction, it seems pretty clear that the character "Susanna Moodie" is a lot ditzier than the writer Susanna Moodie was, i.e. that the stories were embellished to make them more funny and entertaining. While the writer Susanna M ...more
Dec 03, 2011 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian-authors
A classic must-read. Incredible insight - as if reading a diary - into life in the backwoods of Ontario before Confederation. The details of what life was like and how hard the work was for women - and the isolation particularly in winter, are incredible.

Interesting to read about the culture shock that Susanna experiences and how she retains her strong personality and snobbiness in spite of the hardship.

A wonderful companion read to her sister, Catharine Par Traill's book, as their personalities
Mar 30, 2015 alexandra!! rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-rip
i havent given anything 1 star in a while like i just hope i never have to go thru reading something like this ever again
Apr 25, 2014 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful descriptions of the areas around her forest cabin, and well done written sketches of the local characters. I skipped the poetry.
it was very interesting to see how it really was during the pioneer days of canada this was the first account of what it was actually like bc most literature pertaining to settling was euphemistic, trying to convince people to move here. she was snobby, though, she almost always had hired help and she wasnt really the salt of the earth type we always envisioned or at least i always do. most often with a long book I get so into it that the length doesn't fase me. With this book yiu have to push t ...more
May 30, 2016 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, can-lit
I've studied this book in two separate classes. I like the idea of the historical look back at early Canada from a woman coming over with her husband. I like how it is published at almost the moment of in time where the Canadian wilderness narrative was born. I can see where Margret Atwood's surfacing could have come from from this text. The writing is dry, but informative. Its not notable to me, but I know its very important text for Canadian Literature, and for female Canada
Ephemera Robertson
Feb 14, 2016 Ephemera Robertson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: histories
Is it terrible that, by the end, I related to her?
Jun 05, 2016 Heather rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
This is a true story about a woman's struggles and experiences in Canada when it was still a colony of the British, not long after the Civil War. Although the style of writing in a bit outdated, and there is a lot of poetry I didn't particularly like so I skipped over it, for the most part I thought this was a very interesting read about the daily struggles and observations of early Canadian settlers.
Sherrida McKnight
I liked this book much more than I expected. If you are interested in the settlement of Upper Canada (yes, before Confederation) you will find this informative. Although written in the early 1830's it is very entertaining as the author shares sketches of their life after emigrating from England.
Jan 23, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The moral of her story: do not immigrate to Canada unless you are suited for hard work and a miserable life. When I read this I was an immigrant living in Canada and could totally relate. Susanna Moodie is a strong woman who inspired me with her account of life in early Canada.
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Susanna Moodie (born Strickland; 6 December 1803 – 8 April 1885) was an English-born Canadian author who wrote about her experiences as a settler in Canada, which was a British colony at the time.

Source: Wikipedia.
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