The Backwoods of Canada

The Backwoods of Canada

4.6 10
by Catharine Parr Traill

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The toils, troubles, and satisfactions of pioneer life are recorded with charm and vivacity in this book 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. Treasured in the 19th century as an important source of practical information, The Backwoods of Canada is an


The toils, troubles, and satisfactions of pioneer life are recorded with charm and vivacity in this book 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. Treasured in the 19th century as an important source of practical information, The Backwoods of Canada is an extraordinary portrayal of pioneer life by one of Canada's most remarkable women.

The NCL edition is an unabridged reprint of the complete original text and all its illustrations.

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McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)

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Letter I
Departure from Greenock in the Brig Laurel. – Fitting-up of the Vessel. – Boy Passenger. – Sea Prospect. – Want of Occupation and Amusement. – Captain’s Goldfi nch.
Brig Laurel, July 18, 1832.
I received your last kind letter, my dearest mother, only a few hours before we set sail from Greenock. As you express a wish that I should give you a minute detail of our voyage, I shall take up my subject from the time of our embarkation, and write as inclination prompts me. Instead of having reason to complain of short letters, you will, I fear, fi nd mine only too prolix.
After many delays and disappointments, we succeeded at last in obtaining a passage in a fast-sailing brig, the Laurel, of Greenock; and favourable winds are now rapidly carrying us across the Atlantic.
The Laurel is not a regular passenger-ship, which I consider an advantage, for what we lose in amusement and variety we assuredly gain in comfort. The cabin is neatly fi tted up, and I enjoy the luxury (for such it is, compared with the narrow berths of the state cabin) of a handsome sofa, with crimson draperies, in the great cabin. The state cabin is also ours. We paid fi fteen pounds each for our passage to Montreal. This was high, but it includes every expense; and, in fact, we had no choice. The only vessel in the river bound for Canada, was a passenger-ship literally swarming with emigrants, chiefly of the lower class of Highlanders.
The only passengers besides ourselves in the Laurel are the captain’s nephew, a pretty yellow-haired lad, about fi fteen years of age, who works his passage out, and a young gentleman who is going out as clerk in a merchant’s house in Quebec. He seems too much wrapped up in his own affairs to be very communicative to others; he walks much, talks little, and reads less; but often amuses himself by singing as he paces the deck, “Home, sweet home,” and that delightful song by Camoens, “Isle of beauty.” It is a sweet song, and I can easily imagine the charm it has for a home-sick heart.
I was much pleased with the scenery of the Clyde; the day we set sail was a lovely one, and I remained on deck till nightfall. The morning light found our vessel dashing gallantly along, with a favourable breeze, through the north channel; that day we saw the last of the Hebrides, and before night lost sight of the north coast of Ireland. A wide expanse of water and sky is now our only prospect, unvaried by any object save the distant and scarcely to be traced outline of some vessel just seen at the verge of the horizon, a speck in the immensity of space, or sometimes a few sea-fowl. I love to watch these wanderers of the ocean, as they rise and fall with the rocking billows, or fl it about our vessel; and often I wonder whence they came, to what distant shore they are bound, and if they make the rude wave their home and resting-place during the long day and dark night; and then I recall to mind the words of the American poet, Bryant, –
“He who from zone to zone
Guides through the boundless air their certain fl ight,
In the long way that I must tread alone
Will guide my steps aright.”
Though we have been little more than a week on board, I am getting weary of the voyage. I can only compare the monotony of it to being weather-bound in some country inn. I have already made myself acquainted with all the books worth reading in the ship’s library; unfortunately, it is chiefly made up with old novels and musty romances.
When the weather is fi ne I sit on a bench on the deck, wrapped in my cloak, and sew, or pace the deck with my husband, and talk over plans for the future, which in all probability will never be realized. I really do pity men who are not actively employed: women have always their needle as a resource against the overwhelming weariness of an idle life; but where a man is confi ned to a small space, such as the deck and cabin of a trading vessel, with nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing to do, and nothing to read, he is really a very pitiable creature.
There is one passenger on board that seems perfectly happy, if one may judge from the liveliness of the songs with which he greets us whenever we approach his cage. It is “Harry,” the captain’s goldfi nch – “the captain’s mate,” as the sailors term him. This pretty creature has made no fewer than twelve voyages in the Laurel. “It is all one to him whether his cage is at sea or on land, he is still at home,” said the captain, regarding his little favourite with an air of great affection, and evidently gratifi ed by the attention I bestowed on his bird.
I have already formed a friendship with the little captive. He never fails to greet my approach with one of his sweetest songs, and will take from my fi ngers a bit of biscuit, which he holds in his claws till he has thanked me with a few of his clearest notes. This mark of acknowledg ment is termed by the steward, “saying grace.”
If the wind still continues to favour us, the captain tells us we shall be on the banks of Newfoundland in another week. Farewell for the present.

Meet the Author

CATHARINE PARR TRAILL was born in Surrey, England, on January 9, 1802. She was the fifth child of Thomas and Elizabeth Strickland. Her siblings were Eliza, Jane Margaret, Susanna (later Susanna Moodie), Samuel, and Agnes. In 1832 she married Lt. Thomas Traill. The couple emigrated to Upper Canada and settled near the Otonabee River close to Peterborough. Traill is the author of a number of books but is best-known for The Backwoods of Canada. She died in 1899 in Lakefield, Ontario.

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Backwoods of Canada 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: ^ Gender... male. Desc... green fur with mottled brown spots. Very bushy tail very large and strong. Almost like a camoflauge-colored cat sized refrigorator. Personailty.... get to know me. I only bite bloodclan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A huge dusty brown tom, with fierce green eyes. He has black paws, tail tip, and ears tips. And a splash of white on his chest. He is calm, assertive, and would really love to be leader someday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is a small black kit with startling electric-blue eyes. He has no parents. He wants to grow up and become a Warrior named BlackHeart. He is currently three moons old.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: SilentGrace <p> Age: Sixteen moons <p> Gender: &female <p> Rank: Would love to be deputy, but cool with being a warrior. <p> Appearance: A soft white she cat with a silver ringed tail and a patch around one eye. Soft, pale blue eyes. Has long legs and tail, a sweet disposition. <p> Personality: Find out silly. <p> History: Ask. <p> Mate/Crush/Kits: nope. <p> Kin: All are dead, but has two nephews, Ragekit and Frozenkit. <p> Quote: Do something every day that can ki<.>ll you. -elanor roosevelt <p> Themesog: Lightlers by bad meets evil <p> Name: Ragekit/Frozenkit <p> Age: Both four moons. <p> Gender: both &male <p> Rank: Kit <p> Appearances: Ragekit is a black tom kit, burly in size and strong. He has dark red-amber eyes. <p> Frozenkit is a smaller, shy tom with strange fur. It is black with silver tips, like frosted fur. He has ice blue eyes. <p> Personalities: Ragekit was a leader of four, but half his family was wiped out with blackcough. He is still stubborn and a natural leader. <p> Frozenkit is shy, and keeps to himself. He was the runt of the litter, shadowed by even his sisters. He can be loyal, but stays quiet. <p> Ask for history. <p> Mate/Crush/Kits: neither has any. <p> Quotes: none yet. <p> Themesongs: Ragekit- Ready Aim Fire (imagine dragons) Frozenkit- Radioactive by imagine dragons <p> The end.