Table of Contents


Letters I   II   III   IV   V   VI   VII   VIII   IX   X  
Letters XI   XII   XIII   XIV   XV   XVI   XVII   XVIII

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 Goldfinch.

LETTER II. -- Arrival off Newfoundland. -- Singing of the Captain's Goldfinch previous to discovery of Land. -- Gulf of St. Laurence. -- Scenery of the River St. Laurence. -- Difficult navigation of the River. -- French Fisherman engaged as Pilot. -- Isle of Bic. -- Green Island. -- Regular Pilot engaged. -- Scenery of Green Island. -- Gros Isle. -- Quarantine Regulations. -- Emigrants on Gros Isle. -- Arrival off Quebec. -- Prospect of the City and Environs.

LETTER III. -- Departure from Quebec. -- Towed by a Steam-vessel. -- Fertility of the Country. -- Different Objects seen in sailing up the River. -- Arrival off Montreal. -- The Rapids.

LETTER IV. -- Landing at Montreal. -- Appearance of the Town. -- Ravages of the Cholera. -- Charitable Institutions in Montreal. -- Conversation at the Hotel. -- Writer attacked with the Cholera. -- Departure from Montreal in a Stage-coach. -- Embark at Lachine on board a Steam-vessel. Mode of travelling alternately in Steam-vessels and Stages. -- Appearance of the Country. -- Manufactures. -- Ovens at a distance from the Cottages. -- Draw-wells. -- Arrival at Cornwall. -- Accommodation at the Inn. -- Departure from Cornwall, and Arrival at Prescott. -- Arrival at Brockville. -- Ship-launch there. -- Voyage through Lake Ontario. -- Arrival at Cobourg.

LETTER V. -- Journey from Cobourg to Amherst. -- Difficulties to be encountered on first settling in the Backwoods. -- Appearance of the Country. -- Rice Lake. -- Indian Habits. -- Voyage up the Otanabee. -- Log-house, and its Inmates. -- Passage boat. -- Journey on foot to Peterborough.

LETTER VI. -- Peterborough. -- Manners and Language of the Americans. -- Scotch Engineman. -- Description of Peterborough and its Environs. -- Canadian Flowers. -- Shanties. -- Hardships suffered by first Settlers. -- Process of establishing a Farm.

LETTER VII. -- Journey from Peterborough. -- Canadian Woods. -- Waggon and Team. -- Arrival at a Log-house on the Banks of a Lake. -- Settlement, and first Occupations.

LETTER VIII. -- Inconveniences of first Settlement. -- Difficulty of obtaining Provisions and other necessaries. -- Snow-storm and Hurricane. -- Indian Summer, and setting-in of Winter. -- Process of clearing the Land.

LETTER IX. -- Loss of a yoke of Oxen. -- Construction of a Log-house. -- Glaziers' and Carpenters' work. -- Description of a new Log-house. -- Wild Fruits of the Country. -- Walks on the Ice. -- Situation of the House. -- Lake and surrounding Scenery.

LETTER X. -- Variations in the Temperature of the Weather. -- Electrical Phenomenon. -- Canadian Winter. -- Country deficient in Poetical Associations. -- Sugar-making. -- Fishing season. -- Mode of Fishing. -- Duck-shooting. -- Family of Indians. -- Papouses and their Cradle-cases. -- Indian Manufactures. -- Frogs.

LETTER XI. -- Emigrants suitable for Canada. -- Qualities requisite to ensure Success. -- Investment of Capital. -- Useful Articles to be brought out. -- Qualifications and Occupations of a Settler's Family. -- Deficiency of Patience and Energy in some Females. -- Management of the Dairy. -- Cheese. -- Indian Corn, and its Cultivation. -- Potatoes. -- Rates of Wages.

LETTER XII. -- "A Logging Bee." -- Burning of the Log-heaps. -- Crops for the Season. -- Farming Stock. -- Comparative Value of Wheat and Labour. -- Choice of Land, and relative Advantages. -- Clearing Land. -- Hurricane in the Woods. -- Variable Weather. -- Insects.

LETTER XIII. -- Health enjoyed in the rigour of Winter. -- Inconvenience suffered from the brightness of the Snow. -- Sleighing. -- Indian Orthography. -- Visit to an Indian Encampment. -- Story of an Indian. -- An Indian Hunchback. -- Canadian Ornithology.

LETTER XIV. -- Utility of Botanical Knowledge. -- The Fire-Weed. -- Sarsaparilla Plants. -- Magnificent Water Lily. -- Rice Beds. -- Indian Strawberry. -- Scarlet Columbine. -- Ferns. -- Grasses.

LETTER XV. -- Recapitulation of various Topics. -- Progress of Settlement. -- Canada, the Land of Hope. -- Visit to the Family of a Naval Officer. -- Squirrels. -- Visit to, and Story of, an Emigrant Clergyman. -- His early Difficulties. -- The Temper, Disposition, and Habits of Emigrants essential Ingredients in Failure or Success.

LETTER XVI. -- Indian Hunters. -- Sail in a Canoe. -- Want of Libraries in the Backwoods. -- New Village. -- Progress of Improvement. -- Fire flies.

LETTER XVII. -- Ague. -- Illness of the Family. -- Probable Cause. -- Root-house. -- Setting-in of Winter. -- Insect termed a "Sawyer." -- Temporary Church.

LETTER XVIII. -- Busy Spring. -- Increase of Society and Comfort. -- Recollections of Home. -- Aurora Borealis.





Miniature portrait of Catharine Parr Strickland, ©Public Domain, Source: National Archives of Canada, C-067337 CATHARINE PARR TRAILL - Following their marriage, Thomas and Catharine (née Strickland) emigrated to Upper Canada in 1832. They settled on the east shore of Katchewanooka Lake, just north of the present day Lakefield, Ontario. There, they carved a farm from wild bush land. The Backwoods of Canada, written in the form of letters to her family and friends in England, provides a narrative of their journey and settlement and a description of the landscape and wildlife she saw in the Canadas.

Transcribed by E.D. (Tedd) Brien, Ottawa, 2004
based on scans of the text found at

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