CanLit Challenge Book #31: Roughing It in the Bush by Susanna Moodie
Filed under: CanLit Challenge — Ibis at 2:52 pm on Sunday, July 27, 2008

Book 31, Roughing It in the Bush (1852) – Susanna Moodie
From the back cover:
“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 homesteading with her family in the woods of Upper Canada.

Part documentary, part psychological parable, Roughing It in the Bush is, above all, an honest account of how one woman coped not only in a new world, but, more importantly, with herself.”

Other useful links:
the Wikipedia entry for Susanna Moodie

My thoughts:
I’m past the halfway point. I’m finding this book very engaging, especially since I’m now living just a short distance away from where Ms Moodie was living when she first arrived and where she settled in what was then bush country near the small settlement of Peterborough, Ontario. One thing that strikes me is the re-emphasis of the impression made in my readings of Traill and Jameson: how integrated with and integral to life in the non-urban areas of Upper Canada were the First Nations peoples. There’s a real sense that there were three founding “nations” of Canada: the aboriginal, the British (including the Scots and Irish of course), and the French.

Another thing that stands out is the difference between the two sisters. Catharine was excited, optimistic, and took a lot of joy in her circumstances, whereas Susanna dreads her future in Canada, finds displeasure in almost everything she encounters, and, though better than some whom she discusses, seems to look down on both the aboriginal people (frequently calling them ugly and unpleasant) and those Europeans of the lower classes. She also puts down the “Yankee settlers” as a whole. However, it is true that she seems to be (what might be considered) progressive in her attitudes toward blacks.

(More later when I’m finished.)