The Backwoods of Canada

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The Backwoods of Canada by Catherine Parr Traill is a collection of letters that tells of Mrs. Traill’s immigration from Scotland to Canada in the 1830s. Mrs. Traill leaves Scotland with her husband, a former British Army officer, to find freedom and a new life. These letters written to her mother tell of the hardships she comes across as well as the hopes and dreams she has for the future. The Backwoods of Canada shows that immigration changes Catherine from a privileged middle class woman to a hard working Canadian. This book also tells us that although Canada has changed from the 1830s, it still remains a place of freedom and hard workers. Catherine Parr Traill lived a life of luxury before coming to Canada. She was accustomed to having maids and servants and grew up in a place where social status was a major concern. To have to work comes almost as a shock to Mrs. Traill. Before beginning their journey she “heard and read of houses being built in a day”[1] and thought that settlement would be fairly easy. However, after talking to an elderly gentleman on their journey from Cobourg to Amherst, Catherine realizes that she “had taken too flattering a view of a settler’s life as it must be in the backwoods”[2]. While Mrs. Traill realizes that there will be hardships ahead of them, she is still not fully accustomed to the idea of working. When they reach Peterborough she writes about the storekeepers and is surprised to find that they are equal to the aristocracy in the country. She soon finds out “it is no uncommon circumstance to see the sons of naval and military officers...standing behind a counter, or wielding an axe in the woods”[3]. Along with offering different social structures, Mrs. Traill’s journey provides her with a chance to meet a variety of people. Before Catherine arrived in Peterborough she had heard many rumors of the “odious manners of the
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