The Backwoods of Canada eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 306 pages of information about The Backwoods of Canada.

Farewell, my dearest Mother.


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.

Peterborough, Sept. 11, 1832.

IT is now settled that we abide here till after the government sale has
taken place.  We are, then, to remain with S------ and his family till we
have got a few acres chopped, and a log-house put up on our own land. 
Having determined to go at once into the bush, on account of our
military grant, which we have been so fortunate as to draw in the
neighbourhood of S------, we have fully made up our minds to enter at
once, and cheerfully, on the privations and inconveniences attending
such a situation; as there is no choice between relinquishing that great
advantage and doing our settlement duties.  We shall not be worse off
than others who have gone before us to the unsettled townships, many of
whom, naval and military officers, with their families, have had to
struggle with considerable difficulties, but who are now beginning to
feel the advantages arising from their exertions.

In addition to the land he is entitled to as an officer in the British service, my husband is in treaty for the purchase of an eligible lot by small lakes.  This will give us a water frontage, and a further inducement to bring us within a little distance of S------; so that we shall not be quite so lonely as if we had gone on to our government lot at once.

We have experienced some attention and hospitality from several of the residents of Peterborough.  There is a very genteel society, chiefly composed of officers and their families, besides the professional men and storekeepers.  Many of the latter are persons of respectable family and good education.  Though a store is, in fact, nothing better than what we should call in the country towns at home a “general shop,” yet the storekeeper in Canada holds a very different rank from the shopkeeper of the English village.  The storekeepers are the merchants and bankers of the places in which they reside.  Almost all money matters are transacted by them, and they are often men of landed property and consequence, not unfrequently filling the situations of magistrates, commissioners, and even members of the provincial parliament.

As they maintain a rank in society which entitles them to equality with the aristocracy of the country, you must not be surprised when I tell you that it is no uncommon circumstance to see the sons of naval and military officers and clergymen standing behind a counter, or wielding an axe in the woods with their fathers’ choppers; nor do they lose their grade in society by such employment.  After all, it is education and manners that must distinguish the gentleman in this country, seeing that the labouring man, if he is diligent and industrious, may soon become his equal in point of worldly possessions.  The ignorant man, let him be ever so wealthy, can never be equal to the man of education.  It is the mind that forms the distinction between the classes in this country—­ “Knowledge is power!”

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The Backwoods of Canada from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.