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Roughing It in the Bush

Susanna Moodie

Book Overview: 

'Roughing It In the Bush' is Susanna Moodie's account of how she coped with the harshness of life in the woods of Upper Canada, as an Englishwoman homesteading abroad. Her narrative was constructed partly as a response to the glowing falsehoods European land-agents were circulating about life in the New World. Her chronicle is frank and humorous, and was a popular sensation at the time of its publication in 1852.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .turedly, and made it the subject of many droll, but not unkindly, witicisms. For myself, I could have borne the severest infliction from the pen of the most formidable critic with more fortitude than I bore the cutting up of my first loaf of bread.

After breakfast, Moodie and Wilson rode into the town; and when they returned at night brought several long letters for me. Ah! those first kind letters from home! Never shall I forget the rapture with which I grasped them—the eager, trembling haste with which I tore them open, while the blinding tears which filled my eyes hindered me for some minutes from reading a word which they contained. Sixteen years have slowly passed away—it appears half a century—but never, never can home letters give me the intense joy those letters did. After seven years' exile, the hope of return grows feeble, the means are still less in our power, and our friends give up all hope of our return; their letters grow fewer and . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I was initially put off by the verbosity and exaggeration of her writing style. I did not appreciate the poetry and after slogging through the first few, chose to skip the rest. I felt she over played the many characters who seemed to live all around her. Even some of the hardships she endured se...more

Reading this book was a bit like taking medicine--helpful in the long run while not necessarily pleasant on the short term. Definitely worth wading through the language of the times (although after one poem I could not read more)in order to learn about the settlement of Canada in the mid-eighteen...more

I read this after 'Two sisters in the Wilderness', a biography of Susanna Moodie and her sister, Catherine Parr Traill, who emigrated to Ontario in the 1830s. The jury seems out on whether this book is autobiographical or a shaped, partly-fictional account. The descriptions in the start of the bo...more

I found this book to be long and writen sometimes in a language that is nowadays non-existant. Considering it was first published in 1852 it is understandable that the words and writing styles seem so far from the modern.

Although a true account of the story of Susanna Moodie and her family durin...more

I once saw Jon Stewart on Just for Laughs doing a bit of standup, talking about Canadians (paraphrased here). " It's amazing", he said, "that your ancestors got off the boat at the first frozen port and, looking around at the snow and ice and wilderness, said, 'Yep, looks good to me'. And stayed....more

Roughing it in the Bush is one of those books that is undeniably important (within its own limited sphere of influence). But it is also way more important than it is readable.

As an icon of Canadian Literature, Susanna Moodie has particular importance for Feminist Canadian writers. Her work has di...more

I read this book because the author was living in the same area of Canada, at the same time, as my ancestor Peter Huffman (near Port Hope, Ontario in the 1830s). It was fascinating to hear of her account and see just how "rough" the American immigrants were (and Peter was an ex-American). Also, P...more

Susanna Moodie and her husband, a retired soldier invalided on half-pay, arrived in colonial Quebec with high hopes of a prosperous emigration in September 1832, at the height of an historic cholera epidemic.

They were both utterly unsuited to the harsh realities of farming life in the bush. He w...more

Susanna Strickland, a published writer in England, married half-pay officer John Moodie and emigrated to Upper Canada in 1832 to homestead in the bush. Her sister Catherine also emigrated with her husband Thomas Traill in 1832, and homesteaded in the same area. Both Susanna and Catherine wrote bo...more

Moodie's memoir appealed to me because:

1. her first settlement in Canada is near where I live
2. I am passionate about Canadian history
3. I am interested in social geography, in particular the settlement of people
4. Consequently I teach Canadian geography and history to high school students and I'...more

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