List Of Contents | Contents of Roughing it in the Bush, by Susanna Moodie
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Notes on this Etext Edition.

Thank you to The Celebration of Women Writers (Mary Mark Ockerbloom,
Editor) for providing the source text. It has since been proof-read
and modified by comparison with multiple editions.

There is a great deal of variation between different editions
ranging from differences in names, spelling and punctuation to
differences in what chapters and poems are included. This text
is not meant to be authoritative or to match a certain paper
edition; rather, its aim is to be be readable and inclusive of
various material that appears in different editions.


To Agnes Strickland
Author of the "Lives of the Queens of England"
This simple tribute of affection
is dedicated by her sister
Susanna Moodie


         Introduction to the Third Edition
      I  A Visit to Grosse Isle
     II  Quebec
    III  Our Journey up the Country
     IV  Tom Wilson's Emigration
      V  Our First Settlement, and the Borrowing System
     VI  Old Satan and Tom Wilson's Nose
    VII  Uncle Joe and his Family
   VIII  John Monaghan
     IX  Phoebe R---, and our Second Moving
      X  Brian, the Still-Hunter
     XI  The Charivari
    XII  The Village Hotel
   XIII  The Land-Jobber
    XIV  A Journey to the Woods
     XV  The Wilderness, and our Indian Friends
    XVI  Burning the Fallow
   XVII  Our Logging-Bee
  XVIII  A Trip to Stony Lake
    XIX  The "Ould Dhragoon"
     XX  Disappointed Hopes
    XXI  The Little Stumpy Man
   XXII  The Fire
  XXIII  The Outbreak
   XXIV  The Whirlwind
    XXV  The Walk to Dummer
   XXVI  A Change in our Prospects
  XXVII  Adieu to the Woods
 XXVIII  Canadian Sketches
 Appendix A  Advertisement to the Third Edition
 Appendix B  Canada: a Contrast
 Appendix C  Jeanie Burns


Published by Richard Bentley in 1854

In most instances, emigration is a matter of necessity, not of
choice; and this is more especially true of the emigration of
persons of respectable connections, or of any station or position
in the world. Few educated persons, accustomed to the refinements
and luxuries of European society, ever willingly relinquish those
advantages, and place themselves beyond the protective influence of
the wise and revered institutions of their native land, without the
pressure of some urgent cause. Emigration may, indeed, generally be
regarded as an act of severe duty, performed at the expense of
personal enjoyment, and accompanied by the sacrifice of those local
attachments which stamp the scenes amid which our childhood grew, in
imperishable characters, upon the heart. Nor is it until adversity
has pressed sorely upon the proud and wounded spirit of the
well-educated sons and daughters of old but impoverished families,
that they gird up the loins of the mind, and arm themselves with
fortitude to meet and dare the heart-breaking conflict.

The ordinary motives for the emigration of such persons may be
summed up in a few brief words;--the emigrant's hope of bettering
his condition, and of escaping from the vulgar sarcasms too often
hurled at the less-wealthy by the purse-proud, common-place people
of the world. But there is a higher motive still, which has its
origin in that love of independence which springs up spontaneously
in the breasts of the high-souled children of a glorious land. They
cannot labour in a menial capacity in the country where they were
born and educated to command. They can trace no difference between
themselves and the more fortunate individuals of a race whose blood
warms their veins, and whose name they bear. The want of wealth
alone places an impassable barrier between them and the more
favoured offspring of the same parent stock; and they go forth to
make for themselves a new name and to find another country, to
forget the past and to live in the future, to exult in the prospect
of their children being free and the land of their adoption great.

The choice of the country to which they devote their talents and
energies depends less upon their pecuniary means than upon the
fancy of the emigrant or the popularity of a name. From the year
1826 to 1829, Australia and the Swan River were all the rage. No
other portions of the habitable globe were deemed worthy of notice.
These were the El Dorados and lands of Goshen to which all
respectable emigrants eagerly flocked. Disappointment, as a matter
of course, followed their high-raised expectations. Many of the
most sanguine of these adventurers returned to their native shores
in a worse condition than when they left them. In 1830, the great
tide of emigration flowed westward. Canada became the great
land-mark for the rich in hope and poor in purse. Public newspapers
and private letters teemed with the unheard-of advantages to be
derived from a settlement in this highly-favoured region.

Its salubrious climate, its fertile soil, commercial advantages,
great water privileges, its proximity to the mother country, and
last, not least, its almost total exemption from taxation--that
bugbear which keeps honest John Bull in a state of constant
ferment--were the theme of every tongue, and lauded beyond all
praise. The general interest, once excited, was industriously
kept alive by pamphlets, published by interested parties, which
prominently set forth all the good to be derived from a settlement
in the Backwoods of Canada; while they carefully concealed the toil
and hardship to be endured in order to secure these advantages.
They told of lands yielding forty bushels to the acre, but they
said nothing of the years when these lands, with the most careful
cultivation, would barely return fifteen; when rust and smut,
engendered by the vicinity of damp over-hanging woods, would blast
the fruits of the poor emigrant's labour, and almost deprive him
of bread. They talked of log houses to be raised in a single day,
by the generous exertions of friends and neighbours, but they never
ventured upon a picture of the disgusting scenes of riot and low
debauchery exhibited during the raising, or upon a description of
the dwellings when raised--dens of dirt and misery, which would, in
many instances, be shamed by an English pig-sty. The necessaries of
life were described as inestimably cheap; but they forgot to add
that in remote bush settlements, often twenty miles from a market
town, and some of them even that distance from the nearest
dwelling, the necessaries of life which would be deemed
indispensable to the European, could not be procured at all, or,
if obtained, could only be so by sending a man and team through
a blazed forest road,--a process far too expensive for frequent

Oh, ye dealers in wild lands--ye speculators in the folly and
credulity of your fellow men--what a mass of misery, and of
misrepresentation productive of that misery, have ye not to answer
for! You had your acres to sell, and what to you were the worn-down
frames and broken hearts of the infatuated purchasers? The public
believed the plausible statements you made with such earnestness,
and men of all grades rushed to hear your hired orators declaim
upon the blessings to be obtained by the clearers of the

Men who had been hopeless of supporting their families in comfort
and independence at home, thought that they had only to come out
to Canada to make their fortunes; almost even to realise the story
told in the nursery, of the sheep and oxen that ran about the
streets, ready roasted, and with knives and forks upon their backs.
They were made to believe that if it did not actually rain gold,
that precious metal could be obtained, as is now stated of
California and Australia, by stooping to pick it up.

The infection became general. A Canada mania pervaded the middle
ranks of British society; thousands and tens of thousands for the
space of three or four years landed upon these shores. A large
majority of the higher class were officers of the army and navy,
with their families--a class perfectly unfitted by their previous
habits and education for contending with the stern realities of
emigrant life. The hand that has long held the sword, and been
accustomed to receive implicit obedience from those under its
control, is seldom adapted to wield the spade and guide the plough,
or try its strength against the stubborn trees of the forest. Nor
will such persons submit cheerfully to the saucy familiarity of
servants, who, republicans in spirit, think themselves as good as
their employers. Too many of these brave and honourable men were
easy dupes to the designing land-speculators. Not having counted
the cost, but only looked upon the bright side of the picture held
up to their admiring gaze, they fell easily into the snares of
their artful seducers.

To prove their zeal as colonists, they were induced to purchase
large tracts of wild land in remote and unfavourable situations.
This, while it impoverished and often proved the ruin of the
unfortunate immigrant, possessed a double advantage to the seller.
He obtained an exorbitant price for the land which he actually
sold, while the residence of a respectable settler upon the spot
greatly enhanced the value and price of all other lands in the

It is not by such instruments as those I have just mentioned, that
Providence works when it would reclaim the waste places of the
earth, and make them subservient to the wants and happiness of its
creatures. The Great Father of the souls and bodies of men knows
the arm which wholesome labour from infancy has made strong, the
nerves which have become iron by patient endurance, by exposure
to weather, coarse fare, and rude shelter; and He chooses such,
to send forth into the forest to hew out the rough paths for the
advance of civilization. These men become wealthy and prosperous,
and form the bones and sinews of a great and rising country. Their
labour is wealth, not exhaustion; its produce independence and
content, not home-sickness and despair. What the Backwoods of
Canada are to the industrious and ever-to-be-honoured sons of
honest poverty, and what they are to the refined and accomplished
gentleman, these simple sketches will endeavour to portray. They
are drawn principally from my own experience, during a sojourn of
nineteen years in the colony.

In order to diversify my subject, and make it as amusing as
possible, I have between the sketches introduced a few small poems,
all written during my residence in Canada, and descriptive of the

In this pleasing task, I have been assisted by my husband, J. W.
Dunbar Moodie, author of "Ten Years in South Africa."



  Canada, the blest--the free!
  With prophetic glance, I see
  Visions of thy future glory,
  Giving to the world's great story
  A page, with mighty meaning fraught,
  That asks a wider range of thought.
  Borne onward on the wings of Time,
  I trace thy future course sublime;
  And feel my anxious lot grow bright,
  While musing on the glorious sight;--
  My heart rejoicing bounds with glee
  To hail thy noble destiny!

  Even now thy sons inherit
  All thy British mother's spirit.
  Ah! no child of bondage thou;
  With her blessing on thy brow,
  And her deathless, old renown
  Circling thee with freedom's crown,
  And her love within thy heart,
  Well may'st thou perform thy part,
  And to coming years proclaim
  Thou art worthy of her name.
  Home of the homeless!--friend to all
  Who suffer on this earthly ball!
  On thy bosom sickly care
  Quite forgets her squalid lair;
  Gaunt famine, ghastly poverty
  Before thy gracious aspect fly,
  And hopes long crush'd, grow bright again,
  And, smiling, point to hill and plain.

  By thy winter's stainless snow,
  Starry heavens of purer glow,
  Glorious summers, fervid, bright,
  Basking in one blaze of light;
  By thy fair, salubrious clime;
  By thy scenery sublime;
  By thy mountains, streams, and woods;
  By thy everlasting floods;
  If greatness dwells beneath the skies,
  Thou to greatness shalt arise!

  Nations old, and empires vast,
  From the earth had darkly pass'd
  Ere rose the fair auspicious morn
  When thou, the last, not least, wast born.
  Through the desert solitude
  Of trackless waters, forests rude,
  Thy guardian angel sent a cry
  All jubilant of victory!
  "Joy," she cried, "to th' untill'd earth,
  Let her joy in a mighty birth,--
  Night from the land has pass'd away,
  The desert basks in noon of day.
  Joy, to the sullen wilderness,
  I come, her gloomy shades to bless,
  To bid the bear and wild-cat yield
  Their savage haunts to town and field.
  Joy, to stout hearts and willing hands,
  That win a right to these broad lands,
  And reap the fruit of honest toil,
  Lords of the rich, abundant soil.

  "Joy, to the sons of want, who groan
  In lands that cannot feed their own;
  And seek, in stern, determined mood,
  Homes in the land of lake and wood,
  And leave their hearts' young hopes behind,
  Friends in this distant world to find;
  Led by that God, who from His throne
  Regards the poor man's stifled moan.
  Like one awaken'd from the dead,
  The peasant lifts his drooping head,
  Nerves his strong heart and sunburnt hand,
  To win a potion of the land,
  That glooms before him far and wide
  In frowning woods and surging tide
  No more oppress'd, no more a slave,
  Here freedom dwells beyond the wave.

  "Joy, to those hardy sires who bore
  The day's first heat--their toils are o'er;
  Rude fathers of this rising land,
  Theirs was a mission truly grand.
  Brave peasants whom the Father, God,
  Sent to reclaim the stubborn sod;
  Well they perform'd their task, and won
  Altar and hearth for the woodman's son.
  Joy, to Canada's unborn heirs,
  A deathless heritage is theirs;
  For, sway'd by wise and holy laws,
  Its voice shall aid the world's great cause,
  Shall plead the rights of man, and claim
  For humble worth an honest name;
  Shall show the peasant-born can be,
  When call'd to action, great and free.
  Like fire, within the flint conceal'd,
  By stern necessity reveal'd,
  Kindles to life the stupid sod,
  Image of perfect man and God.

  "Joy, to thy unborn sons, for they
  Shall hail a brighter, purer day;
  When peace and Christian brotherhood
  Shall form a stronger tie than blood--
  And commerce, freed from tax and chain,
  Shall build a bridge o'er earth and main;
  And man shall prize the wealth of mind,
  The greatest blessing to mankind;
  True Christians, both in word and deed,
  Ready in virtue's cause to bleed,
  Against a world combined to stand,
  And guard the honour of the land.
  Joy, to the earth, when this shall be,
  Time verges on eternity."



  Alas! that man's stern spirit e'er should mar
  A scene so pure--so exquisite as this.

The dreadful cholera was depopulating Quebec and Montreal when our
ship cast anchor off Grosse Isle, on the 30th of August 1832, and
we were boarded a few minutes after by the health-officers.

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