I visited Lang Pioneer Village just outside of Peterborough for a glimpse of what life looked like in Ontario at around the time Susanna Moodie and her sister Catharine Parr Traill emigrated from England.
This cabin was the home of David Fife, of Red Fife wheat fame – it represents what a Canadian settler’s dwelling was like circa 1820.
The sisters arrived in the early 1830s. Conditions, particularly during the winter months – on days like today for example – were wicked; with snow blowing in through cracks in the walls and little food to eat, life wasn’t easy. Seeing this cabin really brought home how challenging it must have been just to survive back then. But they made do.
“The flesh of the black squirrel is equal to that of the rabbit, and the red, even the little chipmunk, is palatable when nicely cooked.” (from Roughing it in the Bush).
For information on visiting Peterborough and the Kawarthas, click here.
As a result of a trip to Peterborough & the Kawarthas, and exposure to the works of Catharine Parr Traill
and Susanna Moodie
I’ve been reflecting lately on the immigrant experience in Canada.
I was born in Toronto, but moved to England with my British parents when I was five years old. We returned by ship seven years later on the S.S. Maasdam. Although I’d already been here, my memory is of having arrived in Canada as if for the first time. I’ll never forget the experience of coming up on deck early one morning with my father and sighting land – a collection of tiny, sun-lit Canadian islands. Everything seemed bathed in gold.
Moving to a new country is an emotion-charged experience, one that, while different in each case, shares certain common characteristics. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, people who immigrate typically go through the following stages:
Yes the breakfasts were great. Yes, it’s on the same street as a house (Marchbanks) that Robertson Davies used to live in, and yes, Davies used to hang out here in the basement ‘theatre’ watching the home movies of Dr. Agnes Moffat, Peterborough’s first female doctor, and her husband Dr. Rusty Magee, the original owners of the place, but the thing that charmed me most about Moffat House in Peterborough, was the lovely flora
Well known Canadian author/biographer Charlie Foran, playing the Literary Tourist, travelled to Wingham, Ontario and environs to spend a little time in Alice Munro country. I talked to him recently about his experience.
Literary Tourists are a hard breed to define. Some like to visit places that appear in novels, others to walk along the footpaths that inspired great poems. Some go on pilgrimages to honour their favourite authors. Others seek out the book itself. They go to rare book libraries and antiquarian bookstores, thrilling to the touch of leather bindings, the feel of letterpress-printed paper, the beauty of woodcut illustrations. Still others love good theatre; they search out live stage performances; many like to hunt down famous living authors, listen to them read, and get books signed.
While there are lots of ways to be a literary tourist, all have one thing in common, and that’s alchemy. Each knows how to mix together just the right combination of literature and geography to come up with the perfect travel experience.