BOOKS: The Tell Tale: An Original Collection of Moral and Amusing Stories (London: Harris, 1818); Disobedience; or, Mind What Mama Says (London: Woodhouse, 1819); Reformation; or, The Cousins (London: Woodhouse, 1819); Little Downy; or, The History of a Field Mouse: A Moral Tale (London: Dean & Munday, 1822); The Flower Basket; or, Poetical Blossoms (London: Newman, c. 1825); Prejudice Reproved; or, The History of the Negro Toy- Seller (London: Harvey & Darton, 1826); The Young Emigrants; or, Pictures of Life in Canada (London: Harvey & Darton, 1826); The Juvenile Forget-Me-Not; or, Cabinet of Entertain¬ ment and Instruction (London: Hailes, 1827); The Keepsake Guineas; or, The Best Use of Money (Lon¬ don: Newman, 1828); Amendment; or, Charles Grant and His Sister, pub¬ lished with The Little Prisoner by Susanna Strickland [Moodie] (London: Dean & Mun¬ day, 1828); The Step-Brothers. A Tale (London: Harvey & Darton, 1828); Sketches from Nature; or, Hints to Juvenile Naturalists (London: Harvey & Darton, 1830); Sketchbook of a Young Naturalist; or, Hints to the Stu¬ dents of Nature (London, 1831); Narratives of Nature, and History Book for Young Nat¬ uralists (London: Lacey, 1831); The Backwoods of Canada: Being Letters from the Wife of an Emigrant Officer (London: Knight, 1836; modern edition, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1929); enlarged as Canada and the Oregon. The Backwoods of Canada (Lon¬ don: Nattali, 1846); The Canadian Crusoes: A Tale of the Rice Lake Plains, edited by Agnes Strickland (Boston: Woolworth, Ainsworth, 1852; London: Hall, Virtue, 1852; modern edition, Toronto: McClelland 8c Stewart, 1923; another mod¬ ern edition, edited by Rupert Schieder, Ot¬ tawa: Carleton University Press, 1986); re- V4X-", i-m *0* mm : IKS Slip * - *1 •r Hv §m L -* W: $ ,4 * U', II Catharine Parr Strickland (later Traill), circa 1825 (minia¬ ture by Thomas Cheesman; collection of Miss Kathleen McMurrich, Thornhill, Ontario) published as Lost in the Backwoods. A Tale of the Canadian Forest (London & New York: Nel¬ son, 1882); The Female Emigrant's Guide, and Hints on Canadian Housekeeping, 2 volumes (Toronto: Maclear, 1854); republished in 1 volume as The Cana¬ dian Settler's Guide (Toronto: Old Country¬ man, 1855; London: Stanford, 1860); en¬ larged as The Canadian Emigrant House¬ keeper's Guide (Toronto: Lovell & Gibson, 1862); Lady Mary and Her Nurse; or, A Peep into the Cana¬ dian Forest (London: Hall, Virtue, 1856); re¬ published as Stories of the Canadian Forest; or, Little Mary and Her Nurse (New York & Bos¬ ton: Francis, 1857); republished again as Afar in the Forest; or, Pictures of Life and Scen¬ ery in the Wilds of Canada (London: Nelson, 1869); Canadian Wild Flowers (Montreal: Lovell, 1868); The Infant's Prayer-Book; with Texts and Simple Hymns for Infant Minds (Toronto: Rowsell, 1873); Studies of Plant Life in Canada; or, Gleanings from For¬ est, Lake and Plain (Ottawa: Woodburn, 1885); revised as Studies of Plant Life in Can¬ ada: Wild Flowers, Flowering Shrubs, and Grasses (Toronto: Briggs, 1906); In the Forest; or, Pictures of Life and Scenery in the Woods of Canada (London: Nelson, 1886; Lon¬ don & New York: Nelson, 1890); Pearls and Pebbles; or, Notes of an Old Naturalist (To¬ ronto: Briggs, 1894); Cot and Cradle Stories, edited by Mary Agnes Fitzgibbon (Toronto: Briggs, 1895). SELECTED PERIODICAL PUBLICATIONS- UNCOLLECTED: "The Mill of the Rapids: A Canadian Sketch," Chambers' Edinburgh Journal, 7 (1838): 322- 323; "Love of Flowers," Literary Garland, new series 1 (1843): 41-42; "The Two Widows of Hunter's Creek," Home Cir¬ cle, 21 July 1849, pp. 33-35; "The Settlers Settled; or, Pat Connor and His Two Masters," Sharpe's London Journal, 10 (1849): 107-110, 137-142, 274-277, 335-340; "Forest Gleanings" (nos. I-XIII), Anglo-American Magazine, 1-3 (1852-1853); "A Glance Within the Forest," Canadian Monthly and National Review, 6 (1874): 48-53; "Voices from the Canadian Woods: The White Cedar," Canadian Monthly and National Re¬ view, 9 (1876): 491-494. Catharine Parr Traill has a greater impor¬ tance in nineteenth-century Canadian letters than her work as a whole would seem to justify. Mis¬ trusting fiction (which she felt satisfied the imagi¬ nation while seducing the judgment) and feeling little aptitude for poetry, she was at her best in writing discursively about subjects she deemed to be useful to her readers. In particular, as in The Backwoods of Canada (1836), she made the prob¬ lems of the female settler in Canada and the de¬ scription of Canadian flora and fauna her con¬ cerns. While these topics may seem today small cause for a literary reputation, they were subjects about which she knew a great deal and to which she brought a geniality, openness, and thoughtful- ness that distinguish her observations. In En¬ gland, had she remained, she would likely have be¬ come a minor contributor to what W. J. Keith has called "the rural tradition" in English prose. In Canada she became something far more important-a recorder and a namer. Like her sis¬ ter, Susanna Moodie (author of Roughing It in the Bush, 1852, and Life in The Clearings, 1853), who was more romantic and emotional by tempera¬ ment, Traill left a body of writing that has proven an important resource to students of the history, social conditions, culture, early botanical descriptions, and literature of Upper Canada (now Ontario). Born to Thomas and Elizabeth Homer Strickland in Kent, England, on 9 January 1802, Catharine saw her life alter dramatically in the spring of 1832 when she married Lt. Thomas Traill, a widowed, retired military officer. Within a week they immigrated to Canada, settling in the rugged bush country north of Peterborough (Ontario). Before that point her life had been tied to rural Suffolk and the quiet, cultivated do¬ mesticity of the Strickland family at Reydon Hall. It was to Suffolk that her parents took their five daughters (Susanna and two sons were later born there) when Thomas Strickland retired from a lu¬ crative docks-management position in London. First at Stowe House (1804-1808) and thereafter at Reydon Hall, Strickland sought to implement his forward-looking scheme of educating his daughters in subject matter then thought appro¬ priate only for boys-geography, mathematics, and so on. He insisted upon scientific observa¬ tion and the practical application of learning to life. With a sternness characteristic of the times, he advocated self-reliance and personal responsi¬ bility in work and at play. His regimen left an in¬ delible mark on his children. Indeed, most of Traill's conservative and puritan views have their roots in her father's teaching and personal influ¬ ence. From him she learned as well a deep affec¬ tion and respect for the rural life; till her death she treasured his copy of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler (1653) from which he had read to her during fishing excursions. Illness and financial reversals, however, took Strickland increasingly away from his educa¬ tive plans and his family. His death in 1818 was a tremendous blow; not only did the family lose its remarkable leader but they were forced to cope with more straitened conditions. The children ral¬ lied around their mother in a brave attempt to maintain face. All the daughters but one wrote, and several were skilled painters. Catharine was in fact the first to be published, though her older sisters, Elizabeth and Agnes, who later gained fame as biographers of English royalty, were the most sophisticated and advanced in their writing, soon achieving prominence. Catharine, Susanna, and Jane Margaret for the most part confined themselves to writing simple moral tales for chil¬ dren and placing tales, sketches, and occasional poems in the popular gift-book annuals of the day. Traill's early writing (most of which was pub¬ lished without her name) is generally consistent with her Canadian work, both in values and for¬ mat. For various publishers, most notably the Quaker firm of Harvey and Darton, she pro¬ duced several didactic narratives, including Disobe¬ dience; or, Mind What Mama Says (1819), Reforma¬ tion; or, the Cousins (1819), Little Downy; or, the History of a Field-Mouse (1822), Prejudice Reproved; or, the History of the Negro Toy-Seller (1826), The Young Emigrants; or, Pictures of Life in Canada (1826), The Keepsake Guineas; or, The Best Use of Money (1828), and Sketchbook of a Young Naturalist (1831). Misbehavior, lying, slovenliness, neglect of duty, and racial prejudice are her typical con¬ cerns in these pious and cautionary stories. Her most interesting works of the period, however, stick closely to natural facts and manifest a con¬ scious link to rural writers from Virgil and Wal¬ ton to Mary Russell Mitford and Gilbert White. In Narratives of Nature she articulates her confi¬ dence in nature's ability to provide moral guid¬ ance and inspiration: "Nothing that exists in the animal, vegetable, or mineral world is unworthy of our attention: a close investigation of the works of nature will afford an increase of amuse¬ ment and of instruction. Every object that we examine bears in it the impress of a divine origi¬ nal. . . ." Little Downy, likely her most popular story, reflects this outlook, and Sketchbook of a Young Naturalist blends recollections of the Strickland children's pets, outdoor hobbies, and rural adventures with pieces of natural history culled from encyclopedias and other references. As Traill's characteristic juxtaposition of per¬ sonal experience and natural observation is prefig¬ ured in her early work, so in The Young Emigrants she seems to have almost anticipated her own im¬ migration to and interest in Canada. Clearly the idea of vigorously and dutifully meeting the chal¬ lenges of a new and independent life fascinated her. Drawing upon letters from family friends who had emigrated and perhaps from her brother Sam (who left for Upper Canada in 1825), she follows the movements of the exem¬ plary Clarence children from England to Can¬ ada, amplifying her descriptions of place and scene by paraphrasing such available sources as John Howison's Sketches of Canada (1821). Though the narrative is often pious and didactic and the children more like elderly ministers than youths, it celebrates the values of English resolu¬ tion and resourcefulness much as Traill would do in The Backwoods of Canada and The Canadian Crusoes (1852). A lover of rural quietness and the family cir¬ cle, Catharine stayed happily at Reydon through her twenties. It was only with the failure of her two-year engagement to Francis Harral (the break was not clear until late in 1831) that she had the chance to travel around England and began to spend some time in London. Early in 1832, she met Lt. Traill, a man from Orkney who was a close friend of Susanna's husband, J. W. D. Moodie. After being married in May, the Traills almost immediately left for Canada to take up Traill's military land grant entitlement and to seek a financial independence not possible for them in England. The Strickland family was displeased by Catharine's choice of husband and by the rapid pace of events. In Upper Canada the Traills lived in the backwoods some forty miles north of Cobourg. Settling at first at Lake Katchawanook (north of present-day Lakefield) close to her enterprising brother, Sam, they had help and a social life suffi¬ ciently congenial to ease their adjustment to pio¬ neer living. Mrs. Traill wrote positively of the ex¬ periences of their first three years in The Backwoods of Canada. Continuing financial pres¬ sures, however, took their toll on the couple. They sold their backwoods farm in 1839 and, T II K Canadian Settler's (fruiiic M RS. C. P. TRAILL, AOTWONKHt Of TIIK " BACKWOODS OF CANADA,* Jp&, &C., 4c. nns JBMffSOK. rL*jO CHRISTMAS DAY IK THK BACKWOODS TORONTO, CM.: rftlXTKD AT TIIK OLD COUNTRY*AM OKKIC*. 1835. Title page for the 1855 edition of Traill's handbook for pioneers, originally published as The Female Emigrant's Guide (1854) from then until 1846, lived in various places in and around Peterborough, often on the edge of poverty. They then spent eleven years in the Rice Lake vicinity, still typically in straitened cir¬ cumstances. In all the Traills had nine children, two of whom died in infancy, during these years. At Rice Lake they suffered their worst calam¬ ity, the burning of their home, Oaklands, in 1857. Thomas Traill, it seems, never emotionally recovered from the event. He died in 1859. After his death, with the help of her family and a small British government grant, Mrs. Traill was able to move into her own home, "Westove," in Lakefield to be close to some of her children and other relatives. During these quiet and more lei¬ surely years her range of correspondence (with lit¬ erary figures such as William Kirby and scientists such as John Macoun) widened, and she contin¬ ued to write a great deal besides. Much of this late- written material, particularly her reminiscences about her English years and the Strickland fam¬ ily, was not published. It is part of the Traill Fam¬ ily Collection in the Public Archives of Canada, Ot¬ tawa. A woman of extraordinary goodwill and pa¬ tience, Traill suffered much in her pioneering years but seldom flagged in her energy or convic¬ tions. The Backwoods of Canada, which went through numerous editions and was translated into French and German, reveals the strength of her middle-class, English values even as it offers one of the most perceptive personal accounts of early settlement in Upper Canada. Comprised of "letters" home to her mother, sisters, and friends, the book follows the Traills from En¬ gland to the bush and provides occasion for Traill to describe in detail various landscapes, the effects of the seasons, the habits of local Indians, bush customs, her domestic arrangements, and the botanical life around her. At the same time, h 4T w . r, / Traill in 1884 (photograph by Topley; PA-802715, National Archives of Canada) it offers detailed practical advice to female set¬ tlers, not only concerning preparations for emigra¬ tion but also about how to make use of available re¬ sources in the bush. Though committed to ideals of civilization and beauty that owed much to the eighteenth century, Traill was open to experi¬ ence and the exigencies of change. Like her char¬ acter Richard Clarence in The Young Emigrants she accepts the premise that "whatever is, is right." Refusing to look backward with regret, she undertakes to allow for violations of her taste, to adapt herself cheerfully, and to under¬ stand the reasons behind the conditions that dis¬ turb her. In this spirit she notes in the final let¬ ter, "My husband is becoming more reconciled to the country, and I daily feel my attachment to it strengthening. The very stumps that appeared so odious, through long custom, seem to lose some of their hideousness. . . ." Though Traill's "bush" sketches and narra¬ tives appeared (with the help of her sister Agnes) in various British magazines, including Sharpe's London Journal, the Home Circle, and Chamber's Edinburgh Journal during the 1830s and 1840s, her next book, The Canadian Crusoes, did not come out until 1852. It is the tale of three adoles¬ cents (Catharine, her brother Hector, and her cousin Louis) who get lost in the woods south of Rice Lake during an early stage in the area's settle¬ ment, and who, through discipline, economy, and adaptation, survive for two years, managing even to convert an abandoned Mohawk girl to Christianity in the process. The Canadian Crusoes has not, however, worn as well as The Backwoods of Canada. Its strengths, which include Traill's care¬ ful attention to the details of survival and her un¬ derstanding of Rice Lake's topography and In¬ dian history, are not in themselves enough to compensate for its melodramatic plotting and the wooden piety and goodness of her characters. Traill does, however, make the landscape a major force in the novel and shows that the descen¬ dants of solid European stock can turn it to their advantage without stooping to what she saw as the unregenerate impulses of the Indian. Traill's remaining work must be more briefly summarized. In 1854 she produced a use¬ ful addendum to The Backwoods of Canada enti¬ tled The Female Emigrant's Guide, and Hints on Cana¬ dian Housekeeping (republished as The Canadian Settler's Guide a year later). A collection of reci¬ pes, practical advice, and anecdotes, it established her, in Clara Thomas's phrase, as "the Mrs. Beeton of nineteenth century Canada" (Introduc¬ tion to the 1969 edition). Lady Mary and Her Nurse (1856) combines narrative with observa¬ tions of nature to interest very young children. Not insignificantly, Traill's continuing interest in botany led to the writing and publication of Cana¬ dian Wild Flowers (1868) and the much more ambi¬ tious Studies of Plant Life in Canada (1885), for which she was much praised by several eminent sci¬ entists. Both books were based on over forty years of record keeping and research. Indeed, one of her plant discoveries, Lastria marginalis Traillae, includes her name. Two late collections, Pearls and Pebbles (1894) and Cot and Cradle Stories (1895), include sketches of nature and personal reminiscences. While few of Catharine Parr Traill's works have generated much twentieth-century critical at¬ tention, her place in early Canadian literary his¬ tory has been attested to by literary scholars, writ¬ ers, and historians. She is in fact a special presence, as Margaret Laurence's use of her in The Diviners (1974) suggests. Often she is seen as the objective, optimistic, forward-looking counter¬ part of her sister, Susanna Moodie, their two views seeming to stand as representative ways of responding to Upper Canada's landscape and so¬ cial conditions. On her behalf it needs also to be noted that she thought of herself less as a literary figure than as a children's writer and friendly counselor of pioneering women and their society. If she was naive in her view of human nature and civilization, if she treated nature selectively rather than comprehensively, she still stood firmly for values that were to her consequential and incontestible. Rooted in these English middle- class views, her most important book, The Back¬ woods of Canada, is not only one of the classic ac¬ counts of pioneering in Upper Canada but also, as David Jackel has said, a book that reveals "the real strengths of [Canada's] British inheritance." Biography: Sara Eaton, Lady of the Backwoods: A Biography of Catharine Parr Traill (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1969). References: Carl Ballstadt, "The Literary History of the Strickland Family," Ph.D. dissertation, Uni¬ versity of London, 1965; Jean Murray Cole, "Catharine Parr Traill," in Por¬ traits: Peterborough Area Women Past and Pres¬ ent, edited by Gail Corbett (Woodview, Ont.: Homestead Studios, 1975); William D. Gairdner, "Traill and Moodie: The Two Realities," Journal of Canadian Fiction, 2, no. 3 (1973): 75-81; David Jackel, "Mrs. Moodie and Mrs. Traill, and the Fabrication of a Canadian Tradition," Compass, 6 (1979): 1-22; W. J. Keith, The Rural Tradition: A Study of the Non- fiction Prose Writers of the English Countryside (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974); Audrey Morris, The Gentle Pioneers (Toronto: Hodder & Stoughton, 1968); G. H. Needier, Otonabee Pioneers: The Story of the Stewarts, the Stricklands, the Traills and the Moodies (Toronto: Burns & MacEachern, 1953); Michael A. Peterman, " 'Splendid Anachronism': The Record of Catharine Parr Traill's Strug¬ gles as an Amateur Botanist in Nineteenth- Century Canada," in Re(dis)covering Our Foremothers, edited by Lorraine McMullen (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1990), pp. 173-185; Lloyd M. Scott, "The English Gentlefolk in the Backwoods of Canada," Dalhousie Review, 39 (1959): 56-69; Clara Thomas, Introduction to The Canadian Set¬ tler's Guide (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1969); Thomas, "Journeys to Freedom," Canadian Litera¬ ture, 51 (1972): 11-19; Thomas, "The Strickland Sisters," in The Clear Spirit, edited by Mary Q. Innis (Toronto: Uni¬ versity of Toronto Press, 1966), pp. 42-73. Papers: The Traill Family Collection of papers is held in the National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, and some of Traill's letters to Francis Stewart are in the Baldwin Room of the Metropolitan Toronto Library.
Peterman, Michael A. "Catharine Parr Traill (9 January 1802-26 August 1899)." Canadian Writers Before 1890, edited by William H. New, vol. 99, Gale, 1990, pp. 330-335. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 99. Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online, http%3A%2F%2Flink.galegroup.com%2Fapps%2Fdoc%2FKXKKRN300005117%2FDLBC%3Fu%3Dyorku_main%26sid%3DDLBC%26xid%3D2ce9782e. Accessed 22 July 2018.
Gale Document Number: GALE|KXKKRN300005117