This archived Web page remains online for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. This page will not be altered or updated. Web pages that are archived on the Internet are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats of this page on the Contact Us page.
Catharine Parr Strickland to Canon Richard Gwillym
March 09 1845
Traill Family Collection (National Archives of Canada)
My Dear Kind Brother
Your friendly and affectionate letter deserves a better return than I fear I have it in my power to make by the present opportunity for since my return from Peterboro, I have had a severe attack of inflammatory sore throat which compelled me to have recourse to that most disagreeable of remedies a large blister, this removed the inward evil, but created an outward one if not quite so dangerous to the full as painful, contracting the muscles of the neck and shoulders so that I cannot move my head or arms without excessive pain this state of things must plead my excuse first for a short letter when I fully purposed inflicting upon you a very long one and secondly for all the faults that the said short one may chance to contain But let me before I write another line first assure you what sincere pleasure I received from your truly kind and brotherly epistle. I am indeed proud of being claimed as a sister by one so valued by my dear Sarah and all my family and poverty with all its concomitant evils were for the time forgotten even the dear children shared in my feelings of delight declaring with one voice their determination of loving uncle Gwillym, for children invariably love as we love, or hate as we hate it is their nature and it is part of their faith the pure implicit faith of childhood they think we cannot love or hate amiss. Dear Sarah gives me a delightful account of your 'bonnie north countrie,' which indeed I always loved as if I had known its fair lakes and craggy hills its flowery meades and bright streams yea and fished in them too, for I was an angler in my early days and was a passionate admirer of honest Izaak Walton and his sweet book on the gentle crafte What would you say to witness the rude tackle and unartist-like way in which fish are taken in our lakes and rivers a child of ten years old will catch you perch of considerable size, with a rough staff cut with his knife from the woods, and a coarse linen thread or twine, neither float, nor plummet, nor reel, nor any other assistance will be used for the silly fish are caught, not snared as with you, but this is well, where they form an article of subsistence, not luxury. Every art is here carried on in a style of pristine rudeness even our fishing gardening farming, building all correspond with our wild country and its almost as wild inhabitants Your opinion of my Backwoods was very gratifying to me coming from a scholar, and a gentleman. I suppose it has merits in spite of many faults by the interest it has excited and the friends it has won for me. One thing bear in mind my dear brother that my work was not written with the design of inducing any one to leave their own fair homes in Britain to seek a wooden hut in Canada but rather to cheer and advise such as were by stern necessity compelled to emigrate to make the best of a bad bargain and if any one has been nerved to energy and to the encouraging of a contented spirit by my little book the end for which it was written has been gained. After twelve years residence in Canada my opinions remain much as they were. I love the country on many accounts and I have some valued friends in it but misfortunes have fallen heavily upon us and kept us back. [O]ur own state is less prosperous than when full of hope I wrote my Backwoods but this is merely the result of untoward circumstances. [W]hile we have made little advance others who started with less means have pressed on and are far ahead of us in all comforts but I blame not my adopted country for this, and I rejoice in the increasing prosperity of its inhabitants and hope yet to see my sons and daughters happy and honorable members of society beneath the shades of her mighty forests. I shall indeed consider it a great privilege to be allowed from time to time to write to you only I fear my long letters will sometimes weary even your patience, so do not give me too much encouragement by flattering my letter-writing-propensities or you may have cause to repent your complaisance I often wish I had time to arrange into proper form a mass of materials that I have collected on various subjects connected with this province especially as regards its natural productions both vegetable and animal but I fear I must now wait till my Kate grows up to take a part of my household duties off my hands and then Ah but then if I live to see that leisure time I shall have grown old and dull and unfit for any literary labours My dear good husband thanks you very cordially for your kind wishes which he desires to return with equal kindness of feeling The children my six British Canadians join with us in love to yourself and dear aunt Sarah. I must say fare you well, my dear friend
With every feeling of sisterly love, believe me faithfully and affectionately Yours Catharine Parr Traill Copyright/Source