This Week in History
Susanna Moodie: Pioneer and Writer
For the week of Monday August 27, 2001
Following a long trip across the Atlantic, Susanna Moodie arrived in Canada on August 14, 1832, at the Grosse-Île Quarantine Station with her husband and first child. This talented writer left Canadians a rich historical and literary heritage.
While living in London in 1830, and a member of the Anti-Slavery Society, she met her future husband, John Moodie. They lived in England for a short time. Looking for more financial stability, they immigrated to Canada with their first child in the summer of 1832. Settling on land that was difficult to cultivate proved to be a frustrating experience and eventually they moved to Belleville in 1840.
The trials and tribulations that Susanna Moodie faced did not keep her from pursuing her literary career and even became a source of inspiration. Roughing It in the Bush (1852), her first successful book, is a testament to that. This book is appreciated as much as an account of the Canadian adventure as for its literary qualities. It describes what the Moodies experienced upon their arrival in Canada, during the most difficult and happiest of times. Their stop at the Grosse-Île Station upon their arrival in the country was part of it. From 1832 to 1937, this station was the entry point where immigrants were quarantined to prevent infectious diseases from entering the country. Susanna then wrote two complementary books. One depicted life in Canadian towns in the middle of the 19th century (Life in the Clearings Versus the Bush, 1853), and the other an autobiographical account of a couple immigrating to Canada, (Flora Lyndsay: Passages in an Eventual Life, 1854). She died in Toronto in 1885.
Susanna Moodie was recognized as a person of national historic significance. A plaque in Susanna's honour can be found in Belleville, Ontario. Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial, Quebec, was also recognized as a site of national historic significance.
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