This Week in History
A Grand Adventure for Susan Allison
|For the week of Monday, August 17, 2015
On August 18, 1860, Susan Louisa Moir Allison arrived at the Hudson’s Bay Company post at Fort Hope, British Columbia. Allison was born on her father’s tea plantation in Ceylon, today’s Sri Lanka. His death left the family nearly penniless and they moved to England before immigrating to Canada when Allison was 14 years old.
Susan Allison’s memoirs provide the first accounts of a pioneer woman’s life in British Columbia. She made strong personal connections with the Similkameen First Nation, whose traditional lands she and her family inhabited. Allison was unusually sensitive towards the lives and customs of the Similkameen and became fluent in the Chinook language. Later in life she wrote ethnographies about the Similkameen that remain valuable early descriptions of their culture. She also recorded and translated Similkameen stories and legends and tried in her publications to help non-Aboriginal readers understand their rich cultural traditions. Today these records are also of great value to the Similkameen.
Susan Louisa Moir Allison was designated a National Historic Person in 2007. One of Allison’s places of residence, Fort Hope, British Columbia, was designated a National Historic Site in 1925.
To learn more about pioneer women in Canada visit Susanna Moodie: Pioneer and Writer, The "White Lady" of the West and Catherine Parr Traill's Life in the Backwoods of Canada in the This Week in History archives. For more about First Peoples in Canada, read Saving Gwaii Haanas: The Islands of Beauty, Misto-ha-a-Musqua: Last Chief of the Free Plains Cree and Treaty no. 7 Signed at Blackfoot Crossing.
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