Stories written by people who actually lived in the times offer a rich account of life in the 1800s. Letters, books and diaries tell stories that make their world come alive and are an extememly valuable genealogical research tool. Whether written by an ancestor or total stranger, the accounts of their daily lives are a fascinating account of the strugglers endured by pioneers who emigrated and worked hard to build new lands we now call Canada.
1803 - 1885
Susanna Moodie (nee Strickland) emigrated from Britain in 1832. She wrote the book 'Roughing it in the Bush', a first hand account of the trials and tribulations of life in early Upper Canada. Her vivid account of the times makes this book not only a fascinating read, but an important historical account of pioneer life and times.
First published in 1852 and reprinted several times. First editions can still be found on ebay. Google ebooks offers as well. Great source for kids school projects and just for general reading.
Susanna with her husband and others unknown - family? outside their house on Bridge Street, Belleville, Ontario, Canada
The Yellow Briar
The Yellow Briar by Patrick Slater (pseudonym of Toronto lawyer John Wendel Mitchell 1880 - 1951) is set in the mid 1800's Toronto and based on true stories of his ancestors. Written in novel form, is is a riveting tale of real Irish life experiences countryside Ontario, Canada.
The book is available in hard copy and Google ebook where preview pages are available.
Lady Tweedsmuir, wife of the Governor General of Canada, recognized the need for preserving the history of our Canadian people through the creation of village history books. How fortunate we are to have the benefit of her knowledge and foresight.
Each book is a collection of handwritten remembrances from local residents, family lore, photographs and old newspaper clippings. Often undertaken as a local community centennial project, the compilations offer rich detail of the early days in the settlement. Many are now online and searchable by place and name. Tweedsmuir Digital Collection .
You can search the digitized collection by town or village and by family name.
The Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario have undertaken the digitization project of the village histories and could use some help with the costs. You can donate through their website here .