Today’s post is a revisit to a marvelous book I found while researching, Mrs. Simcoe’s Diary. If you want to learn about North America two hundred and some years ago, check this out. I was astounded and thought I’d resurrect this post from another blog I run. Enjoy!
For the last week of my holiday and up till today, I have been reading very early Canadian history. During that time I met Mrs. Simcoe. She was the wife of Governor Simcoe of Upper Canada whose time in this province (present-day Ontario) has left so many marks. (I grew up a mile north of the Governor’s Road, built by and named for Governor John Graves Simcoe.
Amazingly his wife came with him to this untamed country and kept a journal of her time here. Below is the present-day version available on the web. The picture here is not how she looked. It is one she donned Welsh ancestral garb for; she did not dress like this all the time.
The copy I got from the library is pictured below, with all its fadings and tears, its yellowed pages and its vintage binding from 1965 when Mary Quayle Innis edited and published it. The original diary covers the time the Simcoes were in Canada, September 17, 1791 until October 16, 1796.
I was excited about doing this research for another book but not prepared for the pleasure I would get from meeting Mrs. Simcoe. I would have loved this book even if I weren’t doing research. I even kept it five days past the library due date so that I could finish it.
The chapters are headed as follows:
1. Journey to Canada
2. A Winter in Quebec
3. Journey to Niagara
4. A Year at Niagara
5. Life at York (later renamed Toronto)
6. Life at Niagara
7. Visit to Quebec
9. York and Niagara
I learned many things about life in my country at that time and much more about Mrs. Simcoe. We tend to think of women from that time as frail creatures but she was anything but. She was artistic and many of her drawings provide excellent views into life of her day. An astute observer of her surroundings, both nature and human, she provides insight into the lives, foods, medicines and geography of this new world.
I’m taking it back to the library in a few minutes so you, too, will be able to take it out and voyage back to 1791.
Have you ever happened upon a great book to help with your writing? Or a book whose author absolutely got it right? Consider leaving a comment and telling us about it.