2) Read Susanna Moodie’s introduction to the third edition of Roughing it in the Bush, 1854. Moodie’s introduction is often read as a warning to would be emigrants as well as an explanation of why her family emigrated from Britain. See if you can find echoes of the stories discussed above: a gift from god, a second Garden of Eden, an empty/wasted land, the noble but vanishing Indian, and the magical map. By echoes I mean reading between the lines or explicitly within Moodie’s introduction. Discussing what you discover, use your examples as evidence to write a blog that explores what you think might have been Moodie’s level of awareness of the stories she carried with her. And accordingly, the stories that she “resurrects’ by her appearance in the Dead Dog CafŽ in Green Grass Running Water.


Susanna Moodie’s introduction to the third edition of Roughing it in the Bush was a unique read for me. Although I have heard about the attitudes and genuinely held beliefs of  colonists before, I had never read a first person narrative account of these. Throughout the introduction, many examples can be found that echo the sentiments and perspectives of other stories from and about our ‘contact zone’.  Many of these echoes call upon God and his presence to justify the colonisation of the “Backwoods of Canada” (Moodie “Introduction to the Third Edition”). Examples of these in Moodie’s introduction were at first hard to distinguish, but once I was able to read through the lines I discovered an entire tone of religious self-importance and presumed ownership.


Moodie alludes to a belief that God had given Canada, with all of its problems and opportunities, to settlers as a gift and reward. She writes, “The Great Father of the souls and bodies of men knows the arm which wholesome labour from infancy has made strong”, and continues to state that these ‘arms’ (people) are chosen by God “to send forth into the forest to hew out the rough paths for the advance of civilization” (Moodie “Introduction to the Third Edition). In this way, Moodie asserts that the settlers who arrive in Canada and work hard, have a sort of divine right that dictates that they are the rightful owners of this land that they labour to civilize. This assertion is also dangerous because it proclaims that Indigenous people, had no real place in a civilized world. This belief contributes strongly to the ‘Vanishing Indian’ and still exists today.

Moodie also refers to Providence which “would reclaim the waste places of the earth, and make them subservient to the wants and happiness of its creatures” (Moodie “Introduction to the Third Edition). Providence, again, refers to a divine right and power. Her insistence on labelling Canada a wasted land, further justifies their presence there if only to utilize the land and it’s resources properly. 

I still don’t know what to think of Moodie’s awareness of the stories she carried with her. I have a better idea now of the stories. The long held justifications of a God given right, the belief that hard work was the key to success and the narrative of the bitter injustice of European society that debases the “well-educated sons and daughters of old but impoverished families” (Moodie “Introduction to the Third Edition”). All of these stories that Moodie carried with her undoubtedly coloured her own perceptions and beliefs about the land and it’s original people. I think that Moodie was aware of the stories that she carried with her because she used them to justify European colonisation in two separate ways. She, and other colonists I have to assume, was aware of the ways in which the logic of these stories were able to justify their existence there. They were aware of how these stories benefited and bolstered themselves. However, I think Moodie was also aware of the ways in which these all-consuming stories did harm to people that were not like her and continually uses these stories to justify this inequality and abuse. Moodie’s introduction is full of descriptions of European society and how unjust and impossible it was for people not well off. By painting herself and other colonists as victims of Europe’s aristocracy, their actions in Canada seem vindicated in light of their own struggles. By framing it this way, Moodie seems to suggest that this world is ‘dog eat dog’ and that colonists were simply struggling for scraps with the rest of the world.


Bonus Notes on the ‘Vanishing Indian’

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/dont-forget-canadas-urban-aboriginals-theyre-not-just-passing-through/article7599448/ Prevailing stereotypes about the innate rurality of Indigenous people (and racism in general) are what justified the advent of reserves. Today, reserves boast living conditions that are on par or worse than developing world countries. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/manitoba-reserves-the-worst-in-canada-290301531.html. Assuming Indigenous individuals are living rural and are not already important members of urban communities only marginalises the Indigenous presence even further.


Works Cited

Moodie, Susanna. Roughing it in the Bush, 1854. n.p. 2013. Project Gutenberg. Web. 06 July 2016.