Catharine Parr Trail (1802-1899). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Catharine Parr Traill
Born January 9 1802(1802-Template:MONTHNUMBER-09)
Died August 29 1899(1899-Template:MONTHNUMBER-29) (aged 97)
Occupation Author
Genres Children's and Pioneer Literature

Catharine Parr Traill, born Strickland (9 January 1802 - 29 August 1899) was an English-Canadian author who wrote about life as a settler in Canada.


Traill was born Catharine Parr Strickland in Rotherhithe in 1802. She and her three sisters, Agnes, Susanna, and Elisabeth, all became writers. Catharine was the the first of the sisters to begin writing. She started writing children's books in 1818, after the death of her father. Her early works, such as Disobedience, or Mind What Mama Says and "Happy Because Good", were written for children, and often dwell on the benefits of obedience to one's parents. A prolific author, until her marriage Catharine averaged one book per year.

In 1832, she married Lieutenant Thomas Traill, a retired officer of the Napoleonic Wars and a friend of her brother-in-law John Moodie, despite objections from some in her family. Soon after their marriage they left for Canada, settling near Peterborough, Upper Canada, where her brother Samuel was a surveyor. Her sister, Mrs. Susanna Moodie, emigrated soon afterward.

File:Mrs Catherine Parr Traill by Topley.JPG

Catharine Parr Traill wrote about her new life in letters and journals, and collected those into The Backwoods of Canada (1836), which continues to be read as an important source of information about early Canada. She describes everyday life in the community, the relationship between Canadians, Americans, and natives, the climate, and local flora and fauna. More observations were included in a novel, Canadian Crusoes (1851). She also collected information concerning the skills necessary for a new settler, published in The Female Emigrant's Guide (1854), later retitled The Canadian Settler's Guide. She wrote "Pearls and Pebbles" and "Cot and Cradle Stories".

After suffering through the depression of 1836, her husband Thomas joined the militia in 1837 to fight against the Upper Canada Rebellion. In 1840, dissatisfied with life in "the backwoods", the Traills and the Moodies both moved to the city of Belleville. While Susanna was more concerned with the differences between rural and urban life, Catharine spent her years in Belleville writing about the natural environment. She often sketched the plant life of Upper Canada, publishing Canadian Wild Flowers (1865), Studies of Plant Life in Canada (1885) and "Rambles in the Canadian Forest".

She received a grant c. 1899 from the Royal Bounty Fund, which was supplemented by a subscription from her friends in Canada, headed by Sir Sandford Fleming. She died at her residence, "Westove," in Lakefield, Ontario in August 28th, 1899. [1]


Trent University, in Peterborough, Ontario, named their Catharine Parr Traill College campus after her.

Commemorative postage stampEdit

On September 8, 2003, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Library of Canada, Canada Post released a special commemorative series, "The Writers of Canada", with a design by Katalina Kovats, featuring two English-Canadian and two French-Canadian stamps. Three million stamps were issued. Traill and her sister Susanna Moodie were featured on one of the English-Canadian stamps. [2]


  • The Tell Tale - 1818
  • Disobedience - 1819
  • Reformation - 1819
  • Nursery Fables - 1821
  • Little Downy - 1822
  • The Flower-Basket - 1825
  • Prejudice Reproved - 1826
  • The Young Emigrants - 1826
  • The Juvenile Forget-Me-Not - 1827
  • The Keepsake Guineas - 1828
  • Amendment - 1828
  • Sketches from Nature - 1830
  • Sketch Book of a Young Naturalist - 1831
  • Narratives of Nature - 1831
  • The Backwoods of Canada - 1836
  • Canadian Crusoes - 1852
  • The Female Emigrant's Guide - 1854
  • Lady Mary and Her Nurse - 1856
  • Canadian Wild Flowers - 1868
  • Studies of Plant Life in Canada - 1885
  • Pearls and Pebbles - 1894
  • Cot and Cradle Stories - 1895


  1. Morgan, Henry James Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada : (Toronto, 1903) [1]
  2. "50th Anniversary of the National Library / Canadian Authors," Canada Post, Web, Mar. 28, 2011.

External linksEdit


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