Free eBooks about Canada

You may recall how last week I wrote about free travel eBooks you must read, you mean haven’t read it yet? Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.

You back? Welcome. This post will again touch on free eBooks but focus this time exclusively on those written about Canada, its history, politics, travel writing, colonial life, first nations, myths, legends, economics, cities, mountains, prairies and so on.

The majority of these books are about Canada and her early pioneer days when the land was inhabited by First Nation people and intrepid settlers, adventurers, trappers and traders. As with the previous article about free travel eBooks, these are available through all the usual channels, Amazon, iTunes, the Gutenberg Project and so on.

Backwoods of Canada by Catharine Parr Traill

First published in 1836, Catharine Parr Traill’s Backwoods of Canada gives an eloquent and personal account of life in the forests of Canada. Credit:

The book, a compilation of letters written by the author to her mother, depicts Traill’s life in the ‘New World’. Animated and effervescent in the face of the hardships she faced – from the three-month ship journey to Canada to the settling into life in the forests near Peterborough, Ontario. Traill’s letters show us an insight into the skills she quickly needed to learn.

Backwoods of Canada also described how new arrivals settled into the community, the relationships that formed between Canadians, Americans and the First Nations. Traill also made careful notes on the climate, flora and fauna.

Traill hoped to identify a new type of women, away from the upper-class model many in this era strived for. Traill was a pioneer and her book helped many others follow in her footsteps and settle in the backwoods of Canada.

The Settlers in Canada by Frederick Marryat

Children’s novel, The Settlers in Canada by Frederick Marryat, was first published in 1844. Set in the wilderness of what was then known as Upper Canada in the 1790s, the novel depicts the story of a well-off family who lost their estate and emigrated to Canada.

The family, the Campbells, travel to Canada with the little money they have after losing the estate, settling near Lake Ontario. United in their troubles, the family struggle to make their farm in Canada a success, dealing with forest fires, extreme weather and what Marryat terms ‘hostile Indians’.

The Story of the Upper Canada Rebellion by John Charles Dent

The Story of the Upper Canadian Rebellion, published in two separate volumes in 1885, is John Charles Dent’s work about the Upper Canadian Rebellion of 1837.

The Upper Canadian Rebellion was an instruction against the oligarchic government of the British colony of what was then known as Upper Canada (present-day Ontario). The Upper Canada rebels were incidentally emboldened by the rebellion in Lower Canada (present-day Quebec).

The rebellion, defeated soon after it began, is covered in great detail by Dent. The first volume deals with the long-term causes of the rebellion, which means it basically covers almost all of the colony’s political history. While the second volume looks at the immediate causes and events leading to the uprising.

Troublous Times in Canada by John Alexander MacDonald

Source: Missisquoi Museum via WikipediaTroublous Times in Canada by John A. MacDonald is an incredible account of the Fenian raids of 1866 to 1871. The Fenian Brotherhood, a United States based organisation intent on driving Britain out of Ireland, staged a series of raids on British army forts, customs posts and other targets in Canada.

MacDonald in his preface lays part of the blame for the rise of the Fenian Brotherhood on the US Civil War ending leaving many well-trained and seasoned veterans from both sides looking for new causes to rally round. MacDonald contends that many were inured to the hardships of the Irish and readily enrolled themselves under the Fenian banners in anticipation of a war being inaugurated against the British nation, with the invasion of Canada the first step.

Canada and the Canadians by Richard Henry Bonnycastle

The opening sentence in Richard Henry Bonnycastle’s Canada and the Canadians is an interesting insight into the mind of many of those who immigrated from England, Scotland and Ireland.

Very surprising it seems to assert that the Mother Country knows very little about the finest colony which she possesses.

Bonnycastle was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army active in what was then known as Upper Canada. A somewhat dry book but one that offers an astute judgement of Canadians, recent immigrants, French-Canadians and the conditions they faced in the Nineteenth Century.

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