Canadian Crusoes

Canadian Crusoes: A Tale of the Rice Lake Plains

Catharine Parr Traill
Edited by Rupert Schieder
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 385
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  • Book Info
    Canadian Crusoes
    Book Description:

    This absorbing story about three children of Scottish and French origin who become lost on the Rice Lake Plains in the late eighteenth century provides the author with an opportunity to contemplate important themes of Canadian literature and identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7341-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-vi)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)

    The Centre for Editing Early Canadian Texts (CEECT) was established to effect the publication of scholarly editions of major works of early English-Canadian prose that are now either out of print or available only in corrupt reprints. Begun by Carleton University in 1979, CEECT has been funded jointly by Carleton and by a Major Editorial Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada since I July 1981. During this time six editions have been in preparation. Catharine Parr Traill’s extremely popular narrative about children lost in the backwoods,Canadian Crusoes. A Tale of the Rice Lake Plains,...

  5. Editor’s Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Rupert M. Schieder
  6. Editor’s Introduction
    (pp. xvii-lvi)

    In October 1850, when Catharine Parr Traill (1802-99) wrote the dedication for the novel she had entitledCanadian Crusoes, she put the final touch to the narrative about children lost in the backwoods on which she had been working for more than three years. From “Oaklands,” a farm on the south shore of Rice Lake, in what was then Canada West, she sent the manuscript off to her sisters in England. Almost two years later,Canadian Crusoes. A Tale of the Rice Lake Plainswas published in London.

    The history of Mrs. Traill’s story about lost children, written primarily for...

  7. Canadian Crusoes
    • Illustration: Title-page of the 1852 Hall, Virtue Edition
      (pp. lvii-lviii)
    • Dedication from the 1852 Hall, Virtue Edition
      (pp. lix-lx)
    • CHAPTER 1
      (pp. 1-17)

      There lies between the Rice Lake and the Ontario, a deep and fertile valley, surrounded by lofty wood-crowned hills, the heights of which were clothed chiefly with groves of oak and pine, though the sides of the hills and the alluvial bottoms gave a variety of noble timber trees of various kinds, as the maple, beech, hemlock, and others. This beautiful and highly picturesque valley is watered by many clear streams of pure refreshing water, from whence the spot has derived its appropriate appellation of “Cold Springs.”

      At the time my little history commences, this now highly cultivated spot was...

    • CHAPTER 2
      (pp. 18-53)

      The sun had risen in all the splendour of a Canadian summer morning, when the sleepers arose from their leafy beds. In spite of the novelty of their situation, they had slept as soundly and tranquilly as if they had been under the protecting care of their beloved parents, on their little paillasses of corn straw; but they had been cared for by Him who neither slumbereth nor sleepeth, and they waked full of youthful hope, and in fulness of faith in His mercy into whose hands they had commended their souls and bodies before they retired to rest.


    • CHAPTER 3
      (pp. 54-82)

      A fortnight had now passed, and Catharine still suffered so much from pain and fever, that they were unable to continue their wanderings; all that Hector and his cousin could do, was to carry her to the bower by the lake, where she reclined whilst they caught fish. The painful longing to regain their lost home had lost nothing of its intensity; and often would the poor sufferer start from her bed of leaves and boughs, to wring her hands and weep, and call in piteous tones upon that dear father and mother, who would have given worlds had they...

    • CHAPTER 4
      (pp. 83-100)

      “Louis, what are you cutting out of that bit of wood?” said Catharine, the very next day after the first ideas of the shanty had been started.

      “Hollowing out a canoe.”

      “Out of that piece of stick?” said Catharine, laughing.

      “How many passengers is it to accommodate, my dear.”

      “Don’t teaze, ma belle. I am only making a model. My canoe will be made out of a big pine log, and large enough to hold three.”

      “Is it to be like the big sap-trough in the sugar-bush at home?” Louis nodded assent.

      “I long to go over to the island;...

    • CHAPTER 5
      (pp. 101-111)

      For several days, they abstained from lighting a fire, lest the smoke should be seen; but this, the great height of the bank would have effectually prevented. They suffered much cold at night from the copious dews, which, even on sultry summer’s evenings, is productive of much chilling. They could not account for the fact that the air, at night, was much warmer on the high hills than in the low valleys; they were even sensible of a rush of heat as they ascended to the higher ground. These simple children had not been taught that it is the nature...

    • CHAPTER 6
      (pp. 112-119)

      The day was far advanced, before the sick Indian girl could be brought home to their sylvan lodge, where Catharine made up a comfortable couch for her, with boughs and grass, and spread one of the deer-skins over it, and laid her down as tenderly and carefully as if she had been a dear sister. This good girl was overjoyed at having found a companion of her own age and sex. “Now,” said she, “I shall no more be lonely, I shall have a companion and friend to talk to and assist me;” but when she turned in the fulness...

    • CHAPTER 7
      (pp. 120-129)

      It was now the middle of September; the weather, which had continued serene and beautiful for some time, with dewy nights and misty mornings, began to show symptoms of the change of season usual at the approach of the equinox. Sudden squalls of wind, with hasty showers, would come sweeping over the lake; the nights and mornings were damp and chilly. Already the tints of autumn were beginning to crimson the foliage of the oaks, and where the islands were visible, the splendid colours of the maple shone out in gorgeous contrast with the deep verdure of the evergreens and...

    • CHAPTER 8
      (pp. 130-141)

      The Mohawk girl was in high spirits at the coming of the wild fowl to the lake; she would clap her hands and laugh with almost childish glee as she looked at them darkening the lake like clouds resting on its surface.

      “If I had but my father’s gun, his good old gun, now!” would Hector say, as he eyed the timorous flocks as they rose and fell upon the lake; “but these foolish birds are so shy, that they are away before an arrow can reach them.”

      Indiana smiled in her quiet way; she was busy filling the canoe...

    • CHAPTER 9
      (pp. 142-156)

      While the Indians were actively pursuing their sports on the lake, shooting wild fowl, and hunting and fishing by torch-light, so exciting was the amusement of watching them, that the two lads, Hector and Louis, quite forgot all sense of danger, in the enjoyment of lying or sitting on the brow of the mount near the great ravine, and looking at their proceedings. Once or twice the lads were near betraying themselves to the Indians, by raising a shout of delight, at some skilful manœuvre that excited their unqualified admiration and applause.

      At night, when the canoes had all retired...

    • CHAPTER 10
      (pp. 157-170)

      Hector and Louis had now little employment, excepting chopping fire-wood, which was no very arduous task for two stout healthy lads, used from childhood to handling the axe. Trapping, and hunting, and snaring hares, were occupations which they pursued more for the excitement and exercise than from hunger, as they had laid by abundance of dried venison, fish, and birds, besides a plentiful store of rice. They now visited those trees that they had marked in the summer, where they had noticed the bees hiving, and cut them down; in one they got more than a pailful of rich honey-comb,...

    • CHAPTER 11
      (pp. 171-180)

      The breeze had sprung up, and had already brought the fire down as far as the creek. The swamp had long been on fire, and now the flames were leaping among the decayed timbers, roaring and crackling among the pines, and rushing to the tops of the cedars, springing from heap to heap of the fallen branches, and filling the air with dense volumes of black and suffocating smoke. So quickly did the flames advance that Hector and Louis had only time to push off the canoe before the heights along the shore were wrapped in smoke and fire. Many...

    • CHAPTER 12
      (pp. 181-190)

      The little bark touched the stony point of Long Island. The Indian lifted his weeping prisoner from the canoe, and motioned to her to move forward along the narrow path that led to the camp, about twenty yards higher up the bank, where there was a little grassy spot enclosed with shrubby trees—the squaws tarried at the lake-shore to bring up the paddles and secure the canoe.

      It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an enemy, but doubly so, when that enemy is a stranger to the language in which we would plead for mercy...

    • CHAPTER 13
      (pp. 191-196)

      The Indian camp remained for nearly three weeks on this spot,¹ and then early one morning the wigwams were all taken down, and the canoes, six in number, proceeded up the river. There was very little variety in the scenery to interest Catharine; the river still kept its slow flowing course between low shores, thickly clothed with trees, without an opening through which the eye might pierce to form an idea of the country beyond; not a clearing, not a sight or sound of civilized man was there to be seen or heard; the darting flight of the wild birds...

    • CHAPTER 14
      (pp. 197-208)

      It was near sunset before Hector and his companions returned on the evening of the eventful day that had found Catharine a prisoner on Long Island. They had met with good success in hunting, and brought home a fine half-grown fawn, fat and in good order. They were surprised at finding the fire nearly extinguished, and no Catharine awaiting their return. There, it is true, was the food that she had prepared for them, but she was not to be seen; supposing that she had been tired of waiting for them, and had gone out to gather strawberries, they did...

    • CHAPTER 15
      (pp. 209-218)

      What changes a few years make in places! That spot over which the Indians roved, free of all control, is now a large and wide-spreading town. Those glorious old trees are fast fading away, the memory only of them remains to some of the first settlers, who saw them twenty-five years ago, shadowing the now open market-place; the fine old oaks have disappeared, but the green emerald turf that they once shaded still remains. The wild rushing river still pours down its resistless spring floods, but its banks have been levelled, and a noble bridge now spans its rapid waters....

    • CHAPTER 16
      (pp. 219-227)

      Old Jacob and Catharine, who had been mute spectators of the scene so full of interest to them. now presented themselves before the Ojebwa chief, and besought leave to depart. The presents were again laid before him, and this time were graciously accepted. Catharine in distributing the beads and cloth took care that the best portion should fall to the grand-daughter of the chief, the pretty good-humoured Snow-bird. The old man was not insensible to the noble sacrifice which had been made by the devoted Indiana, and he signified his forgiveness of her fault by graciously offering to adopt her...

    • CHAPTER 17
      (pp. 228-254)

      It is the hour of sunset; the sonorous sound of the cattle bells is heard, as they slowly emerge from the steep hill path that leads to Maxwell and Louis Perron’s little clearing; the dark shadows are lengthening that those wood-crowned hills cast over that sunny spot, an oasis in the vast forest desert that man, adventurous, courageous man, has hewed for himself in the wilderness. The little flock are feeding among the blackened stumps of the uncleared chopping; those timbers have lain thus untouched for two long years; the hand was wanting that should have given help in logging...

  8. Explanatory Notes
    (pp. 255-272)
  9. Bibliographical Description of Authoritative Editions
    (pp. 273-282)
  10. Published Versions of the Text
    (pp. 283-288)
  11. Emendations in Copy-text
    (pp. 289-294)
  12. Line-end Hyphenated Compounds in Copy-text
    (pp. 295-296)
  13. Line-end Hyphenated Compounds in CEECT Edition
    (pp. 297-298)
  14. Historical Collation
    (pp. 299-320)
  15. Appendices
      (pp. 321-323)
      (pp. 324-324)