Collection consists of the records of Catharine Parr Traill, her husband Thomas Traill, their children and extended family, and their descendants. Included is textual documentation on Catharine Parr Traill's sisters in England and her sister Susanna Moodie. The material has been arranged in the following series: correspondence (some located on microfilm reel A-809); manuscripts and printed works; miscellaneous essays and printed material; miscellany and memorabilia; wills, deeds and related documents; clippings; family history; material copied from the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge collection; and art material.
Photographic material consists of a depiction of Walter John Strickland Traill; views of Catharine Parr Traill's home Westove in Lakefield, Ontario, and her cottage Minnewawa at Stoney Lake, Ontario; R.C. Strickland's residence, Lakefield, Ontario; cartes-de-visite portraits of Catharine Parr Traill, her daughter and grand-daughters; portraits of the Traill family relatives including Walter Strickland, Samuel Strickland, Harry Strickland, Emma Strickland Barlee, C.J. Bloomfield, Mrs. Bloomfield, Dora, Frances Bloomfield, and Harry Fitzgerald; and plates by Agnes FitzGibbon for the publication 'Canadian wild flowers'.
Traill (family): Catharine Parr Traill was born in 1802 in East Anglia, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Strickland. Her first home was at Stowe House, near Bungay; then in 1808 she moved with her family to Reydon House, near Southwold. In 1832, she married a widower, Thomas Traill (b. 1793), whose first wife, Anne Fotheringhame, had died in 1828 leaving him two sons, Walter (1815-1845) and John Heddle (1819-1847). Thomas Traill had served in the Napoleonic wars and was retired on half-pay. Shortly after their marriage, he and Catharine Parr Traill emigrated to Upper Canada and settled near Peterborough in Douro township, where Catharine became fast friends with Frances Stewart and her daughter Ellen (later Dunlop, who in 1889 published her mother's correspondence in 'Our forest home : being extracts from the correspondence of the late Frances Stewart'). Thomas and Catharine Parr Traill had nine children, two of whom died in infancy. Their surviving children were: James George (1833-1867); Katherine Agnes Strickland, called Kate (1836-1922); Thomas Henry Strickland, called Harry (1837-1870); Anne Traill Fotheringhame, called Annie (1838-1931); Mary Elizabeth Jane (1841-1892); William Edward (1844-1917); and Walter John Strickland (1848-1932). Annie married James Parr Clinton Atwood and Mary married Thomas Muchall. Thomas Traill died in 1859 and Catharine Parr Traill died in 1899.
Catharine Parr Traill had begun a literary career before she left England, publishing children's books such as 'Little Downy, or, The history of a field mouse' (1822), 'The young emigrants, or, Pictures of life in Canada' (1826) and 'Sketch book of a young naturalist' (1831). Soon after settling in Canada, she published her letters home as 'The backwoods of Canada' (1836), a classic of Canadian pioneer life. This work was followed by the equally successful 'The female emigrants guide' (1854), which offered practical advice to emigrants coming to Canada. Other books by Traill reflected her interest in nature studies, 'Canadian wild flowers' (1868), illustrated by her niece Agnes FitzGibbon (later Chamberlin), 'Studies of plant life in Canada' (1885) and 'Pearls and pebbles' (1894). She also published children's stories, including 'Canadian Crusoes' (1852) and 'Cot and cradle stories' (1895).
Catharine Parr Traill came from a literary family and her sisters included Elizabeth and Agnes Strickland, co-authors of 'The lives of the queens of England' (12 vols., 1840-1848) as well as other works, and Jane Strickland, author of 'Rome' (1854) and of a biography of Agnes Strickland. Her sister Susanna Moodie also emigrated to Canada, with her husband, John Wedderburn Dunbar Moodie, a fellow officer of Thomas Traill. In Canada, Susanna Moodie too continued a literary career begun in England and produced a classic of pioneer literature, 'Roughing it in the bush' (1852). Their brother Samuel Strickland emigrated to Canada as well and after a period as an officer of the Canada Company settled in the Peterborough area. He also published an account of his experiences, 'Twenty-seven years in Canada West' (1853).