Home » Fiction & Literature » Catherine Parr Traill » Lost in the Backwoods

May 28 , 2008

Lost in the Backwoods


There lies, between the Rice Lake and the Ontario, a deep and fertile valley, surrounded by lofty wood-crowned hills, clothed chiefly with groves of oak and pine, the sides of the hills and the alluvial bottoms display a variety of noble timber trees of various kinds, as the useful and beautiful maple, beech, and hemlock. This beautiful and highly picturesque valley is watered by many clear streams, whence it derives its appropriate appellation of “Cold Springs.” At the period my little history commences, this now highly cultivated spot was an unbroken wilderness,—all but two clearings, where dwelt the only occupiers of the soil,—which previously owned no Other possessors than the wandering hunting tribes of wild Indians, to whom the right of the hunting grounds north of Rice Lake appertained, according to their forest laws. I speak of the time when the neat and flourishing town of Cobourg, now an important port on Lake Ontario, was but a village in embryo,—if it contained even a log-house or a block-house, it was all that it did,—and the wild and picturesque ground upon which the fast increasing village of Port Hope is situated had not yielded one forest tree to the axe of the settler. No gallant vessel spread her sails to waft the abundant produce of grain and Canadian stores along the waters of that noble sheet of water; no steamer had then furrowed its bosom with her iron paddles, bearing the stream of emigration towards the wilds of our northern and western forests, there to render a lonely trackless desert a fruitful garden. What will not time and the industry of man, assisted by the blessing of a merciful God, effect? To him be the glory and honour; for we are taught that “unless the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it: without the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” But to my tale. And first it will be necessary to introduce to the acquaintance of my young readers the founders of our little settlement at Cold Springs
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