Mapping Susanna

If Roughing It in the Bush was originally written for nineteenth century armchair travellers, then Susanna’s Journey of a Lifetime is its 21st century update: a digital ‘pilgrimage’ that charts Susanna’s trajectory across the Atlantic with a corresponding arc through time from 1803 to the present day.

Virtually visit 29 actual locations plotted on the digital world map to see the places where Susanna really lived and wrote---as they were then and as they are now.

Her story begins two centuries ago in a rambling old English country manor house full of legends and folklore. The intense youngest sister more interested in playing with frogs than dolls could not know that her destiny lay far away. The continent that engulfed Susanna and John Moodie was a dangerous alien place, unrecognizable from what it is today. The first settlers arriving often found the sky obscured by the dense branches of ancient trees towering hundreds of feet above them.

There in that swampy, unfertile bush land, swarming with insects, disease, animals and an odd assembly of castaways huddled together in tight quarters, there was no law, and no refuge, no money and nothing to buy.

It seemed as if nothing in her life as a literary lady in London could have prepared Susanna for the struggle that lay ahead. Imagine it was you there in her place. What would you have done?

Susanna's Journey

Navigation: Click on any pin to learn more. Zoom out to find other locations.

  • Stowe House

    Bungay, Suffolk, ENGLAND

    Photo of Stowe House

    Manager of the Greenland Docks in Rotherhithe (London), Susanna’s father Thomas Strickland retired early to establish himself as a country gentleman. His wife Elizabeth gave birth to Susanna their sixth daughter on December 6, 1803.

  • Reydon Hall


    Photo of Reydon (near Southwold)

    Thomas Strickland purchased Reydon Hall in 1808 and it remained the family home for over 50 years till the death of Elizabeth Strickland.

  • 13 Bedford Square

    Fitzrovia, London

    Photo of 13 Bedford Square

    Susanna first went to London at the age of 16 and stayed with her father's cousin, Rebecca Leverton, where she and Catherine both had their first introduction to London society.

  • 7 Sully Terrace, Claremont Square

    Pentonville (Finsbury), London

    Photo of 7 Sully Terrace, Claremont Square

    Susanna become passionately involved in the abolitionist movement after meeting the League’s Secretary, Thomas Pringle in 1829 and was frequently a guest in his London home.

  • 21 Chadwell Street

    Pentonville, London

    Photo of 21 Chadwell Street

    Susanna boarded here with the Jones family from January to April 1831 after breaking off her engagement with John Moodie and leaving Thomas Pringle’s house.

  • St. Pancras Church

    166-171 Euston Road, London

    Photo of St. Pancras Church

    Susanna Strickland and John Moodie were married in St. Pancras Church on April 4, 1831.

  • Southwold Beach

    Southwold, Suffolk

    Photo of Southwold Beach

    In May 1832, John and Susanna with baby Katie accompanied by a servant Hannah, were rowed out to the sea lanes where they boarded a London steamship bound for Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Edinburgh


    Photo of Edinburgh

    Susanna’s romantic spirit was inspired by the spectacular setting of Scotland’s beautiful capital but the Moodies stay was to be of short duration since it was already late June and the safe crossing season was brief.

  • Melsetter House

    Isle of Hoy, Orkney Islands, Scotland

    Photo of Melsetter House

    The Anne sailed north from Edinburgh then west along the Scottish mainland passing by the Orkney Island of Hoy where John had been raised giving him a last view of his family home Melsetter House.

  • Grosse Ile, near Quebec City

    Lower Canada (Quebec)

    Photo of Grosse Ile, near Quebec City

    Susanna's first glimpse of the new world was the quarantine station at Grosse Ile, upriver from Quebec. From the deck the island appeared "a perfect paradise" but up close it offered a shocking spectacle.

  • Quebec City

    Lower Canada (Quebec)

    Photo of Quebec City

    The Anne sailed on from Grosse Ile and after narrowly escaping a collision with another ship, proceeded past Quebec and was towed by steamship to Montreal.

  • Steamship Hotel

    Cobourg, Upper Canada (Ontario)

    Photo of Cobourg (Ontario)

    Arriving in Cobourg with other newcomers, the Moodies learned that there was no way to secure a hotel room. Luckily an old friend from home made his unexpected entrance leading a bear on a leash.

  • Moodie Farmsite 1

    Gage’s Creek

    Photo of Melsetter 1 Homestead

    The Moodies wisely purchased an already cleared farm near Cobourg but the cheap price was soon explained by the neighbours who were scheming, cursing, mooching, British-despising Yankees.

  • Moodie Farmsite 2

    Lake Katchawanook

    Photo of Melsetter 2 Homestead

    To escape their neighbours for more congenial company, John decided that they would move to live near Catherine and Sam's families in the unsettled backwoods where he would be able to claim his land grant.

  • Dummer

    Upper Canada

    Photo of Dummer Township

    Susanna’s mission of mercy to assist Louisa Lloyd, the abandoned wife of an army officer is recounted as “The Walk to Dummer” in Roughing It in the Bush.

  • Peterborough

    Upper Canada

    Photo of Peterborough

    The true degree of her family's isolation in the bush becomes evident in the astonishment of Susanna's eldest son at seeing a town for the first time - and a small one at that.

  • 12 Sinclair Street

    Belleville, Canada West

    Photo of 12 Sinclair Street

    The Moodie house which was home for 25 years is marked by a national historic plaque located at the corner of Bridge and Sinclair Streets on the west side of the Moira River in Belleville.

  • Kingston Penitentiary

    Kingston, Canada West

    Photo of Kingston Penitentiary

    In the sequel to Roughing It in the Bush, entitled Life in the Clearings (1853), Susanna portrays Canada's transformation into a more civilized country by describing its public amenties such as penitentiaries and lunatic asylums.

  • Provincial Lunatic Asylum

    Toronto, Canada West

    Photo of Provincial Lunatic Asylum

    In Life in the Clearings, the structural device of a restorative journey to Niagara provides a rationale for Susanna to visit (as an outside observer) the Provincial Lunatic Asylum.

  • Clifton House Hotel

    Niagara Falls, Canada West

    Photo of Clifton House Hotel

    The Moodies stayed at the Clifton House Hotel in Niagara Falls. A classic Romantic like Susanna was bound to be moved by the sublime spectacle of Niagara Falls and she does not disappoint.

  • Cottage near Belleville

    Belleville, Ontario

    Photo of Cottage near Belleville

    John and Susanna lived together modestly in a rented cottage on the outskirts of Belleville (exact location unknown) for the last three years of John's life.

  • Station Street

    Seaforth, Ontario

    Photo of Station Street

    Immediately following John's death, Susanna went to live with her son Robert who was a Station Master on the Grand Trunk Railway in Seaforth, Ontario (near Stratford)

  • Old Moodie Farm Site

    Lake Katchawanook

    Photo of Moodie Farm site

    Susanna and Catherine's trip by steamboat retraced the route of Susanna's sketch "A Trip to Stoney Lake". Along the way they were able to see the present states of their former farms now overgrown.

  • Caer Howell Place


    Photo of Caer Howell Place

    Following work opportunities and later medical needs for his wife, Robert and his family including Susanna moved to Brockton and Toronto living in a series of rented houses that changed frequently.

  • 30 Baldwin Street


    Photo of 30 Baldwin Street

    Robert Moodie and family with Susanna resided at 30 Baldwin Street from 1879/80.

  • 14 Clarence Terrace

    Wellington Square, Toronto

    Photo of 14 Clarence Terrace

    Robert Moodie and family lived on this square on the east side of Spadina Avenue, at Wellington Street for approximately one year likely from July 1880 to June 1881.

  • 17 Wilton Crescent


    Photo of 17 Wilton Crescent

    This was the last house in which Susanna remained with Robert's family in Toronto. Wilton Terrace was located close by the Horticultural Gardens (today's Allan Gardens) with its elaborate Victorian conservatory.

  • 25 Adelaide Street


    Photo of 25 Adelaide Street

    Susanna died on April 8, 1885 at the home of her eldest daughter Katie (Catherine) Vickers where she received round the clock nursing care for her deteriorating mental and physical state - likely Alzheimer's disease.

  • Belleville Cemetery

    Highway 2, Belleville

    Photo of Belleville Cemetery

    The Moodie gravestone in the Belleville cemetery marks the burial place of John, Susanna and two of their deceased children, John Strickland Moodie (1838-44) and George Arthur Moodie (1840).