Photo of 12 Sinclair Street

114 Bridge Street West

Belleville, Canada West

After seven years of struggle in the bush, Susanna and John finally enjoyed many years of middle class comfort in Belleville where John made a good living despite being vexed by political problems. It was during this time that Susanna wrote most of her well known works including the most famous of all and the income she earned was an important and meaningful contribution to the household finances.

Roughing It in the Bush created a sensation when published in Britain in 1852, shattering the false illusions in wide circulation about the ease of pioneer life in Canada that had been the downfall of many families. The book was also praised and widely read in the US but In Canada, the reaction of both readers and newspaper editors was polarized. While some recognized the accuracy of Moodie’s narrative, many more criticized the book’s negative tone and perceived bias against the Irish. One Toronto newspaper editor, called her “An ape of the aristocracy. Too poor to lie on a sofa and too proud to work for [her] bread.” Since John and she were both supporters of responsible Reform (not the Radical type of Reform proposed by McKenzie in the 1837 Rebellion) and were even friends of Reform leader Robert Baldwin, she laughed at this stupid comment but she was also thin-skinned and easily bruised. The book was not published in Canada until 1871 by which time Moodie was beginning to be recognized by some as a Canadian celebrity – a designation she soundly rejected:

In 1871, when asked for permission to have her name included in a Who’s Who of Canadian Luminaries, Susanna had been so wounded by her Canadian critics and detractors that she responded thusly:

“Any ambition I once had for literary distinction has been so obliterated by the sterner cares and trials of life that I feel no need to see my name included in your list of Canadian worthies. By birth and education English I cannot have the least claim to the honour you intend me.” (excerpt of letter from Susanna Moodie to Henry Morgan, July 27, 1861 written in response to Morgan’s request for Susanna’s permission to include her in his book Celebrated Canadians (Quebec, 1862).

Court House (Office of the Sheriff)
Belleville, Canada West (Ontario)
Circa 1860