From the Bruce Peel Special Collections: Echoes From the Backwoods: or, Sketches of Transatlantic Life

Author: R. G. A. Levigne

Year: 1846

Call Number: FC 72 L48 1846 v.1

Travel writing surged in the 19th century when travel became safer and more accessible to the middle class. Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, for example, were among many famous authors who dabbled in the genre. A less-famous author was Sir Richard Levigne (1811-1884), a British army officer stationed in Saint John, who wrote about what Canada had to offer.

Echoes From the Backwoods: or, Sketches of Transatlantic Life is a popular Canadian emigrant handbook, serving to inform and entertain potential emigrants. Vol. 1 offers information about costs of living, as well as detailing trade reports, and the proposed railway system. Such handbooks were often published by the Canadian government, and generally exaggerated the benefits of living in Canada (while downplaying the country’s harsh weather conditions).

In Vol. 2, Levigne provides a firsthand account of his trip to the United States while detailing his thoughts on the political turmoil following the rebellions of 1837 in upper and lower Canada. It also contains the second-ever published reference to hockey. Detailing a hockey game being played on Chippewa Creek (now called “Welland River”), Levigne wrote that “large parties contested games of hockey on the ice, some 40 or 50 being ranged on each side.”

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