‘If these sketches should prove the means of deterring one family from sinking their property, and shipwrecking all their hopes, by going to reside in the backwoods of Canada,’ wrote reluctant emigrant Susanna Moodie in Roughing It in The Bush in 1871, ‘I shall consider myself amply repaid for revealing the secrets of the prison-house and feel that I have not toiled and suffered in the wilderness in vain.’

Susanna, her husband John and their small baby were just one family among approximately 50,000 emigrants who made up the first wave of British settlers in Canada in the 1830s. Her words were written many years after she’d first arrived in the Upper Canadian wilderness – a location she’d been reluctantly dragged to by her husband whose interest in the endeavour had been piqued by the government’s pledge to provide plots for farming in what they were promised was a ‘land of opportunity’.