A 19TH Century Canadian Time Capsule

English/French – Reading and Writing

Suggested reading material included:
Columbus, by Washington Irving – an abridged version for younger readers
Tales of a Grandfather, by Mrs. Markham. The book includes prints of Stirling Castle, and is a history of England. A reference to Sir William Wallace’s head being cut off and put upon a spike on the top of the castle walls is made.
Masterman Ready
Pet Lamb (“Papa,” said Grace, “in the ‘Pet Lamb’, you know –‘The little brooks that seem all pastime and all play, when they are angry, roar like lions for their prey’…)
“The Rose just washed in a shower” (POEM)
“The Myrtle and Friendship” (POEM)
“Sun-Drop” (POEM)
“The Lily of the Valley” (POEM)
“Tulip” (POEM)
Woodsworth (collection of poetry?)
Eaton’s Botany
Haliburton’s Histories

Bilingualism wasn’t such a strange concept even in Grace’s time – decades before the Dominion of Canada incorporated more than the French territory west of Nova Scotia:
After breakfast, Grace always said a French lesson to her mother. This morning it was not so perfectly learned as usual…”

It would appear not to be uncommon for an eight year old to be incapable of writing as indicated by the simple question posed by Grace’s brother George even though this fictional eight year old was quite capable:
Have you learned to write yet, Grace?

Prior to George’s Christmas holiday 1844, the then nine-year old writes this letter to her brother demonstrating her abilities:

Halifax, December 1st, 1844 MY DEAR BROTHER, I am very glad your holidays are so near, and I am down to the year 1748 in the history of Nova-Scotia; but I am sorry the English gave up Cape Breton. Mamma is very well, and sends her love to you; and I wish you had been with us this morning when we went to the poor-house to see old Madeline. You cannot think how droll it is to see a squaw with a white night-cap on; and she had never been in a bed before, and she was afraid of falling out; and she asked my mother to send her dogs to see her.
Your affectionate sister,
Grace Severn.
Postscript.-I forgot to tell you that Madeline caught a bad cold, by sitting at the door of the chapel all day with nothing to keep her warm but her blanket for a shawl. She slept by our kitchen fire all night, but in the morning we thought she was going to be very ill, and she went to the poor-house in the sleigh. She did not want to leave the warm hearth, she said, ‘Severn’s wigwam very good for old squaw’