Susanna Moodie

Moving to Toronto: Susanna’s Relationship to the Urban Centre

Image 6.1 Skyline view of Toronto, 1885-1895: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1478, Item 6.

Views of Toronto

Although Susanna spent her last years in Toronto, she never considered herself a Torontonian. Her husband fought for the British military during the Rebellion of 1837, and Susanna contributed by publishing patriotic poems. Two decades later, the Toronto publishers Hunter, Rose and Company offered to give Susanna’s Roughing It its first Canadian publication. Although she lived far from the urban centre, she relied on Toronto for her writing career.

Image 6.2 A map of Toronto as it looked in the late 19th Century, Lithographed, Printed & Published by W.C. Chewett & Co. 17 & 19 King St. East, Toronto. “City of Toronto compiled from surveys made to the present date 1866”, Library and Archives Canada.

Movement in her Final Years

In 1869, after John’s death, Susanna’s health began to decline. Her daughter Katherine and her husband tried to convince Susanna to move in with them at 152 Adelaide Street East in Toronto. However, she clung to her independence, preferring to live with her son Robert and his family in Seaforth. This arrangement did not last. Susanna grew irritated and returned to Belleville in 1870, where she rented rooms from friends. Between 1872 and 1877 Susanna lived with her sister Catharine in Lakefield, and was often confined to bed. Catharine remarks in a letter to her daughter that, “Aunt M can not go to Toronto yet… she is in good humor and not cranky now and you must just turn a deaf ear to criticisms… as though you heard it not – it is just her way you know” (Ballstadt, 1996, 200). In 1877, Susanna forfeited her country life and moved to live with Robert’s family on Adelaide Street.

Final Days in Toronto

Upon arriving in Toronto, Susanna met with members of the literary communities despite her deteriorating health. She required constant care from her daughter Katherine’s household, where she lived her last three months and passed away in 1885. She was buried in Belleville with her beloved husband and sons.


Motivated by the career opportunities provided to her in urban centres, Susanna moved to Toronto.

What are barriers to inclusion and belonging in urban settings?

In a city as large as Toronto, what are the roles of neighbourhoods in helping newcomers form community and a sense of belonging? 

Rebellion of 1837: From 1837-1838 Upper and Lower Canada experienced attacks by rebels within each colony. These rebels were frustrated with the governing systems and the Crown, and desired political reform. The result of the rebellions was the Durham report and then the union of the two colonies and the formation of “responsible government,” leading to the eventual emergence of Canada.

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 Part 3

 Part 4

 Part 5

 Part 6