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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Catharine Parr Traill: Pioneering Faith

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Catharine Parr Traill and her sister Susanna Moodie were two of Canada’s most important 19th-century writers.  Catharine Parr Traill College, a campus of Trent University in Peterborough, is named for her.  Catharine was particularly famous for her books: The Backwoods of Canada (1836)and Canadian Crusoes (1852).  A French edition of The Backwoods of Canada, Les forêts intérieures du Canada, was published in Paris in1843.  It was not until 1929 that a Canadian edition of The Backwoods of Canada was published.  She also wrote The Female Emigrant’s Guide, The Tell Tale, The Young Emigrants, and Hints on Canadian Housekeeping.  As Lynn Westerhout put it,  Catharine “wrote to earn money, but her work showed that wonder,courage and faith are most important in life.”

The Encyclopedia Britannica speaks of Catharine who, with richly detailed descriptions of frontier life, was one of the first to praise the beauties of the Canadian landscape. Catharine left England to pioneer with her new husband Thomas in the unknown Canadian backwoods.  She wrote a farewell letter to a good friend, saying that “she (was) willing to lose all for the sake of one dear valued friend and husband to share with him all the changes and chances of a settler’s life.

Catharine faced dire poverty in the early pioneering days: “On examining the state of my purse, I find just $4.30.  This is all the funds I have to begin the year with.  It is true that I have half a barrel of flour,and some meat and I have often been without meat and money.  God will provide as heretofore.”  She wrote in 1852 to her sister Susanna: “`I feel it is a miserable state to be like a vessel without a pilot drifting before an overwhelming storm on every side rocks and shoals and no friendly port in sight, no beacon light to guide us on our perilous way.  Do not think, dear sister, that I lose my faith in God’s gracious providence.  I believe that he can in his good time bring all things to an end of these our troubles…”

Catharine’s husband Thomas was often downcast by the financial  they faced.  Catharine wrote: “I wish that he could look beyond the present and remember that the brightest of earthly prospects endure but for a season – and it is the same with the trials and sorrows of life –they too come to an end.” As Charlotte Gray notes, “Catherine at ninety-five was left virtually penniless…Without Catharine’s knowledge, an urgent plea was sent to the British Prime Minister, at 10 Downing Street, for help…”  Over $1,000 was raised.  Along with the money was sent a letter to Catherine saying: “We cannot forget the courage with which you endured the privations and trials of the backwoods in the early settlement of Ontario, and we rejoice to know that your useful life has been prolonged in health and vigour until you are now the oldest living author in her Majesty’s dominion.”  Catharine responded by saying: “I can only adopt the hearty simple phrase used by the Indian women of Hiawatha village–‘I bless you in my heart.’

May Catharine Parr Traill’s deep pioneering faith and courage be an inspiration to a new generation of women and men who seek to break new ground in the twenty-first century.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Catharine Parr Traill: Pioneer Canadian Mother

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed Hird

Catharine Parr Traill was a pioneer Canadian mother who made a phenomenal impact on the life of our nation.

England in the early 1830s was caught in a Canada-mania.  In the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, England was thrown into an economic depression.  Thomas Strickland, the father of Catherine Parr Traill, was caught in the economic downturn, resulting in near-bankruptcy and his premature death.  He left behind an impoverished widow and six unmarried daughters whose chances of marriage were seriously limited.

Both Catherine Parr Traill and her sister Susanna married economically-challenged Scottish soldiers who were offered land grants in the colonies.  Canada began to be seen as the land of milk and honey!  Altogether 655,747 people sailed away from British shores between 1831 and 1841 (almost three times as many as had moved abroad during the previous ten years).

The two key Canada-promoters William Cattermole and Captain Charles Stuart were being paid so much per head for every Brit that they could recruit for Canada.  In their glowing description of Canada, Cattermole and Stuart forgot to mention the backbreaking work required to clear the forests, the total absence of household comforts, the aching loneliness, and the grinding poverty of most early Canadian pioneers.  Catharine Parr Traill and her sister Susanna, being gifted writers, were able to record a vital part of our Canadian pioneering history.  In Catherine Parr Traill’s book ‘The Canadian Settler’s Guide’, she insightfully wrote:

“In cases of emergency, it is folly to fold up one’s hands and sit down to bewail in abject terror: it is better to be up and doing.”

Catharine’s book “The ‘Backwoods of Canada quickly sold its first printing of eleven thousand copies, being translated into German in 1838 and French in 1843.

Of the six Strickland daughters including Catherine, five of them became published authors!  Catharine’s older sister Agnes in England was the leading royal biographer of the 19th century.  Sister Agnes caustically commented: “Who in England thinks anything of Canada?” and “Nothing that is first published in Canada will sell well in England”.

 In Charlotte Grey’s book ‘Sisters in the Wilderness’, Catharine Parr Traill and her sister Susanna are described as laying “the foundation of a literary tradition that still endures in Canada: the pioneer woman who displays extraordinary courage, resourcefulness and humour.  This ‘Canadian character type’, as critic Elizabeth Thompson calls her, is a pragmatist who discovers her own strength as she overcomes adversity.”  Sir Sandford Fleming, inventor of one-hour time zones, and the engineering genius behind the Canadian Pacific Railway, said of Catharine: “She has rendered service of no ordinary kind in making known the advantages offered by Canada as a field for settlement, and by her very widely read writings she has been instrumental in inducing very many emigrants from the United Kingdom to find homes in the Dominion.”

Catharine Parr Trail had a remarkable ability to rise above adversity and make the best of every situation.  Charlotte Grey: writes in her book about ‘the stamina, talent and determination that allowed two English ladies to overcome the hardships of pioneer life and leave a powerful legacy to Canadian culture.’  It is hard for us almost two hundred years later to fully imagine the miseries of hunger, disease, cold, and disappointment faced by our early Canadian pioneers.  I was shocked to discover that both Catharine and her sister’s families came down with malaria, a widespread problem in Canada as pioneers were struggling to drain mosquito-infested swamps.

Catharine Parr Traill commented in the early days: “I have not seen a woman except those in our company for over five months….”  As Charlotte Grey put it, “Being wrenched from one’s homeland leaves deep scars in the psyche of every emigrant in any era:  Susanna and Catharine bore these scars for the rest of their lives.”

Catharine’s motto was ‘Hope! Resolution! And Perseverance!’.  She would assure her relatives back home that Canada is the ‘land of hope.’ Her sister Sarah spoke of Catherine/Kate: “Her blue eyes always sparkled with happiness and curiosity about the world.  She had a warm smile and an air of stolid contentment, and even as a baby, Catharine ‘never cried like other children –indeed we used to say that Katie never saw a sorrowful day – for if anything went wrong, she just shut her eyes and the tears fell from under the long lashes and rolled down her cheeks like pearls into her lap.  We all adored her.”

 Charlotte Grey commented how Catharine loved “the wild and picturesque rocks, trees, hill and valley, wild-flowers, ferns, shrubs and moss and the pure, sweet scent of pines over all, breathing health and strength.”  Nature, for Catharine, was saturated with divine meaning – its splendor and concord displayed the authority and goodness of its Creator.  That is why Catharine wrote many “books that reflected sheer love of nature’s bounty and admiration in God’s handiwork.”  The flowers of the field, for her, were good reminders of the teachings of Christ.  Catherine often illustrated her dried specimens with biblical quotes, particularly from the Psalms or the book of Revelation.

Charlotte Grey commented that in future years, Catharine would rely on her love of nature, the beauties of which she saw as the expression of God’s will, to carry her through one disaster after another:
“Strength was always given to me when it was needed.” As she dug and weeded in the kitchen garden, or lifted heavy cast-iron pans of porridge from the stove, she would pause briefly, straighten her aching back, close her eyes and utter silent prayers.  She noted at the end of her life: “In great troubles and losses, God is very Good.”

In the midst of her very busy writing and pioneering, Catharine never neglected her family.  As Charlotte Grey put it, “Motherhood came as naturally to Catharine as breathing.  It was the most meaningful activity in her life.  She was always prepared to give more love than she took, and she saw no conflict between her family and her impulse to write.”

My prayer is that every mother reading this article would receive that same strength as Catharine Parr Traill in the challenges of life.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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The Old Rugged Cross

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Once every year, billions of people on every continent of the globe stop whatever they are doing and remember the mystery of Easter.  At the heart of that mystery is the old rugged cross.  For those of us who have a soft spot for Western movies, the ‘Old Rugged Cross’ song invariably turns up somewhere, often by a windblown graveside.

“On a hill far away stood an Old Rugged Cross,

 The emblem of suffering and shame;

And I love that old cross where the dearest and best

For a world of lost sinners was slain.”

‘The Old Rugged Cross’ song was written by George Bennard, who lived from 1873-1958.  “The Old Rugged Cross” is still the most frequently requested hymn; and the most popular spiritual song of the past 100 years.  Within thirty years of its original publication in 1913, more than twenty million copies of “The Old Rugged Cross” had been sold, outselling every other musical composition of any kind! What is it that makes this gospel song so popular?

‘The Old Rugged Cross’ was written in response to a deep personal need in Bennard’s own life.  Born in Youngstown, Ohio, on February 4, 1873, George Bennard was raised in a loving coalminer family, the only son among four daughters.  When George was only sixteen years old, his father died, leaving George to care for his mother and four sisters. After a period of time with the Salvation Army, George became a traveling speaker for the Methodist church, holding meetings in Canada and in the northern and central United States.

After a very painful time in New York, Bennard went back home in 1913 to Michigan.  His mind returned again and again to Christ’s agony on the cross.  During this time, Bennard read Galatians 6:14 in which the Apostle Paul states: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  Bennard became convinced that the cross was not merely a symbol of Christianity, but the very heart of it. He realized that the cross was not gold-covered, but rather a rough, splintery thing, stained with gore.

The words, “the old rugged cross,” came into his mind and then the notes of a melody ran through his head.  Several weeks later, after a period of prayer, the poetry of the verses began to flow from his pen almost unbidden.   “I saw the Christ of the Cross as if I were seeing John 3:16 leave the printed page, take form and act out the meaning of redemption,” he said later.

After writing this hymn, George Bennard went on to travel and preach for another forty years..  Thanks to being chosen by Billy Sunday (the Billy Graham of those days), everyone began singing this unforgettable song.  Years later, Johny Cash himself recorded this song.  Although Bennard wrote 300 other hymns, none of them became as popular as his first.

Dr. Alistair McGrath of Oxford comments, “Those great old hymns — such as Rock of Ages, The Old Rugged Cross and When I survey — remain wonderful statements of the centrality of the cross…They express the power of the cross so much better than I can ever hope to do. As George Bennard put it in 1913:

“To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;

Its shame and reproach gladly bear;

Then he’ll call me some day to my home far away,

Where his glory forever I’ll share.”

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

 -previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Ave, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca