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Mary Beacock Fryer

Toronto, Dundurn Press, 1989. 276pp, paper, $16.95
ISBN 1-55002-064-1. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Adele Case.

Volume 18 Number 3
1990 May

Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe tells the life story of a woman who has recently received recognition for her detailed diary of life in colonial Canada.

From an early age Elizabeth showed spirit and grit. The portion of her life with which Canadians most identify was relatively short, and she lived a busy life in England for decades after she and her husband (John Graves Simcoe) returned from Canada.

Simcoe was made lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, at that time a sparsely inhabited wilderness. Elizabeth was determined to accompany him, and she and her close friend Mary Anne Burges promised to keep in touch through letter-journals. It is these communications that give us such an insight into the life of those who managed affairs in Ontario. From snatches of writing that Fryer has quoted, we see Elizabeth as a woman of independent mind and immense energy. The Simcoes visited all the settlements in the new territory, and they were required to entertain all the most important travellers in their "realm." Elizabeth suffered the attacks of summertime mosquitoes and often travelled by small bateau, or canoe. Frequently, she slept in a tent.

A number of black-and-white reproductions of Elizabeth's water-colours form a central section in the book, and these show some of the early dwellings in Upper Canada as well as scenic views. Elizabeth also sent home excellent water-colours of fish, butterflies and plants.

The final chapters in the biography deal with the return of the Simcoes to England. Elizabeth lived on for years after her husband died, filling her days with good works, travel, manifold interests, and involvement with a wide circle of acquaintances, friends and family members.

Adele Case, Britannia Secondary School, Vancouver, B.C.
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