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Early Settler Writings - Diaries & Journals 

Learn From Home Activity

Background Information

The desire to record the events in our day-to-day lives is something that can be traced back to the Romans in the middle of 200 CE. This practice continued throughout the centuries and was also utilized by early settlers. Upon arriving in Upper Canada countless individuals took up their quill and recorded their experience, detailing their journey, petitioning a land grant, building a home, adjusting to harsh winters, planting crops, tending to their family, developing recipes, and missing their friends and family back home.


This practice continued beyond early settlers and became an every day occurrence for many, using their journals and diaries to record the weather, daily tasks and chores and visits and conversations had with family and friends. Many times they would also record the local happenings and major events including community celebrations, war, elections, illnesses, political visits and more. 

One item in our Collection that reflects this is a journal from 1935 that belonged to a gentleman named E.D. Drury (Accession number: 995.3.170.001). In his diary Drury accounts for daily changes in the weather, visits with friends and takes note of what was purchased during each shopping trip. In the back of the diary he also records the births and deaths that occurred within the community. While journals, diaries and day planners were the preferred method 


of notekeeping for most, others such as David Willson preferred to craft poems and psalms to commemorate events in the community. 

Willson also used his writings to caution his Children of Peace followers during time of sickness in the community. In one writing from July 13, 1832 Willson advises to "...keep the body warm, summer and winter - and in particular the feet, for a constant persperation [sic] is bodily health - be moderate in labour, and keep out of storms; when sweating in a particular manner sudden colds obstruct persperation and fevers ensue..." (Accession number: 986.3.2). It should be noted that this warning came with the 1832 presence of cholera in the Village. This was followed in 1833 by diphtheria, then typhoid in 1847, 1852 and 1854. Diphtheria returned once again in 1858. At the same time in the 1850s a smallpox outbreak threatened the community. The Children of Peace remained at the forefront of special community relief efforts during these difficult times. 

Curriculum Connections

Social Studies - Grade 1: Stand A. Heritage and Identity: Our Changing Roles and Responsibilities (A2.2, A2.5)

Social Studies - Grade 2: Strand B. People and Environments: Global Communities (B2.2, B2.5)

Social Studies - Grade 3: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada, 1780-1850 (A2.2, A3.2, A3.3, A3.4)

Language - Grade 2 & 3: Writing - 1. Developing and Organizing Content (1.1, 1.2), 2. Using Knowledge of Form and Style in Writing (2.1, 2.2, 2.5)


Our first hand accounts are essential to ensuring we are able to remember the impacts of these events in our community. During this time we are calling on you - our local community members - to record your stories. How has your life changed during COVID-19? What do you want to remember about this time? What do you want to forget? What do you look forward to doing once we have moved past this? 

Download and print the template below and fill out your responses to each of the prompts. We want to collect your responses! If you're comfortable doing so, please send a copy to and encourage your family and friends to create and share theirs too!

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