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English Bloods: In the Backwoods of Muskoka, 1878 [Paperback]

Frederick de la Fosse , Scott D. Shipman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 25 2004

Farming in the Canadian backwoods in the late 1800s was a prospect that enticed many young Englishmen to cross the Atlantic. One such fellow was Frederick de la Fosse, whose well-meaning uncle paid 100 per annum for his young nephew to serve as a farm pupil in the northern reaches of Muskoka. Some years later, de la Fosse, under the pseudonym of Roger Vardon, wrote an illuminating and humorous biographical account of the trials and tribulations of the "English Bloods," the local epithet attached to these young lads attempting to hone farming skills in a land never intended to be agricultural. And, in so doing, de la Fosse chronicles the realities of pioneer life in the area.

In the original text, published in 1930, a number of names were changed to conceal identities of the local people. Editor Scott D. Shipman has spent over eight years researching the authentic names and overall background for this new augmented edition of English Bloods. The richly descriptive text written by the keenly observant and erudite de la Fosse is complemented by archival visuals and annotations for todays reader.

Frederick de la Fosse went on to become a public librarian in Peterborough in 1910.


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Farming in the Canadian backwoods in the late 1800s was a prospect that enticed many young Englishmen to cross the Atlantic. One such fellow was Frederick de la Fosse, whose well-meaning uncle paid £100 per annum for his young nephew to serve as a farm pupil in the northern reaches of Muskoka. Some years later, de la Fosse, under the pseudonym of Roger Vardon, wrote an illuminating and humorous biographical account of the trials and tribulations of the "English Bloods," the local epithet attached to these young lads attempting to hone farming skills in a land never intended to be agricultural. And, in so doing, de la Fosse chronicles the realities of pioneer life in the area.

In the original text, published in 1930, a number of names were changed to conceal identities of the local people. Editor Scott D. Shipman has spent over eight years researching the authentic names and overall background for this new augmented edition of English Bloods. The richly descriptive text written by the keenly observant and erudite de la Fosse is complemented by archival visuals and annotations for today’s reader.

Frederick de la Fosse went on to become a public librarian in Peterborough in 1910.

About the Author

Scott D. Shipman was born in Weston, Ontario, and discovered his passion for writing as a young boy growing up in Bolton, Ontario. Eventually he moved with his family to Huntsville in the Muskoka District.

Since that day Scott has loved the great serenity of the area. In the early 1980s, Scott married his lifetime companion, Peggy. They have two children, son Collin and daughter Carly.

It was when Scott's father asked him to research historical background on the former Bigwin Inn, the fabled resort in the Lake of Bays area, that Scott stumbled upon English Bloods. His passion for writing combined with his keenness to know more about early Muskoka pioneers combined to produce this new edition.


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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Jan. 14 2013
By JVW
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A most enjoyable read, I recommend this book to anyone living in central Ontario. It was not that long ago, enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History of Muskoka, Ontario, Canada Dec 24 2011
By Liz
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excelent book about the original settlers in Muskoka, at the shores of Buck Lake. Very detailed, lots of work went into this project. My deepest admiration for the author of this new edition Scott D. Shipman. My family and I love this book, as every year (since 1977) we spent a lot of summer days swimming at this lake and are very interested in the local history.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended for everyone in the family! April 24 2010
Format:Paperback
From the outset of Frederick de la Fosse's English Bloods, (Heritage Books, 2004) one is struck by the level of naïveté that existed regarding this new land of Canada. Firstly, by nineteenth-century English society, generally, and by Frederick's uncle in particular. For example, as a going-away gift Frederick received a saddle and was told to be certain to let them know when he "captured his first wild horse."

De la Fosse is also quite candid in enunciating his own level of naiveté, and if there ever was a `pigeon' ready for a plucking it was young Frederick. Indeed, within hours of his arrival he had been conned out of $10--quite a hefty amount in 1878--by some wily Canadian con artists.
He was also quite a source of amusement to some seasoned Canadians when he mentioned that he had actually paid money to learn how to "farm", i.e. chop trees and clear land. It didn't help his image, either, that he was attired in a shirt a tie for the tasks.

Some of the characters de la Fosse encounters along the way are also quite colourful. One such was a Mr. Yearley, whom de la Fosse describes as weighing nearly three hundred pounds. He therefore describes the experience of having to share a bed with him and his son, John Yearley.

"Good-night, boys," said Mr. Yearley as he blew out the light, and darkness fell on the scene. Then with a mighty tug he pulled the blanket off us both and coiled it around himself. "Say, Pop," protested Master John from the outskirts, "what are yer givin' us?" But there was not answer from his parent. He was already in a comatose condition and snoring in a highly stertorous and alarming manner. Before many seconds had passed, the three hundred pounds of flesh was heaving in a terrific fashion.
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