William Wye Smith


Many writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries emphasized the virtues of early rural pioneers and life on the land as a general criticism of what they perceived to be the negative, alienating influence of Ontario’s rapid urban and industrial expansion. Such work often highlighted the difficulties the recent emigrant faced: the clearing of forest and the breaking of new ground, the isolation and long Canadian winters; however they in turn celebrated the progress demonstrated in the pioneer’s domination over nature, the establishment of thriving communities and the extension of transportation networks. William Wye Smith, a popular nineteenth century Upper Canadian poet, was no exception.

Smith prepared his Canadian Reminiscences, a hand-written compilation of anecdotes collected during his lifetime that relate to his experience as journalist, clergyman and son of Scottish settlers, to provide his own unique perspective of pioneer life. This fully annotated version of Smith’s unpublished manuscript highlights Smith’s unwitting testimony to the social life of the province, his relationship to the construction and maintenance of Scottish and Canadian identity, as well as his position in literary history.


...this moving memoir-of-sorts is an essential read for those looking to better understand the trials and triumphs of early Canadian settlement.

Celtic Life

About the Authors

Scott A. McLean

Posted by Kendra on December 6, 2014

Scott A. McLean

Editor Scott A. McLean has a Ph.D in Scottish History and is presently living in Owen Sound, Ontario. Scott has been teaching in the Scottish Studies Department of the University of Guelph and, recently, has taught at Queen's International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, England.

Michael E. Vance

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
Michael E. Vance photo

Michael E. Vance

Michael E. Vance is a professor of history at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His research focuses on early 19th century Scottish emigration, and he also has an interest in the nature of Scottish overseas identity.