The names and details of the Smyth(e) family members in this Directory were referenced because Smyth(e) ancestors were mentioned in the letters of Frances Anne Stewart (née Browne). These letters were later edited and published by her daughter, Eleanor, and a close friend, Catharine (several sources also spell her name Catherine) Traill, a well-known Canadian writer.
The most recent edition of this work is now over a century old - Our Forest Home - Extracts from the Correspondence of the late Frances Stewart. Montreal: Gazette Printing and Publishing, 1902.
A number of references to 'Our Forest Home' may be found on the Internet. However, the primary source is proudly maintained in the Archives at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario in Canada. Visit by clicking on the University Logo, top right. Jean Shearman and Elizabeth Shearman Hall were descendant relatives of Frances Stewart and were seeking specific information when they listed this Smyth family during the course of their research - details from the Trent University Archives site/pages.
In Smyth(e) family history terms, it should be noted that during the 1920s there was also another member of the Traill family connected with the Smyth(e)s - an Argentina-based polo player, called Johnny Traill (1882-1958) who supplied polo ponies for Monica (Curtoys) Smythe (the Olympian rider, Pat Smythe's mother) to train in England - and that a branch of the Smyth family flourished in Argentina - that of a descendant Hutchinson Smyth family, of whom David Smyth is one. He has contributed a detailed Smyth family history to this site.
Frances Anne Stewart (1794-1872)
Frances was the daughter of the Reverend Francis Browne and Anna Maria Noble, of Dublin, in Ireland. In 1796, Reverend Browne died quite suddenly in front of his wife. The resulting shock left Frances' mother somewhat of an invalid until she herself died in 1809.
The young Frances was placed in the care of her great-uncle, Robert Waller, in Allanstown, where she was looked after by Harriet Beaufort, who managed the household. Harriet was a well educated young woman and under her instruction, Frances received a much more academic education than was usual for girls of that era. In the summer of 1816, she accompanied her aunt Susan on a visit to some distant friends, the Stewarts, who lived near Belfast and this is where she met her future husband, Thomas Alexander Stewart (1786 -1847). They were married on December 16th, 1816.
In 1822 the Stewart family emigrated from County Antrim to Upper Canada and the following year they began to farm on the Otonabee River. They became important early settlers of Douro Township and Thomas Stewart served as a JP and as a member of the Legislative Council. Through his public service he played a significant part in the early history of the community of Peterborough. They developed their home, "Auburn," on Lot 1, Concession 1, raising a family of 10 children to adulthood and assisting other settlers -- like the Traills (see below) -- who followed them to the area.
Thomas Stewart died in 1847 from typhoid fever and life in Douro Township was very isolated for Frances, but she managed well on her own, looking after her home and children. She died several years later on February 24, 1872 at Goodwood.
During her lifetime, Frances Stewart had written a series of detailed and highly descriptive letters concerning the life and early growth of the Peterborough region. She had also received many from other people. In 1845, her second daughter, Eleanor (1819-1907) - or "Ellen" - as her close friend Catharine Parr Traill called her - married a successful Otonabee farmer, Charles Dunlop (1817-1906). Ellen, with Catharine's assistance, edited Frances Stewart's letters. These were first published in 1889 under the title Our Forest Home and - quite apart from providing a wealth of Smyth(e) information, it gives an important first hand account of that pioneer community in the early 1800s. The involvement of Catharine Traill is significant for, without her, it is likely that this valuable resource would never have seen the light of day. Traill's early literary work gave her the specialist experience to bring this project to fruition.
Catharine Parr Traill
In 1832, Lieutenant Thomas Traill married Catharine Strickland (1802 - 1899) and emigrated to Canada. Born in London, Catharine was a member of the literary Strickland family which included several successful authors. For seven years the Traills struggled unsuccessfully to establish a profitable farm on bushland in Douro Township. Subsequently, they lived at Ashburnham and Rice Lake. Her husband died in 1862.
She was a writer of children's stories and a frequent contributor to the "Literary Garland". She was a keen observer of life and of her natural surroundings. Her work as a naturalist is evidenced by her books, "Canada Wild Flowers" (1868) and "Studies of Plant Life in Canada" (1885). Her most famous work was "The Backwoods of Canada" (First edition, London: C. Knight, 1836) consisting of letters to her mother portraying the hardships of a pioneering life - wherein lay her important experience when it came to helping Eleanor (Dunlop) Stewart edit and publish Our Forest Home. It is interesting to note that Eleanor Dunlop originally wished to remain anonymous!
Jean Shearman and Elizabeth Shearman Hall are the great great granddaughters of Frances Browne Stewart (1794-1872) and Thomas Alexander Stewart (1786-1847), who immigrated from Ireland to Douro Township in 1822. They are sisters of Rev. John Shearman. Their grandmother, Anna Maria Stewart Williams, was the granddaughter of Thomas Alexander Stewart and Frances Browne Stewart, and the daughter of William Stewart. Jean Shearman lives in Toronto, Ontario, and Elizabeth Shearman Hall lives in Owen Sound, Ontario. The sisters have dedicated much of their lives to transcribing the Frances Stewart letters and creating a biographic reference guide to them.
This collection was created by and in the custody of Jean Shearman and Elizabeth Shearman Hall before it was donated to Trent University Archives via Rev. John Shearman in 2001.