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Anne Langton: A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada

November 18, 2021

Anne Langton has a special place in the history of the Kawartha Lakes region, providing a unique view into backwoods life. Born into a wealthy English family, as a child she would have been expected to live a life near the pinnacle of British society, but much adversity was in store. Her family lost their fortune and the comfortable life that came with it, and they ultimately left Britain to avoid the embarrassment of their much humbler circumstances.

They found their way to the Backwoods of Upper Canada, settling on Sturgeon Lake. It was a very difficult place for a young lady to live, so many of the comforts that had taken for granted back home were entirely missing, and social isolation was the norm. There was an expectation that she would marry a wealthy young man, but Anne was hard of hearing and seemed to prefer art to domestic chores. We are fortunate that she chose this path less travelled, because no housewife would have had the time to make her artistic contributions.

Anne was well aware that being a Gentlewoman in Upper Canada was a contradiction in terms—that the genteel life was practically impossible amid the eternal labours of backwoods life. But Anne had a remarkable talent for capturing the experience of backwoods art through her art and letters and produced the most vivid depiction of life in Early Canada.

To learn more about Anne and her brother John, check out our Virtual Exhibition:

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