Reviews of Hardscrabble: The High Cost of Free Land
“In this ground-breaking study (an appropriate allusion here!), Donna Williams tells the hitherto untold story of a Muskoka that is so different from the dominant image of luxury recreational properties and life-style. … Williams…turns her attention to the ‘hardscrabble’ experience of Muskoka’s farming economy and the ‘tough-love’ character of its agricultural pioneers. … Williams has taken a bottom-up approach with a focus on emigration policy and the experience of thousands of settlers. … Williams attempts here ‘to give them the voice and recognition they rarely have been afforded.’ She has succeeded!”
- Brian S. Osborne, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University, Ontario History, Spring 2015
“Taking us “back to the land,” Donna E. Williams’ Hardscrabble presents a scholarly, but certainly accessible, analysis of the actual meaning of the concept of ‘free land.’ … Williams marshals her evidence to demonstrate that the ‘noble intentions’ on British and Canadian sides were ultimately unrealistic, at significant cost to those who took up the promise of what was purportedly ‘free.’"
- Cynthia Comacchio, Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario History Society Bulletin, November 2013