“The black as rich as velvet”

May 13 | 2021

For those of us living in a cold climate, every spring presents itself as a surprise and a revelation. This thrill of the unfamiliar inspired my debut book of literary non-fiction, What Species of Creatures. In its pages, 17th– and 18th-century newcomers to Canada marvel at wildlife they encounter for the very first time. “The black as rich as velvet” is how Elizabeth Simcoe, a watercolourist and naturalist born and raised in England, described this Montreal butterfly she rendered so exquisitely in June 1792.