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´╗┐Title: The Backwoods of Canada - Being Letters From The Wife of an Emigrant Officer, Illustrative of the Domestic Economy of British America
Author: Traill, Catharine Parr, 1802-1899
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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B A C K W O O D S   O F   C A N A D A












[Catharine Parr Traill]








LETTER I.--Departure from Greenock in the Brig _Laurel_.--Fitting up of
the Vessel.--Boy Passenger.--Sea Prospect.--Want of Occupation and
Amusement.--Captain's Goldfinch

LETTER II.--Arrival off Newfoundland.--Singing of the Captain's
Goldfinch previous to discovery of Land.--Gulf of St. Laurence.--Scenery
of the River St. Laurence.--Difficult navigation of the River.--French
Fisherman engaged as Pilot.--Isle of Bic.--Green Island.--Regular Pilot
engaged.--Scenery of Green Island.--Gros Isle.--Quarantine Regulations.
--Emigrants on Gros Isle.--Arrival off Quebec.--Prospect of the City and

LETTER III.--Departure from Quebec.--Towed by a Steam-vessel.--Fertility
of the Country.--Different Objects seen in sailing up the River.--Arrival
off Montreal.--The Rapids

LETTER IV.--Landing at Montreal.--Appearance of the Town.--Ravages of
the Cholera.--Charitable Institutions in Montreal.--Conversation at the
Hotel.--Writer attacked with the Cholera.--Departure from Montreal in a
Stage-coach.--Embark at Lachine on board a Steam-vessel. Mode of
travelling alternately in Steam-vessels and Stages.--Appearance of the
Country.--Manufactures.--Ovens at a distance from the Cottages.--Draw-
wells.--Arrival at Cornwall.--Accommodation at the Inn.--Departure from
Cornwall, and Arrival at Prescott.--Arrival at Brockville.--Ship-launch
there.--Voyage through Lake Ontario.--Arrival at Cobourg

LETTER V.--Journey from Cobourg to Amherst.--Difficulties to be
encountered on first settling in the Backwoods.--Appearance of the
Country.--Rice Lake.--Indian Habits.--Voyage up the Otanabee.--Log-
house, and its Inmates.--Passage boat.--Journey on foot to Peterborough

LETTER VI.--Peterborough.--Manners and Language of the Americans.--
Scotch Engineman.--Description of Peterborough and its Environs.--
Canadian Flowers.--Shanties.--Hardships suffered by first Settlers.--
Process of establishing a Farm

LETTER VII.--Journey from Peterborough.--Canadian Woods.--Waggon and
Team.--Arrival at a Log-house on the Banks of a Lake.--Settlement, and
first Occupations

LETTER VIII.--Inconveniences of first Settlement.--Difficulty of
obtaining Provisions and other necessaries.--Snow-storm and Hurricane.--
Indian Summer, and setting-in of Winter.--Process of clearing the Land

LETTER IX.--Loss of a yoke of Oxen.--Construction of a Log-house.--
Glaziers' and Carpenters' work.--Description of a new Log-house.--Wild
Fruits of the Country.--Walks on the Ice.--Situation of the House.--Lake
and surrounding Scenery

LETTER X.--Variations in the Temperature of the Weather.--Electrical
Phenomenon.--Canadian Winter.--Country deficient in Poetical
Associations.--Sugar-making.--Fishing season.--Mode of Fishing.--Duck-
shooting.--Family of Indians.--_Papouses_ and their Cradle-cases.--
Indian Manufactures.--Frogs

LETTER XI.--Emigrants suitable for Canada.--Qualities requisite to
ensure Success.--Investment of Capital.--Useful Articles to be brought
out.--Qualifications and Occupations of a Settler's Family.--Deficiency
of Patience and Energy in some Females.--Management of the Dairy.--
Cheese.--Indian Corn, and its Cultivation.--Potatoes.--Rates of Wages

LETTER XII.--"A Logging Bee."--Burning of the Log-heaps.--Crops for the
Season.--Farming Stock.--Comparative Value of Wheat and Labour.--Choice
of Land, and relative Advantages.--Clearing Land.--Hurricane in the
Woods.--Variable Weather.--Insects

LETTER XIII.--Health enjoyed in the rigour of Winter.--Inconvenience
suffered from the brightness of the Snow.--Sleighing.--Indian
Orthography.--Visit to an Indian Encampment.--Story of an Indian.--An
Indian Hunchback.--Canadian Ornithology

LETTER XIV.--Utility of Botanical Knowledge.--The Fire-Weed.--
Sarsaparilla Plants.--Magnificent Water Lily.--Rice Beds.--Indian
Strawberry.--Scarlet Columbine.--Ferns.--Grasses

LETTER XV.--Recapitulation of various Topics.--Progress of Settlement.--
Canada, the Land of Hope.--Visit to the Family of a Naval Officer.--
Squirrels.--Visit to, and Story of, an Emigrant Clergyman.--His early
Difficulties.--The Temper, Disposition, and Habits of Emigrants
essential Ingredients in Failure or Success

LETTER XVI.--Indian Hunters.--Sail in a Canoe.--Want of Libraries in the
Backwoods.--New Village.--Progress of Improvement.--Fire flies

LETTER XVII.--Ague.--Illness of the Family.--Probable Cause.--Root-
house.--Setting-in of Winter.--Insect termed a "Sawyer."--Temporary

LETTER XVIII.--Busy Spring.--Increase of Society and Comfort.--
Recollections of Home.--Aurora Borealis



1. Falls of Montmorenci
2. Rice Grounds
3. Sleigh-driving
4. Silver Pine
5. Spruce
6. Log-house
7. Log-village.--Arrival of Stage-coach
8. Road through a Pine Forest
9. Newly-cleared Land
10. Chart showing the Interior Navigation of the Districts of Newcastle
and Upper Canada
11. Papouses
12. Green Frogs
13. Bull-frog
14. The Prairie
15. Red-bird
16. Blue-bird
17. Snow-Bunting
18. Baltimore Oriole defending her Nest against the Black Snake
19. Red Squirrels
20. Flying Squirrel


AMONG the numerous works on Canada that have been published within the
last ten years, with emigration for their leading theme, there are few,
if any, that give information regarding the domestic economy of a
settler's life, sufficiently minute to prove a faithful guide to the
person on whose responsibility the whole comfort of a family depends--
the mistress, whose department it is "to haud the house in order."

Dr. Dunlop, it is true, has published a witty and spirited pamphlet,
"The Backwoodsman," but it does not enter into the routine of feminine
duties and employment, in a state of emigration. Indeed, a woman's pen
alone can describe half that is requisite to be told of the internal
management of a domicile in the backwoods, in order to enable the
outcoming female emigrant to form a proper judgment of the trials and
arduous duties she has to encounter.

"Forewarned, forearmed," is a maxim of our forefathers, containing much
matter in its pithy brevity; and, following its spirit, the writer of
the following pages has endeavoured to afford every possible information
to the wives and daughters of emigrants of the higher class who
contemplate seeking a home amid our Canadian wilds. [Illustration:
Peter, the Chief] Truth has been conscientiously her object in the work,
for it were cruel to write in flattering terms calculated to deceive
emigrants into the belief that the land to which they are transferring
their families, their capital, and their hopes, a land flowing with milk
and honey, where comforts and affluence may be obtained with little
exertion. She prefers honestly representing facts in their real and true
light, that the female part of the emigrant's family may be enabled to
look them firmly in the face; to find a remedy in female ingenuity and
expediency for some difficulties; and, by being properly prepared,
encounter the rest with that high-spirited cheerfulness of which well-
educated females often give extraordinary proofs. She likewise wishes to
teach them to discard every thing exclusively pertaining to the
artificial refinement of fashionable life in England; and to point out
that, by devoting the money consumed in these incumbrances to articles
of real use, which cannot be readily obtained in Canada, they may enjoy
the pleasure of superintending a pleasant, well-ordered home. She is
desirous of giving them the advantage of her three years' experience,
that they may properly apply every part of their time, and learn to
consider that every pound or pound's worth belonging to any member of an
out-coming emigrant's family, ought to be sacredly considered as
_capital_, which must make proper returns either as the means of
bringing increase in the shape of income, or, what is still better, in
healthful domestic comfort.

These exhalations in behalf of utility in preference to artificial
personal refinement, are not so needless as the English public may
consider. The emigrants to British America are no longer of the rank of
life that formerly left the shores of the British Isles. It is not only
the poor husbandmen and artisans, that move in vast bodies to the west,
but it is the enterprising English capitalist, and the once affluent
landholder, alarmed at the difficulties of establishing numerous
families in independence, in a country where every profession is
overstocked, that join the bands that Great Britain is pouring forth
into these colonies! Of what vital importance is it that the female
members of these most valuable colonists should obtain proper
information regarding the important duties they are undertaking; that
they should learn beforehand to brace their minds to the task, and thus
avoid the repinings and discontent that is apt to follow unfounded
expectations and fallacious hopes!

It is a fact not universally known to the public, that British officers
and their families are usually denizens of the backwoods; and as great
numbers of unattached officers of every rank have accepted grants of
land in Canada, they are the pioneers of civilization in the wilderness,
and their families, often of delicate nurture and honourable descent,
are at once plunged into all the hardships attendant on the rough life
of a bush-settler. The laws that regulate the grants of lands, which
enforce a certain time of residence, and certain settlement duties to be
performed, allow no claims to absentees when once the land is drawn.
These laws wisely force a superiorly-educated man with resources of both
property and intellect, to devote all his energies to a certain spot of
uncleared land. It may easily be supposed that no persons would
encounter these hardships who have not a young family to establish in
the healthful ways of independence. This family renders the residence of
such a head still more valuable to the colony; and the half-pay officer,
by thus leading the advanced guard of civilization, and bringing into
these rough districts gentle and well-educated females, who soften and
improve all around them by _mental_ refinements, is serving his country
as much by founding peaceful villages and pleasant homesteads in the
trackless wilds, as ever he did by personal courage, or military
stratagem, in times of war.

It will be seen, in the course of this work, that the writer is as
earnest in recommending ladies who belong to the higher class of
settlers to cultivate all the mental resources of a superior education,
as she is to induce them to discard all irrational and artificial wants
and mere useless pursuits. She would willingly direct their attention to
the natural history and botany of this new country, in which they will
find a never-failing source of amusement and instruction, at once
enlightening and elevating the mind, and serving to fill up the void
left by the absence of those lighter feminine accomplishments, the
practice of which are necessarily superseded by imperative domestic
duties. To the person who is capable of looking abroad into the beauties
of nature, and adoring the Creator through his glorious works, are
opened stores of unmixed pleasure, which will not permit her to be dull
or unhappy in the loneliest part of our Western Wilderness. The writer
of these pages speaks from experience, and would be pleased to find that
the simple sources from which she has herself drawn pleasure, have
cheered the solitude of future female sojourners in the backwoods of

As a general remark to all sorts and conditions of settlers, she would
observe, that the struggle up the hill of Independence is often a severe
one, and it ought not to be made alone. It must be aided and encouraged
by the example and assistance of an active and cheerful partner.
Children should be taught to appreciate the devoted love that has
induced their parents to overcome the natural reluctance felt by all
persons to quit for ever the land of their forefathers, the scenes of
their earliest and happiest days, and to become aliens and wanderers in
a distant country,--to form new ties and new friends, and begin, as it
were, life's toilsome march anew, that their children may be placed in a
situation in which, by industry and activity, the substantial comforts
of life may be permanently obtained, and a landed property handed down
to them, and their children after them.

Young men soon become reconciled to this country, which offers to them
that chief attraction to youth,--great personal liberty. Their
employments are of a cheerful and healthy nature; and their amusements,
such as hunting, shooting, fishing, and boating, are peculiarly
fascinating. But in none of these can their sisters share. The hardships
and difficulties of the settler's life, therefore, are felt peculiarly
by the female part of the family. It is with a view of ameliorating
these privations that the following pages have been written, to show how
some difficulties may be best borne and others avoided. The simple
truth, founded entirely on personal knowledge of the facts related, is
the basis of the work; to have had recourse to fiction might have
rendered it more acceptable to many readers, but would have made it less
useful to that class for whom it is especially intended. For those who,
without intending to share in the privations and dangers of an
emigrant's life, have a rational curiosity to become acquainted with
scenes and manners so different from those of a long-civilized county,
it is hoped that this little work will afford some amusement, and
inculcate some lessons not devoid of moral instruction.


Departure from Greenock in the Brig. _Laurel_.--Fitting-up of the
Vessel.--Boy Passenger.--Sea Prospect.--Want of Occupation and
Amusement.--Captain's Goldfinch.

Brig. _Laurel_, July 18, 1832

I RECEIVED your last kind letter, my dearest mother, only a few hours
before we set sail from Greenock. As you express a wish that I should
give you a minute detail of our voyage, I shall take up my subject from
the time of our embarkation, and write as inclination prompts me.
Instead of having reason to complain of short letters, you will, I fear,
find mine only too prolix.

After many delays and disappointments, we succeeded at last in obtaining
a passage in a fast-sailing brig, the _Laurel_, of Greenock; and
favourable winds are now rapidly carrying us across the Atlantic.

The _Laurel_ is not a regular passenger-ship, which I consider an
advantage, for what we lose in amusement and variety we assuredly gain
in comfort. The cabin is neatly fitted up, and I enjoy the luxury (for
such it is, compared with the narrow berths of the state cabin) of a
handsome sofa, with crimson draperies, in the great cabin. The state
cabin is also ours. We paid fifteen pounds each for our passage to
Montreal. This was high, but it includes every expense; and, in fact, we
had no choice. The only vessel in the river bound for Canada, was a
passenger-ship, literally swarming with emigrants, chiefly of the lower
class of Highlanders.

The only passengers besides ourselves in the _Laurel_ are the captain's
nephew, a pretty yellow-haired lad, about fifteen years of age, who
works his passage out, and a young gentleman who is going out as clerk
in a merchant's house in Quebec. He seems too much wrapped up in his own
affairs to be very communicative to others; he walks much, talks little,
and reads less, but often amuses himself by singing as he paces the
deck, "Home, sweet home," and that delightful song by Camoens, "Isle of
beauty." It is a sweet song, and I can easily imagine the charm it has
for a home-sick heart.

I was much pleased with the scenery of the Clyde; the day we set sail
was a lovely one, and I remained on deck till nightfall. The morning
light found our vessel dashing gallantly along, with a favourable
breeze, through the north channel; that day we saw the last of the
Hebrides, and before night lost sight of the north coast of Ireland. A
wide expanse of water and sky is now our only prospect, unvaried by any
object save the distant and scarcely to be traced outline of some vessel
just seen at the verge of the horizon, a speck in the immensity of
space, or sometimes a few sea-fowl. I love to watch these wanderers of
the ocean, as they rise and fal with the rocking billows, or flit about
our vessel; and often I wonder whence they came, to what distant shore
they are bound, and if they make the rude wave their home and resting-
place during the long day and dark night; and then I recall to mind the
words of the American poet, Bryant,--

   "He who from zone to zone
  Guides through the boundless air their certain flight,
    In the long way that I must tread alone
  Wilt guide my steps aright."

Though we have been little more than a week on board, I am getting weary
of the voyage. I can only compare the monotony of it to being weather-
bound in some country inn. I have already made myself acquainted with
all the books worth reading in the ship's library; unfortunately, it is
chiefly made up with old novels and musty romances.

When the weather is fine I sit on a bench on the deck, wrapped in my
cloak, and sew, or pace the deck with my husband, and talk over plans
for the future, which in all probability will never be realized. I
really do pity men who are not actively employed: women have always
their needle as a resource against the overwhelming weariness of an idle
life; but where a man is confined to a small space, such as the deck and
cabin of a trading vessel, with nothing to see, nothing to hear, nothing
to do, and nothing to read, he is really a very pitiable creature.

There is one passenger on board that seems perfectly happy, if one may
judge from the liveliness of the songs with which he greets us whenever
we approach his cage. It is "Harry," the captain's goldfinch--"the
_captain's mate_," as the sailors term him. This pretty creature has
made no fewer than twelve voyages in the _Laurel_. "It is all one to him
whether his cage is at sea or on land, he is still at home," said the
captain, regarding his little favourite with an air of great affection,
and evidently gratified by the attention I bestowed on his bird.

I have already formed a friendship with the little captive. He never
fails to greet my approach with one of his sweetest songs, and will take
from my fingers a bit of biscuit, which he holds in his claws till he
has thanked me with a few of his clearest notes. This mark of
acknowledgment is termed by the steward, "saying-grace."

If the wind still continues to favour us, the captain tells us we shall
be on the banks of Newfoundland in another week. Farewell for the


Arrival off Newfoundland.--Singing of the Captain's Goldfinch previous
to the discovery of Land.--Gulf of St. Laurence.--Scenery of the River
St. Laurence.--Difficult navigation of the River.--French Fisherman
engaged as a Pilot.--Isle of Bic.--Green Island.--Gros Isle.--Quarantine
Regulations.--Emigrants on Gros Isle.--Arrival off Quebec.--Prospect of
the City and Environs.

Brig _Laurel_, River St. Laurence.
August 6, 1832.

I LEFT off writing, my dear mother, from this simple cause;--I had
nothing to say. One day was but the echo, as it were, of the one that
preceded it; so that a page copied from the mate's log would have proved
as amusing, and to the full as instructive, as my journal provided I had
kept one during the last fortnight.

So barren of events has that time been that the sight of a party of
bottle-nosed whales, two or three seals, and a porpoise, possibly on
their way to a dinner or tea party at the North Pole, was considered an
occurrence of great importance. Every glass was in requisition as soon
as they made their appearance, and the marine monsters were well nigh
stared out of countenance.

We came within sight of the shores of Newfoundland on the 5th of August,
just one month from the day we took our last look of the British isles.
Yet though the coast was brown, and rugged, and desolate, I hailed its
appearance with rapture. Never did any thing seem so refreshing and
delicious to me as the land breeze that came to us, as I thought,
bearing health and gladness on its wings.

I had noticed with some curiosity the restless activity of the captain's
bird some hours previous to "land" being proclaimed from the look-out
station. He sang continually, and his note was longer, clearer, and more
thrilling than heretofore; the little creature, the captain assured me,
was conscious of the difference in the air as we approached the land. "I
trust almost as much to my bird as to my glass," he said, "and have
never yet been deceived."

Our progress was somewhat tedious after we entered the gulf. Ninety
miles across is the entrance of this majestic river; it seems an ocean
in itself. Half our time is spent poring over the great chart in the
cabin, which is constantly being rolled and unrolled by my husband to
gratify my desire of learning the names of the distant shores and
islands which we pass.

We are without a pilot as yet, and the captain being a cautious seaman
is unwilling to risk the vessel on this dangerous navigation; so that we
proceed but slowly on our voyage.

August 7.--We were visited this morning by a beautiful little bird, not
much larger than our gold-crested wren. I hailed it as a bird of good
omen--a little messenger sent to bid us welcome to the New World, and I
felt almost a childish joy at the sight of our little visitor. There are
happy moments in our lives when we draw the greatest pleasure from the
most trifling sources, as children are pleased with the most simple toy.

From the hour we entered the gulf a perceptible change had taken place
in all on board. The captain, a man of grave, quiet manners, grew quite
talkative. My husband was more than usually animated, and even the
thoughtful young Scotchman became positively an entertaining person. The
crew displayed the most lively zeal in the performance of their duty,
and the goldfinch sung cheerily from dawn till sunset. As for me Hope
was busy in my heart, chasing from it all feelings of doubt or regret
that might sadden the present or cloud the future.

I am now able to trace distinctly the outline of the coast on the
southern side of the river. Sometimes the high lands are suddenly
enveloped in dense clouds of mist, which are in constant motion, rolling
along in shadowy billows, now tinted with rosy light, now white and
fleecy, or bright as silver, as they catch the sunbeams. So rapid are
the changes that take place in the fog-bank, that perhaps the next time
I raise my eyes I behold the scene changed as if by magic. The misty
curtain is slowly drawn up, as if by invisible hands, and the wild,
wooded mountains partially revealed, with their bold rocky shores and
sweeping bays. At other times the vapoury volume dividing, moves along
the valleys and deep ravines, like lofty pillars of smoke, or hangs in
snowy draperies among the dark forest pines.

I am never weary of watching these fantastic clouds; they recall to me
the pleasant time I spent in the Highlands, among the cloud-capped hills
of the north.

As yet, the air is cold, and we experience frequent squalls of wind and
hail, with occasional peals of thunder; then again all is serene and
bright, and the air is filled with fragrance, and flies, and bees, and
birds come flitting past us from the shore.

August 8.--Though I cannot but dwell with feelings of wonder and
admiration on the majesty and power of this mighty river, I begin to
grow weary of its immensity, and long for a nearer view of the shore;
but at present we see nothing more than long lines of pine-clad hills,
with here and there a white speck, which they tell me are settlements
and villages to the south; while huge mountains divested of verdure
bound our view on the north side the river. My admiration of mountainous
scenery makes me dwell with more interest on this side the river, and I
watch the progress of cultivation along these rugged and inhospitable
regions with positive pleasure.

During the last two days we have been anxiously looking out for a pilot
to take us up to Quebec. Various signals have been fired, but hitherto
without success; no pilot has condescended to visit us, so we are
somewhat in the condition of a stage without a coachman, with only some
inexperienced hand to hold the reins. I already perceive some
manifestations of impatience appearing among us, but no one blames the
captain, who is very anxious about the matter; as the river is full of
rocks and shoals, and presents many difficulties to a person not
intimately acquainted with the navigation. Besides, he is answerable for
the safety of the ship to the underwriters, in case he neglects to take
a pilot on board.

* * * * * * *

While writing above I was roused by a bustle on deck, and going up to
learn the cause was informed that a boat with the long looked-for pilot
had put off from the shore; but, after all the fuss and bustle, it
proved only a French fisherman, with a poor ragged lad, his assistant.
The captain with very little difficulty persuaded Monsieur Paul Breton
to pilot us as far as Green Island, a distance of some hundred miles
higher up the river, where he assured us we should meet with a regular
pilot, if not before.

I have some little difficulty in understanding Monsieur Paul, as he
speaks a peculiar dialect; but he seems good-natured and obliging
enough. He tells us the corn is yet green, hardly in ear, and the summer
fruits not yet ripe, but he says, that at Quebec we shall find apples
and fruit in plenty.

As we advance higher up the river the country on both sides begins to
assume a more genial aspect. Patches of verdure, with white cottages,
are seen on the shores and scattered along the sides of the mountains;
while here and there a village church rears its simple spire,
distinguished above the surroundings buildings by its glittering vane
and bright roof of tin. The southern shores are more populous but less
picturesque than those of the north, but there is enough on either side
to delight the eye.

This morning we anchored of the Isle of Bic, a pretty low island,
covered with trees and looking very pleasant. I felt a longing desire to
set my foot on Canadian ground, and must own I was a little disappointed
when the captain advised me to remain on board, and not attempt to make
one of the party that were preparing to go on shore: my husband seconded
the captain's wish, so I contented myself with leaning over the ship's
side and feasting my eyes on the rich masses of foliage as they waved to
and fro with the slight breeze that agitated them. I had soon reason to
be thankful that I had not followed my own wayward will, for the
afternoon proved foggy, and on the return of the boat I learned that the
ground was swampy just where the party landed, and they sunk over their
ankles in water. They reported the island to be covered knee-deep with a
most luxuriant growth of red clover, tall trees, low shrubs, and an
abundance of wild flowers.

That I might not regret not accompanying him, my husband brought me a
delightful bouquet, which he had selected for me. Among the flowers were
flagrant red roses, resembling those we call Scotch burnet-leaved, with
smooth shining leaves and few if any thorns; the blue flower called
Pulmonaria or Lungwort, which I gathered in the Highlands, a sweet pea,
with red blossoms and wreaths of lovely pale green foliage; a white
orchis, the smell of which was quite delicious. Besides these were
several small white and yellow flowers, with which I was totally
unacquainted. The steward furnished me with a china jar and fresh water,
so that I shall have the pleasure of a nosegay during the rest of the
voyage. The sailors had not forgotten a green bough or two to adorn the
ship, and the bird-cage was soon as bowery as leaves could make it.

Though the weather is now very fine, we make but slow progress; the
provoking wind seems determined to blow from every quarter but the
right. We float up with the flood tide, and when the tide fails cast
anchor, and wait with the best grace we can till it is time to weigh
anchor again. I amuse myself with examining the villages and settlements
through the captain's glass, or watching for the appearance of the white
porpoises tumbling among the waves. These creatures are of a milky
whiteness, and have nothing of the disgusting look of the black ones.
Sometimes a seal pops its droll head up close beside our vessel, looking
very much like Sinbad's little old man of the sea.

It is fortunate for me that my love of natural history enables me to
draw amusement from objects that are deemed by many unworthy of
attention. To me they present an inexhaustible fund of interest. The
simplest weed that grows in my path, or the fly that flutters about me,
are subjects for reflection, admiration and delight.

We are now within sight of Green Island. It is the largest, and I
believe one of the most populous we have passed. Every minute now seems
to increase the beauty of the passage. Far as the eye can reach you see
the shore thronged with villages and farms in one continuous line. On
the southern side all are gay and glittering with the tin roofs on the
most important buildings; the rest are shingles, whitewashed. This I do
not like so well as the plain shingled roofs; the whiteness of the roofs
of the cottages and homesteads have a glaring effect, and we look in
vain for that relief to the eye that is produced by the thatched or
slated roofs. The shingles in their natural state soon acquire the
appearance of slates, and can hardly be distinguished from them. What
would you say to a rose-coloured house, with a roof of the same gaudy
hue, the front of the gay edifice being garnished with grass green
shutters, doors, and verandah. No doubt the interior is furnished with
corresponding taste. There is generally one or more of these _smart_
buildings in a Canadian village, standing forth with ostentatious
splendour above its more modest brethren.

August 11.--Just below Green Island we took on board a real pilot, who,
by the way, I do not like half so well as Monsieur Paul. He is a little
bit pragmatical, and seems evidently proud of his superior knowledge of
the river. The good-natured fisherman relinquished his post with a very
good grace, and seems already excellent friends with his more able
rival. For my part I was very sorry when the new pilot came on board;
the first thing he did was to hand us over a pamphlet, containing
regulations from the Board of Health at Quebec respecting the cholera,
which is raging, he tells us, like a fearful plague both at that place
and Montreal.

These regulations positively forbid the captain and the pilot to allow
any person, whether of the crew or passengers, to quit the vessel until
they shall have passed examination at the quarantine ground, under the
risk of incurring a severe penalty.

This was very annoying; as the captain, that very morning, had proposed
taking us on shore at a lovely spot called Crane Island, to spend the
afternoon, while we waited for the return of the tide, at the house of a
Scotch gentleman, the owner of the prettiest settlement I had yet seen,
the buildings and grounds being laid out with great taste.

The situation of this island is of itself very beautiful. Around it are
the waters of the St. Laurence, bearing on its mighty current the
commerce of several nations: in the foreground are the populous and
lively settlements of the southern shores, while behind and far, far
above it rise the lofty range of mountains to the north, now studded
with rural villages, pleasant farms, and cultivated fields. The island
itself showed us smooth lawns and meadows of emerald verdure, with
orchards and corn-fields sloping down to the water's edge. After a
confinement of nearly five weeks on board, you may easily suppose with
what satisfaction we contemplated the prospect of spending a few hours
on this inviting spot.

We expect to reach the quarantine ground (Gros Isle) this evening, where
the pilot says we shall be detained three days. Though we are all in
good health, yet, having sailed from an infected port, we shall be
detained on the quarantine ground, but not allowed to land.

August 12.--We reached Gros Isle yesterday evening. It is a beautiful
rocky island, covered with groves of beech, birch, ash, and fir-trees.
There are several vessels lying at anchor close to the shore; one bears
the melancholy symbol of disease, the yellow flag; she is a passenger-
ship, and has the smallpox and measles among her crew. When any
infectious complaint appears on board, the yellow flag is hoisted, and
the invalids conveyed to the cholera-hospital or wooden building, that
has been erected on a rising bank above the shore. It is surrounded with
palisadoes and a guard of soldiers.

There is also a temporary fort at some distance from the hospital,
containing a garrison of soldiers, who are there to enforce the
quarantine rules. These rules are considered as very defective, and in
some respects quite absurd, and are productive of many severe evils to
the unfortunate emigrants.

When the passengers and crew of a vessel do not exceed a certain number,
they are not allowed to land under a penalty, both to the captain and
the offender; but if, on the contrary, they should exceed the stated
number, ill or well, passengers and crew must all turn out and go on
shore, taking with them their bedding and clothes, which are all spread
out on the shore, to be washed, aired, and fumigated, giving the healthy
every chance of taking the infection from the invalids. The sheds and
buildings put up for the accommodation of those who are obliged to
submit to the quarantine laws, are it the same area as the hospital.

[* It is to be hoped that some steps will be taken by Government to
remedy these obnoxious laws which have repeatedly entailed those very
evils on the unhappy emigrants that the Board of Health wish to avert
from the colony at large.

Many valuable lives have been wantonly sacrificed by placing the healthy
in the immediate vicinity of infection, besides subjecting them to many
other sufferings, expenses, and inconvenience, which the poor exile
might well be spared.

If there must be quarantine laws--and I suppose the evil is a necessary
one--surely every care ought to be taken to render them as little
hurtful to the emigrant as possible.]

Nothing can exceed the longing desire I feel to be allowed to land and
explore this picturesque island; the weather is so fine, and the waving
groves of green, the little rocky bays and inlets of the island, appear
so tempting; but to all my entreaties the visiting surgeon who came on
board returned a decided negative.

A few hours after his visit, however, an Indian basket, containing
strawberries and raspberries, with a large bunch of wild flowers, was
sent on board for me, with the surgeon's compliments.

I amuse myself with making little sketches of the fort and the
surrounding scenery, or watching the groups of emigrants on shore. We
have already seen the landing of the passengers of three emigrant ships.
You may imagine yourself looking on a fair or crowded market, clothes
waving in the wind or spread out on the earth, chests, bundles, baskets,
men, women, and children, asleep or basking in the sun, some in motion
busied with their goods, the women employed in washing or cooking in the
open air, beside the wood fires on the beach; while parties of children
are pursuing each other in wanton glee rejoicing in their newly-acquired
liberty. Mixed with these you see the stately form and gay trappings of
the sentinels, while the thin blue smoke of the wood fires, rising above
the trees, heightens the picture and gives it an additional effect. On
my husband remarking the picturesque appearance of scene before us to
one of the officers from the fort who had come on board, he smiled
sadly, and replied, "Believe me, in this instance, as in many others,
'tis distance lends enchantment to the view." Could you take a nearer
survey of some of those very picturesque groups which you admire, I
think you would turn away from them with heart sickness; you would there
behold every variety of disease, vice, poverty, filth, and famine--human
misery in its most disgusting and saddening form. Such pictures as
Hogarth's pencil only could have pourtrayed, or Crabbe's pen described.

August 14.--We are once more under weigh, and floating up the river with
the tide. Gros Isle is just five and twenty miles below Quebec, a
favourable breeze would carry us up in a few hours; as it is we can only
make a little way by tacking from side to side when we lose the tide. I
rather enjoy this way of proceeding, as it gives one a close view of
both sides the river, which narrows considerably as we approach nearer
towards Quebec. To-morrow, if no accident happens, we shall be anchored
in front of a place rendered interesting both by its historical
associations and its own native beauty of situation. Till to-morrow,
then, adieu.

I was reckoning much on seeing the falls of Montmorenci, which are
within sight of the river; but the sun set, and the stars rose
brilliantly before we approached within sound of the cataract; and
though I strained my eyes till they were weary of gazing on the dim
shadowy scene around me, I could distinguish nothing beyond the dark
masses of rock that forms the channel through which the waters of the
Montmorenci rush into the St. Laurence.

At ten last night, August the 15th, the lights of the city of Quebec
were seen gleaming through the distance like a coronet of stars above
the waters. At half-past ten we dropped anchor opposite the fort, and I
fell asleep dreaming of the various scenes through which I had passed.
Again I was destined to be disappointed in my expectations of going on
shore. The visiting surgeon advised my husband and me by no means to
land, as the mortality that still raged in the town made it very
hazardous. He gave a melancholy description of the place. "Desolation
and woe and great mourning--Rachel weeping for her children because they
are not," are words that may well be applied to this city of the

[Illustration - Falls of Montmorenci]

Nothing can be more imposing than the situation of Quebec, built on the
sides and summit of a magnificent rock, on the highest point of which
(Cape Diamond) stands the fortress overlooking the river, and commanding
a most superb view of the surrounding scenes. I did, indeed, regret the
loss of this noble prospect, the equal of which I suppose I shall never
see. It would have been something to have thought on and recalled in
after years, when buried in the solitude of the Canadian woods.

The opposite heights, being the Point Levi side, are highly picturesque,
though less imposing than the rock on which the town stands. The bank is
rocky, precipitous, and clothed with trees that sweep down to the
water's edge, excepting where they are cleared away to give place to
white cottages, gardens, and hanging orchards. But, in my opinion, much
less is done with this romantic situation than might be effected if good
taste were exercised in the buildings, and on the disposal of the
ground. How lovely would such a spot be rendered in England or Scotland.
Nature here has done all, and man but little, excepting sticking up some
ugly wooden cottages, as mean as they are tasteless. It is, however,
very possible there may be pretty villas and houses higher up, that are
concealed from the eye by the intervening groves.

The river is considered to be just a mile across from Point Levi to the
landing-stairs below the custom-house in Quebec; and it was a source of
amusement to me to watch the horse ferry-boats that ply between the two
shores. The captain told me there were not less than twelve of these
comical-looking machines. They each have their regular hours, so that
you see a constant succession going or returning. They carry a strange
assortment of passengers; well and ill-dressed; old and young; rich and
poor; cows, sheep, horses, pigs, dogs, fowls, market-baskets,
vegetables, fruit, hay, corn, anything and everything you will see by

The boat is flat, railed round, with a wicker at each end to admit the
live and dead stock that go or are taken on board; the centre of the
boat (if such it can be called) is occupied by four lean, ill-favoured
hacks, who walk round and round, as if in a threshing machine, and work
the paddles at each side. There is a sort of pen for the cattle.

I am told there is a monument erecting in honour of Wolfe, in the
governor's garden, looking towards the St. Laurence, and to be seen from
Point Levi: the inscription has not yet been decided upon*.
[* Since the period in which the author visited Quebec, Wolfe's monument
has been completed. Lord Dalhousie, with equal good feeling and good
taste, has united the names of the rival heroes Wolfe and Montcalm in
the dedication of the pillar--a liberality of feeling that cannot but
prove gratifying to the Canadian French, while it robs the British
warrior of none of his glory.

The monument was designed by Major Young of the 97th Regiment. To the
top of the surbase is fourteen feet from the ground; on this rests a
sarcophagus, seven feet three inches high, from which rises an obelisk
forty-two feet eight inches in height, and the apex is two feet one
inch. The dimensions of the obelisk at the base are six feet by four
feet eight inches. A prize medal was adjudged to J.C. Fisher, LL.D. for
the following inscription on the sarcophagus:--

Mortem virtus communem
Famam Historia
Monumentum Posteritas

On the surbase is an inscription from the pen of Dr. Mills, stating the
fact of the erection of the monument at the expense of Lord Dalhousie,
Governor of Lower Canada, to commemorate the death of Wolfe and
Montcalm, Sept. 13 and 14, 1759. Wolfe fell on the field; and Montcalm,
who was wounded by the single gun in the possession of the English, died
on the next day after the battle.]

The captain has just returned from the town. He very kindly brought on
board a basket of ripe apples for me, besides fresh meat, vegetables,
bread, butter, and milk. The deck is all bustle with custom-house
officers, and men unloading a part of the ship's freight, which consists
chiefly of rum, brandy, sugar, and coals, for ballast. We are to leave
Quebec by five o'clock this evening. The _British America_, a superb
steam-vessel of three decks, takes us in tow as far as Montreal. I must
now say farewell.


Departure from Quebec.--Towed by a Steam-vessel.--Fertility of the
Country.--Different Objects seen in sailing up the River.--Arrival off
Montreal.--The Rapids.

Brig _Laurel_, St. Laurence, below Montreal,
August 17, 1832

IT was after sunset, and a glorious evening, when we left Quebec, which
we did in company with a fine steam-vessel, whose decks and gallery were
crowded with passengers of all descriptions. A brave sight she was to
look upon; ploughing the bright waters which foamed and sung beneath her
paddles; while our brig, with her white sails, followed like a butterfly
in her wake. The heavens were glowing with the richest tints of rose and
saffron, which were reflected below on the bosom of the river; and then
came forth the stars, in the soft blue ether, more brilliant than ever I
saw them at home, and this, I suppose, I may attribute to the superior
purity of the atmosphere. My husband said this evening resembled the
sunsets of Italy.

Our voyage has proved a very pleasant one; the weather moderately warm,
and the air quite clear. We have within the last few days emerged from a
cold, damp atmosphere, such as we often experience in Britain in the
spring, to a delightful summer, moderated by light breezes from the

The further we advance up the country the more fertile it appears. The
harvest is ripening under a more genial climate than that below Quebec.
We see fields of Indian corn in full flower: it is a stately-looking
crop, with its beautiful feathery top tinted with a rich purple hue,
below which tufts of pale green silk are waving in the breeze. When
fully ripe they tell me it is beautiful to see the golden grain bursting
from its silvery sheath; but that it is a crop liable to injury from
frost, and has many enemies, such as bears, racoons, squirrels, mice,
fowls, &c.

We saw several fields of tobacco along the banks of the river, which
looked healthy and flourishing. I believe tobacco is cultivated to some
extent in both provinces; but the Canadian tobacco is not held in such
high esteem as that of Virginia.

There is a flourishing and very pretty town situated at the junction of
the Richelieu river with the St. Laurence, formerly called Sorel, now
called Fort William Henry. The situation is excellent. There are several
churches, a military fort, with mills, and other public buildings, with
some fine stone houses. The land, however, in the immediate vicinity of
the town seems very light and sandy.

I was anxious to obtain a near view of a log-house or a shanty, and was
somewhat disappointed in the few buildings of this kind that I saw along
the banks of the river. It was not the rudeness of the material so much
as the barn-like form of the buildings of this kind, and the little
attention that paid to the picturesque, that displeased me. In Britain
even the peasant has taste enough to plant a few roses or honeysuckles
about his door or his casement, and there is the little bit of garden
enclosed and neatly kept; but here no such attempt is made to ornament
the cottages. We saw no smiling orchard or grove to conceal the bare log
walls; and as to the little farm-houses, they are uglier still, and look
so pert and ungraceful stuck upon the bank close to the water's edge.

Further back a different style of building and cultivation appears. The
farms and frame-houses are really handsome places, and in good taste,
with clumps of trees here and there to break the monotony of the
clearing. The land is nearly one unbroken level plain, apparently
fertile and well farmed, but too flat for fine scenery. The country
between Quebec and Montreal has all the appearance of having been under
a long state of cultivation, especially on the right bank of the river.
Still there is a great portion of forest standing which it will take
years of labour to remove.

We passed some little grassy islands on which there were many herds of
cattle feeding. I was puzzling myself to know how they got there, when
the captain told me it was usual for farmers to convey their stock to
these island pastures in flat-bottomed boats, or to swim them, if the
place was fordable, and leave them to graze as long as the food
continued good. If cows are put on an island within a reasonable
distance of the farm, some person goes daily in a canoe to milk them.
While he was telling me this, a log-canoe with a boy and a stout lass
with tin pails, paddled across from the bank of the river, and proceeded
to call together their herd.

We noticed some very pleasant rural villages to the right as we
advanced, but our pilot was stupid, and could not, or would not tell
their names. It was Sunday morning, and we could just hear the quick
tinkling of the church bells, and distinguish long lines of caleches,
light waggons, with equestrians and pedestrians hastening along the
avenue of trees that led to the churchyard; besides these, were boats
and canoes crossing the river, bound to the same peaceful haven.

In a part of the St. Laurence, where the channel is rendered difficult
by shoals and sand-banks, there occur little lighthouses, looking
somewhat like miniature watermills, on wooden posts, raised above the
flat banks on which they are built. These droll little huts were
inhabited, and we noticed a merry party, in their holiday clothes,
enjoying a gossip with a party in a canoe below them. They looked clean
and smart, and cheerful enough, but I did not envy them their situation,
which I should think far from healthy.

Some miles below Montreal the appearance of the country became richer,
more civilized, and populous; while the distant line of blue mountains,
at the verge of the horizon, added an interest to the landscape. The
rich tint of ripened harvest formed a beautiful contrast with the azure
sky and waters of the St. Laurence. The scenery of the river near
Montreal is of a very different character to that below Quebec; the
latter possesses a wild and rugged aspect, and its productions are
evidently those of a colder and less happy climate. What the former
loses in grandeur and picturesque effect, it gains in fertility of soil
and warmth of temperature. In the lower division of the province you
feel that the industry of the inhabitants is forcing a churlish soil for
bread; while in the upper, the land seems willing to yield her increase
to a moderate exertion. Remember, these are merely the cursory remarks
of a passing traveller, and founded on no personal experience.

There was a feeling of anxiety and dread upon our minds that we would
hardly acknowledge to each other as we drew near to the city of the
pestilence, as if ashamed of confessing a weakness that was felt; but no
one spoke on the subject. With what unmixed delight and admiration at
any other time should we have gazed on the scene that opened upon us.

The river here expands into a fine extensive basin, diversified with
islands, on the largest of which Montreal is situated.

The lofty hill from which the town takes its name rises like a crown
above it, and forms a singular and magnificent feature in the landscape,
reminding me of some of the detached hills in the vicinity of Inverness.

Opposite to the Quebec suburbs, just in front of the rapids, is situated
the island of St. Helens, a spot of infinite loveliness. The centre of
it is occupied by a grove of lofty trees, while the banks, sloping down
to the water, seem of the most verdant turf. The scene was heightened by
the appearance of the troops which garrison the island.

The shores of the river, studded with richly cultivated farms; the
village of La Prairie, with the little island of St. Ann's in the
distance; the glittering steeples and roofs of the city, with its
gardens and villas,--looked lovely by the softened glow of a Canadian
summer sunset.

The church bells ringing for evening prayer, with the hum of voices from
the shore, mingled not inharmoniously with the rush of the rapids.

These rapids are caused by a descent in the bed of the river. In some
places this declination is gradual, in others sudden and abrupt. Where
the current is broken by masses of limestone or granite rock, as at the
Cascades, the Cedars, and the Long Sault, it creates whirlpools and
cataracts. But the rapids below Montreal are not of this magnificent
character, being made perceptible only by the unusual swiftness of the
water, and its surface being disturbed by foam, and waving lines and
dimples. In short, I was disappointed in my expectation of seeing
something very grand; and was half angry at these pretty behaved quiet
rapids, to the foot of which we were towed in good style by our faithful
consort the _British America_.

As the captain is uncertain how long he may be detained at Montreal, I
shall send this letter without further delay, and write again as soon as


Landing at Montreal.--Appearance of the Town.--Ravages of the Cholera.--
Charitable Institutions in Montreal.--Catholic Cathedral.--Lower and
Upper Town.--Company and Conversation at the Hotel.--Writer attacked
with the Cholera.--Departure from Montreal in a Stage coach.--Embark at
Lachine on board a Steam-vessel.--Mode of travelling alternately in
Steam-vessels and Stages.--Appearance of the Country.--Manufactures.--
Ovens at a distance from the Cottages.--Draw-wells.--Arrival at
Cornwall.--Accommodation at the Inn.--Departure from Cornwall, and
Arrival at Prescott.--Arrival at Brockville.--Ship-launch there.--Voyage
through Lake Ontario.--Arrival at Cobourg

Nelson Hotel, Montreal, August 21.

Once more on terra ferma, dearest mother: what a strange sensation it is
to tread the land once again, free from the motion of the heaving
waters, to which I was now, in truth, glad to bid farewell.

By daybreak every creature on board was up and busily preparing for
going on shore. The captain himself obligingly escorted us, and walked
as far with us as the hotel, where we are at present lodged.

We found some difficulty in getting on shore, owing to the badness of
the landing. The river was full of floating timbers, between which it
required some skill to guide the boat. A wharf is now being built--not
before it was needed*. [* Some excellent wharfs have since been

We were struck by the dirty, narrow, ill-paved or unpaved streets of the
suburbs, and overpowered by the noisome vapour arising from a deep open
fosse that ran along the street behind the wharf. This ditch seemed the
receptacle for every abomination, and sufficient in itself to infect a
whole town with malignant fevers*.

[* This has since been arched over. A market has been erected above it.]

I was greatly disappointed in my first acquaintance with the interior of
Montreal; a place of which travellers had said so much. I could compare
it only to the fruits of the Dead sea, which are said to be fair and
tempting to look upon, but yield only ashes and bitterness when tasted
by the thirsty traveller**.


[** The following description of Montreal is given by M'Gregor in his
British America, vol. ii. p. 504:--"Betwixt the royal mountain and the
river, on a ridge of gentle elevation, stands the town. Including the
suburbs, it is more extensive than Quebec. Both cities differ very
greatly in appearance; the low banks of the St. Laurence at Montreal
want the tremendous precipices frowning over them, and all that grand
sublimity which characterizes Quebec.

"There are no wharfs at Montreal, and the ships and steamers lie quietly
in pretty deep water, close to the clayey and generally filthy bank of
the city. The whole of the lower town is covered with gloomy-looking
houses, having dark iron shutters; and although it may be a little
cleaner than Quebec, it is still very dirty; and the streets are not
only narrow and ill-paved, but the footpaths are interrupted by slanting
cellar doors and other projections."

"It is impossible (says Mr. Talbot, in his Five Years' Residence) to
walk the streets of Montreal on a Sunday or holiday, when the shops are
closed, without receiving the most gloomy impressions; the whole city
seems one vast prison;"--alluding to the window-shutters and outer doors
of iron, that have been adopted to counteract the effects of fire.]


I noticed one peculiar feature in the buildings along the suburb facing
the river--that they were mostly furnished with broad wooden balconies
from the lower to the upper story; in some instances they surrounded the
houses on three sides, and seemed to form a sort of outer chamber. Some
of these balconies were ascended by flights of broad stairs from the

I remember when a child dreaming of houses so constructed, and fancying
them very delightful; and so I think they might be rendered, if shaded
by climbing shrubs, and adorned with flowers, to represent a hanging-
garden or sweet-scented bowery walk. But nothing of this kind gladdened
our eyes as we toiled along the hot streets. Every house of public
resort was crowded from the top to the bottom with emigrants of all
ages, English, Irish, and Scotch. The sounds of riotous merriment that
burst from them seemed but ill-assorted with the haggard, careworn faces
of many of the thoughtless revellers.

The contrast was only too apparent and too painful a subject to those
that looked upon this show of outward gaiety and inward misery.

The cholera had made awful ravages, and its devastating effects were to
be seen in the darkened dwellings and the mourning habiliments of all
classes. An expression of dejection and anxiety appeared in the faces of
the few persons we encountered in our walk to the hotel, which plainly
indicated the state of their minds.

In some situations whole streets had been nearly depopulated; those that
were able fled panic-stricken to the country villages, while others
remained to die in the bosom of their families.

To no class, I am told, has the disease proved so fatal as to the poorer
sort of emigrants. Many of these, debilitated by the privations and
fatigue of a long voyage, on reaching Quebec or Montreal indulged in
every sort of excess, especially the dangerous one of intoxication; and,
as if purposely paving the way to certain destruction, they fell
immediate victims to the complaint.

In one house eleven persons died, in another seventeen; a little child
of seven years old was the only creature left to tell the woful tale.
This poor desolate orphan was taken by the nuns to their benevolent
institution, where every attention was paid that humanity could suggest.

The number both of Catholic and Protestant benevolent societies is very
great, and these are maintained with a liberality of principle that does
honour to both parties, who seem indeed actuated by a fervent spirit of
Christian charity.

I how of no place, not even excepting London itself, where the exercise
of benevolent feelings is more called for than in these two cities,
Quebec and Montreal. Here meet together the unfortunate, the
improvident, the helpless orphan, the sick, the aged, the poor virtuous
man, driven by the stern hand of necessity from his country and his
home, perhaps to be overtaken by sickness or want in a land of

It is melancholy to reflect that a great number of the poorest class of
emigrants that perished in the reign of the cholera have left no trace
by which their sorrowing anxious friends in the old country may learn
their fate. The disease is so sudden and so violent that it leaves no
time for arranging worldly matters; the sentinel comes, not as it did to
Hezekiah, "Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live."

The weather is sultry hot, accompanied by frequent thunder-showers,
which have not the effect one would expect, that of cooling the heated
atmosphere. I experience a degree of languor and oppression that is very
distressing, and worse than actual pain.

Instead of leaving this place by the first conveyance for the upper
province, as we fully purposed doing, we find ourselves obliged to
remain two days longer, owing to the dilatoriness of the custom-house
officers in overlooking our packages. The fact is that everything and
everybody are out of sorts.

The heat has been too oppressive to allow of my walking much abroad. I
have seen but little of the town beyond the streets adjacent to the
hotel: with the exception of the Catholic Cathedral, I have seen few of
the public buildings. With the former I was much pleased: it is a fine
building, though still in an unfinished state, the towers not having
been carried to the height originally intended. The eastern window,
behind the altar, is seventy feet in height by thirty-three in width.
The effect of this magnificent window from the entrance, the altar with
its adornments and paintings, the several smaller altars and shrines,
all decorated with scriptural designs, the light tiers of galleries that
surround the central part of the church, the double range of columns
supporting the vaulted ceiling, and the arched windows, all combine to
form one beautiful whole. What most pleased me was the extreme lightness
of the architecture though I thought the imitation of marble, with which
the pillars were painted, coarse and glaring. We missed the time-
hallowing mellowness that age has bestowed on our ancient churches and
cathedrals. The grim corbels and winged angels that are carved on the
grey stone, whose very uncouthness tells of time gone by when our
ancestors worshipped within their walls, give an additional interest to
the temples of our forefathers. But, though the new church at Montreal
cannot compare with our York Minster, Westminster Abbey, and others of
our sacred buildings, it is well worthy the attention of travellers, who
will meet with nothing equal to it in the Canadas.

There are several colleges and nunneries, a hospital for the sick,
several Catholic and Protestant churches, meeting-houses, a guard-house,
with many other public edifices.

The river-side portion of the town is entirely mercantile. Its narrow,
dirty streets and dark houses, with heavy iron shutters, have a
disagreeable appearance, which cannot but make an unfavourable
impression on the mind of a British traveller. The other portion of the
town, however, is of a different character, and the houses are
interspersed with gardens and pleasant walks, which looked very
agreeable from the windows of the ball-room of the Nelson Hotel. This
room, which is painted from top to bottom, the walls and ceiling, with a
coarse imitation of groves and Canadian scenery, commands a superb view
of the city, the river, and all surrounding country, taking in the
distant mountains of Chamblay, the shores of St. Laurence, towards La
Prairie, and the rapids above and below the island of St. Anne's. The
royal mountain (Mont Real), with its wooded sides, its rich scenery, and
its city with its streets and public buildings, lie at your feet: with
such objects before you the eye may well be charmed with the scenery of

We receive the greatest attention from the master of the hotel, who is
an Italian. The servants of the house are very civil, and the company
that we meet at the ordinary very respectable, chiefly emigrants like
ourselves, with some lively French men and women. The table is well
supplied, and the charges for board and lodging one dollar per day

[* This hotel is not of the highest class, in which the charge is a
dollar and a half per day. Ed.]

I am amused with the variety of characters of which our table is
composed. Some of the emigrants appear to entertain the most sanguine
hopes of success, appearing to foresee no difficulties in carrying their
schemes into effect. As a contrast to these there is one of my
countrymen, just returned from the western district on his way back to
England, who entreats us by no means to go further up this horrid
country, as he emphatically styles the Upper Province, assuring us he
would not live in it for all the land it contained.

He had been induced, by reading Cattermole's pamphlet on the subject of
Emigration, to quit a good farm, and gathering together what property he
possessed, to embark for Canada. Encouraged by the advice of a friend in
this country, he purchased a lot of wild land in the western district;
"but sir," said he, addressing my husband with much vehemence, "I found
I had been vilely deceived. Such land, such a country--I would not live
in it for all I could see. Why, there is not a drop of wholesome water
to be got, or a potato that is fit to eat. I lived for two months in a
miserable shed they call a shanty, eaten up alive with mosquitoes. I
could get nothing to eat but salted pork, and, in short, the discomforts
are unbearable. And then all my farming knowledge was quite useless--
people know nothing about farming in this country. Why, it would have
broken my heart to work among the stumps, and never see such a thing as
a well-ploughed field. And then," he added, in a softer tone, "I thought
of my poor wife and the little one. I might, for the sake of bettering
my condition, have roughed out a year or so myself, but, poor thing, I
could not have had the heart to have brought her out from the comforts
of England to such a place, not so good as one of our cow-houses or
stables, and so I shall just go home; and if I don't tell all my
neighbours what sort of a country this is they are all crazing to throw
up their farms and come to, never trust a word of mine again."

It was to no purpose that some persons present argued with him on the
folly of returning until he had tried what could be done: he only told
them they were fools if they staid an hour in a country like this; and
ended by execrating those persons who deceived the people at home by
their false statements, who sum up in a few pages all the advantages,
without filling a volume with the disadvantages, as they might well do.

"Persons are apt to deceive themselves as well as to be deceived," said
my husband; "and having once fixed their minds on any one subject, will
only read and believe those things that accord with their wishes."

This young man was evidently disappointed in not finding all things as
fair and pleasant as at home. He had never reflected on the subject, or
he could not have been so foolish as to suppose he would encounter no
difficulties in his first outset, in a settlement in the woods. We are
prepared to meet with many obstacles, and endure considerable
privations, although I dare say we may meet with many unforeseen ones,
forewarned as we have been by our Canadian friend's letters.

Our places are taken in the stage for Lachine, and if all is well, we
leave Montreal to-morrow morning. Our trunks, boxes, &c. are to be sent
on by the forwarders to Cobourg.--August 22.

Cobourg, August 29.--When I closed my last letter I told you, my dear
mother, that we should leave Montreal by sunrise the following day; but
in this we were doomed to be disappointed, and to experience the truth
of these words: "Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not
what an hour may bring forth." Early that very morning, just an hour
before sunrise, I was seized with the symptoms of the fatal malady that
had made so many homes desolate. I was too ill to commence my journey,
and, with a heavy heart, heard the lumbering wheels rattle over the
stones from the door of the hotel.

I hourly grew worse, till the sister of the landlady, an excellent young
woman, who had previously shown me great attention, persuaded me to send
for a physician; and my husband, distracted at seeing me in such agony,
ran off to seek for the best medical aid. After some little delay a
physician was found. I was then in extreme torture; but was relieved by
bleeding, and by the violent fits of sickness that ensued. I will not
dwell minutely on my sufferings, suffice to say, they were intense; but
God, in his mercy, though he chastened and afflicted me, yet gave me not
over unto death. From the females of the house I received the greatest
kindness. Instead of fleeing affrighted from the chamber of sickness,
the two Irish girls almost quarrelled which should be my attendant;
while Jane Taylor, the good young woman I before mentioned, never left
me from the time I grew so alarmingly ill till a change for the better
had come over me, but, at the peril of her own life, supported me in her
arms, and held me on her bosom, when I was struggling with mortal agony,
alternately speaking peace to me, and striving to soothe the anguish of
my poor afflicted partner.

The remedies applied were bleeding, a portion of opium, blue pill, and
some sort of salts--not the common Epsom. The remedies proved effectual,
though I suffered much from sickness and headache for many hours. The
debility and low fever that took place of the cholera obliged me to keep
my bed some days. During the two first my doctor visited me four times a
day; he was very kind, and, on hearing that I was the wife of a British
officer emigrating to the Upper Province, he seemed more than ever
interested in my recovery, evincing a sympathy for us that was very
grateful to our feelings. After a weary confinement of several days, I
was at last pronounced in a sufficiently convalescent state to begin my
journey, though still so weak that I was scarcely able to support

The sun had not yet risen when the stage that was to take us to Lachine,
the first nine miles of our route, drove up to the door, and we gladly
bade farewell to a place in which our hours of anxiety had been many,
and those of pleasure few. We had, however, experienced a great deal of
kindness from those around us, and, though perfect strangers, had tasted
some of the hospitality for which this city has often been celebrated. I
omitted, in my former letter, telling you how we formed an acquaintance
with a highly respectable merchant in this place, who afforded us a
great deal of useful information, and introduced us to his wife, a very
elegant and accomplished young woman. During our short acquaintance, we
passed some pleasant hours at their house, much to our satisfaction.

I enjoyed the fresh breeze from the river along the banks of which our
road lay. It was a fine sight to see the unclouded sun rising from
behind the distant chain of mountains. Below us lay the rapids in their
perturbed state, and there was the island of St. Anne's, bringing to our
minds Moore's Canadian boat song: "We'll sing at Saint Anne's our
parting hymn."

The bank of the St. Laurence, along which our road lay, is higher here
than at Montreal, and clothed with brushwood on the summit, occasionally
broken with narrow gulleys. The soil, as near as I could see, was sandy
or light loam. I noticed the wild vine for the first time twining among
the saplings. There were raspberry bushes, too, and a profusion of that
tall yellow flower we call Aaron's golden rod, a _solidago_, and the
white love-everlasting, the same that the chaplets are made of by the
French and Swiss girls to adorn the tombs of their friends, and which
they call _immortelle_; the Americans call it life-everlasting; also a
tall purple-spiked valerian, that I observed growing in the fields among
the corn, as plentiful as the bugloss is in our light sandy fields in

At Lachine we quitted the stage and went on board a steamer, a fine
vessel elegantly fitted up with every accommodation. I enjoyed the
passage up the river exceedingly, and should have been delighted with
the journey by land had not my recent illness weakened me so much that I
found the rough roads very unpleasant. As to the vehicle, a Canadian
stage, it deserves a much higher character than travellers have had the
candour to give it, and is so well adapted for the roads over which it
passes that I doubt if it could be changed for a more suitable one. This
vehicle is calculated to hold nine persons, three back, front, and
middle; the middle seat, which swings on broad straps of leather; is by
far the easiest, only you are liable to be disturbed when any of the
passengers choose to get out.

Certainly the travelling is arranged with as little trouble to the
traveller as possible. Having paid your fare to Prescott you have no
thought or care. When you quit the steam-boat you find a stage ready to
receive you and your luggage, which is limited to a certain proportion.
When the portage is passed (the land carriage), you find a steam-vessel
ready, where you have every accommodation. The charges are not
immoderate, considering the comforts you enjoy.

In addition to their own freight, the steamers generally tow up several
other vessels. We had three Durham boats at one time, beside some other
small craft attached to us, which certainly afforded some variety, if
not amusement.

With the exception of Quebec and Montreal, I must give the preference to
the Upper Province. If not on so grand a scale, the scenery is more
calculated to please, from the appearance of industry and fertility it
displays. I am delighted, in travelling along the road, with the
neatness, cleanliness, and comfort of the cottages and farms. The log-
house and shanty rarely occur, having been supplanted by pretty frame
houses, built in a superior style, and often painted white-lead colour
or a pale pea-green. Around these habitations were orchards, bending
down with a rich harvest of apples, plums, and the American crab, those
beautiful little scarlet apples so often met with as a wet preserve
among our sweetmeats at home.

You see none of the signs of poverty or its attendant miseries. No
ragged, dirty, squalid children, dabbling in mud or dust; but many a
tidy, smart-looking lass was spinning at the cottage-doors, with bright
eyes and braided locks, while the younger girls were seated on the green
turf or on the threshold, knitting and singing as blithe as birds.

There is something very picturesque in the great spinning-wheels that
are used in this country for spinning the wool, and if attitude were to
be studied among our Canadian lasses, there cannot be one more becoming,
or calculated to show off the natural advantages of a fine figure, than
spinning at the big wheel. The spinster does not sit, but walks to and
fro, guiding the yarn with one hand while with the other she turns the

I often noticed, as we passed by the cottage farms, hanks of yarn of
different colours hanging on the garden or orchard fence to dry; there
were all manner of colours, green, blue, purple, brown, red, and white.
A civil landlady, at whose tavern we stopped to change horses, told me
these hanks of yarn were first spun and then dyed by the good wives,
preparatory to being sent to the loom. She showed me some of this home-
spun cloth, which really looked very well. It was a dullish dark brown,
the wool being the produce of a breed of black sheep. This cloth is made
up in different ways for family use.

"Every little dwelling you see," said she, "has its lot of land, and,
consequently, its flock of sheep; and, as the children are early taught
to spin, and knit, and help dye the yarn, their parents can afford to
see them well and comfortably clothed.

"Many of these very farms you now see in so thriving a condition were
wild land thirty years ago, nothing but Indian hunting-grounds. The
industry of men, and many of them poor men, that had not a rood of land
of their own in their own country, has effected this change."

I was much gratified by the reflection to which this good woman's
information gave rise. "We also are going to purchase wild land, and why
may not we see our farm, in process of time," thought I, "equal these
fertile spots. Surely this is a blessed country to which we have
emigrated," said I, pursuing the pleasing idea, "where every cottage
abounds with the comforts and necessaries of life."

I perhaps overlooked at that time the labour, the difficulties, the
privations to which these settlers had been exposed when they first came
to this country. I saw it only at a distance of many years, under a high
state of cultivation, perhaps in the hands of their children or their
children's children, while the toil-worn parent's head was low in the

Among other objects my attention was attracted by the appearance of open
burying-grounds by the roadside. Pretty green mounds, surrounded by
groups of walnut and other handsome timber trees, contained the graves
of a family, or may be, some favoured friends slept quietly below the
turf beside them. If the ground was not consecrated, it was hallowed by
the tears and prayers of parents and children.

These household graves became the more interesting to me on learning
that when a farm is disposed of to a stranger, the right of burying
their dead is generally stipulated for by the former possessor.

You must bear with me if I occasionally weary you with dwelling on
trifles. To me nothing that bears the stamp of novelty is devoid of
interest. Even the clay-built ovens stuck upon four legs at a little
distance from the houses were not unnoticed in passing. When there is
not the convenience of one of these ovens outside the dwellings, the
bread is baked in large iron pots--"_bake-kettles_" they are termed. I
have already seen a loaf as big as a peck measure baking on the hearth
in one of these kettles, and tasted of it, too; but I think the confined
steam rather imparts a peculiar taste to the bread, which you do not
perceive in the loaves baked in brick or clay ovens. At first I could
not make out what these funny little round buildings, perched upon four
posts, could be; and I took them for bee-hives till I spied a good woman
drawing some nice hot loaves out of one that stood on a bit of waste
land on the roadside, some fifty yards from the cottage.

Besides the ovens every house had a draw-well near it, which differed in
the contrivance for raising the water from those I had seen in the old
country. The plan is very simple:--a long pole, supported by a post,
acts as a lever to raise the bucket, and the water can be raised by a
child with very trifling exertion. This method is by many persons
preferred to either rope or chain, and from its simplicity can be
constructed by any person at the mere trouble of fixing the poles. I
mention this merely to show the ingenuity of people in this country, and
how well adapted all their ways are to their means*. [* The plan is
pursued in England and elsewhere, and may be seen in the market-gardens
on the western suburb of London. It can only be done when the water is
near the surface.]

We were exceedingly gratified by the magnificent appearance of the
rapids of the St. Laurence, at the cascades of which the road commanded
a fine view from the elevation of the banks. I should fail in my attempt
to describe this grand sheet of turbulent water to you. Howison has
pictured them very minutely in his work on Upper Canada, which I know
you are well acquainted with. I regretted that we could not linger to
feast our eyes with a scene so wild and grand as the river here appears;
but a Canadian stage waits for no one, so we were obliged to content
ourselves with a passing sight of these celebrated rapids.

We embarked at Couteau du Lac and reached Cornwall late the same
evening. Some of the stages travel all night, but I was too much
fatigued to commence a journey of forty-nine miles over Canadian roads
that night. Our example was followed by a widow lady and her little

We had some difficulty obtaining a lodging, the inns being full of
travellers; here, for the first time we experienced something of that
odious manner ascribed, though doubtless too generally, to the American.
Our host seemed perfectly indifferent to the comfort of his guests,
leaving them to wait on themselves or go without what they wanted. The
absence of females in these establishments is a great drawback where
ladies are travelling. The women keep entirely out of sight, or treat
you with that offensive coldness and indifference that you derive little
satisfaction from their attendance.

After some difficulty in obtaining sight of the landlady of the inn at
Cornwall, and asking her to show me a chamber where we might pass the
night, with a most ungracious air she pointed to a door which opened
into a mere closet, in which was a bed divested of curtains, one chair,
and an apology for a wash-stand. Seeing me in some dismay at the sight
of this uninviting domicile, she laconically observed there was that or
none, unless I chose to sleep in a four-bedded room, which had three
tenants in it,--and those gentlemen. This alternative I somewhat
indignantly declined, and in no very good humour retired to my cabin,
where vile familiars to the dormitory kept us from closing our weary
eye-lids till the break of day.

We took an early and hasty breakfast, and again commenced our journey.
Here our party consisted of myself, my husband, a lady and gentleman
with three small children, besides an infant of a month old, all of
whom, from the eldest to the youngest, were suffering from hooping-
cough; two great Cumberland miners, and a French pilot and his
companion, this was a huge amphibious-looking monster, who bounced in
and squeezed himself into a corner seat, giving a knowing nod and
comical grin to the driver, who was in the secret, and in utter defiance
of all remonstrance at this unlooked-for intrusion, cracked his whip
with a flourish, that appeared to be reckoned pretty considerably smart
by two American travellers that stood on either side of the door at the
inn, with their hats not in their hands nor yet on their heads, but
slung by a black ribbon to one of their waistcoat buttons, so as to fall
nearly under one arm. This practice I have seen adopted since, and think
if Johnny Gilpin had but taken this wise precaution he might have saved
both hat and wig.

I was dreadfully fatigued with this day's travelling, being literally
bruised black and blue. We suffered much inconvenience from the
excessive heat of the day, and could well have dispensed with the
company of two out of the four of our bulky companions.

We reached Prescott about five the same afternoon, where we met with
good treatment at the inn; the female servants were all English, and
seemed to vie with each other in attention to us.

We saw little in the town of Prescott to interest or please. After an
excellent breakfast we embarked on board the _Great Britain_, the finest
steamer we had yet seen, and here we were joined by our new friends, to
our great satisfaction.

At Brockville we arrived just in time to enjoy what was to me quite a
novel sight,--a ship-launch. A gay and exciting scene it was. The sun
shone brilliantly on a concourse of people that thronged the shore in
their holiday attire; the church bells rang merrily out, mingling with
the music from the deck of the gaily painted vessel that, with flags and
streamers, and a well-dressed company on board, was preparing for the

To give additional effect, a salute was fired from a temporary fort
erected for the occasion on a little rocky island in front of the town.
The schooner took the water in fine style, as if eager to embrace the
element which was henceforth to be subject to her. It was a moment of
intense interest. The newly launched was greeted with three cheers from
the company on board the _Great Britain_, with a salute from the little
fort, and a merry peal from the bells, which were also rung in honour of
a pretty bride that came on board with her bridegroom on their way to
visit the falls of Niagara.

Brockville is situated just at the entrance of the lake of the Thousand
Islands, and presents a pretty appearance from the water. The town has
improved rapidly, I am told, within the last few years, and is becoming
a place of some importance.

The shores of the St. Laurence assume a more rocky and picturesque
aspect as you advance among its thousand islands, which present every
variety of wood and rock. The steamer put in for a supply of fire-wood
at a little village on the American side the river, where also we took
on board five-and-twenty beautiful horses, which are to be exhibited at
Cobourg and York for sale.

There was nothing at all worthy of observation in the American village,
unless I except a novelty that rather amused me. Almost every house had
a tiny wooden model of itself, about the bigness of a doll's house, (or
baby-house, I think they are called,) stuck up in front of the roof or
at the gable end. I was informed by a gentleman on board, these baby-
houses, as I was pleased to call them, were for the swallows to build

It was midnight when we passed Kingston, so of course I saw nothing of
that "key to the lakes," as I have heard it styled. When I awoke in the
morning the steamer was dashing gallantly along through the waters of
the Ontario, and I experienced a slight sensation of sickness.

When the waters of the lake are at all agitated, as they sometimes are,
by high winds, you might imagine yourself upon a tempest-tossed sea.

The shores of the Ontario are very fine, rising in waving lines of hill
and dale, clothed with magnificent woods, or enlivened by patches of
cultivated land and pretty dwellings. At ten o'clock we reached Cobourg.

Cobourg, at which place we are at present, is a neatly built and
flourishing village, containing many good stores, mills, a banking-
house, and printing-office, where a newspaper is published once a week.
There is a very pretty church and a select society, many families of
respectability having fixed their residences in or near the town.

To-morrow we leave Cobourg, and shall proceed to Peterborough, from
which place I shall again write and inform you of our future
destination, which will probably be on one of the small lakes of the


Journey from Cobourg to Amherst.--Difficulties to be encountered on
first settling in the Backwoods.--Appearance of the Country.--Rice
Lake.--Indian Habits.--Voyage up the Otanabee.--Log-house, and its
Inmates.--Passage boat.--Journey on foot to Peterborough.

Peterborough, Newcastle District.
September 8, 1832.

We left Cobourg on the afternoon of the 1st of September in a light
waggon, comfortably lined with buffalo robes. Our fellow travellers
consisted of three gentlemen and a young lady, all of whom proved very
agreeable, and willing to afford us every information respecting the
country through which we were travelling. The afternoon was fine--one of
those rich mellow days we often experience in the early part of
September. The warm hues of autumn were already visible on the forest
trees, but rather spoke of ripeness than decay. The country round
Cobourg is well cultivated, a great portion of the woods having been
superseded by open fields, pleasant farms, and fine flourishing
orchards, with green pastures, where abundance of cattle were grazing.

The county gaol and court-house at Amherst, about a mile and a half from
Cobourg, is a fine stone edifice, situated on a rising ground, which
commands an extensive view over the lake Ontario and surrounding
scenery. As you advance farther up the country, in the direction of the
Hamilton or Rice Lake plains, the land rises into bold sweeping hills
and dales.

The outline of the country reminded me of the hilly part of
Gloucestershire; you want, however, the charm with which civilization
has so eminently adorned that fine county, with all its romantic
villages, flourishing towns, cultivated farms, and extensive downs, so
thickly covered with flocks and herds. Here the bold forests of oak,
beech, maple, and bass-wood, with now and then a grove of dark pine,
cover the hills, only enlivened by an occasional settlement, with its
log-house and zig-zag fences of split timber: these fences are very
offensive to my eye. I look in vain for the rich hedge rows of my native
country. Even the stone fences in the north and west of England, cold
and bare as they are, are less unsightly. The settlers, however,
invariably adopt whatever plan saves time, labour, and money. The great
law of expediency is strictly observed;--it is borne of necessity.
Matters of taste appear to be little regarded, or are, at all events,

I could see a smile hover on the lips of my fellow travellers on hearing
of our projected plans for the adornment of our future dwelling.

"If you go into the backwoods your house must necessarily be a log-
house," said an elderly gentleman, who had been a settler many years in
the country. "For you will most probably be out of the way of a saw-
mill, and you will find so much to do, and so many obstacles to
encounter, for the first two or three years, that you will hardly have
opportunity for carrying these improvements into effect.

"There is an old saying," he added, with a mixture of gravity and good
humour in his looks, "that I used to hear when I was a boy, 'first
creep* and then go'. [* Derived from infants crawling on all-fours
before they have strength to walk.] Matters are not carried on quite so
easily here as at home; and the truth of this a very few weeks'
acquaintance with the _bush_, as we term all unbroken forest land, will
prove. At the end of five years you may begin to talk of these pretty
improvements and elegancies, and you will then be able to see a little
what you are about."

"I thought," said I, "every thing in this country was done with so much
expedition. I am sure I have heard and read of houses being built in a
day." The old gentleman laughed.

"Yes, yes," he replied, "travellers find no difficulty in putting up a
house in twelve or twenty-four hours, and so the log-walls can be raised
in that time or even less; but the house is not completed when the outer
walls are up, as your husband will find to his cost."

"But all the works on emigration that I leave read," replied I, "give a
fair and flattering picture of a settler's life; for, according to their
statements, the difficulties are easily removed."

"Never mind books," said my companion, "use your own reason. Look on
those interminable forests, through which the eye can only penetrate a
few yards, and tell me how those vast timbers are to be removed, utterly
extirpated, I may say, from the face of the earth, the ground cleared
and burnt, a crop sown and fenced, and a house to shelter you raised,
without difficulty, without expense, and without great labour. Never
tell me of what is said in books, written very frequently by tarry-at-
home travellers. Give me facts. One honest, candid emigrant's experience
is worth all that has been written on the subject. Besides, that which
may be a true picture of one part of the country will hardly suit
another. The advantages and disadvantages arising from soil, situation,
and progress of civilization, are very different in different districts:
even the prices of goods and of produce, stock and labour, vary
exceedingly, according as you are near to, or distant from, towns and

I began to think my fellow-traveller spoke sensibly on the subject, with
which the experience of thirteen years had made him perfectly
conversant. I began to apprehend that we also had taken too flattering a
view of a settler's life as it must be in the backwoods. Time and our
own personal knowledge will be the surest test, and to that we must bow.
We are ever prone to believe that which we wish.

About halfway between Cobourg and the Rice Lake there is a pretty valley
between two steep hills. Here there is a good deal of cleared land and a
tavern: the place is called "Cold Springs." Who knows but some century
or two hence this spot may become a fashionable place of resort to drink
the waters. A Canadian Bath or Cheltenham may spring up where now Nature
revels in her wilderness of forest trees.

We now ascended the plains--a fine elevation of land--for many miles
scantily clothed with oaks, and here and there bushy pines, with other
trees and shrubs. The soil is in some places sandy, but varies, I am
told, considerably in different parts, and is covered in large tracks
with rich herbage, affording abundance of the finest pasture for cattle.
A number of exquisite flowers and shrubs adorn these plains, which rival
any garden in beauty during the spring and summer months. Many of these
plants are peculiar to the plains, and are rarely met with in any other
situation. The trees, too, though inferior in size to those in the
forests, are more picturesque, growing in groups or singly, at
considerable intervals, giving a sort of park-like appearance to this
portion of the country. The prevailing opinion seems to be, that the
plains laid out in grazing or dairy farms would answer the purpose of
settlers well; as there is plenty of land that will grow wheat and other
corn-crops, and can be improved at a small expense, besides abundance of
natural pasture for cattle. One great advantage seems to be, that the
plough can be introduced directly, and the labour of preparing the
ground is necessarily much less than where it is wholly covered with

[Illustration: Rice Grounds]

There are several settlers on these plains possessing considerable
farms. The situation, I should think, must be healthy and agreeable,
from the elevation and dryness of the land, and the pleasant prospect
they command of the country below them, especially where the Rice Lake,
with its various islands and picturesque shores, is visible. The ground
itself is pleasingly broken into hill and valley, sometimes gently
sloping, at other times abrupt and almost precipitous.

An American farmer, who formed one of our party at breakfast the
following morning, told me that these plains were formerly famous
hunting grounds of the Indians, who, to prevent the growth of the
timbers, burned them year after year; this, in process of time,
destroyed the young trees, so as to prevent them again from accumulating
to the extent they formerly did. Sufficient only was left to form
coverts; for the deer resort hither in great herds for the sake of a
peculiar tall sort of grass with which these plains abound, called deer-
grass, on which they become exceedingly fat at certain seasons of the

Evening closed in before we reached the tavern on the shores of the Rice
Lake, where we were to pass the night; so that I lost something of the
beautiful scenery which this fine expanse of water presents as you
descend the plains towards its shores. The glimpses I caught of it were
by the faint but frequent flashes of lightning that illumined the
horizon to the north, which just revealed enough to make me regret I
could see no more that night. The Rice Lake is prettily diversified with
small wooded islets: the north bank rises gently from the water's edge.
Within sight of Sully, the tavern from which the steam-boat starts that
goes up the Otanabee, you see several well cultivated settlements; and
beyond the Indian village the missionaries have a school for the
education and instruction of the Indian children. Many of them can both
read and write fluently, and are greatly improved in their moral and
religious conduct. They are well and comfortably clothed, and have
houses to live in. But they are still too much attached to their
wandering habits to become good and industrious settlers. During certain
seasons they leave the village, and encamp themselves in the woods along
the borders of those lakes and rivers that present the most advantageous
hunting and fishing grounds.

The Rice Lake and Mud Lake Indians belong, I am told, to the Chippewas;
but the traits of cunning and warlike ferocity that formerly marked this
singular people seem to have disappeared beneath the milder influence of

Certain it is that the introduction of the Christian religion is the
first greatest step towards civilization and improvement; its very
tendency being to break down the strong-holds of prejudice and
ignorance, and unite mankind in one bond of social brotherhood. I have
been told that for some time drunkenness was unknown, and even the
moderate use of spirits was religiously abstained from by all the
converts. This abstinence is still practised by some families; but of
late the love of ardent spirits has again crept in among them, bringing
discredit upon their faith. It is indeed hardly to be wondered at, when
the Indian sees those around him that call themselves Christians, and
who are better educated, and enjoy the advantages of civilized society,
indulging to excess in this degrading vice, that he should suffer his
natural inclination to overcome his Christian duty, which might in some
have taken no deep root. I have been surprised and disgusted by the
censures passed on the erring Indian by persons who were foremost in
indulgence at the table and the tavern; as if the crime of drunkenness
were more excusable in the man of education than in the half-reclaimed

There are some fine settlements on the Rice Lake, but I am told the
shores are not considered healthy, the inhabitants being subject to
lake-fevers and ague, especially where the ground is low and swampy.
These fevers and agues are supposed by some people to originate in the
extensive rice-beds which cause a stagnation in the water; the constant
evaporation from the surface acting on a mass of decaying vegetation
must tend to have a bad effect on the constitution of those that are
immediately exposed to its pernicious influence.

Besides numerous small streams, here called _creeks_, two considerable
rivers, the Otanabee and the Trent, find an outlet for their waters in
the Rice Lake. These rivers are connected by a chain of small lakes,
which you may trace on any good map of the province. I send you a
diagram, which has been published at Cobourg, which will give you the
geography of this portion of the country. It is on one of these small
lakes we purpose purchasing land, which, should the navigation of these
waters be carried into effect, as is generally supposed to be in
contemplation, will render the lands on their shores very advantageous
to the settlers; at present they are interrupted by large blocks of
granite and limestone, rapids, and falls, which prevent any but canoes
or flat-bottomed boats from passing on them, and even these are limited
to certain parts, on account of the above-named obstacles. By deepening
the bed of the river and lakes, and forming locks in some parts and
canals, the whole sweep of these waters might be thrown open to the Bay
of Quinte. The expense, however, would necessarily be great; and till
the townships of this portion of the district be fully settled, it is
hardly to be expected that so vast an undertaking should be effected,
however desirable it may be.

[Illustration: Sleigh driving]

We left the tavern at Rice Lake, after an unusual delay, at nine
o'clock. The morning was damp, and a cold wind blew over the lake, which
appeared to little advantage through the drizzling rain, from which I
was glad to shroud my face in my warm plaid cloak, for there was no
cabin or other shelter in the little steamer than an inefficient awning.
This apology for a steam-boat formed a considerable contrast with the
superbly-appointed vessels we had lately been passengers in on the
Ontario and the St. Laurence. But the circumstance of a steamer at all
on the Otanabee was a matter of surprise to us, and of exultation to the
first settlers along its shores, who for many years had been contented
with no better mode of transport than a scow or a canoe for themselves
and their marketable produce, or through the worst possible roads with a
waggon or sleigh.

The Otanabee is a fine broad, clear stream, divided into two mouths at
its entrance to the Rice Lake by a low tongue of land, too swampy to be
put under cultivation. This beautiful river (for such I consider it to
be) winds its way between thickly-wooded banks, which rise gradually as
you advance higher up the country.

Towards noon the mists cleared off, and the sun came forth in all the
brilliant beauty of a September day. So completely were we sheltered
from the wind by the thick wall of pines on either side, that I no
longer felt the least inconvenience from the cold that had chilled me on
crossing the lake in the morning.

To the mere passing traveller, who cares little for the minute beauties
of scenery, there is certainly a monotony in the long and unbroken line
of woods, which insensibly inspires a feeling of gloom almost touching
on sadness. Still there are objects to charm and delight the close
observer of nature. His eye will be attracted by fantastic bowers, which
are formed by the scarlet creeper (or Canadian ivy) and the wild vine,
flinging their closely-entwined wreaths of richly tinted foliage from
bough to bough of the forest trees, mingling their hues with the
splendid rose-tipped branches of the soft maple, the autumnal tints of
which are unrivalled in beauty by any of our forest trees at home.

The purple clusters of the grape, by no means so contemptible in size as
I had been led to imagine, looked tempting to my longing eyes, as they
appeared just ripening among these forest bowers. I am told the juice
forms a delicious and highly-flavoured jelly, boiled with sufficient
quantity of sugar; the seeds are too large to make any other preparation
of them practicable. I shall endeavour, at some time or other, to try
the improvement that can be effected by cultivation. One is apt to
imagine where Nature has so abundantly bestowed fruits, that is the most
favourable climate for their attaining perfection with the assistance of
culture and soil.

[Illustration: Silver Pine]

The waters of the Otanabee are so clear and free from impurity that you
distinctly see every stone-pebble or shell at the bottom. Here and there
an opening in the forest reveals some tributary stream, working its way
beneath the gigantic trees that meet above it. The silence of the scene
is unbroken but by the sudden rush of the wild duck, disturbed from its
retreat among the shrubby willows, that in some parts fringe the left
bank, or the shrill cry of the kingfisher, as it darts across the water.
The steam-boat put in for a supply of fire-wood at a clearing about
half-way from Peterborough, and I gladly availed myself of the
opportunity of indulging my inclination for gathering some of the
splendid cardinal flowers that grew among the stones by the river's
brink. Here, too, I plucked as sweet a rose as ever graced an English
garden. I also found, among the grass of the meadow-land, spearmint,
and, nearer to the bank, peppermint. There was a bush resembling our
hawthorn, which, on examination, proved to be the cockspur hawthorn,
with fruit as large as cherries, pulpy, and of a pleasant tartness not
much unlike to tamarinds. The thorns of this tree were of formidable
length and strength. I should think it might be introduced with great
advantage to form live fences; the fruit, too, would prove by no means
contemptible as a preserve.

As I felt a great curiosity to see the interior of a log-house, I
entered the open door-way of the tavern, as the people termed it, under
the pretext of buying a draught of milk. The interior of this rude
dwelling presented no very inviting aspect. The walls were of rough
unhewn logs, filled between the chinks with moss and irregular wedges of
wood to keep out the wind and rain. The unplastered roof displayed the
rafters, covered with moss and lichens, green, yellow, and grey; above
which might be seen the shingles, dyed to a fine mahogany-red by the
smoke which refused to ascend the wide clay and stone chimney, to curl
gracefully about the roof, and seek its exit in the various crannies and
apertures with which the roof and sides of the building abounded.

The floor was of earth, which had become pretty hard and smooth through
use. This hut reminded me of the one described by the four Russian
sailors that were left to winter on the island of Spitzbergen. Its
furniture was of corresponding rudeness; a few stools, rough and
unplaned; a deal table, which, from being manufactured from unseasoned
wood, was divided by three wide open seams, and was only held together
by its ill-shaped legs; two or three blocks of grey granite placed
beside the hearth served for seats for the children, with the addition
of two beds raised a little above the ground by a frame of split cedars.
On these lowly couches lay extended two poor men, suffering under the
wasting effects of lake-fever. Their yellow bilious faces strangely
contrasted with the gay patchwork-quilts that covered them. I felt much
concerned for the poor emigrants, who told me they had not been many
weeks in the country when they were seized with the fever and ague. They
both had wives and small children, who seemed very miserable. The wives
also had been sick with ague, and had not a house or even shanty of
their own up; the husbands having fallen ill were unable to do anything;
and much of the little money they had brought out with them had been
expended in board and lodging in this miserable place, which they
dignified by the name of tavern. I cannot say I was greatly prepossessed
in favour of their hostess, a harsh, covetous woman. Besides the various
emigrants, men, women, and children, that lodged within the walls, the
log-house had tenants of another description. A fine calf occupied a pen
in a corner; some pigs roamed grunting about in company with some half-
dozen fowls. The most attractive objects were three snow-white pigeons,
that were meekly picking up crumbs, and looking as if they were too pure
and innocent to be inhabitants of such a place.

Owing to the shallowness of the river at this season, and to the rapids,
the steam-boat is unable to go up the whole way to Peterborough, and a
scow or rowboat, as it is sometimes termed--a huge, unwieldy, flat-
bottomed machine--meets the passengers at a certain part of the river,
within sight of a singular pine tree on the right bank; this is termed
the "Yankee bonnet," from the fancied resemblance of the topmost boughs
to a sort of cap worn by the Yankees, not much unlike the blue bonnet of

Unfortunately, the steamer ran aground some four miles below the usual
place of rendezvous, and we waited till near four o'clock for the scow.
When it made its appearance, we found, to our discomfort, the rowers
(eight in number, and all Irishmen) were under the exciting influence of
a --g of whiskey, which they had drunk dry on the voyage. They were
moreover exasperated by the delay on the part of the steamer, which gave
them four miles additional heavy rowing. Beside a number of passengers
there was an enormous load of furniture, trunks, boxes, chests, sacks of
wheat, barrels of flour, salt, and pork, with many miscellaneous
packages and articles, small and great, which were piled to a height
that I thought very unsafe both to goods and passengers.

With a marvellous ill grace the men took up their oars when their load
was completed, but declared they would go on shore and make a fire and
cook their dinners, they not having eaten any food, though they had
taken large potations of the whiskey. This measure was opposed by some
of the gentlemen, and a fierce and angry scene ensued, which ended in
the mutineers flinging down their oars, and positively refusing to row
another stroke till they had satisfied their hunger.

Perhaps I had a fellow-feeling for them, as I began to be exceedingly
hungry, almost ravenous, myself, having fasted since six that morning;
indeed, so faint was I, that I was fain to get my husband to procure me
a morsel of the coarse uninviting bread that was produced by the rowers,
and which they ate with huge slices of raw pickled pork, seasoning this
unseemly meal with curses "not loud but deep," and bitter taunts against
those who prevented them from cooking their food like _Christians_.

While I was eagerly eating the bit of bread, an old farmer, who had eyed
me for some time with a mixture of curiosity and compassion, said, "Poor
thing: well, you do seem hungry indeed, and I dare say are just out from
the _ould_ country, and so little used to such hard fare. Here are some
cakes that my woman (i.e. wife) put in my pocket when I left home; I
care nothing for them, but they are better than that bad bread; take
'em, and welcome." With these words he tossed some very respectable
home-made seed-cakes into my lap, and truly never was anything more
welcome than this seasonable refreshment.

A sullen and gloomy spirit seemed to prevail among our boatmen, which by
no means diminished as the evening drew on, and "the rapids were near."
The sun had set, and the moon and stars rose brilliantly over the still
waters, which gave back the reflections of their glorious multitude of
heavenly bodies. A sight so passing fair might have stilled the most
turbulent spirits into peace; at least so I thought, as, wrapped in my
cloak, I leant back against the supporting arm of my husband, and
looking from the waters to the sky, and from the sky to the waters, with
delight and admiration. My pleasant reverie was, however, soon ended,
when I suddenly felt the boat touch the rocky bank, and heard the
boatmen protesting they would go no further that night. We were nearly
three miles below Peterborough, and how I was to walk this distance,
weakened as I was by recent illness and fatigue of our long travelling,
I knew not. To spend the night in an open boat, exposed to the heavy
dews arising from the river, would be almost death. While we were
deliberating on what to do, the rest of the passengers had made up their
minds, and taken the way through the woods by a road they were well
acquainted with. They were soon out of sight, all but one gentleman, who
was bargaining with one of the rowers to take him and his dog across the
river at the head of the rapids in a skiff.

Imagine our situation, at ten o'clock at night, without knowing a single
step of our road, put on shore to find the way to the distant town as we
best could, or pass the night in the dark forest.

Almost in despair, we entreated the gentleman to be our guide as far as
he went. But so many obstacles beset our path in the form of newly-
chopped trees and blocks of stone, scattered along the shore, that it
was with the utmost difficulty we could keep him in sight. At last we
came up with him at the place appointed to meet the skiff, and, with a
pertinacity that at another time and in other circumstances we never
should have adopted, we all but insisted on being admitted into the
boat. An angry growling consent was extorted from the surly Charon, and
we hastily entered the frail bark, which seemed hardly calculated to
convey us in safety to the opposite shore.

I could not help indulging in a feeling of indescribable fear, as I
listened to the torrent of profane invective that burst forth
continually from the lips of the boatman. Once or twice we were in
danger of being overset by the boughs of the pines and cedars which had
fallen into the water near the banks. Right glad was I when we reached
the opposite shores; but here a new trouble arose: there was yet more
untracked wood to cross before we again met the skiff which had to pass
up a small rapid, and meet us at the head of the small lake, an
expansion of the Otanabee a little below Peterborough. At the distance
of every few yards our path was obstructed by fallen trees, mostly
hemlock, spruce, or cedar, the branches of which are so thickly
interwoven that it is scarcely possible to separate them, or force a
passage through the tangled thicket which they form.

Had it not been for the humane assistance of our conductor, I know not
how I should have surmounted these difficulties. Sometimes I was ready
to sink down from very weariness. At length I hailed, with a joy I could
hardly have supposed possible, the gruff voice of the Irish rower, and,
after considerable grumbling on his part, we were again seated.

Glad enough we were to see, by the blazing light of an enormous log-
heap, the house of our friend. Here we received the offer of a guide to
show us the way to the town by a road cut through the wood. We partook
of the welcome refreshment of tea, and, having gained a little strength
by a short rest, we once more commenced our journey, guided by a ragged,
but polite, Irish boy, whose frankness and good humour quite won our
regards. He informed us he was one of seven orphans, who had lost father
and mother in the cholera. It was a sad thing, he said, to be left
fatherless and motherless, in a strange land; and he swept away the
tears that gathered in his eyes as he told the simple, but sad tale of
his early bereavement; but added, cheerfully, he had met with a kind
master, who had taken some of his brothers and sisters into his service
as well as himself.

Just as we were emerging from the gloom of the wood we found our
progress impeded by a _creek_, as the boy called it, over which he told
us we must pass by a log-bridge before we could get to the town. Now,
the log-bridge was composed of one log, or rather a fallen tree, thrown
across the stream, rendered very slippery by the heavy dew that had
risen from the swamp. As the log admitted of only one person at a time,
I could receive no assistance from my companions; and, though our little
guide, with a natural politeness arising from the benevolence of his
disposition, did me all the service in his power by holding the lantern
close to the surface to throw all the light he could on the subject, I
had the ill luck to fall in up to my knees in the water, my head turning
quite giddy just as I came to the last step or two; thus was I wet as
well as weary. To add to our misfortune we saw the lights disappear, one
by one, in the village, till a solitary candle, glimmering from the
upper chambers of one or two houses, were our only beacons. We had yet a
lodging to seek, and it was near midnight before we reached the door of
the principal inn; there, at least, thought I, our troubles for to-night
will end; but great was our mortification on being told there was not a
spare bed to be had in the house, every one being occupied by emigrants
going up to one of the back townships.

I could go no further, and we petitioned for a place by the kitchen
fire, where we might rest, at least, if not sleep, and I might dry my
wet garments. On seeing my condition the landlady took compassion on me,
led me to a blazing fire, which her damsels quickly roused up; one
brought a warm bath for my feet, while another provided a warm potation,
which, I really believe, strange and unusual to my lips as it was, did
me good: in short, we received every kindness and attention that we
required from mine host and hostess, who relinquished their own bed for
our accommodation, contenting themselves with a shakedown before the
kitchen fire.

I can now smile at the disasters of _that_ day, but at the time they
appeared no trifles, as you may well suppose.

Farewell, my dearest Mother.


Peterborough.--Manners and Language of the Americans.--Scotch
Engineman.--Description of Peterborough and its Environs.--Canadian
Flowers.--Shanties.--Hardships suffered by first Settlers.--Process of
establishing a Farm.

Peterborough, Sept. 11, 1832.

IT is now settled that we abide here till after the government sale has
taken place. We are, then, to remain with S------ and his family till we
have got a few acres chopped, and a log-house put up on our own land.
Having determined to go at once into the bush, on account of our
military grant, which we have been so fortunate as to draw in the
neighbourhood of S------, we have fully made up our minds to enter at
once, and cheerfully, on the privations and inconveniences attending
such a situation; as there is no choice between relinquishing that great
advantage and doing our settlement duties. We shall not be worse off
than others who have gone before us to the unsettled townships, many of
whom, naval and military officers, with their families, have had to
struggle with considerable difficulties, but who are now beginning to
feel the advantages arising from their exertions.

In addition to the land he is entitled to as an officer in the British
service, my husband is in treaty for the purchase of an eligible lot by
small lakes. This will give us a water frontage, and a further
inducement to bring us within a little distance of S------; so that we
shall not be quite so lonely as if we had gone on to our government lot
at once.

We have experienced some attention and hospitality from several of the
residents of Peterborough. There is a very genteel society, chiefly
composed of officers and their families, besides the professional men
and storekeepers. Many of the latter are persons of respectable family
and good education. Though a store is, in fact, nothing better than what
we should call in the country towns at home a "_general shop_," yet the
storekeeper in Canada holds a very different rank from the shopkeeper of
the English village. The storekeepers are the merchants and bankers of
the places in which they reside. Almost all money matters are transacted
by them, and they are often men of landed property and consequence, not
unfrequently filling the situations of magistrates, commissioners, and
even members of the provincial parliament.

As they maintain a rank in society which entitles them to equality with
the aristocracy of the country, you must not be surprised when I tell
you that it is no uncommon circumstance to see the sons of naval and
military officers and clergymen standing behind a counter, or wielding
an axe in the woods with their fathers' choppers; nor do they lose their
grade in society by such employment. After all, it is education and
manners that must distinguish the gentleman in this country, seeing that
the labouring man, if he is diligent and industrious, may soon become
his equal in point of worldly possessions. The ignorant man, let him be
ever so wealthy, can never be equal to the man of education. It is the
mind that forms the distinction between the classes in this country--
"Knowledge is power!"

We had heard so much of the odious manners of the Yankees in this
country that I was rather agreeably surprised by the few specimens of
native Americans that I have seen. They were for the most part, polite,
well-behaved people. The only peculiarities I observed in them were a
certain nasal twang in speaking, and some few odd phrases; but these
were only used by the lower class, who "_guess_" and "_calculate_" a
little more than we do. One of their most remarkable terms is to
"_Fix_." Whatever work requires to be done it must be _fixed_. "Fix the
room" is, set it in order. "Fix the table"--"Fix the fire," says the
mistress to her servants, and the things are fixed accordingly.

I was amused one day by hearing a woman tell her husband the chimney
wanted fixing. I thought it seemed secure enough, and was a little
surprised when the man got a rope and a few cedar boughs, with which he
dislodged an accumulation of soot that caused the fire to smoke. The
chimney being _fixed_, all went right again. This odd term is not
confined to the lower orders alone, and, from hearing it so often, it
becomes a standard word even among the later emigrants from our own

With the exception of some few remarkable expressions, and an attempt at
introducing fine words in their every-day conversation, the lower order
of Yankees have a decided advantage over our English peasantry in the
use of grammatical language: they speak better English than you will
hear from persons of the same class in any part of England, Ireland, or
Scotland; a fact that we should be unwilling, I suppose, to allow at

If I were asked what appeared to me the most striking feature in the
manners of the Americans that I had met with, I should say it was
coldness approaching to apathy. I do not at all imagine them to be
deficient in feeling or real sensibility, but they do not suffer their
emotion to be seen. They are less profuse in their expressions of
welcome and kindness than we are, though probably quite as sincere. No
one doubts their hospitality; but, after all, one likes to see the
hearty shake of the hand, and hear the cordial word that makes one feel
oneself welcome.

Persons who come to this country are very apt to confound the old
settlers from Britain with the native Americans; and when they meet with
people of rude, offensive manners, using certain Yankee words in their
conversation, and making a display of independence not exactly suitable
to their own aristocratical notions, they immediately suppose they must
be genuine Yankees, while they are, in fact, only imitators; and you
well know the fact that a bad imitation is always worse than the

You would be surprised to see how soon the new comers fall into this
disagreeable manner and affectation of equality, especially the inferior
class of Irish and Scotch; the English less so. We were rather
entertained by the behaviour of a young Scotchman, the engineer of the
steamer, on my husband addressing him with reference to the management
of the engine. His manners were surly, and almost insolent. He
scrupulously avoided the least approach to courtesy or outward respect;
nay, he even went so far as to seat himself on the bench close beside
me, and observed that "among the many advantages this country offered to
settlers like him, he did not reckon it the least of them that he was
not obliged to take off his hat when he spoke to people (meaning persons
of our degree), or address them by any other title than their name;
besides, he could go and take his seat beside any gentleman or lady
either, and think himself to the full as good as them.

"Very likely," I replied, hardly able to refrain from laughing at this
sally; "but I doubt you greatly overrate the advantage of such
privileges, for you cannot oblige the lady or gentleman to entertain the
same opinion of your qualifications, or to remain seated beside you
unless it pleases them to do so." With these words I rose up and left
the independent gentleman evidently a little confounded at the
manoeuvre: however, he soon recovered his self-possession, and continued
swinging the axe he held in his hand, and said, "It is no crime, I
guess, being born a poor man."

"None in the world," replied my husband; "a man's birth is not of his
own choosing. A man can no more help being born poor than rich; neither
is it the fault of a gentleman being born of parents who occupy a higher
station in society than his neighbour. I hope you will allow this?"

The Scotchman was obliged to yield a reluctant affirmative to the latter
position; but concluded with again repeating his satisfaction at not
being obliged in this country to take off his hat, or speak with respect
to gentlemen, as they styled themselves.

"No one, my friend, could have obliged you to be well mannered at home
any more than in Canada. Surely you could have kept your hat on your
head if you had been so disposed; no gentleman would have knocked it
off, I am sure.

"As to the boasted advantage of rude manners in Canada, I should think
something of it if it benefited you the least, or put one extra dollar
in your pocket; but I have my doubts if it has that profitable effect."

"There is a comfort, I guess, in considering oneself equal to a

"Particularly if you could induce the gentleman to think the same." This
was a point that seemed rather to disconcert our candidate for equality,
who commenced whistling and kicking his heels with redoubled energy.

"Now," said his tormentor, "you have explained your notions of Canadian
independence; be so good as to explain the machinery of your engine,
with which you seem very well acquainted."

The man eyed my husband for a minute, half sulking, half pleased at the
implied compliment on his skill, and, walking off to the engine,
discussed the management of it with considerable fluency, and from that
time treated us with perfect respect. He was evidently struck with my
husband's reply to his question, put in a most discourteous tone, "Pray,
what makes a gentleman: I'll thank you to answer me that?" "Good manners
and good education," was the reply. "A rich man or a high-born man, if
he is rude, ill-mannered, and ignorant, is no more a gentleman than

This put the matter on a different footing, and the engineer had the
good sense to perceive that rude familiarity did not constitute a

But it is now time I should give you some account of Peterborough,
which, in point of situation, is superior to any place I have yet seen
in the Upper Province. It occupies a central point between the townships
of Monaghan, Smith, Cavan, Otanabee, and Douro, and may with propriety
be considered as the capital of the Newcastle district.

It is situated on a fine elevated plain, just above the small lake,
where the river is divided by two low wooded islets. The original or
government part of the town is laid out in half-acre lots; the streets,
which are now fast filling up, are nearly at right angles with the
river, and extend towards the plains to the northeast. These plains form
a beautiful natural park, finely diversified with hill and dale, covered
with a lovely green sward, enamelled with a variety of the most
exquisite flowers, and planted, as if by Nature's own hand, with groups
of feathery pines, oaks, balsam, poplar, and silver birch. The views
from these plains are delightful; whichever way you turn your eyes they
are gratified by a diversity of hill and dale, wood and water, with the
town spreading over a considerable tract of ground.

The plains descend with a steep declivity towards the river, which
rushes with considerable impetuosity between its banks. Fancy a long,
narrow valley, and separating the east and west portions of the town
into two distinct villages.

[Illustration: Spruce]

The Otanabee bank rises to a loftier elevation than the Monaghan side,
and commands an extensive view over the intervening valley, the opposite
town, and the boundary forest and hills behind it: this is called
Peterborough East, and is in the hands of two or three individuals of
large capital, from whom the town lots are purchased.

Peterborough thus divided covers a great extent of ground, more than
sufficient for the formation of a large city. The number of inhabitants
are now reckoned at seven hundred and upwards, and if it continues to
increase as rapidly in the next few years as it has done lately, it will
soon be a very populous town*.

[*Since this account of Peterborough was written, the town has increased
at least a third in buildings and population.]

There is great water-power, both as regards the river and the fine broad
creek which winds its way through the town and falls into the small lake
below. There are several saw and grist-mills, a distillery, fulling-
mill, two principal inns, beside smaller ones, a number of good stores,
a government school-house, which also serves for a church, till one more
suitable should be built. The plains are sold off in park lots, and some
pretty little dwellings are being built, but I much fear the natural
beauties of this lovely spot will be soon spoiled.

I am never weary with strolling about, climbing the hills in every
direction, to catch some new prospect, or gather some new flowers,
which, though getting late in the summer, are still abundant.

Among the plants with whose names I am acquainted are a variety of
shrubby asters, of every tint of blue, purple, and pearly white; a lilac
_monarda_, most delightfully aromatic, even to the dry stalks and seed-
vessels; the white _gnaphalium_ or everlasting flower; roses of several
kinds, a few late buds of which I found in a valley, near the church. I
also noticed among the shrubs a very pretty little plant, resembling our
box; it trails along the ground, sending up branches and shoots; the
leaves turn of a deep copper red*; yet, in spite of this contradiction,
it is an evergreen. I also noticed some beautiful lichens, with coral
caps surmounting the grey hollow footstalks, which grow in irregular
tufts among the dry mosses, or more frequently I found them covering the
roots of the trees or half-decayed timbers. Among a variety of fungi I
gathered a hollow cup of the most splendid scarlet within, and a pale
fawn colour without; another very beautiful fungi consisted of small
branches like clusters of white coral, but of so delicate a texture that
the slightest touch caused them to break.

[* Probably a _Gaultkeria_.--Ed.]

The ground in many places was covered with a thick carpet of
strawberries of many varieties, which afford a constant dessert during
the season to those who choose to pick them, a privilege of which I am
sure I should gladly avail myself were I near them in the summer. Beside
the plants I have myself observed in blossom, I am told the spring and
summer produce many others;--the orange lily; the phlox, or purple
_lichnidea_; the mocassin flower, or ladies' slipper; lilies of the
valley in abundance; and, towards the banks of the creek and the
Otanabee, the splendid cardinal flower (_lobelia cardinalis_) waves its
scarlet spikes of blossoms.

I am half inclined to be angry when I admire the beauty of the Canadian
flowers, to be constantly reminded that they are scentless, and
therefore scarcely worthy of attention; as if the eye could not be
charmed by beauty of form and harmony of colours, independent of the
sense of smelling being gratified.

To redeem this country from the censure cast on it by a very clever
gentleman I once met in London, who said, "the flowers were without
perfume, and the birds without song," I have already discovered several
highly aromatic plants and flowers. The milkweed must not be omitted
among these; a beautiful shrubby plant with purple flowers, which are
alike remarkable for beauty of colour and richness of scent.

I shall very soon begin to collect a hortas siccus for Eliza, with a
description of the plants, growth, and qualities. Any striking
particulars respecting them I shall make notes of; and tell her she may
depend on my sending my specimens, with seeds of such as I can collect,
at some fitting opportunity.

I consider this country opens a wide and fruitful field to the inquiries
of the botanist. I now deeply regret I did not benefit by the frequent
offers Eliza made me of prosecuting a study which I once thought dry,
but now regard as highly interesting, and the fertile source of mental
enjoyment, especially to those who, living in the bush, must necessarily
be shut out from the pleasures of a large circle of friends, and the
varieties that a town or village offer.

On Sunday I went to church; the first opportunity I had had of attending
public worship since I was in the Highlands of Scotland; and surely I
had reason to bow my knees in thankfulness to that merciful God who had
brought us through the perils of the great deep and the horrors of the

Never did our beautiful Liturgy seem so touching and impressive as it
did that day,--offered up in our lowly log-built church in the

This simple edifice is situated at the foot of a gentle slope on the
plains, surrounded by groups of oak and feathery pines, which, though
inferior in point of size to the huge pines and oaks of the forest, are
far more agreeable to the eye, branching out in a variety of fantastic
forms. The turf here is of an emerald greenness: in short, it is a sweet
spot, retired from the noise and bustle of the town, a fitting place in
which to worship God in spirit and in truth.

There are many beautiful walks towards the Smith town hills, and along
the banks that overlook the river. The summit of this ridge is sterile,
and is thickly set with loose blocks of red and grey granite,
interspersed with large masses of limestone scattered in every
direction; they are mostly smooth and rounded, as if by the action of
water. As they are detached, and merely occupy the surface of the
ground, it seemed strange to me how they came at that elevation. A
geologist would doubtless be able to solve the mystery in a few minutes.
The oaks that grow on this high bank are rather larger and more
flourishing than those in the valleys and more fertile portions of the

Behind the town, in the direction of the Cavan and Emily roads, is a
wide space which I call the "squatter's ground," it being entirely
covered with shanties, in which the poor emigrants, commuted pensioners,
and the like, have located themselves and families. Some remain here
under the ostensible reason of providing a shelter for their wives and
children till they have prepared a home for their reception on their
respective grants; but not unfrequently it happens that they are too
indolent, or really unable to work on their lots, often situated many
miles in the backwoods, and in distant and unsettled townships,
presenting great obstacles to the poor emigrant, which it requires more
energy and courage to encounter than is possessed by a vast number of
them. Others, of idle and profligate habits, spend the money they
received, and sell the land, for which they gave away their pensions,
after which they remain miserable squatters on the shanty ground.

The shanty is a sort of primitive hut in Canadian architecture, and is
nothing more than a shed built of logs, the chinks between the round
edges of the timbers being filled with mud, moss, and bits of wood; the
roof is frequently composed of logs split and hollowed with the axe, and
placed side by side, so that the edges rest on each other; the concave
and convex surfaces being alternately uppermost, every other log forms a
channel to carry off the rain and melting snow. The eaves of this
building resemble the scolloped edges of a clamp shell; but rude as this
covering is, it effectually answers the purpose of keeping the interior
dry; far more so than the roofs formed of bark or boards, through which
the rain will find entrance. Sometimes the shanty has a window,
sometimes only an open doorway, which admits the light and lets out the
smoke*. A rude chimney, which is often nothing better than an opening
cut in one of the top logs above the hearth, a few boards fastened in a
square form, serves as the vent for the smoke; the only precaution
against the fire catching the log walls behind the hearth being a few
large stones placed in a half circular form, or more commonly a bank of
dry earth raised against the wall.

[* I was greatly amused by the remark made by a little Irish boy, that
we hired to be our hewer of wood and drawer of water, who had been an
inhabitant of one of these shanties. "Ma'am" said he, "when the weather
was stinging cold, we did not know how to keep ourselves warm; for while
we roasted our eyes out before the fire our backs were just freezing; so
first we turned one side and then the other, just as you would roast a
_guse_ on a spit. Mother spent half the money father earned at his straw
work (he was a straw chair maker,) in whiskey to keep us warm; but I do
think a larger mess of good hot _praters_ (potatoes,) would have kept us
warmer than the whiskey did."]

Nothing can be more comfortless than some of these shanties, reeking
with smoke and dirt, the common receptacle for children, pigs, and
fowls. But I have given you the dark side of the picture; I am happy to
say all the shanties on the squatters' ground were not like these: on
the contrary, by far the larger proportion were inhabited by tidy folks,
and had one, or even two small windows, and a clay chimney regularly
built up through the roof; some were even roughly floored, and possessed
similar comforts with the small log-houses.

[Illustration: Log house]

You will, perhaps, think it strange when I assure you that many
respectable settlers, with their wives and families, persons delicately
nurtured, and accustomed to every comfort before they came hither, have
been contented to inhabit a hut of this kind during the first or second
year of their settlement in the woods.

I have listened with feelings of great interest to the history of the
hardships endured by some of the first settlers in the neighbourhood,
when Peterborough contained but two dwelling houses. Then there were
neither roads cut nor boats built for communicating with the distant and
settled parts of the district; consequently the difficulties of
procuring supplies of provisions was very great, beyond what any one
that has lately come hither can form any notion of.

When I heard of a whole family having had no better supply of flour than
what could be daily ground by a small hand-mill, and for weeks being
destitute of every necessary, not even excepting bread, I could not help
expressing some surprise, never having met with any account in the works
I had read concerning emigration that at all prepared one for such

"These particular trials," observed my intelligent friend, "are confined
principally to the first breakers of the soil in the unsettled parts of
the country, as was our case. If you diligently question some of the
families of the lower class that are located far from the towns, and who
had little or no means to support them during the first twelve months,
till they could take a crop off the land, you will hear many sad tales
of distress."

Writers on emigration do not take the trouble of searching out these
things, nor does it answer their purpose to state disagreeable facts.
Few have written exclusively on the "Bush." Travellers generally make a
hasty journey through the long settled and prosperous portions of the
country; they see a tract of fertile, well-cultivated land, the result
of many years of labour; they see comfortable dwellings, abounding with
all the substantial necessaries of life; the farmer's wife makes her own
soap, candles, and sugar; the family are clothed in cloth of their own
spinning, and hose of their own knitting. The bread, the beer, butter,
cheese, meat, poultry, &c. are all the produce of the farm. He
concludes, therefore, that Canada is a land of Canaan, and writes a book
setting forth these advantages, with the addition of obtaining land for
a mere song; and advises all persons who would be independent and secure
from want to emigrate.

He forgets that these advantages are the result of long years of
unremitting and patient labour; that these things are the _crown_, not
the _first-fruits_ of the settler's toil; and that during the interval
many and great privations must be submitted to by almost every class of

Many persons, on first coming out, especially if they go back into any
of the unsettled townships, are dispirited by the unpromising appearance
of things about them. They find none of the advantages and comforts of
which they had heard and read, and they are unprepared for the present
difficulties; some give way to despondency, and others quit the place in

[Illustration: Log-Village--Arrival of a Stage-coach]

A little reflection would have shown them that every rood of land must
be cleared of the thick forest of timber that encumbers it before an ear
of wheat can be grown; that, after the trees have been chopped, cut into
lengths, drawn together, or _logged_, as we call it, and burned, the
field must be fenced, the seed sown, harvested, and thrashed before any
returns can be obtained; that this requires time and much labour, and,
if hired labour, considerable outlay of ready money; and in the mean
time a family must eat. If at a distance from a store, every article
must be brought through bad roads either by hand or with a team, the
hire of which is generally costly in proportion to the distance and
difficulty to be encountered in the conveyance. Now these things are
better known beforehand, and then people are aware what they have to

Even a labouring man, though he have land of his own, is often, I may
say generally, obliged to _hire out_ to work for the first year or two,
to earn sufficient for the maintenance of his family; and even so many
of them suffer much privation before they reap the benefit of their
independence. Were it not for the hope and the certain prospect of
bettering their condition ultimately, they would sink under what they
have to endure; but this thought buoys them up. They do not fear an old
age of want and pauperism; the present evils must yield to industry and
perseverance; they think also for their children; and the trials of the
present time are lost in pleasing anticipations for the future.

"Surely," said I, "cows and pigs and poultry might be kept; and you know
where there is plenty of milk, butter, cheese, and eggs, with pork and
fowls, persons cannot be very badly off for food."

"Very true," replied my friend; "but I must tell you it is easier to
talk of these things at first than to keep them, unless on cleared or
partially cleared farms; but we are speaking of a _first_ settlement in
the backwoods. Cows, pigs, and fowls must eat, and if you have nothing
to give them unless you purchase it, and perhaps have to bring it from
some distance, you had better not be troubled with them, as the trouble
is certain and the profit doubtful. A cow, it is true, will get her
living during the open months of the year in the bush, but sometimes she
will ramble away for days together, and then you lose the use of her,
and possibly much time in seeking her; then in the winter she requires
some additional food to the _browse_* that she gets during the chopping
season, or ten to one but she dies before spring; and as cows generally
lose their milk during the cold weather, if not very well kept, it is
best to part with them in the fall and buy again in the spring, unless
you have plenty of food for them, which is not often the case the first
winter. As to pigs they are great plagues on a newly cleared farm if you
cannot fat them off-hand; and that you cannot do without you buy food
for them, which does not answer to do at first. If they run loose they
are a terrible annoyance both to your own crops and your neighbours if
you happen to be within half a mile of one; for though you may fence out
cattle you cannot pigs: even poultry require something more than they
pick up about the dwelling to be of any service to you, and are often
taken off by hawks, eagles, foxes, and pole-cats, till you have proper
securities for them."

[* The cattle are supported in a great measure during the fall and
winter by eating the tender shoots of the maple, beech and bass, which
they seek in the newly-chopped fallow; but they should likewise be
allowed straw or other food, or they will die in the very hard weather.]

"Then how are we to spin our own wool and make our own soap and
candles?" said I. "When you are able to kill your own sheep, and hogs,
and oxen, unless you buy wool and tallow"--then, seeing me begin to look
somewhat disappointed, he said, "Be not cast down, you will have all
these things in time, and more than these, never fear, if you have
patience, and use the means of obtaining them. In the mean while prepare
your mind for many privations to which at present you are a stranger;
and if you would desire to see your husband happy and prosperous, be
content to use economy, and above all, be cheerful. In a few years the
farm will supply you with all the necessaries of life, and by and by you
may even enjoy many of the luxuries. Then it is that a settler begins to
taste the real and solid advantages of his emigration; then he feels the
blessings of a country where there are no taxes, tithes, nor poor-rates;
then he truly feels the benefit of independence. It is looking forward
to this happy fulfillment of his desires that makes the rough paths
smooth, and lightens the burden of present ills. He looks round upon a
numerous family without those anxious fears that beset a father in
moderate circumstances at home; for he knows he does not leave them
destitute of an honest means of support."

In spite of all the trials he had encountered, I found this gentleman
was so much attached to a settler's life, that he declared he would not
go back to his own country to reside for a permanence on any account;
nor is he the only one that I have heard express the same opinion; and
it likewise seems a universal one among the lower class of emigrants.
They are encouraged by the example of others whom they see enjoying
comforts that they could never have obtained had they laboured ever so
hard at home; and they wisely reflect they must have had hardships to
endure had they remained in their native land (many indeed had been
driven out by want), without the most remote chance of bettering
themselves or becoming the possessors of land free from all
restrictions. "What to us are the sufferings of one, two, three, or even
four years, compared with a whole life of labour and poverty," was the
remark of a poor labourer, who was recounting to us the other day some
of the hardships he had met with in this country. He said he "knew they
were only for a short time, and that by industry he should soon get over

I have already seen two of our poor neighbours that left the parish a
twelvemonth ago; they are settled in Canada Company lots, and are
getting on well. They have some few acres cleared and cropped, but are
obliged to "_hire out_", to enable their families to live, working on
their own land when they can. The men are in good spirits, and say "they
shall in a few years have many comforts about them that they never could
have got at home, had they worked late and early; but they complain that
their wives are always pining for home, and lamenting that ever they
crossed the seas." This seems to be the general complaint with all
classes; the women are discontented and unhappy. Few enter with their
whole heart into a settler's life. They miss the little domestic
comforts they had been used to enjoy; they regret the friends and
relations they left in the old country; and they cannot endure the
loneliness of the backwoods.

This prospect does not discourage me: I know I shall find plenty of
occupation within-doors, and I have sources of enjoyment when I walk
abroad that will keep me from being dull. Besides, have I not a right to
be cheerful and contented for the sake of my beloved partner? The change
is not greater for me than him; and if for his sake I have voluntarily
left home, and friends, and country, shall I therefore sadden him by
useless regrets? I am always inclined to subscribe to that sentiment of
my favourite poet, Goldsmith,--

"Still to ourselves in every place consign'd,
Our own felicity we make or find."

But I shall very soon be put to the test, as we leave this town to-
morrow by ten o'clock. The purchase of the Lake lot is concluded. There
are three acres chopped and a shanty up; but the shanty is not a
habitable dwelling, being merely an open shed that was put up by the
choppers as a temporary shelter; so we shall have to build a house. Late
enough we are; too late to get in a full crop, as the land is merely
chopped, not cleared, and it is too late now to log and burn the fallow,
and get the seed-wheat in: but it will be ready for spring crops. We
paid five dollars and a half per acre for the lot; this was rather high
for wild land, so far from a town, and in a scantily-settled part of the
township; but the situation is good, and has a water frontage, for which
my husband was willing to pay something more than if the lot had been
further inland.

In all probability it will be some time before I find leisure again to
take up my pen. We shall remain guests with ------ till our house is in
a habitable condition, which I suppose will be about Christmas.


Journey from Peterborough.--Canadian Woods.--Waggon and Team.--Arrival
at a Log-house on the Banks of a Lake.--Settlement and first

October 25, 1832.

I SHALL begin my letter with a description of our journey through the
bush, and so go on, giving an account of our proceedings both within-
doors and with-out. I know my little domestic details will not prove
wholly uninteresting to you; for well I am assured that a mother's eye
is never weary with reading lines traced by the hand of an absent and
beloved child.

After some difficulty we succeeded in hiring a waggon and span (i.e.
pair abreast) of stout horses to convey us and our luggage through the
woods to the banks of one of the lakes, where S------ had appointed to
ferry us across. There was no palpable road, only a blaze on the other
side, encumbered by fallen trees, and interrupted by a great cedar
swamp, into which one might sink up to one's knees, unless we took the
precaution to step along the trunks of the mossy, decaying timbers, or
make our footing sure on some friendly block of granite or limestone.
What is termed in bush language a _blaze_, is nothing more than notches
or slices cut off the bark of the trees, to mark out the line of road.
The boundaries of the different lots are often marked by a blazed tree,
also the concession-lines*. These blazes are of as much use as finger-
posts of a dark night.

[* These concession-lines are certain divisions of the townships; these
are again divided into so many lots of 200 acres. The concession-lines
used to be marked by a wide avenue being chopped, so as to form a road
of communication between them; but this plan was found too troublesome;
and in a few years the young growth of timber so choked the opening,
that it was of little use. The lately-surveyed townships, I believe, are
only divided by blazed lines.]

The road we were compelled to take lay over the Peterborough plains, in
the direction of the river; the scenery of which pleased me much, though
it presents little appearance of fertility, with the exception of two or
three extensive clearings.

About three miles above Peterborough the road winds along the brow of a
steep ridge, the bottom of which has every appearance of having been
formerly the bed of a lateral branch of the present river, or perhaps
some small lake, which has been diverted from its channel, and merged in
the Otanabee.

On either side of this ridge there is a steep descent; on the right the
Otanabee breaks upon you, rushing with great velocity over its rocky
bed, forming rapids in miniature resembling those of the St. Laurence;
its dark, frowning woods of sombre pine give a grandeur to the scenery
that is very impressive. On the left lies below you a sweet secluded
dell of evergreens, cedar, hemlock, and pine, enlivened by a few
deciduous trees. Through this dell there is a road-track leading to a
fine cleared farm, the green pastures of which were rendered more
pleasing by the absence of the odious stumps that disfigure the
clearings in this part of the country. A pretty bright stream flows
through the low meadow that lies at the foot of the hill, which you
descend suddenly close by a small grist-mill that is worked by the
waters, just where they meet the rapids of the river.

[Illustration: Road through a Fine Forest]

I called this place "Glen Morrison," partly from the remembrance of the
lovely Glen Morrison of the Highlands, and partly because it was the
name of the settler that owned the spot.

Our progress was but slow on account of the roughness of the road, which
is beset with innumerable obstacles in the shape of loose blocks of
granite and limestone, with which the lands on the banks of the river
and lakes abound; to say nothing of fallen trees, big roots, mud-holes,
and corduroy bridges, over which you go jolt, jolt, jolt, till every
bone in your body feels as if it were going to be dislocated. An
experienced bush-traveller avoids many hard thumps by rising up or
clinging to the sides of his rough vehicle.

As the day was particularly fine, I often quitted the waggon and walked
on with my husband for a mile or so.

We soon lost sight entirely of the river, and struck into the deep
solitude of the forest, where not a sound disturbed the almost awful
stillness that reigned around us. Scarcely a leaf or bough was in
motion, excepting at intervals we caught the sound of the breeze
stirring the lofty heads of the pine-trees, and wakening a hoarse and
mournful cadence. This, with the tapping of the red-headed and grey
woodpeckers on the trunk of the decaying trees, or the shrill whistling
cry of the little striped squirrel, called by the natives "chitmunk,"
was every sound that broke the stillness of the wild. Nor was I less
surprised at the absence of animal life. With the exception of the
aforesaid chitmunk, no living thing crossed our path during our long
day's journey in the woods.

In these vast solitudes one would naturally be led to imagine that the
absence of man would have allowed Nature's wild denizens to have
abounded free and unmolested; but the contrary seems to be the case.
Almost all wild animals are more abundant in the cleared districts than
in the bush. Man's industry supplies their wants at an easier rate than
seeking a scanty subsistence in the forest.

You hear continually of depredations committed by wolves, bears,
racoons, lynxes, and foxes, in the long-settled parts of the province.
In the backwoods the appearance of wild beasts is a matter of much rarer

I was disappointed in the forest trees, having pictured to myself hoary
giants almost primeval with the country itself, as greatly exceeding in
majesty of form the trees of my native isles, as the vast lakes and
mighty rivers of Canada exceed the locks and streams of Britain.

There is a want of picturesque beauty in the woods. The young growth of
timber alone has any pretension of elegance of form, unless I except the
hemlocks, which are extremely light and graceful, and of a lovely
refreshing tint of green. Even when winter has stripped the forest it is
still beautiful and verdant. The young beeches too are pretty enough,
but you miss that fantastic bowery shade that is so delightful in our
parks and woodlands at home.

There is no appearance of venerable antiquity in the Canadian woods.
There are no ancient spreading oaks that might be called the patriarchs
of the forest. A premature decay seems to be their doom. They are
uprooted by the storm, and sink in their first maturity, to give place
to a new generation that is ready to fill their places.

The pines are certainly the finest trees. In point of size there are
none to surpass them. They tower above all the others, forming a dark
line that may be distinguished for many miles. The pines being so much
loftier than the other trees, are sooner uprooted, as they receive the
full and unbroken force of the wind in their tops; thus it is that the
ground is continually strewn with the decaying trunks of huge pines.
They also seem more liable to inward decay, and blasting from lightning,
and fire. Dead pines are more frequently met with than any other tree.

Much as I had seen and heard of the badness of the roads in Canada, I
was not prepared for such a one as we travelled along this day: indeed,
it hardly deserved the name of a road, being little more than an opening
hewed out through the woods, the trees being felled and drawn aside, so
as to admit a wheeled carriage passing along.

The swamps and little forest streams, that occasionally gush across the
path, are rendered passable by logs placed side by side. From the ridgy
and striped appearance of these bridges they are aptly enough termed

Over these abominable corduroys the vehicle jolts, jumping from log to
log, with a shock that must be endured with as good a grace as possible.
If you could bear these knocks, and pitiless thumpings and bumpings,
without wry faces, your patience and philosophy would far exceed mine;--
sometimes I laughed because I would not cry.

Imagine you see me perched up on a seat composed of carpet-bags, trunks,
and sundry packages, in a vehicle little better than a great rough deal
box set on wheels, the sides being merely pegged in so that more than
once I found myself in rather an awkward predicament, owing to the said
sides jumping out. In the very midst of a deep mud-hole out went the
front board, and with the shock went the teamster (driver), who looked
rather confounded at finding himself lodged just in the middle of a
slough as bad as the "Slough of Despond." For my part, as I could do no
good, I kept my seat, and patiently awaited the restoration to order.
This was soon effected, and all went on well again till a jolt against a
huge pine-tree gave such a jar to the ill-set vehicle, that one of the
boards danced out that composed the bottom, and a sack of flour and bag
of salted pork, which was on its way to a settler's, whose clearing we
had to pass in the way, were ejected. A good teamster is seldom taken
aback by such trifles as these.

He is, or should be, provided with an axe. No waggon, team, or any other
travelling equipage should be unprovided with an instrument of this
kind; as no one can answer for the obstacles that may impede his
progress in the bush. The disasters we met fortunately required but
little skill in remedying. The sides need only a stout peg, and the
loosened planks that form the bottom being quickly replaced, away you go
again over root, stump, and stone, mud-hole, and corduroy; now against
the trunk of some standing tree, now mounting over some fallen one, with
an impulse that would annihilate any lighter equipage than a Canadian
waggon, which is admirably fitted by its very roughness for such roads
as we have in the bush.

The sagacity of the horses of this country is truly admirable. Their
patience in surmounting the difficulties they have to encounter, their
skill in avoiding the holes and stones, and in making their footing sure
over the round and slippery timbers of the log-bridges, renders them
very valuable. If they want the spirit and fleetness of some of our
high-bred blood-horses, they make up in gentleness, strength, and
patience. This renders them most truly valuable, as they will travel in
such places that no British horse would, with equal safety to their
drivers. Nor are the Canadian horses, when well fed and groomed, at all
deficient in beauty of colour, size, or form. They are not very often
used in logging; the ox is preferred in all rough and heavy labour of
this kind.

Just as the increasing gloom of the forest began to warn us of the
approach of evening, and I was getting weary and hungry, our driver, in
some confusion, avowed his belief that, somehow or other, he had missed
the track, though how, he could not tell, seeing there was but one road.
We were nearly two miles from the last settlement, and he said we ought
to be within sight of the lake if we were on the right road. The only
plan, we agreed, was for him to go forward and leave the team, and
endeavour to ascertain if he were near the water, and if otherwise, to
return to the house we had passed and inquire the way.

After running full half a mile ahead he returned with a dejected
countenance, saying we must be wrong, for he saw no appearance of water,
and the road we were on appeared to end in a cedar swamp, as the farther
he went the thicker the hemlocks and cedars became; so, as we had no
desire to commence our settlement by a night's lodging in a swamp--
where, to use the expression of our driver, the cedars grew as thick as
hairs on a cat's back,--we agreed to retrace our steps.

After some difficulty the lumbering machine was turned, and slowly we
began our backward march. We had not gone more than a mile when a boy
came along, who told us we might just go back again, as there was no
other road to the lake; and added, with a knowing nod of his head,
"Master, I guess if you had known the bush as well as I, you would never
have been _fule_ enough to turn when you were going just right. Why, any
body knows that _them_ cedars and himlocks grow thickest near the water;
so you may just go back for your pains."

It was dark, save that the stars came forth with more than usual
brilliancy, when we suddenly emerged from the depth of the gloomy forest
to the shores of a beautiful little lake, that gleamed the more brightly
from the contrast of the dark masses of foliage that hung over it, and
the towering pine-woods that girt its banks.

Here, seated on a huge block of limestone, which was covered with a soft
cushion of moss, beneath the shade of the cedars that skirt the lake,
surrounded with trunks, boxes, and packages of various descriptions,
which the driver had hastily thrown from the waggon, sat your child, in
anxious expectation of some answering voice to my husband's long and
repeated halloo.

But when the echo of his voice had died away we heard only the gurgling
of the waters at the head of the rapids, and the distant and hoarse
murmur of a waterfall some half mile below them.

We could see no sign of any habitation, no gleam of light from the shore
to cheer us. In vain we strained our ears for the plash of the oar, or
welcome sound of the human voice, or bark of some household dog, that
might assure us we were not doomed to pass the night in the lone wood.

We began now to apprehend we had really lost the way. To attempt
returning through the deepening darkness of the forest in search of any
one to guide us was quite out of the question, the road being so ill
defined that we should soon have been lost in the mazes of the woods.
The last sound of the waggon wheels had died away in the distance; to
have overtaken it would have been impossible. Bidding me remain quietly
where I was, my husband forced his way through the tangled underwood
along the bank, in hope of discovering some sign of the house we sought,
which we had every reason to suppose must be near, though probably
hidden by the dense mass of trees from our sight.

As I sat in the wood in silence and in darkness, my thoughts gradually
wandered back across the Atlantic to my dear mother and to my old home;
and I thought what would have been your feelings could you at that
moment have beheld me as I sat on the cold mossy stone in the profound
stillness of that vast leafy wilderness, thousands of miles from all
those holy ties of kindred and early associations that make home in all
countries a hallowed spot. It was a moment to press upon my mind the
importance of the step I had taken, in voluntarily sharing the lot of
the emigrant--in leaving the land of my birth, to which, in all
probability, I might never again return. Great as was the sacrifice,
even at that moment, strange as was my situation, I felt no painful
regret or fearful misgiving depress my mind. A holy and tranquil peace
came down upon me, soothing and softening my spirits into a calmness
that seemed as unruffled as was the bosom of the water that lay
stretched out before my feet.

My reverie was broken by the light plash of a paddle, and a bright line
of light showed a canoe dancing over the lake: in a few minutes a well-
known and friendly voice greeted me as the little bark was moored among
the cedars at my feet. My husband having gained a projecting angle of
the shore, had discovered the welcome blaze of the wood fire in the log-
house, and, after some difficulty, had succeeded in rousing the
attention of its inhabitants. Our coming that day had long been given
up, and our first call had been mistaken for the sound of the ox-bells
in the wood: this had caused the delay that had so embarrassed us.

We soon forgot our weary wanderings beside the bright fire that blazed
on the hearth of the log-house, in which we found S------ comfortably
domiciled with his wife. To the lady I was duly introduced; and, in
spite of all remonstrances from the affectionate and careful mother,
three fair sleeping children were successively handed out of their cribs
to be shown me by the proud and delighted father.

Our welcome was given with that unaffected cordiality that is so
grateful to the heart: it was as sincere as it was kind. All means were
adopted to soften the roughness of our accommodation, which, if they
lacked that elegance and convenience to which we had been accustomed in
England, were not devoid of rustic comfort; at all events they were such
as many settlers of the first respectability have been glad to content
themselves with, and many have not been half so well lodged as we now

We may indeed consider ourselves fortunate in not being obliged to go at
once into the rude shanty that I described to you as the only habitation
on our land. This test of our fortitude was kindly spared us by S------,
who insisted on our remaining beneath his hospitable roof till such time
as we should have put up a house on our own lot. Here then we are for
the present _fixed_, as the Canadians say; and if I miss many of the
little comforts and luxuries of life, I enjoy excellent health and
spirits, and am very happy in the society of those around me.

The children are already very fond of me. They have discovered my
passion for flowers, which they diligently search for among the stumps
and along the lake shore. I have begun collecting, and though the season
is far advanced, my hortus siccus boasts of several elegant specimens of
fern; the yellow Canadian violet, which blooms twice in the year, in the
spring and fall, as the autumnal season is expressively termed; two
sorts of Michaelmas daisies, as we call the shrubby asters, of which the
varieties here are truly elegant; and a wreath of the festoon pine, a
pretty evergreen with creeping stalks, that run along the ground three
or four yards in length, sending up, at the distance of five or six
inches, erect, stiff, green stems, resembling some of our heaths in the
dark, shining, green, chaffy leaves. The Americans ornament their
chimney-glasses with garlands of this plant, mixed with the dried
blossoms of the life-everlasting (the pretty white and yellow flowers we
call love-everlasting): this plant is also called festoon-pine. In my
rambles in the wood near the house I have discovered a trailing plant
bearing a near resemblance to the cedar, which I consider has, with
equal propriety, a claim to the name of ground or creeping cedar.

As much of the botany of these unsettled portions of the country are
unknown to the naturalist, and the plants are quite nameless, I take the
liberty of bestowing names upon them according to inclination or fancy.
But while I am writing about flowers I am forgetting that you will be
more interested in hearing what steps we are taking on our land.

My husband has hired people to log up (that is, to draw the chopped
timbers into heaps for burning) and clear a space for building our house
upon. He has also entered into an agreement with a young settler in our
vicinity to complete it for a certain sum within and without, according
to a given plan. We are, however, to call the "bee," and provide every
thing necessary for the entertainment of our worthy _hive_. Now you know
that a "bee," in American language, or rather phraseology, signifies
those friendly meetings of neighbours who assemble at your summons to
raise the walls of your house, shanty, barn, or any other building: this
is termed a "raising bee." Then there are logging-bees, husking-bees,
chopping-bees, and quilting-bees. The nature of the work to be done
gives the name to the bee. In the more populous and long-settled
districts this practice is much discontinued, but it is highly useful,
and almost indispensable to the new settlers in the remote townships,
where the price of labour is proportionably high, and workmen difficult
to be procured.

Imagine the situation of an emigrant with a wife and young family, the
latter possibly too young and helpless to render him the least
assistance in the important business of chopping, logging, and building,
on their first coming out to take possession of a lot of wild land; how
deplorable would their situation be, unless they could receive quick and
ready help from those around them.

This laudable practice has grown out of necessity, and if it has its
disadvantages, such for instance as being called upon at an inconvenient
season for a return of help, by those who have formerly assisted you,
yet it is so indispensable to you that the debt of gratitude ought to be
cheerfully repaid. It is, in fact, regarded in the light of a debt of
honour; you cannot be forced to attend a bee in return, but no one that
can does refuse, unless from urgent reasons; and if you do not find it
possible to attend in person you may send a substitute in a servant or
in cattle, if you have a yoke.

In no situation, and under no other circumstance, does the equalizing
system of America appear to such advantage as in meetings of this sort.
All distinctions of rank, education, and wealth are for the time
voluntarily laid aside. You will see the son of the educated gentleman
and that of the poor artisan, the officer and the private soldier, the
independent settler and the labourer who works out for hire, cheerfully
uniting in one common cause. Each individual is actuated by the
benevolent desire of affording help to the helpless, and exerting
himself to raise a home for the homeless.

At present so small a portion of the forest is cleared on our lot, that
I can give you little or no description of the spot on which we are
located, otherwise than that it borders on a fine expanse of water,
which forms one of the Otanabee chain of Small Lake. I hope, however, to
give you a more minute description of our situation in my next letter.

For the present, then, I bid you adieu.


Inconveniences of first Settlement.--Difficulty of obtaining Provisions
and other necessaries.--Snow-storm and Hurricane.--Indian Summer, and
setting-in of Winter.--Process of clearing the Land.

November the 20th, 1832.

OUR log-house is not yet finished, though it is in a state of
forwardness. We are still indebted to the hospitable kindness of S------
and his wife for a home. This being their first settlement on their land
they have as yet many difficulties, in common with all residents in the
backwoods, to put up with this year. They have a fine block of land,
well situated; and S------ laughs at the present privations, to which he
opposes a spirit of cheerfulness and energy that is admirably calculated
to effect their conquest. They are now about to remove to a larger and
more commodious house that has been put up this fall, leaving us the use
of the old one till our own is ready.

We begin to get reconciled to our Robinson Crusoe sort of life, and the
consideration that the present evils are but temporary, goes a great way
towards reconciling us to them.

One of our greatest inconveniences arises from the badness of our roads,
and the distance at which we are placed from any village or town where
provisions are to be procured.

Till we raise our own grain and fatten our own hogs, sheep, and poultry,
we must be dependent upon the stores for food of every kind. These
supplies have to be brought up at considerable expense and loss of time,
through our beautiful bush roads; which, to use the words of a poor
Irish woman, "can't be no worser." "Och, darlint," she said, "but they
are just bad enough, and can't be no worser. Och, but they aren't like
to our iligant roads in Ireland."

You may send down a list of groceries to be forwarded when a team comes
up, and when we examine our stores, behold rice, sugar, currants,
pepper, and mustard all jumbled into one mess. What think you of a rice-
pudding seasoned plentifully with pepper, mustard, and, may be, a little
rappee or prince's mixture added by way of sauce. I think the recipe
would cut quite a figure in the Cook's Oracle or Mrs. Dalgairn's
Practice of Cookery, under the original title of a "bush pudding."

And then woe and destruction to the brittle ware that may chance to
travel through our roads. Lucky, indeed, are we if, through the superior
carefulness of the person who packs them, more than one-half happens to
arrive in safety. For such mishaps we have no redress. The storekeeper
lays the accident upon the teamster, and the teamster upon the bad
roads, wondering that he himself escapes with whole bones after a
journey through the bush.

This is now the worst season of the year;--this, and just after the
breaking up of the snow. Nothing hardly but an ox-cart can travel along
the roads, and even that with difficulty, occupying two days to perform
the journey; and the worst of the matters is, that there are times when
the most necessary articles of provisions are not to be procured at any
price. You see, then, that a settler in the bush requires to hold
himself pretty independent, not only of the luxuries and delicacies of
the table, but not unfrequently even of the very necessaries.

One time no pork is to be procured; another time there is a scarcity of
flour, owing to some accident that has happened to the mill, or for the
want of proper supplies of wheat for grinding; or perhaps the weather
and bad roads at the same time prevent a team coming up, or people from
going down. Then you must have recourse to a neighbour, if you have the
good fortune to be near one, or fare the best you can on potatoes. The
potatoe is indeed a great blessing here; new settlers would otherwise be
often greatly distressed, and the poor man and his family who are
without resources, without the potatoe must starve.

Once our stock of tea was exhausted, and we were unable to procure more.
In this dilemma milk would have been an excellent substitute, or coffee,
if we had possessed it; but we had neither the one nor the other, so we
agreed to try the Yankee tea--hemlock sprigs boiled. This proved, to my
taste, a vile decoction; though I recognized some herb in the tea that
was sold in London at five shillings a pound, which I am certain was
nothing better than dried hemlock leaves reduced to a coarse powder.

S------ laughed at our wry faces, declaring the potation was excellent;
and he set us all an example by drinking six cups of this truly sylvan
beverage. His eloquence failed in gaining a single convert; we could not
believe it was only second to young hyson. To his assurance that to its
other good qualities it united medicinal virtues, we replied that, like
all other physic, it was very unpalatable.

"After all," said S------, with a thoughtful air, "the blessings and the
evils of this life owe their chief effect to the force of contrast, and
are to be estimated by that principally. We should not appreciate the
comforts we enjoy half so much did we not occasionally feel the want of
them. How we shall value the conveniences of a cleared farm after a few
years, when we can realize all the necessaries and many of the luxuries
of life."

"And how we shall enjoy green tea after this odious decoction of
hemlock," said I.

"Very true; and a comfortable frame-house, and nice garden, and pleasant
pastures, after these dark forests, log-houses, and no garden at all."

"And the absence of horrid black stumps," rejoined I. "Yes, and the
absence of horrid stumps. Depend upon it, my dear, your Canadian farm
will seem to you a perfect paradise by the time it is all under
cultivation; and you will look upon it with the more pleasure and pride
from the consciousness that it was once a forest wild, which, by the
effects of industry and well applied means, has changed to fruitful
fields. Every fresh comfort you realize around you will add to your
happiness; every improvement within-doors or without will raise a
sensation of gratitude and delight in your mind, to which those that
revel in the habitual enjoyment of luxury, and even of the commonest
advantages of civilization, must in a great degree be strangers. My
pass-words are, 'Hope! Resolution! and Perseverance!'"

"This," said my husband, "is true philosophy; and the more forcible,
because you not only recommend the maxim but practise it also."

I had reckoned much on the Indian summer, of which I had read such
delightful descriptions, but I must say it has fallen far below my
expectations. Just at the commencement of this month (November) we
experienced three or four warm hazy days, that proved rather close and
oppressive. The sun looked red through the misty atmosphere, tinging the
fantastic clouds that hung in smoky volumes, with saffron and pale
crimson light, much as I have seen the clouds above London look on a
warm, sultry spring morning.

Not a breeze ruffled the waters, not a leaf (for the leaves had not
entirely fallen) moved. This perfect stagnation of the air was suddenly
changed by a hurricane of wind and snow that came on without any
previous warning. I was standing near a group of tall pines that had
been left in the middle of the clearing, collecting some beautiful
crimson lichens, S------ not being many paces distant, with his oxen
drawing fire-wood. Suddenly we heard a distant hollow rushing sound that
momentarily increased, the air around us being yet perfectly calm. I
looked up, and beheld the clouds, hitherto so motionless, moving with
amazing rapidity in several different directions. A dense gloom
overspread the heavens. S------, who had been busily engaged with the
cattle, had not noticed my being so near, and now called to me to use
all the speed I could to gain the house, or an open part of the
clearing, distant from the pine-trees. Instinctively I turned towards
the house, while the thundering shock of trees falling in all directions
at the edge of the forest, the rending of the branches from the pines I
had just quitted, and the rush of the whirlwind sweeping down the lake,
made me sensible of the danger with which I had been threatened.

The scattered boughs of the pines darkened the air as they whirled above
me; then came the blinding snow-storm: but I could behold the progress
of the tempest in safety, having gained the threshold of our house. The
driver of the oxen had thrown himself on the ground, while the poor
beasts held down their meek heads, patiently abiding "the pelting of the
pitiless storm." S------, my husband, and the rest of the household,
collected in a group, watched with anxiety the wild havoc of the warring
elements. Not a leaf remained on the trees when the hurricane was over;
they were bare and desolate. Thus ended the short reign of the Indian

[Illustration: Newley cleared Land]

I think the notion entertained by some travellers, that the Indian
summer is caused by the annual conflagration of forests by those Indians
inhabiting the unexplored regions beyond the larger lakes is absurd.
Imagine for an instant what immense tracts of woods must be yearly
consumed to affect nearly the whole of the continent of North America:
besides, it takes place at that season of the year when the fire is
least likely to run freely, owing to the humidity of the ground from the
autumnal rains. I should rather attribute the peculiar warmth and hazy
appearance of the air that marks this season, to the fermentation going
on of so great a mass of vegetable matter that is undergoing a state of
decomposition during the latter part of October and beginning of
November. It has been supposed by some persons that a great alteration
will be effected in this season, as the process of clearing the land
continues to decrease the quantity of decaying vegetation. Nay, I have
heard the difference is already observable by those long acquainted with
the American continent.

Hitherto my experience of the climate is favourable. The autumn has been
very fine, though the frosts are felt early in the month of September;
at first slightly, of a morning, but towards October more severely.
Still, though the first part of the day is cold, the middle of it is
warm and cheerful.

We already see the stern advances of winter. It commenced very decidedly
from the breaking up of the Indian summer. November is not at all like
the same month at home. The early part was soft and warm, the latter
cold, with keen frosts and occasional falls of snow; but it does not
seem to possess the dark, gloomy, damp character of our British
Novembers. However, it is not one season's acquaintance with the climate
that enables a person to form any correct judgment of its general
character, but a close observance of its peculiarities and vicissitudes
during many years' residence in the country.

I must now tell you what my husband is doing on our land. He has let out
ten acres to some Irish choppers who have established themselves in the
shanty for the winter. They are to receive fourteen dollars per acre for
chopping, burning, and fencing in that quantity. The ground is to be
perfectly cleared of every thing but the stumps: these will take from
seven to nine or ten years to decay; the pine, hemlock, and fir remain
much longer. The process of clearing away the stumps is too expensive
for new beginners to venture upon, labour being so high that it cannot
be appropriated to any but indispensable work. The working season is
very short on account of the length of time the frost remains on the
ground. With the exception of chopping trees, very little can be done.
Those that understand the proper management of uncleared land, usually
underbrush (that is, cut down all the small timbers and brushwood),
while the leaf is yet on them; this is piled in heaps, and the
windfallen trees are chopped through in lengths, to be logged up in the
spring with the winter's chopping. The latter end of the summer and the
autumn are the best seasons for this work. The leaves then become quite
dry and sear, and greatly assist in the important business of burning
off the heavy timbers. Another reason is, that when the snow has fallen
to some depth, the light timbers cannot be cut close to the ground, or
the dead branches and other incumbrances collected and thrown in heaps.

We shall have about three acres ready for spring-crops, provided we get
a good burning of that which is already chopped near the site of the
house,--this will be sown with oats, pumpkins, Indian corn, and
potatoes: the other ten acres will be ready for putting in a crop of
wheat. So you see it will be a long time before we reap a harvest. We
could not even get in spring-wheat early enough to come to perfection
this year.

We shall try to get two cows in the spring, as they are little expense
during the spring, summer, and autumn; and by the winter we shall have
pumpkins and oat-straw for them.


Loss of a yoke of Oxen.--Construction of a Log-house.--Glaziers' and
Carpenters' work.--Description of new Log-house.--Wild Fruits of the
Country.--Walks on the Ice.--Situation of the House.--Lake, and
surrounding Scenery.

Lake House
April 18, 1833

BUT it is time that I should give you some account of our log-house,
into which we moved a few days before Christmas. Many unlooked-for
delays having hindered its completion before that time, I began to think
it would never be habitable.

The first misfortune that happened was the loss of a fine yoke of oxen
that were purchased to draw in the house-logs, that is, the logs for
raising the walls of the house. Not regarding the bush as pleasant as
their former master's cleared pastures, or perhaps foreseeing some hard
work to come, early one morning they took into their heads to ford the
lake at the head of the rapids, and march off, leaving no trace of their
route excepting their footing at the water's edge. After many days spent
in vain search for them, the work was at a stand, and for one month they
were gone, and we began to give up all expectation of hearing any news
of them. At last we learned they were some twenty miles off, in a
distant township, having made their way through bush and swamp, creek
and lake, back to their former owner, with an instinct that supplied to
them the want of roads and compass.

Oxen have been known to traverse a tract of wild country to a distance
of thirty or forty miles going in a direct line for their former haunts
by unknown paths, where memory could not avail them. In the dog we
consider it is scent as well as memory that guides him to his far-off
home;--but how is this conduct of the oxen to be accounted for? They
returned home through the mazes of interminable forests, where man, with
all his reason and knowledge, would have been bewildered and lost.

It was the latter end of October before even the walls of our house were
up. To effect this we called "a bee." Sixteen of our neighbours
cheerfully obeyed our summons; and though the day was far from
favourable, so faithfully did our hive perform their tasks, that by
night the outer walls were raised.

The work went merrily on with the help of plenty of Canadian nectar
(whiskey), the honey that our _bees_ are solaced with. Some huge joints
of salt pork, a peck of potatoes, with a rice-pudding, and a loaf as big
as an enormous Cheshire cheese, formed the feast that was to regale them
during the raising. This was spread out in the shanty, in a _very rural
style_. In short, we laughed, and called it a _pic-nic in the
backwoods_; and rude as was the fare, I can assure you, great was the
satisfaction expressed by all the guests of every degree, our "_bee_"
being considered as very well conducted. In spite of the difference of
rank among those that assisted at the bee, the greatest possible harmony
prevailed, and the party separated well pleased with the day's work and

The following day I went to survey the newly-raised edifice, but was
sorely puzzled, as it presented very little appearance of a house. It
was merely an oblong square of logs raised one above the other, with
open spaces between every row of logs. The spaces for the doors and
windows were not then chopped out, and the rafters were not up. In
short, it looked a very queer sort of a place, and I returned home a
little disappointed, and wondering that my husband should be so well
pleased with the progress that had been made. A day or two after this I
again visited it. The _sleepers_ were laid to support the floors, and
the places for the doors and windows cut out of the solid timbers, so
that it had not quite so much the look of a bird-cage as before.

After the roof was shingled, we were again at a stand, as no boards
could be procured nearer than Peterborough, a long day's journey through
horrible roads. At that time no saw-mill was in progress; now there is a
fine one building within a little distance of us. Our flooring-boards
were all to be sawn by hand, and it was some time before any one could
be found to perform this necessary work, and that at high wages--six-
and-sixpence per day. Well, the boards were at length down, but of
course of unseasoned timber: this was unavoidable; so as they could not
be planed we were obliged to put up with their rough unsightly
appearance, for no better were to be had. I began to recall to mind the
observation of the old gentleman with whom we travelled from Cobourg to
Rice Lake. We console ourselves with the prospect that by next summer
the boards will all be seasoned, and then the house is to be turned
topsy-turvy, by having the floors all relaid, jointed, and smoothed.

The next misfortune that happened, was, that the mixture of clay and
lime that was to plaster the inside and outside of the house between the
chinks of the logs was one night frozen to stone. Just as the work was
about half completed, the frost suddenly setting in, put a stop to our
proceeding for some time, as the frozen plaster yielded neither to fire
nor to hot water, the latter freezing before it had any effect on the
mass, and rather making bad worse. Then the workman that was hewing the
inside walls to make them smooth, wounded himself with the broad axe,
and was unable to resume his work for some time.

I state these things merely to show the difficulties that attend us in
the fulfilment of our plans, and this accounts in a great measure for
the humble dwellings that settlers of the most respectable description
are obliged to content themselves with at first coming to this country,
--not, you may be assured, from inclination, but necessity: I could give
you such narratives of this kind as would astonish you. After all, it
serves to make us more satisfied than we should be on casting our eyes
around to see few better off than we are, and many not half so
comfortable, yet of equal, and, in some instances, superior pretensions
as to station and fortune.

Every man in this country is his own glazier; this you will laugh at:
but if he does not wish to see and feel the discomfort of broken panes,
he must learn to put them in his windows with his own hands. Workmen are
not easily to be had in the backwoods when you want them, and it would
be preposterous to hire a man at high wages to make two days' journey to
and from the nearest town to mend your windows. Boxes of glass of
several different sizes are to be bought at a very cheap rate in the
stores. My husband amused himself by glazing the windows of the house
preparatory to their being fixed in.

To understand the use of carpenter's tools, I assure you, is no
despicable or useless kind of knowledge here. I would strongly recommend
all young men coming to Canada to acquire a little acquaintance with
this valuable art, as they will often be put to great inconvenience for
the want of it.

I was once much amused with hearing the remarks made by a very fine
lady, the reluctant sharer of her husband's emigration, on seeing the
son of a naval officer of some rank in the service busily employed in
making an axe-handle out of a piece of rock-elm.

"I wonder that you allow George to degrade himself so," she said,
addressing his father.

The captain looked up with surprise. "Degrade himself! In what manner,
madam? My boy neither swears, drinks whiskey, steals, nor tells lies."

"But you allow him to perform tasks of the most menial kind. What is he
now better than a hedge carpenter; and I suppose you allow him to chop,

"Most assuredly I do. That pile of logs in the cart there was all cut by
him after he had left study yesterday," was the reply,

"I would see my boys dead before they should use an axe like common

"Idleness is the root of all evil," said the captain. "How much worse
might my son be employed if he were running wild about streets with bad

"You will allow this is not a country for gentlemen or ladies to live
in," said the lady.

"It is the country for gentlemen that will not work and cannot live
without, to starve in," replied the captain bluntly; "and for that
reason I make my boys early accustom themselves to be usefully and
actively employed."

"My boys shall never work like common mechanics," said the lady,

"Then, madam, they will be good for nothing as settlers; and it is a
pity you dragged them across the Atlantic."

"We were forced to come. We could not live as we had been used to do at
home, or I never would have come to this horrid country."

"Having come hither you would be wise to conform to circumstances.
Canada is not the place for idle folks to retrench a lost fortune in. In
some parts of the country you will find most articles of provision as
dear as in London, clothing much dearer, and not so good, and a bad
market to choose in."

"I should like to know, then, who Canada is good for?" said she,

"It is a good country for the honest, industrious artisan. It is a fine
country for the poor labourer, who, after a few years of hard toil, can
sit down in his own log-house, and look abroad on his own land, and see
his children well settled in life as independent freeholders. It is a
grand country for the rich speculator, who can afford to lay out a large
sum in purchasing land in eligible situations; for if he have any
judgment, he will make a hundred per cent as interest for his money
after waiting a few years. But it is a hard country for the poor
gentleman, whose habits have rendered him unfit for manual labour. He
brings with him a mind unfitted to his situation; and even if necessity
compels him to exertion, his labour is of little value. He has a hard
struggle to live. The certain expenses of wages and living are great,
and he is obliged to endure many privations if he would keep within
compass, and be free of debt. If he have a large family, and brings them
up wisely, so as to adapt themselves early to a settler's life, why he
does well for them, and soon feels the benefit on his own land; but if
he is idle himself, his wife extravagant and discontented, and the
children taught to despise labour, why, madam, they will soon be brought
down to ruin. In short, the country is a good country for those to whom
it is adapted; but if people will not conform to the doctrine of
necessity and expediency, they have no business in it. It is plain
Canada is not adapted to every class of people."

"It was never adapted for me or my family," said the lady, disdainfully.

"Very true," was the laconic reply; and so ended the dialogue.

But while I have been recounting these remarks, I have wandered far from
my original subject, and left my poor log-house quite in an unfinished
state. At last I was told it was in a habitable condition, and I was
soon engaged in all the bustle and fatigue attendant on removing our
household goods. We received all the assistance we required from ------,
who is ever ready and willing to help us. He laughed, and called it a
"_moving_ bee;" I said it was a "fixing bee;" and my husband said it was
a "settling bee;" I know we were unsettled enough till it was over. What
a din of desolation is a small house, or any house under such
circumstances. The idea of chaos must have been taken from a removal or
a setting to rights, for I suppose the ancients had their _flitting_, as
the Scotch call it, as well as the moderns.

Various were the valuable articles of crockery-ware that perished in
their short but rough journey through the woods. Peace to their manes. I
had a good helper in my Irish maid, who soon roused up famous fires, and
set the house in order.

We have now got quite comfortably settled, and I shall give you a
description of our little dwelling. What is finished is only a part of
the original plan; the rest must be added next spring, or fall, as
circumstances may suit.

A nice small sitting-room with a store closet, a kitchen, pantry, and
bed-chamber form the ground floor; there is a good upper floor that will
make three sleeping rooms.

"What a nut-shell!" I think I hear you exclaim. So it is at present; but
we purpose adding a handsome frame front as soon as we can get boards
from the mill, which will give us another parlour, long hall, and good
spare bed-room. The windows and glass door of our present sitting-room
command pleasant lake-views to the west and south. When the house is
completed, we shall have a verandah in front; and at the south side,
which forms an agreeable addition in the summer, being used as a sort of
outer room, in which we can dine, and have the advantage of cool air,
protected from the glare of the sunbeams. The Canadians call these
verandahs "stoups." Few houses, either log or frame, are without them.
The pillars look extremely pretty, wreathed with the luxuriant hop-vine,
mixed with the scarlet creeper and "morning glory," the American name
for the most splendid of major convolvuluses. These stoups are really a
considerable ornament, as they conceal in a great measure the rough
logs, and break the barn-like form of the building.

Our parlour is warmed by a handsome Franklin stove with brass gallery,
and fender. Our furniture consists of a brass-railed sofa, which serves
upon occasion for a bed, Canadian painted chairs, a stained pine table,
green and white curtains, and a handsome Indian mat that covers the
floor. One side of the room is filled up with our books. Some large maps
and a few good prints nearly conceal the rough walls, and form the
decoration of our little dwelling. Our bed-chamber is furnished with
equal simplicity. We do not, however, lack comfort in our humble home;
and though it is not exactly such as we could wish, it is as good as,
under existing circumstances, we could have.

I am anxiously looking forward to the spring, that I may get a garden
laid out in front of the house; as I mean to cultivate some of the
native fruits and flowers, which, I am sure, will improve greatly by
culture. The strawberries that grow wild in our pastures, woods, and
clearings, are several varieties, and bear abundantly. They make
excellent preserves, and I mean to introduce beds of them into my
garden. There is a pretty little wooded islet on our lake, that is
called Strawberry island, another Raspberry island; they abound in a
variety of fruits--wild grapes, raspberries, strawberries, black and red
currants, a wild gooseberry, and a beautiful little trailing plant that
bears white flowers like the raspberry, and a darkish purple fruit
consisting of a few grains of a pleasant brisk acid, somewhat like in
flavour to our dewberry, only not quite so sweet. The leaves of this
plant are of a bright light green, in shape like the raspberry, to which
it bears in some respects so great a resemblance (though it is not
shrubby or thorny) that I have called it the "trailing raspberry."

I suppose our scientific botanists in Britain would consider me very
impertinent in bestowing names on the flowers and plants I meet with in
these wild woods: I can only say, I am glad to discover the Canadian or
even the Indian names if I can, and where they fail I consider myself
free to become their floral godmother, and give them names of my own

Among our wild fruits we have plums, which, in some townships, are very
fine and abundant; these make admirable preserves, especially when
boiled in maple molasses, as is done by the American housewives. Wild
cherries, also a sort called choke cherries, from their peculiar
astringent qualities, high and low-bush cranberries, blackberries, which
are brought by the Squaws in birch baskets,--all these are found on the
plains and beaver meadows. The low-bush cranberries are brought in great
quantities by the Indians to the towns and villages. They form a
standing preserve on the tea-tables in most of the settlers' houses; but
for richness of flavour, and for beauty of appearance, I admire the
high-bush cranberries; these are little sought after, on account of the
large flat seeds, which prevent them from being used as a jam: the
jelly, however, is delightful, both in colour and flavour.

The bush on which this cranberry grows resembles the guelder rose. The
blossoms are pure white, and grow in loose umbels; they are very
ornamental, when in bloom, to the woods and swamps, skirting the lakes.
The berries are rather of a long oval, and of a brilliant scarlet, and
when just touched by the frosts are semi-transparent, and look like
pendent bunches of scarlet grapes.

I was tempted one fine frosty afternoon to take a walk with my husband
on the ice, which I was assured was perfectly safe. I must confess for
the first half-mile I felt very timid, especially when the ice is so
transparent that you may see every little pebble or weed at the bottom
of the water. Sometimes the ice was thick and white, and quite opaque.
As we kept within a little distance of the shore, I was struck by the
appearance of some splendid red berries on the leafless bushes that hung
over the margin of the lake, and soon recognized them to be the
aforesaid high-bush cranberries. My husband soon stripped the boughs of
their tempting treasure, and I, delighted with my prize, hastened home,
and boiled the fruit with some sugar, to eat at tea with our cakes. I
never ate any thing more delicious than they proved; the more so perhaps
from having been so long without tasting fruit of any kind, with the
exception of preserves, during our journey, and at Peterborough.

Soon after this I made another excursion on the ice, but it was not in
quite so sound a state. We nevertheless walked on for about three-
quarters of a mile. We were overtaken on our return by S------ with a
handsleigh, which is a sort of wheelbarrow, such as porters use, without
sides, and instead of a wheel, is fixed on wooden runners, which you can
drag over the snow and ice with the greatest ease, if ever so heavily
laden. S------ insisted that he would draw me home over the ice like a
Lapland lady on a sledge. I was soon seated in state, and in another
minute felt myself impelled forward with a velocity that nearly took
away my breath. By the time we reached the shore I was in a glow from
head to foot.

You would be pleased with the situation of our house. The spot chosen is
the summit of a fine sloping bank above the lake, distant from the
water's edge some hundred or two yards: the lake is not quite a mile
from shore to shore. To the south again we command a different view,
which will be extremely pretty when fully opened--a fine smooth basin of
water, diversified with beautiful islands, that rise like verdant groves
from its bosom. Below these there is a fall of some feet, where the
waters of the lakes, confined within a narrow channel between beds of
limestone, rush along with great impetuosity, foaming and dashing up the
spray in mimic clouds.

During the summer the waters are much lower, and we can walk for some
way along the flat shores, which are composed of different strata of
limestone, full of fossil remains, evidently of very recent formation.
Those shells and river-insects that are scattered loose over the surface
of the limestone, left by the recession of the waters, are similar to
the shells and insects incrusted in the body of the limestone. I am told
that the bed of one of the lakes above us (I forget which) is of
limestone; that it abounds in a variety of beautiful river-shells, which
are deposited in vast quantities in the different strata, and also in
the blocks of limestone scattered along the shores. These shells are
also found in great profusion in the soil of the Beaver meadows.
When I see these things, and hear of them, I regret I know nothing of
geology or conchology; as I might then be able to account for many
circumstances that at present only excite my curiosity.

[Maps: Charts shewing the Interior Navigation of the District of
Newcastle and Upper Canada.]

Just below the waterfall I was mentioning there is a curious natural
arch in the limestone rock, which at this place rises to a height of ten
or fifteen feet like a wall; it is composed of large plates of grey
limestone, lying one upon the other; the arch seems like a rent in the
wall, but worn away, and hollowed, possibly, by the action of water
rushing through it at some high flood. Trees grow on the top of this
rock. Hemlock firs and cedars are waving on this elevated spot, above
the turbulent waters, and clothing the stone barrier with a sad but
never-fading verdure. Here, too, the wild vine, red creeper, and poison-
elder, luxuriate, and wreathe fantastic bowers above the moss-covered
masses of the stone. A sudden turn in this bank brought us to a broad,
perfectly flat and smooth bed of the same stone, occupying a space of
full fifty feet along the shore. Between the fissures of this bed I
found some rosebushes, and a variety of flowers that had sprung up
during the spring and summer, when it was left dry, and free from the
action of the water.

This place will shortly be appropriated for the building of a saw and
grist-mill, which, I fear, will interfere with its natural beauty. I
dare say, I shall be the only person in the neighbourhood who will
regret the erection of so useful and valuable an acquisition to this
portion of the township.

The first time you send a parcel or box, do not forget to enclose
flower-seeds, and the stones of plums, damsons, bullace, pips of the
best kinds of apples, in the orchard and garden, as apples may be raised
here from seed, which will bear very good fruit without being grafted;
the latter, however, are finer in size and flavour. I should be grateful
for a few nuts from our beautiful old stock-nut trees. Dear old trees!
how many gambels have we had in their branches when I was as light of
spirit and as free from care as the squirrels that perched among the
topmost boughs above us.--"Well," you will say, "the less that sage
matrons talk of such wild tricks as climbing nut-trees, the better."
Fortunately, young ladies are in no temptation here, seeing that nothing
but a squirrel or a bear could climb our lofty forest-trees. Even a
sailor must give it up in despair.

I am very desirous of having the seeds of our wild primrose and sweet
violet preserved for me; I long to introduce them in our meadows and
gardens. Pray let the cottage-children collect some.

My husband requests a small quantity of lucerne-seed, which he seems
inclined to think may be cultivated to advantage.


Variations in the Temperature of the Weather.--Electrical Phenomenon.--
Canadian Winter.--Country deficient in Poetical Associations.--Sugar-
making. Fishing Season.--Mode of Fishing.--Duck-shooting.--Family of
Indians.--_Papouses_ and their Cradle-cases.--Indian Manufactures.--

Lake House, May the 9th. 1833.

WHAT a different winter this has been to what I had anticipated. The
snows of December were continually thawing; on the 1st of January not a
flake was to be seen on our clearing, though it lingered in the bush.
The warmth of the sun was so great on the first and second days of the
new year that it was hardly possible to endure a cloak, or even shawl,
out of doors; and within, the fire was quite too much for us. The
weather remained pretty open till the latter part of the month, when the
cold set in severely enough, and continued so during February. The 1st
of March was the coldest day and night I ever experienced in my life;
the mercury was down to twenty five degrees in the house; abroad it was
much lower. The sensation of cold early in the morning was very painful,
producing an involuntary shuddering, and an almost convulsive feeling in
the chest and stomach. Our breaths were congealed in hoar-frost on the
sheets and blankets. Every thing we touched of metal seemed to freeze
our fingers. This excessive degree of cold only lasted three days, and
then a gradual amelioration of temperature was felt.

During this very cold weather I was surprised by the frequent recurrence
of a phenomenon that I suppose was of an electrical nature. When the
frosts were most intense I noticed that when I undressed, my clothes,
which are at this cold season chiefly of woollen cloth, or lined with
flannel, gave out when moved a succession of sounds, like the crackling
and snapping of fire, and in the absence of a candle emitted sparks of a
pale whitish blue light, similar to the flashes produced by cutting
loaf-sugar in the dark, or stroking the back of a black cat: the same
effect was also produced when I combed and brushed my hair*.

[* This phenomenon is common enough everywhere when the air is very

The snow lay very deep on the ground during February, and until the l9th
of March, when a rapid thaw commenced, which continued without
intermission till the ground was thoroughly freed from its hoary livery,
which was effected in less than a fortnight's time. The air during the
progress of the thaw was much warmer and more balmy than it usually is
in England, when a disagreeable damp cold is felt during that process.

Though the Canadian winter has its disadvantages, it also has its
charms. After a day or two of heavy snow the sky brightens, and the air
becomes exquisitely clear and free from vapour; the smoke ascends in
tall spiral columns till it is lost: seen against the saffron-tinted sky
of an evening, or early of a clear morning, when the hoar-frost sparkles
on the trees, the effect is singularly beautiful.

I enjoy a walk in the woods of a bright winter-day, when not a cloud, or
the faint shadow of a cloud, obscures the soft azure of the heavens
above; when but for the silver covering of the earth I might look
upwards to the cloudless sky and say, "It is June, sweet June."  The
evergreens, as the pines, cedars, hemlock, and balsam firs, are bending
their pendent branches, loaded with snow, which the least motion
scatters in a mimic shower around, but so light and dry is it that it is
shaken off without the slightest inconvenience.

The tops of the stumps look quite pretty, with their turbans of snow; a
blackened pine-stump, with its white cap and mantle, will often startle
you into the belief that some one is approaching you thus fancifully
attired.  As to ghosts or spirits they appear totally banished from
Canada. This is too matter-of-fact country for such supernaturals to
visit.  Here there are no historical associations, no legendary tales of
those that came before us.  Fancy would starve for lack of marvellous
food to keep her alive in the backwoods.  We have neither fay nor fairy,
ghost nor bogle, satyr nor wood-nymph; our very forests disdain to
shelter dryad or hamadryad. No naiad haunts the rushy margin of our
lakes, or hallows with her presence our forest-rills.  No Druid claims
our oaks; and instead of poring with mysterious awe among our curious
limestone rocks, that are often singularly grouped together, we refer
them to the geologist to exercise his skill in accounting for their
appearance: instead of investing them with the solemn characters of
ancient temples or heathen altars, we look upon them with the curious
eye of natural philosophy alone.

Even the Irish and Highlanders of the humblest class seem to lay aside
their ancient superstitions on becoming denizens of the woods of Canada.
I heard a friend exclaim, when speaking of the want of interest this
country possessed, "It is the most unpoetical of all lands; there is no
scope for imagination; here all is new--the very soil seems newly
formed; there is no hoary ancient grandeur in these woods; no
recollections of former deeds connected with the country. The only
beings in which I take any interest are the Indians, and they want the
warlike character and intelligence that I had pictured to myself they
would posses."

This was the lamentation of a poet. Now, the class of people to whom
this country is so admirably adapted are formed of the unlettered and
industrious labourers and artisans. They feel no regret that the land
they labour on has not been celebrated by the pen of the historian or
the lay of the poet. The earth yields her increase to them as freely as
if it had been enriched by the blood of heroes. They would not spare the
ancient oak from feelings of veneration, nor look upon it with regard
for any thing but its use as timber. They have no time, even if they
possessed the taste, to gaze abroad on the beauties of Nature, but their
ignorance is bliss.

After all, these are imaginary evils, and can hardly be considered just
causes for dislike to the country. They would excite little sympathy
among every-day men and women, though doubtless they would have their
weight with the more refined and intellectual members of society, who
naturally would regret that taste, learning, and genius should be thrown
out of its proper sphere.

For myself, though I can easily enter into the feelings of the poet and
the enthusiastic lover of the wild and the wonderful of historic lore, I
can yet make myself very happy and contented in this country. If its
volume of history is yet a blank, that of Nature is open, and eloquently
marked by the finger of God; and from its pages I can extract a thousand
sources of amusement and interest whenever I take my walks in the forest
or by the borders of the lakes.

But I must now tell you of our sugar-making, in which I take rather an
active part. Our experiment was on a very limited scale, having but one
kettle, besides two iron tripods; but it was sufficient to initiate us
in the art and mystery of boiling the sap into molasses, and finally the
molasses down to sugar.

The first thing to be done in tapping the maples, is to provide little
rough troughs to catch the sap as it flows: these are merely pieces of
pine-tree, hollowed with the axe. The tapping the tree is done by
cutting a gash in the bark, or boring a hole with an auger. The former
plan, as being most readily performed, is that most usually practised. A
slightly-hollowed piece of cedar or elder is then inserted, so as to
slant downwards and direct the sap into the trough; I have even seen a
flat chip made the conductor. Ours were managed according to rule, you
may be sure. The sap runs most freely after a frosty night, followed by
a bright warm day; it should be collected during the day in a barrel or
large trough, capable of holding all that can be boiled down the same
evening; it should not stand more than twenty-four hours, as it is apt
to ferment, and will not grain well unless fresh.

My husband, with an Irish lad, began collecting the sap the last week in
March. A pole was fixed across two forked stakes, strong enough to bear
the weight of the big kettle. Their employment during the day was
emptying the troughs and chopping wood to supply the fires. In the
evening they lit the fires and began boiling down the sap.

It was a pretty and picturesque sight to see the sugar-boilers, with
their bright log-fire among the trees, now stirring up the blazing pile,
now throwing in the liquid and stirring it down with a big ladle. When
the fire grew fierce, it boiled and foamed up in the kettle, and they
had to throw in fresh sap to keep it from running over.

When the sap begins to thicken into molasses, it is then brought to the
sugar-boiler to be finished. The process is simple; it only requires
attention in skimming and keeping the mass from boiling over, till it
has arrived at the sugaring point, which is ascertained by dropping a
little into cold water. When it is near the proper consistency, the
kettle or pot becomes full of yellow froth, that dimples and rises in
large bubbles from beneath. These throw out puffs of steam, and when the
molasses is in this stage, it is nearly converted into sugar. Those who
pay great attention to keeping the liquid free from scum, and understand
the precise sugaring point, will produce an article little if at all
inferior to muscovado*.

[* Good well-made maple-sugar bears a strong resemblance to that called
powdered sugar-candy, sold by all grocers as a delicate article to
sweeten coffee; it is more like maple-sugar in its regular

In general you see the maple-sugar in large cakes, like bees' wax, close
and compact, without showing the crystallization; but it looks more
beautiful when the grain is coarse and sparkling, and the sugar is
broken in rough masses like sugar-candy.

The sugar is rolled or scraped down with a knife for use, as it takes
long to dissolve in the tea without this preparation. I superintended
the last part of the process, that of boiling the molasses down to
sugar; and, considering it was a first attempt, and without any
experienced person to direct me, otherwise than the information I
obtained from ------. I succeeded tolerably well, and produced some
sugar of a fine sparkling grain and good colour. Besides the sugar, I
made about three gallons of molasses, which proved a great comfort to
us, forming a nice ingredient in cakes and an excellent sauce for

The Yankees, I am told, make excellent preserves with molasses instead
of sugar. The molasses boiled from maple-sap is very different from the
molasses of the West Indies, both in flavour, colour, and consistency.

Beside the sugar and molasses, we manufactured a small cask of vinegar,
which promises to be good. This was done by boiling five pails-full of
sap down to two, and fermenting it after it was in the vessel with barm;
it was then placed near the fire, and suffered to continue there in
preference to being exposed to the sun's heat.

With regard to the expediency of making maple-sugar, it depends on
circumstances whether it be profitable or not to the farmer. If he have
to hire hands for the work, and pay high wages, it certainly does not
answer to make it, unless on a large scale. One thing in its favour is,
that the sugar season commences at a time when little else can be done
on the farm, with the exception of chopping, the frost not being
sufficiently out of the ground to admit of crops being sown; time is,
therefore, less valuable than it is later in the spring.

Where there is a large family of children and a convenient sugar-bush on
the lot, the making of sugar and molasses is decidedly a saving; as
young children can be employed in emptying the troughs and collecting
fire-wood, the bigger ones can tend the kettles and keep up the fire
while the sap is boiling, and the wife and daughters can finish off the
sugar within-doors.

Maple-sugar sells for four-pence and six-pence per pound, and sometimes
for more. At first I did not particularly relish the flavour it gave to
tea, but after awhile I liked it far better than muscovado, and as a
sweetmeat it is to my taste delicious. I shall send you a specimen by
the first opportunity, that you may judge for yourself of its

The weather is now very warm--oppressively so. We can scarcely endure
the heat of the cooking-stove in the kitchen. As to a fire in the
parlour there is not much need of it, as I am glad to sit at the open
door and enjoy the lake-breeze. The insects are already beginning to be
troublesome, particularly the black flies--a wicked-looking fly, with
black body and white legs and wings; you do not feel their bite for a
few minutes, but are made aware of it by a stream of blood flowing from
the wound; after a few hours the part swells and becomes extremely

These "_beasties_" chiefly delight in biting the sides of the throat,
ears, and sides of the cheek, and with me the swelling continues for
many days. The mosquitoes are also very annoying. I care more for the
noise they make even than their sting. To keep them out of the house we
light little heaps of damp chips, the smoke of which drives them away;
but this remedy is not entirely effectual, and is of itself rather an

This is the fishing season. Our lakes are famous for masquinonge,
salmon-trout, white fish, black bass, and many others. We often see the
lighted canoes of the fishermen pass and repass of a dark night before
our door. S------ is considered very skilful as a spearsman, and enjoys
the sport so much that he seldom misses a night favourable for it. The
darker the night and the calmer the water the better it is for the

It is a very pretty sight to see these little barks slowly stealing from
some cove of the dark pine-clad shores, and manoeuvring among the
islands on the lakes, rendered visible in the darkness by the blaze of
light cast on the water from the jack--a sort of open grated iron
basket, fixed to a long pole at the bows of the skiff or canoe. This is
filled with a very combustible substance called fat-pine, which burns
with a fierce and rapid flame, or else with rolls of birch-bark, which
is also very easily ignited.

The light from above renders objects distinctly visible below the
surface of the water. One person stands up in the middle of the boat
with his fish-spear--a sort of iron trident, ready to strike at the fish
that he may chance to see gliding in the still waters, while another
with his paddle steers the canoe cautiously along. This sport requires a
quick eye, a steady hand, and great caution in those that pursue it.

I delight in watching these torch-lighted canoes so quietly gliding over
the calm waters, which are illuminated for yards with a bright track of
light, by which we may distinctly perceive the figure of the spearsman
standing in the centre of the boat, first glancing to one side, then the
other, or poising his weapon ready for a blow. When four or five of
these lighted vessels are seen at once on the fishing-ground, the effect
is striking and splendid.

The Indians are very expert in this kind of fishing; the squaws paddling
the canoes with admirable skill and dexterity. There is another mode of
fishing in which these people also excel: this is fishing on the ice
when the lakes are frozen over--a sport that requires the exercise of
great patience. The Indian, provided with his tomahawk, with which he
makes an opening in the ice, a spear, his blanket, and a decoy-fish of
wood, proceeds to the place he has fixed upon. Having cut a hole in the
ice he places himself on hands and knees, and casts his blanket over
him, so as to darken the water and conceal himself from observation; in
this position he will remain for hours, patiently watching the approach
of his prey, which he strikes with admirable precision as soon as it
appears within the reach of his spear.

The masquinonge thus caught are superior in flavour to those taken later
in the season, and may be bought very reasonably from the Indians. I
gave a small loaf of bread for a fish weighing from eighteen to twenty
pounds. The masquinonge is to all appearance a large species of the
pike, and possesses the ravenous propensities of that fish.

One of the small lakes of the Otanabee is called Trout Lake, from the
abundance of salmon-trout that occupy its waters. The white fish is also
found in these lakes and is very delicious. The large sorts of fish are
mostly taken with the spear, few persons having time for angling in this
busy country.

As soon as the ice breaks up, our lakes are visited by innumerable
flights of wild fowl: some of the ducks are extremely beautiful in their
plumage, and are very fine-flavoured. I love to watch these pretty
creatures, floating so tranquilly on the water, or suddenly rising and
skimming along the edge of the pine-fringed shores, to drop again on the
surface, and then remain stationary, like a little fleet at anchor.
Sometimes we see an old duck lead out a brood of little ones from among
the rushes; the innocent, soft things look very pretty, sailing round
their mother, but at the least appearance of danger they disappear
instantly by diving. The frogs are great enemies to the young broods;
they are also the prey of the masquinonge, and, I believe, of other
large fish that abound in these waters.

The ducks are in the finest order during the early part of the summer,
when they resort to the rice-beds in vast numbers, getting very fat on
the green rice, which they eagerly devour.

The Indians are very successful in their duck-shooting: they fill a
canoe with green boughs, so that it resembles a sort of floating island;
beneath the cover of these boughs they remain concealed, and are enabled
by this device to approach much nearer than they otherwise could do to
the wary birds. The same plan is often adopted by our own sportsmen with
great success.

A family of Indians have pitched their tents very near us. On one of the
islands in our lake we can distinguish the thin blue smoke of their wood
fires, rising among the trees, from our front window, or curling over
the bosom of the waters.

The squaws have been several times to see me; sometimes from curiosity,
sometimes with the view of bartering their baskets, mats, ducks, or
venison, for pork, flour, potatoes, or articles of wearing-apparel.
Sometimes their object is to borrow "kettle to cook," which they are
very punctual in returning.

Once a squaw came to borrow a washing-tub, but not understanding her
language, I could not for some time discover the object of her
solicitude; at last she took up a corner of her blanket, and, pointing
to some soap, began rubbing it between her hands, imitated the action of
washing, then laughed, and pointed to a tub; she then held up two
fingers, to intimate it was for two days she needed the loan.

These people appear of gentle and amiable dispositions; and, as far as
our experience goes, they are very honest. Once, indeed, the old hunter,
Peter, obtained from me some bread, for which he promised to give a pair
of ducks, but when the time came for payment, and I demanded my ducks,
he looked gloomy, and replied with characteristic brevity, "No duck--
Chippewa (meaning S------, this being the name they have affectionately
given him) gone up lake with canoe--no canoe--duck by-and-by." By-and-by
is a favourite expression of the Indians, signifying an indefinite point
of time; may be it means to-morrow, or a week, or month, or it may be a
year, or even more. They rarely give you a direct promise.

As it is not wise to let any one cheat you if you can prevent it, I
coldly declined any further overtures to bartering with the Indians
until my ducks made their appearance.

Some time afterwards I received one duck by the hands of Maquin, a sort
of Indian Flibberty-gibbet: this lad is a hunchbacked dwarf, very
shrewd, but a perfect imp; his delight seems to be tormenting the brown
babies in the wigwam, or teazing the meek deer-hounds. He speaks English
very fluently, and writes tolerably for an Indian boy; he usually
accompanies the women in their visits, and acts as their interpreter,
grinning with mischievous glee at his mother's bad English and my
perplexity at not being able to understand her signs. In spite of his
extreme deformity, he seemed to possess no inconsiderable share of
vanity, gazing with great satisfaction at his face in the looking glass.
When I asked his name, he replied, "Indian name Maquin, but English name
'Mister Walker,' very good man;" this was the person he was called

These Indians are scrupulous in their observance of the Sabbath, and
show great reluctance to having any dealings in the way of trading or
pursuing their usual avocations of hunting or fishing on that day.

The young Indians are very expert in the use of a long bow, with wooden
arrows, rather heavy and blunt at the end. Maquin said he could shoot
ducks and small birds with his arrows; but I should think they were not
calculated to reach objects at any great distance, as they appeared very

'Tis sweet to hear the Indians singing their hymns of a Sunday night;
their rich soft voices rising in the still evening air. I have often
listened to this little choir praising the Lord's name in the simplicity
and fervour of their hearts, and have felt it was a reproach that these
poor half-civilized wanderers should alone be found to gather together
to give glory to God in the wilderness.

I was much pleased with the simple piety of our friend the hunter
Peter's squaw, a stout, swarthy matron, of most amiable expression. We
were taking our tea when she softly opened the door and looked in; an
encouraging smile induced her to enter, and depositing a brown papouse
(Indian for baby or little child) on the ground, she gazed round with
curiosity and delight in her eyes. We offered her some tea and bread,
motioning to her to take a vacant seat beside the table. She seemed
pleased by the invitation, and drawing her little one to her knee,
poured some tea into the saucer, and gave it to the child to drink. She
ate very moderately, and when she had finished, rose, and, wrapping her
face in the folds of her blanket, bent down her head on her breast in
the attitude of prayer. This little act of devotion was performed
without the slightest appearance of pharisaical display, but in
singleness and simplicity of heart. She then thanked us with a face
beaming with smiles and good humour; and, taking little Rachel by the
hands, threw her over her shoulder with a peculiar sleight that I feared
would dislocate the tender thing's arms, but the papouse seemed well
satisfied with this mode of treatment.

In long journeys the children are placed in upright baskets of a
peculiar form, which are fastened round the necks of the mothers by
straps of deer-skin; but the _young_ infant is swathed to a sort of flat
cradle, secured with flexible hoops, to prevent it from falling out. To
these machines they are strapped, so as to be unable to move a limb.
Much finery is often displayed in the outer covering and the bandages
that confine the papouse.

There is a sling attached to this cradle that passes over the squaw's
neck, the back of the babe being placed to the back of the mother, and
its face outward. The first thing a squaw does on entering a house is to
release herself from her burden, and stick it up against the wall or
chair, chest, or any thing that will support it, where the passive
prisoner stands, looking not unlike a mummy in its case. I have seen the
picture of the Virgin and Child in some of the old illuminated missals,
not unlike the figure of a papouse in its swaddling-clothes.

The squaws are most affectionate to their little ones. Gentleness and
good humour appear distinguishing traits in the tempers of the female
Indians; whether this be natural to their characters, the savage state,
or the softening effects of Christianity, I cannot determine. Certainly
in no instance does the Christian religion appear more lovely than when,
untainted by the doubts and infidelity of modern sceptics, it is
displayed in the conduct of the reclaimed Indian breaking down the
strong-holds of idolatry and natural evil, and bringing forth the fruits
of holiness and morality. They may be said to receive the truths of the
Gospel as little children, with simplicity of heart and unclouded faith.

The squaws are very ingenious in many of their handiworks. We find their
birch-bark baskets very convenient for a number of purposes. My bread-
basket, knife-tray, sugar-basket, are all of this humble material. When
ornamented and wrought in patterns with dyed quills, I can assure you,
they are by no means inelegant. They manufacture vessels of birch-bark
so well, that they will serve for many useful household purposes, such
as holding water, milk, broth, or any other liquid; they are sewn or
rather stitched together with the tough roots of the tamarack or larch,
or else with strips of cedar-bark. They also weave very useful sorts of
baskets from the inner rind of the bass-wood and white ash.

Some of these baskets, of a coarse kind, are made use of for gathering
up potatoes, Indian corn, or turnips; the settlers finding them very
good substitutes for the osier baskets used for such purposes in the old

The Indians are acquainted with a variety of dyes, with which they stain
the more elegant fancy-baskets and porcupine-quills. Our parlour is
ornamented with several very pretty specimens of their ingenuity in this
way, which answer the purpose of note and letter-cases, flower-stands,
and work-baskets.

They appear to value the useful rather more highly than the merely
ornamental articles that you may exhibit to them. They are very shrewd
and close in all their bargains, and exhibit a surprising degree of
caution in their dealings. The men are much less difficult to trade with
than the women: they display a singular pertinacity in some instances.
If they have fixed their mind on any one article, they will come to you
day after day, refusing any other you may offer to their notice. One of
the squaws fell in love with a gay chintz dressing-gown belonging to my
husband, and though I resolutely refused to part with it, all the squaws
in the wigwam by turns came to look at "gown," which they pronounced
with their peculiarly plaintive tone of voice; and when I said "no gown
to sell," they uttered a melancholy exclamation of regret, and went

They will seldom make any article you want on purpose for you. If you
express a desire to have baskets of a particular pattern that they do
not happen to have ready made by them, they give you the usual vague
reply of "by-and-by." If the goods you offer them in exchange for theirs
do not answer their expectations, they give a sullen and dogged look or
reply, "_Car-car_" (no, no), or "_Carwinni_," which is a still more
forcible negative. But when the bargain pleases them, they signify their
approbation by several affirmative nods of the head, and a note not much
unlike a grunt; the ducks, fish, venison, or baskets, are placed beside
you, and the articles of exchange transferred to the folds of their
capacious blankets, or deposited in a sort of rushen wallets, not unlike
those straw baskets in which English carpenters carry their tools.

The women imitate the dresses of the whites, and are rather skilful in
converting their purchases. Many of the young girls can sew very neatly.
I often give them bits of silk and velvet, and braid, for which they
appear very thankful.

I am just now very busy with my garden. Some of our vegetable seeds are
in the ground, though I am told we have been premature; there being ten
chances to one but the young plants will be cut off by the late frosts,
which are often felt through May, and even the beginning of June.

Our garden at present has nothing to boast of, being merely a spot of
ground enclosed with a rough unsightly fence of split rails to keep the
cattle from destroying the vegetables. Another spring, I hope to have a
nice fence, and a portion of the ground devoted to flowers. This spring
there is so much pressing work to be done on the land in clearing for
the crops, that I do not like to urge my claims on behalf of a pretty

The forest-trees are nearly all in leaf. Never did spring burst forth
with greater rapidity than it has done this year. The verdure of the
leaves is most vivid. A thousand lovely flowers are expanding in the
woods and clearings. Nor are our Canadian songsters mute: the cheerful
melody of the robin, the bugle-song of the blackbird and thrush, with
the weak but not unpleasing call of the little bird called _Thitabecec_,
and a wren, whose note is sweet and thrilling, fill our woods.

For my part, I see no reason or wisdom in carping at the good we do
possess, because it lacks something of that which we formerly enjoyed. I
am aware it is the fashion for travellers to assert that our feathered
tribes are either mute or give utterance to discordant cries that pierce
the ear, and disgust rather than please. It would be untrue were I to
assert that our singing birds were as numerous or as melodious on the
whole as those of Europe; but I must not suffer prejudice to rob my
adopted country of her rights without one word being spoken in behalf of
her feathered vocalists. Nay, I consider her very frogs have been
belied: if it were not for the monotony of their notes, I really
consider they are not quite unmusical. The green frogs are very
handsome, being marked over with brown oval shields on the most vivid
green coat: they are larger in size than the biggest of our English
frogs, and certainly much handsomer in every respect. Their note
resembles that of a bird, and has nothing of the creek in it.

The bull-frogs are very different from the greens frogs. Instead of
being angry with their comical notes, I can hardly refrain from laughing
when a great fellow pops up his broad brown head from the margin of the
water, and says, "_Williroo, williroo, williroo_," to which another
bull-frog, from a distant part of the swamp, replies, in hoarser
accents, "_Get out, get out, get out_;" and presently a sudden chorus is
heard of old and young, as if each party was desirous of out-croaking
the other.

In my next I shall give you an account of our logging-bee, which will
take place the latter end of this month. I feel some anxiety respecting
the burning of the log-heaps on the fallow round the house, as it
appears to me rather a hazardous matter.

I shall write again very shortly. Farewell, dearest of friends.


Emigrants suitable for Canada.--Qualities requisite to ensure success.--
Investment of Capital.--Useful Articles to be brought out.--
Qualifications and Occupations of a Settler's Family.--Deficiency of
Patience and Energy in some Females.--Management of the Dairy.--Cheese.
--Indian Corn, and its Cultivation.--Potatoes.--Rates of Wages.

August 9, 1833

WITH respect to the various questions, my dear friend, to which you
request my particular attention, I can only promise that I will do my
best to answer them as explicitly as possible, though at the same time I
must remind you, that brevity in epistolary correspondence is not one of
my excellencies. If I become too diffuse in describing mere matters of
fact, you must bear with mine infirmity, and attribute it to my womanly
propensity of over-much talking; so, for your comfort, if your eyes be
wearied, your ears will at least escape.

I shall take your queries in due rotation; first, then, you ask, "Who
are the persons best adapted for bush-settlers?"

To which I reply without hesitation--the poor hard-working, sober
labourers, who have industrious habits, a large family to provide for,
and a laudable horror of the workhouse and parish-overseers: this will
bear them through the hardships and privations of a first settlement in
the backwoods; and in due time they will realize an honest independence,
and be above want, though not work. Artisans of all crafts are better
paid in village-towns, or long-cleared districts, than as mere bush-

"Who are the next best suited for emigration?"

Men of a moderate income or good capital may make money in Canada. If
they have judgment, and can afford to purchase on a large scale, they
will double or treble their capital by judicious purchases and sales.
But it would be easier for me to point out who are not fit for
emigration than who are.

The poor gentleman of delicate and refined habits, who cannot afford to
employ all the labour requisite to carry on the business of clearing on
a tolerable large scale, and is unwilling or incapable of working
himself, is not fitted for Canada, especially if his habits are
expensive. Even the man of small income, unless he can condescend to
take in hand the axe or the chopper, will find, even with prudent and
economical habits, much difficulty in keeping free from debt for the
first two or even three years. Many such have succeeded, but the
struggle has been severe.

But there is another class of persons most unsuited to the woods: these
are the wives and families of those who have once been opulent
tradesmen, accustomed to the daily enjoyment of every luxury that money
could procure or fashion invent; whose ideas of happiness are connected
with a round of amusements, company, and all the novelties of dress and
pleasure that the gay world can offer. Young ladies who have been
brought up at fashionable boarding schools, with a contempt of every
thing useful or economical, make very indifferent settlers' wives.
Nothing can be more unfortunate than the situations in the woods of
Canada of persons so educated: disgusted with the unpleasant change in
their mode of life, wearied and discontented with all the objects around
them, they find every exertion a trouble, and every occupation a

For persons of this description (and there are such to be met with in
the colonies), Canada is the worst country in the world. And I would
urge any one, so unfitted by habit and inclination, under no
consideration to cross the Atlantic; for miserable, and poor, and
wretched they will become.

The emigrant, if he would succeed in this country, must possess the
following qualities: perseverance, patience, industry, ingenuity,
moderation, self-denial; and if he be a gentleman, a small income is
almost indispensable; a good one is still more desirable.

The outlay for buying and clearing land, building, buying stock, and
maintaining a family, paying servants' wages, with many other
unavoidable expenses, cannot be done without some pecuniary means; and
as the return from the land is but little for the first two or three
years, it would be advisable for a settler to bring out some hundreds to
enable him to carry on the farm and clear the above-mentioned expenses,
or he will soon find himself involved in great difficulties.

Now, to your third query, "What will be the most profitable way of
employing money, if a settler brought out capital more than was required
for his own expenditure?"

On this head, I am not of course competent to give advice. My husband
and friends, conversant with the affairs of the colonies, say, lend it
on mortgage, on good landed securities, and at a high rate of interest.
The purchase of land is often a good speculation, but not always so
certain as mortgage, as it pays no interest; and though it may at some
future time make great returns, it is not always so easy to dispose of
it to an advantage when you happen to need it. A man possessing many
thousand acres in different townships, may be distressed for twenty
pounds if suddenly called upon for it when he is unprepared, if he
invests all his capital in property of this kind.

It would be difficult for me to enumerate the many opportunities of
turning ready money to account. There is so little money in circulation
that those persons who are fortunate enough to have it at command can do
almost any thing with it they please.

"What are the most useful articles for a settler to bring out?"

Tools, a good stock of wearing-apparel, and shoes, good bedding,
especially warm blankets; as you pay high for them here, and they are
not so good as you would supply yourself with at a much lower rate at
home. A selection of good garden-seeds, as those you buy at the stores
are sad trash; moreover, they are pasted up in packets not to be opened
till paid for, and you may, as we have done, pay for little better than
chaff, and empty husks, or old and worm-eaten seeds. This, I am sorry to
say, is a Yankee trick; though I doubt not but John Bull would do the
same if he had the opportunity, as there are rogues in all countries
under the sun.

With respect to furniture and heavy goods of any kind, I would recommend
little to be brought. Articles of hardware are not much more expensive
here than at home, if at all, and often of a kind more suitable to the
country than those you are at the trouble of bringing; besides, all
land-carriage is dear.

We lost a large package of tools that have never been recovered from the
forwarders, though their carriage was paid beforehand to Prescott. It is
safest and best to ensure your goods, when the forwarders are
accountable for them.

You ask, "If groceries and articles of household consumption are dear or

They vary according to circumstances and situation. In towns situated in
old cleared parts of the country, and near the rivers and navigable
waters, they are cheaper than at home; but in newly-settled townships,
where the water-communication is distant, and where the roads are bad,
and the transport of goods difficult, they are nearly double the price.
Where the supply of produce is inadequate to the demand owing to the
influx of emigrants in thinly-settled places, or other causes, then all
articles of provisions are sold at a high price, and not to be procured
without difficulty; but these are merely temporary evils, which soon

Competition is lowering prices in Canadian towns, as it does in British
ones, and you may now buy goods of all kinds nearly as cheap as in

Where prices depend on local circumstances, it is impossible to give any
just standard; as what may do for one town would not for another, and a
continual change is going on in all the unsettled or half-settled
townships. In like manner the prices of cattle vary: they are cheaper in
old settled townships, and still more so on the American side the river
or lakes, than in the Canadas*.

[* The duties on goods imported to the Canadas are exceedingly small,
which will explain the circumstance of many articles of consumption
being cheaper in places where there are facilities of transit than at
home; while in the Backwoods, where roads are scarcely yet formed, there
must be taken into the account the cost of carriage, and increased
number of agents; the greater value of capital, and consequent increased
rate of local profit, &c.--items which will diminish in amount as the
country becomes settled and cleared.--Ed.]

"What are necessary qualifications of a settler's wife; and the usual
occupations of the female part of a settler's family?" are your next

To the first clause, I reply, a settler's wife should be active,
industrious, ingenious, cheerful, not above putting her hand to whatever
is necessary to be done in her household, nor too proud to profit by the
advice and experience of older portions of the community, from whom she
may learn many excellent lessons of practical wisdom.

Like that pattern of all good housewives described by the prudent mother
of King Lemuel, it should be said of the emigrant's wife, "She layeth
her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff." "She seeketh
wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands." "She looketh well
to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness."

Nothing argues a greater degree of good sense and good feeling than a
cheerful conformity to circumstances, adverse though they be compared
with a former lot; surely none that felt as they ought to feel, would
ever despise a woman, however delicately brought up, for doing her duty
in the state of life unto which it may have pleased God to call her.
Since I came to this country, I have seen the accomplished daughters and
wives of men holding no inconsiderable rank as officers, both naval and
military, milking their own cows, making their own butter, and
performing tasks of household work that few of our farmers' wives would
now condescend to take part in. Instead of despising these useful arts,
an emigrant's family rather pride themselves on their skill in these
matters. The less silly pride and the more practical knowledge the
female emigrant brings out with her, so much greater is the chance for
domestic happiness and prosperity.

I am sorry to observe, that in many cases the women that come hither
give way to melancholy regrets, and destroy the harmony of their fire-
side, and deaden the energies of their husbands and brothers by constant
and useless repining. Having once made up their minds to follow their
husbands or friends to this country, it would be wiser and better to
conform with a good grace, and do their part to make the burden of
emigration more bearable.

One poor woman that was lamenting the miseries of this country was
obliged to acknowledge that her prospects were far better than they ever
had or could have been at home. What, then, was the cause of her
continual regrets and discontent? I could hardly forbear smiling, when
she replied, "She could not go to shop of a Saturday night to lay out
her husband's earnings, and have a little chat with her _naibors_, while
the shopman was serving the customers,--_for why?_ there were no shops
in the bush, and she was just dead-alive. If Mrs. Such-a-one (with whom,
by the way, she was always quarrelling when they lived under the same
roof) was near her she might not feel quite so lonesome." And so for the
sake of a dish of gossip, while lolling her elbows on the counter of a
village-shop, this foolish woman would have forgone the advantages, real
solid advantages, of having land and cattle, and poultry and food, and
firing and clothing, and all for a few years' hard work, which, her
husband wisely observed, must have been exerted at home, with no other
end in view than an old age of poverty or a refuge from starvation in a
parish workhouse.

The female of the middling or better class, in her turn, pines for the
society of the circle of friends she has quitted, probably for ever. She
sighs for those little domestic comforts, that display of the
refinements and elegancies of life, that she had been accustomed to see
around her. She has little time now for those pursuits that were ever
her business as well as amusement. The accomplishments she has now to
acquire are of a different order: she must become skilled in the arts of
sugar-boiling, candle and soap making, the making and baking of huge
loaves, cooked in the bake-kettle, unless she be the fortunate mistress
of a stone or clay oven. She must know how to manufacture _hop-rising_
or _salt-rising_ for leavening her bread; salting meat and fish,
knitting stockings and mittens and comforters, spinning yarn in the big
wheel (the French Canadian spinning-wheel), and dyeing the yarn when
spun to have manufactured into cloth and coloured flannels, to clothe
her husband and children, making clothes for herself, her husband and
children;--for there are no tailors nor mantua-makers in the bush.

The management of poultry and the dairy must not be omitted; for in this
country most persons adopt the Irish and Scotch method, that of churning
the _milk_, a practice that in our part of England was not known. For my
own part I am inclined to prefer the butter churned from cream, as being
most economical, unless you chance to have Irish or Scotch servants who
prefer buttermilk to new or sweet skimmed milk.

There is something to be said in favour of both plans, no doubt. The
management of the calves differs here very much. Some persons wean the
calf from the mother from its birth, never allowing it to suck at all:
the little creature is kept fasting the first twenty-four hours; it is
then fed with the finger with new milk, which it soon learns to take
readily. I have seen fine cattle thus reared, and am disposed to adopt
the plan as the least troublesome one.

The old settlers pursue an opposite mode of treatment, allowing the calf
to suck till it is neatly half a year old, under the idea that it
ensures the daily return of the cow; as, under ordinary circumstances,
she is apt to ramble sometimes for days together, when the herbage grows
scarce in the woods near the homesteads, and you not only lose the use
of the milk, but often, from distention of the udder, the cow is
materially injured, at least for the remainder of the milking season. I
am disposed to think that were care taken to give the cattle regular
supplies of salt, and a small portion of food, if ever so little, near
the milking-place, they would seldom stay long away. A few refuse
potatoes, the leaves of the garden vegetables daily in use, set aside
for them, with the green shoots of the Indian corn that are stripped off
to strengthen the plant, will ensure their attendance. In the fall and
winter, pumpkins, corn, straw, and any other fodder you may have, with
the browse they get during the chopping and underbrushing season, will
keep them well.

The weanling calves should be given skimmed milk or buttermilk, with the
leafy boughs of basswood and maple, of which they are extremely fond. A
warm shed or fenced yard is very necessary for the cattle during the
intense winter frosts: this is too often disregarded, especially in new
settlements, which is the cause that many persons have the mortification
of losing their stock, either with disease or cold. Naturally the
Canadian cattle are very hardy, and when taken moderate care of, endure
the severest winters well; but owing to the difficulties that attend a
first settlement in the bush, they suffer every privation of cold and
hunger, which brings on a complaint generally fatal, called the "_hollow
horn_;" this originates in the spine, or extends to it, and is cured or
palliated by boring the horn and inserting turpentine, pepper, or other
heating substances.

When a new comer has not winter food for his cattle, it is wise to sell
them in the fall and buy others in the spring: though at a seeming loss,
it is perhaps less loss in reality than losing the cattle altogether.
This was the plan my husband adopted, and we found it decidedly the
better one, besides saving much care, trouble, and vexation.

I have seen some good specimens of native cheese, that I thought very
respectable, considering that the grass is by no means equal to our
British pastures. I purpose trying my skill next summer: who knows but
that I may inspire some Canadian bard to celebrate the produce of my
dairy as Bloomfield did the Suffolk cheese, yclept "Bang." You remember
the passage,--for Bloomfield is your countryman as well as mine,--it

  "Unrivalled stands thy county cheese, O Giles," &c.

I have dwelt on the dairy information; as I know you were desirous of
imparting all you could collect to your friends.

You wish to know something of the culture of Indian corn, and if it be a
useful and profitable crop.

The cultivation of Indian corn on newly cleared lands is very easy, and
attended with but little labour; on old farms it requires more. The
earth is just raised with a broad hoe, and three or four corns dropped
in with a pumpkin-seed, in about every third or fourth hole, and in
every alternate row; the seed are set several feet apart. The pumpkins
and the corn grow very amicably together, the broad leaves of the former
shading the young plants and preventing the too great evaporation of the
moisture from the ground; the roots strike little way, so that they rob
the corn of a very small portion of nourishment. The one crop trails to
an amazing length along the ground, while the other shoots up to the
height of several feet above it. When the corn is beginning to branch,
the ground should be hoed once over, to draw the earth a little to the
roots, and cut down any weeds that might injure it. This is all that is
done till the cob is beginning to form, when the blind and weak shoots
are broken off, leaving four or five of the finest bearing shoots. The
feather, when it begins to turn brown and dead, should also be taken
off; that the plant may have all the nourishment to the corn.

We had a remarkable instance of smut in our corn last summer. The
diseased cobs had large white bladders as big as a small puff-ball, or
very large nuts, and these on being broken were full of an inky black
liquid. On the same plants might be observed a sort of false
fructification, the cob being deficient in kernels, which by some
strange accident were transposed to the top feather or male blossoms. I
leave botanists to explain the cause of this singular anomaly; I only
state facts. I could not learn that the smut was a disease common to
Indian corn, but last year smut or dust bran, as it is called by some,
was very prevalent in the oat, barley and wheat crops. In this country
especially, new lands are very subject to the disease.

The ripe corn is either shocked as beans are at home, or the cobs pulled
and braided on ropes after the manner of onions, and hung over poles or
beams in the granaries or barns. The stripping of the corn gives rise
among some people, to what they call a husking-bee, which, like all the
other bees, is one of Yankee origin, and is not now so frequently
adopted among the more independent or better class of settlers.

The Indian corn is a tender and somewhat precarious crop: it is liable
to injury from the late frosts while young, for which reason it is never
put in before the 20th of May, or beginning of June, and even then it
will suffer; it has also many enemies; bears, racoons, squirrels, mice,
and birds, and is a great temptation to _breachy_ cattle; who, to come
at it, will even toss down a fence with stakes and riders for
protection, i.e. a pole or cross-bar, supported between crossed stakes,
that surmounts the zig-zag rail fences, for better securing them from
the incursions of cattle.

Even in Canada this crop requires a hot summer to ripen it perfectly;
which makes me think Mr. Cobbett was deceiving the English farmer when
he recommended it as a profitable crop in England. Profitable and highly
useful it is under every disadvantage, as it makes the richest and
sweetest food for all kinds of granivorous animals, even in its green
state, and affords sound good food when ripe, or even partially ripe,
for fattening beasts and working oxen.

Last summer was very favourable, and the crops were abundant, but owing
to the failure of the two preceding ones, fewer settlers grew it. Our
small patch turned out very good. The flour makes a substantial sort of
porridge, called by the Americans "_Supporne;_" this is made with water,
and eaten with milk, or else mixed with milk; it requires long boiling.
Bread is seldom if ever made without a large portion of wheaten flour,
mixed with the corn meal.

With respect to the culture of other grain, I can tell you nothing but
what every book that treats on emigration will give you. The potatoe
instead of being sown in drills is planted in hills, which are raised
over the sets; this crop requires hoeing.

With respect to the usual rate of wages, this also differs according to
the populousness of the place: but the common wages now given to an
active able man are from eight to eleven dollars per month; ten is
perhaps the general average; from four to six for lads, and three and
four for female servants. You may get a little girl, say from nine to
twelve years, for her board and clothing; but this is far from a saving
plan, as they soon wear out clothes and shoes thus bestowed. I have once
tried this way, but found myself badly served, and a greater loser than
if I had given wages. A big girl will go out to service for two and two
and a half dollars per month, and will work in the fields also if
required, binding after the reapers, planting and hoeing corn and
potatoes. I have a very good girl, the daughter of a Wiltshire emigrant,
who is neat and clever, and respectful and industrious, to whom I give
three dollars only: she is a happy specimen of the lower order of
English emigrants, and her family are quite acquisitions to the township
in which they live.

I think I have now answered all your queries to the best of my ability;
but I would have you bear in mind that my knowledge is confined to a
small portion of the townships along the Otanabee lakes, therefore, my
information after all, may be but local: things may differ, and do
differ in other parts of the province, though possibly not very

I must now say farewell. Should you ever feel tempted to try your
fortune on this side the Atlantic, let me assure you of a warm welcome
to our Canadian home, from your sincerely attached friend.


"A Logging Bee."--Burning of the Log-heaps.--Crops for the Season.--
Farming Stock.--Comparative Value of wheat and Labour.--Choice of Land,
and relative Advantages.--Clearing Land.--Hurricane in the Woods.--
Variable Weather.--Insects.

November the 2d, 1833.

MANY thanks, dearest mother, for the contents of the box which arrived
in August. I was charmed with the pretty caps and worked frocks sent for
my baby; the little fellow looks delightfully in his new robes, and I
can almost fancy is conscious of the accession to his wardrobe, so proud
he seems of his dress. He grows fat and lively, and, as you may easily
suppose, is at once the pride and delight of his foolish mother's heart.

His father, who loves him as much as I do myself; often laughs at my
fondness, and asks me if I do not think him the ninth wonder of the
world. He has fitted up a sort of rude carriage on the hand-sleigh for
the little fellow--nothing better than a tea-chest, lined with a black
bear-skin, and in this humble equipage he enjoys many a pleasant ride
over the frozen ground.

Nothing could have happened more opportunely for us than the acquisition
of my uncle's legacy, as it has enabled us to make some useful additions
to our farm, for which we must have waited a few years. We have laid out
a part of the property in purchasing a fine lot of land adjoining our
home lot. The quality of our new purchase is excellent, and, from its
situation, greatly enhances the value of the whole property.

We had a glorious burning this summer after the ground was all logged
up; that is, all the large timbers chopped into lengths, and drawn
together in heaps with oxen. To effect this the more readily we called a
logging-bee. We had a number of settlers attend, with yokes of oxen and
men to assist us. After that was over, my husband, with the men
servants, set the heaps on fire; and a magnificent sight it was to see
such a conflagration all round us. I was a little nervous at first on
account of the nearness of some of the log-heaps to the house, but care
is always taken to fire them with the wind blowing in a direction away
from the building. Accidents have sometimes happened, but they are of
rarer occurrence than might be expected, when we consider the subtlety
and destructiveness of the element employed on the occasion.

If the weather be very dry; and a brisk wind blowing, the work of
destruction proceeds with astonishing rapidity; sometimes the fire will
communicate with the forest and run over many hundreds of acres. This is
not considered favourable for clearing, as it destroys the underbush and
light timbers, which are almost indispensable for ensuring a good
burning. It is, however, a magnificent sight to see the blazing trees
and watch the awful progress of the conflagration, as it hurries onward,
consuming all before it, or leaving such scorching mementoes as have
blasted the forest growth for years.

When the ground is very dry the fire will run all over the fallow,
consuming the dried leaves, sticks, and roots. Of a night the effect is
more evident; sometimes the wind blows particles of the burning fuel
into the hollow pines and tall decaying stumps; these readily ignite,
and after a time present an appearance that is exceedingly fine and
fanciful. Fiery columns, the bases of which are hidden by the dense
smoke wreaths, are to be seen in every direction, sending up showers of
sparks that are whirled about like rockets and fire-wheels in the wind.
Some of these tall stumps, when the fire has reached the summit, look
like gas lamp-posts newly lit. The fire will sometimes continue
unextinguished for days.

After the burning is over the brands are collected and drawn together
again to be reburnt; and, strange as it may appear to you, there is no
work that is more interesting and exciting than that of tending the log-
heaps, rousing up the dying flames and closing them in, and supplying
the fires with fresh fuel.

There are always two burnings: first, the brush heaps, which have lain
during the winter till the drying winds and hot suns of April and May
have rendered them sear, are set fire to; this is previous to forming
the log-heaps.

If the season be dry, and a brisk wind abroad, much of the lighter
timber is consumed, and the larger trees reduced during this first
burning. After this is over, the rest is chopped and logged up for the
second burning: and lastly, the remnants are collected and consumed till
the ground be perfectly free from all encumbrances, excepting the
standing stumps, which rarely burn out, and remain eye-sores for several
years. The ashes are then scattered abroad, and the field fenced in with
split timber; the great work of clearing is over.

Our crops this year are oats, corn, and pumpkins, and potatoes, with
some turnips. We shall have wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, and corn next
harvest, which will enable us to increase our stock. At present we have
only a yoke of oxen (Buck and Bright, the names of three-fourths of all
the working oxen in Canada), two cows, two calves, three small pigs, ten
hens, and three ducks, and a pretty brown pony: but she is such a
skilful clearer of seven-railed fences that we shall be obliged to part
with her. _Breachy_ cattle of any kind are great disturbers of public
tranquillity and private friendship; for which reason any settler who
values the good-will of his neighbours would rather part with the best
working yoke of oxen in the township, than keep them if they prove

A small farmer at home would think very poorly of our Canadian
possessions, especially when I add that our whole stock of farming
implements consists of two reaping-hooks, several axes, a spade, and a
couple of hoes. Add to these a queer sort of harrow that is made in the
shape of a triangle for the better passing between the stumps: this is a
rude machine compared with the nicely painted instruments of the sort I
have been accustomed to see used in Britain. It is roughly hewn, and put
together without regard to neatness; strength for use is all that is
looked to here. The plough is seldom put into the land before the third
or fourth year, nor is it required; the general plan of cropping the
first fallow with wheat or oats, and sowing grass-seeds with the grain
to make pastures, renders the plough unnecessary till such time as the
grass-lands require to be broken up. This method is pursued by most
settlers while they are clearing bush-land; always chopping and burning
enough to keep a regular succession of wheat and spring crops, while the
former clearings are allowed to remain in grass.

The low price that is now given for grain of every kind, wheat having
fetched only from two shillings and nine-pence to four shillings the
bushel, makes the growing of it a matter of less importance than rearing
and fatting of stock. Wages bear no proportion to the price of produce;
a labourer receives ten and even eleven dollars and board a month, while
wheat is selling at only three shillings, three shillings and six pence
or four shillings, and sometimes even still less. The returns are little
compared with the outlay on the land; nor does the land produce that
great abundance that men are apt to look for on newly cleared ground.
The returns of produce, however, must vary with the situation and
fertility of the soil, which is generally less productive in the
immediate vicinity of the lakes and rivers than a little further back
from them, the land being either swampy or ridgy, covered with pines and
beset with blocks of limestone and granite, the sub-soil poor and sandy.

This is the case on the small lakes and on the banks of the Otanabee;
the back lots are generally much finer in quality, producing hard wood,
such as bass-wood, maple, hickory, butter-nut, oak, beach, and iron-
wood; which trees always indicate a more productive soil than the pine

In spite of the indifference of the soil the advantage of a water
frontage is considered a matter of great importance in the purchasing of
land; and, lots with water privileges usually fetch a much higher price
than those further removed from it. These lands are in general in the
possession of the higher class of settlers, who can afford to pay
something extra for a pretty situation, and the prospect of future
improvements when the country shall be under a higher state of
cultivation and more thickly settled.

We cannot help regarding with infinite satisfaction the few acres that
are cleared round the house and covered with crops. A space of this kind
in the midst of the dense forest imparts a cheerfulness to the mind, of
which those that live in an open country, or even a partially wooded
one, can form no idea. The bright sunbeams and the blue and cloudless
sky breaking in upon you, rejoices the eye and cheers the heart as much
as the cool shade of a palm-grove would the weary traveller on the sandy
wastes of Africa.

If we feel this so sensibly who enjoy the opening of a lake of full
three-quarters of a mile in breadth directly in front of our windows,
what must those do whose clearing is first opened in the depths of the
forest, hemmed in on every side by a thick wall of trees, through the
interminable shades of which the eye vainly endeavours to penetrate in
search of other objects and other scenes; but so dense is the growth of
timber, that all beyond the immediate clearing is wrapped in profound
obscurity. A settler on first locating on his lot knows no more of its
boundaries and its natural features than he does of the northwest

Under such disadvantages it is ten chances to one if he chooses the best
situation on the land for the site of his house. This is a very
sufficient reason for not putting up an expensive building till the land
is sufficiently cleared to allow its advantages and disadvantages to
become evident. Many eligible spots often present themselves to the eye
of the settler, in clearing his land, that cause him to regret having
built before he could obtain a better choice of ground. But
circumstances will seldom admit of delay in building in the bush; a
dwelling must be raised speedily, and that generally on the first
cleared acre. The emigrant, however, looks forward to some no very
distant period when he shall be able to gratify both his taste and love
of comfort in the erection of a handsomer and better habitation than his
log-house or his shanty, which he regards only in the light of a
temporary accommodation.

On first coming to this country nothing surprised me more than the total
absence of trees about the dwelling-houses and cleared lands; the axe of
the chopper relentlessly levels all before him. Man appears to contend
with the trees of the forest as though they were his most obnoxious
enemies; for he spares neither the young sapling in its greenness nor
the ancient trunk in its lofty pride; he wages war against the forest
with fire and steel.

There are several sufficient reasons to be given for this seeming want
of taste. The forest-trees grow so thickly together that they have no
room for expanding and putting forth lateral branches; on the contrary,
they run up to an amazing height of stem, resembling seedlings on a hot-
bed that have not duly been thinned out. Trees of this growth when
unsupported by others are tall, weak, and entirely divested of those
graces and charms of outline and foliage that would make them desirable
as ornaments to our grounds; but this is not the most cogent reason for
not leaving them, supposing some more sightly than others were to be

Instead of striking deep roots in the earth, the forest-trees, with the
exception of the pines, have very superficial hold in the earth; the
roots running along the surface have no power to resist the wind when it
bends the tops, which thus act as a powerful lever in tearing them from
their places.

The taller the tree the more liable it is to being uprooted by storms;
and if those that are hemmed in, as in the thickly-planted forests,
fall, you may suppose the certain fate of any isolated tree, deprived of
its former protectors, when left to brave and battle with the storm. It
is sure to fall, and may chance to injure any cattle that are within its
reach. This is the great reason why trees are not left in the clearing.
Indeed, it is a less easy matter to spare them when chopping than I at
first imagined, but the fall of one tree frequently brings down two,
three; or even more smaller ones that stand near it. A good chopper will
endeavour to promote this as much as possible by partly chopping through
smaller ones in the direction they purpose the larger one to fall.

I was so desirous of preserving a few pretty sapling beech-trees that
pleased me, that I desired the choppers to spare them; but the only one
that was saved from destruction in the chopping had to pass through a
fiery ordeal, which quickly scorched and withered up its gay green
leaves: it now stands a melancholy monument of the impossibility of
preserving trees thus left. The only thing to be done if you desire
trees, is to plant them while young in favourable situations, when they
take deep root and spread forth branches the same as the trees in our
parks and hedge-rows.

Another plan which we mean to adopt on our land is to leave several
acres of forest in a convenient situation, and chop and draw out the old
timbers for fire-wood, leaving the younger growth for ornament. This
method of preserving a grove of trees is not liable to the objections
formerly stated, and combines the useful with the ornamental.

There is a strange excitement created in the mind whilst watching the
felling of one of the gigantic pines or oaks of the forest. Proudly and
immoveably it seems at first to resist the storm of blows that assail
its massy trunk, from the united axes of three or even four choppers. As
the work of destruction continues, a slight motion is perceived--an
almost imperceptible quivering of the boughs. Slowly and slowly it
inclines, while the loud rending of the trunk at length warns you that
its last hold on earth is gone. The axe of the chopper has performed its
duty; the motion of the falling tree becomes accelerated every instant,
till it comes down in thunder on the plain, with a crash that makes the
earth tremble and the neighbouring trees reel and bow before it.

Though decidedly less windy than our British isles, Canada is subject at
times to sudden storms, nearly approaching to what might be termed
whirlwinds and hurricanes. A description of one of these tempests I gave
you in an early letter. During the present summer I witnessed another
hurricane, somewhat more violent and destructive in its effect.

The sky became suddenly overcast with clouds of a highly electric
nature. The storm came from the north-west, and its fury appeared to be
confined within the breadth of a few hundred yards. I was watching with
some degree of interest the rapid movements in the lurid, black, and
copper-coloured clouds that were careering above the lake, when I was
surprised by the report of trees falling on the opposite shore, and yet
more so by seeing the air filled with scattered remnants of the pines
within less than a hundred yards of the house, while the wind was
scarcely felt on the level ground on which I was standing.

In a few seconds the hurricane had swept over the water, and with
irresistible power laid low not less than thirty or forty trees, bending
others to the ground like reeds. It was an awful sight to see the tall
forest rocking and bowing before the fury of the storm, and with the
great trunks falling one after the other, as if they had been a pack of
cards thrown down by a breath. Fortunately for us the current of the
wind merely passed over our open clearing, doing us no further damage
than uprooting three big pine-trees on the ridge above the lake. But in
the direction of our neighbour ------ it did great mischief, destroying
many rods of fencing, and crushing his crops with the prostrate trunks
and scattered boughs, occasioning great loss and much labour to repair
the mischief.

The upturned roots of trees thrown down by the wind are great nuisances
and disfigurements in clearings, and cause much more trouble to remove
than those that have been felled by the axe. Some of the stumps of these
wind-fallen trees will right again if chopped from the trunk soon after
they have been blown down, the weight of the roots and upturned soil
being sufficient to bring them back into their former places; we have
pursued this plan very frequently.

We have experienced one of the most changeable seasons this summer that
was possible. The spring was warm and pleasant, but from the latter part
of May till the middle of harvest we had heavy rains, cloudy skies, with
moist hot days, and frequent tempests of thunder and lightning, most
awfully grand, but seemingly less destructive than such storms are at
home. Possibly the tall forest-trees divert the danger from the low
dwellings, which are sufficiently sheltered from the effect of the
lightning. The autumn has also proved wet and cold. I must say at
present I do not think very favourably of the climate; however, it is
not right to judge by so short an acquaintance with it, as every one
says this summer has been unlike any of its predecessors.

The insects have been a sad annoyance to us, and I hailed the approach
of the autumn as a respite from their attacks; for these pests are
numerous and various, and no respecters of persons, as I have learned
from sad experience.

I am longing for home-letters; let me hear from you soon.

Farewell, friends.


Health enjoyed in the rigour of Winter.--Inconvenience suffered from the
brightness of the Snow.--Sleighing.--Indian Orthography.--Visit to an
Indian Encampment.--Story of an Indian.--An Indian Hunchback.--Canadian

Lake Cottage, March 14, 1834.

I RECEIVED your affectionate and interesting letter only last night.
Owing to an error in the direction, it had made the round of two
townships before it reached Peterborough; and though it bore as many new
directions as the sailor's knife did new blades and handles, it did at
last reach me, and was not less prized for its travelling dress, being
somewhat the worse for wear.

I rejoiced to hear of your returning health and increased happiness--may
they long continue. Your expressions of regret for my exile, as you term
my residence in this country, affected me greatly. Let the assurance
that I am not less happy than when I left my native land, console you
for my absence. If my situation be changed, my heart is not. My spirits
are as light as ever, and at times I feel a gaiety that bids defiance to
all care.

You say you fear the rigours of the Canadian winter will kill me. I
never enjoyed better health, nor so good, as since it commenced. There
is a degree of spirit and vigour infused into one's blood by the purity
of the air that is quite exhilarating. The very snow seems whiter and
more beautiful than it does in our damp, vapoury climate. During a keen
bright winter's day you will often perceive the air filled with minute
frozen particles, which are quite dry, and slightly prick your face like
needle-points, while the sky is blue and bright above you. There is a
decided difference between the first snow-falls and those of mid-winter;
the first are in large soft flakes, and seldom remain long without
thawing, but those that fall after the cold has regularly set in are
smaller, drier, and of the most beautiful forms, sometimes pointed like
a cluster of rays, or else feathered in the most exquisite manner.

I find my eyes much inconvenienced by the dazzling glitter of the snow
on bright sunny days, so as to render my sight extremely dull and
indistinct for hours after exposure to its power. I would strongly
advise any one coming out to this country to provide themselves with
blue or green glasses; and by no means to omit green crape or green
tissue veils. Poor Moses' gross of green spectacles would not have
proved so bad a spec. in Canada*.

[* Oculists condemn coloured spectacles, as injuring weak eyes by the
heat which they occasion. Coloured gauze or coloured shades are

Some few nights ago as I was returning from visiting a sick friend, I
was delighted by the effect produced by the frost. The earth, the trees,
every stick, dried leaf, and stone in my path was glittering with mimic
diamonds, as if touched by some magical power; objects the most rude and
devoid of beauty had suddenly assumed a brilliancy that was dazzling
beyond the most vivid fancy to conceive; every frozen particle sent
forth rays of bright light. You might have imagined yourself in Sinbad's
valley of gems; nor was the temperature of the air at all unpleasantly

I have often felt the sensation of cold on a windy day in Britain far
more severe than I have done in Canada, when the mercury indicated a
much lower degree of temperature. There is almost a trance-like
stillness in the air during our frosty nights that lessens the
unpleasantness of the sensation.

There are certainly some days of intense cold during our winter, but
this low temperature seldom continues more than three days together. The
coldest part of the day is from an hour or two before sunrise to about
nine o'clock in the morning; by that time our blazing log-fires or metal
stoves have warmed the house, so that you really do not care for the
cold without. When out of doors you suffer less inconvenience than you
would imagine whilst you keep in motion, and are tolerably well clothed:
the ears and nose are the most exposed to injury.

Gentlemen sometimes make a singular appearance coming in from a long
journey, that if it were not for pity's sake would draw from you a
smile;--hair, whiskers, eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, all incrusted with
hoar-frost. I have seen young ladies going to evening parties with
clustering ringlets, as jetty as your own, changed by the breath of
Father Frost to silvery whiteness; so that you could almost fancy the
fair damsels had been suddenly metamorphosed to their ancient grannies;
fortunately for youth and beauty such change is but transitory.

In the towns and populous parts of the province the approach of winter
is hailed with delight instead of dread; it is to all a season of
leisure and enjoyment. Travelling is then expeditiously and pleasantly
performed; even our vile bush-roads become positively very respectable;
and if you should happen to be overturned once or twice during a journey
of pleasure, very little danger attends such an event, and very little
compassion is bestowed on you for your tumble in the snow; so it is
wisest to shake off your light burden and enjoy the fun with a good
grace if you can.

Sleighing is certainly a very agreeable mode of travelling; the more
snow, the better the sleighing season is considered; and the harder it
becomes, the easier the motion of the vehicle. The horses are all
adorned with strings of little brass bells about their necks or middles.
The merry jingle of these bells is far from disagreeable, producing a
light, lively sound.

The following lines I copied from the New York Albion for you; I think
you will be pleased with them:--


'Tis merry to hear at evening time
By the blazing hearth the sleigh-bells chime;
To know each bound of the steed brings near
The form of him to our bosoms dear;
Lightly we spring the fire to raise,
Till the rafters glow with the ruddy blaze.

'Tis he--and blithely the gay bells sound,
As his steed skims over the frozen ground.
Hark! he has pass'd the gloomy wood;
He crosses now the ice-bound flood,
And sees the light from the open door,
To hail his toilsome journey o'er.

Our hut is small and rude our cheer,
But love has spread the banquet here;
And childhood springs to be caress'd
By our beloved and welcome guest;
With smiling brow his tale he tells,
They laughing ring the merry bells.

From the cedar swamp the wolf may howl,
From the blasted pine loud whoop the owl;
The sudden crash of the falling tree
Are sounds of terror no more to me;
No longer I list with boding fear,
The sleigh-bells' merry peal to hear*.

[* This little poem by Mrs. Moodie has since been printed in a volume of
"Friendship's Offering," with some alterations by the editor that
deprive it a good deal of the simplicity of the original.]

As soon as a sufficient quantity of snow has fallen all vehicles of
every description, from the stage-coach to the wheelbarrow, are supplied
with wooden runners, shod with iron, after the manner of skates. The
usual equipages for travelling are the double sleigh, light waggon, and
cutter; the two former are drawn by two horses abreast, but the latter,
which is by far the most elegant-looking, has but one, and answers more
to our gig or chaise.

Wrapped up in buffalo robes you feel no inconvenience from the cold,
excepting to your face, which requires to be defended by a warm beaver
or fur bonnet; the latter, I am surprised to find, is seldom if ever
worn, from the nonsensical reason that it is not the fashion. The red,
grey, and black squirrels are abundant in our woods; the musk-rat
inhabits little houses that he builds in the rushy parts of the lakes:
these dwellings are formed of the roots of sedges, sticks, and other
materials of a similar nature, and plastered with mud, over which a
thick close thatch is raised to the height of a foot or more above the
water; they are of a round or dome-shape, and are distinctly visible
from the shore at some distance. The Indians set traps to ensnare these
creatures in their houses, and sell their skins, which are very thick
and glossy towards winter. The beaver, the bear, the black lynx, and
foxes are also killed, and brought to the stores by the hunters, where
the skins are exchanged for goods or money.

The Indians dress the deer-skins for making mocassins, which are greatly
sought after by the settlers in these parts; they are very comfortable
in snowy weather, and keep the feet very warm, but you require several
wrappings of cloth round the feet before you put them on. I wore a
beautiful pair all last winter, worked with porcupine-quills and bound
with scarlet ribbon; these elegant mocassins were the handicraft of an
old squaw, the wife of Peter the hunter: you have already heard of him
in my former letters. I was delighted with a curious specimen of Indian
orthography that accompanied the mocassins, in the form of a note, which
I shall transcribe for your edification:--


Pleas if you would give something; you must git in ordir in store is
woyth (worth) them mocsin, porcupine quill on et. One dollers foure

[Illustration: The Prairie]

This curious billet was the production of the hunter's eldest son, and
is meant to intimate that if I would buy the mocassins the price was one
dollar, or an order on one of the stores for four yards of calico; for
so the squaw interpreted its meaning. The order for four yards of
printed cotton was delivered over to Mrs. Peter, who carefully pinned it
within the folds of her blanket, and departed well satisfied with the
payment. And this reminds me of our visit to the Indian's camp last
week. Feeling some desire to see these singular people in their winter
encampment, I expressed my wish to S------, who happens to be a grand
favourite with the old hunter and his family; as a mark of a distinction
they have bestowed on him the title of Chippewa, the name of their
tribe. He was delighted with the opportunity of doing the honours of the
Indian wigwam, and it was agreed that he, with some of his brothers and
sisters-in-law, who happened to be on a visit at his house, should come
and drink tea with us and accompany us to the camp in the woods.

A merry party we were that sallied forth that evening into the glorious
starlight; the snow sparkled with a thousand diamonds on its frozen
surface, over which we bounded with hearts as light as hearts could be
in this careful world. And truly never did I look upon a lovelier sight
than the woods presented; there had been a heavy fall of snow the
preceding day; owing to the extreme stillness of the air not a particle
of it had been shaken from the trees. The evergreens were bending
beneath their brilliant burden; every twig, every leaf, and spray was
covered, and some of the weak saplings actually bowed down to the earth
with the weight of snow, forming the most lovely and fanciful bowers and
arcades across our path. As you looked up towards the tops of the trees
the snowy branches seen against the deep blue sky formed a silvery veil,
through which the bright stars were gleaming with a chastened

I was always an admirer of a snowy landscape, but neither in this
country nor at home did I ever see any thing so surpassingly lovely as
the forest appeared that night.

Leaving the broad road we struck into a bye-path, deep tracked by the
Indians, and soon perceived the wigwam by the red smoke that issued from
the open basket-work top of the little hut. This is first formed with
light poles, planted round so as to enclose a circle of ten or twelve
feet in diameter; between these poles are drawn large sheets of birch
bark both within and without, leaving an opening of the bare poles at
the top so as to form an outlet for the smoke; the outer walls were also
banked up with snow, so as to exclude the air entirely from beneath.

Some of our party, who were younger and lighter of foot than we sober
married folks, ran on before; so that when the blanket, that served the
purpose of a door, was unfastened, we found a motley group of the dark
skins and the pale faces reposing on the blankets and skins that were
spread round the walls of the wigwam.

The swarthy complexions, shaggy black hair, and singular costume of the
Indians formed a striking contrast with the fair-faced Europeans that
were mingled with them, seen as they were by the red and fitful glare of
the wood-fire that occupied the centre of the circle. The deer-hounds
lay stretched in indolent enjoyment, close to the embers, while three or
four dark-skinned little urchins were playing with each other, or
angrily screaming out their indignation against the apish tricks of the
hunchback, my old acquaintance Maquin, that Indian Flibberty-gibbet,
whose delight appeared to be in teazing and tormenting the little
papouses, casting as he did so sidelong glances of impish glee at the
guests, while as quick as thought his features assumed an impenetrable
gravity when the eyes of his father or the squaws seemed directed
towards his tricks.

There was a slight bustle among the party when we entered one by one
through the low blanket-doorway. The merry laugh rang round among our
friends, which was echoed by more than one of the Indian men, and joined
by the peculiar half-laugh or chuckle of the squaws. "_Chippewa_" was
directed to a post of honour beside the hunter Peter; and squaw Peter,
with an air of great good humour, made room for me on a corner of her
own blanket; to effect which two papouses and a hound were sent
lamenting to the neighbourhood of the hunchback Maquin.

The most attractive persons in the wigwam were two Indian girls, one
about eighteen, Jane, the hunter's eldest daughter, and her cousin
Margaret. I was greatly struck with the beauty of Jane; her features
were positively fine, and though of gipsey darkness the tint of
vermilion on her cheek and lip rendered it, if not beautiful, very
attractive. Her hair, which was of jetty blackness, was soft and
shining, and was neatly folded over her forehead, not hanging loose and
disorderly in shaggy masses, as is generally the case with the squaws.
Jane was evidently aware of her superior charms, and may be considered
as an Indian belle, by the peculiar care she displayed in the
arrangement of the black cloth mantle, bound with scarlet, that was
gracefully wrapped over one shoulder, and fastened at her left side with
a gilt brooch. Margaret was younger, of lower stature, and though lively
and rather pretty, yet wanted the quiet dignity of her cousin; she had
more of the squaw in face and figure. The two girls occupied a blanket
by themselves, and were busily engaged in working some most elegant
sheaths of deer-skin, richly wrought over with coloured quills and
beads: they kept the beads and quills in a small tin baking-pan on their
knees; but my old squaw (as I always call Mrs. Peter) held her
porcupine-quills in her mouth, and the fine dried sinews of the deer,
which they make use of instead of thread in work of this sort, in her

On my expressing a desire to have some of the porcupine-quills, she gave
me a few of different colour that she was working a pair of mocassins
with, but signified that she wanted "'bead' to work mocsin," by which I
understood I was to give some in exchange for the quills. Indians never
give since they have learned to trade with white men.

She was greatly delighted with the praises I bestowed on Jane. She told
me Jane was soon to marry the young Indian who sat on one side of her in
all the pride of a new blanket coat, red sash, embroidered powder-pouch,
and great gilt clasps to the collar of his coat, which looked as warm
and as white as a newly washed fleece. The old squaw evidently felt
proud of the young couple as she gazed on them, and often repeated, with
a good-tempered laugh, "Jane's husband--marry by and by."

We had so often listened with pleasure to the Indians singing their
hymns of a Sunday night that I requested some of them to sing to us; the
old hunter nodded assent; and, without removing his pipe, with the
gravity and phlegm of a Dutchman, issued his commands, which were as
instantly obeyed by the younger part of the community, and a chorus of
rich voices filled the little hut with a melody that thrilled to our
very hearts.

The hymn was sung in the Indian tongue, a language that is peculiarly
sweet and soft in its cadences, and seems to be composed with many
vowels. I could not but notice the modest air of the girls; as if
anxious to avoid observation that they felt was attracted by their sweet
voices, they turned away from the gaze of the strangers, facing each
other and bending their heads down over the work they still held in
their hands. The attitude, which is that of the Eastern nations; the
dress, dark hair and eyes, the olive complexion, heightened colour, and
meek expression of face, would have formed a study for a painter. I wish
you could have witnessed the scene; I think you would not easily have
forgotten it. I was pleased with the air of deep reverence that sat on
the faces of the elders of the Indian family, as they listened to the
voices of their children singing praise and glory to the God and Saviour
they had learned to fear and love.

The Indians seem most tender parents; it is pleasing to see the
affectionate manner in which they treat their young children, fondly and
gently caressing them with eyes overflowing and looks of love. During
the singing each papouse crept to the feet of its respective father and
mother, and those that were too young to join their voices to the little
choir, remained quite silent till the hymn was at an end. One little
girl, a fat brown roly-poly, of three years old, beat time on her
father's knee, and from time to time chimed in her infant voice; she
evidently possessed a fine ear and natural taste for music.

I was at a loss to conceive where the Indians kept their stores,
clothes, and other moveables, the wigwam being so small that there
seemed no room for any thing besides themselves and their hounds. Their
ingenuity, however, supplied the want of room, and I soon discovered a
plan that answered all the purposes of closets, bags, boxes, &c., the
inner lining of birch-bark being drawn between the poles so as to form
hollow pouches all round; in these pouches were stowed their goods; one
set held their stock of dried deer's flesh, another dried fish, a third
contained some flat cakes, which I have been told they bake in a way
peculiar to themselves, with hot ashes over and under; for my part I
think they must be far from palatable so seasoned. Their dressed skins,
clothes, materials for their various toys, such as beads, quills, bits
of cloth, silk, with a thousand other miscellaneous articles, occupied
the rest of these reservoirs.

Though open for a considerable space at the top, the interior of the
wigwam was so hot, I could scarcely breathe, and was constrained to
throw off all my wrappings during the time we staid. Before we went away
the hunter insisted on showing us a game, which was something after the
manner of our cup and ball, only more complicated, and requires more
sleight of hand: the Indians seemed evidently well pleased at our want
of adroitness. They also showed us another game, which was a little like
nine-pins, only the number of sticks stuck in the ground was greater. I
was unable to stay to see the little rows of sticks knocked out, as the
heat of the wigwam oppressed me almost to suffocation, and I was glad to
feel myself once more breathing the pure air.

In any other climate one would scarcely have undergone such sudden
extremes of temperature without catching a severe cold; but fortunately
that distressing complaint _catchee le cold_, as the Frenchman termed
it, is not so prevalent in Canada as at home.

Some twenty years ago, while a feeling of dread still existed in the
minds of the British settlers towards the Indians, from the remembrance
of atrocities committed during the war of independence, a poor woman,
the widow of a settler who occupied a farm in one of the then but
thinly-settled townships back of the Ontario, was alarmed by the sudden
appearance of an Indian within the walls of her log-hut. He had entered
so silently that it was not till he planted himself before the blazing
fire that he was perceived by the frightened widow and her little ones,
who retreated, trembling with ill-concealed terror to the furthest
corner of the room.

Without seeming to notice the dismay which his appearance had excited,
the Indian proceeded to disencumber himself from his hunting
accoutrements; he then unfastened his wet mocassins, which he hung up to
dry, plainly intimating his design was to pass the night beneath their
roof, it being nearly dark, and snowing heavily.

Scarcely daring to draw an audible breath, the little group watched the
movements of their unwelcome guest. Imagine their horror when they
beheld him take from his girdle a hunting-knife, and deliberately
proceed to try its edge. After this his tomahawk and rifle underwent a
similar examination.

The despair of the horror-stricken mother was now approaching a climax.
She already beheld in idea the frightful mangled corpses of her murdered
children upon that hearth which had so often been the scene of their
innocent gambols. Instinctively she clasped the two youngest to her
breast at a forward movement of the Indian. With streaming eyes she was
about to throw herself at his feet, as he advanced towards her with the
dreaded weapons in his hands, and implore his mercy for herself and her
babes. What then was her surprise and joy when he gently laid the rifle,
knife, and tomahawk beside her, signifying by this action that she had
nothing to fear at his hands*.

[* It is almost an invariable custom now for the Indians on entering a
dwelling-house to leave all their weapons, as rife, tomahawk, &c.,
outside the door, even if the weather be ever so wet; as they consider
it unpolite to enter a family dwelling armed.]

A reprieve to a condemned criminal at the moment previous to his
execution was not more welcome than this action of the Indian to the
poor widow. Eager to prove her confidence and her gratitude at the same
time, she hastened to prepare food for the refreshment of the now no
longer dreaded guest; and, assisted by the eldest of her children, put
clean sheets and the best blankets on her own bed, which she joyfully
devoted to the accommodation of the stranger. An expressive "Hugh!
hugh!" was the only reply to this act of hospitality; but when he went
to take possession of his luxurious couch he seemed sorely puzzled. It
was evident the Indian had never seen, and certainly never reposed on,
an European bed. After a mute examination of the bed-clothes for some
minutes, with a satisfied laugh, he sprang upon the bed, and, curling
himself up like a dog, in a few minutes was sound asleep.

By dawn of day the Indian had departed; but whenever he came on the
hunting-grounds in the neighbourhood of the widow, she was sure to see
him. The children, no longer terrified at his swarthy countenance and
warlike weapons, would gather round his knees, admire the feathered
pouch that contained his shot, finger the beautiful embroidered sheath
that held the hunting-knife, or the finely-worked mocassins and
leggings; whilst he would pat their heads, and bestow upon them an equal
share of caresses with his deer-hounds.

Such was the story related to me by a young missionary. I thought it
might prove not uninteresting, as a trait of character of one of these
singular people. _Chiboya_ (for that was the name of the Indian) was one
of the Chippewas of Rice Lake, most of whom are now converts to
Christianity, and making considerable advancement in civilisation and
knowledge of agriculture. Hunting and fishing, however, appear to be
their favourite pursuits: for these they leave the comfortable houses at
the Indian villages, and return at stated times to their forest haunts.
I believe it is generally considered that their numbers are diminishing,
and some tribes have become nearly if not totally extinct in the
Canadas*. The race is slowly passing away from the face of the earth, or
mingling by degrees with the colonists, till, a few centuries hence,
even the names of their tribes will scarcely remain to tell that they
once existed.

[* It is stated that the North-West Company had a census of all the
tribes, and that the whole Indian population of that immense continent
did not now exceed 100,000 souls. In a Parliamentary document of 1834,
the Indians of Lower Canada are estimated at 3,437, and those of Upper
Canada at 13,700, which latter number is stated to include those on the
shores of Lake Huron, and to the westward.-Ed.]

When next you send a box or parcel, let me have a few good tracts and
hymn-books; as they prize a gift of this sort extremely. I send you a
hymn, the one they sang to us in the wigwam; it is the Indian
translation, and written by the hunter, Peter's eldest son: he was
delighted when I told him I wanted him to copy it for me, that I might
send it across the seas to my own country, that English people might see
how well Indians could write.

[Illustration: Red-bird]

[Illustration: Blue-bird]

The hunchback Maquin has made me a miniature canoe of birch-bark, which
I send; you will prize it as a curiosity, and token of remembrance. The
red and black squirrel-skins are for Jane; the feather fans, and papers
of feathers, for Sarah. Tell the latter the next time I send a packet
home, she shall have specimens fit for stuffing of our splendid red-
bird, which, I am sure, is the Virginian nightingale; it comes in May or
April, and leaves us late in the summer: it exactly corresponds to a
stuffed Virginian nightingale that I saw in a fine collection of
American birds. The blue-bird is equally lovely, and migrates much about
the same time; the plumage is of a celestial blue; but I have never seen
one otherwise than upon the wing, so cannot describe it minutely. The
cross-bills are very pretty; the male and female quite opposite in
colour, one having a lovely mixture of scarlet and orange on the breast
and back, shading into greenish olive and brown; the other more like our
yellowhammer, only it is not quite so bright in colour, though much
softer, and more innocent-looking: they come to our windows and doors in
the winter as familiarly as your robins. During the winter most of our
birds depart; even the hollow tapping of the red-headed and the small
speckled grey and white woodpecker ceases to be heard; the sharp
chittering of the squirrel, too, is seldomer distinguished; and silence,
awful and unbroken silence, reigns in the forest during the season of

I had well nigh forgotten my little favourites, a species of the
titmouse, that does not entirely forsake us. Of a bright warm, sunny day
we see flocks of these tiny birds swinging among the feathery sprigs of
the hemlocks or shrubby pines on the plains or in the forest; and many a
time have I stayed my steps to watch their playful frolics, and listen
to their gay warbling. I am not quite certain, but I think this is the
same little bird that is known among the natives by the name of Thit-a-
be-bee; its note, though weak, and with few changes, is not unpleasing;
and we prize it from its being almost the only bird that sings during
the winter.

I had heard much of the snow-bunting, but never had seen it till the
other day, and then not near enough to mark its form or colours. The day
was one of uncommon brilliancy; the sky cloudless, and the air almost
warm; when, looking towards the lake, I was surprised by the appearance
of one of the pine-trees near the shore: it seemed as if covered with
stars of silver that twinkled and sparkled against the blue sky. I was
so charmed by the novelty, that I ran out to observe them nearer; when,
to my surprise, my stars all took flight to another tree, where, by the
constant waving and fluttering of their small white wings against the
sunlight, they produced the beautiful effect that had at first attracted
my observation: soon all the pines within sight of the window were
illuminated by these lovely creatures. About mid-day they went away, and
I have seen them but once since. They never lit on the ground, or any
low tree or bough, for me to examine them nearer.

Of our singing-birds, the robin; the blackbird, and a tiny bird, like
our common wren, are those I am most intimate with. The Canadian robin
is much larger than our dear robin at home; he is too coarse and large a
bird to realize the idea of our little favourite, "the household-bird
with the red stomacher," as he is called by Bishop-Carey, in a sonnet
addressed to Elizabeth, the daughter of James I., on her marriage with
the unfortunate Frederic Prince Palatine.

The song of the Canadian robin is by no means despicable; its notes are
clear, sweet, and various; it possesses the same cheerful lively
character that distinguishes the carol of its namesake; but the general
habits of the bird are very dissimilar. The Canadian robin is less
sociable with man, but more so with his own species: they assemble in
flocks soon after the breeding season is over, and appear very amicable
one to another; but seldom, if ever, approach very near to our dwelling.
The breast is of a pinkish, salmon colour; the head black; the back of a
sort of bluish steel, or slate colour; in size they are as big as a

[Illustration: Snow-Bunting]

The blackbird is perhaps our best songster, according to my taste; full
as fine as our English blackbird, and much handsomer in its plumage,
which is a glossy, changeable, greenish black. The upper part of the
wing of the male bird of full growth is of a lively orange; this is not
apparent in the younger birds, nor in the female, which is slightly

Towards the middle of the summer, when the grain begins to ripen, these
birds assemble in large flocks: the management of their marauding
parties appears to be superintended by the elders of the family. When
they are about to descend upon a field of oats or wheat, two or three
mount guard as sentinels, and on the approach of danger, cry _Geck-geck-
geck_; this precaution seems a work of supererogation, as they are so
saucy that they will hardly be frightened away; and if they rise it is
only to alight on the same field at a little distance, or fly up to the
trees, where their look-out posts are.

They have a peculiarly melancholy call-note at times, which sounds
exactly like the sudden twang of a harp-string, vibrating for a second
or two on the ear. This, I am inclined to think, they use to collect
their distant comrades, as I have never observed it when they were all
in full assembly, but when a few were sitting in some tree near the
lake's edge. I have called them the "_harpers_" from this peculiar note.
I shall tire you with my ornithological sketches, but must enumerate two
or three more birds.

The bald eagle frequently flies over our clearing; it has a dark body,
and snow-white head. It is sometimes troublesome to the poultry-yards:
those we have seen have disdained such low game, and soared majestically
away across the lake.

The fish-hawk we occasionally see skimming the surface of the water, and
it is regarded as an enemy by those who take delight in spearing fish
upon the lakes.

Then we have the night or mosquito-hawk, which may be seen in the air
pursuing the insect tribe in the higher regions, whilst hundreds of
great dragonflies pursue them below; notwithstanding their assistance,
we are bitten mercilessly by those summer pests the mosquitoes and black

The red-headed woodpecker is very splendid; the head and neck being of a
rich crimson; the back, wings, and breast are divided between the most
snowy white and jetty black. The incessant tapping of the woodpeckers,
and the discordant shriek of the blue jay, are heard from sunrise to
sunset, as soon as the spring is fairly set in.

I found a little family of woodpeckers last spring comfortably nested in
an old pine, between the bark and the trunk of the tree, where the
former had started away, and left a hollow space, in which the old birds
had built a soft but careless sort of nest; the little creatures seemed
very happy, poking their funny bare heads out to greet the old ones, who
were knocking away at the old stumps in their neighbourhood to supply
their cravings, as busy as so many carpenters at work.

[Illustration: Baltimore Oriole defending her Nest against the Black

A very curious bird's-nest was given me by one of our choppers; it was
woven over a forked spray, so that it had all the appearance of having
been sewn to the bough with grey thread. The nest was only secured at
the two sides that formed the angle, but so strong was it fastened that
it seemed to resist any weight or pressure of a moderate kind; it was
composed of the fibres of the bass-wood bark; which are very thready,
and may be drawn to great fineness: on the whole it was a curious
specimen of the ingenuity of these admirable little architects. I could
not discover the builder; but rather suspect the nest to have belonged
to my protege, the little winter titmouse that I told you of.

The nest of the Canadian robin, which I discovered while seeking for a
hen's nest in a bush-heap, just at the further edge of the clearing, is
very much like our home-robin's, allowing something for difference of
size in the bird, and in the material; the eggs, five in number, were
deep blue.

Before I quit the subject of birds, I must recall to your remembrance
the little houses that the Americans build for the swallow; I have since
found out one of their great reasons for cherishing this useful bird. It
appears that a most rooted antipathy exists between this species and the
hawk tribe, and no hawk will abide their neighbourhood; as they pursue
them for miles, annoying them in every possible way, haunting the hawk
like its evil genius: it is most singular that so small a creature
should thus overcome one that is the formidable enemy of so many of the
feathered race. I should have been somewhat sceptical on the subject,
had I not myself been an eyewitness to the fact. I was looking out of my
window one bright summer-day, when I noticed a hawk of a large
description flying heavily along the lake, uttering cries of distress;
within a yard or two of it was a small--in the distance it appeared to
me a very small--bird pursuing it closely, and also screaming. I watched
this strange pair till the pine-wood hid them from my sight; and I often
marvelled at the circumstance, till a very intelligent French Canadian
traveller happened to name the fact, and said so great was the value
placed on these birds, that they had been sold at high prices to be sent
to different parts of the province. They never forsake their old haunts
when once naturalized, the same pairs constantly returning year after
year, to their old house.

The singular fact of these swallows driving the hawk from his haunts is
worthy of attention; as it is well authenticated, and adds one more to
the many interesting and surprising anecdotes recorded by naturalists of
the sagacity and instinct of these birds.

I have, however, scribbled so many sheets, that I fear my long letter
must weary you.



Utility of Botanical Knowledge.--The Fire-Weed.--Sarsaparilla Plants.--
Magnificent Water-Lily.--Rice Beds.--Indian Strawberry.--Scarlet

July 13, 1834

OUR winter broke up unusually early this year: by the end of February
the ground was quite free from snow, and the weather continued all
through March mild and pleasant, though not so warm as the preceding
year, and certainly more variable. By the last week in April and the
beginning of May, the forest-trees had all burst into leaf, with a
brilliancy of green that was exquisitely lovely.

On the 14th, 15th, and 16th of May, the air became suddenly cold, with
sharp winds from the north-west, and heavy storms of snow that nipped
the young buds, and destroyed many of the early-sown vegetable seeds;
fortunately for us we were behindhand with ours, which was very well, as
it happened.

Our woods and clearings are now full of beautiful flowers. You will be
able to form some idea of them from the dried specimens that I send you.
You will recognize among them many of the cherished pets of our gardens
and green-houses, which are here flung carelessly from Nature's lavish
hand among our woods and wilds.

How often do I wish you were beside me in my rambles among the woods and
clearings: you would be so delighted in searching out the floral
treasures of the place.

Deeply do I now regret having so idly neglected your kind offers while
at home of instructing me in flower-painting; you often told me the time
would come when I should have cause to regret neglecting the golden
opportunity before me.

You proved a true prophetess; for I daily lament that I cannot make
faithful representations of the flowers of my adopted country, or
understand as you would do their botanical arrangement. With some few I
have made myself acquainted, but have hardly confidence in my scanty
stock of knowledge to venture on scientific descriptions, when I feel
conscious that a blunder would be easily detected, and expose me to
ridicule and contempt, for an assumption of knowledge that I did not
possess. The only botanical work I have at my command is Pursh's North
American Flora, from which I have obtained some information; but must
confess it is tiresome blundering out Latin descriptions to one who
knows nothing of Latin beyond what she derives through a knowledge of

I have made out a list of the plants most worthy of attention near us;
there are many others in the township that I am a stranger to; some
there are with whose names I am unacquainted. I subjoin a slight sketch,
not with my pencil but my pen, of those flowers that pleased me
particularly, or that possessed any remarkable qualities.

The same plants do not grow on cleared land that formerly occupied the
same spot when it was covered with forest-trees. A distinct class of
vegetation makes its appearance as soon as the fire has passed over the

The same thing may be remarked with regard to the change that takes
place among our forests. As one generation falls and decays, new ones of
a different character spring up in their places. This is illustrated in
the circumstance of the resinous substance called fat-pine being usually
found in places where the living pine is least abundant, and where the
ground is occupied by oak, ash, buck, maple, and bass-wood.

The fire-weed, a species of tall thistle of rank and unpleasant scent,
is the first plant that appears when the ground has been freed from
timbers by fire: if a piece of land lies untilled the first summer after
its being chopped, the following spring shows you a smothering crop of
this vile weed. The next plant you notice is the sumach, with its downy
stalks, and head of deep crimson velvety flowers, forming an upright
obtuse bunch at the extremity of the branches: the leaves turn scarlet
towards the latter end of the summer. This shrub, though really very
ornamental, is regarded as a great pest in old clearings, where the
roots run and send up suckers in abundance. The raspberry and wild
gooseberry are next seen, and thousands of strawberry plants of
different varieties carpet the ground, and mingle with the grasses of
the pastures. I have been obliged this spring to root out with
remorseless hand hundreds of sarsaparilla plants, and also the
celebrated gingseng, which grows abundantly in our woods: it used
formerly to be an article of export to China from the States, the root
being held in high estimation by the Chinese.

Last week I noticed a succulent plant that made its appearance on a dry
sandy path in my garden; it seems to me a variety of the hour-blowing
mesembryanthium. It has increased so rapidly that it already covers a
large space; the branches converging from the centre of the plant; and
sending forth shoots from every joint. The leaves are rather small,
three-sided and pointed, thick and juicy, yielding a green liquor when
bruised like the common sedums. The stalks are thick and round, of a
bright red, and trail along the ground; the leaves spring from each
joint, and with them a constant succession of yellow starry flowers,
that close in an hour or so from the time they first unfold. I shall
send you some of the seed of this plant, as I perceived a number of
little green pods that looked like the buds, but which, on opening,
proved to be the seed-vessels. This plant covers the earth like a thick
mat, and, I am told, is rather troublesome where it likes the soil.

I regret that among my dried plants I could not preserve some specimens
of our superb water-lilies and irises; but they were too large and too
juicy to dry well. As I cannot send you my favourites, I must describe
them to you.

The first, then, is a magnificent water-lily, that I have called by way
of distinction the "queen of the lakes," for she sits a crown upon the
waters. This magnificent flower is about the size of a moderately large
dahlia; it is double to the heart; every row of petals diminishing by
degrees in size, and gradually deepening in tint from the purest white
to the brightest lemon colour. The buds are very lovely, and may be seen
below the surface of the water, in different stages of forwardness from
the closely-folded bud, wrapped in its olive-green calix, to the half-
blown flower, ready to emerge from its watery prison, and in all its
virgin beauty expand its snowy bosom to the sun and genial air. Nor is
the beauty of the flower its sole attraction: when unfolded it gives out
a rich perfume not unlike the smell of fresh lemons. The leaves are also
worthy of attention: at first they are of a fine dark green, but as the
flower decays, the leaf changes its hue to a vivid crimson. Where a
large bed of these lilies grow closely together, they give quite a
sanguine appearance to the waters, that is distinguishable at some

The yellow species of this plant is also very handsome, though it wants
the silken texture and delicate colour of the former; I call this the
"water-king." The flower presents a deep golden-coloured cup, the
concave petals of which are clouded in the centre with a dark reddish-
brown, that forms a striking contrast to the gay anthers, which are very
numerous, and turn back from the centre of the flower, falling like
fringes of gold one over the other, in successive rows, till they fill
up the hollow flower-cup.

The shallows of our lakes abound with a variety of elegant aquatic
plants: I know not a more lovely sight than one of these floating
gardens. Here you shall behold near the shore a bed of azure fleur-de-
lis, from the palest pearl colour varying to the darkest purple. Nearer
in shore, in the shallowest water, the rose-coloured persecaria sends up
its beautiful spikes trailing below the surface; you see the red stalks
and smooth dark green leaves veined underneath with rosy red: it is a
very charming variety of this beautiful species of plants. Then a bed of
my favourite white lilies, all in full bloom, floating on the water,
with their double flowers expanding to the sun; near these, and rising
in stately pride, a tall plant, with dark green spear-shaped leaves, and
thick spike of bright blue flowers, is seen. I cannot discover the name
of this very grand-looking flower, and I neglected to examine its
botanical construction; so can give you no clue by which to discover its
name or species.

Our rice-beds are far from being unworthy of admiration; seen from a
distance they look like low green islands on the lakes: on passing
through one of these rice-beds when the rice is in flower, it has a
beautiful appearance with its broad grassy leaves and light waving
spikes, garnished with pale yellow green blossoms, delicately shaded
with reddish purple, from beneath which fall three elegant straw-
coloured anthers, which move with every breath of air or slightest
motion of the waters. I gathered several spikes when only just opened,
but the tiresome things fell to pieces directly they became dry. Next
summer I will make another attempt at preserving them, and it may be
with better success.

The low shore of the lake is a complete shrubbery. We have a very pretty
St. John's-wort, with handsome yellow flowers. The white and pink spiral
frutex also abounds with some exquisite upright honeysuckles, shrubby
plants about three feet in height; the blossoms grow in pairs or by
fours, and hang beneath the light green leaves; elegant trumpet-shaped
flowers of a delicate greenish white, which are succeeded by ruby-
coloured berries. On gathering a branch of this plant, you cannot but be
struck with the elegant arrangement of the flowers along the under part
of the stalks. The two blossoms are connected at the nectary of each in
a singular manner. The Americans call this honeysuckle "twinflower." I
have seen some of the flowers of this plant pale pink: on the whole it
is one of the most ornamental shrubs we have. I transplanted some young
trees into my garden last spring; they promise to live and do well. I do
not find any description of this shrub in Pursh's Flora, but know it to
be a species of honeysuckle, from the class and order, the shape and
colour of the leaves, the stalks, the trumpet-shaped blossom and the
fruit; all bearing a resemblance to our honeysuckles in some degree.
There is a tall upright bush, bearing large yellow trumpet-shaped
flowers, springing from the extremities of the branches; the involucrum
forms a boat-shaped cup that encircles the flowers from which they seem
to spring, something after the manner of the scarlet trumpet-
honeysuckle. The leaves and blossoms of this plant are coarse, and by no
means to compare to the former.

We have a great variety of curious orchises, some brown and yellow,
others pale flesh-coloured, striped with crimson. There is one species
grows to the height of two feet, bearing long spikes of pale purple
flowers; a white one with most fragrant smell, and a delicate pink one
with round head of blossoms, finely fringed like the water-pinks that
grow in our marshes; this is a very pretty flower, and grows in the
beaver meadows.

Last autumn I observed in the pine-wood near us a very curious plant; it
came up with naked brown stems, branching off like some miniature tree;
the stalks of this plant were brown, slightly freckled and beset with
little knobs. I watched the progress of maturity in this strange plant
with some degree of interest, towards the latter end of October; the
little knobs, which consisted of two angular hard cases, not unlike,
when fully opened, to a boat in shape, burst asunder and displayed a
pale straw-coloured chaffy substance that resembled fine saw-dust: these
must have been the anthers, but they bore more resemblance to seeds;
this singular flower would have borne examination with a microscope. One
peculiarity that I observed, was, that on pulling up a plant with its
roots, I found the blossoms open under ground, springing up from the
lowest part of the flower-stems, and just as far advanced to maturity as
those that grew on the upper stalks, excepting that they were somewhat
blanched, from being covered up from the air. I can find no description
of this plant, nor any person but myself seems to have taken notice of
it. The specimen I had on being dried became so brittle that it fell to

I have promised to collect some of the most singular of our native
flowers for one of the Professors of Botany in the Edinburgh University.

We have a very handsome plant that bears the closest affinity to our
potatoe in its floral construction; it grows to the height of two or
three feet in favourable situations, and sends up many branches; the
blossoms are large, purely white, freckled near the bottom of the
corolla with brownish yellow spots; the corolla is undivided: this is
evidently the same plant as the cultivated potatoe, though it does not
appear to form apples at the root. The fruit is very handsome,
eggshaped, of a beautiful apricot colour when ripe, and of a shining
tempting appearance; the smell, however, betrays its poisonous nature:
on opening one of the fruits you find it consists of a soft pulp filled
with shining black seeds. The plant continues in blossom from June till
the first frosts wither the leaves; it is far less coarse than the
potatoe; the flower, when full blown, is about the size of a half crown,
and quite flat; I think it is what you call salver-shaped: it delights
in light loamy soil, growing on the upturned roots of fallen trees,
where the ground is inclined to be sandy. I have never seen this plant
elsewhere than on our own fallow.

The hepatica is the first flower of the Canadian spring: it gladdens us
with its tints of azure, pink, and white, early in April, soon after the
snows have melted from the earth. The Canadians can it snow-flower, from
its coming so soon after the snow disappears. We see its gay tufts of
flowers in the open clearings and the deep recesses of the forests; its
leaves are also an enduring ornament through the open months of the
year; you see them on every grassy mound and mossy root: the shades of
blue are very various and delicate, the white anthers forming a lovely
contrast with the blue petals.

The wood-cress, or as it is called by some, ginger-cress, is a pretty
white cruciform flower; it is highly aromatic in flavour; the root is
white and fleshy, having the pungency of horseradish. The leaves are of
a sad green, sharply notched, and divided in three lobes; the leaves of
some of them are slightly variegated; the plant delights in rich moist
vegetable mould, especially on low and slightly swampy ground; the
flower-stalk is sometimes naked, sometimes leafed, and is crowned with a
loose spike of whitish cruciform flowers.

There is a cress that grows in pretty green tufts at the bottom of the
waters in the creeks and small rivulets: it is more delicate and
agreeable in flavour than any of the land-cresses; the leaves are of a
pale tender green, winged and slender; the plant looks like a green
cushion at the bottom of the water. The flowers are yellow, cruciform,
and insignificant; it makes a very acceptable salad in the early spring,
and at the fall of the year. There are also several species of land-
cress, and plants resembling some of the cabbage tribes, that might be
used as spring vegetables. There are several species of spinach, one
known here by the name of lamb's quarter, that grows in great profusion
about our garden, and in rich soil rises to two feet, and is very
luxuriant in its foliage; the leaves are covered with a white rough
powder. The top shoots and tender parts of this vegetable are boiled
with pork, and, in place of a more delicate pot-herb, is very useful.

Then we have the Indian turnip; this is a very handsome arum, the root
of which resembles the capava, I am told, when boiled: the leaves of
this arum are handsome, slightly tinged with purple. The spathe is of a
lively green, striped with purple: the Indians use the root as a
medicine, and also as an esculent; it is often eaten by the settlers as
a vegetable, but I never tasted it myself. Pursh calls this species
_Arum atropurpureum_.

I must not pass over one of our greatest ornaments, the strawberry
blite, strawberry-bearing spinach, or Indian strawberry, as it is
variously named. This singular plant throws out many branches from one
stem, these are garnished with handsome leaves, resembling in appearance
our long-leaved garden spinach; the finest of this plant is of a bright
crimson, pulpy like the strawberry, and containing a number of purple
seeds, partially embedded in the surface, after the same manner as the
strawberry. The fruit grows close to the stalk, completely surrounding
it, and forming a long spike of the richest crimson berries. I have
gathered branches a foot in length, closely covered with the beautiful
looking fruit, and have regretted that it was so insipid in its flavour
as to make it uneatable. On the banks of creeks and in rich ground, it
grows most luxuriantly, one root sending up twenty or thirty branches,
drooping with the weight of their magnificent burden. As the middle and
superior stems ripen and decay, the lateral ones come on, presenting a
constant succession of fruit from July till the frosts nip them off in

The Indians use the juice of this plant as a dye, and are said to eat
the berries: it is often made use of as a substitute for red ink, but it
is liable to fade unless mingled with alum. A friend of mine told me she
had been induced to cross a letter she was sending to a relative in
England with this strawberry ink, but not having taken the precaution to
fix the colour, when the anxiously expected epistle arrived, one-half of
it proved quite unintelligible, the colours having faded nearly to
white; so that instead of affording satisfaction, it proved only a
source of vexation and embarrassment to the reader, and of mortification
to the writer.

The blood-root, sanguinaria, or puccoon, as it is termed by some of the
native tribes, is worthy of attention from the root to the flower. As
soon as the sun of April has warmed the earth and loosened it from its
frozen bonds, you may distinguish a number of purely white buds,
elevated on a naked footstalk, and partially enfolded in a handsome
vine-shaped leaf, of a pale bluish green, curiously veined on the under
side with pale orange. The leaf springs singly from a thick juicy
fibrous root, which, on being broken, emits a quantity of liquor from
its pores of a bright orange scarlet colour: this juice is used by the
Indians as a dye, and also in the cure of rheumatic, and cutaneous
complaints. The flowers of the sanguinaria resemble the white crocus
very closely: when it first comes up the bud is supported by the leaf,
and is folded together with it; the flower, however, soon elevates
itself above its protector, while the leaf having performed its duty of
guardian to the tender bud, expands to its full size. A rich black
vegetable mould at the edges of the clearings seems the favourite soil
for this plant.

The scarlet columbine is another of my favourite flowers; it is bright
red, with yellow linings to the tubes. The nectaries are more elongated
than the garden columbines, and form a sort of mural crown, surmounted
with little balls at the tips. A tall graceful plant, with its brilliant
waving blossoms, is this columbine; it grows both in the sunshine and
the shade, not perhaps in deep shady woods, but where the under brush
has been removed by the running of the fire or the axe of the chopper;
it seems even to flourish in poor stony soils, and may be found near
every dwelling. The feathered columbine delights in moist open swamps,
and the banks of rivulets; it grows to the height of three, and even
four and five feet, and is very ornamental.

Of Violets, we have every variety of colour, size and shape, lacking
only the delightful _viola odorata_ of our home woodlands: yet I know
not why we should quarrel with these meek daughters of the spring,
because they want the fragrance of their more favoured sisters. Many of
your wood-violets, though very beautiful, are also devoid of scent; here
variety of colour ought to make some amends for want of perfume. We have
violets of every shade of blue, some veined with purple, others shaded
with darker blue. We have the delicate white, pencilled with purple: the
bright brimstone coloured with black veinings: the pale primrose with
dark blue veins; the two latter are remarkable for the luxuriance and
size of the leaves: the flowers spring in bunches, several from each
joint, and are succeeded by large capsules covered with thick white
cottony down. There is a species of violet that grows in the woods, the
leaves of which are exceedingly large; so are the seed-vessels, but the
flower is so small and insignificant, that it is only to be observed by
a close examination of the plant; this has given rise to the vulgar
belief that it blooms under ground. The flowers are a pale greenish
yellow. Bryant's beautiful poem of the Yellow Violet is descriptive of
the first-mentioned violet.

There is an elegant _viola tricolor_, that blooms in the autumn; it is
the size of a small heart's-ease, and is pure white, pale purple, and
lilac; the upper petals are white, the lower lip purple, and the side
wings a reddish lilac. I was struck with the elegance of this rare
flower on a journey to Peterborough, on my way to Cobourg; I was unable
to preserve the specimens, and have not travelled that road since. The
flower grew among wild clover on the open side of the road; the leaves
were small, roundish, and of a dark sad green.

Of the tall shrubby asters, we have several beautiful varieties, with
large pale blue lilac, or white flowers; others with very small white
flowers and crimson anthers, which look like tufts of red down, spangled
with gold-dust; these anthers have a pretty effect, contrasted with the
white starry petals. There is one variety of the tall asters that I have
seen on the plains, it has flowers about the size of a sixpence, of a
soft pearly tint of blue, with brown anthers; this plant grows very
tall, and branches from the parent stem in many graceful flowery boughs;
the leaves of this species are of a purple red on the under side, and
inclining to heart-shape; the leaves and stalks are hairy.

I am not afraid of wearying you with my floral sketches, I have yet many
to describe; among these are those elegant little evergreens, that
abound in this country, under the name of winter-greens, of which there
are three or four remarkable for beauty of foliage, flower, and fruit.
One of these winter-greens that abounds in our pine-woods is extremely
beautiful; it seldom exceeds six inches in height; the leaves are a
bright shining green, of a long narrow oval, delicately notched like the
edges of a rose-leaf; and the plant emerges from beneath the snow in the
early part of the year, as soon as the first thaw takes place, as fresh
and verdant as before they were covered up: it seems to be a shy
blossomer. I have never seen specimens of the flowers in bloom but
twice; these I carefully preserved for you, but the dried plant will
afford but an imperfect idea of the original. You always called, you
know, your dried specimens corpses of plants, and said, that when well
painted, their representations were far more like themselves. The
flower-stalk rises two or three inches from the centre of the plant, and
is crowned with round crimson buds and blossoms, consisting of five
petals, deepening from the palest pink to the brightest blush colour;
the stigma is of an emerald greenness, forming a slightly ribbed turban
in the centre, around which are disposed ten stamens of an amethyst
colour: in short, this is one of the gems of the floral world, and might
aptly be compared to an emerald ring, set round with amethysts. The
contrast of colours in this flower is exceedingly pleasing, and the
crimson buds and shining ever-green leaves are scarcely less to be
admired than the flower; itself it would be considered a great
acquisition to your collection of American shrubs, but I doubt if it
would flourish when removed from the shade of the pine-woods. This plant
appears to be the _Chimaphila corymbosa_, or winter-green, described by
Pursh, with some trifling variation in the colour of the petals.

Another of our winter-greens grows in abundance on the Rice-Lake plains;
the plant does not exceed four inches; the flowers are in little loose
bunches, pale greenish white, in shape like the blossom of the arbutus;
the berries are bright scarlet, and are known by the name of winter-
berry, and partridge-berry; this must be _Gualtheria procumbens_. But a
more beautiful little evergreen of the same species is to be found in
our cedar swamps, under the name of pigeon-berry; it resembles the
arbutus in leaf and flower more closely than the former plant; the
scarlet berry is inserted in a scarlet cup or receptacle, divided at the
edge in five points; it is fleshy, seeming to partake of the same nature
as the fruit. The blossoms of this elegant little shrub, like the
arbutus, of which it looks like the miniature, appear in drooping
bunches at the same time the ripened berry of the former year is in
perfection; this circumstance adds not a little to the charm of the
plant. If I mistake not, this is the _Gualtheria Shallon_, which Pursh
likens to the arbutus: this is also one of our winter-greens.

There is another pretty trailing plant, with delicate little funnel-
shaped flowers, and a profusion of small dark green round buds, slightly
variegated, and bright red berries, which are produced at the
extremities of the branches. The blossoms of this plant grow in pairs,
closely connected at the germen, so much so, that the scarlet fruit that
supersedes the flowers appears like a double berry, each berry
containing the seeds of both flowers and a double eye. The plant is also
called winter-green, or twin-berry; it resembles none of the other
winter-greens; it grows in mossy woods, trailing along the ground,
appearing to delight in covering little hillocks and inequalities of the
ground. In elegance of growth, delicacy of flower, and brightness of
berry, this winter-green is little inferior to any of the former.

There is a plant in our woods, known by the names of man-drake, may-
apple, and duck's-foot: the botanical name of the plant is Podophyllum;
it belongs to the class and order _Polyandria monogynia_. The blossom is
yellowish white, the corolla consisting of six petals; the fruit is
oblong; when ripe, of a greenish yellow; in size that of an olive, or
large damson; when fully ripe it has the flavour of preserved tamarind,
a pleasant brisk acid; it appears to be a shy bearer, though it
increases rapidly in rich moist wood-lands. The leaves come up singly,
are palmated and shade the ground very much when a number of them grow
near each other; the stalk supports the leaf from the centre: when they
first appear above the ground, they resemble a folded umbrella or
parasol, all the edges of the leaves bending downward, by degrees
expanding into a slightly convex canopy. The fruit would make a delicate
preserve with sugar.

The lily tribe offer an extensive variety from the most minute to the
very largest flowers. The red martagon grows abundantly on our plains;
the dog's tooth violet, _Erythronium_, with its spotted leaves and
bending yellow blossom, delicately dashed with crimson spots within, and
marked with fine purple lines on the outer part of the petal, proves a
great attraction in our woods, where these plants increase: they form a
beautiful bed; the leaves come up singly, one from each separate tuber.
There are two varieties of this flower, the pale yellow, with neither
spots nor lines, and the deep yellow with both; the anthers of this last
are reddish-orange, and thickly covered with a fine powdery substance.
The daffodil of our woods is a delicate bending flower, of a pale
yellow; the leaves grow up the flower-stalk at intervals; three or more
flowers usually succeed each other at the extremity of the stalk: its
height is from six to eight inches; it delights in the deep shade of
moist woods. This seems to unite the description of the jonquil and

A very beautiful plant of the lily tribe abounds both in our woods and
clearings; for want of a better name, I call it the douri-lily, though
it is widely spread over a great portion of the continent. The Americans
term the white and red varieties of this species, the "white" and "red
death." The flower is either deep red, or of a dazzling white, though
the latter is often found stained with a delicate blush-pink, or a deep
green; the latter appears to be caused by the calix running into the
petal. Wherefore it bears so formidable a name has not yet transpired.
The flower consists of three petals, the calix three; it belongs to the
class and order _Hexandria monogynia_; style, three-cleft; seed-vessel
of three valves; soil, dry woods and cleared lands; leaves growing in
three, springing from the joints, large round, but a little pointed at
the extremities.

We have lilies of the valley, and their cousins the Solomon's seals, a
small flowered turk's-cap, of pale primrose colour, with an endless
variety of small flowers of the lily tribe, remarkable for beauty of
foliage or delicacy of form.

Our Ferns are very elegant and numerous; I have no less than eight
different specimens, gathered from our immediate neighbourhood, some of
which are extremely elegant, especially one that I call the "fairy
fern," from its lightness. One elastic stem, of a purplish-red colour,
supports several light branches, which are subdivided and furnished with
innumerable leaflets; each leaflet has a footstalk, that attaches it to
the branch, of so slight and hair-like a substance that the least breath
of air sets the whole plant in motion.

Could we but imagine Canada to have been the scene of fairy revels, we
should declare that these graceful ferns were well suited to shade the
elfin court of Oberon and Titania.

When this fern first appears above the ground, it is scarcely to be
distinguished from the decaying wood of the fallen pines; it is then of
a light reddish brown, curiously curled up. In May and June, the leaves
unfold, and soon assume the most delicate tint of green; they are almost
transparent: the cattle are very fond of this fern.

The mocassin flower or lady's-slipper (mark the odd coincidence between
the common name of the American and English species) is one of our most
remarkable flowers; both on account of its beauty and its singularity of
structure. Our plains and dry sunny pastures produce several varieties;
among these, the _Cypripedium pubescens_, or yellow mocassin, and the
_C. Arietinum_ are the most beautiful of the species. The colour of the
lip of the former is a lively canary yellow, dashed with deep crimson
spots. The upper petals consist of two short and two long; in texture
and colour resembling the sheath of some of the narcissus tribe; the
short ones stand erect, like a pair of ears; the long or lateral pair
are three times the length of the former, very narrow, and elegantly
twisted, like the spiral horns of the Walachian ram: on raising a thick
yellow fleshy sort of lid, in the middle of the flower, you perceive the
exact face of an Indian hound, perfect in all its parts, the eyes, nose,
and mouth; below this depends an open sack, slightly gathered round at
the opening, which gives it a hollow and prominent appearance; the
inside of this bag is delicately dashed with deep crimson, or black
spots: the stem of the flower is thick towards the upper part, and takes
a direct bend; the leaves are large oval, a little pointed and ribbed;
the plant scarcely exceeds six inches: the elegant colour and silken
texture of the lower lip or bag renders this flower very much more
beautiful to my taste than the purple and white variety, though the
latter is much more striking on account of the size of the flower and
leaves, besides the contrast between the white and red, or white and
purple colours.

The formation of this species resembles the other, only with this
difference, the horns are not twisted, and the face is that of a monkey;
even the comical expression of the animal is preserved with such
admirable fidelity, as to draw a smile from every one that sees the odd
restless-looking visage, with its prominent round black eyes peering
forth from under its covering.

These plants belong to class and order _Gynandria diandria_; are
described with some little variation by Pursh, who, however, likens the
face of the latter to that of a sheep: if a sheep sat for the picture,
methinks it must have been the most mischievous of the flock.

There is a curious aquatic plant that grows in shallow, stagnant, or
slow-flowing waters; it will contain a full wine-glass of water. A poor
soldier brought it to me, and told me it resembled a plant he used to
see in Egypt, that the soldiers called the "Soldier's drinking-cup" and
many a good draught of pure water, he said, I have drank from them.

Another specimen was presented me by a gentleman who knew my
predilection for strange plants; he very aptly gave it the name of
"Pitcher-plant;" it very probably belongs to the tribe that bear that

The flowers that afford the most decided perfumes are our wild roses,
which possess a delicious scent: the milk-weed, which gives out a smell
not-unlike the night-blowing stock; the purple monarda, which is
fragrance itself from the root to the flower, and even after months'
exposure to the wintry atmosphere; its dried leaves and seed-vessels are
so sweet as to impart perfume to your hands or clothes. All our Mints
are strong scented: the lily of the valley is remarkable for its fine
smell; then there is my queen of the lakes, and her consort, the water-
king, with many other flowers I cannot now enumerate. Certain it is that
among such a vast assemblage of flowers, there are, comparatively, very
few that are gifted with fragrant scents. Some of our forest-trees give
out a fine perfume. I have often paused in my walks to inhale the
fragrance from a cedar swamp on some sunny day while the boughs were
still wet with the dew-drops or recently fallen shower.

Nor is the balsam-poplar, or tacamahac, less delightfully fragrant,
especially while the gummy buds are just beginning to unfold; this is an
elegant growing tree, where it has room to expand into boughs. It grows
chiefly on the shores of the lakes and in open swamps, but it also forms
one of the attractions of our plains, with its silver bark and waving
foliage; it emits a resinous clear gum in transparent globules on the
bark, and the buds are covered with a highly aromatic gummy fluid.

Our Grasses are highly interesting; there are varieties that are wholly
new to me, and when dried form the most elegant ornaments to our
chimney-pieces, and would look very graceful on a lady's head; only
fashionists always prefer the artificial to the natural.

One or two species of grass that I have gathered bear a close but of
course minute resemblance to the Indian corn, having a top feather and
eight-sided spike of little grains disposed at the sidejoints. The
_sisyrinchium_, or blue-eyed grass, is a pretty little flower of an
azure blue, with golden spot at the base of each petal; the leaves are
flat, stiff, and flag-like; this pretty flower grows in tufts on light
sandy soils.

I have given you a description of the flowers most worthy of attention;
and, though it is very probable some of my descriptions may not be
exactly in the technical language of the correct botanist, I have at
least described them as they appear.

My dear boy seems already to have a taste for flowers, which I shall
encourage as much as possible. It is a study that tends to refine and
purify the mind, and can be made, by simple steps, a ladder to heaven,
as it were, by teaching a child to look with love and admiration to that
bountiful God who created and made flowers so fair to adorn and fructify
this earth.

Farewell, my dear sister.


Recapitulation of various Topics.--Progress of Settlement.--Canada, the
Land of Hope.--Visit to the Family of a Naval Officer.--Squirrels.--
Visit to, and Story of, an Emigrant Clergyman.--His early Difficulties.
--The Temper, Disposition, and Habits of Emigrants essential Ingredients
in Failure or Success.

September the 20th, 1834.

I PROMISED when I parted from you before I left England to write as soon
as I could give you any satisfactory account of our settlement in this
country. I shall do my best to redeem that promise, and forward you a
slight sketch of our proceedings, with such remarks on the natural
features of the place in which we have fixed our abode, as I think
likely to afford you interest or amusement. Prepare your patience, then,
my dear friend, for a long and rambling epistle, in which I may possibly
prove somewhat of a Will-o'-the-wisp, and having made you follow me in
my desultory wanderings,--

 Over hill, over dale,
  Through bush, through briar,
 Over park, over pale,
  Through flood, through fire,--

Possibly leave you in the midst of a big cedar swamp, or among the
pathless mazes of our wild woods, without a clue to guide you, or even a
_blaze_ to light you on your way.

You will have heard, through my letters to my dear mother, of our safe
arrival at Quebec, of my illness at Montreal, of all our adventures and
misadventures during our journey up the country, till after much weary
wandering we finally found a home and resting-place with a kind
relative, whom it was our happiness to meet after a separation of many

As my husband was anxious to settle in the neighbourhood of one so
nearly connected with me, thinking it would rob the woods of some of the
loneliness that most women complain so bitterly of, he purchased a lot
of land on the shores of a beautiful lake, one of a chain of small lakes
belonging to the Otanabee river.

Here, then, we are established, having now some five-and-twenty acres
cleared, and a nice house built. Our situation is very agreeable, and
each day increases its value. When we first came up to live in the bush,
with the exception of S------, here were but two or three settlers near
us, and no roads cut out. The only road that was available for bringing
up goods from the nearest town was on the opposite side of the water,
which was obliged to be crossed on a log, or birch-bark canoe; the
former nothing better than a large pine-log hollowed with the axe, so as
to contain three or four persons; it is flat-bottomed, and very narrow,
on which account it is much used on these shallow waters. The birch
canoe is made of sheets of birch bark, ingeniously fashioned and sewn
together by the Indians with the tough roots of the cedar, young pine,
or larch (tamarack, as it is termed by the Indians); it is exceedingly
light, so that it can be carried by two persons easily, or even by one.
These, then, were our ferry-boats, and very frail they are, and require
great nicety in their management; they are worked in the water with
paddles, either kneeling or standing. The squaws are very expert in the
management of the canoes, and preserve their balance with admirable
skill, standing up while they impel the little bark with great velocity
through the water.

Very great is the change that a few years have effected in our
situation. A number of highly respectable settlers have purchased land
along the shores of these lakes, so that we no longer want society. The
roads are now cut several miles above us, and though far from good can
be travelled by waggons and sleighs, and are, at all events, better than

A village has started up where formerly a thick pine-wood covered the
ground; we have now within a short distance of us an excellent saw-mill,
a grist-mill, and store, with a large tavern and many good dwellings. A
fine timber bridge, on stone piers, was erected last year to connect the
opposite townships and lessen the distance to and from Peterborough; and
though it was unfortunately swept away early last spring by the unusual
rising of the Otanabee lakes, a new and more substantial one has risen
upon the ruins of the former, through the activity of an enterprising
young Scotchman, the founder of the village.

But the grand work that is, sooner or later, to raise this portion of
the district from its present obscurity, is the opening a line of
navigation from Lake Huron through Lake Simcoe, and so through our chain
of small lakes to Rice Lake, and finally through the Trent to the Bay of
Quinte. This noble work would prove of incalculable advantage, by
opening a direct communication between Lake Huron and the inland
townships at the back of the Ontario with the St. Laurence. This project
has already been under the consideration of the Governor, and is at
present exciting great interest in the country: sooner or later there is
little doubt but that it will be carried into effect. It presents some
difficulties and expense, but it would be greatly to the advantage and
prosperity of the country, and be the means of settling many of the back
townships bordering upon these lakes.

I must leave it to abler persons than myself to discuss at large the
policy and expediency of the measure; but as I suppose you have no
intention of emigrating to our backwoods, you will be contented with my
cursory view of the matter, and believe, as in friendship you are bound
to do, that it is a desirable thing to open a market for inland produce.

Canada is the land of hope; here every thing is new; every thing going
forward; it is scarcely possible for arts, sciences, agriculture,
manufactures, to retrograde; they must keep advancing; though in some
situations the progress may seem slow, in others they are proportionably

There is a constant excitement on the minds of emigrants, particularly
in the partially settled townships, that greatly assists in keeping them
from desponding. The arrival of some enterprising person gives a
stimulus to those about him: a profitable speculation is started, and
lo, the value of the land in the vicinity rises to double and treble
what it was thought worth before; so that, without any design of
befriending his neighbours, the schemes of one settler being carried
into effect shall benefit a great number. We have already felt the
beneficial effect of the access of respectable emigrants locating
themselves in this township, as it has already increased the value of
our own land in a three-fold degree.

All this, my dear friend, you will say is very well, and might afford
subject for a wise discussion between grave men, but will hardly amuse
us women; so pray turn to some other theme, and just tell me how you
contrive to pass your time among the bears and wolves of Canada.

One lovely day last June I went by water to visit the bride of a young
naval officer, who had purchased a very pretty lot of land some two
miles higher up the lake; our party consisted of my husband, baby, and
myself; we met a few pleasant friends, and enjoyed our excursion much.
Dinner was laid out in the _stoup_, which, as you may not know what is
meant by the word, I must tell you that it means a sort of wide
verandah, supported on pillars, often of unbarked logs; the floor is
either of earth beaten hard, or plank; the roof covered with sheets of
bark or else shingled. These stoups are of Dutch origin, and were
introduced, I have been told, by the first Dutch settlers in the states,
since which they have found their way all over the colonies.

Wreathed with the scarlet creeper, a native plant of our woods and
wilds, the wild vine, and also with the hop, which here grows
luxuriantly, with no labour or attention to its culture, these stoups
have a very rural appearance; in summer serving the purpose of an open
ante-room, in which you can take your meals and enjoy the fanning breeze
without being inconvenienced by the extreme heat of the noon-day sun.

The situation of the house was remarkably well chosen, just on the
summit of a little elevated plain, the ground sloping with a steep
descent to a little valley, at the bottom of which a bright rill of
water divided the garden from the opposite corn-fields, which clothed a
corresponding bank. In front of the stoup, where we dined, the garden
was laid out with a smooth plot of grass, surrounded with borders of
flowers, and separated from a ripening field of wheat by a light railed
fence, over which the luxuriant hop-vine flung its tendrils and graceful
blossoms. Now I must tell you the hop is cultivated for the purpose of
making a barm for raising bread. As you take great interest in
housewifery concerns, I shall send you a recipe for what we call hop-
rising*. [* See Appendix.]

The Yankees use a fermentation of salt, flour, and warm water or milk;
but though the _salt-rising_ makes beautiful bread to look at, being far
whiter and firmer than the hop-yeast bread, there is a peculiar flavour
imparted to the flour that does not please every one's taste, and it is
very difficult to get your salt-rising to work in very cold weather.

And now, having digressed while I gave you my recipes, I shall step back
to my party within the stoup, which, I can assure you, was very
pleasant, and most cordially disposed to enjoy the meeting. We had books
and drawings, and good store of pretty Indian toys, the collection of
many long voyages to distant shores, to look at and admire. Soon after
sun-set we walked down through the woods to the landing at the lake
shore, where we found our bark canoe ready to convey us home.

During our voyage, just at the head of the rapids, our attention was
drawn to some small object in the water, moving very swiftly along;
there were various opinions as to the swimmer, some thinking it to be a
water-snake, others a squirrel, or a musk-rat; a few swift strokes of
the paddles brought us up so as to intercept the passage of the little
voyager; it proved to be a fine red squirrel, bound on a voyage of
discovery from a neighbouring island. The little animal, with a courage
and address that astonished his pursuers, instead of seeking safety in a
different direction, sprung lightly on the point of the uplifted paddle,
and from thence with a bound to the head of my astonished baby, and
having gained my shoulder, leaped again into the water, and made direct
for the shore, never having deviated a single point from the line he was
swimming in when he first came in sight of our canoe. I was surprised
and amused by the agility and courage displayed by this innocent
creature; I could hardly have given credence to the circumstance, had I
not been an eye-witness of its conduct, and moreover been wetted
plentifully on my shoulder by the sprinkling of water from his coat.

Perhaps you may think my squirrel anecdote incredible; but I can vouch
for the truth of it on my own personal experience, as I not only saw but
also felt it: the black squirrels are most lovely and elegant animals,
considerably larger than the red, the grey, and the striped: the latter
are called by the Indians "chit-munks."

We were robbed greatly by these little depredators last summer; the red
squirrels used to carry off great quantities of our Indian corn not only
from the stalks, while the crop was ripening, but they even came into
the house through some chinks in the log-walls, and carried off vast
quantities of the grain, stripping it very adroitly from the cob, and
conveying the grain away to their storehouses in some hollow 1og or
subterranean granary.

These little animals are very fond of the seeds of the pumpkins, and you
will see the soft creatures whisking about among the cattle, carrying
away the seeds as they are scattered by the beasts in breaking the
pumpkins: they also delight in the seeds of the sunflowers, which grow
to a gigantic height in our gardens and clearings. The fowls are
remarkably fond of the sunflower-seeds, and I saved the plants with the
intention of laying up a good store of winter food for my poor chicks.
One day I went to cut the ripe heads, the largest of which was the size
of a large dessert-plate, but found two wicked red squirrels busily
employed gathering in the seeds, not for me, be sure, but themselves.
Not contented with picking out the seeds, these little thieves
dexterously sawed through the stalks, and conveyed away whole heads at
once: so bold were they that they would not desist when I approached
till they had secured their object, and, encumbered with a load twice
the weight of their own agile bodies, ran with a swiftness along the
rails, and over root, stump, and log, till they eluded my pursuit.

[Illustration: Red-squirrel]

Great was the indignation expressed by this thrifty little pair on
returning again for another load to find the plant divested of the
heads. I had cut what remained and put them in a basket in the sun, on a
small block in the garden, close to the open glass-door, on the steps of
which I was sitting shelling some seed-beans, when the squirrels drew my
attention to them by their sharp scolding notes, elevating their fine
feathery tails and expressing the most lively indignation at the
invasion: they were not long before they discovered the Indian basket
with the ravished treasure; a few rapid movements brought the little
pair to the rails within a few paces of me and the sunflower-heads;
here, then, they paused, and sitting up looked in my face with the most
imploring gestures. I was too much amused by their perplexity to help
them, but turning away my head to speak to the child, they darted
forward, and in another minute had taken possession of one of the
largest of the heads, which they conveyed away, first one carrying it a
few yards, then the other, it being too bulky for one alone to carry it
far at a time. In short, I was so well amused by watching their
manoeuvres that I suffered them to rob me of all my store. I saw a
little family of tiny squirrels at play in the spring on the top of a
hollow log, and really I think they were, without exception, the
liveliest, most graceful creatures I ever looked upon.

The flying squirrel is a native of our woods, and exceeds in beauty, to
my mind, any of the tribe. Its colour is the softest, most delicate tint
of grey; the fur thick and short, and as silken as velvet; the eyes like
all the squirrel kind, are large, full, and soft the whiskers and long
hair about the nose black; the membrane that assists this little animal
in its flight is white and delicately soft in texture, like the fur of
the chinchilla; it forms a ridge of fur between the fore and hind legs;
the tail is like an elegant broad grey feather. I was agreeably
surprised by the appearance of this exquisite little creature; the
pictures I had seen giving it a most inelegant and _batlike_ look,
almost disgusting. The young ones are easily tamed, and are very playful
and affectionate when under confinement.

[Illustration: Flying Squirrel]

How my little friend Emily would delight in such a pet! Tell her if ever
I should return to dear old England, I will try to procure one for her;
but at present she must be contented with the stuffed specimens of the
black, red, and striped squirrels which I enclose in my parcel. I wish I
could offer you any present more valuable, but our arts and manufactures
being entirely British, with the exception of the Indians' toys, I
should find it a difficult matter to send you any thing worth your
attention; therefore I am obliged to have recourse to the natural
productions of our woods as tokens of remembrance to our friends _at
home_, for it is ever thus we speak of the land of our birth.

You wish to know if I am happy and contented in my situation, or if my
heart pines after my native land. I will answer you candidly, and say
that, as far as regards matters of taste, early association, and all
those holy ties of kindred, and old affections that make "home" in all
countries, and among all nations in the world, a hallowed spot, I must
ever give the preference to Britain.

On the other hand, a sense of the duties I have chosen, and a feeling of
conformity to one's situation, lessen the regret I might be inclined to
indulge in. Besides, there are new and delightful ties that bind me to
Canada: I have enjoyed much domestic happiness since I came hither;--and
is it not the birthplace of my dear child? Have I not here first tasted
the rapturous delight arising from maternal feelings? When my eye rests
on my smiling darling, or I feel his warm breath upon my cheek, I would
not exchange the joy that fills my breast for any pleasure the world
could offer me. "But this feeling is not confined to the solitude of
your Canadian forests, my dear friend," you will say. I know it; but
here there is nothing to interfere with your little nursling. You are
not tempted by the pleasures of a gay world to forget your duties as a
mother; there is nothing to supplant him in your heart; his presence
endears every place; and you learn to love the spot that gave him birth,
and to think with complacency upon the country, because it is _his_
country; and in looking forward to his future welfare you naturally
become doubly interested in the place that is one day to be his.

Perhaps I rather estimate the country by my own feelings; and when I
find, by impartial survey of my present life, that I am to the full as
happy, if not really happier, than I was in the old country, I cannot
but value it.

Possibly, if I were to enter into a detail of the advantages I possess,
they would appear of a very negative character in the eyes of persons
revelling in all the splendour and luxury that wealth could procure, in
a country in which nature and art are so eminently favourable towards
what is usually termed the pleasures of life; but I never was a votary
at the shrine of luxury or fashion. A round of company, a routine of
pleasure, were to me sources of weariness, if not of disgust. "There's
nothing in all this to satisfy the heart," says Schiller; and I admit
the force of the sentiment.

I was too much inclined to spurn with impatience the fetters that
etiquette and fashion are wont to impose on society, till they rob its
followers of all freedom and independence of will; and they soon are
obliged to live for a world that in secret they despise and loathe, for
a world, too, that usually regards them with contempt, because they dare
not act with an independence, which would be crushed directly it was

And I must freely confess to you that I do prize and enjoy my present
liberty in this country exceedingly: in this we possess an advantage
over you, and over those that inhabit the towns and villages in _this_
country, where I see a ridiculous attempt to keep up an appearance that
is quite foreign to the situation of those that practise it. Few, very
few, are the emigrants that come to the colonies, unless it is with the
view of realising an independence for themselves or their children.
Those that could afford to live in ease at home, believe me, would never
expose themselves to the privations and disagreeable consequences of a
settler's life in Canada: therefore, this is the natural inference we
draw, that the emigrant has come hither under the desire and natural
hope of bettering his condition, and benefiting a family that he has not
the means of settling in life in the home country. It is foolish, then,
to launch out in a style of life that every one knows cannot be
maintained; rather ought such persons to rejoice in the consciousness
that they can, if they please, live according to their circumstances,
without being the less regarded for the practice of prudence, economy,
and industry.

Now, we _bush-settlers_ are more independent: we do what we like; we
dress as we find most suitable and most convenient; we are totally
without the fear of any Mr. or Mrs. Grundy; and having shaken off the
trammels of Grundyism, we laugh at the absurdity of those who
voluntarily forge afresh and hug their chains.

If our friends come to visit us unexpectedly we make them welcome to our
humble homes, and give them the best we have; but if our fare be
indifferent, we offer it with good will, and no apologies are made or
expected: they would be out of place; as every one is aware of the
disadvantages of a new settlement; and any excuses for want of variety,
or the delicacies of the table, would be considered rather in the light
of a tacit reproof to your guest for having unseasonably put your
hospitality to the test.

Our society is mostly military or naval; so that we meet on equal
grounds, and are, of course, well acquainted with the rules of good
breeding and polite life; too much so to allow any deviation from those
laws that good taste, good sense, and good feeling have established
among persons of our class.

Yet here it is considered by no means derogatory to the wife of an
officer or gentleman to assist in the work of the house, or to perform
its entire duties if occasion requires it; to understand the mystery of
soap, candle, and sugar-making; to make bread, butter, and cheese, or
even to milk her own cows; to knit and spin, and prepare the wool for
the loom. In these matters we bush-ladies have a wholesome disregard of
what Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so thinks or says. We pride ourselves on
conforming to circumstances; and as a British officer must needs be a
gentleman and his wife a lady, perhaps we repose quietly on that
incontestable proof of our gentility, and can afford to be useful
without injuring it.

Our husbands adopt a similar line of conduct: the officer turns his
sword into a ploughshare, and his lance into a sickle; and if he be seen
ploughing among the stumps in his own field, or chopping trees on his
own land, no one thinks less of his dignity, or considers him less of a
gentleman, than when he appeared upon parade in all the pride of
military etiquette, with sash, sword and epaulette. Surely this is as it
should be in a country where independence is inseparable from industry;
and for this I prize it.

Among many advantages we in this township possess, it is certainly no
inconsiderable one that the lower or working class of settlers are well
disposed, and quite free from the annoying Yankee manners that
distinguish many of the earlier-settled townships. Our servants are as
respectful, or nearly so, as those at home; nor are they admitted to our
tables, or placed on an equality with us, excepting at "bees," and such
kinds of public meetings; when they usually conduct themselves with a
propriety that would afford an example to some that call themselves
gentlemen, viz., young men who voluntarily throw aside those restraints
that society expects from persons filling a respectable situation.

Intemperance is too prevailing a vice among all ranks of people in this
country; but I blush to say it belongs most decidedly to those that
consider themselves among the better class of emigrants. Let none such
complain of the airs of equality displayed towards them by the labouring
class, seeing that they degrade themselves below the honest, sober
settler, however poor. If the sons of gentlemen lower themselves, no
wonder if the sons of poor men endeavour to exalt themselves about him
in a country where they all meet on equal ground; and good conduct is
the distinguishing mark between the classes.

Some months ago, when visiting a friend in a distant part of the
country, I accompanied her to stay a few days in the house of a resident
clergyman, curate of a flourishing village in the township of ------. I
was struck by the primitive simplicity of the mansion and its
inhabitants. We were introduced into the little family sitting-room, the
floor of which was painted after the Yankee fashion; instead of being
carpeted, the walls were of unornamented deal, and the furniture of the
room of corresponding plainness. A large spinning-wheel, as big as a
cart-wheel, nearly occupied the centre of the room, at which a neatly-
dressed matron, of mild and lady-like appearance, was engaged spinning
yarn; her little daughters were knitting beside the fire, while their
father was engaged in the instruction of two of his sons; a third was
seated affectionately in a little straw chair between his feet, while a
fourth was plying his axe with nervous strokes in the court-yard,
casting from time to time wistful glances through the parlour-window at
the party within.

The dresses of the children were of a coarse sort of stuff, a mixture of
woollen and thread, the produce of the farm and their mother's
praiseworthy industry. The stockings, socks, muffatees, and warm
comforters were all of home manufacture. Both girls and boys wore
mocassins, of their own making: good sense, industry, and order presided
among the members of this little household.

Both girls and boys seemed to act upon the principle, that nothing is
disgraceful but that which is immoral and improper.

Hospitality without extravagance, kindness without insincerity of
speech, marked the manners of our worthy friends. Every thing in the
house was conducted with attention to prudence and comfort. The living
was but small (the income arising from it, I should have said), but
there was glebe land, and a small dwelling attached to it, and, by dint
of active exertion without-doors, and economy and good management
within, the family were maintained with respectability: in short, we
enjoyed during our sojourn many of the comforts of a cleared farm;
poultry of every kind, beef of their own killing, excellent mutton and
pork: we had a variety of preserves at our tea-table, with honey in the
comb, delicious butter, and good cheese, with divers sorts of cakes; a
kind of little pancake, made from the flour of buck-wheat, which are
made in a batter, and raised with barm, afterwards dropped into boiling
lard, and fried; also a preparation made of Indian corn-flour, called
supporne-cake, which is fried in slices, and eaten with maple-syrup,
were among the novelties of our breakfast-fare.

I was admiring a breed of very fine fowls in the poultry-yard one
morning, when my friend smiled and said, "I do not know if you will
think I came honestly by them."

"I am sure you did not acquire them by dishonest means," I replied,
laughing; "I will vouch for your principles in that respect."

"Well," replied my hostess, "they were neither given me, nor sold to me,
and I did not steal them. I found the original stock in the following
manner. An old black hen most unexpectedly made her appearance one
spring morning at our door; we hailed the stranger with surprise and
delight; for we could not muster a single domestic fowl among our little
colony at that time. We never rightly knew by what means the hen came
into our possession, but suppose some emigrant's family going up the
country must have lost or left her; she laid ten eggs, and hatched
chickens from them; from this little brood we raised a stock, and soon
supplied all our neighbours with fowls. We prize the breed, not only on
account of its fine size, but from the singular, and, as we thought,
providential, manner in which we obtained it."

I was much interested in the slight sketch given by the pastor one
evening, as we all assembled round the blazing log-fire, that was piled
half-way up the chimney, which reared its stone fabric so as to form
deep recesses at either side of its abutments.

Alluding to his first settlement, he observed, "it was a desolate
wilderness of gloomy and unbroken forest-trees when we first pitched our
tent here: at that time an axe had not been laid to the root of a tree,
nor a fire, save by the wandering Indians, kindled in these woods.

"I can now point out the identical spot where my wife and little ones
ate their first meal, and raised their feeble voices in thankfulness to
that Almighty and merciful Being who had preserved them through the
perils of the deep, and brought them in safety to this vast solitude.

"We were a little flock wandering in a great wilderness, under the
special protection of our mighty Shepherd.

"I have heard you, my dear young lady," he said, addressing the
companion of my visit, "talk of the hardships of the bush; but, let me
tell you, you know but little of its privations compared with those that
came hither some years ago.

"Ask these, my elder children and my wife, what were the hardships of a
bush-settler's life ten years ago, and they will tell you it was to
endure cold, hunger, and all its accompanying evils; to know at times
the want of every necessary article of food. As to the luxuries and
delicacies of life, we saw them not;--how could we? we were far removed
from the opportunity of obtaining these things: potatoes, pork, and
flour were our only stores, and often we failed of the two latter before
a fresh supply could be procured. We had not mills nearer than thirteen
miles, through roads marked only by blazed lines; nor were there at that
time any settlers near us. Now you see us in a cleared country,
surrounded with flourishing farms and rising villages; but at the time I
speak of it was not so: there were no stores of groceries or goods, no
butchers' shops, no cleared farms, dairies, nor orchards; for these
things we had to wait with patience till industry should raise them.

"Our fare knew no other variety than salt pork, potatoes, and sometimes
bread, for breakfast; pork and potatoes for dinner; pork and potatoes
for supper; with a porridge of Indian corn-flour for the children.
Sometimes we had the change of pork without potatoes, and potatoes
without pork; this was the first year's fare: by degrees we got a supply
of flour of our own growing, but bruised into a coarse meal with a hand-
mill; for we had no water or windmills within many miles of our colony,
and good bread was indeed a luxury we did not often have.

"We brought a cow with us, who gave us milk during the spring and
summer; but owing to the wild garlic (a wild herb, common to our woods),
on which she fed, her milk was scarcely palatable, and for want of
shelter and food, she died the following winter, greatly to our sorrow:
we learned experience in this and in many other matters at a hard cost;
but now we can profit by it."

"Did not the difficulties of your first settlement incline you to
despond, and regret that you had ever embarked on a life so different to
that you had been used to?" I asked.

"They might have had that effect had not a higher motive than mere
worldly advancement actuated me in leaving my native country to come
hither. Look you, it was thus: I had for many years been the pastor of a
small village in the mining districts of Cumberland. I was dear to the
hearts of my people, and they were my joy and crown in the Lord. A
number of my parishioners, pressed by poverty and the badness of the
times, resolved on emigrating to Canada.

"Urged by a natural and not unlawful desire of bettering their
condition, they determined on crossing the Atlantic, encouraged by the
offer of considerable grants of wild land, which at that period were
freely awarded by Government to persons desirous of becoming colonists.

"But previous to this undertaking, several of the most respectable came
to me, and stated their views and reasons for the momentous step they
were about to take; and at the same time besought me in the most moving
terms, in the name of the rest of their emigrant friends, to accompany
them into the Wilderness of the West, lest they should forget their Lord
and Saviour when abandoned to their own spiritual guidance.

"At first I was startled at the proposition; it seemed a wild and
visionary scheme: but by degrees I began to dwell with pleasure on the
subject. I had few ties beyond my native village; the income arising
from my curacy was too small to make it any great obstacle: like
Goldsmith's curate, I was.

'Passing rich with forty pounds a year.'

My heart yearned after my people; ten years I had been their guide and
adviser. I was the friend of the old, and the teacher of the young. My
Mary was chosen from among them; she had no foreign ties to make her
look back with regret upon the dwellers of the land in distant places;
her youth and maturity had been spent among these very people; so that
when I named to her the desire of my parishioners, and she also
perceived that my own wishes went with them, she stifled any regretful
feeling that might have arisen in her breast, and replied to me in the
words of Ruth:--

"'Thy country shall be my country; thy people shall be my people; where
thou diest will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me,
and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.'

"A tender and affectionate partner hast thou been to me, Mary," he
added, turning his eyes affectionately on the mild and dignified matron,
whose expressive countenance bespoke with more eloquence than words the
feelings passing in her mind. She replied not by words, but I saw the
big bright tears fall on the work she held in her hand. They sprang from
emotions too sacred to be profaned by intrusive eyes, and I hastily
averted my glance from her face; while the pastor proceeded to narrate
the particulars of their leaving England, their voyage, and finally,
their arrival in the land that had been granted to the little colony in
the then unbroken part of the township of ------.

"We had obtained a great deal of useful advice and assistance from the
Government agents previous to our coming up hither, and also hired some
choppers at high wages to initiate us in the art of felling, logging,
burning, and clearing the ground; as it was our main object to get in
crops of some kind, we turned to without any delay further than what was
necessary for providing a temporary shelter for our wives and children,
and prepared the ground for spring crops, helping each other as we could
with the loan of oxen and labour. And here I must observe, that I
experienced every attention and consideration from my friends. My means
were small, and my family all too young to render me any service;
however, I lacked not help, and had the satisfaction of seeing a little
spot cleared for the growth of potatoes and corn, which I could not have
effected by my single exertions.

"My biggest boy John was but nine years old, Willie seven, and the
others still more helpless; the two little ones you see there," pointing
to two young children, "have been born since we came hither. That
yellow-haired lassie knitting beside you was a babe at the breast;--a
helpless, wailing infant, so weak and sickly before we came here that
she was scarcely ever out of her mother's arms; but she grew and throve
rapidly under the rough treatment of a bush-settler's family.

"We had no house built, or dwelling of any kind to receive us when we
arrived at our destination; and the first two nights were passed on the
banks of the creek that flows at the foot of the hill, in a hut of cedar
and hemlock boughs that I cut with my axe, and, with the help of some of
my companions, raised to shelter my wife and the little ones.

"Though it was the middle of May the nights were chilly, and we were
glad to burn a pile of wood in front of our hut to secure us from the
effects of the cold and the stings of the mosquitoes, that came up in
myriads from the stream, and which finally drove us higher up the bank.

"As soon as possible we raised a shanty, which now serves as a shed for
my young cattle; I would not pull it down, though often urged to do so,
as it stands in the way of a pleasant prospect from the window; but I
like to look on it, and recall to mind the first years I passed beneath
its lowly roof. We need such mementos to remind us of our former state;
but we grow proud, and cease to appreciate our present comforts.

"Our first Sabbath was celebrated in the open air: my pulpit was a pile
of rude logs; my church the deep shade of the forest, beneath which we
assembled ourselves; but sincerer or more fervent devotion I never
witnessed than that day. I well remember the text I chose, for my
address to them was from the viiith chapter of Deuteronomy, the 6th,
7th, and 9th verses, which appeared to me applicable to our

"The following year we raised a small blockhouse, which served as a
school-house and church. At first our progress in clearing the land was
slow, for we had to buy experience, and many and great were the
disappointments and privations that befel us during the first few years.
One time we were all ill with ague, and not one able to help the other;
this was a sad time; but better things were in store for us. The tide of
emigration increased, and the little settlement we had formed began to
be well spoken of. One man came and built a saw mill; a grist-mill
followed soon after; and then one store and then another, till we beheld
a flourishing village spring up around us. Then the land began to
increase in value, and many of the first settlers sold their lots to
advantage, and retreated further up the woods. As the village increased,
so, of course, did my professional duties, which had for the first few
years been paid for in acts of kindness and voluntary labour by my
little flock; now I have the satisfaction of reaping a reward without
proving burdensome to my parishioners. My farm is increasing, and
besides the salary arising from my curacy I have something additional
for the school, which is paid by Government. We may now say it is good
for us to be here, seeing that God has been pleased to send down a
blessing upon us."

I have forgotten many very interesting particulars relating to the
trials and shifts this family were put to in the first few years; but
the pastor told us enough to make me quite contented with my lot, and I
returned home, after some days' pleasant sojourn with this delightful
family, with an additional stock of contentment, and some useful and
practical knowledge, that I trust I shall be the better for all my life.

I am rather interested in a young lad that has come out from England to
learn Canadian farming.

The poor boy had conceived the most romantic notions of a settler's
life, partly from the favourable accounts he had read, and partly
through the medium of a lively imagination, which had aided in the
deception, and led him to suppose that his time would be chiefly spent
in the fascinating amusements and adventures arising from hunting the
forest in search of deer and other game, pigeon and duck-shooting,
spearing fish by torchlight, and voyaging on the lakes in a birch-bark
canoe in summer, skating in winter, or gliding over the frozen snow like
a Laplander in his sledge, wrapped up to the eyes in furs, and
travelling at the rate of twelve miles an hour to the sound of an
harmonious peal of bells. What a felicitous life to captivate the mind
of a boy of fourteen, just let loose from the irksome restraint of

How little did he dream of the drudgery inseparable from the duties of a
lad of his age, in a country where the old and young, the master and the
servant, are alike obliged to labour for a livelihood, without respect
to former situation or rank!

Here the son of the gentleman becomes a hewer of wood and drawer of
water; he learns to chop down trees, to pile brush-heaps, split rails
for fences, attend the fires during the burning season, dressed in a
coarse over-garment of hempen cloth, called a logging-shirt, with
trousers to correspond, and a Yankee straw hat flapped over his eyes,
and a handspike to assist him in rolling over the burning brands. To
tend and drive oxen, plough, sow, plant Indian corn and pumpkins, and
raise potatoe-hills, are among some of the young emigrant's
accomplishments. His relaxations are but comparatively few, but they are
seized with a relish and avidity that give them the greater charm.

You may imagine the disappointment felt by the poor lad on seeing his
fair visions of amusement fade before the dull realities and distasteful
details of a young settler's occupation in the backwoods.

Youth, however, is the best season for coming to this country; the mind
soon bends itself to its situation, and becomes not only reconciled, but
in time pleased with the change of life. There is a consolation, too, in
seeing that he does no more than others of equal pretensions as to rank
and education are obliged to submit to, if they would prosper; and
perhaps he lives to bless the country which has robbed him of a portion
of that absurd pride that made him look with contempt on those whose
occupations were of a humble nature. It were a thousand pities wilfully
to deceive persons desirous of emigrating with false and flattering
pictures of the advantages to be met with in this country. Let the _pro_
and _con_ be fairly stated, and let the reader use his best judgment,
unbiassed by prejudice or interest in a matter of such vital importance
not only as regards himself, but the happiness and welfare of those over
whose destinies Nature has made him the guardian. It is, however, far
more difficult to write on the subject of emigration than most persons
think: it embraces so wide a field that what would be perfectly correct
as regards one part of the province would by no means prove so as
regarded another. One district differs from another, and one township
from another, according to its natural advantages; whether it be long
settled or unsettled, possessing water privileges or not; the soil and
even the climate will be different, according to situation and

Much depends on the tempers, habits, and dispositions of the emigrants
themselves. What suits one will not another; one family will flourish,
and accumulate every comfort about their homesteads, while others
languish in poverty and discontent. It would take volumes to discuss
every argument for and against, and to point out exactly who are and who
are not fit subjects for emigration.

Have you read Dr. Dunlop's spirited and witty "Backwoodsman?" If you
have not, get it as soon as you can; it will amuse you. I think a
Backwoods-woman might be written in the same spirit, setting forth a few
pages, in the history of bush-ladies, as examples for our sex. Indeed,
we need some wholesome admonitions on our duties and the folly of
repining at following and sharing the fortunes of our spouses, whom we
have vowed in happier hours to love "in riches and in poverty, in
sickness and in health." Too many pronounce these words without heeding
their importance, and without calculating the chances that may put their
faithfulness to the severe test of quitting home, kindred, and country,
to share the hard lot of a settler's life; for even this sacrifice
renders it hard to be borne; but the truly attached wife will do this,
and more also, if required by the husband of her choice.

But now it is time I say farewell: my dull letter, grown to a formidable
packet, will tire you, and make you wish it at the bottom of the


Indian Hunters.--Sail in a Canoe.--Want of Libraries in the Backwoods.--
New Village.--Progress of Improvement.--Fire-flies.

HAVING in a former letter given you some account of a winter visit to
the Indians, I shall now give a short sketch of their summer encampment,
which I went to see one beautiful afternoon in June, accompanied by my
husband and some friends that had come in to spend the day with us.

The Indians were encamped on a little peninsula jutting out between two
small lakes; our nearest path would have been through the bush, but the
ground was so encumbered by fallen trees that we agreed to go in a
canoe. The day was warm, without being oppressively hot, as it too often
is during the summer months: and for a wonder the mosquitoes and black-
flies were so civil as not to molest us. Our light bark skimmed gaily
over the calm waters, beneath the overhanging shade of cedars, hemlock,
and balsams, that emitted a delicious fragrance as the passing breeze
swept through the boughs. I was in raptures with a bed of blue irises
mixed with snow-white water-lilies that our canoe passed over. Turning
the stony bank that formed the point, we saw the thin blue smoke of the
camp curling above the trees, and soon our canoe was safely moored
alongside of those belonging to the Indians, and by help of the
straggling branches and underwood I contrived to scramble up a steep
path, and soon found myself in front of the tent. It was a Sunday
afternoon; all the men were at home; some of the younger branches of the
families (for there were three that inhabited the wigwam) were amusing
themselves with throwing the tomahawk at a notch cut in the bark of a
distant tree, or shooting at a mark with their bows and arrows, while
the elders reposed on their blankets within the shade, some reading,
others smoking, and gravely eyeing the young rival marksmen at their
feats of skill.

Only one of the squaws was at home; this was my old acquaintance the
hunter's wife, who was sitting on a blanket; her youngest, little David,
a papouse of three years, who was not yet weaned, was reposing between
her feet; she often eyed him with looks of great affection, and patted
his shaggy head from time to time. Peter, who is a sort of great man,
though not a chief, sat beside his spouse, dressed in a handsome blue
surtout-coat, with a red worsted sash about his waist. He was smoking a
short pipe, and viewing the assembled party at the door of the tent with
an expression of quiet interest; sometimes he lifted his pipe for an
instant to give a sort of inward exclamation at the success or failure
of his sons' attempts to hit the mark on the tree. The old squaw, as
soon as she saw me, motioned me forward, and pointing to a vacant
portion of her blanket, with a good-natured smile, signed for me to sit
beside her, which I did, and amused myself with taking note of the
interior of the wigwam and its inhabitants. The building was of an
oblong form, open at both ends, but at night I was told the openings
were closed by blankets; the upper part of the roof was also open; the
sides were rudely fenced with large sheets of birch bark, drawn in and
out between the sticks that made the frame-work of the tent; a long
slender pole of iron-wood formed a low beam, from which depended sundry
iron and brass pots and kettles, also some joints of fresh-killed
venison and dried fish; the fires occupied the centre of the hut, around
the embers of which reposed several meek deer-hounds; they evinced
something of the quiet apathy of their masters, merely opening their
eyes to look upon the intruders, and seeing all was well returned to
their former slumbers, perfectly unconcerned by our entrance.

The hunter's family occupied one entire side of the building, while
Joseph Muskrat with his family, and Joseph Bolans and his squaw shared
the opposite one, their several apartments being distinguished by their
blankets, fishing-spears, rifles, tomahawks, and other property; as to
the cooking utensils they seemed from their scarcity to be held in
common among them; perfect amity appeared among the three families; and,
if one might judge from outward appearance, they seemed happy and
contented. On examining the books that were in the hands of the young
men, they proved to be hymns and tracts, one side printed in English,
the other the Indian translation. In compliance with our wishes the men
sang one of the hymns, which sounded very well, but we missed the sweet
voices of the Indian girls, whom I had left in front of the house,
sitting on a pine-log and amusing themselves with my baby, and seeming
highly delighted with him and his nurse.

Outside the tent the squaw showed me a birch-bark canoe that was
building; the shape of the canoe is marked out by sticks stuck in the
ground at regular distances; the sheets of bark being wetted, and
secured in their proper places by cedar laths, which are bent so as to
serve the purpose of ribs or timbers; the sheets of bark are stitched
together with the tough roots of the tamarack, and the edges of the
canoe also sewed or laced over with the same material; the whole is then
varnished over with a thick gum.

I had the honour of being paddled home by Mrs. Peter in a new canoe,
just launched, and really the motion was delightful; seated at the
bottom of the little bark, on a few light hemlock boughs, I enjoyed my
voyage home exceedingly. The canoe, propelled by the Amazonian arm of
the swarthy matron, flew swiftly over the waters, and I was soon landed
in a little cove within a short distance from my own door. In return for
the squaw's civility I delighted her by a present of a few beads for
working mocassins and knife-sheaths, with which she seemed very well
pleased, carefully securing her treasure by tying them in a corner of
her blanket with a bit of thread.

With a peculiar reserve and gravity of temper, there is at the same time
a degree of childishness about the Indians in some things. I gave the
hunter and his son one day some coloured prints, which they seemed
mightily taken with, laughing immoderately at some of the fashionably
dressed figures. When they left the house they seated themselves on a
fallen tree, and called their hounds round them, displaying to each
severally the pictures.

The poor animals, instead of taking a survey of the gaily dressed ladies
and gentlemen, held up their meek heads and licked their masters' hands
and faces; but old Peter was resolved the dogs should share the
amusement of looking at the pictures and turned their faces to them,
holding them fast by their long ears when they endeavoured to escape. I
could hardly have supposed the grave Indian capable of such childish

These Indians appear less addicted to gay and tinselly adornments than
formerly, and rather affect a European style in their dress; it is no
unusual sight to see an Indian habited in a fine cloth coat and
trousers, though I must say the blanket-coats provided for them by
Government, and which form part of their annual presents, are far more
suitable and becoming. The squaws, too, prefer cotton or stuff gowns,
aprons and handkerchiefs, and such useful articles, to any sort of
finery, though they like well enough to look at and admire them; they
delight nevertheless in decking out the little ones, embroidering their
cradle wrappings with silks and beads, and tacking the wings of birds to
their shoulders. I was a little amused by the appearance of one of these
Indian Cupids, adorned with the wings of the American war-bird; a very
beautiful creature, something like our British bullfinch, only far more
lively in plumage: the breast and under-feathers of the wings being a
tint of the most brilliant carmine, shaded with black and white. This
bird has been called the "war-bird," from its having first made its
appearance in this province during the late American war; a fact that I
believe is well authenticated, or at any rate has obtained general

I could hardly help smiling at your notion that we in the backwoods can
have easy access to a circulation library. In one sense, indeed, you are
not so far from truth, for every settler's library may be called a
circulating one, as their books are sure to pass from friend to friend
in due rotation; and, fortunately for us, we happen to have several
excellently furnished ones in our neighbourhood, which are always open
to us. There is a public library at York, and a small circulating
library at Cobourg, but they might just as well be on the other side of
the Atlantic for any access we can have to them.

I know how it is; at home you have the same idea of the facility of
travelling in this country as I once had: now I know what bush-roads
are, a few miles' journey seems an awful undertaking. Do you remember my
account of a day's travelling through the woods? I am sorry to say they
are but little amended since that letter was written. I have only once
ventured to perform a similar journey, which took several hours _hard_
travelling, and, more by good luck than any other thing, arrived with
whole bones at my destination. I could not help laughing at the frequent
exclamations of the teamster, a shrewd Yorkshire lad, "Oh, if I had but
the driving of his excellency the governor along this road, how I would
make the old horses trot over the stumps and stones, till he should cry
out again; I warrant he'd do _summut_ to mend them before he came along
them again."

Unfortunately it is not a statute-road on this side the river, and has
been cut by the settlers for their own convenience, so that I fear
nothing will be done to improve it, unless it is by the inhabitants

We hope soon to have a market for our grain nearer at hand than
Peterborough; a grist-mill has just been raised at the new village that
is springing up. This will prove a great comfort to us; we have at
present to fetch flour up at a great expense, through bad roads, and the
loss of time to those that are obliged to send wheat to the town to be
ground, is a serious evil; this will soon be remedied, to the joy of the
whole neighbourhood.

You do not know how important these improvements are, and what effect
they have in raising the spirits of the emigrant, besides enhancing the
value of his property in no trifling degree. We have already experienced
the benefit of being near the saw-mill, as it not only enables us to
build at a smaller expense, but enables us to exchange logs for sawn
lumber. The great pine-trees which, under other circumstances, would be
an encumbrance and drawback to clearing the land, prove a most
profitable crop when cleared off in the form of saw-logs, which is
easily done where they are near the water; the logs are sawn to a
certain length, and dragged by oxen, during the winter, when the ground
is hard, to the lake's edge; when the ice breaks up, the logs float down
with the current and enter the mill-race; I have seen the lake opposite
to our windows covered with these floating timbers, voyaging down to the

How valuable would the great oaks and gigantic pines be on an estate in
England; while here they are as little thought of as saplings would be
at home. Some years hence the timbers that are now burned up will be
regretted. Yet it is impossible to preserve them; they would prove a
great encumbrance to the farmer. The oaks are desirable for splitting,
as they make the most durable fences; pine, cedar, and white ash are
also used for rail-cuts; maple and dry beech are the best sorts of wood
for fires: white ash burns well. In making ley for soap, care is taken
to use none but the ashes of hard wood, as oak, ash, maple, beech; any
of the resinous trees are bad for the purpose, and the ley will not
mingle with the fat. In boiling, to the great mortification of the
uninitiated soap-boiler, who, by being made acquainted with this simple
fact, might have been spared much useless trouble and waste of material,
after months of careful saving.

An American settler's wife told me this, and bade me be careful not to
make use of any of the pine-wood ashes in running the ley. And here I
must observe, that of all people the Yankees, as they are termed, are
the most industrious and ingenious; they are never at a loss for an
expedient: if one thing fails them they adopt another, with a quickness
of thought that surprises me, while to them it seems only a matter of
course. They seem to possess a sort of innate presence of mind, and
instead of wasting their energies in words, they _act_. The old settlers
that have been long among them seem to acquire the same sort of habits,
insomuch that it is difficult to distinguish them. I have heard the
Americans called a loquacious boasting people; now, as far as my limited
acquaintance with them goes, I consider they are almost laconic, and if
I dislike them it is for a certain cold brevity of manner that seems to
place a barrier between you and them.

I was somewhat struck with a remark made by a travelling clock-maker, a
native of the state of Ohio. After speaking of the superior climate of
Ohio, in answer to some questions of my husband, he said, he was
surprised that gentlemen should prefer the Canadas, especially the bush,
where for many years they must want all the comforts and luxuries of
life, to the rich, highly cultivated, and fruitful state of Ohio, where
land was much cheaper, both cleared and wild.

To this we replied that, in the first place, British subjects preferred
the British government; and, besides, they were averse to the manners of
his countrymen. He candidly admitted the first objection; and in reply
to the last observed, that the Americans at large ought not to be judged
by the specimens to be found in the British colonies, as they were, for
the most part, persons of no reputation, many of whom had fled to the
Canadas to escape from debt, or other disgraceful conduct; and added,
"It would be hard if the English were to be judged as a nation by the
convicts of Botany Bay."

Now there was nothing unfair or rude in the manners of this stranger,
and his defence of his nation was mild and reasonable, and such as any
unprejudiced person must have respected him for.

I have just been interrupted by a friend, who has called to tell me he
has an opportunity of sending safe and free of expense to London or
Liverpool, and that he will enclose a packet for me in the box he is
packing for England.

I am delighted by the intelligence, but regret that I have nothing but a
few flower-seeds, a specimen of Indian workmanship, and a few
butterflies to send you--the latter are for Jane. I hope all will not
share the fate of the last I sent. Sarah wrote me word, when they came
to look for the green moth I had enclosed in a little box, nothing of
his earthly remains was visible beyond a little dust and some pink feet.
I have, with some difficulty, been able to procure another and finer
specimen; and, for fear it should meet with a similar annihilation, I
will at least preserve the memory of its beauties, and give you a
description of it.

It is just five inches from wing to wing; the body the thickness of my
little finger, snow-white, covered with long silken hair; the legs
bright red, so are the antennae, which are toothed like a comb on either
side, shorter than those of butterflies and elegantly curled; the wings,
both upper and under, are of the most exquisite pale tint of green,
fringed at the edges with golden colour; each wing has a small shaded
crescent of pale blue, deep red, and orange; the blue forming the
centre, like a half-closed eye; the lower wings elongated in deep
scollop, so as to form two long tails, like those of the swallow-tail
butterfly, only a full inch in length and deeply fringed; on the whole
this moth is the most exquisite creature I have ever seen.

We have a variety of the peacock butterfly, that is very rich, with
innumerable eyes on the wings. The yellow swallow-tail is also very
common, and the black and blue admiral, and the red, white, and black
admiral, with many other beautiful varieties that I cannot describe. The
largest butterfly I have yet seen is a gay vermilion, marked with jet
black lines that form an elegant black lace pattern over its wide wings.

Then for dragon-flies, we have them of every size, shape, and colour. I
was particularly charmed by a pair of superb blue ones that I used to
see this summer in my walk to visit my sister. They were as large as
butterflies, with black gauze wings; on each pair was marked a crescent
of the brightest azure blue, shaded with scarlet; the bodies of these
beautiful creatures were also blue. I have seen them scarlet and black,
yellow and black, copper-coloured, green, and brown; the latter are
great enemies to the mosquitoes and other small insects, and may be seen
in vast numbers flitting around in all directions of an evening in
search of prey.

The fire-flies must not be forgotten, for of all others they are the
most remarkable; their appearance generally precedes rain; they are
often seen after dark, on mild damp evenings, sporting among the cedars
at the edge of the wood, and especially near swamps, when the air is
illuminated with their brilliant dancing light. Sometimes they may be
seen in groups, glancing like falling stars in mid-air, or descending so
low as to enter your dwelling and flit about among the draperies of your
bed or window curtains; the light they emit is more brilliant than that
of the glowworm; but it is produced in the same manner from the under
part of the body. The glowworm is also frequently seen, even as late as
September, on mild, warm, dewy nights.

We have abundance of large and small beetles, some most splendid: green
and gold, rose-colour, red and black, yellow and black; some quite
black, formidably large, with wide branching horns. Wasps are not so
troublesome as in England, but I suppose it is because we cannot offer
such temptations as our home gardens hold out to these ravenous insects.

One of our choppers brought me the other day what he called a hornet's
nest; it was certainly too small and delicate a piece of workmanship for
so large an insect; and I rather conjecture that it belonged to the
beautiful black and gold insect called the wasp-fly, but of this I am
not certain. The nest was about the size and shape of a turkey's egg,
and was composed of six paper cups inserted one within the other, each
lessening till the innermost of all appeared not larger than a pigeon's
egg. On looking carefully within the orifice of the last cup, a small
comb, containing twelve cells, of the most exquisite neatness, might be
perceived, if anything, superior in regularity to the cells in the comb
of the domestic bee, one of which was at least equal to three of these.
The substance that composed the cups was of a fine silver grey silken
texture, as fine as the finest India silk paper, and extremely brittle;
when slightly wetted it became glutinous, and adhered a little to the
finger; the whole was carefully fixed to a stick: I have seen one since
fastened to a rough rail. I could not but admire the instinctive care
displayed in the formation of this exquisite piece of insect
architecture to guard the embryo animal from injury, either from the
voracity of birds or the effect of rain, which could scarcely find
entrance in the interior.

I had carefully, as I thought, preserved my treasure, by putting it in
one of my drawers, but a wicked little thief of a mouse found it out and
tore it to pieces for the sake of the drops of honey contained in one or
two of the cells. I was much vexed, as I purposed sending it by some
favourable opportunity to a dear friend living in Gloucester Place, who
took great delight in natural curiosities, and once showed me a nest of
similar form to this, that had been found in a bee-hive; the material
was much coarser, and, if I remember right, had but two cases instead of

I have always felt a great desire to see the nest of a humming-bird, but
hitherto have been disappointed. This summer I had some beds of
mignionette and other flowers, with some most splendid major
convolvuluses or "morning gloves," as the Americans call them; these
lovely flowers tempted the hummingbirds to visit my garden, and I had
the pleasure of seeing a pair of those beautiful creatures, but their
flight is so peculiar that it hardly gives you a perfect sight of their
colours; their motion when on the wing resembles the whirl of a
spinning-wheel, and the sound they make is like the hum of a wheel at
work; I shall plant flowers to entice them to build near us.

I sometimes fear you will grow weary of my long dull letters; my only
resources are domestic details and the natural history of the country,
which I give whenever I think the subject has novelty to recommend it to
your attention. Possibly I may sometimes disappoint you by details that
appear to place the state of the emigrant in an unfavourable light; I
merely give facts as I have seen, or heard them stated. I could give you
many flourishing accounts of settlers in this country; I could also
reverse the picture, and you would come to the conclusion that there are
many arguments to be used both for and against emigration. Now, the
greatest argument, and that which has the most weight, is NECESSITY, and
this will always turn the scale in the favour of emigration; and that
same imperative dame Necessity tells me it is _necessary_ for me to draw
my letter to a conclusion.

Farewell, ever faithfully and affectionately, your attached sister.


Ague.--Illness of the Family.--Probable Cause.--Root-house.--Setting in
of Winter.--Insect termed a "Sawyer."--Temporary Church.

November the 28th, 1834.

You will have been surprised, and possibly distressed, by my long
silence of several months, but when I tell you it has been occasioned by
sickness, you will cease to wonder that I did not write.

My dear husband, my servant, the poor babe, and myself, were all at one
time confined to our beds with ague. You know how severe my sufferings
always were at home with intermittents, and need not marvel if they were
no less great in a country where lake-fevers and all kinds of
intermittent fevers abound.

Few persons escape the second year without being afflicted with this
weakening complaint; the mode of treatment is repeated doses of calomel,
with castor-oil or salts, and is followed up by quinine. Those persons
who do not choose to employ medical advice on the subject, dose
themselves with ginger-tea, strong infusion of hyson, or any other
powerful green tea, pepper, and whiskey, with many other remedies that
have the sanction of custom or quackery.

I will not dwell on this uncomfortable period, further than to tell you
that we considered the complaint to have had its origin in a malaria,
arising from a cellar below the kitchen. When the snow melted, this
cellar became half full of water, either from the moisture draining
through the spongy earth, or from the rising of a spring beneath the
house; be it as it may, the heat of the cooking and Franklin stoves in
the kitchen and parlour, caused a fermentation to take place in the
stagnant fluid before it could be emptied; the effluvia arising from
this mass of putrifying water affected us all. The female servant, who
was the most exposed to its baneful influence, was the first of our
household that fell sick, after which, we each in turn became unable to
assist each other. I think I suffer an additional portion of the malady
from seeing the sufferings of my dear husband and my beloved child.

I lost the ague in a fortnight's time,--thanks to calomel and quinine;
so did my babe and his nurse: it has, however, hung on my husband during
the whole of the summer, and thrown a damp upon his exertions and gloom
upon his spirits. This is the certain effect of ague, it causes the same
sort of depression on the spirits as a nervous fever. My dear child has
not been well ever since he had the ague, and looks very pale and

We should have been in a most miserable condition, being unable to
procure a female servant, a nurse, or any one to attend upon us, and
totally unable to help ourselves; but for the prompt assistance of Mary
on one side, and Susannah on the other, I know not what would have
become of us in our sore trouble.

This summer has been excessively hot and dry; the waters in the lakes
and rivers being lower than they had been known for many years; scarcely
a drop of rain fell for several weeks. This extreme drought rendered the
potatoe-crop a decided failure. Our Indian-corn was very fine; so were
the pumpkins. We had some fine vegetables in the garden, especially the
peas and melons; the latter were very large and fine. The cultivation of
the melon is very simple: you first draw the surrounding earth together
with a broad hoe into a heap; the middle of this heap is then slightly
hollowed out, so as to form a basin, the mould being raised round the
edges; into this hollow you insert several melon-seeds, and leave the
rest to the summer heat; if you water the plants from time to time, it
is well for them; the soil should be fine black mould; and if your hills
are inclining to a hollow part of your ground, so as to retain the
moisture, so much the finer will be your fruit. It is the opinion of
practical persons who have bought wisdom by some years' experience of
the country, that in laying out and planting a garden, the beds should
not be raised, as is the usual custom; and give us a reason, that the
sun having such great power draws the moisture more readily from the
earth where the beds are elevated above the level, and, in consequence
of the dryness of the ground, the plants wither away.

As there appears some truth in the remark, I am inclined to adopt the

Vegetables are in general fine, and come quickly to maturity,
considering the lateness of the season in which they are usually put
into the ground. Peas are always fine, especially the marrowfats, which
are sometimes grown in the fields, on cleared lands that are under the
plough. We have a great variety of beans, all of the French or kidney
kind; there is a very prolific white runner, of which I send you some of
the seed: the method of planting them is to raise a small hillock of
mould by drawing the earth up with the hoe; flatten this, or rather
hollow it a little in the middle, and drop in four or five seeds round
the edges; as soon as the bean puts forth its runners insert a pole of
five or six feet in the centre of the hill; the plants will all meet and
twine up it, bearing a profusion of pods, which are cut and foiled as
the scarlet-runners, or else, in their dry or ripe state, stewed and
eaten with salt meat; this, I believe, is the more usual way of cooking
them. The early bush-bean is a dwarf, with bright yellow seed.

Lettuces are very fine, and may be cultivated easily, and very early, by
transplanting the seedlings that appear as soon as the ground is free
from snow. Cabbages and savoys, and all sorts of roots, keep during the
winter in the cellars or root-houses; but to the vile custom of keeping
green vegetables in the shallow, moist cellars below the kitchens, much
of the sickness that attacks settlers under the various forms of agues,
intermittent, remittent, and lake-fevers, may be traced.

Many, of the lower class especially, are not sufficiently careful in
clearing these cellars from the decaying portions of vegetable matter,
which are often suffered to accumulate from year to year to infect the
air of the dwelling. Where the house is small, and the family numerous,
and consequently exposed to its influence by night, the baneful
consequences may be readily imagined. "Do not tell me of lakes and
swamps as the cause of fevers and agues; look to your cellars," was the
observation of a blunt but experienced Yankee doctor. I verily believe
it was the cellar that was the cause of sickness in our house all the
spring and summer.

A root-house is indispensably necessary for the comfort of a settler's
family; if well constructed, with double log-walls, and the roof secured
from the soaking in of the rain or melting snows, it preserves
vegetables, meat, and milk excellently. You will ask if the use be so
great, and the comfort so essential, why does not every settler build

Now, dear mamma, this is exactly what every new comer says; but he has
to learn the difficulty there is at first of getting these matters
accomplished, unless, indeed, he have (which is not often the case) the
command of plenty of ready money, and can afford to employ extra
workmen. Labour is so expensive, and the working seasons so short, that
many useful and convenient buildings are left to a future time; and a
cellar, which one man can excavate in two days, if he work well, is made
to answer the purpose, till the season of leisure arrives, or necessity
obliges the root-house to be made. We are ourselves proof of this very
sort of unwilling procrastination; but the logs are now cut for the
root-house, and we shall have one early in the spring. I would, however,
recommend any one that could possibly do so at first, to build a root-
house without delay, and also to have a well dug; the springs lying very
few feet below the surface renders this neither laborious or very
expensive. The creeks will often fail in very dry weather, and the lake
and river-waters grow warm and distasteful during the spring and summer.
The spring-waters are generally cold and pure, even in the hottest
weather, and delightfully refreshing.

Our winter seems now fairly setting in: the snow has twice fallen, and
as often disappeared, since the middle of October; but now the ground is
again hardening into stone; the keen north-west wind is abroad; and
every outward object looks cold and wintry. The dark line of pines that
bound the opposite side of the lake is already hoary and heavy with
snow, while the half-frozen lake has a deep leaden tint, which is only
varied in shade by the masses of ice which shoot out in long points,
forming mimic bays and peninsulas. The middle of the stream, where the
current is strongest, is not yet frozen over, but runs darkly along like
a river between its frozen banks. In some parts where the banks are
steep and overhung with roots and shrubs, the fallen snow and water take
the most fantastic forms.

I have stood of a bright winter day looking with infinite delight on the
beautiful mimic waterfalls congealed into solid ice along the bank of
the river; and by the mill-dam, from contemplating these petty frolics
of Father Frost, I have been led to picture to myself the sublime
scenery of the arctic regions.

In spite of its length and extreme severity, I do like the Canadian
winter: it is decidedly the healthiest season of the year; and it is no
small enjoyment to be exempted from the torments of the insect tribes,
that are certainly great drawbacks to your comfort in the warmer months.

We have just received your last packet;--a thousand thanks for the
contents. We are all delighted with your useful presents, especially the
warm shawls and merinos. My little James looks extremely well in his new
frock and cloak; they will keep him very warm this cold weather: he
kissed the pretty fur-lined slippers you sent me, and said, "Pussy,
pussy." By the way, we have a fine cat called Nora Crena, the parting
gift of our friend ------, who left her as a keepsake for my boy. Jamie
dotes upon her; and I do assure you I regard her almost as a second
Whittington's cat: neither mouse nor chitmunk has dared intrude within
our log-walls since she made her appearance; the very crickets, that
used to distract us with their chirping from morning till night, have
forsaken their old haunts. Besides the crickets, which often swarm so as
to become intolerable nuisances, destroying your clothes and woollens,
we are pestered by large black ants, that gallop about, eating up sugar
preserves, cakes, anything nice they can gain access to; these insects
are three times the size of the black ants of Britain, and have a most
voracious appetite: when they find no better prey they kill each other,
and that with the fierceness and subtilty of the spider. They appear
less sociable in their habits than other ants; though, from the numbers
that invade your dwellings, I should think they formed a community like
the rest of their species.

The first year's residence in a new log-house you are disturbed by a
continual creaking sound which grates upon the ears exceedingly, till
you become accustomed to it: this is produced by an insect commonly
called a "sawyer." This is the larvae of some fly that deposits its eggs
in the bark of the pine-trees. The animal in its immature state is of a
whitish colour, the body composed of eleven rings; the head armed with a
pair of short, hard pincers: the skin of this creature is so rough that
on passing your finger over it, it reminds you of a rasp, yet to the eye
it is perfectly smooth. You would be surprised at the heap of fine saw-
dust that is to be seen below the hole they have been working in all
night. These sawyers form a fine feast for the woodpeckers, and jointly
they assist in promoting the rapid decomposition of the gigantic forest-
trees, that would otherwise encumber the earth from age to age. How
infinite is that Wisdom that rules the natural world! How often do we
see great events brought about by seemingly insignificant agents! Yet
are they all servants of the Most High, working his will, and fulfilling
his behests. One great want which has been sensibly felt in this distant
settlement, I mean the want of public worship on the Sabbath-day,
promises to be speedily remedied. A subscription is about to be opened
among the settlers of this and part of the adjacent township for the
erection of a small building, which may answer the purpose of church and
school-house; also for the means of paying a minister for stated seasons
of attendance.

------ has allowed his parlour to be used as a temporary church, and
service has been several times performed by a highly respectable young
Scotch clergyman; and I can assure you we have a considerable
congregation, considering how scattered the inhabitants are, and that
the emigrants consist of catholics and dissenters, as well as

These distinctions, however, are not carried to such lengths in this
country as at home; especially where the want of religious observances
has been sensibly felt. The word of God appears to be listened to with
gladness. May a blessing attend those that in spirit and in truth would
restore again to us the public duties of the Sabbath, which, left to our
own guidance, we are but too much inclined to neglect.



Busy Spring.--Increase of Society and Comfort.--Recollections of Home.--
Aurora Borealis

THIS has been a busy spring with us. First, sugar-making on a larger
scale than our first attempt was, and since that we had workmen making
considerable addition to our house; we have built a large and convenient
kitchen, taking the former one for a bedroom; the root-house and dairy
are nearly completed. We have a well of excellent water close beside the
door, and a fine frame-barn was finished this week, which includes a
good granary and stable, with a place for my poultry, in which I take
great delight.

Besides a fine brood of fowls, the produce of two hens and a cock, or
_rooster_, as the Yankees term that bird, I have some ducks, and am to
have turkeys and geese this summer. I lost several of my best fowls, not
by the hawk but a horrid beast of the same nature as our polecat, called
here a scunck; it is far more destructive in its nature than either fox
or the hawk, for he comes like a thief in the night and invades the
perch, leaving headless mementos of his barbarity and blood-thirsty

We are having the garden, which hitherto has been nothing but a square
enclosure for vegetables, laid out in a prettier form; two half circular
wings sweep off from the entrance to each side of the house; the fence
is a sort of rude basket or hurdle-work, such as you see at home, called
by the country folk wattled fence: this forms a much more picturesque
fence than those usually put up of split timber.

Along this little enclosure I have begun planting a sort of flowery
hedge with some of the native shrubs that abound in our woods and lake-

Among those already introduced are two species of shrubby honeysuckle,
white and rose-blossomed: these are called by the American botanists

Then I have the white _Spiroeafrutex_, which grows profusely on the
lake-shore; the Canadian wild rose; the red flowering raspberry (_rubus
spectabilis_), leather-wood (_dircas_), called American mezereon, or
moose-wood; this is a very pretty, and at the same time useful shrub,
the bark being used by farmers as a substitute for cord in tying sacks,
&c.; the Indians sew their birch-bark baskets with it occasionally.

Wild gooseberry, red and black currants, apple-trees, with here and
there a standard hawthorn, the native tree bearing nice red fruit I
named before, are all I have as yet been able to introduce.

The stoup is up, and I have just planted hops at the base of the
pillars. I have got two bearing shoots of a purple wild grape from the
island near us, which I long to see in fruit.

My husband is in good spirits; our darling boy is well, and runs about
everywhere. We enjoy a pleasant and friendly society, which has
increased so much within the last two years that we can hardly regret
our absence from the more populous town.

My dear sister and her husband are comfortably settled in their new
abode, and have a fine spot cleared and cropped. We often see them, and
enjoy a chat of home--sweet, never-to-be-forgotten home; and cheat
ourselves into the fond belief that, at no very distant time we may
again retrace its fertile fields and flowery dales.

With what delight we should introduce our young Canadians to their
grandmother and aunts; my little bushman shall early be taught to lisp
the names of those unknown but dear friends, and to love the lands that
gave birth to his parents, the bonny hills of the north and my own
beloved England.

Not to regret my absence from my native land, and one so fair and lovely
withal, would argue a heart of insensibility; yet I must say, for all
its roughness, I love Canada, and am as happy in my humble log-house as
if it were courtly hall or bower; habit reconciles us to many things
that at first were distasteful. It has ever been my way to extract the
sweet rather than the bitter in the cup of life, and surely it is best
and wisest so to do. In a country where constant exertion is called for
from all ages and degrees of settlers, it would be foolish to a degree
to damp our energies by complaints, and cast a gloom over our homes by
sitting dejectedly down to lament for all that was so dear to us in the
old country. Since we are here, let us make the best of it, and bear
with cheerfulness the lot we have chosen. I believe that one of the
chief ingredients in human happiness is a capacity for enjoying the
blessings we possess.

Though at our first outset we experienced many disappointments, many
unlooked-for expenses, and many annoying delays, with some wants that to
us seemed great privations, on the whole we have been fortunate,
especially in the situation of our land, which has increased in value
very considerably; our chief difficulties are now over, at least we hope
so, and we trust soon to enjoy the comforts of a cleared farm.

My husband is becoming more reconciled to the country, and I daily feel
my attachment to it strengthening. The very stumps that appeared so
odious, through long custom, seem to lose some of their hideousness; the
eye becomes familiarized even with objects the most displeasing till
they cease to be observed. Some century hence how different will this
spot appear! I can picture it to my imagination with fertile fields and
groves of trees planted by the hand of taste;--all will be different;
our present rude dwellings will have given place to others of a more
elegant style of architecture, and comfort and grace will rule the scene
which is now a forest wild.

You ask me if I like the climate of Upper Canada; to be candid I do not
think it deserves all that travellers have said of it. The summer heat
of last year was very oppressive; the drought was extreme, and in some
respects proved rather injurious, especially to the potatoe crop. The
frosts set in early, and so did the snows; as to the far-fa_med Indian
summer it seems to have taken its farewell of the land, for little of it
have we seen during three years' residence. Last year there was not a
semblance of it, and this year one horrible dark gloomy day, that
reminded me most forcibly of a London fog, and which was to the full as
dismal and depressing, was declared by the old inhabitants to be the
commencement of the Indian summer; the sun looked dim and red, and a
yellow lurid mist darkened the atmosphere, so that it became almost
necessary to light candles at noonday. If this be Indian summer, then
might a succession of London fogs be termed the "London summer," thought
I, as I groped about in a sort of bewildering dusky light all that day;
and glad was I when, after a day or two's heavy rain, the frost and snow
set in.

Very variable, as far as our experience goes, this climate has been; no
two seasons have been at all alike, and it is supposed it will be still
more variable as the work of clearing the forest goes on from year to
year. Near the rivers and great lakes the climate is much milder and
more equable; more inland, the snow seldom falls so as to allow of
sleighing for weeks after it has become general; this, considering the
state of our bush-roads, is rather a point in our favour, as travelling
becomes less laborious, though still somewhat rough.

I have seen the aurora borealis several times; also a splendid meteoric
phenomenon that surpassed every thing I had ever seen or even heard of
before. I was very much amused by overhearing a young lad giving a
gentleman a description of the appearance made by a cluster of the
shooting-stars as they followed each other in quick succession athwart
the sky. "Sir," said the boy, "I never saw such a sight before, and I
can only liken the chain of stars to a logging-chain." Certainly a most
natural and unique simile, quite in character with the occupation of the
lad, whose business was often with the oxen and logging-chain, and after
all not more rustic than the familiar names given to many of our most
superb constellations,--Charle's wain, the plough, the sickle, &c.

Coming home one night last Christmas from the house of a friend, I was
struck by a splendid pillar of pale greenish light in the west: it rose
to some height above the dark line of pines that crowned the opposite
shores of the Otanabee, and illumined the heavens on either side with a
chaste pure light, such as the moon gives in her rise and setting; it
was not quite pyramidical, though much broader at the base than at its
highest point; it gradually faded, till a faint white glimmering light
alone marked where its place had been, and even that disappeared after
some half-hour's time. It was so fair and lovely a vision I was grieved
when it vanished into thin air, and could have cheated fancy into the
belief that it was the robe of some bright visitor from another and a
better world;--imagination apart, could it be a phosphoric exhalation
from some of our many swamps or inland lakes, or was it at all connected
with the aurora that is so frequently seen in our skies?

I must now close this epistle; I have many letters to prepare for
friends, to whom I can only write when I have the opportunity of free
conveyance, the inland postage being very high; and you must not only
pay for all you receive but all you send to and from New York.

Adieu, my kindest and best of friends.

Douro, May 1st, 1833.


[The following Communications have been received from the Writer of this
Work during its progress through the Press.]


THIS spring I have made maple-sugar of a much finer colour and grain
than any I have yet seen; and have been assured by many old settlers it
was the best, or nearly the best, they had ever met with: which
commendation induces me to give the plan I pursued in manufacturing it.
The sap having been boiled down in the sugar-bush from about sixteen
pailsful to two, I first passed it through a thin flannel bag, after the
manner of a jelly-bag, to strain it from the first impurities, which are
great. I then passed the liquor through another thicker flannel into the
iron pot, in which I purposed boiling down the sugar, and while yet
cold, or at best but lukewarm, beat up the white of one egg to a froth,
and spread it gently over the surface of the liquor, watching the pot
carefully after the fire began to heat it, that I might not suffer the
scum to boil into the sugar. A few minutes before it comes to a boil,
the scum must be carefully removed with a skimmer, or ladle,--the former
is best. I consider that on the care taken to remove every particle of
scum depends, in a great measure, the brightness and clearness of the
sugar. The best rule I can give as to the sugaring-off, as it is termed,
is to let the liquid continue at a fast boil: only be careful to keep it
from coming over by keeping a little of the liquid in your stirring-
ladle, and when it boils up to the top, or you see it rising too fast,
throw in a little from time to time to keep it down; or if you boil on a
cooking-stove, throwing open one or all the doors will prevent boiling
over. Those that sugar-off outside the house have a wooden crane fixed
against a stump, the fire being lighted against the stump, and the
kettle suspended on the crane: by this simple contrivance, (for any
bush-boy can fix a crane of the kind,) the sugar need never rise over if
common attention be paid to the boiling; but it does require constant
watching: one idle glance may waste much of the precious fluid. I had
only a small cooking-stove to boil my sugar on, the pots of which were
thought too small, and not well shaped, so that at first my fears were
that I must relinquish the trial; but I persevered, and experience
convinces me a stove is an excellent furnace for the purpose; as you can
regulate the heat as you like.

One of the most anxious periods in the boiling I found to be when the
liquor began first to assume a yellowish frothy appearance, and cast up
so great a volume of steam from its surface as to obscure the contents
of the pot; as it may then rise over almost unperceived by the most
vigilant eye. As the liquor thickens into molasses, it becomes a fine
yellow, and seems nothing but thick froth. When it is getting pretty
well boiled down, the drops begin to fall clear and ropy from the ladle;
and if you see little bright grainy-looking bubbles in it, drop some on
a cold plate, and continue to stir or rub it till it is quite cold: if
it is ready to granulate, you will find it gritty, and turn whitish or
pale straw colour; and stiff. The sugar may then safely be poured off
into a tin dish, pail, basin, or any other utensil. I tried two
different methods after taking the sugar from the fire, but could find
little difference in the look of the sugar, except that in one the
quantity was broken up more completely; in the other the sugar remained
in large lumps, but equally pure and sparkling. In the first I kept
stirring the sugar till it began to cool and form a whitish thick
substance, and the grains were well crystallised; in the other process,
--which I think preferable, as being the least troublesome,--I waited
till the mass was hardened into sugar, and then, piercing the crust in
many places, I turned the mass into a cullender, and placed the
cullender over a vessel to receive the molasses that drained from the
sugar. In the course of the day or two, I frequently stirred the sugar,
which thus became perfectly free from moisture, and had acquired a fine
sparkling grain, tasting exactly like sugar-candy, free from any taste
of the maple-sap, and fit for any purpose.

I observed that in general maple-sugar, as it is commonly made, is hard
and compact, showing little grain, and weighing very heavy in proportion
to its bulk. Exactly the reverse is the case with that I made, it being
extremely light for its bulk, all the heavy molasses having been
separated, instead of dried into the sugar. Had the present season been
at all a favourable one, which it was not, we should have made a good
quantity of excellent sugar.


By boiling down five gallons of sap to one, and when just a little above
the heat of new milk, putting in a cupful of barm (hop-rising will do if
it be good), and letting the vessel remain in your kitchen chimney-
corner during the summer, and perhaps longer, you will obtain a fine,
cheap, pleasant, and strong vinegar, fit for any purpose. This plan I
have pursued successfully two years. Care must be taken that the cask or
keg be well seasoned and tight before the vinegar is put in; as the
dryness of the summer heat is apt to shrink the vessel, and make it
leak. If putty well wrought, tar, or even yellow soap, be rubbed over
the seams, and round the inner rim of the head of the cask, it will
preserve it from opening. The equal temperature of the kitchen is
preferred by experienced housewives to letting the vinegar stand abroad;
they aver the coldness of the nights in this country is prejudicial to
the process, being as speedily perfected as if it underwent no such
check. By those well skilled in the manufacture of home-made wines and
beer, excellent maple-wine and beer might be produced at a very trifling
expense; i.e. that of the labour and skill exercised in the making it.

Every settler grows, as an ornament in his garden, or should grow, hops,
which form one of the principal components of maple-beer when added to
the sap.


This excellent, and, I might add, indispensable, article in every
settler's house, is a valuable substitute for ale or beer-yeast, and is
made in the following simple manner:--Take two double handfuls of hops,
boil in a gallon of soft water, if you can get it, till the hops sink to
the bottom of the vessel; make ready a batter formed by stirring a
dessert-platefull of flour and cold water till smooth and pretty thick
together; strain the hop-liquor while scalding hot into the vessel where
your batter is mixed ready; let one person pour the hop-liquor while the
other keeps stirring the batter. When cooled down to a gentle warmth, so
that you can bear the finger well in it, add a cup or basinful of the
former barm, or a bit of leaven, to set it to work; let the barm stand
till it has worked well, then bottle and cork it. Set it by in a cellar
or cool place if in summer, and in winter it is also the best place to
keep it from freezing. Some persons add two or three mealy potatoes
boiled and finely bruised, and it is a great improvement during the cool
months of the year. Potatoes in bread may be introduced very
advantageously; and to first settlers, who have all their flour to buy,
I think it must be a saving.

The following method I found made more palatable and lighter bread than
flour, mixed in the usual way:--Supposing I wanted to make up about a
stone and half of flour, I boiled (having first pared them carefully)--
say three dozen good-sized potatoes in about three quarts or a gallon of
water, till the liquor had the appearance of a thin gruel, and the
potatoes had become almost entirely incorporated with the water. With
this potatoe-gruel the flour was mixed up, no water being required,
unless by chance I had not enough of the mixture to moisten my flour
sufficiently. The same process of kneading, fermenting with barm, &c.,
is pursued with the dough, as with other bread. In baking, it turns of a
bright light brown, and is lighter than bread made after the common
process, and therefore I consider the knowledge of it serviceable to the
emigrant's family.


This is a barm much used by the Yanky settlers; but though the bread is
decidedly whiter, and prettier to look at, than that raised in any other
way, the peculiar flavour it imparts to the bread renders it highly
disagreeable to some persons. Another disadvantage is, the difficulty of
fermenting this barm in the winter season, as it requires a temperature
which is very difficult to preserve in a Canadian winter day. Moreover,
after the barm has once reached its height, unless immediately made use
of, it sinks, and rises again no more: careful people, of course, who
know this peculiarity, are on the watch, being aware of the ill
consequences of heavy bread, or having no bread but bannocks in the

As near as I can recollect, the salt-rising is made as follows:--For a
small baking of two or three loaves, or one large bake-kettle-loaf,
(about the size of a London peck loaf,) take about a pint of moderately
warm water, (a pleasant heat to the hand,) and stir into the jug or pot
containing it as much flour as will make a good batter, not too thick;
add to this half a tea-spoon of salt, not more, and set the vessel in a
pan of moderately warm water, within a little distance of the fire, or
in the sun: the water that surrounds the pot in which your rising is,
must never be allowed to cool much be low the original heat, more warm
water being added (in the pan, not to the barm) till the whole is in an
active state of fermentation, which will be from six to eight hours,
when the dough must be mixed with it, and as much warm water or milk as
you require. Knead the mass till it is tough, and does not stick to the
board. Make up your loaf or loaves, and keep them warmly covered near
the fire till they rise: they must be baked directly this second rising
takes place. Those that bake what I term a _shanty loaf_, in an iron
bake-pot, or kettle, placed on the hot embers, set the dough to rise
over a very few embers, or near the hot hearth, keeping the pot or pan
turned as the loaf rises; when equally risen all over they put hot ashes
beneath and upon the lid, taking care not to let the heat be too fierce
at first. As this is the most common method of baking, and the first
that a settler sees practised, it is as well they should be made
familiar with it beforehand. At first I was inclined to grumble and
rebel against the expediency of bake-pans or bake-kettles; but as
cooking-stoves, iron ovens, and even brick and clay-built ovens, will
not start up at your bidding in the bush, these substitutes are
valuable, and perform a number of uses. I have eaten excellent light
bread, baked on the emigrant's hearth in one of these kettles. I have
eaten boiled potatoes, baked meats, excellent stews, and good soups, all
cooked at different times in this universally useful utensil: so let it
not be despised. It is one of those things peculiarly adapted to the
circumstances of settlers in the bush before they have collected those
comforts about their homesteads, within and without, that are the reward
and the slow gleaning-up of many years of toil.

There are several other sorts of rising similar to the salt-rising.
"Milk-rising" which is mixed with milk, warm from the cow, and about a
third warm water; and "bran-rising," which is made with bran instead of
flour, and is preferred by many persons to either of the former kinds.


Of the making of soft soap I can give little or no correct information,
never having been given any _certain_ rule myself; and my own experience
is too limited. I was, however, given a hint from a professional
gentleman, which I mean to act upon forthwith. Instead of boiling the
soap, which is some trouble, he assured me the best plan was to run off
the ley from a barrel of ashes: into this ley I might put four or five
pounds of any sort of grease, such as pot skimmings, rinds of bacon, or
scraps from frying down suet; in short any refuse of the kind would do.
The barrel with its contents may then be placed in a secure situation in
the garden or yard, exposed to the sun and air. In course of time the
ley and grease become incorporated: if the grease predominates it will
be seen floating on the surface; in such case add more ley; if the
mixture does not thicken, add more grease. Now, this is the simplest,
easiest, and clearest account I have yet received on the subject of
soap-making, which hitherto has seemed a mystery, even though a good
quantity was made last spring by one of my servants, and it turned out
well: but she could not tell why it succeeded, for want of being able to
explain the principle she worked from.


Every one makes their own candles (i.e. if they have any materials to
make them from). The great difficulty of making candies--and, as far as
I see the only one, is procuring the tallow, which a bush-settler, until
he begins to kill his own beef, sheep, and hogs, is rarely able to do,
unless he buys; and a settler buys nothing that he can help. A cow,
however, that is unprofitable, old, or unlikely to survive the severity
of the coming winter, is often suffered to go dry during the summer, and
get her own living, till she is fit to kill in the fall. Such an animal
is often slaughtered very advantageously, especially if the settler have
little fodder for his cattle. The beef is often excellent, and good
store of candles and soap may be made from the inside fat. These
candles, if made three parts beef and one part hogs lard, wil burn
better than any store-candles, and cost less than half price. The tallow
is merely melted in a pot or pan convenient for the purpose, and having
run the cotton wicks into the moulds (tin or pewter moulds for six
candles cost three shillings at the stores, and last many, many years),
a stick or skewer is passed through the loops of your wicks, at the
upper part of the stand, which serve the purpose of drawing the candles.
The melted fat, not too hot, but in a fluid state, is then poured into
the moulds till they are full; as the fat gets cold it shrinks, and
leaves a hollow at the top of the mould: this requires filling up when
quite cold. If the candles do not draw readily, plunge the mould for an
instant into hot water and the candles will come out easily. Many
persons prefer making dip-candles for kitchen use; but for my own part I
think the trouble quite as great, and give the preference, in point of
neatness of look, to the moulds. It may be, my maid and I did not
succeed so well in making the dips as the moulds.


The great want of spring vegetables renders pickles a valuable addition
to the table at the season when potatoes have become unfit and
distasteful. If you have been fortunate in your maple-vinegar, a store
of pickled cucumbers, beans, cabbage, &c. may be made during the latter
part of the summer; but if the vinegar should not be fit at that time,
there are two expedients: one is to make a good brine of boiled salt and
water, into which throw your cucumbers, &c. (the cabbage, by the by, may
be preserved in the root-house or cellar quite good, or buried in pits,
well covered, till you want to make your pickle). Those vegetables, kept
in brine, must be covered close, and when you wish to pickle them,
remove the top layer, which are not so good; and having boiled the
vinegar with spices let it stand till it is cold. The cucumbers should
previously have been well washed, and soaked in two or three fresh
waters, and drained; then put in a jar, and the cold vinegar poured over
them. The advantage of this is obvious; you can pickle at any season.
Another plan, and I have heard it much commended, is putting the
cucumbers into a mixture of whiskey* and water, which in time turns to a
fine vinegar, and preserves the colour and crispness of the vegetable;
while the vinegar is apt to make them soft, especially if poured on
boiling hot, as is the usual practice.

[* In the "Backwoodsman," this whiskey-receipt is mentioned as an
abominable compound: perhaps the witty author had tasted the pickles in
an improper state of progression. He gives a lamentable picture of
American cookery, but declares the badness arises from want of proper
receipts. These yeast-receipts will be extremely useful in England; as
the want of fresh yeast is often severely felt in country districts.]


[In the wish to render this Work of more practical value to persons
desiring to emigrate, some official information is subjoined, under the
following heads:--]


I. The number of Sales and Grants of Crown Lands, Clergy Reserves,
Conditions, &c.
II. Information for Emigrants; Number of Emigrants arrived; with
extracts from Papers issued by Government Emigration Agents, &c.
III. Abstract of the American Passengers' Act, of Session 1835.
IV. Transfer of Capital.
V. Canadian Currency.
VI. Canada Company.
VII. British American Land Company.



The following tables, abstracted from Parliamentary documents, exhibit--

1. The quantity of Crown lands _sold_ in Upper and Lower Canada from
1828 to 1833, inclusive, with the average price per acre, &c.

2. Town and park lots sold in Upper Canada during the same period.

3. The quantity of Crown lands granted without purchase, and the
conditions on which the grants were given, from 1824 to 1833, inclusive.

4. The amount of clergy reserves sold in each year since the sales
commenced under the Act 7 and 8 Geo. IV., c. 62.



[Transcription note: The data presented below was originally in the
conventional tabular row / column format.]

Row 1, Column Headings
Column 1: Year.
Column 2: Number of acres sold.
Column 3: Average price per acre.
Column 4: Amount of purchase money received within the first year.
Column 5: Amount of purchase money remitted to military purchasers
within the first year.
Column 6: Amount of quit-rent at 5 per cent on the purchase money
received within the first year.
Column 7: Whole amount of purchase money.

Row 2
Column 1: 1828
Column 2: 20,011 acres
Column 3: 4 shillings, 11 pence
Column 4: 1,255 pounds, 14 shillings, 10 pence
Column 5: -, -, -
Column 6: 39 pounds, 12 shillings, 6 pence
Column 7: 5,044 pounds, 9 shillings, 9 pence

Row 3
Column 1: 1829
Column 2: 31,366 acres
Column 3: 5 shillings, 2-3/4 pence
Column 4: 466 pounds, 2 shillings, 11 pence
Column 5: -, -, -
Column 6: 307 pounds, 11 shillings, 0 pence
Column 7: 7,469 pounds, 17 shillings, 7 pence

Row 4
Column 1: 1830
Column 2: 28,077 acres
Column 3: 5 shillings, 8-3/4 pence
Column 4: 273 pounds, 10 shillings, 5 pence
Column 5: -, -, -
Column 6: 322 pounds, 3 shillings, 0 pence
Column 7: 7,461 pounds, 13 shillings, 5 pence

Row 5
Column 1: 1831
Column 2: 51,357 acres
Column 3: 6 shillings, 1-3/4 pence
Column 4: 815 pounds, 19 shillings, 8 pence
Column 5: -, -, -
Column 6: 484 pounds, 14 shillings, 7 pence
Column 7: 12,442 pounds, 8 shillings, 0 pence

Row 6
Column 1: 1832
Column 2: 24,074 acres
Column 3: 6 shillings, 9-1/4 pence
Column 4: 1,013 pounds, 1 shillings, 11 pence
Column 5: 555 pounds, 11 shillings, 0 pence
Column 6: 119 pounds, 2 shillings, 7 pence
Column 7: 6,139 pounds, 0 shillings, 10 pence

Row 7
Column 1: 1833
Column 2: 42,570 acres
Column 3: 4 shillings, 2 pence
Column 4: 1,975 pounds, 10 shillings, 11 pence
Column 5: 1,936 pounds, 9 shillings, 3 pence
Column 6: -, -, -
Column 7: 7,549 pounds, 1 shillings, 5 pence

Row 8
Column 1: Totals
Column 2: 197,455
Column 3: -, -
Column 4: -, -, -
Column 5: -, -, -
Column 6: -, -, -
Column 7: 46,106 pounds, 11 shillings, 0 pence

The conditions on which the land was sold were--on sales on instalments,
to be paid within three years; or on sales on quit-rent, at 5 per cent.,
capital redeemable at pleasure. N.B. Sales on quit-rent ceased in 1832.



[Transcription note: The data presented below was originally in the
conventional tabular row / column format.]

Row 1, Column Headings
Column 1: Year.
Column 2: Number of acres sold.
Column 3: Average price per acre.
Column 4: Amount of purchase money received within the first year.
Column 5: Whole amount of purchase money.

Row 2
Column 1: 1829
Column 2: 3,893 acres
Column 3: 15 shillings, 1-3/4 pence
Column 4: 760 pounds, 6 shillings, 10 pence
Column 5: 2,940 pounds, 17 shillings, 3 pence

Row 3
Column 1: 1830
Column 2: 6,135 acres
Column 3: 13 shillings, 8-1/2 pence
Column 4: 1,350 pounds, 16 shillings, 6 pence
Column 5: 4,209 pounds, 3 shillings, 0 pence

Row 4
Column 1: 1831
Column 2: 4,357 acres
Column 3: 11 shillings, 3-1/2 pence
Column 4: 1,626 pounds, 15 shillings, 0 pence
Column 5: 2,458 pounds, 1 shillings, 8 pence

Row 5
Column 1: 1832
Column 2: 10,323 acres
Column 3: 9 shillings, 1-1/2 pence
Column 4: 2,503 pounds, 3 shillings, 5 pence
Column 5: 4,711 pounds, 2 shillings, 9 pence

Row 6
Column 1: 1833
Column 2: 26,376 acres
Column 3: 8 shillings, 9-1/4 pence
Column 4: 5,660 pounds, 8 shillings, 3 pence
Column 5: 11,578 pounds, 19 shillings, 3 pence

Row 7
Column 1: Totals
Column 2: 51,074 acres
Column 3: -
Column 4: -
Column 5: 25,898 pounds, 3 shillings, 11 pence

Interest is now exacted on the instalments paid.
Three years is the number within which the whole amount of the purchase
money is to be paid. The sales of town lots, water lots, and park lots,
in Upper Canada, are not included in this table, on account of the
disproportionate effect which the comparatively large sums paid for
these small lots would have on the average price per acre. They are
given, therefore, separately, in the following table:-



[Transcription note: The data presented below was originally in the
conventional tabular row / column format.]

Row 1, Column Headings
Column 1: Year.
Column 2: Number of acres sold.
Column 3: Average price per acre.
Column 4: Amount of purchase money received within the first year.
Column 5: Whole amount of purchase money.

Row 2
Column 1: 1828
Column 2: 2 acres
Column 3: 126 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pence
Column 4: 63 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pence
Column 5: 252 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pence

Row 3
Column 1: 1829
Column 2: -
Column 3: -, -
Column 4: 63 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pence
Column 5: -, -, -

Row 4
Column 1: 1830
Column 2: 19 acres
Column 3: 10 pounds, 10 shillings, 6-1/2 pence
Column 4: 55 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pence
Column 5: 20 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pence

Row 5
Column 1: 1831
Column 2: 3 acres
Column 3: 8 pounds, 7 shillings, 6-1/2 pence
Column 4: 95 pounds*, 12 shillings, 8 pence
Column 5: 25 pounds, 2 shillings, 8 pence

Row 6
Column 1: 1832
Column 2: 30 acres
Column 3: 15 pounds, 18 shillings, 6 pence
Column 4: 81 pounds, 18 shillings, 9 pence
Column 5: 327 pounds, 15 shillings, 0 pence

Row 7
Column 1: 1833
Column 2: 114 acres
Column 3: 14 pounds, 13 shillings, 9 pence
Column 4: 634 pounds, 8 shillings, 6 pence
Column 5: 1,674 pounds, 9 shillings, 0 pence

Row 7
Column 1: Totals
Column 2: 168 acres
Column 3: -,-,-
Column 4: -,-,-
Column 5: 2,479 pounds, 6 shillings, 8 pence

There were no sales in 1829. The 63 pounds currency paid that year was
paid as instalments on lots sold in the previous year.

The whole amount of the purchase money to be paid within three years.

*Note.--It is so given in the Parliamentary Return, but probably the 9
should be 1.


The following exhibits the quantity of Crown Lands granted, and the
conditions on which the grants were given, from 1823 to 1833.



[Transcription note: The data presented below was originally in the
conventional tabular row / column format.]

Row 1, Column Headings
Column 1: Year.
Column 2: Number of acres granted to militia claimants.
Column 3: Number of acres granted to discharged soldiers and pensioners.
Column 4: Number of acres granted to officers.
Column 5: Number of acres granted, not coming within the previous
Column 6: Total number of acres granted.

Row 2
Column 1: 1824
Column 2: 51,810
Column 3: -
Column 4: 4,100
Column 5: 34,859
Column 6: 90,769

Row 3
Column 1: 1825
Column 2: 32,620
Column 3: -
Column 4: 1,000
Column 5: 16,274
Column 6: 49,894

Row 4
Column 1: 1826
Column 2: 3,525
Column 3: 5,500
Column 4: -
Column 5: 48,224
Column 6: 57,249

Row 5
Column 1: 1827
Column 2: 7,640
Column 3: 6,300
Column 4: 800
Column 5: 38,378
Column 6: 53,118

Row 6
Column 1: 1828
Column 2: 7,300
Column 3: -
Column 4: 4,504
Column 5: 9,036
Column 6: 20,840

Row 7
Column 1: 1829
Column 2: 3,200
Column 3: -
Column 4: -
Column 5: 5,282
Column 6: 8,482

Row 8
Column 1: 1830
Column 2: 81,425
Column 3: -
Column 4: 2,000
Column 5: 10,670
Column 6: 94,095

Row 9
Column 1: 1831
Column 2: 9,400
Column 3: 8,273
Column 4: 3,408
Column 5: 9,900
Column 6: 30,981

Row 10
Column 1: 1832
Column 2: 10,116
Column 3: 19,000
Column 4: 4,000
Column 5: 4,000
Column 6: 37,116

Row 11
Column 1: 1833
Column 2: 5,200
Column 3: 22,500
Column 4: 1,200
Column 5: -
Column 6: 28,900

Row 12
Column 1: Totals
Column 2: 212,236
Column 3: 61,573
Column 4: 21,012
Column 5: 176,623
Column 6: 471,444

_Settler's Conditions_.--That he do clear twenty feet of road on his lot
within the space of ninety days.
Military & Militia conditions.--That he do, within the space of three
years, clear and cultivate four acres of his lot, and build a dwelling-
house thereon.




[Transcription note: The data presented below was originally in the
conventional tabular row / column format.]

Row 1, Column Headings
Column 1: Year.
Column 2: Number of acres granted to militia claimants.
Column 3: Number of acres granted to discharged soldiers and pensioners.
Column 4: Number of acres granted to officers.
Column 5: Number of acres granted, not coming within the previous
Column 6: Number of acres granted to U.E. Loyalists.*
Column 7: Total number of acres granted.

Row 2
Column 1: 1824
Column 2: 11,800
Column 3: 5,800
Column 4: 5,500
Column 5: 134,500
Column 6: 30,200
Column 7: 187,800

Row 3
Column 1: 1825
Column 2: 20,300
Column 3: 5,700
Column 4: 8,100
Column 5: 149,060
Column 6: 45,000
Column 7: 228,160

Row 4
Column 1: 1826
Column 2: 16,600
Column 3: 3,100
Column 4: 4,700
Column 5: 19,390
Column 6: 24,800
Column 7: 68,590

Row 5
Column 1: 1827
Column 2: 10,900
Column 3: 4,200
Column 4: 7,200
Column 5: 33,600
Column 6: 20,200
Column 7: 76,100

Row 6
Column 1: 1828
Column 2: 10,800
Column 3: 900
Column 4: 3,000
Column 5: 4,304
Column 6: 30,800
Column 7: 49,804

Row 7
Column 1: 1829
Column 2: 5,300
Column 3: 7,500
Column 4: 8,400
Column 5: 3,230
Column 6: 22,600
Column 7: 47,030

Row 8
Column 1: 1830
Column 2: 6,400
Column 3: 12,500
Column 4: 12,600
Column 5: 9,336
Column 6: 27,400
Column 7: 68,236

Row 9
Column 1: 1831
Column 2: 5,500
Column 3: 58,400
Column 4: 7,200
Column 5: 8,000
Column 6: 34,200
Column 7: 113,300

Row 10
Column 1: 1832
Column 2: 19,300
Column 3: 97,800
Column 4: 7,600
Column 5: 6,100
Column 6: 62,600
Column 7: 193,400

Row 11
Column 1: 1833
Column 2: 35,200
Column 3: 46,000
Column 4: -
Column 5: 9,100
Column 6: 135,600
Column 7: 225,900

Row 12
Column 1: Totals
Column 2: 142,100
Column 3: 241,900
Column 4: 64,300
Column 5: 376,620
Column 6: 433,400
Column 7: 1,258,320

_Condition_. - Actual settlement.

* U.E. Loyalists means United English Loyalists--individuals who fled
from the United States on the breaking out of the American war of
independence. The grants in the above column are mostly to the children
of these individuals.


The conditions in force in 1824, the time from which the Returns take
their commencement, were enacted by Orders in Council of 20th October,
1818, and 21st February, 1820, applied equally to all classes of
grantees, and were as follows:--

"That locatees shall clear thoroughly and fence five acres for every 100
acres granted; and build a house 16 feet by 20 in the clear; and to
clear one-half of the road, and chop down, without charring, one chain
in depth across the lot next to road. These road duties to be considered
as part of the five acres per 100. The whole to be completed within two
years from date of the location, and upon proof of their fulfilment
patents to issue.

"On the 14th of May, 1830, an additional stipulation was made in
locations to discharged soldiers, which required an actual residence on
their lots, in person, for five years before the issue of their patents.

"On the 14th of November, 1830, the then existing Orders in Council,
respecting settlement duties, were cancelled, and it was ordered that in
lieu thereof each locatee should clear half the road in front of his
lot, and from 10 feet in the centre of the road cut the stumps so low
that waggon wheels might pass over them. Upon proof of this, and that a
settler had been resident on the lot two years, a patent might issue.
Locatees, however, were at liberty, instead of placing settlers on their
lands, to clear, in addition to half the road on each lot, a chain in
depth across the front, and to sow it and the road with grass seed.

"Upon discharged soldiers and seamen alone, under this order, it became
imperative to reside on and improve their lands three years before the
issue of the patent.

"On the 24th of May, 1832, an Order in Council was made, abolishing, in
all cases except that of discharged soldiers and seamen, the regulations
previously existing; and which directed that, upon proof of an actual
settler being established on a lot, a patent should issue without the
condition of settlement duty."

The following extract is taken from "official information" circulated by
Mr. Buchanan, and other Government emigration agents in Canada:--

"Emigrants, wishing to obtain fertile lands in the Canadas in a wild
state by purchase from the Crown, may rely on every facility being
afforded them by the public authorities. Extensive tracts are surveyed
and offered for sale in Upper Canada monthly, and frequently every 10 or
14 days, by the Commissioner of Crown lands, at upset prices, varying
according to situation from 10 shillings to 15 shillings per acre,
excepting in the townships of Sunnidale and Nottawasaga, where the upset
price of Crown lands is 5 shillings only. In Lower Canada, the
Commissioner of Crown lands at Quebec puts up land for sale, at fixed
periods, in various townships, at from 2 shillings 6 pence to 12
shillings 6 pence Halifax currency, per acre, payable by instalments.
Wild lands may also be purchased from the Upper Canada Company on very
easy terms, and those persons wanting improved farms will find little
difficulty in obtaining such from private proprietors. On no account
enter into any final engagement for your lands or farms _without
personal examination_, and be certain of the following qualifications:--
"1. A healthy situation.
"2. Good land.
"3. A pure spring, or running stream of water.
"4. In the neighbourhood of a good, moral, and religious state of
society, and schools for the education of your children.
"5. As near good roads and water transport as possible, saw and grist
"6. A good title."


Clergy Reserves sold in each year since the sales commenced under the
Act 7 and 8, Geo. IV. c. 62



[Transcription note: The data presented below was originally in the
conventional tabular row / column format.]

Row 1, Column Headings
Column 1: Year.
Column 2: Number of acres sold.
Column 3: Average price per acre.
Column 4: Amount of purchase-money received within the first year.
Column 5: Whole amount of the purchase-money.

Row 2
Column 1: 1829
Column 2: 1,100 acres
Column 3: 4 shillings, 6 pence
Column 4: 10 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pence
Column 5: 230 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pence*

Row 3
Column 1: 1830
Column 2: 9,956 acres
Column 3: 4 shillings, 9 pence
Column 4: 543 pounds, 17 shillings, 0 pence
Column 5: 1,610 pounds, 3 shillings, 0 pence*

Row 4
Column 1: 1831
Column 2: 11,332 acres
Column 3: 7 shillings, 2-3/4 pence
Column 4: 541 pounds, 7 shillings, 6 pence
Column 5: 2,665 pounds, 9 shillings, 3 pence*

Row 5
Column 1: 1832
Column 2: 6,873 acres
Column 3: 5 shillings, 8-1/2 pence
Column 4: 533 pounds, 2 shillings, 2 pence
Column 5: 1,278 pounds, 11 shillings, 8 pence

Row 6
Column 1: 1833
Column 2: 37,278 acres
Column 3: 8 shillings, 2-1/4 pence
Column 4: 3,454 pounds, 11 shillings, 6 pence
Column 5: 12,791 pounds, 17 shillings, 5 pence

Row 7
Column 1: Totals
Column 2: 66,539 acres
Column 3: -
Column 4: -
Column 5: 18,576 pounds, 1 shillings, 4 pence

The number of years within which the whole amount of the purchase-money
is to be paid is three.

* On sales on quit rent, at 5 per cent., the capital redeemable at

N.B. Sales on quit-rent ceased in 1832.




[Transcription note: The data presented below was originally in the
conventional tabular row / column format.]

Row 1, Column Headings
Column 1: Year.
Column 2: Number of acres sold.
Column 3: Average price per acre.
Column 4: Amount of purchase-money received within the first year.
Column 5: Whole amount of the purchase-money.

Row 2
Column 1: 1829
Column 2: 18,014 acres
Column 3: 14 shillings, 8-1/4 pence
Column 4: 2,464 pounds, 14 shillings, 0 pence
Column 5: 13,229 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pence

Row 3
Column 1: 1830
Column 2: 34,705
Column 3: 13 shillings, 6 pence
Column 4: 6,153 pounds, 5 shillings, 9 pence
Column 5: 23,452 pounds, 4 shillings, 0 pence

Row 4
Column 1: 1831
Column 2: 28,563 acres
Column 3: 12 shillings, 1-3/4 pence
Column 4: 8,010 pounds, 2 shillings, 11 pence
Column 5: 17,362 pounds, 12 shillings, 1 pence

Row 6
Column 1: 1832
Column 2: 48,484 acres
Column 3: 13 shillings, 3-3/4 pence
Column 4: 10,239 pounds, 9 shillings, 7 pence
Column 5: 32,287 pounds, 19 shillings, 0 pence

Row 7
Column 1: 1833
Column 2: 62,282 acres
Column 3: 14 shillings, 4-1/2 pence
Column 4: 14,080 pounds, 16 shillings, 8 pence
Column 5: 44,747 pounds, 19 shillings, 9 pence

Row 8
Column 1: Totals
Column 2: 192,049 acres
Column 3: -
Column 4: -
Column 5: 131,079 pounds, 14 shillings, 10 pence

The whole amount of the purchase-money to be paid in nine years. In
addition to the purchase-money paid, interest has also been paid with
each instalment, a statement of which is as follows:--

Interest received in 1829: 1 pound, 7 shillings, 3 pence currency.
Interest received in 1830: 62 pound, 16 shillings, 1 pence currency.
Interest received in 1831: 259 pound, 14 shillings, 9 pence currency.
Interest received in 1832: 473 pound, 17 shillings, 2 pence currency.
Interest received in 1833: 854 pound, 4 shillings, 3 pence currency.



In the year 1832 a little pamphlet of advice to emigrants was issued by
his Majesty's Commissioners for Emigration*, which contained some useful
information in a small compass. The Commission no longer exists. In lieu
of it, J. Denham Pinnock, Esq., has been appointed by Government His
Majesty's agent for the furtherance of emigration from England to the
British Colonies. Letters on the subject of emigration should be
addressed to this gentleman at the Colonial Office, under cover to the
Colonial Secretary of State. One chief object of his appointment is to
afford facilities and information to parish authorities and landed
proprietors desirous of furthering the emigration of labourers and
others from their respective districts, especially with reference to the
emigration clause of the Poor Laws Amendment Act. The following
Government emigration agents have also been appointed at the respective
ports named:--

Liverpool ...Lieut. Low, R.N.
Bristol ... Lieut. Henry, R.N.
Leith ... Lieut. Forrest, R.N.
Greenock ... Lieut. Hemmans, R.N.
Dublin ... Lieut. Hodder, R.N.
Cork ... Lieut. Friend, R.N.
Limerick ... Lieut. Lynch, R.N.
Belfast ... Lieut. Millar, R.N.
Sligo ... Lieut. Shuttleworth, R.N.

And at Quebec, A. C. Buchanan, Esq., the chief Government emigration
agent, will afford every information to all emigrants who seek his

[* "Information published by His Majesty's Commissioners for Emigration,
respecting the British Colonies in North America." London, C. Knight,
1832. Price _twopence_.]

The following is an extract from the pamphlet published in 1832:--

"Passages to Quebec or New Brunswick may either be engaged _inclusive_
of provisions, or _exclusive_ of provisions, in which case the ship-
owner finds nothing but water, fuel, and bed places, without bedding.
Children under 14 years of age are charged one-half, and under 7 years
of age one-third of the full price, and for children under 12 months of
age no charge is made. Upon these conditions the price of passage from
London, or from places on the east coast of Great Britain, has generally
been 6 pounds with provisions, or 3 pounds without. From Liverpool,
Greenock, and the principal ports of Ireland, as the chances of delay
are fewer, the charge is somewhat lower; this year [1832] it will
probably be from 2 pounds to 2 pounds, 10 shillings without provisions,
or from 4 pounds to 5 pounds, including provisions. It is possible that
in March and April passages may be obtained from Dublin for 1 pound, 15
shillings or even 1 pound, 10 shillings; but the prices always grow
higher as the season advances. In ships sailing from Scotland or
Ireland, it has mostly been the custom for passengers to find their own
provisions; but this practice has not been so general in London, and
some shipowners, sensible of the dangerous mistakes which may be made in
this matter through ignorance, are very averse to receive passengers who
will not agree to be victualled by the ship. Those who do resolve to
supply their own provisions, should at least be careful not to lay in an
insufficient stock; fifty days is the shortest period for which it is
safe to provide, and from London the passage is sometimes prolonged to
seventy-five days. The best months for leaving England are certainly
March and April; the later emigrants do not find employment so abundant,
and have less time in the colony before the commencement of winter."

From a printed paper, issued by Mr. Buchanan at Quebec, the following
statements are taken: (the paper is dated July, 1835).

"There is nothing of more importance to emigrants, on arrival at Quebec,
than correct information on the leading points connected with their
future pursuits. Many have suffered much by a want of caution, and by
listening to the opinions of interested, designing characters, who
frequently offer their advice unsolicited, and who are met generally
about wharfs and landing-places frequented by strangers: to guard
emigrants from falling into such errors, they should, immediately on
arrival at Quebec, proceed to the office of the chief agent for
emigrants, Sault-au-Matelot Street, Lower Town, where every information
requisite for their future guidance in either getting settlements on
lands, or obtaining employment in Upper or Lower Canada, will be
obtained _gratis_. On your route from Quebec to your destination you
will find many plans and schemes offered to your consideration, but turn
away from them unless you are well satisfied of the purity of the
statements: on all occasions when you stand in need of advice, apply
only to the Government agents, who will give every information required,

"Emigrants are informed that they may remain on board ship 48 hours
after arrival, nor can they be deprived of any of their usual
accommodations for cooking or berthing during that period, and the
master of the ship is bound to disembark the emigrants and their baggage
_free of expense_, at the usual landing places, and at seasonable hours.
_They should avoid drinking the water of the river St. Lawrence, which
has a strong tendency to produce bowel complaints in strangers_.

"Should you require to change your English money, go to some respectable
merchant or dealer, or the banks: the currency in the Canadas is at the
rate of 5 shillings the dollar, and is called Halifax currency; at
present the gold sovereign is worth, in Quebec and Montreal, about 1
pound, 4 shillings, 1 pence currency. In New York 8 shillings is
calculated for the dollar, hence many are deceived when hearing of the
rates of labour, &c.--5 shillings in Canada is equal to 8 shillings in
New York; thus 8 shillings New York currency is equivalent to 5
shillings Halifax currency.

"Emigrants who wish to settle in Lower Canada or to obtain employment,
are informed that many desirable situations are to be met with. Wild
lands may be obtained by purchase from the Commissioner of Crown Lands
in various townships in the province, and the British American Land
Company are making extensive preparations for selling lands and farms in
the Eastern Townships to emigrants.

"Farm labourers are much wanted in all the districts of Upper Canada,
and, if industrious, they may be sure of obtaining very high wages;
mechanics of almost every description, and good servants, male and
_female_, are much in request.

"Emigrants proceeding to Upper Canada, either by the Ottawa or St.
Lawrence route, are advised to supply themselves with provisions at
Montreal, such as bread, tea, sugar, and butter, which they will
purchase cheaper and of _better quality_, until they reach Kingston,
than along the route. They are also particularly cautioned against the
use of _ardent spirits or drinking cold river water_, or lying on the
banks of the river exposed to the night dews; they should proceed at
once from the steam-boat at Montreal to _the entrance of the Canal_ or
Lachine, from whence the Durham and steam-boats start for Prescott and
Bytown daily. The total expense for the transport of an adult emigrant
from Quebec to Toronto and the head of Lake Ontario, by steam and
Durham-boats, will not exceed 1 pound, 4 shillings currency, or 1 pound,
1 shilling sterling. Kingston, Belleville, up the Bay of Quinte,
Cobourgh, and Port Hope, in the Newcastle district, Hamilton and Niagara
at the head of Lake Ontario, will be convenient stopping-places for
families intending to purchase lands in Upper Canada.

"There is considerable competition among the Forwarding Companies at
Montreal; emigrants therefore had better exercise a little caution
before agreeing for their transport to Prescott or Kingston, and they
should avoid those persons that crowd on board the steam-boats on
arrival at Montreal, offering their services to get passages, &c.
Caution is also necessary at Prescott or Kingston, in selecting regular
conveyances up Lake Ontario. I would particularly advise emigrants
destined for Upper Canada, not to incur the expense of lodging or delay
at Montreal, but to proceed on arrival of the steam-boat to the barges
for Bytown or Prescott.

"Labourers or mechanics dependent on immediate employment, are requested
to proceed immediately on arrival into the country. The chief agent will
consider such persons as may loiter about the ports of landing beyond
_four days_ after their arrival, to have no further claims on the
protection of his Majesty's agents for assistance or employment, unless
they have been detained by sickness or some other satisfactory cause."


Comparative Statement of the number of Emigrants arrived at Quebec from
1829 to 1834 inclusive:--

[Transcription note: The data presented below was originally in the
conventional tabular row / column format.]

England and Wales
1829: 3,565
1830: 6,799
1831: 10,343
1832: 17,481
1833: 5,198
1834: 6,799

1829: 9,614
1830: 18,300
1831: 34,133
1832: 28,204
1833: 12,013
1834: 19,206

1829: 2,643
1830: 2,450
1831: 5,354
1832: 5,500
1833: 4,196
1834: 4,591

Hamburg & Gibraltar.
1832: 15

Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, West Indies, &c.
1829: 123
1830: 451
1831: 424
1832: 546
1833: 345
1834: 339

1829: 15,945
1830: 28,000
1831: 50,254
1832: 51,746
1833: 21,752
1834: 30,935

The total number of emigrants arrived at Quebec, from 1829 to 1834, is
198,632. It will be remarked, that the number rose high in 1831 and
1832, and fell very low in 1833.


Distribution of the 30,935 Emigrants who arrived at Quebec during 1834:-

City and District of Quebec: 1,500
District of Three Rivers: 350
District of St. Francis and Eastern Townships: 640
City and District of Montreal: 1,200
Ottawa District: 400
Total to Lower Canada: 4,090


Ottawa, Bathurst, Midland and Eastern Districts, as far as Kingston,
included: 1,000
District of Newcastle, and Townships in the vicinity of the Bay of
Quinte: 2,650
Toronto and the Home District, including Settlements around Lake Simco:
Hamilton, Guelph, and Huron Tracts, and situations adjacent: 2,660
Niagara Frontier and District, including the line of the Welland Canal,
and round the head of Lake Ontario, to Hamilton: 3,300
Settlements bordering on Lake Erie, including the London District,
Adelaide Settlement, and on to Lake St. Clair: 4,600
Total to Upper Canada: 22,210

Died of cholera in Upper and Lower Canada: 800
Returned to United Kingdom: 350
Went to the United States: 3,485
[Total:] 4,635

Of the number of 30,935 Emigrants who arrived at Quebec in 1834, there
were of:--

Voluntary emigrants: 29,041
Assisted by parochial aid: 1,892
Number of males: 13,565
Number of females: 9,683
Number of children under fourteen years of age: 7,681

Emigrants who prefer going into Canada by way of New York will receive
advice and direction by applying to the British Consul at New York
(James Buchanan, Esq.) Formerly this gentleman could procure for
emigrants who were positively determined to settle in the Canadas,
permission to land their baggage and effects free of custom-house duty;
but in a letter dated 16th March, 1835, he says:--

"In consequence of a change in the truly liberal course heretofore
adopted at this port, in permitting, without unpacking or payment of
duty, of the personal baggage, household, and farming utensils of
emigrants landing here to pass in transit through this state to his
Majesty's provinces, upon evidence being furnished of the fact, and that
such packages alone contained articles of the foregoing description, I
deem it my duty to make known that all articles arriving at this port
accompanying emigrants in transit to Canada, will be subject to the same
inspection as if to remain in the United States, and pay the duties to
which the same are subjected. I think it proper to mention that all
articles suited to new settlers are to be had in Canada on better terms
than they can be brought out--and such as are adapted to the country."

The difference between proceeding to Upper Canada by way of Quebec and
New York, consists chiefly in the circumstance that the port of New York
is open all the year round, while the navigation of the St. Lawrence up
to Quebec and Montreal is tedious, and the river is only open between
seven and eight months of the year. The latter is, however, the cheapest
route. But to those who can afford it, New York is the most comfortable
as well as the most expeditious way of proceeding to Upper Canada.

The route, as given in a printed paper, distributed by the British
consul at New York, is as follows:--

"Route from New York and Albany by the Erie Canal to all parts of Upper
Canada, west of Kingston, by the way of Oswego and Buffalo:--

New York to Albany, 160 miles by steam-boat.
Albany to Utica, 110 do. by canal or stage.
Utica to Syracuse, 55 do. by canal or stage.
Syracuse to Oswego, 40 do. by canal or stage.
Syracuse to Rochester, 99 do. by canal or stage.
Rochester to Buffalo, 93 do. by canal or stage.

Total expense from Albany to Buffalo, by canal, exclusive of victuals
for an adult steerage passenger--time going about 7 or 8 days--3 dollars
63 cents; ditto by packet-boats, and found, 12-1/4 dollars, 6 days

"Ditto do. by stage, in 3-1/2 and 4 days--13 to 15 dollars.

"Ditto do. from Albany to Oswego by canal, 5 days going, 2-1/2 dollars.

"Ditto do. by stage, 2 days--6-1/2 to 7 dollars.

"No extra charge for a moderate quantity of baggage.

"Route from New York to Montreal, Quebec, and all parts of Lower

"New York to Albany, 160 miles by steam-boat, 1 to 3 dollars, exclusive
of food.

"Albany to Whitehall, by canal, 73 miles, 1 dollar; stage 3 dollars.

"Whitehall to St. John's, by steam-boat, board included, cabin 5
dollars; deck passage 2 dollars without board.

"St. John's to Laprairie, 16 miles per stage, 5 shillings to 7 shillings
6 pence.

"Laprairie to Montreal, per ferry steam-boat, 8 miles. 6 pence.

"Montreal to Quebec, by steam-boat, 180 miles, cabin, found, 1 pound, 5
shillings; deck passage, not found, 7 shillings 6 pence.

"Those proceeding to the eastern townships of Lower Canada, in the
vicinity of Sherbrooke, Stanstead, &c., &c., will proceed to St. John's,
from whence good roads lead to all the settled townships eastward. If
they are going to the Ottawa River, they will proceed from Montreal and
Lachine, from whence stages, steamboats, and batteaux go daily to
Grenville, Hull, and Bytown, as also to Chateauguay, Glengary, Cornwall,
Prescott, and all parts below Kingston.

"Emigrants can avail themselves of the advice and assistance of the
following gentlemen:--at Montreal, Carlisle Buchanan, Esq.; Prescott,
John Patton, Esq."


Number of Emigrants who arrived at New York from the United Kingdom for
six years, from 1829 to 1834:--


[Transcription note: The data presented below was originally in the
conventional tabular row / column format.]

Row 1. Headings
Column 1: Year.
Column 2: England.
Column 3: Ireland.
Column 4: Scotland.
Column 5: Total.

Row 2
Column 1: 1829
Column 2: 8,110
Column 3: 2,443
Column 4: 948
Column 5: 11,501

Row 3
Column 1: 1830
Column 2: 16,350
Column 3: 3,497
Column 4: 1,584
Column 5: 21,433

Row 4
Column 1: 1831
Column 2: 13,808
Column 3: 6,721
Column 4: 2,078
Column 5: 22,607

Row 5
Column 1: 1832
Column 2: 18,947
Column 3: 6,050
Column 4: 3,286
Column 5: 28,283

Row 6
Column 1: 1833
Column 2: -
Column 3: -
Column 4: -
Column 5: 16,000

Row 7
Column 1: 1834*
Column 2: -
Column 3: -
Column 4: -
Column 5: 26,540

Row 8
Column 1: Total
Column 2: -
Column 3: -
Column 4: -
Column 5: 126,464

* The returns for 1834 are made up to the 20th November of that year.



The 9th Geo. IV., c. 21, commonly called the "American Passengers' Act,"
was repealed during the Session of 1835, by an Act then passed, the 5
and 6 Will. IV., c. 53. The intention of the new Act is, of course, to
secure, as effectually as possible, and more effectually than the
previous Act did, the health and comfort of emigrants on board of
passenger ships. By a clause of the Act, copies or abstracts are to be
kept on board ships for the perusal of passengers, who may thus have an
opportunity of judging whether the law has been complied with; but the
discovery of any infractions of the Statute may be made at a time when,
in the particular instance, it may be too late to remedy it, so far as
the comfort and even the health of the passengers are concerned. It is
to be hoped, therefore, that the humane intentions of the legislature
will not be frustrated by any negligence on the part of those
(especially of the officers of customs) whose business it is to see that
the regulations of the Act have been complied with before each emigrant
ship leaves port.

No passenger ship is to sail with more than three persons on board for
every five tons of registered burthen. Nor, whatever may be the tonnage,
is there to be a greater number of passengers on board than after the
rate of one person for every ten superficial feet of the lower deck or
platform unoccupied by goods or stores, not being the personal luggage
of the passengers.

Ships with more than one deck to have five feet and a half; at the
least, between decks; and where a ship has only one deck, a platform is
to be laid beneath the deck in such a manner as to afford a space of the
height of at least five feet and a half, and no such ship to have more
than two tiers of berths. Ships having two tiers of berths to have an
interval of at least six inches between the deck or platform, and the
floor of the lower tier throughout the whole extent.

Passenger ships are to be provisioned in the following proportion:--pure
water, to the amount of five gallons, to every week of the computed
voyage, for each passenger--the water to be carried in tanks or sweet
casks; seven pounds' weight of bread, biscuit, oatmeal, or bread stuffs,
to every week for each passenger; potatoes may be included to one-third
of the extent of supply, but seven pounds' weight of potatoes are to be
reckoned equal to one pound of bread or bread stuffs. The voyage to
North America is to be computed at ten weeks, by which each passenger
will be secured fifty gallons of water, and seventy pounds weight of
bread or bread stuffs for the voyage.

Where there are 100 passengers, a medical practitioner is to be carried;
if under 100, medicines of sufficient amount and kind are to be taken
out as part of the necessary supplies.

Passenger ships are not to be allowed to carry out ardent spirits as
merchandise beyond one-tenth of the quantity as would, but for this
restriction, be allowed by the officers of the customs upon the
victualling bill of such ship for the outward voyage only, according to
the number of passengers.

[An important restriction, which ought to be enforced to the letter of
the law. The strong temptation which the tedium of a voyage presents to
numbers pinned up in a small space to resort to drinking, has frequently
made sad havoc of the money, comfort, and health of emigrants, when,
especially, the ship steward has contrived to lay in a good stock of
strong waters.]

In the enumeration of passengers, _two_ children above seven, but under
fourteen, or _three_ under seven years of age, are to be reckoned as one
passenger. Infants under 12 months are not to be included in the

Passengers are entitled to be maintained on board for 48 hours after the
ship has arrived at her destination. [Emigrants whose means are limited
may thus avoid much inconvenience and expense, by planning and executing
with promptitude the route which they mean to take, instead of landing,
and loitering in the expensive houses of entertainment of a sea-port.]

Masters of ships are to enter into bonds of 1,000 pounds for the due
performance of the provisions of the Act. The penalty on any infraction
of the law is to be not less than 5 pounds, nor more than 20 pounds for
each offence.

[The government emigration agents at the various ports, or the officers
of customs, will doubtless give every facility to passengers who seek
their advice relative to any violation of the provisions of the Act, and
point out the proper course to be taken.]

If there be any doubt that a ship about to sail is not sea-worthy, the
collector and comptroller of the customs may cause the vessel to be
surveyed. Passengers detained beyond the time contracted for to sail,
are to be maintained at the expense of the master of the ship; or, if
they have contracted to victual themselves, they are to be paid 1
shilling each for each day of detention not caused by stress of weather
or other unavoidable cause.



It is, of course, of the greatest importance to emigrants that whatever
capital they may possess, over the necessary expenses of the voyage,
&c., should be remitted to Canada in the _safest_ and most _profitable_
manner. Both the British American Land Company and the Canada Company
afford facilities to emigrants, by receiving deposits and granting
letters of credit on their agents in Canada, by which the emigrants
obtain the benefit of the current premium of exchange. It is unsafe and
injudicious to carry out a larger amount of specie than what will defray
the necessary expenses of the voyage, because a double risk is
incurred,--the danger of losing, and the temptation of squandering. The
emigrant, therefore, who does not choose to remit his money through
either of the before-mentioned companies, should procure a letter of
credit from some respectable bank in the United Kingdom on the Montreal



In all the British North American colonies accounts are kept and prices
are quoted in pounds, shillings, and pence, as in England. The accounts
are contra-distinguished by calling the former currency, or Halifax
currency, and the latter sterling or British sterling.

The one pound Halifax currency, or currency, as it is more commonly
called, consists of four Spanish dollars. The dollar is divided into
five parts--called in Spanish pistoreens--each of which is termed a
shilling. Each of these shillings or pistoreens is again subdivided into
twelve parts, called pence, but improperly, for there is no coin
answering to any such subdivision. To meet the want a great variety of
copper coins are used, comprising the old English halfpenny, the
halfpenny of later coinage, the penny, the farthing, the American cent.;
all and each pass as the twenty-fourth part of the pistoreen or colonial
shilling. Pence in fact are not known, though almost anything of the
copper kind will be taken as the twenty-fourth part of the pistoreen.*

[* The Americans also have their 1 shilling, which is the eighth part of
a dollar, or 12-1/2 cents. It is no uncommon thing to hear the emigrant
boast that he can get 10 shillings per day in New York. He knows not
that a dollar, which is equal to eight of these shillings, is in England
equivalent but to 4 shillings 2 pence, and that the American shilling
is, therefore, when compared with the English shilling in value, only
6-1/4 pence, and consequently, that 10 shillings a day is, in fact, but
ten 6-1/4 pence or 5 shillings 2-1/2 pence. This rate of payment it may
be said is still great; so it is, but it is not often obtained by the
labourer; when it is, it is for excessive labour, under a burning sun in
sea-port towns, during the busy shipping season.]

At a time when the Spanish dollar, the piece of eight, as it was then
called, was both finer and heavier than the coin now in circulation, its
value at the mint price of silver** was found to be 4 shilling 6 pence
sterling. Accordingly, the pound currency was fixed at 18 shillings
sterling, and 90 pounds sterling was equal to 100 pounds currency, the
rules of conversion being, _add one-ninth to sterling to obtain
currency, and deduct one tenth from currency to find the sterling_. This
was called the par of exchange, and was so then. So long as it continued
correct, fluctuations were from a trifle above, to a trifle below par,
and this fluctuation was a real _premium_ or _discount_, governed by the
cost of the transportation of bullion from the one to the other side of
the Atlantic, an expense which now does not exceed, and rarely equals, 2
per cent. 4 shilling 6 pence has long ceased to be the value of the
dollar. Both the weight and purity of the coin have been reduced, until
its value in the London market*** is not more than 4 shillings 2 pence,
the pound currency being consequently reduced to 16 shillings 8 pence
sterling and 100 pounds sterling become equivalent to 120 pounds
currency, or 480 dollars, the common average rate now given for the 100
pounds sterling bill of exchange in England.

[** The mint price then coincided more nearly with the market price than
at present.]

[*** It is necessary to use the market price, as the difference between
the mint and the market price is 4 per cent., and as the Spanish dollar
possesses no conventional value, it is only worth what it will bring as
an article of traffic.]

The Government, however, still sanction, nay, will not change, the old
language, so that the difference is made up by adding what is commonly
termed a _premium_. The difference between the _real_ par, 4 shillings
2 pence, and the nominal par, 4 shillings 6 pence, is 4 pence or eight per
cent. Thus the fluctuations, instead of being from 1 to 2 per cent.
below, to 1 or 2 per cent. above the _real_ par, are from 1 to 2 per
cent. below, to 1 to 2 per cent. above 8 per cent. _premium_ as it is
called on the _nominal_ par, or from 6 or 7 to 9 or 10 per cent.
_premium_ on the par. This leads to gross deception, and the emigrant in
consequence is not unfrequently outrageously cheated by parties
accounting to him for money obtained by sale of bills, minus this or
some portion of this nominal premium. Nothing is more common than to
hear the new comer boast that he has sold his bill on England for 8 per
cent. premium, while in fact he has not received _par_ value. As by the
above changes 100 pounds sterling is shewn to be equal to 120 currency,
or 480 dollars, the rule of conversion, in the absence of a law, where
no understanding to the contrary existed, should be, _add one-fifth to
sterling money, and currency is obtained, or deduct one-sixth from
currency, and sterling is found._ An examination of the exchanges for
ten years has proved this to be correct.



The Canada Company was incorporated by royal charter and Act of
Parliament in 1826. The following are extracts from the prospectus of
the Company:--

"The Canada Company have lands for sale in almost every part of the
province of Upper Canada, on terms which cannot fail to be highly
advantageous to the emigrant, as from the Company requiring only one-
fifth of the purchase-money to be paid in cash, and allowing the
remainder to be divided into five annual payments, bearing interest, the
settler, if industrious, is enabled to pay the balance from the produce
of the land.

"The lands of the Canada Company are of three descriptions, viz.--

Scattered reserves:
Blocks or tracts of land, of from 1,000 to 40,000 acres each;
The Huron tract, containing upwards of 1,000,000 acres.

"_Scattered reserves_. The scattered crown reserves are lots of land of
from 100 to 200 acres each, distributed through nearly every township in
the province, and partaking of the soil, climate, &c., of each
particular township. These lands are especially desirable for persons
who may have friends settled in their neighbourhood, and can be obtained
at prices varying from 8 shillings 9 pence to 25 shillings currency an

"_Blocks of Land._ The blocks or tracts lie entirely in that part of the
province situated to the westward of the head of Lake Ontario, and
contain lands which, for soil, climate, and powers of production, are
equal, and perhaps superior, to any on the continent of America. These
are worthy the attention of communities of emigrants, who from country,
relationship, religion, or any other bond, wish to settle together.

"The largest block of this kind in the Company's possession is the
township of Guelph, containing upwards of 40,000 acres, of which the
greater part has been already sold, and, in the space of a few years
only, a town has been established, containing churches, schools, stores,
taverns, and mills, and where there are mechanics of every kind, and a
society of a highly respectable description.

"_The Huron Territory_. This is a tract of the finest land in America,
through which the Canada Company have cut two roads of upwards of 100
miles in extent, of the best description of which a new country admits.

The population there is rapidly on the increase.

"The town of Goderich, at the mouth of the river Maitland, on Lake
Huron, is very flourishing, and contains several excellent stores, or
merchants' shops, in which any article usually required by a settler is
to be obtained on reasonable terms. There is a good school established,
which is well attended; a Church of England and a Presbyterian clergyman
are appointed there; and as the churches in Upper Canada are now
principally supported by the voluntary subscriptions of their respective
congregations, an inference may be drawn of the respectable character of
the inhabitants of this settlement and the neighbourhood. The town and
township of Goderich contain about 1,000 inhabitants; and since the
steam-boat, built by the Company for the accommodation of their
settlers, has commenced running between Goderich and Sandwich, a great
increase has taken place in the trade and prosperity of the settlement.
In this tract there are four good saw-mills, three grist-mills, and in
the neighbourhood of each will be found stores well supplied. And as the
tract contains a million acres, the greater portion of which is open for
sale, an emigrant or body of emigrants, however large, can have no
difficulty in selecting eligible situations, according to their
circumstances, however various they may be. The price of these lands is
from 11 shillings 3 pence to 15 shillings provincial currency, or about
from 11 shillings to 13 shillings 6 pence sterling per acre."

Emigrants wishing to communicate with the Company should address the
secretary, John Perry Esq., St. Helen's-place, Bishopsgate-street,
London, or the Company's agents at outports.



The British American Land Company state, in their prospectus, that they
have purchased from the British Government "nearly 1,000,000 of acres in
the counties of Shefford, Stanstead, and Sherbrooke," in what are termed
"the Eastern Townships of Lower Canada." These townships comprise "a
tract of country, lying inland, on the south side of the St. Lawrence,
between 45 degrees and 46-1/2 degrees north latitude, and 71 degrees and
73 degrees west longitude. This tract, containing between five and six
millions of acres, is divided into eight counties, and these again are
subdivided into about one hundred townships. These townships enjoy an
important advantage in their geographical position. On the one side,
they are of easy access from Montreal, Quebec, and Three Rivers, the
shipping ports and great markets of the Canadas; on the other, from New
York up the Hudson River and through Lake Champlain, as well as from
Boston and other parts on the seaboard of the Atlantic. By their compact
and contiguous position, facility of intercourse and mutual support are
ensured throughout the whole, as well as a general participation in all
local improvements."

The terms on which the Company propose to dispose of these lands "vary
according to the situation, quality, and advantages which the different
lots may possess; but in the first instance they will generally range
from 4 shillings to 10 shillings currency per acre, and in all cases a
deposit of part of the purchase-money will be required, viz.:--On the
higher priced lots one-fifth; on the lower priced lots one-fourth.

"The terms of payment for the balance will be six annual instalments,
bearing the legal interest of the province from the date of sale; but
should purchasers prefer anticipating the payments, they will have the
option at any time of doing so.

"The price of a building lot at Port St. Francis, for the present season
(1835), is 12 pounds 10 shillings, payable 5 pounds cash down, and the
balance in one year, with interest.

"Deposits of purchase-money may be made with the Company in London for
lands to be selected by emigrants on their arrival in the country.

"By the agreement between his Majesty's Government and the Company,
upwards of 50,000 pounds of the purchase-money paid by the latter are to
be expended by them in public works and improvements, such as high
roads, bridges, canals, school-houses, market-houses, churches, and
parsonage-houses. This is an extremely important arrangement, and must
prove highly beneficial to settlers, as it assures to them the
improvement and advancement of this district. The formation of roads and
other easy communications are the great wants of a new country; and the
application of capital on works of this nature, which are beyond the
means of private individuals, is the best mode by which the successful
settlement may be promoted and accomplished.

"The expenditure of the large sum above mentioned, will offer at the
same time an opportunity of employment to honest and industrious
labourers, immediately on arrival."

The office of the British American Land Company is at 4, Barge-yard,
Bucklersbury, London: they have also agents at the various outports.


Transcription note: Except for the tables in the Appendix, which have
been reformatted to accommodate the presentation of tables in plain text,
this transcription attempts to faithfully reproduce the text and
punctuation found in the 1836 printed version of the book.  As a
consequence, numerous instances of spelling and punctuation may appear
incorrect by current standards.

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