Bearing Witness: Stephen De Vere’s Famine Diary (1847-1848)
The Bearing Witness: Stephen De Vere’s Famine Diary (1847-1848) section features the remarkable, unpublished diary of Stephen De Vere. Stephen De Vere had travelled below deck in the steerage of a transatlantic vessel with Irish emigrants in 1847 to expose the harrowing conditions on board coffin ships; his letter to Thomas Frederick Elliot on 30 November, 1847 shocked British Parliamentarians into changing the “Passenger Acts” to improve conditions for emigrants at sea. But De Vere also kept detailed diaries during his voyage and visit to Canada and Ontario in 1847 and 1848 that provide rich descriptions of its natural landscapes, social customs and political contexts in which Irish emigrants started new lives. They have never been published and are made accessible through this exhibit for the first time.
Dr Jane Maxwell, Principal Curator, Manuscripts and Archives Research Library, Trinity College Dublin, on Stephen De Vere’s Diary
Stephen De Vere’s Estate at Curragh Chase, County Limerick
Stephen De Vere (1812-1904) was one of the most influential eyewitnesses of the Irish Famine migration of 1847. He was born into an aristocratic Anglo-Irish Protestant family that owned a large estate at Curragh Chase, County Limerick.
Despite his wealth, De Vere felt closest to the Irish Catholic tenants on his estate, many of whom he sought to help escape from Ireland when it was stricken by the Great Hunger in 1847.
Sailing in the Steerage of a Coffin ship
In April of 1847, Stephen De Vere sailed with his former tenants across the Atlantic Ocean to help them start new lives in Canada. Although he could afford to stay in a cabin on board ship, he risked his life travelling below deck in the steerage class. He sought to bear witness to suffering of Irish emigrants at sea. De Vere personally escorted those who were at risk of starvation to help them resettle near London, Ontario. He hoped that he would inspire others to follow in his footsteps. His story is recorded in his remarkable red leather-bound diary that has been digitized in this exhibit. It provides a harrowing account of the hardships experienced by Irish emigrants during the trans-Atlantic crossing and after they arrived in Quebec and Ontario.
Stephen De Vere was a keen observer of his surroundings on board ship and on land. He kept detailed notes as he journeyed up the St Lawrence River to Quebec City and Montreal, and then on to Ontario by steam boat. De Vere travelled extensively throughout Ontario in 1847-1848, and then returned to Ireland. On 30 November, 1847, he wrote a letter while he was in Toronto to Thomas Frederick Elliot that described the horrific conditions Irish emigrants experienced on board “coffin ships” as well as steam boats on Lake Ontario. Although visual images of these “coffin ships” were circulated in publications such as the Illustrated London News, eyewitness written accounts of the conditions in the steerage were very rare.
“Before the emigrant has been a week at sea he is an altered man”
De Vere’s letter had a profound impact on British parliamentarians after it was read aloud by the Colonial Secretary, Earl Grey, in House of Lords
and reproduced in the British Parliamentary Papers. It remains the most widely cited description of the Famine voyage:
461. Can you lay a Copy of that Letter before the Committee?
I will do so.
The same is delivered in, and read as follows:
My dear sir, London, Canada, West. November 30, 1847.
I HAVE to thank you for sending me the Report of the Colonisation Committee of last
year, the evidence contained in which (though I have not yet had time fully to go through it)
proves to one the value of emigration at home, and confirms the opinions I had already formed of the benefit likely to result to the colonies from it.
The emigration of the past year was enormous, though deriving no assistance from Government until its arrival here. The mortality also was very great. During the next year, the
number of emigrants will probably be still larger; and I fear we shall have a repetition of the
mortality if the errors which experience has detected be not promptly and liberally corrected.
I shall not regret the disasters of the last two years if their warning voice shall have stimulated and enabled us to effect a system of emigration leading to future colonisation, which shall gradually heal the diseased and otherwise incurable state of society at home, and, at the same time, infuse a spirit into the colonies, which shall render them the ornament, the wealth, and the bulwark of the parent country.
We have no right to cure the evil of over-population by a process of decimation, nor can emigration be serviceable in Canada unless the emigrants arrive in a sound state, both of body and mind. I say ‘both of body and mind,’ because clamour in Canada has been equally directed against the diseased condition and the listless indolence of this year’s emigrants; but, while I admit the Justice of that clamour to a certain extent, I must protest against the injustice of those here who complain that the young and vigorous should be accompanied by the more helpless members of their families whom they are bound to protect; and I cannot but remember that famine and fever were a divine dispensation inflicted last year upon nearly the whole world, and that the colony could not reasonably expect to be wholly exempt from the
misfortunes of the parent state.
The fearful state of disease and debility in which the Irish emigrants have reached Canada must undoubtedly be attributed in a great degree to the destitution and consequent sickness prevailing in Ireland; but has been much aggravated by the neglect of cleanliness, ventilation and a generally good state of social economy during the passage, and has been afterwards increased, and disseminated throughout the whole country by the mal-arrangements of the Government system of emigrant relief. Having myself submitted to the privations of a steerage passage in an emigrant ship for nearly two months, in order to make myself acquainted with the condition of the emigrant from the beginning, I can state from experience that the present regulations for ensuring health and comparative comfort to passengers are wholly insufficient, and that they are not, and cannot be enforced, notwithstanding the great zeal and high abilities of the Government agents.
Before the emigrant has been a week at sea he is an altered man. How can it be otherwise? Hundreds of poor people, men, women, and children of all ages, from the drivelling idiot of ninety to the babe just born, huddled together without light, without air, wallowing in filth, and breathing a fetid atmosphere, sick in body and despair at heart, the fevered patients lying between the sound in sleeping places so narrow as almost to deny them the power of indulging, by a change of position, the natural restlessness of the disease, by their agonized ravings disturbing those around them and predisposing them, through the effects of the imagination, to imbibe the contagion; living without food or medicine except as administered by the hand of casual charity, dying without the voice of spiritual consolation and buried in the deep without the rites of the Church.
The food is generally unselected and seldom sufficiently cooked. The supply of water, hardly enough for cooking and drinking, does not allow washing. In many ships the filthy beds, teeming with all abominations, are never required to be brought on deck and aired. The narrow space between the sleeping berths and the piles of boxes is never washed or scraped, but breathes up a damp fetid stench, until the day before arrival at quarantine, when all hands are required to ‘scrub up’ and put on a fair face for the doctor and government inspector. No moral restraint is attempted. The voice of prayer is never heard. Drunkenness, with its consequent train of ruffianly debasement, is not discouraged, because it is profitable to the captain who traffics in the grog.
In the ship which brought me out from London last April, the passengers were found in provisions by the owners, according to a contract, and furnished scale of dietary. The meat was of the worst quality. The supply of water shipped on board was abundant, but the quantity served out to the passengers was so scanty that they were frequently obliged to throw overboard their salt provisions and rice (a most important article of their food), because they had not water enough both for the necessary cooking, and the satisfying of their raging thirst afterwards.
They could only afford water for washing by withdrawing it from the cooking of their food. I have known persons to remain for days together in their dark close berths, because they thus suffered less from hunger, though compelled, at the same time, by want of water to heave overboard their salt provisions and rice. No cleanliness was enforced;
46. MINUTES OF EVIDENCE BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE
the beds never aired; the master during the whole voyage never entered the steerage, and would listen to no complaints; the dietary contracted for was, with some exceptions, nominally supplied, though at irregular periods; but false measures were used (in which the water and several articles of dry food were served), the gallon measure containing but three quarts, which fact I proved in Quebec, and had the captain fined for; once or twice a week ardent spirits were sold indiscriminately to the passengers, producing scenes of unchecked blackguardism beyond description; and lights were prohibited, because the ship, with her open fire-grates upon deck, with lucifer matches and lighted pipes used secretly in the sleeping berths, was freighted with Government powder for the garrison of Quebec.
The case of this ship was not one of peculiar misconduct, on the contrary, I have the strongest reason to know from information which I have received from very many emigrants well-known to me who came over this year in different vessels, that this ship was better regulated and more comfortable than many that reached Canada.
Some of these evils might be prevented by a more careful inspection of the ship and her stores, before leaving port; but the provisions of the Passenger Act are insufficient to procure cleanliness and ventilation, and the machinery of the emigration agencies at the landing ports is insufficient to enforce those provisions, and to detect frauds. It is true that a clerk sometimes comes on board at the ship’s arrival in port; questions the captain or mate, and ends by asking whether any passenger means to make a complaint; but this is a mere farce, for the captain takes care to ‘keep away the crowd from the gentleman.’ Even were all to hear the question, few would venture to commence a prosecution; ignorant, friendless, penny less, disheartened, and anxious to proceed to the place of their ultimate destination.
Disease and death among the emigrants; nay, the propagation of infection throughout Canada, are not the worst consequences of this atrocious system of neglect and ill-usage. A result far worse is to be found in the utter demoralization of the passengers, both male and female, by the filth, debasement, and disease of two or three months so passed. The emigrant, enfeebled in body, and degraded in mind, even though he should have the physical power, has not the heart, has not the will to exert himself. He has lost his self-respect, his elasticity of spirit – he no longer stands erect – he throws himself listlessly upon the daily dole of Government, and, in order to earn it, carelessly lies for weeks upon the contaminated straw of a fever lazaretto.
I am aware that the Passengers’ Act has been amended during the last Session, but I have not been yet able to see the amendments. They are probably of a nature calculated to meet the cases I have detailed; but I would earnestly suggest the arrangement of every passenger ship into separate dimensions for the married, for single men, and for single women; and the appointment, from amongst themselves, of ‘monitors’ for each ward; the appropriation of an hospital ward for the sick; the providing of commodious cooking stoves and utensils, and the erection of decent privies; and the appointment, to each ship carrying more than 50 passengers, of a surgeon paid by the Government, who should be invested during the voyage with the authority of a Government emigration agent, with power to investigate all complaints at sea on the spot, and at the time of their occurrence to direct and enforce temporary redress, and to institute proceedings on arrival in port in concert with the resident emigration agent. He ought, for this purpose, to have authority to detain witnesses, and to support them during the prosecution at Government expense. I would also suggest the payment of a chaplain of the religion professed by the majority of the passengers. The sale of spirituous liquors should be prohibited except for medicinal purposes, &c., the minimum supply of water enlarged from three to four quarts.
I believe that if these precautions were adopted, the human cargoes would be landed in a moral and physical condition far superior to what they now exhibit, and that the additional expense incurred would be more than compensated by the saving effected in hospital expenses and emigrant relief.
The arrangements adopted by the Government during the past season, for the assistance of pauper emigrants after their arrival in Canada, were of three sorts, hospitals, temporary sheds, and transmission. These measures were undertaken in a spirit of liberality deserving our best gratitude; and much allowance ought to be made for imperfections of detail, which it was not easy to avoid under the peculiar and unexpected exigencies of the case; but I think I can demonstrate that much of the mortality which has desolated as well the old residents as the emigrants, may be attributed to the errors of those arrangements.
In the quarantine establishment at Grosse Isle, when I was there in June, the medical attendance and hospital accommodations were quite inadequate. The medical inspections on board were slight and hasty – hardly any questions were asked – but as the doctor walked down the file on deck, he selected those for hospital who did not look well, and, after a very slight examination, ordered them ashore. The ill-effect of this haste was two-fold: some were detained in danger who were not ill, and many were allowed to proceed who were actually in fever.
ON COLONIZATION FROM IRELAND 47
The sheds were very miserable, so slightly built as to exclude neither the heat nor the cold.No sufficient care was taken to remove the sick from the sound, or to disinfect and clean the bedding after the removal of the sick to hospitals. The very straw upon which they had lain was often allowed to become a bed for their successor; and I have known many poor families prefer to burrow under heaps of loose stones which happened to pile up near the shore rather than accept the shelter of the infected sheds.
It would, I am aware, have been difficult to have provided a more substantial shelter for the amount of destitution produced by the peculiar circumstances of the past year; but I hope that, in future, even though the number of emigrants should greatly exceed that of last year, so large an extent of pauper temporary accommodation may not be necessary, and that a better built, and better regulated house of refuge, may be provided.
Of the administration of temporary relief by food to the inmates of the sheds, I must speak in terms of the highest praise. It was a harassing and dangerous duty, and one requiring much judgment on the part of the agent, and it was performed with zeal, humanity, and good sense.
I must now advert to what has been the great blot upon the Government arrangements – the steam transmission up the country.
The great principle, that the due regulation of passenger ships is a duly of the State, is admitted by the Passengers’ Act. The Government itself enforces the heaviest penalties for the infringement of its provisions; but yet, when the Government itself undertakes to transmit emigrants from Quebec to Montreal, Kingston, and Toronto, how has it acted? I state, upon the authority of Mr. McElderry, the able and indefatigable emigrant agent at Toronto, who has fallen a victim to his zeal and humanity, that the Government made an exclusive contract with one individual for the steam transmission of all emigrants forwarded by the State, at a certain price per head, without any restrictive regulations. The consequences were frightful. I have seen small, incommodious, and ill-ventilated steamers arriving at the quay in Toronto, after a forty-eight hours passage from Montreal, freighted with fetid cargoes of 1,100 and 1,200 Government emigrants of all ages and sexes. The healthy who had just arrived from Europe, mixed with the half-recovered convalescents of the hospitals, unable, during that time, to lie down, almost to sit. In almost every boat were clearly marked cases of actual fever – in some were deaths – the dead and the living huddled together.Sometimes the crowds were stowed in open barges, and towed after the steamer, standing like pigs upon the deck of a Cork and Bristol packet. A poor woman died in the hospital here, in consequence of having been trodden down when weak and fainting in one of those barges. I have, myself, when accompanying the emigrant agent on his visit to inspect the steamer on her arrival, seen him stagger back like one struck, when first meeting the current of fetid infection, exhaled from between her decks. It is the unhesitating opinion of every man I have spoken to, including Government officers and medical men, that a large proportion of the fever throughout the country has been actually generated in the river steamers. Surely – surely this may be avoided for the future. If the entire steam navigation should be, as I am informed it was this year, in the hands of one unopposed individual, and that he should refuse to accept a contract upon reasonable terms, and with the conditions necessary for securing ventilation, comfort, and health, the Government might easily take the transmission into their own hands, put on steamers, and forward the emigrants at half of this year’s charges, not to mention the saving which would certainly be effected in hospital expenses.
The causes which produced the immense emigration of the past year still exist, and the numbers next year will probably be still larger, and we shall have a repetition of the same scenes of misery, if prompt measures be not taken for their prevention. But Government must not stop there; something must be done for the profitable employment of the emigrants. To support them is but a temporary shift; they must be enabled to become valuable Citizens to the colony.
48 MINUTES OF EVIDENCE BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE
Having become settlers, they will soon become capitalists by the increased facilities of transit and the enhanced value of produce which will result from the great works at which they have themselves assisted. Having become capitalists, they will soon become employers of other men’s labour, because they will find that that labour can be profitably employed. Their produce having found its way to the ports will stimulate commerce, and generate that commercial capital which will again by its reaction become the mainspring of social improvement and extended civilization, and Canada will open her eager arms to embrace thousands whom she would now reject, who from being locusts of the Old World will become the honey bees of the New.
If prompt and sufficient measures be adopted for the regulation of passage economy, if the arrangements for emigrant relief be liberally improved, and if an impetus be given to extensive and valuable works in Canada, I have no doubt that the government may safely give direct assistance to emigration, and that the consequences will be a present and growing relief to the distresses of the parent state, the foundation in Canada of an extensive social reform, and the rapid increase of her commercial wealth and agricultural activity, ensuring to England large importations of provisions at a period of the year when they would be most valuable.
I do not make any apologies for troubling you at such length, because you requested me to write to you upon the subject, and because I am conscious that my observations here have at least been patiently made, without prejudice or motives of self-interest, and under circumstances which have enabled me to see with my own eyes facts which have probably never been detailed to you by a wholly disinterested witness.
Believe me, my dear Sir,
Stephen E. De Vere
In De Vere’s own words:
Before the emigrant has been a week at sea he is an altered man. How could it be otherwise? Hundreds of poor people men, women, and children of all ages from the drivelling idiot of ninety to the babe just born, huddled together without light, without air, wallowing in filth and breathing a fetid atmosphere, sick in body, dispirited in heart, the fevered patients lying between the sound in sleeping places so narrow as almost to deny them the power of indulging, by a change of position, the natural restlessness of the disease, by their agonized ravings disturbing those around them and predisposing them, through the effects of the imagination, to imbibe the contagion…
“Standing Like Pigs” Irish Emigrants on Canadian Steamers
I have seen small, incommodious and ill-ventilated steamers arriving at the quay in Toronto, after a forty-eight hours passage from Montreal, freighted with fetid cargoes of 1,100 and 1,200 Government emigrants of all ages and sexes. The healthy who had just arrived from Europe, mixed with the half-recovered convalescents of the hospitals, unable, during that time, to lie down, almost to sit. In almost every boat were clearly marked cases of actual fever – in some were deaths – the dead and the living huddled together. Sometimes the crowds were stowed in open barges, and towed after the steamer, standing like pigs upon the deck of a Cork and Bristol packet. A poor woman died in the hospital here, in consequence of having been trodden down when weak and fainting in one of those barges. I have, myself, when accompanying the emigrant agent [Edward McElderry] on his visit to inspect the steamer on her arrival, seen him stagger back like one struck, when first meeting the current of fetid infection, exhaled from between her decks.
Stephen De Vere’s Famine Diary
Despite his influence, however, the fact that Stephen De Vere kept diaries during his voyage from Ireland to Canada in 1847-1848 remains little known. His story of the trans-Atlantic voyage and of his experiences in Ontario is recorded in his red leather-bound diary. It remains unpublished and is made publicly accessible for the first time in this exhibit.
In April 1847, he personally escorted his former tenants who were at risk of starvation to help them resettle near London, Ontario, in the hope that he would inspire others to follow in his footsteps. He travelled extensively in Canada West in 1847-1848 recording his impressions of Famine Irish emigrants, but then returned to Ireland.
Off Cape Breton in sight of land. Having reached banks of
Newfoundland June 3rd
Saturday June 12 1847
West of Cape Gaspe
About 250 miles from Quebec
Dead calm. Thick & incessant
Fog. Sudden tremendous squalls
From north – lasted about 5
Minutes. Ship in great
Danger. Main royal &
All studding sails set.
Sunday June 13.
Took pilot on
Board in the morning.
River narrows – vast
Woods from mountain tops
To the shore with white
Rocks & gleams of snow
Between – crowds of
Ships taking out cargoes
Of corn for Europe.
Wednesday 16th June.
Arrived at Grosse isle
Quarantine about 7 am
Detained waiting for dr
Till evening, when he
inspected & gave us clean
bill of health – abt. 40 ships
detained there – villages of white
tents on shore for the sick.
Daily mortality about 150
One ship, Sisters of Liverpool, in
With all passengers & crew in fever
Of this ship, all but the Cap’n and one girl died.
Laid alongside of “Jessy” in which
Many ill. Water covered with beds
Cooking utensils refuse of the dead.
Ghastly appearance of boats full of
sick going ashore never to return.
Several died between ship and shore.
Wives separated from husbands, children
From parents. Ascertained by
subsequent enquiry that funds
in agents hands altogether
insufficient for care.
Medical attendance bad.
Exemplary conduct of Catholic
Thursday 17th June
Towed by steamer arrived in
Quebec. Remain on board till Saturday when engaged lodgings at the
O’Connells, Champlain Street 5 ? per day
For each.. beef & mutton 6 per lb—
Lower town principally Canadian
Streets dirty, crooked, narrow, hot.
All under guns of fortress – immense
Flight of steps to Upper Town
Where stone buildings & good shops – cheating Canadians.
Fortifications of great strength
Admirable state of repair
two regiments insufficient to man
guns – Irish population well
affected to England. Irish &
Canadians dislike one another.
Two companies of firemen by
Voluntary enrolment. Occasional
Drill. Exempt from juries
Entitled to protection in case of war
For families within fortress
Country round Quebec very poor
No corn. Picturesque scenery
Rolling ground. Soft perfumed soil
Of short poor grass. Lawns with
Occasional thickets of dwarf
Spruce firs. Like a most
Beautiful pleasure ground
Of vast extent.
Canadian country houses
Beautifully neat – do not
Use beds but sleep on the
Floor in summer
Canadian horses small but
Very hardy & kind generally
Stallions. Fast trotters
Lodged complaint before Buchanan
Agst. Capt. Guthrie for false measures
of water. Capt. wants to compromise.
I refused except in presence of
Buchanan – accompanied Capt.
Before him – made him pay
£10 which I handed to Revd.
McMahon PP. for the use
Of destitute Emigrants. Revd
Acknowledged in newspapers.
Admitted to news room – English
Papers – Limerick Chronicles.
Wrote to my mother, Mick,
Stephen, Aubrey – saw many
Persons who had been working
Under my orders last winter.
All employed at about 5/ per day.
Enormous wages offered for
Loading infected ships.
8 to 10/ per day.
Price of provisions very high,
No money laid by – no work in
Winter, when people go up the
Country for work.
Left letter of directions for Mick
At Buchanan’s office.
He related his plan which he had
Proposed to Gov. General for colonisation.
Govt. to take charge of emigrants
Capital & provide cheap and well
Regulated passage – when assisted
Out, give them the worth of the
Balance in a plain log house and
A quantity of land. States that
£50 will send out a man
with wife & 3 children. Give
provisions for 15 months
utensils, 50 acres land and seed.
I suggested that to emigrants
Capital should be required in addition
A certain contribution from the
landlords. & that in place
of giving wild land & a stock of
provisions, that a portion of the money
should be advanced by the government & employed
a year before in cultivating a few acres, round
each log house, to be built
along the Halifax railroad or
elsewhere. Thus affording
employment to labourers now,
and giving the settler his supply of
food not in his store room
but on his own ground &
immediate employment to reap his
own harvest. Buchanan spoke
more favorably of the project
of the Halifax railway.
P. neill wife ill.
Thursday 24th June 5pm. 1847.
Left Quebec by John Mann steamer.
Magnificent American river steamers.
Great comfort for deck passengers.
Rapid pace. Reached Montreal at 6am.
180 miles – Rafts going down river
with shanties built upon them
great improvement of cultivation as
we ascend the river
took two rooms in Quebec suburb
at £1 per week room for self at
Daily’s hotel presented letters of introduction
To Viger Descartiers [?]
McGill visits in return Provisions
Somewhat cheaper than Quebec
Frightful mortality Emigrant
Sheds hospitals & generally
Throughout the town
Pat Neill’s wife still ill
Medical attendance cheap 2/
English per visit, a few pence for
Medicine attendance careful
& respectable clothes washing 60 or 70 shirts
Monday, 28th June
Accompanied by Roger and Hanley
Started to visit friends at Troy NY.
Lake Champlain by steamer, passing
Burlington to Whitehall
(ferry steamer to Laprarie railroad
to St. John’s rough & slow)
Fare to St. John’s ½ dollar to Whitehall.
½ dollar thence by canal to Troy.
¼ dollar left Montreal 12 noon.
Arrived at Whitehall 6am Troy 10am
Lower part of Lake Champlain very
Fine & full wooded – banks very low
and lower stems of trees and brushwood.
covered with water – widens as you
pass the lines, as you approach
Burlington, Vermont, shores become
bolder & more varied & beautiful
rocky wooded islands. Burlington
a flourishing, new looking town.
Lake narrows & becomes more winding
and very picturesque
as you come to Whitehall
canal thence to Troy, through
rich and highly cultivated country
along broad & shallow &
rapid waters of the upper
Before it reaches Troy it meets
the Erie canal. Immense
Tuesday 29 June
Troy is beautifully
situated on the Hudson which
divides the city – connection by
covered wooden bridge of
immense length – objection of
the Irish to paying toll in a
free country. Well built
city. Public buildings along
streets of wooden white houses
beautifully clean. Rows of
flourishing trees at both
sides of streets give a
cool shade. We are
most hospitably received.
P. Burns house. Extreme
comfort & cleanliness. Every
house – its clock – admirable
diet. Kindness of old to
new immigrants, even when
in fever. Surrounded once
more by my own people.
Their good clothing, respectable
appearance – manners independent,
Wednesday 30 June
Visit the great naill & rod
factory two miles from
Troy – enormous which
labour of men attending
furnaces most severe.
They work alternate hours
with no clothes but a
pair of light drawers.
rivers of perspiration flowing
from their bronzed skins
beautiful machinery [?] by which
a bar of iron being held to
mouth of each machine,
a continuous stream of
finished nails power forth
below like corn from
Thursday 1st July 1847
Visit paper factory &
Start by canal on return at
11pm comfortable night
on board canal boat
Friday 2nd July breakfast
Whitehall – Friday night
On Lake Champlain chill
& heavy J Hamly complains
of a chill – breakfast
at St. John’s reach Montreal
at 12 noon Saturday
determined to start for
L’homme propose, mais
J Hamly ill – send for
Dr so he declares it to be
Cold & hopeless he may be able
to travel on Monday.
Monday 5th July.
Hanly not better – in
Evening much worse – dreadful
Headache & pains in neck
& back. Dreaded fever.
Tuesday 6th July.
Send off my party to
Toronto remaining myself
To take care of patient.
Help Roger to inform
the rest in case it should
take the fever, but do
not allow him to see the
patient – wrote a codicil
to my will, addressed to
Samuel [?] Gerrard, and old
Gentleman of great intel-
ligence & kindness.
Thermometer in shade 100
In sun 125.
Wednesday, 7th July.
Hanly rather better.
Hottest day yet
Thermometer in sun at
Noon up to the top of the
Tube at 135 & then
Rapidly rising – no air
Thursday 8th July
Hanly almost recovered
Recd a letter from Mary Suey ment-
ioning the happy news of Mick’s
wife having had a daughter
both thriving well.
Heat greater than yesterday.
Therm. Up to 125 shade.
Friday 9th July
Hamly going on very favorably
Had a relapse towards evening
Saturday 10th July
Hanly better again
Write to Michael Ma
Go with Roger at night to
The circus. Intense heat there.
Sunday 11th July
Hanly up recovered
Peter Bridgeman arrived
Here yesterday. Attended
Divine service at St. Patrick’s
Church. Sermon by Bishop Phelan
Of Toronto who attributed
Misfortunes of Ireland to
The atrocious avarice of the
moderated by a gentle breeze.
People who have lived here
all their lives
Great mortality amongst the
Catholic clergy. Impossible to
find nurses. Grey Nuns
undertake it all not knowing
how many dead! 48 now ill.
Blessed nuns able to leave
convent to take
charge of sick orphans of
Quebec & Montreal steamers
Ill of fever.
say they never knew such
Monday 12 July
Engage place to Toronto for three – 15 Dollars
Given Peter Bridgman 2 dollars
to forward him to Troy,
To Billy Havarashik 8 dollars
To Mr Jackson balance full – 11 ½ dollars
Stage to Lachine – long and
Lumbering shore. Railroad in
Progress. Beauharnois canal
Looks admirable work and machinery
Steamer going down the rapids.
Cornwall canal by night. Much
Larger and finer work – cannot
Bear heat of the fur cloak sleeping
On deck. Thence up to Prescott
Can stem the rapids. Numerous
Wooded islands deeply indented
Can make you think of a series
Of beautiful lakes but that the
Rapidity of the current preserves
The river character. Narrow channel
Of expansive lakes shows
Lame heat[?] wooded particularly
at American side which
in the advantage over ours
in picturesque beauty because
Lombardy poplars, weeping elms
Summach underwood general
Want of fine timber, which it
Appears was cut as here or there
Bare clad and half scorched
Stems of great height remain
Giving to the deepest woods a
Everything in America speaks
A land of timber – roads
Struts pavements bridges
Houses long ranges of wharved
Roofs of shingles balconied
And yet firewood is at Montreal
One of the most expensive
Articles of household economy
July 13th, Tuesday
From Brockville to Kingston
This an archipelago of islands
Perfect labyrinth. The larger ones
With large trees, the smaller ones
With brushwood & dwarf pines
Landed in one. Beautiful andromeda.
narrow channels where
hardly room for steamers
suddenly spreading out
great inland seas, & then as
lavish profusion of vegetation
the most barren rock has
its tree – tree arboretum
at Kingston change steamers.
New fortifications Kingston
In a great scale for the
Protection of harbour
Immense crowd of
German and Irish
Emigrants on board of the
Worst description great
Pay difference for cabin
Passage to Toronto $6
Pass Cobourg and Port Hope
Wednesday July 14th
Arrive at Toronto at
11am after long search
succeed in finding
Neil. They have engaged 2
Unfurnished rooms in an
Airy country situation at
$2 ½ per month.
Cathedral now building
Brick with cut stone door
Thursday July 15th
Call on Mr. Hidder.
Comm. Of the Canada C.
Arrange money matters.
Then £1300 lodged in
London has become by
Interest & exchange £1583 Cd.
I draw £100cy out of
This send draught to S. Gerrard
Of £26 -- £20 to repay his
Loan to me & £6 to pay
Boyce the gunsmith. The
Letter enclosing the draft was
Marked money letter &
Posted on Friday.
Friday July 16, 1847.
Start by stage with
P. Neill at 10am for Bradford
Simes W. Guaillinsburg [?]
Beautiful butterflies brilliant
Bird with blacklaps to casing
Bright scarlet head and neck.
The country from Toronto
Northwards to Holland landing
Where the stage stops, exhibits
The back country in every stage
Of improvement. You have
the wild forest – trees of
enormous height & girth, but
furnished with few & short
branches – groves of the graceful
hemlock and balsam spruce
a rich thicket underwood of
hemlock and aborite, here
called the cedar – occasional
elms as tall and straight as
the pines – Ash, walnut, beech,
sugar maple, thickets of
sumach with leaves of great
size, crowned with spikes of
crimson flowers. Then the past
stages of improvement where the
underwood has been cut down
and lucent round the stems of
the giant pines, now dead &
blackened – all around the scene
of smoking desolation
Great trees lying over the ground –
Then, the rich crops of corn
Growing amongst the bare
Trunks. In the neat stage
The trees have been cut down
To within about 3 feet of
the surface with luxuriant
drops of meadow between
the logs piled into burned
fences & for log huts
or shanties – lastly the
rich & highly cultivated farms (always however
backed by the eternal forest)
with its neat farm house
framed, whitewashed, & its
flourishing orchard –
government are making
a great road from Toronto to
Holland landing – The Engineers’
Object appearing to be to
Make it as straight as
Possible in defiance of the
Difficulties presented by a
Varied surface. The cuttings
& fillings are as great as
upon an English railroad
line. It is a remarkable
fact that not one 20th
of the laborers who might
be profitably employed are
at work upon it. It would be
better and cheaper to employ
the poor Emigrants than
to forward them form
hospital to hospital.
Dine at Holland landing
And walked over to Bradford
21 miles, through clouds of
9 pm sleep there.
Saturday July 17
Start on foot in search
Of Mr. John Rose, Col.
Licensed Militia, great
Difficulty in finding
Out where he lives. At last
A man points out to me
Some pines overlapping the
Surrounding forest, near
which he tells me I will
find his house. No road
or … path. I explore
the wood and at last reach
the pines, see a little boy hut
smaller than any Irish hovel. A
dirty stockingless capless old
woman is washing at the door.
Enquire for Col. Ross’s house.
She tells me I am in it and that
[she is] his wife. Blown a horn
calls him in. His son is at
work today with a neighbouring
farmer for a patch of meadow.
The coll. is in possession of 200
Acres here of which he has
Cleared about 30 – he & his wife
& son have been down with
fever and ague – no wonder
in the thick of a swampy
forest with a broad fat marsh
almost always covered with
water separating him from the
sluggish Holland river.
I return to Bradford walked on
To Holland Landing. Between those
Places the road winds through the
Forest, crossing Holland river
[illegible word] by a rough plank bridge
nearly a mile long. The underwood
is cut & the trees dead and scorched
at both sides of the road, so that
there is no shelter from the rays
of the burning sun which
are inflected by the knee deep
hot white sand which formed
the road – not a breath of air
can penetrate this forest, the
swampy soil of which
is completely covered with beds
of the red epilobium
beautiful little pink andromeda
delay under such a sun would be
fatal -- I rush parting on
reel into Holland landing
& recover myself with 3 or
4 cups of Holland tea,
the best drink in great
heat – at 2 oc 6pm get
into the stage – tremendous
rain, thunders & lightening.
At 12 at night reach Toronto
Tired but in perfect health.
The present state of the road is
Clearly shown by it having
Taken a four horse stage
With 6 passengers 10 hours to
Go 32 miles.
Sunday July 18th
Monday July 19th
Wrote a paper describing
the treatment of passengers
on board emigrant ships
with sundry suggestions for
ensuring better arrangements
gave to Frank [?] Widder
Commissioner of Canada West who was
Much pleased with it &
Took it up warmly. Drank
Tea at Mr. O’Briens – found out
Tuesday July 20th
afterwards that he showed it to John
Marshall of Marshall & Co.
Wednesday July 21st.
Storm of thunder and lightening
Great fire in town.
Thursday July 22nd
Had the great delight
Of receiving a letter from MM
Dated June 27th promising to
Sail July 15th.
Friday July 23rd.
Received of the
Emigration office an old
Letter from MM dated
May 20th Received a letter
From S. Gerrard acknowledging
receipt of £26. & advising me to
invest capital in Montreal
Bank stock. Determined to
leave for London U.C. on
Monday, Please God.
Saturday, July 24th.
Roger not well. Send
For Dr. the evening who says
It is an attack of lake fever
Not much chance of starting
On Monday. From all the
Accounts I have been able
to gather in the last two
days, it seems to me that
Guelph will be a better
Temporary look out residence
Than London, healthier,
Sunday July 25th
My birthday, my only
Pleasure writing a long letter
To my mother, Roger’s fever heavy.
Tuesday, July 27th
Roger passed a bad night.
Decidedly worse today.
Wednesday July 28th
Roger had a good night &
Is better pulse slower less
Heat of the skin & restful
An offer is made to some angry people to
Engage them by a rich farmer. They refer
The matter to me. I explain to them
That if on my arrival at my
Ultimate destination I cannot employ
Them myself it will be necessary for them
To provide temporary
Employment for themselves that
In case of their doing so & my
Being afterwards able to employ them
Would cheerfully do so –
That it is very uncertain whether
I can this year procure land
To employ them upon – but that
I left the adoption or rejection
Of the present offer to themselves
They refused to accept it.
Thursday July 29th
Roger passed a tolerably good
Night but is very weak. I was
Obliged to give him half a glass
Of port wine every four hours
Today he seems stronger, but the
Fever still runs very high.
Friday July 30th
Sat up with Roger last night
Giving him wine or broth every
Two hours. This morning he is
Decidedly stronger & the fever lower
Saturday July 31st
Roger exceptionally weak
Send for priest, who administers
Rules of the Church after confession
Towards evening he seems to
rally a little – certainly is stronger
& his head clearer
Sunday August 1st
Divine service. Roger
Passed a good night, & is stronger
Today – suffers much from cough &
Oppression which is Herrick says
Is entirely owing to congestion of the
Lungs, the result of weakness not disease.
Monday August 2nd
The Dr. declared Roger to be much
Better today, fever going off – sat
Up again with him all night
Reading Amelia. This day &
Yesterday very hot, causing an
Increase of the fever during the
Day – pulse 100
Tuesday August 3rd
Roger passed a good night pulse this
Morning 90 less traces of fever
During the day. J. Hamly ill bowel attack.
Wednesday August 4th
Roger passed another less comfortable
Night, but today his pulse and
His strength are improving. Hanly still
Unwell & very feverish tonight
Pulse 160. Wrote to Mr. Allison
To forward letters. Sent 4 dollars to
W. Hunt. Dr called in well
Satisfied with Roger’s progress. Says
J.H. must be minded lest fever
Might supervene – orders him
Half oz castor oil & 35 drops laudanum
Thursday August 5th
Roger going on very favorably
Hanly suffering form diarrhea all
Friday August 6th
Attended divine service at 7am.
Roger going on favorably. Hanly
Rather better finished Tom Jones.
How infinitely superior the humour
Of Fielding to that of Sterne! Of the
One natural; of the other laboured
Saturday, August 7th.
Morning service. Roger recovering
Fast. Hanly better. During the
Whole day expected with the
Intense anxiety the arrival
Of the English mail which I hoped would
Bring a letter from Mick to
Announce his departure
Mail arrived late in the evening
Alas; no letters.
Sunday August 8th
Morning service. Invalids going on
Monday August 9th
Morning service. Roger recovering.
Hamly still the same. I visit
Meat waggoner at Emigrant Office who
Will take 12 cut. Luggage & 5 people to
New London for £8 cy
Tuesday Aug 10th.
Morning service. Hanly better. Roger
Wednesday Aug 11th
Morning service. Invalids improving
Thursday Aug 12th
Morning service, patients better, but
towards evening Hanly had slight
return of dysentery. Paid Dr
Henrick in full $10 in addition $2
paid before – chancer.
Friday Aug 13th
Morning service. Hanly better again today
Had a letter from John Burns mentioning
that he had a letter from Mick
dated July 12th
Saturday Aug 14th
Morning service. Patients better.
Roger still very weak.
Morning serivce. Patients better. Very hot.
Monday Aug 16th
Morning service. Patients better. Conversation
with Mr. Widder – got from him a
cheque on London for €100….
Interview as to the
prospects of Emigration with Mr
London. Gave a subscription €5
for the widows and orphans emigrants
fund. Very hot.
Tuesday Aug 17th
Great thunder, lightening. First
wet day since our arrival in
Morning service. Wednesday August 18th.
Roger stil very weak but improving.
Cannot yet be moved.
Thursday Aug 19th 1847
Morning serv. Roger gaining strength.
Hanly nearly well.
Friday August 20th.
No morning service. Long walk on the country instead.
Saturday Aug. 21st.
Hanley well again.
No morning service. Clergyman sick.
Walk out beyond Dan bridge. Soil
richer, but low and damp, liable to ague.
Sunday August 22nd.
Monday August 23rd
No morning service. Gave Mr. Elmsley
a subscription of $4 for the organ
of Toronto Cathedral.
Tuesday August 24th
No morning service. Clergy all sick but
The Bishop who has to attend the
Hospital and emigrant sheds 10
Deaths in hospital yesterday
Anxiously expecting arrival of
English mail. Arrives
Alas! Alas! No letters Shakespear.
Wednesday August 25th
No morning service.
Alas, alas, alas. No letters. Shakespear
Thursday August 26tth
Write to Vere. Desire newspapers +
letters to be directed to the
care of E. McElderry, Toronto.
Friday August 27th
No morning service. Alas, no letters.
Mme. Pindar arrives, having left home
15th June. Gave her 2 dollars & a letter
to McElderry asking him to
procure work for her little boys.
Saturday Aug, 28th.
No morning service. Alas! No letters. Shakespear
Sunday, August 29th
Early morning service.
Monday August 30th
Morning service. No letters, no letters
Roger complains of bowel complaint.
I determine to start for Troy tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 31st.
Morning service. No letters. No letters.
Roger complains of having a complaint
& determined for Troy tomorrow.
Wednesday, September 1st.
[note about repayment of debt]
Morning service. Rogers complaint
Is increased & threatens dysentery.
I call on Dr. Herrick. I do not
Think Roger well enough to leave him
Alas. Alas alas. no letters.
Tommy find $3 in the street,which
he brings to me. I put up a
notice. Owner claims & receives.
Thursday, Sept. 2nd.
Morning serv. Roger much better.
At ½ past 11 board… Steamer American
For Rochester US… for Troy
My principal object being to see
Mick’s letter to J. Burns, hoping it
may give me some means of gauging
the time of his sailing.
Cabin fare $3 ½. Steerage $2.
touch at Windsor Harbour.
Bond heat. Port Hope. Coburg.
The captain tells me that an Engineers
Party of 13 men went out lately to
Survey and value the lands in the neighbour
Of a govt. canal near Peterboro
In one week the party returned
the officer of the men dangerously
ill, leaving two corpses, and having
buried two. This is a canal
made by flooding, not excavation.
Friday Sept 3rd.
At 4pm, stop in [?] river, close
Under the magnificent falls.
Custom house officer at ½ 4 at
5 reach Rochester (mile and a half by
omnibus – York shilling).
I eat enormous table d’hote breakfast.
My impressions hitherto of the
Americans is that they are the
Hungriest, the dirtiest, the most
Dishonest & altogether the meanest people
I have ever seen. They are so
Entirely absorbed in the pursuit of
Wealth that they have no time
For the courtesies, the decencies
Of life. They cry “O my ducats”! without “O my daughter”!
They seem to rely
Wholly on themselves, never
Brushing with their neighbours. Their
Dishonesty is audacious, because
They are too vain to attempt
To conceal it; & whilst they are
Cheating you, they do not even pay
You the poor compliment of
Trying to deceive you. Proud
Of their country, (because she be-
Longs to themselves) they are most
Proud of her meanest vices.
An expert windbag is honoured and
As smart man
Their dress is exaggerated, uncouth
& ill matched; finery
they poke about with their long hair
breathing necks, like a cur seeking for a
bone, & if they catch your eye, right
themselves into a swagger; they
peer through you with their hungry
eyes, but would fain have you believe
that they do not care to look at you,
they combine the contemplative
chicanery of a Jewish shopseller
with the shameful roguery of
roulette bully – They do not even
deserve credit for the boldness
their commercial speculations
because the great stake, character,
never depends upon the issue of
language, the noblest gift of God, they use but for
a boast, and sneer, or a lie.
O Mick, Mick, when shall I
see your mild, honest face?
When shall I again hear your
voice, gentle, modest, but firm?
Start from Rochester by railroad
at 11am. Fare to Troy 9 ½
Railroad rough & slow. Get off
the rails. Curious effect of
railroad (perception of art passing)
then a wild forest splendid
& comfortable carriage or cars.
Distance to Troy 250 miles.
Saturday Sept. 4th
Arrive in Troy at 7am.
Fine welcome from all friends
Sunday Sept. 5th 1847
Morning service with John Burns. Long
visit to old Mrs. Howard. Most
oppressive heat. Give $4 to J Burns.
Monday Sept. 6th
Receive a note from Pat Neill
Today that there is a home
letter for me at Toronto.
I start on my return at 7pm.
By railway – 6 miles out of Try.
We run over a cow. Engines got
off the rails is broken – hadn’t
got off to the other side; we
must have been initially
carried down an awful precipice
(within two feet of the rail) &
[illegible word]; I thank God for his
mercy, at last another
Engine arrives – we get in
To Schenectady at 11pm
The western train from
Albany being long passed, I
Remain here, miserable quarters
At small inn, which I prefer
To a room at the grand
Hotel, to be there with
Thursday 7 Sept.
Started by railway at 8 ½ am
Travelling execrably slow and rough
Wednesday Sept. 8th
Reach Rochester at 7 ½ am
Start by steamer “America” at
9am. Make Cobourg at 4pm.
Tremendous storm into which we
Seem to plunge, & bury ourselves
The heart of enormous clouds which
Seems all fire within arrive at
Toronto in the middle of the night
Thursday Sept 9
Thank God, I have at last received
Most satisfactory letters. My mother
Is well & all at home. Her letter
Is dated July 26th.
Another from my dear Mick
Dated Aug 4th, in which he says that he
Is to sail in Anne of Limerick on
7th of August. May God grant him a happy
voyage – I find Roger much recovered,
but John Hanly again sick,
since Sunday, of a [?] attack.
I write, as the English mail goes
Out tomorrow, to my mother,
[?] I write also to John Burns…
In the evening,
Unexpectedly, a long print
Letter from Mary Suey and my
Mother dated August 15th
mentioning that Mick &
Stephen had sailed on Monday 9th august in the Anne.
Friday Sept. 10th
John Hanly passed a very unquiet
& feverish night. I
fear his attack will prove a
serious one. The doctor declared
his illness to be bilious fever.
Roger walks out for the first time.
Saturday Sept. 11th.
No morning service today or yesterday.
John Hanly passed a quiet night &
Is less feverish this morning.
Paid Mr Callaghan $5 in full for
rent to 8th September at 2 ½ [illegible currency] per month
Paid Mrs Gogarty $5 in full for
Firewood, washing, tailoring
Sunday Sept. 12th.
Mass servd. J.H. passed a quiet
Night, & deemed better today.
Monday Sept. 13th.
Morning service. J.H. passed a very bad night.
This morning fever is
Diminished pulse under 90 but
Weakness and emaciation much increased.
I left ¼ dollar with J. Fitzg. & one dollar
With P. Neill that Mrs Pindar will be
[illegible word] before this day terminates.
Dr visits & says that the fever is
Assumed to be typhoid. Orders
[stranded lines: High pitch of roofs, gables, galleries
Columbine weeping elm]
him weak brandy + water every two
hours – Gave Pat Neill on acct.$50
Paid William, teamster $12 on acct.
Dispatches for Neill & wife. Then Hanly
& Roger on their way to London. C.W.
Left about 12 O.C.
Dr visits again.
Tuesday September 14th
Morning service. Hanly better, up with
him nearly all night – in the course
of the day typhoid type seems more
confirmed – diarrhea – by the doctor’s
directions I give him 5 grams of
soup & opium pill at 6 O.C. pm
watch whart. Shakespear.
Write to P. Neill a bulletin of H’s health.
Wednesday Sept. 15th
Morning service. Compassion & communion.
Hanly passed better night. J.R.
& I up with him all night night, passes
the day on whole better.
Watch wharf. Give him the opium
pill again as last night. Shakespear
Thursday Sept 16th
Morning service. Hanly passed the night
decidedly better. Watch wharf.
McElderry tells me that he proposes
to build permanent brick buildings
instead of sheds. Also that next
year there will be a steamboat opposition on the river, consequently lower terms and less crowding. Admits that Govt. this year is in the hands of one person for river transmission. I ask why did not government put on emigrant steamers of their own.
He says that were it not for the fear of disease, the supplying of ordinary labour market here would absorb emigration double this year.
Friday Sept. 17th
Morning service. Watch wharf.
J.H. passes a pretty quiet
Night, the fever is going off
Saturday Sept. 18th
Morning service. Hanly passed a bad night. Much trouble with very violent cough and suppression pulse 100 profuse perspiration all night. He improved during the day.
Watch wharf. McElderry mentions that the farmers in the country are raising subscriptions to send back the emigrants into Toronto.
Sunday Sept. 19th
Morning service. J.R & H had good & is
much better this morning. Wrote to
Buchanan for news of the Anne.
Some passengers arrive from the Jane
Black which was to have sailed 7th August.
Monday Sept 20th.
43rd day. Fever almost gone.
Morning service. J.H. much better.
Agreed with Callaghan for the hire of his
Other lodgings at the rate of $3 per month
Or carefully in proportion. Gave Mrs
Pindar one dollar. Was informed by one
of the passengers of the Jane Black that
Anne passed them at Kilrush.
Received letter from P. Neill by Williams’s
return wagon stating safe arrival
Paid Williams full bill £5.10
He allows for 5/ what Pat Neill
gave him on the road. Shakespear
Tuesday Sept 21st
Morning service. J.H. much better. I buy
a [?] coat for little family and a cap
for myself. Shakespear.
Wednesday Sept. 22nd.
Morning service. Paid off Dr Herrick for
Attendance on H. $10 Due to give
Dobler [?] for milk this day $2.4
which I paid him. Shakespear.
Thursday Sept 23rd
Morning service. J.H. up better…
Friday Sept 24th 1847.
Morning service. Cashed Widder’s cheque
in Bank of Upper Canada. £100.
Saturday Sept. 26th
Morning service. Hanly recovering.
Sunday, Sept. 26th
Morning service. J.H. not quite so well. A slight attack of dysentery during the night. The weather for the last fortnight has been becoming very cool. Hear with great concern that Buchanan is very ill of fever at Quebec. Also that Bishop Power has taken fever here. English mail in the evening. Tremendous storm
of thunder and lightning which continued all night. Never did I witness such a storm. The forked lightening every minute dancing from heaven to earth, illuming the darkness with a red glare, the way the lightening ladders from heaven to earth were seen, of all colours, sometimes golden yellow, sometimes violet, sometimes purple blue, sometimes intense vermillion, and then the thunder simultaneously with the lightening, bursting, crashing rending passing shaking the whole city with its metallic danger, and sometimes
succeeded at certain distances by single explosions. Like the successive firing of some enormous artillery. The mere sound of the rain was frightful, bewildering.
Monday Sept. 27th
Morning service. Fine hot day. J.H. walks
out. I take a long walk into the bush
& am caught in the evening in a violent
thunder storm with drenching rain.
Blue lobelia – cineraria wild.
Tuesday Sept. 28th
I do not attend morning service, being
threatenend with dysentery – take
2 [illegible entry[ & op[ium] pill. Thunder storm
Large rings of lightning.
O my brothers when shall I see you again.
O Michael my own adopted brother.
Kingston boat does not come in till
Ten o.c pm. Alas no brothers.
Wednesday Sept. 29th
Morning service. Bishop Power very ill of typhus fever. Kingston boat 2pm no account of my dear brothers. Give $25 to John Hanly and J. Fiztgerald for their journey to be accountable for.
Thursday Sept. 30th.
Morning service. No other man present being capable I am obliged to act as clerk. John Hanly & J. Fitzgerald start for Hamilton on their way to London by steamer at 8am. Fare to Hamilton 3/9 each
Kingston boat arrives at 3 O.C. pm
Alas, no news of my dear brothers.
Sent to the post office in the evening
to get a letter from Quebec dated
Aug 23rd. All well at home.
Had the inexpressible relief
of receiving a letter from the
Emigration Office Quebec
to announce the arrival of the
Friday October 1st
Morning service. Rev. Michael Power DD. Cath bishop of Toronto died this morning.
He was a man of great generosity and nobleness, most kindly and charitable in a true and most extended kindly sense, an humble Christian. By his example, his justice, his unfailing attention to the duties of his high station, & the strictness of his discipline,
he brought into perfect order a diocese which he found almost in anarchy. His death is attributable, under providence, to the noble and devoted zeal with which, since the illness of so many of his clergy, he has visited the beds of every sick and dying emigrant. He did not spare himself, but God has spared him a longer sojourn on earth. He was a man of no political party, of no religious bigotry. He was too strong-minded to be a bigot, & too wise to be a partisan. He was therefore respected and beloved by men of all creeds and parties. May Almighty God have Mercy on his soul.
Kingston boat arrives at 4pm.
My dear brothers are not on board.
Saturday Oct. 2nd 1847
Morning service. Rec. 2 letters from J. Hanly and J. Fitzgerald. Have arrived in London at 10am Friday. Safe.
Happiness of happiness! At 4pm dear Michael and Stephen with little Catharine Biddy and baby arrived safe and well for which I humbly thank the Almighty God.
They bring me letters from my dear mother, Ellen and Aubrey, of rather old date, of numerous little gifts and tokens of love. Oh, could they but know with what a
heart, glowing with unchanged love, I received them. One most valuable gift was my dear father’s “Mary Tudor”.
Sunday October 3rd.
Divine service with my own dear brethren.
Monday Oct. 4th.
Make some purchases of winter clothing for Mick & Stephen.
Tuesday Oct. 5th.
Start from Toronto at 8am with Mick, Stephen, Biddy & Baby, Little Johnny and Mary Griffith and Catharine by steamer to Hamilton. Fare 3/9 each. Reach Hamilton about 12 oclock.
Start from Hamilton at 6 ½ pm by stage. Fare 21 each.
Before leaving Toronto I pay Callaghan $3 in full for rent and give Mrs. Fogarty $5.
Wednesday Oct. 6th
Reach London about 12 noon. Find all there quite well. Am much pleased with my cottage, containing parlour, kitchen, cellar, 4 good tea rooms garden stable yard well all for £12. 10 for 6 months
Thursday Oct. 7th.
Make some purchases of furniture. Excellent French
Seats 15/ each. Large parlour table of black walnut £1.10.0.
Weather very dark & wet
Land stands high on a sandy plane. The river divided the plane from the woodland; town shows all the symptoms of youth but an evident disposition to improve.
Friday Oct. 8th.
Put up a cooking stove for which I
Saturday Oct. 9th
Write to my mother, Vere, and
Sunday Oct 10th.
Divine service with my dear brothers.
Dine with Mr. Dagg.
Monday Oct. 11th
Dispatch home letters. The priest calls on me.
Tuesday Oct. 12th
Bought a pony mare rode out
Wednesday Oct. 13th
Went out shooting a long expedition through the bush – met or shot only a few black squirrels will make a capital pie.
One my return find little Catharine ill
Very feverish. Mr Goring calls on me.
Thursday Oct. 14th
Pay for the pony $65. Snow on the ground. Catharine’s fever better.
Dr. Goring calls.
Friday Oct. 15th
Snow again but warm. Sit with open [illegible line]
Saturday Oct. 16th
Bought 24 bushels of oats at 10s = $4
My dear brother Mick is feverish and generally unwell. May the almighty God be the guardian and protector of the finest fellow that ever drew breath in this world – of one with whom I feel my fate to be inseparably bound.
The dr declares his illness emigrant fever.
Sunday Oct. 7th
Dear Michael somewhat better today, but decidedly in fever. Little Catharine’s fever very heavy today. I read prayers to my boys church service being of St. Thomas.
Morning Oct 18th
Patients much the same. I buy a young and fine mulch cow with a fine calf for $15 £3.0.0
Tuesday Oct. 19th 1847
Patients better [note about purchasing flour]
Wednesday Oct. 20th.
Up last night with Mick, who is not better today. Catharine I fear worse. Towards night gets into stupor. I send for the Doctor who thinks her in very imminent danger. I send for the priest who attends promptly and finds her very sensible.
Thursday Oct. 21st.
Mick much the same today. The Dr. is satisfied with his stats. Catharine’s head has been relieved by mustard plasters applied to the stomach but she is evidently weaker. Dr. orders her [illegible word] and broth. Up all night.
Friday Oct. 22nd.
Pulse still 120
Catharine’s state is more satisfactory today.
There is no improvement in Mick, but the Dr. apprehended no danger. Pulse about 110 with hot skin and impaired memory. Up all night with him.
Saturday Oct. 23rd.
Catharine better. Mick in great nervous despondency & suffering much from cough with bloody expectoration [?] Dr. however does not think him worse. Great meeting for raising first sod of Western railway which is done by Col. Talbot. Up all night.
Sunday Oct. 24th.
Divine service. Catharine going on very favourably. Mick had a good night but is rather less well today, as he suffers somewhat from strangling incessant pain today. Up all night with Mick whose fever was very heavy,
but with some perspiration.
Monday Oct. 25th.
Michael decidedly worse all day.
Pulse 116. Skin hot and dry – much
Stupor. He passed a wretched night.
Tuesday Oct. 26th.
Priest visits dear Mick in the morning, after which he becomes rapidly better. Pulse falling from 116 to 104 in two hours, & his intellect greatly cleared. Dr. declared the crisis to be over and that he considers him out of danger. Orders wine and other stimulants. I thank God for his great mercy. I
care not what may be my own fate, if my dear brother be spared. Up all night.
Wednesday Oct. 27th.
The improvement of Mick continues all day. Pulse 100. He passes a tranquil night.
Thursday Oct. 28th.
Patient improving. Stimulant hourly treatment still continues.
Friday Oct. 29th.
Saturday Oct. 30th.
Patient rapidly recovering. Mick’s pulse steady at 70.
Sunday Oct. 31st, 1847.
Divine service. Both patients going on very well.
Pat Neill J Hanly & J Fitzgerald went to work at railroad on Friday and Roger commenced on Saturday at 3/? Per day.
I inform them that I shall expect a payment from each of one dollar a week towards household expenses which they admit to be most moderate.
Monday Nov. 1st.
Patients recovering. I invite
the priest to open a subscription for building a new church, the present one being quite insufficient and scandalously bad. I subscribe $10 and each of my men $1.
Tuesday Nov. 2nd
Patients improving. Michael’s wife becomes ill and Dr. fears it is fever. Towards evening she improves.
Wednesday Nov 3rd.
Michael’s wife quite well. Weather very hot. Indian summer. Open windows all night. Thermometer 70 in the shade. Michael up and returns to his own room
Agree to pay May Griffin $4 a month.
The cost of the London Windsor railway for the first ten miles out of London will be at the rate of $35,000 per mile.
Thursday Nov. 4th.
My patients going on favorably.
Friday Nov. 5th.
I pay the Dr. in full for his attendance and medicine. $30. I have been much pleased with his skill and attendance. He informs me that the Board of Health here has been closed by the government and that no new cases can be admitted into the hospital. In going Dr. Lee
home [Rate of payment] from govt. $5 per day for attending the hospital. Poor Dr. Lee died of typhus fever last week.
Saturday Nov. 6th.
I drive to St. Thomas with Mr. O’Dwyer. Country flat, poor, & undrained & half civilized. St. Thomas is a stand still of a settled place. Capital inn. Pleasant evening. Mr. O’Dwyer recounts his dispute with the Cath. Bishop Power who seems to have treated him in a haughty and impolite manner. He forbade
him to accept a salary of $30 from the Govt. for attending the military hospital. O’Dwyer therefore allowed the money to accumulate in the paymaster’s hands and some claim of it. He says what use are those bishops – they are only tyrants – one can do the business of the diocese very well without them. I have heard nearly the same language and found the same feeling amongst the Irish clergy. I regret to hear of poor McElderry’s death of fever at Toronto.
Oreglau[?] in his letter to Gregory Thaummaterys [?] to borrow from the pagan philosophers all that may tend to the glory of God as the Jews used the spoils of the Egyptians for the adornment of the temple.
“La methode d’etait d’instruire d’abord
Ceux qui venarient l’ecouter de ce quil y
Avait de bon dans la philosophie paienne
Afin de les conduire par depuis a la
Connaissance du Christianne
Vt. St. Clement alex
Dect. p. 75.
Pour le lour faire aimer et leur inspirer
Le desrie du l’ambrueyer il instait pour
Certain points de morals que de couvent
Les lumieres naturelles et que se trouvent
Sensés dans les cevits des philosophes
Sunday Nov. 7th
Divine service at St. Thomas.
Ill feeling between priest and flock in consequence of nonpayment of any dues. A meeting is held after mass where it is agreed that the collection of clergy’s dues shall be vested in trustees who are to assess the congregation individually. Pews to be thrown open and pew rents abandoned. Strong expectation expressed that the priest shall never again find it necessary to speak of money matters from the altar. All right.
American sailors’ phrase
paying one’s debts with the main
Monday Nov 8th
Return to London. All well. Thank God.
Tuesday Nov. 9th.
Confession. Jubilee begins.
Wednesday Nov. 10th.
Confession. Bought ½ ton of hay. $3
Thursday Nov. 11th.
The Indian Summer appeared ended, the thermometer having suddenly fallen from 70 in the shade to below the freezing point. People in this climate seem remarkably free from colds – not a cough in a congregation. Letters from my mother and Aubrey, Willy from Callas dated respectively Sept. 13, 27th, + July 9th. Mick walked out.
All well at home.
Friday Nov. 12th.
Letters again from home. Oct. 12th. Receive report from Emigration committee. Very cold. Warm weather again.
Saturday Nov. 13th.
Mr. O’Dwyer acting on my earnest suggestions publicly renounced the present building of his own house and devoted the funds already subscribed for that purpose of the building of the new Church.
Sunday Nov. 14th.
Divine service. Wrote a long letter to my mother describing the physical and moral state of Canada.
Monday Nov. 15th.
Dispatch letters to my mother, Mary Suey, and Mr Foley.
Tuesday Nov. 16th.
Fine warm weather. Visit railroad superintendent and Yankee Boston
conversed with. He depreciates the
enormous price of landhere on
stakes that you can purchase, much
finer land in State N.Y. for $2
per acre than for $10 here. States
there it costs 11 cents per bushel
carry wheat to Buffalo, that the
cost of transport from here will be
about the same, but Canadian
corn then subject to New York duty
States then when he left
wheat selling at N. York at [illegible] figure per bushel
& found it here selling at 4/6.
He has been concerned in the making
of many [illegible phrase] railroads. They are
paying at least 5 percent.
Rumour of railroads greatly
increased the western emigration
which by [illegible phrase]
had enormously increased
commerce. Many people
thought the Erie canal would have been
replaced by the western railway.
Far from it its traffic has doubled.
It is now choked with
western produce and is required
to be doubled in width. The colonisation of wild land
through which railways progress very remarkable
and value of land greatly enhanced. System of wooded
rails bad. Better to lay down iron at once. If Canadian people do not
take stock of railway Yankees will.
Wed Nov. 17th
Went to visit a farm offered for sale
within 3 miles of London. It consists
of 50 acres, of which about 10 cleared
and about 10 more partially cleared. A very small two windows wooden house.
Soil very poor wet low sandy ill
fenced – not one acre really arable. This
farm will feed some 5 or 6 head of
cattle during the summer, but give
no hay. Price £300.
Near it is a farm belonging
to Mr. Wright, a Quaker, well
laid out, about 4 excellent houses & offices.
Land sandy, subsoil shallow, but fine.
I was told he was rich and asked had
he made his money by his land.
Answered with a laugh, no by lending
his money at 20 percent.
Thursday Nov 18th.
Friday Nov. 19th.
Saturday, Nov. 20th.
Hard frost. Therm. 22 at 9am.
At 10am it has risen again to 36.
Mr. O’Dwyer tells anecdote of Tipperary man who came out here and bought 100 acres of remote wild land on which he built a miserable hut. He wrote to his sisters comfortably off at home to come out here where they can find him like another Count Dallen [?]. Upon arriving this year they proceeded on the wings of hope to his estate, which they found to consist of the hut only, he having sold the land again to procure the bread of idleness [?]
They spent a week “scorching” and roaring about the shanty
and returned to London. They are very glad to enter into service with two farmers at $4 per month.
A family from Mayo came out this year apparently in the most abject poverty. They consisted of a father mother uncle a little boy about 12 years old. There were transmitted to Toronto at the govt. expense. The mother was there taken into hospital suffering from a rapid cancer in the breast. She soon died. The father, uncle, little boy took a poor lodging close to me. I frequently met them and the father complaining to me of dysentery. I recommended him to send for a doctor, but he said he was too poor. He at last went into hospital, and died, from want of care in the early stage of the disease, leaving his little son in possession
of 300 sovereigns tied up in an old rag, which had, during the voyage, been tied under the mother’s breast and had produced the cancer of which she died.
Sunday Nov. 21st.
Divine service. Therm. 52. Shade.
Mick unwell with bowel complaint.
Monday Nov. 22nd.
Mick still unwell….Therm. in shade 65 at 2pm.
Tuesday Nov. 23rd.
Dr. attends. Mick’s wife unwell. Dr. fears fever. Bought a very handsome sleigh, with bear skin for £8 & a good set of harnesses for £3.10.
In the evening P. Neill informs me that he has hired himself to a farmer for driving his teams
and to reside in his house for $10 per month, and that he is to go him tomorrow morning. I tell him that I consider his conduct and sudden leaving the house as altering my domestic arrangements without previously consulting me, most disrespectful. He replies with cool impertinence. For some time back the manner of P. O’Neill J Hanly & R Kennedy has been most disrespectful to me, and they have announced to others their determination never to work for me except at $10 a month, to provide for themselves as
soon as they have earned enough money to leave this. It is fortunate for me that I did not purchase a farm in the expectation of their performing their contract.
Wednesday Nov. 24th.
Mick and his wife much better.
P. Neill goes to his new master. Went out to shoot and shot a woodpecker and a goose. Seen the process of burning charcoal. Enormous logs being piled up into a huge cone and then covered with sandy earth and set on fire. The priest has a number of free labourers employed in taking up stone for the new church on a plot of 10 acres appropriated by govt. about 2 miles from the town to the Cath. Church. Amongst them
were about 30 soldiers allowed by the Coll. to work. N.B. He allows soldiers to work for hire after parade [illegible word] their wages to [illegible figure]
Her stories are rounded masses of
granite of no great size, no quarry
arable soil, [illegible phrase], Therm. 55.
Small shady snow. Therm 37.
Wrote to Widder for £50 – enclosing receipt.
Friday Nov. 26th
Heavy snow showers all day.. Therm 25
I put a frame of glass in my window
Shelves into my presses, and build a shed for my sleigh.
At 8pm Therm. at 10. – frame of
Glass 10 x8. Cast 2/3
Roger J Hanly & J Fitzgerald were discharged
tonight from the railroad. The number of men being reduced for
the winter. I fear the opening of this work was but a demonstration to get the stock broker.
My dear mother’s birthday.
Saturday Nov. 27th
Snowing heavily. Therm. in morning
25. The milk taken out by railway men
for their dinner yesterday was frozen
at 12 oc. Sleighing commonest
Sunday Nov. 28th
Heavy snow. Therm. 26. I inform P. Neill
that it is very doubtful whether I will take land
at all it being so high, that I shall
certainly take none this winter, that has
V. the other boys, if they cannot get day
work, must engage with the farmers as
I cannot afford to keep them idle.
I pay P. Neill in full for his oats £7…
At 2pm Therm. 20. Sleigh northwards but
no sensation of cold when out.
Monday Nov 29th. 1847
Therm at am 7 being a fall of 58 since this day week. The ice thick in my jug this morning. Take my first drive in a sleigh.
Tuesday Nov 30th
I inform the boys that they must look out for employment. P. Neill asks me to keep his wife here, he paying $1 per week for her board. I decline.
Preparing dispatch for Elliot. During the night it begins to thaw.
Wednesday Dec. 1st.
Dispatch my letter to Elliot, and a copy to my mother with a note to [name illegible] to pay Mary Grattin $4.
Receive letters from my mother & Louisa Griffin. The answer [illegible phrase] given by the former is any thing but satisfactory. Quarter of mutton
weighing 9 ½ lbs. Price in English money 1/9.
Friday Dec 3rd.
Therm. 40. A midday thaw. The sky looking
as muddy as the canal.
Saturday December 4th
Snowing again. Therm. 27. Walking out I met
Judge [name illegibile] bargaining at his back gate with a
Carman for a load of timber. They disagreed for
a sixpence & the judge [illegible phrase] exclaiming
“well, my lad, I might catch you in a fix yet”
and make you pay for this – sketch of
a Canadian district judge.
Sunday Dec 5
Divine service. Therm. 30
Monday Dec 6.
Tuesday Dec. 7th.
Therm. 50. Snow rapidly disappearing
Bought a small load hay. $2
Bought a small load wool. $1.
Wednesday Dec. 8th
This day is, to the feelings, the coldest yet, with a strong piercing southerly wind but the therm. stands at 45. The snow has disappeared but the sky seems to threaten more.
S. Goring states to me that there are now 13 emigrants in a state of want and they might have provincial work if they choose to accept it in time. They stood out for high wages.
Thursday Dec. 9th
Thick, small rain. Very warm. Therm. 45. Return of shoulder rheumatism. First time since arrival in America. P. Neill left his master last night, and returned here.
A little boy apprenticed to a house painter is to get $30 the first year, 40 the second year, 60 the third year, $100 the fourth, beside boarding, lodging, and washing.
Friday Dec. 10th
Took out my gun and walked 6 or 8 miles through the woods down the river. Shot two American “pheasants” a bird about the size and shape of a grouse with plumage more than a partridge. Shot 2 squirrels, a specimen of the large scarlet headed woodpecker.
Saturday Dec. 11th.
A little snow fell during the night.
Sunday Dec. 12th.
Divine service. Therm. 50 Long ride.
Monday Dec. 13th
Went out shooting accompanied by Mick, Stephen, & Tommy. Overwhelmed by heavy snow. Lost our way in forest. Shot a brace of pheasants a brace of large quails here called partridges and a magnificent owl.
Tuesday Dec 14. 1847.
Ground covered with snow. Therm. 33
Went out shooting but without success.
Wednesday Dec. 15
Out shooting again, but got no shots although I walked over 20 miles of thick cover
guided by a pocket compass. snow disappeared towards evening and sudden hard frost. Night exceeding cold.
Thursday Dec. 16th.
Painfully cold. Strong east wind and severe frost. Therm. However much below 20 though infinitely colder than where it stood at 7.
Friday Dec. 17th
Clear hard frost but does not feel very
Cold. Therm. 20. – in sun 40.
Skinned my owl.
Saturday Dec 18th
Dispatched a copy of my letter to Elliot to Revd J. Foley. & 2 newspapers. I went out shooting walked about 25 miles. I shot only a brace of quails. Hear there are plenty of deer in Dorchester, and pheasants in Biddulph. Frost continuing, but so warm that I can [illegible phrase] off flannels.
Sunday Dec. 19th
Divine service being at St. Thomas. I read prayers to may family. Small snow falling. Therm. 30.
Monday Dec. 20.
Therm. 20 to 13. Write part of my letter on colonisation.
Tuesday Dec 21
Harsh frost. Light covering snow. Therm. 12. English mail rec.
Letter from my mother and my uncle dated Nov. 12. Giving but bad accounts of the state of prospects at home.
Wednesday December 22
Wrote a long letter to my uncle on colonisation. Heavy snow showers all day. Therm 15. 20.
Thursday Dec. 23.
Snow still falling. Therm. 20.
Write to Aubrey.
Friday December 24th.
Beautiful sunny day. Therm. 20. Drive out in my sleigh 10 ½ miles on the Woodstock road and back in 2 hours.
Saturday Dec. 25th.
Christmas Day. Bright clear frost.
Snow from 6 inches to a foot deep but
so dry & hard as not to soil the boot.
Therm. 15 to 20. It is not in the least cold. I stroll about in a light cloth frock, without great coat. Gay sleighs, glancing about in all directions, covered before and behind with “robes” of comfy furs generally trimmed with [illegible phrase] of scarlet cloth. Every horse wearing his collar of bells, and tossing his head as if he enjoyed their sweet and merry sound. In consequence of the noiselessness of the sleigh there is a regulation enjoining the use of bells. There is something very delirious in the silent smooth motion of the sleigh under a warm sun, and breathing the dry, bracing and frosty air. I have felt colder at home with the therm. At 40, than in Canada at 10, but where there is a high wind with the frost, it is fiendishly cold.
Sunday Dec. 26th
Divine service. Frost continues. Frozen snow, cracking and whisking under foot.
Therm. 10.15. Post letters for L. Monteagle Aubrey J. Gould. Cap $9.
Magnificent torches ½ dollar each.
Monday Dec 27
Heavy snow falling. Therm. 10.15.
Out sleighing. Hay 16 [illegible phrase
Tuesday Dec. 28.
Winds shifting to the south. Therm. 30.
Towards evening begins to thaw.
Wednesday Dec. 29th
Snow recently gone. Very warm. Therm. 52 Mr A. Faing [?] who wants to buy a farm of 200 acres, offering to me for the loan of £300 at 8 percent. Offering his own & his brother’s security, a mortgage on the new purchase & another on his
farm at Delaware worth £300 on 400 the latter farm to be given up to me for the interest till debt paid.
I decline, feeling my movements too uncertain to make such a commitment desirable.
Mr. O’Dwyer proffers me to buy his farm in Biddulph, 22 miles from London on the Goderich Road. 200 acres – 75 cleared – for £500. If I do not wish to buy at present I can have a lease about £30 a year. I will allow out of such to pay the excess of any money laid out on building a house or any permanent improvement.
Thursday Dec 30th.
Therm. 50. At 8pm in my parlour with window open & fire out. Therm. 72.
Friday, December 31st.
Hot fog. I go out “shooting”; in other words, I feel I want exercise. Walk about 30 miles of very heavy walking.
Saturday, Jan 1 1848.
New years day. Heavy rain. Mr. Widder states that the expenditure of the Board of health for Kingston workhouse exceeds £30,000, of that, there are survivors of great misfortune.
Sunday Jan 2 1848.
Divine service. Write and dispatch for tomorrow’s mail letter to my mother, Ellen, [illegible line] Aubrey and C. Gould.
Monday Jan 3.
Out to shoot. No sport but long exploring walk of about 25 miles.
Noble arborite overhanding the Thames
Growth at 3 feet from ground. 19 ½ feet.
Tuesday January 4th
Therm. 30. Frost commencing.
Nominations for candidates for the Co. of Middlesex. Two rivals, [illegible word] postmaster, of St. Thomas, and Notman, a clear adventuring laywer, the former Conservative, the latter one of the Baldwin Lafontaine and Reform party. About the usual quality of coarse personalities, frothy declamations and specious profferings. Most slothful though drunk enough, I have some fun in them. It is expected that the Irishman will succeed because his opponent at the last election
offended the Scotch by an uncivil allusion to their lice. Courthouse good and commodious.
Wednesday January 5th.
Small snow falling. Therm. 30.
Thursday January 6th
Letters from my mother, Mary, Lucy, & S. Spring Rice about the state of the country more and more gloomy. The letters are dated and postmarked November 28th.
Friday January 7th. Snow.
Saturday January 8th.
Heavy snow. Prospect afford sleighing.
Sunday January 9th.
Tremendous thick snow, drifting with a high wind like thick vapors over the surface of a lake. Start at 8am with Stephen McDonough in my sleigh
for St. Thomas, where divine service. Reach it at 10. 5, 18 miles.
Proceed in afternoon to Port Stanley – 10 miles. This day was so cold that few of the old inhabitants stirred out from fear of being frozen. The thermometer was 5 below zero, but the high winds and drifting snow make it worse. Warmly wrapped up in furs and Irish [?], I slipped along without a sensation of cold. My pony was covered with congealed perspiration – at particular exposed parts of the road I sometimes felt a little inconvenienced from the [?] froze into ice. Port Stanley seems a thriving little port, carrying on a large export trade in corn, pork, flour.
There are two large inns. I stopped at Thompson’s, an American’s, & found him civil and communicative. He mentioned an affecting circumstance that happened last year. One of the Irish emigrants who landed at Port Stanley was an elderly man with his wife and 3 daughters. They moved a little inland and obtained a house. Shortly afterwards Mr Thompson met a beggar in a lonely part of the bush heading towards an old burial ground. It bore three coffins – an old man drove the oxen, & a weak and sickly woman toiled alongside. The coffins were those of the three young women who had all died together of fever. So great was the fear of infection that none of the neighbours would
attend the funeral. The old father with difficulty obtained a team of oxen & 2 waggons, & with the assistance of his wife, herself in fever, dug his daughters graves & buried their remains. In a few days the wife died, & the old man still survives, the last of his race.
A large wooden store is building here by a merchant called Hoadley. It will cost nearly $12,000.
Monday, Jan 10
Cold still continues. We return to London. Election going on at St. Thomas. Poll is taken – the separate townships.
Tuesday Jan 11
Snow again falling. Therm. 15-20. Election from Co. of Middlesex going on here today. Also of mayor. No excitement, except among the Scottish.
Wednesday January 12, 1848
Start by sleigh for Hamilton en route for Niagara with S. [illegible name] beautiful sleighing but day becomes ominously warm. Started at 10am & make 42 miles easily by 5pm. Some well cultivated land & neat villa looking farms at Woodstock.
Thursday January 13
Our fears are realized. Last night was a thaw. Today thick, muddy & hot. We push on – pony dragging the sleigh with difficulty at a walk. We trudge behind, except downhill. Reach Ancaster 7 miles from Hamilton nearly at night fall. Finely
engineered road, scarfed on mountain side descending into the valley to meet the beach of Lake Ontario. This side extends to Niagara. An immense mass of the overhanging cliff, loosened by the thaw had fallen about an hour before we arrived – a passage was cleared with difficulty by a number of labourers. Get into Hamilton with extreme difficulty & fatigue at 8h having made 40 miles.
Friday Jan 14
Remain in Hamilton, of which, owing to the extreme wetness & thick fog, we can see nothing. Stop at Rev. McKay’s Crown Hotel market place.
Saturday January 15
Still wet. I hire a horse & carriage to go to Niagara, at $2 per day. We are told he will take me there in one day – 50 miles. The road, though one of the two great winter thoroughfares between Canada and the States is merely formed of earth, & the thaw having defrosted the ice from the very bottom, its state is horrible. We drag through mud nearly two feet deep, so heavy that the poor horse can scarcely extricate his feet, of a brick red colour, for 13 miles – break down near a tavern, take four hours to repair the damages, & find ourselves at 4 oc still 37 miles from our destination & with a road by all accounts wholly
impassable before us. Under these circumstances we have nothing for it but to return. There is a young American in the tavern from Michigan, travelling by sleigh with his wife and child to see friends in York state. He has travelled 300 out of 500 miles, & must wait for the renewal of sleighing. He hears me say that I must sell my sleigh and bargain, & could understand his circumstances, he [?] an opportunity of turning a dollar. To my surprise I find him following me in a borrowed cumber waggon. He buys my sleigh for $12 which is more than would I get
for it anywhere else as there appears but little prospect of any more sleighing this winter. I ask him to dine with me. He offers to pay for the dinner. We pass one frightful hill. It is long & winding scalped from a precipice of great height about 6 feet wide, & without any guard fence. It ascends at a gradient of 4 or 5, & is so rocky and uneven the carriage appears every instant as if upsetting. You can hardly see the horse over the low dark board as you descend. Yet this is the great mail road! The road from Hamilton so far as we went it goes through a low patch of very wet but tolerably good land badly cultivated and about half cleared between the lake and high ridge about 300 feet high
surmounted by level table land which we descended at Ancaster.
Sunday Jan 16th
Divine service. Ascend the mountain above Hamilton by a finely engineered road. The view from the summit is very beautiful; under lies the village of Hamilton; beyond it the head of Lake Ontario, surrounded on three sides by high wooded hills – a few schooners lie at the various wharves, cased in ice. Hamilton seems a thriving town of about 7000 inhabitants, with one very fine wide street and several smaller. It has good shops, but the shopkeepers say that in consequence of the bad roads, little business is down when the steam communications close. There are no fine public buildings. Rates of change in Canadian taverns 1/3 for each meal excellent board. 7 ½ for each half a
dollar for 24 hours horses’ livery – one feed 7 ½ Canadian horses are accustomed on a journey to get as much water as they wish to drink every ten or twelve miles.
There are excellent taverns every 3 or 4 miles along the road.
Monday Jan 17th
Hard frost. Buy a light carriage for $42 & a bear skin robe for $28. Start for home at 11am. Reach Woods tavern Bradford at 5pm. 39 miles – having skipped an hour to feed at Bradford.
Tuesday Jan 18th
Very cold. High wind and drifting snow. Start at 8am – reach London, 43 miles, at 3pm. [illegible word] as fresh as if she had never left her stable. Find John Hanly – the measles, but recovering.
Wednesday Jan 19
John Hanly greatly better. Dr. attends.
Thursday Jan 20.
Enclose $18 to R McKay, balance of price of carriage. Send receipt to Widder for £50.
Therm 50 -55. 32. Limerick Chronicle.
Friday January 21st.
Saturday Jan 22
Beautiful warm weather. I ride out with Dr. Goring to Delaware. See some land for sale. Finely situated on high ground overhanding the Thames. 3 miles from Delaware & 2 ½ off main road.
200 acres. 10 or 12 perhaps cleared with two log shanties. Price whole £400 cy. Soil tolerable.
Goring has bought a saw mill in the neighbourhood. If I bought & cleared this land it would bring “grist to his mill”. Delaware is neat clean valley of taverns, pretty and situated on the Thames and very fine bridges. Goring has a farm near it for which he asks £400 – 115 acres – so cleared and cultivated. Large shanty. He is willing to let it for £12 a year.
Sunday Jan 23
Divine service. Therm. 40
Monday January 24th
Receive £50 from Widder. I pay Mr. O’Dwyer £7.15 borrowed from him. To Mick £4. I pay a quarter’s rent at £6.5.
Tuesday January 25th
Foggy. Lots of rain. Therm. 50.
Wednesday Jan 26th
Very wet. Therm. In my parlour at 9pm. Fire out and winds open 70.
Thursday Jan 27th
Received most satisfactory letters from my mother, Mary Lucy & Ellen in reply to mine of Nov 15th. S. Coghlan and his son are in jail. The wicked shall not thrive. Wrote yesterday to Pat Howard, John Burns, and
William Hunt to whom I sent $4.
Friday Jan 28th, 1848
A little snow, succeeded by rain. Wrote a letter to my mother descriptive of my journeys to Port Stanley & Hamilton.
Saturday Jan 29th
Dispatched letters to my mother, Mary Lucy, and Fanny Calvert. Pay teamster for drawing in wood being according their own act in full.
Sunday, Jan 30, 1848
Divine service. Visit Mr. D. O’Brien, a Co. Cork man who came out here about 40 years ago, with a large sum of money which he increased in trade. He made huge purchases of land while it was yet very cheap. He built the Great Western Hotel here at an expense he says of £5000. It now pays him £250 a year rent. He has just built a very good house for himself, half
a mile south of London, which has cost him £2000. He farms extensively and he has a distillery. Sells his whiskey [illegible figure] per gallon, but admits that it is very bad.
Tells me that some of his low lying land has given him a succession of crops of wheat after clearing. He says that the profits from his farm, though so chiefly required, and pay for his labourers and taxes, that he will sell his land. I understand that he is, in fact, in the greatest difficulties, almost a ruined man. He keeps a large shop in Goderich, but has not been able yet, this winter, to send up fresh goods there, from want of sleighing & under the road [illegible word].
Speaks of the delay of the track here. Hope & Birnell, the largest dealers in groceries, hardware, and other goods, are only selling on commission. The town has improved much in its appearance since
the last time; but the log and brick buildings have been erected upon funds freely advanced by the banks who are now demanding payment which if enforced will produce extensive bankruptcies. Therm. 30.
Monday January 31.
Tuesdaay Feb 1st.
Wednesday Feb 2nd
Want of mountain outline gives rise to this poor Irishman’s remark that we must be very near the soul of this earth, as the sky seems so near us, where it meets the wood. Electric telegraph produces sound like a great Aeolian harp. Candlemass day.
Pat Neill takes employment of a livery stable at $7 per month.
Thursday Feb 3rd
Friday Feb 4th. Therm. 50.
Saturday Feb 5th. Therm. 45
Snowing. Therm. 23.
Sunday Feb 6th
Divine service being at St. Thomas. I read prayers to my household. Therm. 27. Wind from the north, coming in furious squalls whisking the drifting snow through the night with terrible force. Pat Neill throws off his employment without consulting me because his master will not allow him to come home at night.
Monday Feb 7th
Tuesday Feb 8th
Very heavy snow in the morning. Therm. 31 rises to 40. Sleighing
Wednesday Feb 9th 1848
Thursday Feb 10th
English mail. Received letters from my mother, Ellen & Mrs. L. Satisfactory.
Friday Feb 11th
Received letter from Aubrey which had misdirected to Toronto. He tells me that Elliot was delighted with my letter; had made a copy for Lord Grey & had said that it will lead to practical improvements. Therm. 15. Wrote letters to my mother, Mary Lucy, Vere, and Lord Monteagle.
Saturday Feb 12th.
Dispatched my letters to Lord Monteagle and Mother, Mary Lucy and Vere. The latter contains an important disclosure upon the reception of which depends my future fate in life. See a report of a public meeting in Toronto, adopting almost
verbatim my views as to the necessity of improvement in the emigration system. Thus I have the satisfaction of finding my opinions supported by the Canadian public, & at the same time likely to be adopted by the English ministry.
Sunday Feb 13th
Divine service. Beautiful sunny and warm weather. Sharp night frost. Receive a letter from Johnny Burns.
Monday Feb 14th
Write to John Burns enclosing him $40. Ask him to come to see me here.
Roger having applied to me for a loan of money to enable him to join his friends in Albany, I agree to make him a payment of $16 for that purpose. Therm. 43.
Mr. Goodhue informs me that stock of Great Western Railroad [illegible phrase] of £250,000 had been taken of Boston.
Tuesday Feb 15th
Pat Neill’s brother arrived in town last night. Weather so beautiful that the approach of spring seem perceptible.
Wednesday Feb 16th
Thursday Feb 17th
Weather still lovely. Drive out with sleigh as far as Delaware. Notwithstanding this long continued dry weather, the roads are knee deep in heavy marsh, half clay half sand.
Friday Feb 18th
Drive on the Hamilton road as far as the Toucher mile house Dorchester. Pass up there and walk over the pine forest. Scotch fir standing about 4 feet asunder. Tall, but quite beautiful, except on top. In other parts, not so thick with underwood of beech and seedling firs – soil, a poor sand, with a couple of inches of rich black [illegible word] mold.
You sometimes meet with thickets of the beautiful hemlock spruce, whose young growth is remarkably handsome. In the more marshy spots you are sure to meet wild toadstools [illegible word] of the aborite occasionally growing to a giant size (20 feet circumference).
General appearance tall & mountainous.
Many old dead trees still standing, whereas ground soft the growth is covered with the trunks of fallen trees, lying in all directions of inexpressible confusion, but often useful in forming natural bridges to enable you to cross deep swamps.
These fallen trees present every degree of [illegible phrase] – sometimes you walk knee deep in a kind of woody [illegible word], the outside of which appears a solid tree. These rotting trees often become receptacles for the seeds of other trees, & you may see them break fir, hemlock, and arborite growing side by side, even reaching
heights of 100 feet, with branches from the sides of a prostrate trunk. The dead timber quickly becomes covered with beautiful maples, beeches, and gigantic [illegible word], one of which growing in a horseshoe form out from the base of a tree I found to exceed 4 ½ feet in its outer circumference. The woods grow out laterally [illegible phrase] and penetrate the ground to every depth. The ground is generally flat, the promontory of the wood being increased by the want of the views of hill & dale, but you frequently come suddenly on the edge of an enormous ravine, which must have formally been produced by the passage of some large and [illegible word] of water. It is frequently without a stream, and beyond it [illegible word] the way again the level wood was to
a past of choppers were at work, scattered around in different directions, & every few minutes are heard the fall of some lofty pine, crashing through the rough [illegible word] storms, & making while forest shake & shiver as its huge length reached the soil.
I send specimens of a fern and a maple [illegible word] I recollect having seen at home, and a [illegible word] of the seeds of the hemlock spruce I obtained with great difficulty from the immense number of little cones. I should like to try them with rabbit [illegible word] and leaf mould. Another seasonal characteristic of an American forest is the absence of small birds – at least of the woodpecker kind.
Saturday Feb 19th.
Rain. Therm. 40.
Sunday Feb 20th 1848
Divine Service. Rain & hail.
Monday Feb 21st.
A farmer from the Huron tract comes & asks me to lend him £70. To pay the Canada Co. for his land which he has been on 7 years. His whole stock is now just worth the purchase money. He says that [illegible word] advance it upon the security offered me, on a bill of sale of stock & a mortgage of the land, but at 20 p.c.
Tuesday Feb 22nd
Pat Neill goes to a place at a livery stable in St. Thomas
at $9 per month.
Wednesday Feb. 23rd.
Write and dispatch a letter to my mother.
Thursday Feb 24th
Friday Feb 25th
Drove out to Dorchester to shoot, but met no game. Therm. 25
Saturday Feb 26th
English mail received. A letter from my uncle. He mentions that Lord Grey requested leave to forward my letter to Lord Elgin & also to lay it before Parliament. May it do good! I surely seek neither gain nor fame for myself. Had a conversation
with D. O’Brien’s clerk. He informs me that they have been purchasing wheat all this winter at 2/6 cy per bushel. That the prices at Hamilton & Port Stanley has been from 3/9 to 4/; &
at Ste. Catharines and the Welland Canal 5/. This speaks volumes as to the necessity of improving internal communications.
A bushel of wheat is 60 lbs minimum, & generally somewhat more. A bushel of oats is 36 lbs.
Made a lease agreement with the owner of my house. I may keep it on monthly. I must give him a month’s notice before leaving, or pay a month’s rent from the date of my notice. Therm. 24.
Sunday Feb 27th.
Went to St Thomas with Michael. Divine service there.
Monday Feb 28th
Interview with Mr. Goodhue in which I read to him my letter to Elliot. He seems entirely to coincide with me in his opinion. Then expounded Provinces to urge upon the Legislative Council the principles that Emigrants be of families, not individuals. Read to him DM’s plan, much of which he approves. He’s quite distant from the principle of Lord Grey’s dispatch. Says that regulation of a limited nature was proposed in the Legislative Council at the beginning of last year, and discarded on the
principle that any impact on the captain or owner of [illegible word] fell on the emigrant.;
[several illegible lines]
He says also that notwithstanding all the evils and expenses of last year’s emigration, Canada will yet derive great benefit from it. He promises to advance my plans and to oppose Lord Grey’s dispatches vigorously in the council.
[Illegible word] approves of the plan to “ship [illegible word] agents” which I
think perfectly practicable.
I think I can see merit in Lord Grey’s dispatch. He knows the popular feeling which will press upon government both at home and here the necessity of a larger outlay to render emigration safer and useful. He is anxious & worried I think, of yielding to Canadian fears and short-sighted prejudices the power of checking emigrants [illegible phrase]
Write a long review of L. Grey’s dispatch on Emigration which is in the former part of a letter to Lord Monteagle.
Thurs. Feb 29th
Wrote a letter to Lord Monteagle, in which I embodied my remarks upon Lord Grey’s dispatch. Very cold. Strong wind & drifting snow. Therm. 20.
Wednesday March 1, 1848
John Burns arrives from Troy. Very cold. Therm. 10. 15. Mr. Goodhue much pleased with my strictures on Lord Grey’s dispatch. Asks leave to take measures for laying them before the Legislative Council which I agreed to.
Learn that the hospital – Buffalo contained 1600 patients who are now all absorbed in the labouring population there.
Thursday, March 2.
Therm. 15. 20. Snowing. I receive a most satisfactory letter from Elliot, & acknowledging my letter, and asserting now that it will produce important practical results. He sends me also the papers on the subject of Emigration laid before Parliament.
I write a letter in reply to him, and add a postscript to my letter.
Friday March 3rd.
Snowing. Therm. 20.
Saturday, March 4
Snow thick on the ground. Therm. 15.20. Write and dispatch letter to my mother and send a copy of my remarks on Lord Grey’s dispatch.
Send off my letters to Lord Monteagle and Elliot
Sunday March 5th.
Divine service. Good sleighing. Therm. 10.
Monday March 6th
Thawing rapidly. Met mad dog who passed within 6 yards of me. No stick.
Tuesday March 7
Drive J Burns to Dorchester. Walk on the Pine forest and across the immense cedar swamp. A hemlock lying on the ground girthing 9 feet at 75 ft. from ground. Meet a bear track.
Wednesday March 8
Ash Wednesday. Divine service. Prayer & little Tom leaves me for the States. I have no fear for Tom, whom I am most sincerely sorry after. He will go wherever he goes.
Rain Therm. 37.
Thursday March 9.
Friday March 10.
Saturday March 11.
Sunday March 12.
Divine service. Storm & rain.
Monday March 13.
Write to Widder enclosing receipt for £50.
Tuesday March 14th.
English mail arrives, but again, brings no letter from home. I cannot but surmise that the continued silence may result from my communications on the subject of my change of religion. God grant that if any evil tidings be the course, they may be of a nature affecting myself alone. I would be unworthy of blessing of the faith I hold, if I did not consider it a glorious privilege to suffer for it.
Very cold. Furious north wind, with clouds of drifting snow. Therm. in the morning at 8 or 10. Rises to 15, 20 and falls again to 10, 5.
Wednesday March 15
Continued cold. Therm. 10. Falls at night to zero.
Thursday March 16
Walk up the river. Cut hickory sticks. Gigantic tree overhanging the water.
I believe from the peeled bark that it is a Platanus. They call it here the button tree, white sycamore. The upper branches and spreading. It bears a great quality of little branches, like chestnuts, consisting of a feathering purple [illegible word], enclosing a small stone. This tree having room to spread, is wide branching from the trunk before diverging measures 30 feet circumference.
Friday March 17
Patrick’s Day. Driving snow. Therm. 50.
I cross the Thames on the ice. A horse might safely cross it.
Saturday March 18.
Sunday March 19
Divine service at St. James. I drive there with Johnny Burns. We go afterwards to Port Stanley. Some good land and skilful Scotch farmers. Lofty oak and maple woods, “a pillow shed”. The hogs, if allowed to roam in the woods, fatten on the nuts and become soft if oily. If allowed to remain for over two or three weeks, the quality of the flesh can only be restored by starving them. The flesh becomes measly. Curious [illegible word]
Monday March 20.
Tuesday March 21.
Wednesday March 22
Walked out with my gun & shot four specimens of small birds, which are now beginning to appear with the approach of Spring. Visit Mr. Killally’s [estate?] on the banks of the Thames, now for sale. It consists of 400 acres, of which over 100
are cleared. Fair land and pleasantly situated about 5 miles from London. Situation rather low. Very good wooden house, fit to accommodate large family. [Stated price] £1400, but I dare say £1000, or £1100 ready money would buy it. Communication with London very bad. Having got his appointment in the Public Works department, he has removed to the Lake Superior coppermines. House is bad upstairs.
Thursday March 23rd
Weather beautiful. Every day becoming warmer. [Illegible word] continues fire all night.
Friday March 24th
Not well for last few days. Suffering from my old pain in pit of stomach.
Saturday March 25th
Lady Day. Divine service. Therm. 60
Case from Emigration Agent [illegible phrase] parcel from SCSR.
Sunday March 26
Confirm Therm. at 10pm. 55.
Replied to Emigration Agent’s letter Toronto.
Monday March 27.
Therm. 50. Evident approach of sprint.
Tuesday March 28
English mail arrives. No letter for now from home, but letter received by Stephen saying that all are quite well at Curragh. Receive a letter from Boston to say that a parcel directed to me is there. Write to British Consul there directing him to forward it to me.
Pleasing also that no one from Vere’s estate in the poor house or gaol.
Wednesday March 29 1848
John Burns leaves me. I drive him to Dorchester. Sugar making – a deep notch is made – the maple, at the crown corner of which a little spout is inserted which conveys the sap, sometimes dropping and sometimes flowing in a continuous [illegible word] into wooden troughs. This sap is purely transparent, like water, and almost tasteless. It is afterwards boiled and sold in [illegible words] which dark brown cakes [illegible line] beginning to appear.
The bear whose track I came upon on my last visit to Dorchester has been shot and was
sold for $10. Winter wheat beginning to [illegible word]. Measured a stable barn 60 x 40.
Telegraphic dispatch mentioning spread of revolutionary principles through the French department, Bavaria, Spain, Russia & acknowledging of new French republic [illegible phrase]. To my surprise, & the eternal honour of Ireland she remains undisgraced by outrages. Should this continue she should conquer England by gratitude….
Collect some seeds of an unknown plant forming a thick carpet
part of Dorchester [illegible word] soil sand mixed with light brown & lean mould above. From the leaves I expect it be another hypericum or andromeda.
Extraordinary appearance of the River Thames, covered with noble trunks of pines, cut to lengths of 12 or 14 feet, floating down to a saw mill.
I understand that the great bulk of settlers under the Canada Co. in the Huron tract are determined to hold the land they have reclaimed without paying off the purchase money. They cannot
well pay it as, generally speaking the amount charged by the Co. will amount to more than the profits they have cleared. I foresee that this, arousing such action the considerable disaffection of the Hibernian Canadians, must be productive of much serious consequence there. I am informed that, again on the eve when the Govt. just about to exhort for volunteers, out of an Irish population of 2000 in Montreal, with [illegible word] 100 enrolled, a great change has taken place since the Canadian rebellion.
Tables on emigration to Canada from 1833-1847 For 1847:
No. of emigrants arrived: 98,106
No. admitted to hospital: 8691
Percentage of admission: 8.86
No. of deaths: 3238
Percentage of deaths: 37.26
Cholera: [290 deaths 1833; none for 1847]
Percentage of children: not recorded for 1847
Fever and dysentery: 8574
Percentage of fever and dysentery: 8.74
Small pox: 92
Percentage of smallpox: 0.09
Other diseases: 25
Percentage of other diseases: 0.33
Showing the number of clergy, medical men, Hospital attendants & others, who contracted fever & died during season 1847 in attendance on sick emigrants at Grosse Isle.
No. who attended hospital No who contracted fever No who died
Roman Catholic priests 42 19 4
Clergymen Church of England 17 7 2
Medical Men 26 22 4
Hospital Stewards 29 21 3
Nurses, orderlies, cooks 186* 76 22
Policemen 10 8 3
Carters employed to move 6 5 2
The sick, dying, and dead
Clerks, bakers, servants 15 3
Dept. of Emigration agents 1 1
Clerk to so 1 1
Customs officers employed 2 1
To examine baggage
Servants of Roman Catholic 8 4 1
*Many of the hospital orderlies, nurses, and cooks were emigrants who were employed after their convalescence from fever; otherwise the proportions of sick would have been greater, as nearly all those who came down from Montreal and Quebec to be engaged contracted fever, either at Grosse isle, or soon after leaving it.
Return of Emigrants admitted, discharged, & died at Quarantine hospital at Grosse Isle, during the season ending 3 Nov. 1847.
Admitted Discharged Died Fever and Dysentry Smallpox Other
Men 3534 2713 1361 3514 15 4
Women 2763 1744 969 2730 20 13
Children 2394 1486 908 2329 57 8
Total: 8691 5433 3238 8754 92 25
Showing the average daily numbers of sick during each month of the season:
May 15 to 31 ----- 451
August --------2021 1/3
Oct. 1 to 24 ---------346
Average daily number of sick during season: 1307
The proceeding 4 tables have been furnished by Dr. Douglas, medical superintendent of Grosse Isle Quarantine Establishment.
Thursday, March 30, 1848
Visited the railroad shanties, built of anchored logs piled over one another & slightly fitted at the corners. The interstices stuffed with clay. One of them, about 16 + 8, accommodated a man wife & family & 16 boarders. He was a Northern Orangeman & so were his boarders have called “far-downs”. The southerns are generally called “Corkonians”. The beds were piled in layer at either end, large cooking stove stood in the midst, rude shelves down the sides held plates cups & strange to say, there was a general air of comfort [illegible phrase]. He is the owner of 200 acres in the Huron tract. His boarders paid him 1 ½ dollars per week and good diet, meat every day. In
consequence of the delay in the railroad work, almost all of the unemployed labourers are going to a Michigan railroad where they will receive 3/6 [illegible figure] per day. Wretched climate. There have been lately several cases of fever and ague here. Shot a beautiful bird called the Wake Up or High Holder.
Therm. 60 shed. 85 sun.
Friday March 31.
Heavy hot rain. Vegetation springing forward as if by magic.
Saturday April 1st
Light snow on the ground. Therm. 30.
Attend magistrate’s court presiding Mr. Dixon the hatter. Painstaking but quite ignorant of the law. Decisions utterly illegal.
I see by the papers that Govt. has adopted my suggestion of ship emigration agents.
April 2, 1848
Sunday. Divine Service. J. Burns writes with word that the road from Hamilton to Ste. Catherines is as bad as ever.
Therm. 50. Write a letter to Vere to go by tomorrow’s mail. [Illegible word] grey mare. Enclose sums deeds. Mention intended journey through the lower provinces. Hear from Tommy Hanly from Troy. Hired with a Doctor for $7 a month.
Monday April 3rd 1848
Tuesday, April 4 1848
Dispatch a letter to Vere, warning him of my future movements, and asking him after the 20th to direct [post] to the care of John Burns, Troy.
Sell a feather bed [illegible phrase] £3.5 and a pair of blankets. 1.5
Visit court of quarter sessions.
Extraordinary scene. An attorney, Beecher,
brings actions for costs – is obliged
to prove his charges reasonable and fair.
For that purpose tenders the book to judge [name illegible] who
refuses to be drawn. [illegible word] ultimately examines his own clerk,
& the judge suppresses the evidence. The jury having some doubts, the judge instantly orders them to be locked up and adjourns the case at 4pm. It being necessary to prove [illegible word] of a bill of costs, [several illegible lines]
The judge directs the jury to find for the plaintiff, entire sum, tells them that he is satisfied on that point by
an endorsement on the bill and the handwriting of a respectable man known to himself. [illegible word].
Constant rain. Therm. 50.
Wednesday April 5th
Sunny fair day. Therm. 55.
Drove down to Dorchester on a shooting excursion.
Thursday April 6th
Dorchester. Out shooting. Shoot 3 pheasants & two white hares. Very wet swamp which is hard to walk through for more than a mile up to one’s knees in water. Slept in Dorchester.
Friday April 7th
Dorchester. Shooting again. Cross the river in a little canoe. Rapid current.
No foam. Shoot out at white hare. Narrowly miss shooting a fine bear.
Walk a fair wood of extraordinary character and somber beauty. The trees, all Scotch firs, stand so thickly upon the ground as [illegible word] to exclude the rays of the sun when not [illegible word] over. They are of common size, but all spring from the ground with several trunks growing an extended circumference from 30 to 40 feet; for the first fifty feet knotted and twisting to grotesque forms, and then shooting up straight to a height of 200 feet. Unlike the other [illegible word], this had beeches underwood, all seemed without bark above and below as though the [illegible word]
Too there was not a tree blown down, & the axe seemed never to have reached it.
Met a garden snake 2 ½ feet full length. Kill it. In the afternoon return to London. I find that the English mail has arrived & brought me a satisfactory letter from Vere and my mother. They are dated Feb. 27, but Michael receives a letter dated March 8. Upon turning up my own street I am astonished by seeing a large, two storied brick chimneyed house standing in the middle of the street. It is like the sudden appearance of
Ali Baba’s palace… [illegible lines] I find on examining that it is moving on rollers & is drawn of a rope attached to [illegible word] at a considerable distance and worked [illegible word] horses. Very hot.
Saturday April 8
Therm. in shade at 12 oc 73. Report or revolutionary proceedings in Ireland.
Sunday April 9th
Divine service. Being of St. Thomas. I read prayers to my family. Very high therm. in the shade at 2pm. 80.
Telegraphic dispatch from N.Y. brings report of serious disturbance in Dublin that
2000 persons killed but states no particulars or results.
Monday April 10
Very hot. Therm. 80. Large take of fish in the river. Bad fish, called suckers, from 1 lb.
Tuesday April 11
Rain & thunder. Therm. 60. Begin a long letter to my mother – description of American forests.
Wednesday April 12
Therm. 60. Telegraphic dispatch arrives & wholly controverts the reports of the Dublin massacre, which must have originated in some mistake in the Telegraph office.
Thursday April 13
Sudden change in weather. Therm. 37.
Friday April 14th
Sell some books by auction. £12.9.1
Sell saddle to Mr. O Dwyer. £3
Bridle to Dr. Goring. 2
Feather bed to Mr. O Dwyer. 3.5
Blankets “ 1.5
Saturday April 15th
Sunday April 16
Divine service. Palm Sunday.
Monday April 17
P. Neill & wife leave for Troy. I give him £6.5.0 & gifts of clothing. Pay one month’s rent on house due this day & give month’s notice of quitting.
Tuesday April 18
Expect English mail, but does not come. Therm. 40. High easterly wind. Air thickened with flying sand. Sleet towards evening. Very cold.
Wednesday April 19 1848
Snow three or four inches deep. Therm. 30. In the spot where two days ago it stood at 80 or 90.
Thursday April 20
Weather again warm and sunny, but frosty… English mail comes in. Received long and cheerful letter from my mother, Mary Lucy, & Ellen dated March 15. Conclude my dispatch to my mother. Not well. Stomach attack.
Friday Apr. 21st.
Good Friday. Hear that my Boston package has arrived in Hamilton. I send for it through Mr. Murphy. Total charges still unwell, fever and to dysentery.
Saturday April 22nd.
Dispatch my letter to my mother, description of political, also a note for Mary Sue. Still far from well.
Sunday April 23rd.
Easter Sunday. I am unable to attend Divine service. Three successive doses of castor oil have no effect.
Monday April 24th.
Very ill, in bed, send for doctor Goring. He orders large doses of calomel every three hours. Towards evening much relieved. Reports of insurrection in Ireland.
Tuesday April 25
Much better, thank God, but exceptionally weak. Try to sit up, but cannot.
Wednesday April 26
Better & stronger, but stomach still so weak & disordered that I cannot venture on solid food. A soldier, Limerick man, our Steward, who was bitten by the dog I so providentially escaped, died of hydrophobia after 2 days illness. All his effects burned by colonel’s orders. Write Oberon & Titania. for my little Godson Aubrey O’Brien. Telegraph disp. Confirms rumor of disturbances in Dublin.
Apr 27 1848
Dr orders exercise and tonics. I walk out & return much exhausted. My natural digestion seems wholly stopped. Write a poem, Oberon & Titania. Hear from P. O’Neill in Buffalo. He can earn 18 dollars a month there. A common labourman as Johnny Purcil can get $14 & plenty of work. Everything cheap.
Friday, Apr. 28
Better today. Write to John Burns enclosing $15 to enable Ned McDonagh to come here to be cured. Write to Ellen.
Therm. 65. Heavy rain at night.
Saturday Apr. 29
Better. Cold windy day. 50 dogs shot in the streets yesterday & great numbers put down by Mayor’s orders.
Sunday Apr. 30.
Divine service at St. Thomas. I read prayers to my household. Collect some specimens of early spring flowers which I put to dry.
Monday May 1
Warm heavy showers. Rapid vegetation, but no leaves in trees yet. Mr. O’Dwyer says if I have difficulty in settling, he will take my horse, carriage, traps at my own valuation. I mention $100 which he approves of.
Wednesday May 3
Receive letters from Vere and my mother. The former mentions that he has not yet made the disclosure of my religious change to my mother. She mentions Vere’s intention of going abroad. I write to Vere urging him to inform her at once
& advising him not to go abroad unless his affairs render it absolutely necessary.
Thursday, May 4
Start for Toronto with Smt at 6am. Reach Bradford, 57 miles, at 4 ¼ pm travelling 7 ½ hours heavy showers.
Friday May 5th
Leave Bradford ½ past 6. Reach Hamilton 10am (25 miles). Breakfast there. Start ½ past 3pm by the Dundas street road. Part deep white sand. Part heavy clay. Roads now hard & full of enormous ruts. Meet & kill a large black snake 4 feet long & ten [illegible word]. Said here to be venomous. Overtaken at night by a
tremendous thunder storm. To avoid it take my quarters at a small place called Palermo. Reach there at 7pm. 17 miles. Well cultivated country. Good houses. Settled since 1811. English and German. No hosteller. Clean my own horse. Bad supper. No milk for coffee.
Saturday May 6th.
Start at 6 ½ am. Breakfast & feed at Posts’s tavern. 5 miles. Comfortable. Awful hills. Arrive Toronto, 30 miles, 1pm.
Sunday May 7
Divine service. Drink tea with Mr. Widder. Read him my emigration letter of which he altogether approves. He
quite agrees with me in my two great points – that colonisation would be most benefited by attention to emigration, & that a system of internal communications aided by Govt. is the best mode of assisting emigration and benefiting the colony. I read his letter to Gladstone but 1845 in which he urges western railroads guaranteed by Govt. to the colony.
He proposes that the net P.O. be assigned over to the railroad company & that the government should contract with them for fifteen years for military and mail transportation.
Proposes that 25,000 a year be put by government and like sum by Provincial Parliament, or the whole 50,000 be only guaranteed by England, Canada engaging for its redemption and interest. Prove necessary of such a work in a military, social, and commercial point of view.
A plank road £500 to £700 per mile.
Macademized 1200 to 1800
Former lasts about 5 years
Expense of keeping up latter would b £15 a year after first two years.
Widder’s railroad project is that 2,000,000 acres belonging to Govt. north of Huron tract be set apart as security for railroad funds to remain with Govt. until alieanated to bona fide settlers. Colonial government to issue debentures for one half cost, to be guaranteed by the Imperial Govt. for remaining half, for land north of Huron (50 to 100 acres) at fixed price.
Worth it to pay half in cash half in land certificates [illegible phrase]
The worth of net railroad profit to be pledged for discharge of [illegible word] debt only.
It is proposed that the works be carried out by company.
Railroad – No 2.
Suffers from 1 principally by supposing that the construction & upkeep of railroad be assumed entirely by [illegible word] government, they setting apart the 2000,000 acres & certain clauses for allowing companies now in existence to realize proft upon certain terms.
States that the demand for labour in the railroad would be greatly exceeded [illegible lines]
lives afterwards made by district councils.
Govt. to grant to persons willing to establish from 1 to 3 families on his farm a sum of money to build cottage & buy 2 cows to be paid when house built & own acres cropped & resident located. Person making improvements to have power of nominating emigrant family [illegible phrase]. to hold trust free for 5 years; for next 5 years at rent = with a debt for construction & clearing, with power to buy.
No speculation allowed. Families
to be forwarded by Govt. Fee simple to be paid to Govt. till debt paid.
Removal or subletting to be forbidden of claim. No returns by Govt. after families established – & no cottage to be erected when not clearing off 20 acres in adjoining 200.
Family after 5 years residence and production of clergyman’s vouching for character to be permitted to make cash purchase from Govt. 50 acres, giving of cottage holding owner of land & family one barrel of flour & of pork.
Loans of £10 to £20 to be made by Govt. to Emigrant families on security of parties settled…
Remittances from Canada Co. from emigrants to their friends at home in small sums…
Monday May 8
Called at Canada Co. office and settled accounts.
Find standing to my credit: £1233
& interest 44
Tuesday May 9
Take a cheque (for Mr. O’Dwyer’s loan) 100
Cash – 40
Draft on New York – 60
Returned again to Widder
Arrange to allow Mr McMahon a power of drawing from Troy £100.
Dine with Widder. Pleasant evening. First music since arrived in America. Meet Mr. Warburton, cousin of Elliot, W., who has just gotten a post office inspectorship & Mr Todd whose sister is married to Ham[?] Lane. & Vice Chancellor Jameson. Husband of the authoress. She is vindicator of women’s rights, prefers living in England.
Got carriage appraise $7
Livery stable ½ dollar a day
Wednesday May 10
Start for return by Lake
shore road. Clay road. Fine views of lake. Poor country. Pine & birch. Port Credit 14 miles. Struggling little port, wretched wharves. Ruinous. Running out thus form Creek into lake. Sleep at Wellington Square 36 miles having lost my way which added 4 miles. Comfortable.
Thursday May 11
Very wet & cold. Cannot start till ten oc. Road very rough & freshly stoned. The views across the northern end of Burlington bay are most lovely surrounded by high woods, with the town of Hamilton beautifully rising
out of the forest at the opposite side. Slept at Phelans (Cartwood’s) tavern, Bradford – very comfortable. Reach about 7oc 47 miles.
Friday May 12
Start at 8oc. Reach London at 5oc. Rec. letters from my mother & Aubrey. They strongly press me to remain here a little time suggesting that a return now might place me in a most painful position, as in case of any disturbance my brother and like are decided for Govt’s part, and such a course they know would be impossible for me.
Ned [?] is come from Troy. His [?] there make me so unwilling to spend any time among
them that I resolve to remain here another month. Fail in getting my lease renewed for a month as a new tenant has engaged my house.
Saturday May 13
House hunting, unsuccessful
Sunday May 14.
Divine service. Write letters to Aubrey. Evening mail. No letters. Write to Widder sending him back his cheque for £100 ([illegible word] I had intended for the [illegible words] to be restored to my account.)
Monday May 15
Mr O’Dwyer sends mail in the
following act. showing a balance due to him of £7.11.6. which he asks for [illegible entries in accounts
he declines taking or paying for the saddle for which he had agreed & given £3, until my departure.
I hand him over £7.11.6 which I send by [illegible name].
He had also agreed to buy [illegible lines]
Tuesday May 16
Succeed in getting a house which I take for 2 months at $8 per month. I must give a fortnight’s notice if I intend to leave at the expiration of 2 months.
Assizes going on. Crown counsel after examining some witnesses calls up another, & says “you have heard the examination of the preceding witness, do you corroborate them in every particular?” Again, he asks the judge what can he do in the case of a prisoner whom he finds in jail. No information – no committal – jailer agreed to tally of what exegesis [illegible word] committed or for what crime.
The judge merely remarks upon the [illegible word] of the proceedings.
Wednesday May 17
Write back to Widder his [illegible word] projects for emigration & colonization, with a long
letter of queries and remarks.
Thursday May 18
Very hot day. Therm. in shade 80. Receive letter from Widder stating that he had restored to my acct. £100 which I sent him back
Friday May 19th
Move into new house. Pay Mr. Smith in full for rent £2.1.9. & pay one month’s rent on my new house in advance £2. Exceedingly hot.
Saturday May 20.
Heavy rain. Take out my gun and shoot some beautiful specimens of birds. Spring flowers. Large violet wild geraniums. Wild violets, slimmer than at home, but some white & some bright yellow, which may be pansies. Beautiful purple phlox – no primrose, no daisies. River abounding with fish of various kinds. Killed in various
numbers by net, hooks & spears – suckers, mullet, black bass, handsome ferns – yellow marsh. Hundreds of beautiful little squirrels smaller than a rat, grey haired down the back with black chipmunks.
Sunday May 21
Divine service. Hot and dark, with heavy thunder showers.
Monday May 22
Start for Niagara at 8am. Stop at Phelans tavern Bradford 4pm. Remark the purple [illegible words] Visit a steam saw mill – engines 16 horse power & 2 saws. Goes without [illegible word] from 1 a Monday to 10pm Saturday..
Engineer, a young Scotchman. They
consume the saw dust [illegible words]
Will keep engine going for 14 hours only of 24. Eight hands employed at from 11 to 16 dollars a month. Saw only pine. Principally goes to United States. They intend when all lumber within 2 or 3 miles is sawed to apply the machinery to corn grinding.
The expense of removing lumber at a greater distance from mill too heavy. The builders and proprietor of the mill is now and the mill kept going by the [illegible line].
Tuesday May 23.
Start at 7am. Reach Hamilton at 3pm. 39 miles. Walk to the other side of the bay to show Mick the splendid view across. The scenery without mountains can be more beautiful than
Burlington bay. In the evening we go to hear Langrishe, a comic singer, improvisator, and actor of Irish parts, of considerable talent.
Wednesday May 24
Start from Hamilton at 9am. Road fearfully bad – in fact, no road. Stop for two hours to rest & feed & reach St. Catharines. 35 miles. St. C. is 4 miles up the Welland canal. Flourishing town. Very Irish. Large mills, excellent hotel, great corn market. Country from Hamilton to St. C. very fine – deep clay. Large settlement – 4 handsome churches. Catholic built by Irish labourers on Welland canal. Part of road well engineered, but miserably kept.
Thursday May 25
Leave St. Cath. 9 am. Road somewhat better to St. Davids. 8 miles. Here leave mail line & strike across a fine & picturesque hill road to the falls. 6 miles from St. Davids.
What an unworthy description of the falls if I’m to describe them as one of the “wonders” of the world. They do not excite your terror, your awe, earn your astonishment, but they compel and rivet your rapturous admiration. The height of the cataract is not very great: 160 feet being the maximum, & their apparent height is in part
diminished by their prodigious breadth & by the elevation of them found upon which you stand, drinking into your soul that scene of glorious beauty. The falls themselves form but a feature in a most harmonious picture. The waters of Lake Erie are seen descending in the distance in one broad mass, tossing their bubbles of foam from rock to rock. The torrent is channeled by a beautiful wooded island whose sides are lashed by the foam of the waters, but whose extremity facing view stands up boldly, a lofty cliff from the abyss onto which the flood is hurtled.
The waters, as soon as they reach the rim of this island cliff, tumble over at each side. The cataract itself is perfectly indescribable.
It must be seen, even painted, but even the painter cannot convey it, the sudden change of coloring of the waters as they roll over, now dark green, now white as milk; the colour of mist, which rises ceaseless, to an immense height [illegible word]. From the chasm mists [illegible word] the converging waters of the great horse shoe fall precipitously themselves, now aerially transparent, now opaque like solid foam, reflecting back the sun’s rays & inlaid with the most vivid rainbows; the torrent sometimes, with increased energy, bounding from top to bottom like gigantic ropes
of foam, occasionally from some unknown cavern, as if weary, retreating back, & disclosing some black jutting fork from which they bound again in a fresh cataract of spray. And the sound, sometimes called to a sudden moaning, & the bursting forth into a furious deafening roar. All these are beyond the painters skill. But below, what a triumph awaits his turmoil. The united waters rush through the narrowed rocky channel of the Niagara river in cascading eddies of dark green water fleshed with snakes of white foam, penned in by cliffs of rock 200 feet high and surmounted by magnificent forests.
Visit the new suspension bridge, [illegible word] in prospect 850 feet across 250 over the water. About 1 ½ miles below the falls. United Canadian & American capitol. Barnetts museum. Go behind the falls. Disappointed by the affair [?] Cross to the American side where best views of the falls in detail. Mists rather inform [illegible word] or effect. Chapter house. Comfortable and fine view of the falls.
Friday May 26
Leave the falls at 3pm & get at 8pm to a little village. Jordan. 21 miles – accommodation very bad. No hay. No oats at all to be begged or borrowed. Eaten by bugs & pass the night without sleep, walking about the room.
Saturday May 27
Start at 6oc reach Hamilton at 2ocpm. Surprised by meeting at the wharf Widow Swifter and family. All well, happy & respectable. They tell me that theirs was the first ship under the new order
in council. Perfectly healthy & comfortable. That many a one on board was giving me their blessing. Walk into handsome shop to buy shot, & find behind the counter my old friend Evans of Limerick. He is doing great business, on ready money dealings, & has a splendid store in King St. Rent £120. Burke the bookseller & auctioneer tells me that he has seen a most favorable review of Aubrey’s book in
Bronsom’s Quarterly Review, pub. Boston.
Sunday May 28
Leave Hamilton at 8am. Hottest day this year. Intensely hot. Pass four hours during the heat of the day in Bradford and reach Phelans 8pm.
Monday May 29
Leave Phelans at 6am. Reach London about 12oc. All well, thank God.
Tuesday May 30.
Wednesday May 31.
Thursday June 1
Out shooting and add to my collection of specimens of American birds.
Saturday June 3
Receive a delightful letter from my dear mother, written in excellent spirits, quite forcefully. She says it is quite probable that she, Vere & Ned may pass a few weeks in England.
Therm. at 7pm in the sun stands at 100.
Sunday June 4
Divine service. I write a long letter to my mother.
Monday June 5
Out shooting & collecting specimens of birds for stuffing.
Tuesday June 6
Collecting and preserving botanical specimens.
Wednesday June 7
Resume shooting. Delicious bathing weather. Beautifully warm, with a splendid breeze.
Thursday June 8
Write to Mr. Widder a letter on emigration, explanatory of parts of long letter to Elliot which has appeared in the newspapers. Mr. Goodhue informs me that the Buffalo Railroad had been prohibited from carrying during the summer months, the freights
that usually went by the Erie Canal, but that now, the traffic of that canal exceeding its capabilities, the Government is about to allow the railroad to carry their freights, in paying to the Government an amount of tolls equal to those paid on the canal.
Friday June 9
English mail. No letter.
Therm. in sun 120.
Saturday June 10
Write an article on the policy of the English Govt. respecting the expenses of emigration, which is most thankfully adopted as a leading article by the Western Canadian.
Sunday June 11
Monday June 12
Hear that P. Neill’s sister is ill in town. Send Dr. Goring to attend to her.
Tuesday June 13
Call on the mayor go to represent the impolicy as well as the inhumanity of having no permanent hospital in this large town from contagious diseases. There is not even a dispensary. The Mayor fully agrees with me, but thinks it will be difficult to persuade the town council. I urge my views also upon Mr. Goodhue. Dr. Goring tells me that the pecuniary affairs of the town are in such embarrassment that they must get their [?] discounted at 50 percent. All this through jobbing & dishonesty. No public improvements effected.
The last 3 days cold, with strong north westerly wind.
Wednesday June 14 1848
Pack my birds, furs – sell my pony, carriage & harness to Dr. Goring for $100. Sell him saddle for $12. I agree to send little Johnny Pindar for 2 years. He is to give him $2 a month for the first year, and $4 a month for the second.
Sell my furniture to Mr. Clarke, from whom I bought it, at about one third less than at first cost.
Black walnut chest -- $5
Thursday June 15
“Western Canadian” appears, containing Oberon & Titania, & my article on last year’s emigration expenditures. Also some remarks on inefficiency of medical charities.
Dr. Goring tells me that
travelling medical men who want to cross the Atlantic are found willing to come over as “serving agents” of emigrant ships for a free passage without salary.
To such men is this important situation given by this [illegible word] payment of regular government salaries. Very hot. Therm. at 9am in the sum 114 – at 5pm shade 96 – at 10pm 88.
Friday June 16th
Therm. in sun at 9am 123. Shade 95. Pass a pleasant evening at Allens. Young Mr. Allen gives us some fine specimens of birds. The bite of the rattle snake does not affect pigs, who eat them.
Clover hay. 1 ½ tons considered fine crop.
Saturday June 17
Curious fact that in very large proportion of the black squirrels caught are found castrated. This is done by the red squirrel.
Sunday June 18
Divine service being at St. Thomas. I read prayers at home. Dr. Goring tells me of curious meal in which snakes feed their young [illegible word] by swallowing them.
Monday June 19
Draw up dispatch & pot a receipt
Mr Widder for £70.
Tuesday June 20
Preparations for voyage.
Wednesday June 21
Tremendous hurricane. Hail stones 7 inches in circumference.
Thursday June 22
Recd £70 from M. Widder. Drive out in the country with Mr. O’Dwyer and his brother. Pleasant evening. Music.
Friday June 23
Evening with Dr. Goring & went to Munsee Town Indian village of Chippewaya & Munsees. 10 [illegible word] Delaware on the Thames. Dined with Revd. Peter Jones, Indian Chief, & Wesleyan missionary married to an English manufacturer’s daughter, who fell in love with him in London & followed him to America. Five children on letters by [illegible word] & most painful operation with Indian stoicism. Magnificent Indian chiefs dress. Tomahawk presented [illegible words] large medal and Wellington.
He is a tall large man with marks of intelligent countenance. Highly educated. Has written volumes of hymns in Indian and English which he gave me. When in England lately he obtained subscriptions over £1000 for building a school for general and agricultural education of Indians. The Munsee & Chippewaya, have allocated 200 acres for the school, of which they have conveyed by deed the necessary enough for the building. The Indian tribes have aligned [illegible line].
Some tribes still pagan – no cannibalism – no polygamy.
Murder of aged people. Great [illegible word] Rev. Jones.When he was talking of leaving his abode, they called a great council and ordered parties out to prepare to hunt and prepare food for it. When he pressed them as to their object, they said, “first we eat, then we cry for you.” He [illegible phrase] Indian circumstances & his portrait of Indian method of treating deer skin. First soak in water till hair softened. Then scrape off with the back of knife. Put in water with deer’s brain infused for several days. Dry. Then hang in wood [illegible word] fire make
in hole in ground. Visit crops & visit Oneida, a tribe much superior [illegible word] in husbandry & civilization who migrated from the states & bought land here. Visit their chief. Good house but dirty capital settlement. Meet childish young couple married at 14 years. She weighs about 16 stone. Language of Oneida altogether different from Chippewayas. Jones must speak and preach through interpreters. Indian tribes decreasing. Oneida stationary – much sorrowful & consumption from hardship of life. Large families born.
Average [illegible word] 3.
Jones disapproves of the Govt. system of providing for Indians – makes them improvident and indolent.
Stephen De Vere, Sacred Feathers (Peter Jones), and Residential Schools
On 23 June, 1848, Stephen De Vere visited the Ojibwa Methodist preacher and chief Peter Jones, or Kahkewaquonaby (Sacred Feathers), in “Munsee Town Indian village” in southwestern Ontario. De Vere records that he “dined with Revd. Peter Jones, Indian Chief, & Wesleyan missionary married to an English manufacturer’s daughter, who fell in love with him in London & followed him to America”. As chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit River, Peter Jones had contributed £12.10 “to the Irish and Scotch [Famine] Relief Fund” on behalf of the “Indian Tribes, Canada West” the previous year. De Vere describes Peter Jones as: “Highly educated. [He] has written volumes of hymns in Indian and English which he gave me. When in England lately he obtained subscriptions over £1000 for building a school for general and agricultural education of Indians.”
In fact, De Vere witnessed the foundation of the Canadian Indian Residential School system. He notes that “the Munsee & Chippewaya, have allocated 200 acres for the school, of which they have conveyed by deed the necessary enough for the building.” Peter Jones had moved to Munceytown in 1848 to oversee the construction of Mount Elgin residential school, after he was appointed its superintendant. Yet by the time De Vere visited him, Peter Jones had resigned his position. He did so because he fell ill and had discovered that the school would not be under native control. Indeed, De Vere records that Jones now “disapproves of the Govt. system of providing for Indians – makes them improvident and indolent”. Ultimately, he registers Peter Jones’s repudiation of the residential school system that he had initially helped to establish.
Canadian Press Coverage of Stephen De Vere: "A zealous and devoted man"
Ultimately, Stephen De Vere’s legacy was to help safeguard Irish emigrants at sea by bearing witness to their suffering. Although he was "a gentleman of fortune, and the proprietor of some estates in the south of Ireland", reported the British Canadian (20 May, 1848), De Vere joined his former tenants on the trans-Atlantic voyage:
determine[d] to try the experiment himself… He accordingly picked a dozen volunteers from among the numbers who would gladly have accompanied him, and with them took shipping for Quebec, in the steerage of one of the regular passenger ships. Landlord and tenants fared alike, the former taking careful notes of the events of the passage.
Before he returned to Ireland in 1848, he was praised in the Church newspaper as a "zealous and devoted man". "In Toronto he closely and frequently inspected the Hospital sheds, crowded as they were with contagious fever, and accompanied the Emigrant Agent [McElderry] in his visits to Steamers as they arrived with their loads of passengers, and to the Emigrants Sheds," reported the Toronto "Patriot" on 23 May, 1848.
Ultimately, Stephen De Vere was inspired by the Canadian caregivers of the Famine Irish such as Edward McElderry and Bishop Michael Power who are commemorated in Ireland Park and Dr. George Robert Grasett Park in Toronto. He worked alongside them in caring for stricken emigrants and attested to their sacrifice. De Vere’s unpublished diaries provide an invaluable record of the Irish Famine migration to Canada and resettlement in Ontario 1847-1848.
Stephen De Vere’s biographical essay
His unpublished diaries provide an invaluable record of the Irish Famine migration to Canada and resettlement in Ontario 1847-1848.