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Stephen De Vere's Diary - Vol 2

Thursday Dec. 2nd. 1847


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.


Therm 35.

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.

Therm. 35.


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.


J.H. improving.


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.


Therm. 40.


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.


Mad dog.


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


Divine service.

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

Total: 8691

Table 2

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.

Table 3

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

Table 4

Showing the average daily numbers of sick during each month of the season:

May 15 to 31 ----- 451

June ------1508½

July -------1454¾

August --------2021 1/3

September --------1330

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]

Pauper Emigrants


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


Divine service.

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.

Woman! Most beauteous of the human race

Be very cautious of a dangerous place

For mills Rug at the age of 23

Was here launched into eternity.


Niagara Falls

May 25, 1848.


Height of new bridge 250ft

Span of river new suspension

Bridge Niagara. 850 feet.

Upright lily of the valley roiled of the falls.

Mists. Water flows over falls.




Et sub invoralione beate Catherine

Very et Mart

Hor fidele ae pietates inonumenture


Hibernici in canal Welland laborantes



St. Catharines

May 24 1848.

[End of Diary]