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The Emigrant's Guide to the British Settlements in Upper Canada, and the United States of America (London: 1820).
Spelling is that of the time and notes have been inserted into the text inside square brackets, i.e., [square brackets]. Since it is a very long document I have only done the first part on Canada. If time, and space permit, I will do the US part later. This document was found in the CIHM collection, #61684.
After a war usually protracted, which had desolated the fairest portions of the globe, which, in it progress, had been marked by the destruction of millions, and which had been productive of evils the most terrible ever sustained by suffering humanity, the nations of the earth fondly contemplated the return of peace as an event which would, in some degree, compensate for the sacrifices which they had made, and the privations which they had so long and so patiently suffered.
Among those who had endured with unexampled fortitude the evils attendant on a state of warfare so protracted, were the British people. The blood and treasure of England had been lavishly expended during the contest, but she sustained the hour of trial with magnanimity, and came out of it triumphantly. During the progress of the way, her victories both on the land and on the ocean had been unprecedented, brilliant, and decisive. But they had been achieved with uncommon exertion, at an enormous expence, and repose was absolutely necessary. The hour of peace at length arrived-that it brought not with it those benefits which had been so eagerly contemplated.
The commerce of England had covered the seas, from the commencement to the termination of hostilities, and her thousand ships of war, while they so gloriously added to her naval fame, protected her commercial fleets, and enabled them to traverse the sea in comparative security. London became the emporium of the globe, and the commercial monopoly of England was complete. The return of peace, therefore, by admitting the belligerent powers at a participation in the advantages of commerce, was scarcely felt, and the diminution of the commerce of England naturally kept pace with the activity of those maritime powers, who, during the continuance of hostilities, were almost in a state of absolute inaction.
The cry of distress was soon heard from all quarters, and the bankruptcy of our merchants and tradesmen occurred to an extent hitherto unknown. These failures involved the fate of thousands connected with the machine of trade and commerce; the rich became insolvent-many of the middling classes descended to poverty-the poor filled the workhouses--the local taxes pressed with intolerable weight upon those who were unable to pay, and the situation of many who were obliged to contribute to these was scarcely superior to the wretched inmates of the workhouse.
The aspect of affairs at this moment is not much improved in appearance. Commerce has revived in an inconsiderable degree, and there is an increased demand for our manufactures, but a frightful national debt still presses on an already exhausted people, and the united demands of local and national taxes have influenced, and do still influence thousands of our countrymen to abandon their native shores, and to commence as it were a new existence on those of the Atlantic.
Among the many causes leading to the immense emigration which is taking place, must be particularly noticed an excess of population, and the use of machinery in our manufactories. The mill machinery of a single mill now completes the work of thousands. Machinery also used in the operations of agriculture is hourly lessening the demand for hands. An excellent writer (Mr. Goulray) observes, in a letter from Canada, that England could spare 50,000 people annually, while she would be refreshed and strengthened by the discharge. In war, England sent abroad annually more than 20,000 of her youthful sons to be slain, and more than 20,000 of her youthful daughters shot after them the last hope of honourable love. In these 25 years of war, the population of England rapidly increasing, what is it to do now, when war is at an end, when love and opportunity are no longer to be foiled, and the poor laws have provided sustenance for children independent of the parent's care? Under existing circumstances, it is absolutely necessary, for the domestic comfort of England, that a vent should be immediately opened for her increasing population, and the colonization of Canada, if once begun upon a liberal footing, will afford this vent.
It is, however, impossible to behold the affecting spectacle of so many myriads of our fellow citizens embarking for foreign shores, without experiencing distressing emotions. With what agonized feelings do they quit their homes-their fire-sides-the abodes of their ancestors-the country to which a thousand recollection-a thousand heart-rending associations still rivet them.
"Behold the duteous son, the sire decay'd,
The modest matron, and the blushing maid,
Fore'd from their homes, a melancholy train,
To traverse climes beyond the western main,
Where wild Oswego spreads her swamps around,
And Niagara stuns with thund'ring sound!
E'en now, perhaps, as there some pilgrim strays
Through tangled forests, and through dangerous ways,
Where beasts with man divided empire claim,
And the brown Indian marks with murd'rous aim
There, while above the giddy tempest flies,
And all around distressful yells arise,
The pensive exile, bending with his woe,
To stop too fearful, and too faint to go,
Casts a long look where England's glories shine
And bids his bosom sympathise with mine."
The great stream of emigration is evidently towards the United States, but many thousands of emigrants arrive yearly from England, in Canada. The population of the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, received an accession of 5000 persons in 1817. At the present moment, settlers are embarking in considerable numbers from every part of the United Kingdom, and during the year 1818, it is apprehended that the number of persons who will embark for America, will far exceed any thing of the kind ever known. This little work, therefore, cannot fail to be of singular service to those whom circumstances may impel to quit their beloved country. To the industrious enquirer, it may afford instruction-to the visionary a salutary check, but it cannot fail to afford amusement to all.
The author does not claim the merit of exclusive originality in this unassuming production. Where so many have written, and so well on subjects connected with America, there cannot be much said that may claim the need of uncommon novelty. Having, however, twice crossed the Atlantic, he has inspected in person most of what he has described, and thus can at least vouch for the fidelity of his little work, which he again asserts, was undertaken expressly for the information of persons about to emigration to America, and who have not leisure for the inspection of more voluminous works.
The face of Lower Canada is remarkably bold and striking. The noble river St. Lawrence flows more than 400 miles, between high lands and lofty mountains, sometimes divided into channels by large islands, and at other times intersected by clusters of small ones; numerous rapid streams rolling from the neighbouring mountains, breaking over steep precipices, and mingling their waters with the grand river; its bold and rugged shores, lofty eminencies, and sloping vallies, covered with the umbrageous foliage of immense forests, or interspersed with the cultivated settlements of the inhabitants, present altogether to the eye of the spectator, a succession of the most sublime and picturesque objects, that imagination can conceive.
The soil of lower Canada is very various, and is more or less fertile, as it approaches to the North or South, from Father Point (the lowest settlement on the south shore) to Kamouraska; but little is cultivated, and that yields a crop only with considerable labour.[The labour of manuring is not however to be included. Mr. B. an intelligent native of Plymouth-Dock, who has lived ten years in Canada, observes in one of his letters; I have often requested the Canadians to throw Compost on their lands, as I do, to which the uniform answer is, "there is no necessity for it, our fore-fathers never did it, why should we?"]
From Kamouraska to the Island of Orleans, both on the North and South shores, the soil gradually improves and great quantities of grain are produced. The average crop is about 12 bushels. Emigrants from Europe greatly excel the natives in all agricultural operations-the prejudices of the Canadians in favor of old systems will not however permit them to adopt European methods. Of the soil in the vicinity of Quebec, that of the island of Orleans is reckoned the best. This island is diversified with high and lowlands, covered with woods, or converted into meadows and corn fields; the soil is sufficiently fertile to afford the inhabitants a large surplus of productions, beyond their own consumption, which they dispose of at Quebec.
The meadows of Canada, which have most commonly been corn fields, are reckoned superior to those in the more southern parts of America. They possess a fine close turf, well covered at the roots with clover. They cannot be mown more than once a year, in consequence of the Spring commencing so late. In Autumn they exchange their beautiful green, for a light brown hue, which gives them the appearance of being scorched by the sun. It is two or three weeks after the snow is gone, before they recover their natural colour; this is the case all over America, whose pastures, during the Autumnal and Winter months, never possess that rich and lovely verdure, which they do in England.
The high lands, with good management, yield tolerable crops, but the Canadians are miserable farmers. They seldom or never manure their land, and plough so very slight and careless, that they continue year after year, to turn over the clods which lie at the surface, without penetrating an inch deeper into the soil. Hence their grounds become exhausted, over-run with weeds, and yield but scanty crops. The fields of wheat which I have seen in different parts of the country, appeared much stinted in their growth, and were often much choked with weeds. When cut down the straw was seldom more than 18 or 20 inches long, the ears small, and the wheat itself discoloured, and little more than two thirds of the size of our English wheat. The wheat about Montreal, appeared to be the best that come under my observation. There is however a month difference in the climate between Montreal, and Quebec: the former is situated in lat. 45, 36, Three Rivers in 46, 25, and Quebec in 46, 35. The French Canadians sow only summer wheat, though I should think that winter wheat might be sown in winter with success. Peas, Oats, Rye and Barley, are sown more or less by every farmer, though the largest crops of these are in the vicinity of Montreal.
The towns of Montreal and Quebec including their suburbs, are said to contain 14,000 inhabitants each, nearly three-fourths of whom are French.
The British inhabitants of Quebec consist of the government people, the military; a few persons belonging to the church, the law and medicine; [Better medical practitioners of character and skill, are much wanted, both in Upper and Lower Canada, and the Canadians would do well to encourage professional gentlemen by such liberality as would induce them to settle among them.] the merchants and shop-keepers.
The French comprise the old noblesse, and seigniors, most of whom are members of the government; the clergy; the advocates and notaries; the storekeepers.
The houses at Quebec are, with few exceptions, built of stone; the roofs of the better part are generally covered with sheets of iron or tin. The streets of the lower town are scarcely deserving of that appellation; they are rugged, narrow and irregular. A heavy sameness prevades all the houses in Quebec, which is seldom relieved by any elegance or beauty in the public buildings. The upper town is the most agreeable part of Quebec, both in summer and winter. The markets of Quebec are well supplied. In the summer the following articles are brought to market by the habitans, (country people0 and generally sold at the prices affixed to them.
|Meat||Beef, per lb. 1d. ½ to 4d.|
Mutton, per lb. 4d. to 6d; per sheep, 8s. to 10s.
Lamb, per quarter, 3s. 6d. to 4s. 6d.
Veal, 6d. to 7d. per lb.
Pork, 5d. To 6d per lb.
|Poultry and Game||Turkies, per couple, 3s. 6d. to 5s.
Fowls, do. 1s. 3d. to 2s.
|Fish||Eels, price according to their size|
Poisson Dorée do
Shad, each, 1d. To 2d.
Sturgeon Of various prices, according to the size.
Black bass do
Salmon (At same periods Cod and Salmon are as
Fresh Cod dear as in London)
|Vegetables||Potatoes, 18d. To 20d. Per bushel|
Cabbages 1d. To 2d. Each
Onions, per hundred, 10d.
Leeks, per bundle, 4d.
Carrots, but very little cheaper than in London
Asparagus, per bundle
Boiled corn, herbs, &c.
|Fruit||Apples, 18d. Per barrel|
Pears, but few at market
Strawberries about 6d. per quart
|Sundries||maple Sugar, 2d. To 3d. per lb|
Flour, per Cwt. 18s. to 25s.
Lard, 6d. to 9d. per lb
Tallow, 9d. to 10d. do.
Tobacco, 9d. do.
Butter, 9d. to 14d. do
Oats, per minot, 2s. 6d.. to 3s.
Hay, per bundle, 6d.. to 7d.
Straw, per do. 2d. to 3d.
Wood, per cord, 12s. to 15s.
Soap, magasins, furs, &c.
In winter, a few only of the above articles are brought to market. As soon as the river between Quebec and the Island of Orleans is frozen over, a large supply of provisions is received from that island. The Canadians, at the commencement of winter, kill the greatest part of their stock, which they carry to market in a frozen state. The inhabitants of the towns, then, supply themselves with a sufficient quantity of poultry, and vegetables, till Spring, and keep them in garrets or cellars. As long as they remain frozen, they preserve their goodness, but they will not keep long after they have thawed. I have eaten turkies in April, which have been kept in this manner all the winter, and found them remarkably good. Before the frozen provisions are dressed, they are always laid for some hours in cold water, which extracts the ice; otherwise, by a sudden immersion in hot water, they would be spoiled.
The articles of life are certainly very reasonable in Canada, but the high price of house rent and European goods, together with the high wages of servants, more than counterbalance that advantage. A person must pay at least 70 or 100 per cent upon the London price for every article of wearing apparel, furniture, &c. Unless he attends the public sales, which are pretty frequent, and where articles are sometimes sold very low; but there he is often liable to be deceived, and many a keep economist has been confoundedly bit.
The lower town market place is reckoned cheaper than the other. It is not so large, but is generally well supplied. Fish is at certain seasons abundant, particularly salmon and shad; the latter is classed among the herrings, which it somewhat resembles in flavour, though widely differing in size, the shad being as large as a moderate sized salmon. They are a great relief to the poor people, in the months of May and June, as at that season they are taken in shoals. In the river of St. Lawrence, from the entrance to more than 200 miles above Quebec, large quantities are salted down for the use of the upper province.
Fresh cod are very rarely brought to market. A merchant in the upper town usually gets a supply once during the summer season, which he keeps in an ice-house, and retails to the inhabitants at nearly the London price. Montreal receives a supply from the United States during the winter season; they are packed up in ice, and a few of them find their way to Quebec.
Considering the vast quantities of fish with which the river and gulph of St. Lawrence abound, the markets in Canada are very ill supplied. Though the gulph is full of mackarel, yet none ever appear at Quebec. Oysters are sometimes brought from Chaleur Bay, but so seldom, and in such small quantities, that an oyster party is considered by the inhabitants as a very rare treat. They are however but of an indifferent quality, and though of large size when taken out of the shell, yet have so little substance in them, that when cut with a knife, the water runs out, and they diminish at least a fourth. The shells are large, and adhere to each other in great clusters. The herrings of Canada are large, but of an indifferent quality. Sprats there are none, at least none ever appear on shore.
In the Spring, the markets are abundantly supplied with wild pigeons, which are sometimes sold much lower than the price I have mentioned; this happens in plentiful seasons; but the immense flocks that formerly passed over the country are now considerably diminished, or as the land becomes cleared they retire farther back.
The beef of Canada is in general poor and tough eating. The Canadians have not got into a proper method of fattening their cattle, which are for the most part lean and ill fed. The butchers, however, contrive to furnish a better sort, which they fatten on their own farms. The veal is killed too young to please an English taste, and the pork is over-grown. Mutton and lamb are very good, and the latter on its first coming in, is sold at a price that would not disgrace a London market. The habitans sell their meat by the quarter half, or whole carcase, which accounts for the different prices I have affixed to those articles. The butchers retail them by the pound.
The best butter is brought from Green Island, about one hundred and fifty miles below Quebec. That sold by the Canadians in the market place, is generally of a cheesy or sour flavour, owing to the cream being kept so long before it is churned. Milk is brought to market in the winter time, in large frozen cakes.
Large quantities of Maple sugar are sold at about half the price of the West-India sugar. The manufacturing of this article takes place early in the spring, when the sap or juice rises in the Maple trees. It is a very laborious work, as at that time the snow is just melting, and the Canadians suffer great hardships in procuring the liquor from an immense number of trees, dispersed over many hundred acres of land. The liquor is boiled down, and often adulterated with flour, which thickens and renders it heavy; after it is boiled a sufficient time, it is poured into tureens, and when cold, forms a thick hard cake of the shape of the vessel. These cakes are of a dark brown colour, for the Canadians do not trouble themselves about refining it: the people in Upper Canada make it very white, and it may be easily clarified equal to the finest loaf sugar made in England.
It is very hard, and requires to be scraped with a knife when used for tea, otherwise the lumps would be a considerable time dissolving. Its flavour strongly resembles the candied borehound sold by the druggists in England, and the Canadians say that it possesses medicinal qualities, for which they eat it in large lumps. It very possibly acts as a corrective to the vast quantity of fat pork which they consume, as it possesses a greater degree of acidity than the West-India sugar. Before salt was in use, sugar was eat with meat, in order to correct its putrescency. Hence probably the custom of eating sweet apple sauce with pork and goose; and currant jelly with hare and venison.
Hay is sold at market in bundles of 17lbs. Weight each, at 50s. the hundred bundles. Straw is sold in the same manner, at about half the price. Wood is brought to market in carts or sleighs; three loads make one cord, which sells from 12s. to 15s. Most people at Quebec, however, lay in their wood from the water side, near the lower town market-place; it is brought down the river in the summer, in cribs of six cords each. A cord of wood is six feet long, four feet high, and two feet deep, and is sold at the water side from 1s. to 9s. The expences of carting, piling, and saving the wood, is about 4s. 6d. more. Coals are generally brought by the vessels as ballast, and sell from 20s. to 30s. per chaldron, at Quebec; they are a cheaper fuel than wood, but the latter is better adapted for the stoves which are used in Canada. The French people sell their commodities by the minot, a measure which is one-twelfth more than the Winchester bushel. They also measure land by the arpent, which is four-fifths of a statute acre.
The fish in the seas, gulphs, rivers, and lakes, of Canada, are innumerable; they consist, indeed, of almost every species and variety at present known. Those brought to market I have mentioned before. They are mostly the fresh water fish, and considering the immense quantities that might be procured with the greatest facility, it is surprising that so few are offered for sale. The salt water fishery is carried on chiefly for the purpose of exportation, but no great quantity is exported from Quebec.
The two Canadas abound with almost every species and variety of trees, shrubs, and plants; among the timber trees are the oak, pine, fir, elm, ash, birch, walnut, beech, maple, chesnut, cedar, aspen, &c. Among the fruit trees and shrubs are walnut, chesnut, apple, pear, cherry, plum, elder, vines, hazel, hiccory, samach, juniper, hornbeam, thorn, laurel, whortleberry, cranberry, raspberry, gooseberry, blackberry, blueberry, sloe, &c. Strawberries are luxuriantly scattered over every part of the country, but currants are only met with in Gardens. Such innumerable quantities of useful and beautiful plants, herbs, grapes, and flowers are also to be found in the forests, that where the botanist is presented with so rich a field for observation and study, it is to be regretted that so little is known concerning them,
The pine trees grow to the height of 120 feet and more, and from 9 to 10 feet in circumference. In several parts of Lower Canada, bordering on the states of Vermont, and New York, they make excellent masts and timber for shipping; but the quantity procured in the lower province is very trifling to the supplies received from Upper Canada and the United States. In other parts particularly to the northward and westward of Quebec, the forest trees are mostly of a small growth. There are several varities of the pine and fir trees, from some of which are made large quantities of pitch, tar, and turpentine. The clearing of lands has of late years been carried on to great advantage, by those who properly understand the __ method for there is scarcely a tree in the forest but skill may be ___ so some account, particularly in the making of pot and pearl askes, which have enriched the American settlers far beyond any other article. The trees of a resinous quality supply pitch tar and turpentine. The maple furnishes sugar, and with the beech, ash, elm, &c. will also serve for the potash manufactory. Cedar is converted into ___ glue for the roofs of houses, oak into ship timber; firs into deal planks and boards, and in short almost every kind of tree is brought into use for some purpose or other.
In the clearing of lands, however, it is always necessary that the settler should first look out for a market for his produce, and for some navigable river, or good road to convey the same, otherwise it is of little consequence that he obtains four or five hundred acres of land for four or five pounds. So much land for so little money, is highly prepossessing to an European, but appearances, particularly at a distance, are often fallacious.
The American oak is quicker in its growth but less durable than that of Europe; some species called the live oak, which is, however, found only in the warmer parts of the country, is said by many to be equal, if not superior to the English oak for ship-building. The white oak is the best that is found in the Canadian settlements and is chiefly used for the building of vessels at Quebec and Montreal.
One of the most useful trees in Canada is the maple tree, acer saccharinuts, which supplies the inhabitants with abundance of excellent sugar and the best fine wood. I have, in a former chapter, adverted to the mode of procuring the sap of this tree, and manufacturing it into sugar. It is not cut down for fire wood till exhausted of its sap, when it is generally preferred, and fetches a higher price than any other fire wood sold at market.
|From Quebec to Halifax||
|From Quebec to Point Levi cross the River||1|
|Thence to the Portage at Riviere du Cap||121½|
|Thence to Timispuata||36|
|______to the Settlement of Maduaska||45|
|______to the great falls in river St. John||45|
|______to Frederick Town||180|
|______to St. Johns||90|
From Quebec to Michillimakinak, at the entrance of Lake Huron
|___Coteau du Lac||225|
From Quebec to New York, by way of Montreal.
|To Cape Rouge||9|
|___Riviere du Soup||27|
|___Isle au Maix||14|
|___Burlington, the first post town in the States||14|
|To Hudson City||34|
The expence of travelling post, in Lower Canada, is one shilling currency per league.
The American packets, on Lake Champlain, charge from three to four dollars for the passage from St. John's to Skenesborough, a distance of nearly 160 miles.
Of the inhabitants of Lower Canada, not more than one-tenth are British or American settlers from the United States. In Upper Canada, the population is almost entirely composed of the latter and British subjects, who have emigrated from various parts of the United Kingdom. Very few French people reside in that province, and it is a remarkable circumstance, that among all the British residents in the two colonies, not two hundred Englishmen perhaps can be found. I was told, that, at Quebec, there were not more than twelve or fourteen of that country. The rest are either Irish or Scotch, though the former bear no proportion to the latter, who are distributed from one end of the Canadas to the other. The Irish emigrate more to the United States than Canada. Being discontented with their own government, they endeavour to seek relief under a foreign one, whose virtues have been so greatly exaggerated, and whose excellent properties have been extolled to the skies. A few months, however, convince them of their error, and those who are not sold to their American masters, generally find their way into Upper Canada.
Of all British emigrants, the Scotch are the most indefatigable and persevering. In poverty, they leave their native home; yet seldom return to it without a handsome competency. Their patient diligence, and submission in the pursuit of riches, together with their general knowledge and good sense, render them highly beneficial to the mother country, while their natural partiality for their ancient soil, secures their steady attachment and adherence to the British government.
The expences of the civil government in Upper Canada, are defrayed by direct taxes, by duties upon articles imported from the United States, and a sum granted by the lower province, out of certain duties. In Upper Canada, lands, houses and mills; horses, cows, pigs, and other property are valued and taxed at the rate of one penny in the pound. Woodlands are valued at one shilling per acre, and cultivated lands at fifty shillings per acre. A house, with only one chimney, pays no tax, but with two it is charged at the rate of forty pounds per annum, though it may be but a mere hovel.
The inhabitants of Lower Canada pay no direct taxes, except for the repair of roads, highways, paving streets, &c. And then they have the choice of working themselves, or sending one of their labourers with a horse and cart, &c.
The timber and staves which are brought into Canada from the States, are cut down in winter or spring, and collected into large rafts, on Lake Champlain, whence they are floated down the river Richlieu, into the St. Lawrence, and deposited along the shores of Silleri and Wolfe's Cove, for an extent of more than five miles. There they are culled and sorted for the merchants. Standard staves, of 5½ feet long, 11 inch thick and 5 inches broad, sell in Canada from £40 to £50 the 1200. The freight is about the same amount.
The rafts when coming down the river, exhibit a curious scene; they have several little sheds or huts, erected with boards for the accommodation of the rowers, whose number on large rafts, frequently consists of 100, or 150.
The following extract from a letter, received from the intelligent friend resident in Canada (whom I mentioned before,) will be found interesting:
Dear Sir,-"As to what goods will sell best here, it is impossible for me to speak accurately. In one season articles sell well, in another very indifferently. Cargoes that have arrived from England this year (1817,) are selling at sales as cheap as in England. The market is glutted, and indeed some articles are going off 20 per Cent under Prifere? Cost. The course of exchange is at par at present; the difference of currency and sterling is 1s. 9d. An English Guinea if weight is worth £1. 3s. 9d.
In Canada all gold is taken by weight. Salt is now going off here at the sales at 7s. 6d. per bushel: this article is procured chiefly from Liverpool. In some years 225,000 bushels have been exported. During Winter, it has been known to sell as high as 12s. 6d. per bushel, and even at 14s. but in the ensuing Spring it fell to 3s. 6d. which is generally the price, at which it is retailed. Ships from Liverpool are most commonly ballasted with salt, and during the season of their arrival at Quebec, some of the merchants purchase it from 1s. 3d. to 1s. 8d. per bushel, and monopolize it until the season is over, when no more supplies can be obtained, till the following Spring.
The fruit of Canada is not remarkable either for goodness or cheapness, except strawberries and raspberries, which are brought to market in great abundance, during the season. They are gathered on the plains, at the back of Quebec, and in the neighbouring woods, where they grow upon the ground, or among the shrubs, in wild luxuriance. The poor Canadians send their children to gather them, and afterwards sell them to the inhabitants at a moderate price. It is an agreeable sight to view the fields covered with strawberries, in blossom, or ripe: few persons keep them in gardens. The raspberry bushes are intermingled with the underwood of the forests, and afford an agreeable treat to those who are fond of rambling in the woods. That pleasure, is, however, more than counterbalanced by the musquitoes and sand-flies, which never fail for three or four months in the summer to annoy those who venture to penetrate their abode.
Apples and pears are procured from Montreal, where they grow in more abundance, and in greater perfection, than in any other part of Lower Canada. They are sold for much the same price as in England. The apple which is most prized, is what they call the "pommegris," a small light brown apple, somewhat resembling the russetin in appearance. Many persons say that it is superior to any English apple, but I never could agree with them in that particular. In my opinion it is not equal to many of our apples, and cannot be compared with the nenpareil, an apple which is not known in Canada. Several species of wild apples and pears are found in the woods, but they are of inferior quality to those cultivated in the gardens and orchards.
The grapes brought to market are mostly of the wild species, which are gathered in the woods, or from vines that have been planted near the houses. Little care has been taken to improve the latter, so that very trifling alteration is discernible. They are scarcely larger than currants, but when ripe, have a pleasant flavour, though rather sharp and pungent. There are a few European vines cultivated in the gardens, but the grapes are seldom to be purchased. Oranges and lemons are imported from England, and are always extremely scare; for the damage which they sustain on the voyage, renders them a very unprofitable article for sale. They frequently sell (particularly oranges) at one or two shillings each. The lemons, which generally keep better, are sometimes as low as six-pence, but they are often not to be purchased at any price.
Gooseberries, blackberries, and blueberries, are in great abundance, and grow wild in the woods. Those cultivated in gardens are much superior. Currants came originally from Europe, and are to be found only in gardens; thee is of course but a scanty supply of them at market. Plums are plentiful in the market, they are of the wild species, though often introduced into gardens. They are generally of two sorts, the white and black, and resemble the most common of our plums. Walnuts and filberts are by no means common in Canada, and are procured principally by importation from England. Hickory and hazel nuts are met with in the forests. Cherries are grown in gentlemen's gardens only: wild cherries are, however, scattered over the country, and a very agreeable liqueur is made with them, which in flavour resembles moyau.
Vegetables may be obtained in tolerable quantities at the markets. The potato is now generally grown in Canada; it was introduced by the English settlers. Onions, leeks, peas, beans, and cabbages, are much esteemed. Gardening is, however, as little understood as farming, and nothing is brought to market in perfection. Gardeners of skill, sobriety, and industry, would meet with considerable encouragement both in Upper and Lower Canada. Scotch gardeners __ celebrated for their superior intelligence, their sobriety, and their perseverance, would effect wonders with the soil of either province.
Large quantities of wheat are raised in Canada, and exported to Great Britain, and yet the article bread, is not so cheap as it ought to be. Upper Canada is particularly luxuriant in the production of the finest wheat. There is no deficiency of mills for grinding wheat. The price of bread is regulated monthly by the magistrates.
If the emigrant farmer should be poor, he will have difficulties to encounter in establishing himself Arrived at his land, he has no shelter till he erects his house; he then cuts down trees, and clears his ground of brushwood, &c. by fire. By degrees he ameliorates his land, obtains shelter for his cattle, &c. Enterprising men who have courage to surmount difficulties, will in the end do very well, as thousands have done. That farmer will best succeed who can command a small capital from £200 to £400. With this he can purchase a farm in the neighbourhood of Montreal, where the ground is luxuriant, and the frosts do not injure the crops, as is often the case at Quebec: he will also find a market for his productions.
The price of the best land averages from 25 to 30 dollars per acre. Perhaps the best land is in the neighbourhood of Montreal. The farms are generally cleared of trees about a mile back. Few trees are suffered to grow near the houses. In the clearing of land, the Canadians are very fond of white-washing, but do not trouble themselves about painting them.
Sugars are obtained at a reasonable rate. Green tea is generally drank in Canada, and differ considerably in price: the highest is 10s. per lb. Hyson sells from 12s. to 14s. per lb. Tea comes from the United States, and considering that no duty is paid on it, is certainly dear. Chocolate and Coffee also come from the United States, and average at 2s. per lb.
Soap and Candles are made at Quebec and Montreal, not exrtremely good in quality, and in price as high as in England. Tobacco is universally grown in Canada, and yet it is imported from the United States in considerable quantities.
Some cheese is also obtained from the United States, which is nearly of the same quality as Suffolk cheese. This sells from 7d. to 9d. per pound. English cheese sells high, from 2s. to 2s. 6d. per pound.
The trades likely to flourish in the Canadas, are those of the shipwright, block and mast maker, blacksmith, house carpenter, joiner, millwright wheel-wright, boat-builder, cabinet makers, saddler, painter, baker, tailor, tanner, hair dresser, and whitesmith. There are others, no doubt, which I do not immediately recollect, that would answer extremely well. Skill and industry will make their way every where.
I have known, in several instances, an association of the house carpenter and blacksmith to expedite considerably the formation of an infant settlement. They have emigrated together from England, and their union has materially facilitated the progress of their establishment in their adopted country.
Ship builders, in Canada, are in general an indifferent set of men. Many of them are from the river (Thames) and the dissolute habits of these, are proverbial. Shipwrights, of sober steady habits, cannot fail of doing well in the St. Laurence. The Canadian Shipwrights, however, make up for lack of skill, by habit, the very reverse of those of the Europeans. There is certainly a great want of useful hands in Canada, but, perhaps it is not so great as is apprehended in England.
The wages of artificers are good, but they must imitate the ants. Those who cannot save during the Summer, are miserable during the Winter, when many are out of employment.
For a small society like that of Canada, the number of unfaithful wives, kept mistresses, and girls of easy virtue, exceed in proportion those of the old country, and it is supposed that in the towns more children are born illegitimately than in wedlocl. Trials for crim. con. are however unknown.
Good female servants are very scarce in Canada. Following the example of their mistresses, few can be found who are exempt from the vices of the age. Their wages are from £12 to £20 per annum, and notwithstanding they are so liberally paid, they seldom remain above a month in a place. A servant that remains in her place four or five months is looked upon as a pattern of excellence. Farmer's servants get from £36 to 40 a year currency, and provisions. A careful man may of course lay by something.
Blessed with a luxuriant soil, which he obtains on easy terms, the habitan of Canada raises the productions of the earth with inconsiderable labour, and satisfied with the practice of his fore-fathers, obstinately rejects the advice which would lead to improvement and profit. It will therefore be readily perceived what singular advantages await the industrious agricultural emigrant on his arrival in Canada. What effects must be produced by the introduction into that country, of the superior modes of husbandry adopted in England, and what wonders will not these methods produce, when associated with the characteristic perseverance and industry of the farmers of the United Kingdom!
They will have difficulties to encounter, but "Nihil impossibile industriae est,"-nothing is impossible to industry. The increase of agriculture and commerce has caused many in Canada to emerge from poverty and neglect, to opulence and esteem; and he that dares to be resolute in the teeth of obstacles, will find that success will generally crown his efforts.
"The wise and prudent conquer difficulties
"By daring to attempt them."
The emigrant will also find the habits of the people with whom he is called to associate very different from those of the people whom he has quitted; but it should be his business to accommodate himself to circumstances, and he will find, that, in a great degree, his comforts will be proportioned to the disposition which he may carry with him into his newly-adopted society. With him, prudent conformity to new habits will often be wisdom.
The observations which have been rapidly made on the soil, the scenery, commerce, trade, &c. of Lower Canada, will nearly apply to the Upper Province.
The climate of Upper Canada is much more temperate and soft than that of the Lower Province, and it is on that and on many other accounts preferred by emigrants. Vegetation is extremely rapid, the harvests remarkably abundant; and, by many, Upper Canada has been termed the garden of North America. The principal towns are York, Kingston, Queenston, and Niagara. The capital (York) is on Lake Ontario, and is rapidly increasing in importance. All the towns are populous, and the commerce of the whole province has considerably increased within the last ten years, and is still increasing.
Direct taxation is very trifling, and any man with a moderate sum of money, has it in his power to acquire a handsome competency.
The manners, customs, and amusements of the people, resemble those of the British nation: and though society is yet in its infancy, it is not wanting in those requisites which make it agreeable to strangers.
England derives considerable benefit and assistance from the productions and commerce of Upper Canada. Yet Government does not appear to be sensible of the high importance of this rising state. Greater encouragement must yet be held out to those who are disposed to emigrate, and the fostering hand of a paternal Administration must cheer and animate the mind of the adventurer.
That there yet unaccountably exists a want of due attention, on the part of Government, to this national concern, may be inferred from the perusal of the excellent letter of Mr. Goulray, to the Gentlemen of Canada-a letter which is so conclusive on the subject, that I must beg leave to recommend it to my readers particular attention.
"Queenston, October, 1817.
"Gentlemen-I am a British farmer, and have visited this province to ascertain what advantages it possesses in an Agricultural point of view. After three months residence, I am convinced that these are great-far superior, indeed, to what the Mother Country has ever held out, either as they concern speculative purchase, or the profits of present occupation. Under such impressions, it is my purpose as soon as circumstances will permit, to become a settler; and in the mean time would willingly do what lay in my power to benefit the country of my choice. When I speak in this sanguine manner of the capabilities of Canada, I take it for granted that certain political restraints to improvement will be speedily removed. Growing necessity, and the opinion of every sensible man with whom I have conversed on the subject, gives assurance of this. My present address, therefore, waves all regard to political arrangements: it has in view, simply to open a correspondence between you and your fellow subjects at home, where the utmost ignorance prevails with respect to the natural resources of this fine country. Travellers have published passing remarks; they have told wonderful stories, and amused the idle of England with descriptions of the beautiful and grand scenery which nature has here displayed: but no authentic account has yet been afforded to men of capital-to men of enterprise and skill, of those important facts which are essential to be known, before such men will launch into foreign speculation, or venture with their families, in quest of better fortune across the Atlantic. In this state of ignorance, you have hitherto had for settlers chiefly poor men driven from their home by despair-these men, ill-informed and lost in the novelties which surround them, make at first but a feeble commencement, and ultimately form a society, crude, unambitious, and weak. In your Newspapers I have frequently observed hints towards bettering the condition of these poor settlers, and for ensuring their residence in the Provinces. Such hints evidently spring from benevolent feelings; they are all well meant, and may tend to alleviate individual distress, but can produce no important good to the country. Canada is worthy of something better than a mere guidance to it of the blind and the lame; it has attractions to stimulate desire, and place its colonization above the aids of necessity.-Hands no doubt are necessary, but next to good laws the grand requisite for the improvement of any country, is capital. Could a flow of capital be once directed to this quarter, hands would not be wanting, nor would these hands be so chilled with poverty as to need the patronage of charitable institutions. At this moment British capital is overflowing; trade is yielding it up; the funds cannot profitably absorb it; land mortgages are gorged; and it is streaming to waste in the six per cents. of America. Why should not this stream be diverted into the woods of Canada, where it would find a still higher rate of interest, with the most substantial security?
"Gentlemen! The moment is most auspicious to your interest, and you should take advantage of it. You should make known the state of this country; you should advertise the excellence of the raw material which Nature has lavishly spread before you; you should inspire confidence, and tempt able adventurers from home. At this time there are thousands of British farmers sickened with disappointed hopes, who would readily come to Canada, did they but know the truth; many of these could still command a few thousand pounds to begin with here; while others less able in means, have yet preserved their character for skill and probity, to entitle them to the confidence of capitalists at home, for whom they could act as agents in adventure. Under the wing of such men the redundant population of Britain would emigrate with cheerfulness, and be planted here with hearts unbroken. We hear of 4 or 5,000 settlers arriving from home this season, and it is talked of as a great accession to the population of the provinces. It is a mere drop from the bucket.
"The extent of calamity already occasioned by the system of the poor laws, cannot be even imagined by strangers. They may form some idea, however, when I tell them, that last winter I saw in one parish (Blackwall, within five miles of London) several hundreds of able-bodied men harnessed and yoked, fourteen together, in carts, hauling gravel for the repair of the highways; each 14 men performing just about as much work as an old horse led by a boy could accomplish. We have heard since, that £1,500,000 has been voted to keep the poor at work; and perhaps the most melancholy consideration of the whole is, that there are people who trust to such means as a cure for the evil. While all this is true; when the money and labour of England is thus wasted; when thousands of our fellow-subjects are emigrating into the States of America, when we even hear of them being led off to toil with the boors of Poland, in the cultivation of a country where the nature of the Government must counteract the utmost efforts towards improvement-is it not provoking that all this should go on merely from a reigning ignorance of the superior advantages which Canada has in store, and a thoughtlessness as to the grand policy which might be adopted for the general aggrandisement of the British nation? Some have thought the exclusion of American citizens a great bar to the speedy settlement of Canada; but a liberal system of colonization from Europe, would render this of small importance. Before coming to a decided opinion on this important subject, I took much pains to inform myself of facts. A minute enquiry on the spot where Government has endeavoured to force a settlement, satisfied me as to the causes of the too notorious failure there. It convinced me that the fault by no means rested with the incapacity of the settlers, but resulted from the system pursued. I have since spent a month perambulating the Genesee country, for the express purpose of forming a comparison between British and American management. That country lies parallel to this; it possesses no superior advantages: its settlement began ten years later: yet I am ashamed to say, it is already ten years before Canada in improvement. This has been ascribed to the superior loyalty of the American people, but most erroneously. The art of clearing land is as well understood here as in the States:-men direct from Britain are as energetic, and after a little practice, sufficiently expert with the axe, while they are more regular in their habits and more persevering in their plans than the Americans. No improvement has taken place in the Genesee country, which could not be far exceeded here, under a proper system. It was indeed British capital and enterprize which gave the first grand impetus to the improvement of that country: much of its improvement is still proceeding under British agency; and one of its most flourishing townships is wholly occupied by men who came with slender means from the Highlands of Scotland. In the Genesee country the Government pocketed much, but forced nothing, and charity there has been left without an object.
"Gentlemen-The inquiries and observations which I have recently made on the subject of settlement, assure me that neither in these provinces nor in the United States, has a proper system been pursued. The mere filling of the world with men, should not be the sole object of political wisdom. This should regard the filling of it with beings of superior intellect and feeling, without which the desart[sic] had better remain occupied by the beaver and the bear. That society of a superior kind may be nursed up in Canada, by an enlarged and liberal connection with the mother country. I am very confident; and its being realized is the fond hope which induces me to come forward with my present proposals, and which, if these proposals meet with support, will continue the spur of my exertions to complete the work which I have now in view. Many of you, Gentlemen, have been bred up at home, and well known how superior, in many respects, are the arrangements and habits of society there, to what they are on this side the Atlantic. Such never can be hoped for here under the present system of colonization, which brings out only a part, and that the weakest part of society-which places poor and destitute individuals in remote situations, with no object before them but groveling selfishness--no aid--no example-no fear either of God or man. Is it not possible to create such a tide of commerce as would not only bring with it part of society, but society complete, with all the strength and order and refinement which it has now attained in Britain, beyond all precedent? Surely Government would afford every facility to a commerce which would not only enrich, but eternally bind together Britain and its Provinces, by the most powerful sympathies of manners and taste, and affection.
Government can never too much encourage the growth of this colony, by a liberal system of emigration. When we come from home we are not expatriated: our feelings as British subjects grow more warm with distance, and our greater experience teaches us the more to venerate the principles of our native land-the country wherein the Sciences have made the greatest progress, and where alone are cultivated to perfection the arts of social life. At home, we have experienced evils: we know that influences are there, which war against the principles of the constitution and counteract its most benevolent designs. Here, we are free of such influences, we are perfectly contented, and a fine field lies open to us for cultivating the best fruits of civil and religious liberty. An enlarged and liberal connection between Canada and Britain, appears to me to promise the happiest results to the cause of civilization. It promises a new era in the history of our species: it promises the growth of manners with manly spirit, modesty with acquirements, and a love of truth superior to the boasting of despicable vanity. The late war furnished the strongest proof of the rising spirit of this colony, even under every disadvantage; and pity would it be, were so noble a spirit ever again exposed to risk. The late war shewed at once the affection which Britain bears to Canada, and the desire which Canada has to continue under the wing of Britain. When a connection is established between the two countries worth of such manifestations, all risk will cease. Britain will no longer have to expend her millions here. This country will not only be equal to its own defence, but the last hope of invasion will wither before its strength. While Canada remains poor and neglected, she can only be a burden to Britain; when improved and wealthy she will amply repay every dbt, and become the powerful friend of the parent state. What I conceive to be the first requisite for opening a suitable communication with the mother country, is the drawing out and publishing a well authenticated statistical account of Upper Canada. This cannot be effected by a single hand: it must be the work and have the authority of many. To give it commencement, I submit to your consideration the annexed queries; and, could these be replied to from every township in the Province, the work would be far advanced. These queries have been shewn to many of the most respectable individuals in this Province, and the scheme of collecting materials in this way, for a statistical account, has, by every one, been approved. Some have doubted whether there exists sufficient energy and public spirit in the remote townships to reply to them. I hope there is; and certainly no organized township is destitute of individuals qualified for the task, if they will but take so much trouble. Some Gentlemen have met my ideas so cordially as to offer to collect information, not only for their own, but for other townships. Correct information, however, is not the only requisite: authority is also wanted of that species which will not only carry weight with it to a distance, but remain answerable on the spot for whatever is advanced. The desirable point, therefore, is to obtain replies separately from each township, and to have these attested by the signature of as many of the respectable inhabitants as possible. To accomplish this in the speediest and most effectual manner, a meeting might be held in each township, and in the space of an hour or two the business might be perfected,-The queries have been drawn out as simple as possible, with a view to the practicability of having them answered in this general way. They embrace only such matters as it must be in the power of every intelligent farmer to speak to, and the information to be obtained by them will be sufficient to assure farmers and others at home who have money to engage in adventure, that adventure here will not only be rational and safe, but that they themselves may sit down in Canada with comfort and independence. Although to prevent confusion in the general fulfilment of the scheme, I have confined the range of queries, it would still be very desirable if intelligent individuals would communicate their sentiments with regard to any measure of improvement which occurs to them, or any remarkable fact or observation they have made concerning the climate, soil, or cultivation of the province. Should any correspondent dislike my using his name publicly, he need only give a caution, and it shall be observed.
"If the queries obtain notice, and sufficient documents are forwarded to me, I shall arrange them and publish them in England, whither I am soon to return. Had this task required superior ability, such an offer would be presumption. I think it requires industry alone, and that I shall contribute most willingly. Whoever thinks well of this scheme, and feels a desire to promote it, let him not hesitate or delay: prompt assistance will be every thing; and as to trouble, let individuals compare theirs to mine.
"Though I gratuitously make offer of my time, I must be relieved of expence as much as possible, and shall expect all communications to be post paid. No person, I think, who interests himself at all in the matter will grudge his item in this way. Divided among many, such charges will be trifling, but accumulated upon one, they would be serious.
"Should the work succeed to my wish, I would propose not only publishing it in the English, but German language. It is well known that the people of that nation are most desirable settlers, and it is a fact, that many of them have not the means of communicating to their friends the very superior advantages of this country. One of them, who has been in Canada thirteen years, lately told me, that "thousands and thousands would come over, did they but know how good a country it is for poor peoples."
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© Marjorie P. Kohli, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1997-2007
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