"American Tour 1871"
Oct 8th to Oct 16th
We were up and out of the house betimes, as at 6.30 we
left by train 9 miles to La Chine where we took the steamer to shoot the rapids
of La Chine.
On our way down the river, the engines were reversed
full speed, but still we had plenty of way on her as she dashed thro the
seething, boiling eddies with her bows several feet below her stern now diving
thro the rapid currents dividing two frowning rocks and again passing thro
unseen rocks but withstanding the tremor of excitement a feeling of quiet safety
is experienced on watching how sharply and carefully, the pilot guides our
quivering course. A few bullocks and cows look perfectly unconscious of the
danger seen and unseen, we rapidly approach the tubular bridge and as we sweep
swiftly between the abutments can admire the colossal proportions of this feat
of engineering skill.
We landed at Montreal and after dinner embarked on one
of Richlieu’s fine steamers the ‘Quebec’ for a sail up the St Lawrence.
These steamers – floating palaces as they are surprised me by their immense
accommodation as well as by the superb fittings of her tiers and staterooms,
rising one above the other, brilliantly lighted by the large oil lamps in the
shape of our gas lights but glass, there was however an unpleasant odour from
these oil lamps. A ponderous outside steam engine with slow stately strokes
propelled us on our journey. The night was cold each cheerless we turned in
being sent to sleep by some brilliant pianoforte music given by a dashing young
On looking out of my stateroom found the weather wet and
foggy we were steaming thro the shipping at anchor and along the rocky
precipices, over which frowned the lofty citadel making one ponder on the
courage and daring displayed by those who once strived and took it. As we drew
up to the quay we were sorry to see the steamer ‘Lord Clyde’ start forth on
her last trip up the famous Saqueny River, which we all strongly desired to see.
We had a sharp aspect in our cabin to get to the St Louis Hotel at 7am. Quebec
has rather a woe begone appearance as tho it had seen better days. We missed the
bustling enterprise, everywhere so conspicuous in Montreal, but the town of
Quebec on account of it’s abrupt ascent from the river makes it well nigh
impossible to make it a regular city. Higher Quebec is however delightfully
situated a splendid view is obtained of the lower city, the river with it’s
shipping and the opposite shores are mountainous. Its distance from New York is
650 miles from Montreal 168 and 340 from the ocean. The city of Quebec was
founded in 1608 and was taken possession of by the British in 1619, final
possession was taken by Wolfe in 1754. The Citadel the American Gibraltar crowns
the summit of Cape Diamond and covers 46 acres with its buildings. Access to it
is gained from the upper town the walls of which are entered by 5 gates. We went
over with a sergeant of the 60th rifles and shared his regret that
the scenes of our glorious traditions should be abandoned by the Queen’s
rather a woe begone appearance as tho it had seen better days. We missed the bustling enterprise, everywhere so conspicuous in Montreal, but the town of Quebec on account of it’s abrupt ascent from the river makes it well nigh impossible to make it a regular city. Higher Quebec is however delightfully situated a splendid view is obtained of the lower city, the river with it’s shipping and the opposite shores are mountainous. Its distance from New York is 650 miles from Montreal 168 and 340 from the ocean. The city of Quebec was founded in 1608 and was taken possession of by the British in 1619, final possession was taken by Wolfe in 1754. The Citadel the American Gibraltar crowns the summit of Cape Diamond and covers 46 acres with its buildings. Access to it is gained from the upper town the walls of which are entered by 5 gates. We went over with a sergeant of the 60th rifles and shared his regret that the scenes of our glorious traditions should be abandoned by the Queen’s troops.
Our view was splendid, embracing the River that it
commands, the streets of the City and the Plains of Abraham that we subsequently
visited, after a delightful walk along the cliffs. We were soon standing by the
column that marks the spot where Wolfe victoriously fell after his deadly
conflict. We enquired from neighbouring cottage children for the well from which
water was brought for the dying General and found that it had been filled up.
We drove this afternoon, along some good roads for 8
miles to see the Falls of Montgomery that are grand and beautiful. The river
here is 60ft wide and the descent of the forest 250ft. The river at some
distance seems suspended in the air in a sheet of billowy foam and contrasted
with the black flowing abyss into which it falls is an object of great interest
the spray is almost blinding the noise deafening, the surrounding scenery is
Visited the shops and had a long drive. Left at 7.20 pm
for Montreal made our first acquaintance with Pullman’s sleeping cars. The
berths are not unlike those on board steamers but narrower. The sight presented
to our gaze on going to bed was ludicrous, a newly married couple, ladies and
gentlemen all retiring at the same time. I did not secure a good night’s
sleep, the constant jerks and rolls and the fitful slumbers I got were disturbed
as the train stopped and started. Just before daylight were told by the
conductor that we had better get up as we were approaching our destination, and
as we drew up at Lambert station, we found that a passenger (a plate layer)
roused suddenly out of slumber, had fallen underneath the wheels of our car and
had his head completely severed from his body. The poor fellow was from Quebec
and has left a large family.
Arrived (across the tubular bridge) on Bonaventure
Station at 6 am feeling very ill from the cramped position of my night’s rest
and the sad accident. At 7 am left for La Chine where we embarked on the steamer
‘Princess of Wales’ for a sail up the Ottawa River, with which we soon
steamed out of the St Lawrence River. We went as far as Carillou where we took
the train for Grenville then we embarked on the ‘Queen Victoria’ and
continued our sail up this noble river. These steamers have excellent
accommodation and this captain (Bowie) is a most intelligent and affable man,
the passengers are a mixed and rough lot, settlers on distant station.
Backwoodsmen of immense stature, rough garb and appearance, yet very courteous
and affable in conversation, leading a life I imagine very different to that in
which they have been nurtured. Some of them look men of education and culture,
but who may have very few graces and probably been sent out by patient wearied
parents, to rough it out in the backwoods, they seem delighted to meet and speak
to us so recently from the old country to which they treasure up great affection
and veneration. One or two of them, were returning from a ‘marrying
expedition’ to one of the large cities and were bringing back to cheer them in
their lonely homes – tenderly bred city maidens who as far as good looks go
will adorn and I hope make happy their pine built dwellings.
The scenery on the Ottawa River is very wild, on each
side of it are forests as ‘old as the hills’ here and there a patch cleared
and a farmstead or steam sawmill erected showing the march of white enterprise.
It required as the twilight closed rapidly a sharp deck promenade to keep up the
Amongst our fellow passengers was a drunken Irishman of
the worst type, yet he was a magistrate in his own settlement. He had his coat
nearly torn off his back in attempting to escape from the steamer without paying
his fare and caused much amusement.
At 7 pm we drew up to the quay of the city of Ottawa and
made our way to Russell House and after a cup of tea were glad to go to bed.
After breakfast we made our way to the State House and
Houses of Parliament. They are handsomely built, after the style of Westminster,
tho the interiors are much superior each two members, being provided with a
chair and desk, the Senate or Higher House being superbly fitted, fine statues
of the Queen, Prince and Princess of Wales by Marshall Woods, at a cost of £2000
subscribed for by the members were placed there, in the corridors are portraits
of former senators, there is a splendid library and museum of patents containing
some very interesting models, visited the lower regions to inspect the
ventilating and heating appliances. The extremes of summer and winter are very
great in these Northern latitudes, the boilers are models of exquisite
workmanship they serve to heat the house in winter and drive a superb pair of
brass engines, which sends a refreshing current thro the rooms in summer.
On leaving the place we visited The Chaudian Falls, the
rapid river plunges over a precipice 130 ft giving the appearance of boiling
water hence the name Chaudiere or cauldron.
Visited several sawmills, the motive power is turbine
for which there is ample and powerful supply. It was most interesting to see the
huge trees of the forests floated within a few inches of the splendid machinery
which saws them up and prepares them for house building in all varieties, for
buckets and making matches. This last process amazed me the machinery is
delicate intricate and beautiful, girls are mostly employed in the latter
occupation (as they usually are) some were making the boxes others filling them
with matches, such sharp fingers!
The bucket making is also highly ingenious tho I
scarcely dare watch the men, so many of them nearly all had lost one or more of
We then afterwards went to see the Rideaux or Curtain
Falls, but the low state of the river disappointed us, so we went on to Rideaux
Hall, the seat of the Governor General The Canadas. At one time each of the
cities took it in turn to be the capital but squabblings were so numerous that
the Queen was advised to elect the striving city of Ottawa as capital.
The amount of timber around here is simply appalling,
the quantity of chips sent down river as waste is most wasteful to my eye, what
a boon they would be in the cheerless houses of some of our poor in England.
On our way back we were amused by the antics of a grey
horse that had bolted loose, it was caught at last by C L. who received the
thanks of some young ladies.
Left our quarters at Ottawa at 7 am for Prescott where
we hoped to catch the steamer on her way between Montreal and Toronto but owing
to a heavy gale of wind the steamer was several hours late. Promenading the
station that is close to the river we were struck with the bustling activity of
Ogdensburg a US town across the river. Prescott cannot compare at all favourably
with it, things here seem stagnant. We regretfully decided to go by the 11 train
to Toronto and missed seeing the magnificent river scenery and the ‘Thousand
Isles about which we had heard so much.
The journey by rail was uninteresting as the track was
laid thro endless woods and forests. Here and there, the squatters had begun to
clear the land - Government allows
each adult 100 acres free, they clear the land by felling the trees sometimes
patience wears out and they resort to the dangerous practice of setting fire to
them. Some of them look awfully rough places. The squatters need have brave
hearts and strong arms to battle with the hopelessly entangled trees and shrubs
surrounded by swamps.
H, B and I are alone here L and J have gone for a trip
up the Ottawa River and T W had to retrace his steps to Caldwell as he had left
his watch under his pillows. Arrived at Toronto at 10.30 pm.
Toronto is the largest and most populous city in Canada,
some 60 years ago the present marsh was occupied by two Indian families only, in
1793 General Simcoe (?) began the settlement under the name of York, changed
when it was incorporated in 1834 to Toronto meaning in the Indian tongue ‘the
place of meeting’. Some of the churches are very fine, the streets are well
and broadly laid out and when fully built will make a splendid city. The
beautiful bells of the English cathedral summoned us to service they played the
familiar hymn tunes and the well known ritual made us feel at home. In the
afternoon we had a walk and enjoyed the bracing air. Our hotel is on the banks
of Lake Ontario which is 200 miles long and 70 wide.
At 7 am we left Toronto by steamer ‘City of Toronto’
for Niagra, the sail across the lake being very enjoyable as we were favoured
with a charming day. As we approached Niagra village the bright blue of the lake
was sullied by a huge semicircle of a muddy colour, showing the effect of the
mixing of the Niagra river as it rushes on its terrible career into the calm of
the lake. The steamer soon entered the ‘Narrow Straits’ which divide the
possessions pf Mother England and her rebellious son Jonathan, the latter
defiantly flouts the ‘stars and stripes’ but the authorities of our
dominions do not display the ‘blood red flag of old England’.
We landed at Niagra village, and a ruined and deserted
place it is, only a few of the many wooden houses tenanted and kept in repair,
the rest left to decay, rarely we could we hear the merry laugh of children and
scarce a lonely dog prowled about the devastated streets recalling Goldsmiths
‘ deserted village to mind’. The port on the US side is kept in smart repair
and fully garrisoned, but ours is like the village, left to time’s decay.
Our train at last came up and along a most interesting
route, soon by the riverside itself, when the distant roar of the Niagra Falls
could be heard. We shortly arrived at the depot, arriving at Clifton House I was
disappointed to find it closed as I was anxious for letters, so had to take a
carriage across the splendid suspension bridge to the ‘International Hotel on
the Yankee side.
Our entry into Uncle Sam’s territory was welcomed in
the usual manner by the customs officials who kindly placed our garments on the
grass during their search, rendering no assistance in the repacking. We arrived
at the Catarach House at 3pm and found to our delight several letters awaiting
The town of the falls is very extensive and thriving
rapidly, the stores are mostly furnished with fancy work, curiosities etc. Were
delighted to find Tom walker again and gad a quick sortie towards the ‘rapids.
What a mighty never ceasing thundering roar proceeds
from these mighty falls words fail to express the emotions felt in gazing on
this great marvel of the Almighty Hand. The Great Lakes of N America, Superior,
Michigan, Huron and Eerie, pour the flood of their accumulated waters thro a
channel 36 miles in length into Lake Ontario, this channel is called Niagra
River and is part of the boundary between Canada and State of New York, the
falls are divided into two by an island.
The American falls are 900 ft wide and 164 ft high, the
Horseshoe (Canadian) are 200ft wide and 158 high. Over this magnificent
precipice the turbulent boiling tide rushes at the rate of 100,000,000 tons of
water every hour! In 1820 a condemned lake ship the ‘Detroit’ drawing 18ft
of water was sent over the falls she did not touch the rocks in passing over the
brink! The roar is deafening and the spray almost blinding which assumes the
appearance of dense volumes of steam, this spray acted on by the sun shows
We afterwards went to the place of descent to the
‘Cave of Winds’, but the exorbitant charge for waterproofs drove us to fetch
our own, which put on we descended the winding staircase in a round tower to the
entrance of the cave and found it locked, but we were amply repaid by the view
of the long column of sparkling water, descending as it seems to an immeasurable
depth, and the bright sea green curve above, has the appearance of being set in
the sky. There is a small ferryboat to the other side from here.
On our ascent we met a lady and gentleman the former
causing us much amusement by the grotesque appearance she cut in her oilskins,
which consist of souwester, short jacket and tight fitting unmentionables with
felt shoes! We joked her afterwards at a distance on her strange appearance, she
is a Spanish lady, lately married to a Cuban.
The Catarack House seems to be the place where newly
married couples most do congregate, people look upon us as a young married
looking couple, but I am sure that we should look quite venerable near some that
Another ramble towards the suspension bridge gave us in
our walk along the cliffs an opportunity of seeing the beautiful little fall
called the ‘Bridge Veil’and the two bridges the tubular one has the foot
passengers way underneath the railway.
Made several purchases feather fans, pincushions etc the
work of Indian squaws which I have
dispatched by … and co.
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