My Wife and I went to Canada and met a couple who had kept hold of much of the family correspondence. We were extremely lucky to have been handed over journals, articles, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia. This is an article written by my wife's grandfather describing their journey to Canada in 1884 that was found in this treasure chest of information.
From the Ilfracombe Chronicle, and North Devon News,
Saturday January 5, 1884 to Saturday January 12, 1884.
We have received the following graphic and interesting account of a voyage from Ilfracombe to Canada, from the pen of Mr. Fred. W. Robins, a young man well known here. Mr. Robins writes from London, Ontario, and many readers will be sorry to learn that his letter has been delayed, owing to his having broken his right arm in the hydraulic lift of the store where he is engaged; but on the 15th December he was happily able to say, " I am all right again now."
We (my sister and I) left Ilfracombe on September 11th, by the Lyn, to Portishead; it was a bit rough when we started, but the wind changed as we crossed Bridgewater Bay, and it became quite calm long before we reached the end of the trip. Arriving at Portishead at 1.30, we took the train to Bristol, and reached the Station at 2.30. Here we should have been met by the steamship officer, who was to have taken charge of our luggage, but he was not to be found, and after appealing in vain to some of the many railway officials for information, we were obliged to go to the steamship office, and by the clerks were sent back to the Station once more. This time we were successful in finding the desired gentleman, who soon put us right, and by his kind attention made us forget our little inconvenience. He informed us that we should start from Newport, instead of from Avonmouth as had been advertised. He gave us orders to be at the Station the next morning, to take the train to that port.
A former classmate met us, and took us to his house for lodgings till then. The next morning I turned out early, and took a walk over the suspension bridge, and through Clifton, and hurrying back left Bristol at nine oclock. We crossed the New Passage in the Chepstow, found it very much calmer than we had expected, and arrived at Newport at noon. We rode about a mile through the town on the tramcars, and after walking about another mile, reached the Dorset, which steamer we found was lying in the Alexandra Dock, taking in a cargo of railway iron, fish plates, tin, and other merchandise, for transport to Montreal. We were again disappointed in finding that we were not to set sail until the following day, as the steamer was taking her supply of coal and water, and had not received as yet the whole of her cargo. We found her in anything but a desirable state, and far from prepossessing in general appearance. The delay, which at first annoyed us, now turned out to be somewhat to our advantage, as it allowed us time to have a good look round, and to procure necessary conveniences for the voyage, such as water-cans, plates, tin cups, and a wash bowl, which,- having brought blankets and rugs with us,-we thought would be cheaper to buy than to borrow of the Company. It also gave an opportunity to get soap, condensed milk, cocoa, cheese, and any other delicacies in the way of potted meat,&c., that any of the passengers might fancy.
Looking about us, the docks presented a very lively appearance: coal and freight trains running in every direction, and engines snorting and whistling all over the place: ships and steamers of all names and sizes loading and unloading, taking in coal and water, or iron, or waiting their turn to get alongside the wharves. Dinner was served out soon after getting on board; but many of the passengers had either brought their own, or like ourselves, went up to the town purchasing and turned into one of the many coffee taverns which are to be found in the streets of Newport, in fact what struck me most predominantly in this town was the number of these coffee houses. In the night the Dock was illuminated by the electric light, making it look almost like daylight; the poor gas lamps about the place seemed to look yellow over it; but there was a disadvantage in the unsteadiness of the light, and the shadows thrown were very deep, one could see distinctly the shadows of the yards and cross trees of the shipping thrown in the air.
Before turning in for the night, most of the steerage passengers joined in singing hymns and sacred songs from Moody and Sankeys collection. We were up betimes the next morning and found it hazy all round; took another trip or two about the town, and to satisfy our vanity bought a mirror, which the passengers had subscribed for, for use on the voyage, and which was found very handy, there being no other available. Moorings were loosed at one oclock on Thursday, and at half past two we were clear of the dock, and were towed for a short distance down the river, and then were fairly on our voyage to the western world. There being that haze peculiar to the east wind pervading the horizon, we had not such a good view as we expected, and when we missed seeing the coast. Sailing down the channel we passed between the Holmes and to the north of the " English-Welsh grounds " and the " Breaksea " Lightships. As we proceeded we could just discriminate through the haze the faint outline of the hilly coast of Somerset and North Devon; and although we could just discern Hillsborough Hill, we could see nothing of our native town, upon which we had built a great many hopes. It was now getting dusk, and the Bull Light became visible, also Lundy Light. Perhaps all the readers of the Chronicle are not aware that the Lighthouse on Lundy Island is the highest above the sea level in Great Britain, the light being 540 feet above the level of high water mark; it is visible for 31 miles. The structure is 96 feet high, and was built in 1820. Between Bull Point and Lundy we were delayed for about half an hour by the overheating of some of the machinery; this was the only hitch in that way which occurred during the whole of the voyage.
Now we are fairly at sea we may say a word or two concerning our ship and fellow passengers. The Dorset is the largest and is accounted the quickest steamer owned by the Great Western Steamship Company. The steerage is between the engine room and the saloon, and as it concerned us most, we will describe it first. It is between 30 and 40 feet long and about 15 feet wide. The centre of it is a raised kind of platform sloping from the centre toward the sides about a foot high. Around this is a gangway, and ranged along each side are the berths, these berths are enclosed, and contain six sleeping compartments each. These bunks are in two rows of three, the bottoms are formed of Diamond Spring Mattresses, and on this is a life-preserving bed of corks. Each passenger has to provide his or her own bedding. We had brought a blanket and a rug each with us, but found sleeping without a pillow decidedly inconvenient; for the convenience of families the divisions between bunks could be removed. The raised platform was covered by tarpaulin, it being the covering of the hatchway to the hold. On this we sat and took our meals. Breakfast was served every morning at eight, and was generally bread and butter, tea and sugar, passengers supposed to supply their own milk. Dinner at 12 oclock, soup, pork, or beef, and potatoes, occasionally rice, and on Sundays, plum pudding. Tea, bread, or biscuit and butter, and tea and sugar. Porridge served at 8 oclock to any who wished it. On the whole we could rub along pretty fairly in the steerage, but, during rough weather, when the hatch was battened down it was uncomfortable enough.
As to our fellow passengers, there were an Irish retired soldier and his wife and daughter, going out to try and increase their income in Canada; a settlers wife returning from England to her home, accompanied by her sister; three labourers wives and their children ( about 23 in all ), going out from Gloucestershire to join their husbands and fathers, under the care of Tom, a country shoemaker from the same village, who not only redeemed his promise made to the said men, of seeing their wives and children safely on board, but at the last decided to go the voyage, to see what he could do for himself out in this great land. In spite of being lame, the old chap was for the first few days the merriest and liveliest on board. Then there was a young butcher and his wife and two children from Jersey, going out again to set up for himself in Strathroy, a town about 20 miles west of this city. A lady of Cornish birth and her three daughters, ( to whom a considerable amount of attention was paid by some of the young men), going to rejoin her husband in Simcoe Co., Ont.; two brothers going to Montreal as clerks; a young man joining his uncle and aunt in Guelph; a young man from South Devon, going to Illinois, U.S., to join his father; a milliner; a man and his wife from Oxford; a shoemaker and his wife and child, who, not being able to make it pay in Birmingham, had a mind to try what they could do in America; three young women from a "home" in Bristol going to Quebec as domestics; a French Canadian returning home, and ourselves completed the roll of the steerage passengers.
The saloon was very nicely furnished and everything there nicely got up, quite in a different manner to the steerage. The passengers there were a gentleman and his wife from Portishead, who, giving up his business as a solicitor, intended to try farming in Canada, and to that end brought a young farmer from Gloucester to manage for him, and a domestic servant; also a young swell through to the "States", and a young man going to Ilfracombe ! away up in Muskoka Co., Ont. These, with the addition of the Doctor, a native of London, Ont., just returning from Edinburgh with his "M.D." degree, complete the list of passengers.
As to the officers and crew, Captain Stamper very nice and agreeable, willing to give any information, and though strictly attentive to duty as far as an outsider and a landsman could observe, was very sociable at times to some of the passengers, too sociable in fact to please some of the cross-grained of the number, among whom proved to be our shoemaker friend and the Irish disciplinarian. Our Captain was always attentive to the passengers, enquiring after the sick, or distributing apples, nuts, &c., among the children.
The mates were regular models of strictness, no use to ask them for any information or any thing else, always on the watch and alert. The engineers were gentlemanly looking men; "chips" the carpenter was very agreeable; the crew were just the variety one would expect, of all classes, from the boatswain with his clean shaved face and ringed ears, down to the blackest of the black firemen, the usual assortment of bravado of strength, with both fine and coarse varied information, and worst of all, fearful language; oaths and curses, among some, being the principle dialect, of course all were not alike; one man of about 35, Welsh, was generally talking of his "mother" : the old French chap, who tells a good tale of how the French settled in Canada, and how the English got a footing in it; the young and generally quiet Paddy, who knew "all about it" when anything was being said or done; and the fine young chap that wore top boots always, and was never tired of asking me where I was going, and pressing me to hope on and work hard; and many others with each their particular peculiarity, but I must not forget our steward, who for his genial manner, I believe was liked by everybody, and the second steward under whose charge we were; besides these were the cook and his assistants, and four or five cattle drivers returning to Montreal.
Now to go on with the voyage. On the Thursday evening we left the Lundy Light,-our last sight of England,-though Hillsborough was the last English land. Some of our voyagers began to feel qualmish and sickly.
On Friday morning we breakfasted at eight, but found that our watches were half-an-hour behind time, and as they kept losing, most of us let them run down until we arrived at Quebec. During the day we passed several boats and a steamer, and through the haze in the afternoon caught a glimpse of the Fastnet Rock and Lighthouse, the most southerly part of Ireland, and the last part of Great Britain that we saw; we signalled a schooner after this, and in the evening saw a few porpoises and Mother Careys chickens; our sick were increasing in number, as to ourselves, having been a little sick on board the Lyn, we did not feel very much the effects of the slight rolling of the ship, and when we did found that a smart run along the deck a few times made us better. On Saturday, the weather remained still calm, and also very clear, so that we could see for a long distance, but only saw one ship for the day, far away to the south, and that was the last we saw until we got near the American coast. A shoal of porpoises came alongside; we could see them coming in all directions up to the steamer, and they would cluster round the bows and be apparently racing, or trying to race with the boat; it was pleasant to see them darting one way and another, and toss and roll over one another, and then without a warning disappear. Our Captain, to-day had built for our convenience a wooden shed on the deck, which further on was improved by the addition of a bench all round and a table through the centre. When it was fine, and as long as it remained dry, this shed was very convenient, and preferred by most of the steerage for meals. Saturday night the moon was nearly full and lighted up the waters around beautifully; up to this time everything had gone on nicely, the weather had been propitious,-an east wind and the sea as calm as a pond.
When we woke up on Sunday morning it was with a new sensation; there was a peculiar swing about our berth, and the water swished by our porthole furiously; when we got up on deck we were surprised to find the sea rolling high over the level of the deck, but as the wind was blowing from behind us, it helped us along faster, and prevented the sea from breaking over us very much, but it did come in once now and then; it had the effect of increasing the sickness of some of the ladies, though several were getting well over it. One poor woman was so frightened that she cried out that the ship was going down, and we should all be drowned; we helped her down, and from that time she could scarcely be persuaded to let go the rope which had been tied across the steerage to prevent us rolling too far when we started; the poor creature could not rest, we could hear her at different times in the night looking in at the different berths to her friends, and saying she believed we were going down at last. The hatches were battened down on us, and the confinement, and also the fumes and heat of the lanterns which had to be lighted, made it anything but a desirable. In the afternoon the top-gallant sail was split, with a bang, by a gust of wind; it was too rough for service, in fact, we had to take a firm grip of our cups and plates to prevent them going from one side of the vessel to the other, and to take every care of ourselves else we should be quickly following them. In the evening as many as could stand it were in the "saloon", as we termed it, on the deck, and spent a greater part of the evening in singing hymns. Poor Tom had been very sick, in fact, he suffered about the most of any of us, and monopolised as much of the doctors time as anyone, and it was not till we got in sight of land that he became anything like himself again.
On Monday morning we found the storm somewhat abated, but the wind had changed to the north-west and blew straight before us; consequently, a great deal more water was bounced in on us, and it was very much colder; our saloon on deck soon became untenable, and we had to shift as best we might. A few of us found a refuge in the Captains chart-room, occasionally, which raised the ire of some of the other passengers. This cold and dreary weather continued till Thursday, when it began to be a little better. On Thursday we sighted some icebergs, and by the evening were calculating on being near land. Friday morning found the steamer going "slow", and at 7.55 just as the men were preparing to heave the lead, land was sighted; it was then very hazy and foggy. Calculating that it was the Labrador coast, the ship was headed south, but it was soon discovered by the lowness of the coast that it was not Labrador, but Newfoundland. The ship was put about, and then we rounded Cape Bauld, and passed Belle Isle, between 1 and 2 oclock entered the Straits of Belle Isle. The sea by this time was calm, and the sun shone on us again, we not having seen it for 6 days before. Sailing with the current we made quick progress through the Straits, and passed the lighthouse at Point Amour at 6:15, and that at Greenly Island at 7:15, being 13 miles in the hour.
The sunset this evening was lovely, setting at 6 precisely, like a huge globe of molten gold, amid gilt edged feathery clouds, and looking more like a sunset at " Combe " than any I have seen since. Going through the Straits we passed a Grampus, and quite a number of Divers, small birds about the size of a thrush, that at slightest alarm would dive away down and stay for several minutes under water. We signalled to the lighthouses as we passed them. We passed a steamer ashore here. In the evening, the wake of the steamer seemed a perfect path of fire, the phosphorescent jelly-fish disturbed by the propeller of the steamer gleamed amid the darkness of the waters for some distance back. On Saturday morning we found ourselves at sea again, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but our proximity to land was evident from the fact that several birds came and perched about on the deck and rigging of the steamer, some of which were secured by the steward. We sighted Anticosti Island at one oclock, signalled to the telegraph stations on the coast as we passed. It was remarked that while the young Canadian Government can afford to keep up between 20 and 30 telegraph stations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the English Board of Trade cannot see their way clear to establish one such station at Lundy Island! Let the fact speak for itself. The weather still continued fine, at times not a ripple could be seen upon the water.
Sunday morning we were awakened early by " Canada at last," and rose and found that Madala had been sighted at 4 oclock in the morning, and we were now sailing along by the Gaspe* banks of the St. Lawrence. The shores did not look very inviting; it was rather steep and rough, with a lot of rough timber growing upon it. We passed several steamers in two or three whales spouting away. The farther we sailed the better the wooded banks became, with here and there a small clearing, and here and there a cabin or two all painted white. At 10 oclock we passed Cape Chatte, and at 11 Divine Service was held in the saloon, the Captain reading prayers and a short sermon on " Faith."
After service and dinner, the banks were better populated as we sailed on, and we passed several small villages, each with its little church steeple. We also passed a lot of signal stations and lighthouses. At 4 the pilot came aboard, and brought letters and papers, and we soon began to realise that our voyage was almost over. Many of the passengers began to pack up their traps to be ready for landing, and all turned in, in the night, thankful to know that it would be our last night aboard.
We were awakened early the next morning by the cry that we would be in Quebec in half an hour and were to get our baggage ready. Some of us turned out to find that we had been regularly fooled, but as the moon was still shining brightly, and the coast very interesting we decided to remain on deck. Everyone soon began to bustle about, sailors getting rigs and ropes ready, washing and swilling down decks, and passengers getting their boxes ready. The scenery now was beautiful, and as we passed the groves of maple trees all resplendent in green, crimson, and gold, the banks looked really lovely. We passed the Island of Orleans, and saw in the distance the Falls of Mountmorenci, and at 10.30 were at Quebec. We steamed along under the Citadel on the Heights of Abraham, where " Wolfe victorious fell," and turned across the river to Point Lewis opposite to Quebec where we landed at 11.30 a.m. after a voyage of 10 days 21 hours, or allowing the difference in time, 11 days 2 hours, a very good passage for that Steamer.
After declaring that none of our luggage was new, or for sale, it was allowed to pass the Customs, and we dropped it at the railway station.
"We give below a continuance of Mr. Robins experiences of an emigrant, which cannot fail to be of interest to a great many of our readers.
As soon as the steerage passengers had been put ashore with their luggage at Quebec, The Dorset set off up the river for Montreal, to discharge her cargo, and land the saloon passengers who had taken tickets through to that city. We now thought that our troubles were over, and settling our luggage into the railway sheds, began to look about for dinner; we got a good meal for a shilling. After dinner we began to look about the place. It is not a clean looking place by any means, and there were a lot of loafers leaning against the fences staring at everyone passing; we noticed the policemen carried revolvers. All the advertisements and signs of the houses of business were in both French and English; quite one half of the houses were hotels or public houses, and every place selling tobacco and cigars.
Most of the people were French, although a number of them could speak English; We got our money changed at the store at which the post office was kept, we got four dollars 86 cents for a sovereign, two dollars 40 cents for a half sovereign, but on silver we had to lose about six per cent. Brummagem jewellery was abundant, every youth wore heavy imitation gold chains and four or five very large rings. We took in a stock of provisions for the remainder of the journey; we found groceries a little more expensive than at home. Some of our English young men, with the national propensity, went for English beer; Basss ale was 25 cents a bottle, spirits we were told, especially whiskey, were the same price as beer, by the glass; tobacco and cigars, so our friends said, were much cheaper, but of this we personally know nothing. It was a very hot day, hotter in fact than at home in July, and very dusty. There was a large Allan steamer which arrived very soon after us, which had brought from Glasgow a number of Scotch emigrants who were on their way to Manitoba and the north west provinces. The emigrants on landing are met by the agents for the different provinces of the Dominions; there is a lady stationed there whose special work is to look out the young single women, and to take care of them and give them letters of introduction to the various agents of the Government in the towns or villages to which they are going, or to put them at once into situations as domestic servants if they wish it; she procured situations for the three young women from Bristol, in Quebec, the same day they arrived. She is prepared with a list of all the single girls, and as soon as they come ashore she is on the alert, as there are plenty else, we were told, on the watch for them.
As soon as she found out Maggie she got her a free railway ticket to Toronto, and presented her with a letter of introduction to the agent here in London. Free tickets are provided for all domestics to any place in Ontario. Also for agricultural labourers and their wives and families; single young men mechanics are given free tickets as far as Montreal. There was also an agent of the S.P.C.K., to meet the emigrants, and also give them letters to the different ministers of the Episcopal churches in the town to which they are bound.
We were shown the part of the cliff up which General Wolfe led his brave men, and the tablet on the cliff pointing out the spot where Montgomery fell. As our train moved off at 5 p.m., the vice regal steamer, carrying that richest and proudest of the flags of the world, the Royal Standard of Great Britain, sailed along the river beside us. We passed the large timber yards on the banks of the river, and soon left the "Gibraltar of the West" far behind us. Our train was not a particularly fast one, and we had ample time to look at the country as we passed along, for just an hour or two before dark; the land looked in a very rough state, there was a lot, in fact most of the land was wooded, but now and then a clearing would show where the busy axe of the settler had been at work; as the night darkened upon us we could see the fires by which the settlers were burning the underwood, and here and there we should pass the poplar trees burning and sending out showers of sparks. It seems to be the custom to set fire to the tops of the trees and let them burn down to the stump; at first we took them to be ornamental fireworks.
We arrived at Richmond at 11 oclock, p.m.; here we again stopped about a quarter of an hour, then on again. We soon began to drop off asleep, but it was under great disadvantages. We thought on board the steamer that it was bad, but I am not at all equal to the task of describing our inconveniences on board these emigrant cars; the cars themselves are longer than those used in England, the doors are at the ends, not at the sides as in those at home, and a gangway through the centre, lengthways of the car, and small seats across at the sides, just room enough for two to sit in. Each of us took to one of these seats, but they were fearfully uncomfortable to attempt to lie down to rest in. There was a convenience at one end of the car, and a can of water and a cheerless stove at the other. All the passengers' cars communicate with one another by the doors, outside which is a little platform for the brakeman, and also sets of steps for mounting or alighting. When I tell you that the emigrant train was just of the roughest passenger cars possible, placed in the middle of between 20 to 30 freight-cars, and which had to stop and be shunted at every small station to allow general passenger trains to pass, and also to either disconnect or take on another car, and often we had to wait from half to three quarters of an hour at a time for this purpose, and sometimes we had to stop right in the middle of a forest to allow the express to pass, you can imagine how irksome this kind of travelling became, in fact it was proposed to get off and walk on sometimes.
One passenger in these stoppages used to get off and gather leaves, and any wild flowers or grasses, and bring them in to amuse some of our younger companions with, and he evinced no great anxiety if the train attempted to start before he was quite through, and he was not left behind. After leaving Richmond shortly after 11 as we stated before, we tried to sleep. When we had succeeded in this we were wakened and dragged out to a free breakfast at 2 oclock in the morning at one of the stations. We got out and did what we could to the very weak tea and thick bread and butter, some of our fellow voyagers going for the stew or hash that had been prepared, with the greatest of pleasure. We stopped again just before reaching Montreal, for twenty minutes for refreshments, the general charge being about five cents (2.5d.) for a cup of tea ( in one case we had to pay 10 cents), and that very very weak, to say the best of it. Sandwiches, very thin and not very good at 5 cents each, other commodities in proportion.
We reached Montreal at 4 a.m.; it was quite dark, and raining when we crossed the great bridge which we had so hopefully looked forward to seeing. After leaving Montreal, day soon dawned, and as we rode along we noticed that the land was under a rather better state of cultivation in some parts, although we rode for miles at a time through forests, and wooded land. All the ground is fenced off by zigzag snake fencing, a very peculiar, but at the same time convenient and cheap style. We saw here and there some standing corn, and passed a great many fields from which clover had been cut, and stacked up in large heaps. We looked in vain for a corn stack or hay mow. We have found out since that grain is brought at once into the barns, and from thence threshed by steam threshing machines, and the straw stacked back in the barn at once. We passed at times close to the river St. Lawrence, and the canals cut to avoid the rapids. We saw an orchard or two, and many gardens; tomatoes and Indian corn seemed to be grown pretty largely. Leaving Montreal in the early morning, we reached Kingston Junction at 3.40 p.m., Bellerville at 6.10. Here we were detained 40 minutes, and then set off again by the shores of Lake Ontario, a view of which we got occasionally.
We reached Toronto at 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Here we said good-bye to several of our fellow travellers, and the remainder of us were sent to the emigrant sheds about two miles further. This distance we travelled after various movings, stoppages and shuntings in about an hour, and then after seeing our luggage put in the goods shed we turned in to see what we could make of the sleeping shed; we found it a large room, a kind of barn. The floor was flat in the centre, from end to end, and on each side was a long sloping platform of wood, raised at its lowest end, nearest the middle of the apartment, about a foot from the ground, and another raised ledge of about 8 inches against the wall, presumably for a pillow. On this we were supposed to sleep, and so thoroughly worn out were we with the journey, that we rolled ourselves up in our rugs, and soon were asleep, but anything more uncomfortable it would be hard to imagine, and at the same time call it a sleeping apartment. When we woke up at 6 we found ourselves nearly frozen, and it took us some time to get anything like warm again. We are told that it is darkest just before dawn, and by this time we were come to the bottom of our inconveniences, and things began rapidly to mend. At 7 oclock we were called up to a free breakfast, and to speak fairly, this was not so bad as before.
We found another lady on watch for girls, on behalf of the Government. She told me she was on the lookout for two that should have come in the same train we did. She was afraid that they had been intercepted; she told me of a young girl whom she had met there six weeks before, and had told her to wait for a half hour while she went for her sister, but when she returned she found her gone, and it took almost six weeks to get track of her again, and several similar stories she stated. We secured tickets and left at 9 a.m.; we had no opportunity to see anything of Toronto, only time to notice the immense warehouses and manufactories that seemed to be so prevalent. We noticed as we came along that the fame of Jumbo had been well circulated, at every station or suitable place was a large placard " Wait for Jumbo, wait for Barnum," or "Jumbo and Barnum," &c.,&c. Also the cuteness of the folks for advertising was prominently displayed in the rough painted notices on the rails of the fences, setting forth the special benefit accruing from "Warners safe cure," or declaring "Burdock Blood Bitters" or "Rising Sun stove polish" the best in the world.
We soon found a difference in the cars after leaving Toronto. We were put in a smoking car, and thought it very good, all the seats reversible, so that you can face the person next to you or otherwise, and nicely upholstered in leather. Now for the first time since leaving the Lyn we found ourselves alone with each other, and began to realise that we were very near being alone in the world. We arrived at Hamilton at 10.25, and after waiting a short time, changed trains for London. This time we were put into a first-class car, and it just suited us. These cars are, comparatively speaking, luxurious, the seats upholstered in crimson plush, with reversible backs, and foot rests, and also a stove and hot water pipes for use in winter; conveniences, water tap at each end, and also a pail, axe, and saw, for use in case of accidents. The alarm rope runs through each car within easy reach of anyone. The access to the cars is from the end, and one can go right through a train from one car to another.
We reached our destination (London), after all at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, September 26th, having travelled over 3000 miles in a fortnight. The first face that we noticed was that of our friend and townsman, Mr. Thomas May, who was on the watch for us; after greeting, he put us on a bus and sent us off to his house, where we were welcomed by Mrs May, and after a good wash and thorough clean up after the voyage, we sat and enjoyed the first good meal we had had since we left home. About one of the first things that we noticed about the house was a copy of the "Ilfracombe Chronicle Almanac for 1883." I dont suppose even you yourself, Mr. Editor, would have dreamt of seeing it here in Canada, but it has a very good effect in reminding us so constantly of home, and the friends of our "early love," and makes the place look home at once.*
You will wonder why I have written so much about what is such a usual journey with a great many people, but my reason for so doing are these: When I was preparing to leave home I sought but in vain for anything that would give me a real idea of the kind of journey I was undertaking, what its experiences would probably be, what would be the best way to meet them, and what would be the best preparation to make in the way of clothing and food. Now, as to the journey: We found our sea voyage better in some respects and worse in others, than we expected; our food was on the whole better, and also sleeping accommodation, but the dining room was certainly of the worst description, also for the mass the accommodation for wet weather. It's all very well for those who can go by the saloon, but steerage passengers must expect to rough it. The roughest clothes that one can wear are good enough for use on board ship, and the thicker and warmer the better. It is very advisable for voyagers to take a supply of condensed milk, also as hot water can generally be procured, tea, coffee, or cocoa, and any other nicety they may like, such as potted meat, cheese, preserve, or cake, also they should not forget knives, forks and spoons, tin plates, cans about a gallon, ditto about a quart, a wash up bowl, also tin or China mugs for drinking from, a mirror is a handy article, and of course brush, comb, and soap, and several towels; a blacking brush and blacking is also a good addition, and as many rugs and blankets as can be conveniently carried, not forgetting pillows, the want of which as I said before, caused us no little trouble.
Here in Canada we find that clothing is very expensive, and not as durable as in England; imported provisions are a little dearer, but beef and mutton by the quarter, is sold at from four to six cents per pound, equal to 2d. and 3d., but in our mind it is not as good as real English beef. The goose that we had for last Sundays dinner cost 2s.8d., and was quite as large as those sold in Ilfracombe for 10s.
FRED. W. ROBINS.
*Our correspondents reference brings to memory happy years spent by the editor in Canada, where indeed many copies of the Chronicle, and of its Almanac, should be found, beside the one seen with so much pleasure, and strange as it may appear, they may also be found in many parts of Europe, in South Africa, in Queensland, Victoria, South and West Australia, New Zealand, China, and regions remote and numberless.
Back to Top