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Title: Alexander Robb, Nicola Lake, Canada, to Father [Dundonald?]
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileRobb, Alexander/22
SenderRobb, Alexander
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationfarmer
Sender Religionunknown
OriginNicola Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Recipient Gendermale
SourceT 1454/5/10: Copied by Permission of Dr. J.C. Robb Esq., M.B.E., M.D., M.C.H., Cambourne Park, Belfast. #TYPE EMG Alexander Robb, Nicola Lake, Spences Bridge, British Columbia, Canada, to His Father, [Dundonald, County Down, Ireland]: Letter describing hi
ArchivePublic Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.9006023
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
Log12:06:1990 GMcE#CREATE created 18:11:1991 PKS inpu
Word Count1218
TranscriptTo: Father [Robb?], [Dundonald, County Down?]
From: Alexander Robb, Nicola Lake, British Columbia
Nicola Lake
Dec[ember?] 14th 1868

Dear Father,
I have been
reproaching myself for some
time for not answering your
last kind letter which I received
in the latter end of October
'Tis true that I have been very
busy, but still I might very
well have spared enough time
to write to you. When I last
wrote I told you that I had
come up here and that I was
much pleased with the looks
of the country. In fact it
would be impossible to be
otherwise than pleased
with it for it is beyond
comparison, by far the best
part of British Columbia
I have yet seen. It lies in
what is called the dry belt
of British Columbia, and indeed
it may be well called so far
a shower is rather a rare
occurence [occurrence?]. In summer it is
warm and dry and in winter
it is cold and dry. Of course it
would be impossible to grow
my kind of crop without
artificial watering, so when
anyone is looking out for a
farm he has got to look
out for a place near a creek
where the water can be easily
got in the land one wants
to cultivate. The irrigation
of the land is done by making
small water furrows aboutland is harrowed and rol[l?]ed
Into these furrows the water
is conducted by a large
ditch or drain and allowed
to run until the land is
pretty well saturated, which
generally takes from twelve
to twenty four hours, according
to the nature of the soil
The operation has to be repeated
three or four times during
the season and altogether
it is a very tedious job requiring
a great deal of patience in the
person who conducts it.
There is this advantage in it
that one can generally control
a crop and there is always
beautiful harvest weather.
I think I told you in my last
letter that a young Englishman
and I were the two first white
men who came to this district
when we came here our nearest
neighbour was from 40 to 50
miles from us. Since then
quite a number of settlers
have located in the valley
making it much more pleasant
and safe to live in. I do not
think that there was any real
danger at any time and the
Indians have been very quiet
and civil but still one feels
a little more secure from
having a few neighbours
around. I think that I
am a little of a favourite
with the red skins. I have
managed to pick up enough
of their language so that
I can understand what they
say, and when I promise any
thing to them I always keep
my word, and these two things
go far to get one in the good
graces of the savages
Most of the Indians round here
are well off, nearly all of
them owning more or less horses
some of them cattle. One man
(a chief) has nearly 200 horses
and twenty or thirty cows.
As a general thing the more
wealth an Indian has the more
wives he keeps. One old fellow
who is the grand chief of this
district has no less than seven
wives and thirty five children
living besides twelve children
and I don't know how many
wives dead. He is not more than
50 years old yet and [?] if he only
keeps on he bids fair to rival
Brigham Young I dont
know whether this yarn about
Indians will interest you very
much If I thought it did I
could write you enough about them
Perhaps you would rather hear
of what I am doing myself
As I told you in my last letter
I came here to work for a friend
of mine who wished to start
farming here. I wrought for
him until a month ago when
I quit and took up a place
about seven miles farther up
the Lake. I have gone into
partnership with another man
a Canadian named Frank
Mickle I believe an honest decent
man. We took up 320 acres of
land and I think that if you
only saw it it would please
you It is nearly all quite as
level as the levellest part of
your holms without a solitary
stick on it Neither is there
on the whole lot a stone as
large as an hen egg The soil
is a deep black loam and I
will be greatly dissapointed [dissappointed?] if
it does not in time make one
of the finest if not the very best
farms in British Columbia
As for grass there are thousands
of acres of it of the very best
quality on the rising
ground adjoining the flat on
which we are located. We have
also got 40 head of cattle and
5 yoke of work oxen. These last
we intend to sell as soon as we get
through our spring work. You need
not think Dear Father that I had
money enough to buy these cattle and
what implements we require besides
food for a year without going into
debt. So anxious however was my
partner that I should go in with
him (he being a blacksmith and not
knowing much about farming) that he
lent me money enough to pay my share
and promises to wait for it until
I can pay him. It is the first time
I ever have owed a dollar in this
country and I hate the idea of it
as bad as I hate poison but I am so
heartily sick and weary of working
for other people that I am willing
to take any chance, however desperate
so that I may get quit of it
I would not be a bit afraid but that
I could soon make enough to put
me out of debt if there was either
a road or market here but
there is neither one or other and
it costs as much to pack produce
on horses or mules to where there
is a market as it is worth when
it gets there. However I hope for
the best and at any rate I can
do no worse than I have done these
last 6 or seven years besides having
a great deal more comfort
A man with a small amount
of capital say from 500 to 1000
pounds could make himself independent
in a very few years by raising
stock for which this country is
peculiarly adapted.
The winter [?] so far has been mild and
pleasant and I think is likely to continue
so. Last winter was the coldest ever
known in the Colony. For six weeks
in Lytton the thermometer was from
15 to twenty eight degrees below zero
and a little way further up the
mercury froze. You cannot imagine
anything like such weather. Tell
Susanna that I sent to Westminster
and got the letter with poor Lizzie's
likeness but there was none of
hers as she said there was. If she
does not wish me to be very angry she
had better sit down and write to
me, and enclose her likeness just as
soon as this reaches you. Give my
best love to her and all the rest
and to John Martha and the little ones
and believe me dear Father ever
your affectionate son
Alexander Robb
When writing direct to Nicola Lake
Spences Bridge, British Columbia