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Title: Samuel Bruce Junior, Mingan Camp, Quebec to James Bruce, Belfast.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileBruce, Samuel Jr/9
SenderBruce, Samuel Jr
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationfisherman & hunter
Sender Religionunknown
OriginQuebec, Canada
DestinationBelfast, N.Ireland
RecipientBruce, James
Recipient Gendermale
SourceT2919/1/30: Copied by Permission of Michael R. Bruce, Corriewood, Castlewellan
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland
Doc. No.9501104
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT/JW, 11:01:1995.
Word Count2341
TranscriptTo: James [Bruce?]
[County Antrim?]

From: Saml [Samuel?] Bruce jr. [Junior?]
Mingan Camp,

Mingan Camp. July 15th., 1862.

My dear James,

This must be a circular letter for the flies and mosquitoes
are so bad that it will be as much as i can do to write one
letter let alone two or three.
The day after I sent my last letter to you I was joined
here by a very nice fellow called Lamont who was travelling
about in his yacht the "Ginevra", 140 tons, a schooner. He
had come up from the West Indies to fish along the coast
here, and was a good taken aback to find all the rivers let;
however the Chief Factor of the H.B.C. [Hudson Bay Company?]
at Mingan sent him up to me, and as I liked his looks I asked
him to stay and fish the river with me, and I am very glad I
did so as he turned out a very nice fellow and a capital
sportsman, although he had not much luck here. He had rented
the Namsen (the best river in Norway) for 3 years and had
had splendid sport on it. When I say he rented the Namsen I
mean part of it, for there are 20 miles of fishing on
the Namsen. He had been on a sporting excursion into Central
Africa and had shot Lions and all sorts of African wild
beasts, and he had been on an expedition to Spitzbergen twice
for shooting there and Walruss [Walrus?] hunting and has
written a book about it called "Seasons with the Sea-Horses."
which I think you would like. He is a Scotchman [Scotsman?]
from Argyllshire and is altogether a very pleasant fellow and
as unlike a Scotchman [Scotsman?] as anyone ever you saw. We
used to go down sometimes to the yacht and have a comfortable
evening away from the flies.
Moisic [Moisie?], July 25th, 1862. I had commenced this
letter some days ago, but I really could not write for the
flies, so I must make extracts from my log-book and tell you
as well as I can what I have been about.
We got our first salmon on the 30th of June, when we killed
two each. I shall not however give you here a long detailed
account of our fishing as I send you a regular return of what
I did. Lamont and I however knocked about fishing in the day
and smoking at my tent door at night till the 5th of July;
when we were getting very much disgusted at not getting more
fish for the river had lots of fish in it, but they would not
rise at all hardly, so we made up our minds to off the next
day and see what the Normaine looked like. We started that
afternoon intending to sleep on board the yacht and go on the
next day in the long boat and fish the Normaine [Romaine?] and come back
at night. On our way down river we met Howson, the man Dr.
[Doctor?] Adamson had written to, to tell him about my being
at Mingan and wanting someone to join me; he had just arrived
from Quebec after a 14 days passage in an infernal little
schooner. He came back with us to the yacht and slept on
board and the next morning we all started for Normaine [Romaine?] but it
came on to blow so hard we had to turn and go back to the
yacht where we stayed all day as it rained awfully We went
back to camp the next day to see if the rain would have
improved the river at all when I had a very good morning's
sport. I killed 7 salmon in about 3 hours and lost 4 others
by Fortin's (my boatman) bad gaffing. I was very near kicking
him out of the boat two or three times; one fish broke my rod
striking him but I killed him so dead that he was lying at my
feet in water 3 inches deep and I had hold of the casting
line but the infernal fool hit the casting with the gaff and
broke it so the fish got away of course; however he improved
afterwards and latterly did not lose many fish.
On the 9th of July Lamont went off in disgust with the
river as it was so awfully uncertain and he had very bad
luck. He was to go down to Normaine [Romaine?] the next day and come
back to see us at the Fort and report on the river, but the
day was so bad he was not able to get so far; however we went
down in the evg. [evening?] and dined with him & slept on
board the yacht and saw him under way for Scotland the next
morg. [morning?] at 6 a.m. When at the Fort we met Capt.
[Captain?] Fortin, commander of the Napoleon, a screw steamer
of the Canadian Navy; he told us he would be here (Moisic
[Moisie?]) today and that he would give us a passage up to
Quebec with him if we were here, so here we are waiting for
him. When he got back to camp after seeing Lamont off we
found the river in such a flood that fishing was impossible
for some days, but on 13th we went down to the mouth of the
river and got some trout. We were very glad to get them as we
were getting tired of salmon, and trout was a pleasant
change. We made an excursion up the Manitou on the 20th., and
had a fair day's sport; indeed the sport seemed to be getting
good as we had to begin to talk of starting. I made out a
list of my fishing which I send you; you will see by it that
I have killed 52 Salmon, average weight 11 lb. [pound?], and
my largest fish 20 lbs. [pounds?]. I am on the whole
disappointed with my season but people tell me I should not
be so as for the number of days we were able to fish we did
very well, but I was very unlucky in weather and the fish
were a fortnight later coming up the river than usual, and
when they did come were very sluggish and sulky.
I am now as you see at Moisic [Moisie?] waiting for the
Napoleon to call for us which we hope she will do today or
tomorrow at latest. We came down from Mingan in an open boat
and very near shave we had of it. We started from Mingan at
9.30 with a nice fair wind the day before yesterday,
intending to put in at Sheldrake harbour for the night, but
we made Sheldrake sooner than we expected, and as we had
still about 4 hours of daylight we went on intending to stop
at another harbour some miles on, but before we got there the
wind rose and an awful sea got up so that it was quite
impossible to get in either to it or another harbour we tried
for, so we had nothing for it but to run before the gale all
night and carry as much sail as we could with safety to keep
her out of the way of the seas breaking over us, for if one
of those seas had come aboard of us we would have gone down
like a stone. As it was nothing but first-rate management on
the part of the boatman that got us through it at all. And
then when we did get to Moisic [Moisie?] we could not get
into the harbour for the sea which was on and the surf which
was breaking over the bar of the river, so we tried to run
for 7 islands [Sept Iles?], but we were beat there again and
had to come back and try Moisic [Moisie?] again with the
rising tide, when we got in and landed here, wet to the skin
from a sea we had taken on board crossing the bar, and having
eaten nothing but some bread and potted meat for 24 hours.
However we are here now and precious glad we are of it, for I
do not think one on board expected to get to land again, for
a gale in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in an open boat is no
trifle, I can assure you. I have now told you all about my
fishing that you would all care for, except about Howson who
as I told came a few days before Lamont sailed. He is a
Captain in the Canadian Rifles and is a very good fellow; I
like him very much. His father is a great old foxhunter in
Linconshire with the Duke of Rutland's hounds, and he is a
cousin of Sir Richard Sutton, the late Master of the Quorn;
he is a very good fellow and good sportsman. He & I killed
fish for fish with each other after he came and as I had just
9 before he came, he had 43 & I had 52 when we left off.
Howson had a magnificent tent where we used to get a fire lit
in the evg. [evenings?] to smoke out the mosquitos and there
we used to sit ans [and?] smoke on wet days and in the evgs
[evenings?]. I had to have a fire in my tent too to keep the
damp out and to smoke out the flies, but this was so much
larger we always used it as a sitting room. I suppose you may
hardly believe me but the day we left we slept at the Fort
and sleeping in the house gave me an infernal cold; I had got
so accustomed to sleeping out in a tent. However the next
night at sea in the open boat set me all right again.

Howson brought me letters from Quebec from you and Wm. Robt,
[William Robert?] and Robt. [Robert?] Dunville. I have them
packed away somewhere but I will see if there is anything to
be answered before I send this letter. I was very glad to
hear of such a good account of Sam. [Samuel?] Bruce; I hope
he continues to go as well as he was. I was prevented from
going to Anticosta to shoot bears as Howson was so late in
coming and as the fishing was so late also, so we had to
make the most we could out of it. However there have been
bears seen close to this, and if tomorrow is a fine day the
steamer is not here I shall go off for a hunt, but the
Indians here are a cowardly set and I can cowardly set and I
can hardly get them to come with me; if they will not I
shall go off alone or with Fortin with me and lie out all
night and watch for them, but I must get a shot if I can at
one. Moisic [Moisie?], 29th July. I am still here; that
infernal steamer called the other day, but the Captain said
he had such a lot of places to call that he would not be in
Quebec for a fortnight, so we are waiting for a schooner
which will sail from this the day after tomorrow, and which
will set us down at Niviere de Loup on the South Shore,
where we can get a train to Quebec. I have been getting
very anxious to get on as it will take me nearly 3 weeks to
get to Red River and I should be there as soon after the 1st
Sept. as possible. I shall not have time to go and see Uncle
Frederick before I come back from the Far West, but I shall
write him a note telling him that I am in the country.
I went out on a bear hunt the other with a young fellow who
is here with Mr. Holliday. We got an Indian to go with us
and set off in the afternoon in a canoe about 5 miles up the
river, where there is a portage. Here we crossed, the Indian
carrying the canoe and by walking about 20 minutes cut off
about 4 miles of river. We then crossed the river to where
the bears were last seen and looked about for traces but we
could find none at all; we then as it was getting dusk
started down stream for where there was a bait set, but
we could see nothing either at it or another bait which was
set lower down, so as it quite dark we had to go back without
having seen one at all. However I shall soon have lots of
shooting I hope in the Far West; all chance is up for here
now as the Indians are all off to their hunting-grounds this
morning, and there is no way of getting up river and over the
portage but in a canoe. It was a queer thing to see the
Indians break up their camp here and start today; just before
they started there was some delay, and we could not make out
what they were waiting for, as the canoes were all loaded,
when we saw 2 men & 2 women carrying something or other in a
blanket by the corners. This was a woman who had been
confined about 10 minutes before. The wigwam had been broken
up but a few strips of bark to keep the sun off her, and as
soon as the job was over they got her into a blanket and put
her into a canoe and started at once, and tomorrow or the day
after she will be hard at work again paddling the canoe and
carrying her share of the baggage over all the portages.
Quebec, Aug 8. Here I am arrived yesterday, and start for
Montreal in an hour. I shall have a letter ready to send
before I start for the West.
Show this to R. [Robert?] Dunville.
ever your Affec. [affectionate?] bro. [brother?]
Saml. [Samuel?] Bruce jr. [Junior?]