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Title: Stewart, Frances to Beaufort, Harriet, 1822
CollectionRevisiting Our Forest Home_The immigrant letters of Frances Stewart [J. L. Aoki]
SenderStewart, Frances
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationemigrant
Sender Religionunknown
OriginUpper Canada
DestinationCollon, Ireland
RecipientBeaufort, Harriet
Recipient Genderfemale
Relationshipfriends (ex-pupil - ex-governess)
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1999
Genrejournal, account of passage, arrival in the colonies
Transcript1822 [journal]
[To Harriet Beaufort], Ireland

Journal kept 1822

On Saturday morning June 1st our family accompanied by some of the
little Reids & our dear sister Mrs. Mitchell left White Abbey in the Barge
accompanied by our kind friend Mr. Quin. We soon reached the Brig
George which was at anchor nearly opposite to White Abbey & which
was to convey us to Quebec. About two hours after we had come on
board Capt. Thompson arrived & gave orders for sailing immediately.
This gave us some uneasiness as not expecting to sail till the next day.
Mr. Reid had gone to Belfast & had not yet joined us. At 1 o'clock we set
sail. It was a charming day. The Cave hill & the shores on both sides of
the Lough looked more lovely than ever. After we had proceeded beyond
Carichfergus we saw Mr. Quins boat following us & gaining on us rapidly
which set our minds at ease about Mr. Reid. But a sad trial awaited us for
the same boat which brought him was to convey back our dear friends
the Mitchells, Alex'r Wilson & Mr. Quin, as well as several other people
who had accompanied us so far on our voyage.

2d June Sunday. A fine day. After breakfast, not being sick, I went on
deck. I saw the fine Northern coast of dear Ireland in beautiful blue distance & the Island of Rathlin, but I was soon obliged to shut my eyes as
the motion of the vessel, tho' very smooth, made my head giddy & gave
me violent pains in my eyes. We all went to bed about 9 but in the middle
of the night a great swell came on & such a roll that I could scarcely
keep from tumbling over my little bedfellow Bessy. About 2 o'clock in
the morning the carpenter came into the cabin to put in the dead lights,
& just then the vessel gave such a roll that all our trunks, boxes & baskets came sliding down to the leeside of the vessel. Towards morning the
swell abated a little & after breakfast I went on deck to see the last view
of dear Ireland. It was a grey dull morning but I watched the last glimpse
of land as long as I could see it.

Tuesday 4th June. We met a Balbriggan fishing boat by which TAS
sent a letter to Mr. Black.
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday were fine days.
Stormy Pettrel or Mother Careys chickens
It is about the size of a Swallow & in its general appearance is not
unlike that bird. In June & July it comes near the rocky shores to breed
but at all other times keeps far out at sea. Multitudes of them are seen
all over the vast Atlantic Ocean especially before stormy weather. They
often skim with incredible velocity along the hollows of the waves &
sometimes on the summits braving the utmost fury of the waves & tempests.
The inhabitants of the [ ] Isles draw a wick through the body of
this bird which is by the process so covered with grease as to burn when
lighted like a candle & serving the purpose of one. We saw numbers of
Birds called Mother Careys chickens — also sea gulls. These birds are
never seen very distant from land at this season.

Tuesday 11th. Cold and dark but a nice steady breeze.
Wednesday 12th June. At 5 oclock a fine handsome vessel passed
near us. "We spoke her" & found it was a Glasgow ship called the
Trelawney. On the evening of this day we saw a large fish following our
ship. Some said it was a shark. At last it made a bound out of the water &
rose several feet so that its whole form could be seen & then they said it
was a Sun fish. From this time till 7 July nothing new occurred. We saw
several seabirds called shearwaters or cutwaters & numbers of porpoises.
We always observed that these porpoises appeared in numbers before
a breeze came on. Some nights the sea was illuminated with phosphorous
which was very beautiful. On fine days we sat on deck most of the
mornings & in the evenings the sailors danced. Whilst we were passing
the Banks of Newfoundland thick fogs prevailed & the weather was very
cold & it became tormentingly calm.

7th July. We heard the welcome news that land was seen, 5 weeks
after our departure from Ireland. It proved to be part of the Southern
coast of Newfoundland. In a few days we saw the two fine headlands of
Cape Breton & Cape Rage & passed between them just at sunset. All this
week we proceeded slowly up the Gulph of St. Lawrence, the weather
remarkably pleasant & fine but too calm for sailing. Several of the people amused themselves in fishing & caught some fine mackerel & codlings &
2 Dogfish. The water from the time we entered the Gulph had a brown
colour quite different from the fine dark blue of the Atlantic. On the 7
July a thick fog came on about noon. When we went up on the deck after
having prayers in the cabin we learnt that we had a narrow escape, for in
the thick fog a very large vessel had nearly run us down. Fortunately the
danger was perceived just in time to be avoided by great exertion.
On the evening of Saturday 13th we took a pilot on board. It was a
most lovely evening & the dark purple tints of evening on the hills on the
Canadian side of the river formed a beautiful contrast with the red tinge
of the setting sun on the Nova Scotia coast opposite. All seemed now to
promise a prosperous passage to Quebec. Our pilot said we had not yet
come to Bic Island. Capt. Thompson said that according to his calculations
we had passed it.

Sunday 14th July — A fine warm morning but so thick a fog that
we could not see land on any side. Capt. T. wished the pilot to anchor
till he could see whereabouts he was as there are many islands in this
part of the river & the navigation requires some skill. The pilot assured
him there was no danger as he was sure we had not yet passed Bic. But
a few hours proved he was wrong — & also too rash — for about Vi past
12 when we were all assembled in the cabin we felt a dreadful shock & a
strange & horrible sensation as if every piece of timber in the side of the
vessel was tearing out. We all ran out as fast as possible & found the ship
had struck a rock & was sticking fast on it. The tide was ebbing so that
nothing could be known as to the state of the vessel, nor could anything
be done as to removing her till the tide flowed again. In the meantime
all was a scene of confusion & terror. The passengers in the hold became
very clamerous & the Capt. with difficulty prevailed on them to wait in
the vessel till he could ascertain whether there was much danger.
About 1 oclock in the afternoon the fog cleared off for about an hour
& we found we were lying close to a small bare island with large stones
all round it & reefs of rocks stretching from it like the rays of a starfish.
Our ship had got in between two of these reefs in a most extraordinary
manner & had struck on one reef, upon which she was now fast, and
as the water became shallower we c'd see the rock under the ship. The pilot now pronounced this to be Red Island & said that we must have
passed Bic island long before. We saw some people on the island & heard
a shot. Capt. Thompson, Mr. Reid & some others went off in a small
boat to learn what could be done in case we sh'd find the ship had been
impaired. They soon returned accompanied by 4 men in a Canoe. They
were all Canadians & spoke only French but I could not understand it. It
was very different from what I had been accustomed to. They had been
out shooting seals which are very numerous here. These men are dark
coloured with dark eyes & long noses, rather handsome men. They wore
Mocasins, a kind of shoe made of Deer skin or Calfskin without any sole
& ties up round the ankle.
When our passengers found land so near they wanted to swim or
wade to the shore but the Capt. prevailed on them to wait till the change
of tide enabled him to find out the state of the vessel & promised that in
case of danger they should all be safely landed on the Island. We continued
in the state of suspense till the tide enabled the ship to move a little,
when she was towed round the reef of rocks, & after one dreadful scrape
we set sail. But as it was dark & as the tide had again changed the Capt.
thought it best to anchor till the next tide. Next morning we set sail again
& at low water anchored at Green Island.

Monday 15th July. We all liked to see everything we could on shore &
accordingly the small boat was prepared for a party to go to the opposite
shore, part of Nova Scotia. Mr. Reid, Mr. S. & myself together with some
others set out & soon had our feet once more on dry land. The ground
along the shore was covered with white clover & blue Irises which looked
charmingly gay & glowing to our eyes, so long accustomed to the sameness
of the Ocean view. We saw some Indian huts or Wigwams near us
& went to them. The Indians looked inquisitively at us but yet seemed
to wish to keep at a distance. The men were employed making Brooms.
The women or Squaws were making Baskets. They use little Hammocks
for the Infants or Papousies & suspend them from the roof of their huts.
The Indians make Brooms of wood, generally a Sapling or pole of
Blue beech or Basswood or any toughjvood & strip off the bark. Then
they tear the wood in thin stripes from one end to within a foot or so of
the other end & when they have the pole reduced by doing this & a large quantity of striped pieces they turn them down over the end of the pole
so as to make a brush when lapped round with some narrow stripes of
the wood, leaving the smallest & longest part of the pole for the handle of
the Broom. These are very coarse but answer for sweeping floors & may
be had for a trifle from the Indians.
The Squaws make Baskets of the same tough wood cut into stripes
which they weave together & dye of different colours with the juices of
plants. They also manufacture dishes & baskets of Birch wood & bark
& Butternut.
We saw a path through the woods & were tempted to explore a little
way into these great forests. We had not proceeded far when we came
to a paling beyond which was a small space of pretty open country with
rich meadows & corn & potatoe fields & several houses, some in clusters,
little hamlets & some detached, all made of logs. We crossed two fields
& reached the nearest house. The inhabitants were all French Canadians.
The family consisted of a man & his wife & mother in law & a beautiful
child about 3 years old. He was a fisherman & had a house for smoking
the fish filled with fine salmon hung in rows along the roof.