|Title:||Stewart, Frances to Parr Traill, Catharine, 1823|
|Collection||Revisiting Our Forest Home_The immigrant letters of Frances Stewart [J. L. Aoki]|
|Origin||Douro Township, Newcsatle District, Upper Canada|
|Recipient||Parr Traill, Catharine|
"Extracts from Canadian Letters"
"In the autumn of our first year in Douro our youngest little girl of not
quite two years old was [ ] with Dysentery. I was quite ignorant of the
disease & there was no Doctor within reach, the nearest being a good
many miles distant. We had as yet no canoes on the river & were often
depending on chance visits from the Indians for a passage to the other
side. One of our hired men, a faithful Highlander, seeing how very ill
our darling was, volunteered to swim across the rapid stream & walk
through the woods to the Doctor, promising that if I wrote the particulars,
he would bring the necessary medicines. He started early in the
morning of a cold October day & returned about midnight with some powders & a message that the Doctor would come up the following day.
But no improvement & the day passed in great anxiety for the Doctor did
not come. On the third day he came having left at the promised time, but
lost his way in the woods & hence the delay. The next day she appeared
more lively, but refused to take the Arrow root & sage which I offered her.
She asked for bread & of this alas we had none of it to give her, having
for some time been unable to procure good flour. It was a bitter trial not
to have what she seemed to crave for. The next day she fell into a stupor
& towards midnight her angel spirit passed away to the immortal land."
20th October 1823.
On the 27th of October, there assembled together the whole of the
settlement including the six Highlanders employed in clearing the land,
in all numbering twenty seven souls, the only Christian inhabitants in
that vast forest stretching for thousands of miles unbroken east & north
of the Otonabee & the little Lake to follow to the grave the youngest &
most endearing of the little band of Pilgrims, who had arrived on the
shores of the Otonabee the previous year. The spot settled as the last
resting place lay midway between Mr. Stewarts clearing & that of Mr.
Rieds on a sloping ground known as "Hemlock Bray," beneath four [ ]
hemlock pines, whose interwoven & spreading branches found a perfect
canopy, & whose huge tough dark gray trunks & stems with their spiral
tops towered far above carrying ones heart & eyes far away in the clear
vault of heaven.
No human architect could equal in design the somber grandeur of
the [ ] [ ] under whose somber shade this sorrowing group were gathered
together in mournful silence. Strong & hardy men stood there breathless
beholding the scene which lay before them rendered the more sublime
by the knowledge they were assembled there alone in the midst of the
noble works of God untouched by the hand of man.
The generous & stalworth Donald who had risked his life so lately
in procuring remedies to relieve the little sufferer, whose remains were
now in the midst of this solemn scene being consigned to the earth, was
powerless to restrain the outpouring of his swelling heart. Deep & lasting
the memory of that day sank into the hearts of all who joined in the
beautiful & touching burial service of the Church of England heard for the first time in the midst of the little band of Pioneers who founded the
settlement in that vast wilderness. No hallowed spot was ever dedicated
with more heartfelt prayer than that where little Bessie was laid beneath
those noble "Hemlock trees."