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Title: Tom Hay, Winnipeg, to Rev. George Kirkpatrick, Co Antrim.
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileHay, Tom/16
SenderHay, Tom
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationmanual worker
Sender Religionunknown
OriginWinnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
DestinationCraigs, Co. Antrim, N.Ireland
RecipientRev. George Kirkpatrick
Recipient Gendermale
SourceD1424/11/4A: Purchased From Mr. John A. Gamble, 44 Taunton Avenue, Belfast 15, July 5 1879.#TYPE EMG Letter From Tom Hay at Winnipeg, Canada, to Rev.[Reverend?] George Kirkpatrick, Hazelbank, Craigs, County Antrim, Ireland, July 15 1879.
ArchivePublic Record Office N. Ireland.
Doc. No.9004008
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
Log11:05:1990 SS created 05:11:1990 CD input 05:11:19
Word Count2548
TranscriptExtracts from Tom Hays letters
Winnipeg July 5 1879

Leaving home of Monday June 30
at 4.30 PM - we get on wonderfully
tho' [though?] the cars were always much
crowded and no sleeping cars as there
is a continued stream of people pouring
into this country - we arrived at St
Pauls [St Paul?] Minn [Minnesota?] on 12th when we had a delay
of a few hours - then took the cars again
& had a terrific storm for some
hours - But most fortunately we left
St Pauls [St Paul?] when we did as the
storm came of then with great
violence - houses were blown down & trees
uprooted - railroads washed out & thirty
people killed & wounded - the trains
were delayed for two days there owing
to the floods - We had such a time
getting across from St Boniface to
this city as we left the trains
then & took the ferry boat across here
& had great difficulty in the crossing
But here we are safe - & have had a
great many visitors at camp - of people
who came here some years ago from
Peterboro [Peterborough?] - All glad to meet us We are
camped close to the walls of Fort Garry
There are dozens of camps all
round & a great many coming & going
every hour Hundreds of half breeds with
their carts in long strings pass back
& forwards It is great fun watching
them, they are such funny looking
old chaps - A nephew of Sitting Bull
called yesterday to see us in all his
paint & feathers - he is a very handsome
tall man, his name is Wild Elk
he is the most important cheif [chief?]
in this part of the country, yesterday
as soon as we had got our tents pitched
we took a walk up to town & the first
person I met whom I had known
at home was F Blackwell wheeling
her baby in a perambulater [perambulator?] along
the side walk - she knew me ever so
far off - I did not know her untill [until?] about
20 yards off - two years since she came
here (she was F O'Beine) she has a
splendid baby the picture of health
we walked on a short distance & met
uncle George & Uncle Henry - (the
latter came in to Winniepeg [Winnipeg?] on his
own business not expecting to see
us) He came to camp with us - & he
& I moved his camp down beside us
as when he comes to Winniepeg [Winnipeg?] he
always brings his tent - & camps out
being so much cheaper than going
to the Hotel - he lives 35 miles
west of Winniepeg [Winnipeg?] - next morning uncle
Henry left us - about 10 o'clock for
home - we gave him party & three
hearty cheers - From so much rain
this year the roads are in a dreadful
state we are to go up the Assiniboine
River on tuesday or Wednesday
in the steamboat we had great
fun a few minutes ago watching
some half breeds - there were four of
them with a jar of whiskey & in a
short time they all got drunk &
began fighting (which part we did
not admire) tho' [though?] they did not trust
each other much - but make a great
noise untill [until?] some of the volenteers [volunteers?]
came out of the Fort & separated
them - This is a pretty place, & very
busy some fine shops & things not
much dearer than in Peterboro [Peterborough?]
many of the buildings are as good as
any where in Canada
Portage La Prairie friday July 11th
We began to take down our tents
& pack up on tuesday noon the 8th
to leave Winniepeg [Winnipeg?] & at 6 P.M. took
our goods & tents on board the Steam
it was raining very hard all the
time - when we got on board it
seemed crowded with surveying parties
& emigrants - & they were still loading
on - the boat is larger than those
[river?] in Peterboro [Peterborough?] & a different shape
being nearly square at both ends
& has a large paddle wheel at the stern
of the boat - It is perfectly flat bottomed
like a scow, on the lower deck
which is only 2 feet above the water
the engine & boiler are placed
- Before leaving we took on the lower
deck 39 horses & 12 oxen a large
quantity of lumber - Then on the
main was the saloon taking up a
third of the length of the boat, in
the middle of the boat every inch
of space was taken up with
passengers & luggage & on the
upper or [hurricane?] deck there
were 21 carts & 3 buggies - It was
after 2 o clock A M before we got
started - we put in a dreadful
25 hours on board - There not being
room to move than sit down on deck
or any where & we were all very thirsty
all the time & had to drink the
river water - but thank God nothing
happened to us - during the nights
some of the horses & cattle broke
loose & jumbed [jumped?] over board &
the boat was stopped & about 20 men
of the crew (there being 35) set off to
hunt them - they were more than
an hour hunting over the prairie
before they captured them - All
the live stock belonged to Mr
M Smith on the C-P. [Central Pacific?] Railroad
surveying party, who were all on
board - and [?] going to Fort [Ellin?]
The mosquitoes were dreadfully
hungry all the way up - we spent
a most miserable & uncomfortable
day all wednesday & landed on
thursday morning at 3.30 - As
we did not know where we were
to go, we camped on the landing
till afternoon - Mr Thompsons
party camped beside us. They
are going to survey the next block
of townships to ours & after all our
discomforts coming up the river, we
are nothing the worse for it &
were very glad to get ashore - although
the distance was only 120 miles by
water it took us so long to go that
distance as we could only go 4 3/4 miles
an hour - being up stream all the
way & the current very swift & such
a load - The water is very dirty and
muddy - Uncle G [George?] is to buy his six
months supply of provisions from
the Hudsons Bay Company - & they
are to supply our horses & carts
from h[ere?] - In the afternoon
Uncle G [George?] went up to the village about
2 1/2 miles from the landing & came
back in an hour or two leading an
Indian pony which he had bought
for himself to ride on to save his
lame leg going over the prairie
to our destination - as his leg swells
from walking where it was
broken some years ago - In a
few minutes a wagon came down
to move us up to the village of Portage
La Prairie 25 miles west of Uncle
Henry's place - We are now camped
once more on the prairie - Last
night we spent a comfortable night
& had some good rest which we all
were in need of - There were hundreds
of Indian wigwams all round us
& hundreds of cattle & horses belonging
to them roving round - The Indians
make a circle of their carts all
round each encampment & have
a merry time all night - There are
a great many half breeds amongst
them & it is hard to tell the difference
only that the Indians are more painted
up & dressed out with feathers - they
seem very quiet & take little or no
notice of us except last evening we
had some rifle practice & they
came over to look at us - & grinned
with delight every time any one
made a good shot - all night their
horses kept running through our fires
& smoke to keep off the mosquitoes
We hope to travel on tomorrow &
think it will take us about 10
days to reach the Riding Mountains
as it is about 138 miles from here
- We have engaged the services of a
first rate guide his name is Hill
his father was a clergyman & lived
near Peterboro [Peterborough?] many many years
ago - we have had some rain every day
since we left home - we dont mind
it so much now as we are used to it
altogether we are very comfortable
considering that none of us have
ever been in this country before
I must put up this for the post
I fear we shall not meet with
another post office for a long
time good bye for the present
second letter from the
Little Saskatchewan July 20th
having written a post card from
Rat Creek 8 miles from the Portage
on leaving Portage La Prairie
we were at work at 5 A M packing
our tents &c - our guide gave the
charge of our Instruments to [us?]
having a buggie to take them in
less rough than the carts -
When leaving the Portage we
started on he said he wished
to get some things for himself &
h[?] overtake us at Rat Creek
or before it - He not appearing -
When we arrived & after waiting
till the afternoon - Uncle G [George?]
Sent one of the young Men
back on horse back to look
for him - He went the Whole
way back to the Portage & there
he found Master Guide drunk
& sleeping in the stable & his
horse & buggie Standing on the
road all our instruments
& a few small things besides
so Eddie [Snider?] woke him
up & made drive like
f[?] he came across the
prairie at full gallop through
bog holes & all as fast as his
horse could go with Eddie galloping
after him - When they arrived
it was too late to move on that
evening - fortunately nothing was
the worse of the rough ride
Next morning we were early on the
road again - & our guide when
sober turned out one of the best
men we could have got for the purpose
He is a Scotch halfbreed we have
ever since been most thankful that
we got him - All Wednesday the
road was very monotonous & uninteresting
beeing [being?] a succession of flat prairies
with a deep bog hole every few
yards where all hands had to push
the carts & once we upset in the
middle of a horried [horrid?] hole up to our
waists in mud, fortunately the
mud was too thick to penetrate into
our baggage very deeply - but everything
on the outside of the packs was
thickly coated - Then we got into
another place where the carts
stuck fast & the horses in tugging
at it broke the harness all to pieces
- but by pushing hard we got through
with out [without?] the help of the horse &
it was late we had done 24 miles
that day - So we camped for the night
Next day we went across a range
of hills for a change - but the roads
were worse - for there being some
pretty thick woods & the sun had
not a chance of drying up as quickly
there - These hills were about 20 miles
through & we camped beside a
beautiful little creek called Pine
Creek - the water the best we tasted
since leaving home - Here our
Cook whom we got at the [Portage?]
st[ruck?] & would not go any further
so Rolly Brown had to fall to &
Make some bread Since then
Ed. [Edward?] Brown & Walter Stewart
have each taken time about
as cook so much for thursday -
Friday morning it rained very hard
all day - but we started off at 10
A M camping at night at Boggie
Creek (well named) having only
made 15 miles that day - yesterday
morning we tried a new place of
starting off a[t?] 5 A.M. making 7 miles
before breakfast then resting for
about 2 hours then on again 8
miles and dinner - & another rest
& on again 7 miles further &
then pitched our tents beside
a pond on the wide prairie &
this morning Sunday 20th we left
Camp a little before 5 & made the
Little Saskatchewan at 8 o clock
8 miles before breakfast it was after
9 before our bread was baked as we
could not bake much yesterday owing
to the rain. After breakfast we went
for a good wash & here we shall spend
the rest of the day. We have plenty
of good water & wood which we cant
say of every place we camp at heer [here?]
It takes an hour or more to get
started in the morning for our guide
has to go and catch his horses as they
sometimes stray a long way from
camp & we have a lot of packing
to do We see dozens of trains of
horses & carts going single file
along the road Traders and settlers
all going west The traders how
ever return as soon as they get
a load & they camp every few miles
along the road & they take things
pretty easily - they
sometimes have 30 or 40 carts
& dozens of loose horses & cattle
following them - A train of this
kind went west the other day
400 carts in it all bound for this
part of the country - There is really
nothing to show where they settle
except once Be in a while a house
& plowed [ploughed?] field or a field of wheat
few and far between - What is called
a settlement here reaches over miles
of land in this way - We are
at present encamped on a beautiful
bend of the river beside a house
which is a farm house, hotel &
post office & several other necessary
institutions combined. There
is a beautiful range of hills on
each side of the river & the broad
valley between looks very pretty
The river is small but very
rapid & winds in & out through
the hills - the post office arrangements
here are very precarious as they
send the mail down by any chance
they can get with any responsible
person who happens to come along
There is a man going to Winnipeg
tomorrow who will take our letter
yesterday or [we?] meet [met?] a man on an
ox waggon [wagon?] carrying the mail
bags he was to take it as far as
he went & give it to someone else to do
likewise - we are to be off early
tomorrow again - Please excuse
my writing more at present as
my hands are stiff -
I shall leave the next letter
for another time - I hope these
travels in the Far [?] Land
may interest you all.