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Title: From Thomas William Magrath, Esq., Upper Canada, to the Rev. Thomas Radcliff, Ireland.
CollectionAuthentic Letters from Upper Canada [Rev. Thomas Radcliff]
SenderMagrath, Thomas Wm
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationsuperintendent for settlers
Sender Religionunknown
OriginErindale, Toronto, Upper Canada
RecipientRev. Thomas Radcliff
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2584
Genrecost of voyage, living expenses, account of passage
TranscriptErindale, Toronto, Nov. 1831.
My dear Sir,
I am glad to hear that your sons are coming to this
I am sure they will be excellent settlers, and hope they
will make this their headquarters until they fix on their
future place of residence. My father's former letters will
no doubt have informed you of the Governor's kindness in
appointing me an agent for superintending the settlement
of emigrants; which circumstance having afforded me so
many facilities of observation, I am induced the more
readily to accede to your request that I should impart all
the information I possess, on the, now, engrossing subject
of emigration. I shall therefore at once proceed to furnish
you with a statement of the expenses of bringing out and
maintaining, for twelve months, either a family or a single
person, of the upper class of settlers.
The cost attendant on the transport, from Liverpool to
York by Quebec, and the subsequent location of my father's
family (from which you may form a correct judgment of
other cases differing in point of number) were as follow: —
In May, 1827, our family consisting of my father, mother,
sister, cousin, three brothers, myself and a female servant,
nine in number, took our passage in the brig Donegal
of Whitehaven, in which we had the accommodation of
the entire state cabin, containing six berths, and two
state rooms, with the services of a steward, for £50 0 0
The cost of provisions calculated for 80 days . . . . 20 0 0
Expenses in lodgings at Montreal (with our own
provisions brought on shore). . . . 2 0 0
Travelling charges of my father and mother, sister
and cousin to Prescot, 130 miles by steamboat
and stages . . . . 10 0 0
Expense of conveying my brothers and myself
with luggage weighing 20 cwt., at 4Js per cwt.,
and our expenditure in taverns, &c, during
nine days, while on our passage up the St.
Lawrence in Durham boats from Montreal to
Prescot . . . . 10 0 0
One day's charges at Prescot where our entire
family met 2 0 0
From Prescot to York (230 miles) by steamboat
in first cabin . . . . 20 0 0
Carried forward . . . . £114 0 0
Carried forward . . . . £114 0 0
Expenses at York in lodgings for ten days or a
Fortnight . . . . 13 0 0
Conveyance of luggage and family to settlement;
Suppose . . . . 8 0 0
Total cost from Liverpool to settlement in Upper
Canada with every comfort and respectable
accommodation . . . . £135 0 0
Or 15l. for each individual
I have estimated the luggage at 20 cwts. Ours was 7 tons,
3 cwts.!!! The largest quantity ever landed by a single
family on the Wharf at York, and for transporting it from
Montreal it cost my father 28l. 12s.; but in my calculation
and estimate, I have allowed the more usual and economical
quantity of one ton.
With respect to our sea store, one-third only was
consumed, as we made the voyage to Quebec in twentyseven
days. The surplus quantity, however, was of essential
service to us, afterwards, in our lodgings at York, and
some of it we brought forward to Erindale.
My father had made a written contract with the Caplain
at Liverpool, by which the latter was bound to land us
at Montreal, and also, to allow us the privilege of remaining
on board there, while arranging for our passage to York;
and this prudent arrangement obviated the incurring any
serious expenses until our arrival at the last mentioned place.
The Captains frequently land their passengers at Quebec,
although they have been paid for their passage to Montreal.
I am informed, however, that an act exists, by which they
may be fined £20, if convicted before a Magistrate, of
compelling passengers to land any where but at the place
agreed on.
The contract ought to be entered into in writing, to
prevent misunderstanding.
My father compelled our Captain to defray the charges
of our passage to Montreal from Quebec, as he did not
proceed with his vessel farther than that port.
You may think with Captain Dalgetty on the subject
of provant, and wish to know what sea stock we brought
with us:
Two hundred weight of corned beef, packed in a pickling
tub, well hooped, and with a bar of iron across the lid with
a hinge and staple to it, a& every thing you bring, must
be securely locked, or the more hungry emigrants on board,
will share with you.
On putting to sea, the Captain emptying this vessel
of the brine, filled it with sea-water, it was then lashed
to the foot of the main mast on deck, for the convenience
of getting at it daily.
One hundred weight of biscuit,
do. do. flour
do. do. oatmeal
The last, excellent for burgoo which will remain on
the stomach during sea sickness, better than anything else.
If we had taken out a great deal more, it would have
proved an advantageous spec, as the Canadian oat-meal
is scarce, and of inferior quality. We had ten shillings worth of bread; fresh beef and mutton; half a dozen of hams; half a dozen of tongues;
live fowls; two dozen of wine; two gallons of rum, potatoes
and some other vegetables.
But to resume the calculation of expenses, it will require
for a family, such as we have under consideration, at least
£100 for provisions in the busk during the first year, besides
the subjoined outlay, for the purchase of land, building
of house and offices and providing furniture, implements
and seed.

Two hundred acres of land, at 10s . . . . £100 0 0
Log house, 30 feet by 20 feet . . . . 35 0 0
Barn, ox house, stable and cow house, all
under one roof . . . . 50 0 0
Clearing ten acres at £3 10s. per acre . . . . 35 0 0
Bedsteads, chairs, presses, &c. . . . . 12 0 0
13 Bushels of seed wheat . . . . 3 5 0
2 Cows . . . . 6 0 0
Horse . . . . 13 0 0
A pair of oxen . . . . 10 0 0
Waggon . . . . 15 0 0
Yoke and chains for oxen . . . . 2 0 0
2 Axes . . . . 1 0 0
3 Iron Wedges . . . . 0 10 0
2 Harrows with teeth . . . . 1 0 0
2 Spades . . . . 0 5 0
2 Pitch forks . . . . 0 2 0
2 Two-inch screw augers, with all other sizes
down to half inch . . . . 0 15 0
Pick Axe . . . . 0 3 0
Tack, smoothing and trying planer . . . . 0 6 0
Hammer and hatchet . . . . 0 3 0
Brace and set of bits . . . . 0 10 0
1 Handsaw . . . . 0 7 0
1 Brush hook . . . . 0 5 0
A set of chisels, four sizes . . . . 0 6 0

The above tools should be purchased at Liverpool,
where they are considerably cheaper than here; or in
Dublin, if the emigrant sails from thence; at the house of
the Messrs. Perry, Pill-lane, who are of the Society of
Friends; and for whose moderate charges, and highly
honourable conduct on several occasions, to ignorant
customers, I can vouch. This establishment contains such
a variety of articles, that the emigrant should read this
list over in their shop, and he will find it save him both
time and trouble.
By the above calculation, which as well as I have been
able to note it, is critically correct, a gentleman with a
family, may fix himself on his new estate in any part of
Upper Canada for £421 17s. viz.

Total cost from Liverpool, to Settlement . . . . £135 0 0
Purchase of land . . . . 100 0 0
Building house and offices . . . . 85 0 0
Clearing 10 acres . . . . 35 0 0
Articles of furniture . . . . 12 0 0
Seed wheat . . . . 3 5 0
2 Cows . . . . 6 0 0
1 Horse . . . . 13 0 0
Oxen and waggon, yoke and chains . . . . 27 0 0
Tools . . . . 5 12 0
£421 17 0

And supposing him to have altogether, a capital of £1000,
he may lodge the remainder at York, in bank stock, at 12
per cent; and if he takes out this capital in gold, (which
he ought to do) he will be allowed from 3 to 4 shillings
according to the rate of exchange at the time, on every
Leaving the married folks and their children on their
farm, I shall proceed to give my bachelor friends (having
a sympathetic feeling with those unfortunate fellows) all
the information in my power.
But I must first admit that I do not recommend single
gentlemen to come here, where, (I speak of the retirements
in the bush) the only comforts they can expect are cigars,
sour cider, the eternal annoyance of an ugly old housekeeper
(one of the greatest plagues on earth,) and the
glorious irregularity of a bachelor's house.
Seriously, I would suggest long and earnest hesitation
before they decide on fixing themselves here, as agriculturists;
and I would more strongly advise them (having a
shrewd guess at the comforts and advantages of such
connexion) to marry before they come out, if they can
meet with cheerful, accommodating, and economizing lasses
with a little of the needful; indeed whether possessing this
last qualification or not, such girls would be in themselves
a treasure here.
If a smart and pretty widow, under thirty five, with
a snug jointure or disposable fortune, with three or four
ready made sons and daughters (the riches of the Canadian
colonist) be inclined to migrate hither, I pledge
myself to provide a mate for her, either in the person of
my cousin Charles Alley, who measures six feet without
his shoes; or of my second brother, who exceeds him in
height by 3 inches.
This hint may not be amiss in its results to us, though
confidentially conveyed to you.
I will suppose a young man to have the usual clothes,
&c. of a gentleman; in addition to these, let him bring:

A moleskin jacket, price . . . . £1 10 0
One doz. striped cotton shirts . . . . 2 0 0
One doz. of thick, country knit, worsted stockings . . . . 1 0 0
4 very warm night caps . . . . 0 4 0
4 Guernsey shirts . . . . 0 12 0
4 pair flannel drawers . . . . 0 14 0
4 Blankets . . . . 1 10 0
Carried forward .. £7 10 0

Carried forward . . . . £7 10 0
Sailor's jacket, waistcot and trowsers . . . . 2 10 0
2 pair of very strong shoes, high enough to protect
the ankle . . . . 1 4 0
4 Pillow cases . . . . 0 6 0
1 curled hair mattrass . . . . 14 0
6 Towels . . . . 0 5 0
Canteen, with all necessary cooking apparatus . . . . 3 10 0
One of Butler's medicine chests with his medicine directory . . . 2 0 0
1 Fur cap and gloves . . . . 0 15 0
4 pair of thick Russia duck trowsers . . . . 1 10 0
1 pocket compass . . . . 0 3 0
Total £20 17 0

with the implements and tools mentioned
(pp.5, 6) amounting to . . . . 5 12 0
Total £26 9 0

Boots and shoes are bad and dear in Canada, and tailors'
work is higher than in London; but the less money that an
emigrant expends on any article which he may not want
for several months, the better for his purse and other comforts

No single man should think of supplying his own provisions
for the voyage; he cannot inspect the dressing
of them; should he club with a family of strangers providing
theirs, he will find, when about to land, a much
greater diminution of his stock than he had anticipated, and experience in the end that he has been humbugged.
What is called, and considered a cheap passage, should be
avoided by those who are not greatly straightened in means,
as it usually proves the dearest in the end. It is bad management
to make one's self miserable for the sake of a
few pounds, during perhaps a long and boisterous voyage;
shut up, it may be, during six or eight weeks, with all the
inconveniences of breakfasting, dining, sleeping, and gelling
sick in the same wretched apartment of a crazy
merchant vessel.
Our passage was short and favourable, else we should
have been heartily sorry for having chosen the Quebec
course, which is longer than that to New York, and always
more tedious; the vessels being of an inferior class, and
slower in their rate of sailing. Add to this the danger of the
Newfoundland Banks, the navigation of the mouth of the
St. Lawrence, and the number of leagues to be traversed
between Quebec and York, occupying nine or ten days,
while the other line of inland navigation from New York
to the same points by the delightful Hudson, and the canal
to Oswego, occupies but four or five days, with the
advantage of seeing the most interesting parts of the States.
In short the election, when practicable, is decidedly in
favour of the passage to New York from Liverpool, where
merchant ships, (or packets of the first class,) with every
accommodation that the most luxurious person could
desire, are always to be met with. The passage in the best
merchantmen can be engaged for twenty guineas, with
every delicacy of the table, and spirits of all kinds, ad
libitum. In the noble packets, called Liners, the total charge,
including wines of the best description, is thirty-five
If the emigrant have money to spate, he can pass a few
days agreeably at New York, if not, he has the power of
immediately removing his kit to the first steamer that starts
for Albany, a distance of 150 miles, to which place he
will be conveyed for nine shillings. His passage thence
to Oswego, on the lake Ontario, by Canal boat, all
expenses included, will be 3l. 10s.; and from Oswego to
York 1l. 15s.; making a total cost, from New York to York,
the grand point of his destination, in either case, of 5l. 4s.
In my next I shall give you a comparative view of the
cost of settling in the Bush, and on a farm partially cleared.

I remain, very dear Sir,
Your's faithfully,