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Title: From Mrs. William Radcliff, Upper Canada, to the Rev. Thomas Radcliff, Dublin.
CollectionAuthentic Letters from Upper Canada [Rev. Thomas Radcliff]
SenderRadcliff, Rebecca
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender Religionunknown
OriginAdelaide, Upper Canada
DestinationDublin, Ireland
RecipientRev. Thomas Radcliff
Recipient Gendermale
Relationshipdaughter-in-law - father-in-law
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2486
Genreaccount of passage, people in the colony, settling
TranscriptAdelaide, November, 1832.
My dear Mr. R.,
I promised to let you know our progress from York to
this, our final settlement.
The moment I was able to travel we commenced our
route, by steam-boat, to a very pretty place called Hamilton.
The wharf is at least a mile and a-half from the
town. In the hope of some conveyance arriving, we sat
down on the trunk of a tree, and very shortly a waggon
appeared, which, on its nearer approach, we perceived to
be that of a gentleman who drove a splendid pair of horses.
On our requesting him to send us one from the hotel, when
he returned, he made a point of taking us into his, which
was very easy, and well constructed, and with the greatest
politeness he set us down at the hotel, where we were
comfortably accommodated at a moderate charge. The
next morning we proceeded by the coach to Brantford. At
this village, we hoped to have found the rest of our party,
it having been arranged that women and children, the
heavy baggage, should remain there whilst the gentlemen
went forward to get up their houses for our reception;
but our poor friends, who had suffered so much from
cholera, were on their arrival at Brantford immediately
banished, by the circumstance of an unfortunate gentleman
being carried into the hotel, who died in a few hours
of that melancholy ailment. We, of course, did not remain
behind, but late as it was, procured a waggon to bring us
forward ten miles to Burford. This was but a common
rough machine, very unlike the smooth, and comfortable
one, with which our polite Canadian had supplied us in
the morning. The drive was most beautiful; but I could
not enjoy it, from the extreme uneasiness of the carriage.
We met many Indians of the Mohawk tribe—all on horseback;
and we passed a remarkably neat school-house. It
was near to this that John Brant, an Indian Chief, lived,
and, universally lamented, lately died!
Were he in existence, we should experience great attention
from him, through the name of our kinsman, who,
when a boy in this country, was the cherished play-fellow
of John Brant, and when grown up, had an opportunity
of being serviceable to the Chief in London, which
enhanced his friendship and attachment.
Throughout this district he is spoken of by all ranks, and
colonies, in the highest terms of veneration and respect.
We were comfortably entertained at Burford, and
though much fatigued, set forward next morning by break
of day for the next tavern, Putnam I think, a distance of
forty miles, in the very waggon which had brought our
friends there sometime before. This was driven by the
owner, Mr. Lyster, a very conversable and well informed
person, for his rank in life; but all here consider themselves
gentlemen and ladies—and this man, who, I must
admit, was not troublesome or forward in his conversation,
breakfasted and dined at table with us, without compunction
or apology.
The farther we proceeded up the country, the more we
were gratified by the scenery. The birds, too, are very
beautiful; the blue jay and woodpecker, especially—the
wild flowers were in greater variety here than at any other
stage of the journey—the whole country abounds in sunflowers
of gigantic size—there are wild grapes also, which
don't ripen till they get frost—and Partridges without
number—when you whistle, they stop to listen, and are
shot. This came under my own eye.
I was much amused at seeing William shaking hands
most heartily on the road with a man from whom he was
buying a pair of oxen. On inquiry, he proved to be a
parishioner of yours, my dear Mr. R., many years ago, at
Lisnadill. He asked about you most affectionately, and
was delighted to see one of the name.
We proceeded next day to Delaware, twenty miles, in
the same conveyance, which was tolerably easy, having
the seats slung from the sides, in lieu of springs, and
covered with Buffalo skins, (which are called blankets,)
very handsome, soft, and comfortable.
The horses were excellent, and we were tempted to
purchase the entire equipage, for 160 dollars.
At Delaware we came up with our party; found them
all in good health, and enjoyed, with them, an agreeable
day. They went forward to Colonel Mount's, at Caradoc,
the government agent for the western district, a most kind
and attentive gentleman. We took up our abode at a
farmer's, near Delaware, while our house was building;
and passed six weeks there, very well accommodated, and
abundantly supplied, on the most reasonable terms. For
the whole family, (six in number, great and small,) we
paid six dollars a week, and had a private sitting-room—
never dining with the family of the house, which was
thought very strange, nor suffering our servants to dine
with us, which was considered still more extraordinary.
This was a log-house, the first I had been in—very comfortably
fitted up, and in some respects thought preferable
to a frame-house, as being warmer in Winter, and cooler
in Summer, from the greater thickness of the walls. The
objectionable point is that, as the timber seasons, the logs
settle, but not equably, by which the doors and windows
are set awry.
Nevertheless, I am quite content with ours, which is of
black ash, a timber not so liable to shrink as maple and
bass wood, of which they are generally constructed. The
farmer's sons generally supplied the dinner tables—their
own, with black squirrels—ours, with chickens, both shot
by themselves. These, with bacon, venison, &c. constituted
a plentiful larder. Most of the necessaries of life can be
had for the trouble of providing them, and many of the
luxuries at the cheapest rate.
I preserved some wild plumbs with maple sugar, which
was better than that we bought. We had water melons
in great profusion; and, when one year settled, we can
have what we please; it is indeed the country of abundance.
For the lower classes, in every respect, it presents
a most inviting scene of plenty and independence; whilst
those who have been educated otherwise, cannot but feel
the want of refinement, which generally prevails, and
which it will require ages to correct; the palliative is to
be sought in the manners and enjoyment of one's own
domestic circle, nor need they much compassion, who like
us, have been fortunate enough to settle with so many
agreeable friends around us.
Whilst in the farm-house, it was my amusement to
study the manners of the people, which confirm the
foregoing remarks.
They call every one lazy that does not engage in some
manual work—and their dialect and mode of expression
are quite amusing—on asking one of the girls, whether
the Indians were cross when they indulge in any excess.
"Well," said she, (for they commence every sentence with
this word.)—"They are pretty ugly."
The mistress of the house, bringing in breakfast, says,
"Well, I guess the tea looks black—but my husband
thought it dreadful good."
I asked her how we were to feed our cows in winter to
make them give milk?
"Well.—Slop your cows,"—and to "How am I to get
them to come home from the wood?" "Well, salt your
cows and they'll come home."
"Is your dairy much under ground?"—"Well, considerable."
This dialogue affords a specimen of the comfortable
and affluent in this class—who received us as lodgers, at
the urgent request of Col. Mount; not wishing to be put
to any inconvenience, and at the same time not willing to
decline the remuneration.
On asking one of the daughters whether they "ever
saw a clergyman or preacher?" she answered, "Well,
preachers, once in a while; and then they sing so, really
I am sometimes in roars of laughter at them."—There can
be no stronger test of the deplorable want of clerical
appointments, and Spiritual advice, in this new country,
where my little baby, now nearly three months old,
remains yet unbaptized—but all this I understand is to
be speedily remedied. Every township is to have its own
clergyman, and ours, one immediately.
I have now only to recount the miseries of my day's
journey from the farm-house to Adelaide—where our
mansion not being perfectly ready, Dr. Phillips proposed
that we should occupy his, which was sooner built.
How any unfortunate female, carrying an infant in her
arms, could have passed the tremendous road we were
reduced to on this occasion, is almost miraculous. In my
long journey from the coast, I had suffered many hardships
in travelling, and many barbarous roads that I
thought could not be exceeded in badness and danger;
but all was smooth and agreeable, when compared with
this last day. It did not happen so with our friends who
went six weeks before us—but in that long interval the rain
fell, and the floods had risen—and the road which they
had travelled without much difficulty, being for us perfectly
impassable, the woods were our only resource. Through these
we had to cut our way—and to travel in
a waggon drawn by one horse, the second being too
spirited for the intricacy of the dangerous passes.
We fortunately met upon the way one of Col. Mount's
overseers, who sent a man with an axe to assist us. William,
who had one of his own, went forward to clear the way,
and our northern servant, Sandy, led the waggon.
All this we could have borne, but for the innumerable
creeks, or streams which crossed our way; and were it
not for a party of men sent to our relief—we could never
have compassed such repeated obstructions. They made
themselves useful, indeed indispensably so, by cutting down
trees, for temporary bridges, which we were to pass over
in the best manner we were able—conceive, my dear Mr.
R-, my walking over deep creeks, upon two long and
small trees thrown across, which, however, with good
assistance, I effected; but how the horses and waggon were
made to manage it, I am unable to describe; certainly the
horses here are wonderful animals—highly trained, and
if you let them go ahead, they will bring you up heights
that would amaze you—at one place, I shut my eyes and
gave my self up as lost; this was a deep creek with very
high banks on either side—our descent was so rapid as
nearly to throw us forward on the horse, whilst the sudden
rise at the opposite side was as likely to shoot us out behind
the waggon; on opening my eyes, I perceived Wm. and
his man in extreme terror lest we should fall back; but
by encouraging the poor horse, he brought us up in safety.
At another place we were obliged to cross one of those
dangerous bridges on foot, and to walk a great distance. mounting over trunks of immense trees which lay across,
whilst the waggon was sent through the wood, with twenty
men to clear the way—after this, so great was my fatigue
I passed over fallen trees of great size without leaving the
waggon; and had I preferred doing so, the want of time
would have prevented me. The day was closing fast, half
an hour's delay would have doomed us to the forest for
the night—fortunately we escaped this disagreeable alternative,
and upon reaching the line of road, fancied all our
difficulties over—alas! it was but fancy. The road was
flooded, and full of mud-holes; the horse up to his
haunches in water, and wretched Sandy walking through
it all. So dark had it become, I passed my own house
without being able to see it, and, a little further on, was
hospitably received in that of Dr. Phillips.
I can never be sufficiently thankful to a kind Providence,
for protecting us through so many difficulties, and bringing
us to the termination of our long and weary journey, without
accident or suffering, except from excessive fatigue.
Having given you a detail, which may appear sufficient
to deter all female emigrants from so distant a settlement,
it is but fair that I should explain how others may avoid
the inconveniences which we experienced.
This is to be done by emigrating at an early season, and
by not wasting time when they land. They will then find
the roads in passable order; and may have some provisions
growing, and their houses comfortable, before the summer
is past. We were too late all through, and feel the inconvenience
of it.
The Log-house we now inhabit, till our own is ready, was the first completed in the township;—if that can be
called complete, which, on our arrival, consisted of but one
room on the ground floor, and one in the upper story.
The owner, in politeness to us, went up stairs,—that is,
up the ladder, to sleep] !—leaving us a room 24 feet by 16,
the full dimensions of the house, with our cooking stove,
and its various appendages, at one end, and his own
Franklin stove at the other. A partition was soon formed
for my convenience, and very snug we felt ourselves;
though, in the unfinished state of the edifice, we could see
the light through many apertures.
I conclude this letter from my own house, of which we
took possession yesterday.
It is considered the handsomest in the township; being
46 feet in front, and 16 feet deep, in the clear;—but when
finished next spring, by an addition in the rere, will consist
of parlour and drawing-room, 16 feet square, each; hall,
kitchen, and five bed-chambers. The two stacks of chimnies,
now of mud, but hereafter to be of brick, going up
through the centre of the building, afford the means of
warm presses, and commodious closets. The roof is formed
on Cantalivers, very unexpensive here, which gives the
whole a gay appearance. The entire cost, £50. This may
be a good hint for some of our friends.
We had a large and merry party at breakfast this
morning. I enjoyed it, as the forerunner of an agreeable
society, fast forming about us.
And now that, according to promise, I have brought
you fairly into the woods, and into our own Wood House,
I will hand over the correspondence, for a little time, to
our gentlemen, who can better inform you on more
material points; though I do not profess myself wholly
ignorant, either as to chopping, clearing, &c. &c. of which
I have heard so much; but it may be more suitable to
limit my talents to domestic purposes.

Believe me, dear Mr. R.