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Title: From William Radcliff, Esq., Upper Canada, to Arthur Radcliff, Esq., Dublin.
CollectionAuthentic Letters from Upper Canada [Rev. Thomas Radcliff]
SenderRadcliff, William
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationfarmer
Sender Religionunknown
OriginAdelaide, Upper Canada
DestinationDublin, Ireland
RecipientRadcliff, Arthur
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1923
Genresettling, hunting, farming, emigration
TranscriptAdelaide, December, 1832.
My dear Arthur,
I have at last got time to write to you.—Here we are,
stuck in the woods, but so differently circumstanced from
others who settled before us, that I am told we are very
well off; and so we are, every thing considered, The
Government have cut out our roads, a task which former
settlers had to perform for themselves. They also sell us
provisions, so that we are in no danger of starving. Nor
are we alone in the forest;—never was there a township
so quickly filled up, with respectable people. We shall
shortly have a thicker neighbourhood than any I know
of, in the country parts of Ireland.
A vast number of those who came out this year, have
congregated in this township, a proof that the land b good.
It is considered the best in upper Canada, and the settlement,
it is thought, will be one of the most flourishing.
There are still crown, and clergy reserves, which will be
sold next year to gentlemen settlers, but after that, the
lots here will be closed to every one, except by private
purchase—my house when finished, will be comfortable,
and not despicable in appearance—being forty-six feet in
front with an eve projecting eighteen inches.
You will be impatient to hear of the shooting; an interesting
topic to a good sportsman like you. The time has
been, when I should have considered it paramount to any
other; but, would you believe?—I have not even had time
to think about it—no one, however, goes into the woods,
or any where on business, without his fowling-piece; and
game, of one sort or another, is generally brought home.
My occupation has almost entirely precluded this, as, being
my own architect, I cannot leave the building for an hour
•—my entire success in the shooting way can, therefore, be
reported in a few words—in riding through one of my
lots, a partridge got up, I dismounted, when another rose,
which I shot flying—a great feat here, where they never
attempt any thing beyond a sitting shot.
This is the only game I have yet brought home—a finer
bird never came to table—infinitely larger than our grouse,
of the same form, but remarkably white in the flesh, and
with the plumage of the common partridge. They are
called pheasants, and are most numerous; I have no doubt
that there are a hundred coveys within two miles of this
house, but, alas, I have no dog—what would I not give
now to have old Grouse?
Let no one persuade you against bringing out your dogs;
they would be invaluable. I have not been able to see, or
hear, of a good one in this country. A flock of about thirty
turkeys came round the house last week; my man fired
at them, and like sportsmen that you and I have met,
boasted that he had knocked as much feathers out of one
of them, as would make a good pillow, but the larder fared
nothing the better. They are very numerous, but very
wary—and run faster than an Indian. If you were with
me, we could shoot more game in a day than a good horse
could carry home. When I can spare time to go out I can,
without failure, bring back one, two, or three deer, any
day I please. They are in hundreds in the lands all round,
and nothing can be more certain than the Calderwood
"fie, which I brought from home. It has obtained a great
character here, from my having tried it at a mark, against
an Indian Chief, whom I beat unmercifully; poor Calderwood
took great pains with it, and in my mind, his workmanship
cannot be exceeded.
We were under a great mistake, in supposing that the
woods afforded the best sport—quite the reverse; in them
you have nothing but bears, wolves, deer, turkeys, partridges;
whilst the cleared land abounds with birds too
numerous to mention; but those for the table, which
follow the settlers, are woodcock, snipe, partridge, quail,
very large, and the meadow lark, a beautiful bird as large
as quail; plover also, of several kinds. Then come those of
ornamental plumage, the various species of woodpecker,
all beautiful; with blue birds, yellow birds, red birds, and
My discussion upon shooting must terminate, till I can
send you the result of my own experience. At present I
could better treat of the clearing of land, in which I am
deeply engaged—but as.my brother, whose letter to
my father I have read, (and which you will of course sec,)
has gone minutely into that subject, and as we go hand
in hand in those matters, I will not trouble you with repetitions,
which ought to be avoided where so many of the
same family are writing; all that I shall say upon it, is
that I have already cleared five acres, and that by February,
thirty are to be completed for me, and an equal
number for my brother, at £1 8s. per acre, for brushing,
piling ready to burn, chopping, and cutting into lengths.
The drawing together, and burning, to be executed by
ourselves. The workmen demanded much more, and had
not we been a full party with a little steadiness, and some
money stirring among us, they would have beaten us out,
whereas we are now victorious, and the defeated party,
perfectly contented, in the expectation of touching a little
hard cash, of which they have very little, and are passionately
fond. I could never have imagined that the axe could
be used with such dexterity; I really think that two
Canadians would clear all Gerardstown in a fortnight;
they would take but two blows to every tree in the
Desire all friends who come out, to bring delft, but not
glass—as the latter is as cheap here as the former is extravagant
in price—also, hardware of the necessary kinds,
and spades and shovels, which are ill constructed in this
country—but, above all, a hay-knife—here they cut their
hay with an axe, and, I may say, do almost every thing
with that universal implement.
I have bought a waggon, and pair of horses—one of
them a choice saddle horse, fully equal to my weight,
which however is much decreased. He cost me a hundred
dollars, and such a one would bring a hundred pounds
with you. They are very good here, and very cheap.
Now, my dear A-, as to advising you whether to come
out or not, as I promised to do, I can safely say, from all
that I have seen and heard, that if you can contrive to
reach my house, with five hundred pounds in your pocket,
you may, with your present experience, insure yourself a
certain and gentlemanlike independence.
Think what an advantage you would have over me, who
have spent a little fortune in bringing out a family, and in
the delays and heavy cost of their voyage, journey, lodgings,
residence in towns, and charges at taverns and
elsewhere, till nearly the present date, when we are at
length settled, but not unexpensively till next year, when
the produce of the farm will begin to tell; whereas you
who are a single man, can apply all your time, and energy
and money to settling yourself prudently and comfortably,
and make us happy by remaining with us till you do so.
I only fear that if you do not come soon, you will not be
able to find land near us, so fast are the lots disposed of—
you need have no scruple about adding to our establishment,
if you can live on venison and many other good
things that cost but little. My cellar also defies you. I
have a very snug one, moderately stocked with choice
Teneriffe at 7s. the gallon, Brandy at 10s., Rum at 4s. 6d.
and Whiskey, (very good) at 1s. 8d.—No locks or bolts
here, which is rather new to me. The Canadians never
steal, but are sharp enough, and will take advantage when
they can. I have now told you many of the favourable circumstances
of the country, which are decidedly very great;
still, however, an Irish day of recollection, sinking the
spirits down, down! will occur; and sometimes, notwithstanding
the outrages and the murders, the politics, and
the poverty of that unhappy country, I would give all I
am worth to be walking beside you, shooting the Enfield
bottoms, as in those happy days we have spent together;
again, these feelings vanish, when I look at my rich land,
unencumbered by rent or taxes, and ask myself, if I were
back again, how could I command such certain independence.
If I had my friends all here, I should be the happiest
man breathing.
I inspect my choppers, and am much interested. They
say here, that once we see the crops growing, we shall
never think of home again, but this is a bold assertion.
I do not feel at home here yet—my former life, my sea
voyage, and travelling some seven hundred miles through
a new country, appear more like a dream than reality;
my very existence in these drowsy woods appears doubtful,
till I rouze myself by thinking on my College friends, my
hunting days, the animating hounds, the green open fields,
and the scarlet coats.
Thus have I been active, and depressed—-bustling, and
gloomy by turns, but now that I am fairly settled in my
own house, my spirits and exertions are both on the rise.
I have much carpenter's work to execute, and find that I
am growing more expert every day. Let my brother John
know that clergymen are in great demand: had he been
here he would probably have been appointed to the rectory
of this township. I am informed that the governor has
thirty clerical situations to fill up. If my brother comes
soon, he may get one near us. They are very desirable
preferments and afford a fine field for active zeal.
As there is some difference of opinion as to the temporalities
to be attached to those appointments, I am
delicate in giving, as a certainty, what I have heard,
though it has been apparently from the best authority, but
all will be finally arranged shortly. What I have been told
is that they are in the gift of the Governor, (with the
approbation of the bishop of course,) and that the clergyman
is to have 150/. a year, a house and 400 acres of land,
200 as glebe, and 200 in perpetuity.
Another statement mentions house—100/. a year—200
acres of glebe—50 of which are to be cleared for the
incumbent at the cost of government—but none in perpetuity.—
I wish to mention both, that our friend may
only calculate upon the least advantageous; by which
means, when he comes, he may happen to be agreeably
surprized, but cannot be disappointed. Make him bring
out proper testimonials from his Bishop, &c. &c.
What I have still to say may be comprized in a nut-shell;
come by New York, don't loiter on the road to waste
your money; bring out rape-seed, hay-seeds, garden-seeds,
especially those of culinary, and aromatic herbs, and sail
in April, if you can.

Yours, my dear Arthur,