Main content

Title: From Bridget Lacy, Upper Canada, to Mary Thompson, Ireland.
CollectionAuthentic Letters from Upper Canada [Rev. Thomas Radcliff]
SenderLacy, Bridget
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationservant
Sender Religionunknown
OriginAdelaide, Upper Canada
RecipientThompson, Mary
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2771
Genrehousehold chores, life in the colony
TranscriptAddalad, Dec. 1832.
My dear Mary,
We are at our journey's end at last. I hope you got
my letter from York town; I have a great deal to say.
and but little time to say it in, as Mr. G. is going back
to York, and will carry this, and send it free too, from
that, if he can.
It's I that would be long sorry to put you to charges
for my foolish prate;-—and send your's Mary, to the old
master, and I'll get it by some one comming out.
, For to go for to tell you all we had to bear since I
wrote last, would take a choir, and in troth I've no great
time on hand, for sure enough, dear Mary, I have changed
my sitiation since I came here. Now, I know what you'll
say—aye do I—as well as if I was at the inside of you:—
"Oh ho! I knew what the tinder whisper and the loving
pinches aboord the ship would come to—and I wish you
joy, Mrs. Bridget Benson."
Troth then, my dear, you're out in your guess—for it's
no such thing, but who knows? Would you believe it,
he's living within four miles of me at Bear's Creek, and
comes over to church of a Sunday, and to see me, and to
eat a bit before he goes; and now, Mary, the butter is
coming out of the stirrabout, being that my change of
sitialion is nothing more or less than my change from
childeren's maid to cook, and a happy change too, Mar)'
for instead of that poor streeleen thing I was, leaving
home, I am now growing plump and fat, and well to look
at—and so Benson tells me, and that I look better and
better every time he comes over; and Mary, dear, there's
a wide differ betune the nursery and the kitchen—and
isn't it a great thing to be able to give a friend, and such
a friend, a savoury toothful, when he's so oblidgeing as to
go for to come so far to see you, and he a fine young
lad that hasn't a nick in his horns yit, as the saying is,
whatever he may live to have, and has the whole township
to chose from. And Mary, dear, we're no ways
stingy of our vickels in this country, and it's he that likes
the Venzon. Why, my dear, they're as plenty with us
as goats on the Wicklow mountains; and Mary, you'd
like it greatly, and so do I: and sure enough it does'nt
go into an ill skin.
But what made this changification? you will ask.
Why this way—the mistress thought the other life was too
asy for me; and so it was; and as I dressed a dish or two
that plazed the master, she said, she'd put me into the
kitchen where I might show my talons.
We've got a very good girl in my place — a little
Yankeeish as they say—but we must give and make
allowances. I'd like her very well for a fellow servant,
only she's allways botherin me for sa-ce. Now what do
you think she means by that?—Why every thing in the
world, but meat—not that she'd be content without that
too, but she must have sace besides. Now when you come
for to know what this sace is, it would make you wonder.
Sace is every thing you could name—potatees, vegables,
butter, pickles and sweetmeats—they're all called sace—
only mustard, pepper and vinegar is not.
And Mary my Jewell, the people here must have sace
at all their meals.
Now Mary, dear, we were well fed at the school, but
we never heard of such doings as these; I like a good bit
as well as another, and why not? but this is too bad
entirely; they are cheap enough though, indeed mostly
for nothing, or who could stand it? This girl we've got
(and a smart girl too,) has five pound a year, and sure
that's not much after all the great talk about high wages.
Where the farmers get their penny out of them in hard
work, they should pay for it, but isn't it better be with a
mistress that's asy and good humored and good, and won't
work one to the stumps? but without any mather of
doubt the servants are great plagues; they think of nothing
but bettering themselves, and they that come out hardly
puts their foot on the land when they get's roa ving
thoughts in their sculls, as if the air of this country gave
them a rambeling way with them.
There was a friend of my master's brought out an old
servant who had earnt £20 and had it in a purse; her master at first refused to bring her, guessing she'd leave
him. Well, she bound herself for a year, and to lose the
£20 put in his hands, if she left him; why then my dear,
she wasn't a month here when she made herself scarce,
leaving her money behind—and no more about it or her,
ever since. Then there was our Sandy, was sent to the
post and never came back, and who should come in his
place but a Yankee, mighty fond of his gut, and always
grumbling about sace—a hard working fellow for all that,
and had £20 a year. Well my dear, he was sent for change
of a hundred dollar note, and that same made him take
to his scrapers.
The master was all in a quandary when he didn't come
back, and he went off to his brother, and got his man
Pat Mee, to run off and try if he could overtake the blicguard,
and Pat Mee nabbed him sure enough late the
next day about sixty miles off, without the manes of a
horse itself, and got amost all the money in his pocket and
gave him, as he says, the father of a bating, and brought
all home safe.
Pat surely is an honest boy and so he ought, for he's
well treated and has five and twenty pounds a year; it
won't be long before he'll be buying a lot of land. Benson
has never had the sperit to come to the point with me yet
—so there's no harm in having two strings to one's bow my
dear Mary. Pat and I to be sure are not of one way of
thinking, but he might come round. As we were coming,
on the journey, near a town where we were to come up
with his master, who should we meet but Pat, without my
knowing him, in a mighty quare cap and jacket, and a
face as brown with the sun as a copper skillet: "Why then
don't you know your old friends, Biddy Lacy," says Pat,
"when you meet them in a strange place, but I suppose
you took me for an Ingine and I'm like one sure enough,
with this burning sun on my face, but yees had better be
going on, and you'll find friends before you—and I shot
a pair of ducks this morning, that you'll have for your
supper"; and so there was, and glad enough we were all
for to meet, for my two fellow prentices are with his

While my master was building this house we lived
above a month at a farmer's, and a quare place it was,
but I lamed a great deal while I staid, and the woman
of the house was no bad warrant to tell me how to do a
But what flogged all that I had ever seen, was making
sugar out of a tree, Mary—not a word of lie do 1 tell you;
you take a big gimlet and make a hole in the tree, (the
maypole I think they call it,) and out comes the sugar,
like sweet water thick like, and you boil it, and you
but where's the use of my telling you any thing about it,
as you have no sugar trees at home.
I remember when you and I thought a sugar stick
a mighty good sort of a thing, never thinking I'd lay my
eyes upon a sugar tree. I'm told there are such things as
butter trees too, but seeing's believing, and they shan't
take me in that way, but there's one tree I'm sure of, and
that's a plumb tree, wild in the woods, for I pull'd with
my own hands more than I could eat and carry away, and
we boiled them with the maypole sugar, and a fine parcel
of jam we had, all for nothing but our trouble, which was
only a pleasure, not to say any thing of having it to the fore.
When I was pulling them, it come into my head, that
if there was sugar trees, and tea trees, and butter trees,
and bread trees, which I read of at school, the wood would
be a very nate place for a tea party, and the plumbs, and
the rawsberries and currents, and strawberries would be
good sace,—was'nt this a funny conseat? But I'd want
something after all, and that would be you Mary alongside
of me, and a pair of handsome lads to make us merry
—and sure enough the woods aren't without that same,
only that their pelts arc all red, with roasting themselves
I suppose at them big fires in the woods at night. Some
of them without any manner of doubtification, are very
fine Ingines, but that's our share of them, for they say they
won't mix, and may be all for the better, for I'd rather
die an old maid than be called a squawl, and have a
porpus tied on my back, rolled up like a salmon in a
hay-rope, on the Wexford Coach; and more than that,
to be made do all the druggery by land and water, in the
shanty and kinnoo, gutting all the fish, and dressing all
the birds and beasts, for never a hand's turn will them
fine haroes do, but hunt, and shoot, and fish, and eat
plenty, and drink hearty, like any gentlemen. Fond as I
am of cooking, Mary, this would be beyand the beyands,
(as the saying is)—but while I'm on the subject, I must
tell you how much I'm coming on; and would you believe it?
I bake all the bread, for there's no bakers or huxters
here to send in the fresh loaves every morning; but we
must have all within ourselves. But my dear, the bread's
the greatest part of all; for it's made with barm, that's
made with salt!—and it's very good, and I'll send you
the resate that the mistress wrote out with her own hands,
and it may be of use to you in the country when barm
is scarce—and here it is:—


"Take a pint and half of boiling water, one quart of
cold water; put this into a tin vessel; then put a teaspoon
full of salt in, and mix it well, then take one pint out,
and throw it away; then get your flour; stir the water and
salt well with a spoon, while you are putting the flour in,
which is done as if you were making stirabout; make it
as thick as beer barm; mind you are to blend the flour
well; set this in another vessel, with very hot water in it,
and constantly renew the hot water under the barm, and
very often stir it up from the bottom of the pan, so as not
to let the flour settle; if it is rightly done, it will begin
immediately to ferment; remember to cover it up closely,
and let it stand near a fire; as soon as you perceive it rising,
let it stand quite quietly; this process takes from four to
five hours; you will then take eight quarts of flour; put
in your salt, and butter your pans. When the yeast is risen
up pretty high, then commence making your bread; first
loosen the yeast from the edges of the vessel it is in, and get some one. to pour it into the middle of the flour, while you mix it up; then add either warm milk or warm water,
whichever is most convenient, and work up the dough
as usual; when this is done, put it into your pans, and set
it in a very warm place to rise, which it will considerably;
but it often takes a long time; it must be covered over with
a cloth; it rises to twice the size of the piece of dough you
first put in, and then it is fit to bake."

Well, my dear, did you ever hear the likes of that? But
you may reckon on it as sure. We use nothing else here;
and I was taught it by the farmer's wife where we lived,
and the mistress put it down word for word as you have
it. And then, there's the bumkin pie, which they give to
the workmen; but that's aisy made enough. The master
doesn't like it; but it does very well on a Sunday, in the
kitchen. You takes and slices it like apples, and gives it
plenty of the maypole, and a pinch or two of cloves, and a
glass of whiskey, which is like ditch-water here, and it's
mighty good eating.
Indeed the farmer's wife was very civil, and told me
many a thing. But I cant give in, as yet, to eating
sqirrells; for they're for all the world, all as one as rats.
One day, there came two women to the farmer's to buy
cabbage, for my dear, they'd sell any thing here, they're
so fond of the lucre of gain; but says one of the women
to my mistress, that was standing in the firhandy, "Why then
ma'am," says she, "I'm sure you're the lady my
daughter was telling me about, that she said she was sure
was an Irish lady." "Why do you think I'm Irish?" says
my mistress. "Well then, I'll tell you that—because you're
fat, and you're fair, and you're comely, and you're handsome."
And true for her, for she's all that, and good
into the bargain.
Well, Mary, that was the day but one before we came
away; and it's well that ever we got to this place, with
them roads, and the floods, and the cricks, and the axes
going, and the wagging knocked about, and the horses tired,
and the dark night coming on us, and the mistress almost
destroyed, and the children as bad. But God be praised,
here we are all, safe and sound.
You have plenty of Whitefeet with you, Mary; but
here they were a scarce article 'till we came. My master's
brother's wife's were the first female whitefeet that ever
stepped upon the township of Addalad. Then came on
my two fellow 'prentices, and then my mistress, and then
myself, that's as white as the best of them, as Benson the
rogue told me yesterday.
But now, lo and behold you, there's hundreds and
hundreds all about us, and houses growing out of the
woods every day.
But after all, its an awfull thing to be living in the
woods. Oh! them terrible wolves, if you were to hear
them. I never got a wink of sleep the first fortennight. I'd
be shockingly in dread, they'd spoil our tea party. Such
yowling, and growling, and yelling, and pellmelling, as no
Christian ever heard. They say it's hunting the deer
they are. Set 'em up with venzon the bastes!
Well isn't it surprizing with all I have to do, I could
find the time to write so long a letter, by fits and starts—
but do the same to me, and I tell you again and again,
come out if you can, and be sure to come to Addalad,
(isn't it a comical name? may be there's something in it,)
and by the time you come, I'll know who's who, and
what's what, and will direct you for the best.
You know I told you, I had two strings to my bow.
May be one of them might make a noose for you.
Good night dear Mary. "Early to bed, and early to rise”

Your affectionate School-fellow,