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Title: From Thos. Wm. Magrath, Esq., Upper Canada, to the Rev. Thomas Raddiff, Dublin.
CollectionAuthentic Letters from Upper Canada [Rev. Thomas Radcliff]
SenderMagrath, Thomas Wm
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationfarmer
Sender Religionunknown
OriginErindale, Toronto, Upper Canada
DestinationDublin, Ireland
RecipientRev. Thomas Radcliff
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1591
TranscriptErindale, January, 1832.
My dear Sir,
I follow up, at your desire, the particulars of the field or
rather forest sports—and having closed my last long letter,
with the subject of deer hunting, I will commence this with
another description of amusement.

Bear Shooting

The bear, though apparently an unwieldy animal, gets
over the ground, faster than one could suppose.
I have had a pet one for years, (reared from a cub)
that follows me about, and has often kept up with my
horse, when at a round canter.
This huge black bear, standing five feet high when
upright, is of the fair sex. The name to which she answers,
"Mocaunse." Her qualities, mildness and docility.
She runs about the house like a dog, and is invited to the
drawing-room, when any visitor arrives who wishes to
make her acquaintance—when my avocations led me to
the woods in distant parts of the province, Mocaunse was
the companion of my journey, and the nightly guardian
of my tent—not a sound or stir could be made, without a
warning from her cautionary whine, or growl.
It was amusing to observe with what gravity she took
her seat each morning at the opposite side of the mat, upon
which my breakfast was arranged, and the patience with
which she waited for her share of the repast. In this
cardinal virtue she failed but in one instance. One
morning on the shore of Lake-Huron, my party having
stopped to prepare breakfast, whilst my servant was
getting ready mine, I plunged into the lake to indulge in
a bracing swim, and on returning with "encrease of appetite,"
found Miss Mocaunse, lying down perfectly at her
ease, having devoured every morsel of my breakfast biscuit,
bread, sugar, &c. all eaten up, and the tea equipage,
&c. &c, in the most glorious confusion! I Conceiving
it necessary to impress strongly on her recollection my
disapprobation of such unladylike conduct, and to guard
against the recurrence of a similar disaster, I tied her to a
post and bestowed on her hairy sides so sound a drubbing,
that benefiting by this practical lecture upon patience,
Mocaunse has invariably waited breakfast for me ever since.
Bears are not as numerous as they were on our first
coming to Canada—nor are they as troublesome, or as
dangerous, as is supposed. They have been sometimes known to
carry off a small pig; but as to their attacking the human species,
without being grievously provoked, (though it may have occurred,)
no instance of it has come within my knowledge or experience.
They seem rather to avoid a conflict with man, but
if assailed and injured by him, there can be no doubt that
his danger would be in proportion to their strength and
power, which are very great.
The manner of shooting bears is much the same as in
the case of deer, with the exception of using a heavier
ball; and, that should you wound one badly without killing
him, the sooner you get up a tree, too slight for him to
climb, the better for your own security.
The Winter skin of the bear generally sells for six or
seven dollars, and is very useful in sleighs, and as bedding.
The meat of a young bear is not unlike pork, but infinitely
better. I have frequently eaten it, and like it. In New
York it is considered a great delicacy, light, wholesome,
and easily digested.
The interior fat, entitled Bear's Grease, is valuable for
the hair, more in demand, than in real existence, in the
I sent over some to ladies of my acquaintance, who perceiving
that it was neither bleached nor scented, preferred,
as I am told, the medicated hogslard of the perfumers.
One fellow that I shot, produced me as much pomatum
as would cover the tonsured heads of an entire monastery,
with a pile of hair as thick as a wig. I shall never, the
longest day I live, forget the hour I killed him. It was one
of my earliest essays in this branch of sporting.
A few weeks after we arrived at Toronto, my brother
and I, in walking through the woods with our rifles,
observed several pieces of bark falling to the ground from
an old pine of great dimensions, and on looking up, perceived
an enormous bear, endeavouring to lodge himself
in the hollow of the tree; after some consideration, it was
agreed that / should be the assailant, my brother reserving
his fire, lest mine should prove ineffectual. With this
counter security against the fraternal embrace of a savage
animal, dangerous when attacked, and furious when
wounded, I took the most deliberate aim, and fired; at
the moment came rolling to the ground "with hideous
yell," the shaggy monster, writhing in agony.
We looked from Mm to each other—our resolve was
rapid, as mutual—we ran for our lives; whichever
occasionally took the lead, fancied the footsteps of the
other, those of the pursuing bear; to our ear, he seemed
to close upon us. The rustling of the underwood encreasing
our alarm, doubled our speed; and it is difficult to
say when we should have stopped, had we not found ourselves
up to the knees in a deepening swamp. From hence
we cast an anxious look behind, and not espying Bruin,
plucked up our courage, and with my rifle re-loaded, and
both cocked, began to retrace our steps, with due and
exemplary caution; about midway a black squirrel darted
across, our imaginations were so deeply occupied with
terror of the bear, our rifles were in a second at our
shoulders, and I will not say whether a little more would
not have given us a second race. We proceeded, however,
gallantly towards the place
where my first shot had taken effect, and making our
observations, at respectful distance, we remarked the bear
at the foot of the same old pine; when, my brother, saying
that he looked suspicious, fired with a certain aim; he
need not have been so particular, as poor Bruin never
winced, and had never moved from the moment that his
terrifying, but expiring, roar had put us to ignominious flight.
Many a weary tug it cost us, to bring him to our house;
where the candid confession of our exploits excited no
inconsiderable fun and merriment.

Hunting the Racoon

This is a kind of sport which does not admit of much
In the moonlight nights the Racoons collect in numbers
in the cultivated fields, to regale upon the Indian corn, and
are there to be attacked with caution, as they retire at the
slightest noise, which makes it particularly necessary to
keep all quiet, about the house and farm yard, for an
hour or two after nightfall; at which time, having a dog
well trained for the purpose, you sally forth. The dog
may be "half lurcher and half cur," or of any description
that has a tolerable nose and an audible voice.
The moment he comes upon the scent, he gives tongue,
and the Racoons immediately fly to the adjoining trees.
He runs the first to the tree in which he has taken shelter,
and remains barking at its root. You come up, and from
the indication of the dog, as well as from the assistance of
the moon, you have no difficulty in finding your game, or
in killing it.
When you have shot the first, lay the dog on, again;
the same result may be expected; and so in continuation.
till, by the cessation of the barking, you are apprized that
no other Racoons remain.
Occasionally, however, a more animated scene takes
place, by day light, when one of those animals may happen
to exhibit himself in a tree beside the house.
This is the only hunting of wild animals in which the
fair sex partake; but on this occasion the entire family
turn out: men, women, children, domestics, dogs, &c.
If there be a gun in question the sport is soon over; if
not, the tree must he cut down. Pending the operation,
all eyes are fixed on Cooney, sitting aloft with perfect composure,
and looking down with ineffable contempt upon
the gaping enemy; and with some justice!—for how could
he imagine that, with the purpose of destroying a peaceable
and harmless animal like himself, a domestic host should
be arrayed against him? He gives no credit to it, 'till
the creaking tree yielding to the axe, begins to give way,
when running rapidly down the stem, and bolting up that
of an adjoining tree, he makes a second effort at security.
In the confusion upon his first descent, he frequently
escapes; all striking at him together, intercept each other's
implements of war. Cunning and nimble as a fox, he
avoids them all; but should he cling to the falling tree, he
comes to the ground, bruised, and stunned, an easy victim
to the beetle, potstick, fleshfork, or poker of the amazonian
cook maid, who carries him off in triumph to the kitchen,
encouraged, by her success, to hope for a few more to
line her Sunday cloak with their comfortable skins.
Believe me, dear Sir,

Your's faithfully,

PS. I rather think I shall be the bearer of this letter
myself as far as London; if so I shall continue the subject
from thence and may happen to see you before summer.