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Title: Stewart, Frances to Noble, Maria, 1823
CollectionRevisiting Our Forest Home, The immigrant letters of Frances Stewart [J. L. Aoki]
SenderStewart, Frances
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationhousewife
Sender Religionunknown
OriginDouro Township, Newcsatle District, Upper Canada
DestinationAllenstown, Co. Meath Ireland
RecipientNoble, Maria
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2700
Genresettling, description of the land, family life
Transcript1823: February 24
To Maria Noble, Allenstown, Navan, Ireland; also addresses Harriet

Douro Loghouse Feb'y 24,1823

Well my dearest friends, here we are at last at home and although we
must bear a good deal of inconvenience for some time, yet we feel real
enjoyment beyond any we have had for many a long & weary month.
Before I say anything more about this place, I must go back a month to
Cobourg & tell you about what passed then. I wrote to you the 7th of
Jan'y which letter I am afraid is in the dead letter office as it was directed to Merrion Street. The 18th of Jan'y I wrote to Catharine so you know by my letter to her that yours of Sept'r 30 reached me safely. Ah dear Harriet, you cannot conceive the comfort it is to think that you do not deceive me about my dear Bess. Thank you for giving me such a minute detail
of her sufferings which must be most trying to her & her dear nurse tenders. I will not say anything now about the anxiety I feel about you
all. You know what one feels at a distance from a beloved friend in such a
state but you cannot well conceive how this anxiety is encreased by such
an immense distance as that which separates us & by the length of time
which there must be between letters. But this cannot be helped so I will
not dwell on this painful subject any longer. I may, however, say that I do
think this is the only source of painful reflection that I feel here. We have the prospect of possessing everything to make us comfortable & happy
except the company of those we are most attached to.
In my letter to Kate I believe I mentioned a nice drive we had with
very nice people called Mr. & Mrs. Faulkner on a very delightful day to a
beautiful village called Port Hope, about 7 miles from Cobourg.
Nothing happened for some time after worth mentioning except
that we had very cold disagreeable weather, a good deal of snow, & very
little sunshine in the day, & most intensely cold nights, so much so that
water was frozen in our kitchen which is only about 9 or 10 feet square,
where we kept a good fire all night. In our room where we & the children
slept & where we had a fire constantly day & night the therm'r was down
several mornings to 30 before we got up. One night my poor little maid
Betty slipped on the ice at the back door, fell & broke one of her ribs in
two places as her side came against the handle of a tub.
Tom & I laid her on a matrass in our room & had her bled & early next
morning had the Doctor to see her, who ordered low diet, saline draughts
& quiet. So she lay there for some days. I was able to get a Scotch lassie
to come to cook & finish the washing but she could only stay two days &
after that I was cook, nurse, & everything myself for a few days. We had
luckily a fine round of Beef which lasted cold for almost the whole time so
I had no cooking except boiling potatoes & I got on finely & had neither
fatigue or hurry of any consequence. And poor Betty was able to assist me
a little in a wonderfully short time. I think these little vanities are very useful for people don't know what they can do till they are tried. Betty is now quite well & useful & willing as ever & a great comfort to me.
Well one fine day soon after this adventure our friend Mr. Bethune
called to take us all out in the sleigh. He begged that A.M. & Ellen might
be of the party so we all drove to the township of Haldimand the next
township on the Kingston side & after a drive of 7 miles we turned. The
country is very pretty & very hilly, beautiful undulations & steep rugged
vallies. Coming home it was desperately cold & snowed a little & we were
very glad to get into comfortable houses.
We called on Mrs. A. Macdonald who had removed to her own house
a few days before. If you received my last letter you know something
of her & the Boswells. We also called on the Boswells who we found
very friendly neighbours during our sojourn at Cobourg. They said they
wished very much to take us to see Mr. and Mrs. Sowden that we might
see how very comfortably people can live even in an indifferent loghouse.
So we appointed the following Tuesday evening for our drive. It was fortunately sunny & mild altho' the therm'r stood only at 10° & in the morning at ten, was 11° below zero!! At half past one Tom, A.M. & I set out
with Capt. & Mrs. Boswell & drove 8 miles, mostly through woods, to Mr.
Sowden's farm. His loghouse is the oldest in the township of Haldimand
& has been built for 25 years. It is black & shabby looking at the outside
but I never saw more comfort & cheerfulness than there seemed to be
within. There was a larger fire than my poor British eyes had ever before
seen within the walls of a house. I am sure the logs on the fire were 8 feet long!! but since that I have seen many such.
I must tell you a curious romantic history about this family. The
father & mother of Mr. Sowden had been attached to each other in their
youth but for some reason or other could not marry. They each married
other people & afterward old Mr. Sowden's son was married to the
daughter of Mr. S.'s former flame. Sometime afterwards, old Mr. Sowden
became a widower, the lady a widow, & as nothing was in the way then,
they were united in their old age & came to this country with their son
& daughter about 3 or 4 years ago. Old Mr. S. died about 3 months ago.
Old Mrs. S. lives in the loghouse with the young couple & their children.
She is more like a picture of an old lady than any one I ever saw. She was
of course in [ ] but all her clothes were made & put on in the stile of 70
or 80 years ago. She is a fine looking old lady. Her face & complexion
reminded me a little of Mrs. Montray.
On the whole we were well pleased with our evening & had a very
pleasant ride home. The following Friday was appointed for leaving Cobourg. We were up by cock crow & had all our affairs in readiness,
bonnets & pelisses all ready to clap on, but we waited & watched in vain.
Our sleigh never came. At 2 oclock the man whom we had engaged to
drive us sent word that he could not come till Monday so we were obliged
to wait very uncomfortably. We had left out a couple of mattresses for
sleeping on the night of our journey, as we divided our journey, & we
made use of these to lie on & borrowed plates, dishes, cups & saucers &c
as all our things were packed up, & we did not like opening them again.
Friday & Saturday were most charming days, the sun so bright & warm
& we were quite provoked at losing them & were all out of sorts.
On Monday morning Feb'y 10 at M past 9 oclock we left Cobourg,
Tom & I on one seat with Elly stuck between us, Betty, A.M. & Bessy sat
before us, & Mr. Parker our charioteer in front of all. We had besides 3
blankets to roll about our feet & knees, a great many coats & cloaks &
a bag of bread & a basket of cold meat so we were pretty tightly packed.
We had another sleigh full of luggage of all sorts, bedding, trunks, tubs,
baskets, & on the top were 2 baskets of live stock. In one were a goose &
gander, in another a pullet & kitten, our servant boy set to take care of
them & Cartouche & Douro, another dog, sat beside him. We formed a
very ludicrous cavalcade I assure you. We went 20 miles that day & had
a very pleasant drive. We passed through miles & miles of forest & I was
delighted with this new scene. Every now & then we came to small clearings
with loghouses & generally a good stock of cattle & poultry near the
houses. At 4 we reached Page's Tavern where we were to pass the night.
There was one very decent clean bed room but as it had no fire place we
preferred sleeping on the floor in the sitting room where we spread our
mattresses & blankets & coats & cloaks & slept soundly & comfortably.
Page is an Englishman who has been only 3 years here. His inn is a
loghouse & we found it very comfortable & everything tolerably clean.
The next morning soon after daylight & breakfast we set out again on our
journey. Pages is 18 miles from this, all our road through thick woods.
Indeed the road scarcely deserved that name for it was merely a track
through the snow where one or two sleighs had lately passed. We [ ] &
turned through branches & between trees & often had showers of snow
from branches above us which our heads touched. The boughs of the beautiful Hemlock pine were loaded with snow
& often they bent down so low that we were obliged almost to lie down
to be able to pass under them. We were 2 or 3 times obliged to stop &
cut a pass for our sleighs where trees had fallen across the road. This
day we drove the distance of 9 miles through woods without seeing
any habitation except a few huts of Indians. I told you in a former letter
that the Hemlock pine of this country was the same as our Arbor Vitae
but I was mistaken. Arbor Vitae is called Cedar here & is common in
marshy ground & on the banks of rivers. They grow large & spread their
branches to a great distance. The Hemlock pine is a much prettier tree.
Its leaf is a dark green & when rubbed has a sweet smell. It grows very
high & is feathered down to the ground & is quite a pretty evergreen here.
Indeed this & Cedar are the only trees I have seen here that can be called
evergreen, except the different pines.

Feb'y 27. I have just heard that one of our workmen is going to
Cobourg tomorrow so I will finish this to send by him & I am in hopes
he will bring back a packet of letters with him. Last week Mr. Bethune
sent us some New York & Montreal papers but I did not see anything of
the arrival of a British mail.
I must go back to where I stopped in my journal. 14 miles from Pages
we arrived at the river Otonobee. This is our river. We reached Scotts
Mills 21/2 miles from this. Here we found that we could not cross the
river as we expected, the ice having given way & Scott's boat could not
ply because there was a broad border of thin ice on each side of the river.
So we sent a man across on foot to tell Mr. Reid to send his oxen & sleigh
to the opposite side of the river, 2 miles lower down, & we determined to
walk across at a place called the "Little Lake" about 2 miles lower down.
This delay was a great disappointment to us besides giving us much trouble,
but this day was to end all our travels & that gave us spirits to proceed
with vigour. We walked to the Little Lake & across it through deep
snow which came above our ankles. John Reid carried Ellen, & Mr. Reid,
Bessy. The workmen carried our bedding, bags & provisions. Everything
else we left at Scotts Mills. At this side of the lake we found the patient
oxen. Our luggage & ourselves we packed into the sleigh & we proceeded
in the shades of evening to Douro, drove nearly 5 miles thro' woods & at last heard voices crying out "here they come" "here they are" & all the
little Reids came out to meet us. We soon saw our loghouse whose windows
were quite illuminated by the glare of the charming fires Maria &
the children had prepared for us, & even had there been no fire I think
we must have been warmed by the joy every one shewed at seeing us here,
from Mr. Reid & Maria down to the youngest. Indeed it was delightful to
be received so affectionately.
Our house was in a very unfinished state, the doors laid to. not hung
& worse than this, the upper part of the chimney was built with boards
as the frost made it impossible to go on with mason work. But we are
now safe for Tom had it built up with stone last week in a temporary way
& in Spring we must have it built over again as it would not do as it is
& it smokes. The first night we found it rather cold but every day since
we have made the house more & more comfortable. We have got a great
large kitchen with a huge fireplace, 8 feet long. One other room is smaller
& within it is a little store room & a room for the children. At present
we sleep in our sitting room but in summer the children are to move
upstairs where we shall have 2 good rooms and 2 closets & then we are
to sleep in the room they occupy now. Our books fill up one entire side
of the sitting room & give it a very comfortable look. We have 2 windows,
one to the south & one to the west, so that we have now fine warm sun
shining in from about ten till near 6.1 think this is one of the prettiest
places I ever saw. You would be delighted with it. Even now it is beautiful
when the ground is covered with snow. The river is nearly twice as broad
as the Boyne at Navan & at this place rushes on with great noise & carries
large lumps of ice down from Mud Lake 20 miles above. The current
here prevents it from freezing over but 2 miles below it is quite still. It
winds beautifully & the edges are fringed with fine spreading Cedars &
Hemlock Pine.
Will you let dear Mrs. Stewart know that we are here, all well & happy.
The Reids never passed a winter without any colds or illness of any kind,
but this one, & they have lived nearly in the open air all through the winter.
But certainly tho' the cold is so intense, I never have suffered from it
as I frequently have at home. Tell Mrs. S. we will write to her very soon
& give our affectionate loves to her, also to Clongill, Allenstown, E'town, Black Castle. Tell Uncle Sutton with our love that we hope he will be so
kind as to send the [ ] as soon as he can. It will be very acceptable by the time it arrives. Tom begs him to send 3 bills for Security. Dublin bills will do very well.
Now dear give my fondest love to my beloved Bess & Anne, Aunt B
& Louisa whom I often thought of when they were travelling through the
rebellious regions in the South.

Ever yours most affect'
F Stewart
Tom sends his kindest loves too....