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Title: Advice to emigrants from John Creighton, Canada
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileCreighton, John/14
SenderCreighton, John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationbusinessman
Sender Religionunknown
OriginKingston, Ontario, Canada
Recipient Genderunknown
Relationshipre emigration to Canada
SourceThe Belfast News-Letter, Tuesday, October 10, 1843
ArchiveThe Central Library, Belfast
Doc. No.302070
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
LogDocument added by LT, 21:02:03.
Word Count2800
Character of the country, and prospects of emigrants.

A great deal has been written and published on the subject
of emigration to Canada, but additional information is
requisite, and, accordingly, the following letter from a
friend in Canada has been placed at our disposal by Mr. John
Robb of Newtownards. It is dated from Kingston, Aug. 25 and
contains a variety of detailed statements, which may be
useful to the community at large. After a few lines of
introduction, and in reference to the necessity of diffusing
throughout this country correct information respecting the
condition of Canada, the intelligent writer proceeds to say -

I am the more inclined to do this, as I meet with frequent
instances in which the most unaccountable ignorance is
displaced by individuals at home,in speaking or writing
about Canada. To prove my assertion, I will give you an
instance. In the early part of the present year,when the
question of admitting Canada corn into the
United Kingdom free of duty was mooted,a correspondent
of the London "Morning Post", in a communication to that paper
on that subject stated, that produce, &c. passing from the
Upper Lakes (Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior), to tide water,
was subject to a land carriage round the Falls of Niagara,
and also, occasionally round the Rapids of St.Lawrence. This
was certainly something new to the people of Canada, who
rejoice in the possession of the Welland Canal, connecting
Lakes Eyrie and Ontario - the locks
of which are sufficiently large to enable vessels navigating
the lakes to pass through with a freight of 1,700 barrels of
flour on board. As to the land carriage of freight passing
down the St. Lawerence, such a thing was never heard of.
The Rapids of the St.Lawrence "downwards",
are navigable for vessels capable of carrying 1,300 barrels of
These barges are towed up the Rideau Canal on the return
voyage,laden with passengers, merchandize, &c.-
During the present season, about a dozen small steamers
have been put on this route as a substitute for the barges,
and they have greatly expedited business. A new era has also
commenced in the lake navigation. Sailing vessels are now
furnished with a small steam engine, which propels by two screws
at the stern of the boat-one on each side of the rudder.
These have been found to answer the purpose very well, and
in a few years I have no doubt will be very generally adopted.
One of these steam-schooners made a trip this
season from Chicago, head of Lake Michigan, to Montreal,
passing the Canals and Rapids of the St. Lawrence, a
distance of about 900 miles, without trans-shipment.
Perhaps it may not be out of place to give you the
demensions of the four Canadian Lakes,and also Lake Michigan,
which falls into Lake Huron,although lying wholly within
the United States:-
Lake Superior,360 miles long, 144 miles broad, 80 to
150 fathoms deep, 1,500 miles in circumference.
Lake Huron, 252 miles long, 144 miles do. broad, 60
to 100 fathoms deep, 1,020 miles in circumference.
Lake Erie, 246 miles long. 63 do. broad, 13 to
17 fathoms deep, 540 miles in circumferance.
Lake Ontario. 210 miles long, 60 do. broad, 60 to
90 fathoms deep, 480 miles in circumference.
Lake Michigan, 351 miles long, 81 do. broad,
990 in circumferance.
The outlet to all these island seas, and numberless
smaller lakes, is the great river St. Lawrence. These
lakes and their tributary streams, abound with various
descriptions of excellent fish,and, in point of magnitude,
are not equalled by any body of fresh water in the world.
I may here remark, that the agriculturists of Great BRItain
and Ireland need not fear competition with a young country
like this whose staple commodity of export will be subject
generally to an "inland" transport of 900 to 1,200 miles-heavy
canal tolls, and a four shilling duty, as Canada has not a large
quanity of "material" of the staff of life to export, in
consequence of the annual influx of emigrants.

As I anticapated , a considerable number of emigrants from
the North of Ireland have arrived in Canada this season; and,
although the whole number of emigrants arrived at the Port of
Quebec falls far short of last year's arrivals, I do
not think there has been much falling off from the North. It
is worthy of remark, that, taken as a whole, the emigration
to Canada this year has been a better class than formerly.
This is gratifying. Comparatively few have remained in Kingston,

no pains having been taken to settle them anywhere
in the vicinity. Many have proceeded up the country to settle
down in the neighbourhood of relatives, or friends who have
preceeded them, and a few have gone to the United States.
In consequence of the depression of trade alluded to in my
last, emigrants of the poorer classes have, in many instances,
found considerable difficulty in obtaining employment, or
have been somewhat disappointed at what they consider a
low rate of wages (two to three shillings per day for laborers.)

In connection with this complaint, the low prices of all the
necessaries of life should be taken into account; and, when
the present prices of provisions and clothing are considered,
I think it will be found that the mechanic and laborer are
just as well off now as they were some three or four years
ago, when wages were 25 per cent. higher.

Emigration to Canada has been compared, and not inaptly,
to matrimony. During the honeymoon everything appears
couleur-de-rose to the newly-wed; the ardour of this stage over,
the affections somewhat deaden for a time, until a
community of feeling, during a series of years, drawn the
bands of hymen so close, but nothing but death can separate
So it is with the emigrant. When he first lands on our
shores, there is a charm or novelty in the various scenes
which present themselves to the eye, which tend to draw the
mind from matters of more importance; but when the emigrant
reaches his destination, many sufferings have to be endured
- many difficulties to surmount-friends and relatives far
distance-and is perhaps deprived of the consolations of a
near neighbour. These difficulties are, however, in a few
years overcome; and the man who, at the expiration of one
year's residence in Canada, under the present system
- a system in my opinion, susceptible to great improvement,
and, although I have not given the subject much consideration,
I will now offer a few suggestions, which, if acted on, would
materially alleviate the sufferings of thousands who annually
seek a home in this country.

At present there are many persons who emigrate to Canada
with considerable capital, anxious to invest it in land for
the benefit of friends and families-and from the great
difference that exists between uncleared and uncultivated
farms, are generally induced to purchase the former.
They will then erect a small log house to shelter them
from the weather, and set about cutting down the trees, and
clearing a few acres of the land-at which employment they
make very slow progress for a time; the season by this time
is far advanced, and if they succeed in getting in three
or four acres of full grain, they may consider themselves
very successful. In the meantime, and for nine months yet
to come, the new settler will not be able to realize one
penny's worth from his land-and will therefore, have to purchase

every mouthful of victuals consumed during that time-and
also meet several minor demands from his purse, which will
be pretty well drained by the time his crops are ripe unless
it is a very long one indeed. If he weathers the storm in the
first year, he need have few fears for the those that are to
follow - and here I will leave for the present, and turn to
the far more numerous class of persons who annually migrate
to this colony with out a sovereign in their pockets-some of
them with large families, and many of them wholly unfitted
by their education and previous habits to make any exertion
for themselves. The latter generally make their way, through
government aid to some canal or public work, where they find
employment. The other portion though poor are possessed of
energy, activity, and education, and generally seek employment
in the country; and, after a few years industry and experience,
they are enabled to purchase a piece of land for themselves
-and I have known some of these class of persons do better
than those who come here with £200 to £300 in their pockets.
The latter are generally hard to please in a field where the
field is so wide, and wander about from place to place,
losing time, and spending their money very fast.

I now revert to my proposition to point out a remedy for this
evil. I will suppose that there are ten or dozen families in
one neighbourhood, in any part of Great Britain or Ireland,
who have decided upon emigrating to Canada-they have each £200
or so, with which they intend to purchase a farm, stock,
implements or husbandry, &c. on there arrival here. I would
recommend such persons to depute one of their number in whom
they can place confidence, to come out to Canada, at least a
year in advance of the same family; erect a small cottage on
each lot; clear ten or twelve acres, and sow it with wheat
or grass in the fall; clear three or four more acres in the
winter, to be planted with potatoes and sown with oats in
the spring, and, on the arrival of the several parties in
midsummer, they will find a roof to shelter them, and the
prospect of plenty to live upon, without going to market
for every mouthful of food they require. Then, there is the
great advantage of a number of acquaintances settling
down in the same neighbourhood, where they can assist each
other in cases of sickness, &c.; more easily and liberally
provide for the support for the Minister of the Gospel,
a schoolmaster or a physician. Such a settlement will afford
considerable additional employment to the laboring class of
emigrants alluded to, and aid in developing the resources
and increasing the revenue of Canada by their industry and
intelligence. You may tell me, that such persons that I have
referred to, are not obliged to come to Canada-it is the poorer
class that should emigrate. I reply, that unless there is a
mixture, the system is not healthy-and I can confidently
assert that numbers of the more wealthy class do come to this
colony annually, but in consequence of the want of some such
plan as I have alluded to, they have scattered over the face
of the whole country, and their individual exertions are not
attended to that success which would crown their efforts as
a body. On the other hand, it is unreasonable to suppose,
that so young a country as Canada, can annually receive
into her bosom, and properly norish, at least 12,000 indigent
persons, without considerable difficulty. Nevertheless such
persons should not give way to despondency, as they will
eventually very much improve their condition if they are
inclined to work and husband their earnings. I will just cite one example
to prove this. I have no doubt you will remember Mr Neilson,
who lived with us in Ireland, who with his young wife emigrated
to Canada about ten years ago. He arrived here with but a few
shillings in his pocket-but with an honest heart, a strong heart
and a willing mind; and after working in Kingston a few
months, he and his wife went up to Coburg (a flourishing town
about 100 miles above Kingston, lying on the shore of Lake
Ontario) to see some friends living in that vicinity-and having
found employment remained there. In four or five years this
industrious pair had saved sufficient money to purchase
50 acres of uncleaned land within seven miles of the town. While

on a little pleasure trip up the country this season,
my mother and I called to see them, out of respect for an
old and faithful servant, and I assure you we found them most
comfortably situated in every respect. Thirty acres of excellent
land under crop, all cleared and cultivated by his own hand,
with a good house, several cows a yoke of oxen-and last though
not least, a fine thriving family of six children. Compare this
man's present condition to what it would have been at the
present if he had remained in Ireland. His property and effects are
well worth £250 to £300, without encumbrance of any kind,
and the probability, is that if he had remained at home he
would not have been worth half as many pence, with a very dull
prospect before him. Men of his disposition and and temperate
habits invariably succeed-if those of an opposite character,
similiarly circumstanced should fail-I do not think it can be
wondered at. There are thousands and tens of thousands of
acres of land still lying uncultivated in blocks owned by
the Government or individuals, which could be obtained very
cheap -to be laid out as I have described.

There are several considerations beside mere money matters,
which should induce emigrants from the British Isles to give
Canada the preference, and I am confident that in no Colony
under the British Crown can they do better. In the first place,
they should take into consideration the shortness and trifling
expense of the voyage across the Atlantic to Quebec, and the
facilities for inland travel which exist in this country. It is
certainly a matter of some moment that we here in Canada can
hold semi-monthly intercourse with our fatherland although
3,000 miles away- and enjoy the liberty and protection of
British subjects, none daring to make us afraid. The justice
of our laws and the stability of our institutions should not
be overlooked. Compare the Banking institutions of Canada
with those of our neighbours in the United States and what
do we find? - why, that in the latter country they were all
obliged to suspend specie payments for a long time, and
fully one-half have suspended payment altogether. In Canada,
our Banks have not only kept faith with the public, but have
been enabled to pay 8 per cent. on their capital stock, and
occasionally a large bonus besides.

There is another class of persons whose attention I am
anxious to draw to this country, namely Honorable Members
of the Lords, and Commons, and Gentlemen who spend half
the summer on the Continent in pursuit of pleasure and
adventure. Perhaps a few of the former were to pay us a flying
visit, they would not display so much indifference to this
bright gem in the diadem of our Gracious Queen-at all events, they
should not find us such a quarrelsome, discontented set of
people, as the discussions in some of the Canadian newspapers
would lead one to expect. The Royal Steamers make the trip
between Liverpool and Halifax in 12 days-often less.
-On their arrival there, conveyances present themselves in all
directions. The tourist may either go east or west, in swift or
commodious steamers-visit the Canadas and return through
the United States. The falls of Niagara alone are worth the
time and trouble of a voyage from England to all lovers
of the grand and beautiful in Nature. I heard an old East Indian
Captain say a few weeks ago, that a view of these Falls was
worthy of a trip round the world. It is true, we are not
altogether slighted-a stray Lord occasionally visits us, and
the celebrated author of Oliver Twist has vouch-safed
the same favour. The only benefit derived from his visit is
the prohibition of all the American re-prints of British works
coming into Canada-thereby compelling us to gormandize the
republican trash of our neighbours-as we poor colonists
cannot afford to pay a guinea for such a work as "Dicken's
Notes." The British publishers should supply us
with cheap editions of all new works, now that they have
succeeded in gaining over the British Government to their scheme

of prohibiting these works in the manner alluded to.
We have no literature of our own in Canada, and I think it
a hard case that we should be debarred of the privilege of
profiting by that of Britain, merely for the purpose of
gratifying the petty spleen of a few second rate novelists
-as they will certainly derive no benefit from the measure
in a pecuniary point of view.
I have filled my sheet, and will draw this scrawl to
a close - and believe me yours sincerely,
John Creighton.

Transcribed by Dympna Mc Geary