Canadian Life as I Found It
Chapter I Why we chose
MY career was to have been
that of a sailor, but after a short experience of sea life in some of its
roughest phases, I was nearly poisoned through the carelessness of a cook.
As a sequel my health broke down for some years, and I was obliged to give
up a profession I dearly loved.
I subsequently turned my
attention to farming, doctors all insisting on my leading an outdoor life,
and later on I married.
Farming on a small scale,
whether at home or abroad (I have tried both), does not bring in an adequate
return for the outlay of strength and money, so hearing of fortunes to be
easily made in Canada, I determined to emigrate.
I began by sending for all
the pamphlets publishes by the Emigration Society in London. From these I
gathered, that any young fellow willing to work, and having a small capital,
say £200 on arrival clear, held the elements of future success, and quite
sufficient to start on a government grant of 16o acres. I therefore got a
draft for £200 on a Winnipeg bank, and we left Liverpool early in May, 1904,
on one of the Canadian Pacific Company's steamers; but as our baby boy was
only sixteen months old, and my wife had not been able to persuade a
favourite servant to accompany us, we indulged in the luxury of a private
cabin. This was not perhaps the proper beginning to an emigrant's life;
however, it did not attack our capital, and we have some very pleasant
recollections of our outward journey, for from captain down to cabin boys,
every one was most kind and obliging.
We landed at Montreal on May
16, remained a day there to get our luggage together, and then began our
journey West, Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, from advice received before leaving
England, being our destination.
I had been told to pay extra
on the cars for seats in a tourist sleeper, and paid 41 dollars for this
accommodation; but as at Montreal station were no vacant seats, we were
promised that we should get some at the next station: however, we never did,
and we had either to go on in the ordinary colonist car, or to be left
There was such a crowd, a
perfect scrimmage between people of all nations. Fortunately we had plenty
of rugs and cushions, and my wife made as comfortable a bed as possible for
baby, and then we rolled ourselves in rugs, and tried to sleep on the bare
wooden boards, but they were hard! We neither of us want to travel in these
again; and, in fact, on arrival at Winnipeg, we were so done up, that we
wished that we had never heard of Canada.
I left my wife sitting on the
luggage outside Winnipeg station, whilst I tried to find a cab, and some one
to help load it up; but although there were, perhaps, a hundred loafers
standing round, not one came forward to help.
Finally a gentlemanly looking
man in a tweed suit came up and asked us if he could do anything for us.
Soon after his arriving a cabman appeared, an Icelander, very obliging, and
even amusing had we not been too homesick to be amused.
I found out afterwards that
our tweed-suit man was an Emigration agent.
We made friends in the train
with a man who turned out to be also a C.P.R. agent. He was most kind, and
travelled with us from Winnipeg, got us into a Pullman car with splendid
sleeping accommodation, dining car, etc.
We were a day and a night
getting to Regina. There we had to stop on account of the floods, and the
bridge being broken down, there was only one train every three days as far
as New Tanner, and from there we had to walk a mile to take the ferry across
It took us another day's
journey to reach Saskatoon, but we paid the difference once more, and got
into a first-class carriage, which we probably should not have done, had we
not had our little one to consider. He bore the journey splendidly, and
arrived in much better condition than we did, for luckily we had a small
spirit lamp on which we could heat his food; he had been brought up entirely
on Mellin's, and this and the condensed milk we took with us, kept him in
perfect health all through.
Our agent friend had
telegraphed for rooms to the hotel at Regina, or I do not think we should
have got any, there was such a rush to this part of Canada.
We stayed two days at the
hotel at Saskatoon, but as it was expensive, for the further west you go the
dearer everything is, we got into a one-roomed shanty or shack, as they are
called out here.
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