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A History of our Firm
Appendix II. Remarks by Allan Gilmour senior and junior, and William Ritchie, on a Tour from Saint John, N.B., through the United States to Quebec, in Canada, in the year 1828


5 June 1818.—Left Saint John, N.B., in steamboat at seven o'clock, and reached Eastport after a very good passage, about a quarter past two o'clock, being a distance of about 60 miles. On our arrival at Eastport finding a packet waiting a wind for Boston, we went on board and engaged our passage by her. The packet is called the Sarah of Boston, 133 tons per register, or 180 tons British.

On our passage down to Eastport we had some conversation with a Mr. Smith, of St. John, who had cured a quantity of pork there last winter; he collected it from various quarters, but he said the greatest part of it was brought from the head of the Bay; it cost him 4c. per pound, and he paid for spruce barrels 4s., which he said holds in pickle as well as ash; for cutting and packing he paid 1s 6d., and other charges, including salt, would amount to 4s 6d more. It was his opinion that curing pork could be done to much better advantage at St. Andrews, where it is admitted by inland navigation from the United States duty free, and sells at about 3c. per pound.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 6th, 7th and 8th June being thick, foggy weather, and little or no wind, we could not sail, and during this time we lodged at Eastport in the house of a Mr. Pine, who formerly belonged to the Province of New Brunswick, in whose house we found very good accommodation, but charges are extravagantly high.

9 June, Monday morning.—Having cleared, we sailed from Eastport at 8 o'clock. Eastport is at present, in appearance, an extremely dull place, and a stranger would at first view say that little or no business was done here, but being situated so near the British boundary, and from the number of large stores, it is very evident that smuggling to a great extent is carried on. The inhabitants of Eastport, however, seem to be a decent people, and from the appearance of their houses one would judge them to be in easy and comfortable circumstances. A store on Campobello, or in any other near situation with a proper assortment of British goods, and under the management of a proper and active person, might do some good by disposing of them to the people to be passed into the States, and be enabled to receive flour or any other article of value for the use of the Provinces of New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, and thereby nearly save the duty, although the person carrying on such business should not be directly connected in passing the goods, but only do it by bartering or buying and selling. On account of the tariff Bill lately passed in the States, more British goods will in all probability be sent into the States through Eastport than formerly, as the duty on woollens, clothing, etc., directly imported to the States from Britain is so great as to be almost a prohibition to the trade. Spruce barrels with twelve hoops sell here for 70c., or 3s 6d currency. On leaving Eastport on Monday morning we had a fine breeze with clear weather. We passed close to a small town on the American side called Lubec, the situation of which is good, but it cannot at present be a place of much business, as several large stores have been shut up for some time past, and indeed the very streets are beginning to be overgrown with grass, yet should the Tariff Bill remain permanent, Lubec may on account of its local situation revive, for doubtless British goods can be passed into the States with much facility here, and American goods received in return, as a person standing on the wharves at Lubec may speak to another on Campobello. From Lubec, and after passing the Quoddy lighthouse, the coast is very low, and few or no settlements are as yet upon it. About ten o'clock at night we got abreast of Mount Desart, which is so high that it cannot be mistaken for other land near it, and as the coast around it is free of rocks or shoals, it surely must be considered a good landmark, and vessels from Britain bound into or up the Bay of Fundy cannot go far wrong in attempting to make the Mount or Machias light, which is only a little farther up than the Mount, for in clear weather if any attention be paid at all, Mount Desart will be seen a great distance off, and in foggy or thick weather it is very imprudent to go near any land or lighthouse, especially where there are such strong currents as are on this coast, and better to lay back a day or two than attempt running with a heavy ship, for the fog is generally thicker close upon the land than a few miles off. Monday night we had little or no wind, and of course did not make much progress, and on Tuesday we had sometimes tolerably smart breezes, and at other times nearly calm with very thick weather, and we could not see over one mile from the vessel at any time. There were two passengers on board for Portland, and we stood in for it, but the weather continuing so thick the Captain thought it more prudent to bear up and stand direct for Boston, which was done about four o'clock. The wind was now bare, and we could only lay course say S.W. by W. per compass. Between nine and ten o'clock, fearing we might be too close down upon the shoals to westward of Portland, we tacked and stood out to the eastward for about three hours, and afterwards lay course.

Wednesday morning: still continuing very thick with only a light breeze, we did not make much headway, but as the sun advanced the fog retired and thinned, as we came to the south-westward, and the wind increasing a little after iz o'clock we made Cape St. Ann. As there was no chart on board, nor any account kept of the vessel's course or distance, it made it very unsatisfactory for a passenger, but the vessel sailed well, and the accommodation was good. On perceiving the land we soon afterwards bore away a little, and the breeze freshening we came fast up Boston Bay.

There are two entrances to Boston Harbour, one for vessels of a heavy draught of water, called the Ship Channel, and one for small vessels. The tide here rises from 10 to 15 feet. We came in the Shoal Channel, which commences by a rugged rock on the left-hand side, above which there are several small islands, and on one of them is a fort for the protection of the harbour, abreast of which the channels are brought into one which is very narrow. There is also a fort on the mainland opposite the one on the island, and on the right hand on entering the harbour of Boston the view is good, and at once presents a country of some cultivation; but above all, the site of the city is well chosen, the body of which rises gradually as it extends back from the water side, and what may strike a stranger the most is the dome of the State House, which shews itself over all the other buildings. The tide being low we could not run in to the wharf, but went nearly to the upper end of the city, where the vessel took the ground about six o'clock in the evening, after which we were put on shore by the Sarah's boat, and took lodgings in the Commercial Coffee House kept by a man of the name of Miriam.

12 June, Thursday morning.—Took breakfast at seven o'clock, which appears to be the regular hour for breakfast in Boston and, indeed, throughout the most of the Northern States. We afterwards took a walk in the town, and although the streets are very irregularly laid off, yet there are many fine buildings in it both of brick and stone, but more particularly of stone, which is a sort of very hard granite of a greyish or white colour; but the houses are, without exception, a complete batter of windows, and do not please the taste of British architecture. In front of the State House there is a Park as a common, on the border of which there is a very splendid promenade, called the Mall, beautifully shaded by three rows of large trees, mostly of elm, and fronting this walk there is a row of gentlemen's lodgings very neatly finished. We went into the State House, which appears to be a good building, but the walls by some means draw the damp, and the plaster commences to give way. On entering the State House the statue of Washington presents itself, and it is allowed to be a piece of good workmanship. We next went to view the Navy Yard, and saw under cover two seventy-four-gun ships of an immense size. The foundation on which they are built being of wood, has begun to decay, and they are now taking it out piece by piece and building it of stone. They have a great extent of ground in the yard, and are now busily employed in constructing a dry dock. From thence we went to Bunker's Hill, which lies north-east from the town, on which they are now erecting a monument in memory of those who fell there in the cause of liberty on 17 June, 1775. From this monument when finished, a very extensive view of the city and country around will present itself, which, especially at this season of the year, the eye looks upon with pleasure, for as the country near and around Boston is for the most part in pasture and bearing hay, it appears more fresh and pleasing before it commences to wither under the powerful heat of the sun. On our return we took the Market House which is extensive, commodious, well-kept, and plentifully supplied. In the afternoon we took a stroll down among the shipping and fell in with Captain Palmer, of the Salamis from Sunderland, with a cargo of coals, who, on delivery proceeds to St. John for a cargo of timber from R. Rankin & Co. Captain Palmer introduced us to a Captain Fitzsimmons, master and owner of the brig Dorcas Savage, of Porta-ferry, who brought from Wales a cargo of slates in good order by making bulkheads athwartship, and stowing the slates fore and aft. Captain Fitzsimmons is going to St. John for a cargo of timber ; we therefore gave him a letter of introduction of R. R. & Co., and from what was said to him would expect he will load with R. R. & Co. There are at present a good number of vessels lying at Boston, and trade in shipping is said to be a very dull and losing business. The convenience in loading and discharging ships at Boston is good—having extensive quays which are covered with large stores, and thereby saving much expense in cartage and otherwise damaging goods. No merchant ships are at present building here, and we only saw two small schooners on the stocks. We did not see in Boston Harbour any vessel that pleased us in the build, being for the most part too lean forward, rather little sheer, stern timbers not upright enough, and leaving the counters quite too hollow. We saw some good boats, the timbers bent, of good scantling, the plank sound and solid, but the stern of most of them not well fastened to the body; wood chiefly red oak. Trade in general is flat in Boston at this instant. West India produce and some British goods, such as cotton, cloths, etc., are not much dearer than in St. John. The shops in Boston are, generally speaking, kept in good order, but the fancy, haberdasher, and jewellers are shewn off with much taste, and the keepers are full of politeness shewing their goods to strangers. Saw a considerable quantity of American calicoes, etc., but they do not yet come up to the British in fineness or equality of thread, and are for the most part only of two colours. The accommodation at the Commercial Coffee House is good, and charges are very reasonable. The breakfast is on the table at seven o'clock, dinner at two o'clock, and tea at half-past seven o'clock, and little time is lost at either meal; every one runs off as soon as he has done, which will not exceed ten to fifteen minutes after the moment he is seated. Boston is said to contain about 70,000 inhabitants.

13 June.—The coach for Providence came about half- past eleven o'clock, and took us up at our lodging. It left town about ten minutes after twelve o'clock carrying one lady, ten gentlemen, and the driver, with a good deal of luggage. The first stage is about twelve miles from Boston, called Dedham, where we dined, for which we paid a half dollar each. We afterwards changed horses twice, and the roads being rather soft and rough, we did not reach Providence until nearly eight o'clock, when we immediately went and engaged our berths on board the steamer Washington for New York to sail to-morrow at noon. The country between Boston and Providence is very uneven, and may, without danger of contradiction be said to be a poor piece of land, having no depth of soil, very stony, many large rocks, and mixed with extensive pieces of bog or moss; nevertheless, there are many showy houses on the roads, around which the apple trees are so numerous that it is worthy of the name of one continued orchard as far as Dedham, and from which, except around a house now and then, until we came near Providence, the land is in its original wilderness state, and what clear land there is, is in pasture or bearing hay, but so completely overrun by what we call the large white or horse gowan, that at a distance it resembles fields of snow. We passed through no village of note until we came to within four miles of Providence, where stands one called Pawtucket, on the banks of a small stream, one branch of which empties itself above, and the other a little below Providence. It was at Pawtucket the first cotton and woollen factories were established in the States. At present there are several carried on, and it is said to advantage.

14 June, Saturday.—At Providence we put up at Laton's Hotel, where we lodged comfortably enough. Providence is said to contain 18,000 inhabitants and is daily improving, but business at present, as at all other places, is dull. Some time ago some large fortunes were made in the East India trade, but now little or nothing in comparison is done. Around Providence there are a great number of beautiful residences with small gardens in front attached to each, many of them are splendidly finished, for the most part neatly kept, and have undoubtedly a palace-like appearance. A magnificent arcade is now building in Providence which it is said will cost a large sum of money. At twelve o'clock we went on board the steamboat Washington. She is 130 feet in length on deck, and about 330 tons United States measurement. She is a well-finished boat. The ladies' cabin is on the upper deck and the gentlemen's below. The lower one is 118 feet long, clear fore and aft, the two engines being placed on each side. The trip before the present she carried 165 passengers to New York, this time 65. We left Providence a few minutes after twelve o'clock, and touched at a small town called Newport, to land and take on board passengers. A short time ago Newport had nearly all the trade on the river, but Providence being at the head of the navigation, and nigh the Pawtucket factories, has now taken the whole of it. The country from Providence to Newport lies low and is of a very light, sandy soil, although tolerably well settled, and the fields neatly enclosed with stone dykes. From Newport to New York the country is in appearance very low, and in some parts not much settled. We came in between Long Island and the mainland, and the island, like the main, is not of good soil, and were it not for the climate the soil would do but little for its owners. As we approached New York Sound, or space between the island and main narrows, having a fine morning to view it, we were much pleased with the scenes that were presented. We arrived at New York on Sunday morning about eight o'clock, a distance of 212 or 215 miles.'

And so the log wags on till, on 22nd July, they are landed up at Quebec. Nothing bearing on prospective business or indeed otherwise escapes attention: even in the slow travel of that day they had covered 2,863 miles—by steam and boats 2,593 miles, by land 270 miles.

Mr. Gilmour's tour during the following winter, 1828-9, undertaken alone, was much more Spartan. It begins:-

'25 December, 1828—Wednesday—Left Quebec at three a.m., with only a Mr. Levy, in the stage for Montreal. Morning very cold. Snow at Quebec not less than 31 feet deep, but as we came along got very thin. After a good deal of jolting passing over the Cachots, arrived Three Rivers about 9 p.m. and lodged.'

And so, while conveying his business enquiries, it proceeds; by turns he travels on wheels, by sleigh, on horseback or on foot. From many places he starts on his journey at 3 a.m., and after calls by the way, makes his destination by or after dark. In a Canadian winter there was not much pleasure in this. As showing the bent of his inclination, one notes the peculiar pains he takes to go over and criticise any vessel's hull he finds building (there is, or was, much shipbuilding on the Canadian lakes), and in the lumber districts, the special interest he has in any ship lumber that is being got out. The Falls of Niagara are reached by the 28th January, and whatever his inner feelings, he does not apparently waste much time or any paper over them.


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