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Voyage of the Jane Boyd, 1855
The following is a transcript of a hand written diary written by Gordon Michie EWING during the course of his journey, with his wife and young family, from Aberdeen, Scotland, to Quebec, America, aboard the sailing ship "JANE BOYD" in the year 1855.
TO MY PARENTS
I wish also that all my friends and acquaintances get a perusal of it, hoping that they read, and get through with it as soon as they can, that it may be handed over to the next one, taking care at the same time not to dirty or tear it.
We have been very comfortable on board. We seldom hear a word about Old Scotland, and the Friends in it, few here would care for it at all. You all know how well I loved my Native Spot, and now I don't care a bit for it. But I love the Friends in it for all that. And I believe that if once you were away from it, you would not care where you went.
We have on board,
Dear Friends, according to promise I have wrote a few lines every day since we came on board the Jane Boyd (Sabbaths excepted). When I look over again I find that I have committed many errors in my writing, some words left, others wrote twice, etc. However I hope you will excuse me until such time as you try the experiment yourselves. I have written generally with my Desk upon my knee. A word now and then, when the Ship steadys, and sometimes I have written with my feet against something to keep me fast, or lying on the floor. I have not used the sea phrases, but have tried to explain everything in a way that you may understand it, but it is impossible to convey the idea, of the way of a ship at sea to those who have never seen it. We have had a somewhat long and rather rough voyage, but we are all as clean at the skin and healthy as the day that we came on board, and few here would care for sailing as long as you like.
The Captain and Mate are kind, civil, cheerful, oblidging, cautious, able Seamen and the men have been all very friendly. We have not met with any of the difficulties that were spoken about before we left, and I believe that Old Age, and weakness, are as fit for the sea as any, unless it be extreme cases, and I think there should nobody stay at Home for fear to cross the ocean. But consider first whether it be their duty to come and if they have the means let nothing prevent them. Let them get warm clothes and that will not be easily dirtied or torn, strong shoes as the feet is apt to get cold, and I would advise old people to keep in bed as much as possible when the weather is rough as they would be apt to get knocked about. Some try to hold themselves in bed when the ship is rolling but it is useless, and soon becomes painful. One woman was thrown out of bed half across the ship on the 15th May, but then she was sitting up. Take a large Chest, set it down on a level floor, then raise it at one side till it lose the balance and fall over, and you will have some idea how we tumble about sometimes and yet without any danger.
JANE BOYD -
14th April, 1855, Saturday
It was a dark and rainy morning when we took farewell of our Friends and relations, a great many of whom came and oblidged us with their help, and their company, some of them not leaving us till we were fairly on the way. And we hope that they will believe us to be more than thankful for kindness shown to us by them, and that we shall not forget them when we arrive at our home in the Far West.
We left Brae Neil about One O'Clock on the morning of the 12th April, arrived in Aberdeen about Six, got our luggage passed on board, passed the Doctor on the 13th, and sailed on the 14th about noon, the time appointed, in the Ship Jane Boyd of Aberdeen, bound for Quebec, America.
2 O'Clock - We have been tacking about in the Bay for a short time, but have now all Sail Set and away to the north with a fine breeze. The Berbier came across our bows in the Bay and very near made a collision. We carried away one of Her Coulars. The ship is rolling along beautiful. My folks are all sick but Michie. A good many are very sick arid vomiting.
6 O'Clock - We are still sailing along at a good rate and will be at the Frith before morning. I have been walking the deck, reading the Herald, attending the sick for I see no one else able to do it, my folks are all in bed sleeping.
Monday, 16th April
A strong breeze set in yesterday morning (Sabbath) ahead of us so that we had to tack about before the Frith till through the day, when we again set sail for the Frith. I wrote a letter when we set sail but there was no Pilot came on board. When we came to the Frith there was no wind so that the ship was almost unmanageable, no wind but a great Swell. I stayed on deck a while and the water appeared like little round hills, and the ship swinging round, and standing first nearly on the one end, then on the other, and lying nearly first on the one side then on the other. Some of us tried to help the Sailors and were often knocked all in a lump, from side to side of the vessel, with some merriment amongst the onlookers. We were soon out of sight of all the other vessels, we saw none of them after dark on Saturday night. The wind struck up just as we came through the Frith, a head wind, and is still continuing, the ship is rolling very much (I have just been knocked over). There is no children up today, and few others. Little or no cooking today with the exception of an Englishman who, together with his wife manage to cook and eat all day. No one can stand or keep their feet, but: all go knocking from side to side, together with pans and their contents of all descriptions. I saw a man come sliding across on the top of a box full bang.
I am the only one in the ship who has not been sick, to be of any use to others. I don't think I will get sick now. I think my folks are all a little sick today, and no wonder! The ship is Crucking again, and the people can easily see the waves out at the main hatch today at every roll of the ship.
Tuesday, 17 April
Last night the wind rose very high, still a head wind. No one could rise scarcely. I was much on deck towards evening making brochan, two large potfuls, one for the women, another for the men. I got the Steward and Cook to help me. No one could help themselves scarcely. You can have no idea how the ship pitches and rolls. It is beautiful to see her lying with her deck on the water edge first on the one side then on the other. We had some squalls last night which made her crack and groan and roll and pitch from one side to the other, dishes and boxes knocking about in all directions, making a terrible noise. The people seem to be very thankful for my attention to them when they were sick. I have been as hurried as possible night and day I may say. I have very little time to write. The wind is quieter today, we are now sailing away in a northerly direction, and will soon be out a sight of land for we still see the hills of Scotland. My folks are still a little sick, a good many have been on deck today. If I had known that I would have so little time to take notice and write I would not have proposed keeping a journal at all. It will not be anything like what I intended it. I was this morning taking down names and marking of the men in pairs for taking up Coals, minding the fires, cleaning, etc. The Captain told me he would inforce obedience. We have got our provision today. I do not think we can use them all. We would have got them sooner if the weather had not been so rough. The First Mate gives them out.
Wednesday, 18 April
We had a very rough night again with a strong head wind and the ship rolling and pitching, and every thing knocking about in all directions. No one can move about without taking hold. The ship often lying along with her deck almost on the waters edge when she rolls. The Steward told me he has been four times with the vessel and they never had such rough weather. Nothing will sit or even lie unless it be fixed. There is no word of home, or America, or friends, or anything else, but everyone quite at home in their Atlantic dwelling (there are exceptions but they are few). We had a thorough clean out today before the wind rose. My folks are all better now but Mary. She is a little sick yet, and a good many more.
Thursday, l9th April
We had a very rough gale last night again. You can have no idea unless you were here how the ship tumbles for, although we sit flat down upon the floor, if we take not a hold of something, we go slide across in a minute and back again and so on. Just as I write a girl is about to wash dishes. She lets go arid the whole are running across and across and it will be a tickler to get them all caught again. I went up this morning about 5 O'Clock to get up the two men for the fires, etc, when a splash broke over the bulwark just where I and a few sailors were standing. We all shared alike I suppose and had plenty, for the very snuff in my box was wet. Well we just had a good laugh and that was all that was about it. Many a one gets the same. You would see men, women and children tumbling and falling in all directions which never fails to create roars of laughter. We still have a head wind and the broad side of the ship to the wave that makes her roll so much. We are about 45 miles from Orkney. If we had not come through the Frith on Sabbath night we could not have come since. We had been in danger of going ashore in the Frith although we did not know at the time. My wife and a few more are still sick.
Friday, 20th April
It is now a fine day and we are sailing away 6 or 7 miles an hour. We are perhaps nearly 200 miles from Scotland. The wind has not been with us till now since we passed the Frith. We had a terrible wind last night, very few slept. The sails were all taken down, and the ship was at the mercy of the waves. I spoke to the Captain about it this morning how I could describe it to the people at home. He said it was impossible unless they saw it, and not so much danger either as we were far from land. The water broke one of the cabin windows and rushed in at the hole upon a gentleman in bed there. If you could picture to yourself a ship lying first on the one side, then on the other, first with her bows on the waters edge and then her stern all in quick succession, first on the top of the little hill, then down in the hollow between, the sea apparently high above the ship and the wind roaring, and the water rushing outside, boxes and dishes rattling inside, men staggering and falling in all directions and all thought little about by the generallity for there is hardly time to think about any thing here. I think the waves would be about the height of the Flemm hillies in Flemnay, but broader. In short they are in all shapes and sizes.
Saturday, 21st April
It was very calm last night, but a south west breeze has ]just set in and we are sailing away in a northerly direction. All is busy and cheerful and the cooking goes on the whole day. It was brochan at first but now porridge and bross, soup and potatoes, pies, flour scones, etc. There is generally a great noise but little confusion. I get up by 4 or 5 in the morning, has a news with the sailors and a smoke, gets up the two men for cleaning, and fires, etc. generally helps them a while, and by the time the fire is ready the people are beginning to rise. I then get ready our breakfast, then the scones are to fire, and so on the whole day. The Captain comes round to see if all be clean. He told me today to make them keep clean, if they did it not of themselves (in emigrant ships there is generally one chosen to keep order and regulation). I have been chosen in this ship. Mary is a little sick yet, the rest are all better.
Monday, 23rd April
Yesterday we had a fine morning but the wind a little ahead. Two of the cabin passengers came in the forenoon to our part of the ship. The one gave out a Psalm and Paraphrase to be sung. The other gave a fine oration out of a book, this we had for Divine Service, a story about the sea and its contents. A strong gale set in towards night, and the ship rolled and pitched as bad as ever. A good many thought we would never see morning. It is beautiful to see how they manage the ship amongst the stormy waves. It is now much calmer. I saw a ship the morning about 5 O'Clock steering away to the north. I have been making a thorough clean today in our part of the ship and much need some of it had. I did a great deal of the work myself. Some of them were unwilling but it was a must be. My folks are all better now.
Tuesday, 24th April
We have had a fine night, but the wind not in the right part. The Mate tells me we are about 400 miles north west from Aberdeen. It is a beautiful day, the water calm, the waves flat and broad. We have been sailing north and south this some days but the wind is now shifting. The ship is put about and we are now sailing slowly away to the west. The sun is shining, the people sitting in groups about the deck, and the children at their sport the same as if they were on the green grass. All are cheerful and happy and it is folly if the friends at Home should mourn for us. We want nothing but a drink of clear cold water. Our water is not very good. I have just been on deck seeing the sun set on the dark blue waters. A pigeon hawk came on board a little ago. The hawk was after the Chackert in a minute. We soon caught the bird and the hawk is sitting about where he best can. One sailor is playing on a flute, another beating on an old pan with two sticks. Caithness, Minty, Durno and I have long news's together often. Our only regret is that we have not our parents and friends along with us.
Wednesday, 25th April
'The hawk was caught last night, his wings cut, and he is now jumping about. A whale came alongside today and was seen several times very near the ship I saw a part of him at a distance. We have now a good breeze from the south and we are now sailing away to the west 6 or 7 miles an hour. A good number of Sea Maws have kept company all the way. They keep flying about all day. The sailors say they will accompany us all the way. I have now more time to write and have copied out thus far. Some parts of the book I began was almost unreadable. I have therefore made a new book and copied that far out of the old one.
Thursday, 26th April
We are still moving away slowly to the west, a good breeze but from the south-west. Everything is kept in regulation and order. We hear the sailors treading the deck at all hours of the night or shifting the sails. Through the day we see them, all attention and ready to run at the word given by the Captain or Mate. All appear to know their duty and have the capacity to perform it. The Captain or Mate are ever on the lookout and they give good proof that they know when the calm or the breeze is to come by ever being prepared for it. This is the 12th day at sea and the Captain says we have only had about 12 hours right sailing.
Friday, 27th April
It was a little rough and showry last night but we have now fine weather again but the wind still in the west. Some of the people are beginning to weary. We see nothing but water or every side. We have no change of scenery but the sun rising, going his round and setting on the dark blue water. We appear to be in the hollows and the water to rise in a gentle slope to the horizon. We see about ten or twelve miles on the surface of the water more or less as the sea is rough or calm. Two fiddlers are playing on deck and a good number of the people dancing. They get tired of that and now a sailor is dressed in womens clothes and running about the deck with perhaps a hundred of the people after him.
Saturday, 28th April
A strong breeze from the south west since last night, the ship dashing along through the stormy waves 7 or 8 miles an hour, the foam spreading on every side, and the spray breaking over the bows, the ship pitching very much and some of the people are again sick. Some disagreements get up amongst the people about baking. I went round amongst the people last night and got a settlement made with which the greater part are pleased. Towards night the wind has died away. The ship rolling as bad as ever and everything that is not fixed, people and all, sliding from side to side now and then till they get fixed. They make fun of it all, and there is certainly many a laughing affair takes place here. A sailor finds some clothes lying about, and is now rouping them, of course there are plenty of bidders.
Monday, 30th April
Yesterday was a fine calm day. We had Service in the forenoon the same as before but the sermon read was about the way of Salvation, the one thing needful. An old man went at the same time to the young mens apartment in opposition to and against the regulations of the ship, to give a discourse there. He was not at all capable of giving one and it had a bad effect. It is now fine weather, rather foggy but a fine breeze from the south west. We are now about 14 hundred miles from Scotland and going at the rate of about 7 miles an hour.
Tuesday, 1st May
Still fine weather but making little progress. I Know by this that you will be thinking long to hear from us but you need not, for all are contented and cheerful, and you would seldom hear a word of Auld Scotland at all, and if you were just to look in to the ship you would see some reading, writing, nursing, whistling, singing, newsing, baking, cooking, eating, knitting, sewing, laughing, sleeping, all going on the same as if this had been and were to be our home for long to come. They cook all sorts of dishes that you could think up. We have had Soans once or twice. A good many have the knees of their trousers out with the fires, and the watches are all wrong together. A male emigrant would require to have strong dark clothes, strong boots or shoes, a dark stock with a breast at it. The women strong dark clothes at the same time, that will not be easily dirtied or torn.
Wednesday, 2nd May
A beautiful morning but little wind. there is very little swell upon the ocean today, the waves do not come in regular ridges as in the Bay of Aberdeen, but in little roundy knowls. If you were here a day you would be surprised to see how much every one appears to be at home on the face of the deep. About 4 of 5 in the morning all is quiet but the sailors on the watch, and the crowing of the domestic cock on board. About 6 O'Clock the people begin to rise and then some are cooking, some walking about the whole day. Towards night the greater part come on deck and then it would remind you of a country village, in a summer gloaming, and there is never a night passes but what there is something most ridiculus takes place, and all with the greatest friendship. There is very little swearing or profane language to be heard. All are cheerful and busy. We have plenty of provision, and good, and plenty of water, much better than it was. The biscuits sits in a sack beside us. We had turnips and brose for dinner today.
Thursday, 3rd May
A beautiful morning with a fine breeze from the south east, going about 7 or 8 miles an hour. It is now about 6 O'Clock with us, it will be past 8, the breakfast hour with you. Caithness and I have been walking the decks. They have a long Yard stuck out on each side of the ship, about 25 feet long, one higher up from 15 to 20 feet long, one at the top from 10 to 15 feet with two large sheets of canvas. The ship has a great breadth of rigging by so doing, and goes over the water much faster.
Friday, 4th May
A fine morning again and a good breeze of wind. We have gone about 178 miles since yesterday at this time. A good many whales have been seen. The whole of the people are well and healthy. An emigrant would require to have cooking utensils, a large pan to broil broth or potatoes, a frying pan, griddle, fish brander, toaster, tea pot, with long stalks at the whole of them if possible, and above all a resolution to sit and burn out the knees of his trousers and be half suffocated with smoke. The men do most of the fire work. Afternoon, I have just been on deck seeing a shoal of porpoises. They came onto the ship in numbers like a flock of sheep, leaping and splashing in the water, some of them 10 or 12 feet long. We have seen a few before but larger. Some of them leaped clear out of the water and were within a few yards of the ship.
Saturday, 5th May
Afternoon, a strong breeze of wind from the south, a rough sea, the ship going 8 or 9 miles an hour and pitching beautiful fore and aft as she mounts on to the top of the little hill, or decends in to the hollow between. We are not perhaps 3 or 4 hundred miles from the Banks. Very few are on deck, a good many sick again but not very badly. My folks are all well and healthy. We are seeing birds from the Banks every day and the water is not so dark. We have been three weeks at sea today. We expect to be at Quebec before other three.
Monday, 7th May
It was rough and showry day yesterday. We had Service in the forenoon as usual, I led the tune. Some say this last night has been the worst that we have had. I stood long on the deck this morning and gazed upon the mighty deep and wondered how I could describe it to the people at the Old Home, and there was variety of scenery enough to engage the attention for long, and there was many a beautiful valley and hillock formed by the wind and the water, and sometimes we were looking down on the valley arid then up to the little hill. It is not so rough now. Some of the people are sick, but none of the children. They are all well and cheerful and engaged with their toys from morning to night. And strange to say we all think it home like as we draw nearer the land of our adoption. There are exceptions, but few.
Tuesday, 8th May
We had a very rough night last night again. The sails were all taken down and there we knocked about, perhaps worse than ever. The wind is ahead of us. Some of the fore tackle has just been broken, but they soon repair and put all right again here. The Jane Boyd rides more on the top of the wave and ships less water than many a ship. They tell me if we had been on some ships, and the weather as rough, we would have had knee deep of water often. Weve had nothing but spray on deck. The people in general are cheerful, but of course there is no dancing in this weather.
Wednesday, 9th May
The wind has been stronger last night than it has been at all yet. The sea covered with foam, the ship rocking like a cradle, the sea striking her and making her tremble from end to end, the sails all down but two small ones, and the ship drifting after the side. No one is out of bed but me and the two men for cleaning (half, 7 ). Some proposed sitting all night, some did sit in bed the greater part. (Afternoon) I was lying flat on the floor writing this morning. I went slide across, desk and all to the other side. I now make another attempt with my feet against the stair. The sea is still rough, the water pouring in at the main hatch now and then, causing much laughter, more especially amongst the children. All the wives and some of the men are in bed because they cannot walk or even sit. One passenger was almost overboard. The Captain has been round giving the women a glass of wine. We do not see far today for the waves. We see within forty yards of the ship out at the main hatch as the ship rolls, the sea is a grand sight, the waves coming rolling on, high above the ship, the water sometimes a foot deep on the low side on deck. Yet it is a sight which few here will wish to see again, and which I think would have made the people at Home decide not to go to America without an errand. It is capital fun for the children to slide across a the ship rolls, the old people lying in bed laughing at them.
Thursday, 10th May
The wind has fallen, but the ship rolls on worse than ever till the waves fall too. We are somewhere in the Atlantic to the east of the Banks. They are repairing some of the ships rigging which was broken yesterday. All goes on well but the cooking, you lose all again and again. Some give it up all together and go to bed. It is laughter and noise here continually. Some have got a little hurt knocking about but it is all thought nothing about. The children are all healthy and looking as well as ever.
Friday, 11th May
A drizzly rainy sort of a day. Towards night the wind gets up and we are sailing north west. A ship was in sight at a distance today. This is the second ship we have seen since we crossed the Frith. Some of the people are getting very tired of it. It is those who have left comfort and plenty behind and does not know how they are to be situate in America, and all come to the conclusion that such should not come at all. Those who have been very poor get on beautiful. Those who have had plenty are dirty, slothful, and heartless, but they are few.
Saturday, 12th May
It has been a dark rainy night with a strong wind, the ship dashing through the stormy waves. Another rope broke last night and down came the sail. At night the sea has the appearance of being on fire when there is much broken water. It is occasioned by the phosphorus in the water (I believe) and has much the appearance of a mofs on fire in a dark night. We have generally a few people at their evening with us the same as if we were at Brae Neil. The people sit late at night. Some are not willing to go to bed in these stormy times at all.
(Afternoon) A ship, a ship was the cry, and the whole community went pouring up to the deck. She passed across our bows nearly a mile off. Still stormy.
Monday, 14th May
Yesterday was a cold stormy day, the spray dashing over the deck. The people losing heart for we are not much nearer American than we were two weeks ago owing to the head wind, but the wind has shifted since last night and we are now sailing 7 miles an hour in the right direction. All the people were delighted when I came down and told them this morning at 5 O'Clock. Ten days at this will put us far on. It is very cold on deck but quite comfortable below.
Tuesday, 15th May
Sudden changes. The wind is now roaring and whistling amongst the sails, the waves beating against the ship and capsizing everything that is not thoroughly fixed. There is no one out of bed but myself in our part of the ship. A few have risen--I write a sentence now and then--the sea is terrible today--some chests are tumbling about. The floor is covered with the contents, clothes, broken bottles, dishes and provisions. Some of the sailors came to help us. We can do nothing but sit and laugh or scramble about from one part to the other. My folks are sitting up in bed looking out to see the fun (if it may be so called). Some of them are crochying, some crying for brose. They will just have to take a bannock for a time. The ship is put about and is much easier. We think nothing about danger (unless it be a few). Of course there is no use being afraid, not much danger.
Wednesday, 16th May
The wind has fallen during the night but is still westerly. We are still a days sailing from the Banks. The Captain told us last night that if we were now as far north as we were three weeks ago we would have no darkness at all. We have daylight from 4 in the morning till 8 at night. A large ship passed us last night sailing east. Our wish was that we had the wind as well with us.
Thursday, 17th May
It is now a beautiful day and all the rough weather is forgot, and the people at all sort of amusement on deck. An emmigrant would require to bring a great variety of provisions, small quantities of each kind. They get tired of every thing here but potatoes, so the thing that is most wanted is changes. A bird came on board last night from Newfoundland very like your Blackbird.
Friday, 18th May
We are now on the Banks of Newfoundland. All the difference that we know is that the weather is dull, hazy and foggy with heavy showers. The Banks are navigable all over. The only difference in that point is that they can find the bottom on the Banks. While on the main ocean the bottom cannot be found at all as the line will go only a certain depth. I mention this because the most of the people here had the idea that part of the Banks were to be seen at least, but it is not the case. We have been sailing north and south for two weeks or more, besides that we were sometimes driven back so far. The wind is still westerly.
Saturday, 19th May
We are now perhaps about half way across the Banks. It is a fine day very like that on which we left Aberdeen, the wind from the north, small vessels at the fishing, the bright sunshine, and the whole very like the Bay of Aberdeen but colder, and no land in sight. They sounded twice last night and had first 65 and then 50 fathom water.
Monday, 21st May
Yesterday was the most beautiful day that we have had since we came on board. We had bright sunshine, no fogg, the water glittering in the sun. The sea studded with the vessels at the fishing, some of them a mere speck on the horizon, others quite near. Sometimes a dozen of them in sight at once, but we were running before the wind from 6 to 8 miles an hour and we soon left them far behind, rolling and tumbling as they lay at anchor on the billow, to come in sight of others. Such a day is rare to be met with on the Banks. The passengers lolling on the deck the same as if they had been on some grassy knowl in Auld Scotia. We had Service in the forenoon as usual. We had contrary winds the greater part of the time for first 5 weeks and were knocking about two weeks or more within a few hundred miles of the Banks. We are now nearly across them, well to the south, and sailing north west or so. We have a Captain and First Mate which I dont believe there is their equal on the Atlantic, kind, civil, cheerful, obliging, able seamen, loved and esteemed by all, but a few of the young men who are beginning to get a little troublesome.
Tuesday, 22nd May
The wind is still favourable, the weather foggy with heavy showers. We expect to be at the mouth of the Gulph to-morrow. We have come farther the last three days than we did for three weeks before, it all depends on the weather here. The people are all cheerful and as clean and healthy as when they came down the harbour of Aberdeen. Our outer clothing is dirty with coal smoke but we are all clean at the skin, and for my part, me, my wife and family would sail across as long as you like, were it not for the cooking, nobody likes it. Our children have enjoyed themselves fine at sea and been quite healthy, and so have all the children. You see them running and sliding about and laughing when no one can scarcely stand. There are upwards of 130 on board from above 60 years of age to the mere babe, all healthy alike. The few that have been sickly are young strong men and women. And one thing: I would advise all who have not activity, more especially old people, to keep in bed when the sea is rough, or always keep a good hold, and watch the roll of the ship. For instance, my wife had been firing banocks one day and I go to help her down with them. Well I take a hold of the cook house door, the banocks in the other hand, and Mary has hold of me, roll goes the ship, and I lose my hold, and away we went together. So there am I, yonders my wife, and the banocks all over the deck. We were not hurt, but several people have got severe knocks by losing their hold.
Wednesday, 23rd May
Some propositions have been going on this some time for a subscription to give a present to the Captain and today two of the cabin passengers were to go round amongst the people with a paper, at which the greater part of the people were almost enraged. I went immediately, called one of the gentleman, told him the circumstance, got a few of the leading men and advised them to form a committee, or not get a halfpenny from the greater part of them. I then named out the men whom I thought capable to form a committee as I have been mixing more with the people in general than any on board. I then got my friend Caithness and a man who has been long an Overseer chosen for our. part of the ship, and two men chosen for the young men amongst themselves, and the whole went on admirably, and they mustered the sum of 4 Pounds, One in the cabin, One point sixteen in our part, and one point four shillings from the young men, ten of whom gave nothing, the reason why, I believe is ignorance. It is not settled yet what is to be given.
Thursday, 24th May
I went up this morning at 3 O'clock and all was going on well. When I got up again at my usual hour, the Mate was taking the depth of the water every few minutes, 15 fathoms and all preparation going on to let go the anchor with a close fogg all around and little wind. It has been close fogg the last three days. They know that they were so far up the Gulph having passed St. Pauls without seeing it, but it was difficult to know the exact whereabouts having close fogg so long. Towards mid-day the fogg cleared away partly and we saw land away to the north, all covered with wood and the ice lying along the shore. They call it one of the Magdalene Islands. It is five weeks past Tuesday since we saw land last. The anchor is now hauled up, but we have very little wind.
Friday, 25th May
It was not the Magdelin Isles we saw yesterday but the Island of Anticosti it has proved to be, so that we are farther on than expectation. We have had a beautiful day and are preparing to flit again. Some of the young men have got rather troublesome towards the end of the voyage, I have had my own ado to keep peace amongst them without applying to the Captain. Of course every one has their own story, and then the difficulty is to decide between them. And if any of you be appointed a ships constable be sure and have a committee to enable you to proceed with more effect when strife occurs and make agreement amongst the people. But they have all been agreeable with me, and the best of friends, but the Englishman and his wife whom I hear does not like me because I tell them to make clean when the rest are cleaning.
Saturday, 26th May
Most likely the sheep washing day with you, and most likely you will be speaking about us, and wondering where we are. Well we are just here in the Gulph of St. Lawrence. A beautiful day but the wind right ahead, very warm in the sunshine very cold in the shadow of the sails. And very foolish it is if the friends at home be giving themselves any trouble about us for we are all well and cheerful. Everybody has soans, and the principle food is porridge and rawsoans, brose and fat, very like beef brose. We relish any thing now and are all getting fat. They make the soans out of meat some way, I dont know but they are very fine. The time appears to be only a few days since we left so shortsome have we been.
Monday, 28th May
Yesterday we were sailing across and across between the Island of Anticosti and the mainland, hills on the mainland side very like the hills of Monymusk and Benrachie seen from the North Lodge Castle Fraser. We had no Service yesterday. The Old Man went only twice to give discourse to the young men. We have now been seven Sabbaths on board. Today, Monday, we are still sailing across between the two lands, the wind right ahead. We see the blue hills on both sides at once, with 6 or 7 vessels all tacking about, sometimes within a stonecast.
It is a beautiful day, a little cold. But it is a grand sight to see so many vessels so near, and more coming. This is the chance for the ships that come up with us, those that are behind can come up, but they cant get out of this till the wind changes. The ship is put about often. We all run, help the sailors and make her fly round in a minute. One of the ships in sight is supposed to be the St. Lawrence, the other is the Renown. They sign to each other. It is quite a pleasure to sail about today. 15 ships are in sight at one time, and the land on both sides. A small vessel comes down with a number of Pilots on board. One has come to us just now.
Tuesday, 29th May
The wind is more favourable to-day. We still see the land on both sides, Anticosti on the one side and the blue hills partly covered with snow on the other. We are nearly at the top of Anticosti and will soon lose sight of it. The Pilot came on board last night. The Renown came very near us before dark and we hurraed each other the same as when we left the Pier of Aberdeen. We saw a large whale this morning, blowing as he went along, very few put themselves to the trouble to look at him. Afternoon, I now sit down to write on deck. It is very warm bright sunshine, not a breath of wind, the water as smooth as a Loch. We are losing sight of Anticosti but we are coming nearer the hills on the mainland side. They are very like the hill of Monymusk in the break of a storm. They are covered with trees with snow in the open spaces. This is the day that we get the provision. I spoke to the Captain this morning about getting treacle or sugar instead of flour. He was quite willing if he had it. All of us who had families then got as much as we will require. I still rise very early, calls up the two men for the cleaning and fires. As soon as the fire is ready I get water ready and then takes a good dishful of brose with a good lump of fat on them, generally before 6 O'clock in the morning, very few take breakfast before 7. That Old Woman is up and running about as soon as any. The Old Man has risen early all along.
Wednesday, 30th May
A beautiful morning,. a fine breeze and the hills of the mainland in full sight on both sides. They have a wild rugged appearance (beautiful to me), partly covered with snow, very like the Grampians in some peaks seen from Deeside but more rugged. Some of them appear to be almost perpendicular. It is very rare to be here without fogg. We have passed and left all the ships that were with and before us off Anticosti but one and she is far before us. The Renown is far behind out of sight. We had a beautiful evening last night, the people were dancing on deck long after I was in bed. I was sitting smoking in the cookhouse looking out to the sun setting on the blue hills to the North West. The bell run eight o'clock just as the Steward came past and told me that it was just about 20 minutes past 12 at night in the Old Country, Caithness was with me.
4 O'Clock - We have been running about 10 miles an hour all day and are now within 4 hours sailing of the place where our pilot will take the Charge. Another Pilot schooner passed us to-day going down with Pilots to supply any ship that hasnt got one. We are now up with the ship that was so far before us in the morning. A large ship that we passed in the morning has followed us very close since we passed her. The hills are still coming nearer on both sides, partly covered with fogg. We are still sailing due west. You will know by consulting the map where we are when I write. I cannot get the names of places. Some call it the river here, others not. I shall call it the river when we begin to sail south west. There is a family of the weakest children here that I ever say. They were obliged to get a cab to bring them to Aberdeen, some of them was too weak to be brought in a cart. They are all much better since them came to sea. People would require to have their children to obey with a nod before they come to sea. Some children have been troublesome to all on board.
Thursday, 31st May
We are now fairly in the river, opposite Beak Island. As like the wood Trashonach seen from Brae Neil as can be. Not a breath of wind. The tide will carry us up so far, it is beginning to flow and the ship to pitch a little fore and aft. I have always loved the motion of the ship unless when it was very rough, and even then I loved to see it. I could see the houses on shore distinctly through a strong telescope this morning about 4 O'Clock, white all over on both sides of the River. This is the chance for the ships to come with us again. We have not gone the breadth of Charlie (the sailor's) foot since 12 o'clock at night. We heard the Pilot speaking French with some boatmen, of course we didnt understand a word of it. It is a beautiful day, the land partly covered with fogg. Afternoon -A head wind has got up and we are tacking about in the river. Geographers call it the River from Anticosti. Pilots and seamen call it the River from Beak or Bic Island. When the day is clear we can see the white houses scattered along the shore having the appearance of tents, woods and hills in the background.
Friday, 1st June
Still a head wind and a little foggy about ship. At every hours end or so we get a glimpse of the land when we come near the side. The St. Lawrence is more like a sea than a river. We have left all the ships again. Two of the cabin gentlemen, me, and one of the young men went round last night and co1lected the money for the subscription to the Captain. Some gave a little more than they at first intended and we got in all the sum of 4 pounds fifteen with which they are to give him an ornamental timepiece. Throughout the day we have seen houses and gardens down to the waters edge as we approach either of the shores. The wind is still right ahead. Hard work for the sailors about ship so often. The houses are all white and a good number of them along the shore. But there is nothing but Forest in the back Ground as far as we can see. We go perhaps within a few Miles of the Shore's on each tack, we are now nearly at Green Island. The wives are all busy preparing for leaving the Ship. Our children say they like as well to stop here as at Braeneil. Afternoon — We are now lying at Anchor between Green Island and the Island of Basque 2 or 3 miles from the South Shore. I have made out a table today Showing the difference between Sterling Money and Money Current [Currency] in America. It cost me a good whiles work but will be very useful. And now the people are tormenting me to make copies for them. I have given a good many, supplied the most of the people in our part. And one to the young men to take copies from. The fogg [sic] has cleared away a good bit lately and we see rising ground further back in in the ____, with houses here and there, all White like tents. They are very close together along the Shore, about as close as the Crofts at Lochshangie.
Saturday, 2nd June
The Anchor was taken up early this Morning, and we are now Sailing Slowly
up the river, the wind favourable, heavy rain and foggy. The Jane Boyd has
passed and left all the Ships that we have Seen but that large one that has
kept company with us from Anticosti. She is not far behind, We are passing
a verylarge one just now. Throughout the day we see villages and Islands when
the fogg clears. There is trees on every spot of land that we see but what
appears to be cultivated. 8 o'clock morning — We are now passing the
Pilgrim Isles, they are very like the kernrn [?] hillies. There is 6 large
ships astern of us in sight but we are leaving them all. 12 o'clock — We
just passed the Travers [Traverse]. There is a ship placed here with a light
on it [lightship]. We pass between her and a Buoy. The river is 20 miles broad
but only a small space Navigable. Cleaning is going on, we expect to be at
the Quarantine Ground by 4 o'clock. The river runs quick here, and the water
is a clay coular [colour]. The houses are one continued Village on the South
Side, beautiful and white with a Church now and then. We are perhaps 10 miles
from the Shore, it appears to be about three. The Wind and the Tide are both
with us running at perhaps 12 Miles. As we proceed on the Day clears up and
it is All beauty beyond description. Even beyond imagination. We see the Beautiful
green Spots and White houses on fine rising Ground, as far as the eye can reach.
Farther on, the Country is all green together. Still a fine rising ground far
away back in to the Country with spots of green trees here and there and studded
all over with houses and villages. While along the Shore, the houses grow thicker
as we advance up the river. We had very little view of the Northern Shore.
Sabbath, 3rd June
We are now lying just below that almost perpendicular Eminence, on top of which stands the Garrison. We see the Sentry walking on the top of the wall. It is a beautiful clean looking place on both sides of the river with the exception of a few houses at the waters edge.
And now we are all here alive and well with the blessing of God. And my parting words to you all (in this) would be If it is your Duty, come to America, if it is not your Duty do not.
Gordon Michie EWING and his wife Mary (nee Leith) first settled in Canada at a farm in Downie Township, Perth County, near St.Marys, Ontario.
On September 7th, 1865 they arrived in Monck Township in Muskoka, taking up "free grant" land. They hewed themselves a home out of the virgin forest and gave outstanding service in the development of the municipality.
There were seven children, six girls, of which the two youngest were born in Canada.
Mrs. D. McIntosh (Mary Ann)
The only son William Michie EWING was born in Scotland in 1850, arrived in Canada at age 5, lived at Ziska near Bracebridge, died in February, 1946 at age 96.
William M. EWING was my grandfather. He married Elizabeth Lovatt in 1882. Seven children were born of this marriage; four daughters
Mrs. D. Barclay (Annie)
and three sons
Mrs. Buttler (My Mother) died in June, 1983. She was the last surviving member of her family. It was her wish that this diary be handed over to the Museum for preservation as a historical document.
Eileen D. Wilson (nee Buttler)
Courtesy of Dennis Kaye. Dennis would like to hear from anyone who has information on this vessel.
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