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Extract From Diary of Edward White (1822-1872)

One of a Group of Four Wesleyan Missionaries Sent to British Columbia 1859

Edward White tells us about his trip from New York and over the Isthmus of Panama to British Columbia. To make the account a little easier to read bolding has been used for the dates. The following is courtesy of gggranddaughter, Janet White, Burnaby BC, Canada

Saturday, 1st. January, 1859. - this is a day of vast importance to myself and family. We left Canada yesterday, perhaps never to return. O Father in Heaven let Thy will be done! We have solemnly made up our minds to spend and be spent beyond the Rocky Mountains. We are now on our way to New York, and expect to sail from thence to British Columbia next Wednesday. Arrived in New York at 4 1/2.p.m., tired and hungry. Dr. Evans met us at the station and conducted us to the Merchants' Hotel. The Lord is very good to us.

Sunday, 2nd, January, 1859. - Had good night's rest. The weather is most delightful and all look cheerful without. Went at 10 1/2 in company with Dr. Green and others to hear the celebrated H.W. Beecher. A great congregation and an extraordinary discourse. At 3.p.m. went to hear Dr. King(?). A splendid and very good sermon. We went to the old John Street Church this evening. Felt much refreshed by the sermon and the prayer meeting at the close.

Monday, 3rd. January, 1859. - Took a peep this morning at steamer Illinois in which we are to start on our way to Columbia next Wednesday. All is stir and push and crowd. Many are going they know not whither.

Tuesday, 4th January, 1859. - We had a heavy snow storm last night, and sleighs are running in every direction. This evening we had a valedictory missionary meeting at St. Paul's Church now under the care of the Rev. Dr. McClintock. A goodly number of ministers and laymen were present and we had a delightful time. Bishop Janes made an excellent speech.

Wednesday, 5th. January, 1859. - We expected to sail today at 2 p.m. but the great storm yesterday prevented the mails from getting in at their usual time from the east, and will not leave till tomorrow. It is all wisely arranged. Spent the day in rambling through the city and attending to a few business items which had been neglected before. The sky is clear and the snow is disappearing.

Thursday, 6th January, 1859. - A very fine day. The city is all alive. the sleigh bells are jingling in every direction. At one o'clock we all went aboard the steamer, Illinois, and the harbor about an hour after. The evening was pleasant and the sea quite calm. We all felt thankful to have such a delightful beginning to our voyage.

Friday, 7th, January, 1859. - Some time in the night brisk wind started up, and about 2 woke and heard passengers in almost every part of our cabin offering oblations to Neptune. Indeed before the day had passed there were only a few who did not take some part in this exercise, and those complained of feeling very uncomfortable. My family were very sick excepting James Henry who was quite well. I was thankful it was not worse with myself.

Saturday, 8th. January, 1859. - The wind changed her course in the night and we now have a fair wind and are making rapid progress. The ocean however still rough and the sickness still prevails.

Sunday, 9th. January, 1859. - Beautiful weather and the sea not rough. At 11 O.C. Dr. Evans preached on quarter deck from the "Glorious Gospel of the Blessed God." The most of the passengers listened attentively. It was good to wait upon the Lord. In the afternoon I tried to say a few words to the strange passengers. Some devoured the words with eagerness; others mocked and tried to disturb the service.

Monday, 10th January, 1859. - very fine day. Seasickness almost disappeared.

Tuesday, 11th January, 1859. - Showery and very warm. Passed the island of Caquaga and Uquaga. (?)

Wednesday, 12th January, 1859. - The weather is truly delightful. Passed between Cuba and St. Domingo.

Thursday, 13th, January, 1859. - Nothing remarkable. All well and happy. very fine weather still.

Friday, 14th January, 1859. - About 10 a.m. we saw the coast of South America. Beautiful beyond description. Land at Aspinwall at 1 1/2 p.m. Started on rail at 3 and got to Panama at 6. Waited two or three hours for tide and got on the John. L. Stephens 9 p.m. A beautiful day. Enjoyed the ride across the Isthmus. Much of the scenery magnificent.

Saturday, 15th January, 1859. - Lay at anchor till 5 p.m. for freight and mails. The weather very warm but the scenery delightful.
John Kirk.

Sunday, 16th January, 1859. - Fairly at float in the great Pacific. A slight breeze ahead. Rather warm. At noon we are in 7 latitude. Dr. Evans preached to a large attentive congregation at 6:30 p.m.

Monday, 17th January, 1859. - A slight head wind. Weather fine. The most beautiful sunset I have ever seen.

Tuesday, 18 January, 1859. - A very heavy side wind. Ship rolled considerably. A great many sick.

Wednesday, 19th January. - Very fine but warm. Felt the heat mare than any day since we left.

Thursday, 20th January, 1859. - Nothing remarkable. All well. My mind is at peace.

Friday, 21st January, 1859. - Saw the Mexican coast. The scenery most beautiful. Some of the mountains far above the clouds. Arrived at Acapalco at 7 p.m. Several of the passengers went ashore. The weather was most delightful.

Saturday, 22nd January. - Left Acapulco at 5 p.m. Still coasting. Weather warm.

Sunday, 23rd January, 1859. - A very beautiful day. Called at a small Mexican post named Pensihello (?). Stopped only a few minutes. Divine services at 6 1/2. E. Robson preached from "Wilt thou be made Whole."

Monday, 24th January, 1859. - Crossing the Californian Gulf. Many thought it would be rough but it was very calm. Saw no land today. A little rain. The first since we left the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuesday, 25th January, 1859. - Land in view again this morning. A most lovely morning. Quite cool and bracing. We are now out of the tropics and shall not be troubled with the heat during the remainder of our journey. All well.

Wednesday, 26th January, 1859. - Pleasant weather.

Thursday, 27th January, 1859. - Quite cool. We the undersigned do agree we well not drink intoxicating liquors nor provide them for persons in our employment. (Sunday, 12 June, 1859)

Friday, 28th January, 1859. - Brisk wind. Quite chilly. Great many seasick.

Saturday, 29th January, 1859. - Beautiful day and delightful scenery. Arrived at San Francisco at 6 p.m. We have had a very fine passage. Thanks be unto Him that ruleth the waves and the winds. After a great bustle off the boat and comfortably lodged at Mrs. Hillman's Temperance house. All well and happy.

Sunday, 30th January, 1850. - We have had a comfortable night's rest. Went to hear Dr. Peck (Powell St.) in the morning and Bro. Thomas, Fulsom St., in the evening, and both times the lot fell on Jonah. P:reached from Num. 14 and 24, and II John 5:14. The Lord gave me some liberty and great comfort in dispersing His Truth. San Francisco is a wonderfully large city for its age, 90,000 inhabitants. A large proportion of the shops kept open on the Sabbath.

Monday, 31st January, 1859. - It has rained copiously nearly all day so we kept pretty close to the hotel. This the rainy season for California and dry season for the torrid zone. The agriculturist in this port is now sowing the seed. Vegetation is now springing forth with great beauty and luxuriance.

Tuesday, 1st February, 1859. - The sky is clear and the atmosphere most delightful. Missed my overcoat this morning that I carelessly left hanging in the hall. A Warning for the future. I find that picking pockets, stealing coats, etc. is not a rare occurrence in this city. Dined with Bro. Thomas, editor California C. Advocate, and took a walk to the top of the highest hill in the city, and had a fine view of the bay and surrounding country. Well may it be said, "Beautiful for situation. Most enchanting is this Promised land."

Wednesday, 2nd February, 1859. - The weather is still very fine. A very slight frost this morning. Took a ramble through the Chinese workers this forenoon. They are giving a fine display of fireworks, dressed in their best, making galls and bows in real Oriental style. The ladies are perfect curiosities. It is their New Year's and every Chinese who does not settle his account for the past year will be disgraced. We were just preparing to leave the hotel for the steamer when we learned that she postponed sailing till tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Thursday, 3rd February, 1859. - Weather still fine but quite warm. Took a ride yesterday afternoon to the old Spanish Mission 2 miles from San Francisco. Spent this forenoon in writing letters to Mr. Spenser, editor of the Canada Christian Guardian. At 2 p.m. we took our baggage to the steamer and shortly after went and took possession of our staterooms and found them very comfortable. At 6:30 we left the wharf and were out of the Golden Gate by dark. The captain seems to be a real Christian gentleman.

Friday, 4th February, 1859. - A few of our company were a little seasick this morning. Among others Mrs. White. My own health is excellent for which I thank the great Giver. The weather is still delightful. We saw this a.m. a great many sea-otter and an immense school of porpoises. Sailing near the coast we could not but admire it which is quite mountainous and in some places the highest hills are covered with snow. The Lord is good; blessed be His name.

Saturday, 5th February, 1859. - It rained all day. The wind blows briskly. The Pacific has lost all her serenity and has become quite tempestuous round about. But our little steamer conducts herself nobly, and we are getting on finely.

Sunday, 6th February, 1859. - Cleared up some time in the night and we have a fine morning. We entered the Columbia River about 10 a.m. and have had a delightful sail to Portland where we landed at 9 p.m. It has been a pleasant day but I felt lost, having no opportunity to attend Divine Service. We expect to remain here till Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Monday, 7th February, 1859. - A very pleasant day. The afternoon really delightful. Took a ramble through the city this a.m. and was introduced to Bro. Plorue (?) editor of Pacific Christian Advocate. Mrs. White and I took tea at his house and were much pleased with him and his wife. Went in evening to the Methodist Church where revival services have been going on for several weeks. The church was crowded and all was life and animation. Bro. Browning preached, and the pastor, Mr. Lewis, led the prayer meeting at the close.

Tuesday, 8th February, 1859. - Still at Portland. It has been snowing and raining nearly all day, but there is no frost. Took a ramble this morning in the bush and felt much at home. Is there any place more suitable for meditation? Our steamer was to leave at 4 p.m. but did not get off till near eleven so we had an opportunity to attend the revival service again and it fell to my lot to preach. The Lord a measure of liberty. Mr. Browning and Dr. Evans also spoke.

Wednesday, 9th February, 1859. - Left Portland last evening at 11 o'clock. A fine night. Crossed the bar at the mouth of the Columbia river this morning at 9. We have been favored with very fine weather today as well as last night so that the motion of the boat is very little more that it was while we were on the river. Quite well and cheered with prospect of getting to Victoria tomorrow.

Thursday, 10th February, 1859. - "Ebenezer Hitherto the Lord hath helped us." We arrived today in Victoria all well about 11 a.m. It is just six weeks since we lift Smithville circuit; just five since we left New York, and just one since we left San Francisco. The weather is fine and quite mild for the season. No snow or any frost. Victoria is larger than I expected to find it, and will probably become a large city in a few years.

Friday, 11th February, 1859. - Froze considerably last night but is very fine today. Had a comfortable rest last night at Mr. Pidwell's where we ar commodiously lodged for the present and shall get distributed as soon as possible. Took a ramble this p.m. and am much delighted with the locality of the town. The Lord has no doubt directed us to this colony and will, I believe, provide plenty of work and abundant success. Amen.

Notes on the voyage:

Ebenezer ROBSON, Dr. EVANS, and Mr. BROWNING were the other Wesleyan Missionaries who accompanied Rev. Edward WHITE.
James Henry was his son, my ggrandfather.
John KIRK was another passenger on the JOHN L. STEPHENS
The PACIFIC was the name of the ship they took from San Francisco to Victoria.

Edward WHITE's parents left from Rolvenden, Kent County, England in 1815. Edward was born in Philadelphia in 1822 and in 1825 the family moved to Upper Canada to Raleigh Township in Kent County. He came to "Queenborough" (New Westminster), BC on April 1, 1859 and held the first Methodist church service outside his tent. He and his son James Henry WHITE continued to minister to the people of BC for over 50 years.

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