Upper Canada

Extract from ” A Visit to the Province of Upper Canada, in 1819,” By James Strachan.

[?] the Stream of Emigration now chiefly to the United States, and not to Canada.

The greater number are decieved; they know no[?] of this country. Many leave Great Britain from [?] discontents; and such the province is better. [?]. Lately the notes of Mr. Birkbeck have ex[?] much consideration; and all his assertions have [?] believed, without investigation. Though I [?] [?] a bad man (I know him only from his [?] yet he is much to be pitied, for his choice is [?]; and by this time he begins to feel it. [?] Birkbeck, accustomed to all the comforts, and, [?], much of the elegance of life, plunges, [?[ family, into a forest, where they have fre[?] to sleep under the canopy of heaven with a [?]. He is forced to take the axe in his hand, [?] in felling the pines of which he is to make [?], which he builds at a great distance [?] neighbour–opening to a wet plain, in [?] and an impenetrable forest in the rear. This [?] covered with bark–it has no floor but [?] as the surrounding country is flat, there [?], and no boards to be had. Mr Birk[?] date not leave home, for any distance, with[?] guide; and his children cannot go twenty [?] from the house, without being lost. He gets [?] pressing of his wants supplied at an enormous[?] expense. And now, that he is on his land. [?] shall he do; it is covered with trees, or it is [?] unhealthy; and if he hire people to work, [?] of the farm will never pay them: but [?] bae servants, and he is obliged to sit down [?] them, and to become their companion. Mr. Birkbeck[?], who was accustomed to go from one field to another, admiring his crops and his cattle, and thing to do but to give the servants their orders the day, and saw all his works proceeding as ra[?] as he wished, now finds himself an insulated [?], surrounded by a few miserable fiels, taken [?] the bog, and full of musquetoes; his children [?] sick from this unhealthy situation; and, in [?] severe disease, beyond the reach of medical assistance. It is possible to believe that, under such circumstances, he does not regret the country he has [?]. And let me not be told that the prospect of [?]] his children a rich inheritance will turn the [?] into sweet–he is not that sort of man; nor do [?] any law of nature which urges a parent to [?] his own happiness, in order to confer a doubt[?] upon his children. We allow that, after a [?], he will be surrounded with neighbours; [?] their society is not very agreeable; it is indeed [?], as Mr Birkbeck himself admits. After [?] his connexions, his country, all his early [?] and pleasing recollections, his ease and [?] what does he gain? Some landed property, [?] he dies in improving, in an unhealthy situation[?]. He may not be able to leave a farm to each of his children[?]; but of what use will they be if not cultivated[?]? And he will discover in the bitterness of [?], that this legacy is not equal to the placing [?] upon a farm, though taken at a rack-rent. [?] different the situation of a loyal farer, pos[?] of Mr. Birkbeck’s substance, if he should [?] this province[?]![?] He need not go ten miles from [?] settlement, even if he went at once up[?] lands granted him by the crown. But, if he [?] an improved farm, his privations will be [?] compared to those which he must suffer in [?] to the back settlements of the United States, as [?] still more fully appear.

It should not, however, be forgotten, that, with [?] possible advantage of soil, neighbourhood, [?] climate, emigration to America, a country so [?] from Great Britain, is a matter of deep and [?] consideration. The persons emigrating [?] civil in their property, break up all commerce, [?], and connexions in the country they are leav[?] and if they find their expectations disappoint[?] the country of their choice, they are ashamed, perhaps unable, to return. Emigrants often fail, [?] they have never examined their subjects pro[?] and find, on trial, that they do not possess qualities to insure success.–The habits, knowledge, and accomodation of manners, [?] this new life requires, are not, perhaps, na[?] to them–they have not the strength, the [?] and perseverance, which their new situation [?]. The emigrant is not prepared to meet the difficulties[?] which the climate, new manner of living, [?] or vermin, may bring upon him; and which, [?] of all his exertions, may frequently destroy [?]. It is, therefore, the greatest cruelty to [?] the matter partially; and, while the advantages [?] from the old to the new world are drawn [?] most fascinating colours, to conceal the priva[?] and sacrifices which must be made, and the [?] of failure which may be opposed to of success.

We[?] shall have occasion to prove, by the most un[?] the evidence, that Upper Canada offers to emi[?] advantages, vastly superior to any portion of [?] United States; but we would still admonish [?] thinking to leave their native country, [?] the matter with severe minuteness, not [?] away by golden dreams; and to prepare [?] should they decide upon going, to meet [?] [?] from sickness, from different [?], [?] labour, and privations of various [?] Yet though no step can be so important as [?] leaving one native’s country for ever, it is to [?] that such a step is taken without due con[?]. The fancy is deluded with goldren dreams; farmers[?] in America are owners of the soil on [?] they live; they have no rents to pay, no tax[?] their doors; possessing a noble indepen[?] they acknowledge no superiority but genius [?]. These are high sounding things, but [?] than solid. Before a man allows him[?] deluded by them, he should remember, [?] no great hardship to pay rent, if his pro[?] three times the price in England that it [?] America; that the difficulty of bringing [?] to maret, a tax, not perhaps inferior [?] he had paid at home, and attended with difficulties[?] which he never experience; that [?] of intercourse by good roads and canals, [?] time, and the tear and wear of his car[?] amd cattle are worth a very considerable sum; in removing from his native country, he is [?] the improvements of a thousand years, to en[?] all the rudeness of nature; that he is risking [?] happiness, and that of his children, by a [?] [?] be retraced, and plunging into [?] whose manner and habits are different from his own; and that he will have every thing to learn in the midst of strangers.

When a man has, after mature deliberation, determined to emigrate, which various considerations may, in particular cases, render prudent, his next question is, Where shall he go–to the United States or to Canada? We shall suppose the persons emigrating to be friends to the British constitution; for if they are not, there is no question; because levellers and democrats will find themselves in a bad situation in coming to Canada, as they will find no kindred spirits there. But though we can willingly spare such as these, to lose good subjects is a serious evil to the empire; and to lose them through ignorance, and the want of that information which it is in our power to give, is a folly, as well as all evil.

I am persuaded, that all emigrants, of the description we mention, would rather prefer to remain undue their own government, than to live under and swear allegiances to another, provided no greater sacrifices were required in going to the one than to the other. I am indeed quite certain, that many would consent willing to a considerable sacrifice for this advantage, so agreeable to their feelings and habits; but we shall shew that no such sacrifice is required, and that their interest, as well as inclination, when duly considerd, will lead them to Upper Canada.

In going to the United States, we have Mr. Birkbeck’s authority, that ‘no good settlement can be made cast of the Alleghany mountains, or in the Atlantic States.’ The lands are now so dear, as to be in general, far beyond the reach of common emigrants, who have seldom much left after landing in America.

Suppose two families to land in America–one at New York, or Philadelphia, on the way to Mr Birkbeck’s settlement; and one at Quebec, on the way to Upper Canada.

Miles From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh 320 From Pittsburgh down the Ohio, to Shawanoe Town, 1200 From Shawanoe Town to Mr Birkbeck’s settlement, 50 1570

Expense of a family travelling this route, supposing the family to consist of ten persons, and to carry with them two tons of goods:

Dollars. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, at eight dollars per cwt. 320 The expense of the family, who accompany the waggon, at one dollar each per day 100 From Pittsburgh to Shawanoe, by water, down the Ohio, 1200 miles. An ark, or large scow, must be purchased, hands hired to go down, and they must be paid to return, as much from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, 420 From Shawanoe Town to Mr Birkbeck, for baggage and person, 100 940 To purchase two hundred acres of land, at two dollars per acre 400 Total expenses 1310

The same family, landed at Quebec, Pays, to Montreal, 200 miles, two dollars each, 20 For the good[?] 12 From Montreal to Kingston, 220 miles, up the river St. Lawrence, goods and persons, for the batteau can take all, 100 If the family proceed to York, which is seldom necessary as Kingston 150 miles within the province, and lands in its neighbourhoods to be sold or granted, there will be an additiona expense of 80 To such a family, possessed of property, government might grant 200 acres, on paying fees, about 70 Or it may be purchased at two dollars per acres, 130 Total expenses, 412

From this calculation it is seen, that the settler, with his large family, by coming to Upper Canada, instead of joining Mr. Birkbeck, even if he purchases his lands at the same price, saves 928 dollars, which will enable him to clear a large portion of his farm, stock it, and build a comfortable house; and if he be granted the land, instead of purchasing it, there is a further saving of 130 dollars.

Let us now see what the product at Mr. Birkbeck’s settlement in the Illinois, and in Upper Canada, will command in the market; for, notwithstanding the greatness of the first saving in coming to Upper Canada, if the markets be inferior it might soon be balanced.

Illinois Upper Canada Wheat, per bushel t0 3 9 Wheat, per bushel t0 5 0 India corn, 0 1 1 India corn, 0 4 0 Oats, 0 1 6 Oats, 0 2 6 Hay, per ton 1 19 0 Hay, per ton 2 10 0 Butter, per lb. 0 0 7 Butter, per lb. 0 1 3 Cheese 0 1 3 Cheese 0 0 10 Fowls, per couple, 0 1 7 Fowls, per couple, 0 1 6 t2 8 9 t3 5 1 N.B. These prices, taken from Mr. Birkbeck’s book, are t50 per cent, above the truth.

From this table it is manifest, that the produce raised in Upper Canada sells at an advance of upwards of 30 per cent on what the same can be sold in the Illinois territory, supposing Mr. Birkbeck’s prices correct, which they are not, being much too high. The vast advantage, therefore, in coming to Upper Canada, must appear manifest.

It may by some be said, that the families are too numerous, as there are few that consist of ten persons; but the results will be proportionally the same, whatever the number be; and if we suppose them to consist of persons in comfortable circumstances in their own country, they will commonly bring servants with them, by which the average will be still greater. But this is of no moment; the difference of expense in travelling 500 miles, or 1570, is sufficiently clear.

We must add, to the disadvantage of Mr. Birkbeck’s farmer, the dearness of all those articles which he has to purchase; for his distance from the seacoast and market operates in two ways to his disadvantage. ‘His produce is low, and the goods from are dear: the shopkeeper, who is at a great distance from the place where the articles he deals in are procured, will add to the price, when he disposes of the, the additional expense of bringing, and the time lost in procuring them. To him who is obliged to take a journey of 1600 miles to procure his articles of merchandize, the cost and trouble must be very great; and all this he makes the consumer pay. The journey which Mr. Birkbeck’s merchant is obliged to take is a very serious one, compared to that of the merchant of York or Niagara. The latter, in consequence of this situation, can trade with a smaller capital than the former; because he can at any time procure a fresh supply in a few days, while the former can lay in a stock of goods only once a-year. Now, all these difficulties are to be paid for by the farmers and mechanics, who consume the articles imported; the difference to them, in the course of a twelvemonth, by receiving less for the articles they sell, and paying more for those they purchase will be found to be very great.

‘It is not merely the quantum he shall raise, but the sun he shall get for it, which constitutes the farmer’s advantage. It is not simply to get enough to eat and drink that is to bound the desires of the farmer; it is to procure the means of converting his log-cabin into a handsome and convenient house– to erect a large barn for his grain, and suitable buildings for his cattle–to educate his children–and, as he grows old, to enjoy the satisfaction of finding that his industry has supplied the comforts of life, and enabled him to satisfy the wants of society– wants to which we are indebted for amelioration of mankind.’

In the selection of a place to residence in a new country, it is very important to take into view the ultimate market for the farmer’s produce. While the country is settling, there will be no difficulty; for the increasing population will demand all the supplies that can be raised. But the prudent settler will look beyond that period, and consider what he shall do when every one raises more grain than he will be able to consume. In that case, vicinity to market, and facility of transportation, are all important. Now, the produce of Upper Canada can be sent to Montreal, one of the best markets in America in five or six days, at a trifling expense, which is yearly diminishing as the waters are improved. Very different is the case with the farmer in the western division of the United States: the immense distance which grain has to be sent, occasions the expense to be so great, as frequently to equal, and sometimes exceed, the price offered when it reaches the market. The more that this statement is examined, the more correct it will be found, and the superior advantages of Canada will appear in a stronger light; but, having been a landholder, it is time to instruct the emigrant how he is to make his living out of it.

Citation: Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, United Kingdom), 24 April 1820, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/162.