Emigration to Canada

The following is an extract of a letter from a tradesman belonging to Glasgow, who has been six years in Upper Canada, to a friend in this city :–

” York, Upper Canada, 14th November, 1820. “You wish to be informed of the encouragement that you might meet with by an emigration to this country; and as you have determined to place the most implicit confidence in what I may advance. I shall therefore state to you the “truth, and nothing but tl[?] truth, so help me God.”– In the first place, you wish to know what might be the value of a hundred acres of land, with six or eight acres of improvement. This is a question that I cannot give a decided answer to, as it depends entirely on the situation where you wish to purchase; but I may with safety average wild land, in this Upper Province, say at 4 to 6 dollars per acre, and the clearing or improving of each acre will cost you from 16 to 20dollars.–In the next place, you wish to know the price of cattle. They have never been known to be cheaper than at the present time. A cow can be purchased at 20 dollars, a pair of working oxen at 40 dollars; a good cart horse at 50 dollars,; sheep, 2 dollars apiece. In regard to farming utensils, there are but few used in this country at any time, and a new settler may be some years in the woods before we want any more than an axe, (3 dollars) a plough, (10 dollars) and a harrow, (5 dollars.)–You wish to know the nature of a Government grant; that has now become no object, as the charges made by Government exceed in many cases what you can purchase land for; and by buying land you have the advantage of choosing a situation agreeable to your mind; but the reverse is the case when you accept of a grant from Government, for you must then take your chance by drawing by lottery; and as the land is already taken up for forty miles round this place, you will then be obliged to go back into the woods, and out of the world. You are at liberty to sell it as soon as you receive the grant; formerly you could.–You wish to know what sum you could establish yourself for in this country as a farmer. There is one thing obvious–the more you bring the less miseries and difficulties you will have to undergo. But as a true friend, I would advise you not to think of leaving home with a sum less than t200 sterling with a sum less than this you undoubtedly subject yourself to hardships and troubles that you have no idea of. Though many have settled here for nothing, their fate has been such that it is beyond my pend to describe; and my greatest enemy I should not advise to come to this country, with the intention of farming, with less capital than I have no stated to you. Many may flatter you, and stuff your head with golden dreams about this country; but you must allow the experience that I have had to outweigh the statements of many that you may have had an opportunity of talking with, who may pretend to have some knowledge of this country, for there are but few settlements between Montreal and the falls of Niagara (a distance of nearly 600 miles,) that I have not visited.–As to the necessaries wanted for a family who may think of coming to this country, I should entirely confine myself to wearing apparel, as clothes are the highest article in this country; and should you think of farming, I would advise you to bring but few fine clothes, but principally coarse and stout. Heavy luggage of any kind becomes very expensive and cumbersome bringing you up the river so far as this, and is often liable to be damaged, in consequence of the repeated re-shipping. The rate of charge of the transportation of good from Montreal to Kingston (200 miles) is 2 dollars per cwt.; and from Kingston to York (200 miles) they charge 1 dollar for each barrel bulk; and from Montreal to York you may get a passage for 10 dollars for each grown person.–By the by, you wish to know the population of this town: it is indeed small in comparison to some of your towns; but I might say that the inhabitants of York might amount to 3000 people. But there is no place that I have visited in my travels that is more thriving than this town; and as a proof, I can safely say that it is now twice the size that it was when I came here, (now three years), and still continuing to increase greatly in buildings; but all wood.–You wish to know the different branches of business carried on here. They are principally house carpenters; and various other mechanics are also employed here.–You wish to know if any of the emigrants have arrived in this place. There are but very few I understand come thus far, the greater part of them having stopped at a settlement called Perth, about miles below Kingston. –Since I have now given answers to all your different queries, let me now give my candid opinion respecting this country. In the first instance, a farmer may live by hard labour; that is, he may acquire a livelihood; but cash[?] is a complete hidden treasure, and is as forbidden fruit to the farmer of this country; and in some places you may live for years and not even behold, a silver dollar through a glass darkly, as all is done by barter in the country. The next evil is the mixture of society; a very few good, intermixed with a multitude of a very different character; but in many places you will be divested of all society, either of a good or bad quality; in either of which situations I am afraid you will find yourself uncomfortable, in consequence of its being so much different to what you have been accustomed to; and the opportunity of spending the sabbath in a religious worship you will also find wanting. And above all evils the fever and ague, that none escape, is the ruin of many a family in this country. But should you think of coming to this country, in order to avoid this disease I would advise you to come no farther up the country than Perth settlement, where this loathsome sickness is seldom known. Now, my friend, by what I have stated here I neither mean to advise or dissuade you from coming to this country; but take it into serious consideration before you embark upon this important.”

Citation: Glasgow Herald (Glasgow, United Kingdom), 30 March 1821, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/177.