To contribute to this site, see above menu item "About".
These transcriptions may contain human errors.
As always, confirm these, as you would any other source material.
Pages 13 through 103.
Pages 13, 14 and 15
As the travelling over the snow in this island is less difficult in the month of March, than walking overland is at any other season of the year, I had long had an intention of commencing a visitation of the southern and western shores of Newfoundland, in the early part of that month; and, for this purpose, had made an appointment with a guide, who lives in Trinity Bay, that he should come across at that time to be my pilot through the country. His recommendation to me was the fact of his having lived, some time back, four years with the Micmac Indians, -a probation which must have given him, I conceived, some acquaintance with the mode of travelling in this untractable island. He came to St. John's, however, in February. The season was more than usually advanced; and a greater quantity of snow having fallen than had been remembered for twenty ,years, the travelling was more easy than it commonly is in the winter: he had no difficulty, therefore, in inducing me to start with him immediately. This I did on the afternoon of
Tuesday, 17. - being driven in a sulky sleigh* as far as the new road to Topsail Beech, upon the commencement of which the Legislature have lately expended a small sum. I then proceeded with my knapsack, in which were 14 lbs. weight, (to which my guide had restricted me,) to the south shore of Conception Bay. For some distance we missed our way, but as we could ascertain the points of the
* A "sulky sleigh" takes two persons in seat, one behind the other, and is drawn by a horse.
compass by observing the inclination of the topmost branches of the juniper* or larch-trees, we regained our path some time after dark; and by a slippery wood-path, on which we had many falls, we reached the south shore of Conception Bay, and the house of Miller, a respectable planter, by ten, P. M, The men of the family had retired to bed, after the fatigue of their day's labour in the woods, before I reached the house: I assembled the females of the family, however, and read and explained a chapter of the Bible, and offered up prayers with them before I retired to bed; and the next morning,
Wednesday, 18, -The men, before their work, joined us in the same employment. After this, I started in the snow for Mr. W. Smith's, passing a building which is erecting, as a place of worship for the members of the Protestant episcopal communion on this shore. There I met the Rev. Thomas
* The juniper, or larch, always points to the east.
Pages 16 - 17
Martin Wood, who, in addition to his usual labours at Petty Harbour, pays monthly visits to the people of his old charge upon this south shore of Conception Bay, and again at Pouch Cove, near Cape Francis. After attending and assisting at a marriage which he was solemnizing, I crossed through the '' slob ice," which was very thick in Conception Bay, to Port de Grave, four leagues, in three hours. This is the centre of the mission of the Reverend Charles Blackman. One of his circuit churches, that of St. Mark's Church, at Bare Need, requires enlarging. I had been more fortunate in my passage across the bay than three young men of St. John's, who undertook it on the same day with myself, in another boat: they were obliged to leave it at a by-place along the shore, after it had been fixed several hours in the ice. I was confined a day at Mr. Blackman's hospitable house, by a snow-storm, but, on the morning of
Friday, 20-We took a heavy mallet, with a long handle, which the people call an ice-pounder, and escaped some hours of very laborious walking, by crossing in a boat to Bay Roberts. I regretted to find that Mr. Joyce, an exceedingly kind friend to the church and clergy, whom I had found here on former visits, had paid the debt of nature. Mr. Blackman had been engaged to attend a funeral at Bay Roberts yesterday; but the storm had made all close prisoners to their houses. It may give some idea of the difficulty of communication in the winter, even in the neighbourhood of St. John's, if I state here that gentlemen at Port de Grave had not seen a St. John's newspaper for a month, when I arrived amongst them; and that in Trinity Bay, I found that the sum of forty shillings had been, on a late occasion, demanded, and twenty-five shillings actually paid, for the casual conveyance of a single letter, overland, by one of the cross-country guides. I found that Ridout, a respectable young man, who had been used to keep a congregation together upon the south shore
Pages 18 - 19
of Conception Bay, had died last spring, from the exertion and exposure consequent on going round the head of the bay at that inclement season on foot; and ____Hodge, the packet-man of Killigrews, was just recovering from a most severe cold caught a few days before, from his having been washed overboard in a gale. The Reverend John Burt, the Protestant episcopal missionary at St. Paul's, Harbour Grace, was dangerously ill, and I wished much to go to see him; but as the Reverend William Nisbett, of St. Mary's Church, Heart's Content, Trinity Bay, was with him, assisting him in his duties, I did not delay my journey to visit him. Mr. Blackman kindly accompanied me to Spaniards' Bay Beech. Here my guide and I struck into the woods at eleven, A.M., and crossed the neck which divides Conception from Trinity Bay. I broke into the ice of one brook on my way, and by half-past seven, P.M. reached the house of Mr. Charles Nienhook, jun., of New Harbour, a late worthy parishioner of the Reverend William Bullock, at St. Paul's Church, Trinity, whose father is of French Huguenot extraction. The distance is not more than fifteen miles by my compass, but the necessarily circuitous course which we were obliged to take to avoid a steep hill in one direction, a running brook, or a thick wood, in another, made it at least twenty. The distance which persons, liable to serve on petty juries, may be obliged to travel that they may meet the circuit judges in this island, is, from these circumstances, not very easily defined. I have met with places in Fortune Bay, two or three miles only from each other, to visit which by land in winter, it might be necessary to make a circuit of fifteen miles, to get round the deep precipitous chasms or "gulshes" and ravines, which cross from the coast into the interior. "Why, it is but seven miles, my friend, as the crow flies," observed a judge to a remonstrant petty juryman, who pleaded the difficulty and the distance. -" That may be," replied he; "but as I cannot go as the crow goes, I make the distance fifteen or sixteen."
Pages 20 - 21
Saturday, 21. -This day was spent in visiting the people of New Harbour, and the adjoining settlement of Dildo Cove, with Charles Elford, the lay-reader, who has, for some years, been employed under the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. The church of St. George's, New Harbour, which was opened for divine service in 1815, is neat, and in a very picturesque situation. It had been decently painted last summer, through Mr. Bullock's exertions. I gave notice of my intention of administering the holy communion in it on
Sunday, 22. (Sexagegima Sunday.) There were fourteen communicants after morning service at church, and I also administered the same sacrament to an aged person, a man of seventy-seven, in his own house, who remembered the French being in Trinity Bay in 1766. I held two full services, baptized two children at church, and one in private. As there was no stove in the church which could be lighted, and the weather was exceedingly cold, we suffered much during the service. After the two services I walked to Dildo Cove, by a church-path made by the people, which is very creditable to the devotional feeling of the settlers. Here the weather detained one at the house of Samuel Pretty, a respectable old planter. It was delightful to bear this old churchman contrast, with gratitude, the spiritual condition of the people in this part of the island now, with what it was when he first came out from Chard, in Somersetshire, sixty years ago:- "It is bad enough, now, Sir; but then, twelve months and twelve months would pass without our hearing a word of a book, or any talk about a church. "New Harbour and Dildo Cove, are places which present fine scenery to the admirer of nature; yet I learned that, before Mr. Pretty came thither, they had been the scenes of some very savage murders, into which, such was the imperfect state of the magistracy of Newfoundland at that period, no inquiry what-
Pages 22 - 23
ever was made. Indeed, in some parts of the island which I have visited, infanticide, and violence terminating in death, would scarcely create inquiry now. While I was there, New Harbour was the scene of a sad drunken revel at a Roman Catholic funeral and wake. A wolf had been shot in this neighbourhood a short time before my visit. Also a large species of fish, called the horse-mackarel, resembling that fish in every particular, but ten feet in length, had been killed here last summer, by a girl with a " pew," or fork used for throwing fish from the boats on to the "stages." This horse-mackarel, I learned afterwards, is not uncommon in other parts of the island. Several old Bedlamer seals had been already killed here, which, with the sea-birds which were now very numerous, supplied the inhabitants with very acceptable provisions after the scarcity of a long unbroken winter.
Wednesday, 25. - Having read and prayed with the inhabitants, and visited the sick, and made my residence as useful as I could to the people during my detention, I was up on Wednesday at 2 A.M., and before 6 A.M.., before the first dawn of light, made a more successful attempt than we made yesterday morning, to start from Andrew's cove. The snow-path was stained with the blood of Bedlamer seals, which had been hauled over it. We had plenty of work for the ice-pounder in this cove and in the bay, as it was full of a species of ice, significantly called by the people, "swish-ice", which, when struck with the oar, makes a sound similar to that of straw when thrashed with a stick. By 91/2 o'clock we reached Chapel Arm, where, and at Little Gut in its neighbourhood, were about seventy souls, chiefly from New Harbour, for winter's work. Assembled two dozen people, all who had not gone into the woods for their work before our arrival, for full service, at the tilt of William Pollett. As we passed a point in our boat, I got sight of a black fox close to the water's edge, and was informed by
Pages 24 - 25
the people, that I might expect shortly to see an otter, which I soon did; and, on going to the spot, found several holes which the otter had made on the slob-ice when diving for fish, which the fox, at this period of scarcity of other provisions, would monopolize on his bringing it up, or shore with him. The otter and the fox, consequently, at this season, are generally to he found very near each other. I had a cliff pointed out to me at Norman's Cove, not far from hence, a part of which, from its losing the power of cohesion, (no uncommon event here after our long winter) had fallen down a few springs since, and had buried several men, friends of my present guides, in its fall. The " barber," a vapour so called from its cutting qualities, was distinctly visible upon the water this morning. It arises, I believe, from the airs being colder than the water I was glad, on the approach of day, to turn myself towards the sun, which rose most brilliantly this cold morning. No description can convey an idea of the beauty of the overfalling stalactites of ice, some white through, some transparent, which hung down from the rugged cliffs on the side of this fine arm of the sea, till they nearly touched the water.
The unremitting attention, and the not unfrequent visits of the Rev. William Bullock, of Trinity, and of his assistant upon the south shore of the bay, the Rev. William Nesbitt, left me no children, beyond mere infants, to baptize in this neighbourhood. Before one P.M. I was again upon my way, on foot, through the woods, leaving the remarkable hill, called the Chapel Tolt, behind, and the Long Hill Deer country, on my left; and by half-past five got over the crusted snow of Long Harbour, in Placentia Bay. The country at this time presented an appearance quite different from that presented by the vegetation when affected by a moistness of the atmosphere which is afterwards operated upon by sudden frosts, and is improperly denominated here, a silver thaw. The
Pages 26 - 27
present appearance was much more beautiful, although that cannot but be much admired. The under current of air had been sufficiently cold to freeze rain upon its reaching the earth, or alighting upon any exposed vegetable object, although the upper media, through which it had passed, permitted it still to fall as rain. As soon as this transparent liquid had alighted upon a branch of evergreen, or on a blade of grass, which projected above the snow, it had congealed; giving, through its transparent covering, a brighter tint to every colour of the objects which it enveloped. As the rain had continued to fall very fast for several hours while the lower air was in this state, this bright incrustation had collected on every object, even on those which were most minute, and offered the least firm support to such a weighty girdle, to the depth of at least an inch. The splendour of the spectacle which was presented by woods, shrubs, and under-brush, thus brilliantly illuminated in a morning of unclouded sunshine, was greater than any effort of art could come near to imitate. It left all the spectacles of scenic illusion, or the imaginative creations of fairy descriptions, far, far behind the reality of the natural phenomenon, which, though it was calculated most surely to fix the gaze of admiring crowds, only called forth now the grateful admiration of one fond admirer of the gospel of nature. Yet this profusion of sparkling beauty was not lost:- "O ye frost and cold ! O ye ice and snow ! bless ye the Lord; praise him and magnify him for ever I"
Every hole and corner in the cabin which I first visited in Placentia Bay, that was not taken up by the human inmates, being occupied by pigs, ducks, fowls, sheep, or dogs, I was glad to find a more roomy and a cleaner retreat in another tilt; here, though the door did not close by at least a foot, to prevent the inconvenience of smoke, which is almost universal
Pages 28 - 29
in these winter houses, I sat upon chest until dawn. The poor widower, who was my host, spoke of his deceased wife with deep affection: the anxiety, too, which he showed to bring up his children well by catechising them, and hearing them repeat their prayers before they retired to the single bed which served for the entire family of eight, was very creditable. Although these services, which I begged my presence might not be permitted to interrupt, were mixed with much which I deem error, yet I could not but wish that many a careless protestant could have seen this pious Romanist, and been led to imitate so praise worthy an attention to the religious interests of his children. The winter settlers at Long Harbour are chiefly of Irish extraction, from Ram islands, in Placentia Bay. I heard in the evening, that of three Englishmen who had been for years settled among them, one alone, a native of Greenwich, had not turned to the Romish faith. I went, therefore, to visit him on the morning of
Thursday, 26, -At his tilt, over a frozen pond or lake, about two miles from the harbour, When I reached his comfortless tilt, of which there was no part, except the excavated door-way, and the top of the chimney visible above the snow, I found he was from home. He had heard the preceding evening of the arrival in the settlement of a clergyman of his church, and attempted to cross the ice of the harbour after dark to have some conversation with me; had broken through the ice in the attempt, and had in consequence of his wet condition, slept at the tilt in the harbour, which I had passed at day-break. I returned thither, and found him at the house of J. D. of Arundel, one of the Englishmen who had turned Papist; he would not, however, permit me to go back again for some private conversation to poor J. G.'s tilt, until I had promised to accompany J.G. back to breakfast, when he gave me a very hospitable entertainment. On conversing with J. G. I found that he had been twenty-one years
Pages 30 - 31
in the country, and was still pennyless, the poor servant of the other Englishman, H. M., from Redcliffe, who was scarcely less poor than himself. His fondness for ardent spirits, he informed me, had kept him thus poor, and he could trace to this source all his lapses, and all his misfortunes. He assured me in our conversation that he had foresworn the further use of spirits. I told him of a strength greater than his own; this I entreated him to implore. He was much affected by a prayer in which I proposed he should join me in his tilt: he kept a standing posture when I commenced, but the poor fellow soon sunk upon his knees, and, before the conclusion of my prayer on his behalf, be was weeping like a child. It will give some idea of the prevailing use of spirits in this island, and of the consequent discouragement which the minister is doomed to experience, if I mention that notwithstanding all which I had said against the use of this intoxicating stimulant, in all which he had heartily acquiesced, and bringing the test of his own melancholy experience, had declared voluntarily, that he had left it off, he yet offered to myself, on my rising from my knees, what is called "a morning", from, a little keg, which he drew from under his straw bed; and, on my reminding, him, when about to help himself; that he had engaged to break off this habit, he excused himself by saying he had made a reservation for the use of the remaining contents of that keg. I was reminded of Jeremiah xiii. 23. I promised the poor fellow a prayer-book, which he was most anxious to possess; a few other suitable books shall accompany it, and I pray, though almost against hope, that he may be assisted to keep his resolution. A cock crowing during the preceding, night, was said, by an old woman in the company, to portend rain: I found the next day, as I subsequently did on many other occasions during my present trip, that this augury was quite correct. We were put across Long Harbour arm, below the ice,
Pages 32 - 33
in a punt, and walked from the quay, a point in the woods, through some thick brushwood, and over barrens to Ship Harbour Point, opposite to Little Placentia. Here a storm of snow and wind, followed by rain, which prevented my proceeding by land or by water, detained me till
Monday, March 2.-There is not so much "slob-ice" during the winter in Placentia and St. Mary's bays, as in the northern bays. At this time last year, however, (1834) persons might walk from this side of Placentia Bay direct to Burin, which is at least twenty-four leagues across the open bay on the firm ice. As I had sent my man by land to Placentia to give notice of my being so near, Mr. Tucker, of the firm of Penny and Neve, of Poole, took advantage of a lull in the wind, and kindly sent a boat for me, which landed me at his wharf in the afternoon. Here I was greatly indebted to Mrs. Tucker for much humane attention, and luxuriated in a comfortable bed for the first time since I had left New Harbour, Trinity Bay, on the 25th ult.
Tuesday, 3. -Went partly in a sleigle, and partly on foot, by the Martise Reach, nine miles, to Great Placeritia. While Newfoundland belonged to, the French, this place was the seat of government. Within the memory of several of the present inhabitants, Placentia was a garrison town of our own, and there are still the remains of bomb-proof batteries in tolerable repair, faced with Portland stone. l assembled nine persons, the small remnant of our communion, in the old church which, within the memory of many living used to be completely filled by the garrison and numerous protestant inhabitants, under the ministry of the Reverend Walter Harris, and Reverend John Evans, the successive protestant episcopal Missionaries. There is here a valuable service of communion plate, which bears an inscription, notifying, that it was given by his Royal Highness Prince William, Henry, in 1787. There are, also, a splendid folio prayer-
Pages 34 - 35
book and bible, and a new version of the Psalms, which were presented to the church in 1790, by Thomas Saunders, Esq., the founder of the present mercantile house of O. F. Sweetman, Esq., a member of our Newfoundland house of assembly. He is a Roman catholic, but most hospitably invited me to his house, and entertained me, although he was very busily engaged in sending out his sealing vessels to the ice, and was, besides, an invalid; and so good a feeling towards the church exists generally in this part of Newfoundland, that an aged widow lady, a Roman catholic, to whom, in conversing respecting the communion plate, I expressed the wish that it could be used monthly, and the books each week, responded evidently from the heart, with the wish that it could be so. It should be observed, in justice to the Roman catholics of this bay, that they are of a character very different from that of the more recent Irish settlers in the vicinity of St. John's, who, being misled by a newly-imported priesthood, who have more of the character of political partizans than of religious or moral instructors, have by their licentious and cruel acts rendered our journals of, late years more like the annals of disturbed, districts in the sister kingdom, than of a loyal and orderly North American colony. The hospitality with which I was received by the settlers of that communion in this bay carried me pleasantly back, in recollection, to the description given by our Missionary Auspach, of his own reception in, Conception Bay. "The clergyman of the, established church not only could go in the greatest security through any part of the district, but his visits were received with evident marks of satisfaction; his call for refreshment at any house was acknowledged as an honour; and that dwelling was considered still more highly honoured where he condescended to fix himself for the night in the course of his clerical visitations. His comforts were attended to with the most cordial and anxious care, even by the wildest Irishman, or the most bigoted Roman catholics." (Anspach's Newfound-
Pages 36 - 37
land, p. 240.) I bave already stated the pleasure with which I had witnessed the anxiety of a Roman catholic parent to bring up his children in that which, according to his view, was the nurture and admonition of the Lord; I may, therefore, without being suspected of a wish to misrepresent the general conduct of the members of this body, express the concern which I felt, at seeing in this and some other districts, the playing of cards and games of chance upon the Lord's Day. In St. John's, their dancing-houses are full on the evening of the Lord's Day. The poor fellow did not know the meaning of the terms he was using; -but one of this communion made me smile, when, to recommend himself to me, as distinguished from a strict Romanist, he told me he was a "", -and then, as though he had not gone far enough, he corrected himself, and said, "I am a Latitudinarian, sir, I mean." He might have added, too, "a hard drinker" ; but I feel too much indebted to him for his hearty kindness, to subject him to ecclesiastical censure for his volunteer deprecations of a too tight-laced orthodoxy, or for that other besetting foible. Placentia has been visited, since the removal of a regular Missionary from the station, by the Bishop of Nova Scotia, and by Reverend Messrs. Bullock, Burt, Robertson, Laugherne, and Pering; -yet so long has the church been shut up, that this was the first occasion on which the royal donor of the communion service had been prayed for here in public liturgy, as King. There is in the church-yard of this place a broken tomb-stone, with a French inscription, bearing the date 1690.
As there was a rapid tide down the S.E. and N.E. guts, and the wind was piercingly cold fron1 the N.E., our passage over these streams on our return was far from agreeable, and it was some time before we could by quick walking recover ourselves from our chill. Within a few days of my reaching Placentia, a messenger arrived who had crossed through the interior overland direct from St. John's, since I left it. A road,
Pages 38 - 39
which is much needed, is projected from St. John's to this place. This messenger brought the distressing intelligence, that Mr. Hervey, an estimable young man, the junior partner in the house of Messrs Robinson, Brooking, Garland, and Co., at St. John's, had died within the last few days, after a very short illness. I had left him extremely ill from a cold caught in going to St. Bartholomew's Church, Portugal Cove, on the last Sunday but one on which I had officiated there before my departure: the weather, on that day (February 8), having varied eighteen degrees, as will be seen by the meteorological table annexed to this Journal, was most trying to the constitution of those exposed to it.
Wednesday, 4. (Ash- Wednesday) -Assembled a very attentive congregation of 21, in the net-menders' room on Mr. Tucker's wharf. I must record the pleasure with which I heard here, as I did, indeed, in many parts of Placentia Bay afterwards, most grateful mention made of the labours of Mr. William Walker, who had been, for some time, stationed at Little Placentia, in one of the schools of the Newfoundland and British North America School Society-a society which is doing much for the scriptural education of the youth of this island.
In the afternoon of March 4, Mr.Tucker manned a boat for me, in which I went to Bald Head, past St. Croix Bay. Thence I went, after walking a little distance in the snow, in a punt of Joseph Dick's, past Money's Cove and Corben's Head to Tilley Cove, six leagues, where the family of his respectable father, Christopher Dicks, amounting to twelve, formed an attentive congregation. Here, as I did at several other places during the season of Lent, I assumed a licence as my own ordinary, and used the Commination Service, afterwards explaining it to the hearers familiarly in the place of a sermon.
Thursday, 5. -Was up before day-light, and after full service, administered the holy communion to this respectable old planter,
Pages 40 - 41
who had for many years been desiring such an opportunity. A snow-storm prevented my proceeding to-day to Harbour Beaufit, upon Long Island, where I was very anxious to visit a family whom I had known at Petty Harbour, near St. John's. I did not allow it, however, to prevent my walking by Red Cove and Back Cove to Famish Gut, which I reached by ten, A.M., and assembled nine adults, besides children, at the winter house of Thomas Upshore, where I held full service, and baptized two children. It was providential that a man, who lived some two miles from his summer house, in the interior, in a spot which it would have been most difficult, nay, quite impracticable, to have found, in the untracked snow, which was falling fast at the time, should have come out for some family supplies to his summer house, just as I reached the harbour. He was delighted at the encounter, and was rejoiced at the opportunity of introducing to the little settlement a minister of his church. By one, P.M., as the weather cleared up, I left this place, and took the ice upon a level lead of ponds, expecting to find my way to the adjoining settlement of Pinch Gut. There I learned were some persons who had recently settled from the west of England, and I wished much to visit them; but we missed our point, and were benighted, and as, through the gross negligence of my guide, we had proceeded without a hatchet, our situation was one of danger, the night being extremely cold. On coming out, however, after dark, to the salt water, I discovered upon the snow, by the land-wash, a gunner's track. This led us by nine, P.M.., much fatigued, to a house, which we found, contrary to our expectations, to be at Big Chance Cove, in Trinity Bay. Here I heard, to my comfort, that one Kelly, a regular pilot, who had last winter walked round the head of Placentia Bay, the route on which I now was, and had received 18 l. for his journey, declared that he would not undertake such a trip again for 50l. My dog howled, as I walked to-day, from fatigue; and, whenever I
Pages 42 - 43
stopped to look about me, or set my compass, he would scratch about and make himself a bed for a few minutes repose in the soft snow.
Friday, 6. -Up by seven, A. M. Assembled twenty-four persons to full service. As not one in this settlement could read, I was requested to read a letter containing intelligence of the most interesting kind, of which the family had been in ignorance, although they had had it by them for weeks. In many similar settlements, I was engaged in writing letters for the people to relatives who had been settled, some ten, some twenty years, in other parts of the island, and with whom they had been unable to hold any communication since their original settlement in the country, or, at least, since their dispersion. At eight, A.M., started through the "young ice" in a new punt, which was stained with blood from a recent freight of fresh-killed seals; passed Bentham, Master's Head, and Ram's Head, to Stock Cove, which I reached at ten. After some refreshment, engaged at half-past two, P.M. in a very laborious walk over the country, by Stock Cove Deer-look-out, to Frenchman's Island, where I took the ice of Bay Bull's Arm. At the head of this arm, I found four families in winter tilts. I assembled fifteen persons for full service, by the light of a piece of ignited seal's fat, placed in a scollop shell, which served for the lamp of our humble sanctuary in the woods. I made acquaintance here, too, for the first time, with a decoction of the tops of the spruce branches, to which I afterwards became much accustomed, as a substitute for tea, and which, from experience, I can pronounce to be very salutary and bracing, though not so palatable, as the beverage supplied by the Honourable East India Company. A man (Sowards) whom I had met at Stock Cove in the morning, had last summer gone round in an open fishing punt, from Come-by-Chance, at the bottom of Placentia Bay, accompanied only by a small boy of fifteen, along-shore and out-
Pages 44 - 45
side of St. John's, to this place, a distance of 142 leagues by water, although the distance between the two places is only one league by land. He was changing his residence from one Bay to the other, and not finding a purchaser for his punt, he had gone round with it. From the top of Sainter's Hill, a conspicuous object in this neighbourhood, the seven bays of Despair, Fortune, St. Mary, Trinity, Bonavista, Conception, and Placentia, may be seen at one time. Here I slept in a tilt; and starting by half past six, next morning, in less than an hour had crossed the swamp and neck of land which at this part divided Placentia from Trinity Bay, having now crossed the dividing neck of land at three different places. On this path the "", or cross-beams, over which the French, when they held Placentia, were in the habit of drawing their boats from one bay to the other, are still to be seen; although, as they were at this time covered with snow, I had not a view of them. After an unexpected incursion of this kind, they had once burned, in the memory of an old person who related the fact to me, an English brig which was lying in Bay Bulls Arm; and it was this circumstance which gave its name to the point which is called Frenchman's Island, mentioned above:- After walking about a mile down Come-by-Chance River, we came to some winter tilts, in one of which I assembled seventeen for full service, baptized a child, and churched its mother, in our little congregation. On the Bankss of this Come-by-Chance River, ruins of buildings, iron bolts, and nails, are found; relics of former structures and cannon-balls are also frequently picked up, as though there had been formerly some engagement, if not a fort, in this neighbourhood. The people are very laborious in this part of Placentia Bay, and live very hard from the time at which they begin to catch fish, which is generally in April, until near Christmas: they scarcely sleep a whole night together in bed, except on Sunday night. From their poverty, too, they are constrained to part with their
Pages 46 - 47
fish to the supplying merchant in a "" state, by which, I was informed, that they are considerable losers, as three "" on an average are thus taken for one. I was much struck here with the homely, but touching remark of one R. W., in whose house I had officiated:- "Ah! sir; if any of us be sick or sore, there is no one near to visit us, or to care for our souls."
Started at half-past ten, A.M., and before twelve had reached Emberley's, having mounted a precipice which was somewhat alarming, Whittle's Cove Head. Twelve wolves had very lately been seen in one company in this neighbourhood. Here we mended up a leaky punt, and took advantage of a mild day, which reminded me of the Indian summer in Nova Scoua, to go to Sound Island. We started at half-past twelve, were unceasing in our exercise at baling out the water, and by ten minutes after three, reached in safety Betty's Hole, Sound Island, a most picturesque nook, within view of the fine hills which are known as Powder-horn Hill, at the bottom of Placentia Bay, and Sainter's Hill, at the head of that of Trinity.
Walked a short mile to Mr. Hollett's. a most respectable planter at New Town. Finding that many of the people were at Piper's Hole, nine miles up a river, at their winter's work, I determined to walk up to them upon the ice, and devote to them the morning of the following day, Sunday; appointing divine service at Sound Island in the afternoon, on my return. I reached the tilt of Giles, a worthy Somersetshire man, by nine, P.M., where I slept, after having had prayers with his little household.
Sunday, 8.-Walked to Salmon Hole, at the very top of Piper's Hole, (about a mile and a half,) at day-break, and held an early service in the house of John Hollett, jun., to eighteen persons. By twenty minutes to nine A.M., I was on my way back to Sound Island, where I found a congregation of thirty, at the elder Mr. Hol-
Pages 48 - 49
lett's house, assembled to meet me at two, P.M. I baptized one child in full service. The style of singing here, as well as at Piper's Hole, gratified me much. I read the prayers from a fine Svo. prayer-book, of the "Prayer Book and Homily Society," presented to old Mr. Hollett, by the Reverend Charles Norman, Manningtree, Essex, April, 1834. This generous individual, Hollett has never seen; but his name had been mentioned to Mr. Norman, by a servant, whose brother, a fisherman in Newfoundland, had been in the habit of attending Mr. Hollett's reading of the church service on the Lord's Day, in his house on Sound Island; and Mr. Hollett has, for some time, received from him a packet of books each year. These, he is humbly endeavouring to make instrumental to the spiritual improvement of his neighbourhood, and his efforts, I should say, judging from the demeanour of the congregation, which I was gratified to meet at his house, - and their response, and the manner in which they join in the psalmody, have been blessed by God's Holy Spirit. How would the missionary, and the intelligent member of the church, be strengthened in a foreign land, if the friends of evangelical truth at home would more generally exhibit such a spirit as this unknown benefactor, - and send us, in larger quantities, these requisite materials, with which we may enlighten the ignorant, and comfort the sorrowing, and train up the rising generation in the faith and fear of God ! Here, as at very many other places, I was painfully oppressed by receiving applications of the most earnest kind for schools, where, before the applications, I could see they were most needed: yet, alas! I felt that I could hold out to the Christian parents, who were most anxious to secure Christian instruction for their dear children, no promise whatever, - no immediate hope of aid.
Finding that the night was likely to be stormy, I started at four over Sound Island, and across the Tickle, upon the ice, to the Andrews's, Woody Island, about six miles,
Pages 50 - 51
which I reached in two hours, just before the threatened storm came on. Read a chapter of the bible, and had prayers before retiring to rest.
Monday, 9. -The two Andrews's, my hosts, took different routes round the settlement, to prepare the people for my holding prayers at ten, A.M. Thirteen families reside in this neighbourhood. I had a congregation of twenty, churched a mother, and baptized her child in full service. Just as I was starting in an open boat for Barren Island, a young woman, who had waded, with difficulty, through the deep snow, which had been falling all night, arrived, to request me to baptize her infant child, and to church herself. Here, as at many places which I have visited, a request was made me that I would consecrate a piece of ground, which, in most settlements, is enclosed and set apart for a place of interment. I told the people that this ceremony of our church is reserved for our bishops; but recommended their keeping it neatly enclosed; and assured them that, in the event of his ever visiting this bay, it would then give satisfaction to our excellent diocesan, Bishop Inglis, to comply with this, their very proper desire. For the first time since leaving Conception Bay, we were able to use a sail today, and were put up to Barren Island in two hours. Here the inhabitants are principally Romanists; but, as an Englishman, Robert Burt, who had died somewhat suddenly, was then lying unburied, I resolved to wait till tomorrow, that I might inter him.
Tuesday, 10. - A congregation of thirty-five met in a large store, one hundred feet long, belonging to Mr. John Cosens, which had been built by the late firm of Spurrier, and had been sold for a trifle. We had a fire similar to that on a ship's deck, in the centre of the store, to protect us from the weather, which was extremely cold, and, although there was no provision for the escape of the smoke, the building was so spacious, that we suffered little incon-
Pages 52 - 53
venience. The bell which "'usually" rings to call the people together for their meals, or work, was tolled by my direction. The psalms and lessons of the morning were evidently felt by the people to be very appropriate to the melancholy service, and the sermon, which I had put together for the occasion from Psalm 1. 22, 2:3, seemed to effect the hearers, -may, I hope not without edification? While I was thus engaged, Mr. John Cosens, who had been absent, returned, and heard with much satisfaction, of the very hospitable reception which his "skipper" had given me on my arrival.
Wednesday, 11.-He kindly took me, at nine, A.M., of the next day, in a large western boat, by the island of Merasheen, to the Isle of Valen, where he has an establishment, and a very pleasant neighbour in Mr. Isaac Moore, another merchant. In my visits to the different cabins, I was much shocked at the poverty of the people, which was greater here, than any which I had ever witnessed in Newfoundland, Some married females in one house were literally almost in a state of nudity; their manifest want of cleanliness, however, made it seem probable, - as I was afterwards informed was the case,-that part of their poverty might be traced to mismanagement. It must be most distressing to any merchant, or other settler, who is himself raised above poverty, and is possessed of human feeling, to live in a place where the improvidence of the people makes them so wretchedly dependent, for a greater part of the year, as the people are in this settlement. While I am arranging these notes to send to England, I have heard of the decease of one of the wretched females mentioned above. I had service in Mr. Cosen's house and a congregation of thirty-five, baptized one child, and churched the mother; and the next day,
Thursday, l2.-Baptized three children at their home, the mothers being too plainly without sufficient clothing to permit their
Pages 54 - 55
exposing themselves to the air at this inclement season; returned thanks, with the mothers, for their preservation in child-bed, and held another full service to forty. One tilt was visited by me in this island, the dimensions of which were only twelve feet by ten, and I found living in it a man and his wife,-the master and mistress of the house,
- two married daughters with their husbands and children, amounting, in all, to fifteen souls! I found a fine old widow lady here who has forty grandchildren living: her feelings had been severely tried at the death of her husband, to whom she had been many years allied, and was fondly attached. She had, in early youth, been a Romanist, but from conviction had renounced the errors of that faith, and attached herself to the church of her husband. On her making the anxious inquiry of her husband on his death-bed, "Whether he would like to turn ?" he, affixing a very different meaning to her affectionate inquiry, than that which merely implied his being turned in his bed, begged that the poor woman would go out of his sight, and not disturb his last moments, adding, "that he had occasionally before doubted the sincerity of her professed conversion, but he had rather have cherished the delusion to the last, than have been thus cruelly undeceived at such a moment !""
Friday, 13.-Went off on a bitter cold morning, in a bait skiff; two hours' sail to Clatter's Harbour, at the back of the Isle of Valen. The slob and swish ice becoming thicker, prevented our getting up the arm; walked, in consequence, to the head of the north-east passage, by thickly wooded "gulshes," three miles or more; thence across a neck of land to Chandler's Harbour in Paradise Sound, about one mile; thence I went along the hills by the shore, towards the south-east bight, which I had hoped to reach by night. We got benighted, however; the moon became obscured, and as a drift came on, with a drizzling snow and rain, we made a night fire. For feeding this, we felled in the
Pages 56 - 57
course of the night, a sufficient quantity of spruce and birch to have made a most shady retreat in a space equal to Lincoln's Inn Fields, and there we waited for the dawn. This is a more accurate account of such a night, than it would be to record that we had slept in the woods; for the traveller, lying on a few fir branches upon the snow, freezes on one side, while the blazing flame scorches him on the other. I did not, at this early period of my cruise, understand so well, as I afterwards did, the plan of making a fire in the woods; and in my hurry to greet the welcome sight of a cheerful fire, by which I might break the fast which I had kept since seven in the morning, I had neglected the necessary preliminary of digging out a hole in the eight feet of snow, which were on the ground. The immense fire which we kindled, for want of this precaution, continued to melt down the snow, lower and lower by degrees, till, before the dawn of morning, I was left to the action of the piercing winds, on the top of a Banks of snow, the fire being in a hole much below my level, and only benefiting me by its smoke, which threatened to blind, as well as to stifle me. I may mention, that the first tree, which I felled, nearly demolished my faithful dog which accompanied me, as it fell across the terrified creature's lions; the soft newly fallen snow, however, offered no resistance to his body, but sunk under his weight, so that he received no injury.
Saturday, 14.-In the morning started in the sleet and rain, and in a very wet condition from my last night's lair, to find the south east bight, and was more successful in my search, than the preceding evening. I was most humanely entertained by a Roman Catholic planter, Handlin and his wife, at whose house I dried and warmed myself, and after breakfast, was put over the bight in a punt, whilst it was blowing very heavily, and afterwards proceeded on foot to the winter-house of Mr. William Cooke, (of Biddestone, England) at Red Cove. As Mrs. Cooke, much
Pages 58 - 59
to my regret, had, on the first intimation of my arrival, walked nearly three miles to their summer residence at Adam's Island, in Paradise Harbour, to receive me there, I accompanied her husband to this place, where he has been settled eighteen years, and has a fine establishment. Finding that Mrs. C., who is the mother of a very interesting family, (if not a native,) was formerly a resident of Liverpool, in Nova Scotia, to the inhabitants of which place I am warmly attached, it was delightful to me to have an opportunity of speaking of scenes and persons which will ever be dear to my memory.
Sunday, 15. -Rose with lassitude; read prayers and a sermon to Mr. Cooke's family, his neighbours being all Romanists.
Monday, 16. -Left Paradise Harbour at eight, A.M., in a punt. Passed Nonsuch Harbour and Petit Forte without stopping, and got to Pushthrough, between Little and Great Gallows Harbour by eleven. Was reminded by an Irish servant in the boat of the approaching festival of St. Patrick, as he was exulting in alluding to the quantity of spirits which would be drunk before breakfast the next day, in Newfoundland, in honour of the patron saint of the Emerald Island. As there were no Protestants residing where I left the boat, I pushed on, starting by the north-east brook, and walking till three P.M. I came out in the same little harbour, about ten yards from the place we had started four hours before. I persevered, made a second trial, and threading our path through the thick woods, without the vestige of a track, got at length to the ice on Bay de l'Eau, beyond Little Harbour; followed, upon the ice of the bay, nearly nine miles, and came to the winter-tilt of William Chick, of Oderin, by half-past eight, P.M. I had discovered this cabin by the "flankers," or bright sparks, which flew up his chimney to some height in the clear starlit sky, from his brisk birch fire. As I had fully expected to pass another night in the woods in my wearied and wet condition, I was most thankful to discover these welcome signs of
Pages 60 - 61
our proximity to some human abode. None but those who have traversed unknown woods in the untracked snow, can conceive the joy with which the sight of the track of a human foot, or of a racket* is welcomed, even though such tracks, being only of persons who have been "rummaging," or searching for firesticks of timber in the woods, may, again and again have raised deceptive hopes, respecting their leading immediately to some habitation or settlement. Even the sight of a "whiting" in the woods, that is, of a tree stripped of its bark for the uses of the fishery, which tells of the place's having been visited, though in the preceding summer, or a year or two before, by the foot of man; -the marks, even, of the axe, where timber has, in former years been cut and carried away, seem to remind the lone traveller of the link which binds him to the rest of his species.
I lost no time, on my arrival at Chick's, in assembling fourteen persons, from his
* Rackets are used for walking over the snow, as they throw the weight of the body over a large space, and thus render persons, less liable to sink.
and the adjoining tilts, to full service; and after some very seasonable refreshment slept soundly on a bed which my kind hostess had spread by the fire upon the floor for me. She begged me to send her some books observing "I am fond of church books; a neighbour of mine 'faults' the church-catechism in his talk sir; but to my belief though I am no scholar there is not like to be a better." The women in Placentia Bay are very industrious and neat in their work. They plait bonnets and hats of the shavings of birch cut very thin like what I have seen in England made of the cuttings of stiff paper. I was glad to procure a pair of "cuffs", or mittens made in this bay of a kind of thick woollen or swanskin: these with earcaps which they also made and ornament very neatly are most essential to the comfort of those who venture on any out-of-door exercise or employment in winter. I had undertaken to go the next morning
Tuesday, 18, -to the island of Oderin; but the wind being too wild I started by
Pages 62 - 63
land, at half-past nine, over the country, steering nearly north-west by my chart and compass, for the south shore of Fortune Bay. I was the less anxious to visit Burin or Fortune, as I learned that there were very worthy Wesleyan Missionaries in these districts. I came out at Bay de l'Argent, by three P.M. down a rapid brook, which had a fall of water in it, and marks of a recent freshet in immense "clumpets" of ice, a yard and a half thick, which had been carried a hundred yards into the woods on each side, thirty feet above the usual channel of the brook, forcing down large trees, scraping the bark from the trunks of others, and bending the smaller stems to its current. I could never have imagined, had I not seen such evidence, that the force of a casual fresh-water current could be so great. I do not notice the numerous tracks of otter, beaver, foxes, deer, partridges, and hares, which I am passing everyday, but I may notice here that the son of William Chick and another youth lately killed fourteen deer, and that the families of Piper's Hole, had killed forty head of deer within a fortnight.
A man, Pitcher, formerly a servant at Bay de l'Argent, had, the preceding year, walked across to this place from Placentia Bay, and while the Fortune Bay people were in their winter tilts, at a distance from their summer residences, had robbed their summer-houses, which were situated upon the shore. On his way back, he had been arrested by a storm, and was providentially found by some deer-hunters, in a frost-burnt state, or he must have perished. Robert Swiers, of Hants Harbour, Trinity Bay, who had been imprisoned in Harbour Grace gaol, Conception Bay, for stealing a cow, met his fate in a similar way last winter (I learned while I was in Trinity Bay), in attempting, after his release from confinement, to get across the country from Conception Bay to his home in Trinity Bay.
I was fortunate enough to come out upon the shore in Fortune Bay, exactly where there were houses, and a very de-
Pages 64 - 65
cent young man, B. L. and his wife, having only left their winter tilts that morning, had cleaned up their neat summer house, and lighted a good fire, as though for my reception. I sent round to his neighbours to give notice of my intention to hold divine service at this house the next morning, and was delighted to see the serious and intelligent manner in which the children were taught to say their grace before and after meat, and their morning and evening prayers. My eyes, which have been much tried by the glare of the sun upon the snow, and by the cutting winds abroad, are further tried within the houses by the quantity of smoke, or "cruel steam," as the people emphatically and correctly designate it, with which every tilt is filled. The structure of the winter tilt, the chimney of which is of upright studs, stuffed or "stogged" between with moss, is so rude, that in most of them in which I officiated the chimney has caught fire once, if not oftener, during the service. When a fire is kept up, which is not unusual all night long, it is necessary that somebody should sit up, with a bucket of water at hand, to stay the progress of these frequent fires; an old gun-barrel is often placed in the chimney corner, which is used as a syringe, or diminutive fire-engine, to arrest the progress of these flames; or masses of snow are placed on the top of the burning, studs, which, as they melt down, extinguish the dangerous element. The chimneys of the summer-houses in Fortune Bay, are better fortifed against the danger, being lined within all the way up with a coating of tin, which is found to last for several years.
Wednesday, 18.- So much snow and drift during the night, and still falling, that the wall; of yesterday would have been quite impracticable to-day. A congregation of twelve adults assembled to full service; four baptisms. At twelve started for Bay d'Este, which would have been a distance of four miles in a punt; this conveyance, however, being unsafe, I was obliged to go by land, a distance of ten
Pages 66 - 67
miles, by Little Barrisway, and Salmonier and Shagrock Pond, to which there is another path from the beach, beaten like a foot-road, and a beaver-house upon the pond. Some of our path was over most difficult crags, by the landwash; and in one place we had to crawl upon our hands and knees, through a hole in a hollow rock; in others we went under crags, from which heavy icicles were pendent, resembling some mimic Niagara, which had been caught and fixed by the frost at mid-fall. It snowed and drifted, and froze hard as at any time during the winter: my sealskin cap, and the crape gauze veil, which I wore for the protection of my eyes, were stiffened with the frost: my gloves and handkerchief became masses of ice; and, as it was impossible to get off my sealskin mockasins, which had worn out from walking over the icy crags, which cuts frozen leather or skin like a knife, and consequently I could not change them, though I was provided with a second pair; I was in more danger today than probably at any other period of my journey, of being frost-burnt. Here I met I. W., an old man from Sturminster, in Dorset, who reads the church prayers to his neighbours on the Lord's Day, and begged of me to send him a supply of plain sermons, or, as he expressed it, " not too high learnt." " I have often dropped tears on Sunday," said he, "to think of the church at home, which I thought too little of when I was there; and often I have felt that I would have given the heart out of my body, sir, to hear the church prayers on the Lord's Day."
Full service. I endeavoured to remove here, and in other places, an unfavourable impression which some of the ignorant had conceived, and some mischievous and interested traders had encouraged. respecting a supply of seed potatoes, which, during the last year, had been sent by the colonial government, for gratuitous distribution among the distressed inhabitants of this and the other bays of the island. The potatoes sent did not suffice for the supply of all who needed them, and those which
Pages 68 - 69
respectable merchants imported for sale, or transported from St. John, and sold from their own stores, were alleged to be part of the gratuitous supply furnished by Government. I saw here again some remarkable signs of the powers of a late freshet from the thawed snow. At Long Harbour, however, a brook, thus swollen, forced a passage quite through Pyramid's Island, which was mid-stream, and on which was a house with eight men in it; and brought down stocks of trees, of forty and fifty feet in length, and of proportionate thickness. Clumpets of ice, three feet in thickness, swept over the house in which the men were, who were obliged, poor fellows! to sit astride upon the rafters, like fowls in a roost, to escape drowning till the fury of the freshet abated; this force of the river by which they were invaded, and of the two side-streams, denying them all chance of earlier escape from the island.
Thursday, 19.-Froze as hard as on any night during the winter. Baptized a child and churched the mother before leaving Bay d'Este for Shelter Point, where I proposed holding prayers, that an aged woman of eighty-six, a native of Placentia Bay, who had never seen any clergyman, might have the privilege of joining in common prayer, which she seemed to value much. Full service to eighteen, and one baptism. Started in a sailing punt, at one, P.M., passed Cape Mille on the south, and Grand le Pier on the north, by a very remarkable cliff, on the surface of which is a spot which exhibits a beautiful grass-green appearance, -to the settlement at the very bottom of Fortune Bay, (which resembles Tickle Harbour, in Trinity Bay,) twelve miles. Here, a mile and a half up the ice, I found James Miles, from Shaftesbury, Dorset, the father of the settlement. He had been fifty-six years in Newfoundland, and had never before seen a clergyman. He reads on Sundays to the surrounding families, which are chiefly from his own stock, although to his grief, some, having intermarried with Roman Catholics, have
Pages 70 - 71
declined attendance on the service of our liturgy. I had full service here at eight P.M., and baptized two of his children. Here, for the first time, I witnessed the inconvenience and the pain which those suffer who labour under what is called "lindness;"f his sons, who had been deer hunting, having come home affected with this painful visitation, which I was doomed shortly afterwards to experience myself.
The thrifty people in this bay endure, perhaps, greater hardships and privations, than any in this trying island. They continue catching fish till Christmas, when the fish generally failing for a season, they avail themselves of this respite, to do their winter's work in making boats, &c. They begin fishing again, at the latest, by Lady-day. It is exceedingly deep water in which they fish, by which the labour is much increased. The fishing lines freeze as they draw them out of the water; after the first fish is caught, they throw them into the water coiled, that they may thaw in the sea. I have myself seen the fish as soon as they have been taken out of the water, turn up from the cold and die immediately, stiff frozen, and could not but pity the poor men who were subject to such exposure in rough weather.
Friday, 20.-Two feet of fresh snow and a severe gale. Walked one mile and a half to James Miles, jun. and held full service, baptizing three children and churching the mothers of the two youngest. Good old Miles, in the freedom which the most devout will feel, during the performance of a religious service in a humble tilt, when I came to the charge which closes the office of baptism, respecting the bringing of the children at a proper age, and on their obtaining a proper proficiency, to be confirmed by the bishop, devoutly exclaimed aloud, "Ah! there's no possibility for that in these parts; -the more's the pity! but, please God, we'll do our best." I could not but remind him, that our merciful God makes requirement only according to what
Pages 72 - 73
we have, and not according to what we have not.
Sunday, 22.-Up by five, and went at eight in a boat to English Harbour. There was a great deal of thin slob ice, and the "barber" vapor was very cutting: reached the settlement at half-past ten, held full service, and baptized seven children. Started at a quarter-past three in a leaky punt, and reaching Femme by five, P.M. baptized five children for one Kippen, and passing New Harbour, and Little Bay de l'Eau, reached Le Conte, nine miles, where, a mile up the woods, I got, by seven, P.M., to the winter house of a large family. There I held full service and baptized eight children Here were sixteen souls in a tilt of sixteen feet by twelve feet ten.
Monday, 23.-Another deep fall of snow in the, night, sleet driving to-day, and walking quite impracticable. I got, with difficulty, over a very steep and slippery hill from the tilt to the Harbour Le Conte, when I took boat to go along the shore. As the equinoctial gale was very violent, we could not carry our foresail, and were obliged to go under a goose wing. Got by eleven, to Pinkey's Storehouse, at the east head of Mal Bay, which I was very happy to reach, as we had to steer with an oar, instead of a rudder, the boat which had been recently launched, having not yet been supplied with one; and we shipped many sprays, which, as they froze immediately after falling upon our clothes. would have chilled the ardour of the most warm admirer of English aquatics. Held full service here to Mr. Newman, and his menservants.
Tuesday, 24.-Wind westerly and high; but, as the people here are experienced and used to keep out in boats, through the winter, and were not afraid to go in the teeth of it a league to Rencontre, I did not object, and reached the family of Mr. B. C., by half-past ten, A.M. Full service, two children baptized; sorry to observe
Pages 74 - 75
some levity here, as I had in some other places, among the elder children. A company of six men had gone, last month, into the country from this neighbourhood, in search of deer, when falling in with a herd of about one hundred and fifty, they had followed them till they were caught in a snow-storm, and very narrowly escaped with their lives, all six being more or less frost-burnt.
Wednesday, 26.-Wind off the shore; up at five, A.M. and off at six. It froze hard enough to stop the leaks in a very leaky boat in which I was conveyed by Rencontre Island, past Belle Harbour and East Bay, above two leagues to Noster Cove, Long Island. Here I landed my men, to give notice to the people at Corbin of my intention to hold divine service in the P.M., at Balorin, and I held full service here to twenty adults, and baptized twenty-two children; left at one P.M. for Balorin, a neat settlement, where are one hundred and fifty souls. I found. the settlement in much confusion upon my arrival, from the furious conduct of two drunken men; but order was restored, and I held full service to more than one hundred, and baptized eight, not closing service until eight, P.M. The settlements in this neighbourhood are very populous. There are, in this bay, at least three thousand persons, who are warmly attached to the church of England.
Thursday, 26.-Found that the wife of John Cluatt, my host, was an old correspondent, who had assisted her grandfather Beck, and her father Tulk, late readers under the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in keeping school at St. Lawrence, in Placentia Bay. She told me with tears, that next to the death of her father, she had felt it the greatest calamity in her life, that, on her removing at marriage to her present place of residence, she had not been permitted, so great was the scarcity of books in her native settlement, to take with her prayer-book and some other works of the Society for
Pages 76 - 77
Promoting Christian Knowledge with which I had supplied her some years before. The Reverend Messrs. Harris and Evans former Missionaries at Placentia, had within the memory of the most aged inhabitants visited Balorin; and since my own residence in Newfoundland our Missionary the Reverend James Robertson had visited the place and given me a very accurate description of it and of its interesting inhabitants. I held a full service again to-day
Friday, 27-And baptized four more children. I was sorry to omit visiting the adjoining settlement of St. Jacques but I did not think it prudent to lose what seemed a fine opportunity of going in a Banks boat twenty-one miles to Harbour Briton. We started at 11 A.M. and did not reach Harbour Briton till 2 A.M. of the next day
Saturday, 28 - When the Swift our boat which had not shown any great quantity of water upon our passage nearly sunk at the wharf and was found on her being hauled up to have been stove in launching. A large hole in her bottom into which the hand might be thrust and which let in water in such quantity that the pump could not now keep her clear had been covered with a coating of ice through the extreme severity of the weather. This coating had providentially not melted or worn away during our beat against a head-wind in Fortune Bay the whole of the preceding day or we must have sunk before we could have reached the shore. Here I was confined two or three days with a diarrhea which I find is a very common disorder at this season among those whose diet is confined to the venison which abounds hereabouts.
Sunday, 29.-Two full services in the sail-room of Messrs. Newman and Hunt which had been fitted up with house-flags for the occasion. The agents of this firm, here and at Gualtois seemed to vie with
Page 78 - 79
each other as to which should carry the kind wishes of their principals most into effect, by paying me the most kind attention; and showed every disposition, by sending notices to the surrounding settlements of my intention of service, to make my visit most useful; -baptized one child publicly, and three at home. Preparations were made, and as much as 70l., I believe, collected for the erection of a church here, when the Reverend James Robertson visited this place, and a good site was fixed for the building.
Monday, 30.-Sailed at ten A.M., in the Paul Pry, a sloop of forty-seven tons, in which Mr. Creed, agent to Messrs. Newman, had kindly forwarded me to Gualtois. I was sorry that I was prevented visiting Jersey Harbour, an establishment in the neighbourhood, belonging to the Messrs. Nicol, of Jersey: called at Brunette Island, twelve miles, at half-past two, P. M., and after holding full service to eighteen persons, and baptizing five children, weighed anchor at six, P.M. Here we saw the wreck of the Royal Nigger, a fine vessel of the Messrs. Newman's, which had run ashore at this place on her way to St. John's, about Christmas last, and which, I regret to say, the people, instead of protecting as they might have done for its owners, had been unprincipled enough to plunder and break up. We bear against a head-wind through the night, and got to Hermitage Cove, Hermitage Bay, a place which I had visited five years ago.
Tuesday, 31.-I held full service there, baptized nine children in public, and one in private, and visited a sick man. Left Hermitage Cove for Gualtois, Long Island, the whaling establishment of Messrs. Newman, which I reached in a storm of rain, by half-past three. My visits to the settlements in this neighbourhood were much aided by the kindness of Mr. William Gallop, who was formerly a pupil of the free naval school attached to Greenwich Hospital, and now fills very ably the re-
Pages 80 - 81
sponsible station of agent to this respectable establishment.
April, Wednesday, 1.-It did not clear up till ten, A.M. when I started in the Paul Pry sloop, accompanied by Mr. Gallop, and Mr. Thomas Gaden, the sub-collector of His Majesty's Customs, who had come on with me from Harbour Briton. I passed Furby's Cove, sending the inhabitants notice of my intention to hold service there in the evening, upon my return; and I proceeded eight miles to Olave's Cove, which I reached before the sloop, in Mr. Gallop's light eight-oared gig, and had assembled the three resident families for service by the time of her arrival; -baptized five children in full service. I was glad to find here a few copies of "Bishop Blomfield's Prayers," and some other books of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. A clergyman in the neighbourhood of Sturminster, had sent them out to one of the planters, who had very profitably dispersed them among the settlers around him. How much, under God, do this and similar societies effect towards keeping up a knowledge of Christian doctrine, and Christian requirements in these spiritually destitute settlements! I left this place at four, and got to Furby's Cove by five, P.M. I held full service to sixty persons; baptizing fifteen children. The people of this neighbourhood are very warmly attached to the church of their fathers, and, when asked respecting their creed, say, they belong to "the good old Euglish religion;" and I believe that, in the main, removed as they are from all social means of edification, some of them really adorn their good profession, although, the too general prevalence of spirit-drinking even among the females, is much to be lamented. When it is considered in England, that the original settlers of some of these places possesed, on coming out to this country, only the common modicum of attainments which fell to the lot of the inbabitants of English villages, before the institution of Sunday schools, it may be
Pages 82 - 83
conceived, what the third and fourth generation in many such places is likely to be.
Returned to Gualtois in the eight-oared gig, as we had dismissed the sloop on night's coming on.
Thursday, 2.-Officiated to a very attentive congregation of twenty, in a loft which Mr. William Gallop had fitted up so neatly, that I regretted being obliged to leave the place before Sunday. Off at ten A..M., through the Passage, between Long Island, and the Main. In this passage there are two waterfalls: one so fine, that we rested upon our oars, for some minutes, to look at its unceasing flow of water, in an unbroken perpendicular fall of at least sixty feet. At one part of the tickle, where the hills were wooded, close to the margin of the water, we came to ice, at the edge of which persons were engaged in boats, fastened to the ice by keel-logs, catching codfish. We hauled our gig over the ice, and again proceeded, and with difficulty got round Bremner's Head and to Cape St. Mark, on the opposite shore of Bay Despair. Besides a drizzling rain, the salt spray was thrown over us, and deposited so much salt upon our faces and clothes, that we were whitened like millers. We passed Samelin Passage, which was filled with ice, Isle Richards, Conne Head, and Diamond Point to Rottie Point, twenty-three miles. There we met with so much ice, that we drew the boat up and left her, and walked ourselves upon the ice, this, from the rain which had fallen, was not quite trustworthy. We got safely, however, past the opening of Little River and Conne River to Messrs. Newman's winter crew, ten men, and a skipper. who were in a tilt twenty by fifteen, near the head of the south-east arm of Bay Despair, thirty-two miles from Gualtois, which I had left in the morning. After great difficulties we reached their tilt, by ten, P.M. They had all retired for rest; a fire was soon made, however, of wich-hazel sticks, two yards in length, and thick as our bodies, and by the fire's red glare, the men in their
Pages 84 - 85
red or blue woolen shirts, as they came forward to welcome us, and could be discovered through the smoke, presented a very grotesque appearance.
My intention being to visit the southern and western shore of Newfoundland, far as the Bay of Islands, or at least, St. George's Bay, I had thought that it would economize time, if I went through the interior from the Bay Despair, a journey of eight or nine days overland, and so return by the settlements along the coast. By this arrangement, I should, after visiting the extreme point of my intended cruize, have been proceeding nearer to St. John's, by each day's journey along the shore, and should not have had to touch twice at any one place. For this purpose I hired, on the Bay Despair, Maurice Louis, a Micmac Indian, one of Mr. Cormack's suite, when he had been similarly engaged; Jean Bapitiste, Mr. Cormack's principal guide was, at this time, at the back of the land, as they term that part of the island which is about the river Exploits, in the north. The Indians also call the river Exploits the Spread, from the size of the stream. He returned within a few days, having been confined a week in the country from snow blindness. The guide whom I had now added to my other man, as my escort through the country, had once walked in the depth of the winter, from the Exploits across the island, to Gualtois in four days. Many have compared my own visitation to the excursion of Mr. Cormack, an enterprising individual whom I remember having seen at St. John's, when I visited Newfoundland in 1827. It has not, I should imagine, been very dissimilar; and it would indeed, be a matter of regret, if the zeal of a Missionary could not induce him to make as much exertion, and to endure as much privation, as others would brave in the pursuit of philosophical research, or the gratification of mere curiosity.
Friday, 3.-Full service to the winter crew at half past seven, A.M., before they went into the woods for their winter work. Here, and at other winter houses, I saw a
Pages 86 - 87
rude calendar; it was a piece of board, on which was carved an initial letter for each day of the week, thus, S. M. T. W. T. F, S. Under these letters the date of the month was chalked afreah at the begining of each week. The monotony of a Newfoundland planter's life is remarkable. I met, on my journey with pious person., who had occasionally, from want of such a calendar I have described above, so miscalculated the lapse of time, that they had scrupuloualy abstained from work on Saturday or Monday, supposing it to be Sunday. At two I started with my Indian pilot; but we got no further than the bottom of this arm. Here were the wig-wams of two Indian families of the Banokok tribe, or Six Nations, from Canada, and my guide requested that he might be allowed to stay the night, that he might repair his mockasins and make other preparations for his journey. Here I met with an interesting Indian, from Conne River, five miles hence; his ascetic acts, and acts of real humanity, had acquired for him a character of holiness, and a great influence over his tribe. He was, at this time, under a self imposed vow, not to break silence during the Fridays of Lent: accordingly, though the arrival of strangers was, of course, most exciting, and might have been expected to throw him of his guard, he exhibited a degree of impassiveness and of nervous control (as he lay smoking his short blackened pipe, with his feet towards the central fire,) which were quite wonderful. I really imagined that the man was dumb. His imperturbability was the more surprising as he had it in his power, I found afterwards, by merely opening his mouth, to have exposed an act of rascality which had been practiced upon him by a person present, who, had he left, as he was expected to have done, before dawn the next day, might have escaped detection. The spruce boughs in these wigwame were spread, like feathers, around the fire, which was is the centre. Towards this our feet were directed; the softest and cleanest deer skin was most courteously offered
Pages 88 - 89
to me, and I passed the night very comfortably. I learned from Maurice Louis, that Zeul prestoul, in their language signified "God save you!" and a la zeud mat, "let us praise God !" but that they had no word for prayer. This instance of the poverty of their language, if indeed, we understood each other rightly, is the most extraordinary, since they certainly are no strangers to prayer. My Irish pilot, whom I shall so call, to distinguish him from Maurice Louis, my Indian guide, informed me that, while he was four years with Brazil, an Indian chief, this Micmac never allowed his family to commence their day's hunting, or to lie down upon their green boughs at night, without prayer; and: I found, while I was myself among them, that the Indians were very regular in their evening and morning devotions and attention to their rosaries, and that, as they are Romanists, they were very particular in carrying their children over to the Romish priest at the French island of St. Peters for baptism. The females particularly had a soft melodious hum in which they chanted with much seeming devotion, every night before they gave themselves to rest
Saturday, 4.-I started at half-past six into the interior. Two Indian squaws accompanied us, and two other Indians, as twenty deer, some of which they wanted to carry out, were buried in the snow, one day's journey directly upon our track. It is a singular fact, which the Indians related to me, that bears and wolves have so great a dislike to the branches of the juniper, that if a few of them are stuck in the snow where the venison is deposited, they effectually preserve it from the depredations of these animals.
The Indian squaws pleased me much by their natural courtesy. Though walking above a hundred miles in Indian rackets or snow-shoes has made me now somewhat expert in the use of them, it may be imagined that I was at first, indeed I must be still, very awkward in them, by the
Pages 90 - 91
side of an Indian. Being thirty-three inches in length, and eighteen inches broad, and weighing each of them twenty ounces, even before they are saturated with wet, they occasioned me many falls and disasters. This was especially the case in descending very steep hills, or going upon the thin ice of Long Pond, which broke in under our weight. The water which had collected to the depth of a foot or a foot and a half on the top of ice of some of the large lakes, had its own coat of ice, and although the safety of the traveller is not endangered by the weakness of this upper ice, his expedition is very much impeded. Though noisy in their mirth at their own disasters, these Indians were courteous as French people could have been, in rendering me every assistance in my difficulties. We pitched for the night near the Bay of East-brook. A description of the process of making our temporary place of rest for this night may suffice for the description of our similar arrangements during the week. The snow being at lest ten feet deep, a crude shovel is first cut out of the side of some standing tree, which is split down with a wedge made for the purpose. Snow does not adhere to wood as it does to an iron shovel, consequently a wooden shovel is preferable for the purpose of shoveling out the snow. The snow is then turned out for the space of eight or ten feet square, according to the number of the company which requires accommodation. When the snow is cleared away, quite to the ground, the wood is laid on the ground for the fire. About a foot of loose snow is left in the cavern round the fire. On this the spruce or fir branches, which break off very easily when bent hastily back downwards, are laid all one way, featherwise, with the lower part of the bough upwards. Thus the bed is made. Some of these boughs are also stuck upright on the snow against the wall of snow by the side of the cavern, and a door or opening is left in the wall of snow for the bringing in during the night the birch-wood for burning, which is piled up in heaps close by for the night's supply, that any who
Pages 92 - 93
may be awake during the night may bring it in as it is required. Here the traveller lies with no covering from the weather, or other shelter than the walls of snow on each side of his icy cavern and surrounding trees may supply. Of course as the laborious exercise during the day is sufficiently heating, and he is unwilling unnecessarily to increase his burden, he has no great coat or cloak for wrapping up at night. A yellow fungus which grows on the wich-hazel supplies tinder to the Indian, who is never without flint and steel, and he is remarkably expert in vibrating moss and dry leaves and birch bark rapidly through the air in his hands, which, soon after the application of a spark, ignite and make a cheerful blaze. One who posses a night in the woods in the winter must halt by four P.M., for by the time the hole in the snow is dug, and a sufficient number of trees are felled, and cut up to serve for the supply of fuel for the night, it will have become dark. One of these resting-places, in which the snow was deeper than usual, reminded me of a remarkable sight which I had witnessed at Bermuda. There a sand, which was driven by the wind from a neighbouring Banks or shoal, was making such rapid encroachments on the cedar groves, upon a certain part of the main, that several cedars were covered nearly to their tops by the sand which was gradually accumulating about them, clogging their branches, and threatening eventually to cover them. Here, as the fire melted our cave away, and enlarged our chamber of ice, branches of verdant spruce, fresh as when, first covered in October and November, came forth to view several feet below the surface of the snow, as the cedar branches were observed to do from the sand in Bermuda. There was no other point of similitude, however, between this scene and that which it recalled to my memory; and grateful as a view of the green landscapes of Bermuda might have been to the eye, a few hours of its Favonian breezes would have placed me in no very agreeable condition.
The correct and modest deportment of the squaws who were in our company here
Pages 94 - 95
and in the wigwams, was highly creditable to them. I had met with dormitory arrangements in our own planter's houses, of so promiscuous a description, that my Irish guide, who had lived four years with Indians, expressed his surprise at a want of delicacy which he had never seen among the Micmacs; but I could not have imagined had I not myself witnessed it, that this people could have shown so much delicacy and propriety of conduct as I observed among them, wherever I met with them. I have the squaws chiefly in view in this remark; but I have never seen any of the men otherwise than well behaved, except when they have been under the influence of liquor. To the immoderate use of this they are too generally strongly addicted. There are gratifying exceptions, however. I had been supplied, by the kindness of Mr. Gallop, with some port wine, some of which I offered to my Indian guide, but I found that his notions of fasting were so correct, that they extended to all indulgences, and during Lent he declined tasting even wine: some of them during that season forego smoking. The Indians dress their venison on skewers of wood, which they stick in the ground around the fire. They plaited for me a basket-like mat, of small spruce boughs, to serve as a plate. In this they served me the deer's heart as the most delicate part of the animal. The intense cold made the trees crack, with a report, in the silence of the night, as though struck with an axe; my watch also, under the same influence, became of little use, a most serious inconvenience when traversing the country in a season when the days are so short, and a little miscalculation may occasion the traveller's being benighted before he is prepared.
Sunday, 6.-At half-past six, A.M., I took leave of the two Indians and the young squaws, who were now returning, and as I parted from them, I felt that I should miss those musical prattlers; for their soft language, though I could not understand a word of it, had fallen very gratefully upon the ear in
Pages 96 - 97
the stillness of a night in the forest. I had been induced, too, on the preceding night to creep out a little distance from the fire, that I might enjoy the picturesque effect of our little group, as the stars were twinkling in the broad arch of heaven, and the smoke was curling through the evergreen branches which were enlivened by the ruddy glare of our brisk fire; and, as I heard the light laugh, and caught the good-humoured faces of my companions, I had felt that when they left us, I should retain all the privations and lose all which probably might have given some charm to such a tour. We saw tracks of deer every twenty yards as we passed through the country; so numerous were they at last, that we ceased to take any notice of them; herds of deer became themselves objects of very frequent occurrence. They offered a very interesting sight. The whole interior, with little exception of the tops of some of the hills, from which the snow had melted, was then white with snow. These bare spots upon the hills are called "naps;" though they are brown, and not green, they resemble island meadows in an ocean of snow. On these the deer were grazing leisurely like cattle. They were travelling in quest of food, from one of these naps to another. The partridge, or ptarrnigan were also very numerous upon these hills, searching for a species of cranberry, which is called here, the partridgeberry. In places near water, which, after long frost, becomes exceedingly scarce in the interior, the tracks of the deer were as thick, as of cattle in the snow in a well stocked farm-yard. I was obliged, in going through the country, to fasten my terrier, which accompanied me, to my belt, as he would follow upon scent of the deer, and be lost to me for two and three hours at a time; and though I had no fear but that he would come up with us again, he would, if let loose, have effectually prevented our coming within shot of any deer or ptarmigan. For three days we were favoured with very brilliant weather, and made so much progress upon the hard snow, that I believe,
Pages 98 - 99
we were one-third of our way across to Bay St. George, having got within sight of the Catt Aeau Hills. A field of white paper, varied only by an occasional blot of the pen, with the full glare of the bright sun upon it all day, and the red glare of the fire all night, to say nothing of the effect of the wind by day and of the wood smoke, or "cruel steam" by night, may give some idea of the constant trial to which our eyes were subjected.
Monday, 6.-By night we felt our eyes very weak.
Tuesday, 7.-The whole three of us were affected with a gritty, gravelly sensation in the eye, and were, at length, completely deprived of the power of sight. Our provisions too, over which the Indian who was cook, had, with the usual improvidence of his race, not been sufficiently economical, were just out in a country which abounds with game, and in which it is so difficult to travel even without any burden, none think of carrying provisions for more than a day or two into the interior with them; but neither the pilots nor I could now see sufficiently to use a gun, or bear indeed to look upwards. The Indian did try, but he came back without success, although he met with many fresh tracks of deer, and heard many partridges, and in the course of the night, deer had evidently passed within twenty yards of our retreat. It became so thick, moreover, that, had we been ever so little affected with snow-blindness, we could not have seen more than a few yards, and could not consequently have made any way in an unknown country. Our Indian guide, while he was in search of deer, nearly lost all track of us, when, our allowance of food being exceedingly scanty, our situation seemed likely to be very deplorable. All Tuesday we rested in our icy chamber. What an oratory was it for the prayers of two or three, who were surely agreed touching what they should ask of their Father in heaven. The ejaculations "Give us this day our daily bread," and "lighten
Pages 100 - 101
our darkness," commanded a ready response. Such place might be a Bethel, and there may be seasons in the lives of those who travel, and scenes such as these, of which they may afterwards say, that the LORD was by them in the wilderness, and that it has been good for them to have been there. Some natural tears may have mingled with the water which the acrid vapour from the smoke of the damp wood (for it now rained) forced from my eyes, as I thought of the probable anxiety of my dear wife, and of the likelihood that all my dreams of future useful labours in the church might be thus fatally dissipated. It was at length hinted by the Indian, that my dog might make a meal; and it is as much that they may serve in such a season of extremity, as for any fondness which they have for the animal, or use they generally make of them, that Indians are usually attended by dogs of a mongrel breed. Had my Indian pilot known the coast, we might have got to some Indian wigwams in White Bear Bay, but he did not like to attempt reaching that bay. The straggling locations of these Indians along our coast, reminded me much of the separation between Abraham and Lot. The reasons, in the case of Indians, who separate son from father, and brother from brother, that they may have uninterrupted space for their hunting and furring excursions, are similar to those which led the patriarchs to live apart, that they might have ample space for their pastoral pursuits. A large lake, inside of the Bay East, which I passed, gave me the idea, with its precipitous wooded cliffs, of an inland sea: the size of some of the lakes or ponds of Newfoundland is immense; a lake within the Bay of Islands, in which are numerous seals the whole summer, has an island of forty miles extent in the midst of it.
Wednesday, 8. -This morning, on finding the weather still thick, I divided the bread-dust and crumbs, all which now remained of our provisions, not amounting altogether to more than two biscuits, into three parts,
Pages 102 - 103
and gave a part to each of my guides, reserving a like share for myself; and, as I had not the patent apparatus with me for extracting bread from saw-dust, though I saw the danger which must attend our moving in such thick weather, and blind as we all were, I perceived that we must either make an effort to return, or must starve where we were. I proposed, therefore, to the Indian pilot, that we should try to return to the spot where we had left so much venison buried. At first he hesitated; but, at length he agreed that we should attempt it. A black gauze veil, which I had kept over my eyes when the sun was at its height, and the resolution to which I had adhered of not rubbing my eyes, had preserved me, perhaps, from suffering so much from sun-blindness as my companions. Maurice Louis, the Indian, would open his eyes now and then to look at my compass; -we could not see for fog more than 100 yards; he would fix on some object as far as the eye could reach, and then shut his eyes again, when I would lead him up to it. On reaching it he would open his eyes again, and we would, in the same manner, take a fresh departure. It was literally a case in which the blind was leader to the blind. The fog made our travelling dangerous; it did indeed occasion our going astray; but it was providentially favourable to us upon the whole; for, had the sky been clear, and the sun bright as when we set out, we must have been incapacitated by our sun-blindedness from moving for a week at least, and must have suffered much, if not fatally, from want of food. By forced marches, -the snow now being soft, and nearly the entire distance to be travelled in rackets, in consequence of which we could not make the same expedition which we did as we came along, - we were providentially enabled to reach by seven or eight, P.M., the same places at which we had halted at four each day on our outward march. Thus, a degree of labour, that of digging and clearing, to which we were now quite unequal, was
Transcription by Bill Crant, Elmsdale, NS Canada
Posted 9 May, 1999
Revised by Jim Butler, September, 2002
|Recent Updates||Contact Us|
Your Community, Online!
Newfoundland's Grand Banks is a non-profit endeavor.
No part of this project may be reproduced in any form for any purpose other than personal use.
© Newfoundland's Grand Banks (1999-2018)