Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Adam Adams Bayham Township Elgin County Ontario - Letter 2
Adam Adams circa 1900
The Canadian Letter:
This letter was written to John and Mary (Sayers) Dale, Aldhurst Farm, Capel, Surrey, England from their nephew Adam Adams, eldest son of Thomas and Sarah Adams.The Adams family was living on the Adams Farm in Bayham, Elgin County, Ontario, Canada near the village of Vienna, at the time this letter was written.
Vienna, Elgin County
June 13th 1857
By referring to our memorandum book we are astonished to find that nearly four months have elapsed since we received your lengthy and instructive letter. We have often talked of you and have spent much time in looking over the drawing you sent us in your letter, it was quite a curiosity. Mother and Father knew it direct when they saw it. We were all much pleased with it and intend to preserve it as one of our treasures, it now lies before me, if I am a judge. I think it is very well done and we all thank you kindly for the pains you took in drawing it in order to afford us the pleasure of seeing your English home. Mother has pointed out to us the window of the bedroom where I have rested my weary limbs during the night watches. I almost regret that I can remember nothing about it. Of England's pleasant scenery I have not the least recollection, the ocean, the wide blue ocean I can remember nothing about, but I often entertain the hope that if spared I may yet behold the Atlantic's wave.
As a substitute for the sea we can see the great lakes around us and father says that it does himself almost as much good to look on the water of the lake as it used to when in England he could gaze on the billows of the sea. I have said that we can see the lakes, you must conclude from this that we could stand at our door and see the boats on Lake Erie or Ontario, this is not the case however as we are about six miles from Erie shore and still further from Ontario. But it's nothing to take a walk to the former lake. On the Queen’s birthday, I enjoyed myself greatly rambling along on the banks to the east and west of Port Burwell.
We have just concluded to send you a map of our province and then you will be able to see for yourselves where we live and the different towns and villages that are springing up everywhere in our beloved country. We will enclose the map in a newspaper, there can be no harm in that, and I dare say, it will be interesting to you all to look over the counties, county towns, rivers of Canada. We have not yet procured the map, we shall endeavor to do so before we mail this scroll and perhaps we may try to give a few explanations about the map and send them with this.
It was quite interesting for us to learn your ages, and now we will proceed to give you ours. I was 20 on the 13th January last, Thomas who was born soon after our arrival in America will be 18 on the 13th of next month, Sarah our only sister was 15 on the 11th December last and John the youngest was 12 on the 20th of last January.
We were glad to learn that you were all in health and are thankful to be able to say the same of ourselves. We regret that we cannot with this send Father's and Mother's likenesses so that we might have Uncles and Aunts in return, but that will make no difference though. We hope we shall Uncle and Aunts portrait with your next letter and Father and Mother will have
theirs taken as soon as a daguerreotypist – comes this way.
I suppose by this time you have read through the book entitled the 'Backwoods of Canada' if the book treats of nothing but the backwoods I expect you were glad when you came to the last page, for what can be more dreary, more forbidding than the backwoods either of Canada or of the United States, that is where the trees have been felled and where fire has swept over the prostrated forest leaving the logs and stumps of trees as black as black can be, if these are the places you have been reading about, where there is now and then a shanty and where the inhabitants are as ignorant as savages you must conclude that Canada is a heathenish place. But I am going too far, I have been presuming that you have not read of the beautiful scenery that is to be seen in Canada, its fine farms and fine houses, it’s pretty villages and large cities, its noble rivers, its beautiful hills and fertile vales.
We were rather surprised to learn that you read the journal called 'The Friend' from Philadelphia. We have several numbers of the same work, I might say several volumes. Father and Mother paid a visit to some friends about 20 miles from where we live not long since. They had taken “The Friend” for many years and they sent by Father and Mother when they returned quite a load of reading in the shape of a box called 'the Friend'. We find that a great deal of information is derived from them.
You ask what kind of livestock we keep - we have horses, cows, sheep and pigs. We keep poultry but no bees. I don't suppose it would be so profitable to keep bees in this country as it is in England – I suppose the birds have been singing a long time in the Old Country, here we have birds singing or chattering. I expect you would call it, but although the birds of this country are not renown for their song they are, I have read, far more gaudy than the birds of England. Among the beautiful birds to be seen here, the soldier bird (or what the people here call the soldier bird) stands first, most of its feathers are a fiery red, the rest are a jet black colour, it is very still and shy. Instead of the nightingale we have the whippowill. We have just been looking over Webster's large dictionary to see what he says about the whippowill, he tells
us it is allied to the night hawk or nightjar and we find that the nightjar is a British bird, also called the Goat Sucker. It seeks its prey in the dusk and is remarkable for the jarring sound it makes when it darts down towards the earth. But I will now stop telling you about all our birds.
I must say a little about our crops and then conclude. On our farm we grow wheat, oats, maize, buckwheat, peas and turnips. You supposed that the climate was too cold for tobacco. We do not grow that article but there is a good deal of it grows in the province.
We shall write more particularly when we write again, if this can be called writing – we are actually ashamed of it. Especially as your epistle lies before me. We did not think of writing until we could send Father's and Mother's portraits but we do not know exactly when they can have them taken, so Mother urged us to write this morning merely to let you know that we were well and that we received your letter and so on.
Father and Thomas have been planting potatoes this morning, they have finished now and are at present out in the woods splitting rails to make fences with. You will wonder no doubt to hear that we have just finished planting, the spring has been rather backward this year but now all crops at least wheat, oats, peas look very well. I must break off.
We all join in sending our best love to you and to all.
I am your Affectionate Cousin