Riders on the Storm– Journey to Lanark County — Part 3


Rock the Boat! Lanark County or Bust! Part 1

It Wasn’t the Sloop John B — Do’s and Don’t in an Immigrant Ship -Part 2


The David of London was the last ship to sail, and it was the smallest. She carried 364 passengers, and among them was 22 year-old James Watt and his 18 year old wife Margaret soon to be residents of Carleton Place. There was also their  6 month old son John, and James’s father and his wife Marion, both in their 50s.

Twenty-eight hours after sailing they encountered the first of many severe storms. There was no way anyone could walk the deck and cook on the pots erected for the specific purpose of cooking. The storm had knocked them all over. No meals could be made, so they had to exist on mixed meal and molasses as a substitute. With little food and the continuing storms for 9 days, they all became very weak.  Add to the fact that the weather became cold with the onslaught of the storms, and you can imagine what the hold of the boat was like with over crowding.

The cold weather continued for the whole journey until they finally approached the mouth of  St. Lawrence River where it suddenlychanged. It became so hot that everyone nearly suffocated from the smell and heat below deck. Consequently, a lot of them made their way to the deck and slept there. Every favourable day the Captain ordered all his passengers to bring up their clothes and air them out. The sick were also ordered above deck as the Captain was afraid some infectious fever might get among them.

Only four births took place during the passage, but four children died.  One of them was young John Watt, not even a year old. Another child fell from the deck into the hold and broke his arm. Had he not fallen on top of someone on his way down he too would have become a casualty.


The move down the St. Lawrence was difficult and slow going, and they had to cast anchor many times. They finally arrived at Quebec City on June 25, 37 days later from their departure. There everyone debarked the ship and they were processed through Customs House and inspected by a surgeon. They were instructed to return to ship that night. The next morning at 6 am theybegan to move all their luggage on board a steamboat where they finally left Quebec City at 11 pm that night. That night it rained and a tremendous storm of thunder and lightening came on. It was the worst storm of the voyage, and the rain was heavy. The greater part of the night all 400 passengers were obliged to sit on the deck all night. Most everyone was drenched and had to remain in their wet clothes and let them dry on their backs.

They had no alternatives, no access to their trunks, and all the food was spoiled with bread being reduced to dough. In this state they finally reached the port of Montreal. Now they had to remove their luggage once again and load it up into wagons. Those who could not walk rode on top until they got to Lachine, which was 10 miles away. There they camped out for four days until they were instructed to board flat bottomed boats. Soon they would be going through the Lachine Rapids.


With Files from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s