Rolling down the Rapids –Journey to Lanark Part 5


The settlers first experience of land travel in Canada was the voyage from Montreal down the St. Lawrence to Kingston. The first nine miles was overland to Lachine, where most would embark on flat-bottomed durham boats for the river trip.

They had to carry their luggage from the ship to a steamboat and wait at Lachine for over 4 days for the next part of their journey. Rich people could hire a carriage, which was pleasant. Poorer people piled themselves and their luggage in a diligence (stage-coach) or a large wagon.


While most of the tired travellers continued down the St. Lawrence in the durham boats, many did make the journey by coach or even walked. One man whose dog was not allowed on the boat in 1819 walked from Lachine to Kingston faster than his luggage which travelled on a boat.

Len Langill
Hi Linda…if I may suggest a correction going from Montreal to Kingston…they would be going up the St Lawrence R…and not as down river you had mentioned…love all your very informative work..!!!

After the long voyage across the sea, most emigrants found the stop-and-start trip on the inland river exhausting. By the time they were firmly on land they must have felt as if they had been travelling for months. The current of the St. Lawrence was strong, and the river bed was  shallow and stoney, so sometimes the boats became grounded. They were forced to jump out of the boats wading up to the middle of their bodies and sometimes deeper. Women and children had to come out and walk. In several places the rapids ran with such force they were compelled to get two horses to haul each boat.

At night, they sometimes found shelter in barns, but most times they had to rough it  in the woods, kindling a fire for food and laying on top of their clothes that were used as bedding. The journey from Lachine to Prescott was over 120 miles and it began to take it toll. Some became every sick with fevers and died after a few days of illness, and several families were left with orphans.


After that final boat ride the journey to New Lanark began. The roads became so bad that the horses became unfit to proceed. The animals became stuck in the muddy roads, and sometimes teams of oxen and the horses and wagons had to be pulled out. As they approached New Perth the roads gradually improved. Perth was now becoming a thriving place and increasing daily in population. There were a long list of names affixed to the local Post Office door mentioning those who had letters lying there awaiting them. The next available Post Office would be at the King’s Store in Franktown.

Leaving Perth the next morning they had to ferry across the Little Mississippi and the health of the new settlers was getting worse. Local observers found the new arrivals looking sick and tired. The pioneer land agent (and medical man) Tiger Dunlop recommended a dose of calomine as a preventative and pick-me-up. It doesn’t sound like a good idea if you ask me.

Author’s Note.. There seems to be some discrepancy as to whether you go up or down the St. Lawrence. Decisions are to be personally made by those who are reading it.:)
Someone commented. “You travel “up” the St. Lawrence from Montreal to Kingston not “down”. It look’s downhill on a map as a child may note. You go “up” stream to Upper Canada and “down” stream to Lower Canada from Upper Canada”

It is what it is my friends.

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

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

ROCKIN’ Cholera On the Trek to the New World — Part 4

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

3 responses »

  1. Hi Linda…if I may suggest a correction going from Montreal to Kingston…they would be going up the St Lawrence R…and not as down river you had mentioned…love all your very informative work..!!!


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