The settlers thought the worst of their journey was over when they reached Prescott and the only documented of this nightmare journey into the Lanark County bush is solely in an archived pamphlet #854 written by John McDonald. He described the hardships of that weary road as the settlers had already been weakened by the long trip across “the pond”.
When they reached Prescott their future travelling arrangements broke down and instead of staying together but, all the four ships arrived together causing considerable congestion and confusion. (Earl of Buckinghamshire, George Canning, Commerce, and David of London) Their bodies were beginning to feel the effects of their rough journey so some laid out in the fields upon arrival. Many were afflicted with the bloody flux and some had fevers and died after a few days illness.
They quickly got sick from the intense summer heat and having to drink river water. The nights in the open often in wet blankets also contributed to their sicknesses. Cholera and malaria developed quickly with the aid of the swarms of mosquitoes they encountered through the many swamps they trudged through.
They stayed in Prescott another three weeks, and at that point half of the passengers of the David of London (about 500) took its turn to gather all their luggage and make the 74 mile trek to New Lanark. Each society had to wait its turn to leave and the sickness made things worse and delayed the treks.
McDonald’s party only travelled 6 miles the first day before stopping at an inn and sleeping on the floor. At daybreak they were on their way to Brockville where they had breakfast. After a short break they made their way north on what is now Highway 29 and struck back through the country. As our Lanark County settlers travelled on the Old Perth Road were stretches of swamps and marshes. It was the only way out for the 1800 emigrants for them travelling from Prescott in 1821.What now takes an hour to journey took 3 days as the wagons full of women and children overturned and got stuck in the mire. Many were injured and one boy was killed. In the evening they stopped and slept in barns as the settlers were afraid of the snakes having seen many on the road.
Miss Caldwell of Lanark June 1881
As they approached New Lanark they heard disturbing news of sickness and McDonald blamed the thick forests never hit by rays of the sun. In fact he wrote that he was basically appalled by the forests and its silence that he compared to a death like stillness only to change when they were agitated by storms. He was angry about the exertions required by the settlers in selecting their 100 acres, their distance from the markets and the impending fear of the dreaded Canadian Winter. Their was strangeness sensed and homesickness but eagerness to erect a shelter and clear land where the sun might shine.
William Caldwell and James McIlrath and their families forged ahead even though neither of them had wielded an axe. They both settled on either side of the third concession of Lanark and Caldwell named his new home “The Clachan” and they toiled over small fields of wheat and potatoes among the stumps.
Ship Arrivals at the Port of Quebec, 1821
The following arrivals were extracted from the Montreal Gazette 1821. In 1821 the Montreal Gazette was a weekly publication. Additional information from the Quebec Mercurynote: if ships’ rigging or name of Master unpublished, it is indicated by — (The newspapers were filmed within their binding, making one side of some entries, unreadable, or only partly legible. This can lead to errors in the interpretation of the entry or missed entries. ) Be aware that there may be two or more ships of the same name, from the same, or different ports, during the same year. A few ships also made two trips in 1821.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)
Friday October the 13th– 6:30.. meet in front of the old Leland Hotel on Bridge Street (Scott Reid’s office) and enjoy a one hour Bridge Street walk with stories of murder mayhem and Believe it or Not!!. Some tales might not be appropriate for young ears. FREE!–