“The Tour in the Lower Provinces”, The Globe (12 August 1864)
By: The Globe
Citation: “The Tour in the Lower Provinces”, The Globe [Toronto] (12 August 1864).
The Tour in the Lower Provinces.
(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.)
OFF EASTPORT, Me.,
Friday, August 5, 1864.
Here we are at last. After a long and most fatiguing land journey, via Grand Trunk, the guests of the Lower Provinces yesterday afternoon found themselves safely aboard the staunch steamer New England, bound for St. John. I telegraphed you earlier in the day that the weather was exceedingly fine. And so it was at that time. But speedily the skies became overcast the rains descended, and a dense fog set in. Four o’clock p.m found the Canucks gathered together in the flour sheds on the wharf, looking glum at each other. At five o’clock the steamer came it, and quickly was she filled up with a restless, anxious crowd. But the start was not speedily made, for the fog had hidden the landmarks of the harbour, and as it was not considered desirable to run the steamer ashore, it was thought well to lie over for a few hours.
Though the engines were idle, the people on the bout found plenty to do—in fact, a good deal more than they could accomplish. All the state-rooms were soon taken up, principally by ladies, and a queue of folks many years long anxiously strove to get possession of the “bunks” on the lower deck. About a couple of hundred succeeded, and then a pile of mattresses, which stood temptingly by, were seized by the would-be sleepers. Even these did not suffice to accommodate the whole, and the consequence was that large numbers stowed themselves away in various holes and corners, on the tops of trunks, between big boxes, under chairs, and below tables. The floors were literally paved with human carcasses—a most obnoxious arrangement for pedestrians, and having formed a portion of the pavement, I can say from personal experience, very uncomfortable to the component parts thereof. Altogether, there must have been close upon 500 people on board.
Despite the difficulties in the way, however, the greater part of the congregation managed to get a moderate quantity of sleep. Those who travelled by the Grand Trunk Railway generally needed rest. Not only had none other than the ordinary provision been made on the Portland branch for sleeping accommodation, but not a few who bought tickets for berths at the station in Montreal, found themselves cheated, and in this wise: A number of people had taken possession of the sleeping car, to many off whom were sold tickets after the train had started. The consequence was that those who had bought tickets at the station in the faith that berths would be reserved for the,, were “cut out.” When the conductor on the road below Island Pond was asked what was to be done, he coolly recommended that as the tickets could not get berths, they should be given up to him. But excuse him! He was a “down-easter.” A wooden nutmeg was stamped upon his every feature.
Had it not been for the fog which delayed the departure of the boat, and for the darkness which succeeded, I might have been able to tell you something about the forts the United States Government are erecting on the coast, for the special purpose of protecting the town against those formidable and warlike neighbours of Maine, the “Blue-noses.” Particulars I could not get, but it appears that the chief fort is to be armed with 120 guns of the largest calibre. But it and its smaller brethren are of stone—so that if monitors be as valuable as some people say they are, they (the forts) may be easily knocked to pieces.
We are now within a few miles of Eastport, an island of about 4 000 inhabitants, on the dividing line between Maine and New Brunswick. The land is visible, but the distance of the boat from the shore during the whole day has prevented the passengers deriving any pleasure from the scene.
The air is very clear, and the large coast-line may be traced in the distant horizon, clad in the purple mist—right proper and conventional. Here and there a few white farm-houses may be seen, but beyond these, little or nothing. So that, ave and except the pleasure derived from looking at the shoals of mackerel as they pass by, at the occasional fishing boat scudding before the wind, or with furled sails lying lazily upon the water, while the deep is being robbed of its [Illegible], there is little or nothing to be seen. Distance does not lend enchantment to the view, when it destroys it. Thus you will see there is not that diversity in a voyage between Portland and St. John, which characterises a trip down the St. Lawrence. But the fresh sea air, so cool and pleasant, especially to land-locked Upper Canadians, compensates for all else. Even those greatly laughed at, though much to be pitied folks whose “soul sicken o’er the heaving wave”—it would have been unpoetic to speak of sick stomaches—are picking themselves up from their mattresses and staggering about the deck, pale as ghosts, and are anxious for the land as bridgroom for the bride.
After I had telegraphed you yesterday, the following named gentlemen, who had been invited by the Committee, arrived and are now on their way with us:—
Rev. Mr. Phillips, St. Catharines; H.J. Hu[Illegible], Toronto; J.W Carman, Kingston British American; John Rowlands, Kingston News; John Hayden and wife,, Cobourg; John Dougall, Witness, Montreal.
Mr. Jardine, the Chief Commissioner of the N B Railway Board, went to Portland to make arrangements respecting the railway travelling of the visitors, but was seized with paralysis, and now he is ill in the hotel. He is an exceedingly active man, and is very much respected in the sister Province.
St. John has raised $4,000 by private subscription to defray the expenses of the guests, and as much more will be forthcoming should it be wanted. But, granted that our M.P.Ps (I do not mean members of the Provincial Press, but simply members of the Provincial Parliament) have indefinite champagne consuming powers, surely the sum named ought to be abundantly sufficient. So far the representatives of the people forming the chip from off the block of Canada’s ‘collective wisdom,” have conducted themselves will. None of them got into difficulties at Portland, therein affording an example by which, it is alleged, the legislators of that future Province of British North America-Maine, to wit—may profit.
We expect to meet, at Eastport, the Hon. Mr. Tilley, Provincial Secretary, N.B., and the probability is the party will be invited to take a trip up the line running between St. Andrew’s and New Brunswick. There is some question whether such an invitation can be accepted, and St. John gained this night. The matter is not yet settled.
EASTPORT, 2 o’clock.
Hon. Mr. Tilley, and Mr. Skinner, M.P.P. for St. John county, met the Canadians here, and, in the name of the Government of New Brunswick, welcomed us to the Province. The precise words read by the hon. gentleman I know not, but am sure that Mr. Tilley’s great practical good sense left nothing unsaid that should be said, and said nothing that ought not to have been said. The probability is that “I am glad to see you,” addressed to Mr. McGee comprised the whole oration.
The programme remains with but little change. It was proposed that we should make a trip up the St. Andrew’s and Woodstock line, but time will not permit. So we go direct to St. John to-night, buoyed up by the hope that we shall get there before the tide leaves, or else it is questionable whether the shorter members of the party will be able to climb to the summit of the wharves.
Do not let this appear in THE GLOBE you send to New Brunswick, or the St. John people will be as mad as the Hamiltonians would be if you should venture to call their “mountain” a hillock; nevertheless, the tide does rise at St. John to a height of 35 feet. This town of Hastport is a miserable place, consisting mainly of tumble-down shanties, very badly built at first, repaired in the most bungling manner, and now apparently left to tumble down as soon as they possibly can. Still, being on the frontier, it has a fort. Such a fort! We might have captured it readily enough, and some of the party wished to do so, but did not know how to dispose of the guns. But the approach to it is romantic enough. High rocks on both sides of the channel rise threateningly, but never do aught of injury, except when ships run against them—a peculiarity in American rocks, on account of which the people much pride themselves.
THE PREPARATIONS AT HALIFAX
The Halifax Evening Express of August 5th, gives the following as the programme of arrangements so far adopted by the General Committee for the reception of the Canadian visitors, who were expected to arrive in Halifax on Wednesday the 10th:—
“W.J. Coleman, Henry Pryor and Benjamin Wier, Esqrs., were deputed to proceed to St. John, to accompany the visitors across to Windsor. Mr. Coleman left on Wednesday last and Messrs Pryor and Wier leave to-morrow morning.
“A Committee of Management, specially charged with the duty of making arrangements for receiving, at Windsor, the expected visitors, has been appointed, and consists of His Worship, the Mayor, the Hon. Provincial Secretary, the Hon. Joseph Howe, James McDonald, Esq., Railway Commissioner, the Hon. John H. Anderson, M.L.C., Adams G Archibald, Esq., M.P.P., Benj W. Saiter, Esq., Alfred Jones, Esq. It is understood, however, that every member of the General Committee, who can, will also proceed to Windsor on Wednesday next. A special train will be placed at the disposal of the Committee.
“On their arrival the visitors will be met and accompanied into the city, by the First Brigade, who are expected to get up a torch light procession.
“A grand instrumental concert will take place a the Horticultural Society’s Gardens on Wednesday evening.
“On Thursday a ‘reception dinner’ will be given at the drill room. We are pleased to learn that the General and His Grace the Archbishop, so far as they are concerned, have kindly consented to allow the decorations to remain after the bazaar. The stewards for the dinner are—His Worship the Mayor, the Hon. Atty. General, the Hon. Joseph Howe, the President of the Legislative Council, the Hon. Alex. Keith and A M Uofacke, John Duffus, and Wm. Compton, Esquires.
“On Friday a hodge lodge, under the auspices of the Royal Halifax Yacht Club will be given. The guests will be convened by yachts and a Dartmouth steamer—the latter having been placed at the disposal of the committee by the company. Previous to being landed at the scene of festivity the company will be taken up the basin, and round to the North-West Arm. A committee to confer with the Yacht Club was appointed, consisting of Jeremiah Norchup, Esq.,k the Provincial Secretary Stephen Tobio, Ald. Nashm George Esson, John S. McLean, And. Dunbar, And. Richey.
“The committee have invited the Hon the Leader of the Government of New Brunswick, the Mayor and the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of St. John, to be the guests of the citizens during the stay of the Canadians.
“It having been found somewhat difficult to provide sufficient hotel accommodation for the visitors a number of our citizens have kindly consented to provide for a number of them at their own homes.”