The CSG (The voyage)

The money our author, Catherine Parr Traill refers to in her the book, The Canadian Settler’s Guide, is the old British currency which is different than it is today. “s” is for shilling and “d” is for pennies. You can read more about old English money here.

As we continue our discussion, the author offers advice on the voyage to America, provisions and what to expect when you arrive at port. Her advice on choice of vessel with which to embark for Canada is… if you can afford it you will find better accommodations in the steamers that go between Liverpool and Quebec than in any of the emigrant ships. The emigrant ships my charge less but the difference in comfort, health and respectability will more than make up the difference in price. The usual cost is 5 or 6 pounds per person.

As for bringing furniture and iron-ware across, don’t burden yourself with these things. By the time you reach the port of destination, the freightage, warehouse room, custom-house duties and damage to them would not be worth the trouble. Besides they would not be as suitable to the country as things sold in the towns in Canada. Good clothing, shoes and boots are the best things to pack and for personal luggage you will not have to pay freight.

The ships provide provisions to each passenger, fourteen years old and up.

British Law
3 quarts of water daily
2 ½ lbs of bread or biscuit weekly
1 lb. wheaten flour weekly
5 lb. oatmeal weekly
2 lb. rice weekly
1 ½ lbs. Sugar weekly
2 oz. Tea or 4 oz. coffee or cocoa weekly
2 oz. salt weekly

American Law
3 quarts of water daily
2 ½ lb. navy bread weekly
1 lb. wheaten flour weekly
6 lb. oatmeal weekly
1 lb. salt pork (free from bone) weekly
½ lb. sugar weekly
2 oz. tea weekly
8 oz. of molasses and vinegar weekly

In every Passenger ship issues of provisions shall be made daily before two o’clock in the afternoon, as near as may be in the proportion of one-seventh of the weekly allowance on each day. The first of such issues shall be made before two o’clock in the afternoon of the day of embarkation to such passengers as shall be then on board, and all articles that require to be cooked shall be issued in a cooked state. This excellent Parliamentary regulation is often evaded. – Each passenger is entitled to lodgings and provisions on board from the day appointed for sailing in his ticket, or else to 1s per day, for every day of detention and the same for forty-eight hours after arriving in America.

In her voyage from Liverpool to New York, it took 37 days and she took along the following extras, which she found quite sufficient:

  • 1 ½ stone wheaten flour
  • 6 lbs. bacon
  • 2 ½ lbs butter
  • a 4 lb loaf, hard baked
  • 1/4 lb tea
  • 2 lbs brown sugar
  • salt
  • soap
  • bread soda for raising cakes

These extras cost 10s 6d and she also took the following, with prices as follows

  • Tin water-can holding six quarts – 8d
  • Large tin hooked-saucepan – 6d
  • Frying pan – 8d
  • Tin wash-basin – 6d
  • Tin tea-pot – 4d
  • Tin kettle –  9d
  • Two deep tin-plates – 3d
  • Two pint-mugs – 3d
  • Two knives, forks and spoons – 9d
  • Barrel and padlock for holding provisions – 1s 0d
  • Straw mattress – 1s 0d
  • Blanket, single – 2s 0d
  • Rugs – 1s 3d
  • Sheets, each – 10½d

The handles and spouts of the tin-ware should be rivetted as well as soldered. Families do well to take out a covered slop-pail and a broom. The bottoms of the chests and trunks should have two strips of wood nailed to them to keep them from the damp floor. In addition to the extra stores, a cheese, a few herrings, with some potatoes and onions may be added. (The eyes or shoots can be destroyed by drying the roots in an oven after the baking heat is off, for a few minutes; or they may be rubbed off with a coarse cloth from time to time.) Preserved milk is also a good thing; it can be kept good for some time.*

*Fresh milk put into a close jar and set in a pot of water, kept boiling for six to eight hours, and when cool bottled and corked with waxed corks, will keep some time. An ounce of white sugar boiled with the milk or cream will help to preserve it; and just before bottling, a small quantity – half a tea-spoonful – of carbonate of soda, may be added.

Upon landing, emigrants should not linger about the ports and suburbs but go at once to the interior. Your chances of getting a job in the ports is 1 in a 100. If you have young daughters old enough to work, be very cautious with whom you put them to service. Be careful when you enter into low families such as low boarding house keepers and taverns. Don’t allow your family to get separated in strange places. Families have lost all traces of their fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers.

I found this blog of Bartley Quinn’s Journal about coming to America interesting. It’s brief but you get an idea of the hardships the Irish faced coming here. This also reminds me of the movie “Far and Away” with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Have you seen it?

I think I’d be scared to take the voyage!  The provisions look meager by modern day standards not to mention boring.  I’m beginning to understand just how hard it would have been! 

How would you feel about taking the voyage on a ship for perhaps a month?

Other posts in this series
Looking Back
The CSG (Household servants)
The CSG (The home)

4 responses

  1. Argh. I do not think that I would do well on the ship. I tend toward motion sickness. And my understanding of the ships were the quarters were very close. I think that would add to my ‘issues’.

  2. Hah I’m with you Millie. I’ve only been on a boat once but I spent most of the time vomitting. Since then, I’ve always been reluctant to give it another try.

  3. I know I wouldn’t do well on a ship. I’m reading a
    novel now about 3 sisters who came to America from Sweden, no thanks.
    That’s a big turkey in your previous post!! I need to lok for this book, wonder if they have it here in the library or where would you suggest looking for it?


  4. I’m with you all on the sea sickness!! Do you think the pioneers knew about that ahead of time? Conditions on the ship must have been pretty gross because if it.

    Patty~ I’m not sure where to look… it’s out of print now so maybe online?


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