Visit to the Village Museum

Yesterday hubby and I went to the Village Museum for ‘Spring on the Farm’. We hadn’t been there in a few years so it was a lot of fun! We dressed in our pioneer costumes.

They had quite a few demonstrations; cream separating, which hubby got involved in, butter churning, weaving on a loom, spinning wool. The saw mill was running, that was hubby’s favourite thing. I liked the petting farm. They had lots of goats! 😀 The potbellied pig was so cute. She kept scratching on the fence. There was a 3-day old foal. It looked so funny with it’s long gangly legs, it was very wobbly on its feet. There were also geese, ducks, chickens, llamas, a donkey, turkey, rabbits, sheep, a puppy and a newborn calf.

I loved the gardens! The rhubarb was HUGE and there was lots of it! They make rhubarb platz and serve it in the restaurant. We enjoyed a nice faspa there with soup, a slice of bread made from stone ground flour, a piece of cheese, coffee and a piece of rhubarb platz.

There was a tractor display and parade down Main Street. We walked around for 4 ½ hours and enjoyed it very much! It rained off and on but for the most part we stayed dry. It was cool and I was wishing I had brought my shawl. No one seemed to pay much attention to us in our costumes, I guess we fit right in. Except the volunteers would ask us where we were volunteering. 😆 We HAVE volunteered at this museum in the past but not this time. :D.

It was a very enjoyable day!

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)

The CSG (The home)

I’ve been busy working outside for the past week and haven’t had time to blog. But today it’s cold and raining which has forced me indoors. 🙂  While I’m canning tomatoes, I thought we could continue with the discussion of the book, The Canadian Settler’s Guide by Catherine Parr Traill. If you need to catch up you can find other posts here:

Looking Back
The CSG (Household servants)


Woman, whose nature is to love home and to cling to all home ties and associations, cannot be torn from that spot that is the little centre of joy and peace and comfort to her, without many painful regrets. No matter however poor she may be, how low her lot in life may be cast, home to her is dear, the thought of it and the love of it clings closely to her wherever she goes.

But kindness and sympathy, which she has need of, in time reconciles her to her change of life; new ties, new interests, new comforts arise; and she ceases to repine, if she does not cease to love, that which she has lost: in after life the recollection comes like some pleasant dream or a fair picture to her mind, but she has ceased to grieve or to regret; and perhaps like a wise woman she says – “All things are for the best. It is good for us to be here.



The author, Catherine Parr Traill gives advice on the adornment of the home, inside and out. She tells us costly furniture is not in keeping with the character of a log home but the aim is to keep it neat and simple. She gives advice on suitable furniture (chairs, rocking chairs, tables, sofas, bookshelves, pictures, rugs, curtains) and their cost. A lot of poor emigrants homes were furnished with only a very few homemade things. She assures us this is only the first trial and better things are coming. A good quality cookstove is preferred over other cheaper ones where the casting may be thinner and lighter which are apt to crack. She also recommends getting a larger stove in order for the oven to be large enough for baking bread and “a good joint of meat”.”In fitting up your house,” she writes, ” do not sacrifice all comfort in the kitchen, for the sake of a best room for receiving company”. Nothing contributes to the comfort and appearance of a home than a verandah. It allows shade from the summer heat and shelter from the cold and helps keep the interior of the home clean.

There are many vines, and wild plants to be found in Canada’s nature that will provide shade and also cover rough log homes. Wild grape vines are found in every swamp and near lakes and rivers. The most common climber is the hop, which was the principal ingredient in making yeast for the rising of bread. Canadian Ivy, Virginia Creeper, Wild Clematis, Traveller’s Joy all help to ornament the verandah and provide shade.

I am the more particular in pointing out to you how you may improve the outside of your dwellings, because the log house is rough and unsightly; and I know well that your comfort and cheerfulness of mind will be increased by the care you are led to bestow upon your new home in endeavouring to ornament it and render it more agreeable to the eye. The cultivation of a few flowers, of vegetables and fruit, will be a source of continual pleasure and interest to yourself and children, and you will soon learn to love your home, and cease to regret that dear one you have left.

This section of the book caught my attention because I could really relate to the first quote that I mentioned. I love to make a home, but as I think about it, could I leave this one?

Of course there are other factors to take into consideration – for one, the reason we are emigrating, but could you leave the home you are in, the town, the country or the area? If not, why? If so, what would you miss most?

The CSG (Household servants)

canadian_settlers_guideCSG stands for Canadian Settler’s Guide.  I really dislike acronyms, I can never figure out what they stand for (LOL) but for the sake of title length alone, I’m shortening it. I’m reading this book and sharing with you for the next few weeks.  I started the discussion here. Jump in and leave a comment on any post whenever you like.  I’d love to hear your reactions.

After the new Introduction, is the Introductory Remarks.  Our author, Catherine Parr Traill, reminds the wives and daughters to ask for God’s blessing before the journey.


As soon as the fitness of emigrating to Canada has been fully decided upon, let the fermales of the family ask God’s blessing upon their undertaking; ever bearing in mind that “unless the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it; unless the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” In all their trials let them look to Him who can bring all things to pass in His good time, and who can guard them from every peril, if they will only believe in His promises, and commit their ways to him.

(Excellent advice, even in modern times, I would think.)

Then her advice to women is to acquaint themselves with practical knowledge of

“the homely art of baking and making bread, which most servants and small housekeepers know how to practice, but which many young females that live in large towns and cities where the baker supplies the bread to the family, do not, is necessary to be acquired.”

Really? Didn’t everyone make their own bread in those days? It appears, they weren’t so unlike our modern times in that respect. Special note is made to women unaccustomed to duties of the home because of their position in society which has exempt them from what they consider menial occupations. She tells us that there are circumstance that can take the servants away, though you have brought them with you; sudden illness, a servant’s parents sending for them home, which they will often do without consulting you, and it is important to prepare yourself for these duties by yourself. She writes:

“I have before now seen a ragged Irish boy called in from the clearing by his lady-mistress, to assist her in the mystery of making a loaf of bread, and teaching her how to bake it in the bake-kettle. She had all the requisite material, but was ignorant of the simple practical art of making bread”. “The making and baking of really good household bread is the thing of the greatest consequence to the health and comfort of the family”.

She also advises women to familiarize themselves with cooking, curing meat, making butter and cheese, knitting, dress-making and tailoring – for most of the country people there make the everyday clothing for their husbands, brothers and sons. She guards us against spending money except for the building up of the farm; buildings, buying stock, and improvements, that this is the goal of the settler, to become independent.



I’m reading the book and blogging as I go, which is hard for me to do. I have such an orderly mind and would like an overview and outline before I jump in. But time doesn’t allow me that.

So far I think I am beginning to understand why emigrants had such a difficult time. Were most of the women from a higher class with servants in the home? They brought their female servants with them but were often abandoned to household duties on their own.

How does this relate to our modern times? We don’t have household servants anymore… or do we? Are not the dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, hot water tanks, tap water, bread makers, mixmasters (vitamix, kitchenaid, food processor), crock pots, toasters, refrigerators, ranges, the household servants of today?

How do you think you would do as a settler’s wife without these ‘servants’?

Which ones could you do without? Which ones could you NOT do without?

Looking back

Catherine Parr Traill

Catherine Parr Traill

I love stories from the pioneer days and recently I found a book on my shelf, it’s called The Canadian Settler’s Guide by Catherine Parr Traill, first published in 1855. I have the second publication, with an added introduction © 1969.

Clara Thomas, York University writes,
“In 1854, twenty two years after her arrival in Upper Canada, Catherine Parr Traill compiled The Canadian Settler’s Guide, terming it a “Manual of Canadian house-wifery” and dedicating it to the “Wives and Daughters of the Canadian Emigrant.” “

“From her position of experience and success in pioneer living, Catherine Traill looked with concern at the numbers of women for whom life in Canada was a disaster:

Disheartened by repeated failures, unused to the expedients which the older inhabitants adopt in any case of difficulty, repining and disgust take the place of cheerful activity; troubles increase, and the power to overcome them decreases; domestic happiness disappears. The woman toils on heart-sick and pining for the home she left behind her. The husband reproaches his broken-hearted partner, and both blame the Colony for the failure of the individual.

Understandably, few women who endured the rigours of Upper Canada in the early days had either the desire, the ability or the energy to spare for writing of their experiences.”

“As a general thing they are told that they must prepare their minds for hardships and privations, and that they will have to exert themselves in a variety of ways to which they have hitherto been strangers; but the exact nature of that work, and how it is to be performed, is left untold. The consequences of this, that the females have everything to learn, with few opportunities of acquiring the requisite knowledge, which is often obtained under circumstances, and in situations the most discouraging; while their hearts are yet filled with natural yearnings after the land of their birth, (dear even to the poorest emigrant), with grief for the friends of their early days, and while every object in this new country is strange to them.”


The women and daughters that emigrated were completely unprepared for what lied ahead! I want to pause for a moment and consider that. Not only were they faced with physical challenges that we often think about, for the sake of merely surviving, they had to face disappointment, discouragement, longing for friends and family which would make the physical challenges that much harder or were often the result of the physical challenges.

Catherine’s book shares practical advice in all areas of pioneer living.

” It was not written with the intention of amusing, but simply of instructing and advising. I might have offered my female friends a work of fiction or of amusing facts, into which it would have been an easy matter to have interwoven a mass of personal adventure, with useful information drawn from my own experience during twenty-two years sojourn in the Colony; but I well knew that knowledge conveyed through such a medium is seldom attended with practical results; it is indeed something like searching through a bushel of chaff to discover a few solitary grains of wheat.”

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share bits and pieces from her book and get your reactions.

What are your thoughts so far?