Friday, February 20, 2009

Journey of the "King William" to Canada in 1831

The following letter was written by Hannah Young to Mr. Robert Hodghson (though it is addressed to Ann), Ellerby nigh Whitby, Yorkshire England from Toronto Township, (present day City of Mississauga west of Toronto) in January 1832 describing their voyage on board the King William from Whitby to Quebec in April 1831. The letter contains much more information but I have edited it down to the travel details. This is the ship that the Harrison family travelled to Quebec on.

Dear Ann

I take this opportunity of writing these few lines to you and i hope they will find you all in good health as it leaves us all at present thank God for it dear friend it is now above 8 months since we parted very possible never to meet again in this world you will remember when i left you in Stradfords gallery i went on in haste to let my Aunt know that you and your Cousin James and Aunt Ann was there and i knew that neither my Uncle nor William was on board i thought she might come on shore and see you all for the last time but when i found her she had just parted with your Aunt Sarah and her heart was full of trouble seeing them left her expecting to find you again and to bid you a final farewell but when i went to the door it was locked and you were all gone but there being a road through the celler i got to the street but were you was gone i never could learn i went into every room but could not find neither friend nor relation nor any that i knew this being done i made when i got below the plank was drawn the ship was moved all was ordered below my Uncle come on board at the bridge as soon as the sailors would allow us we came upon deck and took the last survey i was not more than an hour before i was very sick my Aunt was not sick untill the next morning she was the better saillor but for the first three weeks we were both very sick and i had a violent cough i thought i should have died my Uncle and William was never sick untill the 14 and 15 when the wind blue from the North a perfect gale but after that they had good health all the way over every Sunday we had a prayer meeting on deck morning and afternoon and every evening on the week day below for there was many like myself that was not able to go on deck to the prayer meeting on the 20 it was a fine day we entered the firth and we had scotland on the left hand and the Orkney island on the right at scotland we could clearly discern the buildings the men ploughing the cattle grazing in large herds by the sea side my Aunt was upon deck most part of the day at night we left the North sea and entered the Western Ocean and bade adieu to the british island 21 of may this morning the wind was contrary which was a great disappointment as we intended to see quebeck in the course of the day at 2 oclock P M the ship came to anchor opposite the goose island a narrow piece of land laying the middle of the river a boat was lowered down Mr. Carr Mr. Wilson my Uncle and two or three more rowed of to it the canadiens were busy sowing their wheat in the evening they returned they brought with them a quantity of milk some neat straw hats and a goose William killed it and it was roasted on sunday the 23  
[actually May 22nd] we reached quebeck on the 24 [the King William actually arrived on May 22nd according to the Quebec Mercury] we left king William and went on board of a steam packet and reached Montreal on the 27 [this date - and others in the letter- are suspect given the other known incorrect dates in the letter.  These mostly likely resulted from the fact that Hannah did not write her letter until January 1832 - almost a full year after the journey].......your affectionate friend Hannah Young....

The Young Family's return address on the envelope is: William Young, Inn Keeper in the Township of Toronto, Near the River Credit Dundas Street, York, Upper Canada, North America.

Amazingly, this letter has survived on both sides of the Atlantic !!

The original copy sent to England is now in the London School of Economics, British Library of Political and Economic Science, Letters of Emigrants to America, M627.

The other copy is in the Region of Peel Archives (Toronto Township was in the former Peel County). It is listed as Young Family Letter, dated January 8, 1832, Accession # 1984.058.

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