Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Click here to learn more about MyHeritage and get free genealogy resources

Across the Canadian Prairies
The Voyage

So much has been written from time to time about the pleasures, and about the trials to some people, of the voyage across the Atlantic, that there seems little that is new to be said upon the subject. The embarkation at Liverpool, the partings of friends, the starting of the big ship, the process of settling down in one’s cabin, and the preparations for possible disagreements with the Atlantic rollers, have frequently been dilated upon ; and it is the same story over and over again. After one or two trips the novelty of these things is apt to wear off, and they are taken as matters of course; but still there is much to interest the observant mind always. Most of the passengers, or many of them, are strangers to one another, and for the first few days much speculation takes place as to who’s who, the names of the people, destinations, business, and so on; and it is sometimes amusing to hear the stories that are circulated by gossips—individuals always to be found on every ship.

Our vessel was the good ship Parisian, cf the Allan Line—a favourite boat with Canadian passengers, and we cast off from the Alexandra Dock on a sunny afternoon in August; but, owing to the tide or some other cause, we did not leave the Mersey until late at night. That meant curtailing our stay at Moville, the delightful little village on Loch Foyle, off which the Canadian mail steamers generally wait for the mails to be brought down on a tug from the famous city of Derry. The steamer usually stays there for five or six hours, giving the passengers an opportunity to land, to drive on a jaunting car to Green Castle, or wherever their fancy leads them, to buy shamrocks and Irish soil, blackthorns, and “potheen”—a vile concoction of various kinds of abomination purchased on the assurance that it is genuine “crathur” manufactured at home, guaranteed not to have paid duty. As the Parisian only reached Moville just before the arrival of the mails, these pleasures wore not available to her passengers, and all they could do was to buy “shillelaghs,” at prices much above their value, and to listen to the airs of “ould Ireland,” as played by an old fiddler who came on board.

Soon after we made our final start from Ireland, passengers, on the deck, became less numerous than before, and there were many vacant chairs at the tables. The weather was not especially baa, but there was evidently more motion going on than was comfortable to some of our friends, and they showed that they did not appreciate it by staying in their cabins—some of them lamenting loudly.

But these disagreements soon came to an end, and the ship’s company was as lively and friendly as is usually the case after two or three days out. Such amusements as are possible on board, like quoit3 and shuffleboard, became popular, and pools on the run of the ship were of daily occurrence. Then, two or throe days before entering the St. Lawrence, preparations began for the concert always held in aid of the Liverpool Seamen’s Orphanage, and its organisation and the special programme to be arranged when there are any artists on board, entailed a good deal of work upon the willing few who undertook the responsibility. Needless to say, the concert was a great success—they always are—and a good round sum was realised for the benefit of the orphans. On the night of our arrival at Rrimouski—a village on the River St. Lawrence, about 180 miles from Quebec, where the mails are landed and conveyed to all parts of Canada by special trains—a dance was arranged, with the consent of the captain, and the young people on board enjoyed themselves to their hearts’ content.

One of the great advantages of the St. Lawrence route is the fact that the last three days of the voyage is in the comparatively smooth waters of the gulf and river of that name. The scenery along the shores, when they can be seen, for it must be remembered that both the Gulf and River are of magnificent proportions, is most picturesque. Mountains and hills, with their coverings of pine and other timber, seem to rise almost from the water’s edge, and hero and there the pretty French-Canadian villages form quite a feature of the landscape.

At noon the day after leaving Rimouski we sighted grand old Quebec—the Gibraltar of Canada. Nothing can be finer than the first sight of its ramparts and spires on a clear day, and those who had never been to Canada before were charmed with the view, while those of us who knew it before were glad to see it again. Some of us landed at Quebec, and made our way up the winding, narrow streets and stairways to the top of the hill to see the magnificent new hotel—the Chateau Frontenao —in the erection of which the Canadian Pacific Railway Company have been largely instrumental. It occupies a splendid site at tho northern end of the Dufferin Terrace, and gorgeous views are obtained from its windows, of the river and mountain scenery of the famous St. Lawrence. The destination of our good ship was Montreal, 180 miles still further up the river, and from the Terrace, an hour or so after we left the wharf, we saw her on the move again for the commercial metropolis of Canada.

Although I have written so far of the saloon passengers on the Parisian, and can testify as to the efficiency of the means taken to ensure their convenience and comfort, I am able also to offer similar testimony with regard to the second and third class passengers. The accommodation provided for them is good, considering all the circumstances, and they were well looked after by the captain and the officers of the ship.

Return to Book Index Page

This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus