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Travels Through the Canadas
Containing a description of the picturesque scenery on some of the rivers and lands with an account of the productions, commerce, and inhabitants of those Provinces to which is subjoined a comparitive view of the manners and customs of several of the Indian nations of north and south America by George Heriot, Deputy Post Master of British North America


THE first part of the following work was written with the design of conveying an idea of some of the picturesque scenery of the Saint Lawrence, at once the largest and most wonderful body of fresh waters on. this globe.

Numbers of tributary, streams, some of which are of immense magnitude, disembogue themselves into this gigantic flood, which, from its principal source, Lake Superior, to its junction with the Ocean, parts with none of its waters, but rolls thither all that it receives.

The restless impetuosity of many of these streams has furrowed up the surface of the land, and produced objects of stupendous grandeur. Several of these awful and sublime operations of Nature, have hitherto been visited by a small portion only of civilized men. Her most wild features, her most striking and attractive charms, are frequently concealed in the midst of unfrequented deserts.

To the picturesque description of the scenes in Canada, is added that of the climate and productions of the country, of the manners and character of the inhabitants, also of those of the domiciliated Indians, and of tribes which occupy or frequent situations on the borders of the great lakes. A brief dissertation respecting the commerce and constitution of the Canadas is likewise subjoined.

An opportunity of visiting the Azores having been presented to the Author during his voyage to America, he has made two of the most celebrated of these isles the subject of the commencement of this tour.

In drawing up the second part, recourse was had to documents found in the library of the Jesuits at Quebec, and to Memoirs, Travels, and other works, which have been published at different periods. As some of these are written in the English language, it was conceived unnecessary to make any material alteration in the stile of the passages which have been borrowed from them. A list of such authorities as have been consulted will be found below. A portion of the information has been derived from living observation, communicated by men on whose veracity a reliance could be placed. A residence in Canada for a series of years, has afforded to the author opportunities of witnessing the modes of life pursued By several of the Indian nations, and has enabled him to adduce what he has himself observed, as well as to reject what he deemed improbable in the writings he consulted.

Amid the multitude of tribes scattered throughput the extensive regions of America, it appears singular that there should be found in use a distinct language peculiar to each, and frequently customs which have but little affinity to those of neighbouring associations. Among many, ceremonies and practices are found resembling those of the former inhabitants of countries in the ancient hemisphere. When there appears any striking similarity with respect to usages, among people far remote from each other, it is remarked in the following pages.

The events which take place among men, many of whom are but little removed from the rude simplicity of a state of nature; appear to present but a barren field for narration. The natives of America seem to possess but little variety in their character or customs, and to be incapable of attaining any great degree of improvement. Their passions exhibit a resemblance to the vast inequalities of the climates to which their bodies are exposed. Like the elements, they are either lulled to stilness, or roused into unrelenting fury.

The almost infinite diversity of tongues spoken by the inhabitants of America, and the difficulties encountered in the endeavour to attain acknowledge of some of them, render it impracticable to afford any very satisfactory information on the subject of language. In the last chapter, however, will be found a Vocabulary of the Algonquin Tongue, whose use is the most extensive of any in North America.

26th August, 1806.

Travels Through the Canadas
by George Heriot, Deputy Post Master of British North America (1807) (pdf)

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