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

The Emigrant's Pocket Companion
Containing what emigration is, who should be emigrants, where emigrants should go; a description of British North America, especially the Canadas; and full instructions to intending emigrants by Robert Mudie (1832)


Emigration is proposed in so many forms, and as a remedy for so many evils, that in the multitude of words there is about it, plain people are in some danger of altogether losing sight of what it means. So many places are proposed too, as situations to which, above all others, it is desirable to emigrate; and those propositions have so often failed, when brought to the trial, as to prove that, though they have been made in probably a commendable spirit of mercantile projection, yet they have been made in utter ignorance of the resources of the places to which they referred, and of the means by which those resources could be made available to the interests of emigrants. There is no need of referring to particular cases; because in those projected and, as they pretend to be, systematic emigrations, failure has been the rule, and success the exception—Ay, and a rare exception it has been.

The object of this little book, is to clear away some of the mist that has thus been suffered to a gather, or which has probably in some cases, been intentionally gathered around the question of emigration; and though the limits to which it must be restricted, in consequence of the class of persons for whose information chiefly it is intended, have necessarily prevented that full investigation of almost every point, which a philosophic view of the subject would demand; yet it has been the constant aim of the author, and he hopes not altogether without success, to embrace, at least a summary of all the leading points, and to place them in an aspect as clear, and as consistent with truth and common sense, as the limits of this little work would admit.

There is no question that one cause why emigration has failed in producing the good anticipated from it, is the want of information on the two great leading points of “What emigration can do,” and “How that which it can do is to be accomplished.” Every one knows what bungling, people make in common matters, when they go about to do that of which they have no knowledge ; and one would naturally think that common sense might ere now have sufficiently demonstrated the truth, that if ignorance necessarily produces error in ordinary matters, where part at least, may belong to former experience, much more must it produce error in the great matter of emigration, where every thing is new.

Here it would be unjust to conceal the fact, that ignorance begins at the very fountain head, and contaminates the whole matter, down to the employment of the humblest settler. It is always found that, when lines of road or canal have to be made, the ground has to be purchased at double its value; and the public interest is sacrificed for that of private individuals. To do, and then to consider what should have been done; to sell, and then to survey, is the system : but the agent gets his place, as a reward for something or nothing, and that reward is the office fee on the mere sale. Accurate surveying is, no doubt, both a difficult and costly matter, even in an old country, and it must be much more so in a new one ; but it is an expense which if laid out at the first, would be saved a hundred fold in the end. It would not be amiss that we should, in those regions from which we drive the savages of America, imitate the example of the Romans, when they drove the demisavages of Europe before them :—they made a road across the country, and when they came to the river, they budded a bridge. We make a map, and write a book; but leave the country as we found it.

In the first chapter of the following pages, an attempt has been made to show what emigration is, what are the circumstances under which it becomes desirable, what good it may be rationally expected to produce, and for whom. In that part of the work, the common politics of emigration—the adverse opinions, of the advantage of a mere diminution of the number of the people, as an abstract principle, and the loss of removing an able bodied man, after the country has been at the expense of rearing him—have been most studiously avoided.

In the second chapter, a similar attempt has been made to point out the description of persons who have the greatest probability of being benefited by emigration ; and although the premises were not stated with the slightest view to the drawing of such a conclusion, it really does appear, from a fair comparison of an old and very highly improved country with a new one, that the persons who are the most likely to be benefited by emigration, are they whose removal, if not a gain, will be the least loss possible to the country which they leave. If the author has succeeded in rendering the conviction which he felt, while writing these chapters, intelligible to others, he is not without hopes that it may be of use.

The point taken up in the third chapter, is the country which an intending emigrant should select; and upon that point the various considerations of distance, similarity and dissimilarity, both in the place and the people, are brought to view. The result of the whole is, that the best country for a free emigrant—that is, an emigrant who is free to go where he pleases, and at the same time free from prejudice—to go to, from any part of the British islands, is the British colonies in North America. Information respecting these colonies should, therefore form a very considerable portion of any book that professes to be an "Emigrant’s Pocket-book.”

Accordingly, the fourth chapter is devoted to a sketch of those colonies. In preparing that sketch, all, or nearly all the authorities have been collated; but the author regrets to say that they are sometimes not a little contradictory, and that he who seems to be the most successful in contradicting others, often puts his contradictory talents to the proof in contradicting himself.

The first section of this chapter is devoted to a mere notice of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick ; which, though not so eligible for emigrants as the other provinces, ought yet to be in so far known by every one who is to become a denizen of the Canadas.

The second section describes what may be considered as the geographical skeleton of the Canadas,— their extent, their form, their leading divisions, and the number of inhabitants in each, according to the latest census of the population, and corrected by more recent accounts, wherever these were accessible and could be relied on.

The fifth chapter is devoted to the natural characters,—the climate, the seasons, the soil, and all those particulars that appeared to be the most deserving of being known, by those who are to encounter the country in its natural and uncultivated state.

The first section of that chapter, gives a glance at the general aspect of the country, the way in which the land slopes, and the elevation and shape of the more important divisions.

The second section treats of the rivers and lakes, which are important features of all countries, but probably more so of Canada than of any other.

The third section contains a short estimate of the climate, the seasons, and the weather, with their effect upon agricultural and other field labour, and on the comforts of the inhabitants.

The fourth section gives a very short account of the natural productions, the minerals, the plants, and the animals.

The sixth chapter gives some account of the principal towns, the principal routes across the country by land, and by water, and the principal articles that can be reared on the soil by cultivation. The last part of the chapter is, however, made very short, as it is not possible to teach an Englishman in England, what he had best cultivate, or how he had best cultivate it, in Canada.

It may be supposed that other chapters might have followed here, on the manners of the Canadians, and the manufactures and commerce in which they are engaged; but the Anglo-Canadians are too young, too mixed, and too scattered a people, for having any general manners ; and the manners of any people are better met by practical civility than by pretended knowledge. With regard to the manufactures and the commerce, they are afterthoughts to the emigrant, his first object ought to be to find a kingdom for himself; and all that needs be said about the laws and local government is, that in Upper Canada, and partially also in the townships of Lower Canada, the laws are English; there are few taxes, the people choose their own representatives, and there does not appear to be many well-grounded causes of complaint. Politics, too, should (if a thought at all) be an afterthought with the emigrant.

The seventh and concluding chapter, consists of data by which the emigrant may, in part, regulate himself in the preparations, the voyage, the landing, the journey to the place of settlement, and the management of matters when there. Some may be of opinion that this part of the work should have been more extended, but there are already so many books of counsel on the subject, and they are so inapplicable to the vast variety of cases, that the only safe plan, is to state merely the general facts, and leave each individual to apply them to his own case.

It has however been thought advisable to render this latter portion of the work more documentary than some of the other portions, by giving a few extracts from the writings of eye-witnesses. These have been fairly quoted and acknowledged, and the principle upon which they have been selected is that of usefulness and variety combined. It would have been easy to multiply extracts; but as those which are given refer to the districts that are perhaps the most eligible for receiving British emigrants, they may suffice for general purposes.

The few documents given in the Appendix will perhaps be of considerable use.

The Emigrant's Pocket Companion
Containing what emigration is, who should be emigrants, where emigrants should go; a description of British North Americaz, especiallly the Canadas; and full instructions to intending emigrants by Robert Mudie (1832) (pdf)

Return to our PEI 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.