Thomas Middlemass, a farmer in East Linton, Scotland, has exhaustively researched his branch of the Sinclair family. In collaboration with Robert Wilkie, a cousin in Canada, Tom has published the results of their work in a wonderful family history entitled "The Sinclairs, 1664-1992: A Family History." The last section of his book is devoted to the following journal kept by Harry Sinclair Clark as he emigrated from Kinross, Scotland, (marked in red in outline map of Scotland) to British Columbia, Canada, in 1907. Tom has kindly granted permission to publish much of his book at this site (currently in development). If you are interested in obtaining further information from Tom or if you have materials to add to his family research, you may send e-mail to him at TomMidd@compuserve.com. If you have materials which you are interested in publishing at this site, please see the Submissions Page for details.
In my research into the Sinclair family tree, I asked various "cousins" if they had anything of interest which might be included. Mrs Muriel Gray, from Motherwell, a niece of Alex and Harry Clark, sent me a most interesting document.
The two brothers, Alex Sinclair Clark and Harry Sinclair Clark, were sons of William and Elizabeth (Sinclair) Clark. They were born in Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1878 and 1882 respectively and later the whole family moved to Kinross. It was from Kinross that the two brothers decided to pull up their roots and set out for a new life in Canada in 1907.
The following account was written by Harry, in pencil, on a reporter's notebook (cost 1d.) and was sent with a letter from Alex home to their mother in Kinross, giving the details of their journey to British Columbia.
In copying the account from the original, the only alterations were to form paragraphs - in the original text they were not used, presumably to make best use of the penny notebook!
It would have been interesting to have had a continuation of the story, especially in Harry's style of writing but little is known of their early days in Canada.
The two brothers, who never married, built up a ranch and fruit farm near Nelson B.C. which Harry looked after. Alex went on to become the manager of the Hudson Bay Company in Nelson. Alex was in the forces during the First World War and was home in Scotland at that time. He returned once more on holiday in 1924. Harry never returned to the land of his birth. They both died in 1962.
An Ocean Cruise and Journey Overland:
An account of a journey from Glasgow to Nelson, British Columbia
Part I: Aboard the Steamer T.S.S. Cassandra
Glasgow, Scotland, to Quebec, Canada
Friday, June 7 - Tuesday, June 18, 1907
By Harry Sinclair Clark
Part II: Rail Travel Over Land | A Letter Home From Alex
Friday June 7th 1907
Had a nice run through to Glasgow. Admired the beauties of Rumbling Bridge and the Devon Valley.
After bestowing our luggage in the office at Queen Street, we set out to find the Princes Dock. Alexander hailed a policeman at the Jamaica St. crossing and was told to take the first blue car he saw. Shortly afterwards we saw a Renfrewshire car approaching and as it was painted the requisite colour we promptly boarded it. We told the conductor to set us down at the dock gates and paid the princely sum of 1d for the journey (about 2 miles).
The car set us down at one of the numerous entrances and as it proved later on was as far from Berth 14 as possibly could be. We asked a man to direct us to the "Cassandra", he said he did not know very well. Another man kindly pointed out the vessel lying at the far end of the dock.
A walk of about half a mile through a litter of cargo and Railway Wagons, huge hoists that lifted an entire wagon from the rails and sent its contents in a black avalanche down into the steamers hold. At last we arrived at the ships side and noted her lovely lines, her spic and span appearance and the huge size of her funnel. Pig iron was disappearing in huge quantities into her capacious interior, a massive crane working at either end but it was in the Donaldson Line Shed that we got the best idea of the vessels carrying capacity. [Editor's note: For details about the steamer T.S.S. Cassandra, click on her image at right.]
Boxes of all shapes and sizes from so and so's Camp Coffee to Whisky and evil smelling hides. The passengers luggage was a sight to behold. Tin trunks tied with string, match cases, saratoga trunks and almost every known kind of case had been pressed into service. The wonder was not that they were broken but that they remained intact at the journeys end.
After leaving the Dock we went into a shop to buy a Post Card but instead of that we discovered lodgings. The young lady who kept the shop said her mother would be sure to take us in and also directed us where we were to home and very pleased she was to take us in.
After a substantial tea and a good rest, Queen Street was the next destination. A blue car was soon discovered going city-wards and into it we went and were landed at Argyle Street in a few minutes. Before going to Queen Street, a walk along Argyle Street and Canongate was proposed and seconded. After making a few purchases we went up to Queen Street and obtained our luggage from the cloakroom also a few papers from the bookstall.
Luggage is apparently carried free on the Glasgow cars as no charge was made beyond the passenger fare. Coming down in the car we met two young chaps going to Canada by the Cassandra. I heard one of them ask for a ticket to the Princes Dock and tell the conductor to set him down at the right place as he was a stranger in a strange land. Our performance of the afternoon being repeated by them.
Alex got into conversation with the eldest one and set him at his ease. they had had an eventful journey, leaving Durham about 11 o'clock they only reached Queen Street Glasgow about 8 o'clock. Placed at a disadvantage by their English tongue, some difficulty had been experienced in getting to Jamaica Street. However we did our best for them, took them up to Mrs Wyseman (our hostess) to see if she knew anyone who would take them in. She happened to have another small bed in the house and very thankful the young fellows were at obtaining such a nice place.
Alex and I went down to the Docks with them (about 100 yards) to see if their baggage had arrived and also to give them any assistance in our power. With the help of the Baggage Master we soon discovered their luggage, in the huge stack and also our own, all intact.
We have decided to stick together on boat and train, as far as Lethbridge their destination. Their father, 3 brothers and a brother-in-law are all out in Canada.
I am sitting at a small window in Govan Road, 1 stair up, watching the emigrants going along to the docks. The rain is falling in torrents and some of them have no protection at all from the elements. Alexander will soon be up and then we will set off for the Clyde Princes Dock, the Cassandra and the open sea.
This last part was written Saturday Morning about 6 a.m. Hardly slept at all, the house shaking with the passing of heavy vehicles and a huge arc lamp staring into my bedroom window like a miniature sun.
This is my last day in Scotland and I for one am exceedingly glad.
The Cassandra was billed to sail at 8 a.m. but it was 10 o'clock before she sailed. We went down about half past seven and had a very tedious wait of an hour and a half in the shed before sailing.
Alex and I and the other two chaps thought we would get a four berth room to ourselves but had to be content with an eight berth one. However the other four chaps who came in appeared decent. Fancy eight men in a room about 9ft x 9ft, with an 8 candle power lamp, we have to make the best of it however and I have seen worse quarters.
The Cassandra went very slowly down the Clyde, two tugs assisting her down to Greenock. When the vessel left the dock it was raining in torrents but that did not deter the usual crowd from giving us a great send off.
Coming down the river we saw the Lusitania, the new steamer of the Cunard Fleet, lying in Brown's Ship Building Yard. She is 32,500 tons and has four funnels and ever so many decks. She is almost ready and will be going down the Clyde for a trial spin in a few days.
Postcards of Cassandra were finding a ready sale on board. The tender came out from Greenock with passengers and luggage and took back the mail.
Dinner was served on board about one o'clock and consisted of three courses, soup, roast beef and potatoes followed by pudding. After dinner the sun broke through the clouds and we obtained a splendid view of the Firth of Clyde and the pleasure steamers passing to and fro. When opposite Gourock we passed about a dozen yachts and very beautiful they looked with the sun shining on their white sails and shining hulls.
The passengers on board were mostly Scotch with a small contingent of Norwegians who were dressed in style. The women especially wearing bright coloured things with a gay shawl over their heads. As I passed their quarters just now some of them were singing an evening hymn and a man was playing a mouth organ. One little chap was running about the deck with a pair of blue trousers much too big for him and a soft hat tied round his neck to keep it from blowing away.
The sun did not remain long with us. Shortly after tea time it commenced to rain again and then we ran into thick fog. The steamers fog horn has been moaning out at intervals since before seven o'clock and it is close to nine now, as far as I know, time is at a discount here.
Alex has retired to his bunk with other three fellows, and I am writing this perched on the top bunk with my feet dangling over the side.
We seem to be somewhere off the North coast of Ireland now but I have no idea where. All round the ship heaves, a waste of waters with no land in sight. The Cassandra is a very steady boat and is gliding along at the present time with hardly a heave to remind me where I am. (Hope it continues).
Written on Saturday night 8th June
Sunday came in with a leaden sky and a cold wind. The sea was calm with a slight heave. Towards breakfast time the sun broke through the clouds and made everything look better. I became sick about 7 o'clock and remained sick for all day. It was not the motion of the ship that made me sick but the stifling smell between decks, of this I am convinced.
The sick could be counted in scores as they lay about the deck or leaned against the rail. Alex was a little sick on Saturday night and became worse on Sunday morning. Divine service was held in the Saloon at 10 a.m. but we were too miserable to attend.
Order forms for the C.P.R. (Canadian Pacific Railway) were issued to all persons who had booked through to inland points.
No food passed our lips today and Alex and I retired very early to our bunks. Of all the horrid things in this world, sea sickness must be the worst.
I was awakened this morning by the waves dashing against the porthole and it took some time before I got dressed. Once on deck however, I felt better but the breakfast bell rang in vain, I was in no mood for food of any kind. The day was passed between my bunk and the deck and I retired early. During the course of the afternoon we were all sent up on deck to produce our tickets and fill in another paper with a lot of information such as Full Name, County of Birth, of what Nationality, etc. Then the officers went below to search for stowaways, an easy task when we were all on deck.
There are four Scotchmen and the same number of Englishmen in our berth. One fellow is bound for the C.P.R. terminus at Vancouver, another for Ontario, two are bound for the Mining district around Lethbridge and our destination is known already. There still remains one individual whose destination is as yet unknown.
You will have to excuse the writing as it is impossible to turn out good writing when the ship is pitching in all directions. Alex has not been well at all, the food did not agree with him on Saturday and he has not touched any solid food since then.
The sea is steadily rising under the influence of a North West wind and the ship is heaving a good deal now.
There was some singing of a fashion down below, but it did not reach a high standard of excellence. The drone of the bagpipes has been heard too often for comfort's sake but a number of young ploughmen seem quite delighted with the music. The carpenter on the ship has a mandolin which he plays in he evenings. Last night he played "The Holy City" very well indeed.
We have a barber on board, whose services can be obtained at certain hours of the day, also a doctor and a hospital ward. The little shop on the upper deck supplies a few of the necessaries of life and a few unnecessaries. Beer and other drinks being supplied at prices beyond the reach of many a purse.
A straw mattress with a straw pillow and an army blanket is the sum total of our bedding furnishing but I have added my rug and overcoat. Some fellows have been sleeping with their clothes on, as it is none too warm down below.
Being far forward there is little or no vibration felt from the engines and this is a very welcome feature of the ship. It is years since I slept so well since I came on board the Cassandra. The ship travelled 241 miles from Saturday at ten till Sunday at ten and the reading on the log today shows that we are another 286 miles on our way.
11th Day of June, 4th day out from Glasgow
The sun is shining today but the weather is still cold and the wind strong from the North West. During forenoon we had a hail squall but it did not last long.
Alex and I are feeling a little better today, I had a little porridge for breakfast and enjoyed it immensely. Alex did not take any breakfast or dinner and I forgot all about mine being busily engaged writing up my diary, which had fallen behind today.
The spray has been flying over the side today and two or three of the chaps got an unexpected shower bath. Towards afternoon, the smoke from a steamer was seen away down on the western horizon. Everyone on board got excited over the little wisp of smoke, such is the monotony of our daily existence. By tea time we could make it out to be a large steamer, going in our direction but gradually falling behind us in the race.
The ships biscuits are a source of delight to us, they are as hard as wood and have about as much taste. I have tried in vain to eat one of them, a quarter served me at tea time and it took me about a quarter of an hour to eat it. We get plenty of new bread to all our meals, so will have to leave the biscuits severely alone. The pleasure lies in watching other people trying to master them.
Dogs are carried on the Cassandra and are charged two pounds for the journey. A man was telling me that his dog ate as much as he did at breakfast time and I quite believe it. I was wondering if the dogs would suffer from sea sickness. A big collie was running about the deck yesterday and it is quite unconcerned and it is as lively as a cricket today.
Two or three families are going out on this ship and the women have been very bad, as far as I can see, the children don't appear to suffer any pains from sickness.
How strange it appears upon the water, no land in sight, nothing to break the monotony of leagues upon leagues of water. Close to the ships side the water varies from an emerald green to deep blue shades. As far as the eye can see the white tops of the waves are seen, pure white and gleaming under the sun, a thing of beauty.
The stairs on board are very steep and one has to be very cautious going up and down. We are two stairs down - it is quite sufficient, especially when one has to go for water with a china mug and descend again. Washing between the hours of six and nine a.m. and six and eight p.m., water being a precious commodity on board ship. The wash houses are provided with tin basins and taps, one towel but no soap. This morning the water was a lovely shade of red, useless for washing purposes, so I had to carry my basin to another part of the ship to get it filled, however this is but a trifle compared with some things, of which the less said the better. One cannot expect home comforts aboard an immigrant ship.
Some of the passengers are already wearying for a sight of land but they will just have to be patient. Sunday is the day we have to see Cape Race, if all goes well, according to their ideas. I will build up no false hopes on such a frail foundation. Ice, bad weather and fogs may hinder our progress and protract our voyage.
About eight o'clock another large steamer was seen on the opposite side from where the other one had been in the afternoon. She was plunging badly and appeared to be making a bad passage of it. We could see the water battling around her stern and coming in huge waves of spray from her bow. The steamer was soon left far behind in the journey to America. My opinion was that we had overtaken her, this boat being a faster one than the other, easily outdistanced her.
The bagpipes made a terrible noise last night. Everyone appeared to be getting a blow and such a din they made with their feet. This went on for about an hour and a half, sleep being impossible to everybody in the vicinity.
Besides the Norwegians on the second deck, are placed a numerous company of aliens. They have the appearance of German Gypsies, something like the crowd that toured Scotland last year. It is a good thing the steamship company put them all together, as I would rather travel alongside cattle than these gentry. We have to pass their quarters on the way to the upper deck and the smell is the reverse of sweet. Poorly clad with little or no luggage except a pot or a kettle and a very few of the necessities of life. They present a pitiable appearance.
Wednesday June 12th, 5 days from Glasgow
A decided change in the weather has set in today, the wind being south with a calm sea. We had porridge again for breakfast and managed two plates instead of one. Alex was a great deal better last night. He had the spirit stove out and got a cup of tea that I brought from the tea table. (I forgot to mention yesterday the great struggle we had at supper time.) Gruel was served hot about 8 o'clock along with biscuits and cheese. As soon as the gruel appeared, pandemonium reigned. It was a case of first come first served. Alex emptied a jugful of scalding hot gruel over a man but managed to get another helping which he enjoyed. I got half a jugful, it was all that was left. The men ought to have stayed in their seats till the stewards came round with their food. A Nairn's excursion to Rankeillour was nothing compared with last nights struggle for food. (There is no chance here for the polite man.)
Read with June 11th
In the course of the forenoon we had tug of war contests and many enjoyed themselves with skipping ropes, just to pass the time away just until dinner time. A rumour arose today that a passenger was down with Small Pox but happily it was without foundation. Alex and I turned up at the dinner table for the first time since Saturday. We had vegetable soup, stewed meat and potatoes with a slice of pudding which went down nicely. The sickness has entirely disappeared from both of us. Alex is still a little frightened to eat everything but he will improve. Shaving was no easy task today, Alex had a five days growth to remove. We sat all forenoon on deck. It is getting tiresome with nothing to do and all day to do it in. Rain began to fall about midday and continued all afternoon, so we sought out our bunks and made ourselves comfortable. The ship is now over 1000 miles from Glasgow. About mid ocean there has been nothing seen since we passed the steamer last night. A concert was held on the lower deck, from all accounts it appeared to be a poor affair. I got a cold yesterday or the day before and had to retire to my bunk after tea time. It is very cold down here at night, the vessel being built of steel and our bunks far away from the furnaces.
Thursday June 13th
My cold is a little better this morning but I am not feeling well. We are now far North and the weather is getting colder every day. The sun has been shining for a few hours this forenoon so Alex and I stayed on deck all forenoon. Breakfast was served today at half past seven, a ridiculously early hour, as it makes the day seem much longer. Porridge followed by ham and egg with coffee was the menu this morning. I tried the porridge and eggs but left the coffee and ham severely alone. The tea and coffee served aboard are abominable to use no stronger words, the tea is the colour and consistency of dishwater and is quite tasteless. I have never touched it since Saturday night, once was sufficient for my taste. We received the welcome intelligence this morning, that we would be in sight if land on Friday night and if all goes well should arrive in Quebec on Monday. Dinner was taken at 12.30, the inevitable broth followed by steak pie and finishing up with plum pudding: sounds nice doesn't it?
The great want on board is a sitting room of some kind. If it is too cold on deck, the bunk is the only place to go to. At the present time there are five of us in our bunks. Alex is sleeping, two other chaps are dozing. I am writing on the top of another fellow's bunk and the Englishman is writing on his bunk.
There is a Welshman on board who came all the way from Swansea to get the ship at Glasgow. All Liverpool sailings are fully booked months ahead of sailing time. We have made excellent time this trip so far as it has gone. The sea has been very quiet and the wind moderate. Icebergs will soon have to be looked for and foggy weather off the banks of Newfoundland. No ships were seen either yesterday or today, so vast a sheet of water lies all around us that a ship passing us at no great distance would be invisible. Nothing has been seen of the Allan Lines, Sucilian which was to have left Glasgow the day we sailed. Hope we will reach Quebec before her.
This afternoon all the passengers had to pass the doctor, it being a law in Canada that all immigrants must be vaccinated. In a long line we filed and received our exemption certificates from the steward. A good many of the foreigners failed to pass the doctor and were placed on one side while we passed by on the other side. This was followed by a visit to the Purser, who gave us another ticket between Alex and I, making 3 tickets in all. One has to be delivered up to the Canadian Government official at Quebec, the others being retained by us for future use, a sort of health certificate to the Dominion to be produced on demand. All the foreigners on board will have to produce five pounds apiece before they will be allowed to land. The same course is followed in Great Britain. To look at the crowd we have on board, one would think that five pounds would buy up the lot, clothes and luggage. At supper-time there was another scramble for food, Alex managed to get four cups of gruel while I only got one cup but managed to get 2 hard biscuits. After supper we all retired to our bunks for the night.
Friday June 14th
6th day of the voyage. This morning when I awoke a thick fog was lying all around us and the ships siren was sounding out at short intervals. Towards breakfast time the fog rolled away and the sun came out once more. Breakfast consisted of porridge, salt fish and coffee. Nearly everyone left the salt fish on the table, after taking a small piece, as for me I did not touch it at all. After a wash and brush up we went to our bunks to read or rest for an hour or two, then Alex and I went up on deck to have a seat in the sun. To-day it is bitterly cold with that intense coldness that seems to come direct from the Polar Sea over leagues of ice and frozen snow. About ten o'clock it was reported that an iceberg had been seen by the officer on the bridge, but as it was seen through a powerful telescope, we knew it would be sometime before it would become visible to the naked eye. An exclamation from one of the passengers about an hour afterwards brought everyone up on deck to see the first iceberg. There it lay a good many miles to the northward, its snow white peaks glistening in the sun. It appeared to be a small berg and it took sometime to distinguish it from the pale background of clouds.
A small schooner made its appearance about dinner time with all its sails set but it did not remain long in sight. Dinner to-day consisted of pea soup and a kind of hash followed by rice pudding with currants in it. It is now a full week since I last saw milk. In the afternoon it became much colder and everyone went below except a few hardened spirits. I spent the time reading Longfellow's poems and conversing with other chaps in our cabin. What a widely scattered district they have come from. One comes from Dingwall in the north of Scotland, another comes from Preston, two are North Country men, Durham being their native county and a fourth comes from Liverpool and Alex and I from Kinross. After tea time an immense iceberg was seen a short distance ahead of us and almost in our path. We passed close by the side of it. Like an immense chip from a giant ice field, it lay upon the surface of the water, the waves breaking against its sides and the suns rays making it appear pure white to our eyes. Shortly afterwards we passed another one of a smaller size but still a sight to behold. I had no idea that icebergs could attain so vast proportions but seeing is believing. The first one looked about the size of Inchkeith in the Firth of Forth, the second not so large. Tea time came and went without Alex or I being any the wiser, we heard the bell ringing but paid no attention to it. The dreaded banks of Newfoundland were reached before supper time, a thick fog shutting us in and making everything cold and damp. The ship's fog horn was kept going every two minutes and a special look out was posted in the bow for these are dangerous seas and a rock strewn coast lay not far away. To stand on the steamer's deck and look around made me conscious of man's utter helplessness on a night like this. We went below shortly after seven o'clock for supper. Barley gruel, biscuits (very hard) and cheese, being served out to all that went for them. A small land bird had come aboard in the afternoon, it appeared to be in a very exhausted condition, poor little thing, to have travelled so far in these icy seas. All on board are eagerly looking forward to the day when we will behold the Western Hemisphere, some of us for the first time. Another concert was held on the lower deck tonight, it was very largely attended but the talent left something to be desired. I stayed for a short time only. Alex stayed until the close of the concert. I was in my bunk when he came in, the racket was something terrible, and continued till a late hour, sleep being impossible.
Saturday 15th day of June, one week from date of sailing
This morning the weather was quite clear with the fog all away. Cape Race was passed between two and three o'clock this morning when we were all in our bunks, also another iceberg. In another two days, if all goes well, we ought to be safely landed at Quebec. Land was seen from the deck about nine o'clock, a long low range of hills with one or two rugged peaks rising out of the water away to the Northwards. This would be the most southern part of the island of Newfoundland. Away to the westward a few ships were seen, to the southward no land was visible, only the cold grey sea and a few gulls. Cold and fog and ice with a grey sky and a greyer sea seem to be the outstanding characteristics of this part of the world. The bagpipes have started their infernal noise again, I wish someone would heave them overboard, a ship's lower deck is no place for such instruments of torture. One of the stewards had a box of broken biscuits to dispose of the other night. He went into the foreigners quarters with the box, and was soon surrounded by a fighting mob of men. He had to abandon the box and run for it, so desperate did they become in their eagerness to get the biscuits. When I came away they were still fighting over the scraps of biscuits as if it were precious metal. The steward had intended to give them the biscuits but he was not prepared for such a scene as followed.
Porridge again for breakfast followed by meat and potatoes. This is becoming very monotonous as the porridge has to be taken with sugar or salt, no milk to be had for love or money. Alex wrote a letter this morning and posted it on the letter box on board. All letters for Scotland and England have to be posted before midday on Sunday, British stamps being used for the last time. The Purser is doing a brisk trade in postcards and stamps to-day. The tender comes out from the St. Lawrence for the mail and they are sent home by the first mail-boat.
Alex and I waited till the second table was served at dinner time, there is no crushing at this table, the majority going to the first table. We had soup with bread and semolina for dessert, the soup was good, the semolina was not. After dinner we retired to our bunks for a rest and a short sleep. Alex always takes a short nap after his dinner.
The ship covered 209 miles yesterday; a very good performance all things considered. Last night the fog and ice would prove a great hindrance to a large ship like this. Over 2000 miles from Glasgow already, and only one week at sea should satisfy everyone, but I must confess that I have had enough of it. The monotonous daily round, nothing to do, nothing to see but water, water everywhere. I have read all the literature that I possess long ago and a lot more besides. The weather has been excellent so far but I have been thankful for bringing all my warm clothes. If the food had been good and well cooked I might have enjoyed myself more, but the greatest and worst fault is the want of a nice sitting room. Perhaps when it is all over, I shall be able to appreciate the benefits I received on board, but not now. This ship carries no saloon or 1st class passengers. Second cabin passengers are allowed the freedom of the whole ship as well as the Music Room, Saloon and upper decks. Prices range from £8. upwards according to position of berth. The Cassandra only made her first trip last September so she is comparatively speaking a new boat. She carries a small army of stewards and two or three stewardesses besides a fully qualified doctor. Anyone going to Canada second cabin might do worse than go with this boat. I don't believe they would be as comfortable with any other steamer. Third class is now a well known experience to me and to many others. I append the menu given in the Saloon at Dinner time to-day, 2nd Cabin.--
- Kidney Soup
- Beef Olives
- Haricot of Ox Tail
- Roast Beef and Baked Potatoes
- Corn Beef
- Cabbage, Mashed Potatoes, Carrot
- Queen of Puddings, Semolina Pudding
- Apple Fritters, Small Pastry
- Tea Fruit Coffee
An Allan Liner passed us to-day home-ward bound. The fog came down pretty thick at night. A large steamer was heard directly ahead of us and the Captain had to stop the ship. All the passengers rushed on deck to see what was wrong and we passed through ten anxious minutes before we discovered where she was going. Fortunately, she passed across our bows and very soon we heard her fog horn on the other side of us. Only after her horn became faint in the distance did we resume our course.
The scramble for supper tonight was worse than ever. I got one biscuit, a small piece of cheese and a cup of gruel, but the scene beggars description. Wild beasts could not be classed alongside some of these men. Nearly all of the cups have their handles knocked off. Hope we will land on Monday and get out of all this. The first thing will be a solid meal of some kind to make up for the present lack of food, or rather want of manners, because if they all sat down to table in a respectable fashion, we might get better served. We retired to our bunks about nine o'clock, there was really nothing else to do.
Sunday 16th day of June
8th day, a lovely morning with a calm sea heralded the day of rest. Land was visible on either side, it was just like steaming down the Firth of Forth on one of Galloways steamers. This is the gulf that bears the name of St. Lawrence and must be far wider than the Forth at North Berwick. Breakfast today was a distinct advance on former days. Ham and eggs (boiled) with porridge and choice of syrup or sugar as dressing. This is shaving day in our cabin, six of us trying to scrape the stubble off our faces and hardly room to turn about in. One looking glass had to do duty for four. Alex and I fortunately had one of our own. A collection was taken at the breakfast table to-day. It was to be given to the steward who had attended to us during the voyage. He would likely get a few shillings, there are more than twenty at each table. The stewards on this boat are the hardest worked members of the crew, up early every morning and working until late at night. We thought all the cold weather lay behind us in Scotland, but it is just as cold here as when we left Scotland. Of course the water accounts somehow for the cold weather and the sun is not shining to-day. One chap laughingly told another at Glasgow, that he would send him a bit of summer by parcel post when he arrived at the other side and I can still remember the laughter the sally caused upon the ship. The Aberdonian dialect is heard throughout the ship, large numbers having come from the County of Granite and fish.
Divine service was held in the Saloon at half past ten (ships time). The service opened with the singing of the 100th Psalm, then the 2nd Paraphrase and a short address by a gentleman. We also sang "Oh love that will not let me go" and "Almighty Father strong to save". The Saloon is a magnificent apartment, the whole width of the ship, Mahogany fittings with Ash panels set into the woodwork. Chairs and lounges upholstered in brown velvet and all numbered. Tasty electric lamps set into the roof, and two large reading lamps should make the Saloon a very cosy place at night. A canary in a cage and a few shrubs in pots and some ivy completed the decorations. The ships piano supplied the music. There was also a collection for Glasgow charities. I enjoyed the Service very much, it was a pleasant change from the 3rd class quarters, and the gentleman who presided was a very nice speaker.
There have been numerous disputes over the dinner, hardly a day passes but someone is accused of coming from another table and sitting down at our table. Alex and I let the first bell ring in before we went down and Alex had no sooner taken his seat than he was told to move on. The steward had the impertinence to say Alex did not belong to his table, after him sitting there all the time since we left the Clyde. However, he just sat still and they had to give him his dinner. Morning, noon and night it is a constant wrangle over trifles such as this. We enjoyed our dinner very much after things had quietened down. Scotch Broth, meat and potatoes and peas, plum pudding and wondrous to relate, a whole orange.
This will likely be our last full day on board the Cassandra. At ten o'clock this morning we were only 275 miles from Quebec. The gulf must be very wide at this point, no land being in sight at the present time (about 12 o'clock) Shortly after the above was written we entered the St. Lawrence, high rugged cliffs upon left hand and low lying land on our right hand. The low lying land proved to be Anticorti, an island lying in the mouth of the river, while the high cliffs with little villages lying at their base was a part of Quebec.
Cold meat, pickles and marmalade were all on the table at teatime. I went up to see what was going on but the sight of the pickles finished me. Alex and I had a biscuit and cheese left over from the night before this and a bit of our own butter comprised our tea. We had a good dinner fortunately, so we did not miss much. The first whale was seen after dinner time, it showed its huge back as it came up to breathe and sent a miniature fountain into the air from its blowhole. Another two were seen shortly afterwards frisking about in the water. A small coasting steamer with a cargo of wood passed quite close our ship and another one was passed after tea time. The land on our left has now lost its rugged characteristics but retains its hilly nature. Very neat and clean appear the little villages at the foot of the hills and close beside the waters edge. I saw a little white washed church with red tiles and a miniature spire. The land is only partly cultivated, a small field here and there showing signs of cultivation. Snow was plainly visible on the hillsides, winter apparently being still with them. The land on the other side is only visible as a long black line upon the horizon. All afternoon and evening we passed along the mighty river. Numerous villages and small towns dotted the banks. When I left the deck for the last time the sun was setting in the Western sky. The whole sky was lit up by the gorgeous red and the water reflected the beauty of the sunset sky. The sun sunk down seemingly into the water and the first Canadian sunset was over.
17th day of June (9th day)
This morning I was up on deck about 5 o'clock and found the ship sailing quite close to the Southern shore of the river. Before breakfast the pilot boat came out from a small town with a little harbour (name unknown). The boat was a tidy little craft with a small crew, called the Eureka. We had to wait above three quarters of an hour at the breakfast table before we were attended to. A mistake in the time sent us down much too soon. Porridge and Irish Stew was the fare this morning, it was very acceptable. Alex missed the first table this morning. He was sound asleep when I went out, I did not think it worthwhile to waken him as he had not been well yesterday. He goes in principally for porridge at breakfast time, the coffee and bread being too much for him. Last night he did not go to the supper table, preferrring to lie in his bunk. I managed to get three cups of gruel (a record) and two or three biscuits and cheese, the latter I am keeping for future use. All forenoon we cruised down the St. Lawrence, many islands were seen covered with fir trees, others again were only bare rocks. We passed a lightship with the sounding name of Red Island No. 3. and a shoal of large fish were seen disporting themselves in the water. Red painted buoys were set down at intervals to mark the channel and a great number of small craft were seen cruising about. The lighthouses on this river are very quaint affairs, not the symmetrical buildings of the homeland. They are mostly composed of brick with cement facing and a red tiled roof. To-day the boats were brought inboard, been they had been hanging over the side during our voyage ready for emergencies. Objects on the shore are now plainly visible, a horse and trap passed along the roadway and some animals were seen in a small field.
Shortly after tea time the Canadian inspection boat with the doctor on board, came out to the ship. Everyone had to produce their Vaccination certificates as they passed in a long line before him. Our eyes were inspected at the same time. We have now a free passport into Canada, all the tests having been fulfilled satisfactorily. Quebec was reached between nine and ten o'clock, that is after 2 a.m. in Scotland. It was a glorious night, warm and pleasant , with a crescent moon in the sky. From the waters edge to the heights above the town was one mass of variegated lights, with electric lamps along the waters edge and on the piers. I saw a brilliantly lighted tramcar ascending the hill and a ferry boat passed us also ablaze with light. Such was Quebec as I saw it tonight for the first time. Our ocean pilgrimage is over, there yet remains the great beyond but it too will be an accomplished fact sooner or later.
Part II: Rail Travel Overland | A Letter Home From Alex
Original material is copyright © Thomas Middlemass