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Catharine Parr Traill to Mary Traill
January 23 1858
Traill Family Collection (National Archives of Canada)

Hickory Grove
23 January 1858

My Dear Mary --

I take the first hour of leisure; and convalescence, to write a few lies to you; to give you the joyful news of the birth of James' first-born son -- After 15 hours of great and hard suffering, Amelia was safely delivered of as fine a boy as I ever saw. Even Dr Hope 1 was proud of his appearance -- and truly I never took a nobler little specimen of humanity in my arms than this my first Grandson -- His advent was hailed with thankfulness and great joy by every one in the house especially by the young Papa who wept for joy at the sight of the beloved mother and child safe after such hard travail. Catharine McClellan 2 was with us and one of the neighbours a very nice kind woman -- Nurse proper we had none for the woman who was engaged took ill and could not come. I was staying in town for a few days with your aunt not having felt quite well and Dr Hope had assured Amelia she would go three weeks longer -- Well I became worse and at last was so unwell as to keep my bed. On Tuesday morning the 19th James came in a great hurry to say Amelia was taken ill and he did not know where to get a nurse or any one to be with her. I was then so ill I did not know what to do. Your Aunt would not hear of my getting up. The house was in a great confusion cleaning the hall and kitchen stove pipes. As soon as James left the house I got up put on my things and was, about to set off to Dr Hope's -- but this was not permitted -- Your [aunt] broke off the man to put the horse into the cutter and told him to drive me straight home

On the road I met Willie riding old Dick at full speed he waved his hand said A -- was very bad and off he went at a gallop. James and Cath McLellan were on before us.

Glad was Jem to see me, and so was Amelia you may be sure -- I cheered her up as well as I could -- Dr H. came -- but told me it would be many hours before he should be required and that he would return at 5 -- if much worse to send [for] him afterwards -- Which we did about 4 -- baby was born five hours afterwards -- The babe is really a fine fellow, so fat that his little hands and elbows and knees are full of dimples -- he has one little round dimple in one cheek -- he is very much like his mother at present with fine chestnut hair and a lovely skin, not red but like wax -- As to Amelia her rapture is great -- she dotes so upon the baby -- she seems to forget all the trouble in joy at his beauty. He is thriving well -- she too is fast recovering -- I am head nurse washing dressing and taking care of the little fellow and really am almost as proud of him as the father and mother are. Amelia hopes you will come down during the Spring or Summer to see your little nephew. They have not yet decided upon his name but I dare say it will be Richard or Fred or Edward. Caroline 3 came down the day after baby was born. She looks thin but is better than she was in the fall.

I have been much worse since I came back with a most distressing cough and pain in my breast and chest accompanied with much fever -- this of course was increased by sitting up two successive nights, and part of two following ones. However I got a good sleep last night, and today my cough has been better; though yet painful. I lost my appetite entirely living only on apples -- and drink of any kind -- but today I have eaten some bread and feel better with less fever. I have not tasted meat for a fortnight. Your kind aunt sent up some Balsam of Wild Cherry for me -- she is much concerned at my illness -- little Mary Fitz 4 is suffering in the same way with Bronchitis poor little girl and had to get the throat burned with caustic last Friday -- Your dear Aunt is most kind to me she speaks both of Annie and yourself with much affection -- Poor Archie is very ill again Cath. And Duncan walked up this aftn D. is very handsome and gentlemanly-looking. The father still lingers on quite paralized and very helpless. Mrs Sorley is living at Brantford her little girl is a fine child Archie says. She is call[ed] Joanna Catharine --

James had a short very polite letter from Mr Atwood, Clinton's father speaking approvingly of his son's engagement to Annie. I find from dear Anne that she returned to Mrs Robert again. I cannot fix any time yet for my return home, because just at present I have not money to bear my expences. Mr Thompson 5 has promised to send me some soon, but his promises are not very much to be depended upon -- If James gets money, he will give me what I require -- and the I should be up in a fortnight if well enough -- Do not my dearest be uneasy about me. I am now much better, and if I get no relapse hope by another week to be quite well again -- Thanks dear child for your little notes enclosed with Mrs Dunlops -- to whom I must now write a few lines. Willie is concocting an epistle to you, but he is writing with bad pens, and ink and as it is almost his first attempt you must not be surprized at his blunders. I will make him write again by me. Ever believe me dearest child to be in all love

Your most loving mother


1. Dr William Hope (1815-94), in addition to his medical career, was a prominent Belleville citizen, serving in a number of public offices, including mayor in 1860.

2. A Belleville family, the McClellans were well known to the Moodies and James Traill. They included Catherine, Archie, Duncan, and Mrs Sorley.

3. Caroline (Muchall) Page was Amelia Traill's sister.

4. Mary FitzGibbon was Susanna's six-year-old granddaughter.

5. Captain Henry H. Thompson had been an Irish officer before emigrating to Canada and purchasing lots 6 and 7, concession 9, in Hamilton Township. He and his wife, Hannah, were friends of both the Traills and Clinton Atwood.


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