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Catharine Parr Traill to William Traill
April 06 1870
Traill Family Collection (National Archives of Canada)

6 April 1870

My own dear Son --

Your welcome long looked for letters viz two to myself 1 to Kate and letter to your brother Harry reached me on the 5th inst and delighted we were to see your handwriting once more and to know that up to your last date 20th Jan -- you and the dear little wifie were well and happy in each others society -- Long may you be so is the old Mothers earnest prayer -- You say that your letters must be dull to us but indeed you are mistaken for we read every word with interest and the more you tell us about your self and dear Hatty the better we like them -- it is so nice to think of you both in your domestic life no matter how humble that may be -- it seems to bring us nearer together and lessen that terrible distance that lies between us -- I wrote a long letter in October but since that time I have been suffering so much from some bad fixed pain in my back as to render me for months a very useless creature -- Even now I can not rise before noon and am tired by night. I am indeed much better within the last few weeks but still not able to do any thing in the house as I used to do to help your sister who has had a hard Winter's work nursing me and attending to the house matters -- and is very far from strong or well herself -- I was induced to take in Richards wife and the little Florence to board with us while Dick was at the Shanty -- but it proved a mistake and we had much discomfort for five months -- Emily was confined during the time and we had the discomfort of a crying baby -- and one of the most mischevious children that ever I had the experience of in Florry -- Very glad was I when we moved into dear old Westove on the 1st inst and left our noisy family behind -- Mary has the trouble -- till the 1st of May but as lodgers only as boarders they were a loss; and no recompense could equal the trouble and nuisance they were to us -- Emily however makes a very thrifty industrious wife for Richard 1 but does not manage the little ones well -- at all events they are great plagues --

Walter and his wife moved down to Peterboro the last of March and we moved in to the old house the next day and Kate has been full of business ever since settling and arranging the rooms -- by the end of the week we hope to get all right -- Walter had made many improvements which have added to the convenience of the house beside painting and papering it -- We bought their cow and some things in the house to cover the half years rent as I know that it was a convenience to them to take it out in that way -- Owing to heavy expences and pressure from without; the Stricklands failed in the Timber business -- The mill has gone into other hands and all the property belonging to George and Harry -- have gone to the creditors -- Roland has not been so great a loser as the farm &c belonged to your aunt during her life and -- Walter did not belong to the firm -- Robt was involved to some extent hav[ing] endorsed for his brothers but neither he nor Percy were partners --

The failing of one of the Toronto banks was one cause of the disaster promoting the railroad and telegraph and now they will not reap the advantages of their outlay and the village which has been fostered and founded by your uncle and his sons just turn against them most ungratefully such is the gratitude of the working class -- against those who have been their employers -- It would have grieved your poor uncle could he have seen the result -- however the Stricklands will rise again from this trouble. Robt & Roland have been working away as usual in getting timber out and have effected a good sale with the Quebec merchants.

Walter has got good employment as engineer and surveyor for government jobs -- One of which is surveying and draining Buckley's Lake 2 -- Tom was out with the party for fourteen days this last month and Walter I hear is to get the work of Smith & Otonabee which will be a long job -- The government are going to drain all the marshes and small lakes and swamps and survey all unclaimed lots -- so you see there will be work enough for some persons -- Tom is likely to be out with Walter again --

We have had the longest Winter and the deepest snow that ever I remember the first snow fell about the 17th of Oct this melted off but fell again on the 5th of November since then the snow has never left the ground -- On the 15th of March it fell two feet -- and again on the 27th two feet more -- The snow lies still to a great depth though we have had gradual thaw since that date -- As to our garden the snow lies so deep that I fear it will be May before it is gone. The drifts have been prodigious this Winter -- but we have not had any great degree of cold -- ...

April the 10th -- Since I began this letter I have received two letters from dear Walter in one of which he enclosed a bill of Exchange for $100 -- Truly he is very generous -- but it grieves me to take his hard earnings -- He may require it in event of any thing happening to the HBC -- it is impossible to forsee all the termination of this sad revolution at R. R -- or he may need it if any change in his prospects occur -- I am not destitute just at this time and I expect your kind aunt Gwillym will send me money in August -- She sent me $10 this New Year which has been a source of great help to us -- I did not succeed about that MS. that promised so fairly -- It went into the hands of a party who after keeping it from July to March sent it back without a Word to Mr Tully's great wrath. I have not yet heard from England the final decision of a party there about another MS. -- I will not allow myself to form any hope for such -- there is such great uncertainty about literary matters that the chances seem nine to ten that you will either be disappointed or cheated -- the latter if they accept your [ms] are certain to be as far as my experience of Book sellers goes. Your aunt Agnes goes on writing her Historical works 3 -- she was in Holland last year at the Hague and went the Rhine tour afterwards. She is a wonderful woman -- nearly 75 -- with the energy of 27. Aunt Jane has quite recovered and is able to go about now -- Your uncle Tom lives with your aunt Elizabeth or has been for some time he too is in better health -- his eldest daughter your cousin Adela (Mrs Wigg) is living in Lakefield -- she her husband and seven children of all ages down to two years came out last Summer -- They were destitute of means and he Mr W-- destitute of energy to do anything for his family -- They all fell ill with typhoid fever one after the other -- The Stricklands did all they could to aid them and others also in the place -- Now Mrs Wigg is teaching music and Agnes has some pupils -- but it is a hard thing for the females to work for so many -- Adela is a very handsome foreign looking woman and very talented the children are a fine looking set of young folks but a little too much of the father -- in their manners -- wanting in polish very decidedly -- Mr Wigg does nothing but murmur against the country but as he never did any thing to maintain his family when he was at home -- it does not seem wonderful that Canada should not suit his do-nothing habits --

I have just heard that Rolands wife has brought him a fine little daughter this is the second child in two years and two months -- Percy has five children -- so has George -- Richard two girls -- Walter's wife will probably become a mother this month. So you see the Strickland name is not likely to die out in Canada.

Perhaps I ought not to ask the question I suppose you will tell me all in your time if such an event is likely to take place at Fort Pitt for you know how interested we should be in any thing that increased your and dear Harriettes happiness --

We seem to know a great deal more of Red River news than you do but no doubt we also read great deal that is false and maliciously stated -- especially as regards the H B Co -- It makes me indignant to read some of the lies.

I will not refer to all the items of news in your welcome letter only be assured all you write is read with interest by the old folks at home -- I feel much for your dear wife being so far separated from her family -- but then she has a dear loving husband to cheer and comfort her when he is at home so she must not mind it -- Give her our kindest love and best wishes -- I am not able to write long letters now so well as I used to do so she must just believe that our old Will's wife is truly dear to the mother and sisters for his sake -- Our Kate is not very well -- she has been too much over worked lately for her strength she will write soon to you she wrote not long since but we all feared our letters never would reach you or -- Walter either -- but now that yours have come safely we are not afraid of the mails being tampered with at Pembina -- I must say Good bye. Mary is writing so she will tell you all about herself and the children and their prospects. Annie and her four were well when last I heard from Rice Lake. I forget if I told you that Mrs Gore was married to MR Barron 4 -- Hatty is still single -- Mrs Falkner died in the Winter at the Sowdens.

Farewell with truest love ever your own loving Mother

C.P. Traill

April the 13th I just add a line to say we just got a Note from Melbourne 5 with a carte de visite of Henry Muchalls wife Very pretty she is -- It was a surprize his marriage. The bride wrote a few lines to Mary --

Farewell Yours
CPT --


1. Richard Strickland, who was William's best friend in boyhood, had married Emily Caddy in October 1867.

2. Buckley's Lake is in Douro Township southeast of Lakefield.

3. Lives of the Last Four Princesses of the Royal House of Stuart (London 1872)

4. In 1869 the widowed Harriette Gore married Frederick William Barron (1810-86), the former headmaster of Upper Canada College. He operated a private school at Gore's Landing. Her daughter, Harriette (Hatty) Catherine Gore (1844-1916), would soon marry George Dunscombe. Sarah Sowden, the second wife of Judge William Falkner, died a widow at her family home (GLRLP, passim).

5. The eldest of the eight children of Richard Blythe Muchall, who died in 1835, Henry had moved to Australia in the late 1860s but sent his sister Amelia £100 a year to help her in her widowhood.


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