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Description found in Archives

Recollections and Observations [textual record]. 

Sub-series consists of

Date(s)

1855-1856

Place of creation

Ontario

0.08 m of textual records.

Scope and content

This sub-series consists of a manuscript "Recollections and Observations" written by Robert Hume during 1855 and 1856 in response to Susanna Moodie's Roughing it in the Bush. The Moodies had lived in Hamilton township not far from his farm prior to his arrival in 1845 so he knew intimately the area she described in her book. Hume felt that she had provided too rosy a view of life in Upper Canada, or perhaps too simplistic a portrait, and he wished to give prospective British emigrants a truer picture of what they should expect in settling in Upper Canada. The Edinburgh monthly periodical "Hogg's Instructor" published parts of this manuscript serially in the winter of 1855 and 1856. It appeared anonymously, attributed only to "a resident in Canada" with at least one excerpt apparently titled "Clearing out the Stumps". Hume did not finish this work and the pagination of the quarto pages is not clear after page 16. Although higher numbers appear on various pages, there is no discernible order to them and some pages appear to be fair copies of passages on other pages. As a result the first sixteen pages are filed together and subsequent pages are grouped together by subject matter or when there is an obvious order of one sentence carrying over to the next page. The manuscripts submitted to the publisher may have never returned across the Atlantic. Hume's descendant David Hume made an effort to transcribe the manuscript in the 1960s and 1970s and completed up to Hume's page 16 in a transcript which runs to over 140 handwritten pages (files 2-2 to 2-4). After that, he felt the transcription process was hopeless, so the originals must be used after that. The manuscript is of considerable value for the study of immigration and agriculture in Ontario. It opens with a discussion of emigration generally which is followed by a description of the voyage from Britain across the ocean and up the St. Lawrence River. Hume then describes the character of the land and agriculture in Upper Canada, representative examples of farms from freshly-cleared to well-established, how social relations vary from Britain, and the relative values of land and labour. It concludes with the course of the seasons, starting with spring, how they differ from England and life on the farm in each season. Pagination becomes unreliable and then disappears in the discussion of winter. Subsequent uncollated pages include a summation of the seasons and climate; advice to those contemplating emigration; the disillusion of many emigrants; social life in Upper Canada; transportation by land and water; relative value of land, capital and labour; and character sketches of farm labourers and other local figures. A common theme in the manuscript is the advantages of emigration to Canada for the labouring classes of England, and the comparative disadvantages of emigration for the middle classes. Hume reflects frequently on the scarcity of specie and farm labour, which commanded a high wage, in Upper Canada and how quickly a middling emigrant farmer would expend his capital.

Textual records
90: Open
Volume
2
90: Open
Archival reference no.

Private