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[the crack, or opening, about five feet broad: we were at it in a moment; it was impossible to check the horses, or to stop and consider of the practicability of passing, or of the consequences; the driver, without consulting any one, had made up his mind on the subject,—the horses took the leap, and cleared the opening, carrying the sleigh and its contents with them. The concussion on the opposite side was so great, however, that the runners of the sleigh were broken, and there was a great chance of our being thrown, by the violence of the concussion, out of the sleigh, into the gulf we had crossed: this had very nearly taken place; but I was fortunate enough to regain my seat. By the help of some cords we repaired our damage, and proceeded on our journey. We met with several other cracks, but as they were not in general above a foot or two in breadth, we passed them, without fear or accident. When the ice is cleared of snow, which was frequently the case, I could see that it was about a foot in thickness; yet it made a crackling noise as we went along, and seemed to give to the weight of the sleigh and horses, as we advanced, which produced sensations not very pleasant.
"There are a great many islands in Lake Champlain, which are generally inhabited; you find inns on them, too, where you can get provisions and beds, if necessary."
9. Provisions not dearer during that season.— The severity of the cold, in this country, has its advantages as well as disadvantages. The quantity of snow with which the ground is covered, renders it necessary for the farmer to house all his cattle and sheep, and to put his hay, straw, and corn, under cover. So soon as the ground is covered, and the frost completely set in, the cattle and sheep, which are destined for winter use, are killed; and also poultry of all kinds, before they have lost any of the fat they had acquired during the summer and autumn. Little or no salt is necessary to preserve them: they only require to be exposed to the frost for a short time, and they become as hard as ice. When in this state, the poultry, and indeed the beef and mutton too, are packed in casks or boxes amongst snow, and at the end of four or five months are still perfectly sound and good. Frozen meat is thawed by keeping it in cold water about twelve hours—warm water would render it useless. After the meat is hard frozen, the principal thing to be attended to, is to preserve it from the external air, when the temperature is above the freezing point, which is fre
quently the case in March and April. Snow being a good non-conductor of heat, answers this purpose: blankets, too, are frequently used. The frost not only preserves beef, mutton, and poultry, but also fish, so long as you can keep it in a temperature below freezing. The fish market, during winter, is pretty well supplied, owing, not a little, to the great industry of the people of the United States, who come even from Boston to Montreal, a distance of 420 miles.
Provisions of all kinds are more plentiful, and consequently cheaper, in winter than in summer. The market is supplied from a greater extent of country. The lakes and rivers being frozen, and the people without work, they bring to market all sorts of meat and poultry, from a great distance. Being hard frozen, it can be stowed in their carioles without receiving the least injury from the great length of carriage.
Good beef and mutton are then sold at from 3d. to4d. per lb.; good fat fowls at 20d. to 2s. per couple; turkeys 2s. to 2s. 6d. each; geese and ducks in proportion: so that the expense of housekeeping, in these articles, is not great in winter. In summer, as meat is supplied in the towns by the town butchers alone, the price advances considerably. The great heat of summer renders it impossible to bring meat from any considerable distance.
It is a fortunate thing for the people in the towns of Canada, that provisions are cheaper in winter than in summer; for the winter subjects them to a heavy expense for firewood, whicaf is, as you may well believe, a sine qua non in this climate.
The expense of fuel to a family in Quebec or Montreal, is fully equal to what the same family would require in London; and it is to be regretted, that there is no prospect of its becoming cheaper. On the contrary, in proportion as the woods are cut, and the distance of carriage increased, the price is augmented; so that in time it will be cheaper to import coals than purchase wood. Firewood is generally laid in during the summer. It is brought to Quebec and Montreal on the river, in immense rafts. The wood is cut into junks, and piled upon a float subdivided into compartments of a certain size, containing so many cords. In winter, it is brought from the country in sleighs, and sold at so much per cord, or per sleigh load. No coal has yet been found in Canada; probably, because it has never been thought worth searching after. It is supposed that coal exists in the neighbourhood} [of Quebec; at any rate, there can be no doubt that it exists in great abundance in the island of Cape Breton, which may one day become the Newcastle of Canada.
At present, coals are to be purchased very cheap in Quebec. Many of the vessels from Scotland, and from the north of England, take in coals as ballast, and sell them very cheap, sometimes as low as 17s. per chaldron. Even the kennel coal, which is difficult to be be met with in many parts of England, is sold at 36s. per chaldron, which is not above half the price of Newcastle coal, in winter, in the neighbourhood of London. People who have been accustomed to burn wood, do not like to burn coal. They tell you that the smell is extremely disagreeable to them, and, besides, that coal does not answer for stoves so well as wood. This prepossession against coals, accounts for their being proportionably cheaper than wood.
It is well, however, that they have either wood or coal, for the effects of frost in this country are with difficulty guarded against, and are often in themselves very curious.
10. A sudden thaw.—In thus having endeavoured to afford some of the striking features of the Canadian winter, we ought not to have omitted that, during the most severe cold in January, a great and very sudden change takes place almost every year, and continues for a day or two. From a most severe frost, when the thermometer shews 60 degrees below the freezing point, it suddenly becomes so warm, that the thermometer shows three degrees above freezing. In short, the weather will sometimes change in a few hours, from nearly the greatest degree of cold that ever was known here, to a complete thaw. Such a great and sudden change is productive of very unpleasant sensations. The stoves and winter clothing are quite oppressive; and yet, it is dangerous to dispense with either, for you, every hour, look for a return of the cold weather. Fortunately, it does not in general continue many days; sometimes, however, it has been known to last 10 or 14 days; and, when this is the case, it is of very serious injury to the country, in a variety of ways. It is extremely prejudicial to the health of the people. The streets are so inundated with water, from the melting of the snow, that you cannot walk out; and the roads become so soft, and the rivers so full of water, that you cannot use a cariole, or travel, indeed, in any mode. But, what is a much more serious evil than all these (hinge, the provisions which were destined to
serve through the winter, become thawed, and are either destroyed altogether, or greatly injured.
It is surprising, that although this circumstance has occurred frequently, and the people are subject to it every year, yet there is not much attention paid to putting the provisions in such a situation, and packing them up in such a manner, as to effectually prevent their being accessible to the warm air, during the thaw. It might be done very easily: let them be packed in a tight box or cask, after being completely frozen, and this box or cash put into another, large enough to admit of its being surrounded with pounded ice and snow, which would act as a perfect non-conductor of heat, and preserve the contents of the inner box in their frozen state for a great length of time. The outer box should have holes in its bottom, to allow any water to run out, which might arise from the melting of the snow. This method has, we believe, been tried with success; but it is by no means in general use.
During the thaw, a very extraordinary effect is produced, sometimes, on the trees. The Canadians call it a ver-glass. The tree, from the trunk to the point of the smallest branch, becomes incrusted with pure ice. There may be a small degree of frost during the night, which will freeze the moisture that covered the trees during the day: and, it is probable, that the external parts of the trees themselves, being cooled down below the freezing point, by the extreme cold of the previous weather, freeze the vapour the moment it comes in contact with them; in the same way that the glass of a window in winter becomes incrusted with ice, by the freezing of the moisture in the air of a room. The branches become at last so loaded with ice, that they can with difficulty support the weight of it; and if there happens to come a storm of wind, which is not unfrequent, the branches infallibly break off, and the destruction amongst trees of all sorts is immense. Through the effects of some of the ver-glass, branches of trees, from six to 12 inches in diameter, are seen every where hanging from the trees, completely broken down. We are told, that there can be nothing more curious or beautiful than one of those ice-mcrusted trees, when the sun shines upon it. Indeed, one can easily conceive that it must have the appearance of fairy work, or enchantment.
11. Method of warming the houses.—In Quebec the rooms are heated by stoves. The principal advantage arising from this practice, is the uni-J [form heat which is kept up, so that the walls of the room become warmed, and communicate their warmth to the air which comes into the room, and gets in contact with them. In a room, the walls of which are cold, if the air is heated and rarefied, it will be cooled and condensed the moment it comes in contact with the cold walls; and as by condensation it becomes heavier, it it will rush downwards, producing a current of air towards the floor, which will be felt by those sitting close to the wall.
The Canadians keep their houses very hot; and they themselves, while excessively warm, go immediately into the cold air, without seeming to feel any inconvenience from it; which would induce one to believe, that the sudden transition from a hot room into the cold air, if the person be properly clothed, were not so dangerous as is
generally imagined. This is further illustrated y the instances we have already mentioned, of ladies and gentlemen going into the cold night air, out of a warm ball-room, without suffering any inconvenience from it.
We are disposed to join in the opinion of those who think that the living in a warm room, so far from weakening and making you delicate, as it is termed, and rendering you unfit to bear cold, is the best preservative against the bad effects of cold, when you may be under the necessity of exposing yourself to it.
It has been observed by an eminent philosopher, that if, during the time we are sitting still, the circulation of the blood is gradually and insensibly diminished by the cold which surrounds us, it is not possible that we should be able to support a great additional degree of cold, without sinking under it. We should be like water, which, by exposure to moderate cold in a state of rest, has been slowly cooled down below the freezing point; the smallest additional cold, or a small degree of agitation, changes it to ice in an instant; but water, at a high temperature, will support the same degree of frost, for a considerable time, without appearing to be at all aft fected by it.
In Canada, the walls of the houses are usually plastered on the outside, to preserve the stone from moisture, and the consequent destructive effects of the frost. They find it, however, a very difficult matter to get plaster to adhere; particularly if exposed to the e. wind, which, in one winter, destroys almost any plaster they can use. A composition has lately been tried, which promises to answer better. About a couple of pounds of Muscovado sugar are mixed with
a bushel of lime; and it makes a very hard and durable mixture for rough casting. In places the most exposed to the e. wind, it has remained hard and fast, after a fair trial.
12. Breaking-up of the winter.—No part of the Canadian winter is more interesting than the conclusion of it, when the snow begins to disappear, and the ice in the rivers to break up, which is the case in the end of April. One would naturally suppose, that six months frost and snow would; have become insufferably tiresome to a stranger: but this is not the case. The winter may be divided into three seasons, or portions, as it were: for two months at the beginning the snow is falling, and the frost becoming daily more severe. The middle two months of severe frost is not without interest; for then is to be seen winter in all his majesty, after he has bound up the lakes and rivers in fetters of ice, and covered the earth as with a mantle. The last two months are interesting, because there is then an anxiety to see by what means, and in what manner, such an immensity of snow and ice is to be got rid of.
The influence of the sun is little felt in February. In March, however, you are sensible of its power; and, during this month, the weather in general is very beautiful; the frost is still sufficiently severe to keep the roads hard and good; the sky is clear, the sun shines bright; it is pleasant to get into a cariole, and drive a few miles into the country. During the month of April the influence of the sun has been so great, as powerfully to affect all nature. The snow has nearly disappeared about the first week in May; the ice in the lakes and rivers is broken up by the increase of water from the melting of snow, and it is floated down to the great river St. Lawrence, where it accumulates in immense quantities, and is carried up and down with the tide.
At this time the St. Lawrence presents one of the most extraordinary scenes in nature. It is impossible to form an adequate idea of it without being a spectator. From bank to bank it is quite choked up with immense masses and sheets of ice; some of them from 400 to 500 yards in diameter. The tide forces them on one another, breaks them into smaller pieces, and raises them in shelving and fantastic forms considerably above the surface. This mass of moving ice fills the whole basin, and is seen as far up the river as your eye can reach, a distance altogether of 12 to 15 miles.
In the fall of the year the risk of shipwreck is greatly increased, from the snow-storms prevalent at that time. These storms not only pre-5
(vent the sailors from seeing the coast and the landmarks, and consequently from directing their course properly; but the cold is then so severe, that the men cannot remain exposed to it. The cordage becomes incrusted with ice, so that it cannot run through the blocks, and the sails become frozen in such a manner, that there is no possibility of working the ship; besides, so much ice gets about the rudder that it becomes immoveable. Many vessels have been lost from these circumstances, and almost every winter, some vessels sail in expectation of getting out of the river; but,being caught in it snow storm, are very fortunate if they escape destruction, by getting into some bay or place of shelter, where they remain fixed for the winter.
No sooner is the influence of the April Sub felt, than you see birds of various kinds returning to their summer quarters; and vegetation, about the 10th of May, is very strong. The snow is nearly gone, and the frost is sufficiently out of the ground to allow the farmer to commence his operations. This takes place after the snow is gone, sooner than one would imagine. The frost does not penetrate so deep into the ground, as from the intenseness and long continuance of the cold might be expected.
In countries where you have six months frost, were the soil exposed to its influence all the while it would have penetrated so deep, that it is a question if the heat of a whole summer would eradicate it. But Providence has here furnished a remedy: it has kindly decreed, that when water is cooled down to 32° it shall freeze, and be converted into ice and snow. The rivers become covered with ice, the surface of the earth becomes hardened, snow falls to a considerable thickness, and by these means the water and the land are protected from the influence of that immense volume of cold, dense atmosphere, which presses on from the polar regions towards the s. when the sun retreats after the solstice. The natural heat of the earth is about 42°; the thermometer stands at this point in the deepest mines that have been sunk. This natural heat, as well as the heat accumulated in the earth and water during summer, is prevented, by the ice and snow, from making its escape; and as soon as the return of the sun has brought warmth enough to banish the frost from the atmosphere, the latent heat of the earth and water lends its aid in dissolving the snow and ice, and forwarding vegetation. Snow is peculiarly well calculated for preserving warmth in the earth; because it is full of air, which is known to be a very bad con
ductor of heat, and will of course the more effectually prevent its escaping from the surface. It is a thing very well ascertained here, that vegetation has made some progress under the snow, before it has deserted the ground.
The long continuance of winter in Canada is certainly a circumstance which must retard its progress in improvement, and the increase of its trade. Some people pretend to say, that it must ever prevent its becoming a great, populous, and trading nation. We cannot go so far. We have seen Russia in the course of a century, become a great, populous, and trading nation. We have seen a splendid capital city, and many respectable towns, raised by the magical powers of commerce and domestic industry; and yet the Russian winter is as long as the Canadian winter. The communication of the Russians, by water, with the rest of the world is cut off, and that element confounded, as it were, with the land, from the 27th of November to the 19th of April (upon an average calculation of 15 years), which is nearly five months. Now vessels sometimes leave Quebec as late as the beginning of December, and arrive sometimes in the end of April, so that the Neva is as long shut up as the St. Lawrence; yet nobody ever doubts that Russia is a rising country, and may become the most powerful in Europe.
It is worthy of remark, and not a little surprising, that so large a river as the St. Lawrence, in lat. 47°, should be shut up with ice as soon, and continue as long shut up, as the comparatively small river, the Neva, in lat. 60°.
1. Description of the inhabitants.—The population of Quebec, according to the census of 1784, amounted to 6472 souls. The towns of Quebec and Montreal, including their suburbs, are said to contain at present about 12,000 inhabitants each, nearly three-fourths of whom are French. In speaking of the society of Lower Canada, we shall confine our remarks chiefly to the city of Quebec, which as it is the capital, and the manners of its inhabitants are in every respect similar to those of Montreal, will serve as a general view of society among the higher orders throughout the country.
The British inhabitants of Quebec consist of the government people ; the military; a few per sons belonging to the church, the law, and medicine; the merchants, and shopkeepers.
The French comprise the old noblesse and seigniors, most of whom are members of the go-} [vernment; the clergy; the advocates and notaries; the storekeepers.
These different classes form three distinct divisions of society, which contrive to keep at a respectable distance from each other. The first is composed of the highest orders next to the governor, comprehending the members of the government; the honourable professions; and a few of the principal merchants. These are admitted to the chateau. ,""
The second division is composed of the inferior merchants, the shopkeepers and traders; together with the subordinate officers of the government, the army, the law, and the church; the practitioners in medicine, and other British inhabitants.
The third division consists of the French inhabitants, most of whom, except the few who are members of the government, associate almost entirely together, unless that a public entertainment, or the annual assemblies, bring some of them into company with the British. A very small proportion of the British Canadians were born in the colony, and consequently very little difference in person, dress, or manners, is discernible between them and the inhabitants of the mother country. The French have also assimilated themselves so nearly to the British in dress, manners, and amusements, especially the younger branches, that if it was not for their language, there would be little to distinguish their respective coteries. .;
The Creoles of Canada (or the descendants of Europeans born in Canada), both French and
English, who inhabit the towns, are generally of a middle stature, rather slender than robust, and very rarely possess the blooming and ruddy complexion of the British; a pale, sallow, or swarthy countenance, characterises the natives of Canada, and with few exceptions, the whole of the American continent. It is rather singular, that a foggy atmosphere should be conducive to that bloom of health which glows on the cheek of a British islander; yet the fact is corroborated by the appearance of the inhabitants of Newfoundland, of the shores of Nova Scotia and the New England states; who, enveloped in fog's more than one-half the year, enjoy the same ruddy complexion as the English; while those who live in the interior, under a clear sky, are universally distinguished by sallow or swarthy complexions. Lower Canada cannot boast of much superlative beauty among its females; but there are many who possess very pleasing and interesting countenances. Montreal is allowed to have the advantage over the other towns for female beauty. The country girls, who are nearly all French (with the exception of those who reside in the back townships), are pretty when very young, but from hard work and exposure to the sun, they grow up coarse featured and swarthy, and have all the sturdiness but none of the beauty of our Welch girls. Upon the whole, if the generality of the Canadian females are not remarkable for beautiful faces or elegant figures, there is nothing in either that can offend, and both are certainly as much as the men are entitled, to, —See Canada.]