L E T T E R S

 

from

 

C A N A D A

 

Backstairs Gossip

from

Saskatchewan

1 8 9 2 / 1 8 9 3

 

 

 

Letters from Canada 1892 to 1893

 

The following letters were written to my grandmother Martha Palmer (nee Morgan) by her friend and namesake Martha Pritchard.?? They had obviously been in domestic service together just prior to the start of the correspondence, in the area of Hay-on-Wye, which is on the borders of Herefordshire, in England, with Wales, in an area we call ?The Golden Valley?.? At the time they would have been in their late teens or early twenties.

 

Martha Pritchard then obtained a post with the Humphreys family at ?Cannington Manor, Assiniboia-North West Territories - Canada, (now in Saskatchewan).? It was some 40 miles from Moosomin, in what is now the Moose Mountain Provincial Park area.? This is not the town named Assiniboia today, which exists further to the south west, but the province which was later merged into Saskatchewan.

 

At almost the same time grandmother obtained a post with a Dr. Palmer (no relation) in Mortlake, London.

 

The correspondence began in May 1892 upon Martha Pritchard's arrival at Cannington Manor.? The photostats, which we have, are of letters written between May 1892 and October 1893.? The last letter shows that Martha had completed her year of service and had moved to the home of her uncle - Thomas Greenow (her mother's brother) - in New York State.?? She was then looking for another position in that area, and we have no idea what became of her after that.

 

The originals of the letters were presented to the Dominion Archivist by my uncle, who was lecturing in Canada, and entered into the Public Archives of Canada in 1974.? Canadian National Archive - Reference MIKAN 102097.

 

 

JOHN PALMER

Cannington Manor

Assiniboia

N.W.T.

Canada

May 22nd 1892

 

My Dear Namesake,

???????? I fully promised you a letter by Mayfair, but I did not arrive here till the 13th of May and we cannot post but every Monday, so I did not understand that in time for the first post.? So I sent this in time for 2nd.? I send it to Mrs Watkins the butcher in case you have left Cusup, because a letter is about 16 days.? I hope you are getting on all right.? I am quite well.? We had a very long passage - 12 days on sea, I was very sick for 3 days and then I enjoyed it most splendid after I got better. We were 27 girls in our party and 6 young men under our chaplain. The matron was very kind to us she gave us plenty of apples, oranges, and lemons and candies.

???????? I cannot tell you much about the country yet. Moosomin is a horrid place but I am 40 miles from there. I am not far from Mr. Moore I think I shall like alright by & by. There is no chapel for miles but there is a beautiful church 2 miles off and we drive a whole gang in the wagon every Sunday service at 7pm. The prairie is beautiful now. You can go for miles and gather flowers of colours.? Mrs. Humphreys has been in England for 3 months and is not coming home till August. There are 10 children, only 3 in school 5 sons and 6 daughters. The eldest daughter is going to be married the first day of June, so I am just in time for that.?? I shall be thinking about you the 6th day of June. I was thinking about you all the May Fair days. You are 8 hours before us. It is much warmer here by day and cooler by night than in England. One thing I hope to save a little shoe leather here - no roads only paths out and all boards in the house. The Humphreys have only come from England 4 years. This house is built since then. It is very large. There is 12 rooms on the first floor and 13 on the second - I mean bedrooms. It is built like a ship. There is a square opening up the middle and the landing leading all round to the rooms. It is very pretty to look down. The boss was a ship builder. People are not particular about anything here. Knives can go for a week uncleaned. Everyone cleans their own boots & everyone makes their own bed. All the hobby here is to get varieties to eat. They live far better here than in the old country. There is some Red Indians about here. They call their wives skwas & the children papoose I intend coming home in 2 years time if I am spared but it is a very long journey. It is 2660 miles of water. If there is anything done wrong they say it is botched, and I guess they say for nearly everything. Have you heard anything about Johnny. There is a lot of English lads out here. I will tell you how I shall like it next letter. They are all very homely here with me. There is no gentry here - all of one class. Please remember me to the gardener and Mrs. Watkins. Trusting you and William are all right. I conclude with kindest love and every good wish.

 

Yours lovingly

Martha

Sunday July 17th??? ????????? ???????? ?????????????Cannington Manor

Assiniboia

N.W.T.

Canada

 

My Dear Namesake

I cannot tell you how pleased I was to get your letter. I saw Mortlake postmark. I could not think where that was. I had quite forgot your writing. I had your letter July 15 th. I have only had one letter from home since I have been here. Well I must tell you I don't like this country much for it is so dreadful quiet. There is nothing going on. It is a nice country as far as that goes but there is not many people about. No chapel - no sunday school.? I have to go to church. We go every Sunday about 6 or a dozen of us in the wagon. It is too hot to walk. The church is two & half mile.? First time I was driving I thought I was going to break my neck. There is no roads here like England - only like roadways across a field. They are called trails. Every driving affair is different here. All the seats seem to work on springs till the jogging is less felt. I quite enjoy it now every Sunday. We have been very busy spring cleaning as they call, but I told them it was past spring cleaning - it was summer cleaning. I never saw any house in such a filthy state - never one thing - they are not very particular. The knives had not been cleaned for 6 weeks. This family are from London. They have only been out here 4 years this October. The boss was a shipbuilder in England. He was going back in the world. That's why he came out here because he has so large a family, and they can stand a better chance to provide for themselves. The girls don't like this so well as the old country. The eldest son is 24 and the daughter that is married is 21. There is another girl near 20 and a boy 18, and the others vary down to 5. I think I told you they were 10 in all. Mrs Humphreys I have not seen yet. She went to England in February and one girl 15. She is gone to school for 2 years.? Mrs. Humphreys is leaving England the 2nd week in August. I like the boss very much, but of course I cannot tell you about the missus yet.? What a funny thing that you and I should be in church at a wedding the same day. Miss Humphreys was married the first day of June. There was about 50 here to breakfast, the bride was dressed in white silk. Her 3 sisters were bridesmaids. She was married at 12 o'clock. They came back here to breakfast. She put on a grey travelling dress & drove 40 miles to meet the train. She had plenty of old boots tied under the carriage. She had all her wedding things sent out from England. This bridegroom is very tall & thin. She gave him the name of Allys Sloper - that was before she thought anything of him.? So now they go by the name of the Sloper family. He lives in at Cannington.? He is postmaster. We can only post letters every Monday, & we only get letters once a week - that is every Friday. I was going to write to Watkins but now I don't know where he is.?? I really did not think you would leave. I thought the old woman would coax you to stop when the time came. Is it that little girl out of Hay is come housemaid and who is come cook ?? I am rather glad Annie led her a dance. Surely Mrs. Murphy will attend to the hens now and give them warm parings, pepper & mustard. Did you teach the little maid to wash out all the spice pots for the hens ?? Did Ann render the fat alright ? ?How did she manage the marketing ?? We were not allowed to speak to any young men on the voyage. The matron was so strict over us. We used to watch her down to her cabin. She would come back sometimes and catch us. Then she would get as mad as a tup. We did lead her a dance - 27 of us. My work is chiefly cooking for they live far better here than in the old country. Blanch work is called chaws here.? If anything is done wrong then the boys say it is 'botched. I am sorry for William. I do think it was too bad of you to go so far but I pity him when you do meet him. Those boot hole nights were jolly. I wish I could see them and that, for try over again. I feel very miserably sometimes - then I think of boot hole to console myself. Please send my kindest regards to William & ask him if he remembers the night he was scared to drink tea about 9. The letters are going to post. I will tell you more news next time. Thank you for telling me so much about the rank old pig.

 

With best wishes????????????? From your loving friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 21 st '92??? ?????????????????????????????????Cannington Manor

Assiniboia

N.W.T.

Canada

 

My Dear Martha

I was very pleased to receive your letter - Friday August 19 th. Also I got a letter from Miss Thomas and one from Mother and one from Mrs. Jones the Dufferin. The times are mending. We get letters twice a week now. I am very sorry you are miserable for I know the feeling. It is a peculiar feeling really It is something past describingly dull here, for sometimes I feel as if I could not stop here - not a single person I know. But worst than all there is so few people round here. Sunday is a perfectly miserable day.? I could go where I like but there is nowhere to go or anything to be seen - so I don't see it any use to go out. All the boys go up to a lake to bathe every Sunday.? The eldest boy makes the only amusement. He is playing the piano or banjo every night and singing very funny songs. There is only dancing - that's about the most that goes on here. The eldest daughter & son goes lots of nights till about 3 o'clock in the morning. There's nothing for servants.???? Mrs. Humphreys leaves England for here August 26th so I shall soon see what she is like - but I have made up my mind not to stay here longer than my year, which is not 9 months now thank goodness - but I can tell you I have a good place - a splendid place for grub. We get plenty of sweets and pastry every day - never go without pudding for dinner. We have only 3 real meals a day -? no supper - breakfast 7 dinner 12.30 and the evening meal at 6 or half past. Every person cut their own luncheon - sometimes we have afternoon tea at 4. It does seem such a relief to have no supper to get, because I can do what I like after tea.? If I was near a town I might see something.? The flowers grow wild all over the prairie.? Really they are as good as any garden flowers could be. We have plenty of vegetables of all sorts but no fruit.? We get dried apples in barrels - also pears, prunes & apricots.? The raspberries grow wild up in the bush.? We go up in the rig and stay there and pick and make tea & have a jolly spree.? They are equal to any garden fruit.? We have made over a 100 lbs. of jam.? The mosquitoes are nearly gone now.? I am glad for their biting was awful.? The night I went to the Dufferin - when you came to send me - Mrs. Jones showed me a letter from Johnnie, which she had the day before.? He asked her about the Swinburnes - was I still there & did I talk about America now. She said she had another letter from him just before she wrote to me & he is getting on quite well. He is about a thousand miles or more from here.??? I dare say I shall never see him again.? Just fancy - the boot hole was the last place I saw him. If ever I live to go back to Hay, I shall try to see the dear old boot hole.? For it is ever in my mind- and the old armchair - and Ma - and the poor old horses wants their tea - especially when 2 came tumbling down stairs in the dark.

 

With fondest love and good wishes to you and William. Hoping William is better.

 

From your old friend????????????????? Martha

(Lizzie Lane was with her brother in Quebec please write soon - I must go to church - there is no red door watching here)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cannington Manor

Assiniboia

N.W.T.

Canada

Dear Martha,

You told me about your wages - that's better than with Mrs. S. is it not? Now I get 10 dollars a month & the boss is going to rise me to 12 dollars a month when I have been here 6 months. 1 dollars is 4 shillings and 2 pence, so you can see that's ?2 : 15 : 8d a month,

12 dollars a month will be ?2: 10s per month. So that's better than Mother S. and time to do my own sewing & a machine whenever I want it.? Harry Moore is rather nice looking but not so good as his photo.? I do see him every Sunday in church.? There's 2 other young men living with him - no woman. The people about here likes Harry much better than Arthur.? Harry is very sweet on a feeble young girl 17 - her name is Kate Phipps.? She wears her hair in a pigtail down her back.? Please burn all my scribbling for fear Mrs S. should see any of it.? Have you another girl with you? Did you go to Jordan sometimes after I left?? I hope you set my old boots sailing in the cradle to the deep.? I will write about dress next time, as my space is too short this time.? I am sorry your Mother keeps so weak & I am very sorry to hear about Amy Davies.? I hope she will soon get better.? Somebody sent me the Hereford Times for the first week in June.? I don't know who did unless it was the butcher?s boy.? I saw a list of all the charming couple's presents.? I saw you gave her a flower basket.? Some of the presents are put wrong in the paper.? I thought it was Mr. Hincks gave her the dinner gong.? It was put so as Mrs. Wootton gave it her.? Mrs. Jones - Dufferin told me poor old Sammy and the cook from Griffiths was married in June. What a match.? So Sam can sing his evening song to her - sleep on beloved sofa? She also said the servants were leaving Mrs. S. Sadly I have had neuralgia in my head very bad but I am alright now.? It is just boiling hot or freezing all the time here.? I do dread the thoughts of winter.? How is your brother Jim getting on? My brother Jim is all right. Mother is living by herself now. She doesn't like that very well. When I leave here Mother's brother wants me to go to him in Ontario, so I think I will go. That is nearer New York & I hope more lively. There was one boy 15 and one girl 14 confirmed - I mean of this family today at our grand church. I am pleased you are going to send me a photo. I will send you one when I go to Moosomin to have it taken - if I do go this summer, as 40 miles is a long way and no train.

From your loving friend,??????????????????????????????????????? Martha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cannington Manor

Assiniboia

N.W.T.

Canada

Sunday 2 nd

 

My Dear Namesake

I received your kind letter a fortnight tomorrow - also I had your photo the following week after the other letter. It is indeed a splendid one - real life-like.. I should think you feel glad you did not go to .Botching' Moxon in Hay. I am sure that William was pleased with it. I have sent you just a skip of the wedding that was here. It is taken by the eldest son. He cannot take photographs well.? If you will send it back, he is going to mount it for me. Standing in the doorway is the bride & bridegroom - so-called Slopers - next our boss & the best man.? The 3 sisters - bridesmaids. the eldest you can see is nearly 20 and then the next is 17 in school in London, and the other 2 you see is 14 & 10 - but there is boys between them - the youngest is 5. Mrs. Humphreys is a very quiet sort of person.? You can never tell what those sort of people mean but she is really very kind to me.? She makes a lot more cooking and washing. We wash once a fortnight. The daughter always helps and she does the ironing but I have to iron all the starch things.? I have had a lot of collars & white shirts all the summer. The boys call them boiled rags, but it is for my good. I have learned more here than I have ever learned before. Girls can get, in laundries in Montreal from ?3 to ?4 per month. I have had 2 letters from Johnnie - he is getting on very well & he told me that girls are getting 5 to 6 dollars a week about Walla Walla - that's where he is. He asked me to remember him to you & I was to tell you that he was everything that was expected of an old man. Oh I do wish you were here at nights. It is most awful dull & quiet. I won't go where there is only one girl never again. Church is now at 3 o'clock in the afternoon & every Sunday night in the house .moping - nowhere to go.? I really cannot stand it no longer than next May but Christmas will soon be here & then the time goes wonderful fast after.? I have been thinking about going to British Columbia - that is just like English climate.? I don't feel the least that I want to go home. I cannot forget the sea voyage. I will never cross it again without someone I know. I am very sorry that you have to work so hard - more especially that your health is so bad. Mrs. P. ought to come out to the northwest. She would not make so much work here or else do it herself. My health is fare but I do suffer very much with headache. I have got to take medicine very often.? You bet I have not forgotten the night I had my bed warmed. I hope you won't have to go out in the dark mornings in the snow to chop firewood this winter. The boys are down first in the morning and they light the fire. The stoves are much better than in England.? They have a fall top and just a pipe to carry the smoke. They are so easy to clean. I can blacklead it easy in 10 minutes. No one listens to hear me clean the flues. Poor Dame Burden must have had some trouble this summer.? I expect a letter from the Dufferin this week so I may hear some Cusop news. I paid for a brown box the same size as the white I had with you at Stephens. They promised to send it.? Did you ever get it? Oh what do you think about our little house now. I think out here would be a fine place. I will try and get a half-breed shack. There is lots of bachelors living by themselves, so it would be nothing out of the common. I did not make a mistake about the presents.? I told you that it was put wrong in the paper.? If you can get me a copy of the song .Tar Ra Ra Boom De Ray, I should be very pleased. I heard it sung on board.? People wear moccasins instead of boots because they are warm.? They are yellow buckskin. I won't wear them if I can help it.? They do look awful thing.? So i will tell you about the Red Indians next time if I have not told you. I do make an awful muddle over my letters sometimes - write the same thing over & over. Have you forgotten our supper some nights. Upstairs and the ting ting in the morning. I can't write more now.

I have other letters to write & to Johnnie, so I must close.

 

With best love

From your old friend

???????????????????????????????????????????? Martha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cannington Manor

Assiniboia

N.W.T.

Canada

 

December 10th '92

 

My Dear Namesake

I received your kind letter & the lovely Xmas card on the 12th. Thank you very much for it. I am sure it is the nicest one I ever had. The words are so nice, I intended to get a nice one for you, but it is impossible in this outlandish place.? You are right, it seems a long time to wait for a letter, but I am quite accustomed to it by now. I have not had a letter from home or from my brother never since September so that's longer still. I suppose I am out of sight - out of mind. I expect some letters this coming week. Yes, this time last year, little did we think that nearly 5 thousand miles should separate us. Such a happy family as we used to be when we all met now and then about 9 p.m. You bet we would spend a very happy Xmas now If we had the chance we would not be scared at the robber's whistle, or Watkins's false alarm. Do you ever hear anything about Mrs. Balfour?s servants? I hope that Dame Durden has got some very nice modest young women now. I often wonder if ever she heard anything about the time of her absence. We often used to call that place over but really we used to have a lot of fun there. I feel so dull now on Sundays till I can hardly contain myself, although everyone is very nice. Mrs. Humphreys tries to keep up as much style as she can.? The boys do not believe in it. The girls are getting pride into them a great deal more than when I came here. Mrs. Humphreys is a real fiddler - she never says anything to me, but she just goes round and moves everything for no earthly use. The girls laugh at her very often. They told me before she came home that she was an awful fiddler, but I have no fuss if the meals are not ready. One of the family always sets the dining room table. The 4 boys and the chaw boy and myself have our grub in the kitchen but all has breakfast in the kitchen. We don't do more than we can help on Sunday. I always clean the kitchen on Friday and there's pastry & cakes etc. made on Saturday to last the week. I live a great deal better now than before. 12 is our regular number on Sunday - generally 14 or 15. There is an english doctor living near here & his brother & also a parson's son called Ned Fleming from London. He does the doctor's work. They have no female in the house. They do their own washing. The doctor gets up his white shirts his self. Those three are here nearly every Sunday. The doctor is really very nice. He comes in the kitchen to help to dry up the dishes & make some very funny jokes for us. He has to torture one or the other's teeth nearly every week. I have had one aching bad, it is the furthest tooth on the lower side. He has taken 3 pieces of it out & still there is some left in. I thought he was going to pull my head off. I have to bake every Tuesday & Friday to keep such a large family in bread, and churn once a week to keep butter going - also I make our own barm. I think you must feel more contented now, especially your wages risen - also if you are kept in boots - that is a fine help. I only wish I had something to go and see like you have in London. It must be very nice to see so much, but thank goodness I have been here over 7 months. Next summer I am going many hundred miles nearer you. My uncle - mother's brother - he is in New York State. I don't intend coming back here. All his children are married. Well about Johnnie. He thought he would not write to Dulas because he talked so much about leaving. He wrote to Alex Lindsay so I suppose he got my address from him or the Dufferin by his letters. I think he must feel very energetic. He has not forgotten our little house & he says that the washing & mending of his clothes is the very dickens of it when he is out of town. When in town he has it done in a Chinese laundry. I get now 12 dollars a month and one dollar is 4 shillings and 2 pence, so that is 2 pounds 10 shillings a month in English money. The first 6 months I had only 10 dollars a month. I am quite an old servant here now. There is no girl stays in a place long out here. There is a drill for to learn dancing at the village once a week, but I don't mean to join that. We are going to have a xmas tree on the 28th. Well you never could believe how cold it is here. There is more snow here than has been for 10 years. Since the beginning of November it generally stays on the ground until April - no rain all through the winter. Your time is 6 hours before ours. It is 9 o'clock with us now so it is 3 o'clock with you and you are sleeping in bed. Well, I hope you have a happy Xmas & lots of presents. Everyone here is going to give me presents. I will tell you next letter what they are. Do you remember our Xmas dinner last year?? The poor rabbit. Never mind, it will be better this time. We have a pudding - 14 lb., and a cake - 10 lb. Feeding is all people think about in this country. Every birthday we have a 10 lb. cake. I have made 17 pork pies this winter and going to make a lot more yet. I have bought a sealskin cap to come down over my ears, which cost me 18 shillings & 6 pence. I am going to get a warm cloak or ulster soon. Thank goodness I have not got to go out & chop wood in the snow or I should be frozen. There is only 2 fires here - that is the kitchen stove and the furnace warms the house. This house is very large - 11 rooms on the first floor and 13 rooms upstairs - and there 15 another storey above that. Every bit is wood - there is no stones in it. H.C. Mogrens girl & family is gone about 40 miles to a place called Estavan. She has helped me to wash up. She was staying here before they went. He is thinking to spend Christmas with her. Please excuse mistakes,

 

With fondest love

From your old friend

 

Martha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cannington Manor

Assiniboia

N.W.T.

Canada

 

Easter Sunday

 

My Dear Martha

?You apologised for not writing last time. Really I am ashamed of myself for it?s a month today since I got your letter which I was so pleased to receive. I got a letter from my brother the same time. I got a letter this week from a place I lived at near Builth - also one from Polly Evans, dressmaker - naughty girl - the first time she has written to me.? First, I must tell you what frowsy weather we have had. Really I did not think there ever was such intense cold. Just think, it's considered very cold in England if there is 30 degrees of frost, whereas it has been 87 degrees here and also a howling wind blowing 30 to 40 miles an hour. It does not matter what you got on - unless it?s a real skin coat you cannot keep the cold out. I have only been to church a very few times this winter. I have had my ears frozen. Its pretty sharp when they thaw out and the skin comes off, but its not as bad as you may think. There has been snow on the ground ever since last October, just think - never a spot of rain since the snow fell. This last week it has begun to thaw. We have had several days? snow now and then all winter - a blizzard it's called here - that's driving snow only a great deal worse than I ever saw at home. There has been several people frozen to death this winter. Now the weather is got warm enough to wear a hat. I expect we shall have some rain now soon. I have not been very well this winter through being in the house so much more than ever I have been accustomed to. Now I shall go out more. We have some of the family services on very bad Sundays but not the long sermon as I daresay you have not forgot. We also had a midnight service on New Year's Eve. I did not enjoy Xmas Day much. We were 17 here altogether. There was such a lot of cooking to be done. I went to church in the morning and dinner was at 4 p.m., and tea at 10 o'clock at night. I was fearfully tired at night and quite glad to go to bed. Well the presents I got from all were a night-dress case & a handkerchief case, a pair of woollen night slippers, a small work box & a fox skin muff, 2 books, a small basket and a photo frame, and from the post master Sloper 10 dozen envelopes and paper. There is generally a crowd here to tea on Sunday. Mrs. Humphreys gets all the bachelors she can of course. The doctor bunch- they are 3. The doctor bunch are going to do a great wash when the rain comes. He has invited me to go to his house to see the lambs. He has a lot to come in May.? It does seem funny never to go out at night. It makes me feel so steady. One good thing, I am never hustled off to bed at night. They never say anything to me and I often sit up till 12 p.m., instead of 9.30 p.m.? The Graphic comes out here every week, also the London Weekly Times, and 'The Lady' - called a journal for gentlewomen - with the fashions in every week. People get all their fashions from England. How is your cloak wearing? I have lined mine with thick coat cloth. I have never worn it much yet. There is 2 girls come out here last summer with a family. They are 2 sisters - its very nice for them. They have both started spousers. They are cutting a great swell. They wear the abominables and that?s caps in the evening. Also they attend the dance every week. They don't go to church because it's too cold but it's not too cold to go to the dance. Polly Evans told me there was going to be a grand new house built in Cusop. I wish I had what you got - a machine. I have (unreadable 2 words)? only sewing is so dear here. Cannot get a dress under 4 to 6 dollars. Well now, what do you think about our little house? I often wonder if that little girl is with Miss Morgan - Malster now. I am thinking of going to the Worlds Fair but I have not quite made up my mind. It's such a long way. I see in the paper there is to be a World's Fair in England in '95. Possibly I may come home then. I do so hope that we shall meet some day again. I am going to write to another friend of mine who is in London since she was married. Nearly forgetting to thank you for the papers. There was some quite interesting things in it. I get an English paper sometimes. I see Tom Frances Pardoe is going to Castleton. I hope your little brother is better - poor little fellow. I know what going to sleep is as he calls it.

 

With fond love

From your old friend

 

Martha

 

(Remember the cat - Please write when you have time)

Sunday August 27th???????? ????????????? ????????Cannington Manor

Assiniboia

N.W.T.

Canada

My Dear Namesake

I received your kind letter July 27th. Very pleased to hear from you. I wondered what ever had become of you. I thought surely you had gone home & was married & had a home of your own to fix up which occupied all your time.? Well, I am very pleased to hear you have been home for William's sake & to see the dear old spot - Dulas Docks. How I should like to see it once more in its peaceful hours we once enjoyed. I just think of it - for I do every day. Certainly I would not have expected you to write whilst you were at home. You had far more important duties to attend to - but I think it was very naughty of you to go off with another young man to the sports. Just think of William's feelings. Well, Martha I am sorry you have to work so hard. I have to work a great deal harder this summer than last. Of course Mrs. Humphreys was not here last summer and that makes a great difference. She is never happy unless surrounded by visitors.? There is very often people to luncheon, tea or dinner - not forgetting the dances. There were about 70 people here to a dance in July. They look like a lot of fools coming to be fed. I quite agree with you on the service question. I am tired of it myself and will quit it before long. I never was quite done up until this summer. The eldest daughter & myself is spring cleaning. Colour washed all the house, upstairs & down and painted all the woodwork. It had never been done before. There's 13 rooms upstairs and 11 rooms down beside a very large landing and hall. I really worked myself out till I was quite weak. Of course I had the heavy part of it. Mrs Humphreys bought a bottle of Scott Emulsion and gave me. I am thankful to say I am alright again now - only much thinner than I used to be but none the worse for that.? Dear Martha, I have not been to the World's Fair, nor am I going. It's more than a thousand miles from here. There's no one I know going there. I have not seen Johnnie yet. He is nearer here now than he was. He is near his cousin Will, who I told you married Mrs. Kinsey in Hay's sister & they live a long way from here. I do hope to see Johnnie before very long.? Just think - I have never seen any one I know since leaving Hay. Everything and everybody round here is got so stale. I never go out with anyone, I feel such a modest young woman. I have a Singer sewing machine. Such a nice one which is very useful. Must close with kind love to you. Kind regards from Johnnie. Please remember me to William.

 

Goodbye ? write soon??????????????????????????????????????? Martha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gorham

Ontario County

New York State

 

My Dear Namesake

Surely you will think I have forgotten all about you. Well, I got your letter the week before leaving Cannington so I had no time to write, then I had a very long journey. It took me one day to come from Cannington to Moosomin & I stayed one day in town there - the first time seeing a town for a year & a half - and it took me 3 days and 3 nights in the train. That was a rather jolly time - music & dancing - but not very easy sleeping when rough riding. The trains here are quite different to England. They are long cars - one car will hold as many as 60 people and 2 seats facing each other. These seats open out and 2 people can lie there. Then there is a thing overhead that lets down & 2 more can sleep up over the seat.? We had a lot of fun with a Chinaman coming along.? They wear their hair in long plait down their back. This one had hair about a yard long.? Well, I can tell you I am in quite a different country to Cannington. There was nothing but bare open prairie - no fruit nor trees - only as I have told you before raspberries strawberries currants and gooseberries that grow wild. I have now been here with Uncle a week. Round here it is just like Cusop - there are grapes pears, apples, plums. Peaches, cucumbers & tomatoes grow all out on the garden without any hothouse. It is really a beautiful country. It's colder, here in winter than in England but nothing like where I was living. I don't intend to go back there again. Mrs. Humphreys wants me to go in the spring, but this child don't intend to. Well I am now a long way from Johnnie. I feel as if I shall never see him again now. I had a letter from him before I left, he was in very good spirits then. I am now only 325 miles from the city of New York. Well I can assure you I was surprised to hear of William going with Hannah, for I thought he was such a straightforward fellow. But such being the case, I think you have done quite right. By the way, how about those socks? Were they ever finished or has Billie lost them? I think the young man you have now must be quite a dandy. I should be ever so pleased to see him if it was possible. Well I assure you I have never been with any fellow since leaving the old country. I heard about the r. old pig. What a botch they made of it in so short a time. Why surely Dame Durden must be very sad about it, having her back again. Are you not sorry for the poor slavvys? Perhaps she is not quite so fussy now.? What has become of all the household furniture and is the r. old p. still in the same place? Have you heard where Watkins - that impertinent young man - is gone to? Please write & tell me what you gave for that book & postage and I will send you the money. I am going to get into a situation this next week. I guess I shall have to live with Yankees, this time. I don't much like that but they are very nice people, all as I have seen yet. I guess I will not write any more. I will tell you more next time. Please write soon as you have time.

 

 

 

Address to: -

 

M. Pritchard, c/o Thomas Greenow

Gorham Bethel, Ontario County

New York State, America

 

From your old friend

 

Martha

 

Hoping you are feeling good. Will send you a photo as soon as I can get some taken. I have quite forgotten whether I wrote you just before I left or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P u b l i c? A r c h i v e s of C a n a d a

 

A r c h i v e s? P u b l i q u e s? d u? C a n a d a

 

Office of the Dominion Archivist ??????????????????????????????????? Ottawa

Cabinet de L'Archiviste Federal????????????????????????? K1A ON3

 

April 18th 1974

 

Mr. A.H. Higgs

28 Laurie Crescent

Bristol.

BS9 4TA

England.

 

Dear Mr. Higgs,

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for presenting to the Public Archives of Canada the most interesting letters relating to Cannington Manor. They reveal the problems of immigrants to Canada in the early days of settlement on the prairies and contain first -hand accounts of an unusual attempt to re-create in the west an 'english' manor.

 

I enclose a rather poor copy of a report on Cannington Manor which was prepared for the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada of which I am a member.? My copy was equally poor but I hope that you will be able to read it and that you will find it of interest.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

W. I. Smith

Dominion Archivist

 

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada

 

Title: 'Didsbury'? Cannington Manor, Saskatchewan

Source: Staff Report - Historical??????????????????????????????????????????????? 1970

 

Historical Summary

-------------------------

This stone house, one of two remaining in the settlement of Cannington Manor was built in 1889 by the Beckton brothers, who had come out from England with settlers encouraged by Captain E.M. Pierce the original land-holder.

 

'Didsbury' was the centre of village social life patterned on that in the english .counties.? The Beckton brothers were horse-breeders and horse-racers. They closed out their activities in 1897 and returned to England a few years later.

 

History

---------

Cannington Manor, in the Moose Mountain area of Saskatchewan was established in 1882, largely under the impetus of an english gentleman, Captain E.M. Pierce.? Several families and single young men emigrated to Pierce's holdings. including in the latter group some who had been sent out by parents in England to learn farming.

 

By 1887 a village had grown up including an Anglican Church, built in 1884 and still standing. The original small village homes have long ago disappeared.

 

Today, in addition to the church and a few out-buildings, all that remains of Cannington Manor is a pair of mansions - one of frame was built for James Humphreys in 1888 - the other of stone was erected by the Becktons, Ernest, William, and Bertie. in 1889.? These two large homes were symbolic of alternative ways of life advocated by their owners.

 

The Humphreys' house was a centre of industry and disciplined living, following the ideals of the original settler, Captain Pierce. The Beckton ranch house 'Didsbury' was headquarters of life patterned upon 'county' ways in provincial England, with horse-racing a chief interest. The Becktons were well-known builders, and cricket, tennis and garden parties - as well as formal teas and dinners - were features of daily living at Didsbury. Many of the young unattached gentlemen from England (apparently among the earliest 'remittance-men' later so much in evidence in the foothills and the Rocky Mountain areas of Alberta) flocked to the Beckton ranch, and the social life affected there contrasted sharply with day-to-day activities in the rest of the community.? It seems to have been a source of some ill feeling among the residents.

 

However, after only a few years, Cannington Manor died. It had been set down in its Moose Mountain location largely on account of the anticipated coming of the transcontinental railway, and when the new line passed ten miles to the south, the effort to survive was simply too great for the village.? Whole families moved away and school, town hall, stores, cheese factory, and pork-processing plant closed their doors. By the mid-1890's or shortly thereafter, Cannington Manor had ceased to exist as a community.

 

Extant Buildings of the Manor

--------------------------------------

'Didsbury', the Beckton ranch house, is situated in the Saskatchewan parkland just east of the lakes of Moose Mountain - Cannington and Carlyle.? It is described as having been an imposing stone mansion with a profusion of verandas, gables and dormers. Such photographs as are available reveal a victorian 'cottage-type' structure of field-stone in considerable disrepair. All information obtained suggests that major rehabilitation work would be necessary even to assure that the fabric would remain intact.

It was apparently a sumptuous mansion for the time and place with ballroom, billiard room, formal dining hall and many bedrooms. There were stables, a pork-processing plant, barns and other outbuildings.

Today only 'Didsbury', the former Humphreys house and All Saints United Church remain at Cannington Manor. The former village is several miles from the nearest settlement, and there is no regularly maintained access road. There are no public utilities including fire-protection available.

 

Sources

----------

1. Excerpt from letter from Mrs. A.E.M. Hewlett, October 20 1962

{      The actual building was a triumph of both design and workmanship built in 1889 of local stone by craftsmen.

 

2. Excerpt from letter from Mrs. A.E.M. Hewlett, August 21 1962

{      The house is utterly beyond repair. The inadequate foundations have long ago caused collapse of one corner and great cracks keep coming in other walls

{      Would need a road in. a resident caretaker electricity watery sewage disposal fire insurance heating etc

{      The ranch is not close to any road linking towns, but is about half a dozen miles from the small hamlet of Parkman, with the trail in quite a mile over plow and round sloughs. The nearest house must be quite a mile away

{      The most recent owners the Hancocks were away a few days. The windows were broken, the tiling round the billiard room fireplace removed, and all other removable objects taken long ago.

 

A picture each of the church and ranch house will be available for

viewing.

 

 

 

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada

 

Title: ?Didsbury? Cannington Manor, Saskatchewan

Source: Staff Report - Supplementary Historical???????????????? 1970

 

The two surviving large houses at Cannington Manor, though certainly contrasting in style - the elaborate gothic revival of 'Didsbury' in its original condition with .a profusion of verandas gables and dormers, and the plainer Humphreys house built on colonial lines, do not really also typify such strongly contrasting ways of life in the settlement as is suggested in the main agenda paper.

Captain Pierce's aim for his colony, as he himself expressed it to Sir John A. Macdonald, was not only to promote industry and disciplined living. He wanted to.bring out more people of his standing, to 'live like kings on the little money they had', and he played a full part in providing for them in Canada the recreation they were accustomed to in England. This included evening dress Christmas parties (the first one was held two or three years before the advent of the Becktons) foxhunting, a rifle club, tobogganing, driving, boating on the lakes, summer cottages, a surpliced church choir, drama groups and sketching circles.

A chief supporter of the tennis club was Ernest Maltby one of the partners in the main business operation of the colony, the Moose Mountain trading company, and also owner of the stores, post office, hotel and blacksmith's shop - obviously a hard-working businessman.

On the other hand, the Becktons too were systematic in their horsebreeding operations and, in fact, must have been to have enjoyed the success they did on western tracks.

 

Both 'Didsbury' and the Humphreys house indeed represent only the largest type of house in the community and in fact these were scarce, only Captain Pierce's 'great white house' with its 24 ft x 22 ft living room rivalling them in size.

Most of the houses were very modest, and the business premises -

roller process flour mill, stores, hotel, cheese factories, blacksmiths,

carpenter's and shoemaker's shop were a third main type of structure.

In fact the english-born owners of the large houses were not even

typical of some very large elements of the population. For example,

two of the very first of the settlers John Turton and James Hindmarch, were Canadians and there were a number of others.

 

 

 



Letters from Canada 1892 to 1893



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