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Canadian Life as I Found It
Chapter I Why we chose Canada

MY career was to have been that of a sailor, but after a short experience of sea life in some of its roughest phases, I was nearly poisoned through the carelessness of a cook. As a sequel my health broke down for some years, and I was obliged to give up a profession I dearly loved.

I subsequently turned my attention to farming, doctors all insisting on my leading an outdoor life, and later on I married.

Farming on a small scale, whether at home or abroad (I have tried both), does not bring in an adequate return for the outlay of strength and money, so hearing of fortunes to be easily made in Canada, I determined to emigrate.

I began by sending for all the pamphlets publishes by the Emigration Society in London. From these I gathered, that any young fellow willing to work, and having a small capital, say 200 on arrival clear, held the elements of future success, and quite sufficient to start on a government grant of 160 acres. I therefore got a draft for 200 on a Winnipeg bank, and we left Liverpool early in May, 1904, on one of the Canadian Pacific Company's steamers; but as our baby boy was only sixteen months old, and my wife had not been able to persuade a favourite servant to accompany us, we indulged in the luxury of a private cabin. This was not perhaps the proper beginning to an emigrant's life; however, it did not attack our capital, and we have some very pleasant recollections of our outward journey, for from captain down to cabin boys, every one was most kind and obliging.

We landed at Montreal on May 16, remained a day there to get our luggage together, and then began our journey West, Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, from advice received before leaving England, being our destination.

I had been told to pay extra on the cars for seats in a tourist sleeper, and paid 41 dollars for this accommodation; but as at Montreal station were no vacant seats, we were promised that we should get some at the next station: however, we never did, and we had either to go on in the ordinary colonist car, or to be left behind.

There was such a crowd, a perfect scrimmage between people of all nations. Fortunately we had plenty of rugs and cushions, and my wife made as comfortable a bed as possible for baby, and then we rolled ourselves in rugs, and tried to sleep on the bare wooden boards, but they were hard! We neither of us want to travel in these again; and, in fact, on arrival at Winnipeg, we were so done up, that we wished that we had never heard of Canada.

I left my wife sitting on the luggage outside Winnipeg station, whilst I tried to find a cab, and some one to help load it up; but although there were, perhaps, a hundred loafers standing round, not one came forward to help.

Finally a gentlemanly looking man in a tweed suit came up and asked us if he could do anything for us. Soon after his arriving a cabman appeared, an Icelander, very obliging, and even amusing had we not been too homesick to be amused.

I found out afterwards that our tweed-suit man was an Emigration agent.

We made friends in the train with a man who turned out to be also a C.P.R. agent. He was most kind, and travelled with us from Winnipeg, got us into a Pullman car with splendid sleeping accommodation, dining car, etc.

We were a day and a night getting to Regina. There we had to stop on account of the floods, and the bridge being broken down, there was only one train every three days as far as New Tanner, and from there we had to walk a mile to take the ferry across the river.

It took us another day's journey to reach Saskatoon, but we paid the difference once more, and got into a first-class carriage, which we probably should not have done, had we not had our little one to consider. He bore the journey splendidly, and arrived in much better condition than we did, for luckily we had a small spirit lamp on which we could heat his food; he had been brought up entirely on Mellin's, and this and the condensed milk we took with us, kept him in perfect health all through.

Our agent friend had telegraphed for rooms to the hotel at Regina, or I do not think we should have got any, there was such a rush to this part of Canada.

We stayed two days at the hotel at Saskatoon, but as it was expensive, for the further west you go the dearer everything is, we got into a one-roomed shanty or shack, as they are called out here.

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