05 July 2012

Three Years in Canada:1826–7–8

As I entered the Ottawa Room at the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library on Wednesday Brian Silkoff, who looks after the collection and advises visitors, pointed out to me, in his enthusiastic manner, a book for sale for more than $1,000 by an antiquarian bookseller. It's one they hold in the OPL collection; the full title being:Three years in Canada: an account of the actual state of the country in 1826-7-8. Comprehending its resources, productions, improvements, and capabilities; and including sketches of the state of society, advice to emigrants, &c, by John Mactaggart.

McTaggart was appointed clerk of works for the Rideau Canal early in 1826 as construction was commencing. He traveled up and down the canal route, 160 miles between the Ottawa River and Lake Ontario. Like so many he contracted malaria, but recovered and return to England in 1828 with a laudatory letter from John By himself describing him as "a man of strong natural abilities, well grounded in the practical part of his profession, and a zealous hard-working man in the field," and "fond of research, and of exploring this untracked country; his reports are faithful, and I have found him a man of honor and integrity."

It should be credible. If you had ancestors dealing with conditions in Upper Canada at the time you're sure to find material of interest.

To read it you don't have to spend $1,000, or even go to the Ottawa Room. The book, in two volumes, is available free in scanned versions from The Internet Archive, Google Books, Early Canadiana Online, or in a carefully digitized version from Archive CD Books Canada (sample here). a

1 comment:

OnceCanadianByHeritage said...

My gggrandmother was an Irish immigrant about this time, and since there are no early records pertaining to her personally, this will give me insight into what she may have experienced. Thank you for the post and the links to the book.