The Crossing, June 29, 2021

This is how I imagine my Great great grand parents made their way from Scotland to Canada in the early 19th century.

The Crossing

  Robert and his pregnant wife Jane and eight children boarded a schooner to sail to Canada. Leaving the small fishing village, they were to join relatives to farm in Delhi, Canada.

  Scotland’s land was used up and no longer could produce crops to feed a family and pay the taxes. Scots were prohibited from fishing in their own waters. More Scotsmen were turning to the new world for opportunities.

  Robert’s family shared a cabin with another Scottish family. It was crowded and much of the day was spent on deck for fresh air.

  The children played simple games. Sailors would give them small pieces of hemp to practice knots and play cat’s cradle. Jane pulled her homespun wool gray shawl closer against the wind, as she watched the children at play. The girls hung wash on the deck rails to dry .”Keep a sharp eye, lest the wash blow overboard! , their mother ordered. They obeyed and gathered items as they dried.

  The voyage was to take 25 to 30 days. However, the spring sailing ran into storms and fog slowing their progress. The ship landed in Montreal on April, 30th, thirty one days after departing Edinburgh.

  Robert decided to bathe in the St. Lawrence river before appearing to the immigration authorities. He left his wife to pack family goods and children to debark the ship. Robert didn’t return. Jane, fearing the worse and alone in a strange land asked the authorities to search the St. Lawrence river.

  The currents and undertow of this river in the spring, was deceptive to unsuspecting swimmers and bathers. Roberts body washed ashore several miles downstream from the wharf.

  Jane took their small savings to pay for a burial. Then she gathered her family and with a letter from Roberts’s uncle in Canada, she told her children that they would walk to their new home in Delhi, some 400 miles away. It would take most of the spring  and summer. Along the way they slept in barns. Fished the rivers and requested assistance from the small churches they passed. Jane would read a bible verse to her children to begin and end their day. Many times she made up verses to encourage the children to continue. Occasionally, a wagon or cart would stop and give Jane and the younger children a ride. Her two older children had to walk besides the vehicle. The oldest son Walter, when not fishing or hunting for small game would do odd jobs to earn a few coins to feed the family. At age 12, he became the man of the family.

  Finally, in August, their little family arrived at the uncle’s farm in Delhi. Jane went into labor and bore a daughter in the beginning of September.

  Except for Robert , they all survived the trip

***********

********

He saved the King

Willian was laboring in a lowland glen.

He stopped to watch Robert Bruce ride by with his friends.

The Prince’s tartan flowed in the breeze.

Enraging a young bull grazing in the trees.

William raced between the man and beast.

He grabbed the horns, crack, the bulls life ceased.

The young prince’s life had been saved.

He knighted William for coming to his aid.

Three bloody bulls are on the crest.

The motto ”He saved the king” says the rest.

Carol Farnsworth

carolaspot@aol.com

copyright 6-29-21

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