LIFE AND HISTORY OF CAPT. M. S. CASSAN

Part 1

WESTFIELD COTTAGE, SEYMOUR TOWNSHIP EAST.

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I have informed my readers that I had arrived in Dublin to make preparations for Canada. I advised my military agent to sell my commission for me, and left power with an attorney to dispose of my property in Queens Co., and remit the purchase money to me in Canada. I also procured letters of recommendation to Sir John Colborne, from Sir H. Parnell, Lord Roden, and other noblemen, in the hope of obtaining employment when I should arrive in Canada. I then provided myself with everything that I thought would be useful to me, including a very handsome portable turning lathe, which I had made at Davenport, England, and with which I used to amuse myself at Gibraltar, during my leisure hours, turning ivory, Brazil wood, etc. I bought the ivory from the Moors at 2s 6d per lb., and was fond of making backgammon and chess men with it. Having had some experience in the use of carpenters''tools, while my home was building, I provided myself with a full chest of them, besides locks, keys nails, screws, etc., etc., all of which I purchased form the well known establishment of Messrs. McKemon, Dublin.

The chest containing these articles, cost me L10. I also purchased a rifle, double barrel gun, and a case of pistols, in view of having some of the fine sport so highly pictured in Mr. Radcliffe's highly attractive book on Upper Canada, in which he illustrates his history with a picture of a young man asleep in a log house, with his legs stretched out of an open window, and two wild turkeys roosting on them. This was to make intending settlers believe that game was so abundant that any amount of sport awaited them on their arrival in Canada.

Many of the old settlers who came to Canada the same time that I did, came into the country I might say, blindfolded, induced here by books, printed designedly to encourage the importation of immigrants to the Colonies, and the exportation of the overpopulated towns of Great Britain and Ireland. And in regard to military and naval officers being induced to become settlers in the forests of Canada, I shall make the same observations here that I had recently the honor to submit in a lengthened communication to His Excellency, the Governor General, of my forty-four years experience of a military settler's life in the bush, wherein I took the liberty to express my opinion, based upon the firm foundation of truth, supported by self-knowledge and experiences, "That however wise the policy may have been for the British Government looking to the future of Canada, and in view of planting and raising a loyal population in the country, it was a most cruel policy towards those officers themselves, a number of whom had to sell their commissions to enable them to move their families to the backwoods of Canada."

I may observe another fact, to show the further gain the Government made, by purchasing the military settlers' commissions at a commuted allowance of a little over eight years purchase for their life. I need only name the amount made by the sale of my commission at this set value put on by the Government, which up to this date of writing, March 13th, 1878, not including interest, is L1,766 sterling.

I may further remark that all of the military and naval officers whom Sir John Colborne sent to the township of Seymour, I believe I am the only one left, save Major Campbell, of Cobourg. All are dead and gone, and I cannot expect to remain much longer behind them.

To continue my story, before I left Dublin, I received a letter from Lord Roden, advising me not to leave England without seeing Mr. Hagerman, Crown Solicitor of Upper Canada, who was then in London, and to whom he sent me a letter of recommendation also. Leaving my family in Dublin, I left for Liverpool, taking my baggage with me to store there until I had made arrangements for my passage to New York with a shipping agent, Mr. Perrin, to whom I had also a letter of introduction from my agent, Mr. Barlow, of Dublin. I then started to London by stage coach and called upon Mr. Hagerman, who was preparing to leave for Canada. I handed him Lord Roden's letter, and he asked me to go out in the same vessel with him, but I had engaged passage from Liverpool, and had to decline his offer. He told me to hasten to Toronto, and that he would do all in his power for me with Sir John Colborne, as soon as he arrived in Canada. I then took my leave, returned to Liverpool, and wrote for my wife and family to Dublin, who sailed by steamer and joined me a day or two afterwards. I took the round house or cabin on deck, which afforded ample room and more berths than we needed. We found all our own provisions, and had six children besides ourselves to provide for. I think I had as much as L60 sterling to pay for the cabin and :L0 for the provisions. While I was in Liverpool, I spent the time in the evenings casting bullets for my rifle and gun so as to be prepared for the sport so highly spoken of and so well illustrated by the decoy book before mentioned, and I think I brought out five bags of shot, with the necessary powder and caps; also a good supply of fishing rods and tackle and artificial flies, which after my arrival in Seymour, upon the banks of the river Trent, I found very useful in supplying my table with fish, wild ducks and partridge.

All things being in readiness, we went on board the Perdonette, and the day of our leaving Liverpool was the very date we sailed from Gibraltar in 1827, namely, the 5th of June, (1834) and our voyage, like that to Belfast, was slow and extremely tedious.

As we neared the Banks of Newfoundland, we were in frequent proximity to immense icebergs, and were becalmed on the Banks for nearly a week. The Captain caught some fine cod; and I recollect firing a bullet from my rifle into a porpoise, as I could see the blood coming from him after I fired. While we were becalmed, the Captain lowered a boat, and several of us had a swim in the Atlantic, but we had to make all the noise we possibly could to frighten away the hungry monsters of the deep.

At length we arrived in sight of Sandy Hook, and soon a pilot boat was observed at a distance, heading towards us. As we approached the American coast, the weather became very warm. I recollect how I passed away my prison life on board the ship, painting. The Captain provided me with paints and brushes, and I painted the inner sides of the ship for him, and also a number of water buckets which were strung over the quarter-deck. These I painted with the name "Perdonette" upon each, so that the ship had quite a new and tidy appearance, and the Captain was well please with my work, which was only amusement to me.

The pilot boat was soon alongside, and the pilot having come on board and taken charge of the ship, it was not long before we came in sight of the American coast, and as we neared Staten Island and the harbor of New York with its steamboats and vessels passing to and fro, between the city and the Island, the scene was really magnificent.



Next - Cassan's History Part 2


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