LIFE AND HISTORY OF CAPTAIN M. S. CASSAN.
Westfield Cottage, Seymour East
It did not take me long to settle my affairs in Ireland, and I think I remained six weeks at my mother's in my native village. I must not forget to mention the happy week I spent at Ballykeleavan, with Sir Edward Walsh and his brother, with whom the Revds. McGrath and Moase used frequently to dine. My stories of Canadian bush life made them roar with laughter, especially when I told them how I acted as accoucheur, made coffins, buried the dead, and read the funeral service over my neighbours' children. I had a pleasant time with Sir Edward; and when I went to bid him farewell, he handed me a letter of introduction from the Earl of Derby to Lord Metcalfe, the then Governor-General of Canada; and in shaking hands with him, he placed a £20 bank note in my hand. My readers, I am sure, will think this was the net of a kind friend, well, I may say, one of the good old stock of the beloved family of my lamented father. Before my return to Canada, the Rev. Mr. Johnson sent me a present of a box of school books, bibles and prayer books, to take out to Mrs. C., for our children. These were duly appreciated, and most useful to my wife in her endeavors to educate the "babes in the woods."
Taking leave of my friends, I started for Liverpool to sail for New York. Upon arrival in Liverpool, while on board the steamer, I had the great pleasure and surprise to meet my old schoolmaster, the Rev. Mr. Stubbs, of Dundalk, who was then on his way to see his son at Eaton College.
I afterwards went round the Docks upon a reconnoitering expedition, to select a ship to sail to New York, as an inspection with a view to comfort and cleanliness of these immigrant ships is decidedly necessary. After going on board two or three of the ships, I took a berth in a small room where three other berths had been provided, on board the "North American," a very large ship. I laid in my own stock, consisting of tea, coffee, spiced beef and ham, bread, biscuits, one gallon of brandy, white loaf sugar and some lemons, which at sea are very nice, and made a bargain with the cabin boy to wait on me at my meals, and bring from the cook house all I required. I think it was the first week in June, our ship left the docks at Liverpool, and we were five weeks crossing the Atlantic before we reached New York.
The morning after my arrival in New York, I left by the first train for Oswego, stopped there one night, then went on board a steamer for Kingston, from thence by boat to the Trent, where I hired a team to take me to the Anderson Landing, and then I paddled home to my own shore the same evening. My family were well, and of course all glad to see me safe back to the woods again.
In about a fortnight after my arrival home, I started to Montreal, to pay a visit to His Excellency the Governor-General, Lord Metcalfe, and to present my letter of recommendation from the late Earl of Derby - favored me, as before mentioned, by my kind friend, Sir Edward Walsh. Lord Metcalfe received me very kindly, and invited me to dine with him the next day, at the Government House. His Excellency told me he would be most happy, if it was possible, to give me some appointment under the government, but as he and his ministers were not on pleasing terms, he would place Lord Derby's recommendation in the hands of the Provincial Secretary, in view of obtaining for me a situation. I took leave of His Excellency, and visited the Postmaster General, whose acquaintance I had formed only by letter through the kindness of the late Sir John Colborne, in the early settlement of Seymour, when I was to have been the first Postmaster in the Township. To satisfy my readers of the truth of my statement, I enter below a correct copy of the Postmaster General's letter to me. I had often thought had I given up the toil of farm life in the forest, and gone to Major Campbell, and purchased two acres of land where the village now stands, and erected a house for the post office, it would have been well for me, and in connection with it I could have started some line of business that would have afforded me a much easier life.
General Post Office
Quebec, 9th April, 1835
Sir, I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 24th March, (with inclosures) requesting the situation of Postmaster in the township of Seymour, when I shall establish a post office there. In answer to which I have to inform you that I hope shortly to create an office at Seymour, and it will give me pleasure to find it in my power to appoint to the situation of Postmaster a gentleman in whose interest Sir John Colborne takes an interest as he does in yours, and who is otherwise so respectfully recommended. The name of Mr. David Allan, has, however, been before me for this appointment, for some time, and I cannot pledge myself to reject his claim and give you the situation, until I have had further opportunity to consider the question. The selecting of a Postmaster for Seymour, much will depend upon the situation in which the respective claimants for the office happen to be located.
I am, Sir,
Your very Obedt. Servant,
Dep. P. M. General,
To M.S. Cassan, Esq.
Soon after the date of the foregoing letter, Mr. Stayner sent up the Superintendant to enquire from Major Campbell the most suitable and central situation for a post office; and at Mr. Keyse, whose residence was upon the opposite side of the river, fronting Major Campbell's the first post office in the Township was established, and Mr. Koyso received the situation. Even after this, Mr. Stayner showed me much kindness, and granted me his permission to send all my letters to and from the old country through the general post office to his care, free. Postage in those days was high, and money in the back woods was seldom seen. After paying a visit to Mr. Stayner, I had to go to the office of the Board of Works to see Mr. Killally the Chief, in regard to a letter Mrs. Cassan handed me upon my arrival home from Ireland. This was a letter from the Board, to acquaint me that the sum of £54 had been awarded to me for the damages done by them to my farm upon the river, and instructed me to call at their office to receive the money, and sign a receipt for the same. Upon my first perusal of this letter, I had made up my mind not to accept any such paltry award, as I was firmly convinced no proper survey of the actual damage I had sustained was ever duly taken. At the hour I called at the office, Killalley was not in, but I was most agreeably surprised at finding an old friend and fellow townsman, from the old sod, here, in the office of the Board of Works, Charley Shanley, brother of Walter, the Engineer. We had a joyful meeting, so many years had past since we parted at our native village, Stradbally. After a long chat with him, I left for my hotel, to prepare myself to go to dinner at the Government house. Having promised to accept Lord Metcalfe's kind invitation for that evening, and taking care to be in good time, hired a cab to drive me out to the Government House, where, upon my arrival, a number of gentlemen, also invited, were seated in the drawing room, and to whom I was introduced by Lord Metcalfe's Secretary, the Hon. Capt. Higginson. Lord Metcalfe was suffering much from the cancer in his face, and inflammation was approaching his left eye. I think it was about 7 p.m. we all sat down to a sumptuous dinner, reminding me of the good days of "Auld Lang Syne" in the army. I can remember I sat at the table next to Capt. Higginson, who was most kind and attentive to me, and we talked a good deal about my experience in bush life, and when I mentioned the offer I had from the Board of Works, he advised me not to accept the sum offered me, and the same advice Mr. Stayner gave me. It was eleven o'clock, p.m. when I took leave.
Next day, in my walk through the city, I happened to meet the very gentleman I wanted to see, Mr. Killally, who I knew by sight, in the County of Galway, in by-gone years. I walked over to him and introduced myself, and showed him his letter and the offer made me for the damage the erection of the dam at Chisholm's rapids had inflicted upon myself and several others, and that I declined to accept the said amount, and that I should expect a proper engineer to come and carefully inspect the amount of the damage actually done; that I never got any instruction of any survey being made, or any one visit at my residence about the matter. Mr. Killalley said he did not think I could get another survey. I replied unless justice was done in the matter, I would lay the whole matter before His Excellency Lord Metcalfe. He then said he would consider over the matter and inform me of the result by letter, in a short time, and upon this promise I parted with the Commissioner of Public Works.
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