Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mercy Coles' Diary of the Quebec Conference Sat Oct 8, 1864 to Fri Oct 14, 1864

More from Mercy Coles' diary, daughter of PEI delegate George Coles, at the Quebec conference – where the 72 resolutions of the BNA Act were determined.

 “Friday morning  [Friday October 14, 1864]
            Raining again. Will it ever be fine? Sala [George Augusta Sala, British journalist – “His literary style, highly coloured, bombastic, egotistic, and full of turgid periphrases, gradually became associated by the public with their conception of the Daily Telegraph; and though the butt of the more scholarly literary world, his articles were invariably full of interesting matter and helped to make the reputation of the paper.” –  from Wikipedia – but I haven’t found much else on Sala, and this link has his picture] dined with us last night. I was rather disappointed in the man, a rough new faced Englishman. Black eyes and hair and such a red nose and face. Mr. Brown sat alongside of him and introduced him to me. I had a sore throat this morning. Col Gray has given me some Homeopathic medicine. ... The Governor’s Ball is to come off tonight. They say it’s going to be such a crush. Mother and I went for a walk on Durham Terrace. While there a large piece of rock fell. When the men came in they said a baby was killed.”

-- And picking up from where we left off last Fri Oct 7, 2011 --

“Saturday Afternoon  Quebec  [October 8, 1864, written on the Sunday it would appear]
 ... How can I describe my first impression of Quebec. It was pouring rain when we landed. We were shut up in a little cab, Ma, Miss Fisher and myself. I was in dread the whole time the horse would fall down. ... [Now Sunday] We have been for a drive around Spencer Wood. It is a very pretty road. You see the valley below with the River St. Charles winding along. We saw Wolfe’s Monument on the Plains of Abraham and a monument to the brave who fell at the taking of Quebec, we did not go into the Cemetery as they do not admit carriages on Sunday and the snow was on the trees so thick it would not have been pleasant. ... The steamer [the Queen Victoria that the Canadians sent for the Maritime delegates] has not yet arrived with the rest of the party but they expect them today. Major Bernard tells me we are to have good times. There is to be a reception on Tuesday and a Public Ball on Friday. The first word almost he said was,
 “I hope you brought the irresistible blue silk.” I am very glad I brought the lace. ... Mr. Galt, Mr. Carter, Mr. Cameron and a lot of other gentlemen were here at the same time. Mr. Galt gave me such a warm welcome to Canada.

Monday Morning [Oct 10 1864] – the steamer arrived last night with the rest of the delegates. Such a Babel when they came in. Miss Grey, Mrs. and Miss Tupper, Mrs and Miss Archibald are the ladies. [Other writing of going shopping, buying an opera cloak for 8 ½ dollars, sightseeing – the Seminary Chapel, Province House, the library ‘nothing very wonderful’, of who was invited to Government House for dinner – and why was Mrs. Pope not invited first?] ... Mr. Drinkwater has promised to get me a bouquet for tomorrow night. It will be rather a stupid affair tomorrow night, so they say (emphasis mine).
[And it does sound like a long affair – 800 people were presented one by one and Mercy writes of being very tired. She spent most of the evening walking about with Mr. Tilley.]

Thursday morning [Oct 13 1864]
            Yesterday we went to see the falls of Lorette and the Indian Chief. It was raining and we could not walk down the gorge ... We went to the Indian Chief’s house. Not at all what I expected to see, the only sign of it being Indian was a Tomahawk and Chief’s cap which they showed us. I bought a wooden spoon to take home as a curiosity. The Old Chief is the last of the Huron Tribe. His wife, an old woman 90 years of age was sitting alongside of him, he has 2 silver armlets presented by George lV and a medal by the Prince of Wales. In the evening we dined at Government House ... Before dinner was half over he [D’Arcy McGee] got so drunk he was obliged to leave the table. I took no notice of him. Mr. Gray said I acted admirably. The sun has not shone for two hours ever since we have been here. I was never in such a place.”
(Note I used Mercy Coles' diary when writing my novel, To the Edge of the Sea, set during Confederation.You can see my comments on how I used her diary in writing the novel)
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