Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mercy Coles and the tour of the Canadas - Toronto, Niagara Falls and on to the US

The tour to promote the idea of Confederation continued in Toronto with talks, speeches and sightseeing. The official tour ended at Niagara Falls on November 4th, 1864 - and from there Mercy and her family went on to visit her mother's relatives in America. Nov 3 to 12 is a very full week! Some highlights - including the American Election on Tues Nov 8, are included here.

Image courtesy of Susan Law

We last left off on Thursday November 3rd, 1864, as Mercy Coles and the delegates were to go sightseeing in Toronto

“We started off this morning to visit the Public Institutions, first we went to the Public School. All the elder boys formed a guard of honour from the gate to the entrance by the Professors. We went to the schoolroom and the head master read an address to which Col Gray PEI replied, the boys received a holiday and we started for the Lawyer’s Hall, a splendid building, the centre hall is right up to the roof stained glass in the dome. The floor is mosaic. [The Lawyer’s Hall is Osgoode Hall, on Queen Street west, and you can still see the domed ceiling of stained glass and mosaic floor.

They went on to see the University, the museum “The Butterflies were beautiful”, and the normal school “certainly the most varied institution I ever saw, it combines a Picture Gallery, a statutory Gallery, all kinds of miniature implements and nearly everything one can think of that is curious.” [This link is to Wikipedia, but is good with lots of great detail and history.  The site of the Normal School, and a bit of its architecture, is where Ryerson University now is - see here]
... The men went to the Music Hall [in the Mechanics Institute at the northeast corner of Church and Adelaide, which also housed Toronto’s Free Library – which became the /Toronto Public Library]
for luncheon and Mercy and her mother joined them for “about an hour and heard Mr. Palmer, Carter, a Red River man Louis Riel and part of a speech from Mr. Brown. ...

Friday 4th
            Grand Trunk Railway
11 o’clock we started from Toronto this morning at 10 o’clock. We expect to get to Kingston (Hamilton) [I’m assuming the person who transcribed Mercy’s diary corrected the name to Hamilton] in 2 hours. We had a glorious Ball last night. I danced every dance and had several engaged when I came away. Mr. Bernard had told one of the stewards about me. He got Mr. Bridges to introduce him and then he got me partners for every dance, the ladies were dressed to death and some of them were very pretty. [What did Mr. Bernard say about her and why did Mr. Bridges get her partners??] ... I am so sorry we part from the party today at Niagara Falls. Most of them go back to Toronto. We go to Ohio. I should like to have gone home with the party but that is impossible. I have not seen John A. since he came up in the carriage with us at Cobourg. He did not appear at all yesterday. Mr. Bernard was at the station this morning to say good bye. I told him to say everything kind for me to John A. [emphasis mine – remember that John A brought her dessert in the drawing room on the last evening, Wed Oct 26 in Quebec and Mercy mysteriously wrote ‘The conundrum.’ The PEI delegates by then were fed up with Canada – they were not getting the number of seats they wanted, were not getting the money to buy out the Absentee Landlords, and yet, Macdonald was still paying attention both to Mercy and her father – was he still wooing? Did they like each other? Did Mercy feel conflicted over what she might want and what her father might think? So much is unwritten, so much speculation can be completely wrong. Of course one is free to speculate as much as they want in fiction - see To the Edge of the Sea]

Read More for Niagara Falls, the American Election and the rest of the week
Buffalo 8 o’clock
    We have just arrived here from Niagara. We got to Niagara at 2 o’clock. There was a very nice luncheon given by Mr. Seveny [the writing is hard to read, I think this is the name] and the manager of the Grand Western Railway. Directly after lunch we got into carriages and drove to the falls. I can’t it is quite impossible to describe them. They far exceeded anything I expected to see. I saw them from all points. Mr. Seveny[’s] aid took me down under the falling water on Table Rock. Such fun as we had getting up and down the stairs. He painted my name on the inside of the place where we went down, it was raining the whole time but we did not mind, the water in the middle of the Great Horse Shoe was a splendid aqua marine color – and looked as if it was beautifully fluted. After we saw everything there was to be seen we drove to Mr. Streets, a gentleman who has the most beautiful grounds I ever saw – beautiful suspension bridges, little platforms right on the very edge of the rapids, it was such fun the boards were so slippery with the rain it was almost impossible to stand  ...  We drove back to the station, there we had to say goodbye to all the party and take the train for here. The Tuppers are gone to New York, Col Grey stays a few days at Niagara, all the rest have gone back to Toronto, perhaps we shall go back that way. We remain here at this Hotel Mansion until 12 o’clock. We then take the cars for Cleveland.

Saturday 5th    On board the cars for Cleveland. We did not go on last night. The landlord at the Hotel told Pa we could just as well go on this morning so we remained at the Hotel all night and started at 6 this morning. We expect to get to Uncles before dark. It is a splendid day. The sun is rising splendidly. I feel so lonesome this morning without the familiar g[?]. I wonder if they are thinking of me this morning. Mr. Tilley will have enough to do to take care of Mrs. Alexander.
9 o’clock, here we are stopt in the road. Something is the matter with the engine. We have been here nearly a half an hour. Such a thing did not happen before since we left home. The Grand Trunk is the line. I have not much faith in Yankee Railways. They have sent back to the Station to get another engine. We are going backwards now. I must say it is not very lively to be brought to a full stop in this way. ...

Sunday Morning – 6th
Warren      We arrived here last night at 8 o’clock, it was too late to go on to Bloomfield so we remained here all night. We start for Bloomfield this morning for Mr. [D unclear] which is 15 miles [to the north]. It is a beautiful morning.

Monday 7th 1864
We arrived here at Uncle Dick’s yesterday at noon, it was a long drive and indeed I was very glad when the driver announced we had arrived. Aunt Elizabeth is quite an old woman. I think I should have known her by her photograph. Uncle Dick is an original, he reminds me very much of [Gr?] papa. ...
They ate crackers and cheese this morning. No servants, here they all do their own work. I am not surprised Bertie found it so different at our house where he had a half a dozen to work on him. I am so sorry he isn’t here, he has been away 2 months at Chattanooga  ...

Tuesday, Nov 8th, 1864
We drove to Uncle William’s yesterday and arrived just in time for dinner. [Many people came over, there was singing and a fun time it sounds like.] Uncle took us to his mill where he grinds corn and wheat. Ma and I were weighed. Ma [unclear]. Mine 138. Aunt Elizabeth 194. Aunt Sarah [is] as stout as Ma but she does not weigh as much. The Presidential Election came off to day. Uncle William and Pa went to the Poll. I think they were pretty much all the same way, very few seats for Mr. [George B.] McClellan. We left Uncle Williams ... ” [Emphasis mine. So much for the Election! Abraham Lincoln was re-elected, getting 212 of the 233 seats.]
            Mercy talks of the various family members – including “Aunt Mary’s youngest boy is Charlie, just the size and age of our Charlie” [born about 1859 listed in George Coles’ descendents, and who married June 16, 1885 in Grenfell Saskatchewan – interesting to me as I now live in Sk]. Mercy continues with more notes on the family.

Wednesday 9th November Warren
Mercy’s throat was bad again on Tuesday eve and her Aunt Mary brought her a little bottle of honey and her mother rubbed her throat with liniment. More merry making – “All the girls came down from Uncle William’s and we had such a jolly time.” Her Uncle William wanted her to stay with them but her parents wanted her to go with them.

Nov 10 Thursday
Atlantic and Great Western. We left Warren at 12 o’clock. ... We went out shopping with Aunt after breakfast. We had luncheon in the eating saloon. The first I ever was in, it was rather a strange place. Uncle would have us go, so to please him we went. ... ” More notes on family – it is quite difficult to read as the handwriting is jumpy – probably written while on the train.
“We are now at  Corry [Pennsylvania] the great city for oil. They are building everywhere. ... Such a splendid lot of oil they [run?] 1500 barrels of oil a day. Making money as fast as they do in California. At Meadville there was a splendid Hotel right at the Station. Pa says it is the finest he has seen in America. ...

Friday November 11th
Ma and I had a [first?] safe sleep in the berth. ... We got up as soon as it was daylight and washed [unclear] we were first and had the clean towel [?!] ... We expect to get to New York at 1 o’clock. We have just seen the place where the train ran over a Bridge last [unclear] night and killed 5 people. [Unclear] of the cars are still there.
St. Nicolas Hotel New York ½ past 2
We arrived here about ½ an hour ago and our trunks have not yet appeared, it is no use grumbling ...  We are [?] Broadway such a busy place everybody rushing about. We got into a cab when we arrived at the Station and were driven on board the Ferry boat and did not get out until we were set down at this door. Such a long tunnel we came through just before we got out of the train.

Saturday Nov 12th
.... to be continued ...

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