Immigrants to Canada

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1834 Emigrants Handbook

Official Information
Arriving at New York
and who are desirous of
Settling in the Canadas;
Extracts from the Instructions
Emigrants arriving at Quebec,
as issued by
A.C. Buchanan, Esq.
His Britannic Majesty's Chief Agent for Emigration to the Canadas.
To be obtained without fee or reward, with every other assistance and advice
that can benefit the Emigrant proceeding to the Canadas, from James
Buchanan, Esq. His Britannic Majesty's Consul, Nassau Street, New York.

Printed at the Gazette Office,
St. James Street


From Official Instructions Published by
A.C. Buchanan, Esq.
His Britannic Majesty's Chief Agent for Emigrants in Upper
and Lower Canada


For the information of Emigrants arriving at New York, and who are desirous of settling in Canada

There is nothing of more importance to Emigrants, on arrival in a strange country, than correct information on the leading points connected with their future pursuits. Many have suffered much by a want of caution, and by listening to the opinions of interested and designing characters, who frequently offer their advice unsolicited, and are met generally about wharves and landing places frequented by strangers.

To guard Emigrants from falling into such errors, these instructions have been prepared by His Britannic Majesty's Chief Agent for the superintendence of Emigrants in Upper and Lower Canada. At New York, and on your route to your destination, you will find many plans and schemes offered to your consideration by persons assuming the character of Land and Emigrant Agents,(1)

without any responsibility or authority, (whose object is their own gain,) frequently misleading the credulous stranger, but turn away from all such persons, unless you are well satisfied of the purity of their statements. When you require advice at New York, apply at the office of His Britannic majesty's Consul, between the hours of ten and two o'clock, daily, (Sundays excepted,) Law Buildings, Nassau Street. Mr. Buchanan, the Consul, will obtain for all industrious Emigrants who are positively determined to settle in the Canadas, permission to land their baggage and effects free of custom house duty. Should you require to exchange your money, go to a respectable merchant, or to the Banks, or be directed at the Consul's office. The currency in New York is calculated in dollars and cents, also in shillings and pence; 100 cents is the current value of the American or Spanish dollar, and 12.5 cents is equal to what is called a York shilling, and eight such shillings equal to five shillings, Halifax currency, or one dollar. The currency(2) in the Canadas is at the rate of five shillings to the dollar, and is called Halifax currency; at present the gold sovereign is worth twenty-four shillings,(3) currency, in Montreal. Many persons are deceived when hearing of the rates of wages, &c. In New York, when stated in shillings-but five shillings in Canada is equal to eight shillings in New York. The par of exchange with England for the dollar is four shillings and sixpence sterling, the general rate, which has varied but little for years past, is about four shillings and two pence sterling, or from 7.5 to 9.5 per cent. premium, in favour of England, but it is less now. The risk of transport is the principal objection against carrying your specie with you to Canada, as you will generally get as high a premium for it there as in New York; and you can depend with safety on any of the Banks in Upper or Lower Canada. Besides American Bank notes are not so current in Canada, unless at a discount, when passed in small sums, from one-half to two per cent; if possessed of a considerable amount and in large notes, you may get par, or perhaps a small premium in Montreal.-The American Bank notes most current in Canada, are those of the United States Bank, the State Bank of New York, and of the chartered Banks of the City of New York, and the Bank of North America, at Philadelphia. In particularising the preceding Banks, I do not wish it to be understood that the other Banks in the State are not equally solvent, the intercourse between Canada and the City of New York creates a preference in favour of its monied institutions. In sending letters from New York to Canada, it is not necessary to pay the American postage, but when in Canada the postage to the American frontier must be paid when the letter is put into the Post Office.-Until Emigrants are thoroughly acquainted with the custom of the country, it is best that they should apply to the Post Master on these points, as the present regulation may be changed and the postage required to insure the letter going forward. Emigrants, wishing to obtain fertile lands in the Canadas in a wild state by purchase from the Crown, may rely on every facility being afforded them by the public authorities. Extensive tracts are surveyed and offered for sale in Upper Canada monthly, and frequently every ten or fourteen days by the Commissioner of Crown Lands, at upset prices, varying according to situation from 10s. to 15s. per acre, excepting in the Townships of Sunnidale and Nottawasaga, where the upset price of Crown Lands is 5s. only. In Lower Canada, the Commissioner of Crown Lands at Quebec, puts up land for sale, at fixed periods, in various Townships, at from 2s. 6d. to 12s. 6d. Halifax currency, per acre, payable by instalments. Wild lands may also be purchased from the Upper Canada Company, on very easy terms, and those persons wanting improved farms will find little difficulty in obtaining such from private proprietors. On no account enter into any final engagement for your lands or farms without personal examination, and be certain of the following qualifications:

  1. A healthy situation.
  2. Good land.
  3. A pure spring, or running stream of water.
  4. In the neighbourhood of a good moral and religious state of society, and schools for the education of your children.
  5. As near good roads and water transport as possible, saw and grist mills.
  6. A good title.

These advantages you can obtain in the Canadas with more ease to yourself and family, and with prospects of as good success and sure independence, as perhaps in any other portion of the American Continent; besides, you have the British Laws and Constitution to which you have been accustomed, with the full benefit of all your industry, and that in a country free to all denominations of Christians, and less burthened with taxes than any other on the face of the globe. Information can be obtained respecting the Country and the Lands to be disposed of in the several Districts, by applying to the following gentlemen, Agents for the Commissioner of Crown Lands in Upper Canada:--

Home District, W. Richey, Esq. Township of Sunnidale.
Newcastle District, A.M'Donald, Esq. Peterboro.
Midland District, A. M'Pherson, Esq. Napanee.
Eastern District, James Pringle, Esq. Cornwall.
Ottawa and Bathurst District; Mr. M'Naughton, D.S. Bytown.
Township of Seymour, Major Campbell.
Western District, Henry John Jones, Esq. Chatham.

Labourers, house servants, and mechanics, dependent on immediate employment, are recommended to proceed on arrival to the Canadas, where, if industrious, they may be certain of very advantageous employment at high wages. The Chief Agent will consider such persons as may loiter about the ports of landing beyond one week after arrival, to have forfeited all claims for assistance or employment from the public authorities in Canada, unless they have been detained by sickness, or some other satisfactory cause.

Emigrants on arrival at Toronto, Upper Canada, will obtain every assistance and information requisite for their future guidance, on application to A.B. Hawke, Esq. Government Agent for Emigrants there.

Toronto, formerly York, being the capital of the Province, and the residence of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, and Officers of Public Departments, Emigrants proceeding to the Home or Western Districts, will in general find it to their advantage, to proceed thither in the first instance. Kingston, Toronto, Belleville, Cobourg, Port Hope, St. Catherines, Niagara, Hamilton, and particularly the new City of the Falls of Niagara, will be also found desirable situations for respectable families to stop at, until they finally decide on their settlement.

When you have arranged all your business at New York, put up your baggage in as small a compass as possible, marking each package with your name, and where going, carrying nothing with you but your personal necessaries, to avoid the expence[sic] of transport, as every thing you may require, including foreign luxuries, can be purchased in Canada as cheap as in most Provincial towns in England or Ireland. You will proceed by Steamboat to Albany, where the great Erie or Western Canal commences, on which you will be conveyed as hereafter stated, to Oswego or further. The rate of passage from New York to Albany varies from 1 to 3 dollars, exclusive of food, and according to accommodations. Emigrant families may get cheaper by some of the Steamboats as deck passengers. If you require any advice at Albany, apply to Mr. Charles Smyth, a very extensive forwarding Agent to Canada, he will advise you on the most economical plan for proceeding by the Canal Boats or Stages, which start at frequent periods of the day.

There are three classes of Canal Boats by which passengers may proceed, the first is called Packet Boats, which start from Schenectady (sixteen miles by land from Albany) every morning and afternoon; rate of going, 4 miles per hour, including stops; passage, with board and lodging, 3.5 cents per mile, (less than 2d. sterling.) The second class is called Line Boats, which start from Albany and Schenectady, rate of going, 2.5 per hour, including stoppages. Passage, 1 cent per mile, without board, or with board, 1.5 cents, and sometimes, from opposition, less. Third class are Freight Boats, rate of going about 2 miles per hour, in which families may be conveyed on cheaper terms, yet I would in general advise passengers (as their circumstances may admit) to proceed either by Packets or Line boats; the Packets are neatly fitted up, and the fare excellent, Large families and steerage passengers in general, go by the Line boats, in which they may victual themselves, or are boarded by the Captain very comfortably, and on moderate terms. Stages leave Albany daily for Oswego and Buffalo, the charge is about 5 cents per mile, (or from 2.5d. to 3d. sterling; rate of going, 5 to 7 miles per hour. From the great confusion and hurry at Albany, Schenectady, Utica, and other places on the route, it behoves passengers to look sharp after their baggage.

Emigrant families who intend victualling themselves, will supply themselves at Albany with tea, sugar, bread and butter, &c. On cheaper terms and of a better quality than along the route of the Canal. Avoid exposure at night and drinking cold water when heated, (attend to this particularly when at New York,) and be cautious when the Canal Boat is passing under bridges, as the height from the deck to the arch is seldom more than 18 inches or 2 feet, thereby causing many serious accidents every season to persons who may happen to be on the deck or to have fallen asleep, by their getting bruised between the boat and the bridge when passing under. To those who wish to proceed to any part of Upper Canada west of Kingston, and bordering on Lake Ontario or to the Bay of Quinte, or the Districts of Newcastle, York, Hamilton or Guelph, or the line of the Welland Canal and Niagara, the route by Oswego will be the most direct and desirable when the Steamboats are calling regularly at the latter place, and which can be ascertained at the Consul's office in New York, by a reference to the New York Newspapers, or at Albany, to Mr. C. Smyth. Those who go by Oswego must proceed no farther by the Erie or Western Canal than Syracuse, 171 miles from Albany and 60 beyond Utica; at Syracuse they turn off to the right by a branch Canal to Oswego, distance 40 miles. The Steamboats Great Britain and United States, call this season at Oswego going up and down, Lake Ontario for the conveyance of passengers to Kingston, Cobourg, Toronto or Niagara, on the following days:-The Great Britain, going up the Lake on Wednesday evening and returning towards Kingston and Prescott on Monday morning; the United States, upwards on Monday evening, downwards on Thursday. Sailing schooners depart almost daily from Oswego to Niagara, St. Catherines and through the Welland Canal to Lake Erie. At Oswego, Mr. Bronson will give every information Emigrants may stand in meed of. Those destined to the Grand River, Port Stanley, Talbot Settlement, the London District and situations contiguous to Lake Erie and St. Clair, will go on to Buffalo by the Erie Canal. From Buffalo, Steamboats and sailing Schooners ply daily to all the principal landings on the American and Canada shore of Lake Erie, rate of passage moderate. Those wishing to cross to the Niagara frontier, Canada side, from Buffalo, can do so every half hour at the ferry at Black Rock, about 1.5 miles from Buffalo, and fourteen above the great Falls of Niagara. From Chippawa, two miles above the great Falls, the British Steamboats Adelaide and Thames make regularly weekly trips to the head of Lake Erie on the Canada side, calling at Black Rock and Buffalo each way. Stages are continually going from the ferry on the Canada side, to the City of the Falls and the town of Niagara, on Lake Ontario, from whence a Steamboat proceeds to york every day, except Sunday, at half past 12 o'clock. Steamboats plying to all parts of Lake Ontario are to be met almost daily at Niagara.

Route from New York and Albany by the Erie Canal to all parts of Upper Canada, west of Kingston, by the way of Oswego and Buffalo:
New York to Albany, 160 miles by Steamboat
Albany to Utica, 100 miles by Canal or Stage
Utica to Syracuse, 55 miles by Canal or Stage
Syracuse to Oswego, 40 miles by Canal or Stage
Syracuse to Rochester, 99 miles by Canal or Stage
Rochester to Buffalo, 93 miles by Canal or Stage
Total expense from Albany to Buffalo, by Canal exclusive of victuals for an adult steerage passenger-time going about seven or eight days-3 dollars 63 cents, do. by packet boats and found, 12.25 dollars, six days going.
Do. do. by stage in 3.5 and 4 days-13 to 15 dollars.
Do. do. from Albany to Oswego by Canal 5 days going, 2.5 dollars.
Do. do. by stage 2 days, 6.5 to 7 dollars
No extra charge for a moderate quantity of baggage
Route from New York to Montreal, Quebec and all parts of Lower Canada:
New York to Albany, 160 miles by Steamboat, 1 to 3 dollars, exclusive of food
Albany to Whitehall by Canal, 73 miles, 1 dollar, Stage 3 dollars
Whitehall to St. John's, by Steamboat, board included, cabin 5 dollars. Deck passage 2 dollars without board.
St. John's to Laprairie, 16 miles per Stage, 5s. to 7s. 6d.
Laprairie to Montreal, per ferry Steamboat, 8 miles 6d.
Montreal to Quebec, by Steamboat, 180 miles, cabin, found 25s. Deck passage, not found, 7s. 6d.

Those proceeding to the Eastern Townships of Lower Canada in the vicinity of Sherbrooke, Stanstead, &c. &c., will proceed to St. John's; from whence good roads lead to all the settled Townships Eastward. If they are going to the Ottawa River, they will proceed from Montreal and Lachine, from whence Stages, Steamboats and Batteaux go daily to Grenville, Hull and Bytown, as also to Chateauguay, Glengary, Cornwall, Prescott and all parts below Kingston.

Emigrants can avail themselves of the advice and assistance of the following gentlemen:

At Montreal, Carlisle Buchanan, Esq.
Prescott, John Patton, Esq.


A.C. Buchanan
Chief Agent
Emigrant Department,
Quebec, May 1, 1834.

1. In transmitting home money to aid your friends to come out, or in paying for their passage in New York or the Canadas, be sure of the respectability of the persons with whom you bargain. If in your power, be directed by the Consul at New York, the Chief Agent at Quebec, or the Government Agent at Toronto.

2. In almost every part of Upper Canada, west of Toronto, the New York Currency is more in use than the Halifax or Canada; that is, the York shilling is worth 1.5d. Canada Currency; you will therefore mind the distinction in your dealings, by asking the currency meant. Halifax Currency is, however, the currency recognised by law throughout the Canadas.

3. The American shilling varies in value in almost every State.

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© Marjorie P. Kohli, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 1997-2007
Last updated: February 14, 2007 and maintained by Marj Kohli