Those Mild Colonial Boys of the Law

Two young men, both working in the law, in two British settler colonies in different hemispheres, both diarists.

Mary Larratt Smith Young Mr Smith in Upper Canada, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1980, 184 p. & notes.

J.M. Bennett (ed) Callaghan’s Diary: The 1840s Sydney Diary of Thomas Callaghan B. A. of the King’s Inns, Dublin, Barrister-at-Law, Sydney, Francis Forbes Society for Australian Legal History,2005. Available here.

Young Mr Smith in Upper Canada- what a terrific title!  It has echoes of “Mr Smith goes to Washington” and I was hoping that it might be an impassioned expose of Upper Canadian life, albeit a decade or two after the time I’m interested in, but no such luck.

Instead “Young Mr Smith” was Larratt William Violett Smith, who went to Upper Canada in 1833 with his family as a twelve year old boy and pretty much stayed there.  His diaries, transcribed and annotated here by his grand-daughter, cover the years 1839 (when he was aged eighteen) up to 1858 and aged thirty eight.  The author and granddaughter, Mary Larratt Smith, who shares half his name- has (or rather had- surely she’s not still alive?) one clear memory of her grandfather when she was taken to see him in the summer of 1905 when her grandfather was 85 and she was not quite three.  He lived in a large, early Victorian house called Summer Hill in what is now the Summerhill area of Toronto, with its own eponymous subway station.  It took her about ten years to transcribe his journals and a small collection of letters which now rest in the Canadian History Department of the Metropolitan Toronto Library.  The author/editor has embedded the journal entries and letters into her own explanatory narrative, and her occasional references to ‘my grandfather’ remind you that she has an emotional stake in this work.  I did find it annoying that the journal entries were not typographically marked out from her own surrounding material.  There was an italicized date at the start of the extract, but then she would sometimes slip between Larratt Smith’s words and her own with no clear visual marker of the difference.  The letters, at least, were presented in a smaller font, and much more clearly distinguished.

In 1833, “Young Mr Smith’s” father, Captain Larratt Hillary Smith from Devonshire, took advantage of the land grants offered to veteran law officers, and took up a large tract of land at Oro in Simcoe County.  He undertook the 38 day journey with his wife and four children, arriving in York where they stayed long enough to enroll Larratt and his younger brother George as boarders at Upper Canada College, before shifting the rest of the family to take up their primitive farm some distance away.  The farm land was stony and unproductive, the family was unhappy, and after four years the family moved closer to Twickenham Farm, closer to Toronto, leaving the Oro property behind.

Larratt and his brother continued at Upper Canada college. After serving as a  17-year old Lieutenant in the Home District militia during the 1837 Rebellion, Larratt then went to England. His Uncle George, with no sons of his own, had proposed training his nephew in the wine business with a view to eventually making him his heir.   But Larratt didn’t like it, returned to Canada, and his brother George went in his stead- probably not a good move as brother George ended up a very wealthy man.  Larratt decided to go into the law instead, and so he was articled to William Henry Draper, the solicitor general, and lived in Toronto as a young man-around-town.

And here we find him, attending the various balls in Toronto, hooning around climbing greasy poles and chasing pigs at the ‘Olympic Games” celebrated in Toronto in June 1843, stealing cats, shooting, singing, acting.  There are many similarities with small colonial life in Australia- assemblies, debating club, church etc. He lived in what sounded like a 19th-century share house with other young lads his own age, and had to shift lodgings several times.  Although he lived and worked as an independent young man in Toronto, his connections with his family at Twickenham Farm were strong. His father would often come into town and Larratt would often visit them and stay several days with them on holidays.

The journal entries are fairly short (although no doubt they would have appeared longer written in long hand)  with rather a preoccupation with the weather- although from what I read of Upper Canadian winters, who wouldn’t be obsessed with it.  [I’m slightly- very slightly- regretful (for about two seconds)  that we won’t be visiting there during the depths of winter as I just can’t imagine what such cold weather would be like.] He is interested in several girls, but eventually his attentions focus on Eliza Thom whom he marries on 23rd December 1845 on a day that was 18 degrees below zero at 7.a.m., and “a very fine day”.  There are not many intensely personal entries in his diary, and when they do occur, it is at a time of great distress: the loss of their first baby at four weeks from whooping cough, and six years later the death of Eliza herself.  The cause is not specified, but she died from what started as a cold a week earlier.  His two children are sent to live with their maternal grandmother, his own family having returned to England some years earlier.

In the second half of the book, Smith’s grand-daughter editor is able to supplement the fairly terse entries with a number of personal letters, and here Larratt Smith comes over as much more affable.  It’s in the letters, though, that you glimpse the Victorian attitudes towards marriage, sociability and money coming through in a letter to his father, when he is considering the idea of looking around for a second wife, three years after Eliza’s death:

I must have a house of my own before long.  I miss my boys dreadfully.  At the same time I have made up my mind (unless a pretty face makes a fool of me) that my better half that is to be ‘must bring some grist to the Mill.’  Now don’t imagine that I crave Fortune’s arrivistes, for I detest the species, & I could not marry the richest woman in the world if I could not win her affect, but I feel that the chain once broken is not the same, & that, bringing as much love as one can, there may be other qualifications not wholly to be disregarded.

Larratt Smith did remarry, a girl called Mary Elizabeth Smith, 18 years his junior and they went on to have eleven children together.  Larratt Smith paddled around in the shallows of political and legal life.  He was certainly known to many of the figures that I’ve been reading about- the Robinsons, the Jarvises, the Baldwins and the Boultons- although in many cases they were the sons of the men who were there when Judge Willis was in Upper Canada.

Although his parents had returned to England from their sojourn in Upper Canada, the family connections remained strong.  His father came over for a surprise visit- Larratt Smith had not received the letter telling him of his imminent arrival- and his sister came over to join him.  Larratt himself traveled home for a while, and there was much talk, at least, of visiting.


BUT This was not the case for a second Mild Colonial Boy of the Law, Thomas Callaghan   who arrived in Sydney in 1840. You can see a picture of him here.

His father had died when he was young, and although his mother managed to give her children a good education, she had had to flee to France to escape her creditors.  Thomas found himself at the age of 22 to be a briefless barrister in Dublin with bleak prospects.  In order to distance himself from his mother’s disgrace, and in hopes of “eventually securing my own fortune and acquiring wealth” young Thomas left Ireland  for Sydney.  He arrived without family and friends and established himself amongst the expatriate Irish legal community in Sydney.   His Catholicism brought him into contact with Roger Therry and John Herbert Plunkett in particular as prominent Catholic lawyers, but he also made contacts amongst the Supreme Court judges as well. Chief Justice Dowling turned up on his doorstep one morning, and, in what seems to be forming into a pattern, Judge Stephen as well:

I lay down on the bed, when a knock came to the door and Judge Stephen stood before it.  I was quite in undress, however he came in and stayed with me for some time. He is a man of quick and intelligent mind, but of a delicate and nervous frame.  He is a gentleman and rather unaffected, though having a very good opinion of himself. (10/3/1844).

In rather more decorous circumstances, he also came into contact with William A’Beckett and Richard Windeyer who assisted him in his career. He struggled to find his feet at first, and kept body and soul together by court reporting, which he did not enjoy.

How long am I to continue this work? To sit all day in a nasty court, side beside the greatest vagabonds under Heaven! Polluted by this contact and sickened by their breath, while I am performing an office of comparatively low and laborious drudgery.  This have I done for nearly six weeks and I know not how long I may have to continue it.  (24/6/41)

His contacts pulled on their strings of influence, but he had to wait several years until eventually being appointed a Commissioner in the Court of Claims, and then acting Crown Prosecutor.  Once promoted to Crown Prosecutor, his diaries trail away.

Callaghan’s journals, which apparently were penned in execrable handwriting, have been recently released with a introduction by J. M. Bennett.  Bennett provides a sound introduction, but then leaves us in Callaghan’s very capable hands.

This book is a terrific resource, not just as a window onto Sydney itself, but more particularly onto the legal community at the time. Callaghan himself has been likened to Samuel Pepys, and although this volume is only 196 pages compared with Pepys’ weighty tomes, I can see the likeness. Like Pepys, he is full of gossip and observation about the people he meets, inconsistent in his friendships, sociable and waspish at times. He is at times downcast about his decision to come to Sydney

I am beginning to think that I have been sadly mistaken in my plans for happiness here.  I have come to a barren soil, to a dreary land, to a wide country: I thought I was coming to a fine colony where wealth abounded, and where I should in a short time realize a fortune that would fit me for enjoying every comfort.  But now I find that I am in a poor, petty, profligate place where I may live perhaps by my own labour, but where I can scarecely hope ever to realize an ample fortune without resorting to all the vicissitudes of gambling in land an in similar speculations.  Here everything is extravagantly dear and every item is extravagantly expensive so that little can be saved of what is hardly earned.  The country in itself has no charms for me and its present people have few traits after my heart.   I am alone here and I doubt very much whether I could ever think of now staying or settling here. (27/11/41)

But he did: he married in 1848, had two sons and a daughter and developed a lucrative private practice and ended up a judge of the Quarter Sessions. He died prematurely at the age of 48 after being kicked in the head by a horse that he had just bought.  But let’s not end so gloomily.  He was a generous, if fitful, journal-writer, berating himself as many do for his inconstancy in writing:

September 2, 1843.  My last entry of June the 20th! This is improving in regularity with a vengeance!

One response to “Those Mild Colonial Boys of the Law

  1. Hugh Larratt-Smith
    Dr. Larratt W. Smith Diaries: 1850-1905 The diaries of Dr. Larratt W.V. Smith can be found in the collections of the Baldwin Room at the Toronto Reference Library in Toronto, Canada. The following is a draft publication of the upcoming sequel to “Young Mr. Smith in Upper Canada”, by Mary Larratt Smith, University of Toronto Press, 1982. 1850-1860 “Sad intelligence” – “Dear Minnie up & about” George Cassels Smith, Jan 2, 1850 Died at Barrie at Mr. Chickley’s school on Monday 6 June 1859 at 25 minutes past 12 am of remittent fever terminating with congestion of the brain. Buried at Toronto – 8 June 1859 in family burying ground. George Cassels, June 2, 1859 Dr. Hodder attending. Mrs. Booth nurse. (Dr. Nicol being at Barrie with myself attending dear little George.) christened at St. James Cathedral Toronto by Rev. Henry Grassett, sponsors Adelaide Victoria Cassels. Walter Gibson Cassels & George Smith . – Smith Family Bible The house in St. George’s Square in Toronto, at 45 Grange Road, was not large, but its location was fortuitous, most of all because of its proximity to the Grange. That grand English-style estate was built in 1817 by D’Arcy Boulton Jr., who belonged to one of the core families of York’s Family Compact. At that time, York was a backwoods outpost and the Grange, on its 100 acre tract, was located at the edge of the wilderness. Today, the Grange is the fourth oldest building left in Toronto and functions as a museum run by the Art Gallery of Ontario. The dense city has taken over the former country estate, but there does remain a park (wedged between the noise of Queen Street to the south and Dundas Street, the edge of Chinatown, to the north) that makes it possible to imagine the once vast lawns of the manor. By the beginning of our story, a residential district had grown up around the estate, comprised of “handsome three story houses” (Globe, June 11 1860) occupied by the fairly well-to-do – judges, lawyers, doctors, bankers. The Grange would long remain one of the social hubs of aristocratic Toronto, as it was for Larratt Smith until the end of his life. When Larratt lived close by, the master of the Grange was D’Arcy Boulton’s son William, two-time mayor of Toronto, whose wife, Harriet, kept Minnie company at the Smith house several times a week. Minnie’s younger sister Georgina and her brother James often came up from Bay Street, and Larratt’s friend and brother-in-law, Walter Cassels, was a frequent guest. Days that no-one came over for dinner and a game of bagatelle (the ancestor of pinball, of Pickwick Papers fame) were so rare that they merited a special citation in Larratt’s journal. No children lived in the house then, for both of Eliza’s boys were boarding at Mr. Chickley’s school in Barrie. Based on his journals, Larratt seemed to be a proud and caring father; accustomed to noting only the bare facts of his days, he found, for instance, that George’s “delicate” appearance or an improvement in Lal’s writing were worthy things to record. The boys came home often, and a letter was usually written as soon as they had left again. At this time, Larratt was awaiting a third child by Minnie, his second wife. His first wife, Eliza, had died during the birth of their second child. By May, 1859, Minnie’s time to deliver was drawing near, but it was marred with bad news. Larratt’s mother and sister began sending alarming news from England about the state of his father’s health, Captain Larratt Hilary Smith’s. Larratt recorded it laconically as ever: “Papa ill; Papa no better; Papa worse.” But Larratt would not have to make his farewell visit to England just yet. There was other bad news – not about his elderly father, but about his 9-year old son. Monday, May 30, 1859 Office all day. letter from Mr. Chickley. George very ill. George not expected to live through the night. Tuesday, May 31 Very fine & warm. Left for Barrie at 7.30 a.m. reached at 11 a.m. Dear George very dangerously ill telegraphed for [Dr.] Nicol who came up at night. slept at Gowan’s. Wednesday, June 1 Very fine & hot. dear George thought better. but worse at night – not expected to live through the night. slept on sofa in the sitting room. Nicol remained over at my request. Dr. sat up all night with George. Thursday, June 2 very fine. dear George very sick but better. Nicoll left by 4.10 p.m. train. Dear Minnie confined of a son @ 5 p.m exactly. Dr. H. attended. Mrs. Dun present. George passed a fair night. Friday, June 3 very fine but very cold. left Barrie at 7:30 am. found them all very well – office all day… sent up medicine for poor George who was much the same. … Saturday, June 4 telegraph in morning, that dear George sinking fast. left Toronto at 5 p.m. reached Barrie at 8 ½ p.m. dear George much the same. passed a good night quite quiet. very cold in evening. freezing. Sunday, June 5 very fine. did not go to church. with George all the morning trying to give him nourishment. obliged to give it up in course of day as it wearied him. pulse began to fail in evening. Monday, June 6 Dear George breathed his last – at 25 minutes past 12 a.m. quite quietly. was with him when he died. left Barrie with his body by afternoon, boys & some of townspeople saw him to the station. found dear Minnie pretty well. …. The Globe and Mail printed the notice the following day: At the residence of the Rev. W. P. Checkley, Barrie, on Monday, the 6th instant, after a short but severe illness, George Cassels, second son of Larratt W. Smith, Esq, aged 9 years & 6 months. (Globe, June 7) Tuesday, June 7 very fine. did not get up till past 1 p.m. Cassels very attentive. … dear George lying in his coffin in the drawing room. sent off papers announcing his death. Wednesday, June 8 very fine though it rained in morning. windy. dear George buried in St. James cemetery @ 4 p.m. Minnie did not know he was in house or being buried till afterwards. Cassels dined here – conversation & dinner. We can only imagine the loneliness of Minnie’s first days as a mother in such a sad house. The new baby was also christened George Cassels, after the boy who had just been buried beside his mother Eliza in St. James’ cemetery. But while the arrival of Minnie’s first child was shrouded in mourning, her husband’s attention soon turned back to her. When baby George, nicknamed “Sonny,” was ten days old, Larratt wrote, “dear Minnie up first time today on sofa in breakfast room” (June 12, 1859). Indeed, he noted her first time up and her first trip out of the house after each child was born; he always recorded the children’s first teeth, words and steps with diligence; and he never forgot their birthdays. *** Early the next year, Captain Larratt Hilary Smith’s health was waning once again, and Larratt prepared to bury his father not long after his son. But the farewell trip to England was also an occasion to drink in the old country and renew old acquaintances on both sides of the Atlantic. Jan 3, 1860 Very fine & milder. Found office frozen up. at home in evening. bad news from England Papa in a very precarious state. Last day of Elections. Wilson elected Mayor by a large majority 599. Baby vaccinated by Dr. Nicol. Bad news of Papa. Jan 4 Very fine office all day. sleighing first rate ever since November. Office all day & till ½ past 1 in the morning. Minnie at Mrs. Crooks & Lal. Small children’s party. Wrote Mamma & sent lock of Baby’s hair. Very cold at night. Jan 10 Thawing very fast. Office all day. sent Lal to Mr Francks’s as a weekly boarder & paid him in advance $40. also paid off Mr. Chickley $10 by post. At home in evening. newspaper from Dear Papa addressed by him. No letter. Jan 16 Very fine & mild. Thawing all day. office. Alarming news of dear Papa’s health. At home in evening. Jan 17 Very fine. office all day at Meeting of Committee of Senate in evening. Building Committee. Dear Papa’s birthday 78 to day if living. Jan 21 Very fine. Lal came home as usual. Letter from dear Papa no better wishes me home. Determined to go by next steamer. Letter from Mamma also. Jan 26 Very fine & mild. Office nearly all day. went home at 2 pm. dined at 4 pm packing up. left Toronto by JT Railroad at 5.37 pm tea at Cobourg. Breakfast first at Cornwall. Sleeping carriage comfortable. Had a lower berth to myself & my own plaid & Mrs. Rae’s shawl for a pillow. Jan 27 Reached Montreal at 9 am. Found the Raes & Bentley at St. Lawrence Hall went to the Bank & wrote therefrom to dear Minnie. Called & saw Mr. Hugh Allan at his office Mr John Smith 94 Alexander Street called & left his card for me. Left Montreal at 4 pm crossing the Victoria Bridge reached Island and at Midnight slept in the same room with Bentley. Comfortable bed & clean. Jan 28 Up very early. fine morning but very cold. left at 7 am for Portland. Capt & Mrs. Woolsey child & servant among the Passengers for England also Wm Hall & Glover of Quebec. Met the Nova Scotian’s Passengers just arrived after a terrible passage of 18 days a few miles out of Portland. Wrote dear Minnie as soon as I got on board the Anglo Saxon & gave it to Smith to get mailed. Let Portland at 4 pm very cold & blowing wind slightly ahead but no sea till night when ship rolled terrible decks covered with snow & very cold wind got round to NW during the night. All sail set ship making 12 knots. The ships that Larratt mentioned were operated by the Montreal Ocean Steamship Company, known better as the Allan Line after the long-established shipping family who owned it (it was this Hugh Allan whom Smith went to visit in Montreal). The Allan line of sailing ships dates back to 1819, but its first steamer sailed in 1854; by 1860 the line operated six different vessels departing from Portland for Liverpool each Saturday. Larratt’s ship, the Anglo-Saxon, had room for 75 first class 350 third-class passengers; tickets for stateroom accommodations averaged around $80 while steerage passengers paid $39. During the summer months, the ship likely ran at close to capacity, especially when transporting English and Irish immigrants to Canada, but winter averages were much lower. It is likely that only between 30 and 60 passengers were crossing to England with Larratt Smith that January. The steamer line promised “cooked provisions on the voyage” and “an experienced surgeon” on board, but no-one could promise a fast arrival or a comfortable trip. There were days when the ship made no progress, and dismal weather and rolling seas kept the seasick passengers in their quarters. But the Anglo-Saxon in particular was hailed as an especially fast ship; it had made its maiden ocean crossing in 1856 in just 10 and one half days, and on a later occasion, managed it in just 9 days, 5 hours. On favourable seas, stateroom passengers like Larratt Smith might pass their voyage in style – with card games and songs and a keen interest in the ship’s progress. Sun Jan 29, 1860 Very fine morning. Prayers read by the first officer. Sighted a brig running before a still breeze at 9 am. Sun shining brightly & ship bowling along splendidly our course ESE. Wind came round to the S in afternoon. Took in all sail. Made 220 miles up to noon to day. Lat 42.35 Long 65.28 at noon. Hoisted fore try sail in evening. lovely moonlight night. Ship rolling a good deal. Welsh rabbit for supper. To bed at 10. Jan 30 Very fine day wind from S & light loitering about till 1 o’clock nothing doing & nothing to be seen wind favorable. Sailors setting up topmasts & getting on more sail. Whist in the evening with Bentley. Mr. Buck & Glover. Lat at noon 42.03 Long 59. 43. made 260 miles. Larratt did not make it in time to see his father. At the bottom of this entry, he later added this note: My dear father died at ¼ to 2 pm Southampton time. George & Mary arrived too late. Feb 1 Very fine. wind dwindling, getting fairer. Setting the studding sail on the foremast. Ran 278 miles to noon in all 1033 miles. Lat 42.47 Long 47.23. blew much stronger at night. Stopped the engine from 11 pm to 3 am. Repairing a valve. Ship rolled very much but made good head way under sail. Whist at night same parties. Welsh Rabbit & accompaniments. Turned in at 11 pm. Feb 4 Very fine. wind still fresh on the quarter. Passed the “Shandon” at 7 am from Savannah to Glasgow every thing set about 1 mile to windward. Made 270 miles up to noon in all 1873 miles to day. Lat 48.48. Long. 29.18. cards in evening Welsh rabbit & accompaniments. To bed at 11 pm. wives of Capt of “Shandon” & our ship living together in the absence of their husbands. Sun Feb 5 Very fine. passed a steam ship steaming W at 7.50 am supposed to be the ‘Arago.’ Saw her. Steaming against the wind. Service in the morning & sermon from one of the passengers. Wind dead aft blowing in squalls with showers. Ship rolling a good deal. Made 276 miles to noon in all 2149 miles. Lat. 49.52 Long. 22.31/ same weather all night though occasionally the moon bright & stars out. To bed at 10 pm. Feb 6 Drizzling & foggy. At 6 am wind got round to the E. took in sail & struck top gallant masts & yards. Ran 270 miles to noon to day in all 2419. Lat 50.01 Long 15.31. weather cleared up at night & then moon came out with wind fair. Moon eclipsed from midnight to 2 am. Got on deck at 3 am rather cold. coffee with Smith in the forecastle at 4 am no land in sight turned in again. Feb 7 Very fine morning tho’ showering with fair but squalling & very cold. sighted Cape Clear at 8 am. Wrote dear Minnie for the Hungarian’s Mail to go ashore at Cork a long letter – reached Queenstown harbour at ¼ to 4 pm finding that I could gain nothing by going ashore here, determined to go on to Liverpool. left in ½ an hour after landing. Mail & some passengers. Feb 8 Raining & blowing in squalls all the morning. Wind fair. … Passed the Bell buoy upset with gales & went after the Hungarian coming out. Saluted her with 2 guns, she replied with one. About 2 pm entered the river & passed Victoria Tower at 3 pm (Toronto time ¼ to 10 am). Reached landing slip at 3 ½ pm. baggage examined & left by Express train 1st class at 5 pm with Mail Agent. Reached London at 11 pm. drove to York Hotel & slept there. Feb 9 Very fine morning & cold though it had rained hard during the night. Left Waterloo Station at 8 am for Southhampton. Country looking green tho’ wintry. Southampton at 10.30 am drove at once to house, & there learned for first time sad intelligence of dear Papa’s death. Found Mamma & Mary well though much affected. Day fine. walked into the town wrote letters to Parson &C. sent off letter to Vance &C. slept in dear Papa’s room. Went with Mamma & Mary to Holy Trinity this evening to evening service. With his brother George, Larratt spent the next several days putting his father’s affairs in order and finding his mother a new place to live. But he made the most of this sad trip; he stayed until the end of March, 1860 to enjoy the culture, shopping and social and opportunities that London had to offer, but was always eager for news from home. Feb 18 Raining slightly & foggy. Left with George for Southampton. Saw Uncle William in bed. Aunt & Geo gave former poor Papa’s stick. Wrote Wm Young & Woolwich de Mamma’s pension. Requesting an interview. Returned to Park Row & lunched with George. George drove us over to New Cross Station where we took the Rail to Crystal Palace. Concert began at 3 pm Piccolonini. Very crowded & very good. Dined at 5 pm. telegraph from Henry Duncan 10 D—(?) Road wishing to see me. Replied. No letter. Writing Minnie. Sun Feb 19 Stormy day. wind W. blowing strong gusts with rain. snow in the evening. attended St. Bartholomew’s Church morning & evening. heard Mr. Snow read prayers & Mr. English preach on both occasions. Nice Church. Evening fair. Walked with George before Church & between Churches round by Averley & Penge to see for a house for Mamma. Walked all round the Crystal Palace Grounds. After service wrote Minnie. Feb 22 letter from Hancock. Still none from dear Minnie. Letter from Vance. Feb 23 Most lovely day. Letter at last from darling Minnie & such a kind one & lengthy. Also from Jim. Went to town late. … Lunched with James. Then to … Anatomical Museum. Saw 2 Punch & Judy’s. then met Archy McLean & went with him to his lodgings at 20 Cecil street, Strand. Heard that Queen going to Adelphi to night. Went there. did not see her after all. Bengal Tiger & “Dead Heart”, latter splendid. Walked to London Bridge & took 12.15 train. Could not get in to George’s house till 3.50 am. Tried the “Greyhound” in rain. rather used up when George let me in. Feb 27 Raining hard when I got up. left Brighton at 8.10 am, weather cleared up. reached London Bridge at 10 am. Went to the Tower … Afterwards to Montgomeries not in. afterwards to the —(?) office, about Mamma’s pension then to the National Gallery. Then dinner & drove to London Bridge in boat & Mongomeries again, not in, & home. Duncan came up in the evening & left at 10 pm. sat up & wrote Minnie till 12 pm. very fine night. Feb 29 Very fine wind gone down beautiful day. drove to Greenwich & went to Woolwich & saw Mr Wm Young about Mamma’s Pension. Very satisfactory, returned to Greenwich by 1 & lunched with George & took boat again at 2 pm for Hungerford Bridge. Met Mary G & Mamma at Great Rex. Got Papa’s picture & sat for my own. Did some shopping with Mary & mamma & returned to Sydenham at 7 pm. wrote up c/cs & letter to War office for Mamma. Mar 1 Very fine day no Steamer announced yet. Went to London. Made purchases at Storeys & Dean &Cos took my ticket to Mongomerie Green homes to be sent to Liverpool & exchanged & state room selected afterwards to Pawson’s where I made large purchases for dear Minnie. Afterwards to Churell’s to pay his c/c not in. there to Waterloo Station to meet Mary. Met her at 6 pm & brought her to Sydenham. Making up a/c &c in evening. George bought a beautiful dress for dear Sonny. Mar 2 Rained hard all morning. Wind SW. George’s carriage came round for us, to drive round to see houses. Drove with Mamma & Mary & George & saw several. Preferred “Avoca Villa” left for town at 1 pm. went to see Gen Baxter 11 &12 Northampton Square asking too about “Avoca Villa” & afterward to Warren’s went through the British Museum. Dined in Strand. Lyceum – Tale of Two Cities. Reached home at 1 am. Beautiful night. Found letter from Jas Mitchell 25 College Hill Cameron Street West No 83. letter from Dumford & a long one from darling Minnie. Mar 5 Very fine day. left Dumford’s after breakfast for Sydenham. News of loss of “Hungarian” arrived very shocking on 19 February last. Went with Mamma Mary & Mr Bucknall to “Avoca Villa” to measure & inspect the rooms & house. Dined at George’s to day at 1 pm & walked over to Dulwich & saw the Bucknalls. Also Mr & Mrs Wm Bucknall handsome Spanish woman. Walked back in 37 min & reached “Highfield” at 9 pm. writing dear Minnie after all went to bed from 10 to 12 ½ pm. very fine night. The “Hungarian” was another ship in the Allan Line’s fleet. It was wrecked in a storm on Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, killing all 237 people aboard. It took several days just to ascertain the ship’s identity, and only a few bodies were recovered from the wreck. Cargo, scraps of mail, and pieces of luggage were being salvaged for weeks. These were difficult times for the Allan Line. The Hungarian was had been built just two years before. The “Canadian” had been lost 1857, and the second “Canadian” would perish in 1861. The Anglo-Saxon itself, just three years after Larratt Smith’s voyage, would be lost in a fog off Cape Race, with the loss of 238 lives. But first, it would take him safely home. Mar 7 Cold. raw snowy day. wind from NE went into town with Gen Hampton. Met bank of Coldstream guards going to St. James Palace. Saw colours trooped & guard relieved. Went to town. Saw Montgomeries & took berth “11” by the “Anglo Saxon” for the 28th. “Bohemian” arrived at Cork this morning. News of loss of Hungarian confirmed. Bought shoes …. saw “Queen” &c going to levee of Volunteers at St. James Palace. Went to Great “Globe,” dined with Geo Hampton at “Shades” opposite “Globe,” went to Haymarket for overland Route & afterwards to Princess Street Theater for “Jack the Giant Killer” – capital. Supper & to bed. Mar 9 Fine morning. Came on to snow at intervals & very raw. Saw the Grenadier Guards relieve the Coldstream at the St. James Palace. Boat to St. Paul’s Pier. Called on James. Took him to Mongomerie Greenhouse. Over the latter. Gave them my ticket to be altered for no 9 “Anglo Saxon.” Lunched with James at Prusells. Left pencil case at Thornhill’s. got my ring from James. Dined at Shades with Geo Hampton gave him pencil case. Afterwards to Covent Garden. Lurline & Puss in boots. Found letter from darling Minnie on my return. […]. Sun Mar 11 Snow on the ground. Cold but thawing. Went with Mary & George Hampton to Temple church & walked back. Very sloppy & muddy walking. Wind about S wrote Capt Willoughby declining his visit. Went with Geo Hampton & Mary to St. Paul’s in the evening in a cab & back. Capital sermon & excellent singing. Splendid sight 8000 persons there. dome lit by 800 lights. Mar 14 Very fine. went to visit poor Papa’s grave with George at Nunshead. Rec’d a letter from darling Minnie by the Cunard steamer. Went on to Greenwich called & saw John & Emma Smith. Also Uncle William Smith & Aunt. Called at Riddells not in. left a card for them. Dined with George & went over Poor Papa’s affairs with him & left for London. Went to Hungerford Bridge got spring from Salmon & Ody. Measured for gown at Ede’s, to be finished on Tuesday & sent to Southampton. Then to Oxford Street to change Music. saw Vance & wished good bye. Afterwards over James. Dined at the London Tavern with him at 6 pm & afterward to Olympic – splendid. Mar 19 Lovely day. up early & left Sydenham at ¼ to 10 am for London. Drove to Waterloo Station. & left by Express Train at 11 am for Southampton. Young Starr on the train going to Jersey. Reached home at 1.20. weather lowering. Wind high from SW. Jane & Mabel Bucknall to go home to day from George’s. found Mamma & Mary both well & expecting me. Hampton had not been down. Writing dear Minnie in evening till very late. Took a walk before tea for ½ an hour along the water westward. Wrote dear Minnie for the last time before leaving & at midnight fell asleep over it. Mar 20 Blowing a gale from the West & squalling with rain at intervals. Letter from Duncan replied to it. & finished & mailed letter to dear Minnie. With Illustrated papers. Walked after dinner to Abbey & Hospital blowing a gale 7 nizzling. Home by 9 pm to tea. Spent ½ an hour in the Abby. … marking dear Minnie’s pocket handkerchiefs in the evening with a new stamp. Mar 24 Blowing a gale all day from W & WNW with squalls of hail & rain. letters from Mr. Hampton Geo Hampton & George. Also from Willoughby & WH Smith. Replied to two letters. Mamma packing my clothes all day. assisted her. Teeth put right by Payne. No tidings of Canadian Steamer with my letter due on 21st. wrote James to day de knife. At home in evening measuring furniture. Geo Hampton expected paid young E. Sharp Mamma’s rent due to day [pounds] 15.15 & took receipt. Mar 27 Tolerably fine. wind strong from NW with occasional showers. Up at 5 am breakfasted at 6. took leave of dearest Mamma & Mary at 6 ½. […] Mar 29 Squally & showering from W. wind dead ahead & fresh. “Edinburgh” 10 miles astern. had a nice salt water bath & got up at 7 am. Wrote dear Mamma to mail at Cork. Wind squalling & very fresh all day dead ahead. Reached Cork @ 2 pm mailed letter for Mamma Willoughby & Duncan. Left Cork at 7 pm after taking in Mails & some 100 000 steerage passengers. fine night wind very high from NW moon out. Sea got very high & getting into the Atlantic. Made 295 miles by noon to day. Mar 30 Wind dead ahead & very high with constant squalls of rain snow & wind. Made very little progress married to a gale ship rolling fearfully. 57.30 12.00 150 miles. Mar 31 Gale from NW all the time sea very high. Felt ill lying down most of the time. Fearful seas sweeping the decks one came over as high as the bulwarks & swept everything aft at night nearly carrying away the boats. 57.30 17.30 200 miles Sun Apr 1 Tremendous gale from NW & very heavy sea. Making little progress. No service to day too rough. Lying down & reading most of day. no sleep at night carried away 2 sails. Washhand sent into my berth in the night & bath upset into my drawer. 50.47 20.17 114 miles Apr 7 Blowing a gale all night from SW & raining torrents with dense fog. Very heave sea on the Banks thermometer fell to 33. fog … ship at ½ speed from 1 ½ till 9 am. Capt on deck all night. Fog lifted at 9 ½ am & wind to NW, heavy sea. Practiced for to morrow’s singing. Took medicine. Not well at all to day. 44.30 Long 50.30 200 miles. Sun Apr 8 Rather a fine night. Wind from NW dead ahead & fresh with snow storms all thru the day. Dutton read the Morning Service. Sang all the music & chants for Easter day. 43.28 Long 55.54. 242 miles in all 2196 miles. Steerage passenger gave birth to a girl at 8.30 pm. fine still night wind ahead but no sea. Toward morning wind shifted to S. Apr 11 Raining a little but tolerably fine up early breakfast on board went ashore for special train at 8 am found that no train to go till 1 ½ pm strolled about town. Lunched on oysters. Left at 1 ¼ pm reached Island Pond at 7.50 pm tea there no searching. Traveled all night in mail car. Immigrants in the others. Left many of the party at Richmond for Quebec at 2 am. Fine night but cold. sent letter to Mamma to England by Dunlop & asked to see that it is sent by “Canadian” on Saturday. Apr 12 Reached Montreal at 7.30 am very tired. Breakfasted at station telegraphed dear Minnie that I was coming. Left at 8.30 am dined at Kingston. Reached Toronto at 12 midnight. Walter & Jim at Station to meet me. Found dear Minnie not well. Lal at home. Supper & unpacking. Got to bed about 3 am. 1861 “The militia, we may mention, in Canada, as well as in all the provinces, is almost a non-entity – little else than an undisciplined mob; and, unless steps are taken to drill and discipline it, it would be useless in the field.” Thus The Illustrated London News assessed the state of Canadian defense in December 1861. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, Canada’s vulnerability was the subject of debate on both sides of the Atlantic; indeed, the colony’s position became precarious each time British-American relations got tense. While officially neutral in the North-South conflict, Britain’s sympathies seemed to lie with the Confederates (although Canada itself had closer cultural and economic links with the North, and had outlawed slavery in 1793). Following the Trent affair in November, 1861 – when a Union vessel stopped the RMS Trent, a British mail steamer, and removed two Confederate diplomats despite the captain’s protests – the United States and Britain came precariously close to war. Concerns intensified about Canada’s defensive capabilities, since the colony would naturally be the Union army’s first target in a strike against Britain. Britain could not or would not spare many more regular soldiers, and there was little support for a professional standing army; it was clear that more active volunteer militia units needed to be mobilized, and the existing militia better trained. The Sedentary Militia – essentially all able-bodied men between eighteen and sixty – was useless without proper organization, equipment, training and leadership. Toronto’s Leader urged sedentary militia officers to have the decency to resign unless they were willing to begin learning military drills immediately (quoted in The Illustrated London News); many sedentary officers, it commented, were indeed willing to join the active volunteers in their training. Even so, “the impression amongst men of good judgment and discernment is that there is little reliance to be placed on the militia, and that the best and surest mode of providing for the defense of the province is to form a volunteer regiment in every locality.” There had already been a temporary surge in military fervour in the 1850’s, when volunteer companies had organized to replace British soldiers who had gone to fight in the Crimean war. This Active Militia was made up of men who bought their own uniforms and received a few days’ paid training; but the units had since fallen into dissolution. After the Trent affair, John A. Macdonald was named Minister of Militia and attempted to bring order to the chaos. The units created in the 1850’s were reformed, and Britain sent 11,000 more regular troops. But plans for a larger reserve force and more training (two to four weeks per year) were overturned, as neither Britain nor Canada was willing to pay. John A. Macdonald’s government resigned and the next government, led by John Sandfield Macdonald, passed a new Militia Act in 1863. Ten thousand volunteers would be given twelve days of drill per year. By the same Act, prospective officers were required to pass a longer course of training, lasting three months, at newly established military schools run by regular British officers. One such school opened in Toronto on the 1st of March, 1864, and it was clear from the beginning that the military spirit was running high. The Globe reported this news with great optimism as the first item of city news: School of Military Instruction. Under the provisions of section 52 of the Militia Law, a School of Military Instruction was opened in this city on Tuesday last, in connection with the 16th regiment. The school has been established for the purpose of enabling candidates for commissions in the militia, to perfect themselves in a knowledge of their military duties, drill, discipline, &c, The school is under the management of Captain Carter of the 16th Regiment, who has opened an office on King street near the corner of Simcoe. The ball room in the old Government House, and one or two other rooms in the same building, will be used as drill rooms, until other and more suitable buildings can be provided. The drill shed of the 10th Batallion will also be used whenever it is found necessary. The school opened very favourably, so far at least as numbers are concerned, as there were yesterday afternoon nearly sixty officers present, from different parts of the country, who intend availing themselves of their method of receiving a knowledge of military matters. From the numerous applications that have been sent in, it is expected that, in a week or two the number of members will have reached nearly or quite one hundred. Some of them have come a great distance, and one gentleman residing at Sault St. Marie wrote to the Brigade Major here, asking what district he was in as he wished to attend one of the schools. A number of the men of the 16th regiment have by consent of the Commander-in-Chief, been detailed for the special duty of attending the school for the purpose of assisting the officers in their studies. All candidates for commissions, while attending the school, will be considered for all drill and discipline to be attached to this regiment which shall constitute the School of Instruction and it shall be competent to the Commander-in-Chief, on a representation from the Commandant, to dismiss any candidate from the school for misconduct or other sufficient cause. (Globe, Thursday, March 3, 1864, p. 1) Larratt Smith (whose father had been a career military man and who had himself served as a lieutenant during the 1837 rebellions), along with dozens of other officers, wished to change the popular perception of the militia – a crew of old men unacquainted with drill and unwilling to do more than parade about in fancy uniforms. The spring of 1864 saw the 43-year old preparing to enter a rigorous program at the new School of Military Instruction. It was an eventful time for the family as well. George, age 5, was a spirited child, to the point of once breaking a playmate’s collarbone; one-year old Lenny had started to walk; and a new baby, a daughter, was born on the 15th of February with a worrying heart condition. Feb 22 Very fine & mild. Office. Lenny walked some distance alone first time this morning. Wood came in from Brampton. Took George to his Grandpapa’s. Rained all morning. Jackson Haines skating in afternoon cleared up. Greenwood hanged himself in his cell at 10 pm to avoid being hanged t morrow at 10 am. “Bohemian” lost off Portland at 9 ½ pm. Feb 26 Very fine & mild. Office all day. Took the 2 Georges to see the Nigger minstrels this evening at Music Hall. Wrote Walter & remitted $115. Downey finished the 3 cords of wood. George & Lenny had their likenesses taken at Carson’s. Mar 5 Very wet & stormy day. Raining & snowing. Office all day till 4 pm when I went home to christening of Emily Crawford by Mr Baldwin as there is reason to fear the consequences of her palpitation of heart. No sponsors. Georgie & George present. Mar 9 Rained all day. Office. Adelaide with Minnie all the afternoon. Did not see her. Dr Nicol called. Baby worse. Not likely to live from organic defects. At home in evening. Despite these predictions, Emily did survive. But the next few weeks were not encouraging, and Larratt Smith recorded her condition diligently throughout that spring and summer. Meanwhile, by mid May, he had begun his military training, consisting usually of a midday lecture and two daily drills, plus private study, under the supervision of British regulars (there was also, of course, some socializing with the most important British military personalities in Canada, such as Colonel George Peacocke). Larratt’s training began just in time to join the year’s most extravagant show of military finery – Queen Victoria’s birthday. May 17 Very fine & very hot. Attended & enrolled for Military School. Office all day. Ingall & daughter arrived. At home in evening. May 20 Drill twice as usual. Practiced feu de joie firing for Queen’s Birthday. Col. Peacocke to have dined with us but poor Browning’s body found & he declined [Browning and Akers were two 16th Regiment ensigns who had drowned in the bay]. Jim Georgie & Miss Creighton dined with us. Office. May 24 Queen’s birthday. Very fine & very hot indeed. Military School at 8 ½. Photographed & left for review at 11 am. Fired & marched well. All the force out. Home at 2 pm to dinner. Very tired home the rest of the day & evening. General Holiday. June 3 Very fine & very warm. Two drills to day as usual. Office. at home in evening. Minnie suffering from tooth ache but refuses to have teeth out. June 27 Very fine & cool two drills & lectures. 1st Class unexpectedly examined. Stanton dined with me. Office. at home in evening. June 28 Very fine & cool. Out of 21 up for Examination only four plucked. Jim passed. Office one hour. Morning & evening Drill & 4 hours of lecture. July 4 2 drills office & midday lecture. Office one hour. At home in evening. Sat up till past 12 studying with Tully Murney. July 5 Very fine. First part of Military School Examination came off. Squad & Company Drill—passed it. No office. drill in evening. At home. The next day Larratt Smith sent his family ahead of him to Murray Bay, and stayed behind to take his final exams. July 7 Passed last Examinaion in Battalion Drill &c. all the Squad got through. Office rest of day. Rained hard in afternoon. Meeting of School to present Testimonials to Carter, Sergeant Major Smith & Sergeants. The Globe wrote up an update on the military school on the following day: We are glad to find that the Military School in this city is in a prosperous condition. Since its opening the number of attendants has constantly increased, and though a large number have passed successful examinations and left, the new arrivals are so numerous as to more than make up for those retiring. There are at present eighty-three pupils undergoing instruction, under the supervision of Captain Carter, to whose assiduity and attention the success of the undertaking is in a great measure due. Examinations are held every few weeks, by the Commandant of this garrison, and those who are found proficient are passed. We are pleased to learn that there are very few cries/cases of “plucking,” all attending taking so readily to the duties as to almost invariably succeed on their first examination. On Monday the following gentlemen were examined and passed…. (Globe, May 18, 1864, page 2) The Globe then lists the names of fourteen fresh graduates, including Maj. L.W. Smith. A newly certified officer, Larratt enjoyed a few weeks of summer solitude before he left to join his family in the battle with bed bugs at Murray Bay, Quebec. July 8 At College Recitations at 2 pm. Allan Cassels carried off every thing. At home in the evening. No rain to day or sign of it. Minnie got to Murray Bay all safe. Till the Bugs slaughtered them at night. July 10 Delicious thunder storm & showers all day. Did not go to Church. Reading in the balcony. Walked up to Cassels in evening & picked some strawberries there. July 12 Orange men went to Hamilton to exhibit in force. Office all day. Wood left by Passport for home for his Vacation. At home in evening. Letter from Minnie lamentable a/c of bugs. “Toby” [the dog] having disappeared since last night turned up at 7 pm. July 15 Office all day. At home in evening. Rec’d my Second Class Certificate from the Adjutant General. Marie made the raspberry preserve 14 lbs. July 20 Intensely hot day at least 90 in shade all day. Sky filled with smoke. Office all day. Wind got up towards night & blew a gale. People leavning town in troupes. Got cooler. Aug 1 Up at 6 left by boat at 7 for Niagara in City of Toronto. Fine passage. Drove with John Powell to see Casselman’s farm & the Lot where Rogers took off his house. Afterwards to the Falls & put up at Clifton House. Gzowskis & McPhersons there. Wretched bed. Bad table &c rained in torrents all night. Theatre opened with a good company. By August, Larratt had joined his family at Murray Bay to round off the busy summer with another social holiday of fishing, dining, sightseeing, and keeping a detailed log of captured bed bugs. Aug 17 Rainy & foggy all day. Did not bathe any of us. Tried to fish & caught nothing. Mrs Parker dined with us. Roast Beef &c. Lenny not well. At home in evening. Killed 7 bugs on the wall last night. Rainbow at sunset very brilliant. Aug 21 18 bugs caught in servants’ room. Aug 22 6 bugs caught in servants’ room & one in ours. Aug 24 Lovely day. Bathed before breakfast drove to the “Charte” where Parker Lamb & Cross fished & I enjoyed myself. Drove from there to a Cascade on the other side of the Murray River. About 90 ft in height and about 100 in width. Very grand. Spent a delightful day. Very warm. Finished letter to Mamma. Splendid Northern Lights. The summer was over, and the fall would bring new plans and new problems for Larratt Smith and his country. In no small measure, thanks to the US Civil War, Canada was on its way to Confederation. In early November, delegates from the Maritime provinces arrived in Toronto, to great fanfare: Larratt acted as adjutant of the military school while General Napier, commander of the British troops in Canada, inspected the volunteer militia as it marched; and a grand dejeuner and ball was given in the delegates’ honour, which Larratt attended in full Major’s dress. At the same time, there were rumblings about a new military threat. Only two days after the delegates’ ball, Larratt wrote that a “Large force of ‘Fenians’ arrived, parading the streets at night.” The Fenians were a paramilitary brotherhood of Irish-Americans who, having fought in the Civil War, wished now to fight for the independence of Ireland by striking against Britain’s Canadian territory. Though all but forgotten today, the Fenian threat shook Toronto, and would loom large in Larratt’s life story. 1862-1863 “Poor baby” … “Danced a little myself” Amy Violet, July 12, 1861 Born in St George’s Sware Toronto 12 July 1861 Friday, 9:30 p.m. Dr. Nicol attending Mrs. Wright nurse. Christened in St. James cathedral by Rev Edward Baldwin sponsors Georgina Harriett Smith. Howard W. Lyons??? & Samuel Geo Wood. Died at 4 church Meadows, Sydenham, Kent, England, Wednesday, 23 July 1862, at 1 am. Buried at Nunshead Cemetery on Saturday 26 July in my father’s grave. Lenox Ingall (Lenny), November 24, 1862 Sponsors Col Wm. Lenox Ingall CB James Fendwick Smith Jr Barrister at Law, and Mrs. Ingall ordained by bishop Chas Hamilton of Niagara Sunday 25 September 1887 in St. Thomas Church, Hamilton. -Smith Family Bible Larratt returned to England in the summer of 1862. This time he took Minnie with him, along with three-year old George and baby Amy. They visited his mother, his brother George and his sister Mary, but much of Larratt’s time was spent in drinking in the atmosphere of Victorian London. He went to the London Exhibition, admired the Rose Show, and marveled at the Handel festival at Crystal Palace, which boasted 4000 performers and 18,567 spectators. He traveled by rail to attend lectures at Oxford. But this trip home, like the last, would be marred by death. July 12 Raining in showers. Dear little Amy’s birthday. Suffering from her teeth. Went to London with Mamma & Minnie. Interview with mr Herbert & home. Came on to rain hard in afternoon. Went with Georgy to Wimbledon review & sham fight. Dodged the showers, tho’ it rained in torrents at Sydenham. Splendid sight. Jul 13 Very fine day for a wander. Went with Geo & Mary to St. Matthew’s, Stoke Newington. Pretty considerable High Church. Very like Montreal Cathedral. Dined with George. Walked with him & the children after dinner. Aunt William, George Smith & Mary Shields came over to tea. Jul 16 Showery all day. George took Minnie over to Greenwhich. Wrote to Canada. Letter from Lal & papers from Canada. Went up to London for an hour or so showers all day every few minutes. There to Greenwich to dine with Aunt George. Great thunderstorm at 4 pm. took Minnie at 6 pm to London & to the Strand Theatre home at 11 ½. Baby very poorly. July 19 Showery all the evening. Writing Barney & others in morning. Poor baby I fear sinking. Went to town at noon called at Brown & Williams made some purchases. Saw James. Left watch at Bennets to be repaired 65357. ordered paper & envelopes to be stamped & c at Bixon & Arnold’s. Did not go to George’s this evening. Harriet’s there, baby too ill. July 20 Very fine. Poor baby still living. Church with Minnie in the morning. Mamma with baby. Walked over to Nunshead Cemetery from New Cross, & afterward to London, to mail a letter to Ettricks, postponing my visit to Isle of Man. Mary George with poor baby in evening while Mamma & Mary at Church. July 21 Very fine tho threatening at times but wind NW. dear baby still living but no hope. Up to town to see Pawson, James and Morris. … 2nd day of Dramatic College Bazaar at Crystal Palace. Great crowd there impeding the trains. Mr. Bucknall, Georgy & Julian Wong went off to Shrewsbury this morning for a month. Gave Lewis small telescope. Margaret sat up all night with dear Amy. July 22 Fine but threatening. Dear Amy sinking fast. Wrote Ingall & Lal in morning. Took Georgey to London to get Hair Cut, afterwards to Greenwich & back by boat.… Came on to rain & rained all night hard. Dear Amy sinking fast. July 23 Raining all day. Dearest Amy died at 1 am quite quietly. Writing Wood & Cassels to day & mailed all letters. Went up to town with Mary George after dinner. Letters from Wood & Jim… replied to most of them…. Rained hard in the night. The baby was buried in the family plot where Larratt had buried his father two years before. The family returned to their house in St. George’s square. That fall, another baby was born, named Lenox Ingall, after Larratt Smith’s friend Col. William Lenox Ingall. The boy was called Lenny, but nicknamed “the Colonel” after his father’s friend. *** To judge from Larratt Smith’s diaries, the Toronto of the 1860’s was a vibrant place, with enough high society entertainment to satisfy a cultured man, even one who’d seen “Israel in Egypt” at London’s Crystal Palace. The visit of the Prince of Wales must have been a boost to Toronto’s confidence. The city was proud of the sophisticated English-style welcome it had prepared, proud of its well-dressed gentry and its lavishly decorated ballrooms. As Larratt had once written to England, “Canada is not such a wilderness as some imagine and when you tread the gas-lit streets of Toronto and look into as many handsome shops with full-length plate glass windows as there are in Bristol or London you will not look upon us as many of your countrymen do.” He had already felt this way in 1847; and since then, much had changed to make Toronto still less a “wilderness.” By the early 1860’s Larratt Smith’s diaries read like the log of a sophisticated man-about-town who took advantage of Toronto’s increasingly varied social and cultural life. First and foremost was music, a passion kindled during friendly choral practices at Mrs. Justice John Beverley Robinson’s. Larratt Smith was a frequent and appreciative patron of every kind of musical entertainment, from performances by military bands to opera selections by local and traveling troupes. Toronto’s musical scene was rapidly developing. In 1848, the Royal Lyceum theatre was built on King Street. It had a capacity of about 800 and became Toronto’s favourite venue for musical entertainment. St. Lawrence Hall, built in 1851, was Toronto’s first “distinctive concert hall,” and hosted celebrated international singers like Anna Bishop, Jenny Lind and Amalia and Adelina Patti. With the visit of the Prince of Wales, Toronto saw the inauguration of two large new venues for opera troupes and military bands – the Crystal Palace and the pavilion at the Horticultural Gardens, where the Prince had planted an inaugural tree. The following year saw the opening of the Music Hall at the Mechanics’ Institute (merged into a public library some twenty years later) and the Yorkville town hall, which brought opera and theatre outside the old city centre for the first time. But before the opening of the Grand Opera House and the Royal Opera House, in 1874 and 1875, the Royal Lyceum was still the key theatre for Larratt Smith and his circle. Its proprietors advertised that it was “crowded nightly by the elite, to witness the Masterly production of some of the most popular plays of the day” ; and Larratt took advantage of the frequent performances, sometimes attending with his colleagues or family several times a week. He went daily when well-known troupes were in town to perform selections from Italian operas, and complained about the great crushing crowds that gathered to hear famous soloists from Europe. In the summer, Larratt Smith frequently took his children to the Horticultural Gardens to hear military concerts in the open air. Summer was also a time for garden parties, stargazing, and boating, which, once reserved for fishing around the islands with Lal, soon combined with the social prestige of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club. Larratt bought his own sailing skiff and joined the club in 1861. That summer he was an avid boater and a frequent visitor to the RCYC, with its sailing races, formal dinners and concerts at the floating club house – the refurbished wrecking steamer Provincial, moored opposite Union Station but prone to going adrift. Although Toronto afforded so many opportunities for leisure – cultural diversions, lakeside recreation, and high society gatherings – summer was a time to leave the city. Larratt Smith writes of “people leaving in droves” to escape the heat and smoky air. But when people like Larratt fled the smog, they took their elite social lifestyle with them. A successful nineteenth century vacation had three essential ingredients: water, music and half of Toronto’s high society. One of Larratt’s vacations was a trip to New York with the Mackenzies and the Cawthras – bathing, crabbing and socializing at Long Branch, then driving around New York City, attending the opera and eating oysters for supper each night. But in the early 1860’s, Canada’s own resort culture was also beginning to bloom. Even Americans began to forego trips to Long Branch, Saratoga and Newport in favour of a “Canadian Newport” where they could vacation “with much less money and much more satisfaction.” This fashionable new destination was the St. Lawrence estuary. Today, the regions of Charlevoix, Quebec, on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, and Bas-St-Laurent on the south, are a day’s drive from Toronto. The area boasts rugged scenery, picturesque villages, and excellent whale-watching which draws tourists from all over the world. La Malbaie (the former Murray Bay) and the coastal villages nearby remain a haven for artists and nature lovers. Tadoussac, Canada’s oldest village and the cradle of New France, located in the magical place where the St. Lawrence estuary meets the Saguenay fjord, attracts kayakers, whale watchers and sightseers throughout the summer. In the mid nineteenth century, travelers were just beginning to discover these places. The first tourists were English citizens of Quebec and Montreal convinced of the health benefits of saline air and salt water bathing. Americans followed suit, as did Torontonians. Larratt Smith had first seen the region on a brief trip with his sister and brother-in-law in 1861; and in 1863 he took his family on their first of many long vacations by the St. Lawrence. Only the eldest, Lal, would spend his holidays with his grandmother in Perth. Larratt, Minnie, four-year old George, baby Lenny and the nurse prepared for the long journey from Toronto through Rochester, Ogdensburgh, Montreal and Quebec City. July 9 Getting ready for sea side. Lal went off to Brockville & Perth by 2 pm steamer. Jul 11 Up very early 4 am. Dull heavy morning. left by “Ontario” with Minnie Georgie & Lennox with Elizabeth for Cacouna at 6 ½ am. Reached Lewiston at 9 ½ am & left again at 10. Reached Rochester at 5 pm left at 6 pm. Fine night. Came on to blow with rain towards morning. Bugs in the state rooms. Took Miss Moffatt with us. Jul 12 Heavy & showery. Cold wind Easterly. Late one hour. Reached at 11 pm Ogdensburgh, took the “Alexandra,” small boat & crowded. Cleared up in the afternoon. After passing the Cedar Rapids the “Empress” caught up & easily passed us reaching Montreal long before us. (Never, never take the American Boats when you can get British for every reason.) Passed the Lachine rapids at 7 ½ pm & Montreal at pitch dark. Got to St. Lawrence Hall about 9 pm. Raining hard. Jul 13 Raining in perfect torrents most of day. Miss Moffatt went with her friends most of day. Called with Minnie on Smiths. Left Montreal 7 pm by the “Montreal” for Quebec. Magnificent steamer & very crowded. Berthed in state room 29 with Maitland who joined us at Montreal & was most attentive thereafter. Samuel Williams & staff & nearly the whole Montreal Garrison on board also Mr. Keith & Miss Price Miss Moffatt lost her purse with $12 in it. Raining hard all night. Jul 14 Raining in torrents wind Easterly thick & very cold. Col Ingall met us on the steamer “Magnet” at 6 ½ am. Gave him his “cartes” & he paid me for them. Left by Magnet at 7 or ½ past. Intensely crowded. Raining all day. Stopped at Les Eboulements & Murray Bay & reached Cacouna at 5 pm in the rain. Sent on Madame & the children & Miss Moffatt. Attended to the baggage with Maitland & afterwards drove over with Maitland in “caliche,” found the Hotel crammed slept in a room with 5. Minnie Miss Moffatt Elizabeth & children all together in another. The steamer “Magnet” had begun operating in 1861, departing from Quebec on Tuesdays and Fridays, and offering both transport to the popular “watering places” and a sightseeing tour. “By taking this steamer, the TOURIST and the INVALID will enjoy the refreshing and invigorating breeze, and picturesque scenery of the Lower St. Lawrence,” one ad stated. The company had an agent in Toronto and, throughout the summer season, advertised its “Grand Excursion to the far-famed River Saguenay, and Sea Bathing at Murray Bay and Cacouna,” by “the magnificent iron steamer ‘Magnet,’” which “will leave the Napoleon Wharf, Quebec, every Tuesday and Friday morning, during the Season, at seven o’clock for the River Saguenay to Ha! Ha! Bay, calling at Murray Bay, River du Loup and Tadoussac” (Globe, July 6, etc., 1863). The “Saguenay trip” became more and more popular as word spread about the region’s beauty, and some years later one witness wrote that “[t]o look at the piles of baggage and furniture, the hosts of children and servants, the household goods, the dogs, cats and birds, one might think the Canadians were emigrating en masse.” That summer, the Smiths, with their small host of two children at least one servant, took the “Saguenay trip” as far as the village of Cacouna. There, a magnificent hotel, another St. Lawrence Hall, had just been erected. With 400 rooms and a dining hall that could accommodate 800 guests, the hotel catered to the whims of the upper crust from New York, Toronto and Montreal. Just ten years before, such a facility would have been unthinkable in the small village. But as tourist traffic increased, local families’ lives began to revolve around the summer season. Many built “petites maisons” at the edge of their property where they would live during the summer, squeezed in like sardines, as they rented out their main farmhouses to tourists. Wealthy families began building their own seaside villas, hiring locals to care for them during the long winters. Soon Cacouna’s increasing popularity demanded still more accommodations, and even grand hotels like the St. Lawrence Hall could barely keep up. In the summer, the population doubled and Cacouna changed from a simple francophone village to a posh English resort. Arthur Buies, the great Quebec journalist, complained: “What does one see at the renowned, fashionable watering-places? English families and nothing but English families.” During his stay, Buies claims to have heard not a word of French, except from locals selling their wares or showing visitors around. The outspoken Arthur Buies has little good to say about these English-speaking tourists. The Americans, who come to escape the “corrosive sky” of New York, “ask in all seriousness,” he reports, “what the distance is between Cacouna to the North Pole.” But it is the “Englishwomen” from Montreal and Toronto who get the brunt of his criticism; they continue to call England their “home,” even though most were born and raised in Canada and had never seen England at all. They stay in their cottages or their hotels all day long; on the rare occasions they leave, they force their children to walk on the sidewalks single file; and they bask in stiff luxury as the local people wait on them hand and foot. At the St. Lawrence Hall, the resident “is a god and has no time to have a desire.” He or she eats four meals a day in the formal dining room, accompanied by harps, flutes and violins. How different it would be, Buies reflects, if, instead of this “people born for constraint,” one hundred French families were brought to Cacouna instead: the village would be turned upside down: games, picnics, walks on the seashore, bathing, balls… There wouldn’t be as many beautiful residences, luxurious cottages, not as many neat and tidy flower beds, not as many artfully shorn groves along the hilly coast that descends to the river… but you would feel a resounding life, a free-for-all of pleasures, constantly renewed amusements… instead of … a monotonous repose; … you would see people up at eight o’clock, running through forests and fields, tireless young girls and boys… the whole world getting to know each other, rejoicing, laughing, jumping, embracing life with all their might, this life of two months that returns every year. Instead, we have at Cacouna people who resemble rain; they have faces like clouds.” Buies’ account of English stiffness and cloudy faces is, of course, not quite fair. In Larratt Smith’s logs of his family’s vacation, we have the other side of the story. There is no denying that luxury and formal socializing were a large part of a Cacouna holiday; Larratt and his family probably enjoyed the neat and tidy flower beds and the luxury of their hotel; but their vacation was not just “monotonous repose.” There were also parties, bathing and balls – and Larratt, at least, rose early and spent his days actively, walking for miles along the shoreline, observing the great ocean-going steamers that passed the village, and drinking in the magnificent natural surroundings that Buies praised so much. Jul 15 Cleared up during the day. Walked about the beach. Did not bathe. Dancing in the evening. Fooling during the day. Found Henry Chapman, Strachan Bethune Love McDougall. Mrs Wm Spragge & great numbers of people here that I knew. Mr Cassels & family & Georgie arrived at Riviere du Loup & finding us quartered here remained there in a house taken for them. Hop in the evening. Fair band of four performers. “Juna” passed up this morning about 11 am. Jul 16 Very fine & very warm. Mrs. Cassels drove down here. With Georgie & her family. Called on Mr Robert Hamilton with thme. Introduced to the Keiths nice people. Bathed to day. Water cold. No dancing in evening. Siddons & Miss Agnes Cameron to have been here to read but did not come. Jul 17 Changed our rooms for very good ones. Dancing in evening. Rained at night. Jul 19 Very fine & very warm. Dr. Cooke officiated in the morning & Mr Hatch in the afternoon. Late for Church as dinner too late. Singing good. Dr. Thomas called in to see Lennox who was very ill. Called twice. During the Smiths’ first vacation in 1863 there was not yet a Protestant church at Cacouna, and visitors gathered for services wherever there was space. An Anglican church was built there in 1865, followed later by a Presbyterian chapel. Murray Bay across the river got its ecumenical Protestant church in 1867 , and Tadoussac’s was also being built that year. These chapels were likely boarded up each fall as the English visitors left; Protestant services took place in summer only. Jul 20 Very fine & warm though dreadfully foggy. Walked with Maitland Strachan & Bethune some 9 miles in morning. Bathed in afternoon. Dancing in evening. Baby very ill last night. Dr. Thomas attending twice a day. Jul 21 Very foggy & thundering & showering. “Britannia” passed up. 46 sail in sight. Rained at noon. Wrote Mrs. Murney, Dartnell & Wood. ___ Ball at night. Danced a little myself. To bed at midnight. Thunderstorm, 57 to day. bathed in afternoon. Jul 23 Took medicine. Wrote Mamma. Weighed Lennox 17 ½ pounds. I weighed 152 pounds. Spent evening in Keiths’ room. Mulled claret provided by me. Jul 24 Very hot, glass rose from 62 to 80 in afternoon. Ill all day took medicine. Dr. Thomas gave me some chloridine. Dancing at night, spent evening with Keiths. Hot stuff & cider. Wrote to Mrs. Minett partly to day. Jul 27 Hazy in morning. wind west tide in about 11 ½ am. 72 in the morning. Wrote Col Ingall that I am leaving for Quebec to morrow. Drove Mrs Cassels & Minnie in afternoon. Singing in Keiths’ parlor in evening. Splendid bath to day at noon. No dancing. Jul 28 Lovely day 72 in shade. Bathed at 1 pm, water 61 near the bottom & 64 on surface. Paid over c/c with Hotel, to this evening $49 & 6cts . Took no receipt (paid Abbott) squared with Miss Moffatt, gave her statement of a/c & paid her $5.75 also paid Elizabeth’s wages $6 & left $40 with Minnie including $15 Mrs Cassels owes me. Left Hotel about 4 pm. Drove Minnie to Riviere du Loup & Mrs Moffatt drove Miss Moffatt. All the Hotel nearly went down to see us off. Left at 6 pm. General Williams on board joined them & the Keiths. Maitland out with us. Reached Tadoussac at 8 pm. Vessel took terrible lurch in opposite in tide way before entering the Saguenay & greatly alarmed passengers. Perfectly smooth vessel made fast at L’Anse a l’Eau for night. Walked ashore with party. Dick Cassels & Dean on fishing excursion no state room slept below in berth. Jul 29 Lovely day. Left Anse a l’Eau at 3 am up at 5 am. … Magnificent scenery. Maitland left at Tadoussac. L’Eternite 1800 & Trinite 1600 ft high from echoes. Reached Ha Ha Bay at 8 ½ am walked there. Left at 11 ½ rained hard noon. Reached Tadoussac at 4 left at 4 ½ pm. Riviere du Loup at 6 ½, left Maitland met Cockburn. Wrote Minnie by him letter from Minnie & Wood. Left at 7 ½ fine night. Murray Bay at 10 ½ against the tide. Met Terry & paid him 3/9 for Arrow Root. Laid at Murray Bay till midnight. Left for Montreal. State room. Met Hooper of British Bank on the Saguenay trip. Larratt Smith now had the famous “Saguenay trip” behind him. He had made all the usual sightseeing spots: Tadoussac, Jacques Cartier’s trading post; Murray Bay – “the most picturesque and the most poetic of watering-places, Canada’s Eden, the poet’s dream” ; and Capes Trinity and Eternity, which did remain in the dreams of at least one poet – Walt Whitman, who wrote of them as he stood “before them face to face”: I doubt if any crack points, or hills, or historic places of note, or anything of the kind elsewhere in the world, outvies these objects… They are very simple, they do not startle—at least they did not me—but they linger in one’s memory forever. They are placed very near each other, side by side, each a mountain rising flush out of the Saguenay. A good thrower could throw a stone on each in passing—at least it seems so. Then they are as distinct in form as a perfect physical man or a perfect physical woman. Cape Eternity is bare, rising, as just said, sheer out of the water, rugged and grim (yet with an indescribable beauty) nearly two thousand feet high. Trinity rock, even a little higher, also rising flush, top-rounded like a great head with close-cut verdure of hair. I consider myself well repaid for coming my thousand miles to get the sight and memory of the unrivall’d duo. They have stirr’d me more profoundly than anything of the kind I have yet seen. If Europe or Asia had them, we should certainly hear of them in all sorts of sent-back poems, rhapsodies, &c., a dozen times a year through our papers and magazines. Larratt Smith wrote no poems or rhapsodies about what he saw, but like Whitman, he must have considered himself well repaid for his long trip. Year after year he brought his family back to Cacouna or Murray Bay. His son Lenox – baby Lenny, who had come on this first Quebec vacation – would return thirty-five years later to get marri

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s