The following is a letter from James Edmond Quaife and his wife Mary Poynter, written in 1833, after their first year in Canada. It was addressed to: Mr. Thomas Poynter, Chatham, Kent, England and postmarked September 11, 1833 in Cornwall, Ontario. It appeared to have arrived in Liverpool England on October 16, 1833.
It was not an easy time for them and they returned to England in about 1837 or 1838 due to the James' poor health. On their return to England they were shipwrecked on the coast of Ireland .. but that is another story. James and Mary were the parents of Charlotte Quaife who married Thomas Wickenden (see Wickenden Page)
Through the mercy of god I am permitted again to address a few lines to you. We got your letter from the post the 23rd of August. I believe it had been there near six weeks as it bore a post mark of July but we did not know it. A neibour of ours inquired for us at the beginning of August but said there was none. I think they do not give the name right. We are hartyly glad to hear that you are all still in the body for we had feared that some of our parents or friends might have been in eternity before we could hear from you. I trust we feel truly thankfull to the giver of all goodness that it found us in health of body and excepting the anxiety we felt to hear from you in peach of mind we feel thankfull to you for all the information and advice you give us. May the Lord help us to reduce it to practice and all will be well. I can truly say the Saivour is the only foundation of my hope, he is present in our dwelling, and tho disappointments come outwardly yet we know that all things shall work together for the good if we have god. May we and ours be brought to love him with all our harts and my friends continue to pray for us that we may be kept in the good way that leads to eternal life and we will do the same for you till Glory ends What grace begun.
Since we wrote our first we have found what winter is in this country and truly it is long and cold. We have snow from the beginning of december til the middle of march and the frost with it is very sharp. Wages are low for newcomers I being somewhat strange to the place and country I did no do so well as expected. The man whom I live under who had talk of helping us did nothing and we having nothing in hand had but a scanty supply of butter and meat though we did not live in want, yet we had not the comforts of life so abundant as we had expected but we hope to do better this winter. We have two pigs wich if all goes we shall take in in November and a few dollars due to us and tho we want many things yet we are not so destitute as we was last fall and I am become more aquainted with the neibours which will be a better chance for employ.
The farmers here think we old country folks not capable of doing so well as people who are raised in the country but it is only a conceited idea they have of themselves for except choping we can work as well as they. We have some disadvantages in getting our pay it is so much the custom to pay in produce that they who have cash will not part with it and the storekeepers will not always give what it cost and put what price they like on their goods but a man and family is not expected to live just by laibour but is suppose to fat the meat and make butter for thare own use when this is the case well soon be able to get a little before hand but we have no cow this summer we could not get one without getting in dept so we have done as well as we could without but hope to get one next spring if our lives are spared. I am hartyly glad our Chambers still thinks on us and is so well desind towards us may prosperitie crown all his endevoures and if you can without distressing your selves send us a little it will come very exceptable but do not distress your selves.
By the best information I can get the way to send money is by the monteal merchants or the canadian company the name of the merchant who I am informed take pleasure in doing kindness for a poor person here is Galasbey & Co. London but his address I do not know but it might be found by inquiring at the North american coffee house in London it is a Name well known in the america trade and if you send by him he will give you a receipt to send to me to draw on galasbey & Co. montreal. They are brothers and I am informed will do it with pleasure but if you don not send it this way it may be paid to the canadian company agent and I draw it of the agent at montreal or prescott this is the best information I can give, if you see a better way take it. Now there is a difference in the currency with yours as a*1 fetches 23s 6p of this currency. Bank notes do not fetch so much and it will make no difference to you if you pay it in gold and it will be better for us and be so kind to state in your letter all the information you can drawing it.
at this point the handwriting changes as Mary Quaife finishes her husband's letter, and writes one to her own family:
You must not feel offended at James no writing more as he is not a home and I have a chance to end it the way he wisht me to give his kind love to all his friends, please tell samuel and wife that we wish them the happiness that married life can afford hope one day to see them here, I hope no one will feel offended at my addressing my letter to my father and mother as I can assure you I love you still, but they lay nearest my heart. I must conclude though I could say much more, but mine is such a poor scrabby hand I am ashamed of it.
Remain your loving children,
James and Mary Q.