Alexander Campbell Notes of a Tour to Canada West--No. I. (1855)







      FROM Bethany, Va., July 26th, accompanied by Mrs. Campbell and daughter Decima, we took our departure for Canada West. Owing to the temporary suspension of the Wheeling steamers in connecting with the Wellsville and Cleveland cars, we were obliged to spend the night at Wellsville. At 9 o'clock next morning, we took the cars for Cleveland, and that same night lodged at Buffalo, New York, a distance of some 230 miles. Next day after breakfast, we departed the train for the Falls of Niagara; at which place we spent two days at the Cataract House, adjoining the Falls, surveying, from various points, the ever attractive and sublime grandeur of the rich and magnificent scenes around this soul-subduing display of Omnipotence.

      The Falls of Niagara, 22 miles North of Buffalo, latitude 43 deg. 6 min. from Washington City, is justly regarded as one of the wonders of the world. The St. Lawrence River, rising in Lake Superior, and flowing, through Lakes Huron and Erie, pours its waters over these rocks, and thence through Lake Ontario, increased by the Ottawa, it forms the gulf of St. Lawrence. It is, indeed, called by different names. Between Lakes Erie and Ontario, it is called the Niagara; between Lakes Erie and St. Clair, it is called the Detroit; between Lakes Huron and St. Clair, it is called the St. Clair. These all form, and ultimate in, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which river, after running through Lake Ontario 180 miles, proceeds, uninterruptedly, 700 miles into the sea.

      Erie, somewhat larger than Ontario, pours its own waters, with those of its tributaries, over these mighty strata of rocks; and, in [529] doing so, makes earth and air to tremble in attestation of its mighty triumph.

      But still the puny arm of man, guided by science, has disarmed it of its dissociating power over his species. Below it, not more than two miles, is one of the most magnificent triumphs of genius, of science and of art combined, on which the sun now shines.

      A cord attached to a kite, despatched from one side of the Niagara by Mr. Ellett, of Philadelphia, was borne across, by a propitious wind, and fastened to a tree on the other side. Then, by it, a rope of sufficient strength to draw a cable, and, by its aid, a wire cable of 36 strands No. 10 wire, 1160 feet in length, was borne across.

      Towers were erected on each bank 800 feet apart, to which this wire cable was secured, and, in one month, the scientific adventurer crossed in a wire basket suspended from the cable.

      So commencing, it was carried out to such perfection of strength and safety, that a bridge, capable of sustaining 250 tons burthen now passes over it. We crossed it in a train of cars, on a floor 230 feet above the river, which, beneath us, was some 250 feet deep, and that, too, with as much composure and evidence of safety, as though we were moving on the surface of the earth.

      During our sojourn at the Falls, we attended, on the Lord's day, the Baptist church, and had the pleasure of hearing from its pastor, Elder Keizer, a well studied and edifying discourse, partly read and partly spoken, on the interesting and important fact, that "the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Elder Keizer is a pleasant speaker, and had an attentive audience. "The Baptist Church," as they call the building, is a new and neat edifice; but having one Presbyterian church and one Episcopalian church at the Falls, the villagers and the strangers in attendance do not appear to crowd any one of them.

      On Monday morning the 30th, after breakfast, having visited all the points of interest to us, we proceeded to the medicinal springs at St. Catharines, some 12 miles from the Falls. Here we found quite a handsome town, and a splendid edifice, well furnished, for the accommodation of invalid guests, and a considerable number of visitors and attendants.

      The Stephenson House is well furnished with all the comforts, conveniences, and even the elegance, of modern civilization. We found it well attended with visitants from North and South; some for health, and some for pleasure.

      We went methodically to the drinking of the water and to bathing, both in hot and cold baths. The water is, indeed, any thing but palatable. But after chemical distillation, when diluted with common [530] water, it is more agreeable, and, we presume to say, more salubrious. It is quite in demand abroad. A chemist is employed in purifying and preparing it for the market, and it is thus sent to order, in large quantities, to many parts of the country. We learn from various sources, that there is a continually increasing demand for it, and thus its merits and medicinal powers are being fully tested. After using it freely for one week, we found a relaxation of the rigors of our rheumatic ailments, especially in the arms and shoulders. An increase of appetite, too, with a better relish for a reasonable quantity of the bounties of its well supplied tables, was one of our most flattering symptoms; but with all this there was a diminution of strength, occasioned, perhaps, by a too free use of the warm bath.

      During our sojourn, on finding a Christian Church at Jordan, some nine miles distant, and becoming acquainted with some excellent brethren, we made them a visit on Saturday evening, and addressed an auditory in their very neat and comfortable meeting-house. While there, we enjoyed the kind hospitalities of Bro. J. Snare, who conducted us back to St. Catharines in proper time to address the citizens and Baptist brethren of St. Catharines, in their respectable and commodious meeting-house, obtained for as by our Bro. Palmer, through Elder Ryerson, the presiding elder, who cheerfully gave us his pulpit; but being much indisposed, was not able to attend our meeting. In the evening of the Lord's day, we had the pleasure of hearing Elder Cameron, from the same pulpit, who delivered to his auditory a well composed, but rather too theatrically delivered, sermon, on salvation by grace, without the works of the law, illustrated with incidents in the life of Paul. Mr. Cameron, not long since from Scotland, is, in matter, manner, as well as in pronunciation, a worthy representative of the Scotch pulpit.

      While at St. Catharines, we were visited by Elder James Black and Bro. Jackson, of Eramosa, Bro. Lister, of Bowmansville, Bro. Elliot, of Toronto, Bros. Ash and Farewell, of Oshawa, and Bro. Shepherd, of Aylmer.

      While at St. Catharines, amongst many valuable acquaintances formed, was that of Dr. Gale, President of Galesburg College, Illinois, and his amiable lady. We freely intercommunicated thoughts, sentiments and views, on sundry topics of public and private importance, with much unanimity of sentiment and feeling. Like myself, he has been over-taxing his powers, under the pressure of numerous and various obligations, to the faithful discharge of which he seems to be much devoted.

      On Monday, the 6th of August, conducted by Bro. Black, at my suggestion, we took our departure for Eramosa, the place of his [531] residence, and the immediate field of his labors. We safely arrived at his hospitable mansion that same evening, via railroad to Galt, thence. to Guelph by stage, and thence by private conveyance to his residence. We found, not only at Eramosa, but everywhere in Canada West, the same generous Christian hospitality experienced amongst the Disciples of Christ in the United States. Next morning at 11 o'clock, we met a large concourse of brethren and friends, assembled in Bro. John Stewart's spacious barn; and although it was, in the midst of harvesting the crops, we engaged the attention of a large concourse for some two hours, which, resulted in several confessions of the faith. We had here, also, a pleasing interview with our old friend and brother, Daniel Stewart, who had formerly traveled, as, one of our agents in Missouri, and spent one year at Bethany College. He is now a farmer at Eramosa.

      After a second discourse next morning, we left, for Esquesing, conducted by Bro. Butchart, where we enjoyed the hospitality of Bro. Laird. Here we formed an interesting acquaintance with Bro. Menzies, now almost eighty years of age--a veteran disciple and laborer in the vineyard of the Lord. Next morning at 5 o'clock, we took our departure for Toronto, in company with the son of Bro. Menzies and Bro. Laird, who conducted us eighteen miles in their carriages, through a beautiful and fertile country, in a high state of cultivation.

      We immediately set sail for Toronto, on board of a first rate Lake Ontario steamer. Soon as we arrived at the landing, we found Bro. Thomas C. Scott and Bro. Elliot, with a carriage in waiting to carry us to Bro. Scott's, whose Christian hospitalities we richly enjoyed during our sojourn in that city. Bro. Scott is now presiding elder of the church of our brethren in the city, and occasionally proclaims the gospel in the surrounding country.

      Toronto is truly a beautiful city, of some 50,000 inhabitants, with its broad and well paved streets, and its stately edifices. It abounds in churches of diverse faith, doctrines, and edifices. Our brethren are not as prosperous and as co-operative as they might be, or as they should be, and, as we yet hope, they will be. They have talents, learning, and the means of being eminently useful, provided only, that mere order, or mere discipline, or church etiquette, should not usurp the place or province of faith, hope, and love. "These three," as Paul calls them, are paramount to every thing in the Christian profession. Paul would have contracted with any church in his day, never to eat flesh nor to drink wine while the world stood, rather than to wound, or cause to stumble, a weak brother. The vital principle of church order is brotherly love. Let that abound and all is peace, health, and prosperity. [532]

      We had the pleasure while in this city of addressing two large congregations in the capacious Baptist meeting house, whose pulpit is now supplied by Elder Pyper, a brother of high reputation, and pastor of the church. Our first discourse was on the great principles embraced in the commission which the Lord Jesus gave to his apostles, relative to the founding of the Christian kingdom. The second discourse was upon the proper foundation of church union, communion, and co-operation. Not the mere details, but the great comprehensive principles propounded and involved in these documents, found in Matthew xxviii. 19, 20, Ephesians iv. 3, 6.

      We had a fair representation of the clergy and laity of the city, so far as advised; and we have not heard of any objection on the premises. Amongst our hearers were the distinguished and thoroughly educated Dr. Jas. Lillie, of the Baptist church, justly distinguished for his high attainments in Biblical Literature and criticism; also Dr. Pyper, elder of the Baptist church of Toronto, and Dr. Ormiston, of the Presbyterian Free Church, of high Literary reputation, and superintendent of the Normal schools of Toronto; and Elder Dick and Elder Larimer.

      During our sojourn in Toronto, we breakfasted with our brother J. Lesslie, the able editor of the Toronto Examiner, who furnished his readers with a detailed report of our discourses in Toronto, at whose residence, after breakfast, we had a family tete a tete conversation with Elder Pyper, Dr. James Lillie, Dr. Ormiston, brother Thornton and lady from Dundas, brother Stewart and lady from Eramosa. Our pleasing interview was concluded with a very special and appropriate prayer by Elder Pyper after which we took the parting hand and hasted to the boat, to meet our appointment at Bowmansville, accompanied by our excellent brother Leister.

      At Bowmansville we enjoyed the Christian hospitalities of brother Vancamp and family, and had the pleasure of addressing a large and attentive audience on Lord's day morning, in the meeting house of our brethren, from I Cor. 3d chapter. In the afternoon we met for communion, and we are pleased to say that we had a very happy season and were much refreshed in spirit.

      Next morning at 11 o'clock we again addressed a deeply attentive and interested assembly from Acts ii. 14, on the elementary principles of the gospel as set forth in that connection. After dinner we were conducted by brother Simpson, of Bowmansville, to the steamer, for Toronto, at which place we arrived at nine o'clock in the evening, and were again met at the landing by brethren Scott and Elliot, and conducted to our former residence. On our return to Toronto we met with our most estimable brother Oliphant, formerly a student of Bethany College, and latterly editor of the Christian Banner, held in much Christian [533] esteem by all the brethren in Canada who know him. After one day's repose with brother Scott, we took the parting hand; brother Frame after forming a very agreeable acquaintance with the brethren of Canada West, returned to New York and we left for London, accompanied by brother Oliphant.

      During our sojourn in Toronto we were induced by brother Scott to make a visit to the Lunatic Asylum, one of the most spacious, edifices of the kind that we have visited in any city. It contains over 400 inmates, more or less bereft of reason. This asylum is up to the beau ideal of such institutions in all its architectural arrangements, location, and in the treatment of its unfortunate inmates. It is architecturally, and in all its details, government and medical treatment, equal, if not superior, to most of the institutions of the kind visited by me in the United States, or, elsewhere.

      We were much impressed with the almost universal cast of head and face of all its tenantry. Without almost a single exception, its unhappy prisoners were evidently wanting in the intellectual cerebral developement, so that phrenologically viewed, they were severally a proof, or evidence, of so much of the science of phrenology as respects, the organs of perception, comparison and deduction.

      On our arrival at London, we found a river Thames, and learned that it, too, had its London Times newspaper. It is quite a respectable developement of architectural taste, and will probably yet become a large city. We made one address in the Methodist Episcopal church on "the mystery of godliness," and had the pleasure of forming an acquaintance with Elder Charles Campbell, pastor of the Baptist church in that city, and classmate, and intimate friend, of our brother Pettigrew now of Richmond, Virginia, to whom he very pressingly requested me to present his kind fraternal remembrances.

      While at London we had the pleasure of attending a meeting in the basement of the Baptist church, and of hearing a very excellent, forcible and edifying discourse from Dr. James Lillie, of Toronto. He is a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

      We here met with some old acquaintances amongst whom was brother Edmund Shepherd, formerly of Bethany, College, who, with great importunity, desired me to address the church at Dorchester or Aylmer, and its environs, some twenty miles distant but my health and strength were so much under par, that with great reluctance I had to decline the pleasure of that visit. We had the happiness of forming some interesting acquaintances in London; amongst whom was Elder St. Clair, a venerable Baptist Elder of some 76 years old. He inherits a firm constitution and is now a pastor of four churches in old Baptist [534] style. But we had soon to take the parting hand, departing thence for the city of Detroit, 125 miles distant, accompanied, by brothers John Stewart, of Eramosa, and D. Oliphant. In a few hours on a good railroad, we found ourselves safely and comfortably lodged at the former residence of our much esteemed and beloved Father Hawley, now occupied by Richard Hawley, the old gentleman having returned to his native England.

      The church in Detroit does not grow, meeting in a room instead of a meeting house, and having no Evangelist, or elder devoted to the ministry of the word in that city. Detroit, it seems to me, is a good missionary field, and ought by all means to become a missionary station. A man of God--a workman that needeth not to be ashamed--would here find a good field, and, with the Divine blessing, could achieve much good.

      Bro. and Sister Burnet, of Cincinnati, arriving a few hours after us, increased our happiness. We met with the church in the forenoon, and addressed the citizens in the afternoon, Bro. Burnet at night, and I again on Monday evening, at 7 o'clock.

      These three addresses were delivered in the Lutheran meeting-house, and were heard by respectable and attentive congregations. A well qualified and discreet evangelist--"a workman that needeth not to be ashamed"--could, with the Divine blessing, here find a good and a profitable field, that would yield a good harvest in due time. Why is there not such an evangelist in the city of Detroit?

      At 9 o'clock on Tuesday evening, we got aboard of the steamer May Queen, and safely arrived at Cleveland early next morning. Bro. and Sister Burnet had concurred with us in the purpose of attending the Annual Meeting of the brethren then being held at Warren, O. But on our arrival at Cleveland, my health somewhat affected by my passage on the Lake, and his more urgent calls elsewhere, caused a change of purpose--they departed by the cars for Cincinnati, and we for Wellsville, on the Ohio river, much regretting that our premonitions of an attack constrained our onward course to Virginia, into which we entered that same evening, and next morning, arriving at Bethany, found all things well. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."

      Touching the contour of Canada West or Upper Canada, its population, their character and prospects, we intend hereafter to write a few words; meantime, we cut from the National Intelligencer the following statistical view, July, 28, 1855:

      "The second report of the census of Canada has been published, and is quite an interesting document. The returns for Upper Canada show that the occupiers of land number 99,906, classed in the [535] following manner: 9,746 holding land not exceeding 10 acres; 2,671 do. 20 acres; 10,134 do. 50 acres; 47,427 do. 100 acres; 16,515 do. 200 acres; 3,404 holding land above 200 acres. Male servants of all kinds, 81,764. Lower Canada has 78,624 farmers. In merchants and shopkeepers the return equals that of Upper Canada; in all the other trades enumerated there is a large disparity. The adult population following trades and professions in Lower Canada, is returned 185,462. In the Upper Province the return under this head is 228,567. The number of persons living on private estates is nearly three to one in favor of the Eastern Province.

      "Mr. Hutton's report sets forth some of the peculiarities developed by the census of the United States and of Canada. Some of the States return forty or fifty architects, others none. The whole of Upper Canada possesses only fifteen who aspire to the title. Toronto has ten artists. In the whole of Upper Canada they have five brushmakers, and Toronto monopolizes them.

      "The report comprises some very interesting returns showing the remarkable healthiness of the Canadas. There were over 100 years of age, in Upper Canada, fourteen males and nineteen females. Two males were respectively 115 and 120; two females were each 106 and 114. Nor is the Eastern Province in any way behind in these extraordinary instances of longevity, the returns showing that there were twenty-two males over 100 years of age and eighteen females."

      Canada, sixteen hundred miles long, with, an, average breadth of some two hundred and thirty miles--almost three times as large as the Islands of Great Britain and Ireland--contains two hundred and forty millions of English acres. Upper Canada, with its one hundred thousand square miles, or sixty four millions of acres, extends from 40 to 49 deg. North, and, so far, as I have peregrinated it, enjoying a healthy and vigorous climate, is capable of sustaining a dense population, and now possessing a largely Protestant element, it is destined to be a very rich province, and, we think, a very intelligent, enterprising and moral community. It possesses a level champaign surface, with moderate hills and valleys, and many beautiful streams and rivulets meandering through them. The land, so, far as fertility is concerned, compares favorably with much of Ohio and New York. Its forests abound with stately timber and every variety of evergreens, which, to my view, impart peculiar charms and attractions to the amateurs of nature. But, better than all, one happy ingredient in its favor is its staunch Scotch conscientious, active, energetic element of population; whereas, in Lower Canada, extending from 45 to 50 deg. North latitude, the Papal element is much larger, than the Protestant, and its sombre and paralyzing power, here as every where else, is, and must be, an incubus on the intellectual and moral energy of its population. The feudal character of their land titles, so fatal to the improvement of every country, having recently, in Lower Canada been substituted by the fee simple tenure, will, no doubt, effect, [536] a great change in the energies and activities of even its Catholic population.

      We have no tabular view of the relative number or influence of the different denominations in the Canadas, later than 1851. At that time, in Canada West, those called Bible Christians, Christian Church, and Disciples, together are represented in the whole population at 11,909. There is no society of Disciples given in Lower Canada, and of the others a very few. The Baptists, in their whole population in both the Canadas, are set down at 49,846. The Romanists in Canada East, are 746,866; in both the Canadas, 914,561; the Church of Scotland, Free Presbyterians and other Presbyterians, in the aggregate, have a population of 251,705; Methodists, of four kinds, amount to 228,839. Hence, if all out of the Church of Rome were subtracted from all in it, the outs, of all denominations, would have only thirteen thousand one hundred and forty-three souls more than the Romanists. But further notice of Canadian affairs and prospects, we shall put on file for our next.
A. C.      


[NTCW 529-537.]


      Alexander Campbell's "Notes of a Tour to Canada West--No. I." was first published in The Millennial Harbinger, Fourth Series, Vol. 5, No. 9, 1855. The electronic version of the essay has been produced from the College Press reprint (1976) of The Millennial Harbinger, ed. Alexander Campbell (Bethany, VA: A. Campbell, 1855), pp. 529-537.

      Pagination in the electronic version has been represented by placing the page number in brackets following the last complete word on the printed page. Inconsistencies in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and typography have been retained; however, corrections have been offered for misspellings and other accidental corruptions. Emendations are as follows:

            Printed Text [ Electronic Text
 p. 532:    with Bro. Menzie, [ with Bro. Menzies,
            of Bro. Menzie [ of Bro. Menzies
 p. 533:    found in Mathew [ found in Matthew
            city, sofar as [ city, so far as
 p. 534:    After one days [ After one day's

      Addenda and corrigenda are earnestly solicited.

Ernie Stefanik
Derry, PA

Created 1 December 2003.

Alexander Campbell Notes of a Tour to Canada West--No. I. (1855)

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