« PreviousContinue »
ground to rest upon-the trees alone remain visible-the chilling grasp of winter is every where felt, and every precaution is taken to resist its effects.
There is something very awful and terrific in a Canadian snow storm. A heavy fall of snow is generally accompanied by a violent gale of wind, which driving along the snow with immense velocity, and forming a thousand eddies and turnings, according to the inequalities of the surface, and resistance consequent thereon, you are able to form an idea of the velocity of the wind -it becomes, as it were, visible. The most severe snow storms they experience in Canada, come from the north-east, the frozen regions of Hudson's bay and Labrador.
During summer the woods of Canada abound with birds of a great variety of sorts and sizes-partridges, woodcocks, pigeons, and singing birds without number. The lakes and rivers abound with aquatic birds, such as ducks, geese, snipes, &c. Some of these pass the whole summer in Canada; others, such as the pigeons, are only found at certain seasons, as they pass from the southern to the more northerly parts of the
American continent, and vice versa. No sooner does the frost set in, than almost all the feathered tribes take the alarm, and leave the country; even the hardy crow is obliged to take himself off, A species of partridge, called the pine partridge (from its living on certain parts of the pine tree, of which it tastes very strongly), alone remains-but it is very rarely seen. Few quadrupeds are to be seen; some hares are found, but to see them is difficult, for they have changed their colour to as pure a white as the snow in which they lie-a kind precaution in nature to conceal them from their enemies. Many other quadrupeds, no doubt, remain in this country during the winter, Like the bear, they probably do not change their lodgings while the snow is on the ground, but remain stationary, and in a torpid state.
The Canadians change their appearance as much as a complete change of dress can do. The hat and bonnet rouge are laid aside, and they use fur caps, fur cloaks, fur gloves, and worsted hose, over, as well as under boots, Thus defended, they venture with impunity into the severest frost,
The snow soon covers the ground to the depth of several feet, and wheel carriages can no longer be used: the whee's would sink so deep, that it would be impossible to advance a step. In place, therefore, of wheel carriages, a sort of sledge is used, which in Canada is called a cariole. It passes over the snow without sinking deep. It is placed on what they call runners, which resemble in form, the irons of a pair of skaits, and rise up in front in the same manner, and for the same purposes. The cariole is generally from nine to twelve inches above the snow. Some, called high runners, are about eighteen inches. The body of the cariole varies in shape, according to the fancy of the owner. It is sometimes like the body of a phaeton, some-. times like a chair or gig, sometimes like a vis-a-vis, and sometimes like a family coach or chariot. The cariole, in short, is the name for all sorts of vehicles used in winter, from a market cart, up to a state coach.
The generality of them are light, open carriages, drawn by one horse. The snow,
after being trodden on for some time, becomes compact enough to bear the horse, and gives very little resistance to the cariole. Some people are extremely fond of driving out in carioles; for my own part, I think it is a very unpleasant conveyance, from the constant successon of inequalities which are formed in the snow by the carioles. These inequalities the Canadians call cahots (from the French word cahoter, to jolt), and they certainly are very well named, for you are jolted as if you crossed a field with very deep furrows and high narrow ridges. The motion is not unlike rowing in a boat against a head-sea-a thing that requires to be only once tried, to be disliked.
As no other sort of carriage can, however, be used in this country, custom and example reconcile one to it: all ranks use them, of one sort or other. Sometimes you see them conveying a dashing buck up one street and down another at a gallop, to the no small annoyance of people who are ond of keeping their bones whole, a thing hose gentlemen seem very careless about,
Sometimes you see the close covered family ones, conveying an old lady quietly and steadily to church, or to have a little gossiping with a friend; and sometimes you see them coming in from the country conveying beef and mutton, turkies and geese, for the supply of the market.
When the navigation of the St. Lawrence becomes impracticable; little business is done by the merchants, who then appropriate a considerable part of their time to amusements. It is necessary to do something to give a little variety to the sameness of a six months' winter. They have parties of pleasure in town, and parties of pleasure in the country, in which you have dancing, music, and the social enjoyments of conviviality.
There is a public assembly once a fort
night, which is very well attended.
are fond of dancing, you have an opportunity of indulging in it; if you like a sober rubber, you find very good whist players. The civil and military gentlemen mix very cordially together. Such of the Canadians as can afford it, and have an inclination, join in the amusements that are