In the winter season, nothing is more ardently wished for, by young persons of both sexes, in Upper Canada, than the setting in of frost, accompanied by a fall of snow. Then it is, that pleasure commences her reign. The sleighs are drawn out. Visits are paid, and returned, in all directions. Neither cold, distance, or badness of roads prove any impediment. The sleighs glide over all obstacles. It would excite surprise in a stranger to view the open before the Governor’s House on a levee morning, filled with these carriages. A sleigh would not probably make any great figure in Bond street, whose silken sons and daughters would probably mistake it for a turnip cart, but in the Canadas, it is the means of pleasure, and glowing healthful exercise. An overturn is nothing. It contributes subject matter for conversation at the next house that is visited, when a pleasant raillery often arises on the derangement of dress, which the ladies have sustained, and the more than usual display of graces, which the tumble has occasioned.
This picture, drawn in 1793 by a nameless traveller, is an evidence of the courage and buoyancy of heart with which the United Empire Loyalists faced the toils and privations of life in their new home.
Not drooping like poor fugitives
In exodus to our Canadian wilds,
But full of heart and hope, with heads erect
And fearless eyes victorious in defeat.
It is astonishing how little documentary evidence the Loyalists left behind them with regard to their migration. Among those who fled to England there were a few who kept diaries and journals, or wrote memoirs, which have found their way into print; and some contemporary records have been published with regard to the settlements of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. But of the Loyalists who settled in Upper and Lower Canada there is hardly one who left behind him a written account of his experiences. The reason for this is that many of them were illiterate, and those who were literate were so occupied with carving a home for themselves out of the wilderness that they had neither time nor inclination for literary labours. Were it not for the state papers preserved in England, and for a collection of papers made by Sir Frederick Haldimand, the Swiss soldier of fortune who was governor of Quebec at the time of the migration, and who had a passion for filing documents away, our knowledge of the settlements in the Canadas would be of the most sketchy character.