C.P.R. Survey Western Division Victoria 22 Au 1875 4 pg Smith Letter
Lot 87 in our auction Saturday 29th May 2021
#marcussmith #bcsurveyor #canadianrailways #bchistory
Canadian Pacific Railway Survey
Victoria, B.C. August 22nd 1875
My dear wife
I leave to morrow by steamer for the Dean Canal thence I walk across the mountains 50 to 60 miles where I meet my pack train by which I travel to the Blackwater, Chilaco &.c. then to North of Quesnelle and home by stage & steamboat on the Fraser. I expect the trip will take me six weeks so you will not hear
of from me for that time after you receive this.
I am in great perplexity what to advise you to do First as regards Tom I feel sad for the poor boy going into a store and should have liked him to have one year with me to see the country. The way we travel & work &.c. and mainly that it would strengthen his constitution- However as I am getting old and may fail any day. The sooner he earns something for himself the better- There are boys on the Surveryor’s staff not near so smart as Tom getting $60 a month but that is only for a few months in the year- and as Tom very wisely says he thinks Engineers sometimes get good salaries for a short time but have often a long time to spend their savings with nothing to do.
I have spoken to several here and they say that hardware is a good business and that boys learn their business better in Montreal or Toronto than in S. Francisco but that the latter is a good place to go for the engagements after they have learned their business- yet the hardware business seems to be so limited that
one or two a few can exist in large towns- that a general business is necessary for all country towns and especially in young Provinces like this and Manitoba- when there are better chances to make money than in the older Provinces-
But as Tom would look forward to something better than always to be a clerk- how would it do for William to get him placed in some first class retail house then afterwards I could put all the money I have and start him
or rather in business with William’s assistance this would be a home for his sisters who could help him in the business and perhaps for you too- However let the boy have some choice in the matter- and as he has worked hard at school there is no hurry.
As regards the girls and Arthur none of them are fit for boarding school and I don’t know what to suggest. If you go to Toronto, it is the last place on earth that I have any chance of staying at
more for more than a few days-
Why not try Ottawa where I would be with you all winter and save $120 in board and $40 more in Railway fares and where there are good enough schools I know you object to the expense of furnishings and living as you could not go there without joining in the society that my position demands –
But you might possibly be able to get a furnished house though not very likely in the winter and we are too many to live at a boarding house.
I have just received a parcel of Mr. Fleming’s instructions to the staff, and I see included the scale of grades and salaries of the geveral engineers as arranged before I left, and it has been approved by the Government. It also states that “the salaries of the higher Executive and Superintendent Engineers is under consideration, and it may be assumed that the Govt. will deal liberally in regards to these officers”-
I have written (today) to Fleming on the subject urging him to push the matter and asking for at least $5000 and a house free or at a nominal rent as on the Intercolonial- also assistance in sending the families out.
If I were sure that this
work would be satisfactorily arranged, I have almost made up my mind to let the children have a holiday- expect music lessons- and bring you all out here in the spring- The schools here are good enough for the girls, who after all learn more by being in good society than any school would teach them. Now there is more good society here than in any towns in Canada five times its size, and I am very intimate with a few of the very best. So much so that I go and dine every Sunday, without being asked. They are far nicer people than ever I have met elsewhere- the climate is infinitely better than in Canada. It is the Cape without the extreme heat, and far more beautiful I speak of Victoria.
Cost of living is diminishing from year to year and when the railway works are commenced people of all classes will come in and there will be more competition.
I have told Fleming about your troubles and said that you would run up to Ottawa and see him and Mrs. Fleming and consult them about it- You must do this and also see Mr. & Mrs. Mckenzie tell them you cannot live any longer away from your old man and they must make definite arrangements. I think it very probable something will be arranged by that time or that you may get a hint that will enable you to decide what to do-
Should you not get anything satisfactory about coming out here- or going to live in Ottawa, then I think you will have to go to Toronto and in that case go as soon as possible even if you have to pay a quarters rent or half years for that matter-
I promised to write to Tom and Eloise but have not had a minute to spare, however I expect to be back here in the first week of October this year and shall the write to them. Love to all
P.S. I suppose if you move to Toronto you will be able to get credit for what extra furniture you require till I come home, or get some money of ours from William but I suppose you will save considerable in school fees. M.S.