Possibly the swiftest route to your roots.

Robert Whyte's 'The Journey Of An Irish Coffin Ship, 1847', Chapter 9

"But soft! the tinges of the west decline
And night falls dewy o'er these banks of pine.
Among the reeds in which our idle host
Is rocked to rest, the wind's complaining note
Dies like a half breath'd whispering of flutes.
Along the waves the gleaming porpoise shoots.
And I can trace him like a wat'rv star
Down the steep current, till he fades afar
Amid the foaming breakers' silverv light
Where yon rough rapids sparkle through the night."
-- Moore


Feeling somewhat excited by the sudden acceleration of our progress, I determined to remain on deck until the turn of the tide would compel us to come to an anchor. There was something also most enchanting in being wafted by both wind and tide at the rate of 10 knots an hour, watching the lights upon the different islands and the myriads of 0 bright stars that studded the firmament and were reflected in the darkened surface of the broad river, which upon the north side was overshadowed by the mountainous banks, while the southern shore might be traced by a continuous line of flickering lamps within the cottages upon its border. We soon left Green Island behind us, then Hare Island and Riviere du Loup, upon which is a large settlement with a population of about 1,500. There are some large sawmills here and a portage leading through Madawaska to the lower provinces. After passing The Pilgrims, a group of rocky islets, I went below and had not long turned in when I heard and felt the dropping of the anchor. In the morning I found that we lay off Kamouraska which is charmingly situated in a rich district at the base of a chain of hills that rise behind the village and stretch far beyond it. This lovely spot, being one of the healthiest places in Lower Canada, attracts many visitors during the summer season. It is also enriched by the fisheries established upon the numerous islands that lie immediately in front supplying abundance of shad, salmon, herrings, etc. Directly opposite upon the other side of the river is Murray Bay, into which flows the Malbaie River, upon whose banks reside the descendants of Wolfe's highlanders many of whom settled there after the campaign. The bay is environed by an amphitheatre of majestic hills cultivated to the very summits, their sloping sides being dotted over with comfortable abodes. We weighed anchor at noon and gently glided through a scene of indescribable loveliness. The noble river here unbroken by islands presented a lake-like expanse bounded by the lofty Cap Diable and Goose Cape. Village succeeded village upon the south shore and the gigantic hills upon the north were adorned by sweet alpine cots surrounded by cleared patches of land, embosomed by the dark green pines. The weather was very warm and nature basked in uninterrupted sunshine. Oh! what a contrast to this magic beauty was presented within our floating pest-house, not that matters were worse than they had been, there was rather an abatement in the violence of the fever and I perceived some faces that I with difficulty recognised, so changed were they since I saw them before their illness. Simon and Jack were both on deck, the former being deprived of memory and partially deranged in his mind. Poor fellow having the previous voyage fallen from the topsail yard and injured his head, his intellect was thereby impaired and the fever confirmed the insanity which had not left him when I quitted the brig some three weeks after. Being now in fresh water the passengers were relieved of one calamity and the women who were able were busy washing. Two or three men were also similarly engaged, their wives being unable and we endeavoured to impress upon them the fact that the length of our detention in quarantine would greatly depend on the cleanliness of their persons and of the hold. There were still some very bad cases and the poor head committee was in great trouble about his wife who was dying. The mate still kept up being afraid of going to hospital but it was quite evident that he was very ill indeed. We passed two steamers that were going down the river to tow up ships. We also had a Scotch brig, the Delta, in company. At 6 p.m. the tide being on the ebb, we once more anchored opposite to the Isle aux Coudres which lies in front of St Paul's Bay. This beautiful island was so named by Cartier who found upon it a profusion of filberts. A smaller island lies inside of it, whose origin is thus accounted for in a manuscript belonging to the Jesuit college of Quebec which relates the effects of the earthquake felt throughout Canada in 1663: Near St Paul's Bay (fifty miles below Quebec on the north side) a mountain about a quarter of a league in circumference, situated on the shore of the St Lawrence, was precipitated into the river but, as if it had only made a plunge, it rose from the bottom and became a small island forming with the shore a convenient harbour, well sheltered from all winds. The same authority says: Lower down the river towards Point Alouette an entire forest of considerable extent was loosened from the main bank and slid into the river St Lawrence where the trees took fresh root. The rivers Du Gouffre and Des Marees empty themselves into St Paul's Bay flowing through luxuriant valleys intervening between the detached mountains. Delightfully located upon an eminence on the south bank stands the village of St Anne at the head of a bay of the same name into which flows the river Ouelle. It is large and has a Catholic college and some handsome churches. The surrounding country is highly cultivated, presenting every feature of softness and beauty that can adorn a landscape. The evening was a charming one, clear and still. The water smooth as a mirror in which gleamed the reflection of the tin covered roofs and spires that glittered in the rays of the setting sun while occasionally a huge snow-white porpoise rose above the surface, plunging again beneath the water which, closing, formed circles becoming larger and larger until the unwieldy creature again appeared and formed them anew. I remained on deck long after all had retired to rest and watched the grey twilight creeping over day until it was illumined by the pale moon which soon smiled upon one of earth's most beauteous pictures. I retired to my berth and took a short repose which was broken shortly after midnight by the weighing of the anchor. As I wished not to lose the sight of the least part of the river (which I loved to look upon by night as well as by day) I hurried on deck. We passed through the Traverse, an intricate channel, marked by floating lights and by the Pillars, a group of dangerous rocks on one of which is a revolving light. At daybreak we were passing Goose Island which at low water is connected with Crane Island on the northern extremity of which is the handsome residence of the seigneur. The southern bank presented the same charming features and in the distance I discerned the chain of hills claimed by the United States as the boundary of the State of Maine. In a short time we arrived before the village of St Thomas picturesquely situated on the banks of Riviere du Sud in which were anchored some vessels which were being freighted with lumber from the several saw-mills. The soil in this neighbourhood is exceedingly productive and is well cultivated - on which account it is called the granary of the lower province. The village is of considerable extent and is composed of white houses clustering around a pretty church. A few miles further sail brought us among a number of beautiful islets, so beautiful that they seemed like a fairy scene. Their verdant turf was almost level with the blue water that wound amongst them, submerging not a few so that the first that grew upon them appeared to rise from the river. A vast fleet of vessels lying at anchor told that we had arrived at Grosse Isle, and after wending our way amongst isles and ships, we dropped anchor in the ground allotted for vessels upon arrival and hoisted our ensign at the peak as a signal for the inspecting physician to board us.  
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