CHAPTER X. The Place of Council - Its progress and its people - English hearts - "Sebastopol is taken" - Squibs and crackers - A ship on her beam-ends - Selfishness - A mongrel city - A Scot - Constancy rewarded - Monetary difficulties - Detention on a br
This young man was a pauper boy, and was apprenticed to the master of an iron-foundry in Scotland, but ran away before the expiration of his apprenticeship, and, entering a ship at Glasgow, worked his passage across to Quebec. Here he gained employment for some months as a porter, and, having saved a little money, went up to the neighbourhood of Lake Simcoe, where he became a day labourer. Here he fell in love with his master's daughter, who returned his affection, but her father scornfully rejected the humble Scotchman's suit. Love but added an incentive to ambition; and obtaining work in a neighbouring township, he increased his income by teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic in the evenings. He lived penuriously, denied himself even necessaries, and carefully treasured his hoarded savings. Late one evening, clothed almost in rags, he sought the house of his lady-love, and told her that within two years he would come to claim her hand of her father, with a waggon and pair of horses.
Still in his ragged clothing, for it does not appear that he had any other, he trudged to Toronto, and sought employment, his accumulated savings sewn up in the lining of his waistcoat. He went about from person to person, but could not obtain employment, and his waggon and horses receded further and further in the dim perspective. One day, while walking along at the unfinished end of King Street West, he saw something glittering in the mud, and, on taking it up, found it to be the steel snap of a pocket-book. This pocket-book contained notes to the amount of one hundred and fifty dollars; and the next day a reward of five-and-twenty was offered to the finder of them. The Scotchman waited on the owner, who was a tool manufacturer, and, declining the reward, asked only for work, for "leave to toil," as Burns has expressed it. This was granted him; and in less than four months he became a clerk in the establishment. His salary was gradually raised - in the evenings he obtained employment in writing for a lawyer, and his savings, judiciously managed, increased to such an extent, that at the end of eighteen months he purchased a thriving farm in the neighbourhood of London, and, as there was water-power upon it, he built a grist-mill. His industry still continued successful, and just before the two years expired he drove in a light waggon, with two hardy Canadian horses, to the dwelling of his former master, to claim his daughter's hand; though, be it remembered, he had never held any communication with her since he parted from her in rags two years before. At first they did not recognise the vagrant, ragged Scotch labourer, in the well-dressed driver and possessor of the "knowing-looking" equipage. His altered circumstances removed all difficulty on the father's part - the maiden had been constant - and soon afterwards they were married. He still continued to prosper, and add land to land; and three years after his marriage sent twenty pounds to his former master in Scotland, as a compensation for the loss of his services. Strange to say, the son of that very master is now employed in the mill of the runaway apprentice. Such instances as this, while they afford encouragement to honest industry, show at the same time the great capabilities of Canada West.
At Hamilton, where the stores are excellent, I made several purchases, but I was extremely puzzled with the Canadian currency. The States money is very convenient. I soon understood dollars, cents, and dimes; but in the colonies I never knew what my money was worth. In Prince Edward Island the sovereign is worth thirty shillings; in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia twenty-five; while in Canada, at the time of my visit, it was worth twenty-four and four pence. There your shilling is fifteen pence, or a quarter-dollar; while your quarter-dollar is a shilling. Your sixpence is seven pence-half-penny, or a "York shilling;" while your penny is a "copper" of indeterminate value apparently. Comparatively speaking, very little metallic money is in circulation. You receive bills marked five shillings, when, to your surprise, you can only change them for four metallic shillings. Altogether in Canada I had to rely upon people's honesty, or probably on their ignorance of my ignorance; for any attempts at explanation only made "confusion worse confounded," and I seldom comprehended anything of a higher grade than a "York shilling." From my stupidity about the currency, and my frequent query, "How many dollars or cents is it?" together with my offering dirty crumpled pieces of paper bearing such names as Troy, Palmyra, and Geneva, which were in fact notes of American banks which might have suspended payment, I was constantly taken, not for an ignoramus from the "Old Country," but for a "genuine Down-Easter." Canadian credit is excellent; but the banking system of the States is on a very insecure footing; some bank or other "breaks" every day, and lists of the defaulters are posted up in the steamboats and hotels.