The diary of John Easterbrook Barter, aboard the Rose, from Plymouth, England, to Quebec and thence to London, E.W., Canada:
I left JORDAN (the residence of my Grandmother Easterbrook) on the night of Tuesday, August 15, 1854, at 11 o’clock. I left my dear Grandmother in tears, and most likely the last time that ever we shall see each other in this world. I traveled all night for PLYMOUTH, and reached there about 6 o’clock on Wednesday morning, August 6th.
I had with me two sheep and a sheep dog to take to my father; I slept on board the ROSE Wednesday night, for the first time. The vessel laid at anchor all day. On Thursday August 17th, there was a birth, and the child was called "ROSE," after the vessel.
Friday August 18th at 12 o’clock noon, the steamer came and took us out in the sound. I had been busy up to this time in getting my baggage on board for my voyage, and taking the farewell of my friends and relations (a thing not very pleasant when it comes to the last).
Saturday August 19th, at 6 o’clock in the morning the anchor was weighted, it was a beautiful morning, I went on deck to take my last farewell look at that favoiurite place "OLD ENGLAND." I could not forbear weeping to leave it, but it was my parents’ wish and I thought young as I was if please God, my life was spared a few years I should perhaps see it again.
Sunday August 20th, the wind was contrary and the evening was calm. We had two sermons preached by a Weslyn Methodist preacher.
Monday August 21st, there were a great many of the passengers seasick all day, and about 5 o’clock in the evening it blew very sharp and we begain to slacken sail. There were a plenty of people that never had been to sea before, and they begin to scream with fear, and the boles and tins were rattling about the vessel in all directions. One poor old woman got out of her berth about 5 o’clock on Thursday morning August 24th and began to curse the vessel for she said she had broke two plates and she said after that rate, she would not have a plate left by the time she reached Quebec. So you see, some miserly people think more of a plate than they do of their life, even at the point of death. It cleared again towards evening.
Friday August 25th, a beautiful day, and the passengers were recovering their sickness – in the evening we were cheered with music and dancing (a thing very common among sea faring men).
Saturday August 26th, a beautiful day. We saw a quantity of sea fish this morning and among them was a shark, there was baits hung out to catch him, but we did not succeed.
Sunday August 27th. A find day – we saw a Dutch vessel this morning. We had services twice today, (as before).
Monday August 28th. A beautiful day but nothing worth notice.
Tuesday, August 29th. A fine day and fair wind; we saw a schooner this afternoon making towards our vessel, they reached us about 6 o’clock; the poor creatures had been out to sea sixty-nine days (to sail what distance they would have done in ten days with fair winds) they had no provisions on board and not any coals to cook with, if they had. Our generous Captain supplied their wants. I wrote a few lines to England (as they were bound for Plymouth).
Wednesday August 30th. A fine day with fair wind. We had a few hours of amusement this afternoon about an old farmer who had took a keg of cider on board, the sailors found it and made holes in the keg and drank it, in spite of all the old farmer could say or do.
Thursday, August 31st a fine day and fair wind.
Friday September 1st. A fine day and fair wind.
Saturday September 2nd. Rather stormy.
Sunday September 3rd, very wet. We had service between deck in conscience.
Monday September 4th a fine day and fair wind – it blew pretty sharp toward the evening – it was amusing to see the waves come in over the people.
Tuesday September 5th, we had a beautiful day, the sight is beautiful to see the sun either raise or set on the ocean, and tonight its set beautiful.
Wednesday September 6th. A fine day and fair wind.
Thursday September 7th. A fine day and fair wind.
Friday September 8th. A fine day but sorry was I to hear of the melancholy news which was the death of a poor old man. It was supposed the doctor gave him a sleeping draft and gave him too much, so that he slept and never woke again. The burial service was read and he was put in his watery grave about 12 o’clock noon; in the evening the wind commenced to blow and continued all night and all day of Saturday September 9th, and continued all day Sunday September 10th. September 10th is my birthday. We had a sermon preached in the evening and a very affecting one it was, stating what a place we was in -- only a plank between our feet and the deep – and with the roughest of sea I felt very melancholy – the gail was so high the ship was obliged to be laid too, and let him drift where-ever the wind and providence choosed. At 12 o’clock at night I got out of bed for no one could sleep or scarcely keep in their berths. I ventured on deck to witness the storm, accompanied by another young man by the name of Brown. I remained on deck for about an hour to witness the awful sight, but it was really dangeroius. I believe the Captain scarcely knew whether we was to be a wreck or not – for sometime; it continued, all day on Monday September 11, expecting every minute to be the last. It carried away a great deal of the bulworks, it continued all day on Tuesday September 12, till about 6 o’clock in the evening, when the sail was hoisted, but we had not fair wind.
Wednesday September 13th, we had a fine day, a fine day! I was glad to get my bedding on deck to air and to dry after the storm.
Thursday September 14th, we had another gail and laid too all day.
Friday September 15th, it cleared off and the evening was fine.
Saturday September 16th, we had another death this morning, that of a little child about 8 months old.
Sunday September 17, a find day; the child was buried this morning at 11 o’clock.
Monday September 18th, a fine day but contrary wind.
Tuesday September 19th, a fine day and very calm. I amused myself in catching of seaweed as it passed the vessel.
Wednesday September 20th, a fine day and a beautiful fair wind.
Thursday Septe;mber 21st, a very wet and cold day; we are supposed to be on the banks of NEW FOUNDLAND.
Friday September 22nd. Very wet and cold. We spoke [to] a vessel today from some part of Scotland bound for Quebec.
Saturday September 23rd. The sailors harpooned a porpoise this morning. It weighted a hundred and fifty pounds.
Sunday September 24th. A fine day but contrary wind.
Monday September 25th. We had another death today of a little child of – this was the third death since we left Plymouth.
Tuesday September 26th. Very foggy until about 4 o’clock when it cleared off a little. We saw a vessel at a distance, which appeared to be in distress; we sailed toward him, but as we approached we saw the wretched crew getting in their boats and making towards us – sixteen in number, and before they could even get in our vessel, their vessel was swallowed up in the sea. I saw her wrecked – it was the first that ever I saw and I hope it will be the last. The crew went to Quebec in our vessel; they were from Falmouth in Cornwall, and bound for Quebec.
Thursday September 28th, it remained very foggy.
Friday September 29th, the storm cleared, we saw land today for the first [time] since we left the English Channel.
Saturday September 30th, a fine day and fair wind. We entered the GULF OF SAINT LAWRENCE this morning.
Sunday October 1st, a beautiful day and quite calm.
Monday October 2nd. Very wet and cold.
Tuesday October 3rd. Very cold and contrary wind.
Wednesday October 4th. Wet and cold.
Thursday October 5th, dry but very cold – contrary wind.
Friday October 6th. Very wet and cold – rough sea.
Saturday October 7th. Foggy and cold.
Sunday October 8th. Very cold – contrary wind.
Monday October 9th. Rather foggy we were all amused by seeing the land and little villages when the fog would allow us.
Monday October 10th. Very cold – contrary wind.
Wednesday October 11. The wind contrary – we laid at anchor tonight.
Thursday October 12th. Weighted anchor about 6 o’clock this morning with a beautiful, fair wind which took us in quarrantine ground about 8 o’clock at night we got in QUEBEC and the next day, Friday October 13th; and on Saturday October 14th I made my way for MONTREAL and arrived there on Sunday October 15th about 3 o’clock; I stopped there until Monday night and then I put off for the remainder of my journey and reached here on the following Sunday, October 22nd at 6 o’clock in the evening.
John E. Barter
Modified last on January 13, 1997 by James
(Comments and suggestions welcome.)