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LETTER FROM JOHN DICK
TO HIS UNCLE

Submitted and transcribed by Carol Billingham.

Prescott
11th July, 1821

Dear Uncle:

I have the painful task to perform of informing you of the death of our dear father and that my mother and we all are proceeding forward to Upper Canada.

My father, the next day after we arrived at Lachine, went into the St. Lawrence at a part where there was a shelf on the shore; not knowing the nature of the river, he went over it and at once sank, and no person could save him. My two sisters, Margaret and Janet were at a short distance, washing clothes but out of sight. A farmer, looking to his cattle at some distance from the spot, alone was a witness of the fatal accident but by the time that he came forward, he had drowned. The accident upon the 29th of June at half past eleven o'clock in the forenoon.

Our mother, as well as the whole family was in a terrible state at first, in that state which is easier felt than described but now she seems much resigned to the will of God and to the disposition of his Providence. The commissary at Lachine, as soon as he was applied to by David Young, showed us much kindness and directly applied to the governor-general for the father's grant to the family and which was immediately granted and assurance given that the family would be provided for in the same way and perhaps better than if their father were along with them.

At first, nothing was thought of by all the family -- my mother and myself excepted but returning home; however, they are all now reconciled to go to our destination, all believing that our kind father not only risked his life, but lost it in the view of putting and leaving the family in a better situation than he could place them in at home; and now that he is gone to the place appointed for all living before seeing this end accomplished, we think it our duty to do our utmost to bring into effect what he so ardently wished, and we have every incitement and encouragement to do so, depending upon divine aid for success. We see the whole bank of the St. Lawrence thickly set with beautiful villas and farm-standings, the neat habitations of these who have settled in the same situate as we are in, a few years past and are already living in ease, enjoying all that can render life easy and comfortable by a few years of industry and exertion; and I hope by the blessing of God, along with our exertions, our family ere long may be placed in the same easy circumstances.

My mind is so troubled and so is the whole of our Bathgate society that we can give no description of this country; we must leave that for our next letter, which will be sent as soon as we are settled so that we can give you a direction how to send my father's funeral money.

We are all as happy as circumstances can allow and more so to see our mother resigned to the will of Providence and so anxiously determined to bring my father's purpose into effect.

David Young wrote some days since to his brother, Wm. Dick; if this comes first to hand we hope this most prudent way will be taken communicating this accident to our grandfather. My very heart bleeds to think how it must bear down his already shattered frame. He long since lost one to see him no more and now, in his age and infirmity, one that expected to be able ere long to solace the evening of his life with the happy report of being placed beyond the fear of want and in a land where oppression's rod is never felt, and is beyond the reach of all earthly comfort, but we hope in the full enjoyments than those produced on thy soil by the dew of heaven or the fatness of the earth, beholding the face of his Father and his god in the full fruition of his love.

I am, Dear Uncle,

Your affectionate nephew,

"John Dick"