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HOW WE WENT FISHING IN
CANADA.

THERE were three of us. Our purpose was
fishing, in Canadian fashion, under the ice,
and our destination was the township of New
Ireland, distant about seventy miles from our
starting point, Quebec, and situated about midway
between the St. Lawrence and the American
line. Our conveyance was a stout,
commodious, yet light, and not inelegant sleigh,
with seats for four, and plentifully supplied
with buffalo robes, which are dressed so as to be
as soft as blanketsuseful in a temperature of
twenty degrees below Zero, and ornamental
from their fringes, which were garnished with
various devices, all of which had some
reference to the wild denizens of the forest.
Under each seat was a box, which we stowed
with a goodly supply of creature comforts
and a few books, thus prudently making provision
against the contingencies of privation
and ennui. Our locomotive power consisted
of two small but very spirited horses, which
were neatly harnessed, with a string of
merry sleigh bells dangling from the girths
of each.

In this comfortable condition we in due
time arrived at "Richardson's," one of the
most celebrated hostelries in the seignory
of St. Giles.

Here we put up for the night, tempted to
do so by the superiority of the accommodation,
especially as we had but an easy day's
journey before us for the morrow. During
the morning it was so intensely cold that our
breath formed thick crusts of ice on the shawls
which we had round our necks, whilst the
bushy whiskers of our companion Perroque
were pendant with tiny icicles. As our
horses warmed, almost every hair on their
backs formed the nucleus of a separate
icicle, which, by-and-bye, made them all stand
erect, and caused the animals to look more
like porcupines than horses. About midday
it began to moderate, and by nightfall
the temperature had risen considerably.
The wind had by this time set in, with a steady
current from the east. This, with the change
of temperature, made us somewhat uneasy as
to the weather; but our hopes rose when we
found that it was yet a brilliant starlight
about 10 o'clock, when we retired to rest.
But even then the coming tempest was not
far off; and in about two hours afterwards
the wind was howling fearfully about the
house, which it shook to its very foundations,
whilst the driving snow pattered against the
windows as if clouds of steel filings had been
driven against them. I was soon soothed to
sleep by the wild lullaby of the winter night, and
did not awake again until eight in the morning,
when I was called by a servant, who entered
my room with a lighted candle in her hand.
I should otherwise have been in darkness, for
the snow had, over night, completely blocked
up my window. My room was on the ground-floor,
and looked to the east. Against that
side of the house, the snow had been piled by
the wind in an enormous wreath, which partly
encroached upon the windows of the floor
above. Blungle, my other friend, who had
recently arrived from the region of Russell
Square, London, slept in a room contiguous to
mine, but he refused to get up, declaring that
although it was still the middle of the night, he
was too wide awake to be humbugged. It was
not until breakfast was sent in to him, and
he found by the state of his appetite that
it must have been several hours since he had
supped, that he condescended to examine his
window, which discovered to him the true
state of the case.

The wind was still high, and although the
snow had ceased to fall, the tempest abated
nothing of its fury. The dry snow was driven
like light sand before the blast, until the air
was thick with it. Neither man nor beast
was astir, every living thing taking shelter
from the storm. By-and-bye, the heavy pall
overhead began to rend, and a few faint
gleams of sunshine would occasionally light
up the wild turmoil and confusion that raged
below. About ten o'clock, the clouds were
rolled away, and the sun shone steadily
out. For a full hour afterwards the wind
maintained its strength, but by noon had
so far abated, that the drift had almost
ceased.

But, by this time, the roads had become
utterly impracticable. They were, indeed,
obliterated; the snow lying, in some places,
lightly upon them; and in others, forming
huge swellling wreaths, either across or along
them. We were eager to go forward, but
were dissuaded by our host from attempting
it, till the afternoon, when the road might be
at least practicable. On such occasions the
law requires the owners of land to "break
the roads" passing through or by their
respective properties; and by two o'clock
every sleigh in St. Giles's was out for the
purpose. As soon as a track was opened, we
prepared to start. The road for the first
quarter of a mile had been well sheltered;
and as the evergreens were still standing,
there was but little difficulty in keeping the
old track, which afforded a firm footing for
the horses. But beyond that the evergreens
had been prostrated and buried in the snow;
and it was evident that our pioneers had
floundered in the midst of difficulties. Such
was presently our own fate, our horses having
plunged into the soft snow, where it was fully
six feet deep, from which we had with no
little difficulty and labour to dig them out.
This quenched our enthusiasm, and we returned
to the inn, where we remained for another
night.

Next morning we were enabled to proceed,
though but slowly, on our way. Leaving
St. Giles's, we entered St. Sylvestre, the last, on
this road, of the belt of French seignories lying
between the St. Lawrence and the "Townships."

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