Back to Document Index   Back to Home Page

1832 PIONEER CHOLERA EPIDEMIC LETTER - COBOURG, CANADA
DISCUSSES KING'S COLLEGE & GOVERNOR OF "PETERBOROUGH"

1832 PIONEER CHOLERA EPIDEMIC LETTER - COBOURG, CANADA

A Lovely historical Letter from Cobourg, Ontario at the height of the Cholera Epidemic of 1832. In addition to a vivid description of the plague, the writer also discusses a land deal with King's College - which was the forerunner of the University of Toronto  - and the "Governor" of Peterborough

THIS DOCUMENT IS COVERED BY OUR WRITTEN, SIGNED AND SEALED
LIFETIME GUARANTEE OF AUTHENTICITY

 

  

1832 FIRST HAND ACCOUNT PIONEER LETTER FROM COBOURG, REGARDING POLITICS, CHOLERA EPIDEMIC, EMIGRATION, LAND SALE TO KING'S COLLEGE AND THE "GOVERNOR OF PETERBOROUGH FROM J. G. BETHUNE - SON OF FIRST POST MASTER OF COBOURG. Ex DR. MOULTON COLLECTION

Full text of Letter

Contents of Letter in English
Cobourg 26 Sept 1832

My dear Cleary,
     Your esteemed letter of the 16th May last I received a few days since; I assure you it gave us and all your friends here much pleasure to hear of your comfort and happiness in a far distant land being fully conscious that when your country requires your services you will always be ready to resign home , happiness and comfort to support her glorious cause.
     You know I am an uncompromising Tory, and as I know you were, and that you can never change your sentiments in regard to our common country. I need not make any remark as to what is our duty, being fully satisfied that you never have, nor never will, lose sight of it.
     I took measures immediately on the receipt of your letter, for disposing of your Delhi property. And regret that I did not receive your letter a week earlier, as there was an English family here in search of a purchase which I think Delhi would have suited. – he had a few days before moved to the westward – I do not doubt but that I shall, if not this season now nearly closed, in course of next season meet with a purchase at a fair price, in the mean time I have taken measures to secure back the reserve which was sold at Sheriff’s Sale as a chattel, it was purchased by Campbell & myself, we have applied to the corporation of King’s College to purchase the right of soil, which the Bursar answered will be complied with as soon as their Surveyor shall report the price or valuation he has put on said lot. I fear that he may value it very high. But as it is of the greatest consequence to the rest of your property, the retaining of the reserve, I should think it advisable to sacrifice something to keep the estate enteri [entire].
     We have had a very large emigration this season, but the
dreadful effects of the Cholera, has nearly paralized every thing - happily the dreadful scourge has nearly subsided at Quebec & Montreal - in Upper Canada there has not been but very few cases for this last month - we have been most fortunate in Cobourg, having lost only one of our inhabitants by the pestilence up to the present time; altho' the Steamers run daily landings at our hospital, patients in every stage of the disease most of whom died - Kingston & York (now Toronto) suffered much, but few of the respectable part of the community were victims.
     I can give you no information as to Fraser, I heard some time ago that he put the allowance he received for his commission into the concern of his brother in law DuPont & Co. – and from what I have heard of them, I have little hope that this step will better his condition. – I received two letters from Fraser since he went to Quebec, both of which were couched in such extraordinary terms, that I did not condescend to answer either of them – which of course puts an end to all communication between us; when a man departs from what I conceive the direct path of rectitude & honor, I do not desire his acquaintance any longer. It is a matter of some comfort to you, that Campbell & myself took the precaution to make him redeed the Delhi property to us for your use, otherwise now that he is in the hand of Philistines, much trouble and … might have been thrown in the way, in the event of making sale. He has now no claim whatever, and I have no hope that you can ever recover a single shilling of the interest due to you on the mortgage. – in the event of making Sale I shall immediately remit to your agent in London such part as we can get pain down, & the residue periodically as they fall due, - it will be necessary to give a long credit on the principal part for the purchase money, in order to secure a good price, which will suit your views to receive interest, probably better than principal - of this however, I shall keep in mind that you have suffered some inconvenience by the failure of McDonald & Co. and that a proportion(?) of the purchase money down will be acceptable – rely upon me that every thing that can be done to your interest shall be most scroupulosly [sic] attended to and of every movement I shall give you immediate information – I was much mortified to find on application at the Star Office to alter the route of your paper, that not a single number had been forwarded, in consequence of the person to whom I gave the order, having mislaid it – I have taken care to see that the papers for the last 2 weeks have been duly housed(?) in the Post Office addressed to care of Mr. Champion Guernsey, which I hope you will receive in due course.
     I trust that this will be delivered to you by our mutual friend Mr. David Rusiken(?), he poor fellow, visits England and France for the benefit of his health, and I sincerely trust the change may have the desired effect. – of our thing I am quite sure that he will willingly travel 100 miles out of his way to see you – I refer him to you for all domestic information, which he has it in his power to afford you a great deal of; he spent a week with us a short time since.
     All your friends named in your letter are living & well – Connery Webster is still inclined to the bottle, he lives in Monaghan and has an excellent farm. The other lives at Peterboro with Dr. Hutchinson – Alexander McConnell is still Governor of Peterboro he is in excellent health – I hope I shall hear from you frequently – Mrs. Bethune unites with me in kindest regards

I remain, My dear Sir, Yours very truly
J. G. Bethune

R. S. Cleary, Esq.

Historical Notes

Dateline: Cobourg 26 Sept 1832

Cobourg is on the north shore of Lake Ontario and just south of Peterborough (then Peterboro)about half way between Toronto (then called York) and Kingston, Ontario, in what was then called Upper Canada, . On April 8, 1819, the pioneer settlement was renamed Cobourg to honour the marriage of Princess Charlotte Augusta, Princess of Wales [daughter of George IV] and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saafield. (They got the spelling wrong!)

The harbour was improved by building the wooden Eastern Pier, at the foot of Division Street , which stretched 500 feet into the lake and was 30-feet wide. The pier was completed in 1832 and a storehouse, which extended across Division Street soon followed, The writer mentions that steamers were daily bringing in patients to their hospital. In 1809, the "Accommodation", was built by the Hon. John Molson at Montreal, fitted with engines made in that city, and was running successfully between Montreal and Quebec, being the first steamer on the St. Lawrence and in Canada. The experience showed that the new system of steam propulsion was commercially viable and as a result its application to the more open waters of the Great Lakes was next considered.

The writer also refers to "King's College". The institution was founded by John Strachan, and was granted its Royal Charter in 1827. Its name was changed to the University of Toronto in 1849.

Cobourg's population by 1832 was over 1,350 and the harbour was a continuous centre of import and exports.

The Star that he refers to is The Cobourg Star newspaper.

This date is in between the arrival of James Calcutt from Ireland in July of 1832 aboard the William IV and the November 1832 arrival of James Demsey - his assassin. See http://www.cobourghistory.ca/calcutt.htm for this dramatic story.

Cholera Contents: "We have had a very large emigration this season, but the dreadful effects of the Cholera, has nearly paralized every thing - happily the dreadful scourge has nearly subsided at Quebec & Montreal - in Upper Canada there has not been but very few cases for this last month - we have been most fortunate in Cobourg, having lost only one of our inhabitants by the pestilence up to the present time; altho' the Steamers run daily landings at our hospital, patients in every stage of the disease most of whom died - Kingston & York (now Toronto) suffered much, but few of the respectable part of the community were victims." It is an interesting note as sanitation no doubt was worse in the poor sections of the cities.

Document Specifications:  Letter is 4 pages and consists of one large folded sheet (bifolium) forming 4 pages with writing on all four pages. Each page of unwatermarked wove paper measures ≈ 205mm wide x 250mm high or 8" x 9Ύ". It is autograph signed "J. G. Bethune" and dated September 26th 1832, written entirely in his own hand and addressed to R. S. Cleary, Esq. Very Fine with several file folds with minor separation along one of the folds. A rare glimpse into the impact of the 1832 Cholera Epidemic and pioneer life in Cobourg from the son of the First Postmaster.

 Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

Official PayPal SealAll items include a written guarantee of authenticity to the successful bidder and are accompanied by a full color picture receipt for your insurance and inventory records. All items are shipped fully insured and archivally packaged to your address with proof of delivery confirmation/signature. Please note that although we take great care in scanning our document images, color may vary from original. Damage on delivery must be promptly reported. While shipping is free we are required by law to assess a state sales tax for items sold to buyers in Missouri and international shipments require buyer to be accountable for all applicable duties, customs fees, excise taxes or VAT's.