Quebec Gazette, 18 April 1816
The country has all the appearance of the middle of the winter; the depth of snow being still between three and four feet. We understand that in many parishes the cattle are already suffering from a scarcity of forage.
Quebec Gazette, 30 May 1816
Extraordinary Season – After the frost in the week from the 12th to the 19th inst., the weather became mild and dry…. At one time the wind having changed to the south west, the thermometer rose to 73, and the air, as is usual in June, was loaded with the smoke of the burning forests. … This morning there also fell some snow, and at eight o’clock the thermometer stood nearly the freezing point.
The rain of Sunday, and the mild weather of Monday, gave a new spring to vegetation. The wheat and the pease, just above ground, had a most promising appearance; and the meadows and pasture grounds were in deep verdure. The blossoms of the wild fruit trees were ready to open, & the buds of the forest trees were just expanding into leaves. The effect of so severe a frost on this [ ] of vegetation is not known.
The last spring and the present are certainly the most backward of any for the last 25 years.
Quebec Gazette, 6 June 1816
We are happy in being able to state, that the late Frost has not had any very injurious effect on vegetation. A few fine days, and the present rains, have restored the young crops to all their former vigor. The gardens alone have materially suffered.
“More Extraordinary Weather – From 11 o’clock till half past 12, this day, the 6th June, there has been an uninterrupted fall of Snow in this City.
Quebec Gazette, 13 June 1816
We noticed in this paper of Thursday last, the 6th instant, the extraordinary circumstance of a fall of snow, upwards of an hour’s duration on that day. Since that time, the weather has presented more permanent and extraordinary features of severity. On the afternoon of the 6th, when the clouds cleared away, the tops of the mountains to the north of the city were perceived to be covered with snow, the most distant apparently to the depth of a foot. On the 7th there was a slight fall of snow during the whole day, the thermometer constantly standing at the freezing point. …the roofs of the houses, the streets and the town were completely covered with snow; and the next morning, the 8th, it was observed that the whole surrounding country was in the same state, having within twelve days of the summer solstice the appearance of the middle of December. A gentleman who was on Friday on the south shore, about fifteen miles back from the St. Lawrence found banks of snow up to the axletrees of his carriage, and a drift, as in the midst of winter. On the 8th, snow continued to fall at intervals in different parts of the country. It again snowed on the 9th. From the 6th to the 10th it froze every night. … On the west side of the Chaudiere, large tracts of cleared land were still covered, and continued so on Monday. We are informed that, in that quarter, the snow lay for some time about a foot in depth.
Among the many unusual circumstances which accompanied a state of weather so entirely unexampled in the memory of the inhabitants or in the annals of the country, we have to notice that, on Thursday, great numbers of birds, which are never found but in the distant forests, resorted to the city, and were to be met with in every street, and even among the shipping. Many of them dropped down dead in the streets, and many were destroyed by thoughtless or cruel persons. The swallows entirely disappeared for several days. Some description of trees began to shed their leaves, withered before they were half expanded. In the country, numbers of sheep newly shorn were killed by the cold. The prudent farmer housed his cattle for several days. In almost every house the stoves were regularly heated the same as in winter.
The mischief done to the crops in this neighborhood, we flatter ourselves is not nearly so great as might have been apprehended. The snow on Friday night protected them against one of the severest frosts. If vegetation had been farther advance, it probably would have suffered more. …The gardens, and such wild fruit trees as were in blossom, have suffered severely.
Last year was one of the most backward ever before known in the country; on the 4th of June, the trees were not in full leaf. At present, the 12th, they are not so forward as they were last year on the 4th. We have had only five or six days in which the thermometer has risen above 60 of Fahrenheit. In respect to the backwardness of the season, we find the same complaints extend throughout the northern section of the United States. …Along the whole of the St. Lawrence, and even in Halifax, the complaints are the same.
Under circumstances so unfavorable to the productions of the earth throughout so great an extent of country, precautions against scarcity cannot be too generally recommended. We have a few days remaining, during which potatoes, barley and turnips, may be sown with hopes of their coming to maturity. Nothing which may provide sustenance for man and beast ought to be neglected….
Quebec Gazette, 20 June 1816
The season during the last week has been remarkably favorable. The grain and the meadows in this vicinity never looked better than at present; though vegetation generally is still about three weeks more backward than usual.
Quebec Gazette, 4 July 1816
Since the extraordinary weather, which terminated on the 10th ultimo, the season has been uncommonly favorable for the productions of the earth. Every thing was [ ] a month later than usual; at present the state of vegetation is only about ten days more backward than common. A continuation of the weather we have lately had …would give us an abundant harvest.
We find by the newspapers, that the lateness of the last spring extended to Europe. The severity of the weather here in the commencement of June we find was not greater than at a distance of six hundred miles to the southward and westward; and the frosts did far less injury with us than in those parts; our vegetation being then in a state less susceptible of such injury.
Quebec Gazette, 11 July 1816
Quebec Gazette, 18 July 1816
The price of Flour in this market has undergone some extraordinary fluctuations within a few months. A short time before the opening of the navigation, it was sold at sixteen dollars per barrel. After the arrival of the ships it sold at nine dollars. It has lately been sold at seventeen. It is said that the flour has got into a few hands, and that it is kept up on speculation. … There are, however, several very good reasons for the rise in price, without ascribing it to extraordinary speculation. Greater quantities were expected by the navigation, and from the Upper Countries, than have arrived. The rise of Wheat in England …precludes all expectation of supply from that quarter. The ensuing crop here is uncertain, to say the least of it. Far from blaming the speculators, we consider ourselves indebted to them. By holding back their flour, they are offering a bounty for importation. …
Under the foregoing circumstances, the Assize of Bread has been again resorted to in this City, we conceive, rather in a hasty manner. We are sorry for it; as we are persuaded it adds to the distress of the poor, and gives the speculators an unfair advantage, by spreading an idea of absolute famine, of which there is, thank God, very little danger. Hundreds of poor families, with numerous children, have been obliged to go without bread during the last and present week, although they had the money to pay for it in their hands.
It is false and dangerous to suppose, that it is within the power of the public authorities to provide bread for the people under the current price. …
Montreal, 20 July 1816 in Quebec Gazette, 25 July 1816
Montreal, July 20 – The alarming rise in the price of Flour, has induced the Magistrates to fix the white loaf of 4lbs at 1s 8d…. In the meantime, fine flour has fallen from 18 to 16 dollars per barrel. We are happy to learn, that 3000 barrels Virginia Flour are now on the way from New York to Canada, which will be a material relief in such a time of distress as the present….
Quebec Gazette, 25 July 1816
We are sorry to learn from unquestionable authority, that great distress prevails in many parishes throughout this Province from a scarcity of food. Bread and Milk is the common food of the poorer classes at this season of the year; but many of them have no bread; they support a miserable existence, by boiling wild herbs of different sorts, which they eat with their milk; happy those who have even of milk, and have not sacrificed this resource to previous pressing wants! A succession of bad crops, but particularly the frosts of last August and September have reduced the Country to this unfortunate situation. The promise at present is good notwithstanding the lateness of the Spring; but the danger is far from being past.
We are glad to see that Flour has somewhat fallen in price both in Montreal and Quebec. The real cause of the high price is however the insufficiency of the quality in the country. … It is sometimes very injudiciously attempted to excite the public indignation against the Speculators in provisions. …[I]t is only the rise in price occasioned by the foresight of the Speculators that produces the saving which makes the produce of a year of scarcity last throughout the year, so as to prevent absolute famine. It was by acting on a system contrary to this freedom of trade that the French Government in this country used to produce a famine every nine or ten years.
Quebec Gazette, 1 August 1816
We hear of nothing but congratulations from every part of this Province, on the prospect of an abundant harvest. It will be wise, however, to remember, that as yet it is only the prospect.
District of Montreal, July 1816 in Quebec Gazette, 8 August 1816
AGRICULTURAL REPORT for the District of Montreal, for July 1816. Although very little rain has fallen this month, vegetation, when compared with the last month’s unfavorable prospect, has much surpassed our most sanguine expectations. This alteration has been occasioned by the very heavy dews experienced since our last Report. The Wheat, although thin, with a few exceptions, has an appearance equal to the most favorable years. Barley is [ ]; the early sown is now changing colour, and will soon be fit to cut. … The Indian corn looks well in some parts; however at this advanced season it is doubtful whether much will ripen this year. The pease have a very favorable appearance and a good crop may be expected. The blossom of the horse beans was mostly injured by the frost on the 6th instant. The Hops also suffered much at the same time. The Hay-making which is begun, scarcely gives us assurance of more than two-thirds of a crop, compared with the growth of last season, which was in general allowed to be very good. From the season being so far advanced, there is but little prospect of hay being cut a second time. Turnips, then [ ] next to Potatoes, both as food for man and cattle, has been cultivated to a greater extent in this, than perhaps any former year; they have been in a great degree a prey to the fly, but early [ ] may probably yet save them. The Potatoes planted on light soil have a good appearance, those set on strong loam are not so forward, but in general the prospect of a good crop present.
When a review is taken of the present state of crops in general, and the probability that a deficiency will arise in the article of Forage during the ensuing winter, it may not be improper to point out to the industrious farmer, substitutes for the usual food given to Horses, horned Cattle and Sheep, during that season; and which might be collected from the wild growth on almost every farm, viz. Mugwort, called by the Canadian peasantry, Herb St. Jean, Thistles wild Tares, and Hop Clover to be given to horses. For horned cattle and sheep, the Cottonier or Milk Weed, [ ] or Wild Parsnips, Wild Endive or [ ], the young growth of Raspberries, the Fern, and the [ ]; the whole of the abovementioned would prove a valuable addition to the winter stock of hay, straw, &c.
Quebec Gazette, 15 August 1816
By all the intelligence we can gather from the Parishes in this vicinity, the state of vegetation, considering the backwardness of the Spring, is favourable far beyond expectation. Wheat, Barley, and Oats have now a better appearance than has been seen for many years. Pease and Potatoes are also in fine condition; and without the occurrence of accident, the farmer may now look forward to a pleasant harvest of almost every species of seed to which has attention has been properly directed. The crop of Hay has partially failed, but not to such an extent as to excite alarm. It is remarkable that notwithstanding our northern situation, our fields have suffered less from frosts during this uncommon season than those of our neighbours in Upper-Canada and in the United States.
District of Montreal, August 1816 in Quebec Gazette, 12 September 1816
AGRICULTURAL REPORT for the District of Montreal, for August 1816. – It is with pleasure we are able to say, that this month has been the most propitious of any preceding one since the [ ] of the season, for Agricultural pursuits. The rains which fell were so ordered by the Divine Ruler of the Universe, as to be sufficient to give a due nourishment to the Fruits of the Earth, and bring them to maturity, without at any time impeding the securing of those that were ready to harvest.
The Clover and [ ]-Tail, or Timothy Hay-making, which has begun the later part of last month and concluded in the early part of this, was housed in good order. … The Wheat harvest begun about the 21st in the southern and eastern parts of the District; a great portion will be housed this much; the ear appears more like Autumn than Spring Wheat. The quality is excellent, and quantity far beyond expectation, those in the northern and western parts of the District, will not be ready to cut until the end of the month. …The Indian Corn has improved in height, but very little in ear or Cob. …The Turnips on old land have been destroyed by the Fly, those on new have suffered very much; they will not yield above half a crop. – The Potatoes, in every situation have improved in appearance; the small trials made to ascertain the fruitfulness of the plant is not so satisfactory as could be wished, but they have yet much time to improve. – SUMMER FALLOWING was attempted before the rain fell, and has been continued, during the month. – The fear of a want of Forage has in some measure disappeared by the happy effect of the rain, creating fresh growth in those plants, which had not arrived at maturity; however, it may be held in view, they are not yet secured, therefore we must still recommend peculiar care to collect every kind of Forage that can be got for winter use.
Quebec Gazette, 10 October 1816
We had rain, accompanied with snow, on Saturday last, after about a month’s continuation of dry weather. During that period most of the grain in the south-west part of the District was housed. We understand the quality of the Wheat is in general very good, and the crop abundant. …
Many of the Parishes below Quebec have been less fortunate. Much of the grain, being still green to resist the sharp frosts of September, has perished; and the Cultivators who from the promising aspect of their fields in August had hopes of securing a large surplus quantity for market, have not reaped a sufficiency for their families. The distress of their situation is augmented from the circumstance of their having been previously impoverished by unproductive harvest during a [ ] of several years.
…We had a severe frost on Sunday night. The ice on the ponds in this vicinity was sufficiently strong on Monday morning to hold a man.
District of Montreal, September 1816 in Quebec Gazette, 10 October 1816
AGRICULTURAL REPORT for the district of Montreal for September, 1816. – Since the first week, there has been a continued drought to the end of the month, the weather has generally been very hazy, attended with cold winds; on the 11th a severe frost was commenced. The 19th and 20th were extremely warm; the 26th, 27th, and 28th, the frost was so severe, as to contemplate the destruction of the Potatoe [ ] which escaped that of the 11th.
The Wheat in the north and west parts of the District, which remained at the date of our last Report, has been housed and is very fine. There still remains out through the District, a quantity of Oats, a great portion of which, cannot ripen and must be cut for forage. …The Indian Corn, was destroyed by the frost of the 11th inst, it is doubtful whether seed may be obtained for another year. … The Potatoes, have had to contend with a dry season; … The want of rain joined to the early frosts, has caused a great deficiency in most situations of this valuable vegetable root; they cannot be rated as more than half a crop. – The Meadows have made little progress since they were mowed; the country has seldom witnessed so great a want of green food, for feeding of stock, as has been experienced this summer.
… The progress of the Plough has been arrested the greater part of this month, on strong soils; rain is much wanted, to facilitate the advancement of that labor.
Quebec Gazette, 7 November 1816
It has been given to us from the most authentic sources that several Parishes in the interior parts of this District are already so far in want of provisions as to create the most serious alarms among the Inhabitants, among those mentioned as being in need of almost immediate assistance, we find a part of the Bay St. Paul, les Eboulements, St. Andre, C[ ] and Rimouski. It is, however, gratifying to learn that the subject has drawn the attention of Government from whence we infer that some relief will be granted at an early Session of the Legislature.
Quebec Gazette, 28 November 1816
Quebec Gazette, 30 January 1817
Quebec Gazette, 17 February 1817
Three Rivers in Quebec Gazette, 6 March 1817
There appeared in your paper of the 6th ult. an extract of a letter from Three Rivers, stating that upwards of eighty families had gone from the settlement on the St. François in the month of January last. I … conceive his statement to be incorrect. It is certain that a number of families have left these settlements this winter, probably between thirty and forty. There were last summer more than one hundred preparing to leave the province this winter, under the idea that nothing would be done by the Legislature respecting roads…. The emigrations since the peace, from these townships, and those on the east of Lake Memphramagog, have been much greater than is generally suspected in Quebec. Not less than two hundred families left these townships within fourteen months ending on the first day of December last. …The principal cause (though not the only one) of this extraordinary emigration from a fertile (but it was never a flourishing) country is the want of roads. …Every person the least acquainted with a new settlement, in the interior of a country, can form some idea of the hardships these people have suffered. …
Quebec Gazette, 1 May 1817
We hear from a gentleman who a few days since passed through the Settlements on the St. Francis River, that the snow has disappeared in that quarter, and that the farmers are occupied in ploughing and sowing their lands. He states that the ice has given way in the Channel of Lake St. Peter, and that the River is open as low as Batiscan. The broken pieces had been stopped at that place, where the ice still remained firm, and had somewhat impeded the current of the St. Lawrence, causing a rise in the waters which excited considerable alarm at Three Rivers and in the adjacent parishes, from the apprehension of a destructive inundation.
The ice is still firm in the St. Lawrence, and several May Poles were planted this morning on different parts of the River. Many people led by curiosity and the novelty of the scene, have been passing and re-passing between the Lower Town and the opposite shore since the dawn of day. There was seen at the same time on the ice, amidst a concourse of pedestrians, a cart, a slay, a cariole and a caliche. That the St. Lawrence, should remain frozen over on the first of May at Quebec, for many miles above, and for some miles below it, is certainly a circumstance of very uncommon occurrence, and a prominent feature of the great severity of the last winter. The same thing happened, we are told, about 40 years ago. A May-Pole was then fixed upon the ice, which broke up the same day. How long the present bridge will last we know not. It is a subject on which many bets have been already lost and won, and on which many are still depending. Some have [ ] its continuance to the 11th of the present month; we trust, however, that the present Spring-tides will open the Navigation.
Much snow still remains in this vicinity, in the open fields as well as in the woods.
Quebec Gazette, 8 May 1817
Yesterday 18 or 20 River Craft arrived from the District of Montreal, the greater part of which, we understand, are laden with Seed Grain, intended for the distressed parishes.
We have had some days of genial warmth since our last, approaching to summer heat. Most of the snow has disappeared, and much grain has been sown in the upper and middle parts of the district. The wealthy farmers in the distressed parishes who provided themselves with seed grain during the winter, effected their sowing ten or twelve days ago. The Spring in these parts has been remarkably mild, and favourable to the pursuits of agriculture, and offer a more cheering prospect to the inhabitants than any they have beheld for many years
Quebec Gazette, 29 May 1816
QUEBEC AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY
The very backward state of agriculture in this Province, particularly in the District of Quebec, most forcibly strikes the eye of the stranger who visits Canada ….
Shut out, as we in a manner are, by the nature of the climate, from a communication with the rest of the world, during a great part of the year, and [ ] at a distance from the mother country, our farmer has not the advantage that the highly improved state of her agriculture would give to him, were the example in view.
In this, as in all countries, we have the predisposition to adopt the manners and customs of our forerathers; and here, as elsewhere, it may be difficult to overcome that attachment for ancient usages; a feeling which doubtless originates from motives most praiseworthy, but every where admits of any proposed change by slow degrees.
The great improvements made in agriculture, by the perseverance of many individuals in the mother country, and the benefits derived therefrom, become so obvious, that progressive improvement followed generally, and agriculture throughout Great Britain appears to have attained the height of perfection.
In Canada, we have many difficulties to contend with; yet, to counterbalance these, in some degree, nature has most bountifully granted to her advantages beyond that of many other countries; within itself this District possesses a variety of natural manures, which if judiciously applied, would produce the best effects and the rapidity of the vegetation, would compensate for the shortness of the season.
The clearing of land of the noxious weeds that overrun the country, should be the farmers first consideration; …
Considerations of this nature, induced some Gentlemen in the city, who strongly feel a desire to promote the best Interests of the Province, amongst which agriculture most certainly ranks high, to believe that a better knowledge of this science might possibly be introduced through the joint efforts of its friends; a Meeting of the Citizens was in consequence called, for the purpose of taking into consideration the expediency of an establishment for the furtherance of the object in view, which was numerously attended, and the proposal unanimously adopted; …for the formation and future government of the “QUEBEC AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY” these Resolutions were prepared and adopted at a second General Meeting held on the 12th day of April last. ….
The Members of this Society do not pretend to a perfect knowledge of the science they have at heart to promote, so as to render them competent to instruct the farmer in all its branches; some few, and but a few of their Members, understand the practical and theoretical parts of agriculture; ….