speakers, as I said before, were sons of Sappers, and having heard
that it was the intention to hold a Jubilee celebration of the
arrival of the Royal Engineers in the country, happened to meet in
the Guichon Hotel last night, and after partaking of one or to
whiskies-and-sodas and several cigars, naturally commenced to
relate their reminiscences of the long voyage of six months that
it took to bring them to this fair land.
say, Hughie," said Johnny, "do you remember when we came
out with our fathers and mothers in the Thames City? We were
only little chaps then."
I do, Johnny, and wasn't she a regular old tub?"
perhaps she was an old tub, Hughie, but didn't she bring us safely
there, and didn't she behave like a thoroughly good ship when she
came round the Horn?"
yes, she was a safe old boat Johnny. I say, do you remember
that night when the hatches were battened down, when we all though
we were going to the bottom of the sea?"
Hughie, and didn't the women and children scream, and weren't the
men all huddled together in their hammocks, perhaps some of them
preying 'God save us'? They were all as silent as the
Johnny, and weren't all of us youngsters afraid to sleep that
night, and weren't our fathers and mothers, our sisters and
brothers, and all the men, thankful when morning came and the wind
had somewhat calmed down, and the hatches had been uncovered, the
men sang and whistled for pure joy?"
do you remember Captain Luard, the commanding officer, always with
his monocle in his right eye- 'Old Scrooge' the men called him-
how he had the men paraded every morning in bare feet, so that the
pudgy little Docter Seddall could inspect them? What for I
don't know, unless it was to see that they had not got the
yes, I remember that, Johnny, and although the men did call the
Captain 'Old Scrooge,' I think they all liked him, for didn't he
often read to them out of Dickens's and other works, and didn't he
furnish them with all kinds of games to amuse them during the long
voyage, and wasn't he a good-hearted, considerate man?"
yes, Johnny, and didn't they all like to hear him read the
'Emigrant Soldiers' Gazette' every Saturday night, that was edited
by a fellow named Charlie Sinnett? Wasn't he a funny little
fellow, a sandy-haired chap, who used to wear a dirty smock?"
Hughie, but he was a clever fellow for all that, and wasn't it
great fun to listen to his scraps of poetry on 'Matilda,' the
fellow who was the Doctor's assistant, and who used to lead a
little black cat around the ship with a blue ribbon round its
but my! Johnny, didn't Matilda give it him back hot and strong,
and weren't we all sorry when the two fellows couldn't accept each
other's banter without quarrelling, so that the Captain had to
stop them, and we lost a lot of fun?"
the way, Hughie, why did they call that fellow 'Matilda'?"
"Oh, it as because he was more like a woman than a man, with
his finicky ways."
Johnny, and wasn't there a young chap- Lieutenant Palmer, I think
his name was- he was a regular swell. They said he was the
Assistant Editor of the 'Gazette,' and I think he must have been,
for there were many interesting scientific articles in the paper
which I think mist have been written by him, for he was a clever
fellow. I have heard it said that he was a wonderful man at
figures, could add up pounds shilling and pence all at once- just
run his fingers up the three columns of figures and tell you the
total in a jiffy."
of the fellows used to think that Docter Seddall -- the men called
him 'Bouncer'-- was a frequent contributor to the paper; perhaps
he might have been the author of those articles on the Natural
History of the voyage."
Hughie, perhaps he was, but if he did not write them, either
Captain Luard, Lieutenant Palmer, or the Parson did. Anyway,
whoever wrote them, don't you think they were cleverly
indeed, Johnny. Do you remember the great fun we had on
board when the men got up private theatricals; and don't you
remember that chap -- Howse I think his
name was -- who called himself the manager of the Theatre Royal?
And didn't he think himself smart?"
Hughie, I remember how he rigged his company out, making us really
believe he was the manager of a real 'City Theatrical Troupe.'
But he was a clever chap, for didn't he and his fellow actors help
to make us laugh, and thus amuse us?"
I say, Johnny, do you remember the names of the fellows who
assisted him, thought they could act a bit? I think some of
the names were Sinnett, Turnbull, Benney, Franklin, Derham, Eaton,
Alliott, Hazel (Matilda), Launders, Mead, and Dick
Wolfenden. Dick sometimes used to take a lady's part.
yes, Hughie, fancy white-haired old Colonel Wolfenden, as we know
him now, acting the par of 'Lydia' in 'Done on Both Sides.'
But they say he was then a nice, slim, modest young fellow, and
that he was always a 'ladies' man. Oh, but weren't they
funny, and didn't they make our mothers and us kids laugh?"
Johnny, didn't they have lots of concerts on board, and balls, and
all kinds of fun, and didn't the women like to dress themselves up
in their very best for the occasion, and didn't we kids enjoy the
Hughie, wasn't Franklin funny when he sang 'My Pretty Maid,' when
one side of him was the maid and the other the man, and didn't
Woodcock, Derham, Sinnett, Argyle (from
Brum), and others bring down the house with their humourous songs,
and didn't 'Professor' Haynes and his splendid band add greatly to
say, Johnny, I was reading the other day a printed copy of the
'Emigrant Soldiers' Gazette,' and I see that they had streets and
squares and alleys, and all other things like they have in a
was that?" said Hughie.
don't you know that the ship we sailed in was called the Thames
City, so the silly Editor tried to make us believe that we were
living in a real city? Do you remember, Hughie, the horrible
murder that he said took place one day, when an old gentleman
named 'Jimmy' was found dead, and his body horribly
the fool Editor tried to make us all believe it was a real murder,
when it was only Cooper (our butcher)
who had cut the throat of an old sheep, to save its life.
Wasn't it silly on the part of the Editor? But it made our
fathers and mothers and all the men laugh, and I think we
youngsters laughed, too."
do you remember the old ship putting into the Falkland Islands?
Wasn't it a treat to get on shore once again after about three
months at sea? And didn't we youngsters enjoy going shopping
with our fathers and mothers, and buying lollypops, etc.? although
we could scarcely keep our feet, still feeling the rolling of the
Johnny, and I think the men must have had a jolly time on shore,
too, for I sometimes think that the unsteady gait of some of them
when they came on board was not altogether due to the bad behavior
of the ship."
Hughie, don't you think that the officers and men tried to amuse
the women and children and all on board, and make the voyage as
enjoyable as could be under the circumstances?"
Johnny, and wasn't it nice to hear that editor chap, Sinnett, sing
his 'farewell ditty' when we were nearing the end of our voyage;
and oh! can we ever forget the day when our good old ship safely
entered Esquimalt Harbour on the 12th of April, 1859?"
those were happy days, Hughie. And weren't they fine, jolly
lot of men, and didn't they look smart on Sunday Parade, in their
splendid scarlet uniforms?"
Johnny they were fine-looking lot of men. There were tall
men and short men, round, plump men, and thin men; men with black
beards, men with red beards, and others with no beards at all;
young fellows, some of them, not then out of their teens.
And there was one man with a grey beard, a man who had been in
many wars and had over six medals. You know who I mean,
Johnny? Oh, but he was a grand old
yes (tearfully), I know who you mean, Hughie. And do you
know this man -- a man in the full prime of his manhood, a man
with red, curly hair, wearing a splendid red beard -- such a
well-set-up man and so strong and healthy; such a handy man, too,
a man who could do almost anything-- make you a pair of boots,
build you a boat, or print you a map, and I don't know what he
couldn't do. Do you know who that man was, Hughie?"
yes, I know, Johnny (almost sobbing)."
there was a fat, chubby little chap- quite a boy- who used to blow
the bugle for the men to parade, and to call them to dinner; and
of! Couldn't he make it sound, and wasn't he proud of his
he was a dandy player, and wasn't he the pet of all the women?
Do you think you could recognize him now if you were to meet him?
He must be quite an old chap now. And, oh, do you remember
one day when the ship was rolling and pitching, the poor fellow
fell down the hatch and broke his arm?"
I remember that, but the Doctor and 'Matilda' (who nursed him in
the hospital) soon put him to rights."
say, Hughie, I used to hear the men talking about 'Splicing the
Main Brace.' What did they mean?"
don't you know that every day when the sun passed over the
year-arm, at 12 o'clock noon, the Quarter-Master (Davy
Osment) used to serve the men with grog and limejuice?
They called that 'Splicing the Main Brace.'"
do you remember, Johnny, our leaving Esquimalt Harbour on board
the steamer Eliza Anderson on our way to our future home 'The
Camp,' New Westminster, and that we got stuck on the sandheads at
the mouth of the Fraser River?"
quite well, and I saw in the papers the other day that another
ship got stuck on the same sandheads."
Hughie, we have had a good yarn about our experiences on board
ship. What do you think of the doings of the detachment
after their arrival in the colony?"
think, Johnny, that, on the whole, our men and our women, and we
boys and girls who came out with them, have reason to believe that
they and we played no small part in assisting to colonise this
Hughie, but isn't it sad to think that at the Jubilee of our
arrival to-morrow there now only remain, out of the one hundred
and fifty men, fourteen who have been spared to take part in the
celebration, and that nearly all the mothers have passed away,
Johnny, it is truly sad that so many have gone to their long home,
yet we have the consolation of knowing that they strove to do
their duty, and that thy have left hundreds of descendents to help
in upbuilding this splendid Province."