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Although emigration offered the Langtons the opportunity to be reunited with John and to start a new life with some relief from financial pressures, they left England with somewhat heavy hearts. They were not only leaving their home-land, almost probably for good, but also parting with William and Margaret who at that time had three little daughters.

They departed from Liverpool Docks on 24 May 1837. Coincidentally, shipping in the port was dressed overall to mark the coming-of-age of the young Princess Victoria, who would ascend to the throne just six weeks later following the death of William IV.

The Langtons took this rejoicing as a good omen for their bold new venture. They embarked on board the appropriately-named sailing vessel, the "Independence," heading out into the Irish Sea and the Atlantic Ocean and away from all that they had known and held dear.

Storms and becalmings, whales and icebergs, the trials of life at sea and the novelties of shipboard diet, accommodation and daily routine, along with the varied "characters" of their fellow-passengers, kept the family amused, frustrated, and entertained, by turns.

Thomas, Ellen and Anne each kept a journal of their sea voyage to New York which, fortunately, for those days, was a very short crossing of just three weeks.

[...] Yesterday was a trying day. We were going before the wind about fourteen miles an hour, with a rolling sea that occasioned many trifling and laughable accidents [...] We were not without our share in the mischances of the day. Whilst we were sitting quietly in the ladies' room, our room nearly turned topsy-turvy, and the egg-basket having been compelled to part with the remains of its cargo, the eggs were tossed backwards and forwards till the carpet was quite ready to put in the frying pan, where it would have made a delicious and magnificent omelet. The state of the room was not discovered till your mother was going to bed, about eleven o'clock, and a long purification had then to be commenced [...] Should we experience no reverse, we may be in New York within the three weeks [...]"

Thomas Langton
(LR, vi)

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Their journals and letters also tracked their subsequent land journey by coach, rail and ferry from New York to Toronto and on up to the Kawartha Lakes.

This section of their journey would last for almost two months, partly because of Ellen's illnesses in New York and Toronto, Alice's intermittent poor health, and Anne's sickness at Peterborough, but also because of travel delays and other inconveniences.

At New York, the seasoned travellers strolled along Broadway, dined with people to whom they carried letters of introduction (from mutual friends in England), admired the architecture, toured sights, viewed the surrounding scenery and browsed in stores - in one of which Anne stocked up on art materials.

Land View from the Port at West Point, New York, 1837
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Land View from the Port at West
Point (detail), New York, 1837
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-8-1-4-6
Archives of Ontario, I0008028

"[T]here are things to tempt one here ... I made a purchase of a Chinese paint-box containing two saucers of gold, one of silver, a dozen of various colours, besides empty saucers,colour rubbers, etc. - indian ink, and a dozen or two brushes, for all of which I gave three and a half dollars"

Anne Langton
(LR, 32)

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At the annual exhibition of the National Academy in New York, Thomas and Anne viewed scenes of the Hudson River, by young American artists (later to be known as "The Hudson River School"). Leaving New York City, Langton recorded her own impressions of this "romantic" New World landscape.

Sketch of West Point Academy
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[West Point Military College], School Camp and Parade Ground,
West Point, New York (detail), 1837
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-8-1-4-10
Archives of Ontario, I0008032

At West Point, the Langtons watched the army cadets' parade at the military college and attended a service marking American Independence Day. The family's route then continued along the Hudson and on up into Upper Canada, via Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, Queenston, Niagara, and Toronto.


From the Hotel West Point, looking up the River
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From the Hotel West Point, looking up the River,
New York, 1837
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-8-1-4-4
Archives of Ontario, I0008026

Hotel, West Point, New York, 1837
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Hotel, West Point, New York, 1837
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-8-1-4-5
Archives of Ontario, I0008027

These two images and the above "Land View" are from a companion souvenir set of four. Langton often depicted a given location from various viewpoints.


Rough sketch of Niagara Falls
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Horseshoe Falls, Niagara (detail), 1837
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
Reference Code: F 1077-8-1-4-14
Archives of Ontario, I0008036

(It might seem unfair to include this "representation" here. A later section of this exhibit does, however, includetwo of Langton's later, well-rendered views of the falls.

At Niagara, Langton had set out before breakfast to sketch the spectacle of the falls. But, to her great disappointment, she experienced an inability to grasp the scale of the scene before her. She expressed her frustration in a postscript to a letter from her father to William:

"My father left this for a sketch, and I had certainly intended sending you my presumptuous representation of Niagara ... I was (especially at first) unsatisfied, but it was not with them but with myself. I had a consciousness of the vastness of the scene and at the same time of my own incapacity to conceive it. I felt mortified by my ineffectual striving to grasp the idea in full. It takes some time to form any notion, and a much longer visit, I'm sure, than ours[,] would be requisite to form an adequate conception of its grandeur and magnificence."

Anne Langton
(A Gentlewoman in Upper Canada[GUC], 29-30)

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Unfortunately, Langton does not appear to have done any sketching between Niagara and Peterborough, partly no doubt, because of caring for Ellen. In Toronto, however, Thomas and Anne did some sightseeing and visiting. They were also invited to dine with the Governor at Government House.

On August 4th, the Langtons finally left Toronto and resumed their journey towards Sturgeon Lake. On reaching Peterborough, Anne fell ill and they were prevented from continuing their journey for another week. She did, however, manage some sketching.


Peterborough from White's Tavern, 1837
Peterborough from White's Tavern, 1837
Anne Langton
Graphite on cream wove paper
18.0 cm x 23.3 cm (7" x 9¼")
Reference Code: F 1077-8-1-4-16
Archives of Ontario, I0008038

Forty-two years after her first glimpse, Langton could still vividly recall her first impression of the Canadian backwoods at Peterborough which, in 1837, had a population of some 900 inhabitants.

"It was quite dark when we reached Peterborough. I well remember my impressions on my first look out in the morning. How wild! A waste wilderness of wood - not so much the growing woods, which were not far off, but the precious article seemed thrown about everywhere. There were sticks and logs in every square yard of the little plain before us, to say nothing of stumps; it was the first bit of genuine 'backwoods' I had seen. I have seen a great deal of them since, but that first impression is indelible."

Anne Langton
(SOF, 64)

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