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Travels with Elizabeth Simcoe: A Visual Journey Through Upper and Lower Canada - Page Banner

Return to Quebec

Watercolour: Quebec, St. Audrey, Grondines, Dechambeau, Spetember 23, 1794 (detail)
Click to see a larger version (130K)

Quebec, St. Audrey, Grondines, Dechambeau,
September 23, 1794, (detail)
Elizabeth Simcoe, (1766-1850)
Watercolour paper, full
Reference Code: F 47-11-1-0-153
Archives of Ontario, I0007005

Elizabeth was welcomed back in Quebec with open arms by the local elite, and her diaries speak of a whirlwind of social gatherings and elegant functions.

By early 1795, however, it had become clear that an invasion was not imminent, and Elizabeth decided, in spite of her aversion to a winter journey west, to return to Upper Canada.

She missed her husband, and he missed her, as is evident from the following verse written by him which was found in the manuscript of her diary:

Twice six revolving years have run their course thro yonder azure plains, diffusing joy
Gladness and light has discontinuous mov'd
Since thou, Eliza, overflowing source of happiness domestic, dost employ
My wedded thoughts, most honour'd, most belov'd
And if the gathering clouds of fleeting life
Besides, thy presence soon illumines the scene
And pleasure draws from elemental strife;
And now when Night and Absence intervene
O may my wishes wing their speedy way;
Return, thou source of joy; return, thou source of day

Watercolour: Presqu'ile, Bay of Quinte, [ca. 1795]
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Presqu'ile, Bay of Quinte, [ca. 1795] (detail)
Elizabeth Simcoe, (1766-1850)
Wash/paper, grey
Reference Code: F 47-11-1-0-161
Archives of Ontario, I0007013

At this time of year, the only available route was by land along the north side of the St. Lawrence.

After quite an arduous journey, but one which she took in good humour, in mid-February Elizabeth met up with her husband at New Johnstown (Cornwall), where he was laying plans to establish roads and settlements in the area.

Soon, they proceeded to Kingston, where Simcoe became seriously ill.

“ The Governor has been so ill since the 21st of March that I have not left his room since that day. He has had such a cough that some nights he could not lie down, but sat in a chair, total loss of appetite and such headaches that he could not bear any person but me to walk across the room or speak out loud. There was no medical advice but that of a horse doctor who pretended to be an apothecary. The Governor, out of consideration for the convenience of the staff-surgeon, had allowed him to remain at Niagara, and his not being made to attend his duty has caused me a great deal of anxiety to see the Governor so ill without having proper attendance. Capt. Brant's sister prescribed a root - it is, I believe, calamus, a genus of palm, one species of which yields a resin called dragon's blood, the root of which is the sweet flag, which really relieved his cough in a very short time.”

- Friday Apr. 14, 1795

Elizabeth, too, came down with the flu, and it was mid-May before they finally reached York. In July, they returned to Niagara, for the legislative term. That summer, they took the opportunity to travel around the Niagara peninsula.

Watercolour: His Majesty's Ship Mississauga
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His Majesty's Ship Mississauga; Niagara, Navy Hall, Newark;
Sept. 13, 1794, 6 o'clock AM (detail)
Elizabeth Simcoe, (1766-1850)
Reference Code: F 47-11-1-0-144
Archives of Ontario, I0006996