In 1843 a Nova Scotia family made a remarkable trip from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Toronto, Ontario and back. The group included Sarah Bond Farish Moody aged 39, her father Dr. Henry Farish 62, and sister Elizabeth 28. Sarah’s Uncle George Bond and cousin Elizabeth joined them on the first leg, and went on to England.
Leaving Yarmouth on August 25th, They first sailed to Boston, then by train to New York City, up the Hudson River by steamship to Albany, along the Erie Canal by barge to Niagara, and finally by steamship to Toronto. The return route was to Kingston, then Oswego, N.Y., and back into the Erie Barge Canal.
Sarah Moody was traveling for pleasure; in 1843, done only by the rich and adventurous. This trip was likely paid by her wealthy father, Dr. Farish. At age 62 it was his last chance for an extended presence with his daughters. The following moving narrative of her trip, illustrated with numerous sketches reflect her observations of mid-nineteenth century North Eastern North America.
What was Sarah like? Her narrative and artistry skills are unquestioned, as seen in this book. In later years one of her paintings was displayed in the British Academy of Arts, and today some of her paintings are in the Canadian National Archives, and the Yarmouth County Museum & Archives. Sarah’s interests included other art forms such as sculpture, and music. “Mr. Jones performed upon the harp several of his native airs. He was so applauded he was obliged to return and gratify the audience with another ballad – again was he forced to return, for they kept up such a thumping with canes I feel until he did so that it was enough to stun one. The harp appeared to be as new and delightful to the Bostonians as to ourselves.”
She was very pro-British. This was the time of American Manifest Destiny, and soon after the failed uprising of 1837 with subsequent cross border rebel raids. It also was only a generation after the War of 1812. A book “Domestic Manners of the Americans” written by Frances Trollope in 1832, cast the Americans as significantly hypocritical because of their avowed love of freedom, at the same time supporting slavery. This widely read book was likely read by Sarah and influenced her narrative.
Sarah was adventurous. While her husband, Tidmarsh stayed at home to care for their 2 young boys, aged about 2 and 3, in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, she herself made this trip by not always reliable, safe or comfortable sailboats, newly invented trains, steamships and barges. When their sailboat berthed at Gloucester, Massachusetts near Cape Ann the Captain pointed out “the long rocky point at the entrance, where just a year ago the whole shore was lined with wrecks of vessels and mangled corpses.”
Religion was in her veins. During the trip Sarah visited many churches, and brought back ideas for her husband, a Doctor of Divinity. After her trip, upon reaching her home in Liverpool, Nova Scotia she says “our household is again together, and I humbly pray God to give me a heart overflowing with gratitude, for His mercy and loving kindness toward us all.”
Being from small town Yarmouth Sarah was, at times, overwhelmed by the big cities. Sarah says “after a few hours she liked to get out of New York City because of the unceasing din and confusion of such a great city as this, with its 160,000 inhabitants.”
Toronto life agreed with Sarah much more than New York or Boston.. “Very much struck with the comparative stillness of Toronto. Everyone here seems to be going about their business in a quiet, moderate way, not so in the American towns. There is, especially in the rising ones, such a feverish, unnatural excitement, a constant driving to and fro, as if folks thought of nothing but going ahead.”
1843 Yarmouth was, and still is, a scenic small town at the southwest tip of Nova Scotia. Sarah’s parents, the Farishes and Bonds, were Yarmouth Loyalist families, with medical practitioner backgrounds. Sarah’s father-in-law John Moody arrived in Halifax in 1783, at age 4, with his father and Lord Cornwallis’ British army - retreating from New York City. John Moody later established a successful merchant business and built the Halifax mansion “Gorsebrook”.
Three years after her 1843 trip Sarah’s husband Tidmarsh Moody was appointed Reverend of the Yarmouth Anglican Trinity Church, and their family moved from Liverpool, Nova Scotia to Sarah’s hometown of Yarmouth. Sarah lived another 44 years, dying at age 80.
In 1935 Sarah’s daughter Annie wrote to her nephew Frank Moody and sent him Sarah’s original 1843 narrative and sketches of the trip. She asked him to read the narrative to his children but, after 95 years, some of Sarah’s handwriting was difficult to decipher. With some trepidation, but great pleasure, we – Sarah’s great-great grandchildren – have taken on this task with the assistance of Parks Canada. We hope the following transcription will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy her remarkable adventure and her spirited narrative.
Toronto and St. Catharines, Ontario