Salt Spring Island
July 16th 1860

Dear Friends,
I am in receipt of your letter dated on March 1st and observe its contents. I was expecting never to have heard from you any more. I think the excuse of not knowing my address a very lame one. In gleaning over your letter I notice that George has got an heir. I am glad of that as I thought my family name was doomed to die out with this generation. I regret to hear of the death of Mr Green. I suppose his brother is working the farm. I am glad to notice that your republican tastes are dying out. That institution is beautiful in theory but will not stand the taste of practice in this degenerate age. I am loosing (sic) interest in Canada and were it not for a few friends I left there I should blot it from my remembrance for ever. I am discouraged at some of my Canadian friend's conduct in not writing to me. I have sent several letters and papers to Legg and others but I have got no reply. I got a letter safely from Mr J Begg Aberdeen Scotland. He tells me that Mr P. Legg has got married and Rachel is about being married to a Doctor in Demerara.

A friend McIntyre who left Canada with me is about 200 miles up the river and is connected with a slucing company who are averaging there 8 dollars per day to the man. There is no fear of a man that likes to work can do very well any where he likes to go throughout this region of country. But the place is cursed with a lot of fellows who came out after government situating who are too genteel to handle a spade and pick and useful for no purpose in a new colony. The result is many of them has met bitter disappointment coming out here and they write of losing accounts accordingly. I often meet with men who has excellent yea most aristocratical (sic) connections in Canada driving a cart, wheeling a barrow or taking lumber from a saw mill. This is the country that has no respect of persons. The Doom is work or starve. But to the man that is willing to work there is a rich reward.

It is now summer and the weather is all that the heart can desire. The climate here is beautiful in the extreme. Seldom does winter last longer than a fortnight and the Spring, summer and autumn is superb. ( to the you give to the soil) I could not give you a more approximate idea than stating that the soil resembles very much the best most lovely of Scotland with here a range of mountains and there is a fertile valley.
There is a beautiful valley of 200 sq miles just discovered on the Fraser River a little distance from the mouth. Everything is going on quickly on Fraser's river this season. It has been proved now beyond a doubt that gold does exist there in large quantities. All the miners are doing well this year on the Fraser river. Trails are being cut steam boats are being built on the inner lakes and every where vast improvements are being carried on throughout the Interior. Farming will be a paying business here for a long time as witness butter 50 cts lb eggs 75 dozen oh for a good clucking hen with a well filled nest. You will be wanting to know what I have been about this summer. Well I have fenced 4 acres and has the most of it under crop - principally potatoes, cabbages, turnips.
The potatoes I expect to be able to sell for 50 cts lb and the other crops in proportion. You may imagine I have not been idle with other two men in hire. They ( up - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - --)

I put in 64 apple trees this spring and they are all doing well some of them is grown in fat sprouts this spring already. This is the most bountiful country for wild berries in the north they are so beautiful. I have also a mineral salt spring on my lot from which this place has derived its name. I have named my place Balmoral and hopes to make it a fashionable watering place some day. I have just returned from Queensburgh (sic) or other New Westminster the capital of British Columbia being just 15 miles from the mouth of the Fraser River it is a very stirring place. Only one year ago since it was laid out and now it has so far progressed as to show the outlines of general streets, wharfs and docks and with houses occupying a good deal of frontage of the town already. There were eleven boats lying in port at the time of my arrival there.

There is nothing finer or more in the world than the scenery and grand climate here. On going back of my house a little way you can see the mouth of Frasers River and its course to the Cascade Range. That Range towering like huge giants in the distance 8 miles away. The snow is to be seen all year on them. I think I will be able to make more out of my 4 acres this year than you will out of your improved farm.

Mr Donald McKay is the only man in Canada that has taken the trouble to answer my letters and the only person in consequence with who I correspond. He informs me that in the last year that Mr Legg was just returned from Demerara and Rachel was about being married and - - - was in a uprising. Horrible to relate.

Labourers wages from 25 to 40 dollars but without board. a man and his wife can get 50 dollars readily. A good woman can earn far more than a man in this country as a general wage. I have just to close the mail as the schooner is waiting in the offing opposite my door to take it on board
PS Give my kind regards to all our friends remember me to your Buffalo friends and give them my condolence Joe-it was a serious affliction the loss of such nice children as theirs. You know I am not apt to relish children much but I had a particular liking for these as they were so gentle and pretty. I hope all your family are well. Jammie must be quite a lad by this time. I hope to be able to pay you a visit in five years should I live as long as that lets me I expect a RR will be pretty well under way connecting this side to the East

Yours very truely (sic)
Jonathan Begg


Original letter in Jonathan Beggs handwriting (pdf)