Edward Pope: A Guernseyman abroad
From the Star of January 25, 1883. The Governor of Anticosti, now part of Quebec.
The following extract from a letter of a son of a Guernseyman long settled at Halifax, and now MP for the county of Richmond, Cape Breton,1 may prove interesting:
I returned here (Halifax) in October, having spent the time intervening since July between Gaspé, Anticosti, and Quebec. Anticosti is a large island 180 miles long, 25 to 40 wide, covered with thick brushwood, all limestone formation, sterile soil. There is quite a number of fine rivers for salmon and trout. A Government telegraph line round the coast reports wrecks, and the striking of large bodies of herring or codfish along the shores. For some cause cattle do not live more than two years after importation. More than 100 of the finest ships have been lost along its coasts. The privations and starvation of the ships’ crews exceed imagination. Now, with cable and telegraph system a shipwreck is reported at once; besides this, there are provision posts and signboards to direct the unfortunate where relief may be obtained. Some of the best lighthouses in the world are on the island with intelligent keepers, with instruments of every description to report on all conditions of the Atmosphere. One of the keepers is a Mr Edward Pope, born in Guernsey, who left here in 1836. This man is Governor. Mr Pope informed me that he had killed 100 bears during his 40 years’ residence there. I saw three at one time myself. The mosquito and small black fly are the torment of one’s residence from 20th June until 15th September. Nothing but a good coating over face and hands of Stockholm tar is a sufficient preventative. There were about 300 inhabitants but within four years they have been reduced to 100. They have left their huts and houses of wood standing, and gone west to Manitoba.
Gaspé has a splendid harbour. Here I found on every side Guernsey and Jersey settlers. Everybody has a farm here, and the whole region is known for making good butter. This accomplishment must have been brought from the Channel Islands because in most outside districts the butter is wretched. I find these people powerful hardy men, farmers, sailors and fishermen from 5ft 9ins to 6ft 2ins in height but their learning very limited, consequently in a measure they must remain hewers and drawers: still, where they are, they have room to expand.
1 Henry Nicholas Paint (1830-1921), born in Guernsey, son of Nicholas Paint and Mary Le Mesurier.