4. Letter from Samuel Monteith Loghrin to his brother Thomas Alexander Loghrin
Sunday, July 6, 1903.
Dear Tom: ATE (at the) SAVOIE
This is Sunday afternoon and it is raining a cold rain almost snow. I have smoked my tongue sore and have decided to write some letters. The bill head on this letter will tell you we are in Chamonix, a small town at the foot of Mont Blanc. It is on the boundary between Switzerland and France.
We left Stratford on Tuesday afternoon (and) after being in the train all night, reached Montreal next morning at breakfast time. Wednesday we tramped Montreal; it was a terrible hot day. That would be the day you started haying. Wednesday night about nine o'clock we went on board the Lake Champlain. It was a very hot night and we did not leave the dock til six the next morning. It was so hot I never slept a wink but set up on deck most of the night watching them load the cargo. Cheese (and) bacon in boxes and live cattle were the cargo. Weight of the ship: 8 thousand tons. Weight of the cargo: 12 thousand tons. This 20 thousand tons gave us a very smooth passage compared with some of the lighter boats.
There were 325 head of cattle in the forward lower decks of the ship. 190 head were from Walkers distillery - great big ones and fat as mud. Eleven of them, all distillery cattle, died from the heat during the night we were tied up at the dock. The distillery stock are very soft and can't stand any heat. During the voyage nine more died and the shrinkage on the whole lot I think would average about three hundred pounds per head. They are packed in so close that, when one lies down, its mate must stand up.
The first evening on board ship we touched a sandbar but managed to back off it. It certainly was a close call. The two next boats both ran ashore near the same place and had to unload passengers and lost nearly a week getting off the bar.
The Champlain was to go through the Straits of Belle Isle but, when in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, received signal news that the straits were blocked with icebergs. We went round the south shore of Newfoundland and made for Liverpool. During the voyage we sighted a number of ships. Saw four whales very close. I happened to be on deck (when) the ship almost hit one of them. After ten days on the ship, we reached Liverpool on Sunday morning. Mr. Barnett met us at the dock. He gave us an address in London and we boarded a train and reached London about dark. Found hotel alright.
Monday morning we reported at the CPR ticket office and got our berths home. Then we went to the Cook's Tourist Agency and bought tickets for Switzerland and Paris, France.
After dinner on Monday, we went through the London Tower. Here you find a wonderful collection of old armor and coins and that sort of stuff. Saw the gun carriage used at Queen Victoria's funeral to convey the royal corpse. Saw the King's crown and all the state jewels.
Monday night we went to the Alhambra, a large opera house, and saw a very swell show. Tuesday morning we boarded a train for New Haven in the south of England (and) crossed the English Channel, a voyage of five hours. Landed at Dieppe, took train for Paris (and) reached there in the evening. Drove across the city in a bus and, after traveling all night, reached Lausanne in Switzerland at the head of Lake Geneva in the morning.
Switzerland is a beautiful country to come and see but I don't want to live here. We stayed in Lausanne all day and in the evening came down to Geneva by boat. This was the grandest I ever had (with) mountains all around and the lake as clear as crystal. We stayed in Geneva all day Thursday and Friday. Our tickets provide for a drive every afternoon; we took in two of these. Visiting some very old castles and seeing the summer residences of millionaires. There are two hundred millionaires in the vicinity of Geneva. The finest roads I ever saw and scores of automobiles.
Yesterday, we came up to Chamonix, part of the way by railroad and part by Cable Electric road. Chamonix is mountain town of a couple of thousand population. Last year forty thousand tourists came here during the season. Mount Blanc is the highest mountain in Europe. We are about four thousand feet above sea level right in the town.
This morning the sun was shining and Sam¹ and I started out early to see the mountains. When (we had traveled) down the road about a mile, a farmer and guide during the season offered to take us over the glacier for three francs - 60 cents. We took his offer and, after two hours of the hardest work I ever (had) done in my life, we reached the snow. Fancy snow on the 26th of July. We came to the chalet at the edge and I bought some photos. I will let you see them later.
We walked about a quarter mile over snow and ice. There we struck another trail and after winding in out for over an hour, we reached the village just in time for lunch. They had dinner here at night and it is near six now. I must close this letter and clean up for the meal. Not one in twenty five can talk English. (For) all French, Sam is my interpreter.
Hope you are getting along with harvest all right. In France and Switzerland they are finishing haying and cutting wheat.
Give my love to Fannie.²
Your Brother, Sam
The letter was addressed to: Mr. Thomas Loghrin Fairview P.O. near Stratford, Ontario, Canada
¹ Who was Sam, his traveling companion?
² Tom married Frances Holmes on Mar. 4, 1903 a few months before this letter was written.