Dubliner Frances Stewart, one of the first women pioneers in Canada

Letters offer valuable account of loneliness of settler life in the 19th-century

Frances Stewart from ‘The Letters of Frances Stewart’ c. 1902. Photograph: Internet Archive Book Image/Flickr

Frances Stewart from ‘The Letters of Frances Stewart’ c. 1902. Photograph: Internet Archive Book Image/Flickr

“We are as comfortably settled in this vessel as such a number could be in so confined a spot … I am very comfortable here and quite independent and though I have only room to stand up and dress myself I am so much happier than if we were all together. I am very glad to have it to retire to whenever I like.”

So Dublin-born Frances Stewart (née Browne) wrote in July 1822, from the private ship’s cabin she shared in relative contentment with her maid and three young daughters. After a long voyage from Belfast, she finally had sight of the coast of Canada, which would become her home for the next 50 years.

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