Category: travel

A Trip to England in 1842

Durham Cathedral (jh photo)

When Stanley Clark Bagg (SCB) and his father, Stanley Bagg, of Montreal, visited England in 1842, they were combining business and pleasure. The business involved selling property that SCB’s maternal grandfather had owned in Durham, England, and the pleasure involved a whirlwind tour of London, Scotland, Ireland and France, as well as visits with various great-aunts and great-uncles who still lived in England.

It was a good time for a trip: SCB had just finished a four-year apprenticeship with a notary and could now practice as a notary himself. It made sense to travel before he opened his own office.

A few months after his return to Montreal, SCB wrote to his cousin in Philadelphia, outlining the trip. Unfortunately, he did not include any details or impressions of their adventures, but the list of places they visited sounds exhausting. Passenger rail services were expanding in England at the time, but much of their travel would have been done by horse-drawn coach.

Crossing the Atlantic, however, was fast. The age of the trans-Atlantic steamship had arrived in the 1830s, and SCB wrote, “We made the passage to Liverpool from Halifax in the incredible short space of nine days and six hours, which was I believe the shortest passage ever made across the Atlantic. From Liverpool we went to London, thence to Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, York Darlington, Durham, Stockton, Sunderland, Newcastle, Shields, Tynemouth, Otterburn …. ” 1

As they moved north to Scotland, they passed though many small towns, including Lesmahagow, and they explored both Glasgow and Edinburgh. On the way back to London, they stopped in Carlisle, in the north of England.

After a few days in London, they crossed the Channel to France, where they visited Boulogne, Paris, Versailles, Le Havre and several other spots before returning to London. SCB wrote, “We left London shortly afterwards for Ireland, and having visited Kingstown, Dublin and Kilmainham, returned to Liverpool, where … we embarked on board a steamship and after a boisterous passage of 14 days arrived at Boston exceedingly gratified with our tour.” 2

Anchor-maker William Mitcheson, brother of SCB’s grandmother Mary Mitcheson Clark, lived in London, and the Baggs visited him there. While in County Durham, they visited more Mitcheson relations, including Mrs. Dodd (Mary Mitcheson’s sister Margaret) near Ryton, and Mrs. Maugham (Mary’s sister Elizabeth) at Sunderland.

It is clear that the visit to Durham was the highlight of the trip, but not because of the business they finalized there. In fact, SCB did not mention the land sales at all in his letter. When SCB turned 21 in December, 1841, he gained control over the property he had inherited from his grandfather John Clark (1767-1827). This property was generating rental income, but SCB wanted to sell it. Proof that the sale took place can be found in a notarized document, dated after their return to Montreal, in which Stanley Bagg listed the sales of three properties in Durham. 3

Modern sculpture of the monks carrying St. Cuthbert’s body. (jh photo)

Meanwhile, SCB was interested in ancient legends, old coins, Norman castles and the like, and was enthralled with Durham. More than 20 years later, he presented a lecture to the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal on “The Antiquities and Legends of Durham.” 4

He described the legend surrounding the founding of Durham city by 9th century monks. When Danes attacked England’s northeast coast, the monks fled their monastery on the Island of Lindisfarne with the miraculously well-preserved body of their former bishop. Eventually they built an abbey at the future site of Durham city and buried him there. Today, that bishop is remembered as Saint Cuthbert and pilgrims still visit the abbey church, Durham Cathedral.

In his 1866 lecture to the Numismatic Society, SCB opened up about his feelings on the trip. He recalled, “The first time I had the privilege of attending a divine service in Durham Abbey, I was enraptured with the sweet and masterly chanting, unsurpassed in the empire. My father and I obtained seats in the choir. The service was exceedingly impressive, so much so, that …. whenever the portion of the Psalter chanted upon that occasion recurs in the services of the church, it carries me back in imagination to the first service I attended in the venerable abbey of my mother’s native city.” 4

This story is also posted on

See also:

 Janice Hamilton, “A Freehold Estate in Durham,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 3, 2019

Janice Hamilton,“Mary Mitcheson Clark,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 16, 2014,

Janice Hamilton,“Mary Ann (Clark) Bagg,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Nov. 29, 2013,

Janice Hamilton,“The Mitcheson Family of Limehouse,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 21, 2015,

Janice Hamilton, “Stanley Bagg’s Difficulties,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 10, 2014,


  1. Letter from Stanley Clark Bagg to Rev. R. M. Mitcheson, Dec. 6, 1842, probably transcribed by Stanley Bagg Lindsay; Lindsay family collection.
  2. Record in a passenger list of Stanley Bagg and S.C. Bagg travelling from Liverpool to Boston aboard the Acadia. Boston Courier (Boston, Massachusetts, Monday, Sept. 19, 1842, issue 1921;) 19th Century Newspapers Collection, special interest databases, (accessed April 18, 2019.)
  3. Joseph-Hilarion Jobin, “Account and mortgages from Stanley Bagg Esq to Stanley Clark Bagg,” 8 October 1842, notarial act #3537, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
  4. Stanley Clark Bagg, “The Antiquities and Legends of Durham: a Lecture before the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal,” p. 21, Montreal, 1866. (accessed Dec. 27, 2019) SCB’s article can also be found here:

The Wedding Trip

The itinerary of my grandparents’ 1906 honeymoon reads more like a business trip than a romantic vacation, nevertheless, they both seemed to enjoy their trip to Chicago, Toronto and Montreal.

My future grandfather was planning on running for election to the school board, so he wanted to research schools, and my grandmother wanted to shop for things she couldn’t find in stores at home. Meanwhile, both were interested in medicine, so several hospital tours were on the agenda.

The bride and groom were Dr. Thomas Glendinning Hamilton, 33, a Winnipeg physician, and Lillian May Forrester, 26, a nurse. Lillian had trained at the Winnipeg General Hospital and graduated in May, 1905 with the class prize for highest general proficiency. They met at the hospital and she resigned when they became engaged.

This photo, taken around 1932, is the only one I have of the couple alone together.

According to a newspaper account, the wedding took place at the Winnipeg home of the bride’s uncle, lawyer Donald Forrester, at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 26, 1906: “The bride, who wore a pretty gown of white net over taffeta and carried bride’s roses, was given away by her father, Mr. John Forrester, of Emerson…. There were no attendants, only the immediate relatives of the happy couple being present.” Following the brief Presbyterian service, the bride quickly changed into a red and grey travelling outfit and they left for their honeymoon on the 5:20 train.

Lillian kept a diary of the wedding trip, leaving out any romantic details, which is probably why that account is available for all to read at the archives of the University of Manitoba.

They spent their wedding night on the train to St. Paul and reached Chicago late the following evening.  Staying at the 16-story Great Northern Hotel, they visited the Marshall Field’s department store, viewed the impressive tower of the Montgomery Ward Building and attended a play. They also visited the 1,400-bed Cook County Hospital which, Lillian noted, treated 25,000 patients a year and did an average of 10 operations per day. They then headed by train to Detroit for a brief stopover, and to Toronto, where they began exploring the neighbourhood around Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto.

Niagara Falls was on their honeymoon bucket list. T.G. and Lillian spent a snowy day there, seeing both the Canadian and American falls. Dressed in waterproof clothing, they viewed the back of the falls, and they took a cable elevator car to see the Whirlpool Rapids and have photos taken. Back in Toronto, they stayed two nights with T.G.’s Aunt Lizzie Morgan, then boarded a train for Montreal.

Lillian noted some of the towns they passed on that leg of the journey, including Belleville and Shannonville. She did not add in her note book that her family lived in this region before moving to Manitoba in the early 1880s, and that she had been born near Belleville. It was now early December, and there was a heavy snowfall in Montreal, nevertheless they walked down St. Catherine Street and took the street car to Notre Dame Cathedral, which they found to be “as grand and beautiful as we anticipated.” Lillian ordered 50 visiting cards – she would need them in her new social role as the wife of a busy physician – and she visited several stores “and spent her first pin money.”  She described Morgan’s department store as “the most beautiful store we have ever seen. The art gallery, glass room, electrical room and furniture department are all exceedingly fine.” Meanwhile, T.G. interviewed the Superintendent of Schools in Montreal.

No visit to Montreal is complete without a trip up Mount Royal, and T.G. and Lillian went to the top “in a warm red sleigh, had a splendid view of city, canal, river and Victoria Bridge.” On the way back downtown, they visited the Royal Victoria Hospital, ”a beautiful, well equipped building” with 300 beds.  The next day they explored the Redpath Museum, had dinner at the Windsor Hotel (one of the city’s best) and took the overnight train back to Toronto. Again they stayed with Aunt Lizzie. It was a Sunday so, after church, T.G.’s cousin accompanied them to visit more relatives. The following day, T.G. met with the Superintendent of School Buildings in Toronto and with a former principal of Wellesley Public School, said to be the most handsome and modern school building in Toronto.

Over the next few days they visited more extended family members and went to see St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Scarborough, where T.G.’s father and grandparents were buried. They also visited the Scarborough farmhouse where T.G. had spent his childhood. They stayed downtown on their last two days in the city, and attended a lecture on new developments in vaccines. Finally, they headed west on the night train to Chicago and Minneapolis. When they arrived back in Winnipeg, Lillian’s brother picked them up at the station and they went to buy furniture.

The last entry of the wedding trip diary was dated three days before Christmas 1906, and almost one month had passed since their wedding: “Dec. 22. Had tea at 8 a.m. in our own house.”


Lillian Hamilton, “Wedding Trip,” University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections, Hamilton Family Fonds, Hamilton Family – Personal; Box 1, Folder 1.

Note: a slightly shorter version of this story is posted on the collaborative blog,