It is becoming more apparent that Henry Smith, brother of Isaac Smith (architect and builder of Province House and Government House here in Charlottetown) was the original resident of our little house here at 100 Prince St.
Henry Smith, after living in Prince Edward Island for some 30 years after emigrating from England, picked his family up and sailed on the Prince Edward for New Zealand, where he spent the rest of his life.
Since I learned this, I’d wondered what would drive a man to pack up his family and step aboard a sailing ship for a precarious sailing journey half way around the world to a country he’d never visited. I can hardly imagine doing this myself today, and I could be in New Zealand tomorrow if I really put my mind to it.
Some evidence emerged on this topic from recent trip to the Provincial Archives which, in turn, pointed me to a book called New Zealand or Zealandia: Britain of the South. While there is no copy of this volume, published in 1857, on Prince Edward Island, there is a copy in the National Library of Canada.
My operative Gary visitied the National Library on my behalf, and describes the volume as follows: “It is a beautifully bound 2 decker… 650 pages… full of detailed tips for prospective emigrants.” I tracked down the following quotation from the book in this paper:
New Zealand is an integral part of Great Britain — an immense, sea-joined Devonshire. An Englishman going thither goes among his countrymen,he has the same queen, the same laws and customs, the same language, the same social institutions and save that he is in a country where trees are evergreen, and where there is no winter, no opera, no aristocracy, no income tax, no paupers, no beggars, no cotton mills, he is virtually in a young England.
While freedom from opera and aristocracy, to say nothing of winter, does sound very appealing, I still don’t think I have the full story. I will dig on.