Monday, August 1, 2011


I have to admit, when I began, I had no idea that I would find any accounts of Thomas Sutherland (1772-1850) as an individual. But here a family member provides some insight into Sutherland’s motivation for emigration:

“He was a man of some originality and force of character. He was much dissatisfied with the then unprogressive character of political affairs in this country, and having resolved to try his fortune in newer and less conventional fields, he emigrated to Canada West during the first quarter of the century, and he there founded a district and colony now known as the district of Sutherland on the St. Clair river.”

As this relative remained in Scotland, this note is additionally intriguing: he’d never met Thomas Sutherland, who was long dead when he wrote this, and yet the stories about TS must have been tremendously compelling. In regards to his politics, I’m assuming this is in reference to the radical reforms of the 1820s. (Otherwise, the only thing I’ve encountered is the possibility that he actively identified as a Jacobite.)

Surprisingly, another record of TS’s emigration survives. According to one who had read his letters home to Edinburgh, “he took a large lot of miscellaneous goods with him, the greater part of which he advantageously sold at Toronto; but he does not recommend emigrants to follow his example in attempting this kind of trading speculation. From Toronto he removed to a fine tract of land, consisting of about 1500 acres, lying on the river St. Clair, which is at the extreme west of the settlements. This land he purchased a great bargain, and he mentions that he could already sell it for double what it cost. He describes the climate, even during the winter, as agreeable, and speaks with a great degree of gratification of his removal to and settlement in this delightful portion of the province.”

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