[A Canadian’s manuscript travel diary of a trip to California and the Pacific Northwest]. L. Benedict.
[A Canadian’s manuscript travel diary of a trip to California and the Pacific Northwest].
[A Canadian’s manuscript travel diary of a trip to California and the Pacific Northwest].
[A Canadian’s manuscript travel diary of a trip to California and the Pacific Northwest].

[A Canadian’s manuscript travel diary of a trip to California and the Pacific Northwest].

California, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington and Britiish Columbia, 18 Jan. 1898–29 March 1898. 16mo (6” x 4”), tan cloth. 177 pp. of manuscript. 11 blank pp. With Benedict’s business card and a leaflet (6” x 3”), 8 pp.

A diary documenting a busy three-month trip taken by a well-connected Canadian to California and the Pacific Northwest, offering vivid impressions of the numerous locales and people encountered.

L. Benedict was a shoe-dealer and treasurer of the First Baptist Church in Brantford, Ontario. He leaves Brantford with an unnamed travel companion on 18 Jan. 1898, heading for San Diego via railroad, visiting Denver, Colorado Springs, and Salt Lake City en route. From California he travels to the Pacific Northwest, and then returns to Brantford by way of British Columbia.

Benedict takes the Canadian Pacific Railroad and the Wabash to Chicago, where he transfers to the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, traveling overnight to Council Bluffs and Omaha, then proceeding through “a fine country for raising corn as we passed miles of corn cribs and field after field of corn stalks many of them with cattle picking away what they could.” Upon reaching Denver, he visits various acquaintances and tours the state capitol and other places of interest, then heads for Colorado Springs, which he finds “a very good growing town” and very impressive for scenery, noting, however, “we could not see the top of Pike’s Peak as the top went up into the clouds beyond our vision.” Continuing westward he passes through “some of the wildest scenery imaginable reaching the summit of the Rockies about 2 o’clock Saturday morning could not stay on the car but had to get out and stand on terra firma and then be able to say I stood on top of the Rockies.”

In Salt Lake City, he attends a First Baptist Church (“the Baptists of Salt Lake are not a strong body I think from appearances”) and also attends a service at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, which he describes extensively. On 25 Jan., he reaches Sacramento, CA. Here he notes: “We also pass several places where the earth and rocks show evidence of having been turned over in the search of the yellow stuff which has made California so favored.” In Sacramento he stays at the Western Hotel (which he says is run by the Mayor of the city), and visits the Capitol building. Benedict is struck by the beauty of California and its wealth; he comments extensively on agriculture and a variety of sights, including lots of “loafers.”

At nearly every city he visits Benedict sees church acquaintances and makes new connections. He travels to San Diego where he stays at Bay View Hotel and takes a ferry to Coronado Beach, seeing his first porpoise and visiting the museum (with exhibits ranging from “the smallest bird to a 300 year old mummy”). Benedict briefly visits Mexico; returns to California, and visits National City and the caves of La Jolla. He makes reference to the Chinese who work “market gardens” and “supply the vegetables &c. for the city [of San Diego],” visits a ranch, and meets a millionaire who made his money in mining (“and is spending it here very freely”). He tours Los Angeles, Pasadena, various ranches, a Chamber of Commerce, and comments on population growth in California.

Reaching San Francisco on 14 Feb., he visits Cliff House, various museums and sees a mining exhibit, and on 16 Feb. they meet an 87-year old Irishman dying of cancer who had once been a sailor on the Great Lakes and later made a great success of himself in California. On 18 Feb. they get a livery rig and drive into the country around San Jose where they meet a daughter of “John Brown of Harper’s Ferry…She took tea with us and is a very smart, intelligent and unmarried lady. Also seen her sister who is married and lives on an adjoining ranch. They can tell some strange episodes in the history of their father.” On several occasions he observes men waiting for a steamboat for the Klondike (“the people here are crazy over gold getting”). He relates the news of the blowing up of the U.S.S. Maine; visits a mint and Chinatown (“so real and so revolting”), and a Chinese opium den (“a sight that baffles description”). On 19 Feb., after looking at a Visitor’s Register at St. James Hotel remarks, “not many Canadians…take this trip and those that have done so want do it again.” On 20 Feb. they pass through a portion of Santa Clara valley that they had not seen before: “this is the nicest and one of the most fruitful valleys we have been in and the almond trees are now coming into bloom and they are a fine sight they look like our peach orchards in bloom.” Benedict visits Oakland and Alameda while in the area as well.

On 23 Feb., after about a month in California, he travels to Portland, Oregon (“a bustling prosperous looking city”) where they encounter more Klondikers: “The Stores on all sides are full of supplies for the Klondikers who are a very numerous quantity here. At the hotel where we are stopping there are 100 awaiting a boat that sails in a couple of days. The people here have the Klondikers bad very bad and the Gold there and war with Spain are much discussed topic here heard the Klondike talk till tired and went to room.” From Portland, he proceeds to Tacoma. On the street he encounters four pairs of dogs “that the owner had driven from Brainerd Minnesota on a little wagon in which the man’s wife and child lived. Some days they traveled 52 miles and some from 16 to 25…he is trying to sell the dogs for $600 or he asks $100 for them singly…they are nice large dogs and drive like horses. There are lots of dogs on the street for sale and they are worth more than horses.” He visits a smelter and a mill “where they cut 6000,000 shingles a day…and it don’t take long for a log to made into shingles. They have a log in the mill that measures seven feet in diameter it is a whopper sure.” He notes as well that “no Chinamen are allowed in this city the only city in the United States that I know of that refuses them. They gave all living here some years ago notice to leave and they left and are not allowed to return.”

Upon visiting Seattle, Benedict finds the city even more possessed of gold rush fever than elsewhere, with business booming and “23 vessels loading one day last week for Alaskan ports.” He tours the city on cable cars making his way to a park in the northern part of the city, where he writes: “On this last day in February grass green weather delightful sun shining brightly the water as smooth as a sea of glass boats coming by and going out in plain view…and now we see coming into port The Kingston the boat we take tonight for Victoria.” After waiting that evening in an “old dilapidated waiting room,” they board The City of Kingston and arrive in Victoria in the morning, where he visits the capitol museum and attends a session of Parliament. He notes that the evening paper “had what they claim to be a report of election held in Ontario and hope they are not correct for they are by no means favorable to the liberal cause.” Reaching Vancouver via the vessel The Charmer, he visits “the shoe men Rod Campbell and Mr Pyke they carry a large stock and do a fine business prices are cut close not much different from ours. The Klondike outfitters carry boots & shoes and hurt the regular trade.” After visiting Rapid City, Winnipeg, and enduring a blizzard, Benedict returns to Brantford. He calls the 8900-mile 10-week excursion the trip of his life.

Also included here is a promotional booklet for Riverside, California, entitled “The Greatest Orange Growing City in the World,” apparently acquired by Benedict en route.

An engaging diary of an extensive western tour.

CONDITION: Good, contents block largely detached from covers; contents very good, no losses to the text.

Item #6850

Price: $2,500.00

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