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1789 Powell

Anne Powell (ca 1760 - 1792) traveled with her brother and his family from Montreal to Detroit. Her account of her adventures in Detroit indicates she had a good time there. She died of childbirth complications in Montreal in 1792.

The party left Montreal May 11, 1789, and arrived at Detroit, June 9 - a journey of 39 days.

The Fort lies about half way up the River, which is 18 Miles in length. In drawing the lines between the British and American possessions the Fort was left within their lines. A new Town is now to be built on the other side of the river where the Courts are held, and where my Brother must of course reside. As soon as our vessel anchored several gentlemen came on board; they had agreed upon a House for us, till my Brother could meet with one that would suit him. So we found ourselves at home immediately. We were several weeks at the Fort which gave us an opportunity of making a little acquaintance with the inhabitants. The Ladies visited us in full dress tho' the weather was boiling hot. What do you think of walking about when the Thermometer is above 90? It was as high as 96 the morning we were returning our visits. Mrs. P. and I spent the chief part of our time in our chamber with no other covering than a Slip and under petticoat. We found all the people extremely civil and obliging. In point of society we could not expect much; it depends altogether on the Military, an agreeable Regiment makes the place gay. The 65th which we found there on our arrival was a Corps that would improve almost any Society. The loss of it has made the place extremely flat and sets the present Regt in a disadvantageous light, which it cannot bear. While we staid in the Fort several parties were made for us, one very agreeable one by the 65th, to an Island a little way up the River. Our party was divided into five boats, one held the music: in each of the others were two Ladies and as many gentlemen as it could hold. Lord Edward and his friend arrived just time enough to join us. They went round the Lake by land to see some Indian settlements, and were highly pleased with their jaunt. Lord Edwd. speaks in raptures of the Indian hospitality. He told me one instance of it which is so refined that it would reflect honor on the most polish'd people. By some means or other the gentlemen lost their provisions and were entirely without Bread in a place where they could get none. Some Indians travelling with them had one loaf which they offer'd his Ldship, but he could not accept it. The Indians gave them to understand they were used to do without it and so it was of less consequence to them; the gentlemen still refused. The Indians then disappear'd but left the loaf of bread in the road where the travellers must pass and were seen no more. Our party at the Island proved very pleasant, which those kind of parties seldom do; they day was fine, the company cheerful and the Band delightful. We walk'd some time in a shady part of the Island, then were led to a Bower where the Table was spread for dinner. Everything here is on a grand scale; do not suppose we dined in a little English arbour; this was made of Forest Trees; they grew in a Circle and it was closed by filling up the spaces with small Trees and Bushes, which, being fresh cut, you could not see where they were put together and the Bower was the whole height of the Trees, tho' closed quite to the top. The Band was placed without and play'd while we were at Dinner. We were hurried home in the evening by the appearance of a Thunder Storm. It was the most beautiful sight I ever remember to have seen. The Clouds were collected about the setting sun and the forked Lightning was darting in a thousand directions from it. You can form no Idea from anything you have seen of what the Lightning is in this Country; these Lakes, I believe, are the nurseries of Thunder-Storms, what you see are only stragglers that lose their strength before they reach you. I had the pleasure of being on the Waer in one and getting very completely wet. My Clothes were so heavy when I got out of the boat, I could scarcely walk. We were a very large company going up on what is commonly called a party of pleasure. Most of the Ladies were wet as myself. We could get no dry clothes so were obliged to get our own dried as well as we could. A pretty set of fogires we were when we met to dance, which, on these occasions, is customary before dinner. I had resolved against it for the day was very warm, the party large and the room small. I was prevail'd upon to alter my mind by their assuring me that exercise would prevent my feeling any ill effects from my wetting, and I found it so.

From : THE LIFE OF WILLIAM DUMMER POWELL FIRST JUDGE AT DETROIT AND FIFTH CHIEF JUSTICE OF UPPER CANADA. By William Renwick Riddell. Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission, 1924: 71-72.