In the last letter I posted, young James Kaine was in Montreal as he watched the beginning of a dreadful fire that was to burn down much of the city. Link to post: https://acompellinglifeblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/18/montrealisburning/

This letter, the next in the collection, was written a year and a half later by James to Reverend Mease in Ireland. A reminder, Reverend Mease is the Church of Ireland minister for whom Aunt Bess was the housekeeper. In this letter from James and later ones from other family members, a real feeling of affection was expressed for Mr. Mease. The Kaine family were Protestants and quite religious.

James mentions that he is working for a “Master” so James and his brothers John and Christy were likely continuing to work in Montreal to send money to other family members and fund their eventual settlement in Canda West or Ontario as we now know it.

As outlined in my last two posts about Freshford, Ireland , there was much conflict between the Irish Protestants and Catholics. These antagonisms were not left behind in the old country after people emigrated to Canada as is evident in the way in which James vividly describes a Catholic procession to Reverend Mease. He states that the procession would “disgust a person of any common sense”.

My readers may feel as I did when I found some of the comments quite shocking to my 21st century sensibilities. I reminded myself that this was written over 150 years ago and those were the views at the time. More information can be found after the letters posted below.

  1. Kaine Letter January 1854
    Transcribed from the original by Kerrin Churchill 28/1/18 (punctuation added)
    James Kaine to Reverend Mease from Montreal Canada to Freshford, Kilkenny, Ireland
    January 26, 1854

Dear Sir
I received your welcome letter with heart felt joy to know that you think of us yet.
Dear Sir I cincerely trust that the Almighty will keep his all seeing eye over us and guide us in the rule which you dear Sir has so beautifully laid out. Dearest Mr. Mease It is a poor thing to be from home in a great many respects far from the Parents and their Loving Minister who is their Shepherd and Guide. Dear Sir this is almost the heart of Popery. They would disgust a person of any Common Sense to see the French Cannadians and the Irish Roman Catholicks going about in processions Thousands of them at the time. they have Children Dressed in a great many Different ways to represent the Angels and Images in the same manner which they worship and prostrate before. I was comming out of Church one Sunday and there happened to be a procession. I stood to look at them. I wasn’t long standing there when up came a Four Corner Machine like a bed and covered all over head with the priest walking Inside of it Bareheaded and Immediately as he came the people were all prostrate on their knees before him. There I was standing and some others that were coming out of Church as if we decended out of the clouds. This Machine was carried by men, I must call it so for I forget the name of it. So Dear Sir there is scarce anything but Priests Friars Nuns and the hight of Idolatry in this place. But thanks be to God which giveth us in (Protestants) the victory are daily increasing through our Lord Jesus Christ. Dear Sir my Master and Mrs. are very kind with regard to my religious duty for they never do anything to hinder me from going twice every Sunday to Church for they dine at half past five every Sunday that way I can go to church at 6 o’clock. I showed your letter to Capt. Gallwey which he was delighted to see and said it was a very nice letter. Dear Sir I must inform you that my Brother John has not seen your letter yet as he left Montréal on the 7th of December and went up the country to my uncle Joseph where he was received with great joy. He had the offer of two schools up there one at 55 pounds and the other at 60 pounds but he took a dry good store in preference. I will send your letter to him as soon as I get another letter from him and then I intend God permitting to write to my Father also.
Dear Sir I must conclude trusting that the Almighty will guide us through our earthly pilgrimages as he has done heretofore. I also trust Dearest Mr. Mease that your prayers will ascend to heaven for us unworthy sinners as we are and bring you Dearest Sir a brighter Crown of Glory in the world to come. I hope Dear Sir you remember us to Mr. Sannard and Family and also to Father and Mother Brother and Sister and Aunt Bess and all inquiring friends. Christy joins me in love to ye all. I will also take the liberty of mentioning John although he is not Present. No More at Present Dear Sir From your ever Faithful and Affectionate Subject Ja Keane
accept the same from Christy and John we are in good health thank God

I was curious about what James was describing and after some research, I concluded that he had witnessed a Eucharistic Procession or Corpus Christi Procession which uses a canopy to protect the Blessed Sacrament. The parishioners were worshipping the sacrament not the priest as James had thought. A description and some images follow below.

“In many countries, the day (Feast of Corpus Christi) is a holy day of obligation to participate in the celebration of Mass and takes place on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. On that day or on the following Sunday, which is the feast day where it is not a holy day of obligation, it is traditional to hold in the streets of a town or in an individual parish a procession with prayers and singing to honor the Blessed Sacrament. During the procession, the consecrated host is displayed in a monstrance held aloft by a member of the clergy. “
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_Corpus_Christi

James mentions that his brother, John, has “gone up country” to Uncle Joseph to take a job. I think that up country must be Huron County in Canada West, now known as Ontario where they all settle eventually. I have yet to figure out how Uncle Joseph is related to the family but will continue my quest for information. My next post will share the first letter from Huron county.

I am amazed that each post on this blog takes me about 10 hours to complete after I do a bit of research, writing and figuring out how to use Word Press. I was all set to take a night school course on Word Press but among most other things, that has been cancelled as the world is in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic. Delving into Canadian history and the family journey is giving me something other than the present to focus on. Until next time, stay home and wash your hands!!

One thought on “Letter #2 January 26, 1854: A Procession in Montreal

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