Twelve years in Canterbury: Hidden treasure #2

My second visit to ANZC, and I have unearthed this wee gem, with possibly the longest title in the world:  Twelve years in Canterbury, New Zealand, with visits to the other provinces, and reminiscences of the route home through Australia, etc. (from a lady’s journal), by Mrs. Charles Thomson.

I have fallen deeply in love with this book, and have a strong desire to take it home and sleep with it under my pillow, but alas, it too is part of our heritage and reference collection and can only be read here at Tuam Street.  So I will continue to sit and read in the ANZC area, and use words like alas! a lot.

In early December, 1852, Mrs Thomson tells us that she boarded “the good ship Hampshire at Gravesend, bound direct for the Canterbury settlement.”  Her journal goes on to describe the sea voyage (noting that although there are many fine people aboard, with good hearts and minds, there are also – !!! – many opportunities for sin!)

There are charming anecdotes – she tells the story of a family who brought out an English carriage:  “It was of course utterly useless, and served only for a laughing-stock, so ridiculously out of place did it appear”.  In attempting to land the carriage safely on shore, it instead ended up sunk in the harbour, and after the unfortunate vehicle had been fished up, it was promptly sent off to Sydney instead.

And some references to the early pilgrims’ reaction to what we see as our beautiful landscape:

It is not easy for the early Canterbury pilgrims to forget the desolate appearance presented to their gaze by the plains, when … they stood on top of the hill and looked down and beyond in the distance upon the site of their intended city. Few spots in nature could look more dreary or ugly; they could only comfort themselves by the assurance that it was healthy, and the hope that they might in time become accustomed to its ugliness; and then they looked upon the ever-grand and majestic mountains that bounded the view, and felt that in them, there was a magnificence that could never fail, and that in beholding them, the eye could never tire.

This book is a true treasure, and I can only urge you to go find it yourselves, and perhaps at the same time find your own Canterbury treasures to explore.  I will leave you with Mrs Thompson’s own words

[The author] trusts that the information she has been able to collect may prove useful to those who contemplate a visit to the Antipodes, interesting to those who stay at home, and may, perhaps, tend to open the eyes of all to the many advantages and blessings to be reaped by those who, with strong hearts and willing minds, seek distant shores, to create for themselves, under God’s favour, new homes, new fortunes and new health.

Christchurch sketchbook: Hidden treasure #1

One man’s trash, another man’s treasure  – words that keep echoing in my head every time I go into the Aotearoa New Zealand area here at Central Library Tuam. I talked a couple of weeks ago about the ‘old stuff’ that we have here and how mesmerising and distracting it can be. I thought I’d illustrate this some more as we focus in October on the theme of Rediscovering Christchurch.  So in this spirit of rediscovery I am venturing back into the shelves in search of more treasure.
Christchurch sketchbook by Unk White, text by Monte Holcroft

Today’s find: a little green volume called Christchurch Sketchbook, published in 1968.  A collection of pen and ink drawings by Unk White, with accompanying text by MH Holcroft, this is a wee gem that made me laugh, describing the Antigua boatsheds as a place where:

Icecream and soft drinks are sold briskly to customers in short pants.

and cry (remembering the heartbreak of watching the Provincial Chambers fall)

And then there could be seen in Durham Street a remarkable sight – a Gothic structure with arches, buttresses, windows and a magnificent entrance … viewed across a landscape of tussock, flax bushes, and a few lonely willows.

and feel proud to be a librarian

 … in all this time the [old Public] library continued quietly to grow … and under good librarians has made a fine contribution to a city whose people have always been fond of books.

Watch this space for more hidden treasures to be discovered!