|Charles Dickens portrait by Francis Alexander in 1842|
On Thursday January 20th, 1842, 170 years ago, Charles Dickens arrived in Canada on one of the first trans-Atlantic steamboats, The SS Britannia. He landed on the shores of Halifax, Nova Scotia before starting off his famous American tour documented in the little known book called American Notes. Some of the material gathered for American Notes became incorporated into the much hated novel in America called Martin Chuzzlewit published in 1843/1844. Two days later, on Saturday January 22, 1842 he arrived in Boston.
Here's a little excerpt from American Notes:
Chapter I: Going Away
" I shall never forget the one-fourth serious and three-fourths comical astonishment, with which, on the morning of the third of January eighteen-hundred-and-forty-two, I opened the door of, and put my head into, a "state-room" on board the "Britannia" steam-packet, twelve hundred tons burthen per register, bound for Halifax and Boston, and carrying Her Majesty's mails. "
So now you know that he arrived on Canadian shore first, exactly 170 years ago.
Now, here's another burning question for you proud Canadian readers. What was the real purpose behind his visit to North America in 1842? Stay tuned...