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Walt Whitman to Tilghman Hiskey, 20 June [1880]

Here I am way off in Canada West at a place called Sarnia3 (800 miles northwest of Phila:​ )—I am writing this on Lake Huron. Weather fine, country ditto—these noble waters, the lake, & the St Clair river, dotted with steamers & sail craft, suit me first rate. Everybody is kind & hospitable. To-morrow I visit a Chippewa Indian village—next day an excursion up the lake—Thursday back to London.4



  • 1. This letter is addressed: Tilghman Hiskey | Care of Ed: Lindell | ferry foot of Federal St: | Camden New Jersey | U S A. It is postmarked: Sarnia | (?). [back]
  • 2. Hiskey and Captain Respegius Edward Lindell worked for the Camden ferries (Specimen Days, ed. Floyd Stovall [New York: New York University Press, 1963], 183). Lindell, who was also a viola player, wrote to Whitman on July 4: "The boys read your little postal cards with much pleasure" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). [back]
  • 3. Whitman was in Sarnia, Canada, from June 19 to 24 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). See also Walt Whitman's Diary in Canada, ed. William Sloane Kennedy (Boston: Small, Maynard & Company, 1904), 3–10. [back]
  • 4. Whitman's printed accounts of his activities in Canada were more colorful than his personal letters, usually cards, as also was his Canadian diary. Whitman was especially attracted to a number of young Canadians; see his letters to Thomas Nicholson of October 14, 1880, December 17, 1880 and October 12, 1881. A young man named Norman McKenzie, a high school student in Sarnia, wrote to Whitman on June 29: "Do you remember the nice sail we had that night on the lake and river, I will never forget it, you, and I had such a pleasant time up in the bow of the boat when I sat on your lap and asked you questions about the which you wrote about in your book named Two Rivulets." McKenzie wanted to visit Whitman in London, Canada, during the school vacation period. The poet undoubtedly met the boy when he visited a public school in Sarnia (Walt Whitman's Diary in Canada, 8–9); probably McKenzie accompanied the poet on "A Moonlight Excursion up Lake Huron" (7–8). Whitman replied (lost) to the boy's letter on July 4 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]
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