Diary of Our Home Trip, Chengtu To Canada, 1920
by William M. Leonard

Among papers of William M. Leonard moved from the basement of Wesley Leonard's Bush House near Port Rowan ON to Madison WI in April 2007 was a 6 x 8 inch hardcover notebook containing William Leonard's account of the Leonard family's 1920 trip from Chengtu China to Glencoe Ontario. The 47 page handwritten account is available here, and some highlights from this diary are given below:

p. 1-2  We left Chengtu in our small boat rowed by six rowers at about 4 pm, and after much crowding pushing, and yelling we got into open water from the crowd of boats. Mrs. Leonard with Wesley 5 weeks old had a busy time, the children, Catherine 8, Etheridge 6, Evelyn 3, Alice 2, all were in their glory with the novelty of living in a boat with bamboo matting for a roof. ...At 2:30 am our captain and 2 of our boatmen were arrested for gambling being suspected of being brigands, I had to give my card to Huang the cook to get our men out of gaol in order to continue our journey.

p. 16   The day finished up with the terrible tragedy of the night when we were robbed by the soldiers and lost $1140.50 worth of our worldly goods, our two large trunks.... Ichang brings us no pleasure because of our terrible experience here.

p. 17   We are much distressed because of the way we have been robbed but glad our lives are spared, and thankful to God we fared no worse.

p. 20   ...had some discussion with the Captain who thinks he is an atheist, most ignorant unwilling to learn, and proud of his integrity.

p. 26   Just learned that the Johns family at Chengtu has been augmented by twins a boy and a girl. [See email from Martin Johns.]

p. 29   At sea on board the Empress of Asia, calm sea and fast going. We reach Nagasaki at noon, all the usual farce of Japanese Doctors to inspect us, passports to be examined, nobody likes the Japanese.

p. 30   The stylish globe-trotter, her short skirts and high heeled shoes, come in for a lot of inspection, night comes and its off with her clothes, and on with the dance.

p. 33   Yokohama, wet morning, ...Edith left her gold wrist watch in the bathroom, went back to find it gone, no hope of ever seeing it again.

p. 35   Afternoon dancing with their clothes on, Evening with them off / almost /.

p. 37   At night when I had turned in, some worshippers of Bacchus and nicotine were holding high mass in the passage way and it disturbed my rest until 1 am.

p. 38   The usual semi nude women dancing, cigars, whiskey and late roystering by the worshippers of bacchus.

p. 41   Vancouver Island in sight the snow capped mountains are fine, Canada at last after over six years absence looks good to us, 9:30 pm we see the lights of Victoria B.C.

p. 46   Still on the Toronto Express.... We change at West Toronto at 3:40 pm and now at last are on the final home stretch Glencoe at last, and grandmother is still alive, 3 automobiles meet us and take us to Fred's home.

p. 47   A mile and a half to home where we greet Grandmother, well but still in her bed, Wesley was a surprise for her, she was not aware of his advent.
Now our traveling is done and we gladly rest on a bed that doesn't move.
This is the end of our trip of about 11,000 miles, out of the old celestial empire in the new dominion.

Return to writing contents