Sunday, February 21, 2016

February, 1843 End of the World Prediction in Canada

Sarah Terwilligar’s attempt to fly to heaven as the world is to come to an end, from Upper Canada Sketches by Thomas Conant, 1898.

Thomas Conant, in his 1898 book, Upper Canada Sketches, details how people in East Whitby and Area thought the world was going to end in February of 1843.  Conant wrote:

“The “Millerite scare,” as it might be called, was another instance of the extent to which religious fanatics could influence their hearers and affect their lives. From some manuscript left by my mother, and the account given me by my father, and by my uncle, David Annis, I have gleaned the following anecdotes of this curious event in our country:  

“During the Winter of 1842-3 the Second Adventists, or Millerites, were preaching that the world would be all burnt up in February, 1843. Nightly meetings were held, generally in the school-houses.

“Sarah Terwilligar, who lived about a mile east of Oshawa “corners,” on the Kingston Road, made for herself wings of silk, and, on the night of 14th of February, jumped off the porch of her home, expecting to fly heavenward. Falling to the ground some fifteen feet, she was shaken up severely and rendered wholly unfit to attend at all to the fires that were expected to follow the next day.”

The apocalypse was to have begun at two o'clock in the morning, at which time the fresh February snow would have turned to blood and started to burn. The Millerites were a bit off in their prediction.

And as for Sarah Terwilligar clad in her diaphanous gown, truly a woman with an instinct for attractive adornment under every circumstance, she broke her leg.