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Title: Pioneers of Old Ontario

Date of first publication: 1923

Author: William Loe Smith (1855-1945)

Illustrator: Margaret MacGillivray (1867-1940)

Date first posted: Nov. 26, 2023

Date last updated: Nov. 26, 2023

Faded Page eBook #20231134

This eBook was produced by: John Routh & the online Distributed Proofreaders Canada team at https://www.pgdpcanada.net

Charles Frederick Doherty




Eighth Thousand


First Printing, April, 1923

Second Printing, May, 1923









“Every side-line in Ontario is rich in memories of the joys and sorrows of the pioneers. In some of them may be gathered stories of tragedies rivalling in interest anything told of the lands of chivalry and romance.”

J. Ross Robertson.


Formal history and standard biography play an important part in fostering a national spirit. Canada has an ample supply of such works; but the history of the Beginners of the Nation, the men and women who carved out homes for themselves in the dense forests, on the wide, lonely prairies, and in the stern mountain valleys—their story can be gleaned only from almost inaccessible nooks, where lies much valuable information on pioneer days. An immense amount of information has vanished beyond recall.

At a dinner given in November, 1908, to mark the completion of the first Series of the “Makers of Canada,” Mr. John Lewis, the author of “George Brown” in the Series, said:

“There is just one other work supplementary to this which I would like to see undertaken by Mr. Morang, or some other equally enterprising publisher, and that is a history of the unknown Makers of Canada; the tens of thousands of pioneers who many years ago struck out into the wilderness and converted that wilderness into the Canada which we enjoy to-day.”

Almost a decade ago we had the publication of such a series under consideration, but the World War and the consequent unsettling of business halted our plans. We now launch this volume, the first of a series that will show by what suffering, heroism, and dogged determination the foundations of the Canadian provinces were laid.



In the Spring of 1897 I began a series of trips a-wheel through rural Ontario. These trips were undertaken with the object of obtaining first-hand information, for publication in the columns of The Weekly Sun regarding actual conditions on the farms of the province.

While engaged in that task, and purely by accident, I stumbled on a veritable storehouse of information of another kind altogether. This information was carried in the memories of men and women then still living—memories that went back to the days of the virgin forest, of log cabins surrounded by blackened stumps in the midst of scanty clearings, of bush trails and corduroy roads over which settlers toiled with their grists to distant mills, of old-time logging bees, and of the circuit riders who carried the Gospel message to those real heroes, who at such infinite cost in toil and privation were effecting a conquest in which there was none of the brute triumph of the conqueror or the bitterness of defeat in the conquered.

On the memories of those met with I drew for the material given in a series of pioneer sketches which appeared from time to time in the columns of the press during the period from 1897 to 1914. These sketches, with some further information gathered at a later date, form the basis of what is contained in this volume.

It was Goldwin Smith who first suggested the idea of putting into permanent form the fragmentary accounts of pioneer life which are here offered. The suggestion was made shortly after the sketches began to appear in print. Partly for that reason, but still more because the judgments and ideals which have governed my more mature years are mainly the result of the teaching and example of Goldwin Smith, whose character and aspirations were expressed in the inspired phrase, “above all nations is humanity,” this volume is reverently dedicated to his memory.

It is not pretended that what is given even approaches the standard of a complete history of the period dealt with in the life of Ontario. It is hoped, however, that the facts collected may in some measure make easier the task of one, with wider knowledge and greater literary skill, who will some day write a real history of the land in which we live. And there can be no real history of this land unless full justice is done to the memory and service of the men and women who, while suffering unbelievable privations, enduring a loneliness almost too great to be borne, and with hearts aching because of ties broken with home and kindred, laid the foundations of the civilization which it is our privilege to enjoy.


Publisher’s Note
The Coming of the Pioneers
From Southern Homes
On the Shores of the Bay of Quinte
Following the Blazed Trail
The Lonely Grave by the Wayside
Inland Settlements
Within Reach of the St. Lawrence
Grinding Corn in a Hollow Stump
Suing for Trade
Active at Ninety-Two
Putting Himself on Rations
Children and Sheep in the Cellar
Pioneers of Gananoque and Vicinity
On the Penetang Trail
Making a Premier
Villages That Are No More
Rafting Timber on the St. Lawrence
A Wayside Inn’S Famous Guests
A Long Way To the Mill
Hardships of the Nottawasaga Pioneers
The Rugby Settlement
The Early Days of Innisfil
Reminiscences of a Sunnidale Pioneer
By Way of Yonge Street
When Yonge Street Was an Indian Trail
The Queen’s Bush
A Sturdy Young Traveller
Teaming Grain and Provisions
Building in a Hurry
Municipal Government and Township Meetings
When Oakville Rivalled Toronto
the Summerless Tear
A Chingacousy Village
When the Frost Came
Pushing the Wagon Uphill
The Scotch Block
Working Into the Flat Country
An Old Time Diary
Misfortune Outlived
Contending With Mud
Smallpox and Fever
Neighbours in Need and in Plenty
Wild Turkeys, Pigeons, and Raccoons
Up Bruce and Huron Way
Kingston Road a Sea of Mud
Paying Taxes With Hay
Packing Goods at Seven
Is It Worth While?
Cow-Cabbage for Food
“A Little Pit Sore Apoot the Back”
A Boat Built at Kincardine
From Father To Son
Fifth Generation on the Same Homestead
Selecting Lands in Peel and Wellington
Three Races Blending in One
Treed by Wolves But Yesterday
Strong Drink, Religion and Law
A Heavy Handicap
Early Temperance Workers
A Temperance Township
Virtues and Failings
Pioneer Camp Meetings
Exciting Service in a Mill
Early Religious Revivals
The Cavan Blazers
Heroes and Their Descendants
The Black Flag of Death
Where Heroes Lie

1.Charles Frederick Doherty
2.Log Cabin of the Early Settlers
3.A Pioneer
4.Grandmother Trull’s Iron Pot
5.Blazed Tree—Primitive Lantern
6.Wintering the Cow
7.Spinning Flax
8.Durham Boat
9.A One Room School in the Early Days
10.Wooden Harrows in the Shape of a V
11.Self-Raking Reaper
12.Loading the Power
13.Revolving Rake
14.Husking Bee
15.Improved Sled—Washing Sheep
16.Single Handled Plow with Crossbar—Plow with Wooden Beam
17.A Cabin of the Second Generation
18.Sickle—Harvesting with Cradle
19.Old Family Plot
20.Pioneer Courtships: Father Prepares for Bed
21.Early Weapons—Candle Mould
22.Cider Press
23.A Dauntless Rider
24.Play Actors
25.The Log School House
26.Indian Basket
27.The Old Sawmill
28.Rafting Timber on the St. Lawrence
29.A Drunken Driver
30.A Rural Belle of a Hundred Years Ago
31.Taking Home the Grist
32.Soap-Making in the Early Days
33.Skidding Logs
34.Pioneer Tools—Candlestick
35.Departure of Simpson
36.A Bush Tavern
37.Mary’s Last Tree
38.Awaiting Their Turn to Unload
39.The Whole Distance by Waggon
40.Saving the Bridge Toll
41.A Pioneer Church Service
42.A Logging Bee
44.Township Meeting
45.Shearing Sheep
46.A Fiddler’s Plight
47.Barn-Raising Bee
48.Going to Market—Return from Market
49.“The Driver Fared Best of All”
50.Spinning Woollen Yarn
51.Ox Yoke—Primitive Latch
53.A Pioneer Dance
54.Carrying Water—Raccoons
55.Wedding Party:—A Piper Enlivens the Scene
56.Call to Dinner—Dinner Gong
57.Securely Anchored—Churn, Crock, Butter Bowl and Ladle
58.Cleaning Grain
60.Wax Seals of Crownland Deeds
61.Washing the Blankets
62.Doherty Homestead—Built in 1844
63.Making Tools
64.Sunbonnet—Cedar Broom
65.Old Oaken Bucket—Ash-Leech
66.Raising a Log Barn
67.Making Maple Syrup
68.A Pioneer Camp Meeting
69.An Unusual Sight
70.An Ontario Farm of the Present Day
71.The Father of Mercy
72.The Resting Place of Two Different Men

Log Cabin of the Early Settlers









The Coming of the Pioneers

In August, 1535, Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence and cast anchor at the Indian village of Stadacona. In 1608, Champlain, following in the wake of Cartier, landed at Stadacona with men and materials to lay the foundations of Quebec city. Around this centre grew up a small community, destined to spread its influence until a prosperous colony was built up on the banks of the lower St. Lawrence.

Fur-traders and adventurers penetrated far inland setting up trading-posts by lake and river. French missionaries lived and laboured amongst the Indians, winning converts by their devoted service. Explorers mapped out the courses of streams and noted the natural resources of the country. Military leaders built forts at strategic points. But for years, scarcely anyone seems to have thought seriously of making a living by the cultivation of the soil. Governor after governor complained to the home authorities that in contrast with the English settlers in the New England colonies, who began at once to follow agriculture, the French settlers preferred to engage in the adventurous and more lucrative occupation of trading in furs.

But with the passing of Canada to the English in 1763 and the subsequent revolt of the American colonies, all this was changed. Many colonists who had remained true to England had either been ruined during the revolt or subsequently found their old surroundings uncongenial and looked to Canada as a place of escape. The home government promised assistance, and thousands responded to the invitation to settle in Canada.

In the matter of location, the new-comers seem to have been allowed a wide range of choice. Lands, in what are now designated the Maritime Provinces, Quebec, and Ontario, were offered for settlement. Coming from New York and other agricultural states, many of the immigrants chose Ontario, settling for the most part within easy distance of the Great Lakes waterway.

With their coming, the pioneer period of agriculture in Ontario may be said to have begun. Nearly all of those who came at first were of humble origin, of honest purpose, and almost destitute of means. For two or three years, owing to crop failures and lack of equipment, they received some aid from the Government. A considerable proportion of these first settlers were Loyalists, and mingling with them were discharged soldiers, many of them Hessians, who took up land in preference to returning to Europe.

In addition to the Loyalists and subsequent American immigrants there were thousands who came direct from the Old World to settle in Canada. Those of American origin arrived mainly between 1780 and 1812, while the principal movement from overseas commenced a few years later. The first-comers from what is now the United States followed three main routes, one along the line of the St. Lawrence from Lower Canada, another from Oswego in New York State to Kingston and the Bay of Quinte, and still another by way of the Niagara frontier. Those arriving at Niagara divided into three sections on reaching the border. One section moved westward to lay the foundations of Haldimand and Waterloo counties; the second, passing around the head of Lake Ontario, settled in Markham, Scarboro, and adjoining townships; while the third followed the shores of the lake farther eastward for some fifty miles to a point where they almost joined with those coming up the St. Lawrence.

The later, and greater wave of pioneer immigration, originating from beyond the Atlantic, on arriving in Canada followed a route inland lying along the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa rivers by way of Bytown, as Ottawa was then called. From there the immigrants spread all over Eastern Ontario.

It is with these strangers in a new land, coming from widely separated sources, that we are concerned in these pages. Let us hear their story as they or their immediate descendants told it a quarter of a century ago.


On the Shores of the Bay of Quinte

It was no mere accident that the first place chosen for settlement is what is now Ontario, was the country in the vicinity of Kingston. Over a hundred years before, in 1673, Frontenac, the most illustrious of the governors of New France, visited the spot in state, and established a fort on the site of Kingston. But no attempt at settlement was made. The fort was intended merely as a link in the great fur-trading enterprise and as a barrier against the incursion of the Iroquois, the uncompromising enemies of the French.

A short time before Colonel Bradstreet captured Fort Frontenac in 1758, one Michael Grass had been a prisoner in the fort. After his release he returned to the colony of New York and settled on a farm about thirty miles from New York City. When the Revolution was in full swing, Grass was offered a commission in the Revolutionary army, but he was a staunch upholder of British authority and rejected the offer. As a result of his action his life was in danger and he sought shelter in New York City. Sir Guy Carleton (afterwards Lord Dorchester) was in command of the British forces. When in 1783 the Revolutionists emerged successful from the struggle, there was wholesale confiscation of Loyalist property and it was necessary to find homes on British territory for many of those who had remained faithful to the Crown. Carleton viewed with favour the Great Lakes regions as a place for settlement, and knowing that Michael Grass was familiar with the country about old Fort Frontenac, consulted with him regarding the character of the climate and soil. Grass gave a favourable report, and Carleton decided to send a considerable body of Loyalists to the region lying at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Grass was given a captain’s commission and placed in charge of a large party that sailed from New York for the St. Lawrence in seven ships escorted by a man-of-war. The voyage was a tedious and dangerous one, and the emigrants did not reach Sorel, at the mouth of the Richelieu, until it was too late in the year to proceed westward.

Here they spent the winter; but their story is best told in the language of men who came into contact with their descendants, and who had access to their records.

In the first week of August, 1899, I sat chatting with T. W. Casey, a faithful custodian of early records in Lennox county; Rev. R. S. Forneri, one of those instrumental in the erection of memorials to the creators of first things in Ontario; and Parker Allen, a grandson of one of the first settlers in Adolphustown, and at the time one of the two survivors of Sir John A. Macdonald’s first schoolmates. The hot rays of the afternoon sun were beating down upon the fields of yellow grain, before us glistened the rippling waters of the Bay of Quinte, while beyond them rose the bush-studded shores of Prince Edward. Behind the trees under which we were seated stood a commodious farm home with extensive outbuildings, while across the road the eye fell upon the beautiful farmstead of the nearest neighbour. Everything breathed of prosperity and comfort.

“One can scarcely believe,” said Mr. Casey, “that a century ago the land for miles in all directions from where we now sit was nothing but unbroken bush. Yet it is little more than a century since the forest in this neighbourhood was first attacked by the axe of the pioneer. The earliest settlers along the front of Frontenac and Lennox came from New York State, leaving there in the fall of 1783. The British Government furnished vessels to carry them to Sorel, on the Richelieu, where the winter of 1783 was spent. There they made their first acquaintance with the discomforts of a new country. Their winter habitations were huts of log cut from the surrounding forest. As the long winter months dragged on the men busied themselves in felling trees from which to construct boats to take them further inland. With the coming of spring, an advance party journeyed westward in these rude craft, and reached Little Cataraqui Creek, three miles west of Fort Frontenac, in June.

“Surveyor-General Holland had sent Deputy Surveyor Collins with the settlers, and under his direction townships were laid out. This was no easy task, and it was not completed until late in the summer. The advance guard then returned to Sorel, where another trying winter was spent. In the spring of 1785, the whole party moved forward and were soon carving out homes for themselves in the wilderness.

“Cut off from civilization by the rapids of the St. Lawrence they were very much isolated. Nor was their condition improved by their arrival in the middle of summer, too late to sow grain for that year or to make clearances for sowing fall wheat. Without money, for the Government refused to issue specie, without crops, and away from sources of supply their condition became desperate. To add to their troubles the year 1788 was one of complete crop failure. Of the following season when famine stalked in the land I have heard some pitiful tales. Many actually died of starvation while others were saved only by the game and wild pigeons which they were able to capture.

“These pioneers were grouped in five companies under the leadership of Captain Grass, Sir John Johnson, Colonel Rogers, Major Van Alstine, and Colonel Macdonell, and to each company was allotted a township. Four of these companies were composed mainly of soldiers and people who belonged to the mercantile classes in the Old Thirteen Colonies. Knowing nothing of bush life and little more of farming they were ill-prepared for the rugged life of agricultural pioneers.

“The Adolphustown settlers, under Major Van Alstine, on the other hand were mostly farmers and were able to turn their past training to good account. The first landing took place at a little cove about a stone’s throw from where D. W. Allison, at one time member for the Commons, afterwards built a fine residence, and on the farm of which Nicholas Hagerman was the first owner. This Hagerman was the father of Chief Justice Hagerman and three members of parliament. A granddaughter married the Honourable John Beverley Robinson at one time the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.

“Scarcely had the pilgrims settled in their new home when a final resting-place had to be found for a child which had succumbed to the hardships sustained during the journey. The site selected for burial was on a slight eminence a little way back from the water’s edge, and the grave prepared for the little one formed the beginning of the first cemetery laid out by those now peopling Ontario. Within the enclosure so formed the body of Nicholas Hagerman, one of the first practising lawyers in Canada, was laid later on; but the location of this grave is unknown to-day.”

“You see,” said the Rev. Mr. Forneri, who took up the story, “stones could not be procured at the time the first burials took place and the wooden slabs that were put up decayed in a few years. But before long tombstones could be procured, and if you visit a nearby graveyard you will find monuments marking the resting-places of Caseys, Ingersolls, Hoovers, Richmonds, Allisons, and Huffnails of that generation, while overshadowing all is a splendid granite shaft, bearing the inscription: ‘U.E. Loyalist Burying Ground, In Memory of the Loyalists who landed here June 16th, 1784.’ ”

“But the extreme hardships of the very early days,” broke in Mr. Allen, “before many years became a thing of the past. Probably no households at any time were more self-contained than the homes of these pioneers. Both men and women worked hard, the land was fruitful, and, since there was little sale for any produce, food and the raw materials for clothing and shelter were in abundance. Good houses, all of wood, took the place of log cabins, and barns that of rude hovels. Orchards had early been planted, and these provided plenty of domestic fruit to supplement what was gathered from the bush. Every matron prided herself on putting away quantities of it for home use. A long narrow strip of territory bordering on the waterfront thus within a few years became a place of comfortable living, and to many it seemed as though the sum of all they could expect or even desire in this life had been attained.”

From this our conversation drifted to the coming of later immigrants, and Mr. Forneri recalled an incident associated with a cemetery within the city of Kingston. Here lie the bodies of some four hundred Irish immigrants who perished of cholera in 1847. A monument erected on August 6th, 1894, marks the spot, and it was at the base of this monument that Archbishop Cleary and Principal Grant, doughty champions of opposing ideals in a conflict of the passing generation, forgot their antagonisms as their tears mingled in memory of those who perished almost as soon as they set foot in a land wherein they had hoped to find a happier home than the one left beyond the sea.

The stories surviving in Lennox at the time of my visit were chiefly of a sombre nature, but I also gathered some facts of quite another character.

A Pioneer

To Adolphustown, the front township of Lennox, belongs the honour of having formed the first municipal government in Ontario. “The record of that government still exists,” said Mr. Casey. “Although written by men engaged in the rough work inseparable from pioneer life, it is a model of neatness. Indeed, I question if there is in the province to-day a better kept record of the kind.”

Some of the fiercest political battles Ontario has ever known were also staged in the historic county of Lennox. In one of these contests Sir Henry Smith and James Morton, a rich distiller, were the principals, with Sir John A. Macdonald backing Morton. The latter won and the whole county, at least the Morton part of it, assembled to celebrate the victory. “There were,” in the picturesque language of one who heard the story from his father, “ten acres of teams; oxen were roasted whole, and feasting was kept up for two days and two nights.”

The story of Ontario begins with the pioneers of Lennox and Frontenac. It was along the front of these counties that the first settlement was formed by the advance refugees who came to this province after the American Revolution. Here the system of municipal government which we have in Ontario had its origin. In fact the first township government in Lennox, mentioned above, was formed in advance of provincial sanction and was taken as a model for the system afterwards created by provincial authority. Here, too, were first founded the Ontario branches of families whose deeds have since been written into the history of the province and of the Dominion. These families include the Cartwrights, Hagermans, Bethunes, Wallbridges, Inglis’, and Caseys. In Lennox, too, Sir John A. Macdonald spent his boyhood days, and in the beautiful cemetery of Cataraqui, in the neighbouring county of Frontenac, his body rests under a plain stone bearing the simple inscription,—

“John Alexander Macdonald 1815-1895 at rest.”

Following the Blazed Trail

While the pioneers on the shores of the Bay of Quinte were making homes for themselves, other settlers were coming in by way of Niagara and the head of Lake Ontario. Of these the Trulls, Burkes, and Conants penetrated farthest east and located in what is now Durham county. On the second day of October, 1794, these families began the first settlement in the township of Darlington.

“There were no roads on either side of the head of the lake at that time,” said Jesse Trull, a quarter of a century ago the head of the Trull family, as he told the story of the migration at a family picnic held on the old homestead in 1898. “On a journey that can now be made in a few hours we spent a month and one day. Leaving the old home in New York State on the first of September, we skirted the south shore of Lake Ontario in open boats to Niagara. From Niagara we followed the shore line all the way to Barber’s Creek, and, on the second of October, camped in front of where the settlement was formed.

“The journey was tedious, toilsome, and not devoid of danger. It was the month of storms on the lake, and when one of the frequent gales came up we had to pull our boats ashore for shelter. When night fell we also went ashore and camped in the woods that then covered the whole country from the lake front to the farthest north. As matches were still an invention of the future we had to depend on a flint, or the rubbing together of two sticks, to start a fire, a difficult operation at best and almost impossible of accomplishment when rain was falling. Our cooking utensils were pots hung on stakes over an open fire, and our food consisted of fish caught in the lake, game obtained from the forest, and bread hastily cooked from the flour we carried with us. Sleep was frequently broken by the howling of wolves, and some of the party had to remain on guard all night.”

Nor were hardships at an end when the final stopping place was reached. Rather had they but begun.

“It was not then a drive of a few miles to town, over gravelled roads, when groceries were needed,” said the patriarch. “Kingston and Toronto were our nearest markets and the journey, made in ‘dug-outs’ (boats fashioned from hollow logs), was a matter of days. Even when schooners appeared on the lake, transportation was no easy matter. In the absence of wharves the vessels had to lie out in the lake while farm produce was transported to them in open boats. One of the tragedies of the early days of settlement happened when Jesse Trull, my uncle, was drowned while transferring grain from a rowboat to a schooner that was engaged in gathering farm produce along the shore.”

One of the heirlooms in the Trull family is a small iron pot; and connected with the pot is a story that throws much light on the difficulties of the pioneer period in Darlington and the resource with which the difficulties were met.

Grandmother Trull’s Iron Pot

“In that pot my Grandmother mixed the herbs which served all the medicinal requirements of the first settlers.”

“In that pot,” Jesse said, “my grandmother mixed the herbs which served all the medicinal requirements of the first settlers. My grandmother had rare skill in the preparation of these herbs and she was further fortified by a book of directions in midwifery and the healing of the sick. Her services were frequently called on over a wide stretch of country, and, as there were at that time no bridges across the numerous streams flowing towards the lake, she many times had to swim her horse through them when on her missions of mercy. On one occasion the grandfather of S. Caldwell, of Hamilton township, near Cobourg, called upon her to visit a member of his family who was dangerously ill. The two set out together and arrived at the river at Port Hope just as night was falling. Mr. Caldwell had nearly lost his life in crossing the stream in daylight and he feared to make a fresh venture in the gathering darkness. Not so Mrs. Trull. She boldly drove her horse headlong into the water, breasted the swelling flood, and on arriving at the other side lit a pine torch with the flint she carried. By the fitful flame of the pitch pine, she followed the blazed trail in the woods for the rest of the journey all alone and arrived in time to save the life of her patient.”

Blazed Tree—Primitive Lantern

Frequent reference is made in these sketches to “blazed trails.” A “blaze” was made with an axe or draw-knife, and consisted in cutting a small piece of bark from a green tree. Marks so made on tree after tree served to show the way from place to place through the forests.

A most interesting document connected with the beginning of the Trull settlement is the record of the early marriage of Luke Burke to Nancy McBane in the “leafy month” of 1805. In April, 1807, John Carr was married to Betsy Woodruff “with the written consent of the bride’s father.” In December of the same year John Burke of Darlington was married to Jane Brisbin, of Whitby, “with the consent of the latter’s sister and brother-in-law,” these probably being the legal guardians owing to the death of the bride’s parents. Another curious light is thrown on the legal requirements connected with the marriage ceremony in the record of the solemnization of the marriage of Joseph Gerow to Pamela Trull by Alex. Fletcher, a magistrate of that day. The record sets forth that there was not an Anglican minister within eighteen miles, and this fact was the sanction for the performance of the ceremony by a Justice of the Peace.

Death as well as Cupid hovered near by. On a gentle slope on the Trull homestead, many of the first settlers in Darlington sleep their last sleep, while the winds sing a nightly requiem in the tops of the murmuring pines that stand like sleepless sentinels guarding the hallowed ground. Near the centre of the plot is a marble headstone bearing the inscription: “John Trull, died Feb. 19, 1830, aged 84 years.” This marks the grave of the first of the Trulls of Darlington. Close at hand is the resting-place of “John Casey Trull, Captain in H.M.S., born Sept. 2, 1795, died May 13, 1880.” That is the grave of the first Trull born in the township and the father of Jesse.

And Jesse himself, full of years and rich in the memory of a long life well spent, has since been gathered to his fathers. In fact, nearly all of those who supplied the material for this book have since died. Although dead they still speak, not only in the record here given but also by the work of their hands.

The Lonely Grave by the Wayside

We turn now to the movement westward from the Niagara frontier—a movement which occurred at the same time as the movement eastward along the north shore of Lake Ontario, led by the Trulls, Burkes, and Conants. This westward migration was composed largely of Pennsylvania Dutch, and the first settlements were formed in what is now the county of Haldimand. Among the Haldimand pioneers were the Culps, Hoovers, and Hipwells, and it was from their descendants that most of the facts given in the following story were obtained.

Tilman Culp, his wife, and two children arrived in the township of Rainham in 1794, and Mrs. Dedrick Hoover, a daughter of one of these children, told part of the story of the journey from Pennsylvania as she had learned it from her mother.

“I have heard my mother say,” said Mrs. Hoover, “that all their belongings on arriving at the new home, in what was then an unbroken forest, consisted of a horse, a cow, and half a bag of flour. The flour, the milk produced by the cow from the herbage of the forest, and such game and fish as they were able to secure furnished their sole means of subsistence until the first crop was gathered a year later. During the summer the cow foraged for herself in the woods, in the winter the children broke sprouts from young trees, and these were fed to the cow as she stood tied to a stump. In early spring, when provisions were almost exhausted and the new crop was not yet ready for harvest, grandfather gathered beech leaves, and these were boiled to make a stew for the children. The memory of that dish—and it seemed sweeter than honey to the well-nigh famished children—lingered with my mother until the end of her life. Shortly before her death she murmured, ‘Oh, I wish things would but taste to me as they once did.’

“Even at this our people were better off than some. A couple of boys from a neighbour’s house came over one morning and put on a fire for grandmother, begging her to cook food for them. But she had nothing to cook and the lads had to return as hungry as they came.

“On another occasion, when my mother had a few loaves of bread in the house, she saw a party of Indians approaching. She knew that there would be no food left for her children if the Indians once got sight of the loaves, so she hastily dropped them into a barrel, put a slab on top, and placed one of the babies on the slab. The Indians did not think of disturbing the child and so the bread was saved.”

Wintering the Cow

“In the winter the children broke sprouts from young trees, and these were fed to the cow as she stood tied to a stump.”

Mrs. Hoover’s husband, eighty years of age when this story was told, was also a grandchild of one of the first settlers. “My grandfather came in 1798 to spy out the land,” said Mr. Hoover, “and settled here four years later. His party travelled in covered wagons from York, in Pennsylvania, and were six weeks on the way, camping at night in the woods while on the journey. Many of the rivers crossed on the pilgrimage were without bridges, and in such cases it was necessary to cut down trees and form rafts on which the belongings of the party could be floated across.

“When our people settled here the nearest mill was at Bridgewater, within sound of Niagara Falls, and to that mill grists had to be carried in open boats, the distance equalling about a third the length of Lake Erie. Land was the only cheap article in the new settlement. My grandfather traded a horse, saddle, and bridle for the lot on which he settled.”

There was no one in the new settlement with the medical skill of Grandmother Trull, and, in answer to a question as to what happened when people took ill, Mr. Hoover made the grim answer: “We let them die and then buried them.” Provisions, too, frequently grew scarce, and on one such occasion Mr. Hoover’s uncle heard splashing in a nearby creek (there is no creek there now), and he knew that the noise indicated fish. Two or three of the settlers promptly went to where the splashing was heard, caught eleven mullet by hand and soon relieved the pangs of hunger. “When the first crop of potatoes and wheat was harvested the people thought that they were rich,” Mr. Hoover concluded.

One of the first of these Pennsylvania emigrants was Mother Hipwell. According to Uriah Rittenhouse, another of the early settlers: “Her party was eleven weeks in making the journey by wagon from Pennsylvania to where they settled on ‘The Twenty’ in Lincoln. A particularly sad incident took place during that journey. A baby was taken ill by the way, and one night while the party camped in the woods, miles from any human habitation, the little one died. Next morning, after a simple ceremony, the small body was buried at the foot of a mighty oak and the dreary journey was resumed. But every feature of the surroundings of the lonely grave was stamped on the mother’s memory, and she declared, to the day of her death, that if she ever again came near the spot she would be able to remember the tree beneath the wide-spreading branches of which her child was sheltered in its last sleep.”

But the great oak and its neighbours long since have fallen beneath the woodman’s axe. Even the stumps have disappeared. Where the giants of the forest once stood there now may be orchards of cherry and plum from which other children gather fruit knowing nothing of the frail body which lies mingled with the dust beneath their feet.

There were dangers as well as privations in the new home amid the primeval forest. Bears and wolves were everywhere and Mrs. Hoover’s grandmother once put a blanket over the open doorway to serve as protection against a pack of wolves. But the privations and dangers of the early days are now only a rapidly fading memory. The narrow dealings, which yielded a scanty subsistence, have been widened to broad acres of fruitful soil and the doorless cabins have given place to comfortable brick homes. One thing yet remains, however, a heritage of good neighbourhood, thrift, and honesty. In the Rainham of to-day, as in the Rainham of the pioneers, the word is the bond, and the latch string of hospitality ever hangs outside the door.

Inland Settlements

While the Hipwells and their fellow-travellers journeyed to Haldimand, another section moved towards the townships of Markham, Scarboro, and Pickering. The leader in this movement was Christian Reesor. In 1801, Christian, accompanied by his son Peter, travelled on horseback from Franklin county, Pennsylvania, to examine the country and to bring back information. Very soon they traded their horses for land on the tenth concession, Christian selecting lot four as the site of his future home. Since they had parted with their horses, the two had to return to Pennsylvania on foot. On reaching their old home they set about making arrangements for their final journey to the wilderness of the north. Owing to delays in selling their Pennsylvania holdings and packing up, it was not until 1804 that the journey to Canada was begun. Accompanying Christian on this occasion were four sons—Peter, John, Abraham, and Christian, Jr. From these the Canadian Reesor connection of to-day is descended. John, one of the four, had fifteen children and three of these children had in turn families of nine, ten, and fourteen respectively.

From Noah Reesor, a son of Peter, I obtained some particulars of the Reesor migrations from Pennsylvania to Markham. “I believe,” this descendant of the pioneers stated, “that our people spent six weeks on the journey. The party travelled in wagons and camped wherever night overtook them. They drove their cows with them, the animals feeding by the wayside and being milked night and morning. The butter was churned in the wagons, the vibration of the rude vehicles assisting in the work of churning. After the family had fairly settled down in Markham, and the first crop was harvested, the grain was carried on horseback over bush trails to Toronto to be ground into flour. In the ‘summerless year,’ the awful year of 1816, almost all the grain was frozen and what little was saved was gathered by men wearing overcoats as a protection against the cold.”

Josephus Reesor, a son of Peter, in telling of how the original settlers obtained their first food, said that they followed the cattle to the woods. Any plants the tops of which were eaten by the cows the settlers concluded were safe for human food and the roots were dug up to make a stew for the table. Thus, by trusting to the instinct of the dumb brutes, they avoided poisonous herbs. “There was,” he said, “only one store in Toronto at that early period and my father rode there and back to purchase supplies. Obtaining a water supply was another problem. Wells were to be found on only a few farms and in some instances water was obtained from pools formed by falling rain. Of at least one kind of food there was an ample supply. Large salmon could then be caught in the River Rouge at Cedar Grove.”

The father of William Armstrong, a connection of the Reesors by marriage, planted the first orchard in the settlement. The trees were seedlings and their fruit furnished a welcome addition to table supplies over a large part of Scarboro and Markham.

The first stone house in the township of Markham was erected on lot four of the ninth in the ’thirties, and a bank barn was put up on the same place about the same time. The timbers for the barn were cut from pine that yielded logs fourteen inches in diameter and forty feet in length, and they were all hewed by one of the Reesors with a broad-axe.

One of the relics of the early days is a trunk covered with deer-skin. Connected with that trunk is a sad story, paralleling that of the child buried beneath the wide-spreading oak by the party of Haldimand pioneers. This trunk belonged to the third Christian, a grandson of the founder of the Reesor settlement in York. This third Christian accompanied his father to the old home in Pennsylvania in 1826. The young man was seized with fever on the return journey and died at Lewiston. The father could not leave his dead to rest among strangers and so made a rude coffin of boards, and, with his dead son as companion, made the rest of the journey to the now desolate home in the forest. There the body lies among his own kindred in the little cemetery on the hillside at Cedar Grove. In that cemetery beneath sweet-smelling locusts, twenty years ago I counted ten graves in a group, all Reesors with the exception of one Wheeler, a connection by marriage.

But the descendants of those who are gone are as the sands of the seashore. At Locust Hill Creamery, when the present century was young, a third of the patrons were Reesors; two-thirds of those who patronized the local smithy at the same time were also Reesors; within a day’s travel were five hundred of the same name, and with their connections in the Hoovers, the James’, the Armstrongs and others, they ran into the thousands in the county of York alone. There are still more in the old home in Pennsylvania; and men of the name are found almost all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to Hudson Bay, and from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. Wherever in Canada the Reesor name is known it is held in honour and respect.

For some further particulars of the Mennonite settlements in Markham and adjoining townships I am indebted to what was told me in 1898 by John Koch, another descendant of those who made the great trek from Pennsylvania in the beginning of the last century.

“Delegates were first sent to select land for the new settlement,” Mr. Koch said, “and after these preliminary arrangements had been completed, stock was gathered together, goods and chattels were piled in wagons, and then the pilgrimage to the northland began. In that part of the United States which our ancestors traversed, the roads were not bad, but once the frontier was passed real hardship commenced. Roads had to be cut through the bush; rivers forded by the plunging horses; and, in going down some of the steep hills, logs had to be hitched to the wagons to prevent them from running over the animals.

“Nor did hardships end when our people reached their new home. Rather were these increased. Toronto, twenty miles distant, was the nearest point at which groceries could be obtained and a trip there occupied three days, the nights being spent in such shelter as the forest afforded. In Toronto itself you could almost have drowned a horse in the mud holes on some of the streets.”

Mr. Sherk, one of the early settlers, teamed cordwood to Toronto, which he sold at one dollar and a half per cord. He hauled a cord and a half at a time, starting long before daylight and not getting home until late at night. The women worked quite as hard as the men. They rose at four in the morning to spin flax before breakfast, and after supper, spinning was resumed and continued until nine or ten at night. From the flax was made all the clothing many of the first settlers had to wear both winter and summer. In order to save shoe leather people went barefooted while in the house in winter and barefooted everywhere in summer. The first shoes worn in summer by one of the pioneers were a pair loaned him by his grandmother.

Shortly after the settlement was formed, death came to a little child in the Sherk homestead. There did not seem to be, anywhere in the forest, an opening large enough to make room even for the body of a child. A small clearing on a hillside belonging to a neighbour on the fourth of Markham was at last discovered and the privilege was requested of using part of this as a resting-place for the dead. The request was granted, and this, the first burial, took place on the fourth of Markham in what is believed to be the oldest cemetery in the township.

Spinning Flax

“The women worked quite as hard as the men. They rose at four in the morning to spin, and after supper, continued until nine or ten.”


Grinding Corn in a Hollow Stump

While the last century was still young, immigrants from beyond the seas were attracted to Canada. For many interesting stories of the immigrants of that period I am indebted to Walter Riddell, father of Judge Riddell of Toronto. Not only had he a fund of information furnished him by his neighbours, but his own memory went back to the early days of Central Ontario.

When Mr. Riddell came to Canada from Dumfries in 1823, he crossed the Atlantic on a two hundred ton sailing ship, the Whitehaven, and was seven weeks and two days in making the voyage to Quebec. From Quebec to Montreal the journey was continued by steamer and from Montreal to Prescott in a “Durham boat.”[1] Passengers who had a few shillings to spare could obtain sleeping quarters in the cubby holes forward or aft, while those who could not pay slept in the open space in the centre. When the wind favoured and there was no current, such boats were driven by sails; over shallows they were “poled” along by the voyageurs; and up the Long Sault they were hauled by thirteen yoke of oxen and a team of horses walking on the bank. From Prescott to Cobourg the journey was made by steamer.

Durham Boat

“From Quebec to Montreal the journey was continued by steamer and from Montreal to Prescott in a Durham Boat.”

“At that time,” said Mr. Riddell, “William Weller ran a stage line from Kingston to Toronto. During the summer, while boats were running, there was little business for the stage, and the horses were turned out to pasture, but in winter the owners of horse transport did a capacity business.

“The first considerable influx from the old land began about 1820. Among the earliest arrivals from that quarter were the Coverts, Jeffreys, Wades, Plews, Spears, Dales, McCormicks, Powells, and Rowes. When this migration was at its height in the thirties, Rice Lake Road was a stirring highway. Immigrants landed at Cobourg and were carried over the road to Sully on Rice Lake and from there by open boats to the country further north. Before the railway was built to Harwood on Rice Lake, large quantities of flour, lumber, and other supplies were hauled over the same road to Cobourg for shipment across Lake Ontario to the American market.

“The first store in Cobourg was built by Elias Jones in 1802. Mr. Jones later on built the first grist-mill in the township of Haldimand. The first wagon in the township was made by Elijah Buck about 1808. Oliver Stanton, born about the first year of the last century, is said to have been the first white child to see the light of day in Haldimand township.

“The first settlers in the township ground their corn by pounding it in a hollow stump or log, and such as had wheat were obliged to take it by boat to Kingston to be made into flour. On one occasion boats carrying grain were driven into Presqu’isle by a storm and frozen up there for the winter. During the winter season it was a common thing for a settler to have to carry flour on his back for twenty or thirty miles through the woods.

“The year 1816 was a particularly trying one on the young settlement as there was frost every month in the year. None of the corn ripened and the whole community was on short rations. Even at a much later date serious hardships were suffered, the springs of 1836 and 1843 being particularly trying. At that time most of the farm animals, save horses, were sheltered in the lee of strawstacks, and, as shelter and feed were both scarce, cattle died by the hundreds.

“As soon as a young man had erected his shack in the woods he was considered ready for marriage, and the bridal tour was made from the parental home of the bride over a blazed trail to the new abode. In the home the Bible was read by the flickering blaze of a pine knot, as even candles were unknown to the first settlers. Preachers travelled on horseback and carried their belongings in a saddle-bag. Sometimes, when night overtook them in the woods, they slept in the shelter of an overhanging pine. When a preacher arrived in a settlement, messengers were sent far and wide to announce that service would be held in a certain home.

“It was difficult to obtain teachers of any kind, and those chosen were generally men who were unable or unwilling to do any other kind of work. Payment for teaching was made by the parents, the charge never being less than two dollars per quarter for each child sent to school.

A One Room School in the Early Days

“Unless the teacher was a man of nerve and resolution he had little chance of maintaining order in the schoolroom.”

“Municipal taxation in 1826 was at the rate of a penny in the pound for district purposes and a fourth of a penny for the services of the district’s representative in the Legislature. The assessment varied according to the character of the house, whether it was built of squared log, frame, brick, or stone. The highest tax paid by one person in that year was fifteen dollars and thirty-seven cents and the lowest, three cents. Twenty-eight ratepayers paid eight cents or less.

Wooden Harrows in the Shape of a “V”

“Everything in the way of clothing was manufactured at home. Linen clothing was made from flax grown on the farm, and home-grown wool was transformed into woolen clothing; all the operations from sheep-shearing and flax-pulling to spinning and weaving being carried out on the farm. Tools and implements used in cultivating the land and harvesting the crops were made, for the most part, either by the farmers themselves or by local blacksmiths. Wooden harrows were fashioned in the shape of a V so that they would more readily pass between stumps, and the teeth were slanted backwards to facilitate passing over roots. Iron forks and hoes were made by local blacksmiths, and plows of the same material were also the product of township smiths. These plows had single handles with crossbars to hold them by. The first plow of the form now in use was called the ‘Dutcher’ and was made in Toronto, the ‘Norton’ plow following soon afterwards. The ‘Dutcher’ cost from six to eight dollars and was made of cast metal. Nearly all the local blacksmiths tried their hand at making the new kind of plow, but the best was made by John Newton of Cobourg. It cost twenty dollars as compared with fifty dollars for one imported from Scotland. The ‘Lapfurrow,’ which sold for seven dollars, was the first American plow imported. The first reaper in the neighbourhood, and I believe the first in the province, was imported from Rochester by Daniel McKeyes in 1843. The horses used in operating it were driven tandem and a man stood on the platform to throw off the sheaves. This reaper would cut twelve acres in a day and did as good work, so far as cutting was concerned, as the self-binders of to-day. The McCormack reaper, which appeared in 1847, was too light. Helm & Son of Cobourg began making reapers about 1848 and secured first prize for their machine at the Provincial Exhibition. In 1860, I was judge at Dundas in a competition between self-raking reapers, but these did not prove successful. The Marsh harvester, first used in 1868, worked well in light grain, but in a heavy crop the two men who stood on the platform to bind could not keep up with the cutting. The first self-binder I saw was at a show at Rochester in 1868. The mowing-machine did not appear until 1850 or 1852. The first I saw was made by Ketchum of Buffalo and cost one hundred dollars. It was heavy on horses and hard to manage. ‘Ball’s Ohio,’ which was put on the market soon afterwards, was long a favourite.

Self-Raking Reaper

Loading the Power

“When moved from one farm to another the horse-power was loaded on the front wheels of the wagon first and the thresher on top of that.”

“The revolving wooden horse-rake was introduced about 1840 or 1841, the first one in our section being used on Angus Crawford’s place. It sold at seven or eight dollars, and I doubt if a greater labour-saver was ever produced at less cost.

Revolving Rake

“The first threshing-machine in our neighbourhood made its appearance in 1832. When moved from one farm to another the horse-power was loaded on the front wheels of the wagon first and the thresher on top of that. Then the reach and front wheels of the wagon were connected up with the rear wheels and the outfit was ready to move. When the thresher was in operation the grain was threshed by the cylinder beating the heads against the bottom of the machine. Grain and straw came out together, and one hundred bushels was a day’s run, and the work was wonderfully well done. The owner of the outfit received every fifteenth bushel for his toll. John Livingstone introduced the Pitt separator in 1842, and all threshing-machines that came later were simply improved Pitts.

“There were no stoves in the early days and most of the fireplaces were built of a mixture of clay and straw. In the chimney was placed a cross-bar of wood or iron, and from this were hung the pots and kettles used in cooking. The pots were for cooking potatoes or pork and the kettles for baking bread. These kettles were usually about two feet in diameter, with an iron lid, and coals were placed above and below for baking. In some places brick or clay ovens were built outside the house.”

Husking Bee

“If one of the lads found a big red ear of corn he had the privilege of kissing the lass next to him, and it is surprising how many big red ears were found.”

“But,” continued Mr. Riddell, “despite all the hardships of those days, and even if the larder was not always too well filled, they were the happiest period in our lives. Neighbours were always welcome in each other’s homes to whatever the board could provide. We had our simple pleasures, too, one of these being found in the ‘husking bee’. At these bees lads and lassies occupied alternate seats. If one of the lads found a big red ear of corn he had the privilege of kissing the lass next to him, and it is surprising how many big red ears were found. The husking bee, held in the evening, was usually preceded by a quilting bee in the afternoon, which was attended by women only, the men coming later for the husking. The latter was followed still later by a dance at which home made cheese, cake, and punch were served. (Whiskey was then only twenty-five cents a gallon.) How late did we keep it up? That depended on the company and the state of the roads, but the boys generally managed to get to bed by midnight after first seeing the girls home. John Grieves’ place, lot twenty-seven on the second of Haldimand, was a favourite place for these old-time social gatherings.”

A Durham boat was about thirty feet long with an enclosed space at each end.

Suing for Trade

Henry Elliott, long known as “The Father of Hampton” was one of numerous Devonshire folk who settled in Durham county in the first half of the past century.

Born shortly after Trafalgar, Mr. Elliott sailed for Canada on the Boline, in 1831. The size of the ship can be imagined from Mr. Elliott’s statement that her sixty-one passengers crowded her to the limit. Among the passengers were Rev. J. Whitlock, at one time stationed at Port Perry; Richard Foley, whose descendants for years lived west of Bowmanville; and Thomas Courtice, whose family name was taken for a roadside hamlet east of Oshawa, where many of the connection still reside.

Leaving England on the fourth of May, the Boline reached Prince Edward Island on the fifth of June, and after spending ten days there in discharging part of her passengers and freight, she arrived at Quebec ten or twelve days later. From Quebec, Mr. Elliott was carried by the usual mode of conveyance at the time as far as Kingston, and from Kingston to Port Hope the passage was made by steamer. As there was then no dock at Port Hope, the passengers for that point were landed in a barge known as the Red Rover. This barge was owned by an uncle of Dr. Mitchell who afterwards practised medicine at Enniskillen.

While at Port Hope, Mr. Elliott worked for a time in a mill owned by John Brown. “Mr. Brown,” said Mr. Elliott, “owned a store as well as a mill and he adopted a novel method of bringing business to the store. When he heard of anyone in the back country of Clarke, Cartwright, or Manvers who was not buying at his store, and whose business was worth having, he promptly entered suit against the prospect for an imaginary bill. The next stage, of course, was a call at the store, in a state of indignation, by the party sued.

“ ‘What do you mean by suing me?’ the indignant one would ask. ‘I don’t owe you any money.’

“ ‘Of course you don’t. I only sued so as to bring you out where I could see you!’

“The caller as a rule saw the humour in the situation. In any case he enjoyed the royal entertainment offered him, and the usual result was that he became a friend of Brown and a customer at his store.”

In 1840, Mr. Elliott decided to establish a milling business of his own at Hampton. There was not a house in the place at the time, merely the frame for a mill. Mr. Elliott purchased this, at the same time erecting a shanty for his own residence, thus giving the place its first name, “Shantytown.” The capacity of the mill, when it was completed, was only from forty to fifty bushels per day.

Improved Sled—Washing Sheep

“Customers for the new mill came not only from the neighbourhood but from Cartwright and Manvers,” said Mr. Elliott when telling his story in May, 1899. “There was then hardly a horse in the whole surrounding country and oxen were used to haul the grain. Some did not have even a wagon, and in that case a sapling cut from the bush was made use of. The butt was fastened to the yoke and the crotched end allowed to trail on the ground. On this crotch a board platform was nailed and the grain placed on that. With such primitive conveyances the settlers often drove fifteen or twenty miles, spending two days going and coming, and sleeping in the mill at night while waiting for their grists.

“About the time I established the mill John Farley obtained eight hundred acres, with fifty cleared, in exchange for a frame tavern six miles west of Port Hope. Dr. Ormiston, the well-known Presbyterian divine of his day, ‘logged his way through college’ by helping to clear his uncle’s farm. Later on a boom struck Hampton and quarter-acre village lots sold for as much as three hundred and fifty dollars; but the boom collapsed in the crash of the ’fifties, and forty years later these same lots could have been bought for thirty-five dollars.”

Hampton is still, however, a beautiful little village and Hampton people have honoured themselves by creating one of the most attractive parks to be found in rural Ontario as a memorial to the founder of the village, one who served well his day and generation.

Durham County has been not inaptly described by some enthusiastic Durhamites as “the mother of factories.” Nor is the claim without basis. The McLaughlin motor plant in Oshawa owes its origin to a little shop erected by the first of the McLaughlins at the cross-roads village of Enniskillen, a shop for making wagons and sleighs, one such as might be found in almost any little hamlet in Ontario at that time.

Single Handled Plow with Crossbar—Plow with Wooden Beam

Mr. Allin, to whose memory I am indebted for the story of the Millerites, given in a subsequent chapter,[2] told me, too, that he remembered when the shop of Hart A. Massey’s father, in Newcastle, gave employment to just three persons. That was the period when owners of little smithies all over the province were turning their minds to the development of new forms of labour-saving implements for the farm. After these inventions had begun to take shape, field contests between rival builders of reapers provided excitement almost equalling that caused by the Millerites.

As the Massey factory forged ahead, Newcastle, a peaceful enough village to-day, began to assume metropolitan airs, at one time boasting no fewer than three papers. “One of the Newcastle journals of that time,” Mr. Allin said, “was published by Calvin H. Powers. Mr. Powers was a gifted speaker as well as a convincing writer. He was a leading figure in electoral contests waged by Munro, who represented West Durham before the time of Edward Blake. Powers afterwards removed to the Western States and became a still more prominent figure in politics there. He gave Abraham Lincoln able assistance in his first Presidential campaign and was afterwards elected Governor of Minnesota.”

The numerous branches of West Durham families were then as now widely scattered in America and frequently distant relatives met in unexpected ways. Concerning the Allin connection, Reeve Frank Allin of Clark told me: “A brother of mine moved to California and some time after his arrival there, simply because of his name, he was invited to an Allin family picnic in that State. In the course of conversation it was discovered that the California Allins were a branch of our common connection in England and that they were descended from an Allin who had moved to California about the same time that the first of the Allins migrated from England to Canada.”

See page 313 et seq.

Active at Ninety-Two

The most remarkable feature connected with the following story is that, although told me so recently as 1920, the narrator remembered when the howling of the wolves could still be heard in the swamp between Lake Ontario and where the Kingston Road cuts through the little village of Newtonville, in the county of Durham.

Samuel Jones, from whom the story was obtained, was only eight years short of the century mark at the time of telling it. But time had dealt lightly with this veteran. He was at work in his garden, in the afternoon of a hot August day, when the interview began. As we walked towards the house his step was as firm as that of a well-preserved man of fifty, and I found him able to read fine print without the aid of glasses. Of all those whose stories are told in these pages none had a clearer recollection of the events, not only of recent occurrence, but of the remote past. Add to this the fact that Mr. Jones was born on the farm on which I met him and the interest of the information is still more enhanced.

A Cabin of the Second Generation

“Even within my recollection,” Mr. Jones informed me, “Kingston Road was little more than a path through the bush. I can remember when our grists had to be carried to Port Hope, and in the time of my father, settlers about Newtonville, and from as far back as Omemee, went all the way to Kingston to have their grain made into flour. As a lad, when going after our cows, I have heard wolves howling in the swamp at the lower end of our place near the lake front. One night, on a farm owned by a man named Charters on the fifth concession of Clarke, wolves tried to tear a hole in the roof of a shed in which sheep were sheltered. I have speared salmon in Drury Creek, which crosses the farm of John Barrie; a creek that is now little more than a succession of puddles. It was a common thing for settlers then to take a couple of barrels of salmon from the lake in a night.

“I have seen the sky darkened by the flight of wild pigeons, and, when these alighted in myriads on the ground to feed, it seemed as if the surface of the earth was heaving as they moved about. Indians came regularly in spring to make baskets in the adjoining woods, baskets that were traded to the settlers for provisions.

“I have seen the sickle give place to the cradle, the cradle to the reaper, and the reaper to the self-binder. Intermediate between the sickle and the cradle was a scythe with a hole bored in the centre of the blade and connected with the snath by a wire ‘hauled taut.’ With that tool an expert could lay a swath as neatly as swaths were afterwards laid by a cradle.

“Our first cradle, called the ‘Grape Vine,’ was made by Asa Davis, at Newcastle. It was a clumsy implement, but Joseph Moulton once cut six acres of rye with it in a day. Our first reaper was ‘The Woods,’ invented by a man of that name, and made at Newcastle by the first of the Masseys. That was, in my opinion, the best reaper ever made.

“Quite early in my time a wooden horse-rake was developed. When the rake was full, it could be revolved on its axle and the rakings dumped. The same implement was used in pulling peas. One man thought he would improve on this and built a steel rake of the same pattern; but, when this was used in pea harvesting, almost as much grain was threshed out as was gathered in the pods.

Sickle—Harvesting with Cradle

“The first threshing-machine in the neighbourhood consisted of little more than a cylinder, and the threshed straw had to be raked away by hand. I spent one winter operating this threshing outfit. Our practice, on arriving at a farm at night, was to break the crust on the snow where the horse-power was to be placed, and then to let the power down to solid ground. Snow was next packed around the machine and water poured on the snow. By morning the horse-power would be frozen solidly in place and the necessity of staking avoided.

“Before we bought our first fanning-mill my father cleaned his grain by laying a sheet on the ground and pouring out the grain from a pail held at an elevation, the wind being relied on to blow away the chaff.

“As grain production increased, Port Granby became an important shipping point, and I have seen as much as ten thousand bushels of barley loaded into waiting schooners in a single day. To-day the Port is not even a remains. The piers rotted away years ago and stone-hookers carried off the stone used in filling the cribs.

“Other ‘industries’ came with increased production. Distilleries were in my youth about as numerous as schoolhouses are now. There was a distillery in Newtonville, another between Bowmanville and Newcastle, and a third at Port Granby. With so many stills in operation, drunkenness was rife. The first counter influence was that exercised by Methodist missionaries who covered the country on horseback. The missionaries I best remember were Douse and Van Dusen.

“There was great excitement, and something more than excitement, in connection with early elections. Newtonville had the one poll for the riding and voting was continued for several days. On one occasion rival factions, each led by banners and fife and drum bands, met in the middle of the road. What might have been anticipated happened; banners were torn to ribbons, drums smashed, and some heads were cracked as well. Something worse occurred on one occasion, when one man voted, as another thought, the wrong way. The offender was struck on the neck with a club and dropped dead, and the ‘Cavan Blazers’[3] prevented the immediate arrest of the offender.”

The story of Mr. Jones’ father’s selection of a lot is as interesting in its way as is a story told by the Honourable Manning Doherty of the refusal of his great-grandfather to accept a farm located at the corner of Queen and Yonge Streets, Toronto. The first of the Jones family had secured the location on which the town of Omemee stands; but when he found this could be reached only by travelling over several miles of blazed trail, he traded the lot for fourteen bushels of wheat and bought lot eight, on the first of Clarke, which was then part of the Clergy Reserves. Years afterwards he was offered two hundred acres near by for one hundred dollars, but, although having ample funds, he refused to accept the offer. The property afterwards sold for one hundred dollars an acre. Dame Fortune, fickle jade though she is, and although her offers had been twice spurned—once at Omemee and again later on—would not be wholly denied. Part of the Jones homestead forms a section of the site of the village of Newtonville, and there has, therefore, been some unearned increment in that case.

The first house on the Jones homestead was of log, but this was soon replaced by a stone structure. Even that was grey with age when this story was told, although the narrator of over fourscore and ten, born before the stone house was erected, was still vigorous in mind and body. On the same homestead the first orchard in the neighbourhood was planted, and one of the trees, a Pumpkin Sweet, over one hundred years old, was bearing fruit when I was there.

Old Family Plot

“In the centre are three trees, a pine, a basswood, and a walnut. Here lie buried eight members of the family of William Cornell.”

In company with one of the third generation of the family I mounted the hill on which the village cemetery is located, and there I saw, what I had observed in countless other cemeteries, where the pioneers of the settlement lie. On the stones above the graves were the words “native of—” with the name of the English village, Scottish glen, or Irish valley, in which those who have passed away were born. On returning to the Jones home, the man whose memory covered well nigh a century of time told me that fully two-thirds of the names I had seen are no longer heard in the township of Clarke. The first of those bearing the names have passed beyond the line dividing time from eternity. The descendants are more widely scattered than “The Graves of a Household.” Why is it that the place of birth, so fondly remembered by the first generation, as evidenced by the inscriptions on the headstones in the old cemetery, has failed to hold the children born here beneath the shade of majestic pines and amid the autumn glories of broad-leaved maples?

See page 320 et seq.

Putting Himself on Rations

Samuel Billings, living north of Orono at the time of my visit, also told of the early days in Clarke.

“Our first farm,” he said, “a mile south of Orono, was purchased about 1831, from the Honourable Peter Jackson of Toronto at three dollars per acre. Ten years later we moved to our present farm, four miles north of Orono. This we purchased from Jeremiah Orser, Port Perry, for eight hundred and fifty dollars. Even at that comparatively late date we had to cut a road for half a mile through the bush to reach the place. When we first came to Clarke there was only one house, Dr. Herriman’s, in the neighbourhood. Charles Bowman, after whom the town was named, owned a grist-mill at Bowmanville. The late Honourable John Simpson was an adopted son of Bowman. Abraham Butterfield, Charles and John Bellwoods, John Middleton, R. W. Robson, and E. Gifford were among those who settled along the front of the township about the time we came in.

“Just south of Orono was a little prairie that had apparently formed over an old beaver dam. I have seen a dozen deer sunning themselves there at one time. Indians came here from as far away as the Credit to hunt them, and one halfbreed in a party killed ten deer in one day.”

Thomas Thornton, father of C. J. Thornton, ex.-M.P., and one of the Thornton-Powers connection, also contributed to these Clarke reminiscences. Mr. Thornton, born in Yorkshire, as a boy of six came to Canada with his father in the ’twenties of the last century. He was thirteen weeks and three days in crossing the Atlantic, and three weeks more were spent on the journey by Durham boats between Quebec and Montreal. “And,” Mr. Thornton told me, as we sat on his porch in Orono, twenty-three years ago, “it rained on every one of those twenty-one days, save three.” That certainly was no pleasure trip for a boy of six. In 1835, while still a lad, Mr. Thornton went to live with Thomas Best on the eighth of Clarke. “On one occasion,” he said, “when we required to have some wheat ground, and having no horse of our own, it was necessary to pack the grain to a neighbour’s place. We divided it into four bags, and Best and I carried two bags for a distance and then went back for the other two, and so on, each carrying two bags alternately until we had covered the two miles between our place and Bill Livingstone’s. Then Bill teamed the grain to Bowmanville to be ground for us. At that time there were only three horses in the township north of the sixth concession.

“When Mr. Best first moved to his farm, his worldly possessions consisted of three pigs, an axe, and what he considered sufficient pork, flour, and potatoes to see him through until next harvest. During the following May he began to fear that pork and potatoes were going to run short and he decided to apportion what remained to make sure of having at least some for each day until a new supply came in. He weighed a pound of pork, cut it into slices, counted the slices and from this calculated how many slices per day his remaining stock would allow him. Next he filled a half-bushel measure with potatoes and counted the number of potatoes per day he could afford for each meal. In this way he managed to keep up a daily supply until new sources were available. In order to hasten the fattening of the pigs I had to go to the bush and hunt cow-cabbage to feed them. And I assure you fattening the kind of pigs we had then, by the means described, was no picnic. The pigs were of the kind that required a knot in their tails to prevent them from slipping through a hole in the fence.

“In the summer of ’thirty-seven, bears were almost as thick as blackberries, and the tracks left by wolves were as common as sheep tracks are now. One morning when I was trying to kindle a fire under a sugar kettle in the bush on lot twenty-seven on the eighth concession I looked up and saw a wolf eight feet away. He moved off, and you may be sure I made no effort to interfere with his going. One evening, again, when I was sitting up with a girl (we were all boys once) I heard wolves howling in the bush and suggested to the girl’s father that the sheep had better be brought in. He said I might go after them if I liked, and I did so. Meantime the owner of the sheep remained comfortably in bed.”

Children and Sheep in the Cellar

When I spent a few days along the St. Lawrence, between Prescott and Cornwall, in the fall of 1899, there was still living a man who as an infant was present when the battle of Chrysler’s Farm was fought in November, 1813. There were a number in the neighbourhood who had heard stories of the battle from parents or grandparents and almost every home held mementos of the War of 1812-15.

Elias Cook, a brother of H. H. Cook, the political rival of D’Alton McCarthy in North Simcoe in the ’eighties, was a year old when the American army landed on the north shore of the river and seized for headquarters the tavern kept by his parents. A mile and a half westward the Chrysler homestead served as headquarters for the British, and midway between was the Casselman House, that was still standing when I was there.

“The whole thing came upon us so quickly,”

Pioneer Courtships: Father Prepares for Bed

“I heard wolves howling in the bush and suggested to the girl’s father that the sheep had better be brought in. He said I might go after them if I liked.”

Mr. Cook told me, “that no time was allowed for the women and children to escape, and my mother hustled me into the cellar for protection from the cannon balls that British gunboats in the river began throwing at the American headquarters.”

Nelson Casselman, a grandson of the Casselman who held the homestead in 1813, showed me the cellar in which his grandmother hid the sheep and the little Casselmans together. “The Americans,” said Mr. Casselman, “took the family’s horses for transport, killed the cows for beef, and made soup for the officers’ mess from the chickens.”

But the loss of horses was not all one-sided. After the battle, a couple of American horsemen on rearguard duty were suddenly confronted by a man named Adams and ordered to surrender. The Americans, believing the musket which Adams held could carry further than their pistols and that his bayonet was more dangerous than their swords, promptly complied. Adams then marched his prisoners back to the British commander, who was so pleased with the exploit that he told Adams to keep the horses, and for years afterwards the animals were used in his farm work. The joke was on the Americans; Adams had not so much as a single charge for his gun when he captured his two prisoners.

After the battle a number of American wounded were carried into the Casselman home, one of these an old man. Mr. Casselman told me the story of his death as he had heard it from his parents. “He was an old man whose sands of life were nearly run out in any case. As the setting sun changed the St. Lawrence into a ribbon of gold his eyes turned toward the south and he said he would die in peace if he could but see the children and grandchildren who once played about his knee. But death came with the night and next morning his body was laid, with those of other American dead, in a trench east of the house, where our orchard was afterwards planted.”

Mr. Cook was able to point out the exact position of an American four-gun battery, as the log and earth breastworks still remained until he himself removed them in the ’seventies to place the ground under cultivation. At the base of the Casselman barn, which was standing when the battle was fought, I was shown a round hole in a board. The hole, according to tradition, was made by a British round-shot that killed three Americans. The Casselman of 1813 afterwards dug up the ball from where it had buried itself in the ground and it was still preserved in the Casselman home at the time of my visit. In the Cook home I saw what looked like a carpet ball (painted red, white, and blue) but which, Mr. Cook told me, was a cannon-shot fired at the house by one of the British gunboats in the river. Mr. Casselman had a musket his grandfather found hidden in a strawstack after the battle. He thought it had been left there by an American, but as the piece bore the Tower mark this was hardly possible unless the weapon had been captured from the British in a previous engagement. Bullets were dug up by the hundred in the years following the battle, a few being found at times right up to the close of the last century. Another relic of the past was a small box that had been left by Lieutenant Ingalls of the British forces, who was on guard at the Cook place for some time after the battle.

Early Weapons—Candle Mould

The most interesting of all the reminders of the past was the Casselman home itself. The heavy beams supporting the floor had been hewn out of solid logs with a broad-axe one hundred years before my visit. The lumber forming the floor had been whipsawed by the grandfather of Nelson Casselman and his neighbours. At one end of the main room was a stone fireplace, nine feet wide by four feet deep, and five feet high; but this had been bricked up and was no longer visible. “I can remember, though, when all our cooking was done in that fireplace,” said Mr. Casselman.

The Cook tavern of 1813 was displaced in the ’twenties by an imposing brick structure, which at one time served as the half-way house between Montreal and Kingston. Even the interior walls were of brick. “The mortar used in laying those bricks,” Mr. Cook told me, “was made from lime burned on the premises. The stones from which the lime was burned were broken by dropping on them twenty-four-pound cannon balls that had been picked up from the field of battle.

“In the old staging days the tavern was a lively place. I have seen in the yard at one time four stage coaches with horses ready to move. Priests and bishops, lawyers and merchants were among the guests, and beds were set as close together as that,” said Mr. Cook placing his outstretched palms side by side. “But it was when the lumbermen dropped off on their way up or down the river that things really did liven up. As many as two hundred of these were about the house at one time with enough fiddles to furnish music for the whole party. British officers and soldiers stopped there, too, on the way to or from Kingston. On one occasion a couple of officers had ten thousand dollars in coin with which to pay the troops at Kingston and other posts. The officers, when going to bed, put the coin on the window-sill as they were afraid the weight would break through the floor. They did not even lock the windows, but a sentry stood outside the door and other soldiers slept in the yard.”

The country about Prescott was the scene of stirring events at a later date. I visited “The Windmill,” with its memories of ’Thirty-Seven. This structure, built of stone, one hundred feet in circumference, sixty feet high, and with walls three feet thick was no mean fortress at the time of the Rebellion of 1837.

“My father was engaged in the attack on the raiders who had seized the windmill,” David Reid told me. “He said that even the big guns brought from Kingston were incapable of damaging the building. The stones had been set in wedge-shape and the pounding of the artillery seemed but to drive them more firmly into place.”

George Heck, who was on service at the time of the attack, said that some of the buildings near the windmill were set on fire. One of these was a bakery, and a couple of the enemy had taken shelter in the oven. Their bodies, burned to a crisp, were found after the action.

The man who told of this incident was a grandson of Barbara Heck, the Mother of Canadian Methodism; and that opens up a more pleasing tale of the days of old. “All the preachers that passed this way in the early days of Methodism,” said Mr. Heck, “stopped at our place. Rev. Dr. Bangs was one of the first of these. He was stationed at Montreal in 1806, but frequently travelled as far as Toronto, going all the way on horseback. Dr. Green was Chairman of a district that took in Bytown, Gatineau, and Rideau. He often spent four or five weeks in covering his mission. There were some stirring revivals in those days. Forty were converted at one meeting held in Augusta. Rev. Erastus Hurlburt and I were converted together at the revival held there in 1835. During every summer camp meetings were held north and west of Prescott. The music was all vocal, the Whitney family being among the most noted singers of the time. Henry Hodge and Thomas Coates were among the other singing leaders. All the old-time hymns were used, ‘Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing’ being a prime favourite.”

“The Little Blue Church” is a standing memorial of these early days of Methodism. In the cemetery alongside rests the body of Barbara Heck in company not only with other early leaders in Methodism, but with those of other denominations as well. “The Johnston cemetery was, I believe, the first in the neighbourhood,” said Mr. Heck, “but the Little Blue Church cemetery was laid out shortly afterwards. Six people, amongst them my father, undertook the clearing of the ground.”

The cemetery is beautifully situated by the roadside with a gentle slope to the south where the majestic St. Lawrence, emblematic of eternity’s flow, sings a nightly lullaby over those whose labours are ended.

Pioneers of Gananoque and Vicinity[4]

Immediately after the American Revolution some ten thousand United Empire Loyalists settled along the north shore of the St. Lawrence. The region was without roads, the only means of communication with their nearest point of supply being by water. The British Government furnished these first settlers with farming implements, grain and potatoes for seed, and some clothing, sufficient to tide them over the first three years of their sojourn in the wilderness. On the heels of this first ten thousand came other refugees, but for these no such provision was made, and for them, from the beginning, bush life was most trying.

The chief necessity of the pioneers was a shelter for their families. The rudest of log cabins were the first abodes, and these were built by the joint labour of the settlers. Sometimes the cabin would be built around a stump, which could be used as a hand-mill, or, by placing some basswood slabs on top, would serve as a table. For these homes glass was not always obtainable and in many cases light was admitted through oiled paper stretched over holes in the walls. The household utensils were of wood—wooden plates, wooden platters, wooden forks, and wooden spoons. In some households forks and knives were unknown and home-made spoons were used instead.

Cider Press

Wild fruit abounded, and this was gathered and either preserved by using maple sugar or dried for future use. Walnuts, hickory-nuts, butter-nuts, chestnuts, and beechnuts were stored up for winter. Honey was obtained from wild bees and maple sugar was made in large quantities every spring. Game was plentiful and each settler had a store of venison and squirrel salted down in barrels made of the hollow trunks of trees. Tea was scarce, a luxury to be used only on state occasions. These first settlers used, as substitutes, sage, sassafras, thyme, spicewood, hemlock, and a wild herb called the tea-plant. “Coffee” was made from peas, barley, acorns, and roots of the dandelion. Physicians were almost unknown, and these pioneers collected and dried medicinal herbs and stored them for time of need.

But they were far from being in a land of plenty. Three years after the arrival of the first group of settlers, the crops, owing to frost, were almost a total failure. The British Government was no longer doling out aid and famine stalked through the land. This period of scarcity reached its height in 1788. In that year money was sent to Montreal and Quebec for flour; but the answer came back: “We have none to spare.” In some places along the lower St. Lawrence “corn-meal was meted out by the spoonful, wheat flour was unknown, and millet seed was ground as a substitute. Here and there in sheltered spots the wheat crop escaped the frost and ripened early. The starving inhabitants flocked to these fields, even before the wheat ripened, plucked the milk-heads, and boiled them into a kind of gruel. Half-starved children haunted the banks of the river, begging sea-biscuits from the passing boatmen . . . . Families existed for months on oat porridge; beef bones were boiled again and again; boiled bran was a luxury; ground-nuts and even the young buds of trees were eagerly devoured. Fortunately rabbits and pigeons were plentiful, and these saved many settlers from actual starvation.”

Col. Burritt, the first settler north of the Rideau, was one of the first-comers. Shortly after he made his home at Burritt’s Rapids, he and his wife were attacked with fever and ague. Having no neighbours, they were forced to rely on themselves. So severe was their illness, that they were at length confined to bed and helpless. For three days and three nights they were without fire or food, and had made up their minds that they must die. At this juncture a band of Indians appeared on the scene. The squaws tenderly nursed “their white brother and sister, supplied them with food, and administered simple but effective remedies. Meanwhile the braves cut the corn in a small field the colonel had succeeded in clearing, and stored it in a log shack. The colonel and his wife made a speedy recovery, and ever after kept open house for the red men. It was a common thing to wake in the morning and discover a score of aborigines reclining in the hall and other parts of the house. When proceeding up the river in the spring they frequently left many articles with the colonel for safe-keeping, not forgetting, on their return, in the fall, to present him with a rich present of furs.”

The Indians in this part of Canada were Mississaguas. They seem to have acted with equal generosity towards the settlers generally, and on October 19th, 1787, they received a special grant of two thousand pounds in goods as a reward for the aid they had given the United Empire Loyalists. From the Indians the settlers learned the art of making maple sugar, of spearing fish by torchlight, and of making clothes from deer-skins. From the Indians, too, they got moccasins, splint or Indian brooms, and baskets of all kinds.

A Dauntless Rider

“At times the wolves were so close she could see their eyes gleaming through the darkness.”

One of the most annoying things the pioneers had to contend against was the prevalence of bears, wolves, and foxes. It was almost impossible to keep sheep, pigs, or fowl from these rapacious nocturnal prowlers. How common were wild beasts can be gathered from the fact that Joseph Slack, an early settler near Farmersville (Athens) killed on his farm 192 deer, 34 bears, and 46 wolves. As a bounty of four dollars was paid for wolves’ heads and two for those of bear, a skilful hunter could profit by the presence of these pests. But sometimes they menaced the lives of the settlers. On one occasion a girl of sixteen was sent on horseback with a bag of corn to have it ground at the mill in Yonge. It was midnight before the corn was ground, but this dauntless lass began her return journey along the blazed path to her home. As she cantered along under the spreading trees she was startled by distant yelps and barks, which grew ever nearer and nearer. She urged her horse to its utmost speed, but at times so close were the wolves that on looking back she could see their baleful eyes gleaming through the pitchy darkness. Nothing daunted she kept on her way, her steed urged to its utmost speed by the menacing death at its heels. At last, almost exhausted, she reached the door of her home, her bag of precious food intact.

These early settlers were not without their simple enjoyments. One of the first things they did was to set out orchards. “When the trees began to bear, the best apples were kept for winter use, and the rest made into cider. The apple-bees were much enjoyed by young and old. The boys, with their home-made apple machines, peeled the apples, then tossed them to the girls, who, with their knives, would quarter and core them, while older women would string them with needle and thread and tie them so they could be hung up to dry. Then followed a supper and after that a dance . . . . A wandering fiddler, usually an old soldier, would be called in. If there was no fiddler the boys whistled, or the girls sang dance music through combs covered with paper.”

Gananoque, or Cadanoryhqua, as the name seems to have been spelled at the time of the coming of the U.E. Loyalists, although not founded until nearly a decade after the first settlers took up homes along the St. Lawrence, became the commercial centre of the region between Brockville and Kingston. This was due to the business foresight and energy of its founder, Captain Joel Stone. Captain Stone had paid a heavy price for his loyalty to the Crown. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War his fine estate was plundered and he was forced to save his life by flight to New York, where until the close of the war he was active in the British interests, fighting both by land and sea.

In 1776, he was ordered to take up arms against the British Government, but he refused.

At the close of the war, he visited England, where business kept him until 1786. In that year he sailed for Canada, having been enrolled as a military pensioner with the rank of captain and granted forty pounds a year. In 1787, he started out in search of a location, and in a birch canoe with an Indian guide journeyed westward until the Gananoque river was reached. The spot attracted him. He decided to apply for a grant of the land on both sides of the river and had the land surveyed. But, when he sent in his application, he found he had a rival in no less a person than Sir John Johnson, who was industriously acquiring grants for speculative purposes. However, the difficulty was overcome by assigning the land on the eastern side of the river to Johnson and that on the west—700 acres in all—to Stone.

In the summer of 1791, Captain Stone took possession of his grant, landing at a point just west of the present railway station. The only white person in the vicinity was a Frenchman named Caré, who, with a few Indians, was living on Tidd’s Island (Tremont Park). Stone got in touch with Caré who came to the mainland and built a shanty on the point at the end of what is known as Water Street. Here he kept a house of public entertainment for all who passed on the river, the only highway of travel at this time.

Stone went energetically to work in his new home and before long had a well-built house, a grist-mill and saw-mill in operation, and a general store. He had attracted settlers and brought in workmen, and a thriving community was soon in being. It is worthy of note that, as early as 1793, he built a substantial schooner of forty tons burden, the Leeds Trader, which for many years was in use on the river and on Lake Ontario.

Under the able leadership of Joel Stone, now known as “Colonel,” Gananoque grew rapidly. When war broke out in 1812, it was in a flourishing condition and attracted the attention of the American force at Ogdensburg. Colonel Stone took charge of the military defences of his district, and when the Americans, under Major Forsyth, landed on the Canadian shore they encountered vigorous opposition. Forsyth’s great desire was to capture Stone, and for this purpose attacked his house. But the colonel had made his escape, and his wife, as valiant as himself, defended their home. She was shot in the thigh, but held on till help came. At the time there was a considerable sum of money in gold in her possession. This she threw into a barrel of soft soap,—an effective safety-deposit vault,—and it was overlooked by the invaders when at length they succeeded in gaining entrance.

In his later years Colonel Stone was greatly aided in his work by the Macdonald brothers, Charles and John, the former of whom married Stone’s only daughter, Mary. But to the end of his long life he was the moving spirit in the community he had founded, with a keen eye to its material and moral welfare. As a Justice of the Peace he at times played the part of a little autocrat. “Play-actors” were a forbidden thing in his little kingdom. He classed them with “vagrants and vagabonds.” In March, 1816, three “actors” appeared in Gananoque and advertised a performance to take place at the Brownson House, then recently built. The irate colonel waited on them and ordered them to “pass on from this House quietly and not to perform the riotous feats of tumbling, etc.”

Play Actors

“The irate colonel waited on them and ordered them not to perform the riotous feats of tumbling, etc.”

Eleven years later, in September, 1827, another band of “play-actors” had the temerity to visit Gananoque. But the leader of the company, James R. Millor, did not move on promptly when ordered and the colonel issued this intensely interesting warrant, indicative of the times and the man:

“Whereas James R. Millor, Master and Director of several vain persons, calling themselves Playactors, Tumblers, etc., did refuse to obey the Orders officially Delivered to him by Joel Stone, Esq., one of His Majesty’s Justices assigned to keep the Peace, etc., in the said District, Requiring him, the said James R. Millor to desist from Playacting, Tumbling, etc., in the village of Gananoque as so doing would be considered a Great Insult offered to the Legal Authority, and in that way of obtaining money from the vain and thoughtless part of the Human family, is against the Peace of His Majesty’s Liege subjects in General.”

If Millor did not obey he was to be confined in Brockville gaol for “the space of Ten Hours.” Millor may have weakened, as there is no record of his having been conveyed to the gaol at Brockville.

But Colonel Stone was a benevolent despot, and the prosperity of the village he founded and the permanent strength it has as a manufacturing community are due mainly to the start he gave it.

The material for this section was obtained through the generosity of Miss Edith M. McCammon, of Gananoque, who loaned the editor the manuscript of a book she has in course of preparation, “The Story of Gananoque.” Miss McCammon is a descendant of Charlotte Macdonald, a sister of the Charles Macdonald, who married Mary, Colonel Stone’s only surviving child.


Making a Premier

Quite a settlement had been formed along the Penetang’ Road north of Barrie ten years before settlement began even at the southern end of Innisfil, the township forming the west shore of the lower end of Lake Simcoe. There were two reasons for this. The first was due to comparative ease of communication; the second, to market facilities. The old military highway between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay followed the line of Yonge Street to Holland Landing, thence up Lake Simcoe to Kempenfeldt Bay and then again overland to Penetanguishene. Hence it was a comparatively easy matter to reach the country about Crown Hill, Dalston, and Craighurst several years before the opening of the lower section of the Penetang’ Road between Holland Landing and Barrie provided for the settlement of Innisfil.

The principal reason for the earlier settlement in the more northerly section was based on market considerations. The naval and military post, first established at Nottawasaga, was transferred from that point to Penetanguishene in 1818 and somewhat later the post at Drummond Island was added. The presence of a military and naval station thus made this northern port a centre of commercial activity. It was a centre of Indian trade as well, “and there was,” as a grandson of one of the Crown Hill pioneers expressed it, “a general belief that Penetang’ was destined to be the metropolis of Upper Canada.”

The Penetang’ dream of the Pioneers has not come true, but Crown Hill, which owes its origin to the existence of the old naval station on Georgian Bay, has to its credit something that cannot be claimed for any other rural section of Ontario. It gave to the province the first head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and in the son of that head the first farmer premier of the province. The Drurys, Partridges, and Hicklings were among the first to come in along the upper end of the Penetang’ Road, settling in 1819 near where Crown Hill now is; the Lucks, another large connection, coming in a year later. The Drurys came from England; the Lucks and Partridges, from Albany, N.Y.

“When Grandfather Partridge moved in, he brought his wife and two children with him as far as Holland Landing,” one of the third generation told me. “From Holland Landing he walked alone all the way to Penetang’, his route around the west side of Lake Simcoe to Kempenfeldt Bay being over a blazed trail. After satisfying himself as to the future of Penetang’ he started to walk back, digging into the soil at intervals by the way in order to learn its quality. He walked twenty-five miles before finding what suited him, and finally located near Crown Hill, taking up four hundred acres in all, half on the Oro and half on the Vespra side. Having built a log cabin he went back to Holland Landing for his wife and children and began family life in the new home in the bush in October. Afterwards, when the road was fully opened out, he found that his cabin was almost in the middle of the King’s highway. Hardships? You can judge of general conditions at that time when I relate one fact told me by my grandfather. He packed his first grist on his back from Crown Hill to the east end of what is now Barrie and then paddled it in a dugout the rest of the way, twenty miles, to the old Red Mill at Holland Landing.”

One hundred years ago Penetang’ Road was an Indian highway, as well as a military road, the Indians traversing it on their way to Toronto for the annual distribution of presents by the Government. On one occasion, as narrated by Hunter in his “History of Simcoe County,” a number of drunken red men called at the home of James White, while his wife was alone in the house, and were promptly chased out again by Mrs. White, who had armed herself with a pair of tongs.

Adventures with bears there were, too, one of these being narrated by Hunter. Gideon Richardson, to protect his pigs against the black marauders, built a pen opposite the door of his cabin and kept a log fire burning at night beyond the pen. One night, after a rain, the fire could not be lighted and bruin took advantage of the situation to raid the pen. In the course of the attack one pig was hurled through the door of the cabin into the midst of the sleeping inmates. There was no more sleep for the family that night.

One of the first cares of the settlement about Crown Hill was to make provision for the education of the children, and some time before 1837 a voluntary school was established, with William Crae as the first teacher. Crown Hill pioneers were also among the first to take advantage of the Education Acts of 1841-43, under which an annual provincial appropriation of twenty thousand pounds was made to assist in the work of primary education. In fact, a school was established on the Vespra side as early as 1842 with Edward Luck as the first teacher, a position he filled for twenty-two years. The selection of Mr. Luck was peculiarly fitting in at least one respect as, from first to last, no fewer than fifteen of his own children passed under the rod in that same school.

“The building was, of course, of log,” said a grandson of one of the pioneers, “and the benches were of plank with home-made legs supporting them. In the beginning the building was used for a church as well as a school, and there was a pulpit in one corner for the church services. Pastor Ardagh and Canon Morgan were the first to officiate. Marriage services were performed there, and on such occasions the benches were moved back and boys and girls lined up in front of the pulpit as witnesses.”

The Log School House

“The building was used for a church as well as a school and there was a pulpit in one corner for the church services.”

The old minute book of the section, dating back to 1844, is still in existence. This records that Thomas Ambler, George Caldwell, and Jonathan Sissons, the latter grandfather of Professor Sissons of Victoria College, were the trustees in 1845. The record further shows that the salary paid Mr. Luck in that year was twenty-five pounds currency “over and above Government allowance and taxes.” In order to make up the amount required to keep the school going, sixteen of the settlers agreed to pay one pound for each child sent to school by them, the largest single contributor being William Larkin, who paid four pounds. Among the other contributors were Jonathan Sissons, Thomas Mairs (one of the first importers of “Durham” cattle), Charles Partridge, Charles Hickling, Thomas Drury, and Richard Drury, the latter being the grandfather of Premier E. C. Drury.

The amounts contributed by these enlightened pioneers for the education of their children may seem small to those of the present generation, but they were in reality relatively larger than similar contributions to-day. Incomes were small. By that time local production had exceeded the requirements of the local market at Penetang’ and an outlet had to be found at Toronto, seventy miles away over rough roads. The prices obtained for farm produce in general at the provincial capital may be gauged by the fact that oats teamed there, reaped with a cradle and threshed with a flail, sold for twenty-five cents per bushel.

Among the first purchases in the way of supplies for the new school, as an ancient record further informs us, were “two grammars, costing four shillings, two and one-half pence” and “three dictionaries costing five shillings, seven and one-half pence.” In 1852, eleven families raised sixteen pounds, fifteen shillings and nine-pence for the school, the largest contributor in that year being Richard Drury, who gave two pounds, nineteen shillings and three-pence. At the annual school meeting held on January 31st, 1853, with Jonathan Sissons in the chair, it was decided, on motion of G. Hickling and E. Luck, that there “shall be a free school.” This resolution does not seem to have gone into effect at once as nine of those present voluntarily bound themselves to “raise any amount needed in excess of the legislative grant and municipal levy.” Among the nine guarantors were J. Sissons, Charles Hickling, Charles Partridge, Thomas Drury, and Richard Drury. In 1855, a further forward step was taken when the trustees were empowered to buy maps of the world and of America as well as books to be distributed as prizes at the next examination of pupils.

I remember once hearing one of the faculty of Cornell University say that he could have made a much better man of a certain student had he been given the selection of that individual’s grandparents. The present Premier of Ontario was fortunate in the selection of his ancestors. In the arduous work of the pioneer days his grandfather and great-grandfather had their full share. In the midst of blackened stumps, and with the primeval forest still unconquered, as the old school record quoted from shows, they bore the heavy end of the burden in providing for the education of the children of the pioneer settlement. In establishing municipal government the Drury family also took part; Thomas Drury having been a member of one of the early councils of Oro, while Richard Drury served as Reeve on different occasions, and Charles Drury, father of the Premier, beginning as reeve of Oro ended his political career as Minister of Agriculture for the province. It is not by one of fortune’s freaks that E. C. Drury to-day holds the position of first citizen of the wealthiest and most populous province of Canada.

Villages that are no more

Few men had a wider or more varied knowledge of early days in Simcoe County than William Hewson, who told me his story in Barrie in the summer of 1900. Mr. Hewson had seen Canadian voyageurs on their way to Montreal with pelts, when Lake Simcoe was a link in one of the chief highways between the Upper Lakes and the Gulf; he had seen the annual movement of Indians back and forth between Toronto and Georgian Bay; his father’s home was one of the halting points for British soldiers on their way to and from Penetang’, and he was eye-witness of the beginning of the white migration to the country surrounding the lake which bears the name of Upper Canada’s first governor.

Mr. Hewson was located at a particularly favourable place for viewing these movements, having settled with his father on Big Bay Point in 1820. From that date until after the last century ended he lived almost continuously in Simcoe County.

“When I was a lad,” said Mr. Hewson, “one of the great receiving depots in the days of the fur trade was maintained by Alfred Thompson, of Penetang’. Mr. Thompson’s winter receipts of pelts had an aggregate value of from thirty thousand to forty thousand dollars. When ready to sell he advertised in England and Germany, and representatives of European firms came out to submit tenders, the highest being accepted. Our home at ‘The Point’ was on the highway connecting Toronto and Georgian Bay. Past our door Canadian voyageurs, employed by a Montreal firm, paddled their canoes loaded to the limit with rich furs taken in the hunting grounds of the great north country. It was a day’s journey by canoe from Lake Couchiching to ‘The Point,’ and when the Indians were on their return journey from Toronto after receiving their annuity money, I have seen seven hundred camped on our farm at one time. Soldiers on their way to and from the fort at Penetang’ also made our home a resting place. Later on, when the tide of white immigration began to flow into the country about Lake Simcoe a good deal of that tide swept around our farm. At that time two or three bateaux, carrying settlers and their effects, made regular trips between Holland Landing and Barrie, and we could see these as they rounded ‘The Point’.

“The most picturesque scenes and exciting times were furnished by the Indians. In summer the clothing of the men was limited to breech cloths and that of the women to petticoats, the body being left bare from the waist up. On the whole journey from Toronto northward rascally traders plied the Indians with whiskey, obtaining in exchange the guns, blankets, and tomahawks which the Indians had received from the Government. By the time Big Bay Point was reached the Indians, soaked with whiskey, were ready to quarrel on slight provocation. When a general scrimmage began, the squaws grabbed the papooses and ran for the bush. Strange to say, all this fighting was done with fists; I never once saw guns or knives used. The Indians were usually chaste in their domestic relations, but one old chief, John Essence, had three wives. When converted to Methodism he was told he would have to put away two of these, and the old polygamist sought a way out. On being told that he could retain all three wives if he became a Catholic, he promptly abjured Methodism for what seemed to him a more liberal faith.”

Indian Basket

This talk led up to tales of early marriages among the whites. Mr. Hewson’s father was a magistrate and as such was authorized to perform the marriage ceremony. His field covered the whole country from Holland Landing to Penetang’. “One of the first marriage ceremonies performed by my father was when he declared his neighbour David Soules legally wedded. Soules had gone to Pickering for his bride, a Miss Yeomans, and the trip across Lake Simcoe was made in a boat rowed by the prospective groom.

“The law required the posting of notices of intention to marry in three prominent places for three weeks before marriage. A widower, a Quaker about to remarry, put up one of his notices in the cleft of a tree, hoping thereby to comply with the law while at the same time avoiding publicity. It happened, however, that a search party, while hunting for a man who had been lost in the bush, came across this notice and soon made it public enough to comply with the most rigid of legal requirements. One day, when father was away from home, a negro came to our place to be married. When this man found father was away he wanted my mother to act, on the ground that the Bible pronounced man and wife one. He contended, therefore, that what one could do the other could surely do as well. However, the colored man was told he would not only have to wait until father returned but until notice could be given also. Three weeks later, after legal notice had been given, when father went to perform the ceremony, he found the couple already living together as man and wife. One couple, far from either minister or magistrate, did not have the ceremony performed in their case until one of their sons was grown up.

“The first Methodist minister in Innisfil township was Hardy by name, and he was hardy by nature. His field was from Penetang’ to ‘The Landing’; he covered that distance twice a week on foot and held nine services in the seven days.

“There were few better stands of pine in Ontario than that of Innisfil when the first settlers came in. Near the site of the Twelfth Line Church a man named Pratt had a particularly good lot of pine trees and he offered these, as they stood, at one cent per log to Robert Thompson, who then had a mill at Painswick. But pine was worth so little at the time that the offer was refused. When the old Northern Railway was built, pine did begin to have a value, and quite an active lumbering industry sprang up in the township. Sage and Grant, who introduced bob-sleighs into Innisfil, had a mill at Belle Ewart that at one time employed seventy men. Mills were also established at ‘The Point’, Tollendale, Craigvale, the Seventh Line, Gilford and Lakeland. At Lakeland, in addition to the mill, there was a dock, hotel, store, and a really attractive group of homes with locusts ornamenting the front yards.”

The Old Sawmill

But all these mills have disappeared long since, and Lakeland and Belle Ewart would be mere sand beaches to-day had it not been for the development of the Lake Simcoe ice trade in winter and tourist traffic in summer.

At the time that Mr. Hewson related to me his stories of the days when Lake Simcoe was an important link in a great highway between north and south I obtained from Dr. B. Paterson, then of Barrie, some further particulars regarding the beginning of the Toronto-Penetang’ route. According to Dr. Paterson the journey between these two places was at times made by an entirely overland route as early as 1814.

“At that time,” Dr. Paterson said, “my father had a contract for transporting supplies from Toronto for the garrison of two hundred men at Penetang’. The entire journey was made by an overland route, passing to the westward of the bay at Barrie. Over part of that route, however, axes had to be carried to cut trees out of the way, and the trip occupied two weeks. Holland River was crossed on a floating bridge, and frequently, on returning to the river, it would be found that the bridge had been carried away, and it was then necessary to build a new one. The only house between Penetang’ and ‘The Landing’ at that time was a hewed log affair at Crown Hill.”

By Andrew Wallace, one of the pioneers of Innisfil, I was given some further particulars about the Lakeland milling enterprise. “A man named Vance invested thirty thousand dollars in that venture,” Mr. Wallace said. “The mill did not run very long and some years later, when the property had fallen into decay, Vance visited the scene of desolation. As he was standing on the wreck of the wharf looking into the water below some one asked him what was interesting him. ‘I am trying to discover where my thirty thousand dollars went,’” was the reply.

Rafting Timber on the St. Lawrence

The family history of Mr. Henry Smith of Barrie, another descendant of the Simcoe pioneers, is remarkable for its variety of colour. The name was originally Schmidt, and the first of the name in America was Heinrich Schmidt, an officer in the Hessian troops sent over by George III at the time of the American Revolutionary War. This Heinrich was the grandfather of Henry Smith, whose story follows:

“The troop-ship, on which my grandfather sailed to America, was eighteen weeks in crossing from Germany,” said Mr. Smith. “So long was the voyage, that the officer in command of the troops asked the admiral of the fleet if he was quite sure that he had not passed America in the night. When my maternal grandmother, who was also with the troops, caught sight of a field of corn after landing, she exclaimed: ‘America must, indeed, be a rich country when there are so many ribbons here.’ She mistook the leaves of the ripening corn, glistening in the evening sun, for ribbons hung out to dry.

“After the Revolution my grandfather received a grant of land in the township of Marysburg, Prince Edward County, and that is how Smith’s Bay obtained its name. A man called Snider, who had a rather notable nose, settled on a prominent point in the same township and hence the name, locally applied, of Snider’s Nose.”

Rafting Timber on the St. Lawrence

“More than once in going through the big chute at the Cedars, raft and raftsmen were submerged.”

Mr. Smith’s own life was about as varied and full of adventure as that of his grandfather. As a lad of fourteen he assisted in rafting timber down the St. Lawrence. “More than once, in going through the big chute at the Cedars, raft and raftsmen were submerged in the waves, and it was then a case of sit tight or stay under,” said Mr. Smith. “Some of the timber forming the rafts came from Prince Edward County, but more of it came down the Trent. Oak and pine logs were rafted together, the latter helping to keep the former afloat. A good deal of the timber was for spars. You can judge the length of some of this spar timber, when I tell you that I have seen five, six, and even seven saw-logs cut from one tree. The record spar, which was one hundred and twenty feet long, came from Big Bay Point on Lake Simcoe. Eight or ten teams were used in hauling such timbers from the bush to the water’s edge. When the rafts arrived at Montreal they were broken up and loaded into sailing vessels for shipment to England. Those timber vessels had large port-holes in their bows, and the timber was hauled to these holes by horses operating a windlass and then shot into the hold. When the timber fleet was in Montreal harbour the masts appeared like a great forest from which the limbs had been stripped. As I went down the river on rafts I often met immigrants coming up in bateaux or Durham boats. These vessels were much alike save that the bateaux were open while the Durhams were partially decked over. Men, women, and children were huddled together in these craft by day and camped on shore at night.

“All the lakes and rivers were then full of fish. I helped haul in a net near Willard’s Beach in Prince Edward County that contained fourteen thousand fish, and I have seen salmon near there that were eight inches through the body. In one case a salmon actually broke the handle of the spear and got away, but was afterwards caught with the fragment still in its body.”

In 1847, Mr. Smith moved to Vespra, north of Barrie. The journey from Toronto to Holland Landing was by stage. “Near the end of the journey,” said Mrs. Smith, “the driver, who was drunk, lost control of the horses on the down grade of one of the hills. The body of the stage pitched from side to side, forward and back, the passengers meantime holding on to anything within reach. It is a wonder our necks were not broken.

“From the ‘Landing’ to Barrie passage was taken by the steamer Beaver the remains of which are now buried beneath the foundation of the local Grand Trunk Station. From Barrie we followed the old Sunnidale or Nine Mile Portage Road to Willow Creek.”

A Drunken Driver

“The body of the stage pitched from side to side, forward and back, the passengers meantime holding on to anything within reach.”

I am indebted to Mr. A. F. Hunter for the history of this old highway, which dates back to 1814, and was built in the first place as a military highway. Early in the War of 1812-15 a British force had captured the fort on Mackinac Island. Later on the Americans prepared for its recapture. In order to reinforce the British garrison a force was despatched from Kingston in February, 1814. This force marched overland via Toronto to Holland Landing and thence over the ice of Lake Simcoe to Barrie. From Barrie the Nine Mile Portage Road was cut through to Willow Creek. There, trees, cut from the surrounding forest, were fashioned into bateaux, and in these improvised craft, when spring came, the relieving force floated down Willow Creek to the Nottawasaga River, along that river to Georgian Bay, and thence to Mackinac. Block-houses as bases of supply were built at Holland Landing, Barrie, and Willow Creek; the Barrie block-house being located where the music hall now stands. Willow Creek was quite an important centre of settlement for years afterwards, but to-day not one stone remains upon another. Only a few holes mark the site, these holes having been dug in search of gold which tradition said had been buried there.

A Wayside Inn’s Famous Guests

There is possibly no other Ontario farm with the exception of farms along the lake frontier, which is so prominently connected with local history as is the old Warnica homestead,—lot thirteen on the twelfth of Innisfil,—opposite the beautiful avenue of pines on the Penetang’ Road, two miles south of Barrie.

The farm was given to John Stamm for his services with Button’s Cavalry in the War of 1812-15, and settlement duties on the place were begun by Stamm. Once, when on his way to the place from Markham township, Stamm narrowly escaped drowning in Lake Simcoe. That was enough of that location for him, and he sold his place to the first of the Canadian Warnicas for ten dollars. The Warnicas took possession in 1825. Shortly afterwards, because of the growing traffic between north and south, the house on the place became an inn; and, although there were only two rooms and a loft available for travellers, some distinguished guests were entertained there. It is said that Sir John Franklin spent a night at the inn on his overland trip to the Arctic regions, and a voyageur sent back by Sir John sought shelter at the same place on the return journey. Bishop Strachan, on journeys north and south, made this a stopping place; and Sir John Colborne, when Governor of Upper Canada, was provided with food and lodging there when on his tour of inspection of the military post at Penetang’. So well pleased was Sir John with the accommodation provided that he offered each of the Warnica boys a free grant bush lot. How little such lots were valued at the time is evidenced by the fact that the boys did not think it worth while to go to Toronto to secure the deeds of the property tendered them.

When the Warnicas first settled in Innisfil, Lake Simcoe was still a connecting link on the Toronto-Penetang’ highway, and Big Bay point was located right on that highway. David Soules, one of the first settlers on ‘The Point’, told Warnica he was a fool to settle so far to the west. “You will be away off the main road,” said Soules, “and the blackbirds will eat all your crops.” To-day, however, it is ‘The Point’ that is isolated while the old Warnica farm fronts on one of the principal provincial highways.

At the beginning the Warnicas endured many privations. Clothing was largely made of home-grown flax, and one of the Warnica boys of that day had to stay in bed while his one linen shirt was being washed.

The first grist from the Warnica farm had to be hauled to the old “Red Mill” at Holland Landing. Once when a grist was being taken it was intended to make the round trip in a day, but the men were storm-stayed at Grassi Point on the return journey. The night, however, was spent in comparative comfort, as Indians who were camping there at the time supplied the Warnica boys with blankets.

Running all through these old-time sketches incidents are related in which the first settlers were indebted to the Indians for kindness such as that shown the Warnicas. The conduct of the aborigines stands all the more to their credit when the manner in which they were being plundered and brutalized by white traders is borne in mind.

Slowly but surely times changed for the better. The settlement along the Penetang’ Road north of Barrie, producing beyond local needs, demanded a route all the way to Toronto, and money was raised, apparently by public subscription, to build around Barrie Bay a link to connect the old Penetang’ Road north of Barrie with the line north from Holland Landing. Two of the Warnica boys were given the contract of cutting out the bush from Tollendale to Churchill, a distance of eleven miles, at five dollars per mile. That would seem very small pay to road-builders of to-day, but five dollars went a long way when Innisfil was young. The hardest part of the Warnicas’ task was at Stroud, which, although dry enough now, was a difficult swamp at that time.

Previous to this the Warnicas had made considerable money in teaming military supplies intended for the Penetang’ garrison over the Nine Mile Portage Road between Barrie and Willow Creek. Then, when settlement began to move into the Sunnidale and Beaver valleys, they obtained remunerative employment in teaming the effects of the more northern settlers to their destination.

The first of the Warnicas, besides being a pioneer in the matter of settlement, was a participant in the inauguration of municipal government in Innisfil. He, with Charles Wilson and John Henry, formed the equivalent of the first local council when Innisfil was municipally organized in 1841. He was also a member of the Home District Council, which then met in Toronto. The manner of election for a place in the latter body is an illustration of the free and easy way in which elections were carried on in the early days. Warnica and David Soules were contestants for the office and the election was held at the old Myers tavern at Stroud. To decide the matter it was arranged that one of the contestants should lead his supporters south along the road from the tavern while the followers of the other should be led north. The one that had the largest following, and this was Warnica, was declared elected.

A Rural Belle of a Hundred Years Ago

Some of the family history of the Warnicas is as interesting as is that of the farm with which the family name has been identified for a century. The first of the family was a Dane, whose name was spelled Werneck. As a young man Werneck possessed considerable means, which he spent largely in seeing the world. On his return to Denmark, while telling of some of his adventures, his word was questioned, whereupon Werneck promptly struck down the “Doubting Thomas.” For this he was fined forty kronen by a Danish magistrate. On paying the fine Werneck asked if a second offence would cost the same, and was assured it would. Another forty kronen pile was promptly counted out with the first, and then Werneck knocked down the magistrate. At a much later date, while playing the fiddle for a party in his Innisfil farm, this fiery Dane had the misfortune to fall, and, when one of the party asked if the fiddle had been broken, the fiddle was hurled at the head of the questioner for making the first enquiry about the instrument instead of for the life that might have been lost in the fall.

Some time after the forty kronen incident Werneck sailed for New York, and there the family name was changed to Warnick. On coming to Canada, at a still later date, the “k” was changed to “a”, and for three generations Warnica has been one of the best known family names in the township of Innisfil.

While in New York State Warnica married a German widow named Myers. Mrs. Myers’ parents, and all of her grandparents with the exception of one grandmother, had been killed and scalped during an Indian raid in the Mohawk Valley at the time of the American Revolutionary War. The surviving grandmother had been scalped and left for dead, but survived for years afterwards. Mrs. Myers herself escaped the massacre because, as a babe, she was asleep and was overlooked.

A combination of Danish and German blood in the first of the family with subsequent intermarriage amongst descendants of the English, Irish, and Scotch pioneers of Innisfil, the Warnicas, like the old Hessian soldiers and the descendants of the palatinates of Sunderland, furnish a striking illustration of the varied nature of the strains entering into the making of the Canadian commonwealth.

A Long Way to the Mill

When I listened to the story which follows, near the close of the last century, the country between Barrie and Penetanguishene had long played its part in Canadian history. Penetang’ itself, like Toronto, figured in the War of 1812-15, and the settlements between Barrie and Penetang’ began almost as early as settlements near Toronto. The Drury farm at Crown Hill, for example, was taken up by the grandfather of the Honourable E. C. Drury in 1819, and the Methodist Church at Dalston bears the dates 1827-97. At the same time, not far from the road leading to Penetang’, pioneer conditions still existed twenty-five years ago.

What is here related is based mainly on what I was told by Thomas Craig, of Craighurst, who was then living on the north half of lot forty-two on the first concession of Medonte. Of that farm something could then be said that probably could not be said of any other farm in Ontario. The lot was taken up as a grant from the Crown by Mr. Craig’s grandfather in 1821, and from that time, until 1899, there was never a mortgage against the property, the only records standing in connection therewith in the Registry Office at Barrie being in the form of transfers from father to son.

“There were,” said Mr. Craig, “two reasons why grandfather located so far north. One was that the land about Kempenfeldt Bay was all in the hands of military pensioners and that about Dalston in the hands of a company; the other was that the British garrison at Penetang’ provided a convenient market.

“Penetang’ garrison was maintained until about the middle of the century and was made up in part of some of Wellington’s veterans. One of these, Charles Collins, was in the 52nd Regiment at Waterloo. John Hamilton was another Waterloo man. Private McGinnis served in the Peninsular War and received his discharge at Penetang.’ He left a number of descendants in the country west of Craighurst.

“As a boy,” continued Mr. Craig, “I saw parties of soldiers passing along the road on their way to and from Penetang’. They travelled in small parties so as not to crowd stopping places between Toronto and Georgian Bay. Once, when a party was on the way north, the officer in charge swore that he would march his men from Newmarket to Penetang’ in a day. He did it, but two of the men died by the wayside. One of these was literally done to death by mosquitos and was buried near where Wye-bridge now stands.

“I have seen Indians, hundreds and hundreds of them at a time, going along the same road on their way to and from Toronto. In late fall they went south to make baskets in the woods, then standing near Toronto, and to sell them in the city. In early spring they returned to the Christian Islands to make sugar, to fish, and later on to engage in the fall hunt. Although drunkenness frequently occurred among the Indians, we did not fear them as they never offered to molest the settlers.”

Speaking of early experiences Mr. Craig went on: “Grists had to be carried all the way to Newmarket, but the Government mill at Coldwater later on relieved us of the necessity of making that journey. About 1830, Government and settlers joined in erecting another mill at Midhurst. For our groceries we were still compelled to go to Newmarket, where the first of the Cawthras then had a store. The road between here and Barrie was nothing but a trail; from Barrie to Holland Landing we travelled on the ice in winter and by boat in summer, and from Holland Landing to Newmarket by Yonge Street. The round trip occupied three or four days. In the beginning supplies were packed on the back, but later on two or three joined in the use of an ox-team and jumper. Eventually E. C. Drury’s grandfather and my father joined in building a road around the bay at Barrie, and then the entire journey could be made without crossing Lake Simcoe.

“The first post-office north of Newmarket was at Penetang’. There was a regular mail service from Toronto to Newmarket, but mail for points further north was given for delivery to the first reliable settler who happened to come along. This volunteer carrier, the beginning of rural mail delivery, distributed his letters as he passed up Yonge Street and the Penetang’ Road, and handed in the regular mail-bag for Penetang’ when he reached that point. Sometimes there were letters still in this bag for settlers along the way, and these had to be sent back as chance offered.”

The first wagon that passed over this road was made in 1826 or 1827 by a man named White, of Newmarket. It was built largely of Swedish iron and was still in existence at the close of the last century.

Hardships of the Nottawasaga Pioneers

As the country about Creemore, in Nottawasaga, was settled at an earlier date than was Flos, the hardships of the Nottawasaga pioneers were greater than those sustained by the Flos pioneers.

One of the early settlers in Nottawasaga was Joseph Galloway, who located near Creemore in 1852. Some twenty years before that time, Mr. Galloway’s father, who was then living near Bradford, teamed flour into the northern township with oxen. “That flour,” said Mr. Joseph Galloway, “was sold to the settlers at eight or ten dollars per barrel; but it was worth the cost as a week was taken on the round trip, and over a great part of the way the country was solid bush. It was dear flour to the settlers all the same, as some of those who purchased it had earned the necessary money by working in the harvest fields at ‘the front’ at fifty cents per day. Some were unable to pay the price and, on one occasion, one man went without bread for nearly two weeks.

Taking Home the Grist

“Kingston Road was little more than a path through the bush. I can remember when our grists had to be carried to Port Hope.”

“Even when I moved into the township one-third of the lots for the last fourteen miles of the way had not a tree cut on them, and the others had but small clearings. Deer were more plentiful then than sheep are now. On the Currie farm, just outside of Creemore, were ‘licks’ to which deer came in droves. In a nearby creek, now a mere dribble, one could catch a pailful of speckled trout in an hour. In one night wolves killed fourteen sheep.

Soap-Making in the Early Days

“We had the choice of four markets—Barrie, Bradford, Holland Landing, and Newmarket. To reach Barrie, the nearest of the four, involved a journey covering two whole days and part of the nights. Our usual practice was to leave before three in the morning, and if we got back at midnight of the second day we considered ourselves lucky. Twenty-five to thirty bushels made a load of wheat. The price was fifty cents per bushel, and half trade at that. A yoke of oxen, weighing over a ton each, sold in Toronto for sixty-five dollars. A change came with the extension of the old Northern Railway to Collingwood and with the Crimean War. In the fall of 1854 I sold wheat for fifty cents at Bradford; the next year I got one dollar and a half at Stayner.

“It was plain living in the early days. Our log house was eighteen feet wide by twenty-four feet deep, and eleven logs high. There was a stone fireplace and chimney at one end, and to reach the upper rooms a ladder was used instead of stairs. Bread was baked in a pot that would hold half a pail of dough and the baking was done by putting the pot in a pail of ashes on the hearth. We had a frying-pan with a long handle in which we cooked venison and trout, the pan being placed on the coals in the fireplace. There were wild plum trees about a mile away, and from these we gathered two or three pails in a season.”

The parents of Archie Currie, formerly M.P.P. for West Simcoe, were also among the early settlers in Nottawasaga, coming there from Mariposa. In moving they crossed Lake Simcoe on the ice, and proceeded thence by way of Orillia and Barrie to the sixth of Nottawasaga. “The clearing on the place to which we moved was barely large enough to enable us to see the blue sky above,” Mr. Currie’s mother told me. “There was no floor in the house when we arrived, only a few boards to set the stove on; and, the doors not being in place, we hung blankets over the openings to keep out the winter wind. What is now Creemore was a network of tangled trees.”

It was the practice of the first settlers to go in parties when teaming their produce to Barrie with ox-teams. There were no taverns by the roadside, and at dinner or supper time a halt was made at a clearing. While the oxen ate their hay, the men smoked their pipes and gossiped, an occasional drink of whiskey causing the gossip to flow more freely. Sometimes a party would be storm-bound in Barrie, and in that case a good deal of the scanty receipts from the produce sold would be used up in paying for lodging. In one instance a man was forced to send home for money to pay his way back. In another case a settler, who had packed his load on his shoulders, lost his way in the darkness on the road home. After vainly groping about for some time he lay down with a pine knot for a pillow and when he woke in the morning he found himself within a few rods of his own door.

Nottawasaga was not, like Flos, a prohibition township. In the former whiskey was as free as water. It was a common practice at stores to keep a barrel on tap at which customers were free to help themselves at will. One store at Stayner continued this practice as late as the ’sixties and in connection with that particular store and barrel a story is told of a hoax perpetrated by a practical joker of the day. While the barrel was free to all who came in, it was assumed that only such as were customers would take advantage of the hospitality offered. There was one old chap who seldom bought anything over the counter although he frequently drank there and a young fellow decided to cure the old toper of the habit. So when the thirsty one came in one day, and as usual began edging his way to the open barrel, his attention was purposely diverted for a moment and meantime the tin cup attached to the whiskey barrel was filled with coal oil. The oil was taken at a gulp before the taste was noticed, but it is probable that the weakness for free drinks was cured there and then.

Tragedy was closely linked with comedy in the drinking habits of pioneer days. A young man of eighteen, with Indian blood in his veins, was noted for his strength and courage even in a community where these qualities were a commonplace. He could lift a stone that a team of horses found it difficult to move, and one of his feats was to stand on his head at the pinnacle of a newly raised barn. He could, too, hold his own with the hardest drinkers in carrying his load of liquor. But one day he overdid it. He accepted a wager that he could drink a pailful at one sitting. He swallowed the lot in three gulps, staggered to a fence corner and died.

The Rugby Settlement

Hardships quite as great as those borne by most of the pioneers were endured by the first settlers between Hawkstone and Rugby, on the west side of Lake Simcoe.

“When our people came here in the early thirties,” said John Robertson, a son of one of the Rugby pioneers, “they had to bring their flour all the way from Hog’s Hollow. The flour was teamed as far as Holland Landing and then carried by boats, manned by Indians, to Hawkstone. From Hawkstone the settlers packed it on their backs to Rugby, a distance of six miles, and even to Medonte, six miles further on. The flour was usually carried in bags, but on one occasion Grandfather George Robertson carried home almost a barrel of flour on his shoulders.

“In 1833, the Government built a grist-mill at Coldwater. This was intended for the use of the Indians, but it served settlers about Rugby as well. Being only fourteen miles distant, it proved a great convenience. Even at that, however, two days were spent going and coming with grist. At times it took longer, as not infrequently fifty teams would arrive at the mill in one day, and then people had to wait their turn. While waiting, the men cooked ‘chokedog’, a mixture of flour and water, for their food. It was as hard as a brick on the outside and soft as blubber in the middle.”

Real comfort came, though, when, in 1855, a man named Dallas built a mill between Orillia and where the Hospital for Feeble-Minded now stands. The stone foundation for this mill was laid by the father of Duncan Anderson.[5] While engaged in this foundation work Mr. Anderson Sr., lived at home, three miles away. Still he was always at work at the mill at seven, remained until six, and after returning home he frequently worked in the logging field until ten at night. The old Dallas mill disappeared long ago, but part of the foundation still standing shows that the stones were well and truly laid.

In the first year of the Rugby settlement, before there was enough cleared ground on which to grow potatoes, George Tudhope, formerly clerk of Oro Township, planted some potatoes on shares at Holland Landing. He pitted his share when dug, and next spring moved them to Hawkstone by boat and from Hawkstone carried them to Rugby on his back. One spring when potatoes were exceptionally scarce, people actually dug up the tubers they had planted for seed in order to secure food.

Duncan was for years a popular Farmers’ Institute lecturer and later served three terms as mayor of Orillia.

The Early Days of Innisfil

Skidding Logs

“I have been here in Innisfil longer than any man now living in the township. My memory goes back to the time long before the railway, when the forests, which then covered the land, were filled with game and when Indians were as numerous around Lake Simcoe as they still are about the north shore of Georgian Bay.” It was J. L. Warnica, then in his eightieth year, but who would have passed for less than seventy, who made this statement. The story that followed fully warranted the expectations aroused by the introduction. When Mr. Warnica was a young man, all the merchandise received in Barrie was teamed there from Toronto, and much of the teaming was done by Mr. Warnica himself. “When passing over ‘The Ridges’ I have, from an elevation, seen teams as far north and south as the eye could reach,” said Mr. Warnica. “It was like one huge funeral procession, and it was made up of wagons from as far away as Meaford and Penetang’ on the north, as well as wagons that had drifted in from intervening side roads.

“The Innisfil teamsters had two favourite stopping places in Toronto. One was the Fulljames House, at the corner of Queen and Yonge streets, and the other was the old Post tavern nearly opposite the St. Lawrence market. The Fulljames place stood well back from the corner and covered practically the site now occupied by the Eaton store. Great sheds for the accommodation of teamsters filled the yards. The corner at that time marked the northern limits of the city. The buildings in Toronto were scattered like those of a village. The Queen Street asylum was two miles out of town. The father of my first wife bought ten acres and an old tavern opposite the main gate of the asylum for one thousand dollars.

“Yes, there were plenty of taverns in those days,” continued Mr. Warnica. “Between the head of Kempenfeldt Bay at Barrie and Yonge Street wharf in Toronto, there were sixty-eight licensed houses—one for each mile of the road and three to spare, besides eight or ten unlicensed places. Distilleries were also numerous. There was one at Tollendale, opposite Barrie, and another on the creek that runs through Allandale. These were, however, soon snuffed out and the bulk of the business in this line passed to the Gooderhams. Most of my freight, when I was teaming, consisted of Gooderham whiskey. Six barrels made a load and, after being hauled all the way to Barrie, it retailed at twenty-five cents per gallon.

“But then the freight bill was not very high,” Mr. Warnica went on. “The regular charge for teaming a load of whiskey to Barrie was eight dollars. Out of that the teamster had to pay for the feed of his horses, board for himself, and the fee at seven toll gates. I remember once, when another teamster and myself had a miscellaneous lot of merchandise for a Barrie merchant, we were charged with the loss of a box of ribbons. I do not believe we ever received the box, but we had to pay for it all the same. On that occasion, when expenses had been deducted, there was just seventy-five cents to divide between us for the round trip. After that we preferred to haul whiskey as there was no chance of loss on that.

“If freights were not high, expenses incurred by freighters were not extravagant either. Supper and bed for a man and hay for his team cost fifty cents at a wayside tavern. It is true that it was not exactly royal fare. There were three beds in each room and two people slept in each bed. There were no stationary wash-stands, in fact, not so much as a wash-stand of any kind. A basin stood in the bar and each man took his turn in going out to the pump for a clean up.

“Some of these stopping places were not too warm. I well remember one night spent at McLeod’s tavern, a little north of Aurora. The building was of frame and not plastered at that. There were two thin cotton sheets and one quilt, and a very thin one it was, on the bed. I had to rub my toes to keep them from freezing in the night.

Pioneer Tools—Candlestick

“The accommodation north of Barrie was poorer still. Once, early in March, father and I undertook to move a camp of Indians from Tollendale to Rama. There was at that time a tavern, known as The Half Way House, about midway between Barrie and Orillia. We proposed to stop there for dinner, but the Highland landlord informed us that he had no flour. ‘I have plenty of good whiskey, though,’ he said, evidently wondering what a man wanted to eat for so long as he could get plenty to drink. Unable to get dinner we decided to push on to Orillia. There we ordered dinner and supper in one and took our Indian charges over to Rama while the meal was being prepared. When we returned to the tavern I found, after unhitching, that I could not get my horses into the only stable in the place as the door was too low for the animals to pass in. The landlord proposed that I should let them stand in the shed all night, but I was afraid that they would perish with cold after the hard drive. So when supper was over I started for home, where I arrived at five next morning, after having been nearly twenty-four hours on the road.

“The roads, south as well as north of our place, were as poor as the tavern accommodation. The low places on Yonge Street and the Penetang’ Road were covered with corduroy, and as the logs were of uneven size you can imagine what it was like driving over them. A little before my time a party of traders on their way north to trade with the Indians reached Grassi Point toward evening. On their arrival one of the traders was taken ill, but next day they went on to where the old Sixth Line Church now stands. The man’s condition became worse and that night he died. His body was buried at the foot of a giant maple, which then stood just inside the present cemetery grounds. From the tragic nature of the trader’s death there arose a story that the place was haunted, and a halfbreed who then carried the mail between Penetang’ and Toronto quit his job because he had to pass the place at night.

“I once had a bad fright there myself. I was on my way from Toronto, accompanied by my uncle in another wagon, with a load of freight. We had been held up at Bradford by a thunderstorm and when we reached the sixth line it was pitch dark. A fire had been started by some men engaged during the day in improving the road and this fire spread to the hollow stub, all that remained of the big maple marking the grave of the trader. As I came near the spot I beheld what seemed to be a light moving slowly up and down. I at once thought of the spook story and my hair stood on end with fear. What I really did see was a succession of fitful flames showing first at one hole in the maple stub and then at another higher up or lower down. It was all right when the explanation came but exceedingly uncomfortable before learning the cause of the light.

“No, I was not born in Innisfil,” said Mr. Warnica as the conversation drifted off in another direction. “I was born near Thornhill. My grandfather (Lyon) on my mother’s side established a grist-mill there before the time of Thorne, after whom the place was named. A Pennsylvania Dutchman, Kover by name, took a couple of stones from the creek and dressed them for grinding. Before that we did our grinding in a coffee-mill we had brought with us. Before that again people crushed wheat with the head of an axe in a hole made in the top of an oak stump. This stump was on the third of Markham, near Buttonville, and I remember quite well seeing the hole in it and hearing the story. To my Grandfather Lyon was issued one of the first two Crown deeds granted in Markham.”

Turning once more to the early days near Barrie, Mr. Warnica had something to say of Indian life and the abundance of game that then filled the woods. “I have seen,” he said, “as many as one hundred Indian tepees in the woods about Tollendale on the south side of Kempenfeldt Bay. It was an interesting sight to watch the making of an Indian home in winter. The head of the family, carrying bow and arrow, tomahawk and knife, strode ahead. The mother, carrying one or two papooses on her back, as well as the household belongings, followed. When the site selected for the camp was reached, the Indian chopped down a few saplings with crotched tops. The squaw meantime, with a cedar shovel, formed a circular hole in the snow. The crotched sticks were set up around this and covered with bark or evergreens; a fire was started in the middle of the tent, evergreen boughs were spread on the ground and covered with fur, and, in half an hour, the house was ready for occupation. While the work of preparation was going on the papooses, strapped to flat boards, were hung up on trees by hooks at the heads of the boards. If one cried the mother would stop work for a moment and soothe the child with a gentle rocking accompanied by a lullaby.

“Game—bear, deer, partridge, and pigeons—was more than abundant. I have killed partridges with a club. I once struck down a pigeon with an ox-goad; another time, with two shots—one fired into a flock of pigeons as they were feeding on the ground and the other as they rose—I secured twenty-nine birds; I have frequently brought down ten or a dozen at a single shot.

“As a boy, I have heard the wolves howling in the woods at night, and in the morning the sweat would pour from me with fear as I went into these same woods to hunt for the cows. On one occasion I helped capture two young bears on the Penetang’ road opposite our place, a little south of Barrie. We cut down the trees in which the animals had taken refuge and then killed them with clubs.

“What became of the pigeons? I do not know, but I have a theory. My theory is that all this game was placed here for the use of man when no other form of food was available and that it disappeared when the need for it no longer existed.

“I have witnessed almost all the changes that have taken place in Innisfil,” said Mr. Warnica as he concluded his story. “I was here at the beginning of the settlement, and I was already a young man when the railway came. I bought my first overcoat with money earned in making pick- and axe-handles, and cart shafts, for use in the work of construction. I came here as an infant, and the longest time I have spent away from home was when I put in twenty-eight days at the World’s Fair at Chicago. I was always interested in fairs; I attended twenty-two out of twenty-four of the old Provincials in the days when the fair was held alternately at London, Kingston, and other places.”

Mr. Warnica’s first wife was a niece of John Montgomery of Montgomery’s Tavern and his second, a niece by marriage of Samuel Lount, one of the martyrs of ’Thirty-Seven. But Mr. Warnica himself was a mere child in the troubled times of the ’thirties and all he knew of the period before the rebellion was a mere matter of hearsay. He told of one incident, however, that throws some light on the conditions that helped to fan the flames of revolt.

“My uncle William,” he said, “was one of the first advocates of free schools and he once broached the subject at a meeting at Barrie. ‘What do you need such schools for?’ stuttered one of the Family Compact champions. ‘There will always be enough well educated Old Countrymen to transact all public business, and we can leave Canadians to clean up the bush.’ ”

The sentiment thus expressed is not wholly dead yet, although it exists in a somewhat different form. There are still those who think they were made to ride while others were made to be ridden.

Reminiscences of a Sunnidale Pioneer

One of the most interesting and instructive accounts of pioneer life of Upper Canada during the early part of the last century is contained in Reminiscences of a Canadian Pioneer, by Samuel Thompson. Thompson was a man of some education, having served a seven years’ apprenticeship in London, England, at the printing trade. He was a writer of ability and no mean poet, and during his later years in Canada was an editor and publisher. He remained but a short time in the bush, but the account of his experiences throw much light on pioneer conditions.

A settler to reach Canada from the British Isles had in nearly every case trying experiences. Little thought was given to the comfort of the emigrants by the transportation companies of those days, and the journey across the Atlantic was not the least of the trials the early settlers had to endure. Thompson’s case was no exception. He and his two brothers, Thomas and Isaac, sailed from London in the spring of 1833 in the Asia of 500 tons, a large ship for those days. Buffeted by head winds, the Asia spent a fortnight in the English Channel, but, a favourable breeze springing up, they made an excellent run until the banks of Newfoundland was reached, when it seemed that their voyage was about ended. Here they encountered a furious storm, against which the Asia could make no progress. To make matters worse, the vessel sprang a leak, the ballast shifted, and, lying at an angle of fifteen degrees, she wallowed in the tumbling waves. Crew and passengers manned the pumps continuously, but still the water gained on them. The captain discovered that the leak was in such a position that when running before the wind it would be out of water, and so to save his ship he turned about and made for the Irish coast and succeeded in reaching Galway Bay. Here the damage was repaired, and with the addition of some wild Irish, Roman Catholics and Orangemen, to her list of passengers the Asia once more headed Canadawards. On the passage the vessel was almost wrecked, when passing through a field of icebergs, “by the sudden break-down of a huge mass as big as a cathedral.”

When Quebec was reached, the passengers of the Asia were transferred to a fine steamer for Montreal. At Lachine, bateaux were provided to carry them up the St. Lawrence. While at Lachine they had a picturesque reminder of the vastness of the land in which they were about to make their homes.

“While loading up,” says Thompson, “we were favoured with one of those accidental ‘bits’—as a painter would say—which occur so rarely in a lifetime. The then despot of the North-West, Sir George Simpson, was just starting for the seat of his government via the Ottawa River. With him were some half-dozen officers, civil and military, and the party was escorted by six or eight Nor’-West canoes—each thirty or forty feet long, manned by some twenty-four Indians, in the full glory of war-paint, feathers, and most dazzling costumes. To see these stately boats, with their no less stately crews, gliding with measured stroke, in gallant procession, on their way to the vasty wilderness of the Hudson’s Bay territory, with the British flag displayed at each prow, was a sight never to be forgotten.”

It is unnecessary to detail the Thompsons’ westward voyage, similar to that of other settlers already described in this book. Sufficient to say that they reached Little York on the steamer United Kingdom during the first week in September, 1833, four months after leaving London. “Muddy Little York,” as it was not undeservedly called, had then a population of about 8,500. According to Thompson, “in addition to King street the principal thoroughfares were Lot, Hospital, and Newgate Streets, now more euphoniously styled Queen, Richmond, and Adelaide Streets respectively.” Where the Prince George Hotel now stands was “a wheat-field.” “So well,” writes Thompson, “did the town merit its muddy soubriquet, that in crossing Church Street near St. James’ church, boots were drawn off the feet by the tough clay soil; and to reach our tavern on Market Lane (now Colborne Street), we had to hop from stone to stone placed loosely along the roadside. There was rude flagged pavement here and there, but not a solitary planked footpath throughout the town.”

Departure of Simpson

“To see these stately boats, on their way to the vasty wilderness of the Hudson’s Bay territory, with the British flag displayed at each prow, was a sight never to be forgotten.”

The Thompsons purchased a location ticket for twenty pounds sterling, and set out for the Lake Simcoe district “in an open wagon without springs, loaded with the bedding and cooking utensils of intending settlers.” After a day’s journey, they reached Holland Landing and from there crossed to Barrie in a small steamer. Barrie, at that time, consisted of “a log bakery, two log taverns,—one of them also a store,—and a farm-house, likewise log. Other farm-houses there were at some little distance hidden by trees.” So desolate was the prospect that some members of the party turned back, but the Thompsons pressed on “for the unknown forest, then reaching, unbroken, from Lake Simcoe to Lake Huron.” To the Nottawasaga river, eleven miles, “a road had been chopped and logged sixty-six feet wide; beyond the river nothing but a bush path existed.”

They toiled on until nightfall, covering a distance of eight miles and at a clearing in the forest came on a bush tavern, “a log building of a single apartment.” “The floor,” writes Thompson, “was of loose split logs, hewn into some approach to evenness with an adze; the walls of logs entire, filled in the interstices with chips of pine, which, however, did not prevent an occasional glimpse of the objects visible outside, and had the advantage, moreover, of rendering a window unnecessary; the hearth was the bare soil, the ceiling slabs of pine wood, the chimney a square hole in the roof; the fire was literally an entire tree, branches and all, cut into four-feet lengths, and heaped up to the height of as many feet.” As the dancing flames lit up the apartment, they revealed “a log bedstead in the darkest corner, a small red-framed looking-glass, a clumsy comb suspended from a nail by a string, . . . stools of various sizes and heights, on three legs or on four, or mere pieces of log sawn short off.” The tavern was kept by a Vermonter, named Dudley Root, and his wife, “a smart, plump, good-looking little Irish woman.” The pair evidently knew how to cater for the occasional guests, as the breakfast provided for the Thompsons proved,—“fine dry potatoes, roast wild pigeon, fried pork, cakes, butter, eggs, milk, ‘China tea,’ and chocolate—which last (declined by the Thompsons) was a brown-coloured extract of cherry-tree bark, sassafras root, and wild sarsaparilla.”

A Bush Tavern

“As the dancing flames lit up the room, they revealed a log bedstead in the darkest corner, . . . stools or mere pieces of log sawn short off.”

On through the forest they trudged looking about for a favourable location, and finally selected a hardwood lot in the centre of the township of Sunnidale. Here, with the help of a hired, expert axe-man, they soon had half an acre cleared of its “splendid maples and beeches which it seemed almost a profanation to destroy.” In quick order they erected a log shanty, twenty-five feet long and eighteen wide, “roofed with wooden troughs and ‘chinked’ with slats and moss . . . . At one end an open fireplace, at the other sumptuous beds laid on flatted logs, cushioned with soft hemlock twigs, redolent of turpentine and health.”

Mary’s Last Tree

“She miscalculated her final cut and the side nearest to Mary springing suddenly out, struck her a blow so severe as to destroy life instantaneously.”

Thompson gives an interesting account of the method of clearing the land, and in this connection points out that in the Sunnidale district some of the young women were almost as expert with the axe as the men. One of these, Mary—, “daughter of an emigrant from the county of Galway . . . became in time a ‘firstrate’ chopper, and would yield to none of the new settlers in the dexterity with which she would fell, brush, and cut up maple or beech.” She and her elder sister, “neither of them older than eighteen, would start before daybreak to the nearest store, seventeen miles off, and return the same evening laden each with a full sack flung across the shoulder, containing about a bushel and a half or ninety pounds weight of potatoes.” One of Mary’s neighbours a young lad, Johnny, a son of one of the early Scotch settlers in the Newcastle district, who was about her own age, was a famous axe-man. Mary was anxious to try her skill with the young Scot and got her brother, Patsy, who was Johnny’s working-mate, to vacate his place for her. She proved herself quite as skillful as Johnny, and, it would seem, lost her heart to him. The sequel shows to what perils the women of Ontario were subjected in pioneer days. One day Mary was felling a huge yellow birch. As she neared the end of her work, her mind seemed to wander from her task and “she miscalculated her final cut and the birch, overbalancing, split upwards, and the side nearest to Mary, springing suddenly out, struck her a blow so severe as to destroy life instantaneously . . . . In a decent coffin, contrived after many unsuccessful attempts by Johnny and Patsy, the unfortunate girl was carried to her grave, in the same field which she had assisted to clear.” Thompson adds: “Many years have rolled away since I stood by Mary’s fresh-made grave, and it may be that Johnny has forgotten his first love; but I was told, that no other has yet taken the place of her, whom he once hoped to make his ‘bonny bride.’ ”

The Thompsons had some heart-breaking experiences. “We had,” writes Thompson, “with infinite labour managed to clear off a small patch of ground, which we sowed with spring wheat, and watched its growth with most intense anxiety until it attained a height of ten inches, and began to put forth tender ears . . . . But one day in August, occurred a hailstorm such as is seldom experienced in half a century. A perfect cataract of ice fell upon our hapless wheat crop. Flattened hailstones, measuring two and a half inches in diameter and seven and a half in circumference, covered the ground several inches deep. Every blade of wheat was utterly destroyed, and with it all our hopes of plenty for that year.”

One of the worst pests the early settlers had to contend with was the wild pigeons, a bird that, so far as is known, is now extinct. These swept down on the land in myriads and grain and pea fields were stripped clean by them. In several other cases in tins book these birds have been referred to, but Thompson’s account of them is most interesting. There was a pigeon-roost a few miles distant from where he and his brothers had settled. To this roost at the proper season “men, women, and children went by the hundred, some with guns, but the majority with baskets, to pick up the countless birds that had been disabled by the fall of great branches broken off by the weight of their roosting comrades overhead. The women skinned the birds, cut off the plump breasts, throwing the remainder away, and packed them in barrels with salt, for keeping.”

Thompson points out that these pigeons were an important factor in connection with the vegetation of these early days. He noticed that when land had been burnt over it was almost immediately followed by “a spontaneous growth, first of fireweed or wild lettuce, and secondly by a crop of young cherry trees, so thick as to choke one another. At other spots, where pine trees had stood for a century, the outcome of their destruction by fire was invariably a thick growth of raspberries, with poplars of the aspen variety.” Thompson was not content with merely observing this seemingly miraculous growth of new vegetation, he investigated the matter. “I scooped up,” he writes, “a panful of black soil from our clearing, washed it, and got a small tea-cupful of cherry stones, exactly similar to those growing in the forest.” He naturally concluded that the pigeons were responsible for the strange growth of cherry and raspberry in the burnt lands.

Becoming dissatisfied with their Sunnidale lot, the Thompsons exchanged it for one in Nottawasaga in the settlement called the Scotch line, where dwelt Campbells, McGillivrays, McDiarmids, etc., very few of whom were able to speak a word of English. Their life here was similar to that of other settlers whose stories have already been told. One incident is worthy of record as it shows the primitive condition of things in a community only thirty-four miles from Barrie. Flora McAlmon, the wife of Malcolm McAlmon, the most popular woman in the Scotch line settlement, died in childbirth, largely due to the fact that no skilled physician or experienced midwife was at hand. Her brother came to the Thompsons to borrow pine boards to make a coffin. Excepting for some pine they had cut down and sawn up, “there was not,” says Thompson, “a foot of sawn lumber in the settlement, and scarcely a hammer or a nail either, but what we possessed ourselves. So, being very sorry for their affliction, I told them they should have the coffin by next morning; and I set to work myself, made a tolerably handsome box, stained in black, of the right shape and dimensions, and gave it to them at the appointed hour.” And in this rude coffin the weeping bearers bore the remains of fair Flora McAlmon “through tangled brushwood and round upturned roots and cradle-holes . . . to the chosen grave in the wilderness where now, I hear, stands a small Presbyterian Church in the village of Duntroon.”

On several occasions Samuel Thompson had walked to Toronto, a distance of ninety miles. In 1834, before leaving Sunnidale, he made his first trip, “equipped only with an umbrella and a blue bag, . . . containing some articles of clothing.” The first part of his way was over a road strewn with logs over which he had to jump every few feet. Rain came on, and as night approached he found himself far from any human habitation. He returned to “a newly-chopped and partially-logged clearing” he had passed on the way. Here he found a small log hut in which the axe-men, who had been at work, had left some fire. He “collected the half-consumed brands from the still blazing log-heaps, to keep some warmth during the night, and then lay down on the round logs in the hope of wooing sleep.”

“But,” he adds, “this was not to be. At about nine o’clock there arose in the woods, first a sharp snapping bark, answered by a single yelp; then two or three at intervals. Again a silence, lasting perhaps five minutes. This kept on, the noise increasing in frequency, and coming nearer and again nearer, until it became impossible to mistake it for aught but the howling of wolves. The clearing might be five or six acres. Scattered over it were partially or wholly burnt log-heaps. I knew that wolves would not be likely to venture among the fires, and that I was practically safe . . . . I, however, kept up my fire very assiduously, and the evil brutes continued their concert of fiendish discords . . . for many, many long hours, until the glad beams of morning peeped through the trees; when the wolves ceased their serenade, and I fell fast asleep, with my damp umbrella for a pillow.”

When he awoke, he continued his journey to Bradford, where he was hospitably entertained by Mr. Thomas Drury, and given a letter of introduction to a man of whom he “had occasionally heard in the bush, one William Lyon Mackenzie.” The remainder of his journey was “accomplished by stage—an old-fashioned conveyance enough, swung on leather straps, and subject to tremendous jerks from loose stones on the rough road, innocent of Macadam, and full of the deepest ruts.”

When the Thompsons left London for Canada, they were sanguine “of returning in the course of six or seven years, with plenty of money to enrich,” and perhaps bring back with them, their mother and unmarried sisters. In the meantime the sisters came to Canada and found life on the bush farm totally unsuited to their tastes. The brothers, too, were far from satisfied. Their holding promised them only years of unremitting toil, with but a small return. They saw other opportunities and so disposed of their property, Thomas and Isaac moving with their sisters to a rented farm at Bradford and Samuel going to Toronto, where he was long to play an active part in the business and intellectual life of the community.


When Yonge Street was an Indian Trail

“When I first knew Toronto there were not more than two or three brick buildings between the market and Yonge Street. There was not a building of any kind on the west side of Yonge between Queen and Bloor. Yonge Street north of Toronto was not then the straight highway it is now, but twisted and turned in all directions to avoid the hills. About Unionville the country was covered with magnificent pine. People wondered how they would ever get rid of it all, and trees, as straight as a ruler and as free from blemish as a race horse, were cut down and the logs burned in heaps. Ropes and harness were made from home-grown flax, and almost every home had its wheel and loom where clothing for the family was made. The first cooking stove seen in Markham, brought in by a Yankee peddler named Fish, did not have an oven attachment but only holes in which pots could be placed. Bread was baked in pans set in coals. A black ash swamp near Unionville was full of wolves. In the evenings bears came into the oat fields, and, gathering the heads together in their fore paws, feasted in peace on the ripening grain.”

All this was given from the personal recollections of Simon Miller, who was living in Unionville in 1898. Through his immediate ancestors Mr. Miller was connected with the very earliest stages in the history of what is now the metropolitan district of which Toronto is the centre. One of his most prized possessions was a document dated “Navy Hall, 29th of April, 1793,” signed by J. G. Simcoe, the first governor of Upper Canada, and addressed to the officer commanding at Niagara. This document was a command to the officer in question “to permit Nicholas Miller, Asa Johnson, Jacob Phillips, Abraham and Isaac Devins, and Jacob Schooner” to bring in free of duty from the United States “such goods and effects as household furniture, chairs, tables, chests of clothing,” etc. The Nicholas Miller mentioned in this document was the grandfather of Simon, and Isaac Devins was the grandfather of Simon’s wife.

The original home of the Millers was lot thirty-four on the first of Markham, the Yonge Street farm later on occupied by David James. This and the old John Lyon farm were the first two for which patents were issued in Markham. The log cabin built on the Miller lot was probably the first house erected in Markham, and the body of Grandfather Miller, who died in 1810, is believed to have been the first buried in the old cemetery at Richmond Hill.

Three of Simon Miller’s uncles on his mother’s side took part in the War of 1812-15. These were Kennedys, after whose family the old “Kennedy Road” was named. One lost a leg at Queenston while charging with Brock in an effort to recapture the gun taken earlier in the morning by the Americans and then turned against the British. A Major, of the well known family of that name in Pickering, had a piece of flesh flicked from his leg by the same discharge. Mr. Miller’s mother heard the explosion when the old fort at York was blown up as the Americans entered the town after capturing it, and Mr. Miller himself as a lad heard the boom of the first gun fired in the skirmish at Montgomery’s Tavern in ’thirty-seven.

“After school had been hastily dismissed on the latter occasion and I was on my way home,” said Mr. Miller, “I met a company of Highlanders headed by skirling bagpipes coming out of Vaughan, on their way to join Mackenzie, but as the latter was already in retreat they were too late for the affair. For weeks afterwards loads of prisoners passed our door on Yonge Street on the way to Toronto to stand trial for high treason. Many of those in charge of the prisoners had themselves been implicated in the rising and took this means of turning aside suspicion from themselves. The worst of the direct effects of the rebellion was not the tearing of men from their families. It was the feuds, lasting for years, which originated at that time. Years afterwards, ‘you are a rebel’ or ‘the son of a rebel’ was the signal for a fight. When men gathered at grist-mill or for the annual ‘training day’ the whiskey hardly started flowing before a fight commenced in some corner, and in a short time the row became general.

“One of the worst consequences of the freedom with which liquor was to be obtained at this period,” continued Mr. Miller, “was seen in the case of the Indians. All the Indians of that day from the Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay country came to Toronto once a year to receive money and goods, which the Government gave them in return for the surrender of their lands. I have seen them coming down Yonge Street in twos and threes, magnificent specimens of manhood, their head-dresses decorated with eagle feathers, and carrying war spears in their hands. Too often they went back in a very different condition. The white man knew the Indian’s fondness for whiskey, and whites waylaid these children of the forest and supplied them freely with firewater in exchange for the goods the Indians had received from the Government. Frequently, by the time the red men reached Thornhill on their way home, they had neither goods, blankets, nor money, and had to beg food for maintenance on the rest of the journey northward. Notwithstanding the manner in which they had been robbed, and the fact that they were armed, I never heard of a white man being killed by them. Eventually, however, the scandal became so great that the Government adopted the plan of carrying the annuities for the Indians to their reserves and paying them there.

“In 1822, and again in 1823, grandfather and father found it necessary to go to Philadelphia to look after some property interests that had not been disposed of when the family left Pennsylvania. Both journeys were made on horseback. Three years later a third journey was made to the Quaker city, but this time in comparative comfort. From Buffalo to New York passage was taken by Erie Canal boats, and from New York to Philadelphia by ocean vessel. When I went to the States in ’forty-seven, I took boat from Toronto to Lewiston, from Lewiston to the Falls by horse-car with the horses driven tandem, and from the Falls to Buffalo by a train which ran on wooden rails covered with strips of iron.”

Henry Horne, for many years postmaster at Langstaff, in a pamphlet published in the last century, gave some particulars of the difficulties encountered in travel at a still later date than that mentioned by Mr. Miller. Mr. Horne made a trip to Toronto in the fall of ’fifty-two by the section of the old Northern Railway then open. There were no passenger cars on the line. Passengers had to stand up, and when the engine required water the train was held up while the crew dipped the necessary water from open ditches beside the track.

When the Millers and Devins first settled in Markham there was no grist-mill anywhere within reach and all the flour used in the neighbourhood was ground in a coffee-mill Grandfather Miller had brought with him from Philadelphia. At a later stage a man named Thorne established a hundred-barrel mill and general store at the place which bears his name. Big as his mill was, it was unable to cope with the trade that came to it. “I have seen,” said Mr. Miller, “a procession of wagons loaded with wheat that kept the mill running until ten at night. Thorne was a kind-hearted man, and many poor settlers in Adjala and Tecumseh were indebted to him for the flour necessary to carry them through until the following harvest. His end was an unhappy one, though. Embarrassed by unfortunate speculations in wheat he committed suicide.

“Burials were simple affairs among the pioneers. In one case the body of a man who had no relatives in the country, was enclosed in a coffin made of slabs split from a basswood tree and buried on his own farm. In fact a number of the first settlers were interred on the lots taken up by them. When the lots afterwards changed hands the bodies were in some cases removed. In others, agreements were made for the maintenance of the burial plots. But who is to enforce such agreements when even the descendants of the original owners of the property are far away? Inevitably the ground made sacred by the dust below will come under the plow, and some day, when a ditch is being dug or a foundation laid, men of a new generation will wonder what tragedy was hidden with the bones then brought to light.”

The Queen’s Bush

When I was a boy “The Queen’s Bush” was frequently mentioned in conversation in much the same way as “The Peace River Country” is now. The term was then applied to the Huron tract, a territory stretching from about Goderich to Georgian Bay, and in which settlements were just beginning to be formed. The territorial description was a moving one, however, and was applied generally to any lands which were still largely in possession of the Crown; and, as lands passed from the Crown into the hands of settlers moving west, and still further west, the description moved with the tide of settlement.

The story that follows was told to me in 1906 by John Claughton, who remembered when the name of Queen’s Bush covered territory as far east as the township of Uxbridge. The conditions under which I fell in with Mr. Claughton were in themselves a striking illustration of the marvellous change wrought in Ontario in the course of one lifetime. I was on my way from Barrie to Whitby, driving on that occasion, when night found me with a very tired horse, near Epsom, in the township of Reach. There was not a house of public accommodation within miles, and yet Mr. Claughton, who proved the Good Samaritan in a time of need, remembered when Epsom had two hotels; Prince Albert, three; and Utica and Manchester, two each—all the places named being within a few miles of each other.

“At that time,” said Mr. Claughton, “farmers from Georgina, Brock, Uxbridge, and Scott all teamed their wheat to Whitby or Oshawa. When this traffic was at its height there would be a string of teams stretching as far as the eye could reach and all moving south. It was almost impossible to drive north then because of the traffic moving in the opposite direction. That was when the old plank road extended from Manchester to Whitby. Much of the plank for that road was cut in the Paxton mill at Port Perry. There were five toll gates on the highway, and the toll for the round trip was three York shillings.[6] The wheat taken over it to Whitby was shipped to Oswego and thence to England. The wheat taken to Oshawa was ground in the Gibb’s mill.”

Mr. Claughton’s memory, and what he had heard from his parents, covered a period antedating even the time of the old plank road. He told how the Paxton’s, when they first settled near the site of the Dryden farm, had to drive thirty miles to Toronto for household supplies.

Awaiting Their Turn to Unload

“When this traffic was at its height there would be a string of teams stretching as far as the eye could reach and all moving south.”

“I can remember,” he said, “when what was practically a solid bush extended all the way from Epsom to Port Perry. I have seen mast timber, seventy to eighty feet long, taken out of Reach, four or five teams being required for the hauling. I have seen the best hardwood sold in Whitby at a dollar a cord. I have seen ten acres covered by great bonfires in which the best of pine, elm, and maple were burning. When, after such prodigal waste, timber began to grow scarce in the neighbourhood, people went to ‘The Queen’s Bush’ in Uxbridge township and helped themselves, there being no one there to say them nay.

“One night, after having left Uxbridge at eight o’clock, I heard a pack of wolves howling in the Black River swamp. There were many wolves in the swamp on the thirteenth of Reach and sheep had to be penned up at night for protection. A man named Shaw was on his way home carrying a heavy Bible he had borrowed from a neighbour when he met a bear. He dropped the Bible and ran, the sacred volume being recovered unharmed next day. One Sunday, when I was out walking near Epsom, three deer suddenly rose up in a small clearing almost in front of me.

“The first threshing-machine used in the neighbourhood was one of the old ‘pepper-mills.’ One man raked the straw as it came from the cylinder, a second raked it a little further, and a third pitched it to one side. If there were more than one day’s threshing, the grain on the floor had to be cleaned up before threshing could go on.”

“Where are the pioneers and their descendants?” I asked.

The answer came in something like a wail: “Gone, gone—gone almost to the last man and the last woman. The bodies of the pioneers lie in neglected or forgotten cemeteries. Their descendants have been scattered as if by the four winds of heaven. In many cases even the names are forgotten. Of the families living between Whitby and Oshawa in the ’forties I do not believe one remains to-day. Between Manchester and Whitby it is much the same. Only two or three remain between Epsom and Manchester.”

Still, although so few of the children or grandchildren remain where their families first settled, there is occasional evidence of a tie yet connecting them with the place where the light of day was first seen. One such evidence I found near Gamebridge while on this same journey. There a school library had been provided by the late Andrew Gunn, one of the founders of Gunns Limited, in memory of boyhood days spent in the bush when his father settled on the east side of Lake Simcoe. At Utica, again, I had seen “Memory Hall,” which had been erected by T. W. Horne, one of the contractors for the building of the King Edward Hotel, Toronto, this being Mr. Horne’s contribution to the community life of the section his parents had helped to create.

A York shilling, equivalent to twelve and one half cents, was a common unit of calculation in early days.

A Sturdy Young Traveller

This story has its beginning in Scotland; it touches North Carolina, and has its closing scenes in the township of Eldon. It begins with the eighteenth year of the past century, and almost the whole period is covered by a life that had not, when the story was told in 1910, run its course. Colin McFadyen, believed to be the oldest resident then in Eldon, at that time in his ninetieth year, but still bright of eye and with none of the ashen hue of age, gave the particulars.

Shortly after the end of the Napoleonic wars times were desperately hard in the old land and men began to turn their eyes in the direction of the New World, where people were fewer and opportunities greater. Among those who looked abroad were Mr. McFadyen’s father and some of his friends. They finally determined to start for Wilmington, Delaware, where an acquaintance was already engaged in the woollen industry.

“It was no palace steamer in which father and his friends arranged to make the journey,” said Mr. McFadyen. “It was an old sailing ship that had years before been condemned as unfit for the carrying of passengers. Our people did not know this at the time, and gladly paid the seven or eight pounds per head demanded for their passage to America. The vessel, although very old, was a fairly good sailer. Once during the voyage another craft was seen to be following. Fearing that she might be a pirate, the captain put on full sail and the possible enemy was left ‘hull down.’ The old vessel proved more seaworthy than was expected, as she was able shortly afterwards to ride in safety through a West Indian hurricane.

“At length Wilmington was reached, but the place did not suit the people, and they determined to go on to North Carolina, and it was there that I was born. Eventually they tired of Carolina. Although my uncle held slaves, my father objected strongly to the system, and he objected also to taking the oath of allegiance to the United States, as he was being constantly urged to do. Attention was thus naturally directed towards Canada and one of the party was sent to spy out the land. The investigation proved satisfactory and, in 1828, a party consisting of my father (Archie McFadyen), Archie McMillan, Colin Campbell, and their families determined to set out for the north.

The Whole Distance by Waggon

“The journey from Carolina to Hogg’s Hollow, where we first located, occupied seven weeks, and on only two nights did we have the shelter of a roof.”

“It was a genuine trek. The whole distance was covered in wagons, the men and boys walking alongside the rude vehicles. I walked every foot of the way myself, although then only nine years old. The journey from Carolina to Hogg’s Hollow, where we first located, occupied seven weeks, and on only two nights did we have the shelter of a roof. One of these two nights we spent in a vacant house. Where did we sleep the other nights? On the ground, with a blanket beneath and the blue sky above. If it looked like rain we crawled under the wagons, which were covered with canvas. One of my brothers was born on the way—that occurred in Virginia—but this was allowed to delay us for only one day.

“Yes, the road was none too smooth,” Mr. McFadyen went on. “We climbed mountains, up the face of which the horses could barely haul their loads. In going down the other side the men had to apply brakes to prevent the wagons from running on top of the animals. We crossed rivers, sometimes over bridges, but frequently at fords. In many cases bridge tolls were levied not only on teams, but on pedestrians as well. In order to reduce the charges we sent the wagons over the bridges, while the men and women in the party crossed on the backs of horses as these swam the streams.

“We crossed the Niagara River at Black Rock, the crossing being made in a ferry worked by horses with treadmill power. When we reached the Humber River, six miles out from Little York, as Toronto was then called, we found the bridge gone, and we had to wade the stream. While crossing the water came into the boxes of the wagons, and in going up the opposite bank it seemed at times as if the horses would fall back on top of the vehicles.”

The party finally reached Hogg’s Hollow and settled there for a year. Then they set out for their permanent home in the township of Eldon. This was the worst of the whole journey. Once, when they struck a cedar swamp, the wagons sank to the axles and a whole day was spent in going four miles. The horses were barely able to pull the wagons through the slime, and the men had to carry the luggage on their shoulders. The wagons could not be taken beyond Uxbridge, the rest of the way to lot seven on the first of Eldon being a blazed trail. All told, five days were spent in making a journey that an automobile would cover now in less than two hours of a summer afternoon.

Saving the Bridge Toll

“There was not a tree cut on the place when we arrived,” said Mr. McFadyen as he proceeded to tell of conditions in the new home, “but in three days we had a cabin built. It was of course made of logs, with the spaces between the logs filled with moss and the roof made of split basswood. As we had no feed left we had to get rid of the horses, and father traded one for a steer and twelve bushels of wheat. He borrowed a yoke of oxen to bring the wheat home. This was ground into flour between two grindstones that were made to revolve with a crank turned by hand. The wheat was poured by hand through a hole in the upper stone. Between dark and bedtime enough would be ground to provide for the next day’s needs. Later on we thought we were well off when we got a coffee-mill to do the grinding.

“It was hard enough to get along in the early days. Potatoes and corn were our chief reliance, and the only ready money was earned by sailing on the lakes. We found work enough at home, however,—cutting down trees in winter, splitting rails and fencing in spring, and burning fallows in summer. The last was hard work. I was my father’s principal helper, and we had to keep moving the burning logs closer and closer together while the heat of fire and sun combined caused the perspiration to pour from us in streams.

“It was a lawless time, too, in the early days. Dougall Carmichael, my mother’s brother, came out to us in 1832. He walked from Sutton by the road, after having his goods landed at Beaverton. When he went to Beaverton to secure the goods, some men there began shooting and my uncle, fearing for his life, fled. Returning later he found a chest broken into and sixty sovereigns and some clothing stolen. Years afterwards, when I was returning from Mount Albert, where I had been with a load of grain, a man told me he knew of the robbery and that the robber had buried the gold under his hearthstone near Beaverton.

“Another time when I was driving to Toronto with a load of grain I had with me a couple of wolf skins, which a man in Toronto had agreed to buy. I had stopped at Markham to feed the horses. That was in the days of the ‘Markham gang’ and Markham had a bad name. Consequently while waiting in the hotel until my horses were through feeding, I kept my eye on my sleigh. But a cutter drove up alongside as I watched, my skins were whisked into it and the rig was out of sight before I could pursue.”

This reference to the wolf skins naturally brought up hunting stories, and once Mr. McFadyen got started on this line the stories came thick and fast.

“When father killed the steer we had secured in exchange for one of our horses, he found it necessary to go to a neighbour’s for salt with which to cure the meat. When on his way back, and in the middle of the ‘big swamp’ of Thorah, there was a sudden and terrific howling from a pack of wolves—a howling that seemed to make the woods fairly tremble. Father dropped the salt and ran back to the neighbour’s, where he stayed all night. When he returned to the place where he had dropped the bag, he found the ground tramped up as if a herd of cattle had passed by. There must have been a large number of wolves in that pack.

“The wolves were particularly destructive on domestic animals. A three-year-old steer belonging to the McMillans was pulled down in a swampy place, and all of the animal eaten except the portion under water. No less than eighteen sheep belonging to us were killed in one night.

“In order to check the marauders I bought a trap and caught one wolf with it. I set it again, but the next wolf carried the trap away with him. I followed the trail with a dog, but could get no trace of either wolf or trap. I then secured another trap, fastened it with a trace-chain, and in this I captured a number of the beasts. Generally a wolf was badly cowed by being caught and I could dispatch the brute with an axe; but one fellow that I found soon after the trap teeth had been sprung on him was very fierce, and I had to stand at a safe distance and shoot him with a rifle. Finally one big wolf actually smashed the trace-chain and got away with the second trap. I followed the trail until I could see the bushes shake in which the brute had hidden. I fired at the spot, and then, when I saw the bushes move a little further on, aimed at that point and fired again. Everything then seemed quiet and I got down on my knees and peered under the bushes. The wolf was lying there all right, but I fired another shot to make sure, and then brought him out. We received a bounty of six dollars for each wolf killed, but one dollar had to be paid a magistrate for the certificate on which payment was made. The hides were of no value if taken in summer, but there was always sale for a good winter pelt.”

Mr. McFadyen’s adventures were not confined to wolves. Many a bear also fell before his rifle. Once, he treed a bear in a big elm and with the first shot put a bullet through the animal’s heart. On another occasion he wounded a bear, and, as it was getting dark, he was unable to follow the trail. Next morning the hunt was resumed and bruin was seen seated by a punky log and using the powdered fibre as a salve for his wound. “It seemed almost cruel to kill the animal under such circumstances,” said Mr. McFadyen in describing the adventure to a friend. “But when the excitement of the chase was on, and I remembered the havoc wrought by the black-coated enemy, I did not stop to think of this, and a second shot finished the business.”

Sometimes the hunter found himself hunted. One Sunday, as Mr. McFadyen was on his way to church, he saw a bear and two cubs in the oat field. The old bear ran off and Mr. McFadyen tried to catch one of the cubs, but he was glad to abandon the effort when he found mother bruin after him. On another occasion Colin McLachlin, a neighbour, shot and wounded a bear. When he endeavoured to dispatch the animal with an axe, the bear knocked the axe to one side and grabbed McLachlin’s thigh. A brother, who fortunately happened to be present, then seized the axe and killed the bear with a stroke. But even in death the animal held on, and it was necessary to pry the brute’s jaws apart before the thigh on which they had fastened could be released.

A little thing like lacerated flesh did not count in those days. People were inured to pain and all were qualified to render first aid to the wounded. Once, when a neighbour’s head had been laid open with an axe, Mr. McFadyen himself sheared away the hair and patched up the wound.

On another occasion a settler was so badly frozen that a number of his fingers had to be amputated. A doctor from Newmarket was called in to perform the operation. The charge was forty dollars. Later on it was found that sufficient had not been taken off the little finger, but it was considered hardly worth while to risk having to pay another forty dollars for a trifle like that. Accordingly a neighbour sharpened a jack-knife and a chisel; with a few deft cuts the flesh was laid open with the knife, turned back with the fingers, and then, with one stroke of a hammer on the chisel, the protruding bone was cut off with neatness and dispatch. The skin was next put back in place and home-made salves did the rest.

Mr. McFadyen’s stories of hunting adventures did not all have the scene laid in the wilds of Eldon and Thorah. When he was living in North Carolina, great black snakes, not poisonous, played havoc with the family’s flock of chickens. One night his sister heard a commotion in the poultry yard and on going out found a snake in possession of a chicken and in the act of climbing a tree with the prey. Miss McFadyen seized a pitch pine torch, and with this burned the snake so badly that it dropped the fowl and wriggled up the tree. Next morning the snake was still in the tree.

At another time the mother of the family went to the meat-house for a piece of meat. As she was in the act of looking up, a rattlesnake struck at her foot. There was no fainting, not even a shriek; instead there was a quick motion of the hand, the rattler was seized by the tail, a motion as in “cracking” a whip followed, and next a very much surprised rattler lay on the ground with its back broken.

Teaming Grain and Provisions

“There were seven of us, father, mother, four boys and one girl, when we moved into Thorah in 1831,” said Alex. McDougall. “It was September when we arrived, and the chill of autumn was already in the air. There was not a tree cut on the place, outside of the small space covered by a little shanty in which we were to lodge, and it was too late to produce food to carry us over the winter. In order to provide for his family—I was then a lad of fourteen—father took jobs threshing grain with a flail. His pay was in wheat, and the nearest point at which wheat could be ground into flour was at Newmarket. We boys, in the meantime, were busy with our axes, and by spring we had chopped fifteen acres of bush.

“Some of neighbours were worse off than ourselves. One man, with nine children, was forced to carry all the grain he used that first winter to Newmarket on his back, and to carry the flour back in the same way. He was kept going and coming all winter, because no sooner had he carried in one load of flour than he had to start back for another.

“Even after we had begun to produce a surplus of grain on our place it was still hard enough for us to live. All of the first crops were cut with the sickle and threshed with a flail. The grain was cleaned by throwing it up in the air from a sheet. The surplus wheat was sold at fifty cents per bushel, but sometimes it was so rusted that we could not sell it at all. A little later on Beaverton traffic was diverted from the Newmarket route towards Whitby, and our wheat was sold at Manchester at the end of the old sixteen-mile plank road leading north from Whitby. In order to make the journey in one day with a team it was necessary to start at four o’clock in the morning, and even then we did not reach Manchester until dark. The return journey was not made until next day. I have seen sixty teams in Manchester over night. There was plenty of stable room for the horses, but the men had to sleep two or three in a bed and, in some cases, on the floor of the bar or sitting-room. Frequently good wheat, marketed at such cost in hard labour, was sold at sixty cents per bushel. Grain of poorer quality, or not so well cleaned, sold for less.

“Everything in the way of supplies was scarce in the early days. I have known people to drive up here from Cannington to get straw with which to carry their stock over until the cattle could get out and browse in the woods. Still there was no actual suffering from want of food. If one had a little surplus, those who were short were always welcome to share in the bounty. Then the woods were filled with deer, and Indians brought us fish from the lake, which they exchanged with us for flour and pork.

“One of the great privations at the beginning was in the long intervals between regular religious observances. I remember when we were crossing the ocean, William Hunter, who afterwards settled in Chingacousy, came to our quarters and had prayers with us every night and morning. After we arrived at our new home the first regular services were held by the Rev. Mr. McMurchy, who came over from Eldon township for the purpose. John Gunn, father of the founders of Gunn’s Limited, was a volunteer helper. He made a regular practice of reading Scriptures and praying with the old people of the settlement, who, owing to growing infirmities, were unable to attend the regular church services that were held. Daniel Cameron was another who helped in this same way.”

“When church services were held, people travelled as much as thirty miles to take part,” said Angus McDougall, the son of the speaker. “I have known them, even in my time, to come in lumber-wagons from as far as Sutton on the south, Uptergrove on the north, and Woodville on the west to the old stone church at Beaverton. Their earnestness was shown not only in the distance they travelled but in the patience with which they sat through services lasting from eleven o’clock till four, while their simple faith and devout thankfulness were voiced in the Psalms which filled the old church with a stern melody. Duncan Gillespie was the precentor. He read the Psalms line by line, and then led the congregation as they sang in praise and thanksgiving. The favourite Psalms were the one hundred and third and one hundred and twenty-third:

‘Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God

  And not forgetful be,

Of all the gracious benefits

  He hath bestowed on thee.

Who with abundance of good things

  Doth satisfy thy mouth

So that even as the eagle’s age

  Renewed is thy youth.’ ”

Those who had not met him outside of his Toronto home would never have dreamed that Donald Gunn, one of the first members of the firm that is now Gunn’s Limited, had gone through an experience little different from that of Mr. McDougall. Straight and active as a man of thirty, when nearly seventy, and with the calm of one upon whom care had never rested, he was far from looking the part of a pioneer who had borne the burden of the old-time harvest and the fierce heat of the logging bee that preceded it. Still there were few men who had a larger part in the trials and privations of the days that are gone. The John Gunn, referred to by Mr. McDougall, was his father, and Donald was one of nine sons whose axes cleared the old homestead that now forms the basis of Dunrobin farm north of Beaverton.

Day after day he swung the cradle, leaving four or five acres of levelled grain to show for his day’s work. In the beginning he did more than this. He put in ten hours a day cradling on the farm of Colonel Cameron, and did the cutting at home in the early morning and late evening. In all this he was well aided by another member of the family—Dr. Gunn, famous all over the Huron tract for his skill as a surgeon.

A Pioneer Church Service

“Their earnestness was shown not only in the distance they travelled but in the patience with which they sat through services lasting from eleven o’clock till four.”

“The flail had pretty well gone out before my time,” said Mr. Gunn, “and the sickle was a thing of the past. But I have teamed a good many hundred bushels of grain to Manchester or Whitby that had been cut with a cradle. When we teamed all the way to Whitby, our practice was to make Manchester the first stage of the journey, and then double up the load there and let one team take it the rest of the way. The start from home was made at midnight, and Manchester was usually reached at daybreak. Fifty-five bushels was a load, and we frequently sold, for fifty or sixty cents per bushel, wheat that had been cut with a cradle and hauled all the way to market. I have seen as many as seventy of these grain teams at Manchester in a day, and a dozen men have frequently had to sleep on the floor in a room fifteen by fifteen. Manchester, which you might go through now almost without knowing it, was then the greatest grain market in Canada. Mr. Currie, father-in-law of Colonel Paterson, K.C., was one of the principal buyers; the father of Dr. Warren of Whitby was another; and Adam Gordon, who owned the farm afterwards belonging to ‘Bayside’ Smith, and now part of the hospital site on the lake shore at Whitby, was a third. Mr. Perry was amongst the later buyers. Drinking was as common there as it was at other places in Ontario at the time, and few of those who marketed the grain, at such a cost in labour and for so little in return, went home sober.

“I generally managed to have a load both ways,” went on Mr. Gunn. “On my way back I picked up a cargo of oats, pork, etc., and brought it to our home in Thorah, on the way to the lumber camps in Magnetewan. The start from home for the lumber camps was usually made at four o’clock in the morning, in the midst of intense darkness, and with the thermometer not infrequently ranging around thirty below zero. I always carried shovels, because it was often necessary to dig through snow five feet deep in order to allow teams, met on the road, to get past. No, I never felt cold. I wore mocassins, and a plaid over the chest, and always walked when going up hill. These trips occupied three days going and three days returning.”

“I remember another kind of experience in the deep snow of the early days,” put in Mrs. Gunn, who had been listening to the story of hardships in which she shared. “It was shortly after we were married. We had gone down to Stormont on a visit to my old home. A great storm came up while we were there, and Mr. Gunn decided to leave me with my friends a while longer, but to start for home himself. He left at nine in the morning, and after plowing through the snow for a mile, managed to get back to where I was stopping at two in the afternoon, and had to remain there for a fortnight before the road was opened up.”

“As there were nine of us on the home place, and it was only a hundred acre farm, we had to engage in a lot of outside work in order to make money to keep things going,” Mr. Gunn went on. “I made a heap of money with a team of horses taken into the lumber camps to skid logs in winter. After doing this I have come home in March and helped to cut down twelve or thirteen acres of bush before spring. Before the railway came through here I teamed store goods to Beaverton from Belle Ewart across Lake Simcoe on the ice, the goods having been carried as far as Belle Ewart by the old Northern. The first time we went to Toronto from here, we went by the old Emily May to Belle Ewart, and from there by rail.”

Of Mr. Gunn’s father and his work, I heard more from Mr. Gunn’s old neighbours than from himself. Mr. Gunn, the elder, was not only a minister to the spiritual wants of the people in the days spoken of, but he cured the bodily ills of the afflicted as well. Although not a physician he had an extensive knowledge of medicine, possessed a rare skill in simple surgery, and cared for the sick and suffering over an area of twenty-five miles.

A Logging Bee

He was, too, the first man to put an end to the use of liquor at logging bees. It was the practice at all loggings of that time to divide the fallow off in sections, and for each gang engaged in the work to try to get its section finished first. The whiskey pail was always at hand to keep the workers keyed up to the highest pitch. One day on the Gunn farm, while a particularly keen race was on between the rival gangs, a man shoved a log from his section to that of the rival gang, and was caught at it. The blood of all the gangs, hot with the race and still further heated with the liquor, was at the boiling point already and the attempted cheating started a fight on the spot. Mr. Gunn, then in his prime, jumped between the fighters, and holding each at the end of a powerful arm shook both into submission. Then, mounting on a log-heap, he gave all the men a quiet talk, and declared his intention of never again allowing liquor at a logging on his place. He kept his word, and by so doing helped not a little in the spread of temperance reform over the whole neighbourhood.

On the Gunn farm there is a little “city of the dead,” that dates even farther back than does that which lies under the shadow of the old stone church. In this older place of burial lie representatives of another people, who spoke another language. It is the resting place of Indians who had gone to the happy hunting grounds before the white man came. The graves are located along the banks of an old water-course, and are shaded by the cedar, elm, and balsam, which line one side of the driveway leading to the family residence. A great balsam marks the head of a grave in which rests a chief’s daughter to whom the call came in girlhood’s prime. Many years ago, before the Indians of the Lake Simcoe reserve were converted to Christianity, members of the tribe made regular pilgrimages to the place for the purpose of engaging in pagan rites in the presence of the dead. Later on, when the homes of the white men began to dot the country the Indians ceased to visit the place.

It was at that time a low, swampy neighbourhood, and before it was cleared up there frequently appeared before the gaze of alarmed settlers a fitful phosphorescent glow dancing over decayed logs. The belief was spread that it was the spirits of departed red men looking for the mourning relatives who came no more. But, with the clearing of the land, the uneasy spirits of the woods disappeared, and now the dead lie silent and still while the night wind sighs in the swaying tops of the evergreens above. There they lie:

“Unknown and unnoticed.

Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing beside them;

Thousands of throbbing hearts where theirs are at rest and forever,

Thousands of aching brains, where theirs have ceased from their labours,

Thousands of weary feet, where theirs have completed the journey.”

Here and there over nearly the whole of Ontario, the pioneers found traces of Indian occupation before the coming of the white man. Few localities had a richer store of reminders of a passing race than the township of Nottawasaga. When the Mad River covered the present site of Creemore and deer licks existed on the Currie farm near that village, this township was a favourite fishing and hunting ground for the Indians. On the Melville farm on the fourth concession, a plow one day struck a soft place in the ground and search revealed a collection of parched corn, and cakes burned hard as bricks. On almost every farm in the township tomahawks or Indian pipes have been plowed up. Regular Indian burying grounds were located on the town-line of Nottawasaga and Sunnidale, and on the second and fourth of the former township. In these graveyards were found masses of bones, together with kettles, beads, and weapons. One of the strangest finds was in the Indian graveyard on the second concession of Nottawasaga, consisting of a number of sabres, tied together, which apparently had never been used. A pioneer took three of these sabres to serve as a trap for deer that had been feeding on his oat crop. He set the sabres point upwards, covered with light brush as a screen, at a place where the deer had been jumping into the field. Next morning an animal was found impaled, but unfortunately it was the best horse on the farm. It is said that another of these old sabres, which doubtless came from France, served for years as guard for the portals of an Orange lodge. It was surely a strange fate which caused this sword, probably blessed by a Jesuit priest for service in the hands of a soldier of Catholic France, to become a prized possession of a lodge devoted to the perpetuation of the memory of King William.

Building in a Hurry

At the beginning of June, 1899, one of the pioneers of the Islay settlement on the east side of Lake Simcoe was still in the flesh in the person of John Merry. At that time all the lots between one and five on the seventh of Eldon, save one, were in possession of direct descendants of the men who had settled on them sixty years before, at a time when the country for miles around was solid bush. Of the toil endured by the pioneers on the last stage of the journey to their destined home in Eldon I was told by Donald McArthur, a son of one of the original settlers.


“From Toronto to Holland Landing teams were employed in carrying the belongings of our people,” said Mr. McArthur. “But the people themselves walked every step of the way, the horses having all they could do to haul the freight over the great hills and across hollows where the mud was nearly knee deep. At every hill, indeed, teams had to be doubled up. From ‘The Landing’ to Beaverton open boats were used. It was after Beaverton was left behind that the greatest toil was experienced. For fifteen miles through the bush there was nothing but an Indian trail, and over that distance our people carried their bedding and other belongings on their backs.

“Quick work was done, when the locations on which our people proposed to make their homes were finally reached. Rude shanties were put up on one day and equally rude fireplaces were constructed outside for cooking. Next day stone fireplaces were built inside and the smoke from these was allowed to escape through a hole in the roof, no chimneys being yet in place. The ‘chinking’ of the log walls was not completed until the approach of winter made this imperative.

“When the first grain crop was harvested, the nearest place at which it could be ground was the old ‘Red Mill’ at Holland Landing, and the grain sent there had to be ‘packed’ as far as Beaverton. The settlers generally went in couples, each man carrying a bushel of wheat on his back. On the return journey the carriers depended for food on bread made on the way from the flour they carried with them.

“Wolves were a great source of worry and loss. One morning my mother turned our sheep out of the pen at daybreak and a belated wolf destroyed six of them before the flock could be rounded up. The brutes even attacked the cattle at times, but they made little by such attacks when a number of cattle were together. In these cases the cattle formed a circle with cows and calves in the centre, the oxen with lowered heads forming the outer circle. Against that defence wolves attacked in vain.

“The first Presbyterian minister in the section was the Rev. Mr. McMurchy, and by him most of the children were baptised. Later on these same children formed new unions under his benediction. The usual practice in connection with weddings was to have banns published on three successive Sundays, and on the Wednesday following the last announcement the wedding would take place. All weddings were real community affairs. The women of the settlement went the day before to bake and assist the bride. On the evening following the ceremony the fiddler mounted his bench, and from before sunset until the sun rose again flying feet kept time to the music.”

Municipal Government and Township Meetings

From James St. John, who was nearly ninety years of age and still with intellect wholly unimpaired when I interviewed him in the township of Brock in 1900, information was obtained concerning the annual township meetings of the early days.

Township Meeting

“At once there was a rush for the wood-pile on which the magistrate was standing, and the wood, the render, and the crowd were thrown into one tumbled mass.”

“When it came to the making of laws,” began Mr. St. John, “the general practice was for some one to propose a rough outline of what was desired. This was reduced to writing by a magistrate present, who afterwards mounted a wood-pile and read the formal document which was then submitted for ratification by the assembly. One of the first of the local laws in Brock provided that fowl, which continued to trespass after warning had been given to the owner, might be shot by the party on whose land the trespass occurred. When this measure was being read for the approval of the meeting someone asked what was to be done with the carcasses of the fowl shot.

“ ‘Eat them,’ I said from a side bench.

“ ‘Eat them,’ repeated the magistrate as if reading from the formal document.

“At once there was a rush for the wood-pile on which the magistrate was standing, and the wood, the reader, and the crowd were thrown into one tumbled mass. But it was all done in good nature, and was merely one of the ways in which animal spirits expressed themselves at these annual meetings.”

Mr. St. John also told a story of an old-time parliamentary election that reads, in some respects, like a news item of U.F.O. activity of the present time.

“We had,” he said, “been electing lawyers year after year and found that these hardly noticed us after election day was over. In order to devise means of changing all this we held a meeting in our township and decided, by almost unanimous vote, that we would elect a farmer in the then pending election. Two candidates were in the field, Hartman, a Reformer and farmer, and Scobie, a Conservative and lawyer. The latter was a very clever talker and succeeded in persuading all of those who had attended the meeting, except myself, to go back on the decision reached and to support him. Notwithstanding the defection of Brock, however, Hartman was elected, and he proved one of the best representatives who ever sat for the constituency.

“Polling in that election took place at Newmarket and continued over two days. During that time both candidates kept open house. No strong liquor was supplied, but beer was as free as water. Still, notwithstanding the abundance of liquor and the excitement of the election, I did not see a single fight during the contest.”

Telling of an incident of another kind, Mr. St. John said: “Indians were numerous all over the Lake Simcoe district, and in early spring eight or ten camps were formed by these on my father’s farm while the squaws engaged in basket-making. The Indians were all ardent ‘Queen’s Men’ and would not hear a word spoken derogatory of Victoria the Good, who had then recently ascended the throne. One of the settlers, McMaster by name, for a joke, made some slighting remarks about royalty in the presence of a group of these Indians, and they threatened to kill him. Taking refuge in our house, he got me to hide him under a pile of straw in the sleigh and drive him past the Indian camp to his home. When driving past the camp an Indian jumped on the sleigh for a ride and sat down on the straw, not knowing McMaster was underneath. When McMaster at last got out near his own door, after the Indian had disappeared, he said he had been almost smothered under the straw. But he was cured; he never tried another joke with the Indians.”

When Mr. St. John entered Brock with his father, in 1821, there were only three other settlers in the township. Mr. St. John was then twelve years of age, and from that time until his ninetieth year he worked almost continuously. Part of his labours consisted of chopping the bush from three hundred acres with his own hands.

Speaking of the early struggles, Mr. St. John continued: “We worked hard, and for limited rewards, but never suffered want. My first crop of fall wheat had just nicely headed out when a foot of snow fell. Fortunately there was no frost and the wheat afterwards yielded an average of forty bushels per acre. I cut that crop with a reaping-hook, threshed it with a flail, cleaned the grain with a borrowed fanning-mill, and hauled it to Stouffville with oxen. And what do you think I got for the grain on delivery? Three York shillings a bushel, with half of that in store pay, and I had to wait three months for the ‘cash’ half of it!

“The very next year, however, the price of wheat went to two dollars and a half per bushel. Afterwards it sagged to between one and two dollars and then, when the Russian War came, it rose above two dollars and a half. One winter, when wheat was quoted at about a dollar a bushel, I arranged to market the twelve hundred bushels that I held from the previous season’s crop. After hauling out one load one of my horses broke a leg while playing in the yard and I was not able to resume marketing before the following June. The loss of the horse, in the end, proved a most fortunate accident as, when I did sell my wheat, the price was one dollar and eighty-five cents.

“These occasional high prices, and the uncertainty of them, were really a most unfortunate thing for the country. Farmers assumed obligations in order to buy more land for wheat growing, and this sent land prices up to speculative levels. I could have sold our farm then for one hundred dollars an acre, whereas, after prices dropped, I could hardly have secured sixty dollars, although in the meantime the farm had been greatly improved. The worst effects, however, were felt by merchants, many of whom went mad in grain speculation. One of the heaviest plungers was a man named Laing, in Whitby. I have seen him come from the bank with a stack of bills as big as a hand satchel, and this would not last him over three hours while his buying ventures were at their height. When wheat dropped to seventy-five cents, he failed and many failed with him.

“In the period I speak of (this was before railways were built in Ontario, Victoria, and Peterboro Counties) Whitby was one of the greatest grain markets in the country. Wheat from all around the east side of Lake Simcoe was teamed there. The work of teaming was facilitated by the improvement of the road from Brechin to Manchester with the county’s share of the Clergy Reserve Fund, and the building of the plank toll road from Manchester to Whitby. When that plank road was at its best a team could haul from one hundred to one hundred and forty bushels of wheat at a load, but the hard surface proved as injurious to the feet and legs of horses as concrete pavement does now. At that time as many as fifty teams might be seen in a string along the old Centre Road; at Manchester fully two hundred teams were assembled at one time; and at Whitby sleighs extended for a mile from the harbour front up into the town. Many a good horse was fatally chilled while waiting on the ice for the unloading of the grain hauled.

“It was the opening of the main line of the Grand Trunk, combined with the existence of an excellent harbour, that made Whitby in the ’fifties and ’sixties the market for all the country tapped by roads leading to the north. I well remember the day when the line was opened. It seemed as if the whole surrounding country emptied itself into Whitby on that occasion. Every hotel—and there were then six in the town and three at the harbour—was filled to overflowing, and the streets were lined with empty wagons and buggies whose owners were off to Toronto on the excursion of their lives.

Shearing Sheep

“At a still earlier date than this, when the country was first being settled, wolves were numerous in the ravines about Sunderland. One day I heard some of these after our sheep. Without waiting to get my gun I rushed to the defence of the flock and jumped on the back of a wolf I found attacking a fine ewe. The brute was so surprised that he ran for the bush without waiting to see what had dropped on him. The ewe was somewhat mauled, but I doctored her with turpentine and not many days afterwards she gave birth to a pair of fine lambs. After I had released this ewe from the wolf, I went at a second of the marauders, which was attacking another of the flock, and beat him off with a fence rail. I was a little too late in this case and the second sheep died of her injuries.”

Nor were animals the only victims to be attacked by wolves. R. L. Huggard, when living in Whitby, told me that James Lytle was once treed by wolves near Kendal in Durham County. “After climbing the tree,” said Mr. Huggard, “Mr. Lytle broke branches and, using these as clubs, tried to drive the wolves away, but when the animals snapped at his feet he was glad to climb back to safety and remain on his perch until the besiegers disappeared with daybreak. When at last Lytle, almost frozen, did get down he found the snow around the base of the tree packed as hard as a sleigh track.

“More fortunate was a man named Morrison who lived near Uxbridge in the early days. This Morrison was a famous fiddler and his services were in great demand at the winter dances. Frequently, after the dancers had gone he tramped home alone. One winter night, as he was trudging along with his fiddle tucked under his arm, he was surprised by a pack of wolves. A roofless old shack was near at hand, and up to the peak of the rafters scrambled Morrison. Whether from a sense of humour or not I do not know, but, as the cold increased, Morrison bethought himself of playing a tune for the howling pack below. So he took his fiddle from his case and struck up a lively tune, when, to his utter astonishment away scampered the brutes at topmost speed into the bush. He had many a laugh afterwards as he thought of himself on that cold still night beneath the bright winter stars fiddling away from his lofty perch. Unconsciously he had stumbled upon what has become a well established fact that wolves are terrified by the strains of a violin. He never wanted for protection against wolves when on his lonely night tramps after that.”

A Fiddler’s Plight

It may very well be added here, in connection with reference to township meetings, that Colborne was one of the first townships to be municipally organized in the Huron Tract, convenience of access to the port of Goderich having facilitated early settlement there. In the last June of the past century, thanks to the courtesy of Henry Morris, of Loyal, I had the privilege of going over the first records of Colborne’s municipal government. These records began with the fourth of January, 1836, when the pioneers of the township met at the Crown and Anchor Hotel kept by the father of Mr. Morris in the then village of Gairbraid, to start the municipal machine. The meeting was held in accordance with “the terms of Statute V, William IV, Chapter 8.” Under the terms of that statute, the annual township meeting held at the beginning of the year not only elected commissioners, as the township councillors were then called, but the several township officers, from clerk to fence-viewers, as well.

Election troubles of a kind for which Huron has since been famous began early in the county’s history. At this first township meeting in Colborne, J. C. Tims and John McClean were candidates for the clerkship, and Daniel Lizars, who was in the chair, declared the latter elected. Thereupon three of the votes cast in this election were objected to and a scrutiny called for, the final result being that McClean was declared to have a majority of two. Even this did not end the matter, because later on proceedings were taken against one of those present for having voted “contrary to the terms of the statute in that case made and provided,” and in due course a tea-pot belonging to the offender was seized to satisfy the law’s demands, the said tea-pot being held until one of the commissioners put up security for the fine imposed. Troubles over the clerkship, having once begun, continued intermittently for a couple of years. McClean resigned the day after the meeting at which he had been elected, and the township commissioners appointed his rival Tims to fill the vacancy. On October 25th following, Tims resigned in turn, and James Forrest London was appointed. London served until April 25th following, and then he, too, resigned, and A. R. Christie was made clerk.

The annual township meeting of the ’thirties of the last century did more than elect a local government and officials. It also made laws for the governance of the municipality. At the first township meeting for Colborne, one of the laws passed declared that “bulls and stallions shall not be free commoners,” and that “stray dogs found at large should be liable to be impounded.” A “legal fence” was defined as one six and a half feet high with not more than four inches space between the rails for the first two feet, and that for the next two feet the space should not be above five inches. At the third annual meeting, held in 1838, one of the laws passed in public meeting assembled declared that cattle of “the habit and repute of being breachy” should not be permitted to run at large.

Shortly after the township government was organized, a commissioner complained of the blocking of certain roads through trees having fallen across the same. One of the cases of which complaint was made was that wherein a “large maple” had fallen from lot one, concession three. Two other complaints were also lodged concerning trees which had fallen from lands belonging to the Canada Company. In all cases complained of the owners of the land were called upon to remove the obstructions.

The Canada Company, through Thomas Mercer Jones, claimed non-liability. The statute of the day, it appears, attached liability only to “enclosed lands,” and as the Canada Company’s lands were not “enclosed,” and, in fact, had no improvements on them, exemption was claimed. Thus the actual settler, who was living on and making more valuable the hundred acres held by him, was liable for trees falling from his place blocking the highway. A great corporation, that held thousands of acres which were being made more valuable by the labour of others, claimed exemption from the same liability because its property was not enclosed. It is not surprising that the Canada Company was even more unpopular in the early days of Western Ontario than some other corporations operating have been since then.

The Crown and Anchor Hotel in which Colborne’s first municipal government was formed disappeared long since. The village of Gairbraid itself, like many other hamlets of pioneer times, has also disappeared, and for about half a century a one-time scene of bustling activity has been part of a plowed field.


The Summerless Year

Some fragmentary references have already been made to “The Summerless Year” of 1816. But the real story of that season of want and nightmare was related to me by Benjamin D. Waldbrook, whom I interviewed near Oakville in the first year of the present century. Mr. Waldbrook’s father came to Canada in 1817, when memories of the event were still fresh, and his own recollections went back to the beginning of the third decade of the last century.

“The spring of 1816,” Mr. Waldbrook said, “opened with as fair prospects as have ever appeared at the same season since. But the sunshine of the year’s morn was followed by a long night of black despair. Snow commenced falling in June, and until spring came again the whole country was continuously covered by a wintry blanket. Practically nothing was gathered in the way of a crop. Everything rotted in the ground. There was no flour, there were no vegetables; people lived for twelve months on fish and meat—venison, porcupine, and ground-hog being varied with the thin meat of cattle slaughtered because there was no vegetation to sustain them. Hay was sent from Ireland to save the stock of the starving people of Quebec; and some brought here sold for forty-five dollars per ton. Even when father came in the following year, flour was seventy dollars per barrel at Quebec, potatoes were a penny a pound, and the country was full of stories of the horrors endured during the winter of a year’s duration.

“Happily the year 1817 was as prolific as the year before had been barren. Happily, too, there was a considerable migration in 1817 from Nova Scotia, which had escaped an affliction that appears to have been confined to Ontario, Quebec, and the Eastern States. The new-comers from Nova Scotia brought with them potatoes, that provided seed not only for themselves but for neighbours in Ontario who were without seed. These potatoes had a blue point and our Ontario people gave them the name of ‘blue-noses.’ From the potatoes the name passed to Nova Scotians themselves. I am told that the people of Nova Scotia do not like the title. They should be proud of it. The name recalls the time when help from that province by the sea proved the salvation of sorely stricken Ontario.

“Even I have been witness of afflictions little less grievous than those of the ‘summerless year,’ ” continued Mr. Waldbrook. “About 1833, army worms came in countless millions. They literally covered the ground and trees were left bare of foliage as in mid-winter. At the doors of houses they swarmed like bees at the entrance to a hive.

“About the same time a deluge of frogs fell upon the land. In the blazing heat of noonday sun these rotted and filled the air with poisonous vapors. For a time this province was cursed with a West Indian climate; cholera developed, and people died by hundreds.

“Some ten years before this, and prior to the time covered by my recollection, I have been told that a tornado swept over a section half a mile wide about Milton. The tornado was preceded by a roar like that produced by an unbroken roll of thunder and the earth itself seemed to quiver as with a convulsion. Cattle, warned by instinct, rushed from the woods to clearings and crouched close to the ground. The storm broke with an indescribable fury; logs were whirled from the ground like straws and in a moment the air was filled with flying debris and dust. A neighbour, Kennedy by name, had three hundred bushels of ashes in a bin ready to haul to an ashery. Ashes and bin wholly disappeared together and went off in the common wreckage.

“There was one humorous episode during the storm, which narrowly escaped being a tragedy. A young woman, named Eliza Harrison, was hanging out a washing as the storm broke. The next thing her mother saw was Eliza and the line of clothes whirling in the air above the tree tops amid a cloud of branches and dust. Strange to say the girl landed in a field several hundred yards away, very little hurt. Eliza was the pioneer in aerial navigation in America.”

Mr. Waldbrook told a couple of bear stories typical of the times. “In 1829,” he said, “when my father was passing along King Street, Toronto, a bear came out of the woods north of where St. James’ Cathedral now stands. Near Weston a man named Elliott was attacked by another bear, and in the struggle Elliott choked the bear to death by forcing his fist down the brute’s throat. Elliott’s arm was so badly lacerated that it had to be amputated, Dr. Widmer, whose name was honourably connected with the early hospital history of Toronto, performing the operation.”

In Mr. Waldbrook’s youth a large part of Halton was covered with magnificent white oak and the marketing of this timber gave the pioneers of the county their first start. The timber was cut into ten and five foot lengths and split with beetles and wedges into slabs varying from two to five inches in thickness. In spring the slabs were floated down the river to Oakville and shipped thence to England, where they were again split with saws in readiness to be sent to the West Indies to make hogsheads for the sugar trade. “Robert Sullivan,” said Mr. Waldbrook, “was one of the chief operators in the Halton woods. He was given the name of ‘White Oak Sullivan’ and in turn he gave Oakville its name.

“While men were piloting the staves down the stream, they spent the night in shanties by the side of the river, and every night was a carouse. During one such carouse a member of the party was seen to be sitting quietly, taking no part in the proceedings. Next morning when the other men, even yet partially stupefied by liquor, got up, the silent one was still there, but little notice was taken of him. When, however, the men observed that he did not follow them down to the bank, they went back and found him stone dead. It was supposed that a blow given during the night’s carousal had killed him, but the body was quietly buried and there was no inquiry.

“Another tragedy was connected with a survey party. A stranger joined the party one day, and next evening when the cook was cutting wood to prepare supper the axe glanced and sheared the stranger’s head clear from his body. As no one knew anything about the man, the body was buried in the woods and thus the incident closed.

“Another tragedy of early days in Halton was connected with a one-time thriving village of which nothing remains to-day. The village was located where Dundas Road crosses the sixteenth. At one time the village contained a distillery, brewery, saw-mill, store, and tannery. The decline of the place began when the principal owner, a man named Chalmers, while under the influence of liquor, signed a cheque for ten thousand dollars, and, in remorse for his act, committed suicide.

“Oakville was an Indian reserve until 1827. Although the place got its start from the stave trade, the boom came when the Russian war raised the price of wheat. Farmers from as far off as Garafraxa brought their grain here then, and I have seen fifty or sixty teams waiting at one time to unload.

“During that period new barns were erected everywhere, and, as saw-mills would not pay over twenty-five cents for the two first logs from a pine tree, the best of timber went into these. Barn-raisings were community events and whiskey was in abundant supply. I have seen half-tipsy men swarming all over the skeleton structures, but never saw a serious accident. At these raisings, the barns were christened like a ship at a launching, but whiskey instead of wine was used at the ceremony. Once, at a raising near Ancaster, I saw a man, bottle in hand, run up the peak where two rafters joined. There, balancing on one foot, he sang out:

“It is a good framing

And shall get a good naming.

What shall the naming be?”

Barn-Raising Bee

“Barn-raisings were community events.”

“When the prearranged name was shouted back the man on the rafters so declared it as he cast the bottle to the ground. Was the bottle broken? No, indeed! As it contained the best liquor supplied at the raising, care was taken to see that it fell on soft ground, and the moment it fell it was surrounded by a crowd of men, still thirsty despite the liberal libations already supplied.”

Mr. Waldbrook, in dealing with conditions existing prior to 1837 said: “In our section people paid from a dollar and a half per quarter to six dollars per year, for each child sent to school. Their ordinary land tax amounted to twelve dollars per year in addition to this. That does not seem a great deal to-day, but it was a very heavy burden for men, starting on bush farms, who sold their wheat for three York shillings a bushel and dressed beef at a dollar and a half per hundred-weight. What made the situation more irksome still was the fact that the Canada Company was holding unimproved lands, on which no taxes at all were paid, at eight to twelve dollars per acre. When Martin Switzer of Churchville went to Toronto to pay his taxes to Treasurer Powell of the Home District, he entered complaint against these conditions. He figured up the tax paid in his own township and said that he could not see what the people were getting in return, since they were left without bridges even, save such as they built for themselves.

“ ‘I think’ said Switzer, ‘some of this money must be misappropriated in Toronto.’

“ ‘Look here, my man,’ Powell insolently responded, ‘your business is to pay taxes. It is for the gentlemen here in Toronto to say how they shall be spent, and if I hear any more such seditious language from you I shall have you put in York jail.’ ”

Switzer spread the story on his return home, and anger, savage enough before, was fanned into a white heat. It is no wonder that the people rose in arms. They would have been less than men if they had tamely submitted to the insolence and incompetence of office to which they were being daily subjected.

Mr. Waldbrook told me that he knew the names of those who had sheltered Mackenzie in his flight through Halton after the affair of Montgomery’s Tavern, and that he even knew the woman who gave the leader her dress for disguise. But, despite my gentle pressing nearly seventy years after the event, a request for names was refused.

A Chingacousy Village

Few men witnessed more varying stages of the pioneer period than did Abraham Campbell, whom I met at lot twenty-eight on the first concession of Chingacousy in July, 1899. Mr. Campbell spent his life on the farm on which he was born when Chingacousy was the farthest settlement north of the lake. As a child and youth he saw other pioneers pass his door on their way to the virgin forests of Dufferin, Grey, and Bruce. He was witness of the annual summer pilgrimage of the men from the newer lands of the north to the older settlements of the south in search of employment in which they might earn bread for the winter. As the forests of the northland were pushed back before the attack of the axe-men, he viewed the winter procession of teams by which the grain of the north country was hauled toward lake ports. To all this Mr. Campbell was able to add what his father had told him of days prior to the period covered by his own recollection, the period when even the Niagara district was young. His father as a youth was at Queenston Heights, Stoney Creek, and Lundy’s Lane, and one of the most prized possessions of the Campbell homestead, when I was there in 1899, was an iron pot, eighteen inches in diameter, captured from the American forces at Stoney Creek, and still doing duty in the Campbell homestead over eighty years later.

Mr. Campbell’s father and six brothers took up one thousand acres in Chingacousy about 1820, after having journeyed from the old family home in Lincoln County by an ox-team. From Cooksville to their locations, the way led over a road made through the bush with their own axes. A quarter of a century later Campbell’s Cross, on the highway connecting north and south, was a scene of bustling life.

“There was a tavern there containing eighteen rooms,” said Mr. Campbell, “and in those rooms I have known twenty or thirty people to be accommodated over night. As late as two o’clock in the morning I have seen the bar-room so full of people that one could not get near the bar itself. There were three stores in the village at that time, and they were all busy places. Whence did the business come? Largely from the north country, which by that time had begun to produce a surplus. I have seen as many as one hundred teams arrive with grain in a single day. Part of the grain was bought by local merchants and teamed by them to Port Credit for shipment by water. Some of the farmers hauled their own grain all the way to the lake port.

“Teaming this grain was real labour. Between Chingacousy and the north, hauling was possible only in winter, and even then twenty-five to thirty bushels made a load. In coming down the Caledon mountain it was necessary to put a drag on the sleighs. Those who did their own teaming to Toronto or Port Credit frequently used ox-teams and sleighs to Campbell’s Cross and then borrowed wagons for the journey to Toronto. On some of these journeys the snow was up to the backs of the oxen when north of the Caledon mountain, while south of our place the animals wallowed to their bellies in slush and mud. Some of these northern farmers came from as far back as Owen Sound with grass seed, venison, and pork for sale, the round trip occupying well over a week. At times the nights were spent in the bush while sleet or rain beat in through the partial covering afforded by the forest. But the people were happy with it all. Return cargoes usually consisted of groceries and a half-barrel of whiskey, and as long as the latter kept the interior warm, exterior cold did not matter much to the hardy men of that day.

“At the period covered by my earliest recollection bears and wolves were common in Chingacousy. I have more than once seen cows come home with flanks and udders so badly torn that the animals had to be killed. During the ’thirties, ’forties, and ’fifties, the father of Kenneth Chisholm, who for years represented Peel in the Legislature, made staves from the oaks that then covered a good deal of the township. The staves were hauled to the Credit by oxen, floated down the stream to the Port, and thence shipped to England. About 1860, while I was assisting in removing an old oak stump, we unearthed a tool that had been used in splitting staves.

“One of my earliest election recollections is connected with the contest in which Colonel Ed. Thompson defeated William Lyon Mackenzie in the year before the Rebellion. That was the most exciting electoral battle we ever had. The electors of Caledon, Chingacousy, and Toronto townships all went to Streetsville to vote. The polls remained open for a week or two and for most of that time my father was engaged in hauling Tories to the voting place. On the last day of polling five or six teams were massed and, headed by bagpipes, took the last of the voters to the poll.

“When the Rebellion came, it was real civil war, one neighbour watching another. From the shelter of a hedge father and I saw a dozen of Mackenzie’s supporters passing in twos at night. The Government’s supporters marched in daylight. There were no actual conflicts in this neighbourhood between the rival factions, but fighting was narrowly averted on some occasions. Captain Sinclair had a party of Mackenzie’s partisans in his home at Cheltenham, when they were surprised and taken prisoners by a company under command of my father. Most of the arms of Sinclair’s men were stacked in the middle of the room, and one of my brothers rushed in and grabbed these before the other party knew what was happening. Notwithstanding the surprise and loss of part of the arms, it required a good deal of persuasion to induce those who still retained weapons to give them up.”

The excitement attendant upon Mackenzie’s last contest before the Rebellion was paralleled by an election that took place in Peel about 1848. In this election George Wright and Colonel William Thompson split the Tory vote and Honourable Joseph Morrison (afterwards appointed a judge) slipped in between them. Bars were not closed on polling day then and whiskey flowed as freely as the waters of the Credit. Single fights occurred every few minutes while the battle at the polls was on. Sometimes these single fights developed into conflicts between factions, and when this happened men quit using their fists and started for the most convenient bush to cut clubs. One of the most serious of these rows took place at Caledon just before the polls closed. James Thompson was deputy returning officer and Mr. Campbell was poll clerk. When the place got too hot for the officials, they grabbed the poll books (it was open voting then) and bolted. A howling mob followed them for half a mile, but the deputy and poll clerk at length found refuge in Philip Chamber’s tavern at lot nine, concession one, Caledon, and there they declared the poll duly and legally closed.

Robert W. Brock, whom I met at Belfountain about the same time that I had the interview with Mr. Campbell, gave some further information of early days in Peel and Dufferin. “At the time of my earliest recollections,” Mr. Brock said, “the Centre Road had displaced the first concession of Chingacousy as the leading highway to the north. In the late ’sixties, I have seen that road black with teams, and traffic going on day and night. This continued until the old narrow gauge T.G. & B. was built to Owen Sound and markets were opened at Orangeville, Shelburne, and Dundalk. Then the glory of Churchville and Streetsville began to wane.

“Many years before the opening of the railway, a man named Frank had a grist-mill at Belfountain and people from as far north as Meaford and Owen Sound brought their grists to the mill on jumpers or home-made sleighs hauled by oxen. Much of the way was over a blazed trail and the journey could be made only in summer, the roads being impassable in winter. My wife’s brother, Samuel Eagle, was then living near Bayview, about nine miles from Meaford. He frequently walked to his father’s place at Belfountain, spending three or four days on the road and sleeping at night in pine thickets with a fire at his feet to frighten away wild animals. From Belfountain his father drove him to Toronto to purchase groceries, and these my brother packed on his back from Belfountain to Bayview. Eagle’s nearest neighbour at that time was three and a half miles and the next seven miles distant.

“After a time one of the Bayview settlers secured a coffee-mill and neighbours came from miles around to use this in grinding their wheat. That was tedious work. I have heard Eagle say he would sooner chop all day in the bush than grind half a bushel of wheat in the old coffee-mill. In the course of time Eagle purchased an ox, fitted it with Dutch harness, and used this to haul his grists to Belfountain. At last an enterprising man arranged to erect a mill at Bayview, and the whole neighbourhood turned out to assist in the erection. Despite my brother-in-law’s early poverty, he left an estate of forty thousand dollars when he died at eighty. And notwithstanding his early hardships, his doctor said that he would have lived for a century had death not come as the result of an accident.”

A third story was supplied by Peter Spiers, of Mayfield, with Peter’s maternal grandfather, John Bleakley, as the central figure in the tale. Mr. Bleakley was with Sir John Moore at Corunna, and with Wellington at Salamanca. Like a number of other old Peninsular and Waterloo veterans, Bleakley came to Canada when his fighting days were over, and he was one of the first settlers in Chingacousy, locating on lot seven on the fifth concession.

“When my grandfather settled here,” Mr. Spiers said, “it was a common thing for settlers to get lost in the bush, and to guide the lost ones in finding their way out of the forest, my grandfather was often asked to sound a call on the trumpet he had carried with the Royal Artillery in Spain. At a later date he used his trumpet for another purpose. When taking a load of chickens, butter, and garden truck to Toronto he would carry his trumpet along, and with this he would sound the ‘assemble’ on nearing the old fort where a British garrison was then maintained. The soldiers, thinking that it was their own trumpeter, would rush to the parade ground. Catching sight of the wagon they would shout: ‘Oh, it is our old friend Jack!’ and the load of provisions was soon disposed of to them.”

When the Frost Came

“And then the frost came.” To understand even partially the meaning conveyed in these words one must have a clear mental picture of the surroundings when the calamity occurred.

The time spoken of was three-quarters of a century ago. A young couple—James Buchanan and his wife—had established themselves on the fringe of the swamp which then extended up through Amaranth and Luther. Their home was a cabin in the woods. It was all in one apartment, barely as large as the dining-room in some of the houses you may find in the same section to-day. The walls were of logs, with the bark still on, and the spaces between the logs were partly filled with moss. The roof was made of basswood logs split in half. The floors were of split cedar. During the winter the snow lay in heaps here and there over the floor and even on the bed after a night’s storm.

In the spring, after a winter spent in chopping out a clearing, the husband had gone down to “the front,” around Brampton or Cooksville, to earn money by working for farmers whose holdings were fairly well cleared, leaving the wife at home to plant and hoe the potatoes and see that cattle were kept out of the little patch of wheat growing amid the blackened stumps of the previous year’s clearing. The grain had almost reached the ripening stage; there was every promise of an abundant supply of bread at least for another year—

“And then the frost came.”

What that meant only those who have been through the experience know. The wheat could not be sold; it was useless for bread, and there were no hogs available to turn it into bacon. The bears would have destroyed the pigs if any had been there.

“Did that occur in more than one season?”

The question was put to Mrs. Buchanan.

“In more than one year? The same thing went on for years, and years, and years,” the voice ending almost in a wail as memories of the bitter days came back in a flood.

“Not only was our own wheat ruined,” said Mr. Buchanan, as he took up the thread of the story, “but the calamity extended over a wide neighbourhood. I have paid—from money earned by toiling in the fields of Peel—two dollars a bushel for wheat which, when ground, would not make bread that was fit to eat.”

“And when we had bread we had nothing else in the way of food,” continued his wife. “For a whole year the first settlers lived on bread without butter, and tea without milk or sugar. We had cows, but, when I was left alone, they wandered off in the bush and went dry. Hens we brought in again and again, but the foxes took them before we got any eggs.

“It was not so much the deprivation that hurt as the shame of our poverty when strangers came our way. One day, during the time conditions were such as I have described, I was at the washtub when three men, who were hunting, called. One of them said that if they had dinner they could go on hunting until night. I thought it was a pretty broad hint, but I kept on washing and never let on, as I was ashamed to ask them to share such fare as we could offer. Then they came into the house, and once again said that if they had anything to eat with them they would not go back. But I said nothing, and at last they went away. I was sorry then that I had not offered them such as we had to give, but at the time I simply could not do it for shame’s sake.”

Then Mrs. Buchanan proceeded to tell of the conditions under which they first moved to their forest farm in Amaranth. Their old home was down in Lanark. The last part of their journey, from Cooksville to Amaranth, was made by stage to Orangeville, and from Orangeville to their new home, a distance of ten miles, on foot. Orangeville was then a mere opening in the woods. There were two little stores, ten feet wide by eighteen feet deep, and two taverns very little larger. From Orangeville to the location selected was bush all the way, and Mrs. Buchanan had to remain with a brother close at hand. Mr. Buchanan felled the trees out of which the cabin was built. Even the floor and the door, made of split cedar, were fashioned with an axe, and, when Mrs. Buchanan joined her husband on the twenty-first of December, there was two feet of snow on the ground. There the first winter was spent, the husband toiling during the day felling trees, and in the evening husband and wife sat together with nothing but the open fireplace to give light.

“When we came in,” said she, “we brought webs of flannel and fulled cloth with us, and from these I made the clothes we wore. I took raw wool, carded it, spun it and made mitts and sold them, making dollars and dollars in this way. I plaited straw hats and sold them, too. When I wanted groceries I had to walk to Orangeville for them. Many and many a time have I walked that ten miles and back, leaving at nine in the morning and returning at three or four in the afternoon, without anything to eat in the interval. Even when we got better off, and had cows and oxen, things were hard enough. For butter, taken to Orangeville with an ox-team, we never got more than a York shilling in the early days.

“Fortunately there was little sickness then, and for such as occurred simple remedies sufficed. Catnip and tansy tea were available in every cabin, and for boils we had salve made from the ever-ready balm of Gilead. The greatest hardship was in the lack of schools and churches. For years we were wholly without schools, and church services, held at infrequent intervals, took place in the homes of settlers. Yet with all the periods of loneliness and all the scanty fare of the early days, I cannot say we were unhappy. There were compensations for the hardships. We were young, hope remained even amid the disheartening effects due to untimely frosts, and we were borne up by the fact that we were building a home.”

The reward has come; homes have been created; killing frosts are no more; fruitful fields are seen where forests were. There are schools, roads, churches, and all other improvements incident to civilization. But do those who have come into the inheritance fully appreciate the patient toil and determined heroism by which that heritage was won? Do they realize by what privations and suffering the foundations of Old Ontario were laid?

Going to Market—Return from Market

“Many and many a time have I walked that ten miles and back, leaving at nine in the morning and returning at three or four in the afternoon, without anything to eat in the interval.”

Pushing the Wagon Uphill

“It really seemed when we settled down here in a hole in the bush, as if we could never make a home of it, roads could never be built, and we could never experience here even the measure of comfort enjoyed in England.”

The speaker was the maternal ancestor of the Tuckers of Wellington County and the time July, 1899. It was no wonder that there was discouragement in the beginning. When the Tuckers moved into Wellington the townships of Peel, Luther, and Maryborough were solid bush. Their journey thence had included boat from Toronto to Hamilton, the Brock Road from there to Guelph, and through unbroken bush from Elora to Bosworth. Brock Road itself was but a mud highway, and when the team hauling the Tucker belongings stuck on a hillside, neighbours had to be called on to assist in pushing the wagon to the top. A wagon was used as far as Elora, but after that a jumper was all that could be hauled through the bush. The Tuckers’ first crop was harvested with a sickle. At the beginning of the life on the bush farm, it cost a dollar a barrel to have flour hauled from Elora to Bosworth.

Equally toilsome were the experiences of the Donaldsons at Reading on the borders of Dufferin and Wellington Counties. When this family moved in about the middle of last century, there was only an odd clearing between Reading and Ballinafad, and Oakville, the nearest real market, was two days distant. Some villages between Reading and Oakville were however, more prosperous then than now. Ballinafad had two hotels and a blacksmith shop; Hornby two hotels, two stores, and a smithy; and Oakville, where wheat from the north was loaded on schooners, was a rival of Toronto itself as a shipping port.

The Scotch Block

“Old Boston Church,” in the Scotch Block of Esquesing, may be considered the cradle of Canadian liberty. At a time when England was in the grip of the reactionary forces developed during the Napoleonic wars, when the Family Compact ruled in Canada as barons of the old world ruled in the Middle Ages, when even in the young republic to the south something of the old spirit of aristocracy still survived, the most advanced principles of the democracy of to-day were written into the deed of gift conveying the site for the church that is the Faneuil Hall of Canada. The deed in question was granted by John Stewart, the father of The Scotch Block. It was made in favour of “The United Presbyterian Church, formerly the Missionary Synod of Canada, in connection with the United Secession Church of Scotland.” The three first trustees under the deed of gift were William Michie, James Hume, and Peter McPherson. The instrument under which they were appointed provided, however,—and here the spirit of democracy begins to reveal itself,—that the trustees should hold office only for a specified time and that on the expiration of the period the congregation should be free either to re-elect the retiring officials or to choose others in their stead. The only restriction placed on the choice of trustees was that such officers should be members,—“members” being defined as those “who had been admitted to the Lord’s table and were on the communion rolls of the church.” The deed went further than making provision for periodical elections; it provided also that any trustee could be deposed before the expiration of his term, at a meeting called for the purpose and on the majority voting yea. There you have, written in a church deed a century old, the principle set forth in the recall plank in the U.F.O. platform of to-day; a feature still considered radical by present day political organizations.

Nor did the declaration of the right of the people to govern themselves end even here. The grant specifically stated that the congregation might go so far as to change the form of worship in the church on a two-thirds majority calling for such change.

The spirit written into that deed, the clear enunciation of the principle of government by the people for the people, seems to have entered into the minds and hearts of the whole community. Certain it is, at least, that nowhere in the Upper Canada of that day did the champions of responsible government receive stouter support than in The Scotch Block; and, when hope of securing redress by agitation seemed at an end, The Block contributed its quota to those who stood ready with Lyon Mackenzie to give the final proof of fidelity to a cause held more important than life itself. It is not surprising that a son of the man who gave the site for “Old Boston” was among the prisoners confined in Fort William Henry after the collapse of the rising of ’thirty-seven. Neither is it surprising to learn that he was one of a number who dug their way out through a wall four and a half feet in thickness and, after securing a boat, made their way across the St. Lawrence to American territory.

For this story of The Scotch Block I had to depend, in the main, on the instrument conveying the site on which Boston Church stands and on the records carved in moss-grown headstones surrounding the sacred edifice. This is because the story was not written until 1918, a century after the formation of the settlement, and by that time even some of those of the third generation were in the “sear, the yellow leaf.” But the parchment, yellow with age, and the lettering carved on granite or marble slabs are sufficient of themselves to enable one to form a mental picture of the men and women who blazed the trail into Esquesing. In every sentence written on the parchment there breathes the spirit of freedom first inhaled amid Scottish hills. Every headstone beneath the shelter of the church bears testimony to that heart-felt affection, ceasing only when life itself ceased, for the land of brown heath and shaggy wood beyond the sea.

Over the grave of John Stewart is recorded the fact that the father of The Block was born in Perth and was descended from the Stewarts of Drumcharry, Rossmount, and Duntaulich, that he migrated to Canada in 1817, and that he died in 1854.

Other stones mark the last resting-place of Isabella, wife of Alex. McQuarrie; Margaret Gillies, beloved wife of Duncan Stewart; of James Laidlaw and John Anderson. In not a single case did I fail to find beneath a name of the dead the place of birth in Scotland. “Native of Morayshire,” “born in Ettrick Forest,” “native of Appin,” “born in Bradalbine,” “born in Perthshire, parish of Canmore,” were among the records noted.

The Stewarts, McColls, McPhersons, Lyons, Gillies, Murrays, Sproats, and others, who moved into the wilds of Halton in the second decade of the last century, rendered a great service in transforming a forest into fruitful fields. Infinitely greater was the service performed in lighting here the torch of liberty, a torch which, though growing dim at times, has never been wholly extinguished.


An Old Time Diary

The Treffry family, who settled in Norwich township, Oxford County, came from England in 1834. There were eleven members in the family, and the cost of the journey from Quebec to Norwich alone was five hundred dollars. But that was only the money cost. What the move involved in hardships suffered and inconveniences endured, may be realized in part from a review of some of the incidents which occurred on the journey. In this case reliance does not rest wholly on uncertain memory. John Treffry, the head of the family, kept a diary from the day he left the old home in England until the end of the first five years spent in the bush of Oxford County, and it was from this diary that most of what follows was taken.

The ocean voyage, and even the passage of the rapids of the St. Lawrence in Durham boats, similar to experiences narrated by others, need not be recounted. But something new is added by the Treffrys’ experiences on the steamer Enterprise, on which they sailed from Bytown, now Ottawa, to Kingston. The first adventure occurred when the steamer sprang a leak and it became necessary to borrow a pump from a barge in tow to keep the water under control. Two days later the engine broke down and the captain took two of the Durham boats, which the steamer was also towing, and started for Kingston to secure assistance. Meantime those on board the steamer ran short of provisions and had to make good the deficiency by fishing. They even tried to capture a deer which appeared on the bank, but failed in the attempt. The situation was not made brighter when the cook mutinied. Finally the captain returned with help and provisions, and the Enterprise was able to reach Kingston by the thirteenth of May, seven days after leaving Ottawa.

From Kingston to Toronto the journey continued by steamer, but from Toronto to Hamilton passage was by “smack.” Among the passengers was the Hon. James Crooks, father of Ontario’s first Minister of Education. Hamilton was reached at noon of the second day after leaving Toronto.

From Hamilton Mr. Treffry, one of his sons, and a Mr. Stonehouse engaged a driver to carry them to Waterloo. At the first night’s stop the one inn of the place was, in the language of the diary, full of “immigrants of all sorts,” and the three of the Treffry party had to sleep in one bed. The driver slept with his horses and, the diary records, “fared best of all.” At Stratford accommodation was still more limited; men, women, and children were all sleeping in one large room, and Mr. Treffry could hardly reach his bed without stepping on them. The news heard next morning was even more disheartening than the lack of accommodation. Wheat and oats in the Huron Tract had “all been destroyed by frost,” Mr. Treffry was told, and the landlord had scoured the whole country round in a vain effort to secure sufficient hay and oats of the former harvest for horses sheltered in his stable. Although it was the eleventh of June, the diary record states that it “was cold,” and a man met with stated that for two years the crops had all been destroyed by frost. To this the landlady added that she had at that time planted her garden three times.

“The Driver Fared Best of All”

Nevertheless Mr. Treffry decided to locate on lot two on the tenth of Norwich, “a Clergy Reserve lot abandoned by a black man.” It was not until the twenty-first of November that an oven was built, and the floor of the cabin was not laid until December 16th, eight months and twelve days after the Treffrys had left England. Some idea of the isolation of the family may be gathered from the fact that the first letters from the old home, written on the nineteenth of June, were received on the twenty-first of September. The time spent in carrying a letter from Toronto to Norwich alone was five days and the cost of carrying a letter to New York was two shillings, Halifax currency. There was at this time, no uniform currency for Canada.

Spinning Woollen Yarn

Everything in use about the new dwelling was home-made. The oldest son made a washtub, wheel-barrow, and bedsteads, while the head of the family constructed a wooden harrow. Part of the furniture consisted of a chair with elbow rests and a table, both being of cherry. All of the wood used was cut green out of the surrounding bush. On January 29th and 30th, 1835, the oldest of the Treffry boys was engaged in making boots for “Little Henry,” a younger brother, and later in the year the father spent part of the time “mending boots.” Frequent entries of this nature indicate that the shoes of the family, as well as furniture and utensils, were of home manufacture.

The first grain grown on the Treffry farm appears to have been threshed by “rushing.” In order to thresh in this way, a pole was placed horizontally two feet above the floor of the barn or cabin, and then as much wheat as one could hold in his hands was beaten over this pole to thresh out the grain. One entry in the diary relates that Mr. Treffry spent most of a day in “rushing” sixty-six sheaves, from which a bushel and a half of wheat was obtained. After being threshed the grain was put on sheets to dry and then sent to a neighbour’s to be put through a “winnowing-machine,” the primitive fanning-mill of that day. Fodder corn was harvested in a wheel-barrow. The production of the grain itself involved equally strenuous and unremitting toil. The fences surrounding the new clearings were made of green brush, and when the brush dried these fences formed a very indifferent protection to growing crops. It is not surprising, therefore, to find one diary record stating that Mr. Treffry spent the whole of one night “keeping cattle out of the oats.” Crops produced at such cost in labour had to be cared for, and the diary tells us that the whole of the Treffry family got up between two and three one morning, when rain threatened, to stack sheaves of wheat that had been left lying in the field after the previous day’s cutting. Naturally, despite all these labours, there were periods of shortage, and on October 5th, 1835, the diary states that it had been found necessary to borrow “five pounds of flour and four pounds of Indian meal, being quite out of bread.”

Winter cold and summer heat brought their trials as well. The fall of 1834 set in early, before the completion of the Treffry cabin, and in the diary we are told that the family “suffered much from the wind blowing through the roof and between the logs.” The other extreme was experienced in the previous August when the first clearing was being burned. On some days not a breath of air stirred. The thermometer registered one hundred and ten in the shade and the heat was made still more unbearable by the fierce fires in the blazing log-heaps.

The first tragedy of the new household came in the second year in connection with burning the fallen timber. “Little Henry,” a tot of three, and the chief sunlight in the home, went out to see his father at work “on the burn.” Straying too near a pile of blazing brush his dress caught fire and in a moment the tiny lad was wrapped in flames. The child was seized by the father, the blaze extinguished, and the quivering body carried to the house, where oil and flour were applied to the burns and laudanum administered to ease the pain. Death came painlessly at midnight, the little one “going off into a sweet sleep.” “The trial to his parents, brother, and sisters is very great,” the simple record goes on, “yet we have abundant reason to be thankful to the Almighty for removing him as easily and so soon. Had he lived until the following day his distress would have been beyond description.”

The Treffrys were friends and many of their neighbours were of the same faith. These, all came to offer sympathy and assistance. One brought a coffin in which to enclose the body; others furnished teams for the funeral; four neighbours carried the remains to Paulina Southwick’s. “There,” the diary says, “after sitting a short time we set off in three wagons to the burial ground. Our worthy and kind friend Justus Wilson had made the needful preparations at the grave. After sitting some time at the meeting-house we removed the corpse to the ground.”

The diary quoted from contains the names of the passengers of the ship Bragilla on which the Treffrys sailed from England. There were fifty-nine in all and only one of the company had been engaged in agricultural pursuits before sailing for Canada. Mr. Treffry himself had been a merchant in England. The others were cabinet-makers, miners, shoemakers, old soldiers, carpenters, and so on. Still there is no doubt that the bulk of them settled on the land. Certainly the Treffrys did so, and made good in their new occupation. The first Tuckers, of Wellington County, were weavers in England, yet they and their direct descendants made an exceedingly creditable record as farmers in a county where good farming is the rule. In fact comparatively few of those who came from England and Scotland between 1820 and 1850 had been engaged in farming before leaving the Old Land, but they and their descendants were mainly instrumental in laying the foundations of agricultural Ontario. The opportunity is open to the idle of our cities, whether newly arrived or native born, to emulate the example of the heroic men and women of a past generation. The opportunity is infinitely greater to-day, because those now here have at least some knowledge of conditions, which the pioneers had not, and there is no comparison between the hardships for beginners of that day and beginners of the present.

Misfortune Outlived

“When my father settled in South Dumfries, he and his neighbour, Ford, shared a house in common. All the lumber used in that house father carried on his back for three-quarters of a mile. His own lot was eight miles away and, after toiling from daylight till dark in building a house on his own place, he went to Ford’s to spend the night. While father and his neighbour were preparing homes in the bush, their wives were working in Hamilton to earn money with which to buy needed supplies. Mother spent her money in buying a cow, and the cow’s back was broken in the woods shortly after being brought home. When a sow which father had purchased was killed by a bear and the little pigs she left behind perished from hunger, it seemed as if the accumulation of misfortunes was almost too much to be borne. But there was a silver lining to the dark clouds which then hung overhead. In buying the sow father had paid part cash and given a note for the balance. When he went to pay the note the holder refused to accept another cent, declaring that father had already paid more than he had received value for.”

The above story, told by Andrew Elliott, well known for years in Farmers’ Institute work, was paralleled by what Mrs. John Shearer, mother of another well-known Institute worker, related shortly afterwards.

“When our family first settled near where Bright now stands, wolves came regularly to drink at a spring on our place,” Mrs. Shearer said. “I was only eight years old then, but young as I was, and notwithstanding that wild animals were everywhere, I frequently went to Hayville, six miles off, to exchange butter and eggs for household supplies. My load was a heavy one going—five or six pounds of butter and as many dozen eggs. But as the butter sold for five cents in summer and never over ten cents in winter, and eggs at the same price per dozen, and as all purchased supplies were as dear in proportion as these commodities were cheap, my burden was light enough coming back.

“The lumber for our house was hauled fourteen miles, and father made the shingles by hand. When the first settlers went in, the land had not been surveyed, and the settlers, besides having to pay three dollars per acre for bush lots, were compelled by the Government to put up two years’ rental for their occupancy prior to survey. Nor was that all. When the survey was finally made a number found themselves on wrong lots, and this led to much confusion and loss.

“For years, before doctors were available, men travelled miles to have wounds, which they had received in the bush, drawn together by a paste which father was skilled in making. Night after night, too, I have held a candle while he fashioned coffins for those who died. The first burial in Chesterfield cemetery was that of a little child of Robert Brown, who afterwards moved to Kincardine. No minister was available, but the neighbours gathered by the graveside and stood with bared heads beneath the overhanging trees, while Father Baird read a chapter and Father Scott led in prayer and then all joined in singing a Psalm.

“This was not the only case in which the pioneers provided their own religious services. Every Sabbath day a community prayer meeting was held in Chesterfield schoolhouse and a Sunday school was conducted for parents and children alike. Half-yearly visits were paid by the Rev. Mr. Ritchie, and during these visits marriages were solemnized and the rite of baptism administered to children. I have seen as many as thirty children baptized in one day.”

And the Elliotts and Shearers who saw all this—who moved into unbroken forests where there were no schools, no churches, and but few neighbours—lived to see the day when from the Elliott farm alone the cash sales ran up to three thousand dollars a year, and the value of all farm property in Oxford was placed at thirty-two millions. With this increase in wealth came the blessings of a community life enriched by churches, schools, and all the other adjuncts of the advanced civilization rural Ontario enjoys to-day.

Contending with Mud

Each district in Ontario had its own peculiar form of hardships in the early days. On the extreme west of Lambton, facing on the St. Clair River, the superabundance of water was one of the chief causes of hardship. The land there is little above the level of the lake, and the day after a rain the soil has the consistency of glue. What it must have been like before roads were opened up and graded will be readily imagined by any person familiar with the conditions of the locality to-day.

Ox Yoke—Primitive Latch

Wood was the first money crop in West Lambton—elm, oak, and walnut logs for the mills, and cordwood for the wood-burning steamers that took on fuel at the river docks on their way up the lakes.

“I have seen,” said W. T. Henry of Sombra, “six or seven yoke of oxen engaged in ‘snaking’ one log out of the bush; and even then the cattle had all they could do. The sloughs were full of water. As the log passed through these its head was completely submerged, and it required the power of a steam tug to pull it along. The men were as hard worked as the cattle. Boys of seventeen did the work of grown men. When engaged in hauling wood to the river docks, three loads, of two and a half or three cords each, brought five or six miles, was an average day’s work. As a lad of seventeen, I have unloaded my first load at six o’clock in the morning. People to-day have no idea of the magnitude of the cordwood business of those days. You see those old piles that line the river near the shore?” said Mr. Henry pointing to the west. “They formed the foundation piers of old-time wood docks. These lined the river almost as completely as wharves line the front of a modern city harbour, and even then they didn’t afford accommodation for all the wood brought out. I have seen the road, leading inland from the St. Clair towards Wilkesport, so closely piled up with wood on either side that you could hardly get a team through. Over one of the docks near the outlet of this road as much as a million cords of wood must have been delivered from first to last.”

James Bowles, reeve of the township, who for years had been largely engaged in lumbering in that section, supplemented what Mr. Henry had said. “In the very early days,” he said, “a bushel of potatoes was considered a fair price for a fine walnut tree. Even at a comparatively late date, from two and a half to three and a half dollars per thousand was considered a reasonable price for elm logs. When the figure went up to four dollars people thought that they were making lots of money. If I had on my home hundred acres all the elm timber that has been cut from it, the growing trees would be worth over fifteen thousand dollars. There must have been a million feet cut from the place before I secured it.”

Not many years ago Morpeth was and Ridgetown was not. To-day Ridgetown is a thriving town and Morpeth is almost unknown. The changed conditions are in this case wholly due to the influence of that most powerful of all factors in regulating commercial conditions—the railway. The Burys and Springsteins, whose homes are near Morpeth, can tell you of a time when that thriving little village formed one of the great market centres for wheat in Western Ontario. At that time there was no Ridgetown and very little of Chatham. In fact, farmers then teamed grain from the immediate vicinity of where the Maple City now stands to sell it in Morpeth. It was a common thing to see three or four vessels lying at the dock on the lake front taking on grain, while a stretch of teams a mile and a half long, waiting for delivery, extended back along the road. And, even as Naples in a day far back had its Pompeii, so had Morpeth its suburbs. One of these was Antrim. Antrim was right on the lake front, with a brick tavern (loved by the sailors of that day), as its social centre. To-day not a sign of the suburb remains; the hotel has disappeared to the last brick, and of the other buildings not a trace is to be found.

Smallpox and Fever

Already ten days at sea, twenty-two days more to spend on the ocean, a crowded emigrant ship, and—smallpox on board. That was the situation with which Hugh Johnson, one of the pioneers of the township of Bosanquet, was faced when on his way from the old home in Scotland to the wilds of Upper Canada.

“I was,” said Mr. Johnson, “accompanied by my father, mother, six brothers, one sister, and my own wife and two children, the youngest only three months old. We had left Glasgow on June 18th, 1847, in the ‘Euclid of Liverpool,’ with a full list of emigrants bound for Quebec, and it was on the tenth day out that the ship’s doctor reported that a little girl, who had been taken ill was down with smallpox. For the next twenty-two days we were, day and night, in the presence of one of the greatest plagues that has afflicted humanity. The situation was not so bad for our party, although the sick were on both sides of us, because most of our family had been vaccinated; for others it was one continuous horror.

“Bad as it was on board, it became infinitely worse when we reached quarantine. On our arrival at the dock, ropes were stretched across the deck so as to leave a passage in the middle. A doctor was stationed on each side of this passage and only one person was allowed through at a time. All those who showed any symptoms of the disease were forced to go into quarantine, while others were sent ashore. The only exceptions made were in the cases of well mothers, who were permitted to accompany sick babes. I am an old man now, but not for a moment have I forgotten the scene as parents left children, brothers were parted from sisters, or wives and husbands were separated not knowing whether they should ever meet again. In some cases they never did meet again.

“But, bad as was our plight, that of the emigrants on board a ship from Ireland was much worse. This vessel led us up the Gulf, and for mile after mile we passed through bedding which had been thrown overboard from her decks after the people to whom it once belonged had died. It was the year of the Irish famine. The poor folk on that Irish ship, wasted by starvation and fever-stricken when they went aboard, died like flies. We were told that half of those who left Ireland in that craft found a watery grave before the wretched remnant reached Quebec.

“Our family escaped illness altogether, and, after landing at Quebec, we made a fairly quick passage to Hamilton, most of the way by steamer. We had relatives in Lobo, who had settled there twenty years before, and it was our intention to go to them. When we reached Hamilton, we were fortunate enough to find a couple of wagon teams, that had just come in from London, going back light. These we engaged for eighteen dollars to take us along.

“I remember one little incident that occurred as we were passing through Paris or Woodstock, I forget which. While waiting there a young woman, after surveying us from the door of an hotel, said we were the ‘best looking lot of emigrants she had ever seen.’

“From London we went out towards Lobo, and as we were on the way we met some people going toward the town we had just left. We looked at them and they looked at us, but both parties passed without speaking. It afterwards turned out that these were our relatives, who were going to London to meet us; but, as we had fitted ourselves out with hats purchased after our arrival in Canada, they thought that we were Canadians.

“However, we all finally came together in the home of our relatives, and there we remained for five weeks. That is where we had our first experience in a Canadian harvest field; but it was nothing very new to us as the cutting was all done with old-fashioned reaping-hooks. Even the ‘cradle’ was not in general use at that time.

“Our spare time was spent in looking for land; but this was an idle quest, as all the good land near there had been taken up; and so we went back to Williamstown, where settlement had begun two years before. We found there trees cut down but not yet burned up, and the whole country had the appearance of being stricken with the direst poverty. So drear was the spectacle that father expressed the wish that he had never seen Canada. Another thing that depressed him was the fact that we seemed so far inland—so completely out of touch with the great world outside. We heard of Sarnia and the lake on which it fronted, and determined to go there. We started on foot through Adelaide, and stopped at the Wesley tavern for dinner. In the cool of the evening we resumed our walk, and near dark we saw a group of figures about a great fire in the bush and, with pictures of wild Indians and burning at the stake in mind, fear filled our hearts. Great was our relief when we discovered that the men were settlers making potash.

“We kept on walking, expecting to find some house at which we could spend the night; but, no house appearing, we at last—late in the night—went into a log barn and made our beds in a haymow. We had a gun with us, and I slept with that in my arms all night long so that I might be ready in case we were attacked by bears. But no bears appeared. Indeed, although the country about here was practically all bush then, I have never seen a wild bear in my life, and I have seen but one deer. I suppose the presence of an Indian reserve at Kettle Point accounted for the scarcity in that section in the early days.

“Next day we started for Warwick and had dinner at a tavern then kept by Mrs. Nixon. She told us we would find better land on the lake shore, and gave us a letter to an old naval captain, named Crooks, who was living near Errol, on the shore of Lake Huron. While following the road we came to a marshy crossing near where Camlachie is now situated, and as there was a cow-path running off to one side we determined to follow that, thinking that it would take us around the wet place. We soon found instead that we were all the time getting further and further into the woods, and feared that we might lose ourselves and die in the wilderness. So we took a course by the sun and struck off in a direction that we thought might bring us to the road at a point beyond the marsh.

“At last we came to a house and asked for something to eat. The woman who lived there said she had no flour but would cook us some potatoes. We decided to push on, meantime allaying our hunger with berries picked on the roadside. At another house we again asked for food and once more found that nothing but potatoes was to be had. At last we came to the lake, and were cheered by the thought that we were once more in touch with the great world beyond. Soon afterwards we reached Errol, and there we had supper.

“After supper we asked for Captain Crooks, and were told that he lived eight miles further up the shore. We started for his place and passed a logging bee on the way. It was there I first saw oxen at work. When we got to Captain Crooks’ place, the Captain came out and asked us who we were. We told him out names and said we were looking for land. He invited us to stay all night, promising to show us land in the morning, and land where there was no frost such as they had in Lobo. This sounded good to us, and the fact that it lay alongside the lake was an additional attraction. We made our selection, but had to go to Goderich, where there was an office of the Canada Company, to complete the purchase, the price of the land being four dollars an acre. We put up a house that fall. Everybody helped us in getting a start; the whole neighbourhood was then like one big family.”

Speaking further of conditions that existed in the early days of the settlement Mr. Johnson naturally referred to “Joe Little,” a Methodist missionary, who was one of the characters of pioneers times. Little was appointed the first tax-collector for the settlement, and when he found a settler who could not pay he offered to make up the amount himself.

“He soon found many who could not pay,” said Mr. Johnson, “and the result was that when he got through collecting, instead of having something coming to him, he was in debt.

“The people thought Little would know better next time, so they appointed him collector for the following year as well. But the same thing happened again. Not only that, but once, when Little came across a poor settler with only one pair of boots, and these full of holes, he took off his own good shoes and exchanged them for those of the less fortunate fellow. Little had to use basswood bark to tie the worn-out boots to his feet as he went on his round. That is an illustration of the spirit of the pioneer days in Bosanquet,” said Mr. Johnson, as a hurried interview came to a premature end.

Not far from where the foregoing interview took place, under the shelter of a bit of primeval forest which breaks the winds that sweep in from Lake Huron, is a little burying ground where some of those who assisted Mr. Johnson in subduing the wilds of Bosanquet are resting from life’s labours. Here lie the Whytes, the Sissons, the Johnsons, and others.


Not all had reached maturity when the summons came. “Our daughter and our son-in-law” are words inscribed on a stone which records that death came to a young couple, one of whom died in April, 1852, and the other in July of the same year, at the ages of twenty and twenty-one. Here, too, smallpox took its toll, and one of the sleepers was buried at midnight with none but a brother present to shed the last tears by an open grave.

Of all the silent reminders of those who are gone, none tell a more pathetic story than that behind the simple inscription “Found Drowned,” above the name of Robert Parkinson. Parkinson was not one of the pioneers. He was an American, and his body, with life barely extinct, was found in June, 1885, on the shore near the little cemetery. How he came there need not be told, but a brother in the United States, who heard of what had happened, asked that Christian burial be given the remains. Strangers interred the body beside their own dead and erected a simple marble slab to mark the place.

Away to the east, at the junction of the twenty-seventh of Warwick and the London road, is another little cemetery with a history. Near here Lieutenant James Robertson, of the Seventy-Ninth Foot, located in 1850, and twelve years later, at the age of seventy-eight, his body was laid at rest at “the corners” within sight of his home. On the monument is recorded the fact that he was a native of Perthshire. There is given, too, a list of the engagements in which he formed part of the line against which the columns of the Little Corsican, then over-running Europe, spent themselves in vain. The list is an imposing one, including Corunna, Busaco, Fuentes D’Onoro, Salamanca, Pyrennees, Toulouse, and closing with that greatest drama of the nineteenth century—Waterloo. In the same little enclosure are other stones which mark the resting-place of wife, son, son’s wife, and two grandsons. Only one of all the family is left in the person of a daughter.

Neighbours in Need and in Plenty

In the creation of the Talbot settlement in Elgin County, both elements that entered into the make-up of the original population of Ontario joined. Some of the fathers of that settlement came from the United States, while others came from across the seas.

“The first to come,” William Watson, a son of one of the originals, told me, “were John Pearce, Stephen Backus, and Walter Storey from Ohio, and George Crane from Ireland. Alter their arrival, and before 1816, there followed James Watson, John Barker, Burgess Swisher, James Burwell, Charles Benedict, Timothy Neal, David Wallace, James Best, Neil McNair, Joseph Vansyth, Jekyll Younglove, John Mitchell, Benjamin Johnson, Obadiah Pettit, and John Cowan of Fingal.”

When Mr. Watson told the story, he was able to point to the remains of a frame structure that formed the original home of the Watson family. Not far off was a venerable spruce, which his father brought as a seedling from near Buffalo and planted in Canada. On the same lot were eighty apple trees, out of an original plantation of one hundred and seventy-three, grown from seed that Mr. Watson’s father had brought all the way from Pennsylvania. This was probably the first bearing orchard west of the Niagara frontier, and for years it was the sole source of supply in apples for a large neighbourhood. On the Watson homestead there was erected, too, the first school in that part of the country.

“The troubles of the new settlement began with the War of 1812-15,” Mr. Watson went on. “After the defeat of Procter at the Thames, the American forces burned Colonel Talbot’s mill and stole the horses and even the furniture and provisions belonging to the settlers. They also took the men prisoners, but afterwards released them on parole. The result of the devastation caused by war was that the little colony, which had just begun to get on its feet, had to start all over again.

“Even without the handicap caused by war the struggle was strenuous enough. If a man broke a logging-chain, he had to travel sixty-six miles to the nearest blacksmith at Long Point to get it fixed. Grists, usually carried on horseback through the bush, had to be taken to the same point. My father once brought in fifteen barrels of flour by sail-boat, and next day there was only half a barrel left. All the rest had been divided among the neighbours. Even I can remember when it was a day’s journey to St. Thomas, more than half the distance being over corduroy roads through the bush. I recollect, too, when there was no cash market for wheat. Later on when we did get cash, farmers sold, for fifty cents a bushel, wheat grown from seed harrowed in among the stumps with an ox-team, cut with a sickle, bound by hand, and threshed with a flail. It was almost impossible to get enough cash to pay taxes and other unavoidable bills, but to the people of that day there may have been some compensation in the fact that whiskey was only eighteen cents a gallon.

“A real boon it was that venison and fish could be had in abundance. I shot many deer in my younger days in the settlement and also helped to make war on their natural enemies, the wolves. The latter were so numerous that it was impossible to keep sheep.

“For years the settlers were without a regular mail service. It was not until 1816 that a mail route was established from Watford to Talbot. Even this was slow and irregular and the cost of postage fearfully high.

“There were no ministers in the early days and marriages were solemnized by magistrates. Although my father was not one of the original settlers, he was here seven years before he heard a sermon. The first service was held by the Presbyterians in 1819, and a Methodist mission was established shortly afterwards.

“But all were brothers then, and this greatly helped in making hardships endurable. If there was a barn to be erected, all assisted in its erection. When a wedding was to take place, the whole neighbourhood was invited. But the great social events of the settlement were the neighbourhood dances, which were held every week in winter, the neighbours taking turns in providing house room. The biggest room in the house was cleared, the great logs roared and crackled in the open fireplace, and flying feet kept time with the wild whirl of the music.”

A Pioneer Dance

“The biggest room in the house was cleared, the great logs roared and crackled in the open fireplace, and flying feet kept time with the wild whirl of the music.”

But the joyous throngs of that day have passed with the primeval forest. In the old churchyard at Tyrconnell they lie beneath the green sod, while the waves of Lake Erie murmur softly as they slumber.

Wild Turkeys, Pigeons, and Racoons

When David Dobie first settled on the banks of the Thames in the Township of Ekfrid, there were but a few scattered settlers on the Longwood Road; between that road and the river, a distance of some three miles, not a tree had been cut. On the north side of the stream there was not a house to be found in a stretch of ten miles, and on the Dunwich side the forest extended without a break for a distance of eleven miles. The Glencoe of to-day is a city in comparison with the London of that time, for when Mr. Dobie first saw London there were only two brick buildings in the place.

“There was,” Mr. Dobie said, “a great deal of fine walnut growing along the river Thames, and, when a market was found for it in Detroit, it sold at seventy-five cents a standard log—a standard making three hundred feet of lumber. Immense rafts of pine were afterwards floated from Dorchester, beyond London, to Detroit. I have seen half a dozen of these rafts, each one hundred and fifty feet long, go down in a single day, some of the logs measuring three feet through at the butt.

“Another picturesque feature was added by the Indians. Indians then constantly passed to and fro in their canoes between the reserve at Moraviantown on the one side and Munceytown on the other.

Carrying Water—Raccoons

“Game? The woods were full of game. Standing where we are now I have heard three packs of wolves, from different points, howling at once. One morning, in going out on a hunt after a slight snowfall, I saw the marks where twenty-five deer had lain on a knoll during the darkness, and a little further on, where twenty-seven more had rested. Going further still, we sighted the two lots in one bunch.

“Wild turkeys were still more numerous. We sowed our first wheat among the stumps from which the trunks had been cut and burned. Next morning, after the sowing, it seemed as if there was a turkey on each stump. Some of the birds were big fellows, too. I have shot some that weighed thirty pounds, and in the fall, after the walnuts had fallen, they were rolling fat. Once I came up with a flock in a hollow; they did not see me but had been alarmed by my approach, and all crowded together. I got six of them with one shot.

“Pigeons were the most numerous of all. Sometimes it seemed as if a new-sown field was blue with the hosts of them. The first herald of their approach would be a darkening of the sky, and, when in full flight, masses of them would stretch as far as one could see in either direction. They nested in a grove over the river, and just before the young squabs were ready to fly settlers would shake them off the limbs by the dozen. They were then considered in the best condition.

“But the game was far from being all profit. Clearings were small, and what wheat was produced in the early days sold at fifty cents per bushel. In many cases the crop, scanty at best, was almost wholly destroyed between the ravages of deer, racoons, and wild fowl; a serious thing for settlers who were nearly all desperately poor. Some of them, who had been helped out from the old country, had not a second coat to their backs. One year was particularly hard, and a few of the people were obliged to dig up the seed potatoes they had planted for food.

“The Scotch were perhaps the best off. Most of them had been sailors or fishermen in the old land. They spent their spare time on sailing vessels on the lakes and earned money in that way. One of these, John Graham, afterwards living near Glencoe, sailed the lakes for sixty years, latterly as captain of a steamer.

“In the beginning, not even so much as surveyors’ lines had been run, and people frequently lost their way in the woods. On one occasion two children, sent on a message, wandered into the marsh west of where Dutton now is to pick blueberries, and could not find their way out again. The whole neighbourhood turned out and kept up the search for three days. The searchers found the place where the children had lain down to sleep but could not find the little ones. They had given up hope, when the lost ones suddenly appeared at the edge of a clearing. The children, on seeing the searchers, whom they did not know, ran back into the woods, and it was with difficulty that the party came up with them and brought them home. The stray ones were, fortunately, none the worse for their adventure, blueberries having provided them with abundant sustenance.”

Then Mr. Dobie proceeded to tell of the only case I have heard of, after diligent enquiry, in which human life was destroyed by wild beasts.

“In the early days,” said he, “whiskey was in abundant supply at barn-raisings, bees, and other such operations. One night after a raising, a party of the helpers were on their way home, and one, who had imbibed more freely than the others, refused to go further. He was accordingly left in a fence corner to sleep off the effects of the liquor. Next morning, on his failure to return home, some men started out to look for him. They found the place where he had slept, but there was scarcely a shred of body, or even of clothing, left. Wolves had found him helpless, torn him limb from limb, and feasted on the mangled carcass.

“Liquor was plentiful enough even at a later date than I speak of. On the Longwood Road there were six taverns in nine miles, and there were two distilleries near Delaware and one at Mount Brydges to keep these and other taverns in the neighbourhood in stock. After Mosa, or Brooke fair, it was a common thing for men to lie out all night by the roadside.

“Another tragedy of the early days,” said Mr. Dobie, as he thought again of the man torn by wolves, “originated in the refusal of accommodation to an Indian. One night a dusky hunter came to the cabin of Archie Crawford and asked leave to stay all night. Crawford had no accommodation available and told the latter to go on to the next cabin. The Indian had his gun over his shoulder and, as he turned to the door, he glanced along the barrel, pulled the trigger and Crawford fell dead with a bullet through his head. No, the murderer was not arrested. He disappeared in the wilderness, and Ekfrid’s first murder went unavenged.

“A man named Gunn, who lived in Talbot Settlement, had rare skill in the setting of broken bones. He frequently travelled twenty-five miles on horseback over bush trails to set a broken limb.”

How Mr. Dobie happened to settle in Ekfrid, and the story of the journey he and his friends had to make in reaching there, is no less interesting than his reminiscenses of the pioneer days. In the early ’thirties a number of settlers near Fredericton, N.B., became dissatisfied with their surroundings and determined to seek out new homes in Upper Canada. Accordingly Andrew Coulter, James Allan, and a German were sent to spy out the land. On arriving at Windsor they walked to Chatham, from there to Sarnia, and spent Christmas at Westminster. Next spring the party returned to Fredericton, and it was decided that only those named above should remove to Ekfrid; but Mr. Dobie’s father and Mr. Clanahan, whose son was afterwards postmaster at Glencoe, decided to seek homes in the new land as well.

“We went by schooner from St. John to New York,” he said, “and spent thirteen days in covering the seven hundred miles, twice as long as it takes to cross the Atlantic to-day. From New York we took the steamer to Albany; then by Erie Canal to Buffalo, and from Buffalo we travelled by steamer to Port Stanley. On the way from Port Stanley to our new home, a distance of fifty miles, two days were spent. All told, we were a month on the journey.”

By way of contrast, it may be said that when Mr. Dobie and his daughter paid a visit to the old home at Fredericton after railway communication had been established, they were just thirty-four hours on the way—less by fourteen hours than the time spent in making the last fifty miles to Ekfrid in the ’thirties.

Wedding Party: A Piper Enlivens the Scene

“When Mr. Gray was about to perform a marriage ceremony, the bridegroom took him to one side and asked him to overlook the customary fee for the time being as he ‘had to pay four dollars for a barrel of whiskey,’ and that took all the money he had.”


Kingston Road a Sea of Mud

This story, which had its beginning in the neighbourhood of Brockville, was told me one June evening in 1898 by R. McLean Purdy as we sat together, where Eugenia Falls marks the opening of the picturesque valley of the Beaver. Mr. Purdy was born near Brockville, but in 1837 the family decided to move to where Lindsay now stands.

“From Brockville to Cobourg the trip was made in comparative comfort by steamer,” Mr. Purdy began, “but after leaving Cobourg it was one trouble after another and each succeeding trouble seemed a little worse than the one just surmounted. Kingston Road appeared to be a bottomless sea of mud—mud which might have served for plastering houses but was a most unsatisfactory material for road-making. The first stop was near Port Hope, and there some of the family belongings, which were too heavy to move further in the then state of the roads, were temporarily stored with a relative. Our second night stop was at Oshawa, which was at that time just being ‘hatched out.’ Next day we drove fifteen miles to Lake Scugog, and the following night people and horses were sheltered in the same building—that is, if the place deserved the name building. Earth formed the floor, there were great open spaces between the logs of which the walls were built, and we could count the stars overhead by looking up through the breaks in the roof. Luckily there was no rain that night. Next day men, women, and horses were once more close companions, all being herded together on a flat-bottomed boat for the voyage over Lake Scugog. Scugog then no more deserved the name of lake than the shelter of the night before deserved the name of house. It was a mass of marsh and grass, the only clear water being that in the channel followed by the scow. Camp was pitched on Washburn Island, and next day we reached our destination at the point where Lindsay is now located. A relative, Wm. Purdy, was living there. His father, Jesse Purdy, had lived on the Hudson before the American Revolution, and was given four hundred acres in return for building the first mill in Lindsay.

“The whole place was a tangled mass of cedar and hardwood; but visions of the future were present, and the remaining two hundred acres forming the townsite of to-day were sold in half acre lots at twenty and thirty dollars with five acre park lots at proportionate prices.

“In 1854, I moved to Meaford, following the route north of Scugog, south of Lake Simcoe, and up through Nottawasaga to what is now Duntroon. Duntroon has been a place of many names. When I first reached there, a man by the name of McNabb was keeping tavern and the place bore his name. Obe Wellings bought the tavern later, and the name of the locality changed with the change in ownership of the hostelry. Altogether there were at least a dozen changes of name before Duntroon was finally hit upon. Continuing on our way we found fairly good sleighing over the Blue Mountains, but when we struck Beaver Valley we were once more in liquid mud. The Parks and Heathcotes had settled in the valley before us and there were a few buildings in Meaford, one of these being occupied as a store by one of my brothers. Living in Meaford then were Wm. Stephens, D. L. Layton, John Layton, and Philip and Frank Barber. After remaining a short time at Meaford, I pushed on to Eugenia Falls, where I made my permanent home.

“At that time, which was before the Northern Railway had been extended to Collingwood, supplies for Meaford were teamed from Barrie to Willow Creek, and from there they were floated down the Nottawasaga River to its mouth. They were then put on board bateaux, which, waiting for favourable wind, hugged the shore of Georgian Bay to Meaford.

“In the first years of the settlement, incoming settlers provided a sufficient market for the products of those who had arrived earlier. When a surplus was produced we had to team our stuff to Toronto, the journey occupying several days. Wheat disposed of, after all the labour involved in production and marketing, sold for a dollar a bushel. Return loads consisted of such things as salt, bought at from two dollars to two dollars and a half a barrel; calico, at twenty-five cents per yard, and tea, up to one dollar a pound.

“The first houses in the valley consisted of two rooms, one above and one below, the upper floor being reached by a ladder. Instead of chairs we had benches made of split slabs. Beds and tables were made of the same material.

“A colony of beaver had a dam where Sloan’s mill was afterwards built, but these timid animals left soon after white men began to come in. Near where Kimberley afterwards sprang up was a favourite resort for both deer and wolves, the ground frequently being tracked like a cattle-yard. Once, when I had occasion for some reason to retrace my steps, I found that a wolf had been stalking me.

“In the early days of the settlement, the men, after putting in their spring crops in the scanty clearings, went off in twos and threes to earn money in the more advanced settlements at ‘the front.’ Meantime the women remained to keep lonely vigil in the log cabins, while the night wind was pierced by the howling of wolves in the neighbouring forest. Frail in body some of those women may have been, but granite in spirit they all were.”

Shortly after his arrival at the Falls, Mr. Purdy began securing records for what he called “The Eugenia Falls Album.” In this album visitors who went there during a period covering nearly half a century were asked to record their impressions.

One of the first entries was made by Joseph Wilson, of Nottawasaga, and James Perry, of Essa, who built a saw-mill at the Falls in May, 1858.

Call to Dinner—Dinner Gong

On June 8th of the same year, R. L. Tindall, “Minister of the Gospel, Melanchthon,” ventured the prediction that “some day this will be a place of resort and of much business.” N. C. Gowan, a son of Ogle R. Gowan, who was a visitor in 1860, also hazarded the role of prophet when he wrote,—“God has done it nobly, wisely, well; a city here will rise.” Both prophesies have been fulfilled, in part at least. This beauty spot is a “place of resort,” and, if a city has not risen at the site, power generated at the Falls, and carried by that most mysterious and wonderful of agencies, the electric wire, is used in turning the wheels of industry in a dozen urban centres.

There are hundreds of pages in the Album with sentiments grave and gay expressed thereon, one of the best being that left by Silas Hallett, of Ravenna, who visited the Falls in 1888. “This is a day that will never fade from my memory.” Mr. Hallett voiced what every man, capable of appreciating Nature’s works, must feel on visiting Eugenia, one of the most beautiful scenes in all Ontario.

John Sewell, who went into Euphrasia in 1845, told of one incident that furnished a striking mental picture of conditions in the country south of Meaford at that time.

“One day when my brother and I were out setting mink-traps, a man suddenly rose up before us and I was a good deal more scared than I would have been had a bear appeared in place of the man,” said Mr. Sewell as I chatted with him one evening. “I did not suppose that there was any other than my brother and myself for miles around. The stranger said his name was Ellwood, that he was a trapper, and that his home was in the United States.

“Fifteen years later than this, when Samuel Wylie settled near Woodhouse, the seventeen mile drive to Meaford was considered a long day’s journey, and over part of the way horses were up to their middle in mud. One family that came in about that time had to cut up cotton bags to make clothing and another was forced to subsist for some time on turnips. Some food, however, was cheap enough. At the Chantler store in Meaford salted suckers could be bought at a dollar a barrel, and salmon as long as a man’s arm cost ten cents. But dollars and cents were scarce—just how scarce is indicated by the fact that one year’s taxes for the whole township of St. Vincent amounted to sixty-three dollars, thirty-seven and a half cents. Robert Mitchell was the first collector for the township, and he had to pay the taxes over to the treasurer in Barrie. Once, when Mr. Mitchell was about ready to start off for this purpose, he discovered that the wallet containing the tax money was missing. Looking about he saw his old sow with the purse in her mouth, scattering the money over the snow. The bills were recovered but the small change was lost.”

The extension of the Northern Railway to Collingwood made easier the task of settling the Georgian Bay townships west of that point; but even then the hardships and dangers were trying enough. When the mother of J. W. Patton first went as a young woman to Rocklyn, in Euphrasia, she journeyed by rail to Collingwood. A letter sent in advance asking her brother-in-law to meet her at Rocklyn had not been delivered, so the remaining twenty miles, a good deal of the way through the bush, was begun all alone and on foot. At a still later date, when Mrs. Patton desired to visit her old home, she and her husband carried their child while walking to Meaford, thirteen miles away, to take boat for Collingwood. On the return journey, no steamer being due, Mrs. Patton and another woman engaged passage by small boat from Collingwood to Meaford. “A storm came up while we were on our way,” Mrs. Patton told me, “and I had to use the baby’s hat in baling out the boat. My clothes became so soaked with water that I could hardly move, and I thought that each wave as it came would engulf us.”

Paying Taxes with Hay

Most of the records of the early days in Huron on which I have drawn, were obtained from those of the second generation. But I found one man, Moses Pierce, of McGillivray township, who could tell of what “these eyes have seen and these ears have heard.”

“I had been living in Markham township,” said Mr. Pierce, “and in my early days Yonge Street was fairly passable only as far north as Thornhill. Passengers could ride that far by stage; but on going further they not only had to walk, but at intervals had to assist in prying the stage out of bog holes with handspikes. When I left for the Huron tract, the usual means of making the journey was by boat from Toronto to Hamilton and after that it was ride by wagon or foot it. We took wagon from Toronto to Hamilton, and that was a three days’ journey. London to Clandeboye, twenty miles, took another day. For the last five or six miles to the place where we settled, we had to zig-zag through the bush with an ox-team.

“The land in that section belonged to the Canada Company and the price was from three to ten dollars per acre. This may seem to those of the present day a low price for land, but where was the money to come from? Even oak timber was unsaleable here then. Some of the finest oak that ever grew was split into rails to make snake-fences, and the timber was still sound as a bell fifty years later. Other equally good oak was rolled into log-heaps and burned. Those logs to-day would be worth more than the cleared farms on which they were burned. To give you an idea of how scarce money then was I may mention one incident. An Indian offered the entire carcass of a deer he had shot for a dollar, but there was not a dollar between our place and the town-line to make the purchase.

“Yes, deer were plentiful then. I have seen five on our farm at one time. Wolves were numerous, too, and once a pack of these brutes kept the Gamble boys prisoners all night in a bush where they had been making sugar.

“Two acres of the bush had been thinned out before we went on our place, but the shanty was without a door, and a hole in the roof, besides serving for a chimney, furnished the only sunlight. There was not a nail or piece of metal in the whole structure. Some of the cabins in the neighbourhood were so built that oxen could haul logs right up to the fireplace.

“The family bed in the first cabin was provided by boring holes in one of the wall logs, driving stakes in these supported by posts at the outer end, and laying on top slabs split from basswood with the smooth side up. As the family increased the bed was widened.

“In the first ten years, although wheat was sown year after year, few settlers produced enough for their own bread. The grain would give excellent promise at the start and then the rust would come and destroy it. After the rust came the midge, and this continued until we secured midge-proof wheat. Naturally flour was a scarce article. When one neighbour secured a bag or two, this was shared with others, and, when the flour was gone, it was a case of potatoes and corn. Even potatoes were scarce at times. When nuts failed, the squirrels ate our potatoes, and more than once the seed-cuttings were destroyed before they had time to sprout. The flour that was obtained was secured at the cost of heart-breaking toil. One couple sixty years of age, carried their grist nine miles on their backs. A Scotch girl walked eight or ten miles to our place and carried one hundred pounds of flour home on her back. Her way led through an unbroken bush, in which you could see only a few yards ahead and wherein you had to be careful of your bearings to avoid getting lost. When my crops failed, in order to earn money enough to keep things going, I would help my neighbours with their building all day and do my own logging after night fall. At times after chopping all day, I have made barrels during half the night.”

William Pierce, a son of Moses, gave a touch of humour to the story of the past. “The first school I went to,” said William, “was held in a log shanty, twelve by fourteen feet. The teacher was in the habit of getting drunk, and, when he was incapacitated, his wife took his place. At noon hour, on my first day at school, she locked us in, as she said, to prevent the bears from getting us, while she went to dinner. Tiring of the confinement before the hour was up, we determined to get outside. The only means of exit was a hole in the gable end of the shanty, and we could not climb up the log wall from the floor to reach that opening because the spaces between the logs had been neatly chinked up. This difficulty was gotten over by one boy standing on the shoulders of another and so reaching the top log. Then he pulled the others up in turn and all slipped out of the hole in the gable end. In a little while a cry was raised that the teacher was coming, and then the boys clambered up the outside like a lot of bears, slipped in through the hole to their seats, where they were found quietly in place when the teacher opened the door.”

Linwood Craven, like his neighbour, Moses Pierce, was one of the originals and, like Mr. Pierce, could tell of the almost unbelievable hardships borne by those who blazed the way. In the case of Mr. Craven, indeed, the hardships began with his arrival in Canada in 1842. Smallpox was raging in the country in that year and Mr. Craven contracted the disease while in Montreal. “After I recovered I was almost ready to go back.” Mr. Craven told me, “and I set a stick on end in the street and decided that if it fell to the east I would go back and if it fell to the west I would stay. My wife was determined to remain in any case, and so it was perhaps fortunate that the stick fell to the west. I exchanged my sovereigns in the office of Mayor Beaudry. The last I saw of the yellow coins they were laid out in the form of a horse-shoe in the mayor’s window.

“When I settled in McGillivray, there was not a white settler between our place and Lake Huron save for a little French community about Brewster’s Mills on the lake shore. There were numerous Indians, though; and one of these, old Chief Petanquet, once, while drunk, laid my jacket open with a knife. Seizing an axe, I said that I would cut him down if he did it again. That sobered him and he apologized, at the same time giving me his knife as a pledge of future good behaviour.”

The goddess of chance appears to have been frequently called upon to settle the choice of first location. Norris and Sallows, two neighbours, flipped a coin for first choice in Colborne. The first of the Snells and a neighbour drew lots in Hullett. Craven said that he would give or take a quarter with ‘Big Jim’ Robson for first choice in McGillivray. “When Robson took the quarter I felt certain that he did not intend to remain,” said Mr. Craven, “and sure enough he never came back after locating.

“When I arranged to put up a shanty, although it was only eight logs high, neighbours refused to assist until I provided a gallon of whiskey. After the shanty was up, it was ‘short commons’ for us all for some years. For tea we used burned bread, and peas for making imitation coffee. When our first child was born, there was not a pound of flour in the house, and, when I went to neighbour after neighbour with a pillow-slip to borrow some, I found plenty of corn-meal, but no flour. At last I was able to get a little from Robert Armstrong; but this was only enough for the mother of the babe, and I had to do with corn-meal for six weeks.

“That winter I chopped eight acres, and next spring my wife and I logged most of it by hand. I cut the logs in short lengths so that they would be easier to handle, and cut the trees off close to the ground so that stumps would not be in the way of cultivation. It was certainly no light winter’s work, to cut up the trees, many two and three feet through, growing on eight acres. After the land was cleared, we had to carry rails by hand for fencing; but the slowest work of all was raking up the leaves.

“When our first grain was harvested, it was put in a stack near the cabin and there was no place to thresh it save on the cabin floor. I carried in one or two sheaves at a time, and in threshing I had to stand between two of the split logs forming the roof so that the flail would not hit the ceiling. Meantime my wife covered baby with a blanket to prevent the dust from choking him. When the grain was threshed, we had to drive six or eight miles to the mill and, short as that distance was, two days were spent going and coming. Sometimes we had to go a second time for the grist at that. Once, when a party of four of us were going to Brewster’s mill, eighteen miles distant, we ate the small lunch carried with us in going. On arrival at the mill, Brewster told us that he had no food either to give or sell. There was, however, a pot of potatoes boiling on the stove and an Irishman in the party seized one of the potatoes. That and a squirrel which we caught had to serve us until we reached a tavern on our return trip.

“On the same journey I carried an axe on my shoulder, and a man named Train, following behind, laid his lower lip open when he stumbled against it. Without a word of complaint, he split a leaf from a plug of tobacco, drew the cut together, and came on as if nothing had happened.

Securely Anchored—Churn, Crock, Butter Bowl and Ladle

“Yes, the rust played havoc with all of us in the early days of wheat growing. Had it not been for the introduction of Egyptian wheat, which proved rust resisting, I believe many would have starved. We were all hard enough pressed as it was. One year, when my tax bill came due, I could not meet the bill although it was only two dollars. In order to raise the money I took a load of hay to London, twenty-five miles away, by ox-team, spent two days on the way, and sold the load for exactly the amount of my taxes.

“Our first Methodist preacher was named Case. He and a mulatto, a Baptist, preached in the same cabin. The Methodist had no horse; even if he had possessed one he could not have taken it over the roads as they then were, and so he walked to his several appointments.”

“When my father settled on lot twenty-seven on the seventh of Hullett, he was the ‘farthest north’ white man in Western Ontario,” James Snell told me. “The upper part of Huron and the whole of Bruce were covered by an unbroken forest. Father’s worldly goods consisted of the axe on his shoulder and a quarter in his pocket.

“Even two years later than that, when he married, it was often potatoes and cabbage for meals one day, varied by cabbage and potatoes the next. One neighbour was without flour for two weeks. Once, when an attempt was made to bring flour overland by way of Clinton, the supply was all gobbled up before Clinton was passed. A neighbour carried half a barrel of flour on his back from Clinton to his own home, a distance of three miles. William Young, of Carlow, spent his first weeks in the shelter of a tree; and flat stones, taken from the bed of a creek, formed the fireplace in which his food, mostly game and fish, was cooked. One day, father, on his way home, met a bear at a point where the road was very narrow. Father stepped on one side, the bear responded by stepping to the other, and so each passed on his way—an exhibition of good manners of which father frequently expressed his warmest appreciation.

“The land in our township was bought at from three to twelve dollars per acre, depending on the quality of the timber. That was merely the first cost. To clear ten acres of black ash swamp on our farm cost twenty-five dollars per acre; and after that there was the stumping, stoning, fencing, draining, and building. They tell us Canadians are a great people. They should be. They are the descendants of the greatest stock the world ever produced. None but men of strong arms and brave hearts could have accomplished the work that was accomplished by the pioneers of Old Ontario.”

How well that work was accomplished and to what extent the children of these pioneers were worthy of their ancestors, is shown in one case by the history of the Snell farm itself. A little over half a century after the first tree was cut on the farm, stock produced there captured twenty-one prizes, eleven of these firsts, at the Chicago World’s Fair, the winnings being made in open competition with communities that had three centuries of civilization behind them.

“My father moved to Huron in 1835,” said Henry Morris, another Colborne township pioneer. “At that time there were only three houses in Goderich. In one of these, a log shanty, father spent his first night with a pile of shavings for a bed. Father and his brother chose as their location in Colborne, lots six and seven on the ninth, tossing a copper for first choice.”

Mr. Morris told an interesting story of the clock his father took with him to the township, which clock was still keeping perfect time when I talked with him sixty-five years later. “The clock was made in Germany,” said Mr. Morris, “and belonged to a man for whom father worked near Hamilton. It had been sent to a watchmaker’s for repairs and father was told that he could have it by paying the charges. The offer was accepted, and in the next sixty-five years it was repaired only once.”

Packing Goods at Seven

“Our family arrived at Kincardine township at three o’clock in the afternoon of a March day in 1851, and our first task was to clear about five feet of snow out of the shanty that was waiting for us. This shanty had been built by my brother in the previous autumn; but the one door had not been hung, or the walls chinked up, which accounted for the accumulation of snow. Although I was only seven at the time, my task was to assist the other children in gathering moss to block the spaces between the logs forming the walls of the shanty. Next I was sent to cut hemlock boughs, and these, spread on the earthern floor and covered with blankets, formed our bed. Another blanket closed the doorway.” Thus Neil McDougall began his story.

“Next day we put in one window and built a chimney formed of sticks and puddled clay. Fire in the open hearth soon baked this clay as hard as brick. A permanent door was made of lumber brought with us, but basswood logs were split to form the floor. A space was left before the fireplace and this was afterwards filled in with cobble-stones.

“Our family, coming originally from Scotland, had spent some time in Brock township. The journey from Brock to Kincardine was made in a sleigh by way of the lower end of Lake Simcoe, Orangeville, and the town of Durham. At Durham, we were detained by a storm for three days, sleeping meantime on the floor of a shanty belonging to a man named Hunter. At the town of Kincardine, or what is now the town, the sleigh was left behind and the remaining ten miles made on foot, each one of the party carrying some of the household effects. My share, although, as I said, I was but seven years of age, consisted of the tea-kettle, tea-pot, and a blanket. An older brother carried the family table. Not a tree was chopped along that ten miles and the snow was from four to five feet deep in the woods.

“In the previous fall, my brothers had left a yoke of oxen with a man at Priceville, who promised to keep them over winter for their work. The keeping was so badly done that when we picked them up on our way, one gave out on the road and afterwards died and the other was kept alive only by feeding it scones; we had no hay.

“Owing to the crippling of our ox-team, we had to do our spring logging by hand. We possessed only an acre of clearing that spring, but next fall that acre was literally covered with nice mealy potatoes. During the summer, John McPhail, a neighbour, purchased another ox and that made a yoke for our joint use, the first ox-team in the section. We bought a cow, too, and during the next winter the cattle were maintained on a few turnips, a little oats, and the browse in the bush. The cattle seemed to know that meal time was coming when they saw the men start for the bush with axes, and they followed after. A tree was no sooner down than the animals were feasting on the juicy sprouts of the top. They actually came out fat in the spring.

“At the beginning, all our supplies were packed from Kincardine, ten miles away, and it took two bushels of wheat to buy a pound of tea. With boots at seven dollars per pair, you will not be surprised when I tell you that some went barefooted in winter. When cattle were killed, we took the skin from the bend at the knee to make moccasins. Sometimes, owing to rough weather, supplies of flour at Kincardine became exhausted, and then the settlers’ food was limited to potatoes and fish. Occasionally, in winter, the fish gave out, too; and then it was potatoes and cow-cabbage. Some families lived for weeks at a time on these, with a little milk and butter added. The cattle fed on cow-cabbage, too. These plants grew to a height of about two and a half feet, and cattle would eat all they could hold in half an hour. At times, when we could not get our wheat ground we boiled it whole for food.

“The Rev. William Frazer, a Baptist, who had a small grist-mill, was a missionary as well as a miller. For twenty-five years he preached in the little community, walking eight or nine miles to keep appointments, which I never knew him to miss, rain or shine, winter or summer; and he never took a dollar in pay for this service. He served for a time as inspector of schools in addition to his other work.

“There was not a doctor within sixty miles; still I never knew of a death in childbirth. Cuts were common when the bush was being cleared, and were treated with home-made salves.”

“Two or three families were dependent on one cow for their milk in the early years,” said Charles McDougall, an older brother of Neil. “In the first two years, we never once tasted meat, and our tea was made by using burned bread crumbs. Scones were fashioned on a rough board split from a basswood log. People in the township of Bruce, to the north of us, were still worse off. I have seen them drive past our place with oxen drawing home-made wooden carts that frequently got stuck in the mud holes. The people of that township, like ourselves, had to go to Kincardine for their supplies; but in their case the journey extended over two or three days.”

A typical incident of pioneer days in Bruce County was mentioned by Mr. McDougall. In a year of scarcity three men started for Ashfield, two townships away, to secure potatoes. Growing hungry by the way they stopped at a cabin to ask for food.

“I have only enough in the house to make supper for the children,” answered the woman who came to the door.

“Then we cannot take that,” said the men.

“But you will,” was the instant response. “My husband has gone off for flour, which he will surely get, and the children can wait until he returns. Come in and eat.”

Another touching story of a father’s devotion was told by Mr. McDougall.

“Among the first arrivals in Bruce were six families from Tyre, Scotland,” said he. “When the party arrived at Walkerton, the nine-year-old daughter of Donald McKinnon became ill and the father paused in his journey to nurse his sick child, while the other members of the party pressed on to Kincardine. After the child partially recovered, the father took her on his back and started after the others, wading the Saugeen River on the way. But the child died almost as soon as Kincardine was reached, and her body was the first one laid in the old cemetery where the Presbyterian Church now stands. Grief and the hardships of the trip proved too much for the father, and he also succumbed shortly afterwards.”

One can almost believe that, in the days which followed, others in the party envied the two who had fallen at the threshold of the new settlement. Home and kindred were beyond the sea, all was new and strange, and before the scanty means of livelihood brought from beyond the seas could be added to by production in the new home giant trees had to be cleared away by men who did not know how to wield an axe.

Is it Worth While?

“Is it worth while?” The question was asked by Peter Clark of the township of Culross between sixty and seventy years ago. It is no wonder Mr. Clark thus queried. It was the depth of winter. The habitation occupied was a log shanty twelve feet by sixteen feet, the spaces between the logs being filled with mud plaster. The only company he had was W. H. Campbell, and there was not then a single house in Teeswater. The site of Wingham was still part of the original forest; Lucknow was not even a cross-roads; and all about was unbroken bush.

Mr. Clark’s experiences before reaching Bruce were also such as to produce a feeling of pessimism. From London to Clinton he and his companion, Campbell, had tramped forty-eight miles over mud roads in one day in the previous autumn. Clinton to Goderich, over still worse roads, was covered in a second day. Goderich to Lucknow, over country almost without roads, occupied the third day, and, on the fourth, the site of Teeswater was reached over blazed trails. There the night was spent in the woods. This was on the ninth of September, and from that time until October, when their rude cabin was finished, the forest furnished the only shelter Mr. Clark and his companion had. Is it any wonder that the companions asked themselves if there would be any roads, neighbours, schools, churches and the other necessities and comforts incident to civilization? It is not surprising that for a time, Mr. Clark decided it was not worth while; and, after distributing his immediate belongings among his nearest neighbours, he started for Goderich to visit an old schoolmate, H. D. Cameron, then principal of the school in that town. At Mr. Cameron’s solicitations Mr. Clark tried for a teacher’s certificate, and, passing the necessary examination, secured a school at Wawanosh. That was the turn of the tide for him. While teaching at Wawanosh, he visited his farm in Culross often enough to hold it under the conditions of the grant. Later on he taught the first school in Teeswater, but eventually settled down on his farm.

It was, however, a long and dreary wait for the things that came later. “In the beginning,” Mr. Clark said, “I more than once packed one hundred pounds of wheat on my back to the nearest grist-mill, and that mill was thirteen miles away. Once, after assisting at a raising two miles from my farm, I lost the blazed trail in the woods while going home in the dark and lay down to spend the night in the bush. Awakened by the howling of wolves, I started a fire to frighten the animals off and then lay down and slept on until morning.

“My greatest scare, though, occurred in that first fall. We had plenty of game, but were often down to our last crust of bread. Campbell on one of these occasions decided to go to Riverdale for flour and other provisions. He started on a Monday expecting to return next day, but when he did not get back on Wednesday nor even on Thursday I fairly shook with terror. I feared that Campbell had been drowned, and that I would find it impossible to give a satisfactory explanation of his disappearance. In imagination I could even see the sheriff and the hangman’s noose; but at last I heard a great splashing down the river, and in a short time Campbell himself appeared.”

While almost all the pioneers whom I interviewed, told of the spirit of mutual helpfulness that prevailed in the early days, there were occasional references to displays of meanness and selfishness. One incident of this nature occurred when two travellers were going south on the road leading from Dufferin to the front. One traveller was on foot and one in a sleigh. As the latter caught up to the pedestrian a request for a ride was curtly refused. The one on foot, in the then state of the roads, was able to travel as fast as the one in the sleigh, and as the parties passed and repassed each other repeated requests for a lift, or even for the privilege of hanging on behind, were denied. But just retribution was not long delayed. Both travellers reached the same tavern as night came on. The one on foot was known there; the man driving was unknown. The footsore pilgrim told his tale, and the churl with the team was promptly cast into the outer darkness where he belonged.

Mr. Clark told of a somewhat similar experience. “On the way back from the distant mill, with packs of flour on their shoulders, the first settlers naturally got hungry by the way,” said Mr. Clark. “On some occasions, on dropping into a wayside cabin, even the privilege of making scones from their own flour was refused. But this was a rare exception and was more than over-balanced by the open-hearted hospitality in other quarters. John McBain and his wife were a particularly generous couple. No traveller was ever permitted to pass their door while hungry, and a bed was always at the disposal of one who appeared as darkness approached. Many of the Culross pioneers had reason to bless the McBains.

“Another of the whole-hearted ones was Samuel Woods. In their second year some of the settlers did not have even potatoes. Samuel, whose home was in a hollow log, had not so very many himself, but he was always ready to share up with others. Whenever a hungry one came along, Sam just pointed to the potato patch and told the visitor to help himself.”

The question, “Is it worth while?” which Mr. Clark asked himself shortly after the middle of the last century was well answered before that century ended. Well-tilled fields had then succeeded the tangle of the forest; stone and brick residences had displaced the log shanties; and a community had been built up in which the homely virtues of the pioneer period did not disappear with the coming of prosperity.

Cow-Cabbage for Food

“I moved into Kinloss in the same year—1854—that Mr. Clark moved into Culross,” said Mr. Corrigan a friend of Mr. Clark. “In one respect a more unfortunate time could not have been selected for making the venture. The Russian war had forced wheat up to two dollars and a quarter per bushel and our people had not yet begun to produce wheat. It had forced pork up to ten and twelve dollars per hundred-weight and the settlers were buyers, not sellers, of pork. As few of them had more than fifty dollars to start on, you can imagine how far their available funds went in the purchase of necessary food. As a matter of fact many were compelled to subsist for weeks on cow-cabbage, a vegetable that then grew wild in the woods. This cabbage was not unlike lettuce, and boiled with pork was a real luxury; but few had money to buy the pork.

“Then, a year or two later, just when our people were beginning to get on their feet, and wheat in the newly made clearing was seemingly about to yield an abundant harvest, one night’s frost blighted the whole prospect. Not a bushel of wheat was harvested in the settlement that year.

“The hardest blow of all, however, was sustained through an act of the authorities. The Government of Sandfield Macdonald had aided the people with loans of money and seed in the year when frost came, and in 1868-69 the Government ordered that the interest, which had been allowed to accumulate while people were trying to regain their feet, as well as the principal, must all be paid off at once. It was reported, whether truly or not, that the Government was impelled to this action by financial interests in Toronto, which had just received large sums of Old Country money to be loaned. In any case the people of Bruce rushed to these money-lenders for funds to meet the demands made upon them. Loans obtained from these lenders were repayable in annual instalments and the interest figured out at about twelve and one half per cent. Scores of those who had struggled through the trials of the pioneer period, who had borne up even in the year when their wheat was destroyed by frost, now with old age approaching went down beneath the load of the mortgage. They were forced to sell their belongings and move to the United States. ‘Only for the mortgages we could have pulled through,’ was their bitter cry. It was a cruel blow, and Canada lost many good citizens at that time.

“In one respect we were favoured,” continued Mr. Corrigan with a smile. “Most of those who settled in Kinloss went there in the prime of life. There were few children to educate or aged to care for. But for this I do not know how any would have pulled through. Death came occasionally, even to a community in which the death rate was low because of the ages of those composing it, and in the absence of regular cemeteries, most of those who died were buried on the farms their labour had been helping to create. One such burial-place was located on one of my own farms. Facilities for marriage were as scarce as facilities for burial. When my wife and I were married we had to go to Owen Sound for the purpose, and we spent two days going and a like time returning.

“The infrequency of religious services also bore heavily on the pioneers. This hardship was felt with especial severity by the Roman Catholics, who were fewer in numbers than the Protestants. Our first priest had his headquarters in Owen Sound. He was able to visit us only once a year, and the entire journey from Owen Sound was made on foot.

“Our first wheat was cleaned either by sifting it through a screen or placing it on a sheet and then shaking the sheet so as to throw the grain up in the air and allow the wind to carry off the chaff. When farming-mills came in, they were taken from farm to farm as threshing outfits are now.”

The Corrigans had an easier time of it in Bruce than most of those who pioneered in that county, because before going there, they had pioneered in Hastings and had accumulated twenty-three or twenty-four hundred dollars—quite a fortune for that day.

Cleaning Grain

“But we had our share of it when I was a lad in Hastings,” Mr. Corrigan concluded. “I have heard my father say that he had to tramp twenty-five miles to buy a pipe, and that when he first settled in Hastings his worldly possessions consisted of an axe, a ham, and a five dollar gold-piece. We moved from Hastings to Kinloss in a covered wagon, a month being spent on the way. We had to stop over for two weeks at Cooksville owing to one of our horses having been injured by a kick, and it was while there that I had my first sight of one of the first great labour-savers; a mowing-machine.

“I believe ours was the first wagon to enter Kinloss; and that wagon, which had a canvas cover, formed our habitation until a shanty was erected.”

A Little Pit Sore Apoot the Back

To the late John S. McDonald, one of the most thoroughly upright men who ever sat in the Legislature of Ontario, I was indebted for some reminiscences of early days near Ripley.

Mr. McDonald came from Ayrshire in 1854. After spending some fifteen months in Ancaster, he determined to make a new home in the township of Kincardine. His route lay through Galt, Stratford, and Goderich, and eight days were spent in making the journey with horse and ox-teams. “Galt,” Mr. McDonald said, “was then a small village; but Stratford, which had lately been swept by fire, held a thousand people, while Goderich boasted of nearly two thousand inhabitants. From Galt to Goderich the road was all mud or corduroy, and it was with difficulty Mrs. McDonald held her seat in the wagon as it bumped over the roughly laid logs.

“The slow rate at which the journey was made may be illustrated by one incident. When a short distance on our way, I inadvertently left my watch at Black Creek and did not notice the loss until four miles further on. I at once started back on foot to recover the time-piece, the remainder of the family meantime continuing northwards. After I had secured my watch, the stage carrying the mail came along, and hoping to join my family more quickly by this means, I jumped on board. I soon saw, however, that I could walk faster than the stage was being driven, and so jumped off again and resumed walking, catching up with the others on reaching Hunter’s Corners, as Seaforth was then called.

“The country was fairly well-settled as far as Stratford; but from that place to Goderich the clearings were small, and the townships of Kinloss, Ashfield, Huron, and Kincardine, while mostly taken up, were still covered with forest. From Belfast to our new home, a distance of eighteen miles, there was no roadway whatever, the only guide to the lot being a blaze left by surveyors; and over the last twelve miles of that blazed trail Mrs. McDonald carried an infant in her arms.

“It was fall when we reached our home in the bush and the first winter was spent in making a clearing. In spring, after burning the slash and putting in a crop, I tramped all the way back to Ancaster to earn enough to see the family through the following winter, Mrs. McDonald and the children meantime spending three weary months with the nearest neighbour.

“In the fall, with my cradle on my back (there were no self-binders in those days), I tramped home to harvest our own little crop and prepare for winter. The purchase of groceries necessitated a walk of eight miles each way. The Harris mill, twenty-two miles distant, was the nearest point at which we could obtain flour, and that meant two days in going and coming.

“For four successive years I spent the winters in chopping, the springs in burning and seeding, and the summers in working for other farmers at ‘the front.’ Then it seemed as if at last I could venture to put in the whole year at home with my family. I had seven acres in wheat and some other crops as well, and it looked to me like the dawn of prosperity. But, just as the wheat was ripening, the whole prospect was blighted in a single night. Frost came with the darkness, and wheat, potatoes, and all else went down in one common ruin.

“Without wheat to harvest, there was no use in remaining home any longer; and so once more the weary pilgrimage to the front was undertaken and fall and winter were spent in earning money, not only to carry the family through the winter but to buy seed for the following spring. The set-back left us very nearly where we had started, audit was eight long years after our first winter in the bush before I was able to spend all my time on our own farm. Even after that there was constant danger of frost and sometimes more or less severe loss was sustained. Indeed, it was not until the bush fires of the ’sixties burned off the black muck on the surface that June frosts ceased to be a source of worry.

“It was not alone the lack of knowledge of how to use the woodman’s axe that was against the emigrants from Scotland when they settled in the forest then covering Huron and Bruce,” continued Mr. McDonald. “Many of the new-comers were from the Island of Lewis and had been fishermen in the old land. As fishermen their periods of labour had been governed by the weather. When nature favoured, it had been long periods of arduous toil for them, while with foul weather came complete cessation from labour. The habits these fishermen had inherited from their forefathers they brought with them to the Canadian bush. During inclement periods when others were preparing for the fine days to come, these would be resting. That, of course, militated against success under the changed conditions prevailing here. It was marvellous, though, what these men could endure. I remember one of them carrying a hundred-weight of flour in a barrel on his back from Kincardine. He might just as well have carried it in a bag, but he put it in a barrel because the barrel was given him. That awkward load he carried for fourteen miles through the bush simply to add a wooden barrel to his store. At the end of the journey, when asked if he was tired, he said: ‘No, but she’ll be a little pit sore apoot the back.’ ”

Mr. McDonald in describing his experiences in cleaning wheat, said: “We used a ‘wecht’ for that purpose. This was a sheep-skin with the wool removed. The skin was tacked to a wooden rim, something like the end of a drum, but the skin was slack, not tight. We used this as a scoop to lift the grain from the bin and then allowed the grain to fall on a sheet laid on the ground, the wind blowing off the chaff as the grain fell. One day, when we were about out of flour, there was no wind. When a breeze came up with the sunset, I began cleaning and kept at the work, by the light of the moon, until two in the morning. This job followed a full day’s threshing with the flail; and before daylight next morning I was off with my grist to the Harris mill, twenty miles away.

“All the settlers from our section took their grain to that mill. The grist was carried on jumpers and usually only two or three bags were taken at a time. One day was spent in going to the mill, the grain was ground at night and the return journey made next day.

“When we took our grist to the mill,” Mr. McDonald went on, “we spent the night at a log tavern while waiting for it to be ground. We climbed a ladder in going upstairs to bed, and, when in bed, the roof was just above our heads. In the morning the ceiling was coated with frost where the cold air had come in contact with the warm air exhaled from the men’s lungs. Our cow-hide boots, in which we tramped through slush in going to the mill, would also be found frozen as hard as bricks, and we had to thaw them at the stove before we could put them on.”

Patrick Cummings, when warden of the County of Bruce, told me the following story of “the religious mill.” “The ‘religious mill’ was the Shantz mill at Port Elgin, operated by a man named Leader. The miller refused to run a minute after twelve o’clock on Saturday night. On one occasion, during a period of special pressure, a helper in the mill proposed to run right through the last night in the week in order to catch up. A man who happened to be present at the time, for a joke on the helper, put some wet grain in the hopper as the clock was nearing the midnight hour. Exactly on the stroke of twelve the wet grain struck the stones and the mill stopped dead.

“ ‘I told you,’ said the joker, ‘this was a religious mill and would not, under any circumstances, run on Sunday.’ ”

The miller, his latent superstition aroused, was struck with awe and never after that did he even think of attempting to run the mill on Sundays.

A Boat Built at Kincardine

The family of Hugh Murray, of Underwood, moved into Bruce in the “famine year.” “It was not the freezing of the wheat alone that caused suffering among the people,” said Mr. Murray. “The grasshoppers ate the pea crop and squirrels scooped out the potatoes, leaving nothing but empty shells. If it had not been for the corn and wheat supplied by the Government, I do not know what the settlers of that day would have done.

“Then, when we began to produce again we were handicapped by the lack of a market. It was a godsend to the new settlement when G. H. Coulthard, from near Manilla, started business in our section. He bought anything the settlers had to Sell, but his chief service to the community was in establishing a market for ashes and cordwood. What we received for these products seemed like ‘found money.’

“But people worked for that ‘found money,’ all right,” added Norman Robertson, who at the time this story was told was County Treasurer of Bruce. “I have seen as many as twenty Highland women, in single fyle, on the way to the ashery, each carrying a two bushel bag of ashes from the burned fallows. These loads were carried as much as six or eight miles and the ashes were sold on delivery at two-pence per bushel, while cordwood went at seventy-five cents to one dollar per cord.”

In the summer season, the River Saugeen was made use of by a number of Bruce pioneers in reaching the interior of the southern parts of that county. Other pioneers, landing at Southampton from lake vessels, made their way up the river in canoes. “The current was too strong to paddle against,” Thomas Bryce of Dumblane told me, “and so one man had to walk along the shore and pull the canoe with a rope while another held the craft off the land with a pole. Many went up as far as Paisley, a distance of fifteen miles, in this way. My people came in the other way. Striking the river at Walkerton we built a raft, placed our supplies on it, and floated twenty-one miles down stream to our destination. Several other families did the same. Each family built its own raft, and when the journey was completed, the raft was left to float at will on down the river.”

Mr. and Mrs. Cook were of those who came in by way of Southampton in 1851, and Mrs. Cook had with her four children, aged from one to eight. “Whatever will you do with these poor little chicks up here?” was the first greeting she received on landing. It is no wonder solicitude for the children was expressed. “The shanty to which we went had a bark roof and this roof leaked so badly that when it rained my husband had to hold an umbrella over us when we were in bed,” said Mrs. Cook. “The floors were made of such lumber as drifted ashore from passing vessels. Once, when the children were ill, my husband went to Port Elgin, five miles away, to get a little milk for them. On another occasion a friend brought in a chicken all the way from Owen Sound, but unfortunately the flesh spoiled with the heat during the journey and could not be used.”

Captain McLeod, of Kincardine, in speaking of those pioneers who came in by way of Lake Huron, said that the passenger rate from Goderich to Kincardine was fifty cents and the freight rate on goods from Windsor to Kincardine six dollars per ton. The captain and his brother built the first vessel put together at Kincardine, a little craft of eight or ten tons.

“We cut the planks for that craft with a whip-saw,” the captain told me. “I bought the whip-saw in Goderich for five dollars and carried or trailed it all the way to Kincardine. A platform was built on the side of a bank and supported by posts. Beneath this platform was a pit six or seven feet deep, and, when sawing, my brother stood in the pit while he pulled down on the saw, and I stood above to pull up. After finishing our boat, we cut all the boards for flooring, roof, gable ends, and windows for a house eighteen feet by twenty-four and got a yoke of nine-year-old oxen for our pay. It was a fair day’s work to cut from two hundred and fifty to three hundred feet of lumber in a day with a whip-saw, but some days, when everything was running well, we got up to four hundred.”

John McNab, a son of the first Crown Lands Agent for Bruce, gave a vivid description of three scenes in the early history of the section.

“In my youth,” said Mr. McNab, “the county ended at Southampton on the north, the peninsula above that still being in the hands of the Indians. Once a year Captain Anderson came up from Toronto to distribute annuity money among these Indians. His route was by rail to Collingwood, boat to Owen Sound, and from Owen Sound to Southampton with Indians who carried his luggage. I have seen as many as nine hundred of the red men gathered to meet the captain and receive their annuities, while the harbour was dotted with small craft, owned by traders waiting to exchange their goods for the money the Indians were to receive.


“Beneath the platform was a pit six or seven feet deep, and, when sawing, my brother stood in the pit while he pulled down on the saw, and I stood above to pull up.”

“Later on, when the Indians surrendered their lands, these were put up for sale, buyers coming from Toronto and equally distant points. In the excitement of the auction some wild bidding occurred, the offers in many cases being more than the land was worth. Some of the purchases were afterwards thrown back on the hands of the Government and in other cases a reduction in price was made.

“The crowd that attended the auction of the lands in the peninsula was well nigh paralleled by a previous rush. Several townships were opened for sale in South Bruce in 1854, and in September of that year two thousand people came into Southampton. They slept in camps outside the village; and at night their blazing camp fires were like those of a besieging army. By day the gathering was like a congress of nations. Highlanders, Englishmen, and Germans were intermingled; and the Gaelic, English, and German tongues were heard in the different groups. A remarkable thing, both in connection with this gathering and the annual payment to Indians at an earlier date, was that although on both occasions whiskey was everywhere, I did not hear of a single quarrel.

“Another picturesque scene occurred in the spring of the year when the Indians came down from Manitoulin to sell their maple sugar. The journey was made in mackinaws,—open boats with a schooner rig; and the sugar was carried in mococks,—containers made of birch bark each holding from twenty to thirty pounds. I am told that this sugar eventually found its way to a Montreal refinery, from which it emerged at last as ordinary commercial brown sugar.

“After the incoming settlers had located their lands, they frequently tramped forty or fifty miles in order to make their payments at the Crown Land office in Southampton. Not a little of the money used in making payments was English gold, and this was usually carried in belts next the person. Those carrying their money in this way would, on arrival, go into a room off the office, strip, remove their belts and then come back to the office and pay over their money.”

A story very similar to that told by Mr. McDonald was the one given me about the same time by A. Livingstone, who was then living a little west of the town of Durham, in the neighbouring county of Grey. When Mr. Livingstone moved to his new home from Toronto in the late ’fifties, it was necessary to make the journey in winter because roads were impassable in summer. “Orangeville at that time consisted of a store, one of two taverns, and a few houses,” said Mr. Livingstone. “There was a fair road from Orangeville to Durham, but from the latter place there was nothing but a ‘blaze’ to mark the road to the lot I had selected, four miles west. Our nearest neighbour was three miles off in the bush; and, although a little milling was then done in Durham, most of the wheat grown in our township was taken to Guelph, fifty miles away, to be ground.

“The first spring after our arrival, we planted potatoes in the little clearing made during winter, and then I and my two brothers walked down to Vaughan to earn money with which to buy supplies for the following winter. It took us three days to cover the distance. In the second spring, we had nearly fifteen acres ready for crop, and after putting this in oats, barley, and potatoes we once more proceeded south to spend the summer in Vaughan. This practice continued for three or four years, but after that we were able to spend all our time at home.”

Hardships were not, however, at an end even then. Durham Road, now one of the finest highways in the province, was at that time mud and corduroy. “In the spring,” said Mrs. Brigham, a neighbour of the Livingstones, “the logs were frequently afloat in the water, and in passing over a place like that we had to jump from one log to another. There was no bridge over the Saugeen west of Durham, but a tree which had fallen across the stream afforded a reasonably safe passage for people on foot.” The first team of horses was taken in by William Hopps, the year after the Livingstones arrived. For the first few years, however, some of the settlers did not even have oxen, and all the operations on bush farms, from logging to harvesting, were performed by hand.

“In the beginning, too,” Mr. Livingstone said, “our buying and selling was all done locally, incoming settlers providing a market for the surplus produced by those who had gone in ahead. Where marketing was confined to such narrow limits, there was bound to be a glut at one time with a shortage at another. When there was a surplus our produce went for a song; when there was scarcity famine prices prevailed. One summer when flour went up to nine and ten dollars per barrel, people who could not pay the price were obliged to use corn-meal. Even corn-meal was almost beyond the reach of those, who, to buy food, worked on the road at seventy-five cents per day and boarded themselves. Many, indeed, were obliged to mortgage their farms and all their belongings. In not a few cases mortgages were foreclosed and families after years of toil were forced to move away.

Wax Seals of Crownland Deeds

Washing the Blankets

“Blankets were taken to the creek, put in tubs of water and trodden upon until they were clean.”


Fifth Generation on the Same Homestead

One of the all too few cases in which descendants of those who cleared the forest still remain on the old homestead, is found on lot thirty-one on the third of Uxbridge. There J. W. Widdifield, M.P.P., represents the fifth generation on land granted by the Crown in 1806. Even here, however, possession has not descended along the male line, the first owner of the place having been Charles Chapman, the great-great-grandfather of Mr. Widdifield on the maternal side.

Charles Chapman left Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in the first decade of the last century. He traversed the comparative wilderness of Western Pennsylvania and New York, crossed the Niagara River, and, following the Hamilton-Queenston highway, Dundas Road, and Yonge Street, finally passed over the old “Uxbridge Trail,” to lay the foundation of a new home near the banks of a stream in the midst of the forest primeval then covering Uxbridge township.

Mr. Chapman was a member of one of the many families of Quakers who came from the New England States to what was then Upper Canada and whose descendants axe found in Whitchurch, Uxbridge, Markham, Pickering, and neighbouring townships to-day. These families included the Lundys, James, Kesters, Goulds, Doans, Wilsons, Haines, and Widdifields. The Widdifields came from New Jersey, but the majority of the others were from Pennsylvania.

Mr. J. W. Widdifield, descended from the Chapmans on one side and the Widdifields on the other, holds as the most prized among his collection of relics of the early days the original deed granted to his great-great-grandfather Chapman. And a quaint document it is, the wax seal being almost as large as a saucer; and the document itself, written on parchment, is as legible as the day on which it was signed by Alexander Grant, President and Administrator of the Government of Upper Canada, and Peter Russell.

The original deed was for two hundred acres, and in addition to the land, it covered, “all woods and waters thereon,” and “all mines of gold and silver.” But there were two notable reservations. All the white pine then growing on the place, and all of the same timber that might thereafter grow thereon, was reserved for King George III. and his descendants. The other reservation provided that in case the land was disposed of by sale, will, or otherwise, the new owner must within twelve months thereafter take the required “oath or affirmation of allegiance, etc.,” otherwise the grant was to be null and void and the property was to be vested in the Crown as if never granted.

The first of these reservations at least has a peculiar interest for Mr. T. B. Frankish, of Toronto, an uncle of the Mr. Widdifield of to-day, and owner of half the original two hundred acres, because he is one of the few men in Ontario who has done real forestry work on his own farm. Mr. Frankish has planted some thousands of pine trees on his holding. Many of these young pines are Scotch and therefore exempt from claim by the Crown. But many are of the white variety and thus come within the reservation noted. Mr. Frankish has, therefore, performed a very special service for the King as well as his country by his planting activities.

There is, apparently, no record in the deed of any monetary payment to the Crown for the land allotted, but the deed did require the erection thereon of “a good and sufficient dwelling” and residence for the space of at least one year.

There is on the Widdifield homestead another memorial of the early days. This is part of the old “Uxbridge Trail” that once wound across lots from where the town of Uxbridge now stands to Yonge Street—the weary road that early settlers followed with ox-teams on their way to and from market in Toronto. This trail to-day forms part of a lane leading from the Widdifield residence to a pond that, up to a few years ago, furnished a reservoir of power for one of the pioneer saw-mills of the district.

There is an interesting story connected with this old mill. “At one time,” said Mr. Widdifield, “there were thirteen cottages surrounding the mill site and the occupants of these cottages worked in three eight-hour shifts in the mill, that ran day and night for six days in the week. Most of the cottagers owned their homes, but as the mill business fell off the cottagers disappeared and the property reverted back into the hands of the family.”

To-day, not a cottage is left on the site. Some collapsed and disappeared; others were removed elsewhere to serve for other purposes; and of the mill itself all that remains is part of the roof lying prone on the land, and part of the dam at the mill site. At the other end of the dam there can still be seen part of the log bridge that formed a crossing-place on the Uxbridge trail.

The pond itself is still twenty feet deep in places, but the creek flowing from it is little more than a reminder of what it once was. “During my father’s lifetime,” said Mr. Widdifield, “the creek dwindled to one-third the volume it had when my father first knew it.” The stream and pond are on the Frankish side of the two hundred acres and Mr. Frankish has turned these into a fishing preserve.

Among the other memorials of the early days in Mr. Widdifield’s possession is the minute and account book of the first school in the neighbourhood. The school building was erected just across the way from the Widdifield home. This school was built in the fall of 1853, and the box stove used in it cost four pounds Halifax currency. Three elbows cost fifteen shillings and three-pence; and fifteen length of pipe, ten-pence each. One hundred and twenty cut nails were bought at one pound and five shillings. The first teacher, Rachel James, holder of a third-class certificate, was engaged at the magnificent salary of two pounds, twelve shillings and six-pence per month for six months, the salary to be paid at the expiration of each month. But the high cost of living soon began to make itself felt even in those days; and Maria Bently, the second teacher, was paid two pounds and fifteen shillings for the first three months, three pounds for the next three months, and three pounds and five shillings for the last six months. In 1854 Sarah Jane Blanding was taken on at nineteen pounds and ten shillings for half a year.

At the beginning, the funds for the payment of the salaries of the teachers were raised by public grant, by general assessment on the section, and by fees paid by each pupil. In the first year of the school’s history, the largest sum in fees was paid by Mr. Sherman—seven shillings and six-pence; and the lowest by Mr. Simerson—two shillings and six-pence. In the second year of the school’s history, James Allcock moved that the fee per pupil be one shilling and three-pence for the year, Albert Bently moving an amendment that it be one shilling and three-pence per quarter. A compromise was affected on motion of Simon Allcock making the fee two shillings and six-pence per year.

On November 25th, 1854, it was proposed to split the section and hold school in each half for six months “to give children in more remote parts of the section a chance.” Another motion considered was to exempt from fees children who lived over two and a half miles from the school.

As the settlement progressed, more liberal ideas in regard to education began to make way; and, in 1885, Albert Bentley moved that fees be abolished and the school made free. This motion was lost, but a like motion by Mr. Bentley a year later was carried, and education has been free ever since.

But if that old mill and the still older Uxbridge trail could only speak, what stories they could tell of the majestic pines in which the night winds sang their lullabies, of the musical hum of the saws making lumber for the settlers’ dwellings, and of the heavy climbs by weary oxen over steep hills on the winding road leading to Yonge Street and Muddy York beyond.

Selecting Lands in Peel and Wellington

Here is another case of a farm being in possession of the same family continuously since the early days of Ontario, and in the male line at that, the present owner being the Honourable Manning Doherty, Minister of Agriculture for the province.

A peculiar circumstance, showing how much there is in luck after all, was connected with the choice of location made by Bernard Doherty, the great-grandfather of the minister of to-day. When the first of the family arrived at Muddy York in 1812, he was offered a “farm” on the land now bounded by Queen, Yonge, University Avenue, and College Street, in the City of Toronto. But this location, now in the very heart of a city of over half a million people, was scornfully rejected as being too low and wet to be suitable for agricultural purposes. Instead of accepting this property Mr. Doherty went out to the vicinity of what is now Dixie, in the County of Peel, where five hundred acres were taken up. Three hundred of the total are owned and operated by the great-grandson of the original owner. For nine years over the even century the title deeds of that property have continuously carried the Doherty name.

Although the first of the Dohertys arrived in Canada in 1812, permanent location was not made until three years later. The necessity of returning to Ireland to wind up affairs there caused the delay. When Bernard Doherty reached Quebec in 1815, he learned of the Battle of Waterloo and of the final collapse of the power of Napoleon—an incident that provides a graphic mental picture of the time that has elapsed since the Doherty homestead at Dixie was established.

An interesting light was thrown on the conditions that existed a little over a century ago in the metropolitan district of which Toronto is now the centre by one statement made by Mr. Manning Doherty, in February, 1916, when discussing early days.

“After the first crop of wheat had been harvested on the place,” Mr. Doherty said, “my great-grandfather took a couple of bags on horseback to be ground at the old mill on the Humber. There was no paved highway to Toronto in those days, and the journey was made over a blazed trail through the original forest. For many years after that all the grain crops were cut with a sickle, and when in the time of my grandfather the first cradle was introduced, it was thought that the last word had been pronounced in labour-saving implements.”

In the same field in which this cradle was used, the Doherty of to-day plowed with a tractor in the fall of 1917, while overhead airmen were circling about in training for that great conflict in which the empires of the Hohenzollerns and Hapsburgs were to be finally forced into oblivion with the empire of Napoleon.

Doherty Homestead—Built in 1844

The stone house begins to take the place of the log cabin. “The walls are of stone and 24 inches through. The timber was 13 inches square, of white pine, without a blemish.”

“The first house on the place,” Mr. Doherty went on, as he continued the story of the early days, “was of logs and was still standing when the rebellion of 1837 occurred. There was a huge hearthstone in front of the open fireplace, and this was taken up and a hole dug beneath in which all the money in the house, put into a covered pail, was buried until the trouble was over. Nor was this precaution without reason. When William Lyon Mackenzie was fleeing from Toronto to the border after the collapse of his forces, my grandfather drove him from Willcock’s Farm at Dixie on Dundas Street, as far west as the Sixteen Mile Creek. Had this been generally known at the time it might have had serious consequences for my grandfather. A new house was built in 1844, the walls being of stone and twenty-four inches through. A few years ago, when some improvements were being made, an old sill was removed. The timber was thirteen inches square, of white pine, without a blemish; and, although it had been in place for three-quarters of a century, the wood was still as sound as when cut from the surrounding forest.”

Of corresponding interest is the story of the Morrisons, who came from the county of Longford in Ireland to what was then the wilderness of the township of Peel in the county of Wellington. Three months with no stops by the way was the experience of Robert Morrison, father of J. J. Morrison, the moving spirit of the U.F.O. movement to-day.

The weary pilgrimage of the first Morrison began, in 1845, with a tramp from the ancestral home in Longford to Dublin, this being followed by a tempestuous voyage in a small sailing craft to Liverpool. Between Liverpool and Quebec six weeks were spent, and then the real hardships of the journey began. From Montreal to Kingston by way of what is now Ottawa, the only means of travel available at that time were open boats, drawn by horses walking on the bank when the rapids were reached; boats in which people sat huddled in discomfort during the day, and that were almost unbearable when sleep and rest were sought with the coming of night.

Nor did relief come even when the long water journey ended at Hamilton. Rather was it merely a change from one form of hardship to another. From Hamilton to Guelph, passage was taken by stage which followed the circuitous route through Galt and Preston, over roads on which the jolting of the rude vehicle jarred and rocked muscles cramped and stiffened by the narrow quarters of the old Durham boats on the St. Lawrence. The pilgrimage ended, as it began, on foot. From Guelph, then a mere hamlet, it was a case of tramping over mud or corduroy roads, and finally a mere trail, to the location selected on lot eighteen, concession thirteen of Peel.

“We of the present,” said Mr. J. J. Morrison in telling the story, “can form but the faintest conception of all that was involved of physical suffering and mental anguish in the coming to this country of those who arrived here from the British Isles in the ’thirties, ’forties and ’fifties of the last century. All the associations of home and childhood were forever left behind. The conditions endured in crowded and unsanitary sailing vessels, and the perils faced, were such as those who travel by the palatial ocean liners of to-day cannot possibly visualize. The experiences after arrival were even more trying than those borne during the weary journey across the sea and by inland waterways. The neighbours in the new land, where there were any, were all strange; skill in the use of the tools required in building homes, clearing the forest, and cultivating the newly cleared fields had to be gained slowly and painfully by experience. Stalwart of frame, firm of purpose, and possessed of patience inexhaustible, these pioneers must have been, otherwise they would either have fallen by the wayside during the migration or have perished amid the loneliness of the forest after their arrival.”

Three Races Blending in One

Of all the counties over which I passed a-wheel in the last year of the old century, I do not recall one which presented a more interesting field of study, where the virtues of hospitality and good neighbourhood were more manifest, or where there was better evidence of a quiet, but genuinely religious sentiment pervading the community, than Haldimand.

The county was interesting as a demonstration of the work that is going on more or less all over Canada in the building of a new nation out of varied elements. Nowhere else, in rural Ontario at least, have people of so many different races been thrown together within so narrow a circle. In Rainham, for example, the northern half of the township was at the time of my visit practically solidly German, while English and Pennsylvania Dutch divided the remainder of the township fairly evenly between them, with a slight scattering all over of “Canadians” and Irish. The neighbouring township of Walpole was fairly solidly English, but in all parts of the county the three chief elements named were more or less mixed. At the beginning, the different races were divided in language and in sentiment. The Pennsylvania immigrants of the first generation spoke Dutch, those from Germany conversed in German, and those from the British Isles in English. To the first, “Home” or “the Old Country” meant Pennsylvania; to the second, the words spelled Germany; to the third, they carried memories of the hedgerows and ivy-clad towers of rural England. But a change had come as far back as twenty years ago. Even in that part of Rainham then known as “Little Germany,” English was becoming the language of the people. “Although,” said Nicholas Reicheld, one of the first settlers in the section, “English is taught only half a day at school, it is in English that the children converse when going to and from school.” All over the county, while among the older people German or Dutch could still be heard at that time, English was practically the universal tongue among those of the third generation; and a common tongue was creating a common Canadian citizenship.

Mr. Reicheld was born in Lorraine in 1833, thirty-seven years before that province was lost to France as a result of the war of 1870. Although a German, as his name indicates, and also Protestant, Mr. Reicheld preferred French to German rule. “True, French was the official language,” he said, “but in the home we spoke in whatever tongue we liked and there was less of police rule and less of irksome taxation under France than there was afterwards under Germany.” After the province passed under German control in 1870, there was a considerable German emigration therefrom, some of these emigrants going to the township of Hay, in Ontario.

The German emigration to Lincoln, Welland, Haldimand and Waterloo began in the ’thirties of the past century, about the same time that the emigration from the British Isles assumed considerable volume. At the commencement this German emigration was purely the result of chance. One or two came and found this a goodly land, and others followed. F. L. Beck, and his brother, for instance, came over because of what they had heard from friends in Lincoln. The first of the Schneiders, on returning to Germany after having been in Haldimand, told the young men he met that in the three years they expected to spend in the German army, they could earn the price of a farm in Canada. Schneider narrowly escaped a German jail for saying this, but as a result of his statement Nicholas Schneider and half a hundred others from the old home came to Canada in the ’thirties. The collapse of the democratic uprising in Europe, which occurred in 1848, gave a still further impetus to the movement. These emigrants from the Continent, like those from the British Isles, came here hoping to find a land in which they might escape the grinding burdens due to old wars, and the danger of new wars, and where each might hope to enjoy in peace the fruit of his own toil.

“At frequent intervals during the year,” Mr. Beck stated, “a constable went through our village ringing the bell to remind the people that a tax of some kind was about due.” The burden of taxation and the general social and political conditions under the non-democratic governments of the time, were among the impelling motives that drove people across the seas.

Those from the Continent came under a greater handicap than immigrants from the British Isles. Everything was strange for them, even the language of the new country. “When we landed at New York, sixty-five days out from Bremen, we hardly knew a word of English,” E. L. Beck told me, and without a trace of foreign accent in the telling. “But I started in to learn as soon as I came. I asked the name of this article and that in English until I learned to speak it myself. I learned to read English from the New Testament.”

The first steady job Mr. Beck obtained after arrival was when he hired out on a farm at sixty dollars a year. In one winter, shortly after coming, he and his brother took contracts to thresh grain with a flail, their rate of pay being every ninth bushel when they boarded themselves and every tenth when they were supplied with board. Eventually Mr. Beck settled down on lot fourteen on the sixth of South Cayuga.

“There were plenty of wild animals there then,” said Mr. Beck. “Once, when my brother-in-law, Schneider, was hunting his cattle he was attacked by wolves. He fired at one and as the charge was of light shot, this simply made the brutes more angry. Using his gun as a club, he retreated towards the clearing; but the animals were not beaten off until friends came to Schneider’s assistance. I have no doubt that if one of the wolves had got hold of his clothes he would have been dragged down and killed.”

Mr. Beck told of an amusing incident connected with Mackenzie’s candidature for Haldimand in 1815, after his return to Canada. “Mackenzie stopped at our place once during the campaign and held a meeting in the schoolhouse on the corner of our lot,” said Mr. Beck. “There was no disturbance; but at the conclusion of the address a number of questions were asked, for all of which the speaker had ready answers.” Asked by a Conservative if he had not run away after the affair at Montgomery’s Tavern, Mackenzie said: “I did, and if you had seen me on the back of the black mare you would have said I was making mighty good time, too.”

The American Civil War and the old Reciprocity Treaty combined brought great prosperity to the farmers of Haldimand. Wages were low and farm products were high. “Labour was cheap,” said Mr. Beck, “because the country was full of bounty jumpers and of ‘skedaddlers’ who had run away to escape the draft for the Northern armies. There was no trouble in getting one of these for ten dollars per month. Some ingenious methods were devised in getting these runaways across the border. One woman brought her husband over in a box, which, according to the shipping bill, contained a breeding hog.

“The country was full of American buyers. I have seen these men bring over two or three shot bags filled with coin. In going back the bags were empty, but in exchange there were from fifty to four hundred sheep in a drove. Twenty dollar American gold pieces were common, and cows that had been selling around eighteen dollars jumped to forty dollars, a big price for that time.”

Nicholas Schneider, who came over about the same time as the first of the Becks, in speaking of the voyage across the Atlantic said; “The passengers, of whom there were two hundred on board, had to provide their own food for use on the voyage. Our party made such full provision that we had two bags of biscuits left when we reached New York, and we had cured German beef and pork, as well as butter, after we reached Rainham. The butter had been cooked and put in sealers before leaving and it kept in perfect condition all the way across.

In one respect those who settled in Haldimand in the ’thirties were fortunate. Being near the front and near water communication the timber on their lands had at least some value. “The land cost four dollars an acre,” said Mr. Schneider, “and the timber we sold paid for a good deal of this. The old people never became expert with the axe, but the young men were as skilful as the best after a month in the woods. In our first winter here, four of us, from sixteen to twenty-two years of age, chopped sixteen acres. In the following summer we logged and burned eleven acres and sowed it in fall wheat.”

One of the greatest hardships borne by the first German settlers was in maintaining their religious services. In all sections of the province such difficulties were met with, but in the case of the little German communities they were felt with especial severity, because, to the scattered nature of settlement was added the language problem. Nowhere was more unselfish service shown in meeting a difficult situation.

“Our first Evangelical minister was Mr. Ice; and his field extended all the way from Buffalo to Cayuga and from Cayuga to Delhi forty miles further on,” said Mr. Beck. “Still, services were held once a fortnight, with twenty to thirty people present. For the quarterly meetings people came long distances on horseback, and these services lasted through Saturday and Sunday. One of the most powerful and convincing preachers we ever had was Mr. Schneider. He kept up his work for many years, frequently travelling forty miles to keep appointments, and for all this he never received a dollar save during three years when he gave his whole time to the church.”

“But,” said Mr. Schneider, very simply, when I saw him later, “there were little flocks here and there without a shepherd and I thought it my duty to serve them.”

In the Evangelical cemetery at Fry’s Corners, on the Dunnville-Port Dover Road, one may see evidence of the fact that, as eyes were closing in death, thoughts turned to the place where the light of day was first seen and the mother’s love song was first heard. In this Haldimand God’s Acre, where lie the Kohlers, Becks, Schwanzers, and Schmidts, was seen one of the most remarkable instances of marital constancy I have met with anywhere. On one tombstone was recorded the fact that the wife of Peter Zimmerman had died October 9th, 1879. Above this was lettered the name of Peter himself with a blank on which to record the date of his death—a blank that was still unfilled twenty-one years later. Another evidence of the strength of the family tie among the German folk of Haldimand is seen in the practice, commonly followed, of setting a plate and chair at the family table for the father or the mother who has passed away.

Treed by Wolves but Yesterday

Time and again, when collecting the material for these sketches, I was amazed by statements showing how great a transformation had occurred in the life of two generations, and even of one generation. I cannot, however, recall an instance in which I was more impressed in this way than when in the vicinity of Stratford in 1918. In the morning of a June day I called on the Honourable Nelson Monteith, within four miles of the city, and he told me that his father had been treed by wolves on the road over which I had passed amid farms on which there were hardly enough trees to shelter a squirrel. I was still more surprised, later on in that same day, when I met one who remembered when Stratford itself was scarcely a wayside village. This was George McCallum, of North Easthope.

“When I first came here,” Mr. McCallum said, “Stratford consisted of a dozen houses, two taverns and a flour-mill. Almost the entire country surrounding the future city was covered with bush; and real bush it was. On our own place there were maples four feet in diameter and rock elm, seven feet. The cutting down of these trees and burning of logs and bush did not by any means end the labour of clearing the ground. The great stumps, in many cases forty of them to the acre, still remained. I have seen three successive grain crops produced among such stumps without the aid of a plow, the seed being covered with hoes in the hands of children. In the beginning, wheat, produced under such circumstances, had to be hauled all the way to Galt to be ground. This was before a grist-mill had been built in Stratford. I have seen wheat sold in New Hamburg at sixty cents per bushel, and a third of that in trade. Frosted or rusted wheat could be disposed of only to distilleries. There were two of these on the third concession at that time, and their output sold at twenty cents a gallon.

“Although timber was so abundant, the work of preparing it for building purposes was exceedingly onerous. We had to haul logs fourteen miles to Wilmot’s Centre to be sawn. There were at that time three saw-mills on Cedar Creek within a quarter of a mile of each other; but all trace of these, save part of one of the dams, has since disappeared.

“These old-time saw-mills were very crude affairs, ‘up-and-down’ saws being used. The logs were not cut right through to the end in sawing, a foot or so being left uncut for the ‘dog’ to hold on by. When the work of sawing a log was finished the ‘dog’ was loosened and the uncut section at the end was finished by splitting with an axe. This split end of the boards was called the ‘stub-shot,’ and was thrown in free of charge by the mill-owner. All the rough edging, suitable for roofing, one could pile on a sleigh could be had for a dollar. The choice lumber was choice. I have seen boards sixteen feet long and three feet wide without a blemish.

“Another little cross-roads village in the neighbourhood of the saw-mills was called ‘Shingleton,’ so named because shingles were made there. The shingles were split by hand from huge pine blocks, this work being done in winter by men who worked as carpenters in summer.

“Almost everything was home-made. Wool clipped from sheep on the farm, was carded at New Hamburg, Baden, or Haysville; and German weavers, to be found in every neighbourhood, wove it into cloth. Woolen shirts, the only kind known at that time, were likewise home-made. Clothing of this kind could hardly be worn out. Leather, in those days, was real leather. Hand-made top boots, costing two dollars and a half to three dollars per pair, would outlast two or three pairs of to-day, and the tugs of our first set of harness are still in use.”

The first boom for settlers in South Perth came with the Crimean War, when wheat went up to two dollars and a half per bushel and dressed pork to eight dollars per hundred-weight. But this “prosperity,” like that experienced during the late war, was fictitious and was soon followed by a period of depression.

Making Tools

“Almost everything was Home-made.”

“The first genuine prosperity came with the inauguration of modern dairying,” said Mr. McCallum. “The township of Elma was, in the early days, ill-adapted to grain growing, and at one time the mortgages on the township are said to have exceeded the value of all the property therein. To-day Elma is one of the most prosperous townships in Ontario, dairying having wrought the change.”

Sunbonnet—Cedar Broom


A Heavy Handicap

“I can remember,” said William Allan, of Churchill, “when taverns were to be found at almost every corner of the Penetang’ Road between the town-line at the lower end of Innisfil and the north end of the township. There was one at Croxon’s Corners, at the town-line; one at Cherry Creek; two at Churchill, on the fourth; one at the fifth; one at the seventh; two at Stroud; one at the twelfth; and one at Painswick, on the thirteenth. These were all along the leading road in the township. Others were scattered here and there, at other corners, off the main highway.

“The drinking habits of the people were in keeping with the number of taverns from which liquor was supplied. Fighting was a natural consequence of this excessive drinking. Liquor flowed with special freedom during elections, and fists and sticks formed the ultimate argument in the political controversies of the day. Nor were elections the only cause of quarrels. An incident of an international character once occurred at the old Tyrone tavern at the corner of the fifth. An American lumber firm (the Dodge) was engaged in cutting pine from our old place for the mill that was then in operation at Belle Ewart. The firm had a number of Americans in its employment and one night a fight began at the tavern between the Americans and a number of Canadians. The former soon got the worst of it and were driven for shelter to their camp across the way. There was one negro in the American party, and he came in for some of the hardest knocks. People say that after the scrap was over, it was hardly possible to tell which was his face and which was the back of his head. If a white man had received such a pounding, his head would have been reduced to a pulp. A few years ago when Wightman Goodfellow tore down the old tavern, bloodstains, resulting from this and other fighting, could still be seen on the walls.

“Churchill, known in the early days as Bully’s Acre, was another great place for fighting. At the old show-fairs you might see a scrap at any time you chose to turn your head in the direction from which the noise was coming. There is, by the way, an interesting story of the manner in which Churchill got its name. The first church in the neighbourhood was at the sixth line. A tavern-keeper located on the same corner and named his place ‘Church Hill Tavern.’ Believing the fourth line corners a better location he later on moved there and carried his sign with him, and thus the name ‘Churchill’ was transferred from the sixth to the fourth.

“Nor was the consumption of liquor confined to taverns. At almost every store a pail of liquor and a cup stood on the counter and all comers were at liberty to help themselves. No logging bee could be held without an abundant supply of the same sort of refreshment, and, after the bee was over, men fought or danced as fancy moved them—provided they were not by that time too drunk to do either.

“Where did the money come from to pay for all the liquor consumed? It came from the sweat-stained dollars that should have gone to the creation of homes; women were robbed of their due, and children of their heritage, that liquor sellers might wax fat. I have been told that the man who kept the old Tyrone tavern at the fifth, was able to supply his boys with two or three watches each from among those that had been left in pawn for liquor. Nor was this all. Many a good farm was drunk up over the bar in the old days and the owners and their children were forced to begin life over again in a new location.”

Early Temperance Workers

“When I was a young man,” said Neil McDougall, who has already been quoted, “it was considered the proper thing to call one’s companions up for a drink whenever a bar was reached, and there was then a bar at almost every cross-roads. The man who did not take his liquor was looked upon as a milk-sop.”

“There was a recognized rule in connection with early drinking customs,” J. S. McDonald, who has also been previously quoted, added. “At loggings the rule was a gallon of whiskey for each yoke of oxen at the bee. Of course, the whiskey was not all consumed at the bee. The supply lasted until well into the night, when dancing succeeded the labours of the day. Still, with all the drinking, I do not remember seeing any one very drunk.”

“But if the men did not get drunk they sometimes quarrelled,” interjected William Welsh. “At one logging, which I attended on the first of Huron in 1863, two men quarrelled over a race between their oxen in getting the logs together. The angry discussion continued while the men were in the field and was resumed at the supper table, where the two sat opposite each other. The quarrel reached its culmination when one, rising to his feet, struck the other full in the face. In a moment the table was overturned, dishes and victuals were on the floor, and the two men were fighting back and forth among the wreckage.

“Even some of the ministers opposed the temperance cause in those days,” Mr. Welsh continued. “One of the first to introduce a change was the Rev. Alexander Sutherland, a Presbyterian divine, who came into the Queen’s Bush in the ’seventies. This minister not only preached temperance to the men in their homes but he went to the bars and induced men sodden with liquor to go home and sober up. In 1864, a young Methodist missionary, either Marshall or Maxwell by name, formed the first temperance lodge, at a place that was then known as Starvation, but is now Pine River. The influence of these two men was simply amazing. It was largely as a result of their efforts that a community once much given to drunkenness, is now noted for its sobriety.”

Others of those interviewed gave much of the credit for the change to the children of the pioneers. These, seeing the evils of drunkenness in their elders, were ready converts to the gospel preached by devoted clergymen such as the Presbyterian and Methodist ministers named above.

German settlements were formed in Bruce about the same time that the Scotch pioneers settled there. Fifty years later these German communities were, in the matter of social customs, much the same as they were at the beginning. Even in the earliest days they were not given to excessive drinking. Neither did they later on abandon drinking altogether. Beer was to them what whiskey was to the Scotch, and men do not get drunk on beer taken as a beverage like tea. In these German communities, the evils of drunkenness not having been witnessed, the cause of total abstinence did not make headway later on; and, until prohibition came, those of the second generation continued to use beer as their fathers and grandfathers had used it before them.

Bruce and North Simcoe did not hold any pre-eminence in the number of drinking places in the pioneer period. Twenty years ago John Langstaff told me that he remembered no fewer than fifty-eight taverns on Yonge Street, or nearly two per mile. Eleven of these were inside what, in 1900, were the city limits. About Thornhill and Richmond Hill the country was cluttered with drinking places, and Bond Lake, Wilcox Lake, and the Pinnacle had one each. Their numbers thinned out towards Holland Landing, but at “The Landing” itself there were three. The greatest development of the Yonge Street tavern trade occurred between 1837 and 1847. With the opening of the Northern Railway, and consequent falling off in traffic by road, a decline set in.

“While the tavern-keepers prospered the distilling interest prospered as well,” said Mr. Langstaff, “and at one time I could count the sites of no fewer than nine distilleries between Toronto and Richmond Hill. A distillery was not a very elaborate affair in those days,—a roof, a few round logs, and some tubs being about all that was called for in the way of equipment. The most important consideration was a good spring, and a farm that had such was considered a favourable site for a distillery.”

One of the first of the old taverns was built at Elgin Mills. There, lot fifty-one was taken up by Bolsar Munshall in 1793, and twenty-five years later Aaron Munshall established a tavern on the place. A daughter of the first Munshall married a man named Wright, and theirs was the first white child born north of Toronto.

“The best known of these old hostelries,” said Mr. Langstaff, “was of course, Montgomery’s Tavern. Montgomery, on being pardoned for his part in the rebellion, afterwards established the Franklin House in Toronto and died in Barrie in his eightieth year. Another famous place was the old Red Lion. Polling was held at the Lion in the election of 1832, following Mackenzie’s expulsion from the Legislature in 1831. Forty sleighs escorted Mackenzie to the poling place, and in the first hour and a half one hundred and nineteen votes were cast for him to one for Street, his opponent, and then the latter ‘threw up the sponge.’ On lot thirty-five, north of Thornhill, was the Yorkshire House, and connected with this was a mile race track.”

The humorous side of old-time drinking customs has been referred to more than once. Let Mr. Langstaff tell something of the tragic side: “A stranger,” said he “disappeared from one of the old Yonge Street taverns at which he had been stopping. Four young men were suspected of murdering him, but, in the absence of proof, no arrests were made. Two of the suspects, however, afterwards committed suicide by hanging. A number of idlers were spending the day in a bar-room, and one offered to treat the crowd if another of the party would go across the street and put a certain question to a man standing there. The wager was accepted, but no sooner was the question put than a fight began between the questioner and the one questioned. An unlucky blow killed the latter and the slayer ended his days in the Kingston penitentiary. I have seen four landlords carried to premature graves from the Ship Hotel, Richmond Hill. Three landlords of another tavern died of delirium tremens. There were seven boys in a household wherein, in accordance with the customs of the day, an open barrel was kept in the cellar. One of the boys was found dead in the woods with a bottle by his side; a second, while on a spree, was choked to death by a piece of meat he was eating; a third was found dead in a stable where a keg of whiskey was kept; a fourth, as a result of excessive indulgence, lost his power of speech; and a fifth left for parts unknown.”

Old Oaken Bucket—Ash-Leech

The tragedy of this household was in a measure paralleled by the tragic history of a blacksmith shop which Mr. Langstaff’s father owned. One tenant of this shop, with the help of his wife, who was a milliner, became the owner of a shop, a home, and two thousand dollars. Then the man began to drink and, in a few years, home, shop, and money were all gone. The second tenant of the Langstaff smithy had been a hard drinker but, at his wife’s solicitation, had sworn off and made the wife custodian of the family purse. One day, when a burning thirst came on, the man asked his wife for a shilling to buy a drink, and was refused. In a fit of rage the man cut his throat with a razor and died eight days later. A third tenant of the shop went to Toronto for a spree before taking possession, and, while on this spree, fell down a stairway and broke his neck.

York’s first hanging, too, was directly traceable to drink. Two men, Dexter and Vandaburg, were neighbours and friends. Dexter invited Vandaburg, who was cradling in an adjacent field into the house to have a drink. Angry words followed the drinking and Vandaburg was shot dead by Dexter. The latter, after due trial, was sentenced to be hanged. The scaffold was erected in a public place with steps leading up to the platform. When Dexter was brought to the foot of the structure he refused to mount the steps. Even Bishop Strachan’s soothing plea of, “Do go up, Mr. Dexter!” failed to move him. Eventually a cart was brought and Dexter, placed in this, was driven under the scaffold, and on the noose being adjusted the cart was withdrawn. The usual inquest in such cases was held while the body lay on the currying-board in Jesse Ketchum’s tannery and afterwards the body, not even boxed up, was taken home by Dexter’s own team and buried on his own farm, a few rods from Yonge Street.

“One of the saddest tragedies of the period when taverns and distilleries were more numerous than schools are now, was connected with the death of a young lad,” Mr. Langstaff stated. “This boy had gone with his father to a nearby distillery to get a keg of whiskey for harvest. Other men were at the distillery at the same time, and all, in accordance with the usual custom, helped themselves at the open tub over which a cup was conveniently hanging. While the men were otherwise engaged, the boy, unnoticed by them, went to the tub, helped himself and died directly after reaching home.”

In addition to these tragedies the drink habit interfered sadly with the training of the young. Even amongst school teachers drunkenness was common in the early days. One of the Bruce pioneers told of his school being closed for days while the teacher was on a spree.

A Temperance Township

About 1868 descendants of the Oro pioneers undertook in turn the work of pioneering in the country adjacent to where the Nottawasaga River enters Georgian Bay. Among those who took part in this movement were the Langmans, Cottons, Andersons, Lockes, Hunters, and Camerons. These, locating in what was then unbroken bush, formed the settlement of which Crossland is now the centre.

“When we located,” said Noah Cotton, one of these Flos pioneers, “there was nothing but a lumberman’s road to Elmvale, five miles away. In the first fall after our arrival we managed to get in five acres of fall wheat. Although we suffered nothing like the hardships met with by the first settlers in neighbouring townships that were opened up at an earlier period, we had it hard enough. On my way home from Elmvale with my first grist I had to drive a good part of the way through mud that in many places flowed over the top of the jumper. The tails of the oxen, standing out straight behind, actually floated over this slimy mass and the bags of flour were coated with mud.

“The first threshing-machine in the section was owned by a man named Richard Whittaker, and four oxen provided the power for operating it. When anyone wanted the machine he had to haul it to his own place. Almost every night, after working in the field all day, John, a neighbour, and his men came over to my place for a stag dance in the evening. With an old violin I furnished music for the others. One night, when John was putting in a few extra touches on the dance, there was a sudden crash and the fancy stepper shot through a hole in the floor into the cellar. He had stepped on a knot that extended almost all the way across one board in the floor and this gave way under his weight. But, bless you, that did not stop the dance. With a yell like an Indian, John jumped out of the cellar and in a moment was at it again, harder than ever.

“No whiskey was ever seen at raising or bee in this section. Twelve years before we came here a temperance lodge had been formed at Colin Gilchrist’s home in Oro. My brother, sister, myself, and others joined that lodge, and we brought our principles with us. To that fact is largely due the prosperity of the settlement.”

Raising a Log Barn

“No whiskey was ever seen at raising or bee in this section.”

Mrs. Cotton told of the woman’s side of it. “I was here two weeks before I saw another woman,” she said. “My first visitor was Miss Langman, and she had to tramp two miles through the bush in order to make the call. She blazed the trail with a draw-knife as she came so as to be sure of finding her way home again. One night while my husband was away, an Indian, who had been hunting all day without success, came in and asked for food and shelter. I was frightened at first, but, after eating, he curled himself up beside the stove and slept quietly until morning,

“One of the most serious dangers to which the early settlers were exposed was bush fires,” she continued. “Some years after the work of clearing had been carried on in Flos, bush fires swept over the township. Henry Thurston had the hair burned from his head as the flames swept past him, and my husband, caught in a roadway with a roaring furnace in the bush on each side, threw a blanket over a child in the bottom of the wagon and then raced for life to the open clearings beyond. At least one life was lost, William Kerr being burned to death while fighting off the fires that menaced his buildings.”

Virtues and Failings

The Rev. John Gray, the first Presbyterian minister in Oro, had as his field not only this one township, but all the territory from Barrie on the south to Nottawasaga Bay on the north, with part of Mara on the east side of Lake Simcoe thrown in for good measure. The nearest Presbyterian place of worship to the south was the old sixth line church in Innisfil. To the north was the unbroken wilderness that then extended all the way to James Bay.

In covering his field in summer Mr. Gray rode fifty miles on horseback over roads where stumps and swails made travel difficult, and in the intervals preached two or three times on week days and held four services on Sunday. In winter, when driving in a cutter, he frequently had to get out and make his way through the soft snow in order to permit a team hauling a load to pass.

“But there were compensations,” Mr. Gray told me twenty years ago in his then comfortable home in Orillia. “The people were eager for the gospel. When Dr. McTavish, of Beaverton, administered sacrament at old Knox, the first Presbyterian church in Oro, people came from Mara and Rama as well as from Medonte and Orillia to attend. When the doctor had sacrament service in his own church at Beaverton people travelled fifty and sixty miles to take part in the services. To provide accommodation for those from a distance every house was thrown open, and, if that did not prove sufficient, barns were opened as well.”

Mr. Gray, besides ministering to the spiritual needs of his flock, also assisted in meeting their educational requirements. For a time he served as superintendent of schools; not infrequently, after inspecting a school during the day, he held religious service in the same building in the evening. Nor were religious meetings confined to schoolhouses and churches. One of the regular services was held in the room of an old frame tavern which then occupied the site where the Orillia House now stands.

This recalls the fact that in Oro and adjacent townships there was, in the early days, the same remarkable combination that existed about the same time in Bruce—intense religious feeling with an ardent love for “old Scotch.” This is not surprising in the case of the pioneers of Oro, many of whom had been engaged in the distilleries of Islay before coming to Canada.

At weddings, baptisms, and funerals alike whiskey flowed freely. In fact on one occasion those called in to assist at a funeral became so drunk that they could not bury the corpse. Once, too, when Mr. Gray was about to perform a marriage ceremony, the bridegroom took him to one side and asked him to overlook the customary fee for the time being as he “had to pay four dollars for a barrel of whiskey,” and that took all the money he had. “A barrel was the regular allowance for a wedding at that time,” said Mr. Gray.

“Those who entered the northern part of Simcoe when I did, about 1850, had it hard enough, but those who came in thirty years earlier had it much harder,” Mr. Gray continued. “I have heard the first of the Drurys and Sissons say that at times they had to depend on wild fruit for a large part of their subsistence.”

While Mr. Gray was the first Presbyterian minister in Oro, he was not the first to carry the Gospel into that township. The first regular clergyman in the township appears to have been the Rev. Mr. Raymond, the organizer of a settlement formed at Edgar by runaway slaves thirty odd years before the American Civil War broke the chains of slavery in the South. “Mr. Raymond,” said Mr. James Smith, a pioneer of Oro, “like Mr. Gray, was a man of varied gifts. Largely by the work of his own hands he built the Congregational Church at Edgar in which he afterwards preached for the coloured people. He also taught school in Orillia during the week, including Saturday forenoon, and then walked to Edgar to preach on Sunday. But walking was nothing to him. One morning he started from what is now the east end of Barrie and reached Toronto on foot before sunset.

“The most picturesque figure in this negro settlement, which at one time included over twenty-five large families, was a negro preacher named Sorrocks. This man, himself a runaway slave, had a wonderful influence over his people and during his frenzied preaching some of his hearers became frantic and tried to climb the walls of the church on the way to heaven. The greatest time of all with them was the service that watched the old year out and the New Year in. That continued from dark till dawn.

“At one of these midnight services,” continued Mr. Smith, “three young white men from Crown Hill caused a disturbance and the preacher called on a Brother Eddy to eject the intruders. Brother Eddy advanced boldly towards them, but, as he came near, one of them, rising to his full height of six feet and more, asked,—

“ ‘Going to put me out?’

“Brother Eddy, after looking the giant up and down and studying the situation decided not to try it, but instead asked for a chew of tobacco.

“Still these negroes were rather dangerous customers at times. After living for years in what was then the wilderness north of Barrie, they seemed to revert in a measure to the savage nature of their African ancestors, and it was a risky thing to insult them. They were particularly touchy on any matter relating to their colour.

“In the days before the Civil War destroyed the slave-holding aristocracy of the South, some of the Southern planters occasionally came up to the Lake Simcoe country to hunt deer. When one of these Southern hunting parties reached Belle Ewart a big negro from Edgar, his eyes blazing with savage hate, jumped on a member of the party, a Southern youth, and would have torn him limb from limb had not others interfered. The explanation of the attack was that the negro had been this white man’s slave and, while a slave, had been cruelly horse-whipped by his master.

“They were good axe-men and useful at loggings,” said Mr. Smith, “but poor farmers. The land they chopped over on their own places as a rule soon grew up again as thick as before. But they were good workers when employed by others. One of the community, Mrs. Banks, had a rare skill with herbs and was the ‘medicine man’ of the neighbourhood. When sickness occurred, the whole community came to see the sick one and incidentally to share in the provisions they knew the whites would supply.”

Mr. Smith, from whom these particulars of the Edgar negro settlement were obtained, was the grandson of a man who had his wrist disabled at Quatre Bras just before Waterloo. As partial compensation for military service the grandfather received the grant of an Oro bush lot, and to this he removed in 1831. In moving to his farm this old soldier had to follow the usual Yonge Street-Lake Simcoe route of the time to Hawkstone.

“From Hawkstone,” the grandson told me, “my grandfather and his family tramped over twelve miles through the bush, carrying their belongings on their backs. In lighting a fire they used a flint and punk. Grandfather’s nearest neighbour, when he settled on his lot, was a negro a mile and a half away. The nearest white was Smith of Dalston, six miles distant. He had to carry his wool to Newmarket to have it made into cloth and his grist to Holland Landing to be ground. He had the choice of two markets for his produce—Barrie and Penetang’. At the Thompson store at Penetang’ he could get just enough cash to pay his taxes; the balance due on his produce had to be taken out in trade. At Barrie he could not get even as much cash.”

Mr. Gray also threw interesting light on the origin of some place-names in the country about the upper end of Lake Simcoe. As elsewhere stated, a number of Peninsular War veterans were pioneers in the Lake Simcoe country, and among these Spanish terms were as common as French expressions among the Canadians who were in the mud of Flanders at a later day.

“Oro,” said Mr. Gray, “is Spanish for gold, and Peninsular veterans seeing the gold-like yellow sand on the shore of Lake Simcoe applied the name to Oro. ‘Orillia,’ again, is Spanish for coast and hence the name given to Orillia town and township. I cannot, however, account for the names Rama, Mara, and Thorah. These are of Hebrew origin, Rama meaning ‘high’; Mara, ‘bitter;’ and Thorah, ‘the law.’ The only possible explanation that occurs to me is that a Jew may have been engaged in the survey of those townships.”

Pioneer Camp Meetings

It was in the last days of May, 1898, that I visited the township of Clarke and chatted with many old people in the neighbourhood. Best remembered amongst these are H. L. Powers, Samuel Billings, Thomas Thornton, John Bigelow, Simon Powers, Lewis Clark, John Parker, Aaron Davis, Joseph Fox, John Gardener, Thomas Hooper, Thomas Patterson, Robert Burgess and his wife. These were the last of the Clarke pioneers. Of the fourteen whose names are mentioned none remain alive to-day, with the exception of Simon Powers, the father of Arthur Powers, one of the most untiring workers in the interests of the U.F.O. The first decade of the present century witnessed the departure of practically all that remained of those who had first-hand knowledge of pioneering days in what is now known as Old Ontario.

“Norman and Saxon and Dane are we,” sang Tennyson in his greeting of Princess Alexandra when she came from her home in Denmark to wed the late King Edward then Prince of Wales. Of equally mixed, and at least equally honourable ancestry, are we in Canada. One illustration of this is given in a fragment of the family history of the one from whom I received most of the facts herein given. H. L. Powers’ paternal grandfather, of English ancestry, served in Washington’s bodyguard in the American Revolutionary War. His maternal grandfather Larue, of French ancestry, fought for the King George of that day and had his property in the Thirteen Colonies confiscated for his pains.

In compensation Larue was given two hundred acres for each one of the several members of his family in Canada. One of these children, the mother of H. L. Powers, received as her share two hundred acres now forming part of the site of the city of Ottawa. Mr. Powers was, however, born in the state of New York, but early in life settled near Brockville, removing in 1832 to what was then the wilderness of Clarke, where he and his connections later on largely aided in turning the forest into fruitful fields.

“Our family had one team of horses and one yoke of oxen when they started from Brockville, and nine days were spent on the journey to where the village of Orono now stands,” said Mr. Powers. “They were obliged to cross the Trent River in a scow, and narrowly escaped drowning in doing so. On the last stage of the journey they had to cut a road for four miles through the woods in order to reach the future site of Kirby. Orono was then a hemlock bush. The only settlers in the neighbourhood were two families of Baldwins and an old bachelor named Eldad Johns.”

A bear was treed and shot the day the Powers arrived, and Mr. Powers’ first night was passed in the lee of a fallen pine with the boughs forming a roof. The first Christmas day was spent in packing flour from Munro’s Mill, near Newcastle. Mr. Powers, his father, and two brothers each carried a load home on his back.

The fraternal spirit of the early days is shown by the action of Eldad Johns, the bachelor of Orono. During one winter of real scarcity, wheat soared locally to two dollars and a half per bushel. Johns was one of the few men who had grain to spare, but none of this was for those with money. “Go,” said Johns to these, “and buy from those who have it to sell. My wheat is all for those who have no money and for them it is without price.”

Making Maple Syrup

The electric lights which now illuminate the village streets were not even dreamed of in the days of the pioneers. “Those who had tallow candles were the fortunate ones,” said Mr. Powers. “Many depended on wicks set in oil held in saucers, or more frequently still on the blazing logs in the open fireplace.

“There were, however, luxuries even in that day,” he continued. “Maple sugar was made by all the settlers, some families putting down as much as seven hundred pounds in a season. There were no apples, but there was something else just as good. The pumpkin bee was a social function, and lads and lassies gathered from miles around to peel and string pumpkins for drying, just as those of a later generation had their apple-paring bees. And what delicious pies those dried pumpkins did make!”

Hunting was a source of pleasure as well as of profit to the pioneers. Cyrus Davidson, a celebrated marksman of the pioneer period, brought down seven deer in one day, and Mr. Powers’ father shot one hundred and nineteen in all, his one great regret being that he was not able to make it the even one hundred and twenty.

But the dancing! “Once,” Mr. Powers resumed, “when father, my brother, and myself were on our way home from Port Hope we stopped at a hotel where a dance was in progress. The landlord told us to join in. Scarcely had we entered the room when two girls came up and invited us to be their partners. (We did not wait for introductions in those days.) The dance was the ‘opera reel,’ with girls on one side and boys on the other in parallel lines. It was while holding opposite lines that the fancy steps were put in. My brother was one of the best fancy dancers I have ever seen, and after the girls saw how he could ‘step it off’ we had no lack of partners for the rest of the evening. I sometimes served as fiddler at local dances, and even yet I can see the bright-eyed girls, clad in homespun, as they swung in the arms of the swains of long ago.

“At a later period came the camp meetings, and these were at times scenes of the most intense excitement. The sermon, and it was the real old-timer with plenty of brimstone in it, was followed by singing, and during the singing sinners were urged to advance to the penitent bench. ‘Come Sinners to the Gospel Feast’ and ‘Blow Ye the Trumpet Blow’ were among the favourite hymnal appeals to the ungodly. The fierce urge of the sermon and the passionate call of the singers stirred the massed audience to a state of indescribable excitement. I have seen people literally fall over each other while the anguished wails of repentant sinners mingled with the voices of the singers and the weird sound of the wind in the tree tops.

“The most exciting time of the kind I ever experienced was at an indoor revival, held by a man named Beale, at Orono in 1843. This man warned the assembled hundreds to prepare for the end of the world, which he declared was then at hand. One man actually tried to climb a stovepipe on the way to heaven and one woman went raving mad.”

But there was another side to these religious upheavals of the ’forties—a side furnished by some who persistently remained without the fold. At one camp meeting, held near Myrtle, in Ontario County, a rowdy led in a gang of toughs bent on disturbing the meeting. “A magistrate who happened to be on the grounds swore in a dozen of us to keep the peace,” said Mr. Powers. “As soon as sworn in we went over to the intruders and escorted them to the open road. When we reached the road one of the specials, a big muscular chap named Mosher, who either had not been converted or had back-slidden, went up to the bad men and quietly remarked: ‘Now, if you chaps have not had enough, I will take you on one at a time and lick the crowd.’ The challenge was not accepted and there were no more attempts to disturb that particular meeting.

These old-time camp meetings, were held all the way from Orono to Whitby neighbourhood. Jacob Purdy’s bush on the seventh concession of Clarke provided one of the camp sites. Among the preachers were Bishop Smith and Solomon Waldron of Mallory town, Mr. Pirette of Whitby, and Charles Simpson of Sidney.

Mr. Powers led the singing at many of these gatherings. I heard him sing some of the old hymns when he was well past three score and ten, and even then his voice was clear as a bell. The Briggs family of Whitby were also among the famous camp-meeting singers of the ’forties and ’fifties.

Speaking of religious services in the early days, Mr. McDougall of Bruce County once said to me: “In the evening the family sat around the open hearth, where the great logs blazed, and sang Psalms learned in Scotland. On Sundays father and mother walked ten miles to church. Communion services were held at Kincardine once a year, these services lasting from Thursday to Monday. To these services people came from a distance of twenty or thirty miles, many of them along blazed trails, over swails knee deep in mud, and through slashes where wind storms had left trees in a tangled mass. No building in Kincardine was large enough to hold those who came and services were held in the open. Rector McKay was precentor and the whole congregation joined in the singing, that familiar Psalm of faith and trust being their favourite:

“ ‘The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want.’ ”

Exciting Service in a Mill

“One of the first places open for service was Calder’s mill in Beaverton,” said Mr. McFadyen, to whom we have listened before. “One Sunday I arrived a little late and the building was already crowded. I had just taken my place near a set of stones, the Psalm had been given out, and Precentor Gillies was leading the singing, when there was a noise of grinding and wrenching and the next moment I found myself at the edge of a small precipice. Below was a tangled mass of timber, boards, and struggling humanity, while the noise of breaking timbers was succeeded by the shrieks of the terrified people.

“The floor of the mill had given way under the weight of the assembled congregation. Strange to say the only casualty was a broken leg, Miss McCrea being the victim. The minister on that occasion was the Rev. Mr. Galloway. An uncle of Dr. Galloway, of Beaverton, and Colonel Cameron, who owned part of what is now the Gunn farm, took charge of the work of rescue.

“At the beginning there were long intervals between regular services, and during these intervals the people met together, in the home of one or other of the neighbours, to read the scriptures and sing psalms. Regular services drew congregations from the whole country for miles around, the people walking barefooted, in order to save their shoes, until within a short distance of the place of assemblage, and then stopping to put on their footwear that they might enter the sanctuary decently shod.

“Frequently service was held in the open woods. On such occasions the men gathered on Saturday to clear out the underbrush and prepare rude seats for the congregation. Never have been witnessed more impressive services than those that came with the succeeding Sabbath. No cathedral could boast pillars equal to those formed by the giants of the forest; no vaulted arch fashioned by man so impressive as the leafy canopy above, while the rude altar was glorified by shafts of gold as the rays of the afternoon sun shot athwart the trees. The gentle breeze that stirred the pine tops created a melody deeper and sweeter than that produced in response to the touch of the player, and as the voices of the great congregation rose in ever-swelling volume, the earth and all that lived therein seemed to join in the song of praise. It was no formal service then; the declaration that ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ expressed a living belief in an over-ruling Providence, and eyes were lifted unto the hills around in expectation of seeing the ever-present help in time of need.”

The old days are gone; the woods are gone; the pioneers themselves rest in the shadows of the old stone church; but the memory and influence of these simple, believing pioneers will remain long after even the church itself has crumbled into dust.

A Pioneer Camp Meeting

“The fierce urge of the sermon and the passionate call of the singers stirred the audience to a state of indescribable excitement.”

Early Religious Revivals

Frequent reference is made in these sketches to the intensity of the religious fervour prevailing in Ontario within a period roughly extending from 1830 to 1850. A partial explanation of the phenomenon may be found in the conditions then existing. The tide of emigration from Europe was at its height. Family and community ties with the old land were being forever broken; hardships of many kinds pressed with crushing weight upon the pioneers. The loneliness of isolated families was beyond description. The dense forests, the great lakes and rivers, and the dread magnificence of nature were all calculated to make a deep impression on minds peculiarly susceptible to spiritual influences. Perhaps never were the comforts of religion more deeply felt, even by the Jews during the Babylonian captivity.

One of the most extraordinary phases of the wave that then swept over Ontario was seen in the Millerite frenzy of the ’forties. Some first hand information regarding this was obtained from Charles Allin, then living in Newcastle.

“Two brothers named Huff represented the Millerite movement in the district covering Newcastle, Orono, and Kirby,” Mr. Allin said. “These men used a blackboard in connection with their preaching and that blackboard was covered with figures and Scriptural texts. From the evidence thus graphically presented they proved conclusively, to their own satisfaction at least, that the end of the world was at hand. Many shared their belief and as the appointed day approached the excitement was intense. Even when the day arrived and the predicted event did not occur, the faith of the Millerites was not shaken. This continued faith was based on an ingenious explanation given by the leaders. They said that they had made the same sort of miscalculation a man would make in counting the steps from his door to the gate post, by including the doorstep itself in the number. They made a new calculation, with allowance for this sort of error, and declared that the soundness of their new prophecy was beyond question. As the second day approached, excitement, high enough before, reached the point of madness. But there were mockers even then. A few evenings before the day named for the final crash, some of the boys from the village loosened the pegs of the gigantic tent in which a lot of shouting Millerites were assembled, and shouts and screams were smothered under the collapsed canvas structure. A day or two before this, as we were chopping in our woods, one of the Huffs approached and said—

‘You may chop and you may log;

You may plough and you may sow;

But you certainly shall not reap!’

“I know we did reap, though” added Mr. Allin with a smile, “because I cradled most of the resultant crop myself.”

The Cavan Blazers

“ ‘The Cavan Blazers’ were the social regulators of the early days in the northern part of Durham,” said George Berry. “Now-a-days it is all law, law, law. If any little dispute occurs between neighbours, or if some one is acting in a manner injurious to the community, the magistrate and constable must be called in. ‘The Blazers’ settled all such matters in the early days without delay, without cost, and with less of ill-feeling than follows upon legal proceedings now. Not only that, but they made the punishment fit the crime in the case of men whose offences could not be reached in the ordinary way.

“For instance there was one mean and generally disagreeable fellow, whose conduct was such as to call for a little discipline. In those days they teamed grain to Port Hope, more than twenty miles distant, and loaded their wagons the night before so as to get an early start the next morning. This man had a wagon load of grain all ready to go to market. When he got up in the morning he found the wagon, still loaded, astride the ridge of the barn. He may not have enjoyed the work of getting the wagon and bags down from the roof, but he was a better citizen afterwards.

An Unusual Sight

“There was one mean fellow whose conduct was such as to call for a little discipline.”

“Then there was a postmaster who insisted on pasturing his calf on the roadway. A nearby church and adjoining cemetery were both open to the road, and the calf would go into the graveyard and feed on the long grass. Then, as a chill came on with the night, it would lie on the warm steps of the church and leave them in a most filthy state by morning. ‘The Blazers’ stood it as long as possible, and then one Saturday night something happened. When the storekeeper got up late Sunday morning, he found the calf boxed up in a large crockery crate in front of his store door and the crate securely anchored with some heavy stones and a block of timber placed on top. The lesson was effective. There was no more desecration of the place of burial; and the church steps no longer required scrubbing every Sunday morning before service.

“ ‘The Blazers’ had their own method of punishing contempt of the court they maintained. One man, forgetting the respect due so useful and august a tribunal, had the temerity to express, in a letter, sentiments which ‘The Blazers’ thought derogatory to their dignity. One evening, as he was walking home along the concession line, he found himself unexpectedly in the midst of a group of figures that appeared from the gloom of the fence corners. He was first requested to eat his own letter, and the request was promptly complied with. Then he was asked, and again no special urging was called for, to hold up his right hand and repeat a solemn declaration that ‘I. A. B., am the greatest liar on top of earth.’

“On another occasion, ‘The Blazers’ came in for what they considered unjust censure. In this case the criticism was given in the course of a sermon by a preacher in the neighbourhood. The preacher also happened to be going along the road a short time afterwards, and he likewise found himself in the midst of a group of stalwart figures that appeared from the surrounding gloom. He was asked to get out of the buggy. He got out. He was requested to kneel in the dust of the roadway. He kneeled. Then he was requested to pray, not for the conversion of ‘The Blazers,’ but for the success of their efforts to maintain order and promote good citizenship in their own way. He prayed.

“A widow had a cow that was almost as great a nuisance as the storekeeper’s calf. It carried a bell—a jarring, jangling bell, that kept the whole neighbourhood awake at nights. One Saturday night there was an unusual calm; the bell had disappeared from the cow’s neck. Next morning it was found hanging from the middle of a telegraph wire that ran opposite a church in which the sermons were of the two hour order. That Sunday, the preacher had scarcely reached the ‘firstly’ when a gentle breeze sprang up and jang-clang went the bell as it swayed on the wire. The sermon proceeded, but before it was fairly in the ‘secondly’ stage, the wind had increased and the jang, clang, clang, brought the discourse to an abrupt and unusually early ending. ‘The Blazers’ got their two birds with that one shot,” chuckled Mr. Berry, “the cow no longer disturbed the night, and from that time on the sermons in that particular church were of moderate length.

“ ‘The Blazers’ were fine workers and had their own peculiar sense of humour. One night, while out on some other business, a quiet young man happened to be going the same way on horseback. He, too, suddenly found himself in a bunch of men on the roadway. Their unlooked for appearance rather alarmed him at the start, but their quiet demeanour and gentle conversation reassured him, and he thought he must have struck a lot of neighbours going home from prayer meeting. When he got into the stable, with a light, he found that the tail of his horse had been as neatly shaved as ever a chin has been shaved since by a barber with all the accessories of electric light and upholstered chair.

“ ‘The Blazers’ were all Orangemen, and there was only one Roman Catholic in the whole township. One year, as harvest season approached, this man was taken ill and was unable to care for his ripening crop. It was then that ‘The Blazers’ showed the warm heart beneath the sometimes rude exterior. They went one night and cut and shocked the ripening grain on the farm of their sick neighbour. A few nights later they returned and hauled the grain into the barn.

“Sometimes in their enthusiasm for good fellowship ‘The Blazers’ committed pranks from which the settlers suffered loss. A farmer’s wife had a turkey gobbler of which she was inordinately proud—a regular forty pounder. One night she heard a gentle flutter and squawk in a nearby tree in which the turkeys roosted. Going to the door, lamp in hand, she stood revealed in the flickering light. A few feet from her, hidden in the shadow, stood a man with the gobbler’s head safely gathered up in his armpit, and the fat body of the bird pressing warmly against his side. The thief had a sense of humour, too. ‘Don’t bother to bring a light, madam,’ said he, ‘I’ve got him.’ ”

Mr. Berry had another story to tell of the early days—a story which may not be strictly accurate, but is too good to omit.

A preacher, having lost his voice, took up a bush farm. He had chopped and burned one small corner and had everything prepared for his spring seeding. His oxen, Buck and Bright by name, were in the bush, the old three-pointed drag was ready, and the seed was in the bag. But during the night before the seeding, Buck died and Bright alone was left.

“Never mind,” said the ex-preacher hopefully to his wife; “if you sow the grain Maria I will yoke myself with Bright and we will pull the drag.”

The yoking was effected and the first round started. There was a slight up-grade to the back of the field but on the return the ground sloped downward. Whether it was the lighter haul down, a furry ground-hog, or a belated realization of the sort of yoke-mate he had, is not known, but anyway Bright started on the jump and the ex-preacher had to jump, too. Maria, dropping her pan of wheat hurried to head them off.

“Don’t get in the road, Maria,” shouted her spouse as he ran for life dodging blackened stumps at the same time, “Don’t try to head us off; we’re running away.”

At the end of the clearing Bright and his human yoke-fellow ran fair into a brush heap and were ‘fetched up all standing.’ Maria, badly winded, got there almost as soon.

“Unhitch Bright, Maria,” gasped the husband, “I’ll stand.”

An Ontario Farm of the Present Day

“Homes have been created; fruitful fields are seen where forests were. But do those who have into the inheritance fully appreciate the patient toil and heroism by which that heritage was won?” come

Heroes and Their Descendants

The Black Flag of Death

“At the time my father came to Canada in 1832, a plague of cholera was sweeping through the land and the only activity was in the cemeteries.”

This statement was made to me by Henry Morris, of the township of Colborne, Huron County. An old newspaper clipping of the early ’thirties, preserved by Mr. Morris, showed that he had not exaggerated in his description of the situation. In this clipping it was stated that the entire country along the line of the St. Lawrence frontier, for a distance of five hundred miles, was being scourged by the plague and that the “mortality was enormous.” Seigneurs, judges, members of the Legislature, doctors, men of all degrees were stricken. Among the notable victims were the Hon. John Caldwell and Judges Taschereau and Kerr. The city of Quebec was in a state of terror, business was suspended, people shut themselves in their homes to escape contagion, and plague flags, more ominous than the red emblem in parts of Continental Europe to-day, flew everywhere. In Montreal out of a population of twenty-five thousand at that time, there were one thousand deaths. In the whole colony it was estimated that half the population was attacked and that one in every twenty-seven of the people died.

The situation was made worse by the refusal of the crews of many lake and river steamers to operate the vessels, and by the action of people everywhere in barring their doors against emigrants then streaming into the country, and who were blamed for bringing the cholera with them. The emigrants’ cup of sorrow was filled to overflowing when, seeking to escape to the United States, they found the American militia lining the border to prevent entrance.

“It was,” said Mr. Morris, “under circumstances such as these that my parents arrived at Quebec. They had with them an infant child that took sick on the way. While on a river steamer coming up the St. Lawrence the child died; and in order to conceal death, and so avoid having the body thrown overboard, my mother held the dead body in her arms for twenty-four hours, until Prescott was reached, and there Christian burial was secured.

“There was just one bright spot in a situation that otherwise was one of universal gloom. While the plague was at its height a delegation came over from New York to assist the stricken. The most picturesque figure in the delegation was a doctor, with a beard like that of a prophet of old, and driving a ramshackle light wagon to which a team of ponies was attached by rope harness. This doctor made but the one request as he journeyed over the plague-smitten territory, that he be shown where the worst cases were to be found. When he arrived on the scene of suffering his remedies were of the simplest—powdered charcoal, maple sugar, and lard administered internally; with lye poultices, made from wood ashes, and as strong as the patient could stand, applied externally to relieve the cramps from which cholera patients suffered. In no case would this Father of Mercy accept fee, but after his service was ended a fund, raised by public subscription, was forced upon him. That nameless American doctor of the ’thirties was the Hoover and more than the Hoover of his day.”

The Father of Mercy

“The most picturesque figure in the delegation was a doctor, with a beard like that of a prophet of old, and driving a ramshackle light wagon to which a team of ponies was attached by rope harness.”

Mr. Morris had to draw on what he had heard from his parents, or read in an old newspaper clipping, for what he told me. From Henry Smith, of Barrie, interviewed a month later, I received a first-hand story, not only of the devastation caused by cholera outbreak, but of the equal calamity due to ship-fever which occurred some thirteen years afterwards.

“I was in Montreal when the cholera was at its worst,” said Mr. Smith. “As people were dying by thousands no time was taken for funeral ceremonies. The dead were buried by contract on the basis of so much for each corpse disposed of. The bodies were hauled away in carts and dumped in great trenches as the killed are laid away after battle. I believe many were buried while merely in the state of stupor that resembles death. Those immigrants who had not been attacked were held in quarantine in great barn-like structures. The sick were housed in buildings of like construction and with little more by way of comfort. An immigrant told me that as their ship was coming up the Gulf of St. Lawrence they saw, dotting the sea for miles, bedding that had been thrown overboard and on which fever-stricken emigrants had died.

“I was in Picton when ship-fever came later, and as I was attacked by that disease myself, I saw little of what went on during the worst of the plague but I was witness of the effects afterwards. The sufferers were housed in sheds and a nearby cemetery was largely filled with those who died. Then, after the plague had apparently been brought under control, the disease was carried in the clothing of immigrants to farm houses in which employment had been secured. Children seemed to escape the fever, but among the immigrants, as well as the farmers who had employed them, many children were left orphans and many women widowed.

“The question then arose as to what was to be done with immigrant orphans and widows. They could not be sent back and could not be left uncared for here. It was at this juncture that Bishop Strachan came to the rescue with heroic remedies. He had the orphaned children placed in foster homes, and he was credited with arranging something like forced marriages for the widows. One well-authenticated case had to do with a widow who had considerable cash, and a local farmer who had much land but no money and no wife. The bishop had banns proclaimed between these two, and it was not until after the proclamation that the widow was told of what had been done. She was further informed that banns having been published, the marriage must of necessity be gone on with and she was ordered to prepare for the same forthwith. The inevitable was accepted and the union appears to have turned out quite happily.”

There were some Good Samaritans at the time of the ship-fever as well as at the time of the cholera plague. Some of the stricken ones among the Irish immigrants having reached Newmarket, an old brewery was turned into a hospital for their accommodation. Volunteers were called for to nurse the patients and Wright Burkett and a harness-maker named Wallace responded. While engaged on their service of mercy, Burkett contracted the fever and died, and Wallace was brought to death’s door but recovered.

The facts in this case were given me by John Langstaff at the time he told the story of the tragedies of Yonge Street due to early drinking customs.

Where Heroes Lie

I’ve tried to portray with the aid of the pen

The last resting place of two different men,

Divergent in life, one humble, one great,

They both passed in death through the same little gate.

Neath six feet of earth they now lie asleep;

Their friends and their neighbours have long ceased to weep;

The hoarse blasts of winter hurl snow o’er the ground,

The soft summer zephyr caresses each mound;

In nature’s embrace no difference they find,

It leaves class distinction to fickle mankind.

The Resting Place of Two Different Men

We learn from the obelisk reared to the sky,

Resplendent in grandeur, impressing the eye,

That a lofty man lies in the clay damp and cold,

If we read the inscription in letters of gold;

The plot claims attention, the grass is kept shorn,

The sweet blooming flowers are trained to adorn.

The neat iron railing, loop, tassel and fret,

Are painted and varnished the colour of jet;

The lilac in season of beauteous bloom

Ne’er fails to contribute her fragrant perfume.


We turn to the other, neglected it stands

And hence to its fellow more beauty it lends:

The mound it has settled, the slab has a lean,

While round it the weeds in profusion are seen,

Which seem as they sway by the autumn wind blown,

In affection to burnish the face of the stone,

O’er the grave of a poor simple knight of the soil

Released from his thraldom of trouble and toil,

Who played well his part when the country was young,

And now lies forgotten, unhonoured, unsung.


M. McGillivray

Here and there through these stories reference has been made to occasions, when in summer’s heat or winter’s cold the first settlers laid the bodies of their loved ones in ground forever hallowed by the labours of the dead and the living. In many cases these burials marked the beginning of cemeteries that have since been maintained by descendants of the original settlers who still live in the neighbourhood. In cases without number a different story must be told. Some of those who died in the early days were without relatives in this country and no one was left, even from the first, to care for the lonely graves in which they were laid. A typical case was that of which my old friend Larry Smith, of Whitby, once told me. Pointing to two or three field stones irregularly embedded on the bank of a stream on his own farm, he said that these marked the last resting place of two strangers who had fallen victims to the cholera plague, which swept the province in the early part of the last century. As noted already, burials of necessity followed promptly on death in such cases, and one of these victims heard the sound of his coffin being nailed together before his eyes closed in the last sleep. In thousands of instances descendants of those who fell by the wayside, inheriting the wanderlust to which the creation of Ontario was in no small part due, followed the moving horizon beyond which the star of hope always beckoned, and the result is that to-day almost every township in Old Ontario has at least one cemetery in which the names of the dead are those of strangers in a strange land. The descendants of the pioneers have themselves passed to the beyond, or are scattered all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the polar seas and no one is left to care for these resting places.

In the closing year of the last century I visited one such cemetery in the township of McGillivray, near where Maple Lodge post-office then was. Not one of the descendants of those lying in this cemetery were then living in the neighbourhood, and sheep were pasturing among the broken or falling monuments.

One broken slab had been erected to the memory of “Rebecca, daughter of—.” This was all that remained of the inscription. Another headstone marked the spot where lay the body of a little son of William and Jane Barber, who was carried off in 1846, at the tender age of one year, six months, and fourteen days. One could imagine the grief of the broken-hearted parents as, amid the gloom of a forest varied only by the blackened stumps of the scanty clearings, the body of the little one was laid in the damp ground. Particularly pathetic, too, was the blurred lettering over the grave of Alonzo Barber, born in 1858 and died in 1859. All that could be deciphered of the lettering in this case was:

“................Little Stranger


But there was a world of pathos in those three words.

These scattered graves and neglected cemeteries of the unknown dead are but gloomy reminders of man’s mortality. They serve no real purpose, and it would be more in keeping with what is due to those who blazed the trail into the forest and laid the foundations of a prosperous province, if the broken headstones were wholly removed. Fields of waving grain or the rich bloom of orchards growing in their place would in some measure remind those with ears to hear and eyes to see, of the inestimable services rendered by the labours of the men and women who made possible the enjoyment of the heritage of to-day.








Adolphustown, 6, 8, 12


Allan, James, 225


Allan, Wm., 291


Allcock, James, 273


Allcock, Simon, 273


Allen, Parker, 6, 9


Allin, Chas., 43, 44, 318, 319


Allin, Frank, 44


Allison, D. W., 8


Ambler, Thos., 76


Ancaster, 176, 256


Anderson, Capt., 263


Anderson, Duncan, 105


Anderson, John, 194


Ardagh, Pastor, 76


Armstrong, Robt., 238


Armstrong, Wm., 24


Asia, the, 115, 116


Aurora, 109





Bangs, Rev. Dr., 61


Banks, Mrs., 307


Barber, Alonzo, 335


Barber, Frank, 229


Barber, Jane, 335


Barber, Philip, 229


Barrie, 75, 80, 81, 85et seq.


Barrie, John, 47


Bayview, 182, 184


Beaver, the, 89


Beaverton, 141, 147, 148, 152, 157


Beck, F. L., 281et seq.


Belfountain, 182, 184


Belle Ewart, 84, 85, 152, 153, 291


Bellwoods, Chas., 53


Bellwoods, John, 53


Bently, Albert, 273, 274


Bently, Maria, 273


Berry, Geo., 320et seq.


Best, Thos., 53, 54


Billings, Samuel, 52


Blake, Hon. Ed., 44


Blanding, Sarah J., 273


Bleakley, John, 184


Boline, the, 39, 40


Bowles, James, 206


Bowman, Chas., 53


Bowmanville, 49, 53, 54


Bradstreet, Col., 5


Bragilla, the, 201


Brisbin, Jane, 17


Brock, B. W., 182et seq.


Brockville, 68, 227


Brown, John, 40


Bryce, Thos., 261


Buchanan, James, 185et seq.


Buchanan, Mrs. J., 185et seq.


Buck, Elijah, 31


Burke, John, 17


Burke, Luke, 17


Burkett, Wright, 331


Burritt, Col., 65, 66


Burritt’s Rapids, 66


Butterfield, Abraham, 53


Bytown, 3, 62, 195





Caldwell, Geo., 76


Caldwell, Hon. John, 327


Caldwell, S., 15, 16


Cameron, Col., 149, 315


Cameron, Daniel, 148


Cameron, H. D., 248


Campbell, A., 178et seq.


Campbell, Colin, 138


Canada Company, the, 169, 170, 177, 213, 234


Cannington, 147


Carleton, Sir Guy, 5, 6


Carmichael, Dougall, 141


Carr, John, 11


Cartier, Jacques, 1


Casey, T. W., 6, 7, 12


Casselman, Nelson, 57, 58, 60


“Cavan Blazers,” the, 50, 320et seq.


Champlain, Samuel, 1


Chapman, Chas., 269


Charters, Mr., 47


Chatham, 207


Chingacousy, 147, 178et seq.


Chisholm, Kenneth, 180


Christian Islands, 97


Christie, A. R., 169


Chrysler’s Farm, battle of, 55


Churchill, 92, 292


Clanahan, Mr., 225


Clark, Peter, 247et seq.


Claughton, John, 133et seq.


Cleary, Archbishop, 10


Coates, Thos., 62


Cobourg, 15, 227


Colborne, Sir John, 91


Coldwater, 98, 105


Collingwood, 233


Collins, Chas., 97


Collins, Deputy Surveyor, 7


Cook, Elias, 55, 57, 58, 60


Cook, H. H., 55


Cooksville, 179


Cornell, Wm., 51


Cornwall, 55


Corrigan, Mr., 281et seq.


Cotton, Noah, 300


Coulter, Andrew, 225


Coulthard, G. H., 260


Courtice, Thos., 40


Crae, Wm., 76


Craig, Thos., 96, 97


Craven, Linwood, 237et seq.


Crawford, Angus, 37


Crawford, Archie, 224


Creemore, 99, 102, 155


Crooks, Capt., 211, 212


Crooks, Hon. James, 196


Crown Hill, 74, 75, 76, 85, 96


Culp, Tilman, 18


Cummings, Patrick, 259


Currie, Archie, 102





Davidson, Cyrus, 312


Davis, Asa, 47


Dayton, D. L., 229


Devins, Abraham, 128


Devins, Isaac, 128, 131


Dobie, David, 220et seq.


Donaldsons, the, 190


Dorchester, Lord, see Sir Guy Carleton


Doherty, Bernard, 274, 275


Doherty, Hon. M., 50, 274, 275, 276


Douse, Rev. Mr., 49


Drury, Hon. E. C., 78, 80, 96


Drury, Richard, 78, 79


Drury, Thos., 78, 79, 126


Dundas, 36





Eagle, Samuel, 183, 184


Education Acts, 1841-43, 76


Ekfrid, 225


Elliott, Andrew, 202


Elliott, Henry, 39, 40, 41


Emily May, the, 153


Enterprise, the, 195, 196


Essence, John, 82


Euclid, the, 208


Eugenia Falls, 227et seq.





Family Compact, the, 114, 191


Farley, John, 42


Farmersville, 67


Fletcher, Alex., 17


Foley, Richard, 39


Forneri, Rev. R. S., 6, 9, 10


Forsyth, Major, 70


Fort Frontenac, 5, 6, 7


Frankish, T. B., 270, 272


Franklin, Sir John, 91


Frazer, Rev. Wm., 245


Frontenac, Gov., 5


Fulljames House, the, 107





Gairbraid, 168, 170


Galloway, Joseph, 99


Galloway, Rev. Mr., 315


Gananoque, 68et seq.


Gerow, Joseph, 17


Gifford, E., 53


Gilchrist, Colin, 301


Gillespie, Duncan, 148


Gillies, Margaret, 194


Goderich, 167, 212, 248


Gooderhams, the, 108


Goodfellow, W., 292


Gordon, Adam, 151


Gowan, N. C., 231


Gowan, Ogle R., 231


Graham, John, 223


Grant, Alex., 270


Grant, Principal, 10


Grass, Capt., Michael, 5, 6, 8


Gray, Rev. John, 303, 304, 305


Green, Dr., 62


Grieves, John, 39


Gunn, Andrew, 136


Gunn, Donald, 149


Gunn, Dr., 149


Gunn, John, 148et seq.


Gunn, Mrs. John, 152





Hagerman, Chief Justice, 9


Hagerman, Nicholas, 9


Hallett, Silas, 232


Hamilton, John, 97


Hampton, 41, 42


Hardy, Rev. Mr., 83


Harrison, Eliza, 173


Hawkstone, 104, 106


Heck, Barbara, 61, 62


Heck, George, 61, 62


Henry, John, 93


Henry, W. T., 206


Herriman, Dr., 52


Hessians, the, 2


Hewson, Wm., 80et seq.


Hickling, Chas., 78, 79


Hickling, G., 79


Hipwell, Mother, 19


Hodge, Henry, 62


Hogg’s Hollow, 138, 139


Holland Landing, 74, 75, 81et seq.


Holland, Surveyor-General, 7


Hoover, D., 20, 21


Hoover, Mrs. D., 18, 19, 22


Hopps, Wm., 266


Horne, Henry, 131


Horne, T. W., 136


Huggard, R. L., 166


Hume, James, 191


Hunter, A. F., 75, 89


Hunter, Wm., 147


Hurlburt, Rev. E., 62





Jackson, Hon. Peter, 52


James, David, 128


James, Rachel, 272


Johns, Eldad, 311


Johnson, Asa, 128


Johnson, Hugh, 208et seq.


Johnson, Sir John, 8, 69


Jones, Elias, 31


Jones, Samuel, 45





Kerr, Judge, 327


Kerr, Wm., 303


Kingston, 3, 5, 10, 14, 32, 40, 60, 68, 195, 196


Koch, John, 26





Laidlaw, James, 194


Lakeland, 84, 85


Larkin, Wm., 78


Langstaff, John, 295et seq., 331


Layton, John, 229


Leeds Trader, the, 70


Little, Joe, 213


Little Blue Church, the, 62


Little Cataraqui Creek, 7


Little York, 117, 139


Lincoln, Abraham, 44


Lindsay, 228


Livingstone, A., 265et seq.


Livingstone, “Bill”, 54


Livingstone, John, 37


Lizars, Daniel, 108


London, J. F., 169


Lount, Samuel, 114


Loyalists, U.E., 2, 6, 9, 63, 66, 68





McAlmon, Flora, 124


McAlmon, Malcolm, 124


McArthur, Donald, 157


McBain, John, 250


McBane, Nancy, 17


McCallum, Geo., 286et seq.


McCammon, E. M., 63


McCarthy, D’Alton, 55


McClean, John, 168


McDonald, John S., 255et seq., 293


McDougall, Alex., 146


McDougall, Angus, 148, 149


McDougall, Chas., 246, 247


McDougall, Neil, 243et seq., 293


McFadyen, Archie, 138


McFadyen, Colin, 136et seq., 315


McFadyen, Miss, 145


McGillivray, M., 333


McGinnis, Pte., 97


McKeyes, Daniel, 35


McKinnon, Donald, 247


McLachlin, Colin, 144


McLeod, Capt., 262


McMillan, Archie, 138


McMurchy, Rev. Mr., 148, 158


McNab, John, 262et seq.


McPhail, John, 242


McPherson, Peter, 191


McTavish, Rev. Dr., 304





Macdonald, Charlotte, 63, 71


Macdonald, Chas., 63, 71


Macdonald, Col., 8


Macdonald, John, 71


Macdonald, John Sandfield, 252


Macdonald, Sir John A., 6, 12, 13


Mackenzie, Wm. Lyon, 126, 129, 177, 181, 182, 192, 277, 283, 296


Magnetewan, 151


Mairs, Thos., 78


Manchester, 147, 149, 156, 164


Markham, 127


“Markham Gang”, the, 142


Mariposa, 102


Massey, Hart A., 43


Meaford, 228, 229


Mennonites, the, 26


Merry, John, 157


Michie, Wm., 191


Middleton, John, 53


Miller, Nicholas, 128


Miller, Simon, 127et seq.


Millerites, the, 43, 44, 318et seq.


Millor, James R., 71, 72


Mississaguas, the, 66


Mitchell, Dr., 40


Mitchell, Robt., 233


Monteith, Hon. Nelson, 286


Montgomery, John, 114


Montgomery’s Tavern, 114, 129, 178, 283, 296


Moore, Sir John, 184


Moraviantown, 221


Morgan, Canon, 76


Morpeth, 207


Morris, Henry, 242, 243, 327et seq.


Morrison, Hon. J., 182


Morrison, J. J., 277, 278


Morrison, Robt., 277


Morton, James, 12


Moulton, Joseph, 47


Mount Albert, 141


Munceytown, 221


Munro, Mr., 44


Murray, Hugh, 260


Myers, Mrs., 95





Newcastle, 43, 44, 47


Newmarket, 146


Newton, John, 35


Newtonville, 45, 49


Nixon, Mrs., 211


Nottawasaga, 99et seq.





Oakville, 171, 174, 175, 190, 191


Omemee, 45, 50


Orillia, 102, 105


Ormiston, Dr., 42


Orser, Jeremiah, 52


Oshawa, 40, 42, 227


Oswego, 3


Ottawa, 3, 195


Owen Sound, 180





Parkinson, Robt., 215


Partridge, Chas., 78, 79


Paterson, Col., 151


Paterson, Dr. B., 85


Patton, J. W., 233, 234


Penetanguishene, 73, 74, 78et seq.


Perry, James, 230


Petanquet, Chief, 238


Phillips, Jacob, 128


Pickering, 82, 129


Pierce, Moses, 234, 236, 237


Pierce, Wm., 236


Port Credit, 179, 180


Port Granby, 49


Port Hope, 40, 45


Port Perry, 52


Port Stanley, 225


Powers, Arthur, 309


Powers, Calvin H., 44


Powers, H. L., 310et seq.


Powers, Simon, 39


Prescott, 55, 61, 62


Procter, Gen., 217


Purdy, Jesse, 228


Purdy, R. McLean, 227et seq.


Purdy, Wm., 228





Quebec, 1, 53, 65


Queen’s Bush, the, 132et seq.


Quinte, Bay of, 3, 6, 13





Raymond, Rev. Mr., 305


Rainham, 22


Reesors, the, 23, 24, 25


Reicheld, Nicholas, 280


Reid, David, 61


Richmond Hill, 128


Riddell, Judge, 29


Riddell, Walter, 29et seq.


Richardson, Gideon, 75


Ridgetown, 207


Ritchie, Rev. Mr., 204


Rittenhouse, Uriah, 21


Robertson, John, 104


Robertson, Geo., 104


Robertson, Lt. James, 215


Robertson, Norman, 260


Robinson, Hon. J. B., 9


Robson, R. W., 53


Rogers, Col., 8


Rugby, 104, 105, 106


Russell, Peter, 270





St. Thomas, 217


Schmidt, Heinrich, 86


Schneider, Nicholas, 281et seq.


Schooner, Jacob, 128


Scotch line, the, 124


Sewell, John, 232


Shearer, Mrs. John, 203, 204


Simcoe, Gov. J. G., 128


Simpson, Hon. John, 53


Simpson, Sir George, 116


Sinclair, Capt., 181


Sissons, Jonathan, 76, 78, 79


Southwick, Paulina, 201


Slack, Joseph, 67


Smith, “Bayside”, 151


Smith, James, 305et seq.


Smith, Henry, 86, 87, 88, 329et seq.


Smith, Larry, 334


Smith, Sir Henry, 12


Snell, James, 241


Sorel, 6, 7


Soules, David, 82, 91, 93


Spiers, Peter, 184


Stamm, John, 90


Stanton, Oliver, 31


Stayner, 101, 103


Stephens, Wm., 229


Stewart, John, 191, 192


Stewart, Duncan, 194


Stone, Col. Joel, 63, 68et seq.


Stone, Mary, 71


Stouffville 163


Strachan, Bishop, 91, 299, 331


Stroud, 93


Sullivan, Robt., 174


Sutton, 148


Sunnidale, 93, 114et seq.


Sutherland, Rev. Alex., 294


Switzer, Martin, 177





Talbot, Col., 217


Talbot Settlement, the, 216


Taschereau, Judge, 327


Thompson, Alfred, 80


Thompson, Col. Ed., 181


Thompson, Col. Wm., 182


Thompson, Isaac, 115et seq.


Thompson, James, 182


Thompson, Robt., 84


Thompson, Samuel, 126


Thompson, Thomas, 126


Thorne, Mr., 131


Thornhill, 130


Thornton, C. J., 53


Thornton, Thos., 53


Thurston, Henry, 303


Tindall, Rev. R. L., 231


Tollendale, 92


Toronto, 14, 50, 62, 75, 78, 80, 81, 93, 97


Treffry, John, 195et seq.


Trull, Capt. J. C., 18


Trull, Jesse, 13et seq.


Trull, John, 18


Trull, Pamela, 17


Tudhope, Geo., 105


Tuckers, the, 190





Unionville, 127


United Kingdom, the, 117


Uxbridge, 269





Van Alstine, Major, 8


Van Dusen, Rev. Mr., 49





Wallace, Andrew, 85


Warnicas, the, 90et seq.


Warnica, J. L., 106, 107, 111et seq.


Watson, Wm. 216et seq.


Weller, Wm., 31


Wellings, Obe, 228


Welsh, Wm., 294


Whitehaven, the, 29


White, James, 75


Whitlock, Rev. J., 39


Whittaker, Rich., 301


Widdifield, J. W., 269et seq.


Wilson, Chas. 93


Wilson, Joseph, 230


Wilson, Justus, 201


Windmill, Battle of the, 61


Woodruff, Betsy, 17


Woods, Samuel, 232


Wright, Geo., 182


Wylie, Samuel, 232





Yeomans, Miss, 83


Yonge Street, 127et seq.


Young, Wm., 241





Zimmerman, Peter, 286



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[The end of Pioneers of Old Ontario by William Loe Smith]