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Full text of "Life in Canada fifty years ago [microform] : personal recollections and reminiscences of a sexagenarian"



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LIFE IN CANADA 



FIFTY YEARS AGO: 



I PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS AND REMINISCENCES OF 

A SEXAGENARIAN. 



BY 



CANNIFF HAIGHT 



' Ah, happy years ! Once more who would not be a boy ? " 

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. 




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J I'Ulil.ISHEU BY HUNTER, ROSE & CO. 



Rftl?£ 
30^9 



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Entered according to the Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year me 
thousand eight hundred and eighty-five, liy Cannifi" Hakuit, in ttie 
office of the Minister of Agriculture. 



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TO 



THE YOUNCI MEN OF CANADA, 

UPON WHOSE INTEORITY AND HNKItCV (»!■' OKA l!A< TK!l 
THE FUTUllE OK THIS CUEAT HERITAOE OF OURS IlKSTs, 

TUTS BOOK 
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED 



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T UK AUTllOTv. 



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PREFACE. 



■«••♦»- 



"TTTHEN a man poses before the world — even the 
' ' Canadian world — in the role of an author, he 
is expected to step up to the footlights, and explain his 
purpose in presenting himself before the public in that 
capacity. 

The thoughts of the world are sown broadcast, very 
niuch as the seed falls from the sweep of the husband- 
man's hand. It drops here and there, in good ground 
and in stony places. Its future depends upon its vi- 
tality. Many a fair seed has fallen on rich soil, and 
yet never reached maturity. Many another has shot 
up luxuriantly, but in a short time has been choked 
by brambles. Other seeds have been cast out with 
the chaff upon the dung heap, and after various mu- 
tations, have come in contact with a clod of earth, 
through which they have sent their roots, and have 
finally grown into thrifty plants. A thought thrown 
out on the world, if it possesses vital force, never dies. 
How much is remembered of the work of our greatest 
men ? Only a sentence here and there ; and many a 




n 



VI 



PREFACE. 



man vvliosu ii.inic will i^o down lliroiiL^li all the ai^'cs, 
owes it L(j llic Until or the vital force of the tliouglit 
onil)e(ltlc(l ill a few hricf lines. 

I lia\e ver\ little to sav respectini'' the volume here- 
witli presented to the puhJie. The j)! iiici[)al contents 
a2)peare<l a short time ago iji the C't uadian MonihJ u 
and the Cainulian. Mctliotlid iMajiiitne. They were 
written at a tiniewlien my way seemed liedged around 
with insurmount:d»le dilliculties, and when almost any- 
thing that could all'i/i'd me a temporary respite from the 
mental anxieties that weighed me down, not only dur- 
ing the day, hut into the loni-' hours of the night, would 
ha\e l»een welcomed. Like most unfortvuiates, I met 
Mr. Worldly Wiseman I'rom da} to day. 1 always 
found him ready to point out the way I should go and 
what I sliould do, but 1 have no recollection that ho 
ever got the breadth of a hair beyond that. One even- 
ing 1 took up my pen and began jotting doNvn a few 
memories of my boyhood. 1 think we are all fond of 
taking retrospective glances, and more particularly 
when life's pathway trends tow^ards the end. The re- 
lief I found while thus engaged was very soothing, and 
for the time I got altogether away from the present, 
and lived over again many a joyous hour. After a 






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IMIKI'ACI:. 



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Lime J IkuI ciccuiiiulatud a ijood deal ut' lualU'r, >su(*li as 
it was, Imt tli(3 tiioiii^lit of puMic-atioii Ikk.I not tlicu 
cniorod my mind. (Jiie day, wliilc in conversation 
witli Dr. Witlu'ow, I mentioned what I liad done, and 
lie expressed a desiiv to see what I iiad written. The 
papers were sent h'wn, and in a slioit time lie returned 
them with a note expressing the pleasure the perusal 
ot' them had altbnled him, and advising me to submit 
them to the Canadiaib Moiitldij tor publication. Some- 
time ai'tervvards T followed his a-lvice. The portion of 
the [lapers that a])peared in the last-named periodical 
were favourably received, and i was much gratilied 
not only by that, but from private letters aftei'wards 
received from diiferent [):irts of the Dominion, conve\^- 
ing cx[)ressions of commendation which 1 had certain- 
ly never anticipated. This is as much as need be said 
about the origin and first publication of the papers 
which make up the principal part of this volume. I 
do not deem it necessary to give any reasons for put- 
ting them in book form ; l^ut I may say this : the Avhole 
has been carefully revised, and in its present shape I 
hope will meet with a hearty welcome from a large 
number of Canadians. 



Vlll 



PllEFACE. 



In conclusion, I wish to express my thanks to the 
Hon. J. C. Aikins, Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, 
for information he procured for me at the time of \)\ih- 
lication, and particuhirly to J. C Dent, Es(|., to whom 
I am g-reatly indebted for many useful hints. 



^ 
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CONTENTS. 



Dedication 



PAHE 

. iii 



Preface. 






u 



fx.4 



CHAPTER I. 

The prose and jwetry of pioneer life in the backwctods— Tlie loc,' liouse 
— Sugar making— An onien of i^-^nod luck My (Quaker yrand- 
parents - Tlie old home— Winter eveninj,'H at the fireside- Rural 
hos[)itality — Aristocracy rcrstts ])eniocracy- School days 1 ''Itat- 
ing societies in the olden time— xV rural orator clinches the nuil - 
Cider, sweet and otherwise— Husking in the barn— Hog killing and 
sausage making Full cloth and corduro'\ AVinter w '.>. and win- 
ter amusemen*-'- V Canadian skating song 1 

CHAPTER II. 

The round of pioneer life— Game— Night fishing— More details about 
sugar-making— Sugaring- off— Taking a hand at the old churn— 
Sheep-washing- -Country girls, then and now— Substance and Sha- 
dow— " Old Gray" and his eccentricities — Harvest — My early 
emulation of Peter Paul Rubens— Meeting-houses— Elia on Qua- 
ker meetings— Variegated autumn landscapes — Logging and (juilt- 
ing bees— Evening fun - The touching lay of the young woman 

who sat down to sleep ;iS 

■^ 

CHAPTER III. 

Progress, material and social— Fondness of the young for dancing- 
Magisterial nuptials- The charivari Coon-hunting— Catching a 
tartar— Wild pigeons— The old Dutch houses— Delights of summer 
and winter contrasted— Stilled voices 71 



CONTENTS. 



CHArTKK IV 



PAOE 



Till' cnily -I ttlrv^ ill T't'l 't Cnnadii l^i'ospority. national and indi- 
viilual 'I'lic dill lionics, ^\itll(^lt and %vitliin -fandle-niaking— 
Siii:civtiti(ins and ( nuai.s - 'I'lie death-watch Old almanacs- Iiees 
--'Ihe divining rod- The V. E. Loyalists;- 1 heir ^n{Tt'lings and 
heroism- An old and a ntw price list—Primitive liorologes - A 
jannt in one of the conventional " carriages " of olden times -Then 
and now- A note of warning 



85 



CHAPTER V. 

.lefferson's definition (f "' Liberty "—How it was acted npon -The 
Canadian renaissance— Pnrning political (|iustii>ns in Canada half 
a century ago Ti( Kinctii ii- Mrs. JaniCMai on Canadian stage 
coaches— P>atte:(U\ and I )ni ham hoats 121 

cHAPTEi; vr. 

Road-maldng — Weller's line of stages and steamboats — My trip from 
Hamilton to Niagara- Schools and colleges- Pioneer ^Methodist 
)ivea(diers Solemnization of matrimony— Literature and libraries 
- Early newspai)ers— Primitive editoiial articles \U] 

CHAPTEIJ VIL 

P)anlcs- - Insurance- Marine — Telegraph companies - Administratifm 
of Justice ^Milling and manufactures - Pai^id increase of poimla- 
tiou in cities and tiwus - Ilxcerpts from yVndrew Pickeu Ill) 



Skk'I'ciif.s or Eakia" History: 

Early schools and -i luMiluiastcrs -Birth ef the American Pepnblic- 
Love of ci'Ui'.try— Ad\ entures of_» V. ]]. Luyaiist family ninety 
years a;;o 'l'!,e w ihh- of Tpper ( 'anaca -Jlay bay irard.-lii[)s uf 
])ioneer life -Crctwth of popidation •- Division uf the Canadian 
Provinces— l■^l^t Erontonac The " dark days "' — Celestial lire- 
works Eaily stcvxm navigation in Caiia'la The rduntry mereliant 

re^is The Hare asel the Tortoise 21:1 



^^m 



CONTENTS. 



XI 



Handom Recollections of Eably Days : 



T'AOE 



Paternal memories -A visit to the home of my boyhood —The old 
(^laker meeting-houpe— Flashes of silence- The old burying ground 
—"To the memoiy of Eliza "--Ghostly experiences-Hiving the 
Bees— Encounter with a l)ear— Giving " the mitten "—A " bound- 
ary question "-—Song of the bullfrog— Ring- "Sagacity of animals 
-Training-days — ricturesf[ue scenery on the Bay of (ininte- 
John A. Macdonald- A perilous journey — Aunt Jane and Willet 
Casey 2n3 



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A 



OOLtNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



F1FT\^ YKAUS AGO. 



CHAPTEU i. 



(( 



1 calk of dreatiis, 

* ■^ * * * 

Fur you HUil 1 are past our .ianoiui^ ciiiya," — 

Jioineo (iitd Jidiet. 



TIIR I'JltSH AND I'OKTKY OF ITONKKU LI FK 1 N Til i: I'.AClvWoODS — 
TilF LO(; IIOUSF, — SlMiAlt M A K INO — AN OMIiV OF GOOD LU«.'K — • 
MV (,»lJAIvi;i!, (iilANDl'AKKNT.S— TIIK OLD iloMK — WINTER EVEN- 
IN<;S AT TIIK FlliKSIDK — lUllAli IIOSIMTAIJTV — ARISTOOIIACY 
Ccrsiis DK.MoCltAt'V — SCHOOL I) A VS — IHOi; V'J'I NKi SOCIE'l'lES IN 

Tin; oLi)i;\ i'imk — v lm'kal ouatoii clinches the naii — 

ClhHi;, .SWKET AND OTHLKWISE— II ['SK 1 N( i IN THE IJARN — 
JIO(i KILLING AXi» SAUSAGi: M \K!N(; — FULLGLOTIl AND (JORILT 
1U)Y — WINTER WORK AND WlNriK AMUSEMENTS— A CANADIAN 
SKATING SONG. 



'( 



I 



WAS horn in tlio Coinis/ij^ of , U[)|)oi'CaiKula, on 

tlio -ith (liy of Jiiiio, in llu; GiU'ly [)aFb of this pre- 
sent ceiituiy. I have no lecolleetion of my entry into 
the worhl, thoui^h I was present when tlie great event 
occurred; but i have every reason to believe the date 



L'OUNTUY LTt'E IN CANADA 

^iven is correct, for I have it from my mother and 
lather, who were there at tlie time, and I think my 
mother had pretty good reason to know all abont it. 
I was tlie first of tlie family, thoiii^h my parents liad 
been mari-ied foi" more than five years before J pj'e- 
sented myself as their lio[)eful lieir, and to demand fi"om 
them more attention than they anticipated. " Cliil- 
dren," says the Psalmist, "are an heritage, and he wlio 
hath his (piiver fnll of tliem shall not be ashamed ; they 
shall speak with the enemies in the gate." I do not 
know what effect this liad on my fathei s enemies, if 
he had any; but later expei'ience li is }ii()vi'«l to me 
that those who rear a numerous pr()L;\'ii\ l;o tlii'ou;^]) a 
vast deal of trouble and anxiety. At any rate I made 
m}" ap[)earance on the stage, and bjgan luy [irifonu- 
anei' behind the footlights of donit'.^iic blis>. I must 
liave been a success, foi* I c;dled inrtii a great deal of 
applanse from M\y parents, and received tluir umlivi- 
ded attention. But other actors came upon ilie l>ua!"ds 
in more rapid succession, set thai in a few y* ars tlie 
quiver of my fatlier was well iilj^d, and he might have 
met "his iiiemies in the gate." 

My father, when he married, bought a farm. Of 
course it was all woods, Such were the o)dy farms 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



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available fur young folk to cominonco life with in those 
clays. Don] )t.] OSS there was a good deal of romance in 
it. Love in a cot; the smoke gracefully curling; the 
wood-pecker tapping, and all that ; very pretty. But 
alas, in this work-a-day world, particularly the new 
one upon w^hich my parents then entered, these silver 
linings were not observed. They had too much of the 
prose of life. 

A house was built— a log one, of the Canadian rusolc 
style then much in vogue, containing one room, and 
that not very large either; and to this my father 
brought his young bride. Their outfit consisted, on his 
part, of a colt a yoke of steers, n couple of sheep, some 
pia"^, a gun, nii(l an axe. My mother's dot comprised a 
Iioifr>-, 1.c<l and I'cddinu-, a taV>lo .jid chairs, a chest of 
linen, some dishes, and a few other necessary items 
with which to begin housekeeping. This will not seem 
a very lavish set-out for a young couple on the part of 
parents who were at that time more than usually well- 
off. But there was a large family on both sides, and 
the old people tlien thought it the better wa\- to let the 
young folk try their hand at making a living before 
they gave them of their abundance. If they succeeded 



i 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



tliey wouldn't need mucli, and if they did not, it wuuld 
come bettor ai'ter a while. 

My fn,fh(M' was one of a class of yoiin'r inon. not iin- 
comnion in those days, wlio nossossod onovicy and ac- 
tivity, Ifc was bound to win. What the old peojdc 
gave was cheerfully accepted, and he went to work to 
acquire the necessaries and comforts of life with his 
own hands. TFc chopixMl his way into the stubborn 
woo'l. and added lii'Id li» ii ■111. The battle had now 
been waged for seven or eight years ; an addition had 
been made to the house ; other small comforts had been 
added, and the nucleus of future competence fairly es- 
tablished 

One of my first recollections is in connection with 
the small log barn he had built, and which up to that 
date had not been enlarijvd. lie carried me out one 
day in his. arms, and put me in a barrel in tluj middle 
of the lloor. This was covered with loosuucii sheaves 
of wheat, which he kept turning over with a wooilcn 
fork, while the oxen and hol'se were driven lound and 
round me. I did not know what itall meant then, but 
I afterwards learneil that he was thresh im;'. This was 
one of the iirst rude scenes in the drama of the early 
settlers' life to which I was introduced, aul in wliicli 1 



I 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



5 



had to take a more practical part in after years. I 
took part, also, very early in life, in sugar-making. The 
sap-1)usli was not very far away from the house, and 
the sai)-hoiling was nnder the direction of my mother, 
Avho nuistered all the pots and kettles she could com- 
mand, and when they were properly suspended over 
the fire on wooden hooks, she watched them, and rock- 
ed me in a sap-trough. Father's work consisted in 
bringing in the sap with two pails, which vv'cre carried 
by a wooden collar about three feet long, and mad(^ to 
fit the shoulder, from each end of which were fastened 
two cords with hooks to receive the bail of the pails, 
leaving the arms fi'ce except to stea<ly them. He had 
also to cut wood for the fire. I afterwards came to 
take a more acti\c part in these duties, and used to wish 
I could go back to my primitive cradle. But time 
pushed me on whether I would or not, until T scaled 
the mountain top of life's activities; ond now, when 
quietly descending into the valley, my gaze is turned 
afi'ectionately towards thqtp early days. T do not thiidc 
they were always bright and joyc'us, and I am sure T 
often chafed under the bui-dens imposed upon me; but 
how inviting they seem when vicAved through the gol- 
den haze of retrospection. 



6 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



My next recollection is the ivaising of a frame barn 
behind the house, and of a niece of my father's holdino- 
me in her arms to see the men pushing up the heavy 
" bents" with Ion*,' poles. The noise of the men shout- 
ing and driving in the wooden pins with gieat wooden 
beetles, away up in the beams and stringers, alarmed 
me a great deal, but it all went up, and then one of 
the men mounted the plate (the timber on which the 
foot of the rafter rests) with a bottle in his hand, and 
swinging it round his head three times, threw it 
otf in the field. If the bottle was unbroken it wa.-t. an 
omen of good luck. The bottle, I remember, was 
picked up w^hole, and shouts of congratulation fol- 
lowed. Hence, I suppose, the prosperity that attended 
my father. 

The only other recollection I have of this place was 
of my father, who w^as a very ingenious man, and 
could turn his hand to almost everything, making a 
cradle for my sister, for this addition to our number 
had occurred. I have no remembrance of any such 
fanciful crib being made for my slumbers. Perhaps 
the sap-trough did duty for me in the house as well as 
in the bush. The next thing was our removal, which 
took place in the winter, and all that I can recall of it 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



^ 






i.s tliat my undo took my mother, si.stor, and myself 
away in a sleigh, and wc never returned to the little 
log house. My father had sold his farm, bought half 
of his old home, and come to live with his parents. 
They were Quakers. ^ly grandfather was a short, 
robust old man, and veiy particular about his personal 
appearance. Half a century has elapsed since then, but 
the picture of the old man taking his walks about the 
place, in his closely-fitting snuft-brovvn cut-away coat, 
knee-breeches, broad-brimmed hat and silver-headed 
cane is distinctively fixed in ni}^ memory. He died 
soon after we took up our residence with him, and th6 
number who came from all parts of the country to the 
funeral w\as a great surprise to me. I could not 
imagine where so many people came from. The 
custom prevailed then, and no doubt does still, when a 
death occurred, to send a messenger, who called at 
eveiy house for many miles around to give notice of 
the death, and of when an*! where the interment 
would take place. 

My grandmother Wti> a tall, neat, motherly old 
woman, beloved by everybody. She lived a number of 
years after her husband's death, and I seem to see her 
now, sitting at one side of the old fire-place knittin<^ 



I 



8 



COUNTRY LIFE IN fANADV 



She was always knittlni;', and tiirninn' out scores of 
thick warm socks and mittens for her ^randcliildrcn. 

At tliis time a great clian'^e liad tnkcn plar-o, Ixitii in 
the appearance of the country and in tlic (-(nditioii of 
tlie people. It is true tluit many of th(! first settlers 
luid ceased from theii- lahours, l)ut there were a i^ood 
many left — old people now, who were (juietly enjoyini^^ 
in tlieir declining years, the frnit of their eaily in- 
dustry. Commodious dwellings had taken the place of 
the first rude houses. Large frame hains and out- 
houses had grown out of the small log ones. The foi-est 
in the immediate neighhourhood had l)een cleared 
away, and well-tilled fields occupied its place. Coarse 
and scanty fare had been supplanted hy a rich 
abundance of all the requisites that go to make home a 
scene of pleasure and contentment. Altogether a sub- 
stantial prosperity was apjiarent. A genuine content 
and a hearty good will, one towards another, existed in 
all the older parts. The settled part as yet, however', 
formed only a very narrow belt extending along the 
bay and lake shores. The great forest lay close at 
hand in the rear, and the second generation, as iii the 
case of my father, had only to go a few miles to find it, 



iwyiww'a m ttmmtn 



FIFTY YKAfJS AGO. 



9 






and commence for themselves the laborious struggle 
of cleaving it away. 

The old home, as it was called, was always a })lace of 
attraction, and especially so to the young people, "who 
Were sure of fiiidiuL'' i-ttod cheer at •••randfatluir's. 
What fun, after the small place called home, to have 
the run of a dozen rooms, to haunt the big cellar, with 
its great heaps of potatoes and vegetables, huge casks 
of cider, and well-iille<l bins of ap])les, oi* to sit at the 
table loaded with the i-'ood thiu'^s which Gfrandmother 
oidy could supply. How d(3licious tlu^ larger piece of 
puui[)kiii pie tr, . ,od, and how toothsome the rich crul- 
lers that melted in the mouth I Dear old body ! 1 
can see her now f'oinrj- to the i-reat cunboard to iret 
me sometlnng, saying as she goes, " I'm sure the child 
is hungry." And it Avas true, he was always hungiy ; 
and how he managed to stow away so much is a 
mystery I cannot now ex[)lain. There was no place 
in the world more to be desired than this, and no spot 
in all the past the recollection of which is more bright 
and joyous. 

My father now assumed the management of affairs. 
The old people reserved one room to themselves, but it 
was free to all, particularly to us children. It was 



10 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



hard to tell sometimes which to choose, whether the 
kitchen, wliere the family were gathered round the 
cheerful h)gs blazing l)iightly in the big fire-place, or 
a stretch on the soft rag-carpet beside the box stove in 
grandmother's room. This room was also a sanctuary 
to which we often fled to escape punishment after 
doing some mischief. We were sure of an adv^ocate 
there, if we could reach it in time. 

The house was a frame one;, as nearly all the best 
houses were in those days, and was painted a dark yel- 
low. There were two kitchens, one used for washing 
and doing the heavier household work in ; the other, 
considerably larger, was used by the family. In the 
latter was tlie large fire-place, around which gathered iii 
the winter time bright and happy faces; where the old 
men smoked their pipes in peaceful reverie, or delighted 
us with stories of other days ; where mother darned her 
socks, and father mended our boots ; where the girls 
were sewing, and uncles were scraping axe-handles 
with bits of glass to make them smooth. There were 
no drones in farm-houses then ; there was somethincr 
for every one to do. At one side of the fire-place was 
the large brick oven with its gaping mouth, closed 
with a s^nall door, easily removed, where the bread 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



11 



and pies were baked. Within the fire-place was an 
iron crane securely fastened in the jamb, and made 
to swing in and out with its row of iron pot-hooks 
of different lengths, on which to hang the pots used 
in cooking. Cook stoves had not yet appeared to 
cheer the housewife and revolutionize the kitchen. 
Joints of meat and poultry were roasted on turning 
spits, or were suspended before the fire by a cord and 
wire attached to the ceilinjj^. Cookin<:j was attended 
with more difiiculties then. Meat was fried in long- 
handled pans, and the short-cake that so often graced 
the supper table, and played such havoc with the 
butter and honey, with the pancakes that came pip- 
ing hot on the breakfast table, owed their finishing 
touch to the frying pan. The latter, however, were 
more frequently baked on a large griddle with a bow 
handle made to hook on the crane. This, on account 
of its larojer surface, enabled the cook to turn out these 
much-prized cakes, when properly made, with greater 
speed ; and in a large family an expoit hand was re- 
quired to keep up the supply. Some years later an 
inirenious Yankee invented what was called a " Reflec- 
tor," made of bright tin for baking. It was a small tin 
oven with a slanting top, open at one side, and whei^ 



12 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



required for use was set before the fire on the hearth. 
This simple contrivance was a great convenience, and 
came into general use. Modern inventions in the 
appliances for cooking have very much lessened the 
labour and increased the possibilities of supplying a 
variety of dishes, but it has not improved the quality 
of them. There were no better caterers to hungry 
stomachs than our mothers, whose practical education 
had been received in grandmother's kitchen. The 
other rooms of the house comprised a sitting-room — 
used only when there was company — a parlour, four 
bedrooms, and the room reserved for the old people. 
Up stairs were the sleeping and store-rooms. In the 
hall stood the tall old fashioned house clock, with its 
long pendulum swinging to and fro with slow and 
measured beat. Its face had looked upon the vener- 
able sire before his locks were touched with the frost 
of aoe. When his children were born it indicated the 
hour, and it had gone on telling off the days and years 
until the children were grown. And when a wedding 
day had come, it had rung a joyful peal through the 
house, and through the years the old hands had 
travelled on, the hammer had struck off the hours, and 



. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



13 



another generation had come to look upon it and grow 
familiar with its constant tick. 

The furniture was plain and substantial, more atten- 
tion being given to durability than to style or orna- 
ment. Easy chairs— save the spacious rocking-chair 
for old women— and lounges were not seen. There 
was no time for lolling on well-stuifed eushions. The 
rooms w^ere heated with large double box stoves, very 
thi"k and heavy, made at Three Rivers ; and by their 
side was always seen a large wood-box, well tilled with 
sound maple or beech wood. But few pictures adorned 
the walls, and these wei'e usually rude prints far in- 
ferior to those we get every day now iVoui the ilUis- 
trated pai^ers. Books, so plentiful and cheap now-a- 
days, were then veiy scarce, and where a few eould be 
found, they w-e mostly heavy doctrinal tomes [.iled 
away on some shelf where they were all<j\ved to re- 
main. 

The home we now inhabited was altogether a dif- 
ferent one from that we had left in the back conees-- 
sion, but it was like many another to be found along 
the bay shore. Besides my own family, there were , 
two younger brothers of my father, and two grown- 
up nieces, so that when we all mustered round the 



u 



COUNTrV life in CANAbA 



t - T^ 



table, there was a goodly number of hearty people 
always ready to do justice to the abundant provision 
made. This reminds me of an incident or two illus- 
trative of the lavish manner with which a well-to-do 
farmer's cable was supplied in those days. A Mon- 
treal merchant and his wife were spending an evening 
at a very highly-esteemed farmer's house. At the 
proper time supper was announced, and the visitors, 
with the family, were gathered round the table, which 
groaned, metaphorically speaking, under the load it 
bore. There were turkey, beef and ham, bread and 
the favourite short cake, sweet cakes in endless variety, 
pies, preserves, sauces, tea, coffee, cider, and what not. 
The visitors were amazed, as they might well be, at 
the lavish display of cooking, and they were pressed, 
with well-meant kindness, to partake heartily of every- 
thing. They yielded good-naturedly to the entreaties 
to try this and that as long as they could, and paused 
only when it was impossible to take any more. When 
they were leaving, the merchant asked his friend when 
they were coming to Montreal, and insisted tliat they 
should come soon, promising if they would only let 
hiir? 'low a little before when they were comino- he 
^^' . \Miy up everything there was to be had in the 



\ ' T1 



FiFTr YEAHS AGO. 



15 



market for supper. On canothei* occasion an English 
gentleman was spending an evening at a neighbour's, 
and, as usual, the supper table was crowded with 
everything the kind-hearted hostess could think of. 
The guest was plied with dish after dish, and, think- 
ing it would be disrespectful if he did not take some- 
thing from each, he continued to eat, and take from 
the dishes as they were passed, until he found his 
plate, and all the available space around him, heaped 
up with cakes and pie. To dispose of all he had care- 
fully deposited on his plate, and around it, seemed 
utterly impossible, and yet he thought he would be 
considered rude if ho did not finish wliat he had 
taken, and he struggled on, with the perspiration 
visible on his face, until in despaii" he asked to be 
excused, as he could not eat any more if it were to 
vsave his life. 

It was the custom in those days for the hired help 
(the term servant was not used) to sit at the table with 
the family. On one occasion, a Montreal merchant 
prince was on a visit at a wealthy Quaker's, who 
owned a large farm, and employed a number of men 
in the summer. It was customary in this house for 
the family to seat themselves first at the head of the 



10 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



\ 



table, after whieh the hired haiuls all came in, and 
took the lower end. This was the oidy distinction. 
Tliey were served just as the rest of the family. On 
this occasion the guest canio out with the family, and 
they were seated. Then the hired men and girls came 
in and did the same, whereupon the merchant left tlie 
table and the room. The old lady, thinking there 
was something the matter with the man, soon after 
followed him into the sitting-room, and asked him if 
he was ill. He said "No." "Then why did thee 
leave the tal)le ? " the old lady en<[uired. " JJecause," 
said he " I am not accustomcil to eat with servants." 
" Very well," ru[)lied the old lady, " if thee cannot 
eat with us, thee will have to go without thy dinner." 
His honour concluded to ^tocket his dignity, and sul)- 
mit to the rules of the house. 

I was sent to school early — more, 1 fancy, to get me 
out of the way for a good part of the day, than from 
any expectation that 1 would learn much. It took a 
long time to hammer theal])habet into my head. JJut 
if I was dull at school, 1 was noisy and mischievous 
enough at home, and very fond of tormenting my sis- 
ters. Hence, my parents — and no child ever had better 
ones — could not be blamed very nuicli if they did 



FIFTY YEAHS AGO. 



17 



send me to school for no other reason tlian to be rid of 
me. The school house was close at hand, and its aspect 
is deeply graven in my memory. My first school- 
master was an Englishman who had seen better days. 
He was a good scholar, I believe, but a poor teacher^ 
The school house was a small square structure, with 
low ceiling. In the centre of the room was a box stove, 
around which the lono- wooden benches without backs 
were ranged. Next the walls were the desks, raised a 
little from tht; floor. In the suunner time the pupils 
were all of tender years, the elder ones being kept at 
home to help with the work. At the conniiencement of 
my educational course I was one of a little lot of urchins 
ranged daily on hard ^vooden seats, with our feet dang- 
ling in the air, for seven or eight hours a day. In such 
a plight we were expected to be very good children, to 
make no noise, and to leai'u our lessons. It is a marvel 
that so many years had to elapse before parents and 
teachers could be brought to see that keeping children 
in such a position for so many hours was an act of 
great cruelty. The terror of the rod was the only 
^hing that could keep us still, and that often failed. 
Sometimes, tired and weary, we fell asleep and tumbled 
off the bench, to be I'onsed bv the fall and the rod. la 



18 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



the winter time the small «chool room was filled to 
overflowing with the larger boys and girls. This did 
not improve our condition, for we were more closely 
packed together, and were either shivering with the 
cold or being cooked with the red-hot stove. In a 
short time after, the old school house, where my father, 
I believe, had got his schooling, was hoisted on run- 
ners, and, with the aid of several yoke of oxen, was 
taken up the road about a mile and enlarged a little. 
This event brought my course of study to an end for 
a while. I next sat under the i-od of jui Iiish peda- 
gogui'— an old man who evidently believed that the 
only way to get anything into a boy's head was to 
pound it in with a stick through his back. There was 
no di^cipline, and the noise we made seemed to rival a 
Bedlam. We used to play all sorts of tricks on the old 
man, and I was not behind in contiivinir or carrvin^- 
them into execution. One day, however, I was caught 
and severely thrashed. This so mortiiied me that I 
juuipcd out of the window and went home. An inves- 
tigation followed, and I was whipped by my father and 
sent back. Poor old Dominie, he has long since put by 
his Slick, and passed beyond the reach of uniuly boys. 
Thus I passed on fiau teacher to teacher, staying at 












\ 
K 



FIFTY yEAPvF? AfJO. 



19 






4 

> 



. IS 



home in the smiiiruM', juid I'osuniinij: iny hooks airain in 
the winter. Soiiietiines I went to the old school lionso 
np the road, soinotiiiies to tlie one in an opposite direc- 
tion. The latter was larg-ei', and there was genei-ally a 
better teacher, l)ut it was nuieli farther, and I had to 
set oft* early in the cold frosty niorniiii;->s with my 
books and dinner basket, often throni^h deep snow and 
drifts. At niLjht I had to i^et home in time to help to 
feed the cattle and <A't in the; wood for the iires. 'I'lu^ 
school honses then were ^'cnerally small and uncomfoi*- 
tahlc, and tlie teachers were oFtnn of a vcrv infciior 
oi'der. The school system of (^anada, whi'di has since 
been moulded by the skilful hand of ])r. llyerson into 
one of the best in th(^ world, and which will i^dve to 
his industry and genius a m)re en lurin.;- rec )i'd than 
stone or brass, was in my day \^'vy imperfect indeed. 
It was, perhaps, np with the times. But when th(^ ad- 
vantages which the youth of this coiuitry now ])ossess 
are compared with the small facilities we ha<l of pick- 
ing u\) a little knowledge, it seems almost a marvel 
that we learned anything. Spelling matches came at 
this time into vogue, and were continued for several 
years. Tliuy occasioned a friendly rivahy between 
schools, and were productive of good. The meetings 



20 



t'OUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



f 



took plrtcr (lurini^- tlie lono- winter iiij^'hts, either Aveekly 
or foitniL-litly. VWay scliool li.ad one oi* moio prize 
spellers, and these were selected to lead tlie match; or> 
if the school was lai-f^e, a contest between the gii-ls and 
hoys came oft' fiist. Sometimes two of the best spel- 
lers were selected by the scholars as leaders, and these 
would proceed to ' choose sides ; ' that is, one would 
choose a fellow pupil, who would rise and take his or 
her place, and then the othei', continuing until the list 
was exhausted. The preliminaries being completed, the 
contest began. At first the lower end of the class was 
dis])()sod of, and as time wore on one after another 
would make a slip and retii'e, until two or three only 
were left on either side. Then the struggle became 
exciting, and scores of eager eyes were fixed on the 
contestants. With the old hands there was a good deal 
of fencing, though the teacher usually had a reserve of 
difficult words to end the fight, which often lasted two 
or three hours. He failed sometimes, and then it was 
a drawn battle to be fought on another occasion. 

Debating classes also met and discussed gi-R\ >) ques- 
tions, upon 'such old-fashioned subjects ivs these: 
" Which is the more useful to man, wood or iron ? " 
" Which affords the greater enjoyment, anticipation or 



1 






FIFTY YEARS A(U>, 



21 



il 



i 



l»aitifi|»ati()n ?" "Which was tlic •;ioat('i' L,^'iU'ral, 
WoUiii^toii or Napoleon?" Those vvlio woic to take 
part ill the (lisenssi(ni were always selected at a pre- 
vious iiieetin<5^, so that all that had to bo done was to 
select a chairman and comniencc the deltato. T can 
give from memory a sam[)le or two of these first at- 
tempts. " Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen : Un- 
accustomed as I am to i)ublic speaking, I rise to make 
a few remarks on this all important (piestion — ahem — 
Mr. President, tins is the first time I ever tried to 
speak in public, and unaccustomed as I am to — to — 
ahem. Ladies and Gentlemen, I think our opponents 
arc altogether wrong in arguing that Napoleon was a 
greater general than Wellington — ahem — I ask you, 
Mr. President, did Napoleon vvor thrasli Wellington ? 
Didn't Wellington always thrash him, Mr. President ? 
Didn't he whip him at Waterloo and take him prisoner ? 
and then to say that ho is a greater general than Wel- 
lington — wl y, Mr. President, he couldn*t liold a candle 
to him. Ladies and Gentlemen, I say that Napoleon 
wasn't a match for him at all. Wellington licked him 
every time — and — ^'■es, licked him every time. I can't 
think of any more, Mr. President, and I will take my 
seat, Sir, by saying that I'm sure you will decide in 



mi 



22 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



our ffuoiir From the strong argiiinonts our .sido lias 
produced." 

After listouino- to such powerful reasoning, some one 
oftlie oldc si)ectators would ask Mr President to bo al- 
hjwed to say a few words on some otlier important 
({uestion to he debated, and would proceed to air his 
eloquence and instruct the youth on such a tojnc as 
this : " Which is the greater evil, a scolding wife or a 
siuoky chii.'uiey?" After this wise the haran'.-ue 
would proceed :— '' Mr. President, I have been almost 
mad a-listening to the debates of these 'ere voun«vsters 
— they don't know nothing at all about the sul)ject. 
What do they know about the evil of a scoldin*-- wife ? 
Wait till they have had one for twenty years, and been 
hanniiered, and janniied, and slannned, all the while. 
Wait till they've been scolded because the ba])y cried, 
because the fire wouldn't buj-n, because the ]'oom was 
too hot, because the cow kicked ov or the milk, because 
it rained, because the sun shined, because the hens 
didn't la,y, because the butter wouldn't come, because 
the old cat had kittens, because they came too soon 
for dinner, because they were a minute late — before 
they talk about the worry of a scolding wife. Why, 
Mr. President, I'd I'atlier hear the clatter of luimmers 



, -7 



^' 



* 
'\-}» 



^^1 



[ 



i 



mi 

f 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



n 






» :< 



and stones and twenty tin pans, and nine brass kettles, 
than the din, din, din, of the tongue of a scolding 
woman ; yes, sir, I would. To my mind, Mr. Presi- 
dent, a smoky chimney is no more to be compai-ed to a 
scoldino' wife than a little nii^ger is to a dark night." 
'J'hese n"^eetings were generally well attended, and con- 
ducted with considerable spirit. If the discussions 
wore not brilliant, and the young debater often lost 
the thread (jf his argumeiit — in other words, got things 
" mixed " — he u'ained eontidcnce, learned to talk in 
public, a,ntl to take higher llights. Many of our lead* 
ing public men learned their lirst lessons in the art of 
public speaking in the country debating school. 

Apple trees were phinted early by the liay scttlerS) 
and there were now numerous large orchards of ex* 
cellent fndt. Pears, plums, cherries, currants and goose- 
berriei were also connnon. The apple ci'op was gatln 
ered in Octobei', the best fruit being sent to the cellar 
for family use during \\ inter, and the rest to the cidei* 

mill. 

The cider mills of those days were somcW'.r.f; rUtIo 
contrivances. The mill proper consisted of two cogged 
wooden cylinders about fourteen inches in diameter, 
and perhaps twonty-six inches in length, placed iu an 



24 



rOUNl'RY LIKK IN CANADA 



^ ■ 



upright position in a frame. The piv(;t of one of these 

extended upwar<l aljout six feet, and at its top was 

secured the long shaft to which the liorse was attached, 

and as it was driven round and round, the mill crunched 

the ap[tles with many a creak and groan, and shot them 

out on the opposite side. The press which waited to 

receive the l)ruised mass was about eight feet srpiare, 

round tlie floor of whieh, near the edge, ran a deep 

groove to carry off the j nice. 1 n making what is known 

as the cheese, the first process was to spread a thick 

layer of long rye or wheat straw round the outer edge, 

on the floor of the press. Upon this the pul[) was 

placed to the deptli of a foot or more. The first layer 

of straw was then turned in carefully, and another 

layer of straw put down as in the first place, upon 

which more pulp was placed, and so on from layer to 

layer, luitil the cheese was complete. Planks were 

then ])laced on the top, and the pressure of the power 

ful wooden screw brought to bear on the mass. At 

once a copious stream of cider l)egan to flow into the 

casks or vat, and here the fun began with the boys, 

who, well armed with lojig straws, sucked their fill. 

By the roadside 8tai)ds the cider-mill, 
Where a lowland sUunbor waits the rill : 



.^ 



f- ■ 



FIFTY YEARS AGIO. 

A great brown biiildiug, two stories high, 
On the western hill-face warm and dry ; 

And odorous piles of apples there 
Fill with incense the golden air ; 

And masses of pomace, mixed with straw, 
To their amber sweets the late flies draw. 

The carts back up to the upper door, 
And spill their treasures in on the Moor ; 

Down throu<,di the toothed wheels they go 
To the wide, deep cider press below. 

And the screws are turned by slow degrees 
Down en the straw-laid cider cheese ; 

And with each turn a fuller stream 
Bursts frombeueath the graniug beam, 

An amber stream the gods might sip, 
And fear no morrow's parched lip. 

J Jut wherefore, gods I Those idle tf)ys 
Were soulless to real i\uuuHn\i boys ! 

What classic goblet ever felt 

Such thrilling touches through it melt, 

As tlu\)b electric alou'' a straw, 
When the boyish lips the cider draw I 

The years are heavy with weary sounds, 
An<i their discords life's sweet music drowns 

But yet I he^-'', oh, sweet ! oh, sweet ! 
The riil that bathed my bare, brown feet ; 

And yet the cider drips and falla 
On my inward ear at intervals 



25 



.»1 



2G (JOUNTRY LIFK IN CANADA 

And I lead at times in a sad, sweet dream 
To the bubbling of that littUi stream ; 

And I sit in a visioned autumn still, 
In the sunny door of the cider mill. 

— WlIlTllKli. 

It was a iiuivevsal custom to suta di.sb of ajiples and a 
pitcher of cider before eveiyone who came to the house. 
Any departure from this would have been thoiiglit 
disrespectful. The sweet cider w;is generally boiled 
down into a syrup, and, with apples (piartered and 
cooked in it, was e([iial to a ; reserve, aud made splen- 
did })ies. It was called a])p1' ; ■ \ and found its way 
to the table thrice a day. 

Then came the potatoes and roots, which had to be 
du<»- and bronuht to the cellar. It was not very nice 
work, particularly if the ground was damp and cold, 
to pick them out and throw them into the basket, but 
it had to be done, and I was compelled to do my share. 
One good tiling about it was that it was never a long 
job. There was nuich more fun in gathering the pump- 
kins and corn into the Ijarn. The corn was husked, gen- 
erally at night, the bright golden ears finding their way 
into the old crib, from whence it was to come again to 
fatten the turkeys, the geese, and the ducks for Chris- 
mas. It was a very conunon thing to have husking 



i 

fi. 



FIFTV YEAilS AGO. 



2? 



bees. A few nei'j:lib<)ur.s would be invited, the barn 
lit with candles. 

Strung o'er the heaped-iip harvest, from pitchforks in the mow, 
Shone di;uly down the hxnterns on the pleasant scenes belov ; 
The growing pile of huiks behind, the golden ears before. 
And laughing eyes, and busy hand, and brown cheeks glimmer- 
ing o'er. 

Half hidden in a (piiot nook, serene of look and heart, 
Talking their (jld times o'er, the old men sat apart ; 
While up and down tlu^ unhusked pile, or nestling in its sh -de, 
At hide-and-seek, with laugh and shout, the happy children 
played. 

— WlIITTIEK. 

Amid jokes and lanL^hter tlic husivs and caj-s wouhl 
t\y, until tlie work was done, when all hands wonhl 
repair to the house, and, after partaking of m hearty 
su[)per, leave for home in high sj)irits. 

Then came liog-killing time, a very heavy and disa- 
greeable task, but tlic farmer has many of these, and 
learns to take them pleasantly. My fathe)-, with two 
or three expert hands dressed for tlie occasion, woukl 
skiughter and dress ten or a do/en large hogs in the 
course of a day. There were other actors besides in the 
play. It would be curious, indeed, if all hands were 
not employed when work was going on. My part in 
the performance was to attend to the lire under the 



f28 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



mvnt kettle in wliicli llie lio^-s wcie scalded, and to 
keep tlie water Ixjilini^', varied at intervals l)y 1 (lowing 
up bladders with a (juill foi' my own amusement. In 
tlie liouse the fat had to be looked to, and after being 
washed and tried (the term used for melting), was 
])oured into dishes and set aside to cool and become 
lard, afterwards finding its way into cakes and pic- 
crust. The out- door task does not end with the first 
day either, for the hogs have to be carried in and cut 
up; the large meat tul»s, in which the family supplies 
are kept, have to be lilkd ; the hams and shoulders to 
be nicely cut and cnred, luu] the rest packed into bar- 
nds for sale. 

Close on the heels of nOLr-killiiH'- came sansaii'c- 
making, when meat had to be chop[)ed and flavoured, 
and stntl'ed into cotton bags or prepared gut. Then 
the heads and f(3et had to be soaked and scraped over 
and over again, and when ready were boiled, the one 
being converted into head-cheese, the othci' into souse. 
All these matters, when conducted under the eye of a 
good housewife, contributed largely to the comfort and 
good living of the family. Who is there, with such an 
experience as mine, that receives those things at the 
hands of his city uutchcr and meets them ou his table, 



- K'A 



FIFTY YEATIS AGO. 



29 



i . 



who does not wish for the moment that he was a hoy, 
and seated at his mother's board, that he miglit shake 
oft* the phantom canine and fehne that rise on Ids plate, 
and call in one of mother's sausages. 

As the fall cre])t on, the })reparations for winter in- 
creased. The lai'ge roll of full cloth, Avhich liad been 
lately brouglit from the mill, was cariied duwn, and 
father and I set out for a tailor, who took our meas- 
ure and cut out our clothes, which we brought houie, 
and souie vvouian, or perhaps a wandering tailor, was 
employed to make them up. There was no discussion 
as to style, and if the lit did not happen to b(^ peifect, 
there was no one to criticise cither the uiatei'ial or the 
make, nor were there any aibitniry rules of fashi(ju to 
be respected. We had new clothes, which were warm 
and comfortable. What more did we waut { A cob- 
blei-, too, was brought iu to make our boots. My 
father was (juite an expert at shoemaking, but he 
had so many irons in the fire now that he coidd 
not <lo more than mend or make a light })aii' of shoes 
for mother at odd spells. The work then turned out 
by the sons of St. Crispin was not highly finished. 
It was coarse, but, what was of greater consecpience, 
it was strong, and wore well. While all this was 



30 



COUNTRY LTFK TN CANADA 



going on for the benefit of the male portion of the 
house, rnotlier and the girls were busy tui'nin"- the 
white flannels into shirts and drawers, and the plaid 
roll that came with it into dresses for themselves. 
As in the case of our clothes, there was no consult- 
ing of fashion-books, for a very good reason, perhaps 
—there was none to consult. No talk about Miss 
Brown or Miss Smith having her dress made this way 
or that ; and I am sui-e they were far happier and 
content(>d than the girls of to-day, with all tlu^'r show 
and glitter. 

The vuiiih at that time, more |»articularly in the full, 
were almost impassal.h^ until fro/^-n up. In the spring, 
until the frost was out of the ground, and they had 
settled and di-ied, they were no better. The bi-ido-es 
were rough, wooden atfairs, covered with logs, usually 
tlattene<l on one side with an axe. The swanqis and 
marshes were made i)assal)le by laying down logs, of 
nearly e(^ual size, close together in the woi'st places. 
These were known as cordui-oy roads, and were no 
pleasant highways to ride over for any distance, as all 
who have tried them know. But in the winter the 
frost and snow made good travelling everywhere, and 






r ^A 



\ 






FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



31 






r ^0\ 



^ 



\ 






hence the winter was the time for the farmer to do his 
teaminix. 

One of the first things that claimed attention when 
the sleighing began, and before the snow got deep in 
the woods, was to get out the year's supply of fuel. 
The men set out for the bush bofoi-e it was fairly day- 
light, and conunenced chopping. The trees were cut 
in lengths of about ten i'vi^t, and the brush piled in 
heaps. Then uiy fatliei", oi- myself, when I got old 
enough, followed with the sleigh, and began drawing 
it, until the wood yjird was Idled with sound beech 
and maple, with a few loads of dry pine for kindling. 
These hug; wo(jd-piles always bore a thrifty a])pear- 
ancc, and spoke of comfoi-t and good cheer within. 

Just before Christmas tliei'e was always one or two 
beef cattle to kill. Sheep had also to be slaughtei-ed, 
with the turkeys, geese and ducks, which had Ijcen 
getting ready for decapitation. After home wants 
were provided for, the rest were sent to market. 

The winter's woi'k now began in earnest, for whatever 
may be said about the eiijoyment of Canadian winter 
life — and it is an enjoyable time to the Canadian — 
there are few who really enjoy it so much as the farmer. 
He cannot, however, do like bruin — roll himself up in 



32 



COUNTRY T-TFE TN CANADA 



the fall, and suck his paw until sj^ring in a state of 
semi-unconsciousness, for his cares are numerous and 
imperious, his work varied and laborious. His large 
stock demands regular attention, and nmst be fed 
morninrj and niifht. The ^reat barn tilled with orain 
had to be threshed, for the cattle needed the straw, 
and the ijrain had to be fjot out for the maiket. So 
day after day he and his men hannuered away with 
the flail, or S{)read the sheaves on the barn tloor to be 
tvf^.mpled out by horses. 'JMirishing machines were 
unknown then, as were all the labour-savinjx machines 
now so extensively used by the farmer. Mis muscular 
arm was the oidy machine he tliun had to rely upon, 
and if it did not accom[)lisli much, it succeeded in 
doing its work well, and in pioviding him with all his 
modest wants. Then the famiing mill came into ]>lay 
to clean the grain, after which it was carried to the 
granaiy, whence again it was taken either to the mill 
or to market. Winter was also the time to ii'et out the 
logs irom the woods, and to haul them to the mill to 
be .sawed in the spring — we always had a use for 
boards. These saw mills, iaiilt on sap-streams, which 
ran dry as soon as the spring freshets were over, were 
like the cider mills, small rough structui'es. They ha*! 



>■■ 



.i\ 



n^ 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



33 



but one upright saw, whicli, owiu^^ to its primitive 
construction, did not move as now, with lii^ditnin;^ rap- 
idity, nor did it turn out a very large (iuaiitity of 
stuff. It answered tlie purpose of the day, however, 
and that was all that was required or expected of it. 
Rails, also, had to be split and drawn to where new 
fences were wanted, or where old ones needed repairs. 
There were fiour, beef, mutton, butter, apples, and a 
score more of things to be taken t*) market and dis- 
posed of. But, notwithstanding all this, the winter 
was a good, joyful time for the farmer — a time, more- 
over, when the social requisites of his nature received 
the most attention. Often the horses would be put to 
the sleigh, and we would set off, well bundled up, to 
visit some friends a few miles distant, <jr, as frequently 
happened, to visit an uncle or an aunt, far away in the 
new settlements. The roads often wounil along fur miles 
through the forest, and it was great fun for us young- 
sters to be dashing along behind a spirited team, now 
around the trunks of great trees, or under the low- 
hanging boughs of the spruce or cedar, laden with 
snow, which sometimes shed their heavy load upon 
our heads. But after a while the cold would sei/.c 

upon us, and we would wish our journey at an end. 
C 



34 



COUNTRY LIt'E IN CANADA 



The horses, white with frost, would then be pressed on 
faster, and woiiM bring us at lungtli to the door. In 
a few moments we would all be seated round the 
glowing fire, which would soon quiet our chattering 
teeth, thaw us out, and prepare us to take our places 
at the repast which had been getting ready in the 
meantime. We were sure to do justice to the good 
things which the table provided. 

Many of these early days start up vividly and 
brightly before me, particularly since I have grown to 
manhood, and lived amid other surroundings. Among 
the most pleasing of these recollections are some of 
my drives on a moonlight night, when the sleighing 
was good, and when the sleigh, with its robes and 
rugs, was packed with a merry lot of girls and boys 
(we had no ladies and gentlemen then). Off we 
would set, spanking along over the crisp snow, which 
creaked and cracked under the runners, making a low 
murmuring sound in harmony v/ith the sleigh-bells. 
When could a more fitting time be found for a pleasure- 
ride than on one of those clear calm nights, when the 
earth, wrapped in her mantle of snow, glistened and 
sparkled in the moonbeams, and the blue vault of 
heaven glittered with countless stars, whose brilliancy 






' \ 



riFTY YKAllS AGO, 



35 



r 
T4 



sccincil intuasiliid bv ilio ct^M — wlicii llic uurora liorc- 
alis waved and danci-d across tliu iiortlieni sky, and tlio 
frost noiselessly fell like Hakes of silver upon a 
scene at (mco inspi riling', exhilarating and joyous ! 
How tlie nici'ry lau'di lloated alonu' in the evcninL>: air, 
as we dashed aloni;- the road ! How sweetly the merry 
Sony and chorus ecluuMl thi'oUL,di tlie silent wood, while 
our hearts were aulow with excitement, and all nature 
seemed to resp(jnd to tlie hap[)y scene ! 

When the frosty nights set in, we wei'e always on 
tlie ii'il vlve for a skating revel on some pond near by, 
and our eagerness to enjoy the sport freiiuently led to 
a ducking, tjut very soon the large ponds, and then 
the bay, were fro/on over, wliea we could indulge in 
the fun to our heart's content. My lirst attempts were 
made under considerable dilliculties, but perseverance 
bridges the way over many obstacles, and so, with my 
father's skates, which were over a foot long, and which 
required no little ingenuity to fasten to my feet, 
1 made my lir.-,t attem})t on the ice. Soon, how- 
ever, in the growth of my feet, this trouble was over- 
come, and 1 could whirl over the ice with anyone. 
The girls did not share in this exhilarating exercise 
then; indeed their doing so would have been thought 



36 



COUNTRY' LIFE IN CANADA 



quite improper. As our time was usually taken up 
with school through the day, and with such chores as 
feeding cattle and bringing wood in for the fire when 
we returned at night, we would sally out after supper, 
on moonlight nights, and, full of life and hilarity, fly 
over the ice, singing and shouting, and making the 
night ring with our merriment. There was plenty of 
room on the bay, and early in the season there were 
miles of ice, smooth as glass and clear as crystal, re- 
flecting the stars which sparkled and glittered beneath 
our feet, as tliough we were gliding over a sea of 
silver set with brilliants. 

Ho for the bay, the ice-bound bay ! 

The moon is up, the stars aro bright ; 
The air is keen, but lol it phiy — 

We're proof against Jack Frost to-night. 
With a sturdy sw ing and lengthy stride, 

The glassy ice sholl feol our steel ; 
And through the welkin far and wide 

The echo of our song shall peal. 

Ciiouu.s. — Hurrali, boys, hurrah ! skates on and away ! 
You may lag at your work, but never at play ; 
Give wing tt) your feet, and make the ice ring, 
Give voice to your mirth, and merrily sing. 

Ho for the boy who does not care 

A fig fo. r-old or northern blast ! 
Whose winged feet can cut the air 

Swift as an arrow from bowm.ui cast ; 






^l 



h 



II 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



37 



h 



ll 



Who can give !* long and hearty chase, 
And wheel and whirl ; then in a trice 

Inscribe his name in the polished face, 
Of the cold and clear and glistening ice. 

Chorus. 



^■^ 



Ho, boys ! the night is waning fast ; 

The moon's last rays but faintly gleam. 
The hours have glided swiftly past. 

And we must heme to rest and dream. 
The morning's light must find us moving, 

Heady our daily tasks to do ; 
This is the way we have <;f proving 

We can do our part at working too. 

Cfiokus. 



- r 



^> 



i^'^y^C'* 




I 



38 



COUNTllf LIFE IN CANADA 






I 







CHAPTER II. 



n 



THE ItOUND OF VIONEER LIFE— GAME— NIGHT FISHING — MORE 
DETAILS AF.UUT SUO AR- MAKING- SUOAEINGOFF — TAKING A 
HANI) AT TTFE OLD CIUKN— SII KEP- WASHING— rOT^NTRY G IHLS, 
THEN AM) NOW— SUnSTANGE AND SHAT^OW — • • oi.j) GltAV ' 
AND HIS ErCENTliK i . .1.,, u a h.» r,M — .\l Y EAKLV E^FUIATION 
OF I'KI'bli, I'AVL Ul lil'.Nh- MKI.TIN(;-UOUSTS— M.iA .\ »m ' - 
Ki:i; MKI.TI.V(iS- V \l!li:o AT/.D AUTUMN LANDS( Al'ES- TOfjCTNG 
AND oril.TINC IIHI S— i:VF,NIN(i i. iiN — '1 li L TOU( 'II iN(; LAY OF 

Tiir, vurN<; woman wiic sat dhwn to sleep. 



M 



YISITJNG for tlic older folk and sloii-'h-iidiivv 
foi^Jhc^ymmoci" were tlie principal amuse- 
ments of the winter. 'J1ie life then led was very 
plain and nncventful. There was no ostentatious 
display, or assumption of superiority by the " fii'st 
families." Indeed there was no room for the lines of 
demarcation which exist in these days. All had to 
struggle for a home and home comforts, and if some 
had been more successful in the rough battle of pioneer 
life than others, they saw no reason why they should 
be elated or pulled up over it. TSeighl ours were too 
scarce to be coldly oi- haughtily treated. 'I'be} had 
hewn their way, side by side, into the fastnesses of 



/ *' 



hr/i 



V » 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



80 



t ) 



the Canadian bush, and therefore stood on one com- 
mon level. But few superfluities could be found either 
in their houses or on their persons. Their dress was 
of home-made fabric, plain, often coarse, but substan- 
tial and comfortable. Their manners were cordial 
and hearty, even to brusqueness, but they were true 
friends and honest counsellors, rejoicing with their 
neighbours in prosperity, and sympathising when days 
of darkness visited their homes. Modern refinement 
had not crept into their domestic circle to disturb it 
with shams and pretensions. Fashion had no court 
wherein to adjudicate on matters of dress. Time- 
worn styles of dress and living were considered the 
best, and hence there was no rivalry or foolish display 
in either. Both old and young enjoyed an evening at 
a friend's house, where they were sure to be welcomed, 
and where a well-supplied table always greeted them. 
The home amusements were very limited. Music, 
with its refining power, was uncultivated, and indeed 
almost unknown. There were no musical instruments, 
unless some wandering fiddler happened to come along 
to delight both old and young with his crazy instru- 
ment. There were no critical ears to detect discordant 
pounds, or be displeased with the poor execution of 



40 



COUNTRY LIFE TN CANADA 



the rambling musician. The young folk would some- 
times spirit him away to the village tavern, which was 
usually provided with a large room called a ball-room, 
where he would fiddle while they danced the hours 
gaily away. At home the family gathered round the 
glowing fire, where work and conversation moved on 
together. The old motto of " Early to bed, and early 
to rise " was strictly observed. Nine o'clock usually 
found the household wrapt in slumber. In the morn- 
ing all were up and breakfast was over usually before 
seven. As soon as it began to get light, the men and 
boys started for the barn to feed the cattle and thresh ; 
and thus the winter wore away. 

Very little things sometimes contribute largely to the 
comfort of a family, and among those I may mention 
the lucifer match, then unknown. It was necessary to 
carefully cover up the live coals on the hearth before 
going to bed, so that there would be something to start 
the fire with in the morning. This precaution rarely 
failed with good hard-wood coals. But sometimes they 
died out, and then some one would have to go to a 
neighbour's house for fire, a thing which I have done 
sometimes, and it was not nice to have to crawl out of 
my warm nest and run through the keen cold air for 



A 



h> 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



41 



b 



a half mile or more to fetch some live coals, before the 
morning light had broken in the east. My ftither 
usually kept some bundles of finely split i)ine sticks 
tipped with brimstone foi- starting a fire. With these, 
if there was only a spnik left, a fire cotdd soon be 
made. 

But little time was given to s]wrt, although there 
was plenty of laige game. There was something of 
more importance always claijning attention. In the 
winter an occasional deer might be shot, and foxes 
were sometimes taken in traps. It re(|uired a good 
deal of experience and skill to set a trap so as to catch 
the cunning beast. Many stoiies have I heaid trap- 
pers tell of tricks played by Reynard, and how he had, 
night after night, baflled aU their irgenuity, upset the 
traps, set them off, or removed thojii, secured the bait, 
and away. Another sport moie largely patronized in 
the spring, because it brought something fiesh and in- 
viting to the table, was nii-ht-fishing. When the 
creeks were swollen, and the nights were calm and 
warm, pike and mullet came up tlu; streams in great 
abundance. Three or four would set out with s])ears, 
with a man to cairy tlie jack, and also a siii)ply of 
dry pine knots, as ftdl of resin as could bo ^und, and 




42 



COUNTRY I.TFE IN CANADA 



cut up small, which were deposited in different plaees 
along the ereek. The jaek was then filled and lit, and 
when it was all abla.e carried along the edge of the 
stream, closely followed by the spearsman, who, if an 
expert, would in a short time secure as many fish as 
couW be ..arried. It re,,„ir,..d a sharp eye and a sure 
ann. The fish shot through the water with great 
rapidity, w-hieh rendered the sport all the more exci- 
ting. All han,ls, of course, returned home thoroughly 
.-oaked. Another and plcasanter way was fishingln a 
cnnoe on the bay, with the lighted jack secured in the 
I'ow. While there its light shone for a considerable 
distance around, and enabled the fishers to see the 
•smallest fish low down in the clear calm water. This 
was really enjoyable sport, and generally resulted in 
a good catch of pike, pickerel, and. very often, a mas- 
keloiige or two. 

Karly in the spring, before the snow had gone the 
sugar-making time came. Success depended altogether 
upon the favourable condition of the weather The 
days must be clear and nuld, the nights frosty and 
plenty of snow in the woods. When the t.ne was at 
Land, the buckets arul troughs wer,. overhauled, spiles 
were made, and when all was ready the large kettles 




NIGHT FISHING IN THE CREEK. 



, Lr- iTM ^ ^,o 



i« m — »Ba ui jj<j g.n 



.' .' < 



T 



A . < 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



43 



1 *■ 



and casks were put in the sleigh, and all hands set 
out for the Inish. Tap})ing the tree was the first thing 
in order. This was done either by boring the tree with 
an auger, and inserting a spile about a foot long to 
cany off the sap, or with a gouge-shaped tool about 
two inches wide, which was driven into the tree, under 
an inclined scar made with an axe. The spiles used in 
this case were split with th(^ same instrument, sharp- 
ened at the end with a knife, and diivc^i into the cut. 
A person accustomed to the work would tap a great 
many trees in a day, and usually continued until he 
had done two oi- three hundred or more. This fin- 
ished, next came the placing and hanging of the kettles. 
A large log, or what was more common, the trunk of 
some great tree that had been blown down, would be 
selected, in as central a position as possible. Two 
crotches were erected by its side, and a strong pole 
was put across from one to the other. Hooks were 
then made, and the kettles suspended ever the fire- 
The sap was collected once and sometimes twice a day, 
and wdien there was a good supply in the casks, the 
boiling began. Each day's run was finished, if. pos- 
sible, the same night, when the sugaring-oft' took place. 
There are various simple ways of telling when the 



44 



f^OUNTin'^ T.IFE TN C^ANADA 



syruj) is sufticiently boiled, and when this i.s done, the 
kettle eon tain inn;" the result of the day's work is set oft* 
the fire, and the contents stiired until they turn to 
sui;ar, which is then dinped into dishes or moulds, 
and set aside to harden. Sometimes, when the run 
was larii'e, the Ixjilino; continued until late at nii»'ht, 
an<l, altliouL^h there was a good deal of hard work 
eoniieeted with it, tliere was also more or less enjoy- 
ment, particularly when some half dozen merry girls 
dro}>ped in upon you, and assisted at the closing scene. 
On these occasions the fun was free and boisterous. 
The woods rang with shouts and peals of laughter, and 
always ended bv our faces and hairbeino* all flinch vp 
with sugar. Then we would mount the sleigh and leave 
for the house. But the most satisfactoiy part of the 
whole was to survey the result of the toil in several 
hundred weight of su^ar. and various vessels fille<l 
with rich molasses. 

Now the hams and beef had to be got out of the 
casks, and hung up in the smoke-house to be smoked. 
The s})ring work crowded on rapidly. Ploughing, 
fencing, sowing and planting followed in quick succes- 
sion. All hands were busy. The younger ones had to 
drive the cows to iiastui'e in tlie morning and brinsf 



4 



-( 



FlFTV YHAIIS A(J(). 



45 



them up at niglit. Tlioy luul iilso to Uiko a hand at 
tlie old cliurn, and it was a weary task, as I i-cnnendx'T 
well, to stand for an liour, |H'r]ia})s, and drive tlie 
dasher up and down tlu-ou^h tlic thick cream. How 
often the handle was examined to see if tliere were any 
indications of butter ; and wliat satisfaction tlieie was 
in gettinf,^ over witli it. As soon as my leL,fs were long 
enough I had to follow a team, and drag in grain in 
fact, before, for I was mounted on the back of one of 
the horses when my netlier lim1)s were liardly h)ng 
enouirh to liohl me to mv seat. Tlie implements then 
in use were very rough. Jron ploughs, with cast iron 
mouldboards, shears, kc, were generally useil. As 
compared with the ploughs of to-day the}- were clumsy 
thinirs, but were a -jreat advance ovei- the old wooden 
ploughs which had not yet altogether gone out of use. 
Tree to])S were frecpiently used for drags. Riding a. 
horse in the field, under a hot sun, which I fre([uently 
had to do, was not as agreeable as it might seem at the 
first blush. 

In June came sheep-washing. The sheep were 

driven to the bay shore and secured in a pen, whence 

they were taken one by one into the bay, and their 

.cece well washed, after which they were let go. In 



46 



COUNTKY LIFE IN CANADA 



a few days they were hvouglit to the barn and slieared. 
The wool vv^as tlien sorted; sonic of it l)einL;- retained 
to be carded b}^ hand, the I'est sent to the mill to be 
turned into rolls ; and when they were brought home 
the hum of the spinning wheel was heard, day after 
day, for weeks, ^A\d the steady beat of the girls feet on 
the floor, as they walked forward and backward 
drawing out and tvvisthig the thread, and then letthig 
it run upon the spindle. Of course tlie quality of the 
cloth depended on the fineness and evenness of the 
thread ; and a great deal of pairis v/as taken to turn 
Oat good work. When the spinning was done, the yarn 
was taken away to the weaver to be converted into 
ciotl;. As I have said before, there were no drones in 
a iurnier's house then. While the work was beiiiLi: 
pushed outside with vigour, it did not stand still inside. 
The thrifty housewife was always bus}'-. Beside the 
daily round of cares that contitiually pressed upon her, 
the winter had hardly })assed away Ijcfore she began 
to make pre[)arati( )ns for the next. There were wihl 
strawberries and ias[)berries to pick jind preserve, of 
which the family had their share as they canic, sup- 
plemented with an abundance of rich cream and sugar ; 
and no with the other fruits in their turn. There was 



> H- 



----■—"" 



FIFTY YE IRS AGO. 



47 



R 



-f .V 



the daily task, too, of iiiilkin^, and the less fie(|uent 
one of inakin*' butter and cheese. The irirls were 
always out in the yard by sunrise, and soon came trip- 
pini^ in witli rod cheeks and flowing pails of milk ; and 
at sunset the scene was repeated. The matron reijuired 
no nurse to take care of the cliihli-en ; no cnok to 
superintend the kitchen ; no chand)er-maid to make 
the beds and do the dusting. She had. very likely, one 
or two hired girls, neighbours' daugl iters. It was (|uite 
common then for farmers' dau'diters to iro out to work 
when their services could be dispensed with at home. 
They were treated as equals, and t(jok as much interest 
in the ad'airs of the family as the mistress herself* 
The fact of a girl going out to woik did not affect lier 
position. On the contrary, it was rather in her favour, 
and showed that she had some aml/ition about her. 
The girls, in those days, were ipiite as much at liomc 
in the kitchen as in the drawing-room or boudoir. 
They could do bettei* execution over a wash tub tiian 
iit a spinet. They could handle a rolling pin with 
more satisfaction than a sketch book ; and if necessity 
re(piired, could go out in the fi».'M and liandle a fork 
and rake with practical results. Tiicy were educated 
in the country school house — 

*' Beside you' straggling fence that skirts the way," 



4c^ 



COUNTRY \AVK IN VJvAxOA 



with their Inolliers, iind not at a city hoardinf^ school. 
Tlujy had not so niucli as dreamed of fashion hooks, or 
heard of fasliionahlenulliners. Their accomplishments 
were picked u[) at home, not ahroad. And with all 
these drawbacks, they were pure, modest, atl'ectionate. 
They made jL^ood wives ; and that tliey were the best 
and most thoiuditful mothers that ever watched over 
the well-being of their chiMien, many remember full 
well. 

Country life was pi-aelical and ploddin;^' in those 
days. Ambition did not lure the husbandman to days 
of luxury and ease, but to the accom[)li8hinent of a 
good day's work, an<l n future crowned with tlie fruits 
of hom^st industry. It" tlie ^ii Is wqw. pi'epared for the 
future by th(^ watelii-il c.uv and e.\ann)le of the 
motliers, so the Itoys f(»!lowcd in llie footsteps of their 
fathers. They did not look u[)i)n tlieir lives as burden- 
some. They did not feel that the occupation of a 
fai'iuer was less honourable than any other. The 
merchant's shop did iiot possess more attraction than 
the barn. Fine clothes were neither so durable nor so 
chea]v as home-made suits. Fashionable tailors did 
not exist to lure (hi>m into extravagance, and the 
town-bred dandy had not broken loose to taint them 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



49 



with his folUes. Tlicir aspirations diil not lead into 
ways of display and idleness, or their association to 
Lad hal)its. They were content to work as their 
fathers had done, and their aim was to become as 
exemj^lary and respected as they were. It was in 
such a school and under such masteis that the found- 
ation of Canadian prosperity was laid, and it is not 
gratifying to the thoughtful mind, after the survey of 
such a picture, to find that although our material 
prosperity in the space of fifty years has heen mar- 
vellous, we have been gradually departing fi'om the 
sterling exam) le set us by our progenitors, for twenty 
yeai's at least. " Dead fli(»s " of extravagance have 
fouufl tlioir way into the "ointment" of domestic life, 
and their "savour" is ket^ul}' felt. In our haste to be- 
come rich, we have abandoned the old road of honest 
industry. To ae(piire wealth, and to rise in the social 
scale, v.i; have cast beliin 1 us tliose pi'inci[)lL's wliich 
give tone and \alue lo positio)i. We are not likti tlie 
Israelites who loUL^cd for tlie " lle-h pots" they had 
left beliind in KL;y[)t ; yrt wiien we look around, it is 
dilHcult to keep liack the ([uestion put I'y the Mcchsi- 
ast, " What is the cause that the ibiiuer days were 
better than these T' and the answer we think is not 



60 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



difficult to find. Our daughters are brought up now- 
like tender plants, more for ornament than use. The 
practical lessons of life are neglected for the superfi- 
cial. We send our sons to college, and there they fly 
from the fostering care of home ; they crowd into our 
towns and cities — sometimes to rise, it is true, but more 
frequently to fall, and to become worthless members of 
society. Like the dog in the fable, we ourselves have 
I'.'t the substance drop, while our gaze has been glam- 
oured by the shadow. 

Early in July the haying began. The mowers were 
expected to be in the meadow by sunrise, and all 
Ihrongh the day the rasp of their whetstones could be 
lieard, as they dexterously drew them with a quick 
motion of the hand, first along one side of the scythe 
and then the other ; after which they went swinging 
across the field, the waving grass falling rapidly before 
their keen blades, and dropping in swathes at theii* 
side. The days wore not then divided off into a stated 
number of workinii' hours. The rule was to beuin 
with the moining light and continue as long as you 
could see. Of course men had to eat in those days as 
well as now, and the blast of the old tin dinncr-hoin 
fell on tlie ear with more melodious sound than the 



hi 



PrPTY YEARS AGO. 



51 



grandest orchestra to tlie musical enthusiast. Even 
" Old Gray," when I followed the plough, used to give 
answer to the cheerful wind of the horn by a loud 
whinny, and stop in the furrow, as if to say, " There 
now, off with my harness, and let us to dinner." If I 
happened to be in the middle of the field, I had con- 
siderable trou})le to get the old fellow to go on to the 
end. 

I must say a few words in this place about " Old 
Gray." Why he was always called " Old Gray " is 
more than I know. His colour could not have suo-- 
gested the name, for he was a bright roan, almost a 
bay. He was by no means a pretty animal, being raw- 
boned, and never sccmin:^ to be in first-rate condition ; 
but he was endowed with remarkable sagacity and 
great endurance, and was, moreover, a fleet trotter. 
When my father began the world for himself ho was 
a part of his chattels, and survived his master sev- 
eral years. Father drove him twice to Little York 
one winter, a distance of over one hundred and fifty 
miles, accomplishing the trip both times inside of a 
week. He never would allow a team to pass him. 
It was customary in those days, particularly witli 
youngsters in the winter, to turn out and jun by, 



52 



COUNTRY IJFF FN CANADA 



and many siu'li vnccs I liavo had; l.iit the momenta 
team turned out of tlio ti'ack to pass "Old Gray," he 
was oir like a shot, and yuu niii;ht as well try to 
hold a locomotive with }»ins as him with an ordinary 
bit. He was skittish, and often ran away. On one 
occasion, wlien I was verv voun^-, he ran oft' with 
father and m\'self in a sinnlc wau'^on. We w^ce hoth 
tin-own ont, and, our feet becoiuino- entangled in the 
lines, we were ding^'ed some distance The wheel 
passed ovei- my head, and cut it so that ii Med IVcely, 
hut tlui wound was not serious. My hither was 
liadly hurt. Aftei- a while wo startc<l for hom(\ an<l 
hel'ore we I'eaehed it the old scaiii]) i^ot fri^h<ened 
at a Iol;-, and set oil" full tilt. A-;iin fathei- was 
thrown out, and 1 tipped over t»n tlu' iiottoiu of the 
wne-u-oii. lH>rtunatel\', the shafts i;ave wjiy, and let 
him loose, when he sto])ped. Fatliei' was carried 
home, nnd di'l not lea\c the house foi' a loiu;' time. 
I used to ride the seirwiUed Least to st-hool in the wiii- 
tei-, and h.id ^-i-eat sport, sonietiuies, hy ^ettinn' hoN's on 
hehin.l iiie,and, when they wei-e not thiidviuir, T woidd 
touch "Old Oray" under the Hank with iny heel, 
which would makt- him spriiii;' as tletu^h he were shot, 
and off the ho\-s wonld tuuihh in tho ^now Whrn I 



^^B • 




o 

03 



■ti 



FIFTY VEAKS AGO. 



63 



I'uaelicd suhool I tie<l uptlic reins jind K-t him ^^olioine. 
1 do not tliink lie ever liad an eijual for niiscliiuf, and 
for tlio last years we liad liim we eoidil dj nothing- 
witli him. Ho was ptirpotually i;i'ttin'4' into tlic fields 
of grain, and leading- all the other eattle after him. We 
used to hobl»le him in all sorts of wa^'s, but he would 
manage to push or rul> down the fence at some weak 
point, and unless his nose was fastened down almost to 
the grcind by a chain from his head to his hind leg, 
he would let down the bars, oropon all the gates about 
the phice. Thoi-e was not a dooi- about the barn but 
he would o])(.'n, if he could gel at the hitch, and if the 
key was left in the granary door he would unlock 
that, ii' left standing he was sure to get his head-stall 
off, and we liad to get a halter made specially for liim. 
He finally became .such a ])eipef iial torment that wo 
sold him, and we all had a good cry when the old 
hors' went awny. He was ujiwards of twoity-tivo 
years old at this time. How much longer he liv^ed I 
cannot say. I never saw him afterward. 

A soon as the sun was well up, and our tasks about 
the l.'ousc over, our part of this n(>w play in the hay- 
field ])egan, and with a fork or long stick wo followed 
up the swathes and s})road them out nicely, so that 



54 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



the grass would dry. In the afternoon it liad to be 
raked up into winrovvs — work in which the giils often 
joined us — and after tea one or two of the men cocked 
it up, while we raked the ground clean after them. If 
the weather was clear and dry it would be left out for 
several days before it was drawn into the barn or 
stacked ; but often it was housed as soon as dry. 

Another important matter which claimed the far- 
mer's attention at this time was the preparation of his 
summer-fallow for fall wheat. The i^round was first 
broken up after the spring sowing was over, and about 
hay time the second ploughing had to be done, to de- 
stroy weeds, and get the land in proper order. In 
August the last ploughing came, and about the first 
of Septend)er the wheat was sown. It almost always 
liappencd, too, that there were some acres of wood- 
land that had been chopped over for fire wood and 
timber, to be cleaned up. Logs and bush had to be 
collected into piles, and burned. On new farms this 
was heavy woik. Then the timber was cut down, and 
ruthlessly given over to the fire. Logging bees were 
of frequent occurrence, when the neighbours turned 
out with their oxen and logging chains, and, amid the 
ring of tlie axe and the shouting of <lrivers and men 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



;).) 



witli tlieir liandspikes, tliti great logs were rolltMl one 
upon anotlicr into huge heai)s, and left for tlu; fire 
to eat them out of the way. Wlien tlie work was 
• lone, all hands proceecbd to the house, grim and 
Idack as a band of swee|)s, wliere, with co[»i()Us use 
of soap and water, they l>rought themselves hack to 
their normal condition, and went in and did justice 
to the su))per prepared for them. 

In August the wheat fields were ready for the rea])- 
ers. Tliis was the great ci'op of the yeai'. Other 
grain was grown, sucli as rye, oats, peas, harlcy and 
corn, but principally for feeding. Wheat was the far- 
mer's main dei)endence, his staff of life and his current 
coin. A good cradler would cut about five acres a day 
and an expert with a rake would follow and bind up 
what he cut. There were men who would liti'ialiy 
walk through the grain with a cradle, an<l tlien two 
men were re([uired to follow. My father had no su- 
j)erior in swinging the cradle, and when the golden 
grain stood thick and straight, he gave two snuxrt men 
all they could do to take up what he cut down. A«>-ain 
the younger fry came in for their share of the work, 
which was to gather tlic sheaves and put them in 
shocks. These, after standing a sufficient time, were 






COUNTkV MFK IN CANAhA 



l»i'(>n<'-lit into tlic li.'ini .'iiid iiiowt'd ;i\\;iv, and aij'aui tlic 
L;irls often .i;av(! a lidpini^ liand l)otli in the ticld and 
tin: l>ain. In all tln-se tasl^s o-ood work was oxituctod. 
IMy failier was, as I liave said before, a pushing' man, and 
" tlioroiiujh " in all he undertnok. His mottoes with his 
men were, " Follow me," and " AnNthino: tliat is worth 
doings is worth doing well;" .-md this lattei* rnle was 
always enforced. 'V\\v plonghcrs had to throw their 
fnrrovvs neat and sti"ai"jht. Wle-n 1 i^ot to be a stronu' 
lad, 1 could sti'ike a furrow with the old team across 
a field as straight as an arrow, and I took pride in 
throwing my furnnv.^ in uniform pr« cision. The mow- 
ei's ha<l to sheai- the land close and smooth. The 
jakers tlncw their wiiu-ows sti'aight, and the men 
mathi their hay-cocks of a uniform six(}, and placed 
them at etpuil dihtanees a[)ait. So in the grain field, 
the stul)ble had to be cut clean and even, the sheaves 
well bcamd and shocked in straight rows, with tin 
sheaves to the shock. It was really a pleasure to in- 
spect the fields when the work was done. Skill was 
required to load well, and also to mow awa}^, the 
ol)ject being to get the greatest number of sheaves 
in the smallest space. About the first of September 
the crops were in and the barns were filled and sur- 
rounded with stacks of hay and gi-ain. 



FIFTY VEAIIS A(J(). 



67 



My fatlier was adiuittrd to Itr tlio l>L'st t'annei' in the 
district. I lis farm was a model of <'ood order and 
neatness, lie was one of tlie iirst to devote attention 
to tlie im})rovement of liis stocic, and was always on 
the look-oiit for imjirovcMl implements oi- new ideas, 
whieh, it* worthy of attention, he was the Iirst to 
iitili/e. 

There is always something;' foi' a pu.-^hinL;' farmer to 
do, and there ai-e alwa\s rainv days thron'di the sea- 
son, when out-door work comes to a stand. At such 
tiuios my father was almost always found in his work- 
sliop, makinn- pails oi- tuhs for the house, or repair- 
ino- his tools or makinu^ new ones. At other times 
he woidd turn his attention to dressinnthe flax lie had 
.stowed away, ami L;ettinL;' it ready for sj)iiuiinL;-. The 
linen for hans, as M'ell as for the house, was then all 
lionie-made. It could hardly be ex[)eeted that with 
such facilities at hand my inL;enuity would not develop. 
One day I observed a pot of I'ed paint on the work- 
bench, and it struck me that the tools w^ould look 
much better if I oavc them a coat of paint. The 
thought was hardly conceived l)efore it was put into 
execution, and in a short time planes, saws, augers, &c., 
were carcfullv^ coated over and set aside to dry. Fa- 



58 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



tlici* (lid not sec tlio tiling' in tlic saiiio ]i;;'lit as T (][(]. 
}\e was vciT imicl) displcasci], ;ui<l 1 was pimislii'il. 
After iliis I (iniii'il my attrntioii to watci'-wlu'els, 
WM*,^L;'ons, lioats, lioxcs, \-('., ami i'l lime nut to ln' (|uit(! 
an rxj)('i-t widi tools, aiul cdiiIiI inako almost any- 
tliiiin- out of uoo'l. \Vc cliildicu, ;iltlioii;.;h wi.' lia I 
to di'ivc t'ows, f(MMl tlic caKcs, Id'iiiLi; in wood, and all 
tliat, liad our aniirscments, siniplc and I'ustic (inouyli 
it is true; )>u( we riijoy(.'d. tlicm, and all tln^ niori' l»c- 
causc our parents vti y often entered into oui' l)lay. 

Sunday was a day of enjoyment as well r.s ivsl. 
There wei'e l)ut few [)laees()(' pulilie worslnp, and tlioso 
were ^i^^'enerally far apart. In most places tlu; seliool- 
hoi'se or l»arn s(«i\ed tlic purpDse. 'J'luu'e were two 
iiiectin^'-liouses — tins was the term always used then foi' 
j>laces of worslup — a few miles from our j)Iaee on I lay- 
hay. Tlie iMetho list me»'tin'^'-houst' wa-> the (ir-^t place 
Ituih for pulilie worsliij) in ('pper ( auada, and was 
useil for tha.t purpose until a few yeai'.s a^Ljo, It now 
hek)nLjs to Mi-. Tlatt, and is use I as a stoi-ehouse. The 
otlicr, a (^)uaker meeting-house, huilt some years later, 
is still .standing-. It was usod as a hari-ack hy the 
(llenj^'ariy regiment in hSli^ a pai'fc of which rei,dment 
was (Huii'tiu'eil in tlui niM'dihourhood dui'iuix that vear. 






s 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



5f) 



K 



i 

♦ 

in 

A 



The men left their hayoiKit-iiiarks in the ohl posts. 
On Sunday morniii^^ the liorses were l)r(>ug]it up an<l 
put to the hmiber wag[,^on, the only caniai^fo known 
then. The family, all arrayed in their Sunday clothes 
arranged themselves in the sj)acious vehicle, and di-ove 
away. At that time, and for a good many years 
after, whether in the schoohhouse or meeting-house, 
the men sat on one side ami the women on the other, 
in all places of worship. The sacred bond wliich liad 
been instituted by the (jreator Himself in the iJai'den 
of Eden, "Therefore shall a man leave his father and 
mother, and cleave to his wife; and they shall be? 
one flosii," did not seem to harmonize with that cus- 
tom, for when they went up to His house they sep- 
arated at the door. It would have been tlioui-ht a verv 
improper tiling, oven for a married cou])le, to take a 
seat side by side. TndeiMl I am incliiKMl to tliink that 
the good brothers and sisters wouM have put tliem 
out of doors. So deeply rooted are the prejudices in 
mattei*s of religious belief. That tlu^y are the most 
difficult to remove, the history of the past confirms 
througVi all ages. This custom prevailed for many 
years after. When meeting was over it was customary 
to go to some friend's to dinner, ami Tnak(\ as used 



00 



CUUNTUV J.II'K IN CANADA 



to he said, a visit, or, wliat was oi£Lially as j)l(.'asant, 
fatlu'i- or inotluT would ask some old ac(|iiaiiitaiicos 
to cijine lioiae with us. Sunday in all seasons, and 
more })articMilarly in the sunuu'T, was the n'rand vis- 
iting- day with old and youn^•. 1 do not state this 
out of any disrespect for the Sabbath. 1 think 1 vene- 
rate it as much as anyone, but 1 am simply recoiding 
facts as they tluMi existed. The people at that time, as 
a rule, were not reliL^ious, hut tliey wei » moial, and 
anxious for ^•reater I'oli^ious advaiitaL,^es. There were 
not many |)reachers, and these had such extended fields 
of labour that their appointments were iri'egulai', and 
often, like ani.;els' visits, few and fai" Ix'tween. Tliey 
could liot ignore their social instincts aito^'ether, and 
this wjis tlie only day when the toil an<l moil of work 
was put aside. Tliey lirst went to meetiuL;', when there 
was any, and devoted (he rest of the day tofriendU in- 
tercourse and enjoyment. IVople used to come to Metho- 
dist meeting- for miles, and particularly on fpiarterly 
meetiiiLif (hiv. On onc^ of tlieso occasions, fourteen vounii* 
people who were crossin^^ the bay in a skiff, on their 
way to the meetin<^', were upset near the shore and 
drowned. Some \ears latei- the missionaiy meetinuf 
possessed great attract ion, wIjcu a deputation composed 



FIFTY VKARS A(}0. 



61 



h 



of Egerton Ilyei'son and reti'rJoiics, tlio latter vvitliliis 
Indian curiositius, drew tlic people in siicli nundjcrs 
that half of tlieni could not get into the liouse. 

There were a good many (^hiakers, and as my father's 
people heloMged to tliat hody we fre(piently wont to 

their meeting. Tlie hroad )>rims on one side, with tlie 

♦ 

^ scoop ])onnets on the otliei', used to excite my curiosity, 

liiit 1 did not like to sit slill so long. Sometimes not a 
word would he said, and after an hour of jirofound 
silenee, two of the old men on one of the upper seats 
would sliake hands. Then a genei'al sliakiug of hands 
eusui'd on hoth sides of tin' Ikjusc, und meeting was 



u 



1 



out. 



Manv I'ea.deis will iccall i-ciit!'' ( 'harlcs Land 



) s 



thouglitful )>aper on " A <,>n;d<er>' Meeting."* Several 
of his iclleet ions i ise up s(t \ 



i\ idl\- 1 ••ft*re me as I writ( 



tliesc lines that 1 cannot jniheni' (|Uot iie^' t hem. "Wlial," 
lie asks, " is the stillness df the deseit. eompaied with 
this ])lace ' what t!ie ii!'.' KiiMinnicating leuteiievs of 



tislies / lieic th 



e I ' ( )( 



Id 



ess I'elglis ami re\'( 



Is. -' I 



•ol'eas. 



and ('esias, and .Vigestes louil,' do not u : li llieii inter 
confounding u[uoiirs moi'e augment th- l>iawl nor tin 



w 



aves of the Mown li.iitje with tlieir ejulthed solUlds 



S''«' H»l>ii>n- iif f'liit. 



G2 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



— tlian thoir opposite (Silcnco her sacred self) is multi- 
plied and rendered more intense by numbers, and by 
sympathy. She too hath lier deeps, that call unto 
deeps, legation itself hath a positive more and less ; 
and closed eyes would seem to obscure the great obscu- 
rity of midnight. 

" There are wounds which an imperfect solitude can- 
not heal. By imperfect I mean that which a man en- 
joyeth by himself. The perfect is that which he can 
sometimes attain in crowds, but nowhere so absolutely 
as in a Quakers' Mc'cting. — Those first hermits did cer- 
tainly understand this principle, when they retire*! 
into Egy])tian solitudes, not singly, but in shoals, to 
enjoy one anotlur's want of conversation. The Car- 
tluisijin is bound to his bi'ethren by this agreeing spirit 
of incomjaunicativeness. In secular occasions, what so 
nleasant as to be readin<m book throu<di a lonjx winter 
eveniui'- with a friend sittin<j: bv — say a wife — he. or 
sh .;, too (if that be probable), reading another, without 
iiitenuption, o)' oral comnuniication ;" — can there be no 
sympathy without the gabble of words? — away with 
this inhuman, shy, single, shadr-and-cavern haunting 
solitaiiin'ss. iWw. me, Master Zinimeinian, a sympa- 
thetic solitude. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



G3 



" To pace alone in the cloisters, oi- side aisles of some 
cathedral, time-stricken ; 

Or under hani^'ing mountains, 
Or by the fall of fountains ; 

is ])ut a vul^^ar luxury, conii>ared with that which 
those enjoy who come toL,^ether for the purposes of more 
coiuj)h'te, ahstraetcd solitude. This is the loneliness 
' to he tVlt; The Al>hev Church of Westminster hath 



.tl 



lenui, so spirit-soothing-, as the naked 
alls and henches of a Quakers' Mee(in«'-. Here are no 



notliiui'' so so 



w 



tondis, no inscri[>tions, 



-Sands, i'Minhlo iliin-'s, 



Dropt fruni the ruined sides of kin«,'s- 



hut 1 



lere is souu 



thill,!;- which throws Anti(iuity herself 
into the foreuround— Si LENCK— eldest of things— Ian- 
frua"-e of old Ni'-ht— primitive Discourser— to which 



the in->()lent decays o 



l" mdulderiiiL'- LrraiKh'ur have hut 



an i\'»( 



1 l>v a violent, and, as we may say, unnatural 



progression. 



II nw reverend is tlie view nf tliese liiished lieivds, 
Looking,' trant|iiillity ! 

Notliing-plotting, nought-cahalliiig, unmisel 



IK'VOUH 



synod I conv 



ocation without intrigue ! parliaim;nt with- 



G4 



r-OTTNTRY UFE TN CANADA 



out debate ! what a lesson dost thou read to council 
and to consistory ! — if my pen treat of you liglitly — as 
haply it will wander — yet my spirit hath <,aavely felt 
the wisdom of y(jur eustou), when sittini,' among you 
in deepest ]teace, which some outwellinj^' tears wouhl 
rathei" contirm than disturh, I liave reverted to the 
times of your heufinnini;'^, and the sowiuL^^s of the seed 
hy Fox an<ri)ewesl>ury. — I have witnessed that which 
l)i()iiH'ht liefore my eyes yoiii' heroic traiKiuillity, in- 
flexihle to the lude j<'sts ami serious violences of the 
insolent s<»Idiery, rcpulilican or i()3alist sent to molest 
you — for ye sate hetwixt the iircs of two pcisecntions, 
tlui outcast and oll-seouiini;- of ehnicli and j»reshytery. 
— I have seen the reelinL;-sea-rn(ll;ni, whohai] wandei cd 
into your rrceplaclc with the a\owed intention ol'dis- 
tui'hinn' your (piiet, from the very spiiit i»f the place 
j'eci i\f in a moiuenl a new lieai't, nn-l )»resently sit 
amoiiL;' ve as n landt amidst land^. All'! 1 reuiemhei- 
Venn hefoiv his accusers, airl Kox in tlie liail-dock, 
where he was lifted up in spirit, as li(> tells irs, and 
'tin.' judL;e and the juiv heejin-.e as dcjid men un<lei' his 



feet. 



Our old family carriMi>"e — tlu' lumh(>rini( waL;i2;on — • 



revives many pleasant lecol lection 



licet 



M 



my lorn; rules 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



05 



wore taken in it, both to mill and market, and, some- 
times I have curled myself up, and slept far into tlie 
night in it while waiting for my grist to \)v ground so 
I could take it home. But it was not used by the 
young folks as sleighs were in the winter. It was a 
staid, family vehicle, not suited to mirth or love-mak- 
ing. It was too noisy for that, and on a rough road, 
no very uncommon thing then, one was .shaken up so 
thoroughly that there was but little room left for sen- 
timcnt. In later times, lighter and much more comfoit- 
able vehicles were used. The elliptic or steel spring 
did not come into use until about ISK). I remember 
my grandfather starting ofV for N(>\v York in one of 
these li<j:ht onedior.sc wairi^fons. I do not know how 
long he was gone, but he mmle the journey, and 
returned safely. Long journeys l>y land were ma<le, 
principally iu summer, on horsehaek, hotli hy men 
and woujen. The hoi-so was also the young [)enplt)s' 
only vehicle at this season ol' the year. The girls 
were usually good riders, and could gallo[) away as 
well on the bare back as on the side-.saddle. A female 
cousin of my father s several times made journeys of 
from one to two hundred miles on horseback, and on 
one occasion she carried her infant son for a hundred 



66 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



and fifty miles, a feat the women of to-day would 
consider impossible. 

Then, as now, the early tall was not the least pleas- 
ant portion of the Canadian year. Everyone is familiar 
with the sti-ikinj,' l)eauty of our woods after the frost 
begins, and the endless variety of shade and colour that 
mingles with such pleasing etiect in every landscape. 
And in those days, as well as now, the farmers' attention 
was directed to pre2)aration for the coming winter. 
His market staples then consisted of wheat or tlour, 
pork and potash. The other products of his farm, 
such as coarse grain, were used by himself. Butter 
and eggs were almost valueless, save on his own table. 
The skins of his sheep, calves and beef cattle which 
were slaughtered for Iiis own use, were sent to the 
tanners, who dressed them on shares, the remainder 
being brought home to be made up into boots, harness 
and mittens. Wood, which afterwards came into 
demand fcjr steam puiposes, was worthless. Sawn 
luiidjer was not wanted, except for home use, and the 
shingles that covered the l»uildings were split and 
made ]>y the farniei' hiinselF. 

If the men had logging-bees, and other bees to help 
them on with their work, the women, by way of com- 



FIFTY YEAKS AGO. 



07 



pensution, had lees of a moic social and agreeable 
type. Ainony tliese were (Hiiltiiii;' l)eeH, wlien the 
women and giils of tlie neighliourhood assunihled in 
the afternoon, and turned out tliose skilfully and 
often artist ieallv nuide ru(;s, so condoi'tahle to lie 
under duiini^^the eold winter niglits. Tliere was often 
a great deal of sport at the elose of one of these social 
industrial gatherings. When the men came in from 
the field to supper, some luckless wight was sure to 
be caught, and tossed up and down in the quilt amid 
the laughter and shouts of the conijiany. But of all 
the bees, the api)le-hee was the chief. In these old 
and young joined. The hoys around the neigh hour- 
liood, with their home-iiia<le apple-marhines, of all 
shapes and designs, would come pouring in with their 
girls early in tlie evi'uing. Tlu; large kitchen, with 
its sanded floor, the sjilit hottoiiicil chairs ranged I'ound 
the room, the laige tul»s of apples, and in the centre 
the clean seruldx'd pini3 taMe iiiled with wooden 
trays and tallow-eaiidles in tin candlesticks, made an 
attiactive picture whicli had for its setting the mother 
and girls, all smiles and good nature, receiving and 
l>leasing the company. Mow tlie work liegins amidst 
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away from their machines in rapid numbers, and the 
girls catch them, and with their knives quarter and 
core them, while others string them with needles on 
long threads, and tie them so that they can be hung up 
to dry. As soon as the work is done the room is 
cleared for supper, after which the old folks retire, and 
the second and most pleasing part of the performance 
begins. These after-scenes were always entered into 
with a spirit of fun and honest abandonment truly 
refreshing. Where dancing was not objected to, a 
rustic fiddler would be spirited in by some of the 
youngsters as the sport began. The dance was not 
that languid sort of thing, toned down by modern 
refinement to a sliding, easy motion round the room, 
and which, for the lack of conversational accomplish- 
ments, is made to do duty for want of wit. Full of 
life and vigour, they danced for the real fun of the 
thing. The quick and inspiriting strains of the music 
sent them spinning round the room, and amid the 
rush and whirl of the flying feet came the sharp 
voice of the fiddler as he flourished his bow : " Rijrht 
and left — balance to your pardner — cross hands — 
swing your pardner — up and down the middle," and 
so on through reel after reel. Some one of the boys 



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riPTY YEARS AGO. 



69 



would perform a pas seul with more enei'gy than 
grace; but it was all the same — the dancing master 
had not 1: ^en abroad ; the fiddler put life into their 
heels, and they let them play. Frequently there 
was no musician to be had, when the difficulty 
was overcome by the musical voices of the girls, 
assisted with combs covered witli paper, or the shrill 
notes of some expert at whistling. It often happened 
that the old people objected to dancing, and then the 
company resorted to plays, of which there was a great 
variety : " Button, button, who's got the button ; " 
" Measuring Tape ; " " Going to Rome ; " " Ladies Slip- 
per ; " all pretty much of the same character, and 
much appreciated by the boys, because tlicy afforded 
a chance to kiss the girls. 

Some of our plays bordered very closely on a dance, 
and when our inclinations were checked, we approached 
the margin of the forbidden ground as nearly as possible. 
Among these I remember one which afforded an 
opportunity to swing around in a merry way. A 
chair was placed in the centre of the room, upon which 
one of the girls or boys was seated. Then we joined 
hands, and went dancing around singing the following 
elegant refrain : — 



70 COUNTRY LIFE TN CANADA. 

There was a young womin sat down to sleep, 
Sat clown to sleep, sat down to sleep ; 

There was a young woman sat down to sleep, 
Heigh ho I Heigh-ho ! Heigh-ho ! 

There was a young man to keep her awake, 
To keep her awake, to keep her awake ; 

There was a young man to keep her av/ake, 
Heigh-ho ! Heigh-ho ! Heigh-ho ! 

Tom Brown his name shall be, 

His name shall bo, his name shall be ; 

Tom Brown his name shall be, 

Heigh-ho ! Heigh-ho ! Heigh-ho ! 

Whereupon Mr. Brown was expected to step out, take 
the girl by the hand, salute her with a kiss, and 
then take her seat. Then the song went on again, 
with variations to suit ; and thus the rustic mazurka 
proceeded until all had had a chance of tasting the rosy 
lips, so tempting to youthful swains. Often a coy 
maiden resisted, and then a pleasant scuffle ensued, in 
which she sometimes eluded the penalty, much to the 
chafTfrin of the claimant. 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



71 



CHAPTER in. 



PROOllESS, MATERIAL AND SOCIAL — FONDNESS OF THE YOUNG 
FOR DANCING — MAGISTERIAL NUl'TIALS— THE CHARIVARI — 
COON-HUNTING — CATCHING A TARTAR— WILD I'lGEONS— THE 
OLD DUTCH HOUSES— DELIGHTS OF SUMMER AND WINTER CON- 
TRASTED—STILLED VOICES. 

A S time wore on, and contact with the outer world 
-^-^ became easier and more frequent, the refinements 
of advancing civilization found their way gradually into 
the country, and changed the amusements as well as the 
long-established habits of the people. An isolated com- 
munity like that which stretched along the frontier of 
our Province, cut off from the older and more advanced 
stages of society, or holding but brief and irrogular 
communication with it, could not be expected to keep 
up with the march of either social or intellectual 
improvement ; and although the modern may turn up 
his nose as he looks back, and affect contempt at the 
amusements which fell across our paths like gleams 
of sunlight at the break of day, and call them rude 
and indelicate, he must not forget that we were not 
hedged about by conveationalities, nor were we 



72 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



slaves to the caprice of fasliion. We were free sons 
and (Jau^l iters of an upright, sturdy parentage, with 
pure and honest hearts throbbing under rough exteriors. 
The girls who did not blush at a hearty kiss from 
our lips were as pure as the snow. They became orna- 
ments in Ingher and brighter circles of society, and 
mothers, the savour of whose virtues and maternal 
afft'ction ri-^e before our memory like a perpetual 
incense. 

I am (juite well aware of the fact that a large portion 
of the religious world is opposed to dancing, nor in 
this recital of country life as it then existed do I wish 
to be considered an advocate of this amusement. I 
joined in the sport then with as much eagerness and 
deliglit as one could do. I learned to step off on the 
light fantastic toe, as many another Canadian boy has 
done, on the barn floor, where, with the doors shut, I 
went sliding up and down, through the middle, hal- 
ancing to the })itch-fork, turning round the old fanning- 
mill, then double-shufiling and closing with a profound 
bow to the splint broom in the corner. These were the 
kind of schools in which our accomplishments were 
learned, and, whether dancing be right or wrong, it is 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



73 



certain the inclination of the yoimg to indulge in it is 
about as universal as the taint of sin. 

The young people then, as now, took it into their 
heads to get married ; but parsons were scarce, and it 
did not always suit them to wait until one came along. 
To remedy this difficulty the Government authorized 
magistrates to perform the ceremony for any couple 
who resided more than eighteen miles from church. 
There were hardly any churches, and therefore a good 
many called upon the Justice to put a finishing touch 
to their happiness, and curious looking pairs presented 
themselves to have the knot tied. One morning a robust 
young man and a pretty, blushing girl presented them- 
selves at my father's door, and were invited in. They 
were strangers, and it was sometime before he could 
find out what they wanted ; but after beating about 
the bash, the young man hesitatingly said they wanted 
to get married. They were duly tied, and, on leaving, I 
was asked to join in their wedding dinner. Though it 
was to be some distance away, I mounted my horse and 
joined them. The dinner was good, and served in the 
plain fashion of the day. After it came dancing, to the 
music of a couple of fiddlers, and we threaded through 
reel after reel until nearly daylight. On another 



11 



74 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



occasion a goodly company gathered at a neighbour's 
house to assist at the nuptials of his daughter. Tlie 
ceremony had passed, and we were collected around the 
su})per table; the old man had spread out his hands to 
ask a blessing, when bang, l)ang, w^ent a lot of guns, 
accompanied hy horns, whistles, tin pans and anything 
and everything with which a noise could be made. A 
simultaneous shriek went up from the girls, and for a 
few moments the confusion was as great inside as out. 
It was a horrid din of discordant sounds. Conversation 
at the supper table was out of the question, and as soon 
as it was over we went out among the boys who had 
come to charivari us. There were perhaps fifty of 
them, with blackened faces and ludicrous dresses, and 
after the bride and bridegroom had shown themselves 
and received their congratulations, they went their 
way, and left us to enjoy ourselves in peace. It was 
after this manner the young folks wedded. There was 
but little attempt at display. No costly trousseau, no 
wedding tours. A night of enjoyment with friends, 
and the young couple set out at once on the practical 
journey of life. 

One of our favourite sports in those days was coon 
(short name for raccoon) hunting. This lasted only 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



75 



diii-ing tlio time of green corn. Tlie raccoon is particu- 
larly fond of corn before it hardens, and if unmolested 
will destroy a good deal in a short time. He always 
visits the cornfields at night ; so about nine o'clock we 
would set off with our dogs, trained for the purpose, 
and with as little noise as possible make our way to 
the edge of the corn, and then wait for him. If the 
field was not too large he could easily be heard break- 
ing down the ears, and then the dogs were let loose. 
They cautiously and silently crept towards the unsus- 
pecting foe. But the sharp cars and keen scent of the 
raccoon seldom let him fall into the clutch of the dogs 
without a scamper for life. The coon was almost al- 
ways near the woods, and this gave him a chance of 
escape. As soon as a yelp was heard from the dogs, 
we knew the fun had begun, and pushing forward in 
the direction of the noise, we were pretty sure to find 
our dogs battled and jumping and barking around the 
foot of a tree up which Mr. Coon had fled, and whence 
he was quietly looking down on his pursuers from a 
limb or crutch. Our movements now were guided by 
circumstances. If the tree was not too large, one of us 
would climb it and dislodge the coon. In the other case 
we generally cut it down. The dogs were always on the 



70 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



alert, and the moment the coon touched the ground they 
were on him. We used frequently to capture two or 
three in a night. The skin was dressed and made into 
caps or robes for the sleigh. On two or three of these 
expeditions, our dogs caught a Tartar by running 
foul of a coon not so easily disposed of — in the 
shape of a bear ; and then we were both glad to de- 
camp, as lie was rather too big a job to undertake in 
the night. Bruin was fond of young corn, but he and 
the wolves had ceased to be troublesome. The latter 
occasionally made a raid on a Hock of sheep in the win- 
ter, but they were watched pretty closely, and were 
trapped or shot. There was a government bounty of 
$4 for every wolf's head. Another, and much more 
innocent sport, was netting wild pigeons after the 
wheat had been taken ofl'. At that time they used to 
visit the stubbles in large flocks. Our mode of pro- 
cedure was to build a house of boughs under which to 
hide ourselves. Then the ground was carefully cleaned 
and sprinkled with grain, at one side of which the net 
was set, and in the centre one stool pigeon, secured on 
a perch was placed, attached to which was a long string 
running into the house. When all was ready we re- 
tired and watched for the flying pigeons, and when- 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



77 



ever a flock came within a seeing distance our stool 
pigeon was raised and then dropped. This would 
cause it to spread its wings and then flutter, which at- 
tracted the flying birds, and after a circle or two they 
would swoop down and commence to feed. Then the 
net was sprung, and in a trice we had scores of 
pigeons under it. I do not remember to have seen this 
method of capturing pigeons practised since. If we 
captured many we took them home, put them where 
they could not get away, and took them out as we 
wanted them. 

At the time of which I write Upper Canada had 
been settled about forty-five years. A good many of 
the first settlers had ended their labours, and were 
peacefully resting in the quiet grave-yard ; but there 
were many left, and they were generally hale old peo- 
ple, who were enjoying in contentment and peace the 
evening of their days, surrounded by their children, 
who were then in their prime, and their grandchildren, 
ruddy and vigorous plants, shooting up rapidly around 
them. The years that had fled were eventful ones, not 
only to themselves, but to the new country which they 
had founded. " The little one had become a thousand, 
and a small one a strong nation." The forest had melted 



78 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



away before the force of their industry, and orchards 
with their russet fruit, and fields of waving corn, glad- 
dened their hearts and filled their cellars and barns 
with abundance. The old log house which had been 
their shelter and their home for many a year had 
disappeared, or was converted into an out-house for 
cattle, or a place for keeping implements in during the 
winter ; and now the commodious and well-arranged 
frame one had taken its ])lace. Large barns for their 
increasing crops and warm sheds to protect the cattle 
had grown u[) out of the rude hovels and stables. 
Everything around them betokened thrift, and moi'e 
than an ordinary degree of comfort. They had what 
must be i:>ronounced to have been, for the time, good 
schools, where their cliildi'en could acquire a tolerable 
education. They also had places in which they could 
assemble and worship God. There were merchants 
from whom they could purchase such articles as they 
required, and there were markets for thc'v produce. 
The changes wrought in these foity-five years were 
wonderful, and to no class of persons could these 
changes seem more surprising than to themselves. 
Certainly no people appreciated more fully the rich 
ripe fruit of their toil. Among the pleasantest pic- 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



70 



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tures I can recall are the old homes in which my 
boyhood was passed. I hardly know in what style 
of architecture they were built ; indeed, I think it 
was one peculiar to the people and the age. They 
were strong, substantial structures, erected with an 
eye to comfort rather than show. They were known 
afterwards as Dutch houses, usually one story high, 
and built pietty much after the same model ; a 
parallelogram, with a wing at one end, and often to 
both. The roofs were very steoi), with .. row of dor- 
mer windows, and sometimes two rows looking out 
of their broad sides, to give light to ihe chambers and 
sleeping rooms up-stairs. The livii.g rooms were 
generally large, with low ceilings, and u oil supplied 
with cupboards, which were always filled w^ith blankeis 
and clothing, dishes, and a multitude of good things 
for the table. The bed rooms were always small and 
cramped, but they were sure to contain a good bed — ■ 
a bed which required some ingenuity, perhaps, to get 
into, owing to its height ; but when once in, the great 
feather tick fitted kindly to the weary body, and the 
blankets over you soon wooed your attention away from 
the narrowness of the apartment. Very often the roof 
projected over, giving an elliptic shape to one side, and 



4t" 



80 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



the projection of about six feet formed a cover of what 
was then called a long stoop, but which now-a-days 
would be known as a veranda. This was no addition 
to the lighting of the rooms, for the windows were 
always small in size and few in number. The kitchen 
usually had a double outside door — that is a door cut 
cross-wise through the middle, so that the lower part 
could be kept shut, and the upper left open if necessary. 
I do not know what particular object there was in this, 
unless to let the smoke out, for chimneys were more 
apt to smoke then than now ; or, perhaps, to keep the 
youngsters in and let in fresh air. Whatever the ob- 
ject was, this was the usual way the outside kitchen 
door was made, with a wooden latch and leather string 
hanging outside to lift it, which was easily pulled in, 
and then the door was quite secure against intruders. 
The barns and out-houses were curiosities in after 
years: large build'ngs witli no end of timber and all 
roof, like a great box wit!) an enormous candle extin- 
guisher set on it. But houses and barns are gone, and 
modern structures occupy their places, as they suc- 
ceeded the rough log ones, and one can only see them 
as they are photographed upon the memory. 



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fiFtY YEARS AGO. 



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Early days are always bright to life's voyager, and 
whatever his condition may have been at the out- 
set, he is ever wont to look back with fondness to 
the scenes of his youth. I c\n recall days of toil 
under a burning sun, but they were cheerful days, 
nevertheless. There was always " a bright spot in 
the future " to look forward to, which moved the arm 
and lightened the task. Youth is buoyant, and if its 
feet run in the way of obedience, it will leave a sweet 
fragrance behind, which will never lose its flavour. 
The days I w^orked in the harvest field, or when I fol- 
lowed the plough, whistling and singing through the 
hours, are not the least happy recollections of the past. 
The merry song of the girls, mingling with the luim of 
the spinning- wdieei, as they tripped backward and for- 
ward to the cadence of their music, drawing out miles 
of thread, reeling it into skeins which the woiivcr's 
loom and shuttle was to turn into thick heavy cloth ; 
or old grandmother treading away at her little wheel, 
making it buzz as she drew out the delicate fibres of 
flax, and let it run up the spindle a fine and evenly 
twisted thread, with which to sew our garments, or to 
make our linen; and mother, busy as a bee, thinking 
of us all, and never wearying* in her endeaviuirs to add 



82 



COUNTRY LI^E IN CANADA 



to our comfort — these are pictures that stand out, clear 
and distinct, and are often reverted to with pleasure 
and delight. But though summer time in the country 
is bright and beautiful with its broad meadows waving 
before the western wind like seas of green, and the 
yellow corn, gleaming in the field where the sun-burnt 
reapers are singing; though the flowers shed their 
fragrance, and the breeze sighs softly through the 
branches overhead in monotones, but slightly varied, 
yet sweet and soothing ; though the wood is made 
vocal with the song of birds, and all nature is jocund 
and bright — notwithstanding, all this, the winter, 
strange as it may seem, was the time of our greatest 
enjoyment. Winter, Avhen " Old Gray," who used to 
scanii)or with me astride his bare back down the lane, 
stood munching his fodder in the stall ; when the cat- 
tle, no longer lolling or browsing in the peaceful shade, 
moved around the barn-yard with humped backs, 
shaking their heads at the cold north wind ; when the 
trees vvero stripped of their roiiage, and the icicles 
hung in fantastic I'ows along the naked branches, glit- 
tering like jewels in the sunshine, or rattling in the 
northern blast ; when the gj'ound was covered deep 
with snow, and the 'wind " driving o'er the fields/ ' 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



83 



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whirled into huge drifts, blocking up the doors and 
paths and roads ; when 

" The whited air 
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven, 
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end ; " 

when the frost silvered over the window-panes, or 
crept through the cracks and holes, and fringed them 
with its delicate fret- work ; when the storm raged and 
howled without, and 

" Shook beams and rafters as it passed ! " 

Within, happy faces were gathered around the blazino' 
logs in the old fire-place. 

*' Shut in from all the world without, 
We sat the clean-winged hearth about, 
Content to let the north wind roar. 
In balHed rage at pane and door, 
While the red logs before us beat 
The frost line back with tropic heat." 

The bupper has been cleared away, and upon the 
clean white tabic is placed a large dish of apples and 
a pitcher of cider. On either end stands a tallow 
candle in a bi-ight brass candlestick, with an extin- 
guisher attached to each, and the indispensable snuf- 
fers and tray. Sometimes the fingers are made use of 
in the place of the snuffers ; but it is not always satis- 



^4 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



factory to the snuffer, as he sometimes burns himself, 
and hastens to snap Jiis fingers to get rid of the burn- 
ing wick. One of the candles is appropriated by 
father, who is quietly reading his paper ; for we had 
newspapers then, though they would not compare very 
favourably with those of to-day, and we got them only 
once a week. Mother is darning socks. Grandmother 
is making the knitting needles fly, as though all her 
grandchildren were sfcockinglcss. The girls are sewing 
and making merry with the boys, and we are deeply 
engaged with our lessons, or what is more likely, 
playing fox and .n^eese. 

" What matters how the night behaved ; 
What matter how the north-wind raved ; 
IMow high, blow k)w, not all its snow 
Could (luench our ruddy hearth-tire's glow. 



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O time and change ! with hair as gray 

As was my sire's that winter day, 

How strange it seems, with so much gone 

Of life and love, to still live on ! 

Ah brother ! only I and thou 

Are left of all the circle now— 

The dear home faces whereupon 

Tiie titful fire-light paled and shone, 

Henceforth, listen as we will. 

The voices of that hearth are still. " 



FTFTY TEARS AGO. 



85 



CHAPTER IV. 



THE EARLY SETTLERS IN UPPER CANADA— PROSPERITY, NATIONAL 

AND INDIVIDUAL— THE OLD HOMES, WITHOUT AND WITHIN 

(JANDLE-MAKING — SUPERSTITIONS AND OIVIENS— THE DEATH- 
WATCH — OLD ALMANACS— EEES— THE DIVINING ROD— THE U. E. 
LOYALISTS— THEIR SUFFERINGS AND HEROISM— AN OLD AND A 
NEW PRICE LIST— PRIMITIVE HOROLOGES— A .TAUNT IN ONE 
OF THE CONVENTIONAL " CARRIAGES " OF OLDEN TIMES- THEN 
AND NOW — A NOTE OF WARNING. 

rriHE settlement of Ontario, known up to the time of 
-^ Confederation as the Province of Upper Can- 
ada, or Canada West, began in 1784, so that at the 
date I purpose to make a brief survey of the condition 
and progress of the country, it had been settled forty- 
six years. During those years— no insignificant period 
in a single life, but very small indeed in the history of a 
country — the advance in national prosperity and in the 
various items that go to make life pleasant and happy 
had been marvellous. The muscular arm of the sturdy 
pioneer had hewn its way into the primeval forest, and 
turned the gloomy wilderness into fruitful fields. 

It is well known that the first settlers located alono- 
the shores of the River 8t, Lawrence, the Bay of 



86 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



Quints, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erio, and that, at the 
iiinc of winch 1 speak, this coastline of a few hundred 
miles, extending back but a very short distance — a long 
narrow strip cut from the serried edge of the bound- 
less woods — comprised the settlement of Canada West 
as it then existed. Persistent hard work iiad piacctl 
the majority in circumstances of more than ordinary 
comfort. Good houses had taken the place of log 
cabins, and substantial frame barns that of rude hovels. 
Hard fare and scanty raiment had given place to an 
abundance of the necessaries of life, and no people, 
perhaps, ever appreciated these blessings with more 
sincere thankfulness or more hearty contentment. The 
farmer was a strong, hardy man, the wife a ruddy, 
cheerful body, careful of the comforts of her house- 
hold. One table sufficed for themselves and their 
servants or hired help. Meat was provided twice 
and uiicu tin ice a day ; it being more a matter of 
taste than economy as to the number of times it was 
served. Fruit was abundant, and every matron prided 
herself upon preserving and putting away quantities 
of it for home use. So that at this time the world 
was moving smoothly with the people. An immense 
track of wilderness had been reclaimed, and waving 



.1 



■i 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



87 



fields and fruitful orchards occupied its place. It may 
have seemed to them, and indeed I think it did to many, 
that the sum of all they could expect or even desire in 
this world had been attained ; while we, who remem- 
her those days, and look back over the changes of 
fifty years, wonder how they managed to endure life 
at all. 

It is true that the father, more from the force of 
habit than necessity, perhaps, continued to toil in the 
field, and the mother, moved by the same cause, and 
by her maternal anxiety for the well-being of hei- family, 
still spent many a long hour at the loom. The son, 
brought up to work, followed tho plouirh, or did battle 
with the axe, making the woods ring with his rapid 
strokes. And as he laboured he pictured to himself 
the building of a nest in the unbroken forest behind 
the homestead, wherein the girl of his choice figured 
as the central charm. The daughter who toiled throu^di 
the long summer's day to the monotonous hum of the 
spinning wheel, drawing out and twisting the threads 
that should enter into the make-up of her wedding 
outfit, was contented and happy. The time and cir- 
cumstances in which they were placed presented notU- 



88 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



ing better, and in their estimation the world had littlo 
more to offer than they already possessed. 

It is more than probable that if we, with our modern 
notions and habits, could to-day be carried back into a 
similar condition of life, we would feel that our lines 
had fallen in anything but pleasant places. The flying 
years, with their changes and anxieties, like the con- 
stant dripping of water on a stone, have worn off the 
rough edges that wounded and worried during their 
progress, and only the sunny spots, burned in the 
plastic memory of younger days, remain. 

The old homes, as I remember them in those days, 
were thought palatial in their proportions and con- 
veniences, and so they were as compared with the old 
log houses. The latter often still remained as relics 
of other days, but they had been converted into the 
base use of a cow stable, or a shelter for waggons and 
farm implements during the winter. Their successors 
were, with very few exceptions, wood'en structures, 
clap-boarded, and painted either yellow or rgd. The 
majority, however, never received any touching up from 
the painter's brush, and as the years rolled on became 
rusty and gray from the beating of winter's storms and 
the heat of summer's sun. The interior rarely displayed 



ii. 



I 



♦ - 



1 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



89 



-^- 



' 11 

.11 

lot 



any skill in carrangement or design. The living rooms 
were generally of goodly size, with low ceilings, but the 
sleeping rooms were invariably small, with barely room 
enough for a large high-posted bedstead, and a space 
to undress in. The exterior was void of any archi- 
tectural embellishment, with a steep roof pierced by 
dormer windows. The kitchen, which always seemed 
to me like an aftbr-thought, was a much lower part of 
the structure, welded on one end or the other of the 
main body of the house, and usually had a roof pro- 
jecting some distance over one side, forming "the 
stoop." In very many cases, the entrance to the 
spacious cellar, where the roots, apples, cider, and 
other needs of the household were kept, was from this 
through a ti'ap door, so that in summer or winter the 
good wife had actually to go out of doors when any- 
thing was required for the table, and that was very 
often. It really seemed us though the old saying of 
" the longest way round is the shortest way home " 
entered not only into the laying out of highways, but 
into all the domestic arrangements. Economy of time 
and space, convenience, or anything to facilitate or 
lighten labour, does not appear to have occupied the 
thoughts of the people. Work was the normal con- 



90 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



(lition of their being, and, as we see ifc now, everything 
seems to have been so arranged as to prechide the 
possibility of any idle moments. At the end of the 
kitchen was invariably a large fire-place, with its wide, 
gaping mouth, an iron crane, with a row of pothooks of 
various lengths, from which to suspend the pots over the 
fire, and on the hearth a strong pair of andirons, flanked 
by a substantial pair of tongs and a shovel. During 
the winter, when the large back-log, often as much as 
two men could handle, was brought in and fixed in its 
place, and a good forestick put on the andirons, with 
well-split maple piled upon it and set ablaze with dry 
pine and chips, the old fire-place became aglow 
with cheerful fire, and dispensed its heat through the 
room. But in extremely cold weather it sometimes 
happened that while one side was being roasted the 
other was pinched with cold. At one side of the fire- 
place there was usually a large oven, which, when 
required, was heated by burning dry wood in it, and 
then the dough was put into tin pans and pushed in to 
be baked. Sometimes the ovens were built on frames 
in the yard, and then in wind or storm the baking had 
to be carried out doors and in. Every kitchen had 
o^e or more spacious cupboards ; whatever need there 



■( • 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



91 



, ■ r'-' 



W 



was for other conveniences, these were always provided, 
and were well filled. The other rooms of the house 
were generally warmed by largi box stoves. The spare 
bedrooms were invariably cold, and on a severe night it 
was like undressing out of doors and jumping into a 
snowbank. I have many a time shivered for half an 
hour before my body could generate heat enough to 
make me comfortable. The furniture made no pre- 
tensions to artistic design or elegance. It was plain 
and strong, and bore unmistakable evidence of having 
originated either at the carpenter's bench or at the 
hands of some member of the family, in odd spells of 
leisure on rainy days. Necessity is axiomatically said 
to be the mother of invention, and as there were no 
furniture makers with any artistic skill or taste in the 
country, and as the inclination of the people ran more in 
the direction of the useful than the ornamental, most of 
the domestic needs were of home manufacture. I have 
a clear recollection of the pine tables, with their strong 
square legs tapering to the floor, and of how carefully 
they were scrubbed. Table covers were seldom used, 
and only when there was company, and then the cherry 
table with its folding leaves was brought out, and the 
pure white linen cloth, most likely the production of 



92 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



the good wife's own hands, was carefully spread upon 
it. Then came the crockery. Who can ever forget the 
blue-edged plates, cups and saucers, and other dishes 
whereon indigo storks and mandarins, or something 
approaching a representation of them, glided airily over 
sky-blue hills in their ])ious way from one indigo 
pagoda to another. These things, I have no doubt, 
would be rare prizes to Ceramic lovers of the present 
day. The cutlery and silver consisted mostly of bone- 
handled knives and iron forks, and iron and pewter 
spoons. On looking over an old inventory of my grand- 
father's personal efi'ects not long since, I came upon 
these items : " two pair of s])oon moulds," and I 
remembered melting pewter and making spoons with 
these moulds when I was ver}^ young. Cooking was done 
in the oven, and over the kitchen fire, and the utensils 
were a dinner pot, teakettle, frying pan and skillet 
There were no cooking sto\^es. The only washing 
machines were the ordinary wash tubs, soft soap, and 
the brawny arms and hands of the girls ; and the only 
wringers were the strong wrists and firm grip that could 
give a vigorous twist to what i)assed through the hands. 
Water was drawn from the wells with a bucket 
fastened to a long slender pole attached to a sweep sus- 



,1 v 



i 



^ 



i?IFTY YEAKS AGO. 



98 






i3endod to a crotch. Butter, as has already been inti- 
mated, was made in upright churns, and many aniiour 
have I stood, witli mother's apron pinned around me to 
keep my clothes from getting spattered, pounding at 
the stubborn cream, when every minute seemed an hour, 
thinking the butter would never come. When evening 
set in, we were wont to draw around the cheerful fire 
on the hearth, or perhaps up to the kitchen table, and 
read and work by the dim liglit of "tallow dips," 
placed in tin candlesticks, or, on extra occasions, in 
brass or ?*;ver ones, with their snufiers, trays and 
extinguishers. Now, we sit bv the brilliant lioht of the 
coal oil lamp or of gas. Then, coal oil was in the far- 
off future, and there was not a gas jet in Canada, if 
indeed in America. The making of tallow candles, 
befoi-e moulds were used, was a slow and tii-esnine task, 
fclmall sticks were used, about two feet long, upon each 
of which six cotton wicks, made for the purpose, were 
placed about two inches apart, each wick being from 
ten to twelve inches long. A large kettle was next 
partly filled with hot water, upon which melted tallow 
was poured. Then, two sticks were taken in the right 
hand, and the wick slowly dipped up and down through 
the melted tallow. This process was continued until 



D4 



COUNTRr LIFE IN CANADA 



the candles had attained sufficient size, when thev were 
liut aside to harden, and then taken off' the sticks and 
put away. It required considerable practical experience 
to make a smooth candle which would burn evenly ; 
and a sputtering candle was an abomination. The cloth 
with which the male members of the family were clad, 
as well as the flannel that made the dresses and under- 
clothing for both, was carded, spun, and often woven 
at home, as was also the flax that made the linen. 
There were no sowing or knitting machines, save the 
<icft hands that plied the needle. Carpets were 
seldom seen. The floors of the spare rooms, as they were 
called, were painted almost invariably with yellow ochre 
paint, and the kitchen floor was kept clean and white with 
the Hie, and sanded. The old chairs, which, in point of 
comfort, modern times have in no way improved upon, . 
we»'e also of home make, with thin round legs and 
splint-bottomed seats, or, what was more common, elm 
bark evenly cut and })l{iited. Many a time have I gone 
to the woods in the spring, when the willow catkins in 
the swamp and along the side of the creek turned from 
silver to gold, and when the clusters of linwort nodded 
above the purple-green leaves in the April wind, and 



4) 



(> 



^IFTY YEARS ACtO. 



9^ 



taken the bark in long strips from the elm trees to re- 
seat the dilapidated chairs. 

If the labour-saving appliances were so scanty in- 
doors, they were not more numerous outside. The 
farmer's implements were rude and rough. The wooden 
plough, with its wrought-iron share, had not disap- 
peared, but ploughs with cast-iron mould-boards, land- 
sides and shares, were rapidly coming into use. These 
had hard-wood beams, and a short single handle with 
which to guide them. They were clumsy, awkward 
things to work with, as I remember full well, and 
though an improvement, it was impossible to do nice 
work with them. Indeed, that part of the question 
did not receive much consideration, the principal ob- 
ject being to get the ground turned over. They were 
called patent ploughs. Di'ags were cither tree tops or 
square wooden frames with iron teeth. The scythe for 
hay and the cradle for grain, with strong backs and 
muscular arms to swing them, were the only mowers 
and reai)ers known. The hand rake had not been 
superseded by the horse rake, nor the hoe by the cul- 
tivator; and all through the winter, the regular thump, 
thump of the flails on the barn floor could be heard, or 
the trampling out of the grain by the horses' feet. Tho 



00 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



lattle of the fanning mill announced the finishing or 
bhe task. Threshing machines and cleanei-s wore yet 
lo come. 

It will be seen from what I have said that both in 
the house and out of it work was a stern and exacting 
master, whose demands were incessant, satisfied only 
by the utmost diligence. It was simply by this that 
so much was accomplished. It is true there were 
other incentives that gave force to the wills and nerves 
to the arms which enabled our forefathers to overcome 
the numberless arduous tasks that demanded attention 
daily throughout the year. All the inventions that 
have accumulated so rapid! 3-' for the last twenty years 
or more, to lighten the burden and facilitate the ac- 
complishment of labour and production, as well as to 
promote the comfort of all classes, were unknown fifty 
years ago. Indeed many of the things that seo; sj 
simple and uninteresting to us now, as I shall have oc- 
casion to show further on, were then hidden in the 
future. Take for example the very common and indis- 
pensable article, the lucifer match, to the absence of 
whlvh Musion has already been made. Its simple 
method of producing tire had nev<"' entered the imagi- 
nation of our most gifted sires, "he only way known 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. (Jf 

to them was the primitive one of rubbing two sticks to- 
gether and producing fire by friction-a so.ncwliat 
tedious procoss-or witli a flint, a heavy jack-knife, 
and a bit of punk, a fungous growih, the best of which 
for this purpose is obtained from tlie beech. Gun Hints 
were most generally used. One of these was placed 
on a bit of dry puidv, and lield firmly in the left hand, 
while the back of the closed blade of the knife tlius 
brought into contact with the flint by a (piick downward 
stroke of the right hand produced a sliower of spirks 
some of which, falling on the punk, would ignite ; and 
thus a fire was produced. In the winter, if tlie fire went 
out, there were, as I have already stated,but two alterna- 
tives—either the flint and steel, or a run to a nei^h- 
hour's house for live coals. 

There were many superstitious notions current amono- 
the people in those days. Many an omen botli for good 
and evil was sincerely believed in, which even yet in 
quiet places finis a lodgement where tlie schooln aster 
has not been much abroad. Jjut tlie half century tliat 
has passed away has seen the List of many a foolish 
notion. A belief in omens was not confined to the 
poor and ignorant, for brave m^'ii hav(> been known to 
tremble at seeing a winding-sheet in a candle and 

a 






98 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



learned men to gather their little ones around them, 
fearino; that one wouhl be snatched away, because a 
dog outside took a fancy to howl at the moon. And 
wlio has not heard the remark when a sudden shiver 
caUie over one, that an enemy was then walking ov jr 
the spot which would be his grave ? Or who has not 
noticed the alarm occasioned by the death watch — the 
noise, resembling the ticking of a watch, made by a 
hannless little insect in the wall — -or the saying that if 
thirteen sit down to table, one is sure to die within a 
year ? Somebody has said tliere is one case when he 
believed this omen to be true, and that is when tliii'- 
teen sit down to dinner and there is only enough for 
twelve. There was no end to bad omens. It was bad 
luck to see the new moon for the lirst time over tlie 
left shoulder, but if seen over the right it was the 
reverse. It is well known that the moon has been 
supposed to exercise considerable inlluence over our 
planet, among the chief of which are the tides, and 
it was bL^lieved also to have a great deal to do 
with much smaller matters. There are few who have 
not seen en the first page of an almanac the curious 
picture representing a nude man with exjiosed bowels, 
and surrounded with the zodiacal signs. This was al- 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



99 



ways found in tlie old almanacs, and indeed they would 
be altou'cther unsaleable without it and the weather 
forecast. How often have I seen the almanac consulted 
as to whether it was going to l)e fair or stormy, cold 
or hot ; how often seen the mother studying the pic- 
tures when she wished to wean her babe. If she found 
the chanue of the moon occurred when the sii-n was in 
Aries or Gemini or Taurus, all of which were supposed 
to exercise a baneful influence on any part of the body 
above the heart, she would defer the matter until a 
change came, when the sign would be in Virgo or Li- 
bra, considering it extremely dangerous to undertake 
the operation in the former case. The wife was not 
alone in this, for the husband waited for a certain time 
in the moon to sow his peas — that is, if he wished to 
ensure a good crop. He also thought it unlucky to kill 
hogs in the wane of the moon, because the pork would 
shrin!: and waste in the boiling. The linding of an old 
horseshoe was a sure sign of good luck, and it was (piite 
common to see one nailed ui) over the door. It is 
said that the late Horace Greeley always kept a rusty 
one over the door of his sanctum. To begin anything 
on Friday was sure to end badly. I had an esteemed 
friend, the late sheritf of the county of , who 



100 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



faithfully believed this, and adhered to it up to the 
time of his death. May was considered an unlucky 
month to many in, and vdien I was thinking of this 
matter a number of years later, and wished the event 
to occur during the month, my wish was objected to 
on this ground, and the ceremony deferred until June 
in consequence. 

It is said that the honey bee came to America with 
the Pilgrim Fathers. Whether this be so or not I am 
unprepared to say. If it be true, then there Avere 
loyalists among them, for they found their way to 
Canada with the U. E.'s, and contributed very consid- 
erably to the enjoyment of the table. Short-cake and 
honey were things not to be despised in those days, I 
remember. There w^as a curious custom that prevailed 
of blowing horns and pounding tin pans to keep the 
bees from going away when swarming. The custom 
is an Old Country one, I fancy. Tiie reader will 
remember that Dickens, in " Little Dorrit," makes 
Ferdinand Barnacle say : " You really have no idea 
how the human bees wdll swarm to the beating of any 
old tin kettle." 

A 'mother peculiar notion prevailed with|respect to 
&■ 'ering the proper place to dig wells. There wore 



— ( 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



101 



certain persons, I do not remember what they were 
called, whether water doctors or water witches, who 
|)rofessed to be able, with the aid of a small hazel 
crotched twig, which was held firmly in both hands 
with the crotch inverted, to tell where a well should 
he sunk with a certainty of finding water. The pro- 
cess was simply to walk about with the twig thus held, 
and when the right place was reached, the forked twig 
would turn downwards, however firmly held ; and on 
the strenfijth of this, diQ*mn2^ would be commenced in 
the place indicated. A curious feature about this was 
that there were but very few in Avhose hands the ex- 
periment would work, and hence the water discoverer 
was a person of some repute. I never myself witnessed 
the performance, but it was of common occurence.* 

The people of to-day will no doubt smile at these 
reminiscences of a past age, and think lightly of the 



*Tlie reader will rememl)or the occult operations of Doiisterswivel in 
the seventeenth chapter of Scott's Antiqnarii. " In trntli, the German 
was now got to a little copse-thicket at some distance from the ruins, 
where he .affected Imsily to search for snch a wand as should suit the 
purpose of his mystery ; and after cutting off a small twig of hazel ter- 
minating in a forked end, which he pronounced to possess the virtue 
jiroper for the experiment that he was about to exhibit, holding the 
forked ends of the wand each between the finger and the thumli, and 
thus keeping the rod upright, he proceeded to pace the ruined aisles," 
&c. So it will be seen that we had Canadian successors of Douster- 
swivel in my time, but we had no Oldbucks, 



r^ 



102 



COITNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



life siUToimdings of these early" pioneers of the Pro- 
vince. But it must not be foro;otten that their condi- 
tion of life was that of the first remove from the bush 
and the log cabin. There was abundance, without 
luxury, and it was so widely different from the struggle 
of earlier years that the people were contented and 
happy. "No people on earth," says Mr. Talbot, in 
1828, "live better than the Canadians, so far as eating 
and di'inking justify the use of the expression, for they 
may bo truly said to fare sumptuously every day. 
Their In'cakfast not unfrequently consists of twelve or 
fourteen different inm-edients, which are of the most 
heterogeneous nature. Green tea and fried pork, honey- 
comb and salted salmon, pound cake and pickled 
cucumbers, stewed chickens and apple-tarts, maple 
molasses and pease-pudding, gingerbread and sour- 
crout, are to be found at almost every table. The 
dinner differs not at all from the breakfasi;, and the 
afternoon repast, which the}^ term supper, is equally 
substantial." 

The condition of the Province in 1830 could not be 
otherwise than pre-eminently satisfactory to its in- 
habitants. That a people who had been driven from 
their homes, in most cases destitute of the common 



/ : 






S' 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



ion 



needs of ordinary life, should have come into a vast 
wilderness, and, in the course of forty-six years, have 
founded a country, and placed themselves in circum- 
stances of comfort and independence, seems to me to 
be one of the marvels of the century. The struo-o-los 
and trials of the first settlers must ever l,e a sul.j.^It of 
deepest interest to every true Canadian, and, as an 
illustration of the power of fixed principles upon the 
action of men, there are few things in the world's 
history that surpass it. It must be remembered that 
many, nay most, of the families who came hei-e had, 
prior to and during the Revolutionary war, been men 
of means and position. All these advantages they 
were forced to abandon. They came into this country 
with empty hands, accepted the liberality of the Briti.sh 
Government for two years, and went to>ork. Provi- 
dence smiled upon their toils, and in the year of which 
I speak tliey had grown into a prosperous and happy 
people. 

The social aspect of things had changed but little. 
The habits and customs of early days still remained. 
The position of the inhabitants was one of exio^encv 
The absorbing desire to succeed kept them at home. 
They knew but little" of what was passing in the 



104 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



worM outside, and as a general thing tliey care<l less. 
Tlieir cliief interest was centred in the common wel- 
fare, and each contiihuted his or her share of intel- 
ligence and sagacity to further any plans that were 
calcidated to promote the general good. Every day 
called for some new expedient in which the comfort or 
advantao'c of the whole was concerned, for there were 
no positions save those accorded to worth and intellect. 
The sufferings or misfortunes of a neighbour, as well 
as his enjoyments, were participated in by all. Know- 
ledge and ability were respectfully looked up to, yet 
those who possessed these seemed hardly conscious of 
their gifts. The frequent occasions which called for 
the exercise of the mind, sharpened sagacity, and gave 
strength to character. Avarice and vanity were con- 
fined to narrow limits. Of money there was little. 
Dress was coarse and plain, and was not subject to 
the whims or caprices of fashion. The girls, from the 
examples set them by their mothers, were industrious 
and constantly emi)loyed. Pride of birth was unknown, 
and the affections flourished fair and vigorously, un- 
checked by the thorns and brambles with which our 
minds are cursed ia the advanced stage of refinement 
of the present day. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



105 



The secret of their success, if there Avas tany secret 
in it, was the economy, iiKhistry and njoderate wants 
of every member of the household. The clothini:' and 
living were the outcome of the farm. Most of the 
ordinary implements and requirements for both were 
procured at liome. The neighbourino- blacksmith 
made the axes, logging-chains and tools. He ironed 
the waggons and sleighs, and received his pay from 
the cellar and barn. Almost every farmer had his 
work-bench nnd carpenter's tools, which he could han- 
dle lo advantage, as well as a shoemakers bench; and 
during th(^ long evenings of the fall and wintei- would 
devote some of his time to mending hoots oi re[)airmg 
harness. Sometimes the old loij-house was turned into 
a blacksmith shop. This was the case with the first 
home of my grandfather, and his seven sons could turn 
their hands to any trade, and do pretty good work. 
If the men's clothes were not made by a member of 
the household, they were made in the house by a sew- 
ing girl, or a roving tailor, and the boots and shoes 
were made by cobblers of the same itinerant stripe. 
Many of the productions of the farm were unsaleable, 
owing to the want of large towns for a market. Trade, 
such as then existed, was carried on mostly by a system 



IOC COUNTRY LIFE TN CANADA 

of barter. The refuse ap^tles fi-oin the orchard were 
tiirniMl into (Uiler and vino^-ar for tlio table. The skins 
of the cattle, calves and shoo]) that were slaui^'htcrod 
for the wants of th(i faniilv, wore taken t<» tli<' tan- 
nois, who dressed Hiom, and returno(l Imlf of oaeh 
Indo. Tlie cnrrency ot" ilio day wns Hour, ))()rk and 
potash. Tho first two were in doinnnd for the luui- 
bornien's shanties, and the hist sv(Mit to Montreal for 
export. The ashes from the house and the loi^'dieaps 
were eithei' leaehed at home, and the lye boiled down 
in the large potash ketJos — of which almost eviny 
farmer ha<l one or two — and converted into potash, 
or becanu^ a por(|uisite of the wife, and were carried 
to tlie ashery, where they were exchanged for crockery 
or somethino; ibr the bouse. Wood, save the laro-e 
oak and pine tind^er, was valueless, and was cut dowr. 
and burned to get it out of the way. 

I am enabled to give a list of prices current at that 
time of a number of things, from a domestic account- 
book, and an auction sale of my grandfather's personal 
estate, after his death in 1821). The term in use for an 
auction then was vendue. 

1830. 1880. 

A good hor.«e §80 00 8120 00 

Yoke of oxen 7:") 00 100 00 

Milch cow 10 00 30 00 



' I. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



107 



1S.10. 

A hog S 2 on 

Aslu't'p 2 00 

Hay, VHT ton 7 oo 

Tork, per 1)1)1 ir. 00 

Flour, per cwt ;{ oO 

3't't'f :; :,() 

Mutton II ;• 00 

Turkeys, oacli 

Duoks, per pair 

(ieose, each 

( "hickens, per i)aii' 

Wheat, iK-r hushel 1 00 

I»ye 'r 70 

Jiarley ,1 r.O 

Peas ,1 ^0 

Oats II ;^7 

Potatoes 11 40 

Api)lea M ;-,Q 

r)Utter, per pound 14 

Cheese n 

Lard- n 5 

E<,'gs, per dozen K) 

Wood, per cord i oO 

Calf skins, each 

Sheep skins, each 

West India molasses 80 

Tea, per pound so 

Tobacco 25 

Honey 10 

Oysters, per < piart SO 

Men's stronfj boots, i)er pair ,'] 00 

Port wiue, per irallon SO 

Brandy n j no 

Ilnm ,1 " 1 00 

Whisky n 40 

Grey cotton, per yard 1 1 

Calico II 20 

Nails, per pound 14 



ISSO. 

.s r. 00 

r» 00 

12 00 

12 00 

.'{ 00 

1; 00 

(; no 

1 :.o 

1 00 

so 

10 

1 OS 

sn 

1 00 

70 

t» *- 
.1.) 

no 

25 
17 
12 
25 
5 00 
I 00 

1 00 
50 
(iO 
50 
25 
40 

2 75 
4 00 

3 00 
1 40 

10 

12 

4 



108 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



A^cgctal)les were unsaleable, and so were many other 
tilings for which the farmcv now finds a ready market. 
Tlic wages paid to a man were from eight to ton dollars, 
and a girl iiom two to three dollars, per month. For 
a day's ^\ork, except in harvest time, from fifty to 
seventy-five cents was the ordinary rate. IMoney was 
reckoned by €. s. d. Halifax currency, to distinguish it 
from the pound sterling. The former was e((ual to 
S4.00, and the latter, as now, to .^4.87. 

( 'locks were not common. It is true, in most -^f the 
better class of old homes a stately old time-piece, whose 
face nearly reached the ceiling, stood in the hall or 
sitting-room, and measured off the hours witli slow and 
steady beat. But the most common time-])iece was a 
line cut in the iloor, and when the sun touched his 
meridian lieii'lit his ravs were cast alono- tliis mai'k 
through a crack in the door ; and thus the hour of 
noon was made known. A few years later the irre- 
pre *ble Yankee invaded the country with his wooden 
clocKs, and supplied the ^vant. My father bought one 
which is still in existence (thoui-h I think it has ii'ot 
past keei)ing time), and paid ten pounds for it ; a bet- 
ter one can be had now for as many shillings. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



109 



The kitchen door, which, as I have ah-eady inen- 
tionod, was very often divided in the middle, so that 
the upper part could be opened and the lower half 
kept closed, was the general entrance to the house, 
and was usually provided with a wooden latch, which 
was lifted from the outside by a leather string put 
through the door. At niglit, when the family retired, 
the string was pulled in and the door was fastened 
against any one from the outside. From this origin- 
ated the saying that a friend would always find the 
strinii' on the latch. 

Carriages were not kept, for the simple reason that 
tlie farmer seldom had occasion to use them. He rarely 
went from home, and when he did he mounted his 
horse or di'ove in his himl)er-waggon to market or to 
meeting. He usually had one or two waggon-chairs, 
as diey were called, which would hold two persons very 
comfortably. These were put in the waggon and a 
buffalo skin thrown over them, and then the vehicle 
was ecpiipped for the Sunday drive. There was a 
light waggon ke})t for the old people to dri- • about in, 
the box of which rested on the axles. The seat, how- 
ever, was secured to wooden springs, which made it 
somewhat more comfortable to lide in. A specimen ol' 



110 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



tlii.s kind of carriage was shown by the York Pioneers 
at the Industrial Exhibition in this city. I have a clear 
recollection of the most connnon carriage kept in those 
days, and of my first ride in one. I was so delighted 
that I have never forgotten it. One Saturday after- 
noon, my father and mother determined to visit Grand- 
father C , some six miles distant. We were made 

ready — that is to say, my sister and self — and the 
" yoke" was put to. Our carriage had but two wheels, 
the most fashionable mode then, and no steel springs ; 
neither was the body hung upon hitraps. I'here was 
no cover to the seat, which was unique in its way, and 
original in its get-up. Neither was there a well-padded 
cushion to sit on, or a back to recline against. It was 
nothing more or less than a limber board })la(j:ed across 
from one side of the box to the other. My father took 
his seat on the right, the place imariably accorded to 
the driver — we did nut keep a coachman then — my 
mother and sistei', the latter being an infant, sat on 
the opposite side, Avhile 1 was wedgetl in the middle 
to keep me from tumbling out. My lather held in his 
hand a long slender wliip (commonly called a "gad") 
of blue beech, with which he touched the oti-side 
animal, and said, " Haw Uuck, goe-'long." The " yoke " 






FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



Hi 



obeyed, and broiiglit us safely to our joui-iiey's end in 
the course of time. Many and many a pleasant ride 
have 1 had since in far more sum[)tuous vehicles, but 
none of them has left such a distinct and i)leasin«r 

J- o 

T recollection. 

The houses wei-e almost invariablv inclose<I with a 
picket or board fence, with a small yard in front. 
Shade and ornamental trees were not in nnieh repute. 
All around lay the " l)Oundless continuity of shade ; " 
but it awak-ned no i)Oetic sentiment. To them it had 
been a standing menace, which had cost the expendi- 
ture of their best energ-ies, year after year, to push 
further and further back. The time had not come 
for ornamenting their grounds and iields with shrubs 
and trees, unless they could minister to their comfort 
in a more substantial way. The gai'dens were generally 
well supj)lied with cuiiant and gooseberry bushes. 
Pear, plum -ind cherry trees, as well as the orchard 
itseli';, Were close at hand. Raspberries and strawberries 
were abundant in every new clearing. The sap-bush 
furnished the su;';ar and maple nu^lasses. 80 that most 
of the requisites for good living were within easy 
liail. 



112 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



The first concern of a thrifty farmer was to possess 
a large barn, with out-houses or sheds attached for 
his hay and straw, and for the protection of his stock 
during the cold and stormy weather of fall and win- 
ter. Lumber cost him nothing, save the labour of 
getting it out. There was, therefore, but little to pre- 
vent him from having plenty of room in which to 
house his crops, and as the process of threshing was 
slow it necessitated more space than is required now. 
The granary, pig-pen and - rn-crib were usually sep- 
arate. The number and exce. i >■ buildings on a flour- 
ishing homestead, inclosed with strong board fences, 
covered a wide area, but the barns, with their enor- 
mous peaked roofs, and the houses, with their dormer 
windows looking out from their steep sides, have 
nearly all disappeared, or have been transformed into 
more modern shape. 

It would be dilHcult to find much resendjlance be- 
tween the well-ordered house of the thriving farmer 
of to-day and that of half a century ago. In the 
first place the house itself is designed with an eye to 
convenience and comfort. Thej'o is more o'- less arclii- 
tectural taste displayed in its external appe-irance. It 
is kept carefully painted. The yawning fireplace in 






FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



113 



the kitchen, with its row of pots, has discappearcd, 
and in its place the most approved cooking-stove or 
range, with its multifarious api)endages, is found. On 
the walls hang numberless appliances to aid in cook- 
ing. Washiog-machines, wringers, improved cliurns, 
and many other labour saving arrani^^ements render 
the task of the house-wife comparatively easy, and 
enable her to accomplish much more work in a 
shorter time than the dear old grandmother ever 
dreamed of in the highest flights of her imagination. 
Her cupboards are filled with china and earthenware 
of the latest pattern. Pewter plates and buck-liandled 
knives have vanished, and ivory-handled cutlery has 
taken their places. Britannia metal and pewter si)oons 
have been sent to the melting-pot, and iron forks have 
given place to nickel and silver ones. The old fur- 
niture has found its way to the garret, and the house 
is furnished from the ware-rooms of the best makers. 
Fancy carpets cover the iioor of every room. The 
old high-posted bedsteads, which almost required a 
ladder to get into, went to the lundjer heap loiif^ a.o-o 
and low, sumptuous couciies take their i)laces. The 
great feather tick has been converted into the more 

healthy mattress, and the straw tick and curds have 
H 



114 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



been replaced by spring bottoms. It used to be quite 
an arduous undertaking, J remember, to put up one 
of those old beds. One person took a wrench, kept 
for that purpose, and drew up the cord with it as tight 
as he couid at every hole, and another followed with 
a hammer and pin, which was driven into the hole 
through which the end passed to hold it ; and so you 
went on round the bed, until the cord was all drawn 
as tight as it could possibly be. Now a bedstead can 
be taken down and put up in a few moments by one 
person with the greatest ease. The dresses of both 
mother and daughters are made according to the latest 
styles, and of the best material. The family ride in 
their carriage, with fine hort-cs, and richly-plated har- 
ness. The boys are sent to college, and the girls are 
polished in city boarding-schools. On the farm the 
change is no less marked. The grain is cut and bound 
with reaping machines, the grass with mowing ma- 
cirines, and raked with horse rakes. Threshing ma- 
chines thresh and clean the grain. The farmer has 
machines for planting and sowing. The hoe is laid 
aside, and his corn and root crops are kep. clean with 
cultivators. His ploughs and drags do better work 
with more ease to lumself and his team. He has dis- 



1. 



FIFTY YEAHS AGO. 



115 



covered tliat he can keep improved stock at less ex- 
pense, and at far oreator profit. In fact, the whole 
system of farniino' and farm labour has advanced with 
the same rapid strides that everythino- else has done ; 
and now one man can accomplish more in the same 
time, and do it better, than half a dozen could fifty 
years aiGjo. 

Musical instruments were almost unknown except 
by name. A stray fiddler, as I have said elsev/here, 
was al)0ut the only musician that ever delighted the 
ear of yoini'^" or old in those da3^s. I do not know that 
there was a piano in the Province. Tf there were any 
their number was so small that the^^ could have been 
counted on tlie fingers of one hand. Now, every house 
in the laud with any pretension to the ordinary com- 
forts of life has either a piano or a melodeon, and every 
farmer's daughter of any [position can run over the keys 
with as much ea.se and etfect as a city belle. Passing 
along one of our streets not long since, i licard some 
ojic playing in a room adjoining a little grocery store. 
My attention was arrested by the skill of the player, 
and the fine tone of the instrument. While I was 
listening, a couple""of ladies passed, one of whom said, 
" I do wonder if they have got a piano here." " Why 



^ 



IIG 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



not," said tlic otlier, " the pea-nut-man on Street 

has one, and I don't see why every one else shouldn't 
have." 

I think all who have marked the changes that have 
taken place during the half century which is gone, will 
admit that we are a much faster people than our 
fathers were. We have jumped from change to change 
with marvellous rapidity. We could never endure the 
patient plodding way they travelled, nor the toil and 
privation they went through ; and it is a good thing 
for us, jierhaps, that they preceded us. Would it not 
be well for us occasionally to step aside from tlie bustle 
and haste which surrounds us, and look back. There 
are many valuable lessons to be gathered from the pages 
of the past, and it might be well, perhaps, were we to 
temper our anxiety to rise in the social scale with some of 
the sterling qualities that characterized our progenitors. 
Our smart boys now-a-days are far too clever to pursue 
the paths which their fathers trod, and in too many 
cases l)eglu the career of life as second or third-rate 
professional men or merchants, while our daughters are 
too frequently turned into ornaments for the parlour. 
We know that fifty years ago the boys had to work 
early and late. West of England bi'o-idcloths and fine 






FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



117 



Frencli fabrics were things that rarely, indeed, adorned 
their persons. Fasliionable tailors and voun'- (rentle- 
men, according to the present acceptation of the term, 
are comparatively modern institutions in Canada. 
Fancy for a moment one of our young swells, with his 
fashionable suit, gold watch, chain, and rings, i)atent 
leather boots and kid gloves, and topped off with 
Christie's latest headgear, driving up to grandfather's 
door in a covered buggy and plated harness, fifty years 
ago! What would have been said, think you? My 
impression is that his astonishment would have been 
too great to find expression. The old man, no doubt, 
would have scratched his head in utter bewilderment, 
and the old lady would have pushed up her specs in 
order to take in the whole of the new revelation, and 
possibly might have exclaimed, '' J)id you ever see the 
beat?" The girls, 1 have no doubt, would have 
responded to their mother's ejaculation ; and the boys, 
if at hand, would have laughed outright. 

My remarks, so far, have been confined altogether to 
the country settlements, and fifty years ago that was 
about all there was in this Province. Kingston was, 
in fact, the only town. The other places, which have 
far outstripped it since, were only commencing, as we 



118 



COUNTRV- LIFE IN CANADA 



shall see presently. Kingston was a place of consider- 
able importance, owing to its being a garrison town ; 
and its position at the foot of lake navigation gave 
promise of future greatness. The dilterence between 
town and country life as yet was not very marked, 
except with the few ofHcers and olHcials. Clothes of 
finer and more expensive materials were worn, and a 
little more polish and rehnement were noticeable. The 
professional man's otHce was in his house, and the 
merchant lived over his store. He dealt in all kinds of 
goods, and served his customers early and late. He 
bartered with the people for their produce, and weighed 
up the butter and counted out the eggs, for which he 
paid iu groceries and dry goods. Now he has his house 
on a fashionable street, or a villa in the vicinity of the 
city, and is driven to his counting house in his carriage, 
His father, and himself, parhaps, in his boyhooil^ toiled 
in the suuimer tiuie under a burning sun, and now ne 
and hip. family take their vacation during hot weather 
at fashionable " watering places, Jor make a tour in 
Europe. 

We have but little to complain of as a people. Our 
progress during the last fifty years has been such as 
cannot but be gratifying to every Canadian, and if we 






^-'>;||^ 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



119 



arc only true to ourselves and the great principles that 
underlie real and permanent success, we should go on 
building up a yet greater and more substantial pros- 
perity, as the avenues of trade which are being opened 
up from time to time become available. But let us 
guard against the enervating influences which arc too 
apt to follow increase of wealth. The desire to rise in 
the social scale is one that finds a response in every 
breast ; but it often happens that, as we ascend, habits 
and tastes are formed that are at variance not only 
with our own well-being, but with the well-being of 
those who may be influenced by us. One of the prin- 
cipal objects, it would seem, in making a fortune in 
these days, is to make a show. There are not many 
families in this Province, so far, fortunately, whose 
children can afford to lead a life of idleness. Indeed, 
if the truth must be told, the richest heir in our land 
cannot afford it. Still, when children are born with 
silver spoons in their mouths, the necessity to work is 
removed, and it requires some impulse to work when 
there is no actual need. But, fortunately, tliere are 
higher motives in this world than a life of i/ •;Jorious 
ease. Wealth can give much, but it cannot make a 
man in the proper and hig^ er sense, any more than 



m 



120 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



iron can be transmuted into gold. It is a sad thing, I 
think, to find many of our wealthy farmers bringing 
up their children with the idea that a farmer is not as 
respectable as a counter-jumper in a city or village 
store, or that the kitchen is too trying for the delicate 
organization of the daughter, and that her vocation is 
to adorn the drawing-room, to be waited on by mamma, 
and to make a brilliant match. 



FIFTY YKAllS AGO. 



m 



(11AJTER V. 



' ^H 



Jefferson's definition oi' " liherty "— how it was acted 

UPON— THE CANADIAN KENAI.S.SANCE — I5UKNIN0 TOLITICAL 
QUESTIONS IN CANADA HALF A CENTURY AGO— LOCOMOTION — 
MRS. JAMESON ON CANADIAN STAGE COACHES— LATTEAUX AND 
DURHAM COATS. 

r I 1IIE AiHci'ican Revolution developed two strik- 
-■- ing pictures of the inconsistency of human nature. 
The author of the Declaration of Independence lays 
down at the very first this axiom : " We hold this 
truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; 
that among these, are life, lihcvty, and the pursuit of 
happiness." And yet this man, with numbers of others 
who signed the famous document, was a slave-holder, 
and contributed to the maintenance of a system which 
was a reproach and a stain upon the fair fame of the 
land, until it was wi])ed out with the blood of tens of 
thousands of its sons. The next picture that stands 
out in open contradiction to the declaration of equality 
of birth and liberty of action appears at the end of 
the war. The very men who had clamoured a.gainst 
oppression, and had fought for and won their freedom, 



122 



COUNTRY LIFM IN CAIMA13A 



in turn became the most intolerant oi)pressors. The 
men wlio had ditiered from them, and had adhered to 
the cause of the motl- jr hind, had their property con- 
fiscated, and wei-e expelled from the country. Kevol- 
utions have ever been marked by cruelty. Liberty 
in France inaugurated the guillotine. The fathers of 
the American lie volution cast out their kindred, who 
found a refuue in the wilderneys of Canada, where 
they endured for a time the most severe privations and 
hardships. This was the first illustration or defini- 
tion of ''' liberty and the pursuit of happiness, " from 
an American point of view. 

The result was not, perhaps, what was anticipated. 
The ten thousand or more of their expatriated country- 
men were not to be subdued by acts of despotic injus- 
tice. Their oninions were dear to them, and were as 
fondly cherished as were the o[)inions of those who 
had succeeded in wrenching away a part of the old 
Kmpire under a plea of being oppressed. They claimed 
only the natural and sacred right of acting u[)on 
their honest convictions ; and surely no one will pre- 
tend to say tliat their position was not as just and 
tenable, or that it was less honourable than that of 
those who had rebelled. 1 am not going to say that 



I 



■> 



•ift Vh "t 






I 



■"* . 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



19*1 



^>o 



tliuro was no cause of complaint on the part of tliose 
who thi'ew down the i-ao-c of war. Tlie truth about 
that matter has been conceded lonjj- aijo. The eiiaet- 
ments of the Home Covei'imient whieli brouuht al)out 
the revolt are matters with which we have iH)thini>- to 
do at this time. But when the war terminated am' 
peace was declared, the attitude of the new (govern- 
ment toward those of their countrymen who had ad- 
hered to jhe Old Land from a sense of duty, was cruel, 
if not barbarous, it has no parallel in modern history, 
unless it be the revocation of tiie Edict of Nantes by 
Louis XIV. The refugees, however, did not, like tlie 
Huii'uenot.s, lind a home in an old settled country, but 
in the fastness of a Canadian forest; and it is wonder- 
ful that so many men and women, out of love for a 
distant land whose subjects they had been, and whoso 
cause they had espoused, sliould have sacriticed every- 
thing, and passed from comfortable ]K)mes and dearly- 
loved kindred to desolation and poverty. It shows of 
wliat unben<ling material they were made. With 
their strong wills and stronger arms they laid the 
foundation of another country that yet may rival the 
land whence they were driven. This act no doubt 
occasioned the settlement of the Western rroviuco 



ib^ <tfM V 






124 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA. 



many years earlier than it would have occurred under 
other circumstances ; and notwitlistanding the attempts 
that were made to subdue the country, our fathers 
proved, when the straggle came, that they had lost 
none of their patriotic fire, and though they were 
comparatively few in number, they were not slow to 
shoulder their muskets and march away in defence 
of the land of their adoption. There were no differ- 
ences of opinion on this point. A people w'.o had 
first been robbed of their worldly goods and thei 
driven from the homes of their youth, were not likely 
soon to forget either their wrongs or their sufferings, 
nor to give up, without a struggle, the new homes they 
had made for themselves under the keenest privations 
and severest toils. As our fathers successfully resisted 
tlie one, so have their children treated the threats and 
blandishments that have been used from time to time 
to bring them under the protecting ;ugis of the stars 
and stripes. The wounds that were intlicted nearly a 
century ago have happily cicatrized, and we can now 
look with admiration on the happy progress of the 
American people in all that goes to make up a great 
and prosperous country. We hope to live in peace ana 
unity with them. Still, we like our own country and 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



125 



its system of government better, and feel that we have 
no reason either to be discontented with its progress, 
or to doubt as to its future. 

The year 1830 may be taken as the commencement 
of a new order of things in Canada. The people were 
prosperous ; immigration was rapidly increasing. A 
system of Government had been inaugurated which, if 
not all that could be desired, was capable of being 
moulded into a shape fit to meet the wants of a 
young and growing country. There were laws to 
protect society, encourage education, and foster trade 
and commcrc<^. The application of steam in Eng- 
land and the United States, not only to manuffictur- 
ing pur[)Oscs but to navigation, which had made 
some progress, rnpidly increased after this date, and the 
illustration given by Stephenson, in September of this 
year, of its capabilities as a motor in land transit, com- 
pletely revolutionized the commerce of the world. It 
assailed eveiy branch of industry, and in a few years 
transformed all. The inventive genius of mankind 
seemed to gather new energy. A clearer insight was 
obtained into the vast results opening out before it, and 
into the innumerable inventions which have succeeded ; 
for the more uniform and rapi<l production of almost 



12G 



COUNTRY LIFE TN CANADA 



every conceivable tiling used by man has had its 
origin in tliis Nineteenth Century Renaissance. Our 
Province, thouMi remote from tliis " new birth," could 
not but feel a touch of the pulsation that was stirring 
in the world, and, though hut in its infancy, it was not 
backward in laying hold of these discoveries, and ap- 
plying them as far as its limited resources would admit. 
As early as 1810 we ha<l a steamer— the Fvontcnac — 
running on Lake Ontario, and others soon followed. 
The increase was much more rapid after the date 
referred to, and the improvement in construction and 
speed was equalh^ marked. Owing to our sparse and 
scattered population, as well as our inability to build, 
we did not undertake the construction of railroads un- 
til I<S-")o, when the Northern Railroad was opened to 
Bradford ; hut after that we went at it in earnest, and 
we have kept at it until we have made our Province a 
network of railways. In oi'der more fully to realize 
our position at this time, it mu>t \)o borne in mind that 
our ])opulation only reached i^lO/l-oT. 

Those wlu)se I'ecollection runs l)ack to that time have 
witnessed changes in this Province (liilii uU to realiz'3 
as having taken nlace durini!' the lii'tv vears wlrch 
have intervened. The first settleis found themselves 



4 4. 

..•I 



FIFTY YEARS ACO. 



127 






in a posi ion which, owinor to^ the then-existing state 
of things, can never occur again. They were cut off 
from communication, except by very slow and inade- 
quate means, with the ohier and more advanced parts 
of America, and were, therefore, ahnost totally isolated. 
They adhered to the manners and customs of their 
fathers, and though they acc^uired property and grew 
up in sturdy independence, their liabits and modes of 
living remained unchanged. But now the steamboat 
and locomotive brousjht them into contact with the 
world outside. They began to feel and see that a new 
state of things had been inaugurated ; that the old 
paths had been forsaken ; that the world had faced 
about and taken up a new line of march. And, as their 
lives had theretofore been lives of exigency, they were 
skilled in adapting themselves to the needs of the hour. 
Men who have been trained in sucli a school are ([uick 
at catching improvements and turning them to theii- 
advantage. It matters not in what direction these im- 
provements tend, whether to agriculture, manufactures, 
education, or government ; and we shall find that in all 
these our fathers were not slow to move, oi- i.ne(pial 
to the emergency when it was pressed upon them. 



1' 



128 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



One of the dearest privileges of a British subject is 
the right of free discussion on all topics, whether sacred 
or secular — more especially those of a political charac- 
ter — and of giving effect to his opinions at the polls- 
No people have exercised these pri\rileges with more 
practical intelligence than tl\e Anglo-Canadian. It 
must be confessed that half a century ago, and even 
much later, colonial affairs were not managed by the 
Home Government altogether in a satisfactory manner. 
At the same time there can hardly be a doubt that the 
measures emanating from the Colonial Office received 
careful consideration, or that they were designed with 
an honest wish to promote the well-being of the colon- 
ists, and not in the perfunctory manner which some 
writers have represented. The great difficulty has 
been for an old country like the mother land, with its 
long established usages, its time-honoured institutions, 
its veneration for precedent, its dislike to change, and 
its faith in its own wisdom and power, either to appre- 
ciate the wants of a new country, or to yield hastily 
to its demands. British statesmen took for granted 
that what was good for tlieui was etpuilly beneficial to 
us. Thv'^ir system of government, though it had under- 
gone many a change, even in its monarchical tN'pe, was 



1 



** 



^ A 



] 



IS 



% 



■'I 



TW" 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



120 



the model on which the colonial governments were 
based ; and when the time came we were set up with 
a Governor appointed by the Crown, a Council chosen 
by the Governor, and an Assembly elected by tlie peo- 
ple. They had an Established Church, an outcome of 
the Reformation, supported by the State. It was 
necessary for the welfare of the people and for their 
future salvation that we should have one, and it was 
given us, large grants of land being made for its sup- 
port. A hereditary nobility w^as an impossibility, for 
the entire revenue of the Province in its early days 
would not have been a sufficient income for a noble 
lord. Still, there were needy gentlemen of good fami- 
lies, as there always have been, and probably ever 
will be, who were willing to sacrifice themselves for a 
government stipend. They were provided for and sent 
across the sea to this new land of oui's, to fill the few 
offices that were of any importance. There was noth- 
ing strange or unnatural in all this, and if these new- 
comers had honestly applied themselves to the develop- 
ment of the country instead of to advancing their own 
interests, many of the difficulties which afterwards 
sprang up would have been avoided. The men who 
had made the country began to feel that they knew 



T^ 



130 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



more about its wants than the Colonial Office, and that 
they could manage its affairs better than the appointees 
of the Crown, who had become grasping and arrogant. 
They began to discuss the question. A strong feeling 
pervaded the minds of many of the leading men of the 
day that a radical change was necessary for the well- 
being of the country, and they began to apply the lever 
of public opinion to the great fulcrum of agitation, in 
order to overturn the evils that had crept into the ad- 
ministration of public affairs. They demanded a gov- 
ernment which should be responsible to the people, 
and not independent of them. They urged that the 
system of representation was unjust, and should be 
equalized. They assailed the party in power as being 
corrupt, and applied to tliem the epithet of the " Fam- 
ily Compact " — a name which has stuck to them ever 
since, because they held every office of emolument, and 
dispensed the patronage to friends, to the exclusion of 
every man outside of a restricted pale. Another griev- 
ance which began to be talked about, and which re- 
mained a bone of contention for years, was the large 
grants of lands for the support of the Church of Eng- 
land. As the majority of the people did not belong to 
that body, they could not sec why it should be taken 



^IFTY YEARS AGO. 



ISI 



under the protecting care of the State, while every 
other denomination was left in the cold. Hence a 
clamour for the secularization of the Clergy Reserves 
began to be heard throughout the land. These, with 
many other questions, which were termed abuses, 
raised up a political party the members whereof came 
to be known as Radicals, and who, later, were stigma- 
tized by the opposing party as Rebels. The party 
lines between these two sides were soon sharply drawn 
and when Parliament met at York, early in January, 
1830, it was discovered that a breach existed between 
the Executive Council and the House of Assembly 
which could not be closed up until sweeping changes 
had been effected. 

The Province at this time was divided into eleven 
districts, or twenty-six counties, which returned forty- 
one members to the Assembly, and the towns of York, 
Kingston, Brockville and Niagara returned one mem- 
ber each, making in all forty-five representatives. 
Obedient to the command of the L^'cv tenant-Gover- 
nor, Sir John Colborne, the members of the different 
constituencies were finding their way with sleighs 
(the only means of conveyance in those days) through 
woods and snow-drifts, on the first of the year, to the 



w 



132 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



capital — the Town of York. The Province had not 
yet reached the dignity of possessing a city, and in- 
deed the only towns were the four we have named, of 
which Kingston was the largest and most important. 
It had a pojndation of 8,G35, and York 2,8G0. A 
member from Winnipeg could reach Ottawa quicker, 
and with much more comfort now, than York could be 
reached from the Eastern and Western limits of the 
Province in those days.* 

Marshall Spring Bid well was Speaker to the As- 
sembly, and the following formed the Executive Coun- 
cil : — J. Baby, Inspector-General ; John H. Dunn, 
Receiver-General ; Henry John Boulton, Attorney- 



* Fancy sucli an announcement as the following appearing in our news- 
papers in these clays, prior to the opening of the Houye of Assembly :— 
" To the proprietors and editors of the different papers in the Eastern 
part of the Province. Gentlemen : Presuming that the public will desire 
to ])e put in possession of His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor's 
speech at the apjjroaching Session of Pari' 'nent at an early date, and 
feeling desirous to gratify a public to which we are so much indebted, we 
sliall make arrangements for having it delivered, free of expense, at 
Kingston, the day after it is issueti from the press at York, that it may 
be forwarded to Montreal by mail on the Monday following. 

" We are. Gentlemen, 

" Your obedient servants, 
"H. Norton & Co., Kingston, 
" W. Wbller, York. 
"January 2nd, 1830." 

The foregoing is clipped from an old number of the C/iristian Guardian. 






n. 



I 



— -w 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



133 



•^1 



f*i 



if 



^ 






General ; and Christopher A. Hagerman, Solicitor- 
General. On the opening of the House, the address 
was replied to by the Governor in one of the briefest 
speeches ever listened to on the floor of th3 Legislative 
Assembly. " Gentlemen of the House of Assembly, I 
whank you for your Address." The expense of Han- 
sards would not be very considerable if the legislators 
of the present day followed the example of such brev- 
ity as this. 

Any one looking over the Journals of the Second 
Session of the Tenth Parliament will see that there 
was a liberal bill of fare provided. Every member 
had at least one petition to present, and altogether 
there were one hundred and fifty-one presented, some 
of which read strangely in the light of the present day. 
Among them was one from Addington, praying that 
means might be adopted, " to secure these Provinces 
the trade of the West Indies, free from the United 
States competition." Another was from the Midland 
District, praying that an Act be passed to prevent itin- 
erant preachers from coming over from the United 
States and spreading sedition, kc. ; and another from 
Hastings, to dispose of the Clergy Reserves. " Mr. 
McKenzie gives notice that he will to-morrow move for 



134 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



leave to bring in a l)ill to establish finger posts ; " and 
a few years later these " finger posts " could be seen 
at all the principal cross-roads in the Province. Among 
the bills there was a tavern and shop license bill ; a 
l)ill establishing the Kingston Bank with a capital of 
£100,000; a bill authorizing a grant of £57,412 10s., 
for the relief of sufi'erers in the American War ; and 
one authorizinsf a sjrant to the Kin^jston Benevolent 
Society, and also to the York Hospital and Dispensary 
established the year before. Among the one hundred 
and thirty-seven bills passed by the House of Assembly, 
nearly one hundred were rejected by the Legislative 
Council, which shows how near the two Houses had 
come to a dead- lock. In other respects there was 
nothing remarkable about the session. The really 
most important thing done was the formation of Agri- 
cultural Societies, and the aid granted them. But in 
looking over the returns asked for, and the gi'ievance 
motions brought forward from time to time, one can 
see the gathering of the storm that broke upon the 
country in 1837-8, and, however much that outbreak 
is to be deplored, it hastened, no doubt, the settlement 
of the vexed questions which had agitated the pub- 
lic miiid for years. The union of the two Provinces, 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



in3 



Upper and Lowor Canada, followed in 1841, and in 
18G7 Confederation took place, when our Province 
lost its old appellation, and has ever since been known 
as the Province of Ontaiio — the keystone Province of 
the Confederation. 

It was in 1830 that the name of Rol)ert Bahlwin 
first appeared in the list of members, and of the forty- 
five persons who represented the Province at that time 
I do not know that one survives. The death of (loonjfo 
IV. brought about a dissolution, and an election took 
place in October. There was considerable excitement, 
and a good many seats changed occupants, V)ut the 
Family Compact party were returned to power. 

A general election in those days was a Aveighty 
matter, because of the largo extent of the constituen- 
cies, and the distance the widely-scattered electors had 
to travel — often over roads that were almost impassable 
— to exercise their franchise. There was but one pol- 
ling place in each county, and that was made as cen- 
tral as possible for the convenience of the people. 
Often two weeks elapsed before all the votes could be 
got in, and during the contest it was not an uncom- 
mon thinu: for one side or the other to make an effort 
+,0 get possession of the poll, and keep their opponents 



136 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



from voting. This frequently led to disgraceful fights, 
when sticks and st<jnes were used with a freedom that 
would have done no discredit to Irish faction fights in 
their palmiest days. Happily, this is all changed now. 
The numerous polling places prevent a crowd of ex- 
cited men from collecting together. Voters have but a 
shoit distance to go, and the whole thing is accom- 
plished with ease in a day. Our representation, both 
lor the Dominion and Provincial Parliaments, is now 
based upon population, and the older ana more densely- 
jjopulated counties are divided into ridings, so that 
the forty-eight counties and some cities and towns 
retrirn to the Ontario Government eighty-eight mem- 

Fifty years ago the Post Office Department was 
under the control of the British Government, and 
Thomas A. Stayner was Deputy Postmaster General 
of Britisli North America. Whatever else the Deputy 
may have liad to complain of, he certainly could not 
grumble at the extent of territory under his jurisdic- 
tion. The gross receipts of the Department were 
£8,029 2s Gd.* There were ninety-one post offices in 



*I am indebted to W. H. Griffin, Esq., Peimty Postmaster General, 
for information, kindly furnished, reppcting the Pont Office Depart 
ment, &c. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



137 



I* 4 



( > 






Upper Canada. On the main line between York and 
Montreal the mails were carried by a public stage, and 
in spring and fall, owing to the bad roads, and even 
in winter, with its storms and snow-drifts, its progress 
was slow, and often difficult. There are persons still 
living who remember many a weary hour and trying 
adventure between these points. Passengers, almost 
perished with '^old or famished with hunger, were 
often forced to trudge through mud and slush up to 
their knees, ])ecause the jaded horses could barely 
pull the empty vehicle through the mire or up tlie 
weary hill. They were frequently compelled to aliglit 
and grope around in impenetrable darkness and beat- 
ing storm fo^ rails from a neighbouring fence, with 
which to pry the wheels out of a mud-hole, into which 
they had. to all appearance, hopelessly sunk, or to dig 
themselves out of snow banks in which both horses 
and stage were firmly wedged. If they were so for- 
tunate as to escape these mishaps, the deep ruts and 
coidjroy bridges tried their powers of endurance to 
the utmost, and made the old coach creak and groan 
under the strain. Sometimes it topi)Ied over with 
a crash, leaving the woiiied ])assengers to find shelter, 
if they could, in the neaiest farm-house, until the 



138 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



damage was repaired. But with good roads and no 
break-downs they were enabled to spank along at the 
rate of seventy-five miles in a day, which was consid- 
ered rapid travelling. Four-and-a-half days were re- 
quired, and often more, to reach Montreal from York. 
A merchant posting a letter from the latter place, 
under the most favourable circumstances, could not 
get a reply from Montreal in less than ten days, or 
sometimes fifteen ; and from Quebec the time required 
was from three weeks to a month. The Ensjlish nipils 
were brought by sailing vessels. Everything moved 
in those days with slow and uneven pace. The other 
parts of the Province were served by couriers on horse- 
back, who announced their approach with blast of tin 
horn. That the ofhces were widelj^ separated in most 
cases may be judged from their number. I recently 
came upon an entry made by my father in an old 
account book against his father's estate : '' To one day 
going to the post office, 3s. 9d." The charge, looked 
at in the light of these days, certainly is not large, 
but the idea of taking a clay to go to and from a post 
ofhce struck me as a good illustration of the inconven- 
iences endured in those days. The correspondent, at 
that time, had never been blessed with a vision of tho 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



139 



\ 



^ 



< 



'T 



■';■ 



coming envelope, but carefully folded his sheet of 
paper into the desired shape, pushed one end of the 
fold into the other, and secured it with a wafer or 
sealing-wax. Envelopes, now universally used, were 
not introduced until about 1845-50, and even blotting 
paper, that indispensable requisite on every writing- 
table, was unknown. Every desk had its sand-box, 
filled with fine dry sand, which the writer sprinkled 
over his sheet to absorb the ink. Sometimes, at a 
pinch, ashes were used. Goose quill was the only 
pen. There \^as not such a thing, I suppose, as a 
steel pen in the Province. Gillott and Perry had 
invented them in 1828; but they were sold at S3G 
a gross, and were too expensive to come into general 
use. Neither was there such a thing as a bit of 
india rubber, so very common now. Erasures had to 
be made with a knife. Single rates of letter postage 
were, for distances not exceeding (10 miles, 4Ul. ; not 
exceeding 100 miles, 7d. ; and not over '200 miles, 9d., 
increasing 2Jd. on every additional lOJ miles. Letters 
weighing less than one ounce were rated as single, 
double or treble, as they consisted of one, two or more 
sheets. If weighing an ounce, or over, the charge was 
a single rate for every quarter of an ounce in weight. 



r^^^ 



140 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



How is it now ? The Post Office Department has been, 
for many years under the control of our Government. 
There are in Ontario 2,358 Post-Offices, with a revenue 
of $914,882. The mails are carried by rail to all the 
principal points, and to outlying places and country 
villages by stage, and by couriers in light vehicles, 
with much greater despatch, owing io the improved 
condition of the highways. A letter of not over 
half an ounce in weight can be sent from Halifax 
to Vancouver for three cents. A book weighing five 
pounds can be sent the same distance for twenty cents, 
and parcels and samples at equally low rates. To 
England the rate for half an ounce is five cents, and 
for every additional half-ounce a single rate is added. 
Postage stamps and cards, the money order system, 
and Post Office savings banks have all been added 
since 1851. The merchant of Toronto can post a letter 
to-day, and get a reply from London, England, in less 
time than he could in the old days from Quebec. In 
1880 correspondence was expensive and tedious. Let- 
ters were written only under the pressure of necessity. 
Now every one writes, and the number of letters and 
the revenue have increased a thousand fold. The 
steamship, locomotive and telegraph, all the growth of 



, 



^n 



'1 



■<f 



rU\ 



flFTY YEARS AGO. 



141 



n 



» >. 



<> 



'.A 



-( fi 



the last half century, have not only ahnost annihilated 
time and space, but have changed the face of the 
world. It is true there were steamboats running be- 
tween York and Kingston on the Bay of Quintd and 
the St. Lawrence prior to 1830 ; but after that date 
they increased rapidly in number, and were greatly 
improved. It was on the 15th of S- ptembei- of that 
year that George Stephenson ran tlie first locomotive 
over the line between Liverpool and Manchester — a dis- 
tance of thirty miles — so that fifty years ago this was 
the only railway with a locomotive in the world — a 
fact that can hardly be realised when the number of 
miles now in operation, and the vast sums of money 
expended in their construction, are considered. What 
have these agents done for us, apart from the wonder- 
ful impetus given to trade and conunerce :* You can 
post to your corres[)ondcnt at Montreal at (i p.m., and 
your letter is delivered at 11 a.m., and the next day at 
noon you have your answer. You take up your morn- 
ing's pa})er, and you have the news from the very anti- 
podes every day. The merchant lias (piotations placed 
before him, daily and hourly, from every great com 
mercial centre in the world; and even the sporting' 



r^ 



^^ 



142 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



man can deposit his money here, and have his bet 
booked in London the day before. 

From the first discovery of the country up to 1800, 
a period of about three hundred years, the bark 
canoe was the only mode of conveyance for long dis- 
tances. Governor Simcoe made his journeys from 
Kingston to Detroit in a large bark canoe, rowed by 
twelve chasseurs, followed by another containing the 
tents and provisions. The cost of conveying merchan- 
dise between Kingston and Montreal before the Rideau 
and St. Lawrence canals were built is hardly credible 
to people of this day. Sir J. Murray stated in the 
House of Commons, in 1828, that the carriage of a 
twenty-four pound cannon cost between £150 and 
£200 sterling. In the early days of the Talbot Settle- 
ment (about 1817), Mr. Ermatinger states that eighteen 
bushels of wheat were recpiired to pay for one barrel 
of salt, and that one bushel of wheat would no more 
than pay for one yard of cotton. 

Our fathers did not travel much, and there was a 
good reason, as we have seen, why they did not. The 
ordinary means of transit was the stage, which Mrs. 
Jameson describes as a " heavy lumbering vehicle, well 
calculated to live in roads where any decent carriage 



I 



J. 

y 

■? 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



143 






must needs founder." Another kind, used on rougher 
roads, consisted of " large obiong wooden boxes, formed 
of a few planks nailed together, and placed on wheels, 
in which you enter by the window, there being no 
door to open or shut, and no springs." On two or 
three wooden seats, suspended in leather straps, the 
passengers were perched. The behaviour of the better 
sort, in a jou?'ncy from Niagara to Hamilton, is 
described by this writer as consisting of a " rolling and 
tumbling along the detestable road, pitching like a 
scow among the breakers of a lake storm." The road 
was knee-deep in mud, the " forest on either side dark, 
grim, and impenetrable." There were but three or 
four steamboats in existence, and these were not much 
more expeditious. Fares were high. The rate from 
York to Montreal was about 82 4. Nearly the only 
people who travelled were the mercln.nts and officials, 
and they were not numerous. The former often took 
passage on sailing vessels or batteaux, and if engaged 
in the lumber trade, as many of them were, they went 
down on board their lafts and returned in the batteaux. 
"These boats were flat-bottomed, and made of pine 
boards, narrowed at bow and stern, forty feet l)y six, 
with a crew of four men and a pilot, provided with 



r:^ 



144 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



oars, sails, and iron-shoJ [)oles for pushing. They 
continued to carry, in cargoes of five tons, all the 
merchandise that passed to Upper Canada. Some- 
times these boats were provided with a makeshift 
upper cabin, which consisted of an awning of oilcloth, 
supported on hoops like the roof of an American, Quaker, 
or gipsy waggon. If further provided with half a 
dozen chairs and a table, this cabin was deemed the 
height of primitive luxury. The batteaux went in 
brigades, which generally consisted of five boats. 
Against the swiftest currents and rapids the men poled 
their way up ; and when the resisting element was too 
much for their sli'cngth, they fastened a rope to the 
bow, and, plunging into the water, diagged her by 
main strength up the boiling cataract. From Lachine 
to Kingston, the average voyage was ten to twelve 
days, though it was occasionally made in seven ; an 
average as long as a voyage across the Atlantic now. 
The Durham boat^ also then doing duty on this route, 
was a flat-bottomed barge, but it differed from the 
batteaux in having a slip-keel and nearly twice its 
capacity. This primitive mode of travelling had its 
poetic side. Ami<l all the hardships of their vocation, 
tho French Canadian boatmen were ever light of spirit, 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 145 

and they enlivened the pa.sscage hy carolling their boat 
songs; one of which inspired Moore to write his im- 
mortal ballad."* 

The country squire, if he had occasion to go from 
home, mounted his hoise, and, with his saddle-bac^s 
strapped behind him, jogged along the highway or 
through the bush at the rate of Ibity or fifty miles a 
dny. T remember my father going to New York in 
1839. He crossed by steamboat from Kingston to 
Osw^ego; thence to Rome, in New Yoik State, by 
canal-boat, and thence by rail and steamer to New 
York. 



* 'I' 



Tidiit's RuUmii/.i (»/ Ctomt/a, 18701, 



r^^ 



140 



COUNTRY rjFE IN CANADA 



CHAPTER VI. 



ROAD-MAKINJ — WELLER's LINE OF STAGES AND STEAMBOATS — 
MY TKIP FllOM HAMILTON TO NIAOAKA — SCHOOLS AND COL- 
LEGES — PIONEEK METHODIST rREACHEKS -SOLEMNIZATION OF 
MATRIMONY — LITERATURE AND LIBRARIES — EARLY NEWSPAPEUS 
— PRIMITIVE EDITORIAL ARTICLES. 

THE people were alive at a very early date to the 
importance of improving the roads ; and as far 
back as 1793 an Act was passed at Niagara, then the 
seat of government, placing the roads under overseers 
or road-masters, as they wore called, appointed by the 
ratepaying inhabitants at their annual town meetings. 
Every man was required to bring tools, and to work 
from three to twelve days. There was no property 
distinction, and the time was at the discretion of the 
roadmaster. Tliis soon gave cause for dissatisfaction, 
and reasonably, for it was hardly fair to expect a poor 
man to contribute as much toward the improvement of 
highways as his rich neighbour. The Act was amended, 
and the number of days' work determined by the 
assessment roll. The })ower of opening new roads, or 
altering the course of old ones, was vested in the 



m 

o 

r 



(/) 



o 



m 




FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



147 



V 



Quarter Sessions. This matter is now under the con- 
trol of tlie (younty Councils. The first <40vernnient 
appropiiatioii for roads was nia<le in ISO-t-, wlien Cl,0()0 
was granted; hut between US30-Jj:3, Sol 2,000 was ]»rt)- 
vided for tlie improvement and opening up of new 
roads. T]\v road from Kingston to York was contracted 
f(jr hy Dantford, an American, in 1800, at S90 per 
mile, two rods wide. The first Act re(piired that every 
man should clear a road across his own lot, but it made 
no provision for the Clergy Reserves and Crown Lands, 
and hence the crooked roads that existed at orie time 
in the Province. Originally the roads were marked 
out by blazing the trees through the woods as a guide 
for the pedestrian. Then the b(j ighs were cut away, 
so that a man could ride through on horseback. Then 
followed the sleighs, and finally the trees were cleared 
ottj so that a waggon could pass. " The great leading 
roads of the Province had received little improvement 
beyond being graded, and the swamps [had been] made 
passable by laying the round trunks of trees side by side 
acro.->s the roadway. Tlieir supposed res(;mblance to the 
king's corduroy cloth gained for these crossways the 
name of corduroy roads. The earth roads were passably 
good when covered with the snows of winter, or when 



148 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



dried up in the summer sim; but even then a thaw or 
rain made tlieni all but impassable. The rains of 
autumn and the tliaws of spring converted them into 
a mass of liquid mud, such as amphibious animals 
^nii^ht delii^ht to revel in. Except an occasional legis- 
lative grant of a few thousand pounds for tlie whole 
Province, which was ill-expended, and often not ac- 
counted for at all, the great leading roads, as well as 
all other roads, depended, in I pper Canada, for iheir 
improvement on statut(i labour."-' 

The Ilev. iHatic Fidler, writing in 1881, says: "On 
our arrival at Oswego, I proceeded to the harbour in 
quest of a trading vessel bound for Yoi'k, in Canada, 
i..iid had the good fortune to find one that would sail 
in an hour. I agreed with the captain for nine dollars, 
for luysclf, family, and baggage, and he on his part 
assured me that he would land me safe in twentv-four 

ft/ 

hours. Our provision was included in the fare. In- 
stead of ri'aehing York in one day, we were live days 
on the lake. There were two passengers, besides our- 
selves, e(jually disappointed and impatient. The cabin 
of the vessel served for the sitting, eating, and sleeping 
room of iiassengers, captain and ci<'w. I expostulated 



*//. 



■if 



FIFTY YEAUS AGO, 



149 



' strongly on this usage, but the captain iiifornic<l me he 

had no alternative. The place coiimionly assigned to 

sailors had nut been fitted up. We were forced to 

^1 tolerate this inconvenience. The sailors slei)t on the 

, iioor, and assigned the berths to the passengers, but not 

. from choice. The food generally placed befoic us for 

dinner was salt pork, potatoes, bread, water and salt ; 

tea, bread and butter, and sometimes salt pork for 

breakfast and tea;" to which he ad. is, " no supper." One 

would thi)d<, under the circumstances, this privation 

w 

would have been a cause for thaidvfulness. 

The same writer speaks of a journey to Montreal tlie 
following year: " Frou) York to Montreal, we had three 
' ' several alterations of steamboats and coaches. The 

steandjoat we now entered was moored b^ a ledge of 
ice, of a thickness so great as to conceal entirely the 
vessel, till we approached close upon it. We embaiked 
by steps excavitea in the ice, for the convenience of 
the passengc^-s." 

The following advertisement, from the Christian 
GiKirdki)) of 1830, may prove not uninteivsting as an 
evidence of the competition thon ovisting between the 
coach and steandtoat, and is pretty conclusive that at 



150 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



tliat date the latter was not considered very much 
superior or more expeditious: — 

" NKW IJNK UK STAdES AND STEAMl'.OATS FROM YORK 

T'» TRKSCOTT. 

"The public ai'e respectfully inf()j'rne<l that a line o^ 
stai'cs v.ill run reiTfularlv^ iK^tween York and tlie 
('ARiiYiNTfi Place,* twice a week, the remainder of the 
season, leaving Yokk every Monday and Thursday 
mornini,' at 4 o'clock ; passing through the beautiful 
townships of Pickering, Whitby, ])ailington and Clark, 
and the pleasant villages of Poi't Hope, (.^obouig Jind 
Colborne, and aniving at the Carrying Place the 
same evening. Will leave the Carry i no Place every 
Tuesday and Friday morning ;it 4 o'clock, and arrive 
at York the same evening. 

" The above arrangements are made in connection 
witli th(> steaird)oat Sir James Konpf, so that passen- 
gers travelling this lonte will hnd a pleasant and speedy 
convevnnce between York and Prescott, the road beinijf 
very much rejiaired, and tlie line fitted u]) v.ith good 
Ijorses, new caiiiages, and cai'eful drivers. Fare tlnough 
from York to Prescott, £2 10s., the .same as the lake 
buiKs, Intermediate distances, fare as usual. All 
baggage at the risk of the owner. N.B. — Extras 
furnished at York, Cobourg, or the Canying Place, on 
reasonable terms. 

" William Wkller. 
"York, June 0th. Ls:3()." 

I remember travelling from Hamilton to Niaj^ara in 
Novend>er, 184(). We left the hotel at 6 ]).m. Our 
stoge, for such it was called, was a lumV)er waggon, 



*Tlie (Jarryinij I'lau? is at tlui head of tho Ray of (^uiuio. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



151 



with a rude cnnvas cover to protect us from the rain, 
under which were four seats, and I have a distinct 
recollection that long, before we g"ot to our journey's 
end we discovered that thev were not very comfort- 
able. Theie were seven passenners jind th(,' driver. 
The lufjcaiie was corded on l)elnnd in souie fashion, 
and under the seats were crowded parcels, so that 
when we got in we found it dillicult to move or to get 
out. One of our passengers, a woman with a young 
child, did not contribule to our enjoyment, or make the 
ride any more pleasant, for the l;itter poor unfortunate 
screamed nearly the whole night through. Occasion- 
ally it would settle down into a low whine, when a 
sudden luich of the waggon or a severe jolt would set 
it olf again with full force. 'J'he night was very dai'k, 
and continued so thioiighout, with dashes of rain. 
The roads weic verv bad, and two or three tin)es wo 
had to get out and walk, a thing we did not relish, as 
it was almost impossible for us to pick our way, and 
the only thing for it was to push on as well as we could 
through the nuid and daikness. We reached Niagara 
just as the sun was rising. Our aj^pearance can readily 
be imagined. 



152 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



" In IS 25, William L. Mackenzie described the road 
between York and Kingston as among the worst that 
hiiMi-tn foot ever trod, and down to the latest day be- 
fore tlie railroad era, the travellers in the Canadian 
stage coach were luck3^ if, when a hill had to be 
ascended, or a bad sj^ot passed, they had not to alight 
and trudge ankle deep through the mud. The rate 
at which it was possible to travel in stage coaches 
depended on the elements. In spring, when the roads 
were water-choked and rut-gullied, the rate might be 
reduced to two miles an hour for several miles on the 
worst sections. The coaches were liable to be end_)ed- 
ded in the mud, and the passengers had to dismount 
and assist in prying them out by means of rails obtained 
from the fences."* 

Such was the condition of the roads np to, and for 
a considerable time after, IS.'U), and such were the 
means provided for the public who wei'e forced to use 
them. It can easily l>e conceived that the inducements 
for pleasure trips were so ([uestionable that the only 
people who journeyed, either by land or water, were 
those whose business necessities compelled them to do 
so. Even in 1»S,S7, the only road near Toronto on 



*T 



Truut'H lUiUways of Canada. 



-I 



', A 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



153 



whicli it was possible to take a drive was Yon<:^e Street, 
wliic'i liad been niacadaniizel a distance of twelve 
miles. But the improvements since then, ami the 
facilities for (piick transit, have been very gi'eat. The 
Goverinnent has spent large sums of money in the 
construction of loads and bridt^es. A system of 
thorough grading and drainage has been adopted. In 
wet swampy land, the corduroy has given place tt) 
macadamized or !Ji'a\el roads, of which there an* about 
4,000 miles in the Tiovince.* Old log bridges have 
been superseded by stone, iion, and well-const ructe J 
wooden ones, so that in the older sections the farmer 
is enabled to reach his market with a well-loaded 
waggon during the fall and spring. The old system of 
tolls has been pretty much done away with, and even 
in the remote townships the iJovernmeiit has been 
alive to the iuiportanee of uninterrupted counnu!iica- 
tion, and has opened up good central highways. The 



*In order to ascertain the lumilKr of niiles of niacatlaniizcd roatls in 
the I'ntviiKH', after huutiii;,' in vain in otlior i|uartors, I a<lilri'<Hed a cir- 
enlar to the IMeik of tiif ( niiiity Council in each (bounty, ami received 
thirty replies, out of thirty- seven. From thf-^e I ^'athered that there 
were aliout the nunilier of miles ahuve -' ■'••,1. Several replieii tliat 
they had no means uf ;,'ivin^ me the (le~u< I information, and others 
thought there were about so many nules. I wan forced to the conclusion 
that the road uccouute "t the Province were not very syHtematically 
kei»t. 



ir,4 



COUNTRY LIFK IN CANADA 



battcaux and sailing vessels, as a means of travel, with 
the old steamer and its cramped up eaMn in the hold, 
and its slow pace, have decayed and rotted in the dock- 
yard, and we have now swift hoats, with stately saloons 
ruiininL'- from how to stern, fitted in luxurious style, on 
either sides rows of comfortaltle sleeping rooms, and 
with a fdhle (Vhnte served as well as at a first class 
modern hotel. Travellini"- hv steamer now is no lon<]fer 
a tediously drawn out vexation, but in propitious wea- 
ther a pleasure. A greater change has taken place in 
our land travel, but it is much more recent. The rail- 
road has rooted out the stage, except to unimportant 
places, and you can now take a Pullman at Toronto at 
7 p.m., go to bed at the proper time, and get up in Mont- 
real at lO.'U) a.m. the next day. The first railroad on 
which a locomotive was run was the Northern, opened 
in liS.j3, to Bradfoi'd. Since that time up to the i)resent 
we have built, and now have in operation, 3,47 fS miles, 
in addition to 510 under construction or C(.<ntract.* 

Washington, in his farewell address, says : " Promote 
then, as an object of })riui:\ry im[)ortance, institutions 
for the general diffusion of knowledge. Tn proportion 
as the structure of a government gives force to i)ublic 



• Thw is oxcliHive of the C.lMl. 



,'H' 



FIFTY YEAilS AGO. 



4 V » 
l0;i 



opinion, it is essential that puV»lic opinion shouKl be 
enligl) toned." Fifty years ago, education, even in the 
okler and moie enlightened countries, did not receive 
that attention which its importance to the well-heing 
of society and the state demanded, and it is only during 
recent years, compiiratively speaking, that the education 
of the masses has been systematically attempted! In- 
deed, it used to be thought by men of birth and culture 
that to educate the poor would lead to strife and con- 
fusion — that ignovance was their normal condition, and 
that any departure therefrom would increase their 
misery and discontent. Those notions have, happily, 
been exploded, and it is found that education is the 
best corrective to the evils that used to atilict society 
and disturb the gt'neral peace. It goes hand in hand 
with relii-ion and <;ood order, and so convinced have 
our rulers become of its im})ortance to the general weal, 
that not only free but compulsory education luis become 
the law of the land. It is not to be wondered at that 
half a century ago our school system — if we could be 
said to have one — was defective. Our situation an<l 
the circumstances in which we were placed were not 
favoui'able to the promotion of general education. The 
sparseness of the population and the extent of territory 



156 



COUNTRY LIFE iN CANADA 



over which it was scattered increased the difficulty ; 
but its importance was nut overlooked, and in the early 
days of the Province grants of land were made for 
educational purposes. The first classical school — in- 
deed the first school of any kind — was opened in King- 
ston, by Dr. Stuart, in 17^5, and the first commo^^ 
school was taught by J. Clark, in Fredericksburg, 178G. 
Jn 1807 an Act was passed to establish grammar 
schools in the various districts, with a grant of £100 
to each. But it was not until 181G that the govern- 
ment took any steps towards establishing common 
schools. The Lieutenant-Governor, in his Speech from 
the Thronj on o[)eniMg the House, in January, 18*U), 
said : — 



n 'PI 



The necessity of reforming the Royal Grammar 
School was evident from youi* Report at the cl(jso of 
the session. By the estai>lishing of a college at York, 
under the guidance of an able master, tlie object which 
we have in view will, I trust, be speedily attained. 
The delay that may take place in revising the charter 
of the Uiuversity, or in framing one suitable to the 
Province and the intention of the endowment, must, in 
fact, under present circumstances, tend to the advance- 
ment of the institution; as its use depended on the 
actual state of education in the Province. Dispersed 
as the population is over an extensive territory, a 
general efficiency in the common schools cannot be ex- 
pected, particularly whilst the salaries of the masters 
will not a<lmit of their devoting their whole time to 
their profession." 



I 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



157 



,.••> 



As far as my recollection goes, the teachers were gen- 
erally of a very interior order, and rarely possessed more 
than a smaHering of the rudiments of grammar and 
arithmetic. As the Governor points out, they were 
poorly paid, and " boarded around " the neighbourhood. 
But it is not improbable that they generally received 
all their services were worth. In those days most of 
the country youth who could manage to get to school 
in winter were content if they learned to read and 
write, and to wade through figures as far as the Rule of 
Three. Of course there were exceptions, as also with 
the teachers, but generally this was the extent of 
the aspiration of the rising generation, and it was not 
necessary for the teacher to ])e profoundly learned to 
lead them as far as they wished to go. I knew an old 
farmer of considerable wealth who would not allow liis 
boys to go to school, because, he said, if they learned 
to read and write they might forge notes. He evidently 
considered " a little leai'ning a dangerous thing,' and 
must have had a veiy low estimate of the moral tone 
of his otf»:pring, if he had any conce[)tion of moralit}^ 
at all. However, the safeguard of ignorance which the 
old man succeeded in throwing around his family di<l 
not save them, for the all turned out badly. 



158 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA. 



The books in use were Murray's Oraininar, Murray's 
English Ivua'lcr, Walker's Dictionary, Goldsmith's and 
Morse's Geo^^rapliy, Mavor's Spelling Book, Walkin- 
game's and Adam's Arithmetic. The pupil who could 
master this course of study was prepared, so far as 
the education within reach could tit him, to under- 
take the responsibilities of life ; and it was generally 
acquired at the expense of a daily walk of several miles 
through deep snow and intense cold, with books and 
dinner-basket in hand. 

The school-houses wheie the youth were taught 
were in keei)ingwith the extent ot" instruction received 
within them. They were invariably snuill, with low 
ceilings, badly lighted, and without ventilation. The 
floor was of rough pine boards laid loose, with cracks 
between them that were a standing menace to Jack- 
knives and slate pencils.* The seats and desks were 
of the same material, roughly planed and rudely put 
towther. The seats were arran;>ed around the room 
on three sides, without any sup[)ort tor tlie back, and 
all the scholars sat facing each other, the girls on one 
side and the boys (^n the other. The seats across the 
end were debatable ground between the two, but tin- 



* Atlivntic Monthly. 



•• 

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KIKTV YKAIIS ATIO. 



150 



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K I 



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ally came to be iiionopolizecl by the larf^'ei; ])oy.s and 
girls wiio, by somo strange law (jf attraction, gravitated 
together. Between was an ojjen space in wliit-h tlie 
stove stood, and when classes were drawn up to recite, 
the teacher's desk stood at the end facing the door, and 
so enabled the teacher to take in the school at a 
glance. But the order maintained was often very bad. 
In fact it would Ije safe to say the greatest disorder gen- 
erally prevailed. The noise of recitations, and the buzz 
and drone oi the scholars at their lessons, was some- 
times intolerable, and one might as well try to study 
in the noisy caw-caw of a rookery. Occasionally 
strange })erlbrmances were enacted in those country 
school-rooms. J remend»er a little boy between seven 
and eight years old ij-ettin'^ a sevei'e caniii"' for mis- 
spelling a sim[)le word of two syllables, and as 1 hap- 
pened to be the little boy i have some reason to recol- 
lect the circumstance, 'i'lie mistake certainly did not 
merit the castigation, the marks of which J can ied <;n 
my back for many days, and it led to a revolt in the 
school whicli terminated disasti'ously to the teacher. 
Two stronij' vouulj men attendin-'- the school remon- 
strated with the master, who was an irascible Kn<dish- 
man, during the progress of my punishment, and they 




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160 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



were given to understand that if they did not hold 
their peace they would get a taste of the same, where- 
upon they immediately collared the teacher. After a 
urief tussle around the room, during which some of the 
benches were overturned, tlie pedagogue was tlirown 
on the floor, and then one took him by the nai)e of 
the neck, and the other by the heels, and he was 
thrown out of doors in the snow. There were no 
more lessons heard that day. On the next an investi- 
gation followed, when the teacher was dismissed, and 
those guilty of the act of insubordination were a'buon- 
ished. 

Dr. Thomas Rolph thus refers to the state of schools 

two years later : " It is renlly melancholy to traveise 
the Province and go into many of the common schoc^ls ; 
you find a broud of children, instructed by some Anti- 
British adventurer, instilling into the young and ten- 
der mind sentiments hostile to the p irent State ; false 
accounts of the late war in which Great Britain was 
engaged with the United States ; geogiaphy setting 
forth New York, Philadelphia, Boston, kc, as the largest 
and finest cities in the world; historical reading books 
describing the American population as the most free 
and enlightened under heaven, insisting on the super- 
iority of their laws and institutions to those of all the 
world, in defiance of the ag-rarian outracjes and mob 
supremacy daily witnessed and lamented ; and Amer- 
ican spelling books, dictionaries, and grammars, teach- 
ing them an Anti-British dialect and idiom, although 
living in a British Province and being subjects +o the 
British Crown, " 






^ 



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Fifty years ago. 



161 






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■■' }■ *■' 



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There was a Boird of Education consistins: of five 
members appointed to each district, who had tlie over- 
sight of the schools. Each school section met annually 
at what was called the School meeting, and appointed 
three trustees, who engaged teachers, and superintend- 
ed the general management of the schools in their sec- 
tion. The law required that every teacher should be 
a British subject, or that he should take the oath of 
allegiance. He was paid a fee of fifteen shillings per 
({uarter for each scholar, and received a. further sum 
of $100 from the Government if there were not fewer 
than twenty scholars taught in the school. 

Upper Canada College, the only one in the Province, 
began this year (1830), under the management of Dr. 
Harris. Grantham Academy, in the Niagara District, 
was incorporated, and the Methodist Conference ap- 
pointed a Committee to take up subscriptions to build 
an academy and select a site. The last named, when 
built, was located at Cobourg, and the building which 
was begun in 1832 was completed in 183G, when the 
school was opened. There were 11 district and 132 
common schools, with an attendance of 3,077, and au 
expenditure of £3,800 lis. OJd. 



K 



162 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



There was very little change in our school laws for 
several years. Grants were annually made in aid of 
common schools, but there was no system in the expen- 
diture; consequently the good effected was not very 
apparent. The first really practical school law was 
passed in 1841, the next year when the union of the 
Provinces went into effect ; and in 1844 Dr. Ryerson 
was appointed Chief Superintendent of Education for 
Upper Canada, which office he held for thirty-two 
years. During that time, through his indefatigable 
labours, our school laws have been moulded and per- 
fected, until it is safe to say we have the most com- 
plete and efficient school system in the world. The 
influence it has exercised on the intellectual develop- 
ment of the peojDle has been very great, and it is but 
reasonable to expect that it will continue to raise the 
standard of intelligence and high moral character 
throughout the land. Our Government has, from the 
very first, manifested an earnest desire to promote 
education in the Province. During Dr. Ryerson's long 
term of oilice, it liberally supplied him with the necces- 
sary means for maturing his plans and introducing such 
measures as would place our educational system on the 
best footing that could be devised. This has been 



W -I 



4- 



J. 



> 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



16S 



accomplished in a way that does honour, not only to 
the head that conceived it, but to the enlightened 
liberality of the Government that seconded the untir- 
ing energy of the man who wrought it out. 

The advantages which the youth of Ontario to-day 
possess in acquiring an education over the time when 
I was first sent to school with dinner basket in hand, 
trudging along through mud or snow, to the old school- 
house by the road side, where 1 was perched upon a 
high pine bench without a back, with a Mavor's spell- 
ing book in land, to begin the foundation of my edu- 
cation, are so many and great that it is difficult to 
realize the state of things that existed, or that men of 
intelligence should have selected such a dry and un- 
attractive method of impaiting instruction to children 
of tender years. It is to be feared that there are many 
of our Canadian youth who do not appreciate the van- 
tage ground they occu})y, nor the inviting opportuni- 
ties that lie within the reach of all to obtain a genei- 
ous education. There is absolutely nothing to prevent 
any young person possessing the smallest spark of am 
bition from acquiring it, and making himself a u.'^eful 
member of society. " It is the only thing, " says Milton, 
in his " Literary Musings, " " which tits a man to 



1G4 



COlJNtllY LIFE IN CANADA 



perfoiiu justly, skilfully, and uiagnaniinously, all 
the offices both private and j)ublic of peace and war. " 

There seems to be a growing disposition in the pub- 
lic mind to do away with the first important educa- 
tional landmark established in the Province. Why 
this should be, or why its influence for good should at 
any time have been so much cripple 1 as even to give 
occasion to call its usefulness in qvicstion seems strange. 
One would think that its intimate connection with 
our early history ; the good work accomplished by it, 
and the number of men who have passed out of it to 
till the highest public positions in the gift of the Prov- 
ince, would save it from violent hands, and furnish 
ample reasons for devising means to resuscitate it, if 
it needs resuscitation, and to place it in a position to 
hold its own with the various institutions that have 
come into existence since its doors were first thrown 
open to the young aspirants for a higher education 
half a century ago. 

The opening of Upper Canada College in 1830 gave 
an impetus to education which soon began to be felt 
throughout the Province. It was impossible, in the 
nature of things, that with increasing population and 
wealth there should be no advance iu our educational 



•i 



, I ^1 



■. 



* 



f I 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



1G5 



status. If the forty-six years that had passed had 
been almost exclusively devoted to clearing away 
the bush and tilling the land, a time had now 
arrived when matters of higher import to future 
success and enjoyment pressed themselves upon the 
attention of the people. The farm could not ])roduce 
all the requirements of life, nor furnish congenial em- 
ployment LO many active minds. The surplus products 
of the field and forest, in order to become available as 
a purchasing power, had to be converted into money, 
and this set in motion the various appliances of com- 
merce. Vessels were needed to carry their produce 
to market, and merchants to purchase it, who, in turn, 
supplied the multifarious wants of the household. 
Then came the mechanic and the professional man, and 
with the latter education was a necessity. It was 
not to be expected that the tastes of the rising gen- 
eration would always run in the same groove with 
the preceding, and as wealth and population increased, 
so did the openings for advancement in other pursuits ; 
and scores of active young men throughout the Province 
were only too anxious to seize upon every opportunity 
that offered to push their way up in life. Hence it 
happened that when Upper Canada College first threw 



,i - 



166 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



open its doors, more than a hundred young men enrolled 
their names. In a comparatively short time the need 
for greater facilities urged the establishment of other 
educational institutions, and this led to still greater 
effort to meet the want. Again, a^ the question pressed 
itself more and more upon the public mind, laws were 
enacted and grants made to further in every way so 
desirable an object. Hence, what was a crude and 
inade(piate school organization prior to 1880, at that 
time and afterwards bewm to assume a more con- 
Crete shape, and continued to improve until it has 
grown into a S3stem of which the country may well 
be pro lid. 

The contrast we are enabled to present is wonderful 
in every respect. Since the parent college opened its 
doors to the anxious youths of the Province, five 
universities and the same number of colleges have 
come into existence. The faculties of these several 
institutions are presided over by men of learning and 
ability. They are amply furnished with libraries, 
apparatus and all the modern requirements of first- 
class educational institutions. Their united rolls show 
an attendance of about 1,500 students last year. There 
are 10 Collegiate Institutes and 94 High Schools, with 



-<. •• 



-> - 



4- 



A ' 

•.■*/ 



.( - 



M 



ed 
ler 
:cr 
ed 
ere 



•< 



«^ - 



^- 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



1G7 



an attendance of 12,130 pupils; 5,147 Public Schools, 
with 494,424 enrolled scholars ; and the total receipts 
for school purposes amounted to 83,220,730. Besides 
these, there fc re three Ladies' Colleges, and several other 
important educational establishments devoted entirely 
to the education of females, together with private and 
select schools in almost every city and town in the 
Province, many of which stand very high in public 
estimation. There are two Normal Schools for the 
training of teachers. The one in Toronto has been in 
existence for 21) years, and is so well known that it is 
unnecessary for me to attempt any description of it. 
The total number of admissions since its foundation 
have been 8,269. The Ottawa school, which has been 
in operation about two years, has admitted 433. Three 
other important educational institutions have been 
established by the Government in different parts of the 
Province. The Deaf and Dumb Institute at Belle- 
ville is pleasantly situated on the shore of the Bay of 
Quints, a little west of the city. The number in 
attendance is 209, and the cost of maintenance for the 
past year $38,589. The Institute for the Blind at 
Brantford numbers 200 inmates, and the annual expen- 
diture is about 51530,000. These institutions, erected at 



108 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



*s-5^ - . . 



a very large outlay, aie admirably equipped, and under 
tlio best nianageiiu'iit, and prove n great boon to the 
unfortunate elasses for whom they wei'e established. 
Tlie Agricultural College at Guelph, for the training of 
young men in scientific and practical husbandry, though 
in its infancy, is a step in Mie right direction, and must 
exercise a beneficial influence upon the agricultural 
interests of the country. Of medical corporations and 
schools, there are the Council of the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario ; the Faculty of 
the Toronto School of Medicine ; Trinity Medical 
School ; Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons ; 
Canada Medical Association ; Ontario College ot Phar- 
macy ; Royal College of Dental Surgeons ; and Ontario 
Veterinary College. There is also a School of Practical 
Science, now in its fourth year. This, though not a 
complete list of the educational institutions and schools 
of the Province, will nevertheless give a pretty correct 
idea of the progress made during the fifty years that 



are gone. 



The accommodation furnished by the school sections 
throughout the country has kept pace with the pro- 
gress of the times. As a rule the school-houses are 
commodious, and are built with an eye to the health 



W 



^ - 



•*« 



\ ' 



A 






* rfx WN 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



1(59 



^* 



^- 



^ J 



and comfort of the pupils. The old pine benches and 
desks have disappeared before the march of improve- 
ment — my recollection of them is anything but agree- 
able — and the school-rooms are furnished with com- 
fortable seats and desks combined. The children are 
no longer crowded together in small, unventilated 
rooms. Blackboards, maps and apparatus are furnished 
to all schools. Trained teachers only are employed, 
and a uniform course of study is pursued, so that each 
Public School is a stepping-stone to the High School, 
and upward to the College or University. Great 
attention has been paid by the Education Depart- 
ment to the selection of a uniform series of text 
books throughout the course, adapted to the age and 
intelligence of the scholars; and if any fault can be 
found with it, I think it should be in the number. 
The variety required in a full course — even of English 
study — is a serious matter. The authorities, however, 
have laboured earnestly to remove every difficulty that 
lies in the student's path, and to make the way attrac- 
tive and easy. That they have succeeded to a very 
great extent is evident from the highty satisfactory 
report recently presented by the Minister of Education. 
With the increasing desire for a better education, there 



170 



COUNTRY LIFE TN CANADA 



seems to be a growing tendency on the part of young 
men to avail themselves of such aids as sliall push them 
towards the object in view with the smallest amount 
of work ; and instead of applying themselves with 
energy and determination to overcome the difhcult/Ies 
that face them in various branches of study, they resort 
to the keys that may be had in any bookstore. It is 
needless to repeat what experience has proved in 
thousands of instances, that the young man who goes 
through his mathematical course by the aid of these, 
or thi'ough his classical studies by the use of trans- 
lations, will never make a scholar. Permanent success 
in any department of life depends on earnest work, 
and the more arduous the toil to secure an object, so 
much the more is it prized when won. Furthermore, 
it is certain to prove more lasting and beneficial. 

The same causes that hindered the progress of educa- 
tion also retarded the advance of religion. The first 
years of a settler's life are years of unremitting toil ; a 
struggle, in fact, for existence. Yet, though settlers 
had now in a measure overcome their greater difficul- 
ties, the one absorbing thought that had ground its 
way into the very marrow of their life still pressed its 
claims upon their attention. The paramount (Question 






^v * 



r 



K - 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



171 



" .« 



I 



t 
"■ 



with them had been how to get on in the world. They 
wci'O cut off, too, from all the amenities of society, and 
were scattered over a new country, which, prior to their 
coming, liad been the home of the Indian — where all 
the requirements of civilization had to be planted and 
cultivated anew. They had but barely reached a 
point when really much attention could be devoted to 
anything but the very practical aim of gaining their 
daily bread. It will readily be admitted that there is 
no condition in life that can afford to put away relig- 
ious instruction, and there is no doicfc that the people 
at first missed these privileges, and often thought of 
the 'Ime when they visited God's House with regular- 
ity. But the toil and moil of y(Mirs had worn away 
these recollections, and weakened the desire for sacred 
things. There can be no doubt that prior to, and even 
up to 1830, the religious sentiment of the greater por- 
tion of the people was anything but strong. The 
Methodists were among tlie first, if not actually the 
first, to enter the' field and call them back to the alle- 
giance they owed to the God who had blessed and pro 
tected them.* Colonels Neal and McCarty began to 



* Dr. Stuart, of Kingston, Chiircn of England, was the firat minister 
in TJxjper Canada ; Mr. Langworth, of the same denomination, in Bath ; 
and Mr. Scamerhorn, Lutheran minister at Williamsburgh, next, 



172 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



¥■ 



preach in 1788, but the latter was hunted out of the 
country.* Three years later, itinerant preachers began 
their work and gathered hearers, and made converts in 
every settlement. But these men, the most of whom 
came from the United States, were looked upon with 
suspicion •!• by many who did not fall in with their 
religious views; and it is not surprising that some 
even went so far as to petition the Legislature to pass 
an Act which should prevent their coming into the 
country to preach. It was said, and truly, when the 
matter about this was placed before the Government, 
that the connection existing between the Methodist 
Episcopal Church of the TTnited States and Canada 



* Playter. 

■}■ I have in my posHession an old mamiscrii^t book, written by my 
grandfather in 1796, in which this point is brought out. Being a (Quaker, 
he naturally did not approve of the way those early preachers conducted 
services. Yet he would not be likely to exaggerate what came under his 
notice. This is what he says of one he heard : " I thought he exerted 
every nerve by the various positiot58 in which he placed himself to cry, 
stamp and smite, often turning from exhortation to prayer. Entreating 
the Almighty to thunder, or rather to enable him to do it. Also, to 
smite with the swonl, and to use many destroying weapons, at which my 
mind was led from the more proper bu^finess of worship or devotion to 
observe what appeared to me inconsistent with that quietude that be- 
cometh a messenger sent from the meek Jesus to declare the glad tidings 
of the gospel. If T compared the season to a shower, as has heretofore 
been done, it had only the appearance of a tempest of thunder, wind and 
Uail| destitute of the sweet refrenhing drops of a gospel shower," 



¥\ 



i'i 



i1 



rv* 



f IFTt YEAtlS Ado. 



173 



was altogether a spiritual and not a political connec- 
tion ; that the Methodists of Canada were as loyal to 
the British Grown as air' of its subjects, and had 
proved it again and again in the time of trouble. Yet, 
lookincr back and rememberino: the circumstances under 
which the people came, it does not seem so very strange 
to us that they should have looked very doubtfully 
upon evangelists from a land which not only stripped 
them and drove them away, but a little later invaded 
their country. Neither do we wonder that some of 
them were roughly treated, nor that unpleasant epi- 
thets were thrown out against their followers. This 
was the outcome, not only of prejudice, but the recol- 
lection of injuries received. There were a good many 
angularities about Christian character in those days, 
and they frequently stood out veiy sharply. They 
were not friends or enemies by halves. Their preju- 
dices were deeply seated, and if assailed were likely to 
be resisted, and if pressed too closely in a controversy, 
were more disposed to use the argumentum hacidlniimy 
as being more effectual than the argumentum ad 
judicium. But time gradually wore away many of 
those asperities, and now few will deny that the posi- 
tion our Province holds to-day is to a considerable ex- 



174 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANAbA 



tent owing to this large and influential body of Chris- 
tians. They built the first house devoted to public 
worship in the Province ; through their zeal and energy 
the people were stirred up to a sense of their religious 
obligation ; their activity infused life and action into 
other denominations. The people generally through- 
out the country had the bread of life bioken to them 
with regularity, so that in the year of Grace 1880 a 
new order of thinijs was inauofurated. But witli all 
this, a vastlj'- different state of attairs existed tlicn 
from that now prevailing. No one could accuse the 
preachers of those days of mercenary motives, for they 
were poorly paid, and carried their worklly possessions 
on their backs. Their labour was arduous and unre- 
mitting. Tliey travelled great distances on foot an<l 
on horseback, at all seasons and in all weathers, tu till 
appointments through the bush — fording rivers, and 
enduring hardships and privations that seem hardly 
possible to be borne. A circuit often embraced two or 
three districts. The places of worship) were small and 
far apart, and litted up with rude pine benches, the men 
sitting on the one side and the women on the other. 
Often forty or fifty miles would have to be j(ji\i versed 
from one appointment to another, and when it was 



M 



f ' 



IJ'IFTY YEARS AGO. 



1?5 



reached, whether at a neighbour's house, a school-house, 

a barn or a meeting house, the people assembled to 

hear the word, and then the preacher took his way to 

the next place on his circuit. 

Mr. Vanest says : " In summer we crossed ferries, and 
in winter we rode much on ice. Our appointment was 
thirty-four miles distant, without any stopping-place. 
Most of the way was through the Indian's land — other- 
wise called the Mohawk Woods. In summer I used to 
stop half-way in the woods and turn my horse out 
where the Indians had had their fires. In winter I 
would take some oats in my saddle-bags, and make a 
place in the snow to feed my horse. In many places 
there were trees fallen across the path, which made it 
difficult to get around in deep snow. I would ask the 
Indians why they did not cut out the trees. One said, 
'Indian like deer; when he no cross under, he jump 
over.' There was seldom any travelling that way, 
which made it bad in deep snow. At one time when 
the snow was deep, I went on the ice till I could see 
clear water, so I tlioiight it time to go ashore. I got off 
my horse and led him, and the ice cracked at every 
step. If I had broken through, thei'e vvoukl have been 
nothing but death for us both. I got to the woods in 
uoej) snow, and travelled up the shore till I found a 
small house, when I found the course of my path, 
keeping a good look-out for the marked trees. I at 
last found my appuiiitnient about seven o'clock. If I 
liad missed my j ath I do not know what would have 
become of me. At my stopping-place the family had 
no bread or niual to make any of, till they borrowed some 
of a neigld)our ; so I got my dinner and supper about 
eleven o'clockon Saturday lught. On Sabbath 1 preached. 
On Monday I rode about four miles, crossed the Bay 
(Quintdj, and then rode seventeen miles through the 



1?6 



COUNtRV LtFE IN CANADA 



woods without seeing a house, preached and met a class 
for a day's work." 

^^ Another writer says: " We had to go twenty miles 
without seeing a house, and were guided by marked 
trees, there being no roads. At one time my colleague 
was lost in <jettino- throutjh the woods, when the 
wolves began to howl around him, and the poor man 
felt much alarmed ; but he got through unhurt." * 

These incidents occurred some years before the date 

of which I sp(iak, but the same kind of adventures 

were happening still. It did not take long to get 

away from the three or four concessions that stretched 

along the bay and lakes, and outside of civilization. 

I remember going with my fjither and mother, about 

1835, on a visit to an uncle who had settled in the 

bush, "I" just ten miles away, and in that distance we 

travelled a wood road for more than live miles. The 

snow was deep and the day cold. We came out upon 

the clearing of a few acres, and drove up to the door 

of the small log house, the only one then to be seen. 

The tall trees which environed the few acres carved 

out of the heart of the bush waved their naked 

branches as if mocking at the attempt to put them 

— , » , — ■ ■■■ — ^ 

*Dr. Carroll. 

t This was in the oldest settled part of the Province— the Bay of 
QuiutiS. 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



177 



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ff 



away. The stumps thrust their heads up through 
the snow on every hand, and wore their winter caps 
with a jaunty look, as if they too did not intend to 
give up possession without a struggle. The horses 
were put in the log stable, and after warmino- our- 
selves we had supper, and then gathered round the 
cheerful fire. When bed-time came, we ascended to 
our sleeping room by a ladder, my father* crrrying me 
up in his arms. We had not been long in bed when a 
pack of wolves gathered round the place and began to 
howl, making through all the night a most dismal and 
frightful noise. Sleep was out of the question, and for 
many a night after that I was haunted by packs of 
howling wolves. 0]i our return the next day I expect- 
ed every moment to see them come dasliing down upon 
us until we got clear of the woods. This neighbour- 
hood is now one of the finest in the Pjovince, and for 
miles fine houses and spacious well-kept barns and out- 
houses are to be seen on every farm. 

I have been unable to get at an;^ correct data re- 
specting the number of adherents of the various 
denominations in the Province for the year 1830. The 
total number of n<inisters did not reach 150, while they 



178 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



now exceed 2,500.* There were but three churches in 
Toronto, then called York. One of these was an Episco- 
palian Church, occupying the present site of St. James's 
Cathedral. It was a plain wooden structure, 50 by 40, 
with its gables facing east and west ; the entrance 
being by a single door off Church Street, f The others 
were a Presbyterian and a Methodist church. The 
latter was built in 1818, and was a long, low building, 
40 by CO. In the gable end, facing King Street, were 
two doors, one for each sex, the men occupying the 
right and the women the left side of the room. It was 
warmed in winter by a rudely constructed sheet-iron 
stove. The usual mode of lighting it for night services 
was by tallow candles placed in sconces along the 
walls, and in candlesticks in the pulpit. I am sure I 
shall be safe in saying that there were not 150 churches 
or chapels all told in the Province.. All of them were 
small, and many of them were of the most humble char- 
acter. There are probably as many clergymen and more 
than half as many chu 'ches in Toronto now, as there 



* 'I he number of ministers, as given in the Journals of the House 
of Assembly for 1831, are 57 Methodist, 40 Baptist, 14 Presbyterian, 
and 32 Church of England. For the last I am indebted to Dr. 
Scadding. 

t Toronto of Old. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



179 



i 



^> 



I 



were in all Upper Cunada fifty years ago. The differ- 
ence does not consist in the number of the latter alone> 
but in the size and character of the structures. The 
beautiful and commodious churches, with their lofty 
spires and richly arranged interiors, that meet the gaze 
on every hand in Toronto, have not inappropriately 
given it the proud title of " the city of churches," and 
there aie several of them, any one of which would com- 
fortably seat the entire population of York in the days 
of which I l)ave spoken. There were no organs, and I 
am not sure that there were any in America. Indeed, 
if there-had been, the good people of those days would 
have objected to their use. Those who remember the 
three early churches I have mentioned— and those who 
do not can readily picture them with their fittings and 
seating capacity— will recall the dim, lurid liglit cast on 
the audience by the flickering candles. Turn, now, for 
example, to the Metropolitan Church on an evenino-'s 
service. Notice the long carpeted aisles, the rich 
upholstery, the comfortable seats, the lofty ceilings, the 
spacious gallery and the vast congregation. An unseen 
hand touches an electric battery, and in a moment 
hundreds of gas jets are aflame, and the place is filled 
with a blaze of light. " Now the_^great organ heaves 



180 



COUNTRY LIFR IN CANADA 



its thrilling thimders, compressing air into music, and 
rolling it forth njxm the soul." Surely the contrast is 
almost incredible, and what we have said on this point 
in regard to Toronto may be said of every city, town, 
village or country place in the Province. 

It will be proper to notice here that from the settle- 
ment of the country up to 1831, marriage could only 
be legally solemnized by a minister of the Chnrch of 
England, or of the established Church of Scotland. 
There was a provision which empowered a justice of 
the peace or a commanding officer to perform the rite 
in cases where there was no minister, or where the 
parties lived eighteen miles from a church. In 183.1, 
an Act was passed making it lawful for ministers of 
other denominations to solemnize matrimony, and to 
confirm marriages previously contracte<l. This act of 
tardy justice gave great satisfaction to the people. 

The dny for cheap books, periodicals and newspapers 
had not then arrived. There were but few of any 
kind in the country, and those that were to be found 
possessed few attractions for either old or youno\ The 
arduous lives led by the people precluded the cultiva- 
tion of a taste for reading. Persons who toil early 
and late, week in and week out, have very little 






1 



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i 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



181 



^'. . 



N*^ 



^ - 



'f. 



inclination for anything in the way of literary re- 
creation. When the night came, the weary boJy 
demanded rest, and people sought their beds early. 
Consequently the few old volumes piled away on a 
shelf remained there undisturbed. Bacon says: " Some 
books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and 
some to be chewed and digested ;" and he might have 
added — " others still to be left alone." At all events 
the last was the prevailing sentiment in those days. 
I do not know that the fault was alto<xother with the 
books. It is true that those generally to be seen were 
either doctrinal works, or what might be termed 
heavy reading, requirmg a good appetite and strong 
digestive powers to get through with them. They 
were the relics of a past age, survivors of obsolete 
controversies that had found their way into the coun- 
try in its infancy ; and though the age that delighted 
in such mental pabulum had passed away, these 
literary pioneers held their ground because the time 
had not arrived for the people to feel the necessity of 
cultivating the mind as well as providing for the 
wants of the body. Seneca says : " Leisure without 
books is the sepulchre of the living soul;" but books 
without leisure are practically valueless, and hence it 



I' 



182 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



made but little difference with our grandfathers what 
the few they possessed contained.* Some years had 
to pass away before the need of them began to be felt. 
In a country, as we have already said, where intelli- 
gence commanded respect but did not give priority ; 
where the best accom2:)lishment was to get on in the 
world ; where the standard of education seldom rose 
higher than to be aV)le to read, write, and solve a 
siiriple sum in arithmetic, the absence of entertaining 
and instructive books was not felt to be a serious loss. 
But with the rapidly increasing facilities for moving 
about, and the growth of trade and commerce, the 



*From an inventory of my grandfather's personal effects I am enabled 
to give what would have been considered a large collection of books in 
those days. As I have said before, he was a Quaker, which will account 
for the character of a number of the books ; and by changing these to 
Volumes in accoi-d with the religious tenets of the owner, the reader will 
get a veiy good idea of the kind of literature to be found in the houses 
of intelligent and well-to-do people :— 1 large Bible, 3 Clarkson's works, 
1 Ikichan's Domestic Medicine, 1 Elliot's Medical Pocket Book, 1 Lewis's 
Dispensatory, 1 Franklin's Sermons, 1 Stackhouse's History of the 
Bible, 2 Brown's Union Gazetteer, 1 16th Report of the British and 
Foreign Bible Society, 1 History United States, 1 Elias Hicks's Ser- 
mons, 2 NeAvton's Letters, 1 Ricketson on Health, 1 Jessy Kerzey, 1 
Memorials of a Deceased Friend, 1 Hervey's Meditations, 1 Reply to 
Hibard, 1 Job's Scot's Journal, 1 Barclay on Church Government, 1 M. 
T iver on Shakerism, 1 Works of Dr. Franklin, 1 Journal of Richard 
Davis, 1 Lessons from Scripture, 1 Picket's Lessons, 1 Pownal, 1 Sequel 
to English Reader, Maps of United States, State of New York, Eng- 
land, Ireland and Scotland, and Holland Purchase. 



i - 



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I. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



183 






people were brought more frequently into contact 
with the intelligence and the progress of the world 
outside. And with the increase of wealth came the 
desire to take a higher stand in the social scale. The 
development of men's minds under the political and 
social changes of the day, and the advance in culture 
and refinement which accompanies worldly prosperity, 
quickened the general intelligence of the people, and 
created a demand for books to read. This demand has 
gone on increasing from year to year, until we have 
reached a time when we may say with the Ecclesiast : 
" Of making of books there is no end." If there 
was an excuse for the absence of books in our Can- 
adian homes half a century ago, and if the slight 
draughts that were obtainable at the only fountains of 
knowledge that then existed were not sufficient to 
create a thirst for more, there is none now. Even the 
wealth that was to a certain extent necessary to gratify 
any desire to cultivate the mind is no longer required, 
for the one can be obtained free, and a few cents will 
procure the works of some of the best authors who 
have ever lived. 

But little had been done up to 1830 to establish 
libraries, either in town or villa;i'e. Indeed the limited 



184 



COUNTRf LIFE IN CANADA 



number of those, and the pursuits of the people, which 
were ahnost exchisively agricultural — and that too in a 
new country where during half of the year the toil of 
the field, and clearing away the bush the remaining 
half, occupied their constant attention — books were 
seldom thought of. Still, there was a niind here and 
there scattei-ed through the settlements wliich, like the 
"little leaven," continued to work on silently, until a 
laige portion of the "lump" had been leavened. The 
only public libraries whereof I have any trace were at 
Kingston, Ernesttown and Hallowell. The first two 
were in existence in 1811-13, and the last was 
established somewhere about 1821. In 1824, the 
Government voted a sum of £150, to be expended 
annually in the purchase of books and tracts, designed 
to afford moral and religious instruction to the people. 
These were to be equally distributed throughout all 
the Districts of the Province. It can readily be con- 
ceived that this small sum, however weU intended, 
when invested in books at the prices which obtained at 
that time, and distributed over the Province would be 
so limited as to be hardly worthy of notice. Eight 
years prior to this, a sum of £800 was granted to 
establish a Parliamentfiry Library. From these smal 



!1- 



iFIFTY YEARS AGO. 



185 



bonrinnings we hnve gone on increasing until we have 
reached a point vvliich warrants me, I tliink, in saying 
that no other country with the same population is better 
supplied with the best literature of the day than our 
own Province. Independent of the libraries in the 
various colleges and other educational institutions, 
Sunday schools and private libraries, there are in the 
Province 1,500 Free Public Libraries, with 21)8,74*} vol- 
umes, valued at .^17n,2S2, and the grand total of books 
distributed by the Educational Department to Mechan- 
ics' Ir ^titutes, Sunday school libraries, and as prizes, is 
1,398,140.'' There are also upwards of one hundred 
incorporated Mechanics' Institutes, with 130,000 vol- 
umes, a net income of Ji?5J),f)28, and a membership of 
10,785. These, according to the last Report, received 
legislative grants to the amount of .1^22,885 for the year 
1879 — an appropration that in itself creditably attests 
the financial and intellectual progress of the Province.f 
It is a very great pity that a systematic effort had 
not been made years ago to collect interesting inci- 



*The number of volumes in the principal libraries are, as nearly as 
I can ascertain, as follows :— Parliamentary Library, Ottawa, 100,000 ; 
Parliamentary Library, Ontario, 17,000 ; Toronto University, 23,000 ; 
Trinity College, 5,000 ; Knox College, 10,000 ; Osgoode Hall, 20,000 ; 
Normal School, 15,000 ; Canailian Institute, 3,800. 

lUeport of the Minister of Education, 1879. 



186 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



'*> 



dents connected with the early settlement of the 
Province. A vast amount of information that would 
be invaluable to the future compiler of the history of 
this part of the Dominion has been irretiievably lost. 
The actors who were present at the birth of the Pro- 
vince are gone, and many of tlie records have perished. 
But even now, if the Government would interest itself, 
much valuable material scattered through the country 
might be recoverc J. The Americans have been always 
alive to this subject, and are constantly gathering up 
all they can procure relating to the earl}'- days of their 
country. More than that, they are securing early re- 
cords and rare books on Canada wherever the}" can find 
them. Any one who has had occasion to hunt up 
information respecting this Province, even fifty years 
ago, knows the difheulty, and even impossibility in 
some cases, of procuring what one wants. It is hardly 
credible that the important and enterprising capital 
city of Toronto, with its numerous educational and 
professional institutions, is without a free public library 
in keeping with its other advantages.* This is a serious 
want to the well-being of our intellectual and moral 



y - 



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[> I 



* This want has since been supplied by an excellent Free Public 
liiljrary. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



187 



' 



i * 



i 

1 ■; 

li 



nature. The benefits conferred by free access to a 
large collection of standard books is incalculable, and 
certainly if there is such a thing as retributive justice, 
it is about time it showed its hand. 

The first printing office in tne Province was estab- 
lished by Lonis Roy, in Apjil, 1793,* at Newark (Ni- 
agara), and from it was issued the Upper Canada 
Gazette, or American Oracle,^ a formidable name for 
a sheet 15 in. x 9. It was an official organ and news- 
paper combined, and when a weekly journal of this 
size could furnish the current news of the day, and the 
Government notices as well, one looking at it by the 
light of the present day cannot help thinking that 
publishing a paper was up-hill work. Other journals 
were started, and, after running a brief couise, ex- 
pired. When one remembers the tedious means of 
communication in a country almost without roads, and 
the difficulty of getting items of news, it does not seem 
stranr^e that those early adventures were short-lived. 
But as time wore on, one after another succeeded in 
getting a foothold, and in finding its way into the 
home of the settler. They were invaxnably small, and 



* Mr. Bourinot, in his Intellectual Development of Canada, says, this 
was in 1703, which is no doubt v. typoi^'raphical error, 
t Toronto of Old, 



188 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA. 



printed on coarse paper. Sometimes even this gave 
out, and the printer had to resort to blue wrapping 
paper in oider to enable him to present his readers 
with the weekly literary feast. In 1880, the number 
had increased from the humble beginning in the then 
capital of Upper Canada, to twenty papers, and of 
these the following still survive : The Chronicle and 
News, oi Kingston, established 1810: Brockville Re- 
corder, 1820; St. Catharines Journal, 1824; Chris- 
tian Guardian, 1820. There are now in Ontario 37 
daily papers, 4 semi-weeklies, 1 tri-weekly, 282 week- 
lies, 27 monthlies, and 2 semi-monthlies, making a 
total of 853. The honour of establishing the first 
daily paper belongs to the late Dr. Barker, of Kingston, 
founder of the British Whig, in 1834. 

There is perhaps nothing that can give us a better 
idea of the progress the Province has made than a com- 
parison of the papers published now with those of 1830. 
The smallness of the slieets, and the meagreness of 
reading matter, the absence of advertisement^, except 
in a very limited way, and the typographical work» 
make us think that our fathers were a good-natured, 
easy-going kind of people, or they would never have 
put up with such apologies for newspapers. Dr. Scad- 



' 'J 



^\ 



f: 



4 ^ 



hf 






' ,* 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



180 



» t 




ding, in Toronto of Old, gives a number of interesting 
and amusing items respecting the " Early Press." He 
states that the whole of the editorial matter of the 
Gazette and Oracle, on the 2nd January, 1802, is the 
following: "The Printer presents his congratulatory 
compliments to Lis customers on the now year." If 
brevity is the soul of wit, this is a chef d'cvuvre. On 
another occasion the publisher apologises for the non- 
appearance of his paper by saying : " The Printer hav- 
ing been called to York last week upon business, is 
humbly tendered to his readers as an apology for the 
Gazettes not appearing." This was another entire edi- 
torial, and it certainly could not have taken the readcs 
lonj to get at the pith of it. What would be said over 
such an announcement in these days ? 

We have every reason to feel proud of the advance 
the Press has made, both in number and inlluence, in 
Ontario. The leading papers are al)ly con lucted and 
liberally supported, and they will compare favomably 
with those of any country. Various causes have led to 
this result. The prosperous condition of the people, the 
increase of inmiigration, the springing up of railway 
communication, the extension and perfecting of tele- 
graphy, and, more than all, the completeness and effi- 



190 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



ciency of our school system throughout the Province, 
have worked changes nob to be mistaken. These are 
the sure indices of our progress and enlightenment ; 
the unerring registers that mark our advancement as a 
people. 



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FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



191 



CHAPTER VII. 



BANKS — INSURANCE — MARINE — TELEGRAPH COMPANIES— ADMINIS- 
TRATION OF JUSTICE — MILLING AND MANUFACTURES— RAPID 
INCREASE OF POPULATION IN CITIES AND TOWNS — EXCERPTS 
FROM ANDREW PICKEN. 

rr^HE only bank in the Province in 1830 was the 
-*- Bank of Upper Canada, with a capital of 
£100,000. There are now nine chartered banks owned 
in Ontario, with a capital of SI 7,000,000, and there are 
seven banks owned, with one exception, in the Prov- 
ince of Quebec, having offices in all the principal 
towns. There are also numbers of private banks and 
loan companies, the latter representing a capital of 
over Jii>20,000,00(). This is a prolific growth in half a 
century, and a satisfactory evidence of material 
success. 

Insurance has been the growth of the last fifty 
years. During the session of the House of Assembly 
in 1830, a bill was introduced to make some provision 
against accidents by fire. Since then the business has 
grown to immense proportions. According to the re- 
turns of the Dominion Government for the 3 1st De- 



192 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



cember, 1879, the assets of Canadian Life, Fire, Ma- 
rine, Accident, and Guarantee Companies were $10,346, 
587. British, doing business in Canada, $0,S38,o0f). 
American, ditto, Jt^l,G85,599. Of Mutual Companies, 
there are 94 in Ontario, with a total income fur 1879 
of $485,579, and an expenditure of $455,8G1 * 

Fifty years ago the revenue of Upper Canada was 
£112,106 i3s. 4d. ; the amount of duty collected £9,283 
19s. The exports amounted to £1,555,404, and the 
imports to £1,502,914. There were twenty-seven ports 
of entry and thirty-one collectors of customs. From 
the last published official reports we learn that the 
revenue for Ontario in 1879 was .$4,018,287, and tliat 
for the fiscal year ending June 30th, 1880, the exports 
were $28,06:i,980, and imports $27,809,444 ; amount of 
duty collected, $5,080,579; also that there are fifty-six 
ports of entry and tliirty-( i_u;lit outposts, with seventy- 
three collectors. 

One of the most inteiesting features in the progress 
of Canada is the rapid growth of its marine. It is 
correctly stated to i-ank fourth as to tonnage among 
the maritime powers of the world. Tlie United States, 



< ■ ^j 



* Inspector of Insurance Report, 1880, 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



IfiS 



with its fifty-four millions of people and its immense 
coast-line, exceeds us but by a very little, while in 
ocean steamers we are ahead. In fact, the Allan Line 
is one of the first in the world. This is something for 
a country with a population of only five-and-a-half 
millions to boast of, and it is not by any means the 
only thing. We have been spoken of as a people 
wanting enterprise — a good-natured, phlegmatic set- 
but it is a libel disproved by half a century's progress. 
We have successfully carried out some of the grandest 
enter[)rises on this continent. At Montreal we have 
the finest docks in America. Our canals are une([ualled ; 
our country is intersected by railroads; every town 
and village in the land is linked to its neighbour 
by telegraph wires, and we have probably more miles 
of both, according to population, than any other people. 
The inland position of the Province of Ontario, al- 
though having the chain of great lakes lying along its 
southern border, never fostered a love for a sea-faring 
life. This is easily accounted for by the pursuits of 
the people, who as has been said before, were nearly al 
agriculturists. But the produce had to be moved, and 
the means were forthcoming to meet the necessities of 

the case. The great water-course which led to the 
M 



194 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



seaports of Montreal and Quebec, owing to the rapids 
of the St. Lawrence, could only bo navigated by the 
batteaux and Durham boats ; and the navigator, after 
overcoming these difficulties, and laying his course 
through the noblelake from which ourProvince takes its 
name, encountered the Falls of Niagara. This was a huge 
barrier across his path wliich he had no possible means 
of surmountinir. V/hen the town of Niairara was 
reached, vessels had to be discharged, and the freight 
carted round the falls to Chip[)awa. This was a tedious 
matter, and a great drawback to settlement in the wes- 
tern j^art of the Province. Early in the century, the 
Hon. William Hamilton Merritt conceived the plan of 
connecting Lakes Erie and Ontario by a canal, and 
succeeded in getting the Government to assume the 
project in^ 1824. It was a great work for a young 
country to undertake, l)ut it was pushed on, and com- 
pleted in 1880. Fj'om that time to the present vessels 
have been enabled to pass from one lake to the other. 
This, with the Sault 8te. l\rarie canal, and those of the 
St. Lawrence, enables a vessel tr pass from iha head 
of Lake Superior to the ocean. The llideau Canal, 
undertaken about the same time as the Wetland Canal, 
was also completed in the same year. It was construe - 



« r 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



195 



ted principally for military purposes, though at one 
time a large amount of freight came up the Ottawa, 
and tlience by this canal to Kingston. The St. Law- 
rence was the onl}' channel for freight going east. All 
the rapids were navigable with the batteaux except 
the Lachine, and up to 1830 there was a line of these 
boats running from Belleville to Montreal.* Our 
canal system was completed fifty years ago, and 
all that has been done since has consisted of enlai'ffinnf 
and keeping them in repair. The total number of 
miles of canal in the Province is 186. 

The number of vessels composing our marine in IHSO 
was 12 steamers and 110 sailing vessels, with a tonnage 
of 14,300 ; and it is worthy of remark that at that date 
the tonnage on the lakes was about ecpial to that of the 



*The reader may l)e interested in loarninj^ the amount (if produce ship- 
ped from the l*n)\iuce in 1830, via the St. Lawrenee, and the mode of its 
conveyance. It is certainly a marked contrast, not only to the present 
facilities for carrying frei:,dit, but to the amount of i)roduce, etc. , going east 
and coming west. Statement of produce imported into Lower danada 
through the Port of Ooteau du Lac, to I )ecember 30th, 1830,in 584 1 )ui ham 
boats and 731 batteaux ; 133,141 bis. Htjur ; 20,084 bis. ashes ; 14,1 1(J bis. 
pork; 1,027 bis. beef ; 4,881 bus. corn and rye ; 280,3L>2 bus. wheat ; 1,87.") 
l)ls. corn irieal ; 245 bis. and 055 kegs lard ; 27 bis. and 858 kegs butter ; 203 
bis. and 20 hds. tallow ; 025 bis. a;>ples ; 210 bis. raw hides ; 148 lids, 
and 301 kegs tobacco ; 1,021 casks and 3 hds. whiskey and spirits ; 2,(i;!() 
hogs. (.Quantity of merchandise brought to Upp er Canada iu the samu 
year, 8,244 tons— Journal of the House of Assembly^ 18iU. 



<*— 



196 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



United States. The number of steam vessels now 
owned by the Province is 385, with G57* sailing 
vessels, having a total tonnage of 137,481, which at $30 
per ton would make our shipping interest amount to 
$4,124,430. 

A great deal has been done these last few years to 
protect the sailor from disaster and loss. Independent 
of marine charts that give the soundings of all navi- 
gable waters, buoys mark the shoals and obstructions 
to the entrance of harbours or the windings of intricate 
channels ; and from dangerous rocks and bold head- 
lands, jutting out in the course of vessels, flash out 
through the storm and darkness of the long dreary 
night the brilliant lights, from the domes of the light- 
houses, warning the sailor to keep away. By a system 
of revolving and parti-coloured lights the mariner is 
enabled to tell where he is, and to lay his course so as 
to avoid the disaster that might otherwise overtake 
him. There are now 149 f lighthouses in the Ontario 
division. In 1 830 there were only four. Another great 
boon to the mariners of the present day is the meteoro- 
logical service, by which he is warned of approaching 



|- 



i! 

li. 



* Report Marine and Fisheries, 1880. 
tib. 



If 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



197 



storms. It is only by the aid of telegraphy that this 
discovery has been made practically available ; and the 
system has been so perfected that weather changes can 
be told twenty-four hours in advance, with almost 
positive certainty. We have fourteen drum stations, 
eight of which are on Lake Ontario, four on Lake 
Huron, and two on the Georgian Bay. 

The Montreal Telegraph Company, the tirst in Can- 
ada, w<is organized in 1847. It has 1,647 offices in the 
Dominion, 12,703 mile^ of poles, and 21,568 of wire. 
Number of messages for current year, 2,112,161; 
earnings, $550,840. The Dominion Company reports 
608 offices, 5,112 miles of poles, and 11,501 of wire. — 
Number of messages, 734,522 ; gross earnings, $229,- 
994. This gives a total of 17,845 miles of telegraph, 
2,282 offices, 2.846,623 messages, and gross earnings 
amounting to $780,834.* 

The administration of justice cost the Province in 
1830, $23,600, and according to the latest official re- 
turns $274,013 — a very striking proof that our pro- 
pensity to litigate has kept pace with the increase of 
wealth and numbers. There were four Superior Court 



^Annual Report of Montreal and Dominion Telegraph Companies^ 
X881. 



198 



COUNTRY LIFE TN CANADA 



Ju'l^os, of whom the Hon. John Beverley Robinson was 
made Chief Juatice in 1829, cat a salary of iil?6,000. The 
remaining judges received ^3,G00 each. Besides these 
there were eleven District Judges, and in consequence 
of the extent of country embraced in these sections, 
and the distance jurors and others had to travel, the 
Court of Sessions was held frequently in alternate 
places in the district. In the Midland District, this 
court was held in Kingston and Adolphustown. The 
latter place had been laid out for a town by some far- 
seeing individual, but it never even attained to the 
dignity of a village. There was, besides the court- 
house, a tavern, a foundry, a Church of England — one 
of the first in the Province — the old homestead of the 
Hagermans, near the wharf ; a small building occupied 
for a time by the father of Sir John A. Macdonald as a 
store, and where the future statesman romped in his 
youth, and four private residences close at hand. 
When the court was held there, which often lasted a 
week or more, judge, jury, lawyers and litigants had to 
be billeted around the neighbourhood. As a rule they 
fared pretty well, for the people m uhat section were 
well off, and there was rarely any charge for board. 
The courts comprised the Court of King's Bench, the 



! 



I 



^ ■ J 



!' 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



190 



Quarter Sessionis, and Court of Koqucsts. Tlio latter 
was .similar to our Division Court, and was presided 
over l)y a couiniissionor or resident magistrate. Tho 
Quarter Sessions had C(jntrol of nearly all luunicipal 
affairs, l»ut when the jMunieipul Law came into force 
these matters passed into the hands of the County 
Conncils. The machinery in connection with the ad- 
ministration of justice has heen largely augmented, for, 
beside the additional courts, we have six Superior 
Court Judges, one Chancellor, two Viee-Chancellors, 
one Chijf-dustice, three Queen's Bench, tliree Conniion 
Pleas, three Court of Appeal Judges, and thirty-eight 
County Court Judges. 

The manufacturing interests of the Province in iHtM) 
were very small indeed. I have been unable to put 
my hand on any trustworthy information respecting 
this matter at that time, but from m-y own recollection 
at a somewhat later period, I know that very little 
had been done to supply the people with even the 
most common articles in use. Everything was im- 
ported, save those things that w^ere made at home. 
From the first grist mill, built below Kingston by the 
Government for the settlers — to which my grandfather 
carried his first few bushels of wheat in a canoe down 



200 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



llie Biiy of Quint(^, a distance of thirty-five miles — the 
mills in course Oi' time increased to 303. They were 
small, and the greater proportion had but a single run 
of stone.^. The constant demand for lumber for build- 
ing purposes in every settlement necessitated the build- 
ing of saw-mills, and in each township, wherever there 
was a creek or stream upon which a sufficient head of 
water could be procured to give power, there was a 
rude mill, with its single upright saw. Getting out 
logs in the winter was a part of the regular programme 
of every farmer who had pine timber, and in spring, for 
a short time, the mill was kept going, and the lumber 
taken home. According to the returns made to the 
Government, there were 429 of these mills in the Prov- 
ince at that time.* There were also foundries where 
ploughs and other implements were made, and a few 
fulling mills, where the home-made flannel was con- 
verted into the thick coarse cloth known as full cloth, 
a warm and serviceable article, as many no doubt re- 
member. Carding machine:, which had almost en- 
tirely relieved the housewife from using hand cards in 
making rolls, were also in existence. There were also 
breweries and distilleries, and a paper mill on the 

*Journals, House of Assembly, 1831. 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



201 



Don, at York. This was about the sum total of our 
manufacturing enterprises at that date. 

There are now 508 grist and flour mills — not quite 
double the number, but owing to the great improve- 
ment in machinery the producing capacity lias largely 
increased. Very few mills, at the present time, have 
fewer than two run of stones, and a great many have 
four, and even moi-e, and the same may be said of the 
saw mills, of which there are 853. There are many in 
the Province capable of turning out nearly as much lum- 
ber in twelve months as all the mills did fifty years ago. 

It is only within a few years that we have made much 
progress in manufactures of any kind. Whatever the 
hindrances were, judging from the numerous factories 
that are springing into existence all over the Dominion, 
they seem to have been removed, and capitalists are 
embarking their money in all kinds of manufacturing 
enterpi ises. There is no way, as far as I know, of get- 
ting at the value annually })roduced by our mills and 
factories, except from the Trade and Navigation Re- 
turns for 1880, and this only gives the ox^ orts, which 
are but a fraction of the grand total. Our woollen 
mills turned out last year upwards of $4,000,000,* of 



* Monetary Times, December 17, 188 1. 



202 



COUNT ilY LIFE IN CANADA 



which we exported $222,425. This does not include 
the produce of what are called custom mills. There 
are 224 foundries, 285 tanneries, 1G4 woollen mills, 74 
carding and fulling mills, 137 cheese factories, 127 
agricultural and implement factories, 1)2 brew ries, 8 
boot and shoe factories, 5 button factories, 1 barley 
mill, 2 carpet factories, 4 chemical works, 9 rope and 
twine factories, 9 cotton nulls, 3 crockery kilns, 11 
flax mills, 4 glass works, 11 glove factories, 7 glue 
factoi'ies, hat factories, 12 knitting factories, 9 oat- 
meal mills, 9 organ factories, 10 piano factories, 25 
paper mills, 4 rubber factories, 6 shoddy mills, 3 sugar 
refineries ; making, with the flour and saw mills, 2,G42. 
Besides these there are carriage, cabinet and other fac- 
tories and shoi)s, to the number of 3,848. The value 
of flour exported was $1,547,910; of sawn lumber, 
$4,137,002; of cheese, $1,199,973; of Hax, $95,292; 
of oatmeal, $213,131; and of other manufactures, 
$1,100,G05. 

We may further illustrate the progress we have 
made by giving the estimated value of the trade in 
Toronto in 1880, taken from an interesting article on 
this subject which appeared in the Globe last January. 
The wholesale trade is placed at $30,050,000 ; produce>, 



x_^ 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 208 

$23,000,000 ; a few leading factories, $1,770,000 ; live 
stock, local timber trade, coal, distillincf and brewina*. 
S8,91(),00() ; in all, $64,3:30,000— a gross sum more than 
ten times greater than the value of the trade of the 
whole Province fifty years ago. 

Another interesting feature in our growth is the 
rapid increase in the cities and towns. Some of these 
were not even laid out in 1830, and others hardly 
deserved the humble appellation of village. The dif- 
ference will be more apjmrent by giving the popula- 
tion, as far as possible, then and in 1881, when the 
last census was taken, of a number of the principal 
places : — 

1830. 1881. 

"^^'I'oiito 2,800 86,445 

Kin'^'^t"" 3,587 14,00;{ 

Kamiltdu, including,' township 2,013 35 1)05 

London, inclu(]irig township 2,415 

Brantford, laid out in 1830 9 (;2(] 

CTiielph, indudinK township 77^ 9 ,S90 

f>t. (vatharines (Population in 1845, 3,500)... 

Ottawa contained 150 houses 

"Belleville, incorporated 1835 9 510 

erookville 1,130 7/508 

iSTapanee (rn,)ulation in 1845, 500) 3^081 

Cobourg 4 95J 

Port Hope 5^8yS 

Peterboro', laid out in 1826 h15 

Lindsay, n 1833 0^081 

Barrie, „ 1832 

Ingevsoll, II 1831 4^322 



fc'.T' 



204 COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 

1830. 1881. 

Woodstock (Population in 1845, 1,085) 5,373 

Chatham, settled in 1830 7,881 

Stratford, hiid out in 1833 8,240 

Sarnia, laid out in 1833 3,874 

I hope the humble effort I have niacle to show what 
we Upper Canadians have done during the fifty years 
that are gone will induce some one better qualified to 
go over the same ground, rind put it in a more attrac- 
tive and effective shape. It is a period in our history 
which must ever demcvnd attention, and although our 
Province had been settl i ^' ^ nearly half a century prior 
to 18o(), it was not until i; .r that date that men of 
intelligence began to look around them, and take an 
active interest in ;^haping the future of their country. 
There were many failures, but the practical sense of 
the people surmounted them, and pushed on. All were 
awake to the value of their heritage, and contributed 
their share to extend its influence ; and so we have 
gone o'l breasting manfully political, commercial and 
other difficulties, but always advancing ; and whatever 
may be said about the growth of other parts of America, 
figures will show that Canada is to the fi'ont. At the 
Provincial Exhibition in Ottawa, in 1S7J), the Governor 
of Vermont, in his address, stated (wiiat we already 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



205 



knew), that Canada had outstripped the United States 
in rapidity of growth and development during recent 
years, and the Governors of Ohio and Maine endorsed 
the statement. We have a grand country, and I be- 
lieve a grand future. 

" Fair land of peace ! to Britain's rule and throne 
Adherent still, yet happier than alone, 
And free as happy, and as brave as free. 
Proud are thy children, justly proud of thee. 
Few are the years that have sufficed to chanj^e 
This whole broad land by transfcrniation strange. 
Once far and wide the inibroken forests spread 
Their lonely waste, mysterious and diead — 
Forest, whose echoes never had been stirred 
By the sweet music of au English word ; 
Where only rang the red-browed hunter's yell, 
And the wolf's howl through the dark sunless dell. 
Now fruitful fields and waving orchard trees 
Spread their rich treasures to the summer breeze. 
Yonder, in queenly pride, a city stands, 
Whence stately vessels speed to distant lands ; 
Here smiles a hamlet through embow'ring green, 
And there the statelier village spires arc seen ; 
Here by the brook-side clacks the noisy mill, 
There the white homestead nestles on the hill ; 
The modest school-house here flings wide its door 
To smiling crowds that seek its simple lore ; 
There Learning's statelier fane of massive walls 
Wooes the young aspirant to classic halls, 
And bids him in her hoarded treasure find 
The gathered wealth of all earth's gifted minds. 

Pamela S. Vinino. 



1206 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



Since writing the foregoing, I accidentally came 
across The Canadas, tOc, by Andrew Picken, published 
in London in 1832, a work which I had never previ- 
ously met with. It is written principally for the bene- 
fit of persons intending to emigrate to Canada, and con- 
tains notices of the most important places in both Pro- 
vinces. I have made the follov/ing extracts, thinking 
that they would prove interesting to those of my read- 
ers who wish to get a correct idea of our towns and 
villages fifty years ago. 

"The largest and most populous of the towns in 
Upper Canada, and called the key to the Pi-ovince, is 
Kingston, advantageously situated at the head of the 
St. Lawj'ence, and at the entrance of the great Lake 
Ontario. Its populrtion is now about 5,500 souls ; it 
is a military post of importance, as well as a naval de- 
pot, and from local position and advantages is well 
susce])tible of fortification. It contains noble dock- 
yards and conveniences for ship-building. Its bay 
afibrds, says Howison, so fine a harbour, that a vessel 
of one hundred and twenty guns can lie close to the 
(juay, and the mercantile importance it has now 
attained as a commercial entrepot between Montreal 
below and the western settlements on the lakes above, 
may be inferred, among other things from the wharfs 
on the river and the many spacious and well-filled 
warehouses behind them, as well as the numerous 
stores and mercantile employ <^s within the town. The 
streets are regularly formed upon the right-angular 
plan which is the favourite in the new settlements, but 
they are not paved ; and though the houses are mostly 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



207 



l:)uilt of limestone, inexhaustible quarries of which lie 
in the immediate vicinity of the town, and are of the 
greatest importance to it and the surrounding neigh- 
bourhood, there is nothing in the least degree remark- 
able or interesting in the appearance of either the 
streets or the buildings. The opening of the Rideau 
Canal here, which, with the i^itermediate lakes, 
forms a junction between the Ontano and other lakes 
above, the St. Lawrence below, and the Ottawa, oppo- 
site Hull, in its rear, with all the intervening districts 
and townships, will immensely increase the impor- 
tance of this place ; and its convenient hotels already 
aftbrd comfortable accommodation to the host of travel- 
lers that are continually passing between the Upper 
and Lower Provinces, as well as to and from the States 
on the opposite side of the river. 

" York is well situated on the north side of an excel- 
lent harbour on the lake. It contains the public build- 
ings of the Province, viz, the House of Assembly, where 
the Provincial Parliament generally holds its sittings; 
the Government House ; th( Provincial Lank ; a 
College; a Court-House; a had for the Law Society; 
a gaol ; an Episcopal Church ; a Bajitist Chapel (Metho- 
dist) ; a Scots' Kirk ; a Gairison near the town, with 
barracks for the tioops usually stationed here, and a 
batteiy which protects the entrance of the harbour. 
Ivegularly laid out under survey, as usual, the streets 
of the town are spacious, the houses mostly l)uilt of 
wood, but many of them of brick and stone. The 
population amounts now to between four and five 
thousand. 

"P)y-Town, situated on the southern bank of the 
Ottawa, a little Ix'low the Cliaudicre Falls, and opjiosite 
to the tlourishing Village of Hull, in ]jOwer (Janada, 
stands upon a boM eminence, suri'ounding the V>ay of 
the grand liver, and occupies both banks of the r-anal, 
which here meets it. Laid out in the usual manner 



S08 



COUNTRY LIFE IN CANADA 



with streets crossing at right angles, the number of 
houses is already about 150, most of which are wood, 
and many built with much taste. Three stone barracks 
and a large and commodious hospital, built also of stone, 
stand conspicuous on the elevated banks of the bay ; 
and the elegant residence of Colonel By, the command- 
ing Royal Engineer of that station. 

*' The town- plot of Peterborough is in the north- 
east angle of the Township ol' Monaghan. It is laid 
out in half acres, the streets nearly at right angles with 
the river; park lots of nine acres each are reserved 
near the town. The patent fee on each is £8, Provincial 
currency, and office fees and agency will increase it 
15s. or 20s more. 

"The settlement commenced in 1825, at which time 
it formed a depot of the emigration under Hon. P. 
Robinson. The situation is most favourable, being an 
elevated sandy plain, watered by a creek, which dis- 
charges into the river below the turn. The country 
round is fertile, and there is great water-power in the 
town-plot, on which mills are now being built by 
Government. These mills are on an extensive scale, 
being calculated to i)ack forty barrels of Hour, and the 
saw-mill to cut 8,000 feet of l)(»ards fer diem. 

" The situation of Ccjbourg is healthy and })leasant. 
It stan<ls immediately on the shore of Lake Ontario. 
In 1812, it had only one house; it now contains up- 
wards of forty houses, an Episcopal church, a Methodist 
chapel, too good inns, four stores, a distillery, an exten- 
sive grist mill; and the population may be estimated 
at about 850 souls. 

" The two projected towns of most consideration in 
this district (London district), however, are London-on- 
the-'J'hames, further inland, and Goderich, recently 
founded by the Canada Company, on Lake Huron. 
London is yet but inconsiderable, but from its position, 
in the heart of a fertile country, is likely to become of 



FIFTY YEARS AGO. 



200 



some importance hereafter, when the extreme wilds 
become more settled. The town is qnite new, not con- 
taining above forty or lit'ty houses, all of bright boards 
and shingles. The streets and gardens full of black 
stumps &c. They were building a church, and liad 
finished a handsome Gothic co"rt-house, which must 
have been a costly work. 

"Guelph. Much of this tract belongs to the Canada 
Company, who have built, nearly in its centre, the 
town of Guelph, upon a small river, called the Speed, 
a remote branch of the Ouse, or Grand River. This 
important and rapidly rising town, which is likely to 
become the capital of the district, was founded hy Mr. 
Gait, for the Company, on St. George's day, 1827, and 
already contains between 100 and 200 houses, several 
shops, a handsome market house near the centi'e, a 
schoolhouse, a printing oftice, and 700 or 800 inhabi- 
tants. 

" The Bay of Quinte settlement is the oldest in TTpper 
Canada, and was beijfun at the close of the Revolu- 
tionaiy Wai". We crossed over the mouth of the River 
Trent, wdiich Hows from the Rico Like, anil it is said 
can be made pracLicabh; for steandtonts, though at nnicli 
ex[)ense; thence to Belleville, a neat village of recent 
date, but evidently addicted too much to hnnbering. 

** Brock ville is a most thriving new town, with several 
handsome stone houses, chui'ches, court-house, &c., and 
about 1,500 souls." 



N 



I 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY 



SKETCHES 



OF 



EARLY HISTORY.* 



EARLY SCHOOLS AM) SCHOOLMASTKRS — HIHTII OF THE AMERICAN 
REPUBLIC— LOVE OF COUNTRY — ADVENTURES OF A U. E. LOYAL- 
IST FAMILY NINETY YEARS AGO — THE WILUS OF UPPER CANADA 
— HAY BAY— HARDSHIPS OF PIONEER LIFE— (illOWTH OF POPU- 
LATION — DIVISION OF THE CANADIAN PROVINCES— FORT FKON- 
TENAC— THE "DARK DAYS " — CELESTIAL FIREWORKS — EARLY 
STE.VM NAVIOATION IN CANADA — THE COUNTRY MERCHANT — 
PROGRESS- THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE. 

A FTER having consented to read a paper on the 
-^-^ subject which has ah'eady been announced, I 
do not think it would be quite proper for me to begin 
with apologies. That they are needed I confess at 
once, but then they should have been thought of be- 



* This paper was read before the Mechanics' Institute in Picton, 
twenty-six years ago. Soon afterwards, the then Superintendent of 
Education, Dr. llyerson, re(iuested me to send it to him, which I did, 
and a copy was taken of it. An extract will be found in his work, 
" The Loyalists of America," Vol. ii, page 219. Subsequently, in 
1879, I ma<ie up two short papers from it which appeared in The 
Canadian Methodist Magazine. The paper is now given, with a few ex- 
ceptions, as it was first written. 



214 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



fore. How often havo we lieard the expression, '* Cir- 
cumstances alter cases," and this is just why I put in 
my plea. If I had rot been preceded by gentlemeix 
whose ability and attainments are far and away be- 
yond mine, I should not have said a word. But when 
these persons, some of whom finished their education 
in British Universities, who have trodden the classic 
shores of Italy and mused over the magnificent monu- 
ments of her past gicatness, or wandered through old 
German towns, where Christian liberty was born and 
cradled; who have ranged the spacious halls of Parisian 
Institutes, or sauntered in places where many historic 
scenes have been enacted in grand old England — when 
these persons, I repeat, must crave your indulgence, 
how much more earnestly should I plead, whose travels 
are bounded in the radius of a few hundred miles, and 
whose collegiate course began, and I may say ended, in 
the country school-house with which many of you are 
familiar. What wonderful scholars those early teachers 
were. 

" Amazed nie, gazing rustics, rang'd around ; 
And still v;c gaz'd, and suU our wondor grew 
That one small head could carry all he knew." 

It is no wonder that we were often awed by 
their intellectual profundity, nor that they gave our 



SKKTCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



2lo 



youthful biviins an impetus which sent them bounding 
through the severe curriculum we had to face. 

The narrow-minded and unyielding policy of George 
III., as every one now admits it to have been, brought 
about the American Revolution, and gave birth to the 
American Republic. As always happens ii every 
great movement, there were two sides to this question, 
not only between Great Britain and her colonists, but 
a!i^>onixtho colonists themselves. One side clamoured 
boldly for their rights, and, if need were, separation. 
The other side shrank from a contest with the mother 
land, and preferred a more peaceful solution of their 
difficulties. A moderate degree of lil>era]ity on the 
part of the British Government would have appeased 
the demands of the malcontents, and another destiny 
whether for better or worse, might have been in store 
for the American people. But those were dayj wheii 
the policy of the nation was stern and uncompromising, 
when the views of trade were narrow and contracted, 
when justice was untempered with mercy, and when 
men were bigoted and pugnacious. Protracted wars 
consumed the revenues and made many draughts on 
the national purse, and when the trade of the colonies 
was laid under contribution, they refused the demand. 



i?l6 



SKE^rCHES OE EARLY HISTORY. 



The Government, true to the spirit of the age, would 
not brook refusal on the part of its subjects., and must 
needs force them to comply. The contest began, and 
when, after v seven y'-ars' struggle, peace was declared, 
those who had sided with the old land found them- 
selves homeless, and rather than swear allegiance to 
the new regime, aljandoned their adopted country and 
emigrated to the wilds of Canada and the Eastern Pro- 
vinces. Two results grew out of this content : the 
establishment of a new and powerful nationality, and 
the settlement of a vast country subject to the British 
Crown, to the north, then an unbroken wilderness, 
now the Dominion of Canada,* whose rapid strides in 
wealth and power bid fair to rival even those of the 
great Republic. 

The history of our country — I am speaking of Uj^per 
Canada — remains to be written. It is true we have 
numeious works, and valuable ones too, on Canada ; 
but 1 refer to that part of history which gives a pic- 
ture of the people, their habits and customs, which 
takes you into their homes and inifolds their every-day 
life. This, it seems to me, is the very soul of history, 



■•* • 



* TluH has been changed. When the pajjer was written, the Con- 
federfttion of the Provinces, if it had been thought of, had not as. 
sumed any definite shape. It followed eiglit years after, in 1867. 



SKETCHES OF EARLY TIISTORY. 



^17 



and when the coming Canadian Macaulay shall write 
ours, he will look in vain for many an argosy, richly 
freighted with fact and story, which might have been 
saved if a helping hand had been given, but which now, 
alas 1 is Iv^st forever. 

It can hardly be expected that I should be as familiar 
with the early scenes enacted in this pa>rt of the Pro- 
vince as those who are very much older. Yet I have 
known many of the first settlers, and have heard from 
their lips, in the days of my boyhood, much about the 
hardships and severe privations they endured, as well 
as the story of many a rough and wild adventure. 
These old veterans have dropped, one by one, into the 
grave, until they have nearly all passed away, and we 
are left to enjoy many a luxury which their busy hands 
accumulated for us. 

As a Canadian — and I am sure I am giving expres- 
sion, not so much to a personal sentiment, as an abiding 
principle deeply rooted in the heart of every son of 
this grand country — T feel as much satisfaction and 
pride in tracing my origin to the pioneers of this 
Province — nay more — than if my veins throbbed with 
noble blood. The picture of the log cabins which my 
grandfathers erected in the wilderness on the bay shore, 



218 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



wJiere my father and mother first saw the light, are far 
more inviting to me than hoary castle or rocky keep. 
I know that they were loyal, honest, industrious, and 
virtuous, and this is a record as much to be prized by 
their descendants as the mere distinction of noble birth. 
It has been said that love of country is not a charac- 
teristic of Canadians ; that in conse(i[ucnce of our youth 
there is but little for affection to cling to ; that the tra- 
ditions that cluster around age and foster these senti- 
ments are wanting. This may be to a certain extent 
true. But I cannot believe but that Canadians are as 
loyal to their country as any other people under the 
sun. The life-lonfj struiii'le of those men whom the old 
land was wont " to ])ut a mark of honour upon," are too 
near to us not to warm our hearts with love and vene- 
ration ; they were too sturdy a race to be lightly over- 
looked by their descendants. Tlieir memory is too 
sacred a trust to be forgotten, and their lives too worthy 
of our imitation not to bind us together as a people^ 
whose home and country shall ever be first in our 
thoughts and aflTection. 

" Breathes there a man with soul so dead 
Who never to himself hath said 
' This is my own, my native land ? ' 
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned 
As home his footsteps he hath turned 1" 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



210 



7s there any place in the world where such marvel- 
lous changes have taken place as here ? Where among 
the countries of the eartli shall we find a more rapid and 
vigorous giowth ? Ninety years * ago this Province was 
a dense and unknown forest. We can hardly realize 
the fact that not a century has elapsed since these 
strong-handed and brave-hearted men pushed their way 
into the profound wilderness of Upper Canada. Were 
they not heroes ? See that man whose strong arm first 
uplifts the threatening axe. Fix his image in your 
mind, and tell me if he is not a subject worth}'' the 
genius and chisel of a Chantrey. Mark him as he 
swings his axe and buries it deep into a giant tree. 
Hark ! how that first blow rings through the wood, 
and echoes along the shores of the bay. The wild duck 
starts and flaps her wings ; the timid deer bounds 
away. Yet stroke follows stroke in measured force. 
The huge tree, whose branches have l)een fanned and 
tossed by the breeze of centuries, begins to sway. 
Another blow, and it falls thundering to the ground. 
Far and wide does the crash reverberate. It is the first 
knell of destruction boominof throufjh the forest of 
Canada, and as it flies upon the wings of the v/ind, 



* The lealer will bear in mind the date when this was written. 



^20 



SKETC&ES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



from hill-top^to hilJ-top, it proclaims the first welcome 
sound of a new-born country. And did these men of 
whom we have been speaking make war alone upon the 
mighty forest ? Did they find their w^ay alone to the 
wilds of Canada ? No: they were accompanied by 
women as true and brave as themselves ; women who 
unmurmuringly shared their toils and hardships, who 
rejoiced in their succcess, and cheered them when weary 
and depressed. They left kindred and friends far 
behind, literally to bury themselves in the deep recesses 
of a boundless forest. They left comfortable homes to 
endure hunger and fatigue in log cabins which their 
own delicate hands helped to rear, far beyond the 
range of civilization. Let us follow a party of these 
adventurers to Canada. 

In the summer of the year 1795 or theieabouts, a 
company of six persons, composed of two men and 
their wives, with two small children, pushed a rough- 
looking and unwieldy boat away from the shore in the 
neighbourhood of Poughkeepsie, and turned its prow up 
the Hudson. A rude sail was hoisted, but it flapped 
lazily against the slender mast. The two men took up 
the oars and pulled quietly out into the river. They did 
not note the morning's sun gradually lifting himself 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



221 



above the eastern level, and scattering his cheerful rays 
of light across the river, and along its shores. All 
nature seemed rejoicing over the coming day, but they 
appeared not to heed it. They pulled on in silence, 
looking now ahead, and then wistfully back to the 
place they had left. Their boat was crowded with 
sundry household necessaries carefully packed up and 
stowed away. At the stern are the two women ; one, 
ruddy and strong, steers the boat ; the other, small and 
delicate, minds her children. Both are plainly and 
neatly dressed ; and they, too, are taking backward 
glances through silent tears. Why do they weep, and 
whither are they bound ? Their oars are faithfull}^ 
plied, and they glide slowly on. And thus, day after 
day, ma}^ we follow them on their voyage. Now and 
then a gentle breeze fills the sail and wafts them on. 
When the shades of evening begin to fall around them 
they pull to shore and rear a temporary tent, after 
which they partake of the plain fare provided for the 
evening meal, with a relish which toil alone can give, 
and then lay them down to rest, and renew their 
strength for the labours of the morrow. 

They reach Albany, then a Dutch town on the verge 
of civilization. Beyond is a wilderness land but little 



222 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



known. Some necessaries are purcliased here, and 
again our little company launch away. They reach 
the place where the city of Troy now stands, and turn 
away to the left into the Mohawk river, and proceed 
slowly, and often with great difficulty, up the rapids 
and windings of the stream. This rich and fertile 
valley of the Mohawk was then the home of the 
Indian. Here the celebrated Chief Brant had lived 
but a short time before, but had now withdrawn into 
the wilds of Western Canada. The voyageurs, after 
several days of hard laljour and difficulty, emerge into 
the little lake Oneida, lying in the north-western part 
of the State of New YoiU, thiough which they pass 
with ease and pleasure. The most difficult [) art oF their 
ourney lias been ov. re ome. In due tiuie they reach 
the Onondaga River, and soon pass down it to Oswego, 
then an old fort which had been built by the French, 
when they were masters of the countiy, as a barrier 
asfaiust the eicroaeliiuents of the wil\' Indian. Several 
bloody frays had occurred liere, but our fi'iciiils do not 
tarry to muse over its battle-ground, or to learn its 
history. 

Their small craft now dances on the bo om of 
Ontario, but they do not [)ush out into the lake and 



X 



i i i 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



223 



across it. Oh no: they are careful sailors, and they 
remember, perha}>s, tliat small l»oats should not venture 
far from shore, and so they wind along it until they 
reach Gravelly Point, now known by the more <lignified 
name of Cape Vincent. Here they strike across the 
channel, and thence around the lower end of Wolfe 
Island, and into Kingston Bay, where they come to 
shore. There were not many streets or fine stone houses 
in the Limestone ^^ity at this time ; a few log houses 
composed the tow n. After resting and transacting ne- 
cessary business they again push away, and turn their 
course up the lovely Bay of Quints. What a wild and 
beautiful scene opens out before them ! The far-reach- 
ing bay, with its serried ranks of primeval forest crowd- 
ing the shores on cither hand. The clear pure water 
rippling along its beach, and its bosom dotted with 
flocks of wild fowl, could not fail to arrest the attention 
of the weary voyageurs. Frecjuently do they pause 
and rest upon their oai's, to enjoy the wild beauty that 
surrounds them. With lighter nearts they coast along 
the shore, and continue up the bay until they reach 
township number four. This township, now known as 
Adolphustown, is composed of five points, or arms, 
which run out into the bay. They sail round four of 



224 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



these points of land, and turn into Hay Bay, and, after 
proceeding about three miles, pull to shore. Their 
journey it would seem has come to an enJ, for they 
begin to unload their boat and erect a tent. The sun 
sinks down in the west, and, weary and worn, they lay 
themselves down upon the bed of leaves to rest. Six 
weeks have passed since we saw them launch away in 
quest of this wilderness home. Look at them, and tell 
me what you think of their prospects. Is it far 
enough away from the busy haunts of men to suit you ? 
Would you not rather sing — 

" O solitude, where are the charms 
Which sages have seen in thy face ? 

Better dwell in the midst of alarms 
Than reign in this horrible place. " 

With the first ijlimmer of the morn'.n<x's liijht all 
hands are up and at work. A small space is cleared 
away, trees are felled, and in due time a house is built — 
a house not large or commodious, with rooms not 
numerous or spacious, and with furniture neither 
elegant nor luxurious. A pot or two, perhaps a few 
plates, cups and saucers, with knives and forks and 
spoons, a box of linen, a small lot of bedding, etc., with 

** A cheat, contrived a double debt to pay — 
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day." 



\ 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



225 



These constitute pretty nearly the sum total. This 
is not a fancy sketch. I hav^e heard the story many a 
time from the lips of the little old grandmother* who 
was of the party. She lived to rear a family of iiii'.e 
children, and to see most of them married and well 
settled ; to oxchanixe the loor house for a larw atul 
c jmfortable home, and to die peacefully at a good old 



age. 



It is hardly possible for us to conceive the difficnltiea 
that beset the first settlers, nor the hardships and priva- 
tions which they endured. They were not infrequently 
reduced to the very verge of starvation, yd tlujy 
struggled on. Tree after tree fell before the axe, and 
the small clearing was turned to immediate account. 
A few necessaries of life were produced, and evjn 
these, limited and meagre as they wore, were the be- 
ginnings of comfort. Comfort, indeed ! hut far removed 
not only from thein, but from the idea wo associate with 
the term. I have in my 3'ounger days taken grist to 
the mill, as the farmers say. But I can assure you I 
would prefer declining the task of carr} ing bag^ of 
wheat upon my back for three miles, and then paddling 

*The writer is one of her grandsons. The incident will be found in 
Dr. Ryerson's book. 



22G 



SKETCHf-:S OF EARLY HISTORY. 



tliem in a canoe doAvn to the Kingston Mills,* and hack 
again to Adolphustown — ahoiit seventy miles — after 
which icMiming the pleasing exercise of backing them 
home.f Such things do not fatigue one much to talk 
about, but I fancy the reality would fit closer to the 
backs of some of our young excjuisites than would be 
.agreeable. Nor do we, when we stick up our noses at 
tlie plainer fare of some of our neighbours, remember 
often what a feast our fathers and mothers would have 
thought even a crust of bread. How often — alas, how 
often! — were they compelled to use anything they could 
put their hands upon, in order to keep soul and body 
together. Could we, the sons of those men, go through 
this ? T am afrai<l, with one consent, we would say 
" No." 

But time rolled on. The openings in the forest grew 
largei' and wider. The log cabins began to multij)ly, 
and the curlini'' smoke, risinr»' here and there above the 
woods, told a silent hut more cheerful tale. There 
dwelt aneighboui" — milt'.s away, perhaps — but a neigh- 
bour, iieverlhek'ss. If you would like an idea of the 



'*'J'liis mill \va< built by the liiitish Government in the first f<ettlement 
of tli'j Province for the benefit of the t<ettlers. 

f'Thi-i was an early ex[)erience of my grandfather, Canniff, which 
liked to relate iu his old age to young men. 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



227 



proximity of humanity, and the luxury of society in 
tliose days, just place a few miles of (h'use wtH)ds be- 
tween yourself and your nearest nei<3dil)our, and you 
will have a fiiint conception of tlie delights of a home 
in the forest. 

There are persons still living who have heard their 
parents or grandparents tell of the dreadful sufferings 
they endured the second year after the settlement of 
the Bay of Quintd country. The second year's Gov- 
ernment supply, through some bad management, was 
frozen up in the lower ]y,\vi of the St. Lawrence, and, 
in consequence, the people were reduced to a state of 
famine. Men were glad, in some cases, to give all they 
possessed for that which would sustain life. Farms 
were given in exchange for small quantities of flour, 
but more freciu.ently refused. A res])ectal)le old lady, 
long since; gone to her rest, and whose giandchildren 
are somewhat aristocratic, was wont in those days 
to go away to the woods early in the morning to 
gather and eat the buds of the basswood, and then 
bring an apronfull home to her family. In one neigh- 
bourhood a beef bone passed from house to house, 
and was boiled a^ain and aiiain in order to extract 
some nutriment from it. This is no fictir»n, Init a 



228 



SKRTC!HES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



literal fact. Many other equally uninviting bills of 
fare niifrht be sriveti, but tliese no doubt will suffice. 
Sufficient has been said to show that our fathers and 
mothers did not re])Ose upon rose-Lcds, nor did they 
fold their hands in despair, but with strong nerves and 
stout hearts, even when famine was in the pot, they 
pushed on, and lived. The forest melted away before 
thorn, and we are now enjoying the happy results. 

Tlie life of the first settler wa-5 for a long time one of 
hardship and adventure. When this U topia was reached 
he frequently had difficulty in finding his land. He 
was not always very particular as to this, for land then 
was not of very much account, and yet he wished, if 
p< ssi}>le, to strike somewhere near his location. This 
involved sometimes long trips into the forest, or 
along the shores. After a day's pa<ldling he would 
land, pull up his canoe, and look around. The night 
coming on, he had to make some preparation for it. 
How was it to be done in this howling wilderness ? 
Where was he to sleep, and how was he to protect him- 
self against the perils that surrounded him ? He takes 
his axe and goes to work. A few small trees are cut down. 
Then he gathers some dry liuibs and hea])S them up 
together. From his pocket he brings a large knife ; 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



229 



« 



tlicn a Hint and a bit of pinik. The punk ho places care- 
fully under the Hint, holding- it in his left hand, and 
then pieks u}) his knife and gives the Hint a few sharp 
strokes with the baek of the blade, which sends forth 
a shower of sparks, some of which fall on the punk and 
ignite, and soon his heap is in a blaze. Now, this 
labour is not only necessary for his comfort, but for his 
safety. The smoke drives the iiies and moscpiitoes 
away, and keeps the wolves and bears from encroaching 
on his place of rest. But the light which aifords him 
protection subjects him to a new annoyance. 

" Loud as the wolves in Orca's stormy steep 
Howl to the roaring of the stormy deep, " 

the wolves howled to the fire kindled to attVight them 
away. Watching the whole night in the surrounding 
hills, they keep up a concert which tiuly '' renders night 
hideous;" and bullfrogs in countless numbers from ad- 
jacent swami)s, with an occasional "To-whit, to-whoo ! " 
from the sombre owl, altogether nuike a native choir 
anything but conducive to calm repose. And yet, anud 
such a serenade, with a few boughs for a ]»ed, and the 
gnarled root of a tree for a pillow, did many of our 
fathers spend their first nights in the wilderness of 
Canada. 



230 



SKKTCHES OF EAl.^.Y HISTOIlV. 



The first settlers of Upper Canada were principally 
American colonists who adhered to tlic cause of Eng- 
land. After the capitulation of General Burgoyne, 
many of the royalists, with their families, moved into 
Canada, and took up land along the shores of the St. 
Lawrence, the Bay of (^uintd, and the lakes. Upon 
the evacuation of New York at the close of the war a 
still greater numbei' followed, many of whom were 
soldiers dishanded and left without employment. 
Many had lost their pi'operty, so that nearly all were 
destitute and depending upon the liberality of the 
Government whose battles they had fought, and f ?r 
whose cause they had suffeved. They were not for- 
gotten. The British Government was not tardy in Hs 
movement, and at once decided to reward their loyalty. 
Immediate steps were taken to provide for their present 
wants, and also to provide means for their future sub- 
sistence. 

These prompt measures on the part of the Govern- 
ment were not only acts of justice and humanity, but 
were sound in policy, and were crowned with universal 
success. Liberal grants of land were made free of ex- 
pense on the following scale : — A field officer received 
0,()0() acres; a captain, 8,000; a subaltern, 2,000; and 



h 



I. 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



231 



4 



m 






u 

X 

t 



a private, 200. Siuveyors were sent on to lay ont tlio 
land. They cunnnenccd tlieir work near Lake St. Fran- 
cis, tlien tlie liiohcst French settk'nient, and exteniknl 
akmf^ the shores of the St. Lawrence n[) to Lake 
Ontario, and tlieiice ah)ng- the lake, and round the Bay 
of Quint(^. Townships were laid ont, and then sub- 
divided into concessions nnd lots of 200 acies. These 
townships were numbered, and I'eniained without names 
for many years. Of these numbers there were two 
divisions: one, including the town8hi2)s below Kings- 
ton in the line east to the St. Francis settlement; the 
other, wost from Kingston to the head of the Bay of 
Quints. They were knon'n by the old people as first, 
second, tiiird, fourth town, etc. No names were given 
to tlie townshijjs by legal enactment for a long time, 
and hence the habit of designating them by numbers 
became fixed. 

The settlement of the surveyed portion of the Mid- 
land District, which then included the present counties 
of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Hastings, and 
the county of Prince Edward, connnenced in the sum- 
mer of 1784. The new settlers were supplied with 
farming implements, building materials, provisions, and 
some clothing for the first two years, at the expense of 



232 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTOHY. 



the nation. " And in order," it was stated, " that the 
love of country may take deeper root in the hearts of 
those true men, the government determined to put a 
mark of honour," as the order of the Council expresses 
it, " upon the families who had adhered to the unity of 
the Empire, ami joined the royal standard in America, 
before the treaty of separation in the year 1783." A 
list of such persons was dii'ccted in 1789 to 1)2 made 
out and returned, " to the end that their posterity 
might be discriminated from the future settlers." From 
these two emphatic words — The Unity of the Empire 
— it was styled the U.E. list, and they whose names 
were entered therein were distinguished as U.E. 
Loyalists. This, as is well known, was not a mere 
empty distinction, but was i>otablya title of some con- 
se(pience, for it not only provided for the U.E. Loyal- 
ists themselves, but guaranteed to all their children, 
U[)on arriving at the age of twenty-one years, two 
hundred acres of land free from all expense. It is a 
])leasing task to recall these generous acts on the part 
of the British Government towaids the fathers of our 
country, and the descendants of those true and noble- 
hearted men who loved the old Empire so well that 
they preferred to endure toil and privation in the 



SKETCHES Oi' EARLY HISTORY. 



^3^ 



Si 



vvilJorness of Canada to ease and comfort under the 
protection of the revolted colonies. We shoidd vener- 
ate thuir memory, and foster a love of country as deep 
and abiding as theirs. 

In order further to encourage th:, growth of popula- 
tion, and induce other settlers to come into the country, 
two hundred acres of land were allowed, upon ccmdition 
of actual settlement, and the [>ayment of surveying 
and office fees, which amounted in all to about thirty- 
eight dollars. 

Tn 171)1 the provinces were divided, and styled 
U[)per Canada and Lower Canada — the one embracing 
all the French seigneuries; the other all the newly - 
settled townshi[>s. The first Governor of Ui>per Can- 
ada, John Gi'aves Simcoe, arrived in I7l>2, and took up 
Ids residence at Nuwaik (Niagara), then tlie capital of 
the Province. llure the first Parliament of Upper 
Canada met and held five successive sessions, after 
which it was moved to York. Governor Simcoe 
laboured hard and successfully to promote the settle- 
ment of the Province. 

Kingston is the oldest town in Upper Canada by 
many years. The wliite man found his way here more 
than ;v century before any settlement in the west was 
made or thought of. Small expeditions had from time 



2^4 



SKETCHES OP EARLY HISTOllY. 



to time pcneti'ated the vast wilderness far to the west, 
either for the purpose of trading with the Indians, or 
led by some zealous piiost who sought foi" the gloiy of 
God to brinij the wanderin:;: tribes into the fold of the 
Roman Church. The untirino- enero^y and zeal dis- 
played by these early Fathers, together with the hard- 
ships, dangers and privations they endured, form one 
of the most interesting pages of adventure in our 
country's history. The crafty and industrious French 
Governor, De Courcelles, in order to put a stop to the 
encroachments of the Five Nations, despatched a 
messenger from Quebec to their chief to inform him 
that he had some business of great importance to com- 
municate, and wdshed them to proceed to Cataraqui, 
where he would meet them. As soon as the Indian 
deputies arrived, a council was held. Tlie Governor 
informed them that he was going to build a fort there, 
to serve principally as a depot for merchandise, and to 
facilitate the trade that was springing up between 
them. The chiefs, ignorant of the real intention of 
the wily Governor, readily agreed to a proposition 
which seemed intended for their advantage. But the 
object was far from what the Indians expected, and was 
really to create a barrier against them in future wars. 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTOUY. 



235 



¥ 



^• 



Wliile ineasuies were being completed to build the 
fort (yourcelles was recalled, and Count de Frontenac 
sent out in his place. Frontenac carried out the 
designs of his predecessor, and in 1672 completed the 
fort, which received and for many years retained Ids 
name. 

Father Charlevoix, who jouineyed through Western 
(Janada in the year 1720, thus describes Fort Catar- 
a([ui. "This fort is f«<pinre, with four bastions built 
with stone, and the ground it occupies is a quarter of 
a league in compass. Its situation is really something 
very pleasant. The sides of the view present every 
way a landscape well varied, and it is the same at the 
entrance of Lake Ontario, which is but a small league 
distant. It is full of islands of ditierent sizes, all well 
wooded, and nothing bounds the horizon on that side. 
The Lake was sometimes called St. Louis, afterwards 
Frontenac, as well us the fort of Cataratjui, of which 
the Count de Frontenac was the founder, but insensibly 
the Lake has regained its ancient name Ontario, which 
is Huron or Iroquois, and the fort that of the ])lace 
where it is built. The soil from this ])lace to la Sal- 
lette appears something barren, but thiw is only in the 
borders, it being very good further up. There is over 



236 



SKETCHES OP EARLY HISTORY. 



against the fort a very pretty islaad in the raiddlo of 
the rivei". They put soino swine into it, which have 
multiplied, and given it the name of Isle du Pores. 
Tliere are two other islands somewhat smaller, which 
are lower, and half a league distant from each other. 
One is called Cedars, the other Hart's Island. The Bay 
of Cataraqui is double; that is to say, that almost in 
the middle of it there is a point that runs out a great 
way, under which there is a good anchorage for large 
barks. M. de hi Salle, so famous for his discoveries and 
his misfortunes, who was lord of Cataraqui, and gov- 
ernor of the fort, had two or three of them, which were 
sunk in this pkce, and remain there still. Behind the 
fort is a marsh, where there is a great plenty of wild 
fowl. This is a benefit to and employment for the 
garrison. There was formerly a great trade here, 
especially with the Iroquois, and it was to entice them 
to, as well as to hinder their carrying their skins to 
the English and keep these savages in awe, that the 
fort was built. But the trade did not last long, and 
the fort has not hindered the barbarians from doing 
us a great deal of mischief. They have still families 
here, in the outside of the place, and there are also 
some Missisaguas, an Algonquin nation, which still 



I. i 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



237 



have a villnge on the west side of I- -lie Ontario, an- 
other at Niagara, and a third in the strait." Such 
is the description we have of Kingston a century and 
a half ago. The Mohawlv name for it is Gu-doi-o-qui, 
or, " Fort in the Water." 

I am unable, from any information I can get, to give 
the origin of the name of our beautiful bay. It seems 
to have Ijorne its present name at a very early date in 
the history of the country. It is supposed by some to 
be an Indian name with a French accent. I am dis- 
posed, however, to think that it came from the early 
French voyageurs, from the fact that not only the bay, 
but an island, are mentioned by the name of Quintd. 
The usual pronunciation until a few years ago was 
Kaniy. 

In the year 17S0, on the 14th day of Octoljcr, and 
again in July, 1814, a most remarkable phenojtnenon 
occurred, the like of which was never before witnessed 
in the country. " At noonday a pitchy darkness com- 
pletely obscured the light of the sun, continuing for 
about ten minutes at a time, and being frequently re- 
peated during the afternoon. In the interval between 
each mysterious eclipse, dense masses of black clouds 
streaked with yellow drove athwart the darkened sky, 



238 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



with fitful gusts of wind. Thunder, lightning, black 
rain, and showors of ashes added to the terrors of the 
scene, and when the sun appeared its colour was a 
bright red." The people were filled with fear, and 
thought that the end of the world was at hand. These 
two periods are known as the " dark days." 

Many years after this, another phenomenon not less 
wonderful occurred, which I had the satisfaction of see- 
ing; and although forty-five years have elapsed, the ter- 
rifying scene is as firmly fixed in my memory as though 
it had happened but an hour ago. I refer to the meteoric 
shower of the 18th of November, 1833. My father had 
been from home, and on his return, about midnight, 
his attention was arrested by the frequent fall of 
meteors, or stars, to use the common phrase. The 
number rapidly increased; and the sight was so gran<l 
and beautiful that he came in and woke us all up, and 
then walked up the road and roused some of the 
neighbours. Such a display of heaven's fireworks was 
never seen before. If the air had been filled with 
rockets they would have been but match strokes coin- 
pared to the incessant play of brilliant dazzling mete- 
ors that flashed across the sky, furrowing it so thickly 
with golden lines that the whole heaven seemed ablaze, 



SK FETCHES OK EARTT HISTORY. 



289 



r 



\' 



until the moniinir's sun shut out tho scene. One 
meteor of hw^c size renuiined sometime ahiiost station- 
ary in the zenith, ennttiii<4' streams of light. I stood 
like a statue, and gazed with fear and awe up to the 
glittering sky. Millions of stars seemed to be dashing 
across the blue dome of heaven. In fact I thought the 
whole starry firmament was tumbling down to earth. 
The neighbours wen^ terror-struck : the more enliglit- 
ened of them were awed at contem])lating so vivid a 
picture of the Apocalyptic image — that of the stars of 
heaven falling to the earth, even as a fig-tree castotli 
her untimely figs, when she is .shaken by a mighty 
wind ; while the cries of others, on a calm night like 
that, might have been heard for miles around. 

Young and poor as Canada was half a century ago, 
she was not l»ehind many of the older and more wealthy 
countries in enterpri/e. Her legislators were sound, 
practical men, who had the inteiest of their country 
at heart. Her mercliants were pushing and intelli- 
ijent ; her farmcis fru'^al and industrious. Under 
such auspices her success was assured. At an early 
day the Gosernment ga\e material aid to every pro- 
ject that was calculated to foster and extend trade and 
commerce, as well as to open up and encourage the 



240 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



settlement of the country. Neither was individual 
entorprize behind in adopting the discoveries and im- 
provements of the time, and iii ajtplying them not only 
to their own advantage but to that of tlie community 
at large. Four years after Fulton had made his suc- 
cessful experiment with steam as a propelling power 
for vessels on the Hudson, a small steamer was built 
and launched at Montreal ; and in 1815 the keel of the 
first steamer that navigated the waters of Upper Can- 
ada was laid at Bath. She w^as named the Frontenac. 
The village of Bath, as you all know, is situated on 
the Bay of Quinte, about thirteen miles west of Kings- 
ton. It was formerly known as Einesttown. Those 
of you who have passed that way will remember that 
about a mile west of the village there is a bend in the 
shore round which the road leads, and that a shoit 
gravelly beach juts out, inclosing a small pond of water. 
At the end of this, west, stands ui old frame house, 
time-w^orn and dilapidated. Behind this house the 
steamer already mentioned was built, and three years 
later another known as the Clnoiolte was launched 
here.* Thousands of people were present, and the event 



• I have often heard my father tell about yoing to see the launch o f 
the CfiarloUe. He went on foot a round distance of over thirty miles. 



SkETCHKS OF EARLY HISTORY. 



241 



>* 



vvns loni: rcMiieinbertMl. TlR'^' were, no duubt, luar- 
velluus tbin<^^s in tbose days — nuicb more so, peih ips, 
tban tluit bugo niannnotb of steam craft of later (biys, 
tbe Grcdt Eastern, is to us. I cannot give tbe dimen- 
sions of tbcse boats, but it is safe to say tbat tbey 
were not large. Tbcir exploits in tlie way of speed were 
considered marvellous, and formed tbe topic of conver- 
sation in many a bome. A tiip in one of tbem down 
tbe bay to Kingston was a greater feat tben tban a 
vayage to Liverpool is now; and tbey went but little 
faster tban a man could walk. 

Early travellers predicted tbat Ernesttown would 
be a i>lace of importance, but tbeir predictions bave 
come to naugbt. It reacbed many years ago tbe cul- 
minating point in its bistory. Still, in tbe progress of 
our country tbe above nuist give it more tban a pas- 
sing interest. Cjiourlay speaks of Datb in 1811, and 
says, " Tbe vilbige contains a valuable social libi'ary" 
— a tiling at that date wbicb could not be found prob- 
ably in any other i)art of the Province. 

Previous to the introduction of steamers, wbicli 'rave 
a wondei'ful impetus to trade, and comjdetely revolu- 
ti<mized it, tbo traflic of tbe country was carried on 
under great disadvantages. Montreal and (Quebec, tbe 



mm 



242 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



one the depot of merchandise and the other the centre 
of the lumber trade, were far away, and could only be 
reached during six months in the year by the St. Law- 
rence, whose navigation, on account of its rai)ids, was 
dillicult and dangerous. There was but little money, 
and business was conducted on an understood basis of 
exchange or barter. During the winter months the 
farmer threshed his grain, and brought it with his pork 
and potash to the merchant, who gave him goods for 
his family in return. The merchant was usually a 
lumberman as well, and he busied himself in the win- 
ter time in getting out timb<;r and hauling it to the 
bay, where it was rafted and made ready for moving 
early in the spring. As soon as navigation was open, 
barges and batteaux were loaded with potasli and pro- 
duce, and he set sail with these and his rafts down the 
river. It was always a voyage of hardship and danger. 
If g(.)od fortune attended him, he would in the coui'se 
of three or four weeks make Montreal, and (^Jucbec 
witli his rafts two or three weeks later. Then com- 
menced the labour of disposing of his stufi", settling up 
tlie ynjir's aceounts, and purchasing more goods, with 
which his boats were loaded and despatched for home. 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



243 



Tlie task of the country merchant in makinj^' his 
selections t)ien, was much more ilitHcult than it is now. 
Moreover, as he could reach liis market but once in 
the year, his purchases liad to be governed by this I'act. 
He liad to cater to the entire wants of his customers, 
and was in the letter, as well as the spirit, a general 
merchant, for he kept dry goods, groceries, crockery, 
hardware, tools, implements, drugs — everything, in 
fact, from a needle to an anchor. The return trip with 
his merchandise was slow ai.<! dilHcult. The smooth 
stret<'hes of the river were passed with the oar and 
sail, the currents with poles, whih; the more dilHcult 
rapids were overcome by the men, assisted with ox- 
teams. Thus he woi'ried his way through, and by the 
time he got home two or three months had Ijeen con- 
sumed. Diu'lnii' the winter months, while the western 
tiader was busy in collecting his siijtplies lor th«' spi'ing, 
the ireiieral merchant of Montreal, a veiital»le nal»oi> 
in those days, locked u}) his shop and set oil' with a 
tiNun for llp[«<}r Canada, and spent it in visiting his 
eustonier.s. The world moved slowly then. The ocean 
was traversed I'V sailing ships — they l)i'onght cjiu' mer- 
chandise a)id mails. In winter, tli" only eonnnunica- 
tion with Montreal and *'>^uebec was by stage, and in 



m 



244 



SKETCHES OF EARLY tHSTORY. 



the fall and spriiyg it was maintained with no small 
ditiiculty. One of the wonders of swift travelling of 
the day was the feat of Weller, the mail contractor 
and stage proprietor, in sending Lord Durham through 
from Toronto to Montresd in tliirty-six hours. Many a 
.strange adventure could he told oi* stage rides between 
Toronto and (i^uebec, and of the merchants in tlieir 
annual trips down the St. Lawrence, on rafts and in 
batteaux ; and it seems a pity that so much that would 
amuse and interest readers of the present day has 
never been chronicled. 

There was one thing brought altout by those 
buLteaux voyages for which the farmer is by no means 
thankfid. The men used to lill their beds with fresh 
straw on tlieiv return, and by this means the Canadian 
thistle found its way to l^pper Canada. 

As Canada had not been behind in em'tloxiu"- steam 
in navigation, so slie was not beldnd in em[»loying it 
in a!iother direction. Stephenson built tlic first i-ail- 
road between Liverpool and Manchester in lMi\*). Some 
years later, IIS.'JO, we had a railway in (^inada, a) id 
now we have over 5,()()() nuh's ui the Dondnion. These 
two agencies have entirely changed (he character both 
of our connnerce and mail service. The latter, in those 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



245 



J 



»W 



•** 



V 



early days, in the Midland district, was a private spcc- 
idation of one Hnft*, who travelled the country and 
delivered papers and letters at the houses. This was 
a very irregular and unsatisfactory state of things, 
but was better than no mail at all. Then came thii 
wonderful improvement of a weekly mail carried ])y a 
messenger on horseback ; and as time wore on, the 
delivery became more frequent, post-oflices multiplied, 
postage rates were reduced, and correspondence in- 
creased. There were two other enteijuises which the 
country took hold of very soon after their discovery. 
I refer to the canals and the telegraph. The first, the 
Lachine Canal, was commenced in 1S21, ami the Wol- 
land in 1S24. The Montreal T(;legraph (^ompany w'as 
organized in 1847. So that in those four great <liscov- 
cries which hav(; revolutionized the trad(^ of the W(»rld, 
it will be seen that our young countiy kept abreast 
with the times, and her advance, not only in those 
improvements, but in every branch of science an<l ait, 
has been marvellous. 

The Miflland District, so named because of its cen- 
tral position, was one of the lai'gest districts in the 
Province; but county after county was cut away froiu 
it on all sides, until it was greatly shoin of its pro- 



^.^^J* 



246 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



portions. Before this clipi)ing had begun, the courts 
were held alternately in Kingston and Adolphus- 
town. The old (^ourt-House still stands,* and is as 
melancholy a monument of its former importance as 
one could wish to see. The town which the original 
surveyors laid out here, and which early writers men- 
tion, I have never l)een able to find more of than tlie 
plot. It nuist have flourished long l)efore my day. 

But what about Prince Edward county ^ Of course 
you know that it was set off in 183o, and that the 
first Court of Assize was held iii tills town — then 
Hallowell — in 18o4. I am not able to say much about 
its early liistory ; though I am sure there are many 
incidents of very great interest connected with it, 
pi'obably lost for the want of some friendly hand. 
Land was taken up in this neighbourhood by Barker, 
Washburn, Spencer, Vandusen, and others about the 
year 1790. Patents were issued by the Governnient 
in lS02-rj-4. At a meeting held at Eyre's Tnn, on th(» 
14th of Eebi'uary, 1818, at which Ebenezer Washburn, 
Es((., presided, I learn that there was in the townsldp 
of Tiallowell at that time but two brick houses, one 



* Tt lm« boon t.ikon down sinoo, and n town ball, for tbo n^te of tbe 
townsbii), eiHM'ted on its site. 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



247 



carding and fulling mill, one Methodist Chapel — now 
known as the old Chapel at Conger's Mill — one Quaker 
Meeting House. Preparations were being made to 
build a church.* Orchards were bemnninix to be 
planted, and other ini|)rovements. The tlrst settlers 
paid at the rate of one slnlliiv,^ p«'r aer(» for their land. 
Four-fifths of the entiie Midla.id distiiet, in 181 S, was 
a dense forest. We eun hardly realise the faet that 
seventy years ago there was piobably not a sou! living 
in this fair county. 

liet US skip ovei' a p<'riod of about forty years from 
the first .settleuient, and have a look at the people and 
how they lived. The log houses, in very many cases, 
had been transformed into cond'ortable and conmiodious 
dwellings. The log barns and hovels, too, had given 
place to larger frame barns and sheds, many of which 
are still to be seen around the country. The changes 
wrouiiht in those short vears were wonderful, and 
Imving followed the pioneer hither and note»l Ins 
progres.s, let us stej) into one of these homes and take 
a seat with the family gathered aroun<l the spacious 
fire-place, with its glowing liiv Mazing up cheerfully 



* KiKtwn iVM St. Miiry MaK'l'il*'"**. "^^ Uev, W. Miuuulay, I tliink, 
wrtH thi' first rector, and lived to u f,'oiul old auo. 



ip 



248 



SKETCHES OF EAULY HISTORY. 



tliroui;li tlin hcapcd-up woo(], and note the comforts 
and amuseim'nts of tlie contontcd circle. How cleaily 
the pictui'c stands out to many of ns. How well we 
remember the time wlicn, with yoiin<^ nnd vigorous 
step, we set our feet in the path which l^as led us 
farther and farther away. 

" A thousand fantasies 
T>(>gin *:o thmni? into my nuinoiy, 
Of callinj,' shapes and l)eckonin!j; shadows." 

Now, [)leasc understand me in this matter. VVc^ have 
not a particle of sympathy with the ordinary grumbler, 
by which we mean that class of })t-'rsons whoso noses 
arc not only stuck up at any and every encroachment 
on their worn-out ideas of what is riuht and wronii;, 
but, like crabbed terriers, snap at the heels of ev^ery 
man that passes. Nor do we wish you to think that 
we })lace our fathers on a higher plane of intellectual 
})ower and worth than we have reached or can reach. 
The world rolls on, and decade after decade adds to the 
accuimdative brain force of humanity. Men of thought 
and power through all the ages have scattered see«l, 
and while nnu-li of it has come to nauMit, a kernel lici'c 
and there, possessed of vital force, has germinated and 
grown. Yon rememlier what the great Teacher said 



SKETCKES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



249 



\*' 



H 



about " a gi'ain of mustard seed wliicli a man took and 
sowed in liis field, wliicli ii.'leed is the least of all seeds, 
l>ut when it is i,novvn it is ti.e greatest among herbs, 
and hecometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come 
and lodge in the branches thereof." Any man who 
looks around him must aeknowledfro that we are ixoinff 
ahead, l)ut notwithstanding this, every careful ol»server 
cannot Axil to see that there is growing up in our 
laud a large amount of sham, and lience, as Is.iiali tells 
us, it would \h\ well for us to look more fre([u<'ntly " into 
the rork whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the 
pit whence ye are digged." Lot us not only treasure 
the recollection of the noble example which our fore- 
fathers set us, but let us imitate those sterling (qualities 
which render their Uiunes dear to us. 

" It is a conunon complaint perpetually reiterated," 
remarks a racy writer, " that the occupations of life are 
filled to overflowing; that the aveinies to wealth or 
distinction are so crowded with competitors that it is 
hopeless to endeavour to make way in the dense and 
jostling masses. This des|)()nding wail was doubtless 
heard when the young earth had scaicely connuenced 
her cari'er of gloiy, and it will b(^ <lolefully lepeated by 
future generations to the end of time. Long bi^fore 
('heopshad planted the basement-stone of his pyramids, 
when Sphinx and C\)l(»ssi had not yet been fashioned 
into their huge existence, ami tin; untouched (|uai!y 
liad given out neither temple nor monument, the young 
Egyptian, as Ik; looked along the Nile, may havQ 



250 



SKETCHES OF EARLY HISTORY. 



ipourned that be was born too late. Fate bad done 
biin injustice in withholding his individual being till 
the destinies of man were accomplished. His imagi- 
nation exulted at what ho might have been, had his 
chance been connnunsurato with his merits, but what 
remained for him now in this worn-out, battered, uscmI- 
up hulk of a world, but to sorrow for thu good times 
which had exhausted all resources ? 

" The mouinful lamentation of anticjuity has not 
been weakened in its transmission, and it is not more 
reasonable now than when it 'noaned by the Nile. 
There is always room enough in the world, and work 
waiting for willing hands. The charm that concpiers 
obstacles and commands success is strong will and 
stnmg woik. Application is the friend .and ally of 
genius. Tlu^ laborious scholar, the diligent merchant, 
the industrious mechanic, the hard-working farmer, 
are thriving men, and take rank in the world ; while 
genius by itself lies in idle admiration of a fame that 
is ever prospective. Tiic hare sleeps or amuses himself 
by the wayside, and the tortoise wins tlie race." 



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RANDOM IIKCOUECIIONS OF KAIILY 

DAYS. 



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RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS 




OF 



EAEl.Y DAYS. 






i 

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I'ATBKNAL iMEMOKlKS — A VISIT TO TIIK llOMK OF MY IIOYIKMH) — 
THE OLD tiUAKKK MEETINii HOl!Sli FLASIIKSOF SILKNCE— Til K 
OLD HUHYINO fiUOUND — '* TO TIIK MEMORY OF ELIZA " — 
(JHOSTLY EXPERIENCES — llIVIN(i THE IJEES — ENCOUNTER WITH 
A BEAR — «!IVIN(i ''THE MITTEN " — A "IlOlNDARY t^UKSTlON'' 
— SONG OF THE BULLFROO — RIN(S — SAIiACITY OF ANIMA1S — 
TRAINING-DAYS— I'DTUU LSl^UE SCENERY OF THE I'.AY <>F (iUINTK 
— JOHN A. MACDONALD — A I'ERILOUS JOURNEY — AUNT JANE 
AND WILLET CASEY. 

"TV /TOUE than turty-tivu years have clapsod since my 
father departed this life, and left nie a lad, the 
eldest of six children, to take his place, and assist my 
mother as well as I could in the management of affairs. 
Twenty yours later mother was laid by his side, and 
before and since all my sisters have gone. For a num- 
ber of years the only survivors of tliat once hai)})y 
household, the memory of which is so fresh and dear 
to me, have been myself and lirother. Upper (^tnada 
was a vastly different place at the time of niy father's 



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254 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



decease (1840) from what it is now. The opportun- 
ities he had when young were proportionately few. 
I have been a considerable wandei'er in my day, and 
have had chances of seeing what the world has accom- 
pHshed, and of contrasting it with his time and advan- 
tages. If his lines had fallen in another sphere ot 
action he would have made his mark. As it was, dur- 
ing his short life — he died at the age of 42 — he had 
with his own hands acquired an excellent farm of 250 
acres, with a good, spacious, well-furnished house, 
barns, and out-buildings. His farm was a model of 
order and thorouojh tillage, well stocked with the best 
improved cattle, sheep, and hogs that could be had at 
that time, and all the implements were the newest 
that could be procured. He was out of debt, and 
therefore independent, and had money at interest. 
This, it seems to me, was something for a man to 
accomplish in twenty years. But this was not all. He 
was acknowledged to be a man of intelligence superior 
to most in those days, and was frequently consulted by 
neighbours and friends in matters of importance; a 
warm politician and a strict temperance man. He was 
one of the best speakers in the district, always in 
request at public meetings, and especially during an 



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KAN DOM IIECOLLECTIONS OF EAULY DAYS. 255 



election campaign. Into political contests he entered 
with all his might, and would sometimes be away a 
week or more at a time, stumping — as they used to term 
it — the district. In politics he was a Reformer, and 
under the then existing circumstances I tliink I should 
have been one too. But the vexed questions that agi- 
tated the public mind then, and against which he fought 
and wrote, have been adjusted. An old co-worker 
of his said to me many years after at an election: 
" What a pity your father could not have seen that you 
would oppose the party he laboured so hard to build 
up. If a son of mine did it I would disinherit him as 
quick as I would shove a toad off a stick." I said to 
my old friend that I supposed the son had quite as good 
a right to form his opinions on certain matters as his 
father had. Political and religious prejudices are liard 
things to remove. 1 remember a de})utation waiting 
on my father to get him to consent to be a candidate 
for an election which was on the eve of taking place, 
but he declined, on the ground tliat he was not pre- 
pared to assume so important a position then, nor did 
he feel that he had reached a })oint which would 
warrant him in leaving his business. He added that 
after a while, if his friends were disposed to confer 



^56 RA.NDOM llECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



such an honour upon him, he might consider it more 
favourably. Peter Perry was chosen, and I know my 
father worked hard for him, and the Tory candidate, 
Cartwright, was defeated. This reminds me of a 
little bit of banking history, which created some noise 
in the district at the time, but which is quite forgotten 
now. A number of leading farmers, of whom my 
father was one, conceived ihe idea of establishing a 
" Farmers' Joint Stock Bank," which was subsequently 
carried out, and a bank bearing tliat name was started 
in Bath. John. S. Cartwright, the then member, 
through whom they ex[)ected to get a charter, and 
who was interested in the Commercial Bank at King- 
ston, failed to realize their expectations in that par- 
ticular, and the new bank had to close its doors. The 
opening was prematui'e, and cost the stockholders a 
considerable sum of money. Tins little banking epi- 
sode helped to defeat Mr. Cartwright at the next 
election. 

Over thirty years have passed since I left my old 
home, and change after change has occurred as the 
years rolled along, until I have become a stranger to 
nearly all the people of the neighbourhood, and feel 
strange where I used to romp and play in boyhood 



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RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 257 



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The houses and fields have changed, the woods have 
been pushed further back, and it is no longer the home 
that is fixed in my memory. My visits have con- 
sequently become less and less frequent. On one of 
these occasions I felt a strong inclination one Sabbath 
morning to visit the old Quaker Meeting House about 
three miles awa3\ After making my toilette and 
breakfasting, I sallied forth, on foot and alone, through 
the fields and woods. The day was such as I would 
have selected from a tlK)U^and. It was towards the 
last of May — a season wherein if a man's heart fail to 
dance blithel}^, he must indeed be a victim of dulness 
The sun was moving upward in his diurnal course, and 
had just acquired sufficient heat to render the shade ot 
the wood desirable. The heaven was cloudless, and 
soft languor rested on the face of nature, stealing the 
mind's sympathy, and wooing it to the delights of re- 
pose. My mind was too much occupied with eai*ly 
recollections to do more than barely notice the splen- 
dour and the symphonies around me. The hum of the 
bee and the beetle, as they winged their swift flight 
onwards, the song of the robin and the meadow lark, 
as they tuned their throats to the praisrs of the 

risen sun, and the crowing of some distant chanti- 
<4 



258 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EAELY DAYS. 



cleer, moved lazily in the sluggish air. It was a season 
of goneral repose, just such a day, I think, as a saint 
would choose to assist his fancy in describing the 
sunny regions whither his thoughts delight to wander, 
or a poet would select to refine his ideas of the 
climate of Elysium. At length I arrived at the old 
meeting-house where I had often gone, when a lad 
with my father and mother. 

It was a w^ooden building standing at a corner of the 
road, and was among the first places of worship erected 
in the Province. The effects of the beating storms of 
nearly half a century were stamped on the unpainted clap- 
boards, and the shingles which projected just far enough 
over the plate to cany off the water, were worn and 
partially covered with moss. One would look in vain 
for anything that could by any possibility be claimed 
as an ornament. Two small doors gave access to the 
nterior, which was as plain and ugly as the exterior. 
A partition, with doois, that were let down during the 
time of woiship, divided tlie room into equal parts, and 
3ei)arated the men and women. It was furnished with 
strung piue benches, with backs ; and at the far side 
were two rows of elevated benches, which were 
occupied on both sides by leading members of the so- 



4.'' 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 259 



ciety. I have often watched the row of broad-brims 
on one hand, and the scoop bonnets on the other, with 
boyish interest, and wondered what particular thing 
in the room they gazed at so steadily, and why some 
of them twirled one thumb round the other with such 
regularity. On tUs occasion I entered quietly, and 
took a seat near the door. There were a number of 
familiar faces in the audience. Some whom I had 
known when young were growing grey, but many of 
the well-remembered faces were gone. The gravity of 
the audience and the solemn silence were very impres- 
sive ; but still recollections of the past crowded from my 
mind the sacred object which had brought the people 
together. Now I looked at the old bayonet marks in 
the posts, made by the soldiers who had used it as a 
barrack immediately after the war of 1812. Next, the 
letters of all shapes and sizes cut by mischievous boys 
with their jacknives in the backs of the seats years 
ago arrested my attention, and brought to mind how 
weary I used to get ; but as I always sat with my 
father, I dared not try my hand at carving. Then, the 
thought came : Where are those boys now ? Some of 
them were sober, sedate men, sitting before me with 
their broad-brimmed hats shadowing their faces ; others 



200 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 

were sleeping in the yard outside ; and others had left 
the neighbourhood years ago. Then I thought of the 
great Quaker preacher \nd author, Joseph John Gur- 
ney, whom I had heard in this room, and of J. Pease, the 
philanthropic English banker. Then another incident' 
of quite a different character, came to my recollection. 
An old and well known Hicksite preacher was there 
one Sunday (always called First Day by the friends), 
and the spirit moved him to speak. The Hicksite and 
orthodox Quakers were something like the Jews and 
Samaritans of old — they dealt with one another, but 
had no religious fellowship. The old friend had said 
but a few words, when one of the leaders of the meet- 
ing rose and said very gravely: "Sit thee down, James;" 
but James did not seem disposed to be choked off in 
this peremptory way, and continued. Again the old 
friend stood up, and with stronger emphasis said : 
" James, I tell thee to sit thee down ;" and this time 
James subsided. There was nothing more said on the 
occasion, and after a long silence, the meeting broke 
up. On another occasion, a young friend, who had 
aspired to become a teacher, stood up, and in that 
peculiar, drawling, sing-song tone which used to be a 
characteristic of nearly all their preachers, said : " The 



> <■ 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 261 



birds of the air have nests, the foxes have holes, but 
the Son of man hath not where to lay his head ; " and 
then sat down, leaving those who heard him to enlarge 
and apply the text to suit themselves. There was 
nothing more said that day. And so my mind wan- 
dered on from one thing to another, until at length my 
attention was arrested by a friend who rose and took 
off his hat (members of the society always sit with their 
hats on), and gave us a short and touching discourse. 
I have heard some of the most telling and heart-search- 
ing addresses at Quaker meetings. On this occasion 
there was no attempt — there could be none from a plain 
people like this — to tickle the ear with well-turned 
periods or rhetorical display. After the meeting was 
over, I walked out into the graveyard. My father 
and mother and two sisters lie there together, and 
several members of my father's family. There is a 
peculiarity about a Quaker burying-ground that will 
arrest the attention of any visitor. Other denomina- 
tions are wont to mark the last resting place of loved 
ones by costly stones and inscriptions ; but here the 
majority of the graves are marked with a plain board, 
and many of them have only the initials of the deceased, 
and the rank grass interlocks its spines above the 



202 RANDOM RECOLLFCTIOKs OF EARLY DAYS. 



humble mounds. I remember my father having some 
difficulty to get consent to place a plain marble slab at 
the head of his father and mother's grave. But were 
those who slumbered beneath forgotten ? Far other- 
wise. The husband here contemplated the lowly 
dwelling place of the former minister to his delight. 
The lover recognised the place where she whose 
presence was all-inspiring reposed, and each knew 
where were interred those who had been lights to their 
world of love, and on which grave to shed the drop 
born of affection and sorrow. Although the pomp, the 
state, and the pageantry of love were her ransom, yet 
hither, in moments when surrounding objects were for- 
gotten, had retired the afflicted, and poured forth the 
watery tribute that bedews the cheek of those that 
mourn " in spirit and in truth." Hither came those 
whose rpirits had been bowed down beneath the bur- 
den of distress, and indulged in the melancholy occupa- 
tion of silent grief, from which no man ever went forth 
without benefit. I thought of Falconer's lines : — 

" Full oft shall memory from oblivion's veil 
Relieve your scenes, and sigh with grief sincere." 

After lingering for some time near the resting place of 



»m 



T 



llVNDOM IIKCOT LECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 2GJ^ 



I 



I 



the dear ones of my own family, I tinned away and 
threaded my way thoughtfully back. 

Duri'ig another visit to the neighhourliood of my 
birth, after having tea with tlic Rev. H. , Hec- 
tor of , I took a stroll through the graveyard 

that nearly surrounds the old church, and spent some 
time in reading the inscriptions on the headstones. 
There were numbers that were new and strange, but 
the most of them bore names that were familiar. 
Time, of course, had left his mark, and in some cases 
the lettering was almost gone. Many of those silent 
sleepers I remembered well, and had follovv^ed their re- 
mains to the grave, and had heard the old Rector pro- 
nounce the last sad rite: "Earth to earth, ashes to 
ashes, dust to dust," long years ago. As I passed on 
from grave to grave of former friends and neighbours, 

" Each in his narrow cell forever laid," 

many curious and pleasing recollections were brought to 
mind. I came at last to the large vault of the first 
Rector, who was among the fir^t in the Province. I recol- 
lected well the building of this receptacle for the dead, 
and how his family, one after another, were placed in it ; 
and then the summons came to him, and he was laid 



2G4 



RANDOM IIPXOLLKCTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



tlioro. A few years later, liis wife the last survivor of 
the family, was put there too, and the Iar«^^e slabs were 
shut down for the last time, closing the final chapter of 
this family history, and — as does not often happen i*^ 
this world — they were taking their last sleep undivided. 
But Time, the great destroyer, had been at work during 
the 3"ears that had fl(.Hl, and I was sorry to find that 
the slabs that covered the upjier ])art of the vault, and 
which bore the inscriptions, were broken, and that the 
walls were falling in. There were no friends left to 
interest themselves in repairing the crumbling struc- 
ture, and in a few years more the probabilities are 
that every vestige of the last resting-place of this 
united couple will be gone. It is not a pleasing 
thought, and yet it is true, that however much we 
may be loved, and hov.'ever many friends may follow 
us with tears to the grave, in a few short years they 
will be gone, and no one left to care for us, or perhaps 
know that we ever lived. I have stood o^ an evening 
in the grand cemetery of Pere la Chaise, Paris, and 
watched the people trooping in with their wreaths of 
immortelles to be placed on the tombs of departed 
friends, and others with cans of water and flowers to 
plant around the graves. Here and there could be 



RANDOM JIECOLLECTIONS OP EARLY DAYS. 2G5 

seen vvlioro some loved one liad been sprinkling the 
delicate Howers, oi' leinaincti to water them with their 
tears. This respect [)aid to the memory of det)arted 
ones is pleasant, and yet, alas, how very few, after 
two or three generations, are remembered. The name 
that meets the eye on one stone after another might 
as well be n bb».nk for all we know of them. Anyone 
who has visited the old chnrchyards or mined abbeys 
in England must have felt this, as liis ,gaze has rested 
on time-worn tablets from which every mark had long 
since been obliterated, 

*' By time subdued (v hat will not time subdue) ! " 

Turning away from the vault, and parsing down the 
yard, I came to a grave the headstone of which had 
fallen, and was broken. I turned the two pieces over, 

and read : " To the memory of Eliza ." And is this, 

thought I, the end of the only record of the dear friend 
of my boyhood ; the merry, happy girl whom every one 
loved ? No one left after a score of years to care for 
her grave ? 80 it is. The yeai's sweep on. " Friend 
after friend departs," still on, and all recollection of us 
is lost ; on still, and the very stones that were raised as 
a memorial disappear, and ihe place that knew us once 
knows us no more forever. I turned away, sad and 



T 



2(j6 RANDOM RE'^OLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 

thoughtful ; but after a little my mind wandered back 
again to the sunny hours of youth, and I lived them 
over. Eliza had been in our family for several years, 
and was one of the most cheerful, kind-hearted girls 
one could wish to see. She had a fine voice, and it 
seemed as natural for her to sing as a bird. This, with 
her happy disposition, made her the light and life of 
the house. She was like the little burn that went 
dancing so lightly over the pebbles in the meadow — 
bright, sparkling, joyous, delighting in pranks and fun 
as much as a kitten. 

" True mirth resides not in the smiling skin — 
The sweeted solace is to act no sin." — Herrick. 

I do not think Eliza ever intentionally acted a sin. 
On one occasion, however, this excess of spirit led her 
perhaps beyond the bounds of maidenly propriety; 
but it was done without consideration, and when it 
was over caused her a good deal of pain. The mis- 
chievous little adventure referred to shall be men- 
tioned presently. 

We had some neighbours who believed in ghosts ; 
not an uncommon thing in those days. Eliza, with 
myself, ha<l frequently heard from these peojJe descrip- 



Random recollections of early days. 2G7 



tions of remarkable sights they had seen, and dreadful 
noises they had heard at one time and another. She 
conceived the idea of making an addition to their ex- 
periences in this way, and as an experiment made a 
trial on me. I had been away one afternoon, and re- 
turned about nine o'clock. It was quite dark. In the 
meantime she had quietly made her pre[)ara tions, and 
was on the look out for me. When my horse's feet 
were heard cantering up the road, she placed herself so 
that I could not fail to see her. On I came, and, dash- 
ing up to the gate, dismounted ; and there before me 
on the top of the stone w^all w^as something, the height 
of a human figure draped in white, moving slowly and 
noiselessly towards me. I was startled at tirst, but a 
second thought satisfied me what was up, and that my 
supernatural visitor was quite harmless. I passed 
through the gate, but my pet mare did not seem in- 
clined to follow, until I spoke to her, and then she 
bounded through with a snort. After putting her in 
the field, and returning, I found the ghost had vanished. 
But I was quite sure I had not done with it yet ; and 
as I drew near the house I was in momentary expecta- 
tion that it would come out upon me somewhere. I 
kept a sharp look-out, but saw nothing, and had reached 



T 



268 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



the porch door to go in, when lo, there stood the spec- 
tre barring my way ! I paused and glanced at its ap- 
pearance as well as I could, and T must confess if I had 
been at all superstitious, or had come on such an ob- 
ject in a strange place, I think I should have been 
somewhat shaken. However, I knew my spectre, and 
boldly took hold of it, and found I had something 
tangible in my grip. After a brief and silent struggle, 
I thrust open the door, and brought my victim into the 
room. My mother and sisters, who knew nothing of 
what had been going on, were greatly alarmed to see 
me dragging into the house a white object, and, woman- 
like, began to scream ; but the mystery was soon re- 
vealed. She had made up some thick paste, with 
which she had covered her face, and had really got up 
quite a sepulchral expression, to which the darkness 
gave effect; and being enveloped in a white sheet, 
made, we thought, a capital ghost. This did not sat- 
isfy her, and was only a preliminary to her appearance 
on the first suitable occasion to our neighbours. It was 
not long before they encountered the ghost on their 
way home after dark, and were so badly frightened 
that in the end I think Eliza was worse frightened 
than they. Eliza never had any confidants in these 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 2G9 



little affairs, and they were over before any one in the 
house knew of it. This was the end, so far as she was 
concerned, of this kind of amusement. 

Some time after this another little episode of a simi- 
lar nature happened, but this time Eliza was one of the 
victims. We had a near neighbour, an old bachelor, 
who had a fine patch of melons close at hand. Eliza 
and a cousin who was on a visit had had their eyes on 
them, and one day declared they were going that night 
to get some of Tom's melons. Mother advised them 
not to do it, and told them there were melons enough 
in our own garden without their going to steal Tom's. 
No, they did'nt want them, they were going to have a 
laugh on Tom; and so when it was dark they set off to 
commit the trespass. They had been away but a few 
minutes when mother — who by the way was a remark- 
ably timid woman, and I have often wondered how she 
got up enough courage to play the trick — put a white 
sheet under her arm and followed along the road to a 
turn, where was a pair of bars, through which the girls 
had passed to the field. Here she paused, and when 
she fancied the girls had reached their destination, she 
drew the sheet around her, ra[)ped on the bars with 
a stick, and called to them, Then, folding up the 



T 



270 RANDOM RF.COLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 

sheet, she ran away home. She was not sure whether 
they had seen her or not. The sheet was put away, 
and, taking up her knitting, she sat down quietly to 
await their return, which she anticipated ahnost imme- 
diately. A long time elapsed, and they did not a[>pear. 
Then mother became alarmed, and as she happened 
to be alone she did not know what to do. Though 
she had gone out on purpose to frighten the girls, I do 
not think she could have been induced to go out again 
to see what was keeping them. After a while Mary 
came in, and then Eliza, both pale, and bearing evidence 
of having had a terrible fright. Mother abked them what 
in the world w^as the matter. '* 0, Aunt Polly !" they 
both exclaimed, we have seen such an awful thing to- 
night." " What was it ?" They could not tell; it was 
terrible ! " Where did you see it ? " " Over by the bars ! 
Just as we had got a melon we heard an awful noise, and 
then we saw something white moving about, and then it 
was gone ! " They were so badly frightened that they 
dropped down among the vines and lay there for some 
minutes. They then got up, and, making a detour, 
walked home ; but how, they never could tell. Mother 
was never suspected by tliem, and after a time she told 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 271 



them about it. There were no more ghosts seen in the 
neighbourhood after that. 

Time passed on, and Eliza's love of mischief drove her 
into another kind of adventure. She was a girl of fine 
presence ; fair, with bright black eyes and soft black 
hair, which curled naturally, and was usually worn 
combed back off the forehead. The general verdict 
was that she was pretty. I have no doubt if she had 
had the opportunity she would have made a brilliant 
actress, as she was naturally clever, possessing an ex- 
cellent memory, and being a wonderful mimic. She 
would enter into a bit of fun with the abiindon of a 
child, and if occasion required the stoicism of a deacon, 
the whole house might be conA-^ulsed with laughter, 
but in Eliza's face, if she set her mind to it, you could 
not discern the change of a muscle. Her features were 
regular, and of that peculiar cast which, when she was 
equipped in man's attire, made her a most attractive- 
looking beau. About half a mile away lived a poor 
widow with a couple of daughters, and very nice girls 
they were, but one was said to be a bit of a coquette. 
Eliza conceived the idea of giving this young lady a 
practical lesson in the following manner. She dressed 
herself in father's clothes, and set about making the 



272 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS/ 



girl's acquaintance. She possessed the necessary sawj 
froid to carry on a scheme of this kind with success. 
The affair was altogether a secret. Well, in due course, 
a strange young man called about dark one evening 
at the widow's to make enquiries respecting a person 
in the neighbourhood he wished to find. He gave out 

that he was a stranger, and was stopping at , a few 

miles away ; asked for a drink of water, and to be 
allowed to i-est for a few moments ; made himself agree- 
able, chatted with the girls, and when he was leaving 
was invited to call again if he passed that way. He 
did call aorain in a short time, and a^jain and acjain, and 
struck up a regular courtship with one of the girls, and 
succeeded to all appearance in winning her affection. 
Now, the question presented itself, when matters began 
to take this shape, how she was to break it off, and 
the affair was such a novelty that she became quite 
infatuated with it, and I have no doubt would have 
continued her visits if un accident had not happened 
which brought them to an abrupt termination. On 
her return one night she unexpectedly met father 
at the door, and as there was no chance for retreat, 
she very courteously asked if he could direct her to 
Mr, ■■ ■ . It happened to be raining, and father, of 



> 1 



'9 1 

■ n 



RANDOM IILUULLECTIONS UF KAULY DAYS. 273 



course quite innocently, asked the stranger in until 

the shower was over. She hesitated, but finally came 

in and took a seat. There was something ahout the 

person, and particularly the clothes, that attracted his 

attention, but this probably would have pa'^sed if he 

had not observed that the boots were on the wrong 

feet ; that is to say, the right boot was on the left fuot, 

et vice versa. Knowing Eliza's propensities well, he 

suspected her, and she w^as caught. Enjoying a romp 

now and then himself, he called mother, and after 

tormenting poor Eliza for a wdiile, let her go. This 

cured her eflfectually. But the poor girl never knew 

what became of her lover. He came no more, and 

she was left to grieve for a time, and J sup])ose to 

forget, for she married a couple of years after. The 

secret was kept at Eliza's request, after making a cl(;an 

breast of it to mother, for a long time. She married 

not long after this, and was beloved by everyone. 

She was a devoted wife, and had several children, none 

of whom arc now livincf. Poor Eliza I I thouuht of 

Hamlet's soliloquy on Yorick as I stood by her unke2:)t 

grave, with its headstone fallen and broken. " Tln^se 

lips that I have kissed I know not how oft — where 

bo your gambols ? your songs ? your tlaslies of merri- 
R 



274 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLT DAYS. 

ment." All gone, years ago ! And they live only in 
the sweet recollections of the past. 

My father used to keep a large number of bees either 
in wood or straw hives, mostly of the former ; and in- 
deed most all our neighbours kept them too, and I re- 
member a curious custom that prevailed of blowing 
horns and pounding tin pans when they were swarm- 
ing, to keep them from going away. I never knew my 
father to resort to this expedient, but it was wonderful 
to see him work among them. He would go to the 
hives and change them from one to another, or go under 
a swarm, and. without any protection to his face or 
hands, shake them into the hive, and carry it away and 
put it in its phice. They never stung him unless by 
accident. If one of them got under his clothes and 
was crowded too much, he might be reminded that 
there was something wrong ; but the sting only trou- 
bled him for a minute or two. With me it seemed if 
they got a sight of me they made a " bee line " for my 
face. After father's death they soon disappeared, as I 
would not have them about. We sometimes found bee 
trees in the woods, and on one occasion chopped down 
a large elm out of which we got a quantity of choice 
honey. I remember this well, for I ate so much that it 



^\ ■ ^ 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 275 

made me sick, and cured me from wantin^y honey ever 
after. 

Another incident connected with the afternoon's 
work in robbing the bees. It was quite early in the 
spring, and though the snow had pretty much disap- 
peared from the fields, yet there was some along the 
fences and in the woods. We left the house after din- 
ner with a yoke of oxen and wood-slei<di freif^hted 
with pails and tubs to bring back our expected prize, 
and the afternoon was well spent before John — our 
hired man — had felled tlie tree, and by the time we 
had got the comb into the vessels it was growing dark. 
Just as everything had been got into the sleigli, and 
we were about to leave, wo were startled by a shrill 
scream on one side, something like that made by a 
pair of quarrelsome tom-cats, only niucli louder, which 
was answered immediately by a prolonged mew on the 
other. The noise was so startling and unexpected that 
John for a moment was jiaralyzed. Old Ring, a large 
powerful dog, bounded away at once into the woods, and 
Buck and Bright started for home on the trot. I was 
too sick to care much about wild cats, or in fact any- 
thing else, and lay on my back in the straw among the 
pails and tubs ; but I heard the racket, and what ap- 



276 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



peared a struggle with the dog. We did not see Ring un- 
til next morning, and felt sure that he had been killed. 
The poor old fellow looked as though he had had a 
hard time of it, and did not move about much for a 
day or two. The wild cat or Canadian lynx is a fero- 
cious animal. The species generally go in pairs. I 
have frequently heard them calling to one another at 
apparently long distances, and then they would grad- 
ually come together. A man would fare very badly 
with a pair of them, particularly if he was laid on his 
back with a fit of colic. 



.f 



Like most lads, I was fond of shooting, and used fre- 
quently to shoulder my gun and stroll away through 
the fields in quest of game. On one occasion, some- 
where about the first of September, I was out hunting 
black squirrels, and had skirted along the edge of the 
woods and corn fields for some distance. I had not 
met with very good success. The afternoon was warm, 
and I was discussing in my mind whether I should go 
further on or return home. Looking up the hill, I saw 
a couple of squirrels, and started after them at a 
sharp pace. On my right was a corn field, and as I 
stepped along the path near the fence I had a glimpse 
of something moving along on the other side of it, but 






V. I 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 277 



I was so intent on watching the squirrels that I did 
not in fact think of anything else for the moment. As 
I drew near the tree I saw them go up. Keeping a sharp 
look-out for a shot, I chanced to look down, and there 
before me, not two rods away, sat a large red-nosed 
bear. The encounter was so unexpected that it is hardly 
necessary to say I was frightened, and it was a moment 
or two before I could collect my wits. Bruin seemed 
to be examining me very composedly, and when I did be- 
gin to realize the position the question was what to do. 
I was afraid to turn at once and run. Having but 
one charge of small shot in my gun, I knew it would 
not do to give him that, so we continued gazing at each 
other. At length I brought my gun to full cock, made 
a step forward, and gave a shout. The bear quietly 
dropped on his fore legs and moved off, and so did I, 
and as the distance widened I increased my speed. The 
little dog I had with me decamped before I did, having 
no doubt seen the bear. I ran to a neighbour's who had 
a large dog. One of the boys got his gun, and we 
went back in a somewhat better condition for a fight; 
but when the dog struck the scent he put his tail be- 
tween his legs and trotted home, showing more sense 
probably than we did. However, we saw nothing of 



278 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 

the bear, and returned. Some days alter a neigliV)our 
shot a large bear, no doubt the same one. 

Very early in the history of mankind it was pro- 
nounced to be not good that man should be alone, 
and ever since then both male and female have seemed 
to think so too. At all events there is a certain time in 
life when this matter occupies a very prominent place in 
the minds of both, and it was no more of a novelty 
when I was young than now. The same desires warm- 
ed the heart, and the same craving for social enjoyment 
and companionship brought the young together, with 
the difference that then we were in the rough, while 
the young of the present have been touched up by 
education and polished by the refinements of foshion- 
able societ}^ I do not think they are any better at 
the core, or make more attentive companions. Now, 
when a young gentleman goes to see a young lady with 
other views than that of spending a little time agree- 
ably, he is said to be paying his addresses, or, as Mrs. 
Grundy would say : It is an affaire d'aniour. When I 
was young, if a boy went to see a girl. (and they did 
whenever they could) he was said to be sparking her. 
If he was unsuccessful in his suit you would hear it 
spoken of in some such way as this : " Sally Jones gave 



RANDOM HECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



279 



Jim Brown tliu mitten ;" and very often the unlucky 
swain was actually presented with a small mitten hy 
the mischievous fair one whom he had hoped to win, 
as a broad hint that it was useless for liim to hani;- 
around there any longer. Sunday afternoon was the 
usual time selected, an<l in fact it was the only time 
at their di.sposal for \ i.'siting the girls. There were 
favourite resorts in every neighbourhood, and girls 
whose attractions were very nmch more inviting than 
others, and thither three or four young gallants, well- 
mounted and equipped in their best Sunday gear, might 
be seen galloping from different directions of a Sunday 
evenincf. Of course it could not in the luiture of tinners 
happen that all would be successful, and so after a 
while one unfortunate after another would ride awav 
to more propitious fields, and leave the moro fortunate 
candidate to entertain his ladj'-love until near mid- 
night. Sometimes tricks were played on fortunate 
rivals by loosing their horses and starting them home, 
or hiding their saddles; and it was not a pleasant con- 
clusion to such a delii»htful visit to have to trudo^e 
through the mud four or five miles of a dark night, or 
to ride home barebacked, as the best pants were likely 
to get somewhat soiled in the seat. However, these 



280 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 

little affairs seldom proved very seriou.«, and it would 
^et whispered aiound that Tildy Smith was going to 
get married to J\te Robins. 

When I had grown to be quite a lad I got a lesson 
from Grandfather C , that never required repeat- 
ing. Those who are acquainted with the Quakers know 
that they do not indulge in complimentary forms of 
speech. A question is answered with a simple yes or no. 
My father's people were of this persuasicm, and of course 
m.y replies whenever addressed were in the regular 
home style. It does not follow, however, that because 
the Friends as a people eschew conformity to the world 
both in dress and speech, that there is a want of paren- 
tal res})cct. Quite the contrary. Their regular o-nd 
temperate habits, their kindness and fittention to the 
comfort and well-being of one another, make their 
homes the abode of peace and good-will, and, though 
their conversation is divested of the many little phrases 
the absence of which is thought disrespectful by very 
many, 3'et they have gained a reputation for consist- 
ency and truthfulness which is of more value than ten 
thousand empty words that drop smoothly from the 
lips but have no place in the heart. During a visit to 
my grandfather, the old gentleman asked me a number 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 281 

of questions to which he got the accustomed 3^es or no. 
This so displeased him that he caught me by tlie ear 
and gave it a twist that seemed to me to have deprived 
me of that member altogether, and said very sharply, 
" When you answer me, say Sir." That Sir was so 
thoroughly twisted into my head that I do not think 
the old man ever spoke to me after that it did not jump 
to my lips. 

Another anecdote of much the same character as that 
related above, and quite as characteristic of the men of 
those days, was told me by an old man not long since- 
one of the very few of the second generation now liv- 
ing (Paul. C. Petersen, aged 84). Mr. Herman, one of 
the first settlers in the 4th Concession of Adolphustown, 
bought a farm, which happened to be situated on the 
boundary line between the above-named township and 
Fredericksburgh, in those days known as Srd and 4th 
town. It seems that in the original survey, w^hether 
through magnetic influence, to which it was ascribed 
in later years, but more probably through carelessness, 
or something more potent, there was a wide variation 
in the line which should have run nearly directly north 
from the starting point on the shore of Bay Quintd. 
However, as time wore on, and land became more val- 



282 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



uable, this question of boundary became a serious thing, 
and in after years resulted in a series of law suits which 
cost a large sum of money. Mr. Herman held his farm 
by the first survey, but if the error which had been 
made in a direction north was corrected, he would 
either lose his farm or would have been shoved over 
on to his next neighbour \vest,and so on. He was not 
disposed to submit to this, and as he was getting old 
he took his eldest son one day out to the original post 
at the south-east corner of his farm on the north shore 
of Hay Bay, and said to him : " My son, this (pointing 
out the post), is the j)Ost put here by the first survey, 
and which I saw planted at the corner of my lot, and I 
wish you to look around and mark it well." While 
the son was looking about, the old man drew up his 
arm and struck him with the fiat of his hand and 
knocked him over. He at once picked him up, and 
said: " M}'' son, I had no intention of hurting you, but 
I wanted to impress the thing on your mind." Shortly 
after he took the second son out, and adminivstered the 
same lesson. Not long after the old man passed away, 
and I remember well that for years tliis matter was a 
bone of contention. 



■ 



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■ 



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RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 283 

Most Canadians are familiar with the musical bull- 
frogs which in the spring, in a favourable locality, in 
countless numbers call to each other all night lono- from 
opposite swamps. These nightly concerts become very 
monotonous. The listener, however, if he pays atten- 
tion, will catch a variety of sounds that he may train 
into something, and if of a poetical turn of mind might 
make a song that would rival some of those written 
.to bells. I used to fancy I could make out what 
they were calling back to one another, and have often 
been a very attentive listener. There was an old man 
in the neighbourhood who very frequently came home 
drunk, and we used to wonder he did not fall off his 
horse and get badly hurt or killed ; but the old horse 
seemed to understand how to keep under him and fetch 
him and his jug home all right. We had a little song 
which the frogs used to sing for him as he got near 
home. 

Old Brown— old Brown Ist -baritone, last word drawn onf. 

Been to town -been to town l^nd— answer same key. 

With his jug-jug-jug 3rd-high key, in which more join. 

Coo-chung-coo-chung 4th-baritone in which several j„in. 

Chnck-chuck-chuck. 5th-alto fiom ditferent quarters. 

Chrrrrrrrr. Cth-chorus, grand, after which 

there is a pause, and then an old 
leader will start as before. 



284 RANDOM RKCOLLECTIONS OF EABLY DAYS. 

Old Brown — old Brown 
Get home — get home, 
Your drunk, drunk, drutilc, 
Coo chung — coo chung 
Chuck-chnck-chuck. 
Chr r r r r r r r. 



Many curious stories are told respecting the sagacity 
of animals, among which the dog takes a prominent 
place. My father had a large dog when I was a young- 
ster that certainly deserves a place among the remark- 
able ones of his race. Ring was a true friend, and never 
of his own accord violated the rules of propriety with 
his kind, but woe to the dog who attempted to bully 
him. He possessed great strength, and when driven 
into a contest, generally made short work of it, and 
trotted away without any show of pride over his de- 
feated contestant. He was in the habit of following 
my father on all occasions, and although frequently 
shut up and driven back, was sure to be on hand at the 
stopping point to take charge of the team, etc. On the 
occasion I am about to mention, my father and mother 
wei'e going on a visit to his brothers some twenty-four 
miles distant. Before starting in the morning the de- 
cree went forth that Ring must stop at home, and he 
was accordingly shut up, with instructions that he was 



< 



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il 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



285 



not to be let out until after dinner. It was necessary 
to do this before any preparations were made for going 
away, for the simple reason that it had been done i-e- 
peatedly before, and when there was the least sign of a 
departure, experience had taught him tliat the best plan 
was to keep out of the way, in which he generally 
succeeded until too late to capture him. On tliis occa- 
sion Ring was outwitted. The horses were put to the 
sleigh, and away they trotted. On the journey tiiey 
sto])ped at Picton for a time, when the team was driven 
into the tavern yard and fed, during which time other 
teams were coming and going. After about an hour 
they started again, driving through the village, and on 
towards their destination. Some five or six hours after, 
when all possible chance of Ring's following seemed to 
have passed, he was let out. The dog seemed to know 
at once what had been going on, and after a careful 
inspection, discovered that father and mother, with 
the horses and sleigh, were gone. He rushed about the 
place with his nose to the ground, and when he had 
settled which way they had gone, set off in full chase 
up the road, and a few minutes before they had reach- 
ed my uncle's. Ring passed them on the road, wagging 
his tail, and looking as if he thought that was a good 



286 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 

joke. The singular point is how the dog discovered 
their route, and how, hours after, he traced them up, 
into the tavern yard and out tlirough a street, and along 
a road where horses and sleighs were passing all the 
time ; and how he distinguished the difference of the 
liorses' feet and sleigh runners from scores of others 
which had passed to and fro in the meantime. It is a 
case of animal instinct, or whatever it may be called, 
l)eyond comprehension. 

Man}^ years ago my father-in-law (the late Isaac In- 
gersoll, Esq.), a prominent man in the District, and a 
wealthy farmer, widely known, had frequent applica- 
tions from parties in Kingston for a good milch cow. 
In those days milk was not delivered, as now, at every 
door in towns, and it became a necessity for every fam- 
ily to have a cow. The wealthier people wanted good 
ones, and as the old gentleman was known to keep good 
stock, he was enabled to get good prices. On one occa- 
sion he sold a cow to a gentleman in the town above 
named, and sent her by steamboat down the Bay of 
Quintd, a distance of over thirty miles. A week after, 
the old man was surprised one morning to find this 
.-:> a his yard. She had made her escape from her 
lii'v uaster, and returned to her old quarters and asso- 



, 1 



nm 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OV EARLY DAYS. 287 



ciates. She was sent back, and after a time got away 
and travelled the thirty miles again, and was found in 
the yard. The second journey of course was not so 
difficult, but by what process did she discover, in the 
first place, the direction she was taken, and pursue a 
road which she had never travelled, back to her old 
quarters. At her new home she was^ if anything, bet- 
ter fed and cared for ; why should she embrace the first 
opportunity to steal away and seek her old companions ? 
Who can explain these things ? In this case there is 
an attachment evinced for home and associates, and a 
persistence in returning to them, most remarkable, and 
in the case of the dog, an intelligence (or what you may 
be pleased to call it), which enabled him to trace his 
master, and overtake him, which is altogether beyond 
human ken. 

There is the irrepressible cat, too. Every household 
is troubled from time to time with one or more of these 
animals, which from their snupiiif/ propensities be- 
come a nuisance. I have on more than one occasion 
put one in a bag and carried it miles away, and then 
let it go, rather than kill it outright; but it was sure 
to be back almost as soon as myself. 



288 RANDOM RKCOLLECTtONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



The 4th of June, the anniversary of the birth of 
King George III, as well as that of the very much more 
humble individual who pens these lines, for many years 
was the day selected for the annual drill of the militia 
of the Province. It was otherwise known as general 
training-day, and ten days or more previously, the men 
belonging to the various battalions were " warned " to 
appear at a certain place in the district. Each individ- 
ual was subject to a fine of 108. or more if not on the 
ground to answer to his name when the roll was called. 
On the morning of that day, therefore, men on foot, on 
horseback and in waggons were to be seen wending 
their way to the " training ground," or field, in close 
proximity to a tavern. It was an amusing spectacle to 
see a few hundred rustics, whose ages ranged from 16 
to 40, in all kinds of dress, with old muskets that had 
been used in the Revolutionary War or in that of 1812 
— fusees that many a year, as occasion rec^uired, had 
helped to contribute to the diminished larder — drawn 
up in a line, and marched round the field for a time. 
The evolutions were such as might be expected from a 
crowd of raw countrymen, and often got tangled up so 
that a military genius of more than superhuman skill 
would have been puzzled to get theiu in order again. 



r 

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RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 289 



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There was no other way to do it, but to stop and re-form 
the line. Then would come the word of command: "At- 
tention. Brown fall back. Johnson straighten up there. 
That will do. Now men, at the word 'Right about,' each 
man has to turn to his right, at the word ' Loft about,' 
each man turns to his left. Now then: Attention — Right 
about face." Confusion acjain, some turninnr to the rii»:ht 
and others to the left. A few strong phrases follow — 
" As you were " — and so the tiling goes on ; the men are 
wheeled to the right and left, marchel about the field, 
and, after being put thi'ough various steps, are brought 
into line aojain. The commandinfj otHc^r, sword in 
hand, looks along the serried ranks, the sergeants pass 
along the line, chucking one's head up, pushing one 
back, bringing another forward, and then rings out the 
word of command again : " Aitantloii ! Shoulder arms ! 
Make ready, present, fire !" Down come the old guns 
and sticks iu very threatening attitude, a random pop 
along the line is heard, then " Stand at ease " — after 
which the Colonel, in his red coat, wheels his charger 
about, says a few words to the m3n, and dismisses 
them. The rest of the day was spent b}^ every man in 
carousing, horse-racing, and games, with an occasional 
fight. After the arduous duties of the day, the officers 



290 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 

had a special spread at the tavern, and afterwards left 
for home with very confused ideas as to the direction 
in which they should proceed to reach it. 

Fifty years ago, shaving the beard, in Canada at all 
events, was universal. If a man were to go about as the 
original Designer of his person no doubt intended, a 
razor would never have touched his face. But men, 
like other animals, are subject to crotchets, and are 
wont to imitate superiors, so when some big-bug like 
Peter the Great introduced the shears and razor, men 
appeared soon after with cropped heads and clean 
chops. I do not remember that I ever saw a man with 
a full beard until after I had passed manhood for some 
years, except on one occasion when I was a youngster 
at school in the old school house on the concession. A 
man passed through the neighbourhood — I do not re- 
member what he was doing — with a long Hewing beard. 
We had somehow got the idea that no men except Jews 
wore their beards, and the natural inference with us 
was that this man was one of that creed. He was as 
much of a curiosity to us as a chimpanzee or an African 
lion would have been, and we were about as afraid of 
him as we would have been on seeing either of the 
other animals. 



RA.NDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS, 291 

The township of Adolphiistown, in the county of 
Lennox, is the smallest townsliip in the Province. 
Originally the counties of Lennox and Addington, 
Frontenac, Hastings and Prince Edward were embraced 
in the Midland District. These counties, as the country 
advanced in population, were one after another set off, 
the last being the united counties of Lennox and Ad- 
dington, separated from Frontenac, and with the town 
of Napanee as its capital. The township in my young 
da^s was known as fourth town, as the townships east 
of it as far as Kingston were known as first, second and 
third town. Immediately after the American War, the 
land along the Bay of Quinte, embracing these town- 
ships, with fifth, sixth and seventh town to the west, 
were taken up, and the arduous task of clearing away 
the bush at once began. The bay, from its debouche at 
Kingston, extends west about seventy miles, nearly 
severing at its termination the county of Prince Ed- 
ward from the main land. The land on either hand, for 
about thirty miles west of Kingston, is undulating, 
with a gradual ascent from the shore, but when Adol- 
phustown is reached, Marysburgh, in the county of 
Prince Edward, on the opposite side of the bay, presents 
a bold front, its steep banks rising from one to two 



2!)2 RANDOM IIECOLLKCTIONS OF I:AULY DAYS. 

liundivd feet. From the Lake of tlie Mountain, looking 
across the wide stretch of water formed by the sharp 
detour of the lay in its westerly to a north-easterly 
course forfift^'cn or twenty miles, the observer has one 
of the most charming scenes in America spread out 
before him. In the distance, the lofty rocky shore of 
S()phiasl>ur^•h, with its trees and shrubs crowding down 
to the water's edge, stretch away to the right and left. 
To the west, the estuary known as Picton Bay curves 
around the high-wooded shore of Marysburgh, and be- 
neath and to the east, the four pohits of which the town- 
ship of Adolphustown is composed reach out their 
woody batd\s into the wide sweep of the bay like the 
lour lingers of a man's hand. For quiet, pieturesquo 
beauty, there is nothing to surpass it. On every hand 
the eye is arrested with cliarming landsciipes, and look- 
ing across the several points of the town.ship you have 
dwellings, grain fields, herds of cattle, and wood. Be- 
yond you catch the shimmer of tlio \vater. Again you 
have clumps of trees and cultivated fields, and behind 
them another stretch of water, and so on as far as the 
eye can reach. The whole course of the bay, in fact, is 
a panorama of rural beauty, but the old homes that 
were to be seen along its banks twenty-five and thirty 



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RANDOM llEf'OLLEf'TTONS OF EART.V DAYS. 20r> 

years ago Imve either disapi^eared altog<'thcr or liavo 
been modernized. It is now veiy nearly one hundred 
years since the first settlers found tlieir way up it, and 
it nuist have been then a beautiful sii-lit in its native 
wildncss, the clear green water stretching away to the 
west, th(; sinuosities of the shore, the nuud)i>rless inlets, 
tlie iuipenetrable forest and the streams that cut their 
way thi'ough it and poured their contingents into its 
broad ])Os(»ni, the islands here and there, upon wliieh 
tile white man had never set his foot, water fowl in 
thousands, whose charmiui'' home was then for the first 
time invaded, skurrying away with noisy (piake and 
wdiir, tlie wood made sweet with the song of birds, the 
chattering squirrel, the startled deer, the silent murmur 
of the water as it lapped the sedgy shore or gravelly 
beach — these things nmst have combined to please, and 
to awaken thoughts of peaceful homes in the near 
future to them all. 

The Bay of Quinte, apart from its delightful scenery, 
possesses an historical interest. It is not known from 
whence it received its name, but tliere is no doul)t it is 
of French origin. Perha])s some of the old French 
voyagenrs, halting at Fort Frontenac, on their way 
westj as they passed across it, and through one of the 



294 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EAALY DAYS. 



gaps that open the way to the broad expanse of Lake 
Ontario, may have christened it. Be this as it may, it 
was along its shores that the first settlers of the 
Province located. Here came the first preachers, 
offering to the lonely settler the bread of life. On its 
banks the iii'st house devoted to the worship of God 
was erected, and the seed sown here, as the coimtry 
grew, spread abroad. Here the first schoolmaster be- 
gan his vocation of instructing the youth. The first 
steamboat was launched (181 G) upon its waters at 
Ernesltown, near the present village of Bath. King- 
ston, for a long time the principal town of the Province, 
then composed of a few log houses, was the depot of 
supplies for the settlers. It has a history long anterior 
to this date. In 1G73, Courcelles proceeded to Catara- 
qui with an armed force to bring the Loquois to terms, 
and to get control of the fur trade. Then followed the 
building of Fort Frontenac. The restless trader and 
discoverer, La Salle, had the original grant for a large 
domain around the' fort. Here, in 1083, La Barre built 
vessels for the navigation of the lake, and the year 
following held a great council with the Five Nations of 
Indians, at which Big Mouth was the spokesman, ^'le 
fort was destroyed by Denouville in 1G89, and re- 



Tfc 






■ i 



RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 295 



built in 1G96. It was again reduced by Colonel Brad- 
street in 1758. 

In Adolphnstown many of the first settlers still lived 
when I was a boy, and I have heard them recount 
their trials and hardships many a time. Besides the 
U. E. Loyalists there were a number of Quaker families 
which came to the Province about the same time, leav- 
ing tho new Eepublic, not pi-ccisely for the same rea- 
sons, but because of their attachment to the old land. 
During the war, these people, who are opposed to war 
and bloodshed, sutfei-ed a good deal, and were frequently 
imprisoned, and their money and property appro[)riated. 
This did not occur in Canada, but they were subject to 
a fine for some time, for not answering to theii- names 
at the annual muster of the militia. The fine, how- 
ever, was not exacted, except in cases where there were 
doubts as to membership with the society. This small 
township has contributed its quota to the Legislature 
of tho country. T. Dorhin.l represented the Midland 
District in the first Parliament of the Province, and was 
followe.l by Willet Casey, when Newa.k or h .. jara was 
the capital. The latter was succeeded several years 
later by his son, Samuel Casey, but, as often happens, 
there was a difference in the political opinions of the 



290 RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



father and son. Tlio father was a Keformer, the son 
a Tory; and at the election, tlie old g-ontleman went to 
tlu! poll and recorded his vote against his son, who was 

nevertheless elected. The llohlins, John P , who 

represente<l the county of Prince Edward, and \h. 'id, 
who sat for Lennox and Addint>ton, were natives of the 

townshi}). The Hagernians, (.liristopher and D , 

were also fourth town l)oys, with whom my mother 
went to school. The old homestead, a low straggling 
old tenement, stood on the bay shore a few yards west 
of the road that leads to the wharf. T remend)er it 
well. It was destroyed by fire years ago. The father 
of Sir John A. Macdonald kept a store a short distance 
to the east of the Quaker meeting-house on Hay Bay, 
on the third concession. It was a small clap-boarded 
building, painted red, and was standing a few years 
acfo. I remember beinjjj at a nomination in the villai"!^ 
of Bath, on which occasion there wme several speakers 
from Kingston, among them John A. Macdonald, then 
a young lawyer just feeling his way into politic.d life. 
He made a speech, and began something in this way : 
"Yeomen of the county of Lennox and Addington, I 
remember well when T ran about in this district a bare- 
footed boy," kc. He had the faculty then, which he 



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RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



297 



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has ever since preserved, of getting hold of the affec- 
tions of the people. This honhommie has had much to 
do with his popularity an<I success. I recollect well 
how lustily he was cheered by the staunch old farmers 
on the occasion referred to. A few years later a con- 
test came off in the county of Prince Edward, where I 
then resided. In those days political contests were 
quite as keen as now ; but the alterations in the law 
which governs these matters has been greatly changed 
and improved. The elections were so arranged that 
people owning property in various counties could exer- 
cise their franchise. The old law, which required voters 
to come to a certain place in the district to record their 
vote, had been repealed ; and now each voter had to go 
to the township in which he owned property, to vote. 
Foreign voters were more numerous then than now, 
and were looked after veiy shar[>ly. On this occasion 
there was a sharp battle ahead, and arrangements were 
made to meet property owners at all points. There 
were a number from Kingston on our side, and it fell to 
me to meet them at the Stone Mills Ferry, and bring 
them to Picton. The ice had oidy recently taken in 
the bay, and was not t|uite safe, even for foot passen- 
gers. There were six or seven, and among them John 



298 RANDOM BECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 

A. Macdonald, Heniy Smith, afterwards Sir Henry 
and others. In crossing, Smith got in, but was pulled 
out by his companions, in no very nice plight for a 
lono; drive. The sleii»'hinn; was cfood, and we dashed 
away. In the evening I brought them back, and be- 
fore they set off* across the bay on their return, John A. 
mounted the long, high stoop or platform in front of 
Teddy McGuire's, and gave us an harangue in imita- 
tion of , a well-known Quaker j^reacher, who 

had a marvellous method of intoning his discourses. 
It was a remarkable sing-song, which I, or any one else 
who ever heard it, could never forget. Well, John A., 
who knew him well, had caught it, and his imitation 
was so perfect that I am inclined to think the old man, 
if he had been a listener, would have been puzzled to 
tell t'other from which. We had a hearty laugh, and 
then separated. 



n 



I have often heard my mother tell of a trip she made 
down to the Bay of Quintd, when she was a young 
girl. She had been on a visit to hor brother Jonas 
Canniff" (recently deceased in this city at the age of 
ninety -two), wno had settled on the river Moira, two 
miles north of the town of Belleville, then a wilderness. 
There were no steamboats then, and the modes of con- 



RANDOM REC(!LLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 299 



veyance both by land and water were slow and tedious. 
She was sent home by lier brother, who engaged two 
friendly Indians to take her in a bark canoe. The dis- 
tance to be travelled was over twenty miles, and the 
morning they started the water in tl e bay was exceed- 
ingly rough. She was placed in the centre of the canoe, 
on the bottom, while her Indian voyageurs took their 
place in either end, resting on their knees. They 
sti.i'ted, and the frail boat danced over the waves like 
a shell. The stoical yet watchful Indians were alive 
only to the necessities of their position, and with mea- 
sured stroke they shot their light bark over the bois- 
terous water. Being a timid gi 1, and unaccustomed to 
the water, especially under such circumstances, she was 
much frightened, and never expected to reach her home. 
There was consideral>le danger, no doubt, and her fears 
were not allayed l)y one of the Indians telling her if 
she stirred he would break her head with the paddle. 
The threat may not have been unwise. Their safety 
depended on perfect control of the boat, and in their 
light shell a very slight movement might prove disas- 
trous. He.'- situation was rendered more unpleasant 
by the splashing of the water, which wet her to the 
skin. This she had to put up w^ith for hours, while 



nOO RANDOM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



the Indians bravely and skilfully breasted the sea, and 
at last set her safely on the beach in front of her 
father's house. When they came to the shore one of 
the Indians spian*;- lightly into the water, caught her 
in his arms and i)lace<l her on dry land. This trip was 
liteiallv burned in her niemoiv% and thouiih she fre- 
fjuently mentioned it, she did so with a shudder, and 
an expression of thankfulness for her preservation. 

Of the old people who were livino- in my boyhood 
there are few more thoroughly fixed in my memory, 
with the exception, perhaps, of my grandfathers (*an- 
niffand Haight, than Willet and Jane Casey. There 
were few women bc^tter known, or more universallv 
I'espected, than Aunt Jane. This was the title ac- 
corded to her bv conniion consent : and thouoh at that 
time she had passed the alloted term of three-score 
years and ten, she w^as an active woman — a matron 
among a thousand, a friend of everybody, and every- 
body's friend. Her house was noted far and wide for 
its hospitality, and none dispensed it more coi'dially 
than Aunt Jane. In those days the people passing to 
and fro did not hesitate to avail themselves of the 
comforts this ohl liome aH'orded. In fact, it was a 



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HANDOM llt:COLLKCTlONS OF EAKT.Y DAYS. .SOI 



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general stoppiiiLj i)lac»', where liotli lUiiii and beast 
were refreshed with iiK.^st cheerful libei'ality. 

Jane Niles, lier mahlen name, was h(jrn at IJutter- 
nuts, Otsego County, in tlie central part of New York 
State, 17C)o ; so tliat at the coniniencenient of the 
American Rev(jlution she was about eleven years old. 
She was married in 17^>2. Tlie following year, 1783, 
the year in wdiich ])oacc was proclaimed, her husband, 
Willet Casey, lefo for Upper CJanada, and located in 
the fourth town on the shore of the Bay of Quinte. 
After erecting a log house and a blacksmith shop, he 
returned for his wife. He was taken seriously ill, and 
nearly a year passed before he was able to set out 
again for the new home in the wilds of Upper CJanada 
(which was reached early in the year 17IS5), where, 
after a long and prosperous life, he ended his days. 

Aunt Jane was a tall and well propoi'tioned woman, 
of commanding presence and cheerful disposition ; a 
woman of more than ordinary intelligence, and a good 
conversationalist. She had been a close obs<'rver of 
passing events, and iwssesscd a wonderfully retentive 
memory. It was an ci)0cli in one's life to hear her re- 
coant the recollections of ner early days. These ran 
through the whole period of the American War, and 



302 RA.NDOM RECOLLECTFONS OF EARLY DAYS. 



many scenes which arc now historical, that she had 
witnessed, or was cognizant of, wero given with a 
vividness that not only delighted the listener but fixed 
them in his memory. Then, the story of the coming 
to Canada, with her first babe six months old, and the 
struggles and hardships in the bush, which in the 
days of which I speak she delighted to linger over, 
was a <a-eat treat to listen to. There were few of the 
first families she did not know, and whose history was 
not familiar to her, and in most cases she could give 
the names and ages of the children. The picture given 
of hor in this volume is a copy from a dagueri-otype 
taken when she was ninety-two years old. For several 
years before her demise she did not use spectacles, 
and could read ordinary print with ease, or do fine 
needlework. She retained her faculties to the last, 
and died at the age of ninety-six. 

She had eleven children, five of whom died young. 
Her eldest daughter, Martha, known as Patty Borland, 
attained the age of ninety-two. Then followed Samuel, 
Elizabeth, Thomas, Mary and Jane. These, with the 
exce[)tion of Thomas and Mary Ingersoll, my wife's 
mother, died many years ago. Thomas Casey died at 
Brighton, in January of this year, aged eighty-seven, 



\\ 



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RANDOM RECOLLKCTIONS OF KXULY DAYS. 30.*^ 



and Mary Iiii^-Lsrsull on tlio Hirst of June, aged cighty- 
tivo, tlic last of tliu family. 

Willet ( 'asey was an enorgetic man. TFc acciiniulatod 
a large property, and in my liuyhoud there were not 
many days in the week tliat the ol<l man could not be 
seen drivini' alouLj tlie road in his onediorse wairLjfon 
in some direction. He was one of the first representa- 
tives for the Midland District, when Newaric was the 
capital of the Pi'ovince. His son Samuel, a number of 
years subseijucntly, represented the district, and later, 
his grand>on, Dr. Willet Dorland, represented the 
County of Prince Edward. 



NoTK. — At the time my book was goln^^ throiii^b the press, I was under 
the impression that the H-h known in this country as a Sucker was the 
same as the Mullt't, but liail no intention that tlie latter nauie shoukl tind 
its way into the text in place of Sucker. See page 41. According to 
llichanlson, one of the l)est authorities we have, the Sucker is of the 
Carp family, the scientific name of which is Ci/prinus Hudsonius, or 
Sucking Carp. 

On page 127, " and, as their lives had theretofore," read heretofore. 



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