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Fraser's Scottish Annual
Scotland's Contribution to Ontario's Agriculture


BY C. C. JAMES, M.A.
(Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Ontario.)

THOUGH Champlain made in his memorable tour of the province in 1615 by way of the Ottawa, Lake Nipissing, Lake Huron and the Trent Valley to Lake Ontario, the period of settlement began only in 1784, at the close of the American War of Independence. The history of our agricultural development, then, is confined to a period of less than 125 years. The consideration of our subject gives us three main divisions: First, from 1784 to 1812, the early settlement of the frontier townships along the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario. and Lake Erie, mainly by families from the neighbouring States; second, from 1825 to 1850, when the great streams of British immigration poured into this country and filled up the townships between and in the rear of those earlier settled; and third, the recent years, when the surplus population moved about, filling up the vacancies still left in that portion of our province between the Ottawa, the St. Lawrence, and the Great Lakes, and flowed westward into the Northern States and the new Province of Manitoba.

First, we ask as to whether Scotland contributed anything to the first settlement. The lands were first allotted to the Americans who had remained true to Britain, and who desired to move or were compelled to move out and seek new homes under the protection of the British flag. Many had borne arms for Britain, and they were promised homes in Canada, being officially designated as United Empire Loyalists. Those from the New England States first chose lands in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick near at hand and in proximity to New Englanders who had, some years before the war, been settled on the rich dyked farm lands previously occupied by the exiled Acadians. Quebec, to a point just beyond Montreal, was held largely under seignorial tenure; therefore the Loyalists from New York and New Jersey were offered lands in the western or upper portion of the province along the St. Lawrence above Montreal, on the Bay of Quinte, an arm of Lake Ontario, and along the Niagara River. The New York and New Jersey Loyalists were composed of a very mixed nationality; there were descendants of the Dutch of New Netherland, of Palatine Germans sent out in Queen Anne's reign by the people of London, of French Huguenots, who had made settlements along the coast, and of Puritans and Quakers, who had drifted in from New England. But there were some sons of Scotland also.

Most of the U. E. Loyalists who settled around Niagara and on the Bay of Quinte were Protestants. In Sir John Johnson's Royal New York Regiment were a large number of Scottish soldiers, most of them Protestant, but some Catholics. The former settled on the St. Lawrence in the counties of Stormont and Dundas; the Catholics made a small settlement in Glengarry. Soon after came a large accession to their numbers, the Glengarry Fencibles, with their gallant and devoted leader, Father Macdonell, afterwards the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Upper Canada. The story of Bishop Macdonell and his Highlanders is full of interest. Born in 1762, in Invernesshire, he was educated for the priesthood. He went back to minister to his own people, and found them in dire distress because of their small holdings being turned into sheep walks. He arranged with Glasgow manufacturers for their employment, and came down from the Highlands with 700 or 800 stalwart laborers. Soon after occurred the French revolutionary troubles, and a stagnation followed in the great work centres of England and Scotland. Father Macdonell then formed his followers into a Catholic regiment, of which he became chaplain, and their services were offered to their country. They saw service in the Channel Islands and in Ireland. When peace came the Glengarry Fencibles were disbanded. Previous to this bands of Highlanders had left for America at various times, one settlement being made in South Carolina, another in Prince Edward Island, and in 1773 another band had gone to find a home in the Mohawk Valley at the request of Sir Wm. Johnson. At the close of the revolution they had been settled along the St. Lawrence. Father Macdonell naturally looked across the sea for a future home for his flock, and, after many difficulties that we have not space to mention here, we find these fighting Highlanders located on grants of land in Glengarry County. Canada owes a great debt to the Highlanders of the St. Lawrence, both Protestant and Catholic. They were born fighters, and in the war Of 1812 they all stood true to their old reputation of fighting to the last for the honor of the mother land. If you look over the history of our early lumbering industry, and the construction of our railroads and canals, you will find that they were also great in peace and commerce as they were great in war and conquest.

In later days other Scotsmen came across the seas and settled down beside them to make homes for themselves and help to develop the agriculture of to-day. There are to-day no more patriotic citizens than those of Scottish origin, and it may be difficult for the rising generation to realize what the forefathers felt as they cut loose from the hills and dales of auld Scotia to seek new homes across the sea. Scotsmen at home can understand what this old Canadian boat song meant that was sung years ago in Gaelic on the banks of the St. Lawrence:

Listen to me, as when you heard your fathers,
Sing long ago, the songs of other shores;
Listen to me, and then in chorus gather,
All your deep voices as ye pull your oars;
Fair these broad meads —those hoary woods are grand;
But we are exiles from our fathers' land.

From the lone sheiling on the misty island
Mountains divide us, and a waste of seas;
Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland
And we, in dreams, behold the Hebrides.

We ne'er shall tread the fancy-haunted valley,
Where, 'twixt the dark hills, creeps the small clear stream,
In arms around the patriarch banner rally,
Nor see the moon on royal tombstones gleam.
When the bold kindred, in the time long vanished,
Conquered the soil and fortified the keep,
No seer foretold the children should be banished,
That a degenerate lord might boast his sheep.

Come, foreign raid ! let discord burst in slaughter,
Oh, then, for clansmen true, and keen claymore!
The hearts that would have given their blood like water,
Beat heavily beyond the Atlantic's roar.
Fair these broad meads—those hoary woods are grand;
But we are exiles from our fathers' land.

They loved their fathers' land and they sang in their sorrow; their grandchildren love this province, but their love is of a new growth.

The agriculture of. the early period was of a rude and laborious nature, the clearing away of the forest, the building of simple but comfortable log houses, the growing of wheat, the care of a few cows and sheep—the daily struggle for existence with the slow but sure progress, through the simple agricultural life of a backwoods settlement,—this may not seem much but it counted for much, it was the laying of the foundation upon which our present agriculture has been built.

With the incoming of tens of thousands from England, Scotland and Ireland, began a great forward movement in Ontario.

The following figures giving the population at the various years shows how we grew by leaps and bounds:-

In 1851,'61 arid'71,the census of Canada recorded the nativities of our population and for Ontario we find the following statement as to countries of birth :-

In 1871 for the first time was introduced an enumeration as to origin showing that there were in Ontario, 439,429 persons claiming to be of English and Welsh ancestry; 559,442 of Irish; and 328,889 of Scottish. The people have now become so intermingled and the increase direct from the British Isles has fallen off so much that the nationality of the youth of Ontario can be classed only as Canadian. To-day the number of our citizens who were actually born in Scotland is comparatively small, but Scottish blood is widely distributed all over this province. The question now arises as to what this Scottish element in our population brought into this country to develop our agriculture, our greatest source of wealth.

An examination of the map of Ontario will lead a non-resident to conclude that the great lake and river system has given us especial transportation facilities. These great lakes have given us also a temperate climate. Examine our land elevations and you will see that our countless rivers and streams are swift, giving us an abundant supply of clear water. To these add a naturally rich soil and you have the explanation of our very favourable agricultural conditions. All that was needed was a class of settlers that would make good farmers. Such we got when the old country settlers poured into this fair province. In the early days Ontario was largely a grain growing section, and her farmers limited their cash returns to the sale of wheat, timber and ashes. When the Scottish and the English farmers came they brought with them their love of live stock and their experience as growers of roots. At once a change began to come over our agriculture. Sheep began to whiten our hill sides, cows increased rapidly, and the heavy horses of England and Scotland began to take the place of the oxen. Dairying on an extensive scale became one of the possibilities. The keeping of live stock for beef or for milk, and of sheep for wool and mutton, accompanied by the extensive introduction of root growing, has elevated the farmer of Ontario from a precarious condition into one of progress and prosperity.

It is not always easy or satisfactory to prove general statements like the above by statistics; however, the following may be of some value.

In 1861, apart from the Scottish born residents of the cities of Toronto, Hamilton, London and Ottawa, there were 91,334 persons distributed over the 43 counties and districts. Of these, 47,924 were found in ten counties, viz., in descending order of numbers— Wellington, Huron, Grey, Middlesex, Bruce, Oxford, Perth, Ontario, York and Simcoe. There was a predominant Scottish element in these counties. These ten counties to-day hold thirty-five per cent, of our rural population. Let us see whether Scottish blood has told for anything in their case. We give the official figures for 1899 (Ontario Department of Agriculture).

These ten counties hold thirty- five per cent. of the rural population; on their farms are to be found forty- one per cent, of the rural live stock and the annual sales are forty-six per cent, of those of the entire province. In these ten counties are to be found more than one-half of the breeders of pure stock. One more item illustrative of the Scot in these ten counties may be cited. In 1899 there were 53,401 acres of mangel-wurzels grown in Ontario, of which these ten counties had 28,928; and there were 153,440 acres of turnips of which these ten counties had 92,211. The Scot, of course, would not claim credit for every bullock and sheep, and every acre of roots, but to one who is not of Scottish origin, it is quite noticeable that the Scottish-Canadian farmer has early gathered about him a flock of sheep, a herd of cattle, some pure bred horses, and he has not failed to produce roots for feeding. Go where you will through the many fine herds and flocks of Ontario, you are pretty sure to find a Scotsman looking after their welfare, either as owner or as herdsman.

The Scottish farmers also have assisted materially in building up our great dairy industry. Space does not permit enlargement on this point. Oxford, Perth and Middlesex, are among our greatest cheese-making counties. Among the men who have for many years been intimately associated with this industry may be named Ballantyne, Macpherson and Maclaren. They have made money while assisting in advancing the industry, and their names are selected because Scotsmen will recognize them as of their own. Professor J. W. Robertson, formerly Professor of Dairying at the Ontario Agricultural College, and now Agricultural and Dairy Commissioner for Canada, is a native of Scotland.

It may be worth mentioning here that Ontario has made such progress in dairying that she has a large and well equipped staff of instructors for her own dairy work, has provided a number of instructors for the other provinces of Canada and for several of the states of the Union, and she has even sent over some teachers to Scotland, to the best dairy districts, to give instruction in the Canadian method of cheese making.

Dairying is the most distinctive feature of the agriculture of Eastern Ontario. While this may be attributed to some extent to the extra good pasturage and the favourable weather conditions, no little credit must be given to the Ayrshire cow, which contributes the largest share to the pure blood of the Eastern herds. The "Canada Ayrshire Herd Record," Vol. I., of 1886, stated that there were at that date not less than 50,000 pure bred Ayrshires in Canada, and 300,000 Ayrshire grades. Whence came these? The importation of pure bred Ayrshires is clearly traced to the arrival of Scotch ships bringing them for the use of passengers on the voyage." They were sold at Montreal or taken on up the St. Lawrence to the settlements along the river.

The Galloways and the Aberdeen-Angus Polls, the "black doddies," of course, trace back to Scotland, and need no further reference. But what about the Shorthorns, the basis of the beef- breeding in Ontario? The importation of Shorthorns into Ontario goes back to about 1825, but did not assume very great proportions for a quarter of a century after that. In the early days a few English animals were imported, but about iS6o the attention of the breeders turned towards Scotland. A few only of the breeders can be mentioned here. In i86i, Simon Beattie, and in 1864, Hon. David Christie, brought over some Scotch blood, the latter from the celebrated herd of Douglas of Athelstaneford. Beginning in 1867, a Scotsman, George Isaac, began bringing over cattle that made a lasting impression here, and his son, John Isaac, followed in the same good work in 1874. John S. Armstrong, of Wellington county, Joseph S. Thompson, John Miller, and John I. Davidson, all of Ontario county, made noteworthy and extensive importations. Two other Ontario county importers must be mentioned, Hon. John Dryden and Mr. Arthur Johnston. The former began with a Cruickshank in 1871, and in addition to many other purchases, bought up the entire Lethenty herd of Edward Cruickshank in 1887, consisting of forty prime animals. Mr. Johnston started in 1874, and has just at the time of the writing of these notes returned to Canada with thirty head of Scotch Shorthorns from the best Aberdeen herds.

One word more. The first settlers, the U. E. Loyalists, settled the front townships. These are of the mildest climate, they include the districts where the finest peaches and grapes are grown. The old country settlers, therefore, have, as far as horticulture is concerned, been limited to the sections where our apples and hardy pears and plums are produced. The Scottish farmers of this province are, as a consequence, not noted as great fruit growers. But go to our cities, examine the parks, step into the private grounds and look through the conservatories - in nearly all cases you will find these places in charge of English or Scottish experts, and the probability is that the head gardener or florist will entertain you in good broad Scotch.

The Scottish Canadian has done much for Canada in trade, commerce and transportation, but the debt we owe to the Scottish Canadian agriculturist is, I believe, much greater, though it has not received the same prominence or public consideration.


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