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
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
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
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