The year is 1897, and Mr. and Mrs.
Jim McGregor are driving home late in the afternoon after celebrating
Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. They will have to milk the cows because
their son John and the hired man, Willie Ross, will be at the evening
dance. But they are willing enough to leave the now slightly alcoholic
celebration, for middle years have come upon them, and although their
dancing days are not yet over, they are taken in moderation only. A young,
black driving horse bears them speedily homeward. Gamey, having passed to
his reward, is buried under the chokecherry tree in the first paddock,
where he spent so many hours stamping and switching at flies.
Jim is only slightly grey and a few
pounds heavier; Janet has achieved an agreeable roundness without being
fat. They are a well-dressed, good-looking couple, well thought of in the
neighbourhood and having some influence in township and church affairs.
They turn into the curving driveway,
lined with young trees. The poplars and spruce are making good headway,
the maples are taking their time. The stone house has matured too, the
brash colours softened by the harsh Canadian weather. The house is shown
to advantage by the towering trees of the west lot behind it. Jim has
decided not to cut those trees: instead he will farm the lot like the
grain fields, taking a crop of logs every few years. The lawns surrounding
the house are green and carefully sheared with a very sharp scythe. Flower
beds show bright on the slope, Janet's reward for hours of tending. The
farmland is smooth now, well tilled and well fenced with zigzag, cedar
rails. Grey stone piles dot the green fields; the farm buildings are neat
and well kept. This is the pioneers' reward, the almost magical creation
of something useful where there was only bush and swamp. The miracle of
each farm, repeated many times over, creates the miracle of a new country
where none had been before.