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The condensed diaries of the Rev. William Bell
Our thanks to Rupert Speyer for sending this into us




* * * * * * *


His sixth-sixth year


Our Great-Great Grandfather, the Rev. William Bell, who came to this country in 1817, kept an extensive record of his daily life.  The original diary comprised of fifteen volumes which now appropriately repose in the Douglas Library at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.  The Library was the gift of our grandfather, on the other side, Dr. James Douglas.

In 1945, Dr. Isobel Skelton, wife of the Librarian at Queen’s, wrote a fine biography of William Bell called A Man Austere: Parson and Pioneer.

At the age of sixty-six William Bell sat down and wrote a digest of his diaries, condensing them to two small volumes of about 180 pages each.  He wrote much closer than a modern typewriter as we have found to our sorrow.  A sample page is reproduced later in the text.

These two amazing volumes were salvaged from the fire at 136 Maclaren Street, Ottawa, by a Group Captain H. Ronald Stewart, RCAF (Ret.).

The two little volumes are written in such a vigorous and straightforward style and tell so much of the way of life in Canadian frontier days that I thought it worthwhile to have them typed and made available to each member of my immediate family.  I wish it could have had wider distribution, but, after all, a typewriter copy does become finally too illegible to read.

Our special thanks go to Group Captain Stewart for rescuing the volumes and Miss Margery Cooper and my son Robert Campbell Douglas for retyping the manuscripts.

Robert Bell Douglas           

Laval sur le Lac, Quebec



To my Mother “Daisy Bell” (Mrs Walter Douglas)

Pictured in her presentation gown when presented before Queen Victoria in London 1898, by the Duchess of Buccleuth.



It seems incredible that twenty-five years have passed since Volume 1 was produced in such a hurry.  Fortunately, my mother, to whom it was dedicated, was able to enjoy it for the two months before she died in October 1963. 

Volume 1 was originally typed with ten carbons on a rented electric typewriter – the most advanced reproducing system available to us at the time.  Shortly after Volume 1 had been distributed, Norman Bell called up, introduced himself and asked if he might have Vol. 1 Xeroxed and made available to other members of the family.

During the Second War, when we were both engaged in the aircraft industry, I knew of Norman H. Bell as Works Manager of Noordyn Aircraft Company which made the famous “Noordyn Norseman”, the aeroplane that played such a large part in the allied war effort and both before and after in the development of the Canadian bush country.  It never occurred to me that he was a cousin.

Norman not only Xeroxed another ten copies of Volume 1, but brought photocopies of several of William Bell’s letters to and from his son Andrew some of which are incorporated in the Appendix to this volume – all of them fascinating.

In the meantime, my son, Robert Campbell, who had done the latter part of the typing of the first volume and had finished the drafting of the Bell Family Tree at the back of this volume, had gone to England to spend several months studying at Oxford.  When he came home, we sent for the rented typewriter back again and he set to work doing Volume II.  Unfortunately, while it was apparently the same typewriter, it had much smaller type (elite) so that the last few carbons were too fuzzy to read.

The late Margery Cooper, who had shared with Bob the task of typing Vol. I had the perfect solution.  Her brother was teaching a class of twenty naval ratings in Advanced Typing and they needed practice material for Speed Typing.  All had “exactly the same machines”.

Unfortunately, when the twenty “original copies” were finally and individually re-typed, it became all too apparent that, while the navel student typists all may have had the same “make” of machine, the type sizes were all different. 

We didn’t have the heart to go back and re-type the whole book over again for the third time.  In consequence, each copy of Volume II is a hodgepodge of different type sizes.  We trust that this will lend a special “cachet” to each person’s own volume.

To make the chart of “THE BELL FAMILY TREE”, inside the back cover of this volume, we used a huge drafting table (3 feet by 6 feet) in our engineering office and, then, by photographic reproduction brought it down to the manageable size required by the book.  This was a considerable advance over the rudimentary version used with Volume 1.

No sooner was this process complete than it was pointed out that “the twins” John and William were shown on the chart in reverse order of their appearance at birth.  Other corrections and additions have continued to flow in, as more and more members of the Bell Family have become involved.

This has been THE major stumbling block, which has kept delaying the production of Volume II for these several years.  To put out an inaccurate chart is distasteful.  Yet, to go back and re-structure it all over again (without the drafting facilities earlier available) is a daunting task, particularly with new material coming in all the time.

Therefore, we have decided that, if we are ever to get the book out at all, we will have to proceed with the May 1964 version of the Bell Family Tree and incorporate a pocket in the back cover for: “ERRATA AND ADDENDA”.

In conclusion, I quote from my cousin Jack Macdonnell when faced with a similar dilemma: “If you find a name misspelled, or an incorrect date, reflect on this: it might not have been there at all”.

Robert Bell Douglas

Laval sur le Lac, Quebec
February 1988




Written by Himself



Being now relieved from the charge of the school, I spent more time in travelling, and preaching in distant parts of the settlement.  I even extended my journeys to the old settlements, and preached in Kittey, Beverley, and other places, where a Presbyterian minister had never been seen before.  But my chief attention, beyond my own congregation, was to Beckwith, which I visited at stated times.  Having no horse, most of these journeys were made on foot.

During the summer the crop on my 25 acre lot was nearly all destroyed by the pigs and fowls of Mr. Pitt, one of the clerks in the Superintendent’s office.  He had about a hundred fowls, and a score of pigs, which fed upon a fine field of what I had near his house.  Spoke to him repeatedly and showed him how unjust and unreasonable it was to destroy my crop in that manner.  He promised to confine the pigs, but as he did not keep his word, I sent some of them to the pound.  His son Joseph, a lad about 17 or 18, meeting my boys the next day, swore at them and said he would shoot our cows the first time they came his way.  Though he was a very wild boy, we did not believe he would proceed to such violence.  On the following Sunday evening, however, while I was in my garden, I heard a shot fired in that direction, and in about a quarter of an hour afterwards our cows came home, one of them having her side and flank covered with blood.

I perceived at once that the scoundrel had shot her, and went directly to his father’s house and told him what had happened, and what Joseph had threatened to do.  He pretended entire ignorance of the affair, and said that his son was such a good boy he was sure he would do harm to no one.  I said I had not the least doubt that he had shot the cow, and as his threatening to do so could be proved, I should certainly prosecute unless the damage was made good.

On Monday Mr. Pitt came to me attended by his son, who solemnly protested his innocence of the crime to his charge.  I put a few questions to him as to where he was, and how employed at the time, but his answers were so contradictory, that my first opinion was confirmed, and I assured them I would prosecute unless they made atonement.  They then left me, but in a quarter of an hour Mr. Pitt came back attended by Mr. Mathieson, another clerk in the government office, and with sobs and tears confessed that his son had shot the cow, and promised to pay the damage.  This, however, he never did, till, after long delay, I was forced to bring a suit against him in the Court of King’s Bench, when he had not only to pay the damage, but a heavy bill of costs, besides.

Schools were now in operation in various parts of the settlement.  These I was often called upon to visit and examine; especially two in the Scotch line, which I examined every quarter for some years.

The first meeting of our Synod had been held last winter at Cornwall, and never shall I forget what I suffered in cold in going to it.  We had to break the road most of the way from Brockville, the snow being even with the top of the fences and the thermometer below zero.  The second meeting was held at Perth, on 28th June, and was opened by a sermon from Mr. Fletcher.  Mr Green, a young Irishman, then delivered the remainder of his trials, and was licensed to preach the gospel.  He did not afterwards treat us very handsomely.  After all the trouble we had taken with him, he deserted us, joined the Episcopal Church, and is now rector of Niagara.

On the 10th July, 1820, our first election of a member to represent us in the provincial Parliament began.  For sometime before, and during the election, caricatures and placards were exhibited on the walls ever morning, to the great amusement of those not concerned.  But the most painful circumstance was the drunkenness that prevailed, both candidates serving out liquors to all inclined to drink.  Not only Perth settlement, but the world in general, at that time, was going to ruin by drinking.  Happy it had been, if the temperance reformation had then began.  A few days after this I attended the funeral of Mr. Cuppage, son of General Cuppage, who had died of apoplexy, or in other words of excessive drinking.

In the fall of the year I always visited the members of my congregation at their own houses; though, in doing so, I had to travel over an immense extent of country.  In one of these journey’s, in crossing the Mississippi river, with some others, James McLeod, not understanding the management of a canoe, upset it, by which we were all thrown into the water; but, not being far from the side, no lives were lost.

In August I was called as a witness to the Supreme Court at Brockville.  I reached the courthouse just in time to hear the Judge’s charge to the Grand Jury.  In the afternoon I heard the trial of a boy, only 10 years of age, for horse stealing.  His mother, who was more guilty than he, having directed him to do it, had made her escape.  In the evening Dr. Thom and I, by invitation, dined with the Judge, Chief Justice Powell.

After spending most of the week in Brockville, to little purpose, I returned home to Perth.  On the way I met Earl Dalhousie, our new Governor, and had some conversation with him respecting the school, but Col. Cockburn being with him, I obtained no redress.  On reaching Perth I found it full of immigrants, from Scotland, on their way to Lanark.  As they had to remain a few days, every barn and out house about the village was filled with them.  On Sabbath our church was crowded with them, and I baptised four of their children.  In the evening I had a meeting with them, and gave them some advice, in reference to their future conduct.

In the first week of September, I made a visit to the Beckwith settlers, preaching at various places on my way.  In Beckwith I preached in the government store to a large congregation, and baptised five children.  Having to travel on foot, I found this journey very fatiguing, the weather being very warm.  In the evening I walked seven miles, on my way home, to the house of Mr. Bog, where I was to remain all night.

Just before I reached this place, coming through a cedar swamp, my foot slipped, upon a wet log, and I fell, bruising my side and cutting my lip severely.  From Mr. Bog’s family I met with every attention, but from the pain of my hurt, the fatigue of my journey, and the heat of the weather, I was unable to eat my supper, and after I got into bed I could not sleep.  Early next morning I got up and walked home, though in great pain, but escaped the heat of the day by my early start.  No bones being broken, I was soon as well as ever.

Our communion was on the following Sabbath, and was numerously attended.  More than twenty new members were then received.

The curious mixture of employments, among the inhabitants of the old settlements, may be learned from the following account of a Sabbath day’s employment.  On the afternoon of Sabbath, 17 September, just after we returned from our own church, Mr. Brezee, one of our neighbours, called to inform us, that the Rev. Elder Steven, from Bastard, had just arrived, with a load of settler’s baggage, from Brockville, on his way to Lanark; and, the day being hot, he had concluded to rest a few hours and preach a sermon.  The sermon was to be at his house, and he invited us to attend.  Mrs. Bell and I accordingly went, and an odder sermon I certainly never heard.  The text was Hebrews 12, 1, laying aside every weight, etc.  The preacher said, the day being hot, he would follow the advice in the text, and lay aside some of his own yarn.  Suiting the action to the word, he pulled off his coat, threw it aside, and preached in his shirtsleeves.

The former part of September had been very warm, but some days after the middle it became disagreeably cold.  My health during the summer had not been good, but after the cold weather set in it was better.  The following were my reflection in my journal on the occasion.

Bless the lord O my soul.  Bless him for health, while others are laid upon beds of sickness.  Bless him for a comfortable house, while others have no habitation.  Bless him for wholesome food, while others have nothing to eat.  Bless him for clothing, while others are almost naked.  But especially bless him for an experimental knowledge of Christ, while others are ignorant of their need of the blessings of salvation.  While I think of the number and the nature of the temporal comforts my God has bestowed upon me, my heart is filled with gratitude, and yet these are nothing in comparison of the obligations under which the riches of his grace have laid upon me.

On the 18 December I went out to Lanark, and preached, for the first time, among the new settlers, in Mr. Hall’s house. As I intended to organize a congregation there, a meeting was held, and managers were appointed.  In the afternoon they and I went and selected lots of land for the church, manse, schoolhouse, and graveyard.  I then dined with Col. Marshall, the Superintendent of the Settlement.  In the evening I married Mr. Griffin to Miss Hall, and slept at Col. Marshall’s.  Next morning I walked with him to see the mills on the Clyde, and left the village at 12.  As it snowed fast, I called at Mr. Griffin’s and remained to dinner.

After crossing the river I called at Mr. Lego’s, to visit and comfort a poor woman who had lost her husband by a fall of a tree.  There being no track in the new fallen snow, I lost the path, and wandered some miles out of my way. At Donald Campbell’s, which I reached at sunset, I remained all night, and next day examined the school.  The grown up people next reached my attention; and among them I found many errors, both in theory and in practice, to rectify.  On my way home in the evening, the road being very uneven, at a sharp turn, I was thrown out of the cutter and hurt, though not seriously.

In the course of this winter it was deemed advisable to have an addition to our session.  Accordingly three new elders were chosen and ordained.  In the cold weather I employed the mornings, before breakfast, in putting the older boys through a course of Logic, while the evenings were devoted to Geography.

At this time courts of law had not been introduced, and most disputes between neighbours were settled by arbitration.  In this capacity I was sometimes called to act, and had the satisfaction to see the parties reconciled, and prevented from going to law, in more cases than one.  In conjunction with Captain Tayler, I was engaged this winter settling a very knotty case between John Adamson and Maurice Power, to the satisfaction of all parties.

In my younger years I had heard it said that it was a dangerous thing wantonly to injure a minister, and really, and from what I saw taking place around me, I was convinced that the remark was just.  Every person who has opposed or ill used me, since I came to the settlement, I have seen come to ruin, or fall into mischief of some kind or other.

We had some hundreds of discharged soldiers in the settlement, who had served in Spain and Portugal during the war.  Most of them had prise money, or pensions to receive, and all of them, as long as there was no other minister in the place, had to get certificates from me that they were still alive and resided here.  Though this caused me many interruptions, it afforded me much pleasure to assist them in obtaining what they so much needed.

For some years after Beckwith was settled, I went out there occasionally and preached to the people, and baptised their children.  At the same time I advised them to make some endeavour to get a minister of their own.  With this view, at their request, I prepared a petition to the Associate Presbytery of Edinburgh to send them a minister, and after some delay, the Rev. George Buchanan was sent.

Education in the province generally being at low ebb, I used ever means in my power to promote its improvement, both in public and in private.  I wrote several letters which appeared in the news papers, especially one addressed to the members of the legislature, pointing out the best means of advancing its interest.


Page from William Bell’s Diary Vol. II “my 69th Year”.  Interesting comment by William that he was glad the Tory Government was kicked out.


With the half pay officers, and indeed most of those who had been in the army, I had at times no little trouble.  They expected to enjoy all the privileges of the church, though they neither submitted to its discipline, nor performed the duties of religion.  Great offence was taken because I declined to baptise the children of drunkards, profane swearers, Sabbath breakers, and those who neglected religious duties.  Generally, however, those of them who came to church, behaved with external decency.  But there were at least two exceptions, and I am sorry to say that these were among the ladies of the officers.  One of them, a very foolish vain woman, frequently behaved with so much levity, during preaching, that I was forced one day to stop and rebuke her.  This of course gave mortal offence, not only to her and her husband, but to several of their friends, and they absented themselves in future.

In the meantime Captain McMillan, one of these delinquents, had a child by his own servant girl, which he asked me to baptise privately.  This I declined to do, which so enraged him that he threatened vengeance.  Mr Mathieson, the Captain’s crony, happened to be in a similar predicament at the time; only his servant was not yet put to bed.  The two had always been very intimate, but this circumstance made them more so.  They could do nothing in the settlement to injure me more than they had done.

But they resolved to extend their views, and take a new method.  They accordingly wrote to the Governor General, Earl Dalhousie, complaining that I did not manage the affairs of the church to their mind, and requested that the land and buildings might be given to the Church of Scotland, and that they might be appointed trustees.  The governor’s answer assured them of his desire to advance the interest of the Church of Scotland in the settlement, but at the same time desired that they would not disturb me in the peaceable possession of the church I had built.  I have a copy of both the letter and the answer, furnished me by one of the clerks in the Government office, who detested the insidious and wicked course they were pursuing.

Our church being now finished and trustees appointed, I prepared a constitution, which was unanimously adopted at a full meeting of the congregation.  This has continued, with a slight alteration, to regulate our affairs ever since.

The first division of the Lanark settlers came out last summer, 1820, the second came out this summer.  I still continued to visit them and preach among them, when I could spare a day.  On Sabbath 24 June, at 5 o’clock, I set out for this purpose, accompanied by John Ferguson, one of my elders.  The road was bad and our progress slow.  At the village I preached in the upper story of Mr. Glass’ house.  The congregation was large and the heat excessive.

After preaching and examining the parents, I baptised ten children.  I afterwards organized the church, and made some arrangements for administering the Sacrament at a future time.  In the evening I walked back to the river and remained all night at Mr. Griffin’s, but was sadly annoyed with swarms of mosquitoes.  On Monday I visited Drummond, on my way home, but was sick all day with the heat, and fatigues of the previous day.  I had now completed four years in the settlement, in midst of many difficulties, but “hitherto the Lord had helped me”.

At this time wagons with settlers and their baggage were almost every day passing through Perth, on their way to Lanark.  Some of these people suffered great affliction; the Dick family for instance, in which were eleven children.  They lost both mother and father on the way out, and yet they were all provided for, and decently brought up.  During the hot weather, in July and August, I was often sickly; for I stood the cold in winter better than the heat of summer.  The heat in these months had been great, yet on the morning of 26th August, we had a frost so severe that all tender vegetables were destroyed. Next day it was as hot as before.

The loss of parents is a great affliction at any time, but especially on a journey, and in a strange land.  On Saturday evening, just as I was going to bed, I was called to visit a man who was suddenly taken ill.  He died before the morning, leaving a widow and nine children among strangers.  He had arrived but a few days before, and had worshipped with us on the last Sabbath.

Our burying ground had been cleared off some time before this, and now we determined to have it enclosed.  For this purpose I opened a subscription, and raised about £10.  This was afterwards increased by Mr. Jackson’s exertions, he having it in charge.  A contract was made with Peter Kerr, for about £20, to fence it with boards and cedar posts.

On Sabbath, 30th September, I again preached in Lanark, in a new house of Mr. Fraser’s, and baptised six children.  In the following week I finished my “Letters from Perth”, a work on which I had been employed, at leisure hours, for some time before.  Just after I had stitched up the manuscript, a young man named Donaldson, called in.  He stated that he was a doctor, and that he came from Airdrie, and was now on his way back.  Thinking this a good opportunity, I determined to send home the M.S. by him.  He was even obliging enough to remain some days with us, till I had leisure to write to a few friends in Scotland.  These and the M.S. he took with him, and proceeded to Montreal.

A short time after I had a letter from a friend there inquiring if this Dr. Donaldson, Bell he called himself then), was a nephew of mine.  He had, it seems, money from various of my acquaintances.  I answered that he was no relation of mine, that I had never seen him before the day he called at my house, and I feared he was a great rogue.  I requested Mr. McIntosh to obtain possession, if possible, of the manuscript.  At first he refused to part with it, but being threatened with a public exposure, in the newspapers, he at last gave it up.

The fall of the year was employed, as usual, in visiting my congregation at their own houses, which caused me to travel not less that 300 miles.  But I reached the end of 1821 in health, and some share of happiness, and began 1822 in reviewing the past, and forming plans for the future.  At the congregational meeting, on the first Monday, an ineffectual attempt was made by Mr. Fraser to hold from me, in future, the allowance of 20, in lieu of a house.  It was this man’s wife that was rebuked for laughing, and trying to make others laugh in church.

About the middle of January I made a journey to Prescott, to preach at the opening of Mr. Boyd’s new church, and to assist at the administration of the Lord’s Supper.  The weather was dreadfully cold at the time.  On Sabbath while I was preaching, Mrs. Gates’ horse, becoming restless from the extreme cold, got away, and broke a very fine cutter all to pieces.  We had a meeting at the Presbytery on Monday.  On Wednesday I reached home, after preaching at several places on the way.

During the winter I made many journeys for the purpose of preaching, and holding examinations.  Some of these meetings were held in places affording very poor accommodation.  In Dalhousie, for instance, one very cold day I preached, in a dark smoky shantie that had no window, to about 30 people, and afterwards baptised five children.  Here too, Mrs. Bell and I had to pass the night.  Our journey out and home was no less inconvenient.  The ground was rough, hilly, and there was even fallen timber in the way.  We had several upsets, and had to walk part of the way to avoid danger.

On the 7th February I preached in Beckwith, and baptised nine children; after which I agreed with the people to have the Sacrament administered among them.  On the 20th I preached at Lanark, and baptised ten children.  I afterwards married two couples, but a third I was obliged to refuse, having heard that the proposed bridegroom had a wife in Scotland.

On Saturday, 23rd February, I went out to Beckwith to organize the church there.  After preaching I proceeded to examine the certificates presented.  Ninety members were admitted.  On the following day we met in the upper story of the inn, at Franktown, that being the largest room in the village; but the congregation was far too large for the place, and more came than could get in.  Though the place was crowded to excess, no accident happened.  Having the whole labour, I was very tired at night, but happy to see the church formed, and the children of God united in church fellowship.

At our communion, in March, having the assistance of Mr. Boyd and Mr. Smart, we had a large congregation, larger indeed than the church could contain.  On Monday our Presbytery had a meeting, which was opened by a sermon from Mr. Glen.  My son Andrew, having chosen the ministry of the gospel as his profession, he was, by the ministers present, examined in Latin, Greek, and Logic.

On examining the state of the church at this time, I found that we had admitted, up to this date, 225 members.  Of these, however, 46 now belonged to Beckwith, 20 to Lanark; 18 had been subjected to discipline, 7 had been cut off from communion, 6 had left the settlement, and 4 had died.

Next week I made a journey to Beckwith, and Richmond, at both of which places I preached and baptised children.  Part of the way I travelled in a cutter, part on horseback, and the rest on foot.  No person can now imagine how difficult it was travelling in the woods at that time.  The ground being bare, I got home with difficulty, my cutter being torn to pieces by the numerous small stumps in the road.

On Saturday, 16th March, I went to Lanark, organized the church, and baptised a few children.  On Sabbath I preached in the schoolhouse, dispensed the Lord’s Supper to about 70 members, and baptised more children.

Early in May I received a letter from Airdrie, informing me of the death of Andrew Bell, my nephew, by consumption.  It was gratifying to learn that he died exercising the lively hope of a glorious resurrection, and eternal happiness in Heaven.  He had been brought under the influence of religion some years before; and, though exposed to many temptations, had maintained a walk and conversation becoming the gospel.  Some of his letters to me, written a short time before his death, breathe the pure spirit of true religion, and of a soul ripening for glory.  Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.

Next week I rode out to the Missippi River to visit Mr. Cameron, one of my elders, who was ill, and seemed to be dying.  Before I left him I wrote his will, and attested his signature.  The duty of settling one’s affairs in health, is one which far too many neglect.  He died a few days after, and on the following Sabbath I preached his funeral sermon to a numerous congregation.


The first letter I had, after my birthday, was one from Dr. Hall, in Edinburgh, informing me that the Rev. George Buchanan had been engaged as minister to the people of Beckwith, and was now on his way out.  In a short time he arrived, and met with a very favourable reception from his people, though they did not behave well to him in the end.

At our communion, in June, 93 members were present, and great harmony was at this time enjoyed.  But a storm was gathering, as we shall see.  Before the end of June I made a journey to Prescott, to assist Mr. Boyd at his communion, preaching at various places by the way.  Mrs. Boyd being very ill at the time, I had all the duty to perform.  This excellent woman died a few days after.  Mr. Smart came and preached on Monday, after which we held a meeting of Presbytery.  On our way to Brockville in the evening, being very thirsty, we called at a friend’s house to get a drink.  From mistaken hospitality no doubt he gave us a compound of cream, rum, and eggs, which soon sickened me, and made me very ill all night with a bowel complaint.  Even the next day I was so unwell it took me two days to reach home.

It was on the 13 July that Captain McMillan applied to me to baptise the child that his servant, Janet McGregor, had born a short time before.  Hoping to conceal the matter, he had sent away the girl to an obscure part of the country, 30 or 40 miles from Perth to lie in.  But her mother having heard that she was a missing, and no one could tell what had become of her, thinking, or pretending to think that the Captain had made away with her, came and raised such a storm about his ears that he was forced to tell her where her daughter was.  The old lady went and brought her home, and revealed the whole plot, so that the affair was now more talked about than if no concealment had been attempted.

In answer to the Captain’s application I told him that I could baptise no child till one or both of the parents were received as members, and in their case they would have first to submit to the discipline of the Church.  This put him in a passion, and he used some very improper language.  He said that no minister of the Church of Scotland, where he came from, would have refused.  That he was very sorry he had asked me.  Had I done this for him he would have befriended me, but not I must expect to favour at his hands.  I told him that I wished the favour of no man on such terms.  But finding it vain to reason with him I left.

Mr. Mathieson, being in similar circumstances, sympathised most heartily with his friend; and these being joined by another, namely by him whose wife had been rebuked for misconduct in the church, the three, from this time took every opportunity to oppose and annoy me.  Next week we had a meeting for the division of the burying ground, which was now cleared and enclosed, when the three punctually attended, and did all in their power, in the way of making opposition, and raising discontent.  They however met with no support, so that they left the meeting somewhat disappointed.

Their next scheme was to divide the congregation, by proposing to have a minister from the Church of Scotland, who could preach in Gaelic.  By this means they expected to enlist the sympathies of all the Highlanders, who formed the majority of my congregation.  In this they were but too successful, though it was merely a deception; for the minister they obtained could no more preach in Gaelic than I could.  The petition they had prepared was not only carried through the settlement, with persevering industry, but Mr. Mathieson waited in his sore, from day to day, for two months, asking the signature of all that came in.  Thus we find that the children of this world are not only wiser in their generation, but more zealous and persevering, than the children of light.  Preaching the gospel from mere contention, was not confined to the days of the Apostle Paul.

At our communion on 8th Septr., the day was fine, and the congregation larger than the church could contain.  Many stood outside, at the open door and windows.  Mr. Boyd preached the action sermon, and I addressed the communicants, of whom more than 100 were present.  In the afternoon Mr. Buchanan preached a Gaelic sermon, the first I believe ever heard in the settlement.  On Monday, after a sermon from Mr. Boyd, the Presbytery met and transacted business.  Among other things Andrew, my son, was examined on Moral and Natural Philosophy, and read an essay on Logic.  The fall of the year, as usual, was employed in visiting my congregation, and preaching in various parts of the settlement.

On the last day of September a man named Malcolm Fisher, living in Bathurst, sent for me to come and see him.  I found him weak and apparently dying, but I could get little information as the state of his soul.  O that men were wise enough to prepare for death before it come: for the sake of his poor wife and children I wrote his will, and with some difficulty got it signed, for even this matter he had not attended to, in the time of health.  He died about an hour after I left him.

On Sabbath, the 13th October, 1822, I find the following remarks in my journal.  “The day being good I had a large congregation, I was happy in attending to the duties of religion, both in public and private.  It is 20 years this day since I was married, and what changes have taken place since that time!  Then I desired to be a minister of Christ, though I scarcely dared to expect it, but now my wish has been granted.  I have had many difficulties to surmount, and many enemies to resist, but hitherto the Lord hath helped me.  What shall I render to the Lord for all his care and kindness to me and mine?  O that I could love him more and serve him better!  Let me anew devote my life to his service.  While I have life and breath I will praise him here, and when my work on earth is finished, he will, I trust, receive me to his glory.”

On the 24th October I received the sad news of my mother’s death, but it was to be expected from her great age and many infirmities.  My father had been dead six years before, at the age of 78, and she, at her death, was past 80.  Mr. Mack, at the same time, sent me the account of the sale of the last of my property at Airdrie, and the application of the proceeds.  The expenses he had incurred were enormous, so that, except paying a few debts at home for books, nothing came to my share.

The Governor, among other things, had given us a stove for the Church, but now that the settling department here was to be broken up, our enemies found means to take it from us.  This they accomplished in the following way.  To the new Governor, who knew nothing of the circumstances, they applied for an order to recall the stove, telling him that it was only lent.  This was of course given, and Col. Powell sent men and took the stove away; but instead of taking it to the government store, it was taken to his own house and put up there.  This was quite in keeping with the other transactions I have stated.

In the spring and fall, when the roads were bad, I had often very unpleasant journeys. Take the following as an instance.  Mr. Shaw, one of the clerks at the Superintendent’s office at Lanark was about to take a wife, and had requested me to come out and marry him on Monday 28 October.  Though there had been no frost, there came such a snowstorm on that day, that I could not venture out, the distance being 14 miles by the road then travelled.  On Wednesday morning, having had a letter from Mr. Shaw, saying that he still expected me, I set out, though the road was the worst I ever travelled.  The snow had melted and made it an ocean of mud and water all the way.  Some of the mud holes were deep and almost impassable.  Going and coming took me all day, and it was dark long before I got home, the horses and myself both very tired.  For all this I was paid three dollars, not much more than I received for a marriage in my own house.  But I had foolishly enough left the fee to the discretion of the bridegroom and this was the result.

On the 1st of January 1823, I find the following in my journal:

“I have now entered upon a new division of my time; in comfortable circumstances.  O for more humility, and more gratitude, to the Author of all my mercies.  The past year has been full of favours from my heavenly Father.  My enemies have been active, and full of malice, but God has set bounds to their wrath, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come and no further.  What shall I render to the Lord?”

On the 10th I set out for Brockville with my son William, who went to Mr. Beeck, of the Recorder, on trial to learn the printing business.  My principal object on this journey was to assist Mr, Smart at his sacrament, which I did on Sabbath.  We had a meeting of Presbytery on Monday, at which Mr Green's license was withdrawn.  On account of his joining the Episcopal Church.

On the second Sabbath of February, I preached at Lanark to a large congregation, and baptised twenty children.  At various other places I was employed in like manner, and the examinations were gone through in the winter.  Most of these exercises were held in dwelling houses, and often in very inconvenient circumstances.  One day I preached at Mr. Malloch’s, and baptised two children.  During the sermon we were much annoyed by the crowing of a cock, on the loft overhead.  The singing at first disturbed him and he began to crow.  As he still persisted, after the sermon began, I requested Mr. Malloch to go up and drive him out.  He made the attempt but did not succeed.  The rogue flew from side to side, making more noise than before, but out he would not go.  Finding it vain to contend with him, he was left alone, and in a short time became quiet.

One day, in the following week, I left home in the morning and preached at two different places, besides holding an examination.  It was 11 at night when I reached home very fatigued.  Here I found a young man waiting for me to arrange about getting married.  He had come on foot about 30 miles, through deep snow, and had waited all day for my return, having called about five minutes after I left home in the morning. But in matrimonial affairs I have found people discover a degree of patience and punctuality that would be very creditable to them were they equally punctual in all other matters.

Next Saturday I preached at Lanark, and baptised 8 children. In the evening Mr. Glass introduced to me the Rev Dr. Gemmill, who had come out as one of the Lanark settlers.  I was glad to meet with him, having the sacrament of the Lord’s supper to administer the following day.  Next morning the sun rose with dazzling brightness upon the snow which was now more than two feet deep, and seemed to smile upon the labours of the day.  Beaten footpaths in the snow, from all parts of the settlement, led into the village.

At 11, the congregation being assembled, the services of the day began.  No church being yet erected, our place of worship was a large dwelling house, not yet finished.  After the sermon and other preparatory exercises, we proceeded to the large upper room fitted up for the occasion, which forcibly reminded me of the place where the sacrament of the supper was first observed.  The number of communicants was 92, at three table services.  One of these was addressed by Dr. Gemmill, and the other two by me.

After the communion I made two addresses, the first to those who had communicated, and the second to those who had not. It was near night when I left the village.  On my way home I met a drunk man, in a narrow part of the road, who narrowly escaped being run over.  He staggered and fell across the road, just when I was about to pass him.  This frightened my beast, and she started off the path, but went off at a gallop so that the cutter passed within a few inches of his head, but did not touch him.

About this time ghosts were often seen, if we are to believe those who said they saw them.  That of O’Connor, who was hanged for murder, was often met with; and that of Mr. Tommis, who died in a fit near his own house, was said to take many a solitary walk about the farm.  Witches too, were no less troublesome to the Highlanders here, than they had been in their own country, among their native hills.  These mischievous beings not only deprived them of their milk and butter in summer, but even of their maple sugar in spring.

A decent old man told me that, last March, when the sap began to run, he set up a kettle and boiled sap for several days, but never got a grain of sugar from it.  And what thank you, said I, was the reason you got no sugar from it?  Indeed, said he, I ken the reason vera weal, I had a neighbour that was na counted vera cannie at home, and I think she is nae better here.  Surely, I said, you do not mean to say that your neighbour is a witch?  If I sud na say that I may at least think it, for I’m sure my sugar coud na dang awa without somebody who had a connection with witches.  I told him not to allow such nonsense to enter his mind, for the poor woman he suspected was as free of the crime of witchcraft as he was himself.  But though he became silent he was not convinced.

At our communion, in March, I had several ministers to assist me.  The church not being large enough for the congregation, Mr. Buchanan preached to a part of them in another place.  Upwards of 120 members were present. Dr. Gemmill preached in the evening to the full church.  In the last three months I had baptised 56 children, and admitted 16 new members, examined all my congregation, and preached four times every week.

On March 15, William came home from Brockville, and, on the following Monday, he went to Mr. Norris as a clerk, on trial, to see how he would like store keeping.  The divisions among Christians gave us much pain, and I had some conversation one day with Mr. Jackson about a general union among Christians.  Could good people meet together simply as Christians, take the Bible as the rule of their faith and practice, in weighty matters, and their own judgement, guided by common sense, in matters of less importance, they might live together as brethren in one communion.  Having received about 200 tracts, I stitched them up in small parcels of 35 pages, and lent them out to all whom were disposed to read.

Our son Andrew, being now ready for college, left us on Monday 16th June, for Glasgow, where he remained three years, attending the university.  He took home with him the manuscript of my Letters from Perth, which he published in Edinburgh soon after.  The profits of the work assisted him while at college.

From some of the discharged soldiers, who were foreigners, I sometimes had curious applications.  One day a person of this description called to tell me something about his wife.  He was a native of Poland, and spoke English very imperfectly, so that I had some difficulty in understanding him.  However the following was the substance of what he said.

My wife is no Christian.  Dey call he Pig.  I tell her I speak to the minister to make her Christian.  She be villing to be Protestant, Presbyter, or Catolic - anything if she be Christian, and I no care what.  She have four fault.  She takes feets and fall down, dat is von. She had a child when I not know, dat is two, but I no call dat any fault.  She have a bad hand, dat is tree; and she no be Christian, dat is four.  But I no say noting about de child, so she have tree fault.

By putting a few questions to him, I learned that his wife was born of American parents, that she was about 20 years of age, that she was subject to fits, but that she was industrious, and a good wife.  I further learned that she had never been baptised, and that this was his principal objection to her.  I told him that the fits and lame hand were no faults of hers, but afflictions, which he ought to alleviate by kindness and attention.  With regard to the child he himself admitted that was no fault; and the last objection could be easily obviated, seeing she was desirous of being a Christian.

He then asked, with some earnestness, if I could make her a Christian.  I told him that she could become a Christian if she wished it, and that if she would call upon me I would examine her, and if I found her views on that subject correct, she might then be baptised.  This satisfied him, and he said she would come and see me next week.  This man was a Roman Catholic, yet he had no objection to his wife being a Protestant, if she was only a Christian.  All the Catholics I have met with discover some liberality, except the Irish. They are the most savage and intolerant I have found anywhere.

This precious 236 page book by William Bell and his son Andrew, originally 25 LETTERS FROM PERTH was designed to acquaint people back in Scotland with the advantages of emigrating to Canada.  The first 5 letters are an account of their voyage to Quebec, but 8 weeks of the trials that Rev. & Mrs Bell and their 6 children endured would hardly be encouraging.  However, his purpose was to describe the Military Settlements of Upper Canada that he had visited during a residence of 6 years.  His descriptions are very factual including the churches, schools, many lakes, distances between towns and settlements and the populations of the different counties of Upper Canada adding up to 103,980 to date.  Finally he encourages any emigrant possessed of health, industry, perseverance, a small stock of money and especially religion.  Andrew Bell took this book to Scotland in 1822 to have it printed and to help with the cost of his studies.  He added an Appendix of 3 letters which are very practical and informative, describing the land in Upper Canada, how it may be cleared, instructions for building a log house, for starting crops, and how not to get lost in the bush!


The routine of my labours was now much the same from year to year.  In July, as usual, I assisted Mr. Buchanan in Beckwith at his communion; and, as he was somewhat infirm, I performed most of the services.  The weather was hot, and the journey both out and home very fatiguing, especially as I had to travel the worst part of it on foot.  A swamp, a mile wide, could not be passed by a horse, and even a foot passenger had to wade deep in black mud and water, while annoyed with myriad of mosquitoes.

Though many in the settlement made a profession of religion, yet it gave me great pain to see how little of vital goodness their religion contained.  I determined to preach in every part of the country, and earnestly call the attention of all to the salvation of their souls.  In the village, I called a public meeting, and had a Sabbath School Union formed.  Each congregation furnished 6 teachers, 3 male and 3 female.  We met in the courthouse, and near a hundred children attended.  Mr. Harris and I acted, in turn, as superintendents. This went on well for some time, till he, in a freak one morning dismissed the whole, telling them to attend at his church next Sunday morning.  This left the Methodists and me no alternative but to follow his example and form a separate school.

My son William, having been with Mr. Harris some time as a clerk, and being satisfied with his situation, a permanent engagement was made.  He was to be provided with board, lodging, washing, and clothing, till he was 21, and then to receive a sum of money equal to his services, but this to be at the discretion of Mr. Harris.  When William went to him he was 17.  So that he had to remain four years.

Some time after this John, his twin brother went to Mr. Mathieson, another merchant in the town, in the same employment, upon the same terms.  Robert too, in the fall, went to Mr. Buell at Brockville on the same terms, to learn printing.  These changes reduced both our family and our expenses, for hitherto the boys had earned nothing for themselves.

Wet weather had made the roads very bad, and as I had many calls to the country, I had much unpleasant travelling.  One day, when I was returning from a journey into the country, I observed a dense column of smoke rising from near my house, which greatly alarmed me.  It was evidently a house on fire, but I could not tell then whether it was mine or not.  With breathless anxiety I hurried on, and found that the house of Mr. Jackson, my next neighbour, was reduced to ashes; but, there being an opening between our houses, mine was safe.  While I heartily sympathised with my less fortunate neighbour, I was truly grateful for our own preservation.

In reference to our communion, in December, the following is from my journal of that date.

“Bad roads, yet the church was crowded. I preached the action sermon, and Mr. Buchanan addressed the communicants.  I gave the concluding address, and Mr. Buchanan afterwards preached in Gaelic.  In the evening we had a prayer meeting.  All the exercises of the day afforded us much real enjoyment.  O blessed day when I first entered into covenant with my heavenly Father, and sweet are the returning seasons of renewing that covenant with him who had ever been my best friend, and the supreme object of my affections.  Created enjoyments are often pleasant and always necessary; but, O my God, thou art the portion of my soul, and the source of all my happiness, temporal and spiritual.”

On the last day of the year 1823, I find the following:

“O my God forgive my sins of the past year, and enable me to be truly grateful for the many mercies I have received from thy bountiful hand.  Last year, at this time, our children were all at home; now three of them are gone from us, but I have hope they are all well and happy.  Many the blessing of God, and the grace of Christ, ever attend them.  When they and we have finished our course on earth, may we all meet in Heaven, to enjoy the love of God, and to celebrate the praises of our dear Redeemer for ever and ever.”

On the first day of the following year, these were my first recorded thoughts.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, for His goodness to thee in past time, and trust him without reserve for the future.  The storehouse of His grace and goodness is not yet exhausted, neither is He weary of doing thee good.  Yes, O my God, thy goodness to me, in the past year, I will consider as a pledge of thy care and protection of me during the present.”

Next week I went to Brockville, and assisted Mr. Stuart at the communion.  On Monday we had a meeting of the Presbytery, and much consultation as to the best means of reviving religion, which at this time seemed to be in a languishing condition.  Being invited to spend the evening with the Sheriff, we went out to his house, which was about a mile from town.

Mr Elms, a young dandy clergyman of the Church of England, at that time teacher of the District School came in soon after us, escorting two young ladies, Misses Hayes.  The trio seemed all equally foolish, and they behaved so ridiculously that I was not sorry when they left us.

When Mr. Stuart and I were returning home, about 9 o’clock, they passed us at the end of the village driving very fast; but a minute afterwards they ran against a heavy lumber sleigh, drawn by oxen, by which their carriage was knocked all to pieces, and the whole party scattered upon the road, all hurt more or less.  Mr Smart jumped out and ran to their assistance.  Mr. Elms had got to his feet, but his face was cut, and covered with blood.  The face of one of the ladies was cut, and her side bruised.  The other was more frightened than hurt.  They were all conducted to the nearest house, and a surgeon sent for, in whose hands we left them.

One very cold Sabbath morning, in February, John Robson called to inform me that he had seen a female Indian at the river side, very sick, and likely to perish from exposure to the storm if not taken care of.  He had been to the warden, who are the proper guardians of the poor, both of whom pitied her with all their heart; but neither of them would do any thing for her and her.  I advised him to get a train and take her and her two children, a boy and a girl, to Mrs. Cameron’s; which he did, and they were lodged and fed there till the mother got better.

Times of refreshing sometimes come from the lord, unsought and unexpected.  On Sabbath, 15 February, I was in a happier frame of mind than usual all the morning.  I was glad indeed in the prospect of going up to the house of God.  The graces of love, gratitude, and joy, were all in lively exercise.  The time had been, in the days of my ignorance, when the return of the Sabbath produced no pleasure; but now it was welcomed with the liveliest joy.  Happy is the people whose God is the Lord, for every movement of their affections toward Him is attended with pleasure.  Did the sons of dissipation and folly know how far my present enjoyments and future prospects exceed theirs, they would no longer feed upon husks with the swine, but at once return to their Father’s house, where there is bread enough and to spare.

In the end of February and beginning of March, I was much in the country, at examinations and visiting the sick.  At one place in Bathurst I had, as an arbitrator, to assist in dividing the property among the family of my deceased elder, John Campbell, to prevent their going to law.  At another place, on visiting a very old man, William McNaughton, on his deathbed, I had also to write his will, and thus secured his property to the widow during her life.

In one of these journeys I took cold, and became very unwell, on the week before the communion.  It was fortunate that I had engaged the assistance of both Mr. Smart and Mr. Buchanan; for, as it turned out, I was not able to be present myself.  On Saturday, though very ill, I went over to the church while Mr. Buchanan preached, but I had better remained at home; for, on my return, I was much worse, and was forced to go to bed.  Mr. Smart arrived in the evening, but I could scarcely speak to him.

During the night I had little sleep, and the pain in my head was excessive.  On Sabbath morning I found that all hope of going to the church on that day was at an end.  This was painful to my feelings.  I had never before been prevented by illness, from administering the sacrament at the usual time.  I had been looking forward to this occasion with more than ordinary interest.  I had enjoyed much of the divine presence in my preparations, and there was a greater accession of new members than usual.  But how soon the brightest prospect may be overclouded!  Much against my will, I had to remain at home, while others enjoyed the happiness of going up to the house of God.  But it was a comfort to reflect that God delights in the dwellings of Jacob as well as in the gates of Zion.  Mr. and Mrs. Morris, and 12 others were on this occasion admitted to the communion of the church.

Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Smart conducted the public services between them.  The congregation was larger than the church could contain, and many had to go away for want of room.  My sickness was severe all day, and all the following night.  The medicine I took was of no avail, being followed in every instance with severe vomiting.  On Monday Mr. Buchanan bled me, in order to ease my head, but I remained in a restless condition all day.

Many in the meantime called to see me.  Among them was the Rev. F. Metcalf, who, at my request, prayed with me.  In the afternoon the Rev. Mr. Harris sent his compliments, and to enquire how I was.  Thus he behaved like a gentleman, but the other behaved like a Christian.  He came himself, enquired into the nature of my disorder, spoke of the Christian’s consolation under affliction, and prayed for my recovery.  On Tuesday I was a little better, and sat up two hours.  During the week I recovered so far, that next Sabbath, though in a feeble state, I preached as usual.

Early in April widow McNee called upon me one morning and requested me to write her will, which I did accordingly.  While so employed I felt the strong smell of fire, which caused me to enquire into the cause.  On going into the back kitchen I found it full of smoke, and a heap of shavings and chips on fire.  Water being at hand, it was soon extinguished.  Had this fire happened in the night, the whole of our building, without doubt, would have been burnt down.  Betty, we found, had in the morning taken out hot sheets and put them down close to the shavings.

On the last Sabbath in April I baptised Mary Davis, servant to Col. McMillan, and afterwards his wife.  This was the first adult I ever baptised upon the profession of her own faith in Christ.


Summer and winter in Canada seem sometimes to be mixed.  On the 4th of May we had frost and a fall of snow, though the trees and bushes were then green.  During the night the railing in front of our house had been pulled down and destroyed.  At first I suspected some of the Irish Ballygiblons, who had been liberated from jail the evening before.  But in the afternoon I received information that Mr. Pitt, in a drunken spree, had done the deed.  When I charged him with the offence he positively denied it; but, on finding that I had proof against him, he acknowledged his guilt and sent me a written apology.  On the 14th the snow was six inches deep, and the frost was so severe that the snipes at the eves of our house were three feet long.  Vegetation was greatly injured.

On the 28th May our John went to Mr. Mathieson as a clerk, to remain 2 years eleven months, that is till he was 21 complete.

One day when I was assisting the men to put up a fence on my land at Sweetbank, an idle vagabond, who lived by begging, in a genteel way, came along, and expressed some surprise to see me hard at work.  I told him that we had it upon the best authority that he that did not work should not eat.  He seemed to understand me, and walked off with a frown on his face.

On the evening of June 5 our house again narrowly escaped being burnt down.  Merely by accident, I observed smoke coming from the end of the house.  On examining the place, I found that one of the posts, and some of the clapboards were on fire.  By removing one of these, and dashing in plenty of water, the fire was extinguished.  Many instances of the care of divine Providence we experienced, and this was none of the least.  What destruction, misery and loss must have ensued, had this fire been unobserved a few minutes longer!

At our communion in June, having no assistance from man, I had much labour to go through.  The Sabbath was fine, and the congregation larger than the house could contain.  Never, on any former occasion, did I enjoy greater comfort in my own soul, or greater liberty in preaching to others.  Comparing this communion Sabbath with that in March, when I suffered so much from sickness and pain, I could freely saw, Bless the Lord, O my soul, who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases, etc.

Schools were now becoming numerous in the settlement, and among the calls I had to public duty, were the examinations of these, both in town and country.

Among the evils with which I had to contend, the vice of drunkenness was none of the least.  It prevailed in the settlement to a great extent; for such was the influence of the custom that nothing could be done without liquor.  Several of the half-pay officers died of this disease.  One of these in particular, Mr. Alston, gave me much trouble by his irregular conduct, before he came to his miserable end.  One day his wife called me to inform me that he had become quite deranged, and had attempted to kill both her and his own child.  On going to see him I found him in a dreadful state.  He said he had been a bad man, and would soon be in hell.  It was evident he was suffering from delirium tremens.  He thought the devil was coming to take him away, and often saw demons about his bed.

Near the end of July our second election, for a Member of Parliament, began.  On the first day, the fun of the morning was turned to sorrow before night, by a fatal accident.  John McLaren, our church officer, having done with some others to the river to bathe, was unfortunately drowned.  On the following Sabbath I improved the circumstances with these words, Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

During the Assizes, in August, I was invited to dine with the Judge, Chief Justice Campbell, one evening, and on the next with the Grand Jury.  On the following Sabbath the Chief Justice, the Sheriff, and various other strangers, attended public worship in our church, Mr. Harris not being at home.

In the fall of the year I had, as usual, much travelling and visiting.  At communion, in September, and also at the one in December, we had a large addition of new communicants.  At the end of the year I was able to say, “Another year is ended, and I am still alive and well; and so are all my family.  I bless God that our circumstances, in all respects, are as comfortable, at the end of the year, as they were at the beginning.”

The year 1825 began, as the last had ended, in the exercise of thankfulness to our heavenly Father for the comforts we enjoyed.  After expressing my gratitude to my best friend for the mercies of the past year, and entreating His blessing and direction in the one now begun, I called the family together for worship, and spoke to them seriously on the duty of improving time, of reviewing their past life, and especially the past year, and of comparing their improvement with their privileges and enjoyments.  I reminded them that, were much is given, much will be required.  That they ought to consider what had been their shortcomings and failings during the past year, and carefully guard against them in the present; and that they should anew devote themselves to the service of God, and resolve to be His only, wholly, and forever.

At 11, the annual meeting of my congregation was held in the church.  It was opened by a sermon, in which I pointed out the mutual sympathy and assistance of the various members of the human body, and showed that the members of all societies, and especially religious societies, should follow their example, and assist and comfort one another.  When the accounts were settled, it was found that all the church debts had been paid.  A contract was then made with Mr. Kid to erect the gallery without delay.

The early part of this winter was mild, but it became colder as it advanced, and the snow became deep.  In my anxiety to visit every family, even in the most retired corner of the settlement, I made many unpleasant journeys.  One of these was on the 2nd day of February.

I had given notice of an examination at the house of Wm. Anderson in Burgess, an out of the way place, and far from any public road.  When the day arrived a snowstorm raged over the land.  The first half of my journey was difficult, even on the ferry road, but after I got upon the Otty Lake it was more difficult still, as I had no track, and the snow was at least two feet deep.  My progress was slow, and though the day was cold Kate was very warm, being to the belly at every step.

On reaching the place she had no shelter, but the side of a wretched shantie, the only building yet erected.  Indeed I was little better off myself, for a more miserable hut I never was in; and it smoked so abominably that we had to sit with the door open all the time.  Even when the gass from the green timber on the fire brought tears from my eyes. The roof being covered merely with hemlock boughs, the heat of the fire melted the snow, which came down over us in rain, so that a dry spot to sit could not be found.  The inmates of this wretched hovel were much to be pitied.  Mrs. Anderson was at the time in delicate health, and after long illness, died no doubt from cold and exposure in this hut.

Next week I held an examination at Donald Campbell’s, in Drummond, which, as usual, was well attended.  On setting out in the afternoon, for home, Kate being very cold set off at full speed, and before I could bring her up, she beset the cutter and threw me out with great violence, dragging me some distance on the ground, as I held on by the reins.  My right arm and face were bruised, but on the whole I was not much hurt.

What sufferings that noble animal the horse has sometimes to endure!  One day as I was returning from the country I came up to one brute beating another.  The former was named Wm. Matheson, who had two horses in a sleigh heavily loaded with wood.  One of the animals was a poor old beast little better than skin and bone.  He was unable to draw the load, and his brutal owner was beating him with a great stick sufficient to kill him.  One blow on the head nearly brought him to the ground.  I remonstrated with the savage, and he gave up beating the poor beast till I left him, when he began again, I think it could scarcely survive the treatment it received.

When people speak in a joking manner about death, they little think themselves how near it is.  One day, three years before this, returning home from Lanark, I was in some doubt about the road.  I asked a young man, named Black, if I was in the right way for Perth.  He said I was not, but he would put me into it.  Observing that he had made a considerable improvement on his farm, I asked him if he was still unmarried.  He said he was, but that he was now looking out for a wife.

I commend you for that, said I, for it must be very uncomfortable living here in the bush alone.  And besides, I added, you have no person to whom you could leave your farm, should it please God to call you out of the world.  O, said he, in a jocular way, I shall leave it to the church, if I die before I am married.  If that is your intention said I, make your will without delay, for you know life is very uncertain.  Yes, said he, I know it is, but I shall take care to make my will in time.  Knowing him to be somewhat dissipated, I gave him some advice on that subject, and then left him.

Though I did what I believed to be my duty, I little suspected, more than himself that his death was so near.  A short time after he was drowned in the river, in a state of intoxication, before he had made his peace with God.  He was crossing the Mississippi in a canoe, and went down head foremost.  It was somewhat strange that the body never rose till it was accidentally dragged up two months afterwards.

The more faithful ministers are, the more they are hated by those they find it necessary to reprove.  The truth of this I have often proved in the course of my life, but particularly at this time and from the conduct of one of my elders too.  He had lately lost his wife, at which he seemed to be overwhelmed with grief.  Seeing this I did all I did all I could to comfort him.  I wrote his wife’s obituary, preached her funeral sermon, and to him I often suggested the considerations best fitted to allay his grief.

But al the while he was deriving comfort from a source of which I was ignorant, namely from Miss Buchanan, then teaching a girl’s school in the town.  She attended Mrs. Ferguson, his former wife, in her last illness, superintended the funeral, and was very assiduous in affording consolation to the bereaved husband.  Indeed their affections were mutual, and it was evident to all who saw them, even before Mrs. Ferguson’s funeral, that her place would not be very long vacant.  After I was informed of these proceedings, I hinted to both my disapprobation of their conduct.  This gave great offence, and they soon discovered a degree of malice truly astonishing.

In a few weeks, or perhaps days, after the first wife’s death, the match was all settled; but for the sake of decency the marriage was deferred till a half a year had expired.  At the new year their union took place, when the young people in the neighbourhood treated them with a charivari.  To get quit of this troublesome company the bridegroom gave them ten dollars, and requested them to apply it to some charitable use.

The next day they gave nine dollars, (for they had spent one on whisky,) to Mr. Watson, Treasurer to the Sunday School Union, to buy books for the children.  But he hesitated to apply it to that use without Mr. Ferguson’s consent.  On referring to him he had the meanness to take back the money, which he had pretended just before to give freely for a charitable purpose.  Mr. Stewart was so indignant at this conduct that he got up a subscription of a penny each, to make up the dollar that had been spent by the mob.

As some may not know what a charivari is, a short description of this one may throw some light on the subject.  From half a dozen to a dozen young people, personating ghosts, and dressed in the most grotesque and fantastic style, entered the house about ten at night, with the rude music of bells, horns, tin kettles and dancing and singing in strains suited to the occasion.  The one who personated the ghost of the dead wife led the band, and would have been very difficult to lay, had not the ten dollars acted as a sovereign charm.  This being obtained, they all drank the health of the newly married couple, and departed peaceably.

Next Sabbath morning a scene was presented in the Sunday school, not of the gravest description, in which Glassford, our church officer, acted a conspicuous part.  Professing to be pious, though rather weak minded, he usually came early and made a fire in the stove; and when there were not teachers enough present, he took charge of a junior class.  This morning being very cold, and the teachers all late, he was ready to begin before any of them had arrived.  Thinking this a good opportunity to show what he could do, he began the business of the school at once, but in a way altogether new.

He first arranged all the boys and girls in two ranks facing one another, and then directed the boys to come and kiss the girls.  And to prevent the latter from backing out, he held them one by one till the kiss was given.

At this moment Miss Park, one of the teachers, came in, and was much surprised to find the school in a state of confusion and uproar.  Order being in some degree restored, he read out a hymn, and asked Miss Park to raise the tune, which she did.  This being finished he, with a grimace peculiar to himself, said, Come, let us pray, which set all the children to laughing; for the idea of his leading their devotions had never crossed their minds.

Miss Park rebuked them and restored order, which was no easy task, for the off appearance of their chaplain amused them exceedingly.  The prayer being ended, he told the children he feared some of them were going to hell, indeed there was some reason to think he was on the way to it himself.  But if any of them got there before him they might say that he was coming, and that he would make the fire as usual.

Though we had always considered him a simple and foolish man we had never till now seen anything like actual derangement.  But being a Methodist he, like most of his brethren, was fond of saying and doing out of the way things.

On the 7th of February we had one of these sudden changes of temperature for which this country is remarkable.  The morning was very mild and the snow melting.  I had gone to attend the funeral of Miss Adams, a young woman who had died at the age of 18 years.  On her deathbed she greatly lamented that she had not, in the time of health, made a public profession of religion, and partaken of the Lord’s supper.  The people being assembled to attend the body to the grave, I made an address to them on the duty of preparing for death in the time of health. 

As we were leaving the house Mr. Clarke’s horse, a mischievous beast, became restive, broke the reins, galloped off, upset the cutter, threw out the riders, demolished another sleigh with which he came in contact, alarmed the whole company, and nearly killed a young woman by running her over, when he was at last driven up against a fence and secured.

Ten sleighs, besides cutters, all well filled, carried the attendants.  Never had such a sight been seen here, though it would have been nothing strange in the old settlements, where sleighs are plenty, and such things common.  Our progress to the burying ground being slow, we were almost frozen by a Northwester, which had just sprung up and lowered the temperature more than twenty degrees.  Soon after the coffin was laid in the grave the wind blew most piercingly, which made the people run to their sleighs and gallop off without loss of time.

Though it was attended with much labour, yet the pastoral visitation of my congregation was a duty I never neglected.  It extended over four townships, and was performed regularly every year.  None of my services, I am satisfied, was attended with more pleasure to myself and profit to my hearers.  The annual examination of my congregation was another duty - which was never neglected.  It afforded me great satisfaction to observe that these exercises were uniformly well attended.  Many told me that the plain and simple explanations, both of doctrine and duty, which I gave them on these occasions, were of more real benefit to them than sermons I preached to them from the pulpit.

Those of my elders, who had never been in that office before, I found had, in some instances, imbibed very erroneous notions respecting some of their duties.  Two of them, in particular, instead of assisting, greatly embarrassed me.  They denied my authority to exercise any part of my ministerial office without consulting them, though this was impossible in many cases when I was called upon to officiate 10, 15, or 20 miles distant from them.

Just before the sacrament in March, when I had met about an examination of all the communicants, these men not only found fault with what I was doing, but endeavoured to make others discontent.  Yet at the communion I was surprisingly supported, and enjoyed much of the divine presence.

On Saturday evening I felt uncomfortable, and everything around me seemed to have a dark and gloomy aspect.  Yet joy came in the morning of the Sabbath, and the day turned out to be one of the most delightful I had ever experienced.  Nor was this all.  For some days afterwards I enjoyed a happier frame of mind than I had done for months before.  This caused me to sing,

The Lord can clear the darkest skies,
Can give me day or night,
Make streams of sacred comfort rise,
To rivers of delight.

About a week after, namely on the 17th of March, the snow being all gone, I had a walk in the garden for the first time since spring commenced.  The day was fine, my health good, and my mind in a cheerful condition.  I gratefully adored my heavenly Father, the source of all my happiness, and the object of my warmest affection.  What a heaven upon earth, could I always entertain such feelings!  The troubles of life, and even death itself, could not then disturb our mind, or destroy our peace.

In Scotland it is reckoned very unlucky to have a dispute with the minister, and no one is ever expected to thrive who has injured any of them.  Though no way superstitious, yet it is too remarkable to pass unnoticed, that every person in this settlement, who has injured me, has come to ruin.

A case of this kind occurred in the summer of 1825.  The elder who had been most guilty in vexing me, and disturbing the peace of the congregation, had 30 acres of hay burnt by a spark from the pipe of one of the men.  He lost horses and oxen, some by accidents and others by disease, to the amount of £100; a number of law suits, in which he was involved, went all against him, involving him in ruinous expenses; a valuable raft of timber, on its way to Quebec, was seized by the government, and, though last not least, such were his domestic troubles that for relief he turned his children out of doors.

The applications made to a minister are very various, and sometimes perplexing.  On the first of April I met a man who told me that he was in trouble, and that of a peculiar kind.  His son, who was our precentor, was proposing to marry a young woman whom he, the father, did not like, and whom he called a very ugly name.  He also objected to his son being recognised as a member of the church, on account of his disobedience to his father; and presuming to fall in love without his consent.  He said he would, with pleasure, follow his son to the grave sooner than he should form a connection with the person in question.

As the son was of age to judge for himself, and I knew the young woman to be a very suitable match for him, I felt shocked at this observation of the old man.  I told him that this was a very unfeeling expression sometimes used by foolish parents, influenced more by false pride than a desire to promote the happiness of their children.  I reminded him, moreover, that he had lately followed one of his children to the grave, and might have to follow another to the same place sooner than he either wished or expected.  That if he would preserve parental authority from contempt he must be aware of stretching it too far, as the young had rights and feelings as well as the old. 


The want of rain was much felt this summer.  In harvest the ground was so dry that every fire, lighted out of doors, ran over the ground in any direction the wind happened to carry it.  Mr. Jackson, one of my neighbours, had all his crops burnt, besides about thirty cords of firewood.  Fires were running in all quarters; but it fortunately happened that, at this time, there was little or no wind; so that the damage was not so great as it might have been; for the wood were on fire from the Atlantic to the Mississippi.  So dense was the smoke for more than a week, all over the country, that the steam boats would not make their regular trips, and both man and beast became sick.  But a dead calm prevailed, or the country might have been ruined.

The province of New Brunswick was less fortunate.  While the fires were in the woods there, a hurricane rose, which carried the flames, like a fiery deluge, over the country with incredible rapidity laying everything combustible in ashes.  Houses, stores, barns, lumber, ships, crops, standing trees, and even the vegetable soil were consumed.  The number of persons destroyed or wounded was great, amounting to several hundreds.  Even those spared had lost their dwellings, cattle, clothing, furniture, food, and at the commencement of a long and rigorous winter.  But the nature and extent of their calamity touched the heart of the benevolent, and in almost every part, not only of the British colonies, but in the United States also, liberal subscriptions were made in money, clothing, and provisions, both by the government and by individuals.

Though we suffered no such calamity, yet our gardens and fields were ac dry and parched that many plants died, and vegetation was at a stand.  When the soil was turned up a cloud of dust ascended as from a heap of ashes.  The fences and woods around us were so frequently on fire that we were kept in state of continual alarm.

My next neighbour, Mr. McKenzie, having thoughtlessly put fire into a rotten stump to burn it out, a gust of wind spread it over the field, by which he lost ten acres of hay and as much of oats, besides fence and fire wood.  The fire had just reached my fence when the neighbours turned out, and, with hoes and other implements, arrested its progress.  At the same time Mr. McKenzie put his oxen to the plough and drew a furrow round the outside of the fire, by which it was prevented from spreading farther.

A day or two after this, a breeze having sprung up, the fire on Mr. McKenzie's land again broke out, and destroyed the greater part of his crop.  I had two men clearing in a swamp, and burning the brush, when the fire began to run, in a short time the greater part of the swamp on fire, by which I lost many cedar posts and besides fire wood.

The men repairing the log-bridge on the Mississippi road, having fire in a stump to light their pipes, it began to run, and set the adjoining cedar swamp on fire.  The sight was terrific.  The flames flashed and crackled, and dense volumes of smoke soon darkened the air in all directions.  In the following night the fire took into the log-bridge, and before morning a large part of it was destroyed.  All that day the fire raged in the swamp, which extended a mile to the north.  Huge masses of dark smoke could be seen at Perth, three miles distant, like mountains piled on each other, spreading over the sky, and giving a murky hue to the light of day.  Showers of white ashes and half burnt leaves were falling over the town at this time, and fires were springing up in all directions there is no saying what destruction might have followed had not a kind Providence interposed in our behalf.  But just when the danger seemed greatest, dark clouds of a different description were observed gliding over the sky, and in a short time it began to rain.  Never was a shower more needed both to refresh the parched fields and to extinguish the fires, which were now raging in all directions, and threatening destruction to buildings, fences, and crops.  The rain fell thick and fast, so fast indeed that the earth, dry as it was, could not receive it as fast as it fell.  Three hours this rain continued, refreshing vegetation, and spreading universal joy over the land.  It was delightful to see the happy effects of this seasonable supply on the fair face of nature.

But what brought safety to some brought death to others.  The storm, which brought benefit to the thirsty land here, appeared along the west bank of the Otty lake in the shape of a hurricane, which destroyed crops, buildings, and prostrated the largest trees as if they had been corn stalks. 

A Mr. McDonnell and his son were mowing near the lake when the storm began.  Hail as large as pigeons eggs beginning to fall they ran towards the house, while trees were falling in all directions.  The young man reached home first, and expected that his father would soon follow.  As he did not make his appearance, after waiting some time, the mother and son went in search of him.  They had not gone far when they found him, crushed to death, under the trunk of a large tree.  What they felt, on finding his mangled remains, I shall not attempt to describe.

The sectarian zeal abroad in the world is sometimes carried even to the bedside of those about to be launched into eternity.  One night after I was in bed my servant came to inform me that Mr. McEachron wanted me to visit his wife, who appeared to be dying.  On going to the house I found the woman in a very melancholy condition.  She had been delivered of a child about a week before, and was now very ill and quite deranged.  She had been quite furious during the day, but at this time was more composed.  I talked to her some time, and at her request prayed with her.

While this was going on Dr. O'Hare came in and said he hoped there would be no prayers offered there, as he feared it would make her worse.  This surprised me, for though he had been a notorious drunkard, he had lately joined the Methodists; and as such I expected he would care for the soul as well as the body of his patient.  But I afterwards learned that it was his newborn zeal for the sect he had joined that occasioned the remark he had made.  He wished his patients attended, in their dying moments, by none but Methodist ministers.

On the last day of July, during the assizes, I attended the Chief Justice, at his request3 to visit our Sabbath school.  He expressed himself highly pleased with the appearance of the children and the report of their progress.

At this time I was suffering great pain from a large tumor under my right arm.  The inconvenience it gave me was excessive, and even in the night I could not sleep.  But patience is the only remedy for evils of this sort.  It was a fortnight before it came to a head, but when it broke I found great relief.

On the night of the 9th August, not being able to sleep from pain, I had an opportunity of seeing a splendid phenomenon.  At first my attention was attracted by the room being light and dark alternately.  The light was so clear that I started up, fearing that some house might be on fire.  On looking out at a south window I beheld a scene truly grand.  Every other second the whole hemisphere was lighted up with a splendor of a dazzling brightness.  The air was still and the night dark, except during the flash, when the whole landscape was seen as in the clearest day.

After admiring the scene for half an hour I retired to bed.  The light continued to play some time longer when distant thunder began to roll.  It approached nearer and nearer, and waxed louder and louder, till it actually shook the bed on which we lay.  The night was now shrouded in pitchy darkness, except when lighted up with the flashes, which still appeared at intervals.  The air, which before had been still, was now agitated to a state of fury, and raged and roared as if threatening to overturn everything in it’s way.  This war of the elements soon wakened all in the house.  Some lay still trembling, while some of the children jumped out of bed and came running into our apartment. Even the brutes were terrified.  Silvia, the housedog, howled with fear, and a kitten two months old screamed aloud.

On the evening of Sabbath, 25th August, when the Session met in the church, after the congregation was dismissed, we observed a man sitting, apparently in a pensive mood, in a corner of the back most pew.  On going to him to see what was the matter we found him fast asleep; so that we had to shake him well before he could be awaked.  He had walked ten miles in the morning, under a fervid sun, and being greatly fatigued he had, during the last sermon, sunk into a profound slumber.  Judge of his surprise, on awaking, to find himself surrounded by the Session, and to hear the advice given to him on the occasion.  He made no apology but left us without delay, seemingly ashamed of the error into which he had fallen.

In this world we are surrounded with dangers, and are never more unsafe than at those moments when we fear no evil.  One day as I was leaving town, to visit part of my congregation in the country, I had a fall from my horse, the first I had for twenty years past.  It was very unexpected, for I dreaded no danger at the time.  Passing Mr. Rutherford's house, the day being warm and the win-dews open, a gust of wind blew the end of a white curtain but so suddenly as to frighten my beast.  She started to one side so hastily that I came to the ground head foremost.  Though I fell upon my head I was not much hurt.  I gave thanks to God for my preservation.  This was not the first time I had escaped safe, when exposed to imminent danger.

Up to this time the settlement had been remarkably healthy, but during the summer, cases of fever and ague began to appear.  The summer had been dry and hot, yet few were sick in the country; but in the village, few families escaped without having one; two, or more sick.  This was supposed to be occasioned by the laying dry the millpond, close by the village, in hot weather.

Three of my family were laid up for some time; Ebenezer for two months; William, then a clerk with Mr. Morris, for three months, and Mrs. Bell for a still longer period.  Hers was the worst case of all.  It was painful even to witness the distress to which she was subjected every second day.  But relief came at last; and it was a relief to us all as well as to her.

In the fall of the year I learned that some enemy, with a view to injure me, had circulated a report that I had no right to celebrate marriages.  Upon inquiry I learned that it had come from Mr. Stewart, teacher of the District School.  Without delay I called upon him3 and asked upon what authority he had made such a statement.  He denied the charge, as far as I was concerned, but admitted that he had said so of Mr. Boyd.  He was a person upon whose word no dependence could be placed, and I cautioned him to be a little more careful what he said.  A few days afterwards, as he was getting over a fence, he fell to the ground, head foremost, and his tongue happening to be between his teeth at the time, he bit it so badly that Dr. Wilson had to sew it.  When he was thus employed, knowing the infirmity of his patient, and the reproof I had given him, he laughed so that he could scarcely perform the operation.  Roderic Mathieson, one of our half pay gentry I found had also been concerned in circulating this report.  When I called upon him I did not find him at home, but next day I wrote him a letter on the subject.

A short time after he set out one morning, with a sleigh load of goods, for Lanark, where he had a store.  In crossing the Mississippi River, the ice not being strong enough, he broke in, and both he and his horses were nearly drowned.  Both were got out alive, but the harness was cut to pieces, and the load, consisting of tea and broad cloth etc., was greatly damaged.

One night, between twelve and one, I was awakened by a loud knocking at the street door.  It was a crazy man as I afterwards found.  As the servant was not easily awakened I went to the door and inquired, who is there?  His Majesty, was the answer.  What does your Majesty want?  I want a night's lodging.  At the head inn, over the way, you will find good accommodation.  I have been at all the taverns in town, said he, and cannot get lodging at any of them; but tomorrow I intend to ascertain why I am treated in this manner.  I had often been amazed at the little respect shown to ministers in this place, but now my surprise ceased when I found that even the King himself could not get a night's lodging.

Some evenings after this a ragged dirty looking man, about 30 years of age, called and said he wanted to see me.  On going to him he told me that he had appointed a meeting with the gentlemen of Perth that evening, and not having any decent clothes with him, he wished to borrow a suit from me of the best I had.  I asked who he was.

He replied I am the King, or rather I am the Emperor, and having called a meeting of all the gentlemen this evening, I wish to be decently dressed.  I said the wish was a very natural one, but as I had no clothes suitable for a person of such exalted rank, I must refer him to some of his own officers, one or other of whom I had no doubt would be happy, if they believed him, to be the King, to supply his wants.

He replied that he had already applied to all the gentlemen in town, and not one of them would let him have a suit; and unfortunately all the tailors in town were so busy that not one of them had leisure to make the clothes he wanted.  I told him that this was a very unpleasant situation for a king to be placed in, but as there appeared to be no alternative, he could not do better than hold his levee in the dress he had.  This seemed to satisfy him, and he withdrew peaceably.

At our communion in December, my mind was much disturbed by the factious and rude conduct of Mr. Rutherford, one of my elders, who from a mistaken sense of duty generally found fault with everything that I, or the session, did.  His opposition was quite systematic, and was usually most violent about the time of the sacrament.  A few words I said to him at this time, on' the unreasonableness and indecency of his conduct, were taken so much amiss that he withdrew from the session altogether.  But we were better without him.

On the last day of December, when taking a review of the past year, I found that I had experienced some trials, yet I had enjoyed many comforts.  My enemies, though full of malice, had not been permitted to hurt me.  Goodness and mercy had still followed me, and I determined still to trust in the unlimited power, and in the bountiful Providence of God for the time to come, as I had done in times past.

I entered upon the New Year with similar feelings.  I was still thankful and happy under the care of divine Providence.  My wants were still supplied and my health was preserved.  Though some of the family had been afflicted, they were now all restored to the enjoyment of health.  We had food to eat and raiment to put on, and what was better than all these, a good hope through grace.

After getting up in the morning, my first employment was to bless God for his goodness to me during the past year; to pray for his direction during the present; and anew to devote myself to his service.  This being Sabbath I preached a sermon in the church suitable to the occasion.  In the evening I preached in the courthouse, and made a collection for the benefit of the Sabbath School Library.  By this means we were enabled to add a number of useful and interesting books, well fitted to engage the attention and to improve the minds of the young.

During the winter I was generally engaged two days in the week examining my congregation, or preaching at a distance from home; and many a disagreeable journey I had, when the roads were bad, and the weather stormy.  At one place, I had to engage in a public dispute with a person, on the subject of baptism, who had formerly been favourable to that ordinance but now opposed it.  He had become acquainted with Baptists, who had persuaded him that it was wrong to have his children baptised.  His wife, however, held a different opinion, and presented her child to receive baptism.

Rev. Mr. Smart of Brockville, having gone to Britain in the fall, I had to preach occasionally to his congregation in his absence.  On the 22nd January, 1826, I set out for that place, taking Mrs. Bell and daughter with me.  At Major Reade's, on our way, I preached and baptised several children, and two young women on the profession of their own faith.  Next day we reached Brockville, and had a very pleasant meeting with our friends.  On Sabbath I preached three times to attentive congregations.

On Tuesday, we set out on our way home, leaving Isabella a few days with Mr. Smart.  A snowstorm, directly in our faces during the whole day, rendered our journey very unpleasant.  I had made an appointment to preach at a farmhouse on the Rideau in the evening, but could not reach it in time.  From erroneous information we took a wrong road3 and after a long, wearisome, and fatiguing journey, of 40 miles, half of it in the woods where no human face was to be seen, we stopped at sun set at a tavern to refresh ourselves and horse.

After resting an hour we set out be moonlight having still eight miles to travel.  The storm had been boisterous all day, but now it became tremendous, and made travelling not only difficult, but dangerous, from the falling of trees or rotten limbs.  To add to our misfortunes, having no one to direct us, we again took a wrong road, and traveled five or six miles out of our way before we discovered our error.

After many difficulties we at last, almost frozen, reached our destination at 9 at night just three hours after the time I had appointed to preach.  The people had waited two hours, but now they were all gone, so that the only thing we could now do was to make ourselves as comfortable as possible for the night.  Our accommodation was homely, but few I believe, after such a day as we had experienced, would be very fastidious, if under a hospitable roof.  I was chiefly concerned for poor Kate which, after so long a journey, had to pass the night under the shelter of an open shed, in a dreadfully cold night.  Next day we finished our journey home, over a very bad road, and in a very cold day.

Before the winter was over I made a journey to Montreal, preaching at various places on the way.  In Glengary I had the pleasure of lodging with my former pupils at Rothesay, Messrs. McIntosh.  I found them comfortably settled, both there and at Montreal, as merchants, and experienced much kindness and hospitality while I remained at their house.  On the Sabbath I preached for the Rev. Mr. Christmas in the American Presbyterian Church, and spent the evening at his house in friendly conversation.  On the way home I preached at Brockville, and administered the sacrament of the Lord's supper to Mr. Smart's congregation.  At other places I preached and baptised children on my way to Perth.

The harvest before this I had a fine crop or wheat, but it cost me more than it was worth; for servants wages, besides all my own trouble.  The difficulty at that time of getting servants, their high wages, but above all their insolence, made farming in my case no way desirable.  I therefore resolved to give it up and keep to my own profession.

I shall conclude this chapter with an anecdote worth recording, though it forms no part of my history.  The Hon. Wm. Morris, at this time a member of our church, and a magistrate, was much afflicted with a pain in his ears.  He had tried various applications without effect, when an old Irish woman recommended the following, as an infallible remedy.  To put a bridle on his head and the bit in his mouth, and cause the servant to drive him every morning to the river, for six days in succession.  Each time he was to drink thrice, when the cure would be complete.  He told me that the very idea of such an odd proceeding put him in so good humour that he was greatly relieved.


On the 20th May 1826, I entered upon my forty seventh year.  God in mercy had spared my life, while many others had been called to their final account.  Some spend their birthday in feasting and rejoicing; I do not always remember when mine comes, but, when I do, I feel more inclined to retirement and meditation, than to noise and company.

During the summer we suffered much from fever and ague.  Whole families, in some cases, were laid up at once; and most families had some sick, one or more.  Not one of my family escaped.  So discouraged were some that they talked of selling out and leaving the place.  It is a vexing disorder though it seldom proves fatal.  When it continues months which it sometimes does it leaves the suffering a very debilitated state.

Till the introduction of quinine, I had baffled all medical skill that could be procured. But in the latter part of the summer it began to be used, and seldom failed to afford relief.  I escaped for a while, but my time came at last.  For more than a year I suffered either from the disease or its effects, till I was reduced almost to a skeleton.  Yet all this time I continued to preach every Sabbath, though often in a weak state.

In July I made a journey to Beckwith to assist Mr. Buchanan at the sacrament.  The weather being hot, I thought it best to set out early in the morning.  The distance was 18 miles, and the road bad, if road it could be called; but nobody in a cultivated country would call such a line of hillocks, stones, fallen trees, mud holes, and deep swamps, a road.

In these circumstances, and attended with swarms of mosquitoes, my ride was as pleasant as I could expect.  Six miles on my way I called at John McPhailts, and raised the family out of bed.  They were happy to see me, but much surprised at my early and unexpected visit.  Five miles farther on I called at James Robertson's, to inquire about the state of the long swamp; a bog about a mile across, which no horse could go through.

On arriving at this swamp, which is a dead level of black mud, covered with bushes and small trees, I sent back my horse with a boy I had taken with me from J. Robertson's3 and proceeded on foot.  But this was no easy matter from the mud and water through which I had to pass, and the myriads of mosquitoes with which I was attended.  The heat at this time was excessive, and though I carried my coat over my arm, I was drenched in perspiration.  Small trees had been cut and laid along the line of march, to keep the passenger above the mud and water, but these formed a very ticklish pathway, and a false step sent one to the knees in the mire.

Before 12 I reached Mr. Buchanan's, and at that hour I preached to about 300 people.  Being fatigued I went early to bed, expecting to get a sound sleep; but never was I more disappointed. Between bugs and fleas I suffered like an Indian captive, when his patience is tried by his enemies.  Being heartily tired of their company, I got up early, and walked about in the woods, comfortably employed in devotional exercises.  At 11 public worship began; and though we had some heavy showers they did not prevent a large congregation from assembling.  Besides preaching twice I had most of the services to perform.

Though I was greatly fatigued I returned home in the evening being resolved not to spend another night among vermin.  On reaching home, at midnight, I found that some of the wretches with whom I was surrounded had, during my absence, destroyed a great part of the board fence in front of my park lot.  Next day I had it repaired; but during the summer it was repeatedly pulled down, and generally on Saturday night.

One evening John Robson called and asked me to go with him to visit widow McTavish, who was supposed, he said, to be dying.  I went with some reluctance, for it was near night, and I suspected it was nothing more than a fit of the ague, which turned out to be the case; for before I got there she was better, and about as well as I was.  The distance was four miles, and the sun had set before I reached the house.

After spending some time with the family in conversation and prayer, I had to return home through the woods in the dark.  None but those who have made such a journey can form an idea of the encounter I had with fallen timber, stumps, and deep mud holes, before I reached Perth.  Yet all these services were performed for persons who, on the first opportunity, treated me most ungratefully.

In August, my son Andrew returned from Glasgow, where he had been attending the university for some years past.  On the following Sabbath we had the pleasure of seeing him in my pulpit, not indeed to preach, but to perform the introductory services.  After remaining a few days with us he went up to Albion Hills, in the Gore district, where he had been engaged as a private tutor for the children of John Secord Esqr., and where he remained till he was called by the Presbytery to preach the gospel.

In the autumn I was much employed visiting the sick, who were at this time more than ordinarily numerous.  At the communion, in September, many were absent from sickness, and some were taken ill in the church and had to leave it.  In the evening I was taken ill myself, passed a restless night, and was worse in the morning.  Every day I became worse till Thursday, when my disorder turned to fever and ague.

As few die of this disease the sufferers receive little sympathy from others, yet their sufferings are great, especially at the commencement.  The previous symptoms are, a severe pain in the head and back, with general debility.  After the remittent fever was formed, I had the attack only every second day.  On my well day, as it is called, I felt weak but had no sickness, and this fortunately was on Sabbath, so that I preached without much difficulty.  On Monday I was sick all day, and able to attend to nothing.

Being confined the whole week, and the Quarter Sessions being then, Captain McMillan embraced the opportunity of my absence, and applied to the court for an order to have my fence removed.  But the chairman refused to grant this without a certificate from a surveyor that it was wrong.  This he could not obtain, the surveyor having certified just the contrary.  Thus the designs of my enemies were frustrated once more.

After suffering about a fortnight I got better, and continued so about a month, when I had a new attack, but not so severe as the first.  The prospect for the settlement was now very discouraging.  Hundreds were suffering from fever and ague, with little hope of improvement.

In the course of visiting my congregation this fall, the pain of my long and disagreeable journeys was increased by my weak state, and a new attack of fever and ague, which lasted about ten days.  It was at last removed by the use of quinine, which had now come into general use, being found to be the only effectual remedy.

On the morning of the 16th December, I dreamt that our house was on fire, and that I was making great exertions with water to extinguish the flames.  This seemed to have some connection with what took place, a few days afterwards, at the Quarter sessions.  Captain McMillan being determined to leave no means untried to have my fence condemned, had applied to the Attorney General for his advice, and now laid the result before the bench of magistrates.  The Captain’s warmest friend, Major Mathieson, was at this time chairman, and though he could not do much, he did all he could to twist matters so as to get me into trouble.  But all would not do.  Two surveyors were examined, but their evidence being all in my favour, the fence had to remain as it was, to the great mortification of my opponents.  To add to their affliction the chairman himself was indicted, by the Grand Jury, for a trespass upon one of his neighbours.

At the meeting of my congregation, held at the end of the year 1826, we found the church not only finished but the debt all paid.  On the first day of January 1827, I enjoyed much happiness from the recollection of past mercies, and gratitude for present enjoyments.  In my God, who had fed me all my days, I resolved to trust implicitly for the future.

On the 4th my son Robert arrived from Brockville, to spend a few days with us, having just finished his apprenticeship.  He had served his time with Mr. Buell, as a printer, on the Brockville Recorder.  It gave us pleasure to find that he had finished his engagement with credit to himself, and no less to his master, who had used him well, and more than fulfilled all his promises.  He left us in a few days to take charge of the Gore Gazette, which was started at this time by George Gurnett Esqr.

During the winter I had weekly examinations in various parts of the settlement.  Having no horse my journeys were generally made on foot, and sometimes proved very fatiguing, and even dangerous, as in the following instance.

Near the end of January I had appointed an examination at a schoolhouse in the 6th Concession of Bathurst.  The day before, a great deal of snow had fallen; and the road was not tracked.  Yet I set out on foot, though the distance was six miles, for I was loath to fail in fulfilling my engagement.  The snow was drifted in some places from two to three feet deep, and I had to break the road at least one third of the way.  I was greatly heated by my exertions, and afterwards chilled in the cold schoolhouse, where few attended and no fire had been made till after I came.  Inflammation was the consequence; and though I got a sleigh to convey me home, I was dangerously ill for some days.

I was often mortified to find, on returning home wearied from a journey into the country, that my fence had been pulled down in my absence.  I put up hand bills offering a reward for the detection of the offender, but without effect; for the mischief was done with great caution and at the dead of night, and being at a distance from any house it could thus be done with impunity.

At our communion in March the number of members present was greater than at any time before, and I had much comfort in addressing them.  But in the following week, having got cold, I had a new attack of fever and ague, which was the most severe I ever had.  My sufferings were great, but quinine, as before, by the blessing of God, in a short time, afforded me relief.

But this was only temporary, for a few days after Mrs. Bell and I were both taken ill, she a great deal worse than I was.  In the evening, after the fever was somewhat abated, I tried to read, but it would not do.  But I was able to walk a little in the garden, where I felt sweetly resigned to the God of all my mercies, and was led to say with Job, Have I received good at the and of God, and shall I not receive evil also?  For many weeks we were seldom free from this disorder.


At the first of May, William and John, being twenty-one years of age, were out of their time with their respective employers.  The former remained with Mr. Morris at a salary of £50 a year, but the latter was engaged as a clerk by Mr. Peter McIntosh, a merchant in Montreal.

On the 12th May I received a letter from Mary McVicar, formerly one of my scholars in the Sabbath school when I was in Rothesay, with the very gratifying intelligence that the religious instruction which she had received from me had been, by the blessing of God, the means of introducing her to the enjoyment of religion.  And not her alone, but some others whose names she mentioned.

This gave me great encouragement to persevere in sowing the good seed in the youthful mind.  For a while it may lie under the clod, but in due time, if moistened by the Spirit of God, and warmed by the sun of righteousness, it will spring up and bring forth the fruits of righteousness to the praise and glory of God.  This information was not only gratifying to me, but it ought to encourage all who are now sowing in hope, that in due time they shall reap abundantly, if they faint not.  The divine command is, In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand, for thou knowest not whether shall prosper this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.

Though I had suffered much from ague for some time past, it was matter of thankfulness that it had never prevented me from preaching on Sabbath.  I either had no attack on that day, or it was in the afternoon, after public worship was over, till the 13th May, when I was attacked in the pulpit.  I felt the fit coming on while I was preaching, yet I could not bring myself to omit any part of the service.  I hurried on and got through it in the usual way, but was cold as ice, and began shivering before I had finished.  I had much difficulty to get home, and was very sick all the evening.  I was at this time reduced almost to a skeleton, as were many others afflicted as I was.

Quinine being applied as before it had the desired effect, and I was for a fortnight relieved from this dreadful scourge.  But near the end of the month I had another attack, still more severe than the former.  During the fever, in this instance, I was insensible for some hours, and suffered dreadfully, in imagination, from a struggle with certain invisible beings that crushed me to the earth.  This however was the last attack for some years, the quinine having effected a cure.  What a mercy that there is a remedy for such a dreadful disease.

On Saturday, 14th July, very early in the morning, accompanied by Mr. Holliday, one of my elders, I set out for Beckwith, to assist at the communion.  The first 12 miles we got along very well.  But the swamp at McLellan’s was very bad, and we got through with difficulty by driving our horses before us.  This swamp was only half a mile, but the long swamp, a little farther on, was a mile across and worse to pass.  We were told however that at a particular place it might be passed, but after making the attempt, and nearly losing our horses, we were forced to turn back and leave them at the next farmhouse.  We then proceeded on foot and waded the swamp.  The heat was excessive, and the mosquitoes annoyed us exceedingly.

At 10 we reached Mr. Buchanan’s, and at 12 I preached to a large congregation.  In the afternoon the heat and fatigue made me sick, so that I was forced to go to bed; but a cool breeze in the evening revived me, and I got up.  Next day at 11, I preached to a very attentive congregation of 300 people.  The other services Mr. B. and I divided between us.  The communicants amounted to 130.  After preaching the concluding sermon, on the excuses people make for neglecting religion, we returned home, and reached Perth at 10, very tired.

At this time our Union Sabbath School was in a very prosperous condition.  About 80 scholars usually attended.  On Sabbath, 19th August, the Judge of Assizes, Attorney General, and other strangers in town, visited this school in the courthouse, and expressed much pleasure at seeing the number and respectable appearance of the children.  Next morning, at the opening of the Assizes, the Judge, in his charge to the Grand Jury, said it afforded him much pleasure to find the jail without prisoners, and the district without crime.  Such are the happy effects of moral and religious instruction.

After our communion in September I made a missionary tour to Kingston, York, Niagara, and other places in the upper part of the province, in order to ascertain the state of religion in these, and if possible to organize a Home Mission for the supply of destitute places.

At York, now Toronto, a meeting of Presbytery was held, at which Andrew, my son, was licensed to preach the gospel, and then sent on a mission to Streetsville.  After preaching at a variety of places, visiting the famous falls of Niagara, and my son Robert, then at Ancaster, I returned home to Perth.  On the following Sabbath I had a large congregation, and never did I feel happier to see their faces and lead their devotions.

The annual visitation of my congregation was now resumed, an employment I have always found both pleasant and improving to all parties.  The hearty welcome, and the kind treatment I always met with, rendered the labour not only light, but pleasant.  To a minister, who loves religion, it is a delightful employment to offer Christ and the blessings of salvation to perishing sinners.

The return of the anniversary of my marriage, 13 October, reminded me of the flight of time.  How swiftly have twenty-five years passed away.  How swiftly have twenty-five years passed away.  Changes have taken place and afflictions have been endured, yet I can still say, Goodness and mercy have followed me thus far, and I trust will follow me all my days, and that I shall dwell in the house of God for ever.

It was about this time I learned that Mr. Mathieson and Captain McMillan, inconsequence of my refusing to baptise their illegitimate children privately, had been employed for some months getting signatures to a petition for a minister from the Church of Scotland.  The highland people they engaged with the assurance that he should be one who would preach to them in Gaelic.  In every congregation there are discontented people, and lovers of change, and the signatures of these they readily obtained.  But those who knew their motives for all this zeal refused to support their project.  Some thought that though Mr. Morris kept in the background he was at the bottom of the plot, for he had subscribed £100 for the building of the church, and £10 a year for the support of a minister.

At this time I had a numerous Bible Class, which met in the church every Sabbath after public worship was over Mr. Holliday, one of my elders, was one of those old fashioned folk who think it a sin to sing anything but the psalms of David; and because I used hymns in the Bible Class, he tried to raise a rel1ion in the congregation.  And strange to tell, he found some who joined with him in a complaint to the Presbytery for using these hymns.  But when it came before them, it was not only dismissed as groundless, but the complainants received a serious lecture on the mischievous course they were pursuing.  They were cautioned to beware how they disturbed the peace of a Christian community, threw obstacles in the way of the religious improvement of the young, or weakened the hands of a minister in the discharge of his duty.

On the morning of 1st January, 1828, I rose early to review the goodness of God to me and mine during the past year, and anew to devote myself to his service.  Another year had commenced, and my life was still spared.  It was my fervent prayer that it might be spent in promoting God's glory.  At the meeting of the congregation which followed, Mr. Holliday did all he could to promote discord and division on the subject of the hymns; for which he was severely censured afterwards at a meeting of the Session.

At the end of 1827 my son William, having left Mr. Morris, went to Montreal and procured goods to commence business on his own account.  On the 13th January he returned with 13 loaded trains, and soon after opened a store in which he succeeded far beyond expectation.  In the following May John left Mr. McIntosh and joined him, when they carried on business together.

This winter I had more marriages than any winter before.  But the examinations were what kept me most busy.  The congregation was now large and spread over a wide extent of country, so that I had to labour much and travel far.

March 9th, our communion Sabbath, being a fine day the church was very crowded.  About 150 members were present.  I saw it would be necessary next time to exclude all but the members from the floor of the church.  During the last prayer a disturbance took place in the gallery, by two dogs fighting, which caused a very unpleasant interruption.  In consequence of this, before dismissing the congregation, I spoke of the impropriety of bringing dogs to the church, and cautioned all to guard against it in future.  We never admit any other domestic animal to the church, and why should we admit dogs?

On the 21st March Mr. Stewart's printing press arrived from Montreal.  Next day he was tell­ing his neighbours that the instrument of destruction was come.  It was the first instrument of the kind that ever Perth contained, and in his hands, a most mischievous one it proved to be.

Being invited to an evening party, on the 26th, by Mr. Fraser, a half pay officer, we agreed to go, not knowing what occasioned it.  After we got there we found that it was a christening.  The family belonged to the Episcopal church.  The christening was followed by a ball, a sequel we thought not the most suitable.  About 60 were invited, and the evening being fine, most of them attended.  Dancing was kept up with great spirit by the younger part, while the older, among whom was the Episcopal clergyman, were diligently employed at the card table.  The supper was splendid, as no expense had been spared.  This I thought unwise, as our entertainers had a large family, and were often in debt.

One day on going into my son's store I found a man half drunk, who at once began talking to me about the Devil, in such a way as induced me to ask if he had ever seen him.  He said he had not, but his grandfather had.  But you must understand, said he, that there are various kinds of devils in the world.  There are cross devils, obstinate devils, sulky devils, and I know not how many others besides.  And when these get into our wives, there is the devil to pay, and that you know is no easy matter.

I observed that he spoke so feelingly on the subject it was probable he knew some thing of it by experience.  Laying his hand on his breast, he heaved a deep sigh, and acknowledged that he did.  But, added he, you are not to suppose that I have a bad wife after all.  No, no; though she pulls my hair, and kicks my shins, when the devil gets into her, yet, upon the whole, I believe I have one of the best wives in the settlement.  I told him to be thankful for the many good qualities she possessed, and try to keep the devil at a distance from her.  He said it was customary in former times to send for a minister to lay the devil, but he had generally found a good stick to answer the purpose well, when all other means failed. 


The spring of the year was employed as usual in the various duties of my office.  In May, I commenced a series of lectures on the Constitution, Discipline, and Unity of the Primitive Church, which I continued for some time once a month, with a view to have my congregation better informed on these subjects.

In July, having to assist Mr. Buchanan at the sacrament, Mrs. Bell went along with me.  We had to walk the whole way, 18 miles, the road being still encumbered with trees the effect of a late storm, so that a horse could not pass.  The water too was so deep in some of the swamps that we to take off our stockings and shoes and wade through.  On Sabbath I was sorry to find that the congregation was smaller, and the communicants fewer, than on former occasions, in consequence of some misunderstanding between Mr. Buchanan and them.  Most of them remained to hear the evening sermon, and I never preached with greater pleasure, nor was listened to with greater attention.

On our return home on Monday, we found both John and Isabella sick and in bed, with ague and fever, as it appeared to us; but John's turned out to be a fever of a more dangerous nature.  He was restless, and during the following night he got worse.  In the morning Dr. Wilson bled him, and prescribed what medicine he thought suitable.  For more than a week we attended him day and night, suffering severely.  But more days were allotted him and after some time he recovered.

In August, when the weather was very hot, the settlement became very sickly.  The sickness however was not confined to our neighbourhood; but over all the continent of North America, it was the sickliest season I had ever heard of.  One day I had been attending a funeral, while the heat was excessive, and coming home very sick, found all my family sick and in bed.  The next two months scarcely any of us was a day well.

But we were no worse than our neighbours, if that was any consolation.  Though there were some sick in every house, all around us, I was seldom well enough to visit any of them.  Yet I preached every Sabbath, though reduced to a skeleton,  and in a very weak state.  As soon as the hot season was nearly over, I began the annual visiting of my congregation at their own houses.  On this occasion it was like visiting a hospital.  In the Scotch line for instance, I traveled and visited ten miles, and found only one family all well.  In some houses there was scarcely one well enough to attend on the rest.

At our communion in September, not more than 80 members were present, and but a small congregation.  Upon the whole it was a very discouraging time.  On the following day I went to visit Mr. McPherson's family, now suffering under lake fever.  As I staid some time with them, there is reason to fear that I caught the infection.

Next day both Mrs. Bell and I were confined to bed.  This was the commencement of a long and serious sickness to both, not soon to be forgotten.  Sickness, during harvest, prevailed to such an extent, that on some farms, the crop rotted on the ground for want of hands to cut it down.  Most of our immigrant population were greatly discouraged, and not a few of them talked of returning to their native land.

My determination to maintain the discipline of the church, without respect of persons, had given offence to some of our gentry whose conduct was not so good as it should have been, and consequently had exposed them to censure.  The malice which a few of these discovered gave strong evidence of the depravity of the human heart.  I might preach against vice in general terms as long as I pleased, that is in terms that would touch nobody.  But if I preached against any particular vice, an outcry was immediately raised that I was personal.

Such was the conduct of some of these people, that it was impossible faithfully to discharge my duty, and at the same time avoid giving them offence.  Like Israel of old, if I would only speak smooth things, they would be pleased, but if I dared to reprove vice, they would not endure it.

Such were the persons who first formed the plan of applying to the established Church of Scotland for a minister.  Two of these leaders, in addition to profane swearing, had children by their own servants.

As the winter approached the health of the settlement began to improve.  At our communion in December, though the weather was very unfavourable, we had 110 members present, and a large congregation.  At the end of the year we all found ourselves in better health and circumstances than we either expected or deserved.  From a grateful heart I could still say, Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, etc.

At the beginning of 1829, to be still spared, and to enter upon a new period of time, with a prospect of still preaching to perishing sinners, and of making known to them the way of salvation, appeared to me a new call for humility and self consecration to the service of God.  With a grateful heart I gave thanks to God for all his kindness to me during the past year, and implored his protection and blessing during that on which I had just entered.

I must here notice a little matter, which led to a very important and, in some respects, painful consequences.  A wretched paper called the Independent Examiner, had for some time been published in the village, by John Stewart, teacher of the district school, in which articles of the most scurrilous character were published, which produced much mischief and ill will among neighbours.

Among other things of a demoralizing nature, an article had appeared purporting to be copied from an Irish paper, openly advocating the profanation of the Sabbath.  I had hitherto used every means in my power to promote the proper observance of the Sabbath, and not without good success.  Still, however, there were a few in the village that could scarcely be kept within decent bounds.  After the appearance of the above-mentioned article, which evidently had the approbation of the editor, things began to get worse, and the profane became more bold and impudent.

Take the following as a specimen.  On the afternoon of Sabbath, 8th February, a great number of sleighs, filled with the irreligious part of our population, drove about the streets in a shameless manner.  At one time 18 of these carriages might be seen in a row, producing noise and setting an example very annoying to the peaceable and orderly portion of the community.  Among the carriages were those of Mr. Morris, our representative in the provincial parliament, as well as that of the Sheriff, and several of our magistrates.  When the very men whose duty it was to suppress these disorders set such an example, what could we expect from others?

Fearing what might be the consequence, if so glaring a breach of decorum were suffered to pass unnoticed, I, on the following day, wrote an article animadverting on the conduct of those who thus profaned the Sabbath, and sent it to the Examiner for insertion.  On its appearance, next day of pub­lication, it produced no small stir among the Sabbath breakers.  But instead of being ashamed of their conduct, they sought revenge.  Accordingly, in next week's paper, there appeared two articles of a very abusive kind, but well corresponding to the character of the vile publication which contained them.  The comments of the editor showed that, if he was not the author of these articles, they had at least his hearty approval. 

Early Artistic endeavors of William Bell and his wife Mary Black.


In a letter to the Trustees of the district school, I complained of this conduct of their teacher; but instead of obtaining any redress, they gave him my letter and encouraged him to prosecute me for libel.  This he was very happy to do, and still more to obtain a verdict in his favour with £ 5 damages.

The amount however mortified him exceedingly.  His damages were laid at £ 500, and to have them reduced, and by his own friends too, to the hundredth part of that sum, was anything but flattering.  But it may be asked, How did he obtain a verdict at all, I will tell you.  He was an Orangeman, the sheriff, who selected the jury, was an Orangeman, and they of course were Orangemen.  If ever there was a packed jury this was one.  The result filled every virtuous mind in the settlement with disgust, and showed that in wicked hands the administration of justice may be converted into an instrument of oppression.

Stewart would not have dared to act as he did in this affair, if he had not been secretly encouraged by some, who kept in the background.  A friend, who had the best means of knowing, told me that Stewart was only a tool in the hands of others, end that those to whom I had looked in vain for redress, were in fact his abettors in the whole proceeding.  It now flashed upon my mind that a great pert of those who had been reproved for Sabbath profanation belonged to the families of the Trustees of the district school, or were more or less connected with them.  This will account for the treatment I received through the whole affair.

Stewart being thus encouraged had, for some time before this, in almost every paper he published, made some attack, or bestowed some vile abuse upon me.  But not satisfied with this, he and his friends prepared and published a small pamphlet of a very wicked and malicious character, a copy of which was sent to every member of my congregation through the post office.  The most diabolical part of this transaction was the time chosen for their distribution, which was on the evening before the sacrament in June, when it was expected to do most mischief, end give most pain.

In this state of things I was advised to prosecute Stewart for libel, which accordingly I directed Mr. Badenhurst to do.  By means of a demurrer which he put in, he got the case delayed more than a year; but the judges of the supreme court having decided in my favour, the trial was about to take place in the court of King’s Bench when he offered, if I would stay the suit, that he would pay all costs and put an ample apology in his paper, which accordingly he did.  The immediate payment of the costs, mounting to more then £200, showed that he was backed by some person or persons more substantial then himself.  It had often been hinted to me that Mr. Morris was at the bottom of the whole affair.  Though I did not then believe this, I have since had reason to think that it was probably the case.

In August, Isby, the murderer of his wife and children, was hanged in front of the jail and courthouse.  Never did I see a criminal discover less contrition for his offence.  He grew as fat as a pig during his confinement.  This is the only execution that has taken place here during thirty years.

On Friday, 28th August, I set out for York to attend a meeting of our Presbytery.  While there we had an interview with the Governor, Sir John Colborne, on the subject of obtaining the support of government, both for religion and education.  He was very civil, made many inquiries, and appeared friendly to our object.

The same evening we dined, by invitation with Archdeacon Strachan, afterwards Bishop of Toronto.  What was the object of his extreme politeness we could not exactly see, unless it was to become acquainted with our plans, or to give us a hint that he would be happy to take us under his wing; most of the Episcopal clergy in the province, at that time, being deserters from other denominations, as was the worthy Doctor himself.

On the following Sabbath I preached at Streetsville, for my son Andrew, and spent two days among his people, after visiting the Indian village upon the river Credit.  After again visiting Toronto, Niagara, Kingston and Brockville, I reached home in safety.  Our communion was on the following Sabbath, at which about 140 members were present.

For some weeks after this I was kept busy visiting my congregation, an especially the sick, of whose at this time the number was great.  But the exercise did me good, and I met with attention and respect wherever I went.  Yet some of those whom I had traveled far to visit, behaved very ungratefully to me afterwards.  Indeed, the trials, both personal and relative, which I had lately endured, would have pressed more heavily had not the ministry of the gospel at first been my deliberate choice, and I had never repented of that choice.  I could say with Paul, None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself, that I may finish my work with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

In the course of my visiting X learned that Roderick Mathieson had been at all my people, asking them to sign his petition for a new minister.  Some had signed it through persuasion, some from a promise that he should preach to them in Gaelic, and a few from the mere love of novelty.

On Sabbath evening, after preaching at the schoolhouse in the Scotch line, I organised a Bible class; which, like the one formerly established at the church, was very successful.  Abundance of young people came forward and the schoolhouse was crowded every time we met.  But party spirit had ruined many a good undertaking.  I could not always attend myself, and though I provided a substitute, with him the people soon quarreled and the class was broken up.  About this time I also formed a Bible class in Miss. McFarlane's schoolhouse, in the middle of Bathurst.  The one at the church was now proceeding successfully.

Near the end of this year my son Robert was visited with a disorder of an inflammatory nature, from which he suffered severely for some weeks.  So alarming was his case at one time that, Dr. Wilson who attended him, called in the assistance of Dr. Thom.  They both attended him till he was well.

When the first morning of the year l820 dawned upon me, I found myself still in the land of the living, and in possession of many precious blessings.  Still I could say, Bless the lord O my soul. The principal transaction of the day was the annual meeting of my congregation at which every thing was amicably arranged.  There were no disputes and no changes proposed.

On the 22 January I went a few miles into the country to marry Duncan Ferguson.  The day was stormy, and the snow fell thick and fast; but the wedding party having a warm house, and the good things of this life in abundance, cared little for the storm that raged without.  On my way hose, the night being dark, and the new fallen snow deep, I could not keep the road, and got upset among the stumps by which my cutter was broken, so that I got it hose with great difficulty.

Some time before this we had formed a missionary society for the benefit of the back settlements where they had no preaching.  In the course of the winter I visited a number of these settlements, preached repeatedly, explained the object of our society, formed local associations, and made arrangements for future meetings.  But though many seemed pleased with our plans, yet few seemed willing to assist in defraying the expense.  After toiling about two years, and making many fatiguing journeys, for which I received in most cases no remuneration, I was at length forced to alter my plan, and confine my attention to my own congregation.

In some of these journeys I suffered severely from cold, the thermometer being sometimes from 20 to 30 degrees below zero.  The excavation and building of the locks on the Rideau Canal were going on at this time.  One very cold night, soon after passing Smith’s Falls, were a great number of mechanics and labourers were employed, an impudent Irishman, under pretence of showing me the way, got into the sleigh along with me.

After driving about a mile under his direction, he told we were wrong, and must turn back.  This was no easy matter, the road being a narrow track between high banns of snow, and no room to turn.  Both got out, and he, taking hold of the cutter, said he would help to pull it round.  Suiting the action to the word, he pulled with so great violence that he frightened my horse, and made him plunge among logs concealed by the snow, so that one of the runners was broken.

This was provoking enough, in a cold night and far from home.  But the damage to the cutter gave me less concern then my own situation, in regard to my fellow traveler, who I began to suspect had done all to detain, and perhaps rob me before we parted.

It was now dark, and I was in the woods with a savage Irishman, far from any human habitation.  Besides, I knew he had two companions coming on behind, no better looking then himself.  On getting into the path, I at once laid the whip to the horse, and took French leave of my pretended guide, regardless alike of the broken state of my cutter, and his calls to wait and take him up.  At the first house I came to, which was 20 miles from Perth, I stopped to get information.  Bore I was fortunate enough to find one of the persons of whom I was in search.  He took me to his house, about a mile distant, and treated me with great kindness and hospitality.

Next morning I was detained some hours getting my cutter repaired.  Fortunately there was a blacksmith at no great distance.  In the meantime I had a meeting with some of the people, who were glad to hear that I meant to make that (Edmond’s Rapids) one of my preaching stations.  At about 10 I started, traveled most of the day in the woods, and reached Richmond late in the evening, almost frozen.  Next day I reached Bytown, where I was happy to find that the object of my visit was already attained; Rev. Mr. Cruickshank being expected in a few days.

On my return, I preached at a variety of places, where I had left appointments.  Before I got home my cutter broke down, and I had some difficulty to get it repaired so as to reach Perth.  On reaching home on Saturday night, very fatigued after an absence of near a fortnight, I was sorry to learn that my son John, at Carleton Place, was dangerously ill; and that Mrs. Bell had gone out with the doctor to attend him.  Under these circumstances, home did not prove as comfortable as I expected.

Before the winter was done I went over the same ground again, but had some rough travelling, the snow being nearly gone.  On reaching home, after this fatiguing circuit, I felt happy and thankful that I had been able to establish so many preaching stations, in different parts of the country.  At our communion, 14 March, the church was very crowded, and about 150 members partook of the sacrament.

I have already hinted that I had some reason to think that Stewart’s prosecution was brought about by underhand work on the part of Mr. Morris.  This winter he made a similar attempt in a different quarter.  During the time he was in York, attending his duty in parliament, I received a letter in a disguised hand and signed Timothy, the object of which evidently was to involve me in a quarrel with the Hon. John Macauley of Kingston; whom it accused of libeling me in a newspaper.  At this time I had no suspicion of Mr. Morris being the author.  But after he returned from York I showed him the letter, and asked if he could tell who wrote it.  On looking in his face, as I handed him the letter, I observed that he changed colour, and appeared embarrassed.  The truth flashed upon me at once, and I saw through the whole affair.  He thought that I bad suspected him, and had come to charge him with writing the letter; and as the best way of getting out of the scrape he acknowledged it, and pretended that friendship for me had induced him to write the letter.  But this was too much for me to swallow.  It opened my eyes at once, and showed me the cloven foot.  From that time I regarded him as a genuine descendant of Judas.

As the spring advanced and the roads became passable, I again resumed my missionary labours; and many a long and wearisome journey I performed; often through bad roads and bad weather; preaching generally two or three times a day to congregations varying from 20 to 100; yet for all this labour I never received as much as would pay for shoeing my horse.


In my journal for May 20th, my birthday, I find the following reflections.  I have now lived half a century in the world, not altogether uselessly I hope, tho' not to so good purpose as I ought.  But my hope of Heaven rests not upon my works, but upon the mercy of God through Jesus Christ.  The longer I live in the world, the more need I see for adopting the publican's prayer, God be merciful to me a sinner.  Is it not strange that though I am the youngest, and was once the feeblest of five sons, yet I am the only one that has reached this age, or filled any public office?  Thus the elder sons of Jesse, goodly as they appeared, were passed by, and David chosen, though he was then only a youth, and with the sheep.  God's ways often pass our comprehension.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but He looks at the heart.  One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.  The profession I have chosen is the joy of my heart; and I only regret that I did not enter upon it sooner.

The sons of the Scotch here, were at that time, applying to the Governor in Council for a grant of land, according to the terms on which they came to this country.  I advised my sons to do the same, as their claim was equal, if not better than that of the others.  They did apply, and their request was readily granted.  They obtained 100 acres each.

In June I made a journey to Brockville to attend a meeting of Presbytery preaching at various places, both going and coming. My son Andrew returned with me to Perth, preached in Beckwith and other places, and on the following Sabbath assisted me at the communion.  The day was fine and the congregation the largest we ever had.  The communicants amounted to 180, which was more by 30 than at any former time.  Many sat outside, the windows being open, and others went away, not being able to obtain seats.  The services were solemn and refreshing to many, and on the whole it was a day long to be remembered.  In the evening my son preached again to a large congregation.

The different frames of mind which a minister experiences in preaching are sometimes difficult to be accounted for; but in some cases they greatly interrupt his comfort, as well as the improvement of others.  Ill health, or something vexing me, has sometimes so influenced my preaching that it has been almost a burden, though this was not often the case.  For some days after my son went away my spirits were low, and on the following Sabbath, during the lecture, I felt so heavy and discouraged that instead of a pleasure, as preaching usually is to me,' it was rather a burden.  During the sermon, however, which followed, I felt better, and preached with mare liberty.

In the course of this summer I made several more missionary journeys, the particulars of which will be found in the larger account of my life.  In one of these I was severely hurt by my horse falling with my foot and leg under him.  Though no bones were broken, the ankle swelled to a great size, and gave me much pain.  Yet I pressed on and fulfilled all my appointments and assisted Mr. Buchanan at the sacrament before I returned home.

On Monday I was forced to keep in bed all day, that being the only posture in which I could obtain any ease.  The thermometer at this time ranged from 90 to 95 in the shade, the heat excessive, and the mosquitoes tormenting.  On Wednesday I returned home from Ramsey, by 24 miles of the worst road I ever traveled, preaching at two places on the way.  The difficulties in this journey of six days, taking down fences and wading through swamps in my lame and sickly state.  I need not attempt to describe.  At 10 at night I reached home in a feverish state, my leg and ankle swelled to a great size and very painful.  For some days I kept in bed; being neither able to stand nor walk.

A few days after this I was informed that Stewart, who prosecuted me for complaining of his conduct, had lost the power of his right hand by paralysis.  He had a short time before lost a part of his tongue by an accident.  On the following Sabbath he sent for me to come and see his wife, who was dying of brain fever, and expressed a wish that I would come and pray for her.  When I went to his house I found him almost distracted, and crying like a child.  My interview with the dying woman was of little avail; for she was nearly past speaking, but I prayed with her, and gave her such advice as her case required.  Two days after she expired.

In the month of August I visited all my preaching stations in the country; and baptised many children.  At Smith's Palls I organized a church, and administered the sacrament.  From there I went to the front, where Mr. Smart met me, and we proceeded in a light wagon on a missionary tour to onto, 250 miles distant, preaching at various places on the way.  Our object was to visit the Presbyterians in these parts, and ascertain how they were supplied with the ordinances or religion.

On the Saturday afte4 we reached Toronto, where we met some more of our brethren.  Mr. Boyd and I went out to Streetsville, 24 miles; and assisted my son with the sacramental services.  On our return to the city a meeting of Presbytery was held, and among other business transacted, we examined and licensed Messrs. Bryning and McMillan as preachers of the gospel.  On our way home we preached at various places, taking a different road, visited the Indian settlement on Grape Island, and finally I reached Perth in safety after about a month's absence.

After my return, and the administration of the sacrament in September, at which 170 members were present, I devoted the fall of the year chiefly to missionary labours, and the annual visiting of my congregation.  In these services I suffered much from wet weather and bad roads.

The repeated attempts of the turbulent portion of the Presbyterians here, to get a minister from the Church of Scotland, were at length crowned with success.  It was an the 21st October, we first heard of Mr. Wilson's arrival in Canada.  The strict discipline of our church had become disagreeable to those who wished to live as they liked, and they were anxious to have a minister more indulgent to their foibles.  On reaching Perth and finding how matters stood; he was somewhat discouraged; but for a while, he indulged his friends in almost everything.  Two days after his arrival I called upon him in a friendly way.  I told him that, if he had come to promote division and party strife; we of course could not cooperate; but, if his objective was to promote pure and spiritual religion, he would find me a ready fellow labourer.  I concluded our conversation with the words of Abraham to Lot; let there be no strife between you and me for we are brethren.

On the first Sabbath after Mr. Wilson arrived (October 31st) he preached in the courthouse to a large audience.  The love of novelty at this time being the order of the day, some of my congregation went, but fewer then I expected.  But even in their case, it gave me pain to see those to whom I had discharged all the duties of a minister joining another congregation, avowedly in opposition, regardless of all the bonds of Christian affection, and all the pains I had bestowed on their religious instruction; and that of their children.  All means, foul and fair, were used by the leaders in Mr. Wilson's congregation to make proselytes; and; that there might be no obstacle in the way; they were all received without certificates.  This made rogues of some who never before intended it; for no small portion of those who left us did so without paying the arrears of their seat rents then due.

For some time previous to our next communion, which was on the 12th December, I felt somewhat anxious, fearing that many might be drawn away by a new preacher, and the incessant endeavours made by his supporters.  But things turned out not so bad as I feared.  My congregation was indeed less then it had been, but not so small as I had expected.  About 90 members were present on this occasion.  No elder was absent but Mr. Holliday, and this no one regretted, as he had been a pest while he remained; by stirring up mischief and discontent in the congregation.

During the winter I continued my missionary labours, and has some difficult and even dangerous travelling.  One Sabbath I preached for Mr. Buchanan who was in poor health and spirits.  His people too were trying to get a minister from the Church of Scotland, and it was painful to see how they neglected and even in some cases insulted their old minister.

Of those who take leave or assign a left my congregation not one called to reason, excepting John Robson.  He gave his reasons in writing; the principal of which was that he was dissatisfied with some of his fellow worshippers; and yet, absurd as his conduct may appear, these were the very persons going to his new place of worship with him.  While he freely censured others, he readily admitted that he had been a greater sinner than any of them; and after passing the most uncharitable judgment on the church he was leaving, he concludes by recommending candour and Christian charity to them!!  Such is the inconsistent conduct of those who discover motes in the eyes of others, but cannot see a beam in their own.

In one of my journeys, in February, I had much difficulty from a deep fall of snow.  I had left Mrs. Gray's in the morning, intending to cross the concessions to Mr. McGregor's, in Bathurst, a distance of about six miles; but after forcing my way half the distance, I had to give it up, and direct my course homeward.  Even this was no easy task, as I had to break the road all the way, 12 miles, with a high wind and the snow drifting in my face.  The evil was increased by having to get out at one place and repair part of the harness, standing up to my knees in snow.  After a new fall of snow everyone is unwilling to be the first to break the road.  But I had no alternative; I was already out and must be home.  The snow was drifted smooth: on the top, nearly as high as the fences; and to steer my way among the logs and stumps was no easy matter, and my horse could not travel faster than a walk.  Soon after noon I reached home, as cold as I ever was in my life - indeed almost frozen.

At our communion in March the weather was very unfavourable.  New snow had fallen the night before to a great depth, and travelling was very difficult.  The congregation was consequently smaller than usual, and we had not more then 50 members present.  At this time I was employed one or two days every week with the annual examination of my congregation.

The change of temperature in Canada is often great and sudden.  When we got up on the morning of the 9th of May we found the thermometer down to zero and the ground entirely covered with snow, though it had been very warm the day before.

               Mary (Black) Bell – 1846                                    Rev. William Bell – 1846

These daguerreotype photographs of William and his wife Mary, are among the earliest examples of photography in Canada.  As shown, these photographs were taken in 1846 while photography itself was only invented in 1839 – in the same year in France by Daguerre and the Calotype in England.  It is remarkable that it should have reached the Canadian Frontier at such an early date.

Photo courtesy of the Perth Museum.


At our communion in June I had the assistance of Mr. Smart of Brockville and Mr. Ferguson and my son Andrew happened to be at Perth at the same time.  The congregation was very large on the Sabbath, and at least a hundred stood outside at the open windows.  About 120 members were present.  On the following Tuesday Mr. Ferguson and I proceeded to Brockville by the way of Smith's Falls, preaching at various places as we went along.

The recent heavy rains had made the roads very bad, and the heat was almost suffocating.  Our object in going to Brockville was to attend a meeting of Synod, the business of which employed us for two days.  On my way home I had an opportunity of being present, for an hour at a Methodist Church meeting, near the road.  It was the first I had ever seen, and it certainly exceeded all I had heard, or even imagined, for extravagance and rant.  The following is a small specimen of one of the addresses delivered.

"The prophet fell down before the Lord, and I guess some of the sinners present will fall down before they go.  Come along then ye sinners and be converted, in spit of all the grog shops, and all the devils in Hell!  Some of you I have asked already, but you still hold out.  But if you want to go to Hell, no one on earth will hinder you, no one in Heaven will hinder you, no one in Hell will hinder you!  Then you may live like fools and die like devils, and in Hell you will lift up your eyes among fallen angels; fluttering their flaming wings in the fiery pit!”

The heat had been excessive, about 90, for a week past, and it continued a few days longer; but on the 22nd it became cooler towards evening; and next morning there was a smart frost which did some damage to our gardens.  This however was of short duration.  In a few days it was as hot as before.  From this I suffered much in some missionary circuits I made in the month of July; in one of which I assisted Mr. Buchanan at the sacrament in Beckwith.

By frequent preaching, in the Rideau settlement, I had collected a considerable congregation in that place.  In the month of July, this summer, I organized a church, and administered the sacrament to 26 communicants.  The congregation vas much larger than the schoolhouse could contain.  After the communion one of the members came forward to have a child baptised.  I had just finished when another came forward and requested the same privilege.  I had just concluded again when a third applied, so that I was detained much longer than necessary by this mode of application.  Indeed, before night, I had to baptise two more.  So that between the ordinance, and the previous examination of the parents; I was kept busy enough.

I had scarcely time to eat a mouthful of dinner before starting out for Smith’s Falls where, at 4, I preached to a large and very attentive congregation.  Leaving this I proceeded to Nicoll’s schoolhouse, 6 miles distant, where at 7, I preached to about 50 people.  The sun was now set, and I was still 13 miles from home, 3 and very tired; but, as there was moon light, I resolved to reach Perth before I slept; bad as the road was.

It was near 12 before I got there, and so fatigued, both in body and mind, that I could not sleep for some time after I got into bed.  This was one of the most severe days’ labour I ever had.  I had preached 3 sermons, delivered 5 addresses, administered the sacrament of the Lord’s supper once, and that of baptism 5 times, besides all the other duties connected with them.  Besides all these, I had traveled 24 miles, in very bad roads.  Few are aware of the labours of a missionary here.  This was the day on which Mr. Wilson first administered the sacrament to his newly organized church in Perth.  Missionary labours, during the heat of the summer, proved so very fatiguing that I suffered both in health and spirits.  As the communion in September approached, I felt somewhat discouraged.  The efforts made to draw away our members had been in some instances but too successful, and yet I was happy to find that more than 100 still remained.  Six new members were admitted on this occasion.  The congregation was large.

Next week I visited and preached to the new congregation on the river Rideau, and other places in the neighbourhood, and had elders elected.  In the fall of the year, when I was employed visiting my congregation, I witnessed some of the melancholy effects of the spirit of division lately introduced among us.  In some instances the husband was divided from the wife, in others the children from the parents.

In October our son William took to himself a wife, but as he had neither consulted us nor given us any previous intimation of his intention, we were somewhat displeased.  But the choice he had made turned out better than we expected, and we had good reason to be satisfied.

In November I assisted Dr. Gemmill at the administration of the sacrament in Dalhousie, at St. Andrew's Hall.  But the days being short, and the roads very bad, some inconvenience arose from the doctor very lengthy addresses.  The same thing occurred when he, in turn, assisted me in December.  His prolixity tired out everyone's patience, and caused many to go home in the dark.

In the last week of December I made a journey to Ramsay, to marry our son John, to Miss Wilson.  The ground was hard, but very rough, and the snow was too scanty to make good sleighing.  The last half of the way was across the country where there was no proper road, but through clearings, where I had to take down fences, and sometimes to get over logs or brush with no small damage to my cutter, which was but frail at the best.  Sometimes I lost the way, and had to run back.  Night came on before I got to Mr. Wilson's, and it was with great difficulty I got there at all.  After the marriage, John returned home with his wife to his own residence at Carleton Place.  My journey home next day was both difficult and perplexing, and employed the whole day.

On the following Saturday, which was the last day of the year, our congregational meeting was held in the church.  I preached a sermon on the improvement of time; after which all accounts were settled, and all arrangements made in an amicable manner.  The congregation was now entirely clear of debt.

The first morning of January, l892, being Sabbath, many serious reflections occupied my mind.  I attended the Sabbath school as usual, preached twice in town, and once at Balderson's in the afternoon, and held a prayer meeting in the evening.

At the beginning of the year I usually examined all my letters and papers collected during the past year, and destroyed those not worth preserving.  This occupied my leisure hours for some days.

This winter a Temperance society was organized in Perth.  It was the first, in this part of the province.  At our first meeting I was called to the chair, when Mr. Metcalf made an address in favour, and Mr. Harris made one against the object of our meeting.  But the friends of temperance determined to persevere, a society was formed, and 32 members gave in their names.  This was the beginning of that good work which has since been very beneficial to many; but at that time no magistrate would give it any countenance.  Since that time I have used no alcoholic liquors, and I have found the change beneficial to both body and mind.

During the winter, whenever I could be spared from home, I was diligently employed in missionary labours, or examining my congregation in different parts of the country.  For some years the Rideau settlement, and Carleton Place, with intermediate stations, were generally supplied once a month.  In some of these journeys I had miserable weather and roads to contend with.  Heavy rains, deep falls of snow, and boggy swamps; had to be got through, that appointments might be punctually kept.  One time in crossing the country, in order to save going a great way round, I had to wade some distance in deep snow; without a track, to take down half a dozen fences, and to cross a chopped field, where my horse was several times thrown down among the logs.  In winter the cold was sometimes from 10 to 20 degrees below zero; in summer the heat was at times from 90 to 95 above.

On the 28 March a meeting of the inhabitants of Perth was held to form a public library.  I was called to the chair; a constitution was adopted, and 42 members gave in their names.  We sent for books and a library was soon in successful operation.

On the 2nd April the first quarterly meeting of the Temperance society was held, when the Secretary reported an addition of 34 members, since last meeting.  I was requested to deliver an address, which I did on, the nature, the consequences, and the cure of intemperance.  The meeting was closed with prayer, after 12 new members had put down their names.

Early in the summer the cholera morbus made its appearance in Quebec and Montreal, and soon spread alarm all over the country.  In each of these cities upwards of a 1000 lives fell victims to this dire disease.  In Perth every precaution was taken to prevent its introduction.  A board of health was established, including all the ministers and magistrates in the place.  Not more than 3 or 4 died in the village of this disease.


This summer the whole country was overrun with caterpillars in an extraordinary manner.  Not only were all trees stripped of their foliage, but the field and fences, and indeed the whole face of the country was covered with them in myriads.  Fowls and birds ate them with great avidity, and soon became fat.

One evening in July I met Mr. Harris, the Episcopal minister, who, after shaking hands, complimented me on the new dignity to which I was advanced.  I was surprised, and asked what dignity he meant.  He replied, that of a grandfather!  My son William's first child having been born a few days before.  Though I was aware of this circumstance, the idea of my being a grandfather had never once crossed my mind.  After I left him I repeated the word grandfather several times, and asked myself, am I then a grandfather?  If so I must be getting old; yet my health is good, my mind active, and no grey hairs appearing.  But a change is coming.

In July as usual, I went to Beckwith to assist Mr. Buchanan at the sacrament.  The road was good, the journey pleasant; and the company agreeable.  When near the place, I came up to some of the worshippers on the road; and as we advanced the crowd increased.  Like the Jews of old, going up to the feast at Jerusalem, we went from strength to strength till we finished our journey, and were joyfully received by our friends.

By the mail of the 28 July we received a letter from our son Andrew, informing us of his wife's death.  How short lived are all human enjoyments.  They had not been married more than three months, and we never had the pleasure of seeing her.  She died of consumption.

At the Assizes in August I had the honour of dining with Judge Sherwood, and a select party of friends.  The chief, McNab, was the butt of many jokes, especially from Attorney General Boulton.

At our communion in September, though the day was fine, the attendance was not as great as usual, the fear of the cholera having kept some at home.  Eleven new members had been admitted, and about 100 in all were present.

At the next meeting of the Board of Health, Mr. Harris laid the accounts from Bytown before us.  During the month of August there had been, at that place, 90 cases of cholera, and 27 deaths.  How easily had we escaped, with 3 cases, and 2 deaths, in the same time.  The Governor had placed £500 at our disposal.  It was al1 expended, chiefly at Bytown.

For 12 years I had kept a horse; and performed an immense deal of missionary labour.  But as I had never received half as much for this as pay for horse keeping; I found it necessary to do without one, and hire or borrow one when I went into the country, giving up of course some of my more distant preaching stations.

The Synod of Canada, in connection with the Church of Scotland, had been organized in June 1831, and in October 1832, the Rev. Robert McGill, of Niagara, having seen a letter in the Watchman newspaper from me, on the subject of union among Christians, wrote me in favour of uniting all Presbyterians in the province.  He proposed a friendly correspondence among ourselves; rather than in the newspapers.  Several letters passed between us, and these in the end led to a more intimate connection.

Often do our seeming misfortunes turn out to be blessings in disguise.  The division of my congregation, by the introduction of another minister; for that purpose, gave me great uneasiness at the time; yet it eventually proved beneficial.  It relieved me from the presence of a number of restless and mischievous spirits, who had kept both the congregation and me in a constant state of excitement.  It was painful to see a division, but it led to a state of peace and quietness in my congregation; which we had not previously enjoyed.  This enabled me to pursue my studies; and to discharge the duties of my office; with more peace and pleasure than formerly.

In December I had a severe attack of a disorder to which I had long been subject.  On a Friday I had been very ill all day, and on Saturday the fear of not being able to preach on Sabbath kept me very uneasy.  When health is withdrawn all our other comforts are tasteless.  In the course of the day I tried several times to sit up; but found I was not able.  In the night I obtained some sleep, and on Sabbath morning felt so much better that I went over to the church and performed the usual services, though in a weak state.

      The happiness I felt from this contributed much to my recovery.  The habitation of God's house, ever since I have known the grace of Christ; I have loved well; and if at any time I am prevented from meeting the people of God in public, I esteem it a calamity.  In consequence of my exertions, I felt worse on Monday, and was forced to keep my bed all day, but before next Sabbath I was better.

A union with the Church of Scotland had been proposed, and was still talked of.  Mr. Wilson appeared more and more favourably disposed, and even anxious to bring it about.  On the 23rd December I brought the subject before our session, and they determined to submit it to the congregation at the next general meeting.

In review the events of the past year, I found that it had passed more tranquilly than I had reason to expect.  I bad never enjoyed more liberty and comfort in preaching.  Never was there a more attentive congregation.  I had ever trusted in the Lord and endeavored to do good; believing that, while I did so, I should dwell in the land and verily be fed.  He has never disappointed my expectations.

Reflections on the course of Providence, and the mysterious way in which I had been led, kept me awake from an early hour on the first day of the new year.  When the day began to dawn I got up and gave thanks to my God for the comfort I still enjoyed, entreated that the sins of the past year might be forgiven, and that if I was spared another year, it night be spent more decidedly in his service.

At noon the annual congregational meeting was held in the church as usual.  After all the other business was settled, the union with the Church of Scotland was discussed, and a committee appointed to carry it into effect.  Both our Presbytery and theirs had been appointed to meet on the 9th January with a view to an arrangement.  The weather happened to be very unfavourable, and both were very thinly attended. Messrs. Wilson and McAlister were the only ministers present on the part of the Church of Scotland, and they conducted themselves so haughtily, and made such unreasonable demands, that we declined to unite with them at that time.

At a dinner, after one of my examinations this winter, Mrs. McGregor told me that the kirk party laid all the blame upon me for preventing a union, though it was prevented solely by their own haughty and overbearing conduct.  They had accused me also, she said, of writing to my friends in Scotland, that only of the dross of my congregation had left my ministry, though I wrote no such thing.  She told them, if I had said so, it would have been no lie, for the leaders of their congregation could not have been received into any decent Christian society where proper discipline was observed

At the annual meeting of the Temperance society we resolved that a sermon would be preached on the subject every quarter, all the ministers in the town taking the duty in turn.  This was continued ever after.

Our son Robert was now in business at Carleton Place, as a merchant, and was doing well.  His brother James went to him this winter, as a clerk, accompanied with our fervent prayers for his safety and welfare.

The winter was busily employed in examinations, and preaching in various parts of the settlement, and on the Rideau, and many a cold and unpleasant journey I had.  Returning from an examination at James Bryce's a one evening, coming down a hill, some part of the harness gave way, and the cutter came forward on the beast's heels.  She ran off at gallop, kicking and plunging so violently that she knocked the front of the cutter all to splinters.  The danger was increased by our being on the brink of a steep precipice, over which we were every moment exposed to be thrown.  By holding on firmly till we got to rising ground, I at last brought her up, and was thus mercifully saved from a perilous situation.  At another time, in a very cold night, I had two of my toes frozen, which caused me much pain before they were healed.

On Sabbath evening, after I returned home from the labours of the day, while reflecting on the past, it occurred to me that lately I had felt more composure in my own mind, and preached more comfortably than I did before Mr. Wilson came among us.  Everyone who now attended my ministry, did so from choice; and I was not annoyed by the presence of any of those who used to come with a prejudiced mind, and for wicked purposes.

The weather in February and March being stormy, I was much employed in literary labours at home.  On the 4th March, while I was busy putting some papers in order, it occurred to my mind that this was the anniversary of my ordination, sixteen years ago.  This brought up a crowd of ideas concerning the past – the scenes I had passed through, the joys and sorrows I had experienced.  I found much cause for gratitude to my heavenly Father, whose Providence had supplied my want, and delivered me from many dangers.

An amateur theatre was this winter got up in the village.  Some of Mr. Wilson's people being engaged in it, he attacked it both from the pulpit and the press.  This procured him the most brutal abuse, both in private life and from the press, by the persons concerned.  Finding that he also was an enemy to vice, the obloquy of the viler part of the community, which I had formerly to bear; was now transferred to him.

Early in May, on an invitation from Rev. A. Henderson of St. Andrew's, I made a journey to the lower province to assist at the ordination of Mr. Shanks, a preacher lately from Scotland, who had collected a congregation in the city of Montreal.  This afforded me an interview with friends from whom I had been long separated, as well as a view of the Ottawa, and the country through which I passed, at the most interesting season of the year.  On my return, through means of Dr. Cairns, I was introduced to Mr. Gordon, a respectable farmer near Richmond, whose hospitality I often afterwards shared.

Andrew Bell was the eldest son of William. and Mary (Black) Bell, born in London in 1803, and licensed to preach in 1828, pastor at Streetsville and Dundas congregations in Ontario and later at L'Orignal, Ontario where he died in 1856.  He married three times having 2 daughters and 4 sons - Andrew, "William, a minister, Robert and John.  Quoting from -"Historical sketch of St. Andrew's Congregation, Streetsville” Mr. Bell was an accomplished scholar, and a zealous missionary, circling the country for miles, blazing his own trail and ministering to the scattered settlers in whose log houses he was ever a welcome guest.  Combined, however with scholastic attainments and missionary zeal, he had an indomitable will, and is still remembered as "Priest Bell".


On the afternoon of the day on which I returned from St. Andrew’s, my son Andrew came to us on a visit, and preached for me in Perth and other places, on the following Sabbath.  On Monday' morning we all set out for Prescott, 64 miles distant, to attend a meeting of Synod.  Ten ministers and five elders were present.  The grant of £700 a year, which had been made to us by government, was at this meeting divided among eleven ministers; giving to each rather more than £70.  Mr. Harris, Mr. Jenkins, and I declined to have any part of it.

Next Sabbath being our communion in June, I vas anxious to get home in time, and to have my son along with me for assistance.  This effected with some difficulty, from the length of the way, and the heat of the weather.  He performed most of the services.  We had a large congregation, and 103 communicants.

Before the end of June a painful event took place, in which I felt some interest.  John Wilson; since an eminent lawyer, and warden of the London district, being at that time a student; was publicly insulted and beaten by Robert Lyon, a far more powerful man than himself.  Complying too far with the false laws of honour, Wilson challenged him.

But the affair would have been arranged had it not been for Henry Le Lievre, Lyon's second, who wickedly urged them to fight.  At the second fire Lyon was shot through the body, and fell dead.  Le Lievre, who had fomented the quarrel, from a spite at Wilson, immediately fled; but Wilson and Robertson returned to town and were committed to prison.  I visited them frequently till they were removed to Brockville to take their trial for murder.  They pleaded their own cause, and so effectually, that they were both acquitted.  On their return to Perth they both called to express their gratitude for the attention I had showed them.  Wilson had not only been intimate in the family, but was a member of our church, and possessed an amiable and obliging disposition.

At our sacrament, in September, I was assisted by Mr. Smart of Brockville.  The church was very crowded and we had about 120 communicants.  Mr. Wilson's congregation, at the courthouse, was also large.  This was the first time that the communion of both churches was on the same day.

At the last meeting of our Synod a visitation presbytery had been directed to be held in each congregation, to inquire into its condition.  I had requested that they would begin with mine.  Accordingly, on the Monday after our communion, this took place.  Mr. Smart first preached a sermon suitable to the occasion.  Be then, after constituting the presbytery, explained the object of the meeting, and put a number of questions, first to the congregation, next to the elders, then to the trustees, and lastly to me.

Those questions were all answered in a satisfactory manner, and showed that the affairs of the church were in good order; and that minister, elders, trustees, and congregation, all maintained a good understanding with one another.  The Moderator congratulated all parties on the prosperity and happiness they enjoyed, and recommended that they should continue their exertions in advancing the interest of religion, and the edification of the church.  Thus the meeting ended in a most satisfactory manner to all concerned.

In the fall, while employed visiting my congregation, I had a happy escape from a serious accident.  About two miles beyond the Rideau Ferry, as I was riding smartly over a log bridge, one of the logs; being rotten, gave way, when Jess legs being entangled she fell and threw me forward on the bridge with great violence.  Falling on my side, on the round edge of a log, my hip was much hurt.  Jess too had been stunned, for she lay some time before attempting to get up.  Badly bruised as I was I felt thankful that my thighbone was not broken, for it was in much danger.  With some difficulty I mounted and got to the next house.

On the morning of our communion Sabbath, in December, when I went over to the church I was informed that Ab Ferrier, the evening before, going home from Perth drunk, had been killed by his wagon running over him.  The night was very cold, and the road rough, and there being no box to the wagon, his furious driving threw him off, and the wheel passing over his neck killed him on the spot.  I had often tried to induce this man to become sober, but without effect.  He even told me one day, after Mr. Wilson came here, that he could now take a glass in spite of me.

The same evening, just as we were sitting down to tea, we heard the cry of Fire.  On going out to the street, I saw all the buildings belonging to Worday's brewery in a blaze.  Being all wood, they were soon burnt down, and the dwelling house was only saved by pulling down a row of sheds between them.  The men had been at work all day, and one of the stoves, being very hot, had set fire to the building.  This was another warning to Sabbath breakers.

The first morning of the year l834 found us in possession of health, and many other blessings.  With grateful hearts we acknowledged the goodness of God in times past, and cast ourselves on his care for the future.  The morning was spent in preparing for the exercise of the day, and the annual meeting.  At 12, I preached from, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us, and gave an outline of the history of the congregation from its original formation, exhorting all to place confidence in God.

On the first Sabbath of February, Wilson' a new church was opened and dedicated to St. Andrew!  At our communion in March we had an addition of ten new members, all of very respectable character.

Dreams arise from a variety of causes, but acme of them without doubt are intimations of future events.  One night in April, I dreamed that Captain McMillan made an attempt to cut my throat with a razor.  The agitation and struggle woke me in time to save my life.  With this man I had had no intercourse for some time, but as he was my greatest enemy, the Devil only excepted.  I had no doubt of his being about to annoy me in same way or other.  I was not mistaken; for on the very next day he made an attempt to get me: into trouble; but thanks to divine providence, with as little success as on former occasions.

The deeds of our church property had been long delayed, but I obtained them at last, through the agency of Mr. John Wilson when at Toronto.  Attempts had been made, by the holy alliance of St. Andrew's church, to obtain the property for themselves, but all fear of their success was now at an end, for the deeds were now in my possession, and in my own name.

In looking over my register I found that, up to this date, I had since I cane to Perth married 240 couples, and baptised 744 children.


On the last day of May, the first barge from Montreal, with a load of goods for the merchants, arrived.  This was an event of some importance to the settlement, and showed the benefit likely to arise from the Improvement of the river.  It returned to Montreal with a load of wheat.

At our sacrament in June I had the satisfaction of seeing my two youngest sons, James and George, received into the communion of the church.  All the rest of the family had previously made a profession of religion.  The day was fine, and a hundred and twelve communicants were present.

On Monday morning Mrs. Bell and I set out on a visit to our son Andrew, Toronto, and the Falls of Niagara.  The morning was hot, the road rough, and the dust end mosquitoes annoying.  At the Ferry we took the steamboat to Kingston, where were detained two days in consequence of arriving an hour too late for the boat that left on Tuesday.  On Friday, however; we sailed in the Cobourg crowded with emigrants; and at 3 p.m. on Saturday landed at Toronto, where we found Captain Miller waiting with a wagon to take us to our sons house, 16 miles off, which we reached at 9 pretty tired.

Next day was fine, and I preached to my son's congregation in his new church.  He had only been a year married and his wife seemed very young.  On Monday morning one of the elders took Andrew and me to Toronto, leaving Mrs. Bell a few days with her daughter in law.  At 10 A.M. our Synod met, in the Presbyterian Church, end after a sermon from the Moderator we proceeded to business.  This was soon finished, excepting the proposed union with the other Synod of the Scotch church.  On this subject the want of Christian charity was sadly apparent. Some, who had at first been most clamorous for this union, were now against it.  Consistency is creditable to all, especially to Christians.  On Thursday I was confined all day with toothache, but Mrs. Bell being now come I took her to see the infant school, which pleased her much.

On Friday morning having settled all our affairs, we sailed in the Great Britain for Niagara and Queenston, where we landed at 4 p.m. and by the coach proceeded to the celebrated falls.  The evening we spent in viewing the cataract and the scenery round it; and, in the dusk of a fine evening, returned to the house of the Rev. Mr. Russell at Stamford, where we remained for the night.  Early next morning walked down to Queenston, crossed at the ferry to the American side, and spent part of the day at Lewiston.  At 2 p.m. we again embarked, calling at Niagara and Toronto, and next day we were landed at Kingston.  From this we made the best of cur way home, by the canal, where we found all safe and well.

On the first Sabbath of July, in the afternoon, I preached the quarterly Temperance sermon, in the courthouse.  The attendance was large, and it was evident from the number of new members that the cause was prospering.

The weather at this time was very hot, and the cholera was raging in the lower province, and along the line of travel in the upper province.  Quebec and Montreal had already suffered severely, but this for some time was concealed, and even denied by the newspapers of these cities, to prevent injury to trade.  But at length the truth had to be told, and alarm quickly spread over the land.  In the summer of l832 the number of deaths in Montreal was about 1200; in Quebec 1400.  In l834 the accounts varied from 1000 to 1200 in each of these cities; at all places along the navigable waters in about the same proportion.  No decided case of cholera occurred in Perth, but there were five or six deaths not far from it; two of them connected with my congregation, on the Rideau Canal.  Fears were entertained by many that the disease would spread through the country, but happily this did not take place.

Our comforts often destroyed by apparently trifling causes, and the meanest insect may be commissioned to give us pain, or even to take away our life.  One night I was awakened by an excruciating pain in my right ear, as if something were boring into my very brain.  The noise I made soon wakened the whole family, and Mrs. Bell wanted to send far the doctor.  I desired her to drop a little spirit of some kind into my ear, as the best means of destroying the creature that was tormenting me.  She did so, and it soon became still; but all attempts at that time to get it out proved abortive.  After daylight we renewed our endeavours, and it was at last extracted with a pair of slender forceps, and proved to be a brown winged beetle, half an inch long.  So sensitive and delicate is the interior of the ear that the scratching of its class gave me pain 24 hours after it died.

The improvement of the young has always been with me a favourite object, and though my endeavours have generally been attended with success, yet in every case I have had to contend with opposition, not from the enemies of religion, but from its professed friends.  Our Bible class was in a prosperous condition; and numerously attended, when Thomas Nichol, one of our elders, who had been an Antiburgher at home, and very troublesome, took great offence at the hymns and tunes we sung, and said we were introducing innovations into religion, and using vain repetitions.  This man for some years gave me more trouble then all the rest of my congregation.

In the fall of the year, the ground being very dry, fires were frequent all over the country, and many had damage done to their fences, crops, and fire wood.  The firewood we lost in this way would have lasted a year.  While visiting my congregation; so great was the heat that I suffered much from sickness.  One of these days, travelling all the afternoon in a drizzling rain, my clothes were wet through.  Returning home late in a very dark night'.  I became chilled with cold.  I had not been long in bed when I dreamed that I lay upon a brush heap, with a sharp pointed stick hurting my side.

As the pain increased, it soon woke me to the reality of my situation.  Inflammation had commenced, attended with a burning pain in my right side.  My restless tossings soon awoke my wife, who gave me all the assistance in her power.  All remedies for some time proved inefficient, as nothing would remain on my stomach.

For some hours I suffered severely. Towards morning I obtained some relief, but more than a week elapsed before I was as well as before.  Next Sabbath being our communion in September, I had fortunately engaged the assistance of Dr. Gremmill.  I was however preset all the time, and performed part of the services myself.  The day was fine, and we had a large congregation, besides 130 communicants.

A shower of rain had checked the fires in the woods; but so dry had the ground been, that they soon broke out again.  One of these was raging in extensive cedar swamp close by our house, and presented an alarming appearance.  In the evening a breeze sprung up, and carried a sea of fire over the whole swamp, destroying the timber and bushes on more than a mile square.

The appearance it presented, after sunset, was frightful.  It blazed like an immense furnace; rolling up vast masses of dark smoke to the sky.  The crackling of the fumes was terrific, and their sullen roar through the stillness of the night, was like that of the ocean.  Next day we found that the log bridge was on fire, and much damage had been done.

About this time my old adversary, John Stewart, teacher of the district school, had some difficulty with the trustee, and lost his situation - a situation he had long disgraced by his puerile and foolish conduct.  Be had done more to corrupt the minds and morals of the youth of the place, than any other person that had ever been in it.

At this time I proposed to have the monthly concert for prayer established among us.  I spoke to the Methodist minister on the subject, who readily gave his assent and co-operation.  But when we applied to Mr. Wilson he made excuses, and said he was not at liberty, at present but he would not lose sight of it.

Our communion Sabbath, 14th December, exhibited one of those sudden changes of weather for which the American continent is distinguished.  The former day had been as remark-able for mildness as this was for severity.  It was about the coldest day I ever felt, and detained some of our people at home.  A few, who had to go against the wind, had their noses and ears frozen.

Mr. Cameron, the writer of the scurrilous articles, attacking me, that appeared in Stewart's paper was now upon his deathbed.  He had been dissipated for years, but latterly had become a confirmed drunkard.  This ruined his health, and brought him to the brink of the grave.  His mother, who was a widow, invited me to visit him.  I did so frequently till his death, but he gave no decided evidence of repentance.

For many years past I had preached occasionally in a school house at Balderson’s corner, six miles from Perth; but the people in that quarter had now built a church, and in it Mr. Wilson and I preached alternately every Sabbath afternoon, though all we received for our trouble was scarcely worth notice.

When the church under Mr. Wilson was first organized, all who offered were received, good bad and indifferent, and for a while all went on swimmingly.  But by and by it became necessary to exercise discipline, and then rebellion broke out in all quarters; and those who brought the minister here were now most anxious to get rid of him.

The New Year found us still happy, and thankful for the numerous blessings we enjoyed.  At 11 I preached as usual to the annual meeting, and then we transacted our ordinary business with good feeling on all sides.  Among other things, we agreed to establish a congregational library.  In the afternoon Mr. Wilson preached his famous temperance sermon on the sixth commandment, which gave so much offence to his friends.  At the meeting afterwards held, I was appointed president for the year, and 30 new names were added to the list of members.

On the first Monday in January we observed the monthly concert for prayer.  About 100 attended, and took a deep interest in the exercises.  Thus was fulfilled what had been long the desire of my heart; and we joined with thousands of our fellow Christians, in other parts of the world, in supplicating the throne of grace for the success of the gospel both at home and abroad.

The dissentions in Mr. Wilson’s congregation were now becoming worse and worse.  He, from the pulpit, described the church as corrupt, and containing members destitute of religion.  The genteel part of his congregation considered this as directed against them, and loudly complained of his personalities.  They told him that, if improper persons were members of the church, he and his Sessions had introduced them, and their duty was, without delay, to remove them.

On the 28th January, a congregational meeting was held in the church, which proved the stormiest ever held there.  A constitution, prepared by Mr. Morris and his party, had been condemned by the Presbytery; and this meeting had been called, by Mr. Wilson and the Session, for the purpose of adopting one prepared by them.  After much contending between the parties, they separated, worse friends then ever.

This winter I commenced writing a series of discourses, all in Scripture language; on the doctrines and the duties of religion; but as they took up much of my time, and being much occupied with examinations, I got few of them finished.

One night, near the beginning of March, the house of one Armstrong, an Irishman, four miles from Perth, was burnt to the ground, with all it contained; the inmates barely escaping with their lives.  The evening had been very cold, and the stove had been heated to a very great degree; and as the pipe passed through the roof it set fire to the shingles, which were all in a blaze before the family were aware of any danger.  This was one of the packed jury, which found me guilty of libel, in complaining of Stewart for advocating the profanation of the Sabbath.  Another of them, the one that was drunk at the time, was, a few months afterwards, frozen to death in the wood, in a state of intoxication.  A third had his house, barn, stable, cattle, horses and all he had, burnt in a cold night.  A fourth became deranged.  Indeed, it was observed that all of them came to mischief, either in their person, their mind, or their property.

The 8th March was our communion Sabbath.  The day being fine, we had a large congregation; and about 320 communicants were present.  The services were pleasant and refreshing, though the labour of performing the whole of them was rather too much for me.

The Rev. George Buchanan, being now on his deathbed, sent for me to come and see him.  I went, not only at this time, but at several times afterwards; for he lived some months under his last illness.  On the morning of Good Friday I was quite unwell myself, but got better after taking medicine.  After getting up, I was led to reflect upon the great event, which this day commemorates.  Christ died that we might live; he drank the cup of wrath that we might drink the water of life; he wore a crown of thorns that we might wear a crown of glory.  Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we might be called the sons of God.

No part of my duty afforded me more pleasure than attending to the Bible Class, which I always did myself when at home.  It always met in the church, on Sabbath afternoon, at the close of public worship.  From forty to fifty, including both sexes, attended.  The attendance was regular, and the interest of the youths very encouraging.

On the evening of the first Monday in May, the Concert for Prayer was more numerously attended than it had ever before been, and we had very interesting exercises.  The Rev. Mr. Wilson, for the first time attended, and took part in the services of the evening.  Up to this time he had held himself very shy to us; but now that all the great folk of his own congregation had forsaken him, he become more friendly to us. 

This sketch by Rev. Andrew Bell headed a descriptive letter to his Father, Rev. William Bell1 of his visit to Niagara Falls showing a keen interest in geology and the study of nature in his new home-land of Canada.  His knowledge of geology was such that he was known as the principal amateur geologist in Canada and was consulted by his friend, Sir William Logan of McGill University on the creation of the Canadian Geological Survey.  One son, Robert, later became head of the Geological Survey from 1901-08 and was awarded many honours for his distinguished career.  Similarly, a grandson, J.A. Mackintosh Bell, held an appointment as Director of the Geological Survey of New Zealand and later played a key role in Canada in the field of geology and mining.  Rev. Andrew Bell's youngest son, John Bell M.D., made a remarkable collection of plants and herbs.  This Herbarium is now in the Botanical Department of Carleton University, Ottawa.


In June I received a letter from Mrs. Campbell at Rothesay, who had been one of my scholars, when I taught the school in that place, giving an account of the happy death of Mrs. Jameson.  They had both attended my Sabbath school, and had both acknowledged that the instructions they received there, were the means of their conversion.  They had been intimate companions for many years, and never had there been friendship more warm, nor religion more pure.  The information which this letter brought me, greatly encouraged me in giving instruction to the young still under my care.  The effect of Sabbath school teaching will, in most cues, never be known till the day of judgement.  But here was a case in which the benefit was clearly established, in the present life, by the parties themselves.

In this month I attended a meeting of the United Synod, at Brockville; and as it turned out, the last meeting of that body I ever attended.  The rude and overbearing conduct of some of the Irish members, together with my growing dislike to schism, had led me to think seriously of uniting with the Synod in connection with the Church of Scotland.

The business being finished, I left Brockville in the evening and travelled all night, in order to avoid the excessive heat.  But I found the journey dull and wearisome, the mosquitoes annoying, and several times I fell asleep on the saddle.  The following Sabbath was our communion, and one long to be remembered, for our gracious God made us joyful in his house of prayer.  I had little time for preparation, yet I felt so happy that, though I had all to do myself, I had no difficulty.

My son George having expressed a desire to prepare for the ministry, I had been conducting his education with a view to that object.  This summer he was employed in the study of Logic, under my direction, which I found beneficial for reviving my acquaintance with that science.

The new church at Balderson's corner being now finished, I preached in it on the first Sabbath of every month, and Mr. Wilson on the third; so that the people there had preaching every second Sabbath.  The congregation numbered from one to two hundred, but they gave us very little for our labour.

On the 19th August, our only daughter, Isabella, was married to John G. Malloch, Esqr., Barrister at law, and afterwards Judge of the District Court.  After the marriage they took a jaunt to Montreal and other places, till their own house was fitted up for their reception.

At our communion, in September, I had the assistance of my son Andrew, and Mr. Smart of Brockville.  On the evening of that day David Buchanan came from Beckwith to inform us of his fathers death on the previous day.  This was a painful event though we had long expected it, the family left very destitute.  On Monday Andrew left us for Glengarry to attend the meeting of Synod.  On Tuesday I made preparations for the funeral of Mr. Buchanan, who had requested that his remains might not be buried in Beckwith, but conveyed to Perth.  As he had expressed a wish to be near his daughter Mrs. Ferguson, I gave up to him, for that purpose, the ground I had selected for my own family.  At the grave I made a suitable address, and on the following Sabbath preached his funeral sermon.

The rules laid down for the children they think should be observed by all.  On a Sabbath day my son William had resolved to take his little daughter, Mary, to the church with him for the first time.  Her mother had strictly charged her not to speak while there, as no one was permitted to speak in the church.  She obeyed her orders, and was very still and attentive.  On her return home, she took great credit to herself for behaving so well; but observed that Grandpa did not behave so well, for he spoke though she did not.  As no exceptions had been made, she understood the rule to be a universal one, to be observed by all.

On the 23 September, Stewart, the poor wretch who had first libeled me, and then prosecuted me for complaining of his conduct, had to leave the settlement.  The holy alliance who had made a tool of him, while he suited their purpose, now discarded him and turned him out of office, so that he had to leave the place without credit, and without employment.  He had done more to corrupt and debase the youth then all who had been before him.

Next day Andrew returned from the Synod, and informed me that the way was now clear for our going into connection with the Church of Scotland.  Mr. Morris and Dr. Wilson had, on this occasion, gone all the way to Glengarry to oppose, and to bring charges against their own minister, Mr. Wilson, but found themselves held in less consideration by the Synod then they had supposed.

On the evening of the following day we had all the family, thirteen in number, present at tea.  Some of them were now residing far from the rest, yet every year, or every second year, we managed to have a meeting.  When I remembered how much our number had increased, I remembered Jacob’s saying; with my staff I passed over this Jordan, end now I am become two bands.  At a meeting of Session next day, we resolved to bring the subject of union with the Church of Scotland before the congregation on the first opportunity.

As a specimen of the unpleasant Journeys I had to make, in bad weather, take the following.  On Sabbath, 4th October, it rained all day.  After preaching twice at home, end conducting a prayer meeting, I prepared for an appointment, in the afternoon, six miles in the country.  I was unwell at the time, the road was horrid, end it still continued to rain; but I was expected, and therefore could not think of remaining at home.  The soil was a stiff clay, the weather had been wet for weeks, end constant travelling had trod it into a mass of tough mire.  The road was so bad that I was sometimes on the point of turning back; but it was well I did not, as I had a better congregation that I had expected.  It was dark long before I got home, wading through the mud, in no pleasant plight, both weary end wet with the drizzling rain that fell all the time.

On Tuesday, 20 October, the Presbytery of Bathurst met.  Repeated notices had been given of a meeting of my congregation on the same day, to determine whether we should unite with the kirk party or not.  The meeting being almost unanimous in favour of union, the Session and I proceeded to Mr. Wilson’s, when the Presbytery was sitting, and carried it into effect.

Next day the Commission of the Synod met in Mr. Wilson’s church, to inquire into the cause of the divisions that had distracted the congregation for some time past.  The sittings were continued for some days, and many witnesses were examined, but no good result was obtained.  It was however evident that those who had brought Mr. Wilson to the place were now his greatest enemies, and were determined to get rid of him if in their power.

Our youngest George had for some time before this occasionally conducted the devotions of the family.  About this time he also began to take part in the exercises at prayer meetings, and even to make remarks on a passage of Scripture.  To me these were gratifying, as I have always considered the practice of public speaking, to a candidate for the ministry, no less important than the theory.

Our communion in December being the first since we came into connection with the Church of Scotland; and as I had procured the assistance of both Mr. Wilson and Mr. Fairbairn, it was looked forward to with some degree of interest.  The congregation was very large, and none of our members kept back, excepting Ben Kerr, on account of what had taken place.  Thus our union with our fellow Christians was effected with less opposition and excitement than I had expected.  Our list of members at this time extended to l82, though seldom more than two thirds of them, were present at one time.

The usual mass at the Roman Catholic chapel, on Christmas Eve, was omitted this winter, as Father John said that on former occasions he had been annoyed by heretics and blackguards attending in great numbers.

The return of a New Year found me not only in the land of the living but enjoying many of the comforts of life.  My first employment was to give God thanks for the enjoyments, and to entreat his forgiveness for the sins of the past year; and to ask his blessing and protection during that which has now begun.  When we surrounded the family altar I recommended the same course to the rest, and that in the future we should watch against sin more carefully, read the Scriptures more frequently, and love God more fervently, than ever we had done.  I then prepared for the public meeting, and at 10 preached from Psalm 106,7.  They remembered not the multitude of his mercies; after which the usual business was transacted.

On the 6th January I attended at Lanark the first meeting of Presbytery since our union.  Much kindness and attention were shown me by all the members present; and what business we had before us was easily arranged.

On the 20th January I set out for the country, to hold an examination at T. Barber's.  Before I got a mile on the road William's horse, which I had borrowed, became unmanageable, ran sway, upset the cutter, and threw me out on the road.  I held on to the reins some time, he dragging me on the ground, but I was obliged to let go, lest he should dash me against one of the logs at the road side.

At the moment I feared he might run over some one, but fortunately he took off the road in deep snow, which delayed him, and he was taken by two men passing at the time.  My left arm and shoulder were bruised, but otherwise I was not much hurt.  By the kindness of Providence I have often escaped from danger with very little damage.  The cutter being repaired, I set out again; but the horse was so much excited that he kept me in a state of alarm all day.  The weather at the time was so cold that, the same morning at sunrise, the thermometer stood at 20 degrees below zero, that is 52 degrees below the freezing point.

On Saturday, 23 January, I set cut, by appointment of the Presbytery, on a missionary tour; all of us having agreed to perform part of this work.  My first stage was to Smith's Falls, where I arrived in the evening, almost frozen, the cold being very severe.  On Sabbath I preached two discourses in the village, in a large schoolroom, to a very crowded congregation.  The heat was past enduring, though it was very cold out of doors.

In the afternoon Mr. Storey took me to his house, four miles off, where I had engaged to preach in the evening.  On the way I was so chilled with the cold wind in my face, after being heated in the schoolroom, that I caught a severe cold.  At 6 in the evening, the house being crowded, I preached again in a very uncomfortable situation, being roasted on one side by a large fire, and chilled on the other by the cold wind at a broken window.

On Monday morning, Mr. Storey having taken me in his sleigh to Armstrong’s where I had left my horse and cutter, I started for the north.  In the afternoon I preached in the Methodist chapel at Mr. Kerfoot’s, in Beckwith, to about 100 people, and baptised three children.  At 6 I reached Mr. Gordon’s in Coulburn, where I found the house crammed full of people waiting for me.  Here I preached from a dark corner of the kitchen, not the most convenient for a pulpit.  Every room in the house was full of people, many of whom had no seats; but those in the kitchen had a worse evil to endure, having before them a raging fire, and behind them a stove almost red hot.  Here I baptised four children, and remained for the night.

Next morning Mr. Brennan, a young Methodist preacher, came and breakfasted with us.  He was pompous, affected, and illiterate, but good natured, and communicative.  At family worship I asked him to pray, but was afterwards sorry I had done so.  His pompous manner was disgusting, and he screamed as loud as if he had been addressing two thousand people, or as if we had been all deaf.

Leaving this hospitable house I went on to Richmond, four miles farther, where I preached to a small congregation; for the people there had little taste for weekday preaching.

My next journey was to Lowrie’s, in Huntly, 22 miles, where I preached in the evening to a crowded house, and baptised seven children.

Next morning I walked a mile to visit a sick family and baptise a child.  I afterwards endeavored to reconcile two families who had long been at variance.  This object I fear was but partially accomplished.  On such occasions the pride of the human heart is a sad obstacle in the way.  Our situation would be dreadful, if God were as backward to forgive us, as we are to forgive one another.

On my return to Mr. Lowrie's, I found a man come to request that I would go and visit his wife, who was supposed to be dying.  I went with him, and after travelling about seven miles on a very rough and crooked road, through a wild and uncultivated country, we come to an opening in the forest, where were about a dozen shanties or log huts, upon a tract of fine land.  In one of these I was introduced to the sick woman wasted by consumption.  But I was pleased to find that she was pious and intelligent, and that she was resting her hope of Heaven on a sure foundation.  After a long conversation and prayer, I commended her to the grace of God, and then pursued my journey.  I heard a few days after that she died in peace.  The incidents of the two following days I shall omit.  They may be found in my larger history.

On the first Sabbath of February I assisted Mr. McAlister, at Middleton, after preaching for him on the fast day and Saturday.  In the Christian society which his family and friends afforded, I spent a few days very agreeably.

During the county election which followed, in order to be out of the way of the noise and nonsense usual on such occasions, Mrs. Bell and I went on a visit to our friends at Carleton Place.  While there I attended and occupied the chair at a Temperance Convention, composed of delegates from all the Societies in the district.  Next day we had an unpleasant journey home, in rain and melting snow.

It was now time for the formation of a Bible Society in Perth; and Mr. Wilson and I met and made the necessary preparations.  A meeting was called; and Mr. Wenham came from Brockville to assist at the formation of the Society.  About 80 dollars were subscribed at the meeting, and Dr. Thom, the successful candidate at the election, sent 20 dollars, on condition of being excused the ceremony of chairing.

For some time past Mr. Nicholl, a member of my session, had given us much trouble by his odd and impracticable notions on the subject of church discipline.  He meant well, but was altogether despotic and tyrannical in his views.  He wanted to impose unnecessary restraints upon me in the discharge of my duty, and especially in reference to the baptism of children, which he would allow no where but in the church.  He would make no allowance for the sickness of either parents or children, or for their distance, be it ever so great, and he laboured so with the other members of Session that I had to bring the matter before the Presbytery for their opinion on the subject.  After some conversation they decided unanimously that the Session had no power to impose any such restraints.

At our sacrament in June I had the assistance of Mr. Cruickshank on Saturday, and of Mr. McAlister on Sabbath.  Mr. Wilson and I had agreed that in future we should have the communion, in both congregations, on the same day.

The house we lived in, being a wooden building, was cold in winter and not very convenient, we had resolved on building a new one of stone.  During the winter we had collected the materials9 and in the following summer it was erected, 42 feet long, and 30 wide and 2 1/2 stories high, I had long wished to have a stone house, in which we could spend the remainder of our days in comfort.


William and John Bell were the twin sons of Rev. William Bell who were born in London in l806 coming to Canada when they were 11 years old.  They were well known in Lanark County and Upper Canada as astute businessmen involved in commerce, and the fur and lumber trades.  In 1828 they opened their own store in Perth and Morphy’s Falls (Carleton Place) known as W.&.J.Bell selling general goods; their business prospered with the building and opening of the Rideau and Tay Canals in l832 and 1854. The commercial crisis of l837-38 left coins in short supply and William and John overcame this threat to their business by printing their own paper money or Scrip.  These notes, known as 'shinplasters' were in circulation for 2 years and enabled the brothers to ride out the crisis which was the result of financial panic in 3ritain arid the U.S., crop failures and the political instability at the time over the Mackenzie-Papineau rebellion.  Unfortunately, this business crisis, coupled with the death of his wife, Maria in childbirth, caused a severe emotional breakdown in William's life.  Although his parents tried to help him, there was a moral conflict between William and his austere Father, and William later died of apoplexy leaving two daughters. We have little personal information about John who died in 1847 leaving one son, Andrew.


On the 26th May the Commission of Synod again met at Perth, to endeavor to settle the differences between Mr. Wilson and the rebellious part of his congregation; but after various meetings and proposals, it was found that no reconciliation could be effected.  The dissatisfied party then withdrew from his ministry, and attended other churches, or gave up all profession of religion.  One of the charges they brought against him was, that he was severe, abusive, and personal, in his preaching.  James Condie, speaking on this subject, said, "Mr. Wilson takes us for a set o’ reprobates.  He is ower sair on us.  But we never heed him.  We just do as we like, and let him talk on.”

After our sacrament in June I assisted Mr. Fairbairn, in Ramsay, at his also.  His congregation at that time was large, and in a very prosperous condition; and no one suspected the sad reverses that afterwards occurred.

On the 13 July, I and Mr. Wilson went to Smith’s Falls to attend a meeting of Presbytery, and returned late the same evening.  On reaching home, the first news I beard was, that in the preceding night, all our garden gates, as well as William's, had been carried off and thrown into the river.  The pigs, in consequence, had got into our garden and destroyed it.  The county election had just ended, and the Orange vagabonds had done this out of revenge, because we had declined to support their candidate, Sheriff Powell.

Next Sabbath I assisted Mr. Romanes, at Smith's Falls, at his sacrament.  On my way home, on Monday, the heat was so excessive, and my horse was annoyed so with large flies, in the woods, that he was almost mad.

About this time Mr. Wilson proposed that I should always preach in his church when he was from home, it being large enough to hold both congregations.  To this I agreed, after consulting my Session.  This arrangement continued till he left the place, in 1844.

On the 3rd Sabbath of August, by appointment of Presbytery, I went out to Lanark to preach to Mr. McAllister's congregations, he having gone to Scotland.  I was accompanied by Mr. Cameron, our newly elected Member of Parliament.  At Middleton I preached very comfortably to a large congregation, and baptised two children.  In the afternoon, having returned to Lanark, I preached again to a good congregation, but not so comfortably.  The people appeared more careless and inattentive.

It is no less strange than true, that a minister can always tell, from his own feelings, what is the state of religion among those he is addressing.

On Monday, 29, August, we had a visit from the Lt. Governor, Sir Francis Bond Head, in a tour he was making through the province.  His traveling on the Sabbath gave great offence to the religious part of the community.  An address was hastily got up and presented to him in the courthouse, to which he made a suitable reply.  We were then all introduced, individually by name, to his Excellency, by Mr. Norris, who acted as master of ceremonies on the occasion.  The Governor was very polite and shook hands with all as they came forward.  After the levee he and his attendants proceeded to Carleton Place.

Next morning after our sacrament in September, the members of our Presbytery had arranged to meet in Perth, and proceed to Kingston together, to attend the meeting of Synod.  This meeting was peculiarly interesting to me, being the first since I became connected with the Church of Scotland.  Mr. Glass sent his wagon to carry us and our trunks to the Rideau ferry, where we were to take the stem boat.  At 8 we were to start, and just as I was getting into the wagon the horses moved, by which I was thrown down, hurting my leg considerably on the hook of the whipple tree.  I proceeded notwithstanding, but soon observed the blood coming through my clothes.  At the ferry we had to wait some hours for the steamer, so that I had time to dress the wound, which now gave me great pain.  To Kingston we had the honour of travelling with the Earl of Selkirk.  Though no way assuming he was very reserved.

In 24 hours, after leaving the ferry, we landed at Kingston, where we were hospitably lodged with Mr. Pringle.  During the Session, which lasted a week, I met with much civility from all the ministers, though most of them I had never seen before.  On Saturday a letter was received by the Moderator, from the Warden of the Penitentiary, requesting that two of our number might be appointed to preach there on the following day.  Mr. Alexander of Cobourg and I immediately offered our services, which were accepted.

On Sabbath morning the Warden sent his carriage for us, and carried us to the Penitentiary, which is two miles from Kingston.  Mr. Alexander preached in the afternoon.  We never had a more attentive and orderly audience.  At the request of the Warden I afterwards, in a private room, examined five of the convicts.  In every one of these cases I found that drinking was the cause of the crimes for which they were punished.

Late on Tuesday evening, the business of Synod being finished, the Moderator made an affectionate address to his brethren, and closed the meeting with singing, prayer, and the apostolic benediction.  Next day we spent in a visit to the Penitentiary; to view the buildings, and the various employments of the convicts, and afterwards in taking leave of our friends.

Next day we returned to Perth.  Our son Andrew came along with us on a visit to his friends.  On the following Sabbath he preached for me; and for Mr. Wilson in the evening, to large congregations.  Robert and James came up from Carleton Place in the morning, so that we had the pleasure of seeing all our eight children together, both in the church and at the social board.

The United Synod were so much annoyed at my leaving them, that they not only refused me a regular dissmission, but it was proposed by Mr. Boyd, the greatest madcap amongst them, that I should be deposed from my office, though my connection with them had ceased some months before.

After this union with the Bathurst Presbytery, I expected that Mr. Wilson and his congregation would be more friendly, but I was mistaken.  In most instances, when we attempted to exercise discipline, the parties left us and went to them, where they were received with open arms.  Thus their endeavours to draw away our members were continued as before; and in many instances were but too successful.  It was a temptation to the young, that with them they had an opportunity of seeing and being seen more extensively than with us; and one was often the means of drawing away others.

The Bible Society we had formed was auxiliary to the British and Foreign Society.  We had remitted £50 sterling with our first order for books.  At the same time I had stated the poverty of the people in the back settlements.  This induced the Society, besides executing our order, to send us a donation of books to the mount of £50 sterling more, which amply supplied us for some time.

My son Robert, at Carleton Place, being in want of a clerk this winter, engaged George.  He had been pursuing classical studies, but seeing no prospect of soon getting forward to the ministry, he deemed it best to engage in some other employment for the present; by which he could get a living.  On the 25th December, which was both Sabbath and Christmas, I preached the Quarterly Temperance sermon, in the court house.  A man in the street beastly drunk, rolling in the snow as the congregation came out, afforded an illustration of what they had been hearing.

On the last day of the year I attended our annual congregational meeting.  I had been all the morning employed preparing the report of the Session, and the accounts for the year, for I had long acted as their treasurer.  At this meeting; in former years, I had usually preached a sermon and taken a review of past events; but at this time I found it necessary to warn all to beware of false teachers; and especially of the Mormons who were now trying to gain converts in the settlement.

In the evening, before family worship, I made some observations on the proper improvement of time and the duty of gratitude for past mercies.  My journal of that date ends with these words.  Thus another year is gone, and I am still spared as an evidence of the goodness of God.  How many mercies I have received and yet how insensible! O that I could love my God more and serve him better!  He is the source of all my happiness, and the God of my salvation.

The year 1837 began on Sabbath, and I commenced it by gratefully acknowledge the goodness of God in the past year, and fervently praying for his blessing and direction, in all my affairs, in that now begun.  The new fallen snow was deep, the cold severe, and the day stormy, so that few could come out.  We had to get Willam's cutter to take us over to the church.

For the sake of brevity I pass over many things that occurred this winter, but which will be found in my larger history.  Particularly the trouble and loss I sustained by Alexander Cuthbertson, my tenant at Sweetbank, who turned out to be the greatest rogue I ever had any dealings with; and an extensive missionary tour I made towards the Grand River, by order of the Presbytery.

We had long enjoyed a share of prosperity, but an event now approached that plunged our family into deep distress.  William's wife had been unwell some time, but nothing serious was apprehended.  On the 3 March she gave birth to a male child, and seemed as well as usual; but in the following night she became worse and expired before morning.  I had been with her the evening before, and some time before she died I was again called up, and went to her.  I found her sensible and composed, expressing her confidence in the mercy of God, in the grace of Christ, and a lively hope of Heaven and eternal happiness.  At her earnest desire I baptised the infant in her presence.  He was very weak, and not likely to live.  In my prayers for her and the child, she heartily joined.

After this she lived about half an hour, which was chiefly employed in prayer, and in committing her husband and children to the care of her heavenly Father, when she calmly fell asleep in Jesus without a struggle or a groan.  The scene was affecting, and for the moment at least softened the stoutest heart present.  Even doctor Wilson, although accustomed to such scenes, shed tears.  She left four children behind her, all young.  They could not feel their loss1 but their father, as might be expected, was overwhelmed with grief.

This event, of Maria's death, which took place early on the morning of the 4th March, was the more felt by me that it was the anniversary of my ordination, which took place just 20 years before at Edinburgh.  The following day was the Sabbath, the weather was fine and the congregation large, but our pew in the church had a dismal aspect, being almost empty.  On Wednesday the funeral took place.  It was the largest I had ever seen in Berth.  After the coffin was lowered into the grave, I made a suitable address to the assembled multitude.  On our return home I assembled all the family and friends, and admonished them to bear their loss with Christian resignation; and instead of indulging unavailing grief for the death of their friend, to prepare to follow her.  A wet nurse had been provided for the infant, and every thing possible was done to preserve his life, but all would not do.  A week after his mother, he followed her to the to the tomb.  A black marble monument was soon after erected over their remains.

After all the company retired, William proposed to his mother and me that we should shut up our own house, and live in his, as he could not leave the house and children altogether to servants.  To this we agreed with some reluctance; for though it was a better house than our own yet the same retirement could not there be enjoyed.  Besides, we had been nearly 20 years in the old house, so that it had become almost necessary to our existence.

The illness of Mrs. Bell, all this spring, occasioned me much anxiety.  Her fatigue; watching, and grief, both before and after Maria's death, together with the cares of a large family, deprived her of sleep, and impaired her health.  There were abuses among the servants too, some of which we could not immediately correct.  The children had been spoiled by long indulgence, and we found it no easy matter to bring them into proper order.

We had heard accounts of the Mormon heresy in newspapers, but till lately knew little of its tenets.  But this winter Mr. Page, one of the teachers of that imposture, came among us, and preached with a zeal worthy of a better cause.  He was a strong robust man, six feet high, very illiterate, with a thundering voice, and consummate impudence.

Many attended his preaching, and some were led by his zeal and apparent piety, to believe his assertion, that true religion had been lost, and that Joseph Smith and his followers had authority to revive it.  A more barefaced cheat was never attempted to be palmed upon mankind under the name of religion.  Yet it made converts even here, for there is no creed so absurd as not to obtain followers.  A few submitted to baptism as the hands of Page; he having assured them that without this they could not be saved.  The delusion was too gross to last long.  In less than a year it was not only all over but nearly forgotten.

In April the measles began to rage in the settlement, and continued for six months.  Though thousands had the disease yet few died; but these were mostly grown up young people.  J-.u and George, our youngest sons, then both at Carleton Place, had a narrow escape, but they were mercifully preserved.  All William’s children, the two servant girls, and one of the clerks were ill at the same time, so that Mrs. Bell was worn out with care and toil.  During the summer I was much employed visiting the sick.


Amidst all the ingratitude with which mankind are chargeable, there are some honourable exceptions.  One of these I am happy to record.  Seven years before this a young man, named John Wilson, came to Perth.  He was in humble circumstances; and had no friends in the place.  He came to me to see if I would patronize him, and assist him in getting a school.

I did so, gave him encouragement, and placed two of my children under his care.  He conducted his school well, gave satisfaction to his employers, and soon became esteemed and respected.  By and by he felt a desire to be a lawyer; but in order to do this it was necessary to acquire certain parts of learning which he had not obtained, the Latin language especially.

On this account he applied to me for assistance.  At that time I was teaching some of my own children Latin.  So putting them together I spent an hour with them every day.  Such was Mr. Wilson's diligence and progress that, along with his teaching, reading etc. he, in eleven months, acquired a sufficient knowledge of Latin to enable him to pass his examination at the capital.  I had recommended him to Mr. Boulton, at that time the principal lawyer here, who took him into his house on favourable terms, gave him charge of his business, and the education of his son.

Of the unhappy duel in which Mr. Wilson was, some years afterwards, engaged, I have already given some account.  During his confinement I paid him every attention.  He expressed his gratitude at the time, but it now appeared that be had determined to do more, whenever it was in his power.  His funds at that time were very scanty, but on getting into business for himself, such was his skill and ability, that he was well employed, and his prospects brightened wonderfully.  This summer he came from the London district, where he is now settled, to see his father and mother.  He paid me a visit also, and very much surprised me by presenting me with a watch which cost him 45 dollars.  This was purely from gratitude on his part, for I had no pecuniary claim on him of any kind.

Our son Ebenezer had been some years with his brothers, William and John, as a clerk.  He had lately expressed a wish to go into business for himself, and Smith's Falls was selected as the place.  In the early part of June he went to Montreal with William, and purchased a stock of goods, and soon after opened his store.  But it did not turn out a profitable speculation, and in a few years he gave up the business and returned to Perth.

On the third Sabbath of July the Sacrament of the Lord’s supper was administered in Beckwith, and I assisted the Rev. Mr. Smith on that occasion.  On the fast day I preached two discourses suitable to the occasion, and felt happy in again addressing a congregation to which I had often preached with pleasure many years before, when Mr. Buchanan was their minister.  After worship on Monday I proceeded towards Richmond, having a missionary tour to make before I returned to Perth.

Next Sabbath, after I reached home, at the request of Mr. Wilson, I preached in his church in the evening, and baptised his son David.  From about this time he and I preached on alternate Sabbaths in the new Bathurst church in the afternoon.

Our late treasurer, A. C. had made a more than ordinary profession of religion, but we found him in the end to be an Israelite in whom there was some guile.  On resigning his office and leaving the church, I found that he had slipped the books into the hands of his successor without any examination or settlement.  Having some suspicion that all was not right, I examined the books and found that he had retained about £7 in his own bands for which he had not accounted.  This was just so much out of my pocket, as I had not been fully paid what was due me for two years past.

The remainder of this year was spent much as former ones were.  The principal public events were, the death of William IV, and the accession to the throne of Victoria, the rebellion in both provinces, and the disastrous result to the rebels.

On Saturday 30th December, at the annual meeting of the congregation, I preached on the duty of giving thanks to God for his goodness during the past year; especially in keeping civil war at a distance from our part of the province.  The Sabbath being the last in the year, was improved accordingly.  At 3 I preached the quarterly Temperance sermon, in the courthouse, to a very numerous audience.  Thus ended another year full of goodness and mercy on the part of God.

The year 1838 began as the former ones had done.  After addressing God my heavenly Father, through Christ the new and living way, I took a review of the past year, its mercies and enjoyments; its sins and its sufferings.  I give thanks to God for his goodness in the past year, and implored his presence and protection in that upon which I had just entered.

In the afternoon I attended the meeting of the Temperance Society, and heard Mr. Wilson's sermon in behalf of total abstinence.  He next brought forward his new pledge, but few at that time signed it.  By this more than half the members were thrown out.  I was proposed as President, but I declined the honour, as I disapproved of reducing the Society so hastily, within so narrow limits.  The monthly concert in the evening was well attended, the church being quite full.

The rebellion last month had rendered it necessary to call out part of the militia.  Bodies of volunteers had also been raised in various parts of the province.  My son John and his company had come forward.  Cold as the weather was they marched to Kingston, were trained, and occupied part of the fort till spring, when all being quiet, they were permitted to return home.

I had been directed by the Presbytery to make a missionary tour up the Grand River and to preach one Sabbath in Bytown; but a thaw and deep mud prevented me going at that time.  Even when I did go the cold was so intense, and the sleighing so bad, for want of snow, that I had an unpleasant journey.

Sensitive minds are sometimes unhappy, and know not from what cause.  This was sometimes the case with me.  On Saturday, for instance, when preparing for the pulpit, I felt greatly discouraged; my prospect seemed dark and gloomy, and yet I could find nothing in my circumstances of which I could complain.  On Sabbath morning I was still in the same uncomfortable condition, but soon after I entered the pulpit, seeing a good congregation before me, and remembering the promise, My grace shall be sufficient for thee, and my strength shall be made perfect in weakness, the clouds dispersed, and the sunshine of joy filled my heart; so that I preached in a comfortable frame of spirit.

On the 9th February, our daughter, Mrs. Malloch, had a son rather prematurely.  Re was very weak and died next morning.  He obtained the fate that Job so earnestly desired.  The knees did not prevent him, nor did he suck the breasts of his mother.  He merely opened his eyes on this world, and closed them forever.  So brief is human existence, and so short lived our dearest enjoyments.

One day a young woman, who had lately married, and left the settlement, being back on a visit to her friends, called to see me.  She had long sat under my ministry, had been a member of the church, and though now living at a distance still remembered the instructions she had received, and the attention I had paid her and the rest of the family of which she was a member.  This was the more remarkable as well as gratifying to me, as some of the other members of the family here had behaved very ungratefully.

On the 18 February, on the way to the country to preach at Dr. McLean's, I was upset and bruised from Mr. Malloch's cutter.  The horse was young and wild.  He shyed at a black stump, ran off the road, upset us, and then galloped off towards Perth.  We were not much hurt, but had a heavy journey to make on foot, encumbered with boots and great coats in deep snow.

Near the end of the month I and other ministers attended a meeting of the district Temperance Society at Lanark, and had the pleasure to find that the cause there was gaining ground.  We lodged with Mr. McAllister, and spent the evening discussing the affairs of the church.  On the following day we had a meeting of Presbytery, and arranged our missionary services for the next twelvemonth, at twenty preaching stations.

Towards the end of March I suffered much from a disorder, arising from too close application to study, which had occasionally given me great pain for many years past.  This is what good Mr. Boston would call “the croak in my lot”.

At this time many small congregations in the upper part of the province being entirely destitute of pastors, I often thought it might be my duty to leave Perth and go to one of them.  I had no temptation of a pecuniary nature to remain, for I never received more than £ 20 a year from my congregation.  But here I had a house of my own, together with many conveniences and comfortable associations.  Besides, I was greatly attached to my congregation, for I had now been more than twenty years among them.  My family too were settled around me, and no doubt I should feel lonely if removed to a distant part of the province.

Yet so much sympathy did I feel for those who were destitute of a minister to break the bread of life among them, that I seriously thought of leaving Perth, and of engaging for a time in missionary labours.  With this view I corresponded with some of the ministers in the upper part of the province, and made them acquainted with my plan.  I even applied to the Governor in Council and obtained an assurance that my salary from government should still be paid, though I removed to another congregation.  Yet after all the steps thus taken, my increasing infirmities, and the advice of my friends, prevailed upon me to defer my design for the present.

In May, I received a very interesting and affecting letter from a friend in Rothesay giving an account of the happy death of his wife, who had formerly been one of my pupils, and who ascribed her conversion, under God, to the instructions she received from me, in the Sabbath school.  For this I thanked God and took courage.

No one can pass through the world without trials, and of these I have had my share, and often arising from quarters least suspected.  Solomon says, Trust not a friend, put confidence in a brother.  Bad I followed this advice, at least in the case to which I now refer, I might have avoided much trouble and loss.  Alexander Cuthbertson, a carpenter, came to Perth in the summer of l833, well recommended as a pious young man.  As such I treated him and showed him every attention and kindness in my power.

After some time he proposed to rent my 25-acre lot, close by the village, for the use of his father and mother.  I had no objection to lease the land to him, but he wanted me also to build a house.  This I declined, but gave him leave to build a small house, not exceeding the value of £50, promising to pay, when it came into my possession what it was worth to me at that time.  There was a written agreement entered into between us, but it did not go into particulars; for such was the confidence I placed in him that I trusted almost everything to his honour and honesty.

Never was I more grievously disappointed.  He did not fulfil his engagement in a single particular.  B. built the house, not in the place agreed upon, cut down the best of my timber without leave, and applied it to his own use, erected what out houses he pleased, and at the end of three years presented me a bill for £147.

I had long before this found him to be a worthless unprincipled vagabond, though he made a great profession of religion.  All the buildings he had erected being of the most flimsy description, were declared by competent judges to be worth no more than from £60 to £80; yet by a series of trickery and underhand dealing, I found it necessary to satisfy his demand, or take the consequence of a law suit which he threatened to bring against me.  But this was not all; by going about and industriously misrepresenting the thing he so prejudiced the minds of ignorant people, who knew nothing of the merits of the case, that I suffered in their estimation.  The unpleasant circumstances in which I was thus placed, made me not only uncomfortable but unwell.  Such is the influence which the state of the mind has upon the health of the body. 


These notes, also known as “shinplasters”, were beautifully engraved by Adolphus Bourne of Montreal in five denominations up to a half dollar -–(30 pence or two shillings and sixpence).  They enjoyed quite wide circulation in the community for two years during the panic of 1937-38.


During the summer of 1838 I suffered much from sickness end depression of spirits.  Our new house being flaw finished and ready for painting, when well enough for the purpose, I employed all my leisure hours in getting this part of the work completed.  The fall, as usual, was employed in visiting my congregation.  It proved a very pleasant service, for the weather was fine and the roads good.

In October our youngest son, George, who had been some time a clerk with his brother at Smith’s Falls was taken ill.  It turned out to be a very bad case of scarlet fever.  We knew nothing of this for five days, till Ebenezer sent up a boat with three men to take his mother to see him.  Near night, in a cold wet evening, she went off; and after much hardship and fatigue reached the end of her journey before midnight.  Next day being Saturday, I could not leave home, but two of his brothers, on hearing that he was dangerously ill, went on horseback, and on their return somewhat relieved my mind by the information that be was a little better.

As soon as public worship was over on Sabbath, I set out to see him.  Snow had fallen in the morning to the depth of three or four inches; but it had now melted, and a heavy rain not only wet me to the skin, but made the clay road almost impassable.  On reaching the Falls I was happy to find that our son was still improving, though very slowly.  The death of several young people, by the same disease, the week before, had spread great alarm in the neighbourhood; and Dr. Acheson who attended George felt some uneasiness on his account; as he had never seen a worse case of scarlet fever.  He could scarcely speak, but his mind was calm and resigned to the will of his heavenly Father.  As I had still several days' visiting of my congregation to do I returned home on Monday, and proceeded with the discharge of this duty.  But his mother remained with him a fortnight longer, till she thought he was out of danger.

But how fleeting and insecure are life, health, and all human enjoyments.  On the 3rd November, and only a few days after Mrs. Bell returned home, a messenger on horseback came in great haste to inform us that George had had a relapse, and was dangerously ill; indeed worse than he had been before.  Dr. Acheson at the same time sent us word to send Dr. Wilson without delay.  But he not being at home we sent Dr. Nichol.

I procured a light wagon in all haste, and his mother and I set out for the Falls, without a moment's delay.  The road was in a dreadful state, and at one of the worst places I was thrown out of the wagon, head foremost, and had nearly fallen under the wheel.  The wrist of my right hand was so much hurt that it was lame for years afterwards.

On reaching the village late at night, we found that the doctors, after consultation, had bled George and applied two blisters.  In the morning he had been so ill that all who saw him thought he was dying, but he was now a little better, and our hopes were again revived that he might yet recover.

As soon as he was able to speak, I was anxious to ascertain the state of his mind; and put a few questions to him with that view.  Among others I asked him if, in the morning when those about him thought him dying, he thought so himself.  He said he did think he was dying.  Then how did you feel?  Did the prospect alarm you?  He answered No; I felt quite happy.  This satisfied me that he was resting high hopes on a sure foundation.  After giving him such advice as his case required, I prayed with him, resigning him entirely to the disposal of cur heavenly Father; at the some time earnestly entreating him to spare his life, and restore him again to health.

This being Saturday night, I had to return to Perth before the morning.  The night was very dark and wet; but after conversing with George some time, I left him in the care of his mother and proceeded homewards, 16 miles, many an anxious thought occupying my mind, both on his account and on account of the duties I had to discharge on the coming day.  I had not only the ordinary duties of the Sabbath before me, but a funeral sermon on the death of one of my elders, who had died a few days before; and the ordinary time for preparation had been otherwise employed.  The road was very bad, my progress slow, and my journey in the dark seemed long and dismal.

On reaching home, an hour before sunrise, I found a wagon at the door, and two more of my sons about to start to see their brother, but I advised them not to go till the afternoon when public worship was over.  All day I felt resigned to the will of God, but still prayed fervently for my son’s recovery.  In the evening when Dr. Nichol returned, he called to inform me that George was worse, and that he had no hope of his recovery.  Still I did not despair, believing that with God nothing is impossible.  Our prayers were answered; his disorder took a favourable turn; and he was brought back from the very brink of the grave.  His recovery was gradual, but slow, and it was some months before we could remove him to Perth.

It was this winter the rebellion in the lower province broke out, but it was speedily suppressed.  The invasion of the upper province, at Prescott, by the Americans soon followed.  But the windmill in which they had taken shelter, after a desperate battle, was soon taken and they made prisoners.  This was in November.

The last piece of official duty I had to perform at the end of the year was to prepare a list of the marriages I had celebrated during the year, of which there were fifteen, which was about the average number.  This list I had to furnish and the end of every year, for the purpose of having it recorded in a book kept by the Clerk of the Peace.

At the end of the year, on looking back on the past, I could still say, Hitherto hath the Lord helped me.  What shall I render to the Lord for all his kindness and care?

I entered the year 1839 in circumstances so comfortable that I was filled with wonder at the goodness and grace of my heavenly Father.  Never did I feel more grateful for the bounties of his providence, and the riches of his grace.  In the course of the day, according to custom, I visited most of our friends in town.  In only one house was I offered a glass of wine, such are the happy effects of the Temperance reformation. 

In January, by directions from the Presbytery, I made a missionary tour through Kittey, Bastard, Crosby, and Bedford, preaching at various places and baptising children.  I had very unfavourable weather part of the time, and a perilous journey on the ice returning by the Rideau lake.  But Providence brought me home in safety.  Next week, when the Presbytery met, I made a full report of all my missionary proceedings, when arrangements were made for the following year.

Next day I went to Brockville, with some more of our family, where I married my son Robert, to Miss Emeline Jones.  Be had now been in business sane years at Carleton Place, as a merchant, and felt the want of a partner to manage his domestic concerns.  Brockville at this time was crowded with soldiers, not less than 800, militia and regulars, ready to repel the threatened attack from the opposite side of the river.  During our absence George returned to Perth, not being able to travel before since his late illness.  He was very thin and feeble; but taking gentle exercise every day in the open air he recovered, to the surprise of every one who had seen him two months before.

Before the winter was over I heard that James Beveridge had his barn and stable burnt; with four good horses and a cow.  His wife was awake when the fire began, and she urged him to get up and see what the dog was barking and scratching at the door for.  But he afterwards said he had no power to get up.  Thus all my persecutors appeared to be coming to ruin one after another. This man was foreman of the jury, and decided them in Stewart's favour, and against me.  He had been expelled from the church for misconduct some time before, and sought revenge.

Armstrong was another of the jury, and his house was burnt soon after.  McGregor was another, and so drunk at the time that he had to be supported when he stood up to be sworn; he was frozen to death, in the woods, when he was drunk.  Captain McMillan also had his house burnt to ashes.  Stewart himself not only lost his situation as teacher of the District School, but wandered about a long time a fugitive and a vagabond.  Col. Taylor, who circulated the printed libels intended to ruin me, lost his situation as postmaster, his property, character and respectability, became a besotted drunkard, and died in a tavern.  Harry Glass was soon after disgraced and cut off from the communion of the church for fraud and drunkenness.  Robert Moderwell, another of the jury, seduced two servant girls, was cut off from the church, and had to leave the place.  Boderick Mathieson, had his son killed in an awful manner in a moment, and his wife has been deranged ever since.  For a while the most guilty of the whole seemed to escape with impunity, but his time was coming.

The month of April was very dry, and as usual at that season, several fires took place in the country.  Most of the houses being built of wood, accidents of this kind were frequent.  On the 23rd April one occurred in the village of a more destructive nature.  George and I were at work in our garden, between 11 and 12, when we were alarmed by the cry of fire and on looking across the river, we saw the flames and a dense column of smoke rising from the back stores of the Honourable Wm. Morris, a member of the Legislative Council, and the first and most extensive merchant of Perth.  In less than an hour both back and front stores were burnt to the ground.

As the day was warm, and no fire in or about the store, the origin of the fire was a mystery.  Some thought it arose from spontaneous combustion, others, with more probability, from the man’s pipe who was at work in the garden behind the store.  Mr. Morris had been my greatest enemy, and done what he could to ruin me, yet I was sorry for his loss; for it was great, his insurance on both stores and goods having expired a few days before.  He was at Toronto, at the time, attending his duty in parliament but came home on hearing what had happened.

In the first week of May a violent storm had leveled many of the fences around Perth, and among the rest one belonging to my tenant Robert Gemmill, on the park lot.  Next day George and I went to assist him to repair the damage, and were busily employed the whole day, the weather being very warm.  Next night a dimness came over my eye that I could not account for.  After dark at night, sparks of fire seemed to be passing down over the eye.  After some months the other eye began to be affected in the same way.  This alarmed me considerably, and I prayed fervently to God that my sight might be spared, for I was well aware that he is the physician of the body as well as of the soul.  Gratefully would I adore the goodness of my God, for that, after a few weeks, these spots were nearly all gone, and I have been very little troubled with them since.


In the first week of June I suffered much from inward pain.  On the first Sabbath of the month I was so ill, after preaching in the church, that I had to send George to the Bathurst church in the afternoon, in my place to read a sermon, not being able to go myself.  Our communion being on the following Sabbath, my illness during the week gave me the more uneasiness on that account.  But on Friday and Saturday I had the assistance of Mr. McAlister.  On Sabbath morning I felt very uneasy about the state of the weather, for it had rained several days, and the roads were in a very bad state.  Yet 98 members were present, and we had on the whole a very pleasant communion; shaving that inward comfort may abound even in the midst of outward trouble

At the end of June, my health being somewhat restored, I went out to Beckwith to assist Mr. Smith at the sacrament.  I preached twice on Saturday, and twice on Sabbath, besides serving two tables.  Mr. Smith having taken the text in the morning, form which I intended to preach in the evening, I had to choose a new one, which threw me somewhat out of my reckoning, and made me uncomfortable.  In the evening I made a visit to my sons at Carleton Place, and remained all night.  At 12 I preached again in Beckwith, and after dinner returned home.  But delays are often dangerous as I found to my cost, for having visited a family on the way, I was detained near an hour.  A thunderstorm in the mean time was preparing, and half an hour before I reached Perth it burst over me, pouring down rain so heavy that I was drenched to the skin in a few minutes.

Next week I went to Kingston; to attend the meeting of Synod, and lodged at Mr. Everritt's.  On Sabbath Mr. George preached in the forenoon, I in the afternoon, and Mr. Cruickshank in the evening, to large congregations.  On Monday I brought forward a proposal to address the Governor on the importance of establishing a more general and efficient system of education, for the whole people, as the best means of composing the troubles of the country, of healing divisions, and promoting peace, prosperity, and happiness.  And also of paying more attention to the moral and religious character of persons selected for the magistracy.  The proposal was agreed to, and Mr. Romanes and I were appointed to prepare the address.

The business of the Synod being over, we returned home on Wednesday.  It was near midnight before we reached Perth.  We had just got there when the thunder began to roll, and the rain to fall in torrents.  But we were now under cover.  My first care was to give God thanks for preserving me on my journey, and the family at home, and bringing us together again in safety. On Saturday Andrew and William came together.  On Sabbath Andrew preached for me during the day, and for Mr. Wilson in the evening, to large congregations.  On Monday when he went way, George (now 19) went back with him, on his way to Hamilton, to join the class of students under Dr. Rae, with a view to the ministry.  Mrs. Bell and William's children, with the nurse, went at the same time, on a visit to their friends at Kingston and Bath.

Some days after they went way I spent very comfortably in study, but before the end of the week I was involved in trouble by the misconduct of a person in whom I had placed confidence.  O what misery drunkenness has brought upon the human heart?  After a fortnight’s absence Mrs. Bell and the children came home, at which I was very glad, for I was heartily tired of house keeping alone.

At this time my daughter, Mrs. Malloch, and John’s wife, being in ill health, took a jaunt to Rhode Island, and remained some time at sea bathing; by which they were greatly improved.  When I began visiting in the fall, the weather being very sultry, I suffered much from the heat.

For some time I had suffered much from the misconduct of two of the members of the church.  What griefs poor mortals have to endure in their passage through this vale of tears, and sometimes from a quarter where it is least expected.  On the morning of our communion Sabbath after an almost sleepless night, I arose to discharge duties rendered a burden by the unpleasant circumstances in which I was placed.  Before going to the church; I sent for both the delinquents and remonstrated with them; in strong terms, on the wickedness of their conduct.  The one went to the church, but the other remained at home all day.

The day was fine and the congregation large, but I felt oppressed and uncomfortable by the conduct of these men.  Mr. Wilson had requested me to preach for him in the evening, and baptize his child Christian; which I did accordingly.  When night came, though still suffering from an aching heart, I was glad that I had been graciously supported through the labours of the day.  We little know what we can bear till we are tried.

On the following Tuesday I went out with some more to a meeting of Presbytery at Lanark.  We met first in a friendly way in Mr. McAllister’s house.  Such meetings are refreshing to one's spirits in the dry and thirsty land through which we are passing.

Two days afterwards, by appointment of the Presbytery, I set out to visit our missionary stations in the county of Carleton.  On the evening of Thursday I reached the house of Mr. Gordon in Coulburn, where, as usual, I met with a hearty welcome.  On the following days I preached at Richmond, Huntly, Fitzroy, Coulburn, and North Gower.

On Tuesday I traveled to the Rideau River, which I crossed on a cedar raft.  In the township of Osgoode I traveled 20 miles by paths in the wood, over rough ground, and through swamps almost impassible.  I had been directed to the house of Mr. Cameron, postmaster, which I reached soon after dark, and met with a very friendly reception.  Here I learned that post offices, in the woods are sometimes queer places.  This was merely a shanty covered with basswood through, and half a mile from the road; if road it could be called.

Next day at 12, I preached in the church to a large congregation, larger than I expected to see in a country so thinly inhabited.  That night I spent at the house of a Mr. Campbell, and in the evening attended, by invitation, a prayer meeting of Baptists, at a neighbouring farm house, and took part of the exercises.  Next morning Mr. McPhail came and breakfasted with me at Mr. Campbell's, where we had much interesting conversation.

Two days more travel brought me home, very tired, but thankful that I had enjoyed fine weather and the care of divine Providence, so that no accident had happened to me.  Here I found a letter from Mr. Gale urging me to come up to the Hamilton Presbytery and preach to some of their vacant congregations, but I could not do it.

On the following Sabbath I felt pleased and happy to preach again to my own congregation.  I had to preach in the Bathurst church in the afternoon, and on my way out I met with one of the heaviest thunderstorms I ever encountered.  The electric fluid; in vivid streams, passed almost every moment between the earth and an immense black could overhead, while the loudest peals of thunder burst in terrific grandeur.  I had still a mile to ride when the rain began to pour down in torrents, drenching me to the skin in less than a minute.  When I got to Fraser’s the water ran out of my clothes in streams, not a very fit state to preach in; but I got a change, and Mrs. Fraser hung them by the fire till I came back.  But this was of little use, for on my way home I was drenched as before, and had to strip a second time.

Early in October Rev. Mr. Thomson, agent of the B.F. Bible Society, paid us a visit.  In our church a large meeting was held, when he made an address on the Bible cause, and gave a very interesting account of his travels in the West Indies and South America.

Next Sabbath I assisted Mr. Fairbairn at his communion in Ramsay.  On my way out I preached at Carleton Place, and inquired into the nature and effects of a revival which had taken place there.  The account which some of the parties gave of their views and feelings was very extraordinary.

In the fall of the year I had much visiting among the sick, and some of our old members were called way by death.  We were reminded of Christmas; by the preaching in the Episcopal Church on that day.  Though we paid no superstitious regard to the day, yet I always remember the event it celebrates with the warmest gratitude to the God of my salvation.  The feelings of my heart accord with the language of my lips when I say, Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.  To us a Son is born and a Savior given.

We had just obtained from Montreal one of the London Tract Society’s Sunday School Libraries, of 101 volumes.  We, and many others, have reason to bless God that he put it into the hearts of the directors of that institution to prepare these libraries, and furnish them to the public at so low a price.  Things at this time were moving on as they had done for years before, and to go into particulars would be to make this short account more than an abridgement.  The most painful crook in my lot was W’s conduct; which had again driven us to the point of leaving his house but a promise of amendment induced us to defer it a little longer.

Thus ended another period of my time, marked by some bodily, and still more mental sufferings.  More still by the tender mercies of my heavenly Father, for hitherto the lord had helped me.

On the first morning of the year l840; after expressing to the God of my salvation the feelings of my heart, I reminded all present at family worship of the improvement they ought to make of the season, and of the circumstances in which they were placed.  At noon the annual meeting of my congregation was held, and all the business was arranged in an amicable manner.  During the winter, at each of the examinations, I obtained from ten to fifteen names to the Temperance Society.  One day, when I was visiting in the town, I tried to make a drunkard, who was ruining both soul and body, ashamed of his conduct.  He acknowledged that he had been a bad boy and that at times he had a Hell in his own bosom.  There are many cases of this kind, if the truth were known.

On the 18th February the annual meeting of the Bible Society took place, at which Mr. Wilson and Mr. Kay discovered a very vindictive disposition towards some of the other office bearers, finding fault with every thing done, and every thing not done.

On Tuesday the 25th I set out on a journey, by appointment of the Presbytery, to the country bordering on the Grand River.  After preaching on the way, in Drummond, Carleton Place and Packenham, I met Peter McGregor who was to guide me to McNab, 20 miles.  The road was narrow and crooked, and we were exposed to much inconvenience, and even danger, from numerous teams we met, drawing large masts to the river.

After preaching in MaNab, Horton, and Arnprior, I reached Fitzroy Harbour, on Saturday night.  On Sabbath I preached there in the forenoon, and after travelling 12 miles in a thick rain, preached in the new church at Packenham.  The pulpit was just finished, and I was the first to occupy it.  Soon after I began to preach a sudden flash of lightning was followed by a loud peal of thunder, which made the whole house shake.  On this the load of snow on the roof, which had been softened by the rain, rushed down, first on the one side and then on the other, with a force that shook the church to its foundation.  In the evening I preached again in the schoolhouse to a good congregation.  At all these places I baptised one or more children.

On Monday, on my way home, I bad just reached Robert’s gate, at Carleton Place, when a couple of horses with a sleigh ran away in the street, and came up to the place where I was at full gallop.  A wood sleigh and a yoke of omen were opposite me in the street, which is very narrow, leaving less than three feet between the sleigh and my cutter.  Had the horses taken this narrow passage, my cutter would have been smashed to pieces, and I probably lamed, if not killed.  But instead of this they jumped over the wood sleigh, upsetting their own, and breaking the box all to pieces, close by me.

I was truly thankfu1 for this narrow escape, as I have been for many others.  I bad gone down the lake on the ice, and coming up the same way, I got home at 4 in the afternoon, having traveled 42 miles that day - the last three in mud.

Late in the evening Dr. Wilson sent me word that John McKay Esqr., our District Treasurer, was dying, and wished me to visit him.  Mr. Malloch went along with me.  The night was dark, and the mud deep.  I found him composed, and aware that he was dying.  His views of the way of salvation appeared to be correct, but he knew nothing of the experimental part of religion.  I earnestly entreated him to look to the limb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.  I had one more with him before he died, but not more satisfactory than the former.  He had been a habitual drunkard, and lived a very licentious life, so that his wife had been forced to leave him.

At our communion, in March, I was assisted by Mr. Fairbairn.  On Saturday we suffered much from the extreme cold.

I bad long wished to have a domestic mission established but could obtain no co-operation from Mr. Wilson.  One day, having a larger congregation than usual, I spoke of the duty of supporting home, as well as foreign, missions; and, at the conclusion, asked those who believed this to signify it by rising up.  The whole congregation immediately rose up.  I then intimated my intention of calling upon all the ministers in the place, and asking them to unite in doing something for the heathen in our own neighbourhood.

I did so in the course of the week; and though all professed to approve of the plan, this was all I could ever get them to do.  The truth is that, though all denominations are willing to do something to advance the interest or prosperity of their own sect or party, they are willing to do but little for the benefit of religion in general.  The same may be said of foreign missions, which meet with ready support; while nominal Christians around us are left to perish.

The charter for Queen's college at Kingston had been obtained a short time before this, and great exertions were making in both provinces to raise subscriptions for carrying it into operation.  Agents were appointed here, but they did not act.  Feeling sorry that a good work should stand still, I got Mr. Wilson to go along with me, and called upon a few friends, and obtained subscriptions to the amount of £380.  It was a little mortifying however to find that the richest man in the place, though a Scotsman would not give a copper.


With revenues of £10, 14, 9, and total expenses of £3, l2, 10, leaving an excess of Revenue over expenses of £7, 1, 11, William showed himself as canny with the accounts as he was formidable in the pulpit.  He would be the envy of every STEWARDS and TEMPORAL Committee today!


The 20th of May, being the anniversary of my birthday; of which I had seen sixty returns, I indulged many reflections on the goodness of God to me in times past.  May I ever number my days so as to apply my heart to heavenly wisdom.

At the meeting of Presbytery, on the 26th, Mrs. Paton brought some heavy charges against Mr. Wilson, but her petition was rejected as informal!

Early in June, in order to have it ready for the meeting of the Synod in July, I prepared a historical account of my church and congregation.  This had been ordered by the Synod from all the churches under its inspection.

The Synod this summer met in Toronto and Mrs. Bell went with me in order to see her sons Andrew and George.  On Friday the question of the union of the United Synod with ours underwent a long discussion, and was finally agreed to, by a vote of 35 for, and 3 against it.  Dr. Mathieson entered his dissent, and Messrs. Alexander and McIntosh joined him.  On Saturday, after the business of the Synod for the day was over, we drove out to our son's house, 16 miles from the city.  He had been married only a few months, and we were now introduced to his wife for the first time.  She appeared to be sensible, industrious, and very attentive to the children.  The heat at this time was excessive; and the dust very annoying.

On Sabbath I preached to my son’s congregation, and on Monday we returned to the city, finished the business of the synod, and on Friday morning reached home.

The summer complaint from the excessive heat, was at this time raging among children, and carried off not a few.  For some months this fall I was employed, at leisure hours, writing two volumes, entitled “Letters to my wife”, being extracts from letters sent to her during the two years I traveled as a Probationer.  But the visiting as usual occupied most of my time; so that they were not then finished.

At the next meeting of Presbytery, 19th August, the new members from the United Synod were to be received.  They all attended; subscribed the formula, and had their names added to the roll.  At our communion in September I was assisted by Mr. Smart, our old friendship being again revived.  About 112 members were present and the church was crowded; especially on Sabbath evening.  Seven new members had been admitted.

At the Assizes, near the end of the month, the old custom of giving dinners was revived, and I dined in succession with both the Judge and the Grand Jury.  At the former of these Mr. Tennent, one of our magistrates, got drunk, and behaved very ill.  At the latter Mr. Wylie, another, behaved even worse.

The 13th October was the anniversary of our marriage, 38 years ago.  What a series of mercy and goodness on God’s part, and of forgetfulness on ours!  It is of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, and because his compassion fails not.

It was about this time a kind of revival of religion took place in the settlement.  It turned out to be merely a temporary excitement which soon wore off.  In one week several of the members of my congregation called upon me in great anxiety, particularly Robert Shaw and John Smith, requesting me to pray for them.  They all obtained peace, and a good hope, in a short time.  I took this opportunity of establishing prayer meetings in various places where there had been none before, and of reviving others that were languishing.  Thus ended the year 1840; in which I bad endured some trials, but shared many enjoyments and many blessings, both temporal and spiritual.  Bless the Lord, O my soul.

On the first morning of a New Year, when I thought of the goodness of God to me year after year, gratitude compelled me to say, What shall I render to the Lord for all his kindness to me and mine?  The day was employed, as in former years, in religious exercises, and attending the annual meeting.

During the whole of the sleighing season this winter, I preached in some schoolhouse in the country, on Sabbath evening, and once or twice during the week.  The whole of my congregation were examined as usual, and at prayer meeting I gave exhortations.  Very cold I often found the weather, and many a severe storm I had to face.  One of my journeys to Brockville, 42 miles, to attend a meeting of Presbytery, was very difficult, deep snow having fallen the day before.  Another to Packenham, 40 miles, when the road was very bad, was no less so.

In the third week of February I made another journey to Packenham, to assist at the induction of Mr. Mann.  After the solemn service of the day was finished, we all dined at Mr. Mann's house.  At 5 I took my and after a cold and comfortless ride, in a snowstorm all the way, I reached Carleton Place at 9, where I took up my abode for the night.  Next day I reached home, breaking the new snow nearly all the way.

On the Saturday morning before our communion in March, there was a fall of snow; so deep as to put a stop to travelling.  I preached at 12 as usual, but there were only 15 persons present.  These had come with great difficulty, their horses wading to the belly.  Still it snowed all day, and was three feet deep long before night.  On Sabbath morning, deep as the snow was, a few sleighs struggled through it, and we had 55 members present.

Our county election, for a Member of Parliament, took place on the following week, and kept the town in an uproar for a few days.  The contest was severe, and cost, it was said, each of the parties about £400, verifying the saying of George Buchanan, that a fool and his money are soon parted.

A. Cuthbertson; the vagabond who had behaved to me in so rascally a manner, was at this time deprived of the last of his children.  One died of measles, and the other, which was born a monster with a large lump between its shoulders, was suddenly taken ill and died next day.

In order to be free from all interruption to my studies; I determined to sell all my land.  The park lot, the only one I had ever cultivated, I sold at once to Mr. Malloch, that I might be rid of all further trouble with it.  We had at this time resolved to retire to our own house; but upon William and John both engaging that in future no intoxication liquors should come into their store or premises; we agreed to continue a little longer, and make a farther trial.

In the first week of May, by appointment of Presbytery, I made a journey to Richmond; and preached there and other places, on the way.  The road was still bad, and I had to go a great way round to avoid bridges destroyed by the spring flood.  The kindness of friends compensated for every inconvenience.


At most of the places where I preached in the country I had of late established Bible Classes and provided them with books; which were changed every time I visited them.  All who attended these classes had leave to bring forward any passage of Scripture they pleased to have it explained.  I observed, however; that some were much inclined to bring forward texts more puzzling than profitable.

At the end of June I, with five other ministers; set out to the meeting of Synod, at Kingston.  Finding no boat at the Ferry, we had to proceed by Brockville.  From heat; dust; and a rough road; we found the journey very unpleasant; but the rest of the way, by steam, was pleasant enough.  On landing at Kingston we were met by many of our brethren who had got there before us.

This being now the seat of government, lodgings were both scarce and dear, and we had some fear about accommodation.  But very providentially I was taken into the family of Mr. Masson, which turned out to be just after my own heart; and never have I been in one that made me more happy.  The business lasted a week, and at the conclusion, I and three others purchased a family bible, and presented it to our landlord as a token of our gratitude for the kindness and hospitality we had received.

When the case of the students was brought before the Synod, I requested that my son George might be transferred from the Presbytery of Hamilton to that of Bathurst.  This was granted, and an excellent character was given him by Mr. Gale, under whose care he had been for two years past.

Being engaged to preach for Mr. Machar next Sabbath, I did not return home with the rest.  During the week I made an excursion and other places up the Bay, and visited William’s friends there.  On Sabbath I had the pleasure of preaching twice in Kingston to a large congregation.  I, on Monday, went up to Picton, 40 miles, where I preached twice to small congregations.  There was a handsome church, but I saw nothing else encouraging, excepting the hospitality of David Smith, Esqr. who cheerfully received me to his house.  On my return to Perth I found that William’s daughters had gone to Mrs. Wilson for education.

August 7th, our son George reached home, from Hamilton.  Here he pursued his studies, under my direction; till he went to Queen's college, the following year.  On the 8th September he was examined by the Presbytery; in Latin, Greek, Logic, Mathematics, Moral and Natural Philosophy.  He acquitted himself well, and received much commendation from the Presbytery; and was directed to proceed to the study of Divinity, and the Hebrew language.

Our communion, in September, was on the 12th.  The day was fine, and 135 communicants were present.  During the week I preached and taught Bible classes in various parts of the settlement.  On Thursday, besides these exercises, I had traveled more than 20 miles, and got home three hours after sunset.  The day had been warm, but the evening was very cold, and I was quite chilled before I got to Perth.  Next night I was attacked with inflammation, and passed many sleepless hours in great pain.  The whole of Saturday, and the following night; I passed in the same state.  So great was the pain that I could neither sit up nor lie in bed, but kept tossing about without a moment's rest.  No medicine would remain on my stomach a moment.  Early on Sabbath morning, a change of medicine afforded me partial relief, and though in a deplorable condition, I determined not to disappoint my congregation.

So at 11, I went over to the church on horseback.  This unusual mode of travelling thither created some surprise, for most were yet ignorant of my illness.  But this was soon discovered from my looks, and from my voice, which was weak and tremulous.  I gave only one discourse, and that with some difficulty.  On returning home I went to bed, but sent George in my place to the Bathurst church, to conduct the service there.  Though I had not slept any for 48 hours, I could get no sleep during the night, but towards morning I felt better, and during the week gradually recovered.  This mercy I gratefully acknowledged; for I had never suffered severe pain for such a length of time on any former occasion.

In October we observed the period of 10 days set apart for a general concert for prayer, and besides preaching on the subject of prayer, meetings for devotion were held in various parts of the settlement.

About this time Mr. Wilson and I made an agreement to preach alternately in his church on Sabbath evenings, where both congregations should attend.  He and I had not, for some time past, been co-operating in the temperance cause, though each was individually doing what he could.  But feeling both convinced that we could do more good by uniting our exertions, we held a meeting in his church on the evening of Monday 29th November, when the moonlight was good.  A report having got into circulation that my son George was to preach, we had a very large meeting.  Several animated addresses were delivered, and 42 new names were obtained.

On the 3rd December we found it necessary to remove to our own house; not at the most convenient time, for the weather was rainy and the mud deep.  Next Sabbath, from the same causes, my congregation was small; yet I was made joyful in God's house of prayer.  I have often had reason to say, How amiable are thy tabernacles, O lord of Hosts, as I had on this occasion.  The favour was the greater at this time that I had been uncomfortable all the morning, but I was glad when it was said to me, go up to the house of the lord.

The next Sabbath was our communion, but the roads being still very bad, the attendance was less than usual; only about 100 communicants present.  Though much depressed in spirit in the morning, yet I enjoyed much comfort in the public services of the sanctuary.

The last temperance meeting having succeeded so well, another was held at the end of the year.  At this meeting the office bearers for the following year were appointed; I was chosen President, and my son George Secretary.  He and three other young men spoke in succession, and I concluded with a short address.

The church was crowded; and all seemed to take a deep interest in the proceedings.

This year, as former ones, was begun by giving thanks to my heavenly Father, by whose goodness I had been spared in life till now.  I entreated of my God, and the God of my fathers, the forgiveness of all my past sins, and that he would protect, guide, and bless me, through the year now begun.  After 12, the annual meeting was held, and the usual business transacted.

The first Monday was a busy day, being the first election of officers under the new municipal act, when I and the other ministers in town were elected Commissioners for the management of all the schools in the township.  In a few days I made a journey to Richmond with Mr. Wilson; to assist at the induction of Mr. Evans, as the pastor of the Presbyterian Church there.  In the evening we had a very interesting Temperance meeting; and many new names were obtained.  During the winter, besides my own congregation, the schools and Temperance meetings engaged much of my attention.

The good effects of the Temperance cause had induced me; for ten years past; to give it my cordial support.  I not only abstained from all intoxicating liquors myself, but like of old, I commanded all my children to drink neither wine nor strong drink.  Had they all obeyed this injunction, their ruin would have been prevented.  But while the greater part obeyed, the rest did not and so came to ruin.

On the morning of Tuesday, 1st March, George left us by the stage for Brockville, on his way to Kingston, to attend the opening session of Queen’s College.  On account of the progress he had already made, the Presbytery had agreed that this should be considered his second year in the study of divinity.

On the communion Sabbath this month I was unwell all day, which grieved me much for the sake of others.  I took medicine, but was no better in body, though in mind I was as comfortable as could be expected.  Many being sick at this time, I was much employed visiting.  On the last Sabbath of March I preached the quarterly Temperance sermon, to a large congregation, in Mr. Wilson’s church.  But no warning will reform the drunkard, who will not listen to the voice of conscience, nor even to that of God.  On the evening of Monday a few of those who scoff at Temperance societies sat in Montgomery's tavern till past midnight, when all of them staggered home as they best could.  One of them, named Old Williams, an Irishman, was found next morning dead, at his bedside.  He had not been able to undress himself or get into bed.

Though I generally enjoyed good health, yet when illness came; it was often severe.  Constitutionally I was subject to inflammation more than any other disorder.  On the fair day, in the first week of May, I was attacked, and suffered severely for four days but blessed be God that, on Sabbath morning I found myself so much better that I was able to go up to the house of God and preach to his people though in a weak state.

On next Sabbath, 15th May, in the afternoon, on my way out to Bathurst church, on Mr. Malloch's mare, going at a quick pace, she fell and threw me, head foremost, against a log, by which my face was sadly cut and bruised, and my neck almost broken.  Yet I started up and mounted, scarcely knowing what I did, I was so much stunned.  After I got to the church I vent in to Alexr. Campbell's, and washed the blood from my face, and brushed the dust from my clothes.  Ill as I was, the congregation being assembled, I determined to preach, and accordingly did so.  One present offered to take me home in his wagon, but I declined it, and returned as I went on horseback.  Soon after I got home, Laverty’s boy came to tell me that his mother was dying, and wished to see me; but as it was six miles off, I was unable to go.


On the 7th June, the session at Queen's college being over.  George returned from Kingston, to spend the vacation at home.  The next Sabbath was our communion, and a happy season it was.  I was assisted by Mr. Romanes from Smith's Falls.  At a meeting of school Commissioners I had been appointed to prepare rules for the government of the teachers.  These were adopted, and we appointed ten teachers for the township.  One was rejected for drunkenness; and he vowed revenge against Mr. Wilson; who had chiefly opposed him.

The Synod this summer met in Montreal, but the great distance, and the heat of the weather, prevented me from attending.  Andrew, on his return from it; came by Perth and preached for me on Sabbath, and for Mr. Wilson in the evening.

A series of essays, signed “Scripturian”, having appeared in the Bathurst Courier, attacking the Temperance Society; I took the field against him; and in ten letters, under the signature of “Monitor", answered his objections.  He was very ill natured at the time, but at a subsequent meeting of the Temperance Society he acknowledged his conversion, and signed the pledge.

In the discharge of my duty as a school Commissioner this year, besides attending meetings for business, I had the oversight of two of the schools, which I had to visit once a month, and see that they were properly conducted.

Mr. Kay, the teacher of the district school, having left the place, a few young men, students of law and divinity, applied to me to take charge of their studies in Latin and Greek.  I agreed to this on condition of their all reading together, and confining their lessons to three evenings in the week.  This was continued for about a year, till they had all passed their examinations.

At our communion, in September, we admitted eight new members, but I was so ill at the time that the services of the Sabbath were somewhat beyond my strength.  On the morning of that day there was much thunder and rain, and the roads were very muddy, yet 118 members were present.  It would have been a happy day, had not the pain, under which I was suffering, rendered me very uncomfortable.  It being my turn, ill as I was, I preached again in the evening, in Mr. Wilson’s church, to a large congregation.

On the following day I was visiting in the upper end of the Scotch settlement.  There had been a thunderstorm in the morning, and much rain had made the road very muddy.  In the afternoon it began to rain again.  About sunset, when I left Mr. Bryce's; it was not very heavy, but before I got half way to Mrs. Gray’s; where I was to remain all night, it was quite dark, and a thunder storm and heavy rain coming on, I was in a few moments drenched to the skin.

I tried to get into an empty log hut not far from the road; but after taking down a fence to get at it I found the entrance blocked up with logs, so that I could not enter.  The rain at this time was pouring down in torrents.  The thunder was tremendous, and the darkness complete, except when a vivid flash enlightened the whole country round for a moment.  I had only a thin dress, and no umbrella, so that when I reached Mrs. Gray’s I was not only dripping wet, but very cold. Such was the weather I had often to encounter when sway from home.

Next day but one our Presbytery met in Mr. Wilson's house.  Being ill in the morning; I had taken medicine, in the hope of being able to sit up and attend to the business.  But after remaining some hours; in great pain; I was obliged to come home and go to bed.

Next Saturday I set out for Ramsay to preach on the following day.  On my way, I visited two families, and one of the schools under my care, and remained at Carleton Place for the night.  On Sabbath morning I proceeded to Ramsay, and after preaching to a large congregation, I, by order of the Presbytery, declared the church vacant.  Mr. Fairbairn their late pastor had gone to Scotland some time before.

On Monday, on my way home, having a lot of land, part of my government grant, not far from the road, I resolved to go and see it.  So, after finding it out, I tied my horse to a tree and entered the forest.  Having gone on about half a mile, and thinking I had seen enough of the land, I turned back, and as I thought directed my steps to the place at which I had entered the wood.  But the trackless forest deceived me, and it soon became evident that I had lost my way.  As the sun was clouded; I had no means of judging which way I ought to steer.

For two hours I wandered about in the greatest anxiety, as well as uncertainty.  Drenched in sweat, and involved in swamps, I struggled on; though, as I soon found, I was only diving deeper into the forest.  I had, the day before, preached from these words; He led them out by the right way, etc. and now most fervently did I pray that God in mercy would lead me out by the right way.  And, blessed be his name, he heard my prayers, and sent me relief.  The sun shone out for a few moments, which enabled me to take the right course.  After travelling half an hour; I discovered an opening, and a hut I inhabited by an Irishman, who conducted me to the place where I had left my horse.  At ten I reached home, by moon light, very tired.

On 13th October, we had been putting up our stoves, and laying down our carpets for the winter, when it occurred to us that it was the fortieth anniversary of our marriage.  What toils and trials we had endured in that time, end yet our God has been very kind to us in the whole of our journey.

On the Tuesday after our sacrament in December, I went out with Mr. Wilson and Mr. McKid, to attend a meeting of Presbytery in Ramsay, to consider a call to Mr. McKid by that congregation.  The opposition made to his settlement led to a division of the people, and serious consequences afterwards followed.

On the last day of the year we had a meeting of School Commissioners, and a brush with the R.C. priest, who wished to banish the Bible and prayer from the schools.

Sabbath, January 1st, l843

Blessed morning whose first dawning rays,
Beheld the Son of God
Arise triumphant from the grave,
And leave his dark abode.

Never had I more cause for gratitude to the God of my salvation than I had this morning; and seldom if ever have I felt more in my heart.  Though in the past year I had not been without trials and afflictions, both bodily and mental, yet I could still say, Goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life.  I thanked God and took courage, trusting that he would never leave or forsake me, but guide me by his counsel and at last bring me to his glory.

George had been home a few days from college during the vacation.  On Monday morning Professor Campbell and he set out in a sleigh for Kingston; but the day proved so cold and stormy that, after a; short journey, they were forced to take shelter till next day, the storm being directly against them.

In the second week of January our Presbytery met, when the Ramsay affair occupied our attention all day and all night.  Unfortunately, being Moderator at the time, I was obliged to hear all the squabbling between the parties.  At 12 at night, being sick and wearied out, I got Mr. Romanes to take my place for a little, when I went home and got a sleep, but the rest remained all night.  Next day we got through all the business, and I was heartily glad when it was over.

Two days after, Mr. Wilson and I went out to the annual meeting of the Bathurst congregation. We had first a temperance meeting; at which I preached a sermon, and we then transacted the other business, and settled the accounts for the past year. It snowed all the afternoon, which made our journey unpleasant.

In the evening a Temperance Soiree took place in the Temperance House, and I had been asked to preside.  All the ministers in the place had been invited.  The singing was excellent, the addresses spirited, and all went on to the satisfaction of everyone present.  The assembly broke up at 11, and all went home well pleased.

My son James having requested to be married on the 8th February, I went with him to Brockville for that purpose.  I lodged that night with my old friend Mr. Smart, the bride's uncle.  Next morning the whole household was astir, making preparations.  At 8, all being ready, the marriage took place, followed by breakfast.  That being finished, and preparations for our journey made, at 11 we proceeded on our way home, which we reached at 6 in the evening.  The young couple remained with us that night, and next day went home to Carleton Place, followed by our prayers for their prosperity and happiness.

The congregation at Lanark, now vacant since Mr. McAllister had gone to Sarnia, being placed under my charge for the time, I had been requested to administer the sacrament before the winter was over, which accordingly I did.

During the winter and spring we had monthly temperance meetings in Mr. Wilson's church.  They were well attended, and many excellent addresses were delivered; so that the society advanced to about a thousand members.

At the meeting of Presbytery in May, George underwent a long examination, in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, Natural and Moral Philosophy; and acquitted himself so well that he was taken on trial for license.

The Rev. George Bell, L.L.D.

The work of the several classes is progressing favorably.  Our Professor 0£ Oriental Languages and Biblical Criticism is vigorous as in days gone by.  The lectures of Rev. George Bell, L.L.D. on the relation of Science to Theology, now in course of delivery, are admirable productions.  As the learned Professor advances in his subject, and brings the light produced by scientific research to bear upon the Word of God, the convincing testimony is sufficient to satisfy all, that there exists the most beautiful harmony between the teachings of science and the declarations of Biblical inspiration.
(from Queen's College Journal November 17th., 1877

Dr. George Bell (1819 - 1898) was among the first students admitted to Queen's College in March l842.  He was already ordained when he entered 2nd year Divinity studies and was the first to graduate.  He was very popular with the students and was chosen by them when he was Registrar to give the address at the Solemn Service and Convocation on December 15th, 1889. Dr. Bell retired as Registrar and Librarian at Queen's in 1897.


Soon after our own sacrament in June, I again administered that ordinance to the Lanark congregation, at the Middleton church, and baptised four children.  The day was fine on Sabbath, and the congregation larger than the church could contain.

Next Sabbath I preached on the subject of infant baptism, at three different places, on the following account.  Mr. Fyfe, the Baptist minister, having made some unwarrantable and erroneous statements to his people on the subject of baptism, I found it necessary to refute them, and to give a true account of the matter, which I did accordingly.

On Monday, 3rd July, Mr. Wilson and I set out, by the canal; for Toronto, to attend the meeting of Synod.  Though the weather had been very warm before, it became so cold on Lake Ontario that I was taken seriously ill.  On Thursday at 3 we landed in Toronto, where my son Andrew met me and conducted me to the house of Dr. Telfer; where I was to lodge while I remained.  On Sabbath I made a visit to my son’s family, and preached to his congregation, but I suffered much from the heat, which was again become excessive.

On Tuesday the church question occupied the Synod most of the day, namely the mode of expressing our sympathy with the Free Church; which had in May separated from the established Church in Scotland.  Mr. Gale’s motion prevailed by a majority of two to one.  On Wednesday the business was brought to a close at which I was very glad, having been very unwell all the time, in consequence of the severe cold on the lake going up, and the now excessive heat.

Though I reached home in time to preach on the following Sabbath, yet I was too ill to go out to the Bathurst church in the afternoon; I therefore sent my son George.  In the evening my disorder, inflammation, became quite alarming, and though, during the night, I obtained some relief, it was a week before health returned.

Ebenezer, who was at this time studying law with Mr. Malloch; left us on the 2nd August for Toronto, to be examined and entered with the Law Society.  His success was beyond expectation; and he was placed at the head of the class.  So strict was the examination that; out of 15 students; 10 were rejected.

This summer I was appointed, by the Governor General, a trustee of the District Grammar School.  Under the old Tory government I had been kept out of this office by the ill will of Mr. Morris, but he had now lost his influence at headquarters.

At a meeting of Presbytery, on the Wednesday after our sacrament in September; George; having given in all his trials, was licensed to preach the gospel; and next Sabbath he preached in my pulpit, to a large congregation with much acceptance.  During the winter he supplied both Ramsay and Lanark at that time vacant.  I had his assistance also at our communion in December; when he preached twice on the fast day, once on Saturday; and twice on Sabbath.  My feelings all day were intense.

On Saturday; December 30, our annual meeting was held, for settling the accounts of the congregation.  I preached as usual; after which I presented the accounts of the Session and reported the state of the congregation.  All the rest of them were soon settled.

The following day was very cold; yet we had a large congregation.  It was to me a very busy day; as I had to preach four discourses; besides teaching the Bible class.  In the after-noon I preached the quarterly Temperance sermon; in Mr. Wilson's church, to a large congregation.  In the evening I preached again in the same place from these words, Rejoice in the Lord always, and never did I enjoy greater comfort or liberty in preaching.  How it was with others I know not but for myself I did truly rejoice in the Lord.  He had ever been kind to me, but I had at that time special cause to rejoice in his goodness, both in temporal and spiritual things.

As the last year was concluded, so this was begun, with a grateful heart to the God of my salvation.  He who had fed me all my days still supplied my wants; and even caused my cup to run over.  O my heavenly Father be thou ever with me, be thou my portion both in time and through eternity.  Let Heaven be my home, and saints and angels be my companions for ever and ever.

In the evening the annual meeting of the Temperance society was held in Mr. Wilson's church; when I was appointed President for the year begun though much against my inclination.  Three excellent addresses were then delivered; the first by my son George; the second by Mr. Fisher; teacher of a common school, and but lately come to our part of the country.  He not merely spoke well; but astonished us all by his eloquence.  The last was delivered by Malcolm Cameron Esquire, our representative in parliament.  All the speakers received great applause, and 18 new names were added, making 940 in all.

On the l0th January the Presbytery met in our house, when Mr. Wilson asked leave of absence, six months, to visit his friends in Scotland.  At the close of this meeting I was appointed Superintendent of Missions within our bounds.

John McLaren, one of my oldest members, seemed this winter to be dying, though slowly, and not suffering much pain.  One day, however, his son came to inform me that his father was much worse, and wished to see me.  On going to his house, which was four miles from mine, I found him suffering dreadfully from gravel.  But the patience and composure he evinced amazed me.  Though his body was in pain his soul was happy, reminding me of the pleasing truth, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.  During his last illness I visited him often; but rather to receive than to give instruction; to observe with what composure a Christian can die.  A short time before his death he requested me to write his Will, which I did accordingly.  He died as he had lived, exercising the lively hope of a glorious immortality in Heaven.

What I had often to endure from mere carelessness may be seen from the following instance.  The early part of the winter had been mild, but near the end of January it became dreadfully cold.  In the afternoon of Sabbath I went out to preach in the Bathurst church.  On reaching the place I was almost frozen, but expected to get warmed at the stove; but never was I more disappointed.  The church was cold as ice, and the stove was filled with green wood just putin, producing plenty of smoke but no heat.  Every one was shivering with cold.  After I got into the pulpit I shivered so that I could scarcely articulate a word.  I went through the service, but it was the most painful I ever performed.  I spent the evening at home, ill from the effects of this severe cold.

On the evening of the last Monday in January, we had a large Temperance meeting in Mr. Wilson’s church, at which I presided Mr. Dougal, President of the Montreal Society, was present, and gave an excellent address on the ruinous effects of the traffic in intoxicating liquors.  Mr. Fisher followed, and, as usual delighted the audience by his powerful eloquence.  At that time we little expected what a scamp he afterwards turned out to be.

Near the end of February, the congregation at Lanark being still under my care, I again administered the sacrament of the Lord’s supper there.  Having no one to assist me, the numerous services fatigued me considerably; but the cause was good, and the spirit was willing, though the flesh was weak.

Just before our own communion in March, William’s severe illness greatly discomposed my mind.  The Sabbath was a fine day, and I had a large congregation.  The communicants numbered 115.  In the evening I preached in Mr. Wilson's church, to a numerous audience.  After I returned home I felt fatigued both in body and mind, but well pleased and thankful that all had gone well, and that it had been a good day for our souls.

Next Sabbath I went and administered the sacrament of the supper, and baptised more than twenty children in the vacant congregation of Osgoode.  The journey was long, 60 miles, the road very rough, and the weather stormy and cold.  I went by Richmond, Long Island, and Gloucester.  The road was not only much about, but intricate and difficult to find.  Saturday was a busy day, for besides preaching, I had to examine the parents, and baptize 18 children.  The rest of the day was spent in examining and admitting more than twenty new communicants.

On Sabbath morning, when I went to the church, I found it crowded, and the people still coming.  Before worship began, about 20 more members, who brought certificates, were added to the church.  The church was so crowded that, though there was no fire in the stove, we had to open the windows to admit fresh air.  After the communion, of which near 90 partook, I preached again, and baptised more children.  All the services were interesting, and we went home at night rejoicing in the goodness of God to our souls.  My journey home took two days, in very cold weather, but I called on several friends by the way.

Peter McPherson, one of my elders, had been ill for some time, and on 25th March he breathed his last.  His illness had been severe, but he bore it with exemplary patience.  He had been one of our elders ever since I came to the settlement in 1817, and never neglected his duty, nor was willingly absent from his place on the Sabbath.  His peculiar temper often annoyed me, but his piety could not be doubted.

On the 5th April I received a letter from the Osgoode congregation intimating that they were willing to give George £100 a year, in the event of his becoming their minister, but he declined their offer.  When the Presbytery met in May, two other calls for him were laid before us, one from Cumberland, and one from Dalhousie.  This caused some discussion which ended in sending him to Cumberland.  At this meeting Mr. Fraser was admitted a member of Presbytery and sent to Lanark.  This relieved me of that congregation, which had been under my charge for two years past.  Mr. Wilson, a short time before this, had left Perth for Scotland, and never returned. 


On Monday, 27 May, Mrs. Bell and I set out for Cumberland on the Grand River, to attend the ordination of our son George.  The journey was fatiguing, as we had to ride 52 miles to Bytown in a wagon, over a very rough road.  On the way we had heavy rain, which soaked us effectually.  We lodged with Mr. Malloch, Sheriff of the District, who invited a party of friends to meet us in the evening.  Next day we visited the Falls, the Fort, jail and court house.  At 12 on Wednesday the Presbytery met, and took the rest of George’s trials, and made all ready for his ordination on the following day.

At 10, on Thursday morning, we left Bytown in the Porcupine steamer for Cumberland, 16 miles lower down.  Besides the members of Presbytery, about 30 ladies and gentlemen went with us to see the ordination, a ceremony which most of them had never before witnessed.  At 11 we landed from the boat and walked about a mile to the church, which we found crowded.  Mr. McKid conducted all the services with much dignity and solemnity.  At the conclusion I baptised two children.

As the people retired from the church they shook their young minister by the hand with hearty good will.  It now rained, but we soon got on board the boat where we dined, and reached Bytown at 7 in the evening.  Great credit was due to the agent of the Porcupine, for the handsome manner in which he not only furnished the boat, but all our refreshments, free of expense, and even went along with us himself to see that we were properly accommodated.  Next day, after taking leave of our good friends, we proceeded homewards, the road both rough and muddy.  As before we lodged a night at Mr. Gordon's, and reached home on the following day.

At our communion in June we were sadly disappointed in regard of the weather.  Saturday being favourable there was a good congregation, and I preached comfortably.  But on Sabbath morning early it began to rain, and soon poured down in torrents.  Many of our people in the country were prevented from coming in, and those who did come were very wet.  Not more than 70 communicants were present.  Though I had a sore throat at the time, and was a little hoarse, I got through all the services as well as usual.  The rain was followed, two days after, with a violent storm of wind, which knocked off much of the young fruit, besides stripping shingles from roofs, and even demolishing a few buildings.

On the l9th June, our Presbytery met at Lanark, for the induction of the Rev. Mr. Fraser.  After the public services, we all dined at his house during a thunderstorm, and heavy rain, and yet we had a fine evening coming home.

Next Saturday I examined the District Grammar School.  None of the other Trustees attended, which surprised me much, that men should accept an office for the sake of the honour, and yet neglect Its duties.

My next journey was to Kingston, to attend the meeting of Synod.  Soon after we met it became evident that there was a strong party desirous of cutting the connection with the Church of Scotland.  The subject was often and warmly discussed during the session, but without either party convincing the other.  All were agreed about declaring the Synod independent but the majority were opposed to renouncing all connection with the parent church.  Much time was spent in prayer, for wisdom and direction from the Spirit of God; and more in conference on the subject in dispute, but without any satisfactory result.  On Tuesday evening; when the vote was taken, 56 voted for continuing the connection with the Church of Scotland, and 40 against it.  All parts of the church were crowded with people, waiting to hear the final decision.  On the following day the seceding party met by themselves and in the evening they gave in their protest.  On Thursday we all went home, much grieved at the division that had taken place.

A doubt now began to be entertained whether the Rev. Mr. Wilson, who had left us in April, would return to Perth, as there was a prospect of his obtaining a church in Scotland.  Many of his people had before this inclined to the free church, and the probability of his not returning greatly increased the number.  Ralph Smith too, one of my elders, having betrayed his trust, was doing all in his power to create disaffection in my congregation.  In order to counteract his efforts, I explained to them what had taken place at the meeting of Synod, read the act of independence, and showed that we were now as free as we could desire.  This satisfied all reasonable persons, and we had no farther trouble on the subject till the end of the year.

The first week in August brought one of the severest afflictions we were ever called to endure.  Before this William had been visited with more than one fit of apoplexy, but had always recovered.  On Saturday 3rd he had a severe attack, and we expected every minute would be his last.  We prayed with him, but this was all we could do, for he seemed to be unconscious of what was said or done.  Ebenezer and a man named Ross, sat up with him all night. In the morning he seemed a little better, but still could not speak.  In the church I preached as usual, but with a heavy heart.  On visiting him; when we returned home, we found him worse.  Both when I prayed; and when I spoke to him, he seemed sensible; but could not speak so as to be understood.  At 4 P.M. he breathed his last.

Besides his own children, most of our family were present.  I did not preach in the evening, as I had intended to do.  Several of our friends and neighbours, that evening, and next day, called to console with us.  How we bore the affliction, I can scarcely now tell.  We endeavoured to feel; as well as to say, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth to Him good.  The funeral took place at 2, on Tuesday afternoon.  The company was very large; and I made an address to them at the grave, although it was a painful task.

As he died intestate; Mr. Malloch and I had to take out letters of administration, and take the management of his affairs, and the care of the children.  Of these he left three, two girls and a boy, Mary aged 12, John 10, and Maria 8 years.  The girls had been at boarding school with Mrs. Wilson some years before this; and we now placed John with Mr. Morrison, a teacher in Bathurst.

There being at this time no minister near Carleton Place, my son James had requested me to preach there and baptise his child.  Near the end of August I set out for that place, visiting several families by the way.  Not having seen my good friends in Coulburn for some time, I turned aside and spent a night with them also.  Next morning, after passing the village of Mount Pleasant, while travelling alone in the woods, and in very bad roads, I began to reflect on the goodness of God to me in time past.  I poured out the desires of my soul to him in fervent supplications, and enjoyed a time of refreshing from his presence, which I shall never forget.  I have often been happy in communion with God, but nevermore so than on this occasion.

On the evening of that day I preached at Carleton Place, in the Methodist chapel, and baptised two children.  Next morning, soon after I left the village, on my way home, it began to rain, and I was in a short time completely soaked.  This, with the oceans of mud and water through which I had to wade, made my journey any thing but pleasant.

At our communion, in September, we had fine weather, and a large congregation.  About 120 communicants were present; no one but Ralph Smith being intentionally absent.  I was in great pain with my old disorder, but easier in the afternoon

Near the end of the month a sale of William's effects took place.  The furniture, plate, books, bedding, etc. sold as well as could be expected.  I bought part of the furniture and plate, but more of the books.

This fall the free church folk made great exertions to get preaching from ministers of their own party; and really those who took pleasure in stirring up discord made great exertions to supply them.  It was curious to read the reports of these men, concerning the state of religion in those parts of the country, which they visited.  They represented all those, not supplied by them, as destitute of the gospel.

About this time a mechanic’s institute was organized in the village.  Wishing to give encouragement to the thing I joined it, and during the winter, in conjunction with others, save lectures on a variety of subjects.

I was at this time solicited to join the free church party, but declined, being convinced that we were already freer then they could make us.  Divisions in the Christian being directly opposed to the command of Christ, and the spirit of the gospel, I was led to inquire into their causes.  For the information of others too I preached a sermon on the subject, from the text, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.  The causes of divisions, among the professed followers of Christ, I found to be four.  First, the want of Christian charity; the description of which we have in 1 Cor. 11 chapter.  Second, spiritual pride; leading those who are under its influence to say to others; Stand by thyself; come not near to me; for I am holier than thou.  Third; laying great stress upon matters of small importance, and violating first principles; or positive commands; straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.  Fourth, becoming the followers of men; as of Luther; Calvin, Wesley, etc. instead of being simply the followers of Jesus Christ; and lastly, Laying aside the name of Christ’s church, and taking names of human invention as Church of Rome; Church of England; Church of Scotland, etc.  The best means of promoting union is to lay aside all these names, and take that of the true Catholic Church.  Then might all real Christians from one community, and live in harmony with one another.  On the frees however; this reasoning had no effect, for nothing is more obstinate than prejudice.

This year, like the last; began quietly and comfortably.  After transacting the usual business of the day, Mrs. Bell and I dined and I dined and spent the evening at Mr. Malloch’s, little thinking how near I was to a great affliction.

Two days after this, namely on Friday, it rained all day, which froze as it fell, covering the streets with ice of the smoothest kind, and most dangerous to walk upon.  I had been out in the afternoon, and got one or two falls, as did many others, but was not much hurt; for in day light there is less danger.  But about 8 in the evening, having to go over to the store with some papers, I put on, for additional security, worsted socks.  I got there in safety, though I found walking attended with great danger.

But on my way back, it being very dark, my feet went from me in a moment, and I fell on the edge of a stone breaking two or three of my ribs, and seriously bruising my head and shoulder.  With some difficulty I reached home, when Mrs. Bell assisted in undressing and putting me to bed.  It was now I discovered that my ribs were broken, and in a recumbent posture I suffered most severe pain.  I therefore with some assistance got up, and sat in the sofa all night.  Being unable to lie down, I had to sit and walk alternately for more than a fortnight.  After the first week, in these postures, I did not suffer much.  I procured a rocking chair, and in this, wrapped in a blanket, I sometimes got asleep.  But it was a weary time.

On Sabbath, not being able to go out, I got John Richmond to read a sermon to the congregation,' and, with the elders, to conduct their devotions.  At home I spent the day in a solitary state, and in great pain; but in the evening a few friends called to see me.  On Monday evening the annual meeting of the Perth Temperance Society, of which I was President, was held; but not being able to attend, the Rev. Mr. Cooper was kind enough to officiate for me.

On Wednesday our Presbytery met in the room where I sat, when I was chosen Moderator for the following year.  I requested to be excused, for the present, on account of my lameness.  But Mr. Cruickshank remarked that, though I was a lame man at present, it did not follow that I would make a lame Moderator.

Sabbath, being still unprovided with assistance, I resolved to endeavour to conduct the service myself, if it should be the shorter.  Mr. Malloch took me over to the church in his cutter so that I had but a few yards to walk.  I preached as usual, and easier than I expected, but I was worse all the following night.

My misfortune being heard of, all aver the settlement, every day some of my friends were calling to see me, and many brought accounts of similar accidents to my own.  Walking had been rendered so dangerous, all over the country, that not only had ribs been broken, but legs and arms in some instances.

The Howard Temperance Society having resolved to have a splendid soiree this winter, Mr. Lees, their Secretary, called to present Mrs. Bell and me tickets, and to request that I would preside at the meeting.  I accepted the invitation, though still infirm, this being only three weeks after the accident.  The soiree was held in a large new building, before the partitions were put up.

When the evening arrived I took the chair at 6, on a large platform at one side of the house, which seemed to be filled in every part, and more still crowding in.  I opened the meeting with prayer and a short address.  Ministers and other speakers; who had been provided, afterwards delivered addresses; the intervals being filled up by music, both vocal and instrumental, or with teas, coffee, cakes; and fruit.  The house was very crowded; above 400 being present; but every thing went off well, and all retired well pleased with what they had heard and seen.

It was now evident that Mr. Wilson did not intend to return, and many of his people joined the Free Church.  By remaining in Scotland and sending out his resignation he avoided hearing many ill natured taunts, as well as the pain of taking leave of a congregation to which he had ministered about 13½ years.

In the first week of February we had a great snowstorm all over the country, which blocked up the roads, and put a stop to travelling for some days.  It was the fiercest storm we had ever seen in the country.  It drifted the snow into such mountains that a snowplow had to be employed to open a passage through our streets.

Next Tuesday, the first annual meeting of the Mechanic’s Institute was held in their Hall, for the election of office bearers.  That of President was offered to me, but I declined it in favour of our Sheriff, who had done much to get the thing established.  But I accepted that of first vice President; and proposed some changes, which were adopted.  The same week Mr. Boyd organized the frees into a church, and on the following Sabbath Mr. Hamilton administered the sacrament.

On the morning of the first Sabbath in March, while reflecting on the wild and sectarian spirit which many of the Presbyterians in this settlement had lately discovered, I felt my mind in a gloomy and uncomfortable state.  But the public exorcises of the Sabbath, and a good congregation, soon put me into a more cheerful mood.  In the afternoon I visited a few sick people, and among the rest Mrs. Glass, who had been seriously ill for some days.  One being asked to pray for her, I inquired what she stood most in need of.  She replied, more love to Christ.  This was just what I wanted for myself also, so that I could cordially join in the petition.  During the rest of the evening I could truly say, My meditations of Him are sweet.

On the following day the annual meeting of our Auxiliary Bible Society was held, in the stone church.  I read the report as usual, and Mr. Milne, agent from the Montreal Society, addressed the meeting at some length.  The next day was the anniversary of both my ordination and of poor Maria's death.  This led me to look back and reflect upon all the way which the Lord my God had led me in this wilderness.  What blessings and mercies I have received from his hand!  Even eternity will be too short to utter all his praise.

Our communion, on the second Sabbath of March, was attended with both pain and pleasure.  Pleasure at observing the faithful adherence of those who remained firmly attached to the church of their fathers; and pain from the treacherous and unprincipled conduct of those who had not only betrayed its interests; but now slandered and misrepresented it; as foul and filthy.  Sickness prevented some from attending, and the bad state of the roads prevented others; yet 70 communicants were present; and much comfort was enjoyed by both them and me.

Next Tuesday our Presbytery met and received Mr. Wilson's resignation of his charge in Perth, and Mr. Smith was appointed to declare the church vacant.  Unlikely as it might appear, I had long felt that I should live to see that day not only without a minister; but divided among themselves; and now I had seen both.

Soon after William's death we had placed his son, with Mr. Morrison in Bathurst, as a boarder for the benefit of his education.  On Saturday, 17 April; I received a letter from Mr. Morrison informing me that the boy was ill; and wishing a doctor sent to see him.  Mr. Malloch went out with Dr. Wilson, the same afternoon, and brought him home to our house.  Inflammation of the bowels was the disorder under which be suffered at the time, but symptoms of consumption had been observed for some time before.

During the first week he appeared better; but though he complained of no pain, it was evident he was every day becoming weaker.  Dr. Wilson paid him every attention; but it was soon evident that his disorder was beyond the power of medicine.  He gradually declined till the morning of the 29, when he expired; at the age of 10; as calmly as if he had merely gone to sleep.  Just before he died, and after I had prayed with him; we asked him if he was afraid to die.  He said No; he wished to go to Jesus.

Some of our members having left us, for the misnamed free church; I feared the number might be greater than it turned out to be.  From ten to twenty was all that left me, but a much greater number left the other congregation. 


Our communion, in June; set the above matter to rest.  The day was fine and the church crowded; 98 members were present, and both they and I enjoyed much comfort in all the services in which we engaged.

Mr. Smith having neglected to declare Mr. Wilson’s late charge vacant according to appointment of Presbytery, they directed me to do it, which I did accordingly, on June 15.  On the last day of that month I set out for Kingston; to attend the meeting of Synod.  At this meeting I was, very unexpectedly, but unanimously, chosen Moderator the coming year.  This procured me civilities from some that I had never experienced before.  In the course of the afternoon I had no less than three invitations to lodge at houses where I had not been asked before.  But I told them all that, I had always been so happy at Mr. Mason's, I had no wish to change.

Business went on well during the week, as we were all of one mind.  On Tuesday evening late, everything being arranged, I closed the meeting with a short address; and next day returned home.  George came at the same time, and preached for me on the following Sabbath.

On the 2nd September I attended, by request, the celebration of the Perth Howard Temperance Society of which my son John was then President.  It was held on Mr. Malloch’s farm at Sweetbank, where a platform was erected, and seats set for 1000 people.  A band of musicians was brought from Brockville, consisting of more then twenty performers.  I opened the meeting with prayer and a short address.  Messrs. Parkhurst, Boyd, Goldsmith, and Cooper, in succession, delivered eloquent addresses in favour of total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors.  The charge for admission was l/3d., and after defraying expenses, the money was sent for the relief of the Quebec sufferers by the late fire.

Next Sabbath we had a visit from part of the deputation from the Church of Scotland.  Mr. McLeod preached in my church in the forenoon, and in the other in the afternoon, to large congregations.  I had prepared an address to be delivered to them on their arrival; and which afterwards appeared in the newspapers both here and in Scotland.  On Tuesday Mr. McLeod delivered an admirable address, in St. Andrew's church, to a large congregation.  He spoke three hours, and was listened to with breathless attention.

Having resolved to attend the meeting of the Commission of Synod in October, I went out on the 6th to the Ferry, where I spent a cold and comfortless night, waiting for a boat.  Next day I got away, but the Commission was met but had not transacted any business when I reached Kingston.  Next day I went to Belleville, where I had to preach two Sabbaths.  On landing, I found Mr. Lisle’s carriage waiting for me, and at his house I met with a kind reception from all the family.  Here I remained during my stay.  The congregation was not large; for it rained nearly all the time, and the roads were very bad.  I found that here; as in other places; religious dissention had produced melancholy effects.

On Monday, 20 October, I returned to Kingston; and on the afternoon of Tuesday the Commission had another meeting.  On Wednesday we finished our business and in the afternoon dined with Dr. Liddell.  On Thursday, finding no canal boat, and being anxious to get home before Sabbath, I went on board the Highlander, steamer, and in five hours reached Brockville.  I had intended to come home by the stage next day, but Mr. Boulton, the barrister, who had come with me from Kingston, persuaded me to join him in hiring a light wagon, and proceeding to Perth the same evening.  The road was very bad, and Mr. Boulton drove so fast that we broke down three times, and had to come half the way in the darkest night I ever saw.

On the 29th October Mr. Bain was ordained pastor of St. Andrew's church.  Mr. Fraser preached, I, as Moderator ordained Mr. Bain, and Mr. Smith addressed him and the congregation.  We all afterwards dined at the Temperance house, and Mr. McKid preached in the evening.

Our Grammar School, of which I was a trustee, was examined at the end of every half-year; but so careless were the others, that I had often to perform that duty alone.  On this occasion, the end of December, the Classical scholars did well; but I had not much time to spend with them, having been invited to see Miss Fraser’s school examined the same day.  It was nearly over before I got there; but I saw enough to satisfy me that the seminary was well conducted.

At the conclusion, being called upon by the teacher to make an address, I had got nearly through it, when suddenly all present were alarmed and thrown into confusion by a loud scream.  It came from Mrs. John Campbell, who was attacked with one of those epileptic fits, to which she had been long subject.  The room was crowded with the scholars, their parents, and friends; and so great was the alarm that some of the ladies fainted.  The meeting broke up in confusion before the sufferer could be restored.

In health and comfort, and my heart overflowing with gratitude to my heavenly Father, I began the year l846.  At 12, as usual, our annual meeting was held in the church, when we had all our accounts settled; and I reported the state of the congregation.  But the desertion of Mr. Fraser, our Treasurer, made me feel uncomfortable.

Mr. Bain’s communion being on the first Sabbath, I preached in the Bathurst church in the afternoon, and heard Mr. McMorine, for the first time, in the evening.

At the meeting of Presbytery; on the 14th, I was sorry to observe that much time was spent; and much ill feeling displayed in the difficulty between Mr. Fraser and part of his congregation at Middleton.  Mr. Smith, a short time before this, had sent me a very insulting letter because I had declined to call an unnecessary prosre nata meeting of Presbytery at his bidding.  This letter I laid before the Presbytery, but he, being now sensible of the impropriety of his conduct; made an ample apology.

George had been with us most of the week, but left us on Friday for home.  As he proposed attending the meeting to be held in Montreal, to form the Evangelical Alliance, I wrote by him to the Rev. Mr. McGill, approving of the project and requesting that my name might be added as a member.

Wishing to promote the same object here, I invited all the ministers in the place to a conference at my house; where we agreed to call a public meeting.  Mr. Melville indeed was compelled to withdraw his name, by some of the bigots of his own church; but this, as Mr. Cooper observed, only discovered a little of the free church bondage.

On the evening of the 4th March the public meeting was held, and a very large congregation attended.  To the resolutions which I had prepared six ministers spoke and every thing went on well.  We formed ourselves into a branch of the Alliance, and many signed the constitution.  At a meeting of the Committee, a short time after, we resolved to have a prayer meeting once a month, and a sermon in favour of Christian Union once a quarter, Mr. Goodson to be the first preacher.  At the same time our Secretary was instructed to open a correspondence, both with the Alliance in Montreal, and London.

Mary and Maria, William’s daughters, had been staying in Mr. Malloch's family till now, but on the 9th of March they came to live with us.


On the 28 May Mr. Bain and I, by appointment of the Presbytery, went out to Dalhousie, 20 miles, to induct the Rev. John Robb into his new charge.  Mr. Bain preached, etc. and I gave the charge to both the minister and the people.  After dining at Mr. McIntyre’s, we returned to Lanark, where we took tea, and reached home at 9, very tired, having walked or rode in a wagon over a very rough road.

At our communion, in June, we had a fine day, and a good attendance.  I was in a happy frame, and preached with more than ordinary liberty.  It was indeed a happy day to us all.

Mrs. Bell, on the evening of Sabbath, 28 June, was taken seriously ill, and had to keep her bed for some time.  She had gone to hear Mr. Melville's temperance sermon, and the day being hot, the church crowded, and the sitting three hours, her health was destroyed for the present; but, by using proper means, she gradually recovered.

On Monday, 6 July, Mr. Fraser and I set out for Kingston, to attend the meeting of Synod.  We both lodged at Mr. Massons, where were three others of our brethren, whose society we found very agreeable.  On Wednesday evening when the Synod met; I preached from Heb. 13, 17.  They watch for your souls as they that must give account.  After a short address I proposed Mr. Romanes as my successor, and he was unanimously elected.  The period of my office of Moderator being now at an end, I left the chair, well pleased to be relieved from its duties.  On the following day George introduced me to Misses Greenshiels and Whiteford, to the latter of whom I understood he was engaged.

Next Sabbath I preached at Brockville; while George preached to my congregation in Perth.  On my way out in the stage; I observed with surprise; the careless way in which the mails were treated. The bags were thrown in the open wagon, whence anyone in the darkness of the night could have taken them with the greatest ease.  On our way back; on Monday; their danger was still more apparent.  Instead of being put in the chest, where they ought to be, they were thrown on the top of the load, behind the passengers.  Before we got half way, one of them was lost.  The driver took one of his horses and rode back, at a gallop, three miles before he found it.  I pitied the poor horse; which after running 20 miles in the stage; in a broiling hot day, had to gallop, with a heavy man on his back; to say nothing of the bag.  The latter half of the road being very rough, and the day close, we were awfully knocked about; as well as drenched with sweat, and covered with dust.

I had never in my life been sued for a debt; but at this time both Mr. Malloch and I were sued; and in the Supreme Court too; for a debt that did not belong to us and of the existence of which we were not even aware.  John having allowed his affairs to get into confusion, some of his creditors became alarmed.  Among these was James Ferguson who had a claim of more than fifty pounds.  He put his note into the hands of McMartin, a lawyer of the shark species; who, without giving us a hint that he had a claim against us, sued us right off in the court of Queen's Bench, as Administrators of the estate of the deceased W. Bell; the other partner.

No lawyer, having the least claim to respectability, would have done this; but McMartin had no such claim.  The costs was the object, for these came into his own pocket.  The loss did not fall upon us; it is true, but upon the orphan children of the deceased; but this shows his wickedness.  To God, the Judge of the fatherless, I leave him.  How opposite are mankind in their dispositions.  While one part are doing all they can to lessen the evils that are in the world; the other is doing all they can to increase them.  Of those it may be said, “The best of them is a briar; the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge.”

On the evening of Saturday, 8 August, I was attacked with severe pains in my stomach, which for some hours resisted all remedies, and reduced me to a very weak state.  I was much better on Sabbath, but felt the effects for several days.

On the 14th I received a letter from the Rev. Dr. Holdick of Middletown, Connecticut, informing me that their university had been pleased to confer the honorary degree of Master of Arts and asking how the diploma could be conveyed to me.

The 19th was the anniversary of our daughter’s marriage with Mr. Malloch; and in the afternoon she and her husband had a picnic party on their farm at Sweetbank.  The day was fine, the party cheerfu1l and the rural feast upon the grass was relished by all present.  But little did we think that it was the last of the kind we should ever enjoy together.  The day was interesting from another cause being the first meeting of the Evangelical Alliance in London.

During the fall I suffered much from Toothache.  The doctor was very unwilling to remove the tooth, which was still fresh and strong and the largest of the set.  When he at last made the attempt the tooth broke off and for some weeks gave me more pain than before.

The Rev. Mr. Mann told me one day that a Free Church minister lately preached in his bounds, near the Grand River.  (It was the fashion then with the frees to finish every discourse with an attack upon the established Church of Scotland).  In concluding he said it was not necessary for him to say any-thing about the dispute existing among them.  It was easily understood and might be stated in a few words.  Some thought that Christ should rule in the church, others that man should rule.  In the Free Church Christ was permitted to rule but in the Church of Scotland man only.  By such misrepresentations they led astray the simple people who knew nothing but what they told them.

On the last Sabbath of September I preached the quarterly Temperance Sermon in Mr. Bain’s church, to a large congregation.  It was pleasing to observe that the cause of Temperance was steadily advancing in Perth and the country round.

Early in November I received a letter from my son George informing me that he was about to be married to Miss Mary Whiteford of Montreal and requesting me to come down and perform the ceremony and bring the rest of the family with me.  Though we had no objections to the match, the season of the year; the bad state of the roads, and the great distance of Montreal prevented our going.

To promote Christian union in the settlement we had appointed a quarterly sermon to be preached by all our ministers in rotation in favour of the Evangelical Alliance.  This fall it came to my turn, and on the evening of Sabbath 15th November I preached in Mr. Bain's church to a large congregation from Joseph's charge to his brethren, See that ye fall not out by the way.

The weather was open and much rain fell in this month, which made the roads almost impassable and kept many people at home, so that my congregation on some Sabbaths was small.  This, together with the trouble I had in trying to save from ruin the property of my two grand daughters (William’s children) produced, at times, a depression of spirits, very painful in the discharge of public duty.

Our communion Sabbath in December happened to be a fine day, and most of the members of the church were present.  This revived my spirits and I never performed the duties of a communion Sabbath with greater pleasure.

On the 24th December Mr. Bain and I examined the District Grammar School of which we were trustees and signed the master’s certificate that he might receive his salary.  On the following day, which was Christmas, we dined at Mr. Malloch's with our daughter with a party of their and our friends.  Little did we then think it was the last Christmas dinner we should ever eat together.

Just as we were sitting down to breakfast on the morning of the 29th we were alarmed by the cry of Fire.  On going out, we perceived two new houses belonging to Thomson and McDonnell, all in flames.  Being framed buildings they were soon reduced to ashes.  They had been just finished and were about to be cleaned out for the reception of the two families when they took fire.  A boy had been making a fire in the stove and it was supposed had dropped some among the shavings.

I began the year l847, by giving thanks to God for mercies received and; asking forgiveness for sins committed and duties neglected.  I then prepared the church accounts and at 12, attended the annual meeting and had them all settled and the usual business transacted.

One day F. McLaren, a reformed drunkard; described to me the horrors of delirium tremens.  He seemed, he said, to be haunted with demons night and day.  The disease seemed to produce a malignant disposition toward all, friends as well as foes.  When under its influence, he cared not what mischief he brought upon himself if he could only injure those about him.  One day he wanted to go to the river and drown himself, for no other reason but to vex his wife; one of the best women in the world.  Thus we find that wine is a mocker; strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Our only daughter, Mrs. Malloch, had been in delicate health for some years before this from a liver complaint.  She had the best medical advice; and everything that affection could suggest was done to prolong a life dear to us all.  But when death is in the cup all means will fail.  For some weeks she had been worse than usual; and though a slight improvement gave us hopes of her recovery they were of short duration.  After suffering severely for a few days and nights, on Friday 29th January at 11 A.M. she breathed her last, surrounded by her weeping relatives.  She had long enjoyed religion, and died in peace and in the lively hope of a glorious immortality.

Her brother George who was greatly attached to her had been sent for a few days before and seldom left her till she died.  At the grave when she was buried he delivered a suitable address, for I was unable to do it myself.  The funeral was the largest ever seen in Perth, and the procession extended more than a quarter of a mile.  On the following Sabbath I preached to a full congregation from the Christian's triumphant saying, O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?

This affliction to Mr. Malloch was followed by another of a different nature.  Early on the morning of Friday 12th February we were again alarmed by the cry of Fire.  On getting out of bed we found Mr. Malloch’s barn and stables wrapped in flames.  Being frame buildings they were soon reduced to ashes with all they contained, namely four horses, three cows, some smaller animals, all the hay, strew, grain etc. with a fine stock of farming implements.  As there had been no fire on the premises for some months before, and as the buildings had been fired at both ends there was no doubt of its being the work of an incendiary.

This was the more surprising as Mr. Malloch was much respected in the settlement and had very few enemies.  These few however were of the most malignant description.  Ever since he held the office of District Judge and chairman of the Quarter Sessions he had been envied and hated by a few disappointed end unprincipled persons.  It was not supposed that the incendiary in this case belonged to the lowest class of society.  On hearing of the outrage the Governor General issued a proclamation offering a reward of £50 for the discovery and conviction of the offender, but though a party was strongly suspected no clear proof could be obtained.

Misfortunes seldom come singly, and so Mr. Malloch found it.  In addition to the loss of his property, an attempt was made, by the same persons it was supposed to destroy his character, especially as a judge.  A small pamphlet of a libelous and scurrilous character was printed and circulated to a great extent through the district.  This was an injury that could not be overlooked.  Inquiries were set on foot, when it was ascertained that the libel had been printed at Bytown, but mailed at Kingston 150 miles distant, and that John McDonald Clerk of the Peace and McMartin a Barrister were the authors.  They were arrested accordingly, examined by two magistrates and bound over to take their trial at the next assizes.  When that time arrived; they were tried; found guilty and fined, the former in £10, the latter in £30.  Poor fines for such offences, but they met with much sympathy on the bench.

On the 28th March; in going 12 miles to Smith’s Falls to preach, I had one of the most difficult journeys I ever performed.  There had been a snowstorm on the day before, which had completely blocked up the road in many places.  Where the storm had been in the direction of the road I had no great difficulty for there the snow was not deep; but where it was across the road the snow was drifted as high as the fences making it next to impossible to get along.  So fatigued was my horse that in the deep snowdrifts he lay down and refused to proceed.  At one place I had to get the assistance of a farmer and a yoke of oxen to break the road for half a mile, for no one had made the attempt before me.  The struggle was severe but I persevered and reached the village just in time for public worship.

The various duties of my office at home, the examination of schools, and preaching at times in the country engaged my attention till the sleighing season was over.  On the 20th of May I completed my 67th year which led me to serious reflections.  My end on earth must be drawing near.  Lord, teach me so to number my days as to apply my heart to wisdom.  Though not without trials I em still spared as a monument of mercy and in possession of many enjoyments.  The lapse of time is astonishing: I had now been 30 years in Canada but in looking back they seem only a few days.

Celtic Cross, marking William Bell’s grave in the Perth Cemetery, erected by his descendants in the 1920’s.


After examining the schools as the midsummer vacation, I made a journey to Brockville by appointment and in the courthouse preached two discourses on Christian Union.  The journey there was very fatiguing, the weather being hot and the road rough; but, on my return, I fared still worse.  By the reckless conduct of our driver, our carriage broke down three miles from the half way house to which I had to walk on foot.  On arriving there, not being able to obtain another carriage he took the mails on horseback and left me at the inn 20 miles from home.  Being unable to walk that far in boots and in very hot weather I had to remain till next day; and even then had to ride home in a rough lumber wagon covered with dust and perspiration.

About a year before this the University of Middletown in Connecticut had conferred upon me the degree of Master of Arts, but my diploma till now had not been sent.  On the 23rd October however I received it by mail, in good order, though it bad traveled more than 300 miles.

On the 9th November I attended a meeting in the court house and assisted at the formation of a public library association of which I was appointed President.  Some weeks after I assisted at the formation of a Tract Society for Perth and its neighbourhood, so that every family might be visited and supplied with a new tract once a fortnight.

In December a dissolution of our Provincial Parliament took place and a new election was ordered.  Three candidates were brought forward one of which was my son Robert.  After a hard contest he was elected by a large majority and was triumphantly chaired.

On the morning of the 1st January 1848 my first thoughts were what shall I render to my God for all his goodness to me and mine?  Gratefully will I remember all the way the Lord my God has led me in the wilderness.  Still I will trust in the care of his Providence assured that he will never leave me nor forsake me.  The day was still as a Sabbath, for constant rain and oceans of mud made travelling next to impossible; so that, though I should have preached at Brockville on the following day, I could not go but held a meeting at home.

Near the end of January John McDonald Esqr. Clerk of the Peace who had been convicted of publishing a libel against Judge Malloch my son in law, was, by the Governor General dismissed from his office.  Two days afterwards the District Council met when my son Robert was re-elected Warden of the District and Chairman of the Council.

At the annual meeting of our Temperance Society, we revised the list of members made some new regulations and signed the pledge anew.  On the evening of the 8th February a Soiree was given by the Juvenile Temperance Society at which I presided.  More than 200 were present but the arrangements were so excellent that no confusion took place and all went home well pleased.

The church in Bytown being vacant at this time I had occasionally to preach there in turn with my co-presbyters.  In a journey I made this month to that place in cold weather and rough roads I was seized with a pain in my back so severe that every movement for some weeks was distressing.  This however was soon lost sight of in an accident of a more dangerous nature.

A very old woman, eight miles from Perth, who was seriously ill had sent for me to come and see her.  On a Monday morning early I set out for her abode intending afterwards to hold an examination in another place.  But all my plans were speedily deranged by an accident which had nearly deprived me of life.  I had got three miles from town when, going down the steep hill at Stanley's my horse became unmanageable, ran sway, and galloped down the hill at a furious rate.  All my power could not stop him till, at the bottom of the hill the cutter struck a stump with such force that both traces were snapped off like threads, and I was thrown in the air, falling on my head by which the scalp was torn from my left temple to some extent.  The wound on my head was near six inches long, and bled profusely.  Dr. Nichol and another person happened to be just before me in a cutter, at the time.  They and three or four men at a smith's shop close by all ran to my assistance not expecting to find me alive.  They lifted me into the doctor's cutter and took me to Armstrong's which was not far away.

By this time my face and breast were covered with blood and the people urged me to take off my clothes and have the blood washed off but this I decline to do till I got home.  The doctor wanted to sew the wound but I told him to replace the scalp and bind up my head with my pocket handkerchief till I reached my own house.  He however contrary to my wishes clipped all the hair from my forehead and covered it with straps of adhesive plaster.

My horse on getting free from the cutter had galloped off toward Perth, but someone caught him and brought him back.  Finding that the cutter though terribly smashed, could be brought home I borrowed traces from Armstrong and drove myself home, to the astonishment of every one that I ventured again with the same horse.  I was ashamed to meet anyone on the road as the blood still flowed over my face through the bandages.  At home, my return so soon and in such a state caused some alarm.  But I soon got clean clothes and felt better than could be expected.

My wounds kept me at home the first Sabbath; but, after that I preached every Sabbath as usual.  In three months the cut was healed in appearance but the effects were felt for many more.  To the care of divine Providence I am indebted that I was not killed on the spot, so great was the force with which I was thrown upon the frozen earth.  As the accident happened in a public place it was soon heard of all over the settlement; and, for more than a week, people were constantly calling to inquire for me.  The sympathy felt for me was not only gratifying, but far more than I expected.  What surprised me most of all was that the pain in my back was now entirely gone.

Attending meetings of Bible Societies, Tract Societies, Missionary Societies, Temperance Societies, making addresses, preaching temperance sermons, and examining schools, in addition to my ordinary duties, for some time kept me quite busy, till I had completed my 68th year in midst of many mercies and comforts.


Sometime in June an article appeared in our village newspaper, signed Philos purporting to be a critique on certain Hebrew and Greek words, which the writer wished us to understand were erroneously translated in our English Bible.  It was evident that he was a Baptist from his asserting that baptism in all cases means immersion.  This might have passed as his own opinion; but he went farther and charged our translators with having willfully and knowingly made a false translation to please the King.  This was an attack upon the credit of our English Bible, which I could not allow to pass with impunity.

Accordingly, next week, in the same paper I met the charge with a flat contradiction, and exposed the absurdity and even wickedness of this attempt to discredit our translation.  It turned out that the writer was the Rev. P. McDonald, a Baptist minister, who having acquired a smattering of Greek and Hebrew wished the world to know it, and especially to set them right on the subject of baptism on which he believed them to be sadly mistaken.  He answered my letter not in the way of argument but in low scurrilous abuse, to which I paid no attention.  But such was the opinion of his conduct entertained by the religious public that he was never again invited to attend any of our Missionary or other prayer meetings.  Even his own congregation were so displeased with him that he had soon to leave the place.

In July Rev. Mr. Bain and I set out for Montreal to attend the meeting of Synod.  The weather was very warm but we had a delightful sail down the broad waters of the St. Lawrence.  Running the rapids among the islands in particular was highly exciting.  At Montreal we observed two United States government steamers in the harbour.  The American flag floating conspicuously in midst of the shipping gave evidence of the good understanding existing between the British and American governments.

I soon found my friend Mr. Neil McIntosh with whose hospitable family I resided during my stay in Montreal.  But I did not remain till the business of the Synod was over having to go to Bytown to preach on Sabbath and make arrangements for the induction of the Rev. Mr. Spence.  On the following Monday I set out for home by the Rideau Canal.  As the country through which we passed was new to me I remained on deck most of the day though it was somewhat cold and cloudy.  In the course of the day we passed 32 locks before reaching the Rideau lake.  At the Ferry I landed near midnight and leaving my trunk with Mrs. Campbell I walked home, 8 miles, by moon light where I was happy to find all well.

On the following Sabbath, as Mr. Bain had not returned home, I preached in his church to both our congregations.  In the course of the week we were gratified with a visit from our sons Andrew and George who spent a few days and preached for me next Sabbath.

On the l3th October I remembered that 46 years had now elapsed since I entered into the married state.  What a period of care, toil, and anxiety it has been!  Yet mingled with many comforts and many happy moments, for which I am ever grateful.  Yet for all the temporal enjoyments my God has bestowed upon me I would not wish to live my life over again unless to avoid the errors into which I have fallen.

Tory government being now at an end in the province, the position of parties was wonderfully changed.  Reformers began to be treated with consideration who a year before scarcely met with common civility.  At the Assizes this fall my son Robert had the honour of a seat on the bench as an Associate Judge, while his brother James was chosen Foreman of the Grand Jury.

Judge Malloch, our son in law, being tired of a single life had gone to Scotland this summer along with Dr. Wilson to seek a mate.  He succeeded, and late on Saturday 4th November he returned to Perth with the lady he had chosen, having been married in his native land.  We were anxious to see her who was now to be a mother to our grand children, for Mr. Malloch had five children still alive.  It afforded us much pleasure to find that she was all we could expect both to them and us.

In connection with several ministers and others I this winter delivered a course of lectures on scientific subjects before the Mechanics Institute in the spacious schoolhouse adjoining our garden.

The beginning of the year l849 found me as usual busily employed in a variety of ministerial labours, preaching both at home and in the country, examining schools, and attending missionary and other meetings.  In some of my journeys I suffered much from cold the weather being very severe.  At the request of a literary society I went out one evening to Bathurst to give a lecture on the evils of ignorance.  The meeting was held in the church where everything was cold as ice so that I was almost frozen in the desk where I stood.  I went home with one of the members for the night and glad I was once more to get near a fire.

At the annual meeting of the subscribers to our public library I was again re-elected President for the year.  Mr. Bain being at this time confined with sore throat, I preached two Sabbaths in his church, that being large enough to contain both his congregation and mine.  The interest attending the lectures in the Mechanics Institute was well sustained during the winter.  The meetings which were held every Tuesday evening were generally crowded and all appeared to be both pleased and instructed.  My last lecture was on the Evils of War.  At the time the pain in my back had returned so severe that every movement was attended with a pang.

On the l9th February the death of our third son John at the age of 42 again plunged us in affliction.  He had been in a declining state for about a year but still hopes were entertained that he would get over it.  Mr. Malloch and I made arrangements for the funeral which was attended by more than 200 of our friends and neighbours.  On the very morning of our son's death I received a letter from the Secretary of the Juvenile Temperance Society, requesting me to preside at a soiree to be given the same week.  But in the painful circumstances in which I was then placed I declined the honour and returned the tickets sent for the use of my family.

At this time great excitement prevailed through the province respecting a bill then before parliament for the payment of certain losses sustained during the rebellion in 1837-8.  The storm had been gathering for some time, but, when the bill received the royal assent; it burst with fearful violence in the city of Montreal.

The mob pelted the Governor’s carriage, with stones sticks and rotten eggs; and hooted him with the most insulting language.  They did not however, rest satisfied with these expressions of their displeasure but attacked the Parliament House; smashed the windows, drove out the members and set fire to the building which was soon reduced to ashes with all its libraries, archives and other valuable contents.  Our son Robert being at that time a member of the House we felt some alarm for his safety till we heard from him.  But excepting in the case of a few that were particularly obnoxious to the mob none of the members suffered any personal violence.  Soon after this the seat of government was transferred to Toronto the capital of the upper province.


On the afternoon of Tuesday 10th July I set out, in company with two other ministers for Kingston to attend the meeting of Synod.  To avoid the intense heat we travelled in the night to Brockville, 40 miles.  But after getting on board the steamer the breeze from the water made our sail to Kingston more pleasant.

Having an invitation from Mr. Pringle I lodged with him in Queen's College during my stay in Kingston.  Mr. Muir the Moderator of Synod was also there and other ministers so that we had very pleasant society.  The heat had been excessive for some time but on Friday we had thunder and rain which cooled the air, laid the dust and gave life to vegetation which had been in a dying condition.  On Saturday we had one of those sudden changes of temperature by which this country is distinguished for thunder generally cools the air.

On Friday the thermometer indicated 93 in the shade, but in 24 hours it had fallen more than 30 degrees, so that I shivered with cold.  The effect on my health was soon felt.

After dinner I became sick, threw up all I had taken, went to bed, and was ill all evening.  The cholera being in Kingston at this time some alarm was felt by all my friends and some of them remained at the college all night.  But next morning I was better and able to go to church.

After a week’s stay in Kingston, the business of the Synod being finished I set out for home.  At Newboro, I remained one day with my friends Mr. and Mrs. Tett, made an excursion to Beverly through clouds for the heat was again excessive.  On Saturday I reached home and with much gratitude to our heavenly Preserver found all the family safe and well.

Ill health for some months after this was my lot, yet I never in a single instance failed to fulfil the duties of my office, either in preaching, visiting, or attending public meetings.  Sometimes indeed I preached in great bodily pain, but this employment to me has always been so agreeable that I could not give it up if able to be out of bed.  The year l849 ended as it had begun in peace and the enjoyment of much goodness and mercy.  To God even my God, be all the glory.


It seems a pity to come to the end of these fascinating accounts of Rev. William Bell’s experiences in pioneer Upper Canada with no knowledge of what happened in the remaining eight years of his remarkable life.  But, unfortunately, we have little information, as we could tell from his last diary entries of 1848-49, his health and energy were beginning to fail, especially after that accident with his runaway horse.  And, possibly, the sorrow of his son, Andrew's, death in 1856 made him realize that his time on earth might be drawing to a close.

In early 1857, he called the Sessions of the First Presbyterian and St. Andrew's Churches of Perth together and proposed that the two should unite.  This was approved by the Bathurst Presbytery and also by the Synod meeting in Hamilton in June.

During the summer of that same year, he became too weak to preach and, finally, on the 16th of August, a Sunday, he passed away.

The obituaries of the time printed his last wish that: “his friends at a distance, should be informed that he died in the firm faith of that glorious gospel which he had, with so much pleasure, preached to others, and in the unclouded hope and prospect of a glorious immortality beyond death and the grave.”


Rose Street.
6th. March 1817

My Dearest Mary,

I hope you have already received a letter enclosing two guineas which I sent by the carrier.  The clothes fit perfectly well.

If the weather was as bad in Airdrie as it was here on Tuesday you would no doubt feel uneasy.  It will be long remembered even by those who felt less interested than I did.  A thicker fall of snow I never saw; and as it was thaw all the time the street soon became almost impassible.  In spite of the weather, however, there was a large congregation in Bristo.  The house was not full; but about 1600 were present.  Besides our own presbytery a considerable number of ministers were present both of the establishment and dissenters.  After a most admirable sermon by Mr. Brown from Is. 53.1 of which I shall give you an outline soon Mr. Peddie delivered an impressive charge along with a clear narrative of the steps which had been taken preparatory to the present ordination.  His great abilities were all called into action on the present occasion and everyone speaks of the service as the most solemn and interesting they ever witnessed.  The particulars I need not detail; I was ordained in the usual way by the imposition of hands and receiving the right hand of fellowship from all the members of Presbytery present.  The collection amounted to S20.4.0 which, together with that made in Rose Street, we are to receive, besides the S50 from the Synod fund.

After the congregation was dismissed, the Presbytery met in the session house and after some little conversation agreed to consider the congregation of Rideau as at present in their bounds and accordingly enrolled my name as a member of the Presbytery of Edinburgh.  Mr. Brown of Whitburn was there.  Dreadful as the morning was, he had come nine miles to be present and no one took a deeper interest or discovered greater symptoms of joy at what he heard and saw.  I have just received a letter from him earnestly requesting me to come and spend a night with him before I go away.  If you go to Whitburn you must go up and see him.  Mr. Pringle was here from Kilpatrick as he promised.  Several people inquired if you were in town and had you been here they would have been very kind to you.  Mrs. and Miss Hull are very kind.  The certificate of my ordination was sent off to London today and Dr. Hall was instructed to get everything forward as quick as possible.

I am just now returned from Leith where I have been to dine and drink tea with Mr. Watson.  I have settled with him about the passage.  It is to be just S50 for our family and if we take a servant S10 more. Several people have called upon me who are going with us.  A gentleman from Fife called yesterday with a letter for his uncle who is a justice of peace at Rideau (or New Perth which is now its name) and one of the persons who signed the petition for a minister.  The 3rd of April Mr. Watson assured me is the day fixed for his vessel sailing.

They are now taking in 100 tons of coals as ballast below the lower deck but they have no other cargo so that the whole of the space between decks will be clear for the passengers.  The beds they are fitting up for us are the same size as the bed you sleep in at present; and the passengers find bedding and clothes for themselves, so that all your three beds must be brought just as they are.  The captain says he will have plenty of meal on board to make porridge for the children morning and evening but what sugar and tea we need we must provide for ourselves.  A lady has just called who is going with us the length of Montreal as a teacher.

You know I am to preach in Bristo on Sabbath first which is the 2nd of March and in Rose Street on the third.  In Dunbar on the 4th and in Rose Street on the fifth.  The first of April at Fala which is four miles beyond Fond; but I hope to be away before that time.  You may either get the children’s clothes made or wait till I come west as you see most proper.  I shall write with directions about the dispositions as soon as I have fixed the time of coming.  It will either be the Tuesday before or after the last Sabbath of March.

In the meantime, if anything is wanting you can write to me.  It is a lucky circumstance that I have not the pony on my hands at present as I have no need of it, nor do I expect to need it again as I can go to Dunbar without it if necessary.  But if it is troublesome to A. Black I wish you would ask your father to bring it to Edinburgh on the Wednesday morning before I go to Dunbar and try to sell it; and then if it is not sold I can take it with me.  There is a horse market in Edinburgh every Wednesday at 2 o'clock, in the Grass Market.  Write these things to your father if you are not east.  It is Wednesday the 19th of March he is to come east if he hears nothing to the contrary.  He may ask S12 but he may take 10 rather than not sell it.

I am sorry I have left so little room to speak about our expedition.  The prospect of it affords me to the greatest pleasure; tho the work is great the reward is glorious.  The religious public will anxiously wait for the results of our labours.  With them stand connected the eternal salvation not only of the present inhabitants of Perth Settlement but of generations yet unborn.  The work is God's, let us look to him for his blessing and all shall be well.

I am My Dearest Mary, Yours

Wm. Bell

If the account of my ordination which has been inserted in the newspapers appear in yours see if you can get the old paper to keep.  I was to have the honour of dispensing the Sacrament in the new congregation at Leith if I had remained till the time.  I need not inform you my address is now changed.  As there is no restriction for luggage I think we shall take the chairs and table along with us.

Rose Street 8th March

Andrew Bell’s poem of grief on the death of his only sister, Isabella Margaret (1812 - 1847) wife of Judge George S. Malloch.

Doctor Robert Bell, Acting Director, Geological Survey and Sir Stanford Fleming, Chief Engineer of CPR and author of Worldwide Standard Time Zones, at a garden party, Rideau Hall, Ottawa, April 30th., 1898.



My first acknowledgements to people who helped in preparing these two volumes must go to those who had an early influence on my interest in the Bell Family: my mother, "Daisy" Bell and her two sisters, Alice and Olga, with whom I went to live (because of an early illness) for two winters 1929-30-31 in their father’s house in Ottawa.  There I met many of the Bells.  Especially important as I grew up were Max and Vera of Almonte and their two sons Andrew and John, and most important of all, of course, was J. Jones Bell who at the age of 92 when I was fifteen, took me bicycle riding, tobogganing and told me first-hand impressions of the Rev. William Bell and the Perth Settlement, when many of the things described in this Diary were still going on.  Later, but much of the same pattern were Cousins Archibald M. and Mary A. B. Campbell of Perth, who were cousins both to my wife, Mary Laidlaw, and to me, and whose company was always a joy to us and a constant indoctrination in the mystique of the Perth settlement.

When my family's house at 136 Maclaren Street, Ottawa, caught fire in 1962 and was partially destroyed, most of the contents were saved - fifty-six tons of it in twenty-eight rooms.  I was the Executor and responsible for sorting through and disposing of all that material.  Large parts of it went to the Public Archives, the National Library, the National Museum, the Geological Survey of Canada, and the herbarium to Carleton University.  Heartfelt thanks for sharing in that effort, which led directly to this book, go to my late wife Mary, our son Robert, Margery Cooper, Group-Captain L. Ronald Stewart (RCAF, ret.), to Harold Pfeiffer and Dr. Laurus Russell of the National Museum, Dr. Kaye Lamb, Dominion Archivist, Dr. Harrison, Director of the Geological Survey of Canada, Dean Nesbitt and Dr. Isobel Bayly of Carleton University.

It was right after that fire that we discovered in the still darkened house the two little copy books that contained the condensed version of William Bell's diaries of which this is Volume II and, subsequently, we found many of the pictures and supporting material that has made this volume possible.  For their early work on the Bell Family Tree, I acknowledge an enormous debt to R. Murray Bell, Q.C., of Toronto and to Dr. Fred C. Bell of Winnipeg and Vancouver and, latterly, to his widow Marcella, and to Norman H. Bell, mentioned in the Foreword, who also gave me photocopies of a number of letters from a Rev. Andrew Bell to his father the Rev. William Bell; and, to Norman's daughter Airdrie Thompson-Guppy; to Airdrie Cameron, daughter of Charles Napier Bell, for her support over many years and for many items of historical interest; to Peggy Cavanaugh, whom I met only shortly before she died, who gave me a chair and a chest of drawers made by William Bell's own hands.

For the actual preparation of Volume II and the typing of the manuscript I acknowledge with thanks the work of my son, Robert Campbell Douglas, who also drew-up the family tree, and the late Margery Cooper and her brother Lt. Merrill Cooper, RCN, for having the MSS retyped in twenty-two copies by hand.

But, most of all I acknowledge with gratitude the drive and dedication of my wife Janette (Webber) who has persuaded me to resurrect this manuscript after twenty-five years; has documented the illustrations; proof-read the whole and helped to get the book on the road.  Her contribution has been priceless.

Just before going to the book-binders, I would like to thank Winnie Inderwick of Perth, Douglas McNichol, Curator of the Perth Museum and Larry Turner, of the Commonwealth Resource Management Ltd. for their help in untangling some last minute snags that always seem to wait until just the last minute.


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