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From the Clyde to California
Chapter II.—Toronto—Niagara Falls—Buffalo


LEAVING Brockville, we enter on a fairy scene—the Thousand Islands—and are at length in their midst. On right and left, before and behind, they lie about us, from the size of a parlour table to several miles in extent, all clothed in rich verdure, the trees drooping with heavy foliage. One small island had two slender trees upon it, about twelve feet in height, with a quantity of ferns about their roots—a little gem of beauty. Some had farm stock and comfortable-looking farm-houses upon them. On others were to be seen gorgeous mansions of the American gentry.

The Thousand Islands seemed to have been so named before they were counted; for the precise number, according to official returns, is 1692. They are famed residences during the summer months for citizens of New York and other large cities, and it is a favourite boast among the many boatmen that, in their light and graceful craft, the same guest may be taken through different scenes every day during the season. The beautiful and romantic scenery is simply that of our own Loch Lomond repeated on a grand scale.

After passing through this fairy archipelago we reach Kingston, or the "Limestone City," as it is called, and a very clean, thriving, healthy place it seems. Some of the houses are built of brick, but the largest number are built of limestone—hence its name. Having two hours to spend here, we visited the Court-house, the Cathedral, and the New College. About two miles distant from the city is the prison, to which are attached two hundred acres of land in which are stone quarries. The working of these quarries and the cultivation of the ground keep the prisoners fully employed at profitable work, and near the prison is a very large asylum. Both prison and asylum are said to have been built by prison labour. This is putting criminals to profitable use, and is a great improvement on "crank-turning," suoh as we have in some prisons at home.

The agent of the Steamboat Company was very communicative, and gave us a sight of all the specimens of minerals the district produced, among which were silver, lead and iron ores. The iron ore contained twenty per cent., and some as high as sixty per cent. of pure iron. We inquired if they had coal in the neighbourhood of the iron? "That," said he, "is the only thing we want, to give full development to the port; so we have to export the ore to get the iron extracted."

He shewed to us a beautiful specimen of slate—the finest, indeed, that ever came under our notice, but the slates cannot be used, as slates are imported from England and sold at less cost than these fine ones can be taken out of their own quarries—there being no duty on this article. "Slates," our informant added, "are the only things imported on which no duty is levied; but the representative of Kingston has had his attention drawn to the slates, and to the prospect of a large industry being developed, if an import duty were put on, even although there should be only one quarry in the State." Whether right or wrong, this is their method of developing the resources of the country.

When we were about thirty miles from Toronto, our attention was attracted to the immense number of dead fish floating on the surface of the water. There were thousands all round, and in appearance like good-sized herrings. We inquired at the captain the cause of such a strange sight. He informed us that it was nothing new. For several seasons past the shores, all along, were covered with smelling dead fish, and farmers in the neighbourhood were in the habit of carting them away to manure their lands. It is conjectured that at this season of the year an epidemic overtakes this kind of fish; but the probability is that it results from the escape of noxious vapours, caused by volcanic action at the bottom of the lake.

On our arrival at Toronto, we put Up at the Walker House, a very comfortable and well-conducted hotel, and having breakfasted we sallied out to spy the "Queen City," as it is styled. We were favourably impressed with the number of stately churches and lofty spires, and more particularly with the sedate demeanour of the people, who were evidently wending their way to their respective places of worship on this pleasant Sunday morning. The appearance was that of a quiet Scottish Sabbath, and having joined the throng, we went into a modest-looking place of worship called the Catholic Apostolic Church. The service was new to us, being conducted by no less than eight officials dressed in various costumes or robes, each taking part in the ceremony. Except for the dresses, it was difficult to know who was the priest and who were the apostles. Though a little strange to us, the service was impressive. The Sacrament was dispensed at its close, and the whole was conducted in such a solemn manner as to leave no doubt on our minds that we were amongst a religious and God-fearing people.

After dinner, we took a stroll through the city, and inquired for Jervis Street, where we had learned that an old Greenockian had his place of business; having discovered his sign, we did not feel disposed to disturb him on Sunday, but went about two miles along the street taking observations. The Street was very wide, and well shaded on both sides with maple, chesnut, and poplar trees. The sideways were all formed of wood, and between them and the carriage-way on both sides along the whole length of the street extended a broad green plot. Neat, substantial, self-contained villas were on each side of the street, ornamented with nice patches of green lawn and flower- plots in front, rendering this part of the city clean and pleasant-looking.

After walking on for a considerable distance, we turned to the left, and entered the Queen's Park, a large and handsome pleasure ground, where we spent a pleasant hour. Numbers were strolling about, and stump orators were dotted over it, holding forth to knots of listeners their views on various topics.

We returned by a Grand Avenue leading from the Park to the city, concluding from what we had seen on our short stroll that Toronto had a fair claim to be called the "Queen City," and that it far surpassed anything we had in the old country, with one exception; there were very few drinking fountains and seats in the Park and avenues, however, and, on account of the extreme heat, they would have been very acceptable.

On Monday we called on Mr J. B. Smith, an old acquaintance, who had been twenty-five years resident here, and who was carrying on the lumber and joiner trade successfully. We were taken over his extensive premises, and saw wood-working machinery used for the preparation and construction of nearly every article of woodwork, which, to our view, seemed carried to the height of perfection. Our friend then asked us to ride with him to see a stable he was just finishing, and on arriving at it and looking at its grand appearance, we would not have been surprised if he had told us that we were visiting some public institution instead of a stable. But you may guess our surprise when, on ascending an easy incline, we saw before us a long, wide, and lofty hail, all formed of wood, and fitted up to accommodate six hundred and fifty horses. The ground-floor was adapted for carriages, &c., the second floor for horses, and the third floor for grain and provender. The general aspect of this immense horse lodging-house had more the appearance of a public building than a stable.

We had heard of the mammoth proportions of the American hotels—and had some pleasant experiences of them—but we certainly were not prepared to see the same system carried out on a scale so enormous for the lodgment of horses. Our friend, seeing that he had surprised us, resolved to surprise us still more, and conveyed us to the large distillery of the Messrs Gooderham & Worte, where 12,000 gallons of whisky are daily manufactured from grain. After having been taken over the vast premises, we were shown the conclusion of the process issuing from a pipe three inches in diameter, standing upright in the centre of a cistern through which the liquor welled up and overflowed into the cistern. On the top of this pipe a gauge constantly floated, so that any variation in the strength of the liquor was at once detected by the attendant on duty.

Our attention was then drawn to the fact that after the grain was put into the vats, it was not taken out or again handled in any way at the distillery, but was run along with the potale or liquor from which the whisky had been extracted into a large vat that stood on a lower level, but still sufficiently high to allow the mass to run through a pipe and discharge into a series of vats at the extensive byres belonging to the same firm, fully three-fourths of a mile distant from the distillery. In these vats the potale and draff are stirred by machinery until they resemble gruel, which is distributed by a series of rhones into the troughs in the byres, which are seven in number and in the aggregate accommodate 4,500 head of cattle. At the time of our visit there were only 3,600 in the stalls, a number having a few days previous been sent by the Grand Trunk Railroad to Montreal, there to be shipped by the Allan Line to the Clyde. The cattle in another of the byres were sold for the Clyde, and some of them were to be despatched on the following day. They were sold at 5 3/4 cents per lb. live weight, the animals varying in weight from sixteen to nineteen cwts. each. The byres are square, two-storey buildings. The upper storey is used for holding provender. The cattle stand in the low flat in long rows, head to head, with a feeding-trough between, and a rail over the centre of it, on which a gang-way is laid for the attendants to walk from the one end to the other. After the season's cattle have been disposed of, the byres are cleaned and disinfectcd, the old floors lifted, and the building exposed to the air for several months. About the end of August, the floors are re-laid with new wood, and all prepared to receive stock for the next season, competent parties being sent over the country to purchase lean cattle, which are taken to the byres and fed during the winter, so as to be in good condition by the month of June, when they are sold for export.

Amongst the cattle in the byres were some with nicely dressed horns, having polished brass knobs on the tips. These, we were informed, had been kept for ploughing or dragging timber, for which purposes they are much more used than horses.

It is the custom in our country to supply stall-fed cattle with a good bed of straw or sawdust. With the Canadians this comfort is altogether disregarded. They find by experience that cattle are more healthy and thrive much better on bare boards than on a bed of straw, which has a tendency to generate gas and produce disease. This treatment is certainly not very comfortable looking, though the result is said to be very satisfactory, the death-rate being not more than i per cent, during the season.

Another point is worthy of notice. With stall-fed cattle at home the manure is worth from £2 to £3 per head per annum, whereas, with the Canadians, it is of no value. It is run out into the dungstead, which extends the whole length of one side of the byre, and is divided into sections; and any farmer or market gardener who will guarantee to keep a section clean for the season, will get the manure for the taking away.

Returning from our excursion, we drove UI) to the office, and, on stepping from the buggy, we observed a man sitting on a log, his back against the wall and his face exposed to the sun. Mr Smith remarked that there was something wrong with that man, and, stepping up to him, gave him a shake. He opened his eyes, and, with a debauched stare in his countenance, uttered some incoherent words. Mr Smith followed up with-"Where do you come from?" and, as if attempting to raise himself up and collect his thoughts, he muttered out "Greenock," and that he was wanting work. We felt somewhat chagrined at the idea that the first intoxicated man we had seen, hailed from our native place. This little incident led to a conversation about foreign workmen. On asking Mr Smith if he ever employed any of our home workmen, he said he had them frequently, but it was very difficult to get along with them at first. They were so prejudiced in their views, they insisted on their own way of doing everything, but a very few days took this conceit out, when they saw how the Yankees could go a-head of them. When they did adopt the Yankee methods of working they got on very well.

Leaving Toronto, we took train to Owen Sound, situated on the Georgean Bay, Lake Huron, 122 miles distant. The railroad follows very much the surface of the ground; the roads all cross the rails on the level. Large billboards arc fixed up at these crossings, with the intimation in bold letters, "Look out for the train," and if any unfortunately come to grief through their own carelessness, the fault is their own and not the company's. This line of railroad is for the greater part of the way through a forest which in some parts is cleared only for the railway lines; other portions are cleared for nearly a mile on each side. Some of the fields are in a fair state of cultivation ; others have stumps of trees sticking up from three to four feet above the surface, indicating the depth of snow on the ground at the time they were cut. Hardwood roots rot in from five to seven years, but pine roots take from twenty to twenty-five years.

Where the land is clear there are always a number of shanties erected. The farms here vary much in size, being from thirty to one hundred acres. When a farmer clears a bit of ground he erects a shanty to live in, then plants an orchard; every farmer has an orchard, varying in size from half-an-acre to three or four acres, and keeps a horse and buggy to convey his surplus produce to the nearest village or market town. When a sufficient quantity of ground is cleared, he plants corn, wheat, and potatoes, and also keeps a number of cows, one of which has a bell hung round its neck, which keeps ringing with every motion of the cow. The other cows follow the "bell cow," and thus their whereabouts in the forest are readily got at.

A farmer told me of a curious instance of the force of habit in a "bell cow," which had worn the bell for a long time, but it was taken off, and she got so grieved, so out of sorts, and so low spirited, that the farmer began to treat it as unwell. But it showed no symptoms of recovery, till one day one of the children in his pranks decorated the cow with its bell, when it instantly recovered its usual sprightliness, and went at once to the grass, with all the other cows following.

There are quite a number of public works at Owen Sound, considering its size, and the Harbour Trustees are piling for a long distance down into the bay, on both sides of the Sydenham river; and in this operation our American friends again employ the agencies of Nature to assist them.

The piling is done in the winter season, when the bay is frozen over. The lines for the piles are drawn on the ice, and holes are cut just the size of the pile, which is then dropped through, and driven to the proper depth, the ice making a fine platform for carrying on the work. When the ice melts, then the piles will be floored over, and the wharves are complete, Nature kindly assisting in doing the scaffolding work, and charging nothing! Wood is abundant, and is the only fuel the farmers use. The ashes are preserved, and soap is made from them.

They make their own sugar from the juice of the maple, a tree similar in appearance to our plane tree. The maple is tapped in the spring, when the sap is ascending the trunk, and it runs best when there is a keen night's frost, followed by a warm, sunshiny day. The quantity of sap got from such trees gives about from three to five pounds of sugar each season. The sugar-making season is a busy time with the farmers it is done in the open air, and is generally a merry, social gathering of the young men and women all round.

We met an old man, aged ninety-six, and wife, aged eighty-four. They had celebrated their "Diamond Wedding" a few weeks ago—sixty years of wedded life in this land of many marriages and so many divorces! On remarking to him that it was surely a healthy place, "O yes," he replied; "if I had a little money and a pony to carry me about, and could get a bit of pork and a little whisky now, and then, I think I could get along very well for twenty-five years yet."

On our arrival here we were very cordially received by a native of Renfrewshire, who, with his good lady and family, spared no trouble to make our visit very enjoyable. A few years ago he had purchased a farm about two miles distant from the village. On it he had erected a two-storey dwelling, a perfect model for comfort and convenience. Much hard labour must have been spent in bringing what of the land is cleared into its present state of cultivation; judging from what we saw of it in its natural state, it must have been very rough to begin with. All along the Bay for about one-fourth of a mile inland, was thickly dotted over with boulders, some of large size. Our friend informed us that it is supposed they have been deposited there by icebergs, and the distinctly marked line of elevation to which they extend along the shore bears out that idea. In this district were birds of beautiful plumage. The yellow canary and humming-bird were very plentiful. In the evening the whip-poor-will was heard, but could not be seen. As darkness increased the sparkle of the fire-fly became more visible, as it darted from place to place.

The water in the Bay was remarkable for its purity. At a depth of from twenty to thirty feet one could see the fish swimming, and could count the pebbles in the bottom, as if the depth were not more than from four to five feet, and we could not believe that it was more until we saw it tested. Our friend drove us to Leith, about twelve miles distant. This is but a poor representation of Leith as known to us in Scotland. There is little doubt that at the time it was named there were better prospects in view, as were indicated by a deserted hotel and stabling accommodation, and several uninhabited dwellings, also a pier constructed on the lake. The site is a good one, with a fine waterfall, but the only business carried on is in a flour mill, a smithy, and a wright's shop. In all our travels this was the only place we observed on the decline. A few years ago a branch railway was promoted to a neighbouring village about eight miles distant, which had the effect of diverting trade from the place. Some of the people are still in hopes of a branch being promoted, and new life infused into the port. On the way we were informed that Miss Quarrier had been there a few days previously getting some of the Scotch orphan children settled with the farmers in the district.

In order to give us some idea of travelling in the bush, our friend, on our return, drove us about eight miles through a forest, a considerable part of which had been lately burned. Many of the tall, charred trunks of the trees were still standing, some of them burned half through. There was no road for a great part of the way, until we came to a shanty where about two acres had been cleared; From that there was a cart track for the remainder of the way, but the jolting was such that we could scarcely keep our seats in the buggy.

Next day we visited the village, and were introduced to a baker who was getting a patent oven fitted up, which was something new to us. It was just so far advanced that we could see the principle on which it worked. Looking into the oven was like looking into the paddle-box of a steamer. Passing horizontally through the centre was an axle, on which was fixed, at each side of the oven, a ring of large diameter. Between these rings a succession of shelves were hung on pivots (like paddle-floats), but in such a way that the shelves always kept level as the axle revolved, motion being given to it by an engine, which is so regulated that, as each shelf comes opposite to the mouth of the oven, it stops a short time to allow the removing and replacing of trays with bread. If the bread be not properly fired, it is allowed another revolution in the oven. By this method the firing is very regularly done, and no peels being required for filling or drawing the oven, the bread is brought round to the workmen at its mouth.

After leaving the village, we drove several miles into the country. On the way we had a beautiful stream on the one hand and an extensive forest on the other, until we arrived at a nice cosy spot (Inglis's Falls) where there is a vast amount of water-power, not one-tenth of which has been utilised. There is at present a grain mill and a woollen rnanufactory, from which a great amount of woollen cloth is sent into the market. The inhabitants consist only of the families of those who are engaged in the works.

After seeing all the various processes of manufacture, we were introduced to Mr Inglis (the proprietor), with whom we were very soon on familiar terms, as it transpired in the course of conversation that, about thirty years before, we had been shopmates in Dunn's Machine Works in Glasgow. This discovery led to considerable inquiry regarding old shopmates. After recounting some of the incidents of former times, and getting a photo. of the falls, we said good-bye, and proceeded on our way.

Where the land has been brought into cultivation, it is divided into fields by what are known as snake fences, which are formed of pieces of timber all cut to one length, and laid zig-zag with the ends resting on each other, there being from seven to eight pieces in the height. Fences formed in this manner require no nailing or fixing into the ground, and are easily removed from one place to another, if necessary to a re-arrangement of the fields. Another kind of fence is common in some places where the stumps had been cleared out of the ground. These stumps were ranged in rows, with their roots all in one direction, forming a very secure- looking fence.

No use visiting America without seeing Niagara, so we made that our next point in our rambling journey. We got excellent accommodation in the Prospect House. The American Falls, which are the smaller of the two, are about a quarter of a mile in breadth, and were lighted in the evening with seven electric lamps of various colours—brigh, tred, green, &c.—and an effort was made to show an artificial rainbow. Though a pretty sight, and very well done with the aid of the electric lights, it was a great way deficient in effect compared with the real rainbow that is seen there during the daytime. The spray that is sent up from the Falls by the air getting compressed and forcing itself through the mass of falling water, rises in an ever-varying column of vapour, which condenses and keeps the neighbourhood, for a considerable distance around, in a perpetual shower of rain—in fact, something like our Greenock weather 1 The American Falls, though only about half the size of those on the Canadian side of the river, seem, from a utilitarian point of view, to be the most valuable.

On the Canadian side, the ground rises very much, and the road running along the bank will render it more difficult and more expensive to take advantage of the immense motive power of the Falls. There is no question but they will be utilised, and that very speedily. On the American side the ground is more advantageous, being pretty level, and the water is to some extent already taken advantage of. A canal has been cut for nearly a mile down, and a large grist mill and a lumber mill are now getting power from the water of the Falls. The tail-race which discharges the water from these works is conveyed by a tunnel cut through the solid rock, to appearance some forty to fifty feet from the surface. There is also another large work being erected by a joint-stock company, said to be of Free Lovers, for electro-plating purposes. This curious social community who require to eleclroplale their questionable morality, now turn their electro-plating propensities to things material. But the canal mentioned above has been undertaken by several companies, all of which were ruined save the present company, who seem determined to make it a success. This is but the beginning of the utilisation of this vast water-power, and time and the restless ingenuity of the American mind will develop it to an extent yet undreamt of.

The burning spring in the vicinity of the Falls interested us greatly. This is a spring of water continually boiling up, and gives off a gas which, when a lighted match is applied, flames up and burns on. the surface of the water, or if a tub is inverted having an inch tube through the centre of it, the gas burns like ordinary coal as; but the peculiarity of it is that you may hold your hand in it or a handkerchief and it will not burn them. The water of this spring is used medicinally; and I met an old farmer up in the high lands, who told me that he was half English and half Scotch, was seventy years of age, and that he made it a point to visit this spring and drink of the water three times in the year, and he never required a doctor!

On the American side of the river the people are very 'cute—everything is 25 cents. If you even look a man in the face, he will almost charge you the 25 cents! On the Canadian side, it is scarcely so bad; but they have a little more of the tact of the rat-catcher. They offer you something free, then close the trap on you when they have got you in.

The whirlpool, of which so much is said, is not of great account, but the rapids are a fine sight before reaching the whirlpool. Having satisfied our curiosity at the Falls, we left for Buffalo, and visited the Town Hall and public parks. Mr A— informed us that when he came to the place fourteen years ago, there were 70,000 of a population, and it now numbers 164,000.

There were three very large Savings Banks within speaking-distance of each other, where sums as low as half-a-dollar are taken in, and in all our wanderings up and down, we could not see even one intoxicated person. These two signs, sobriety and saving habits, are significant of this city's remarkable progress.

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