Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Pioneers of Old Ontario
Within reach of the St. Lawrence


While the last century was still young, immigrants from beyond the seas were attracted to Canada. For many interesting stories of the immigrants of that period I am indebted to Walter Riddell, father of Judge Riddell of Toronto. Not only had lie a fund of information furnished him by his neighbours, but his own memory went back to the early days of Central Ontario.

When Mr. Riddell came to Canada from Dumfries in 1823, he crossed the Atlantic on a two hundred ton sailing ship, the Whitehaven, and was seven weeks and two days in making the voyage to Quebec. From Quebec to Montreal the journey was continued by steamer and from Montreal to Prescott in a "Durham boat". [A Durham boat was about thirty feet long with an enclosed space at each end.] Passengers who had a few shillings to spare could obtain sleeping quarters in the tubby holes forward or aft, while those who could not pay slept in the open space in the centre. When the wind favoured and there was no current, such boats were driven by sails; over shallows they were "poled" along by the voyageurs; and up the Long Sault they were hauled by thirteen Yoke of oxen and a team of horses walking on

the bank. From Prescott to Cobourg the journey was made by steamer.

"At that time," said Air. Riddell, "William Weller ran a stage line from Kingston to Toronto. During the summer, while boats were running, there was little business for the stage, and the horses were turned out to pasture, but in winter the owners of horse transport did a eapacity business.

"The first considerable influx from the old land began about 1820. Among the earliest arrivals from that quarter were the Coverts, Jeffreys, Wades, Plews, Spears, Dales, McCormicks, Powells, and Rowes. When this migration was at its height in the thirties, Rice Lake Road was a stirring highway. Immigrants landed at Cobourg and were carried over the road to Sully on Rice Lake and from there by open boats to the country further north. Before the railway was built to Harwood on Rice Lake, large quantities of flour, lumber, and other supplies were hauled over the same road to Cobourg for shipment across Lake Ontario to the American market.

"The first store in Cobourg was built by Elias .Tones in 1802. Mr. Jones later on built the first grist-mill in the township of Haldimand. The first wagon in the township was made by Elijah Buck about 1808. Oliver Stanton, born about the first year of the last century, is said to have been the first white child to see the light of day in Haldimand township.

"The first settlers in the township ground their corn by pounding it in a hollow stump or log, and such as had wheat were obliged to take it by boat to Kingston to be made into flour. On one occasion boats carrying grain were driven into Presqu'isle by a storm and frozen up there for the winter. During the winter season it was a common thing for a settler to have to carry flour on his back for twenty or thirty miles through the woods.

"The year 1816 was a particularly trying one on the young settlement as there was frost every month in the year. None of the corn ripened and the whole community was on short rations. Even at a much later date serious hardships were suffered, the springs of 1836 and 1843 being particularly trying. At that time most of the farm animals, save horses, were sheltered in the lee of strawstacks, and, as shelter and feed were both scarce, cattle died by the hundreds.

"As soon as a young man had erected his shack in the woods he was considered ready for marriage, and the bridal tour was made from the parental home of the bride over a blazed trail to the new abode. In the home the Bible was read by the flickering blaze of a pine knot, as even candles were unknown to the first settlers. Preachers travelled on horseback and carried their belongings in a saddle-bag. Sometimes, when night overtook them in the woods, they slept in the shelter of an overhanging pine. When a preacher arrived in a settlement, messengers were sent far and wide to announce that service would be held in a certain home.

"It was difficult to obtain teachers of any kind, and those chosen were generally men who were unable or unwilling to do any other kind of work. Payment for teaching was made by the parents, the charge never being less than two dollars per quarter for each child sent to school.

"Municipal taxation in 1826 was at the rate of a penny in the pound for district purposes and a fourth of a penny for the services of the district's representative in the Legislature. The assessment varied according to the character of the house, whether it was built of squared

log, frame, brick, or stone. The highest tax paid by one person in that year was fifteen dollars and thirty-seven cents and the lowest, three cents. Twenty-eight ratepayers paid eight cents or less.

"Everything in the way of clothing was manufactured at home. Linen clothing was made from flax grown on the farm, and home-grown wool' was transformed into woolen clothing; all the operations from sheep-shearing and flax-pulling to spinning and weaving being carried out on the farm. Tools and implements used in cultivating the land and harvesting the crops were made, for the most part, either by the farmers themselves or by local blacksmiths. Wooden harrows were fashioned in the shape of

a V so that they would more readily pass between stumps, and the teeth were slanted backwards to facilitate passing over roots. Iron forks and hoes were made by local blacksmiths, and plows of the same material were also the product of township smiths. These plows had single handles with crossbars to hold them by. The first plow of the form now in use was called the `Dutcher' and was made in Toronto, the 'Norton' plow following soon afterwards. The `Dutcher' cost from six to eight dollars and was made of cast metal. Nearly all the local blacksmiths tried their hand at making the new kind of plow, but the best was made by John Newton of Cobourg. It cost twenty dollars as compared with fifty dollars for one imported from Scotland. The 'Lapfurrow,' which sold for seven dollars, was the first

American plow imported. The first reaper in the neighbourhood, and I believe the first in the province, was imported from Rochester by Daniel McKeyes in 1843. The horses used in operating it were driven tandem and a man stood on the platform to throw off the sheaves. This reaper would cut twelve acres in a day and did as good work, so far as cutting was concerned, as the self-binders of to-day. The McCormack reaper, which appeared in 1847, was too light. Helm & Son of Cobourg began making reapers about 1848 and secured first prize for their machine at the Provincial Exhibition. In 1860, I was judge at Dundas in a competition between self-raking reapers, but these did not prove successful. The Marsh harvester, first used in 1868, worked well in light grain, but in a heavy crop the two men who stood on the platform to bind could not keep up with the cutting. The first self-binder I saw was at a show at Rochester

in 1868. The mowing-machine did not appear until 1850 or 1852. The first I saw was made by Ketchum of Buffalo and cost one hundred dollars. It was heavy on horses and hard to manage. `Ball's Ohio,' which was put on the market soon afterwards, was long a favourite.

"The revolving wooden horse-rake was introduced about 1840 or 1841, the first one in our seetion being used on Angus Crawford's place. It sold at seven or eight dollars, and I doubt if a greater labour-saver was ever produced at less cost.

"The first threshing-machine in our neighbourhood made its appearance in 1832. When moved from one farm to another the horse power was loaded on the front wheels of the wagon first and the thresher on top of that. Then the reach and front wheels of the wagon were connected up with the rear wheels and the outfit

was ready to move. When the thresher was in operation the grain was threshed by the cylinder beating the heads against the bottom of the machine. Grain and straw came out together, and one hundred bushels was a day's run, and the work was wonderfully well done. The owner of the outfit received every fifteenth bushel for his toll. John Livingstone introduced the Pitt separator in 1842, and all threshing-machines that came later were simply improved Pitts.

"There were no stoves in the early days and most of the fireplaces were built of a mixture of clay and straw. In the chimney was placed a cross-bar of wood or iron, and from this were hung the pots and kettles used in cooking. The pots were for cooking potatoes or pork and the kettles for baking bread. These kettles were usually about two feet in diameter, with an iron lid, and coals were placed above and below for

baking. In some places brick or clay ovens were built outside the house.

"But," continued Mr. Riddell, "despite all the hardships of those days, and even if the larder was not always too well filled, they were the happiest period in our lives. Neighbours were always welcome in each other's homes to whatever the board could provide. We had our simpie pleasures, too, one of these being found in the `husking bee'. At these bees lads and lassies occupied alternate seats. if one of the lads found a big red ear of corn lie had the privilege of kissing the lass next to him, and it is surprising how many big red ears were found. The husking bee, held in the evening, was usually preceded by a quilting bee in the afternoon, which was attended by women only, the men coming later for the husking. The latter was followed still later by a dance at which home made cheese, cake, and punch were served. (Whiskey was then only twenty-five cents a gallon.) How late did we keep it up`? That depended on the company and the state of the roads, but the boys generally managed to get to bed by midnight after first seeing the girls home. John Grieves' place, lot twenty-seven on the second of Haldimand, was a favourite place for these old-time social gatherings."


Henry Elliott, long known as "The Father of Hampton" was one of numerous Devonshire folk who settled in Durham county in the first half of the past century.

Born shortly after Trafalgar, Air. Elliott sailed for Canada on the Boline, in 1831. The size of the ship can be imagined from Mr. Elliott's statement that her sixty-one passengers crowded her to the limit. Among the passengers were Rev. J. Whitlock, at one time stationed at Port Perry; Richard Foley, whose descendants for years lived west of Bowmanville; and Thomas Courtice, whose family name was taken for it roadside Hamlet east of Oshawa, where many of the connection still reside.

Leaving England on the fourth of May, the Boline reached Prince Edward Island on the fifth of June, and after spending ten days there in discharging part of her passengers and freight, she arrived at Quebec ten or twelve days later. From Quebec, Mr. Elliott was carried by the usual mode of conveyance at the time as far as Kingston, and from Kingston to Port Hope the passage was made by steamer. As there was then no dock at Port Hope, the passengers for that point were landed in a barge known as the Red Rover. This barge was owned by an uncle of Dr. Mitchell who afterwards practised medicine at Enniskillen.

While at Port Hope, Mr. Elliott worked for a time in a mill owned by John Brown. "Mr. Brown," said Mr. Elliott, "owned a store as well as a mill and he adopted a novel method of bringing business to the store. When he heard of anyone in the back country of Clarke, Cartwright, or Alanvers who was not buying at his store, and whose business was worth having, he promptly entered suit against the prospect for an imaginary bill. The next stage, of course, was a call at the store, in a state of indignation, by the party sued.

"What do mean by suing met?' the indignant one would ask. `I don't owe you any money.'

`Of course you don't. I only sued so as to bring you out where I could see you!'

"The caller as a rule saw the humour in the situation. Ln any case he enjoyed the royal entertainment offered hint, and the usual result was that he became a friend of Brown and a customer at his store."

In 1840, Mr. Elliott decided to establish a milling business of his own at Hampton. There was not a house in the place at the time, merely the frame for a mill. Mr. Elliott purchased this, at the same time erecting a shanty for his own residence, thus giving the place its first name,

"Shantytown." The capacity of the mill, when it was completed, was only from forty to fifty bushels per day.

"Customers for the new mill came not only from the neighbourhood but from Cartwright and Manvers," said Mr. Elliott when telling his story in May, 1899. "There was then hardly a horse in the whole surrounding country and oxen were used to haul the grain. Some did not have even a wagon, and in that case a sapling cut from the bush was made use of. The butt was fastened to the yoke and the crotched end allowed to trail on the ground. On this crotch a board platform was nailed and the grain placed on that. With such primitive conveyances the settlers often drove fifteen or twenty miles, spending two days going and coming, and sleeping in the mill at night while waiting for their grists.

"About the time I established the mill John Farley obtained eight hundred acres, with fifty cleared, in exchange for a frame tavern six miles west of Port Hope. Dr. Ormiston, the well-known Presbyterian divine of his day, `logged his way through college' by helping to clear his uncle's farm. Later on a boom struck Hampton and quarter-acre village lots sold for as much as three hundred and fifty dollars; but the boom collapsed in the crash of the 'fifties, and forty years later these same lots could have been bought for thirty-five dollars."

Hampton is still, however, a beautiful little village and Hampton people have honoured themselves by creating one of the most attractive parks to be found in rural Ontario as a memorial to the founder of the village, one who served well his day and generation.

Durham County has been not inaptly described by some enthusiastic Durhamites as "the mother of factories." Nor is the claim without basis. The McLaughlin motor plant in Oshawa owes its origin to a little shop erected by the first of the McLaughlins at the cross-roads village of Enniskillen, a shop for making wagons and sleighs, one such as might be found in almost any little hamlet in Ontario at that time.

Mr. Allin, to whose memory I am indebted for the story of the Millerites, given in a subsequent chapter,' told me, too, that he remembered

when the shop of Hart A Massey's father, in Newcastle, gave employment to just three persons. That was the period when owners of little smithies all over the province were turning their minds to the development of new forms of labour-saving implements for the farm. After these inventions had begun to take shape, field contests between rival builders of reapers provided excitement almost equalling that caused by the Millerites.

As the Massey factory forged ahead, Newcastle, a peaceful enough village to-day, began to assume metropolitan airs, at one time boasting no fewer than three papers. "One of the Newcastle journals of that time," Mr. Allin said, "was published by Calvin H. Powers. Mr. Powers was a gifted speaker as well as a convincing writer. He was a leading figure in electoral contests waged by Munro, who represented West Durham before the time of Edward Blake. Powers afterwards removed to the Western States and became a still more prominent figure in politics there. He gave Abraham Lincoln able assistance in his first Presidential campaign and was afterwards elected Governor of Minnesota."

The numerous branches of West Durham families were then as now widely scattered in America and frequently distant relatives met in unexpected ways. Concerning the Allin connection, Reeve Frank Allin of Clark told me: "A brother of mine moved to California and some time after his arrival there, simply because of his name, he was invited to an Allin family picnic in that State. In the course of conversation it was discovered that the California Allins were a branch of our common connection in England and that they were descended from an Allin who had moved to California about the same time that the first of the Allins migrated from England to Canada."


The most remarkable feature connected with the following story is that, although told me so recently as 1920, the narrator remembered when the howling of the wolves could still be heard in the swamp between Lake Ontario and where the Kingston Road cuts through the little village of Newtonville, in the county of Durham.

Samuel Jones, from whom the story was obtained, was only eight years short of the century mark at the time of telling it. But time had dealt lightly with this veteran. He was at work in his garden, in the afternoon of a hot August day, when the interview began. As we walked towards the house his step was as firm as that of a well-preserved man of fifty, and I found him able to read fine print without the aid of glasses. Of all those whose stories are told in these pages none had a clearer recollection of the events, not only of recent occurrence, but of the remote past. Add to this the fact that Mr. Jones was born on the farm on which I met him and the interest of the information is still more enhanced.

"Even within my recollection," Mr. Jones informed me, "Kingston Road was little more than a path through the bush. I can remember when our grists had to be carried to Port Hope, and in the time of my father, settlers about Newtonville, and from as far back as Omemee, went all the way to Kingston to have their grain made

into flour. As a lad, when going after our cows, I have heard wolves howling in the swamp at the lower end of our place near the lake front. One night, on a farm owned by a man named Charters on the fifth concession of Clarke, wolves tried to tear a hole in the roof of a shed in which sheep were sheltered. I have speared salmon in Drury Creek, which crosses the farm of John Barrie; a creek that is now little more than a succession of puddles. It was a common thing for settlers then to take a couple of barrels of salmon from the lake in a night.

"I have seen the sky darkened by the flight of wild pigeons, and, when these alighted in myriads on the ground to feed, it seemed as if the surface of the earth was heaving as they moved about.. Indians carne regularly in spring to make baskets in the adjoining woods, baskets that were traded to the settlers for provisions.

"I have seen the sickle give place to the cradle, the cradle to the reaper, and the reaper to the self-binder. Intermediate between the sickle and the cradle was a scythe with a hole bored in the centre of the blade and connected with the snath by a wire `hauled taut.' With that tool an expert could lay a swath as neatly as swaths were afterwards laid by a cradle.

"Our first cradle, called the `Grape Vine,' was made by Asa Davis, at Newcastle. It was a clumsy implement, but .Toseph Moulton once out six acres of rye with it in a day. Our first reaper was 'The Woods,' invented by a wan of that name, and made at Newcastle by the first of the Masseys. That was, in my opinion, the best reaper ever made.

"Quite early in my time a wooden horse-rake was developed. When the rake was full, it could be revolved on its axle and the rakings dumped. The same implement was used in pulling peas. One man thought he would improve on this and built ai steel rake of the same pattern; but, when this was used in pea harvesting, almost as much

grain was threshed out as was gathered in the pods.

''The first threshing-machine in the neighbourhood consisted of little more than a cylinder, and the threshed straw had to be raked away by hand. I spent one winter operating this threshing outfit. Our practice, on arriving at a farm at night, was to break the crust on the snow where the horse-power was to be placed, and then to let the power down to solid ground. Snow was next packed around the machine and water poured on the snow. By morning the horse-power would be frozen solidly in place and the necessity of staking avoided.

"Before we bought our first fanning-mill my father cleaned his grain by laying a sheet on the ground and pouring out the grain from a pail held at an elevation, the wind being relied on to blow away the chaff.

"As grain production increased, Port Granby became an important shipping point, and I have seen as much as ten thousand bushels of barley loaded into waiting schooners in a single day. To-day the Port is not even a remains. The piers rotted away years ago and stone-hookers carried off the stone used in filling the cribs.

"Other `industries' came with increased production. Distilleries were in my youth about as numerous as schoolhouses are now. There was a distillery in Newtonville, another between Bowmanville and Newcastle, and a third at Port Granby. With so many stills in operation, drunkenness was rife. The first counter influence was that exercised by Methodist missionaries who covered the country on horseback. The missionaries I best remember were Douse and Van Dusen.

"There was great excitement, and something more than excitement, in connection with early elections. Newtonville had the one poll for the riding and voting was continued for seveial days. On one occasion rival factions, each led by banners and fife and drum bands, met in the middle of the road. What might have been anticipated happened; banners were torn to ribbons, drums smashed, and some heads were cracked as well. Something worse occurred on one occasion, when one man voted, as another thought, the wrong way. The offender was struck on the neck with a club and dropped dead, and the `Cavan Blazers' prevented the immediate arrest of the offender."

The story of Mr. Jones' father's selection of a lot is as interesting in its way as is a story told by the Honourable Manning Doherty of the refusal of his great grandfather to accept a farm located at the corner of Queen and Yonge Streets, Toronto. The first of the Jones family had secured the location on which the town of Omemee stands; but when he found this could be reached only by travelling over several miles of blazed trail, he traded the lot for fourteen bushels of wheat and bought lot eight, on the first of Clarke, which was then part of the Clergy Reserves. Years afterwards he was offered two hundred acres near by for one hundred dollars, but, although having ample funds, lie refused to accept the offer. The property afterwards sold for one hundred dollars an acre. Dame Fortune, fickle jade though she is, and although her offers had been twice spurned—once at Omemee and again later on—would not be wholly denied. Part of the Jones homestead forms a section of the site of the village of Newtonville, and there has, therefore, been some unearned increment, in that case.

The first house on the Jones homestead was of Iog, but this was soon replaced by a stone structure. Even that was grey with age when this story was told, although the narrator of over fourscore and ten, born before the stone house was erected, was still vigorous in mind and body. On the same homestead the first orchard in the neighbourhood was planted, and

one of the trees, a Pumpkin Sweet, over one hundred years old, was bearing fruit when I was there.

In company with one of the third generation of the family I mounted the hill on which the village cemetery is located, and there I saw, what I had observed in countless other cemeteries, where the pioneers of the settlement lie. On the stones above the graves were the words "native of—" with the name of the English village, Scottish glen, or Irish valley, in which those who have passed away were born. On returning to the Jones home, the man whose memory covered well nigh a century of time told me that fully two-thirds of the names I had seen are no longer heard in the township of Clarke. The first of those bearing the names have passed beyond the line dividing time from eternity. The descendants are more widely scattered than "The Graves of a Household." Why is it that the place of birth, so fondly remembered by the first generation, as evidenced by the inscriptions on the headstones in the old cemetery, has failed to hold the children born here beneath the shade of majestic pines and amid the autumn glories of broad-leaved maples


Samuel Billings, living north of Orono at the time of my visit, also told of the early days in Clarke.

"Our first farm," lie said, "a mile south of Orono, was purchased about 1831, from the Honourable Peter Jackson of Toronto at three dollars per acre. Ten years later we moved to our present farm, four miles north of Orono. This we purchased from Jeremiah Orser, Port Perry, for eight hundred and fifty dollars. Even at that comparatively late date we had to cut a road for half a mile through the bush to reach the place. When we first came to Clarke there was only one house, Dr. Herriman's, in the neighbourhood. Charles Bowman, after whom the town was named, owned a grist-mill at Bowmanville. The late Honourable John Simpson was an adopted son of Bowman. Abraham Butterfield, Charles and John Bellwoods, John -Middleton, R. W. Robson, and E. Gifford were among those who settled along the front of the township about the time we came in.

"Just south of Orono was a little prairie that had apparently formed over an old beaver dam. I have seen a dozen deer sunning themselves there at one time. Indians came here from as far away as the Credit to hunt them, and one halfbreed in a party killed ten deer in one day."

Thomas Thornton, father of C. J. Thornton, ex.-M.P., and one of the Thornton-Powers connection, also contributed to these Clarke reminiscences. Mr. Thornton, born in Yorkshire, as a boy of six came to Canada with his father in the 'twenties of the last century. He was thirteen weeks and three days in crossing the Atlantic, and three weeks more were spent on the journey by Durham boats between Quebec and Montreal. "And," 1[r. Thornton told me, as we sat on his porch in Orono, twenty-three years ago, "it rained on every one of those twenty-one days, save three." That certainly was no pleasure trip for a boy of six. In 1835, while still a lad, Mr. Thornton went to live with Thomas Best on the eighth of Clarke. "On one occasion," he said, "when we required to have some wheat ground, and having no horse of our own, it was necessary to pack the grain to a neighbour's place. We divided it into four bags, and Best and I carried two bags for a distance and then went back for the other two, and so on, each carrying two bags alternately until we had covered the two miles between our place and Bill Livingstone's. Then Bill teamed the grain to Bowmanville to be ground for us. At that time there were only three horses in the township north of the sixth concession.

"When Mr. Best first moved to his farm, his worldly possessions consisted of three pigs, an axe, and what he considered sufficient pork, flour, and potatoes to see him through until next harvest. During the following May he began to fear that, pork and potatoes were going to run short and he decided to apportion what remained to make sure of having at least some for each day until a new supply came in. He weighed a pound of pork, cut it into slices, counted the slices and from this calculated how many slices per day his remaining stock would allow him. Next he filled a half-bushel measure with potatoes and counted the number of potatoes per day he could afford for each meal. In this way he managed to keep up a daily supply until new sources were available. In order to hasten the fattening of the pigs I had to go to the bush and hunt cow cabbage to feed them. And I assure you fattening the kind of pigs we had then, by the means described, was no picnic. The pigs were of the kind that required a knot in their tails to prevent them from slipping through a hole in the fence.

"In the summer of 'thirty-seven, bears were almost as thick as blackberries, and the tracks left by wolves were as common as sheep tracks are now. One morning when I was trying to kindle a fire under a sugar kettle in the bush on lot twenty-seven on the eighth concession I looked up and saw a wolf eight feet away. He moved off, and you may be sure I made no effort to interfere with his going. One evening, again, when I was sitting up with a girl (we were all boys once) I heard wolves howling in the bush and suggested to the girl's father that the sheep had better be brought in. He said I might go after them if I liked, and I did so. Meantime the owner of the sheep remained comfortably in bed."


When I spent a few days along the St. Lawrence, between Prescott and Cornwall, in the fall of 1899, there was still living a man who as an infant was present when the battle of Chrysler's Farm was fought in November, 1813. There were a number in the neighbourhood who had heard stories of the battle from parents or grandparents and almost every home held mementos of the War of 1812-15.

Elias Cook, a brother of H. H. Cook, the political rival of D'Alton McCarthy in North Simcoe in the 'eighties, was a year old when the American army landed on the north shore of the river and seized for headquarters the tavern kept by his parents. A mile and a half westward the Chrysler homestead served as headquarters for the British, and midway between was the Casselman House, that was still standing when I was there.

"The whole thing came upon us so quickly,"

Mr. Cook told me, "that no time was allowed for the women and children to escape, and my mother hustled me into the cellar for protection from the cannon balls that British gunboats in the river began throwing at the American headquarters."

Nelson Casselman, a grandson of the Casselman who held the homestead in 1813, showed me the cellar in which his grandmother hid the sheep and the little Casselmans together. "The Americans," said Mr. Casselman, "took the family's horses for transport, killed the cows for beef, and made soup for the officers' mess from the chickens."

But the loss of horses was not all one-sided. After the battle, a couple of American horsemen on rearguard duty were suddenly confronted by a man named Adams and ordered to surrender. The Americans, believing the musket which Adams held could carry further than their pistols and that his bayonet was more dangerous than their swords, promptly complied. Adams then marched his prisoners back to the British commander, who was so pleased with the exploit that he told Adams to keep the horses, and for years afterwards the animals were used in his farm work. The joke was on the Americans; Adams had not so much as a single charge for his gun when he captured his two prisoners.

After the battle a number of American wounded were carried into the Casselman home, one of these an old man. Mr. Casselman told me the story of his death as he had heard it from his parents. "He was an old man whose sands of life were nearly run out in any case. As the setting sun changed the St. Lawrence into a ribbon of gold his eyes turned toward the south and lie said lie would die in peace if lie could but see the children and grandchildren who once played about his knee. But death came with the night and next morning his body was laid, with those of other American dead, in a trench east of the house, where our orchard was afterwards planted."

Mr. Cook was able to point out the exact position of an American four-gun battery, as the log and earth breastworks still remained until lie himself removed them in the 'seventies to place the ground under cultivation. At the base of the Casselman barn, which was standing when the battle was fought, I was shown a round hole in a board. The hole, according to tradition, was made by a British round-shot that killed three Americans. The Casselman of 181.3 afterwards dug up the ball from where it had buried itself in the ground and it was still preserved in the Casselman home at the time of my visit. In the Cook home I saw what looked like a carpet ball (painted red, white, and blue) but which, Mr. Cook told me, was a cannon-shot fired at the house by one of the British gunboats in the river. Mr. Casselman had a musket his grandfather found hidden in a strawstack after the battle. He thought it had been left there by an American, but as the piece bore the Tower mark this was hardly possible unless the weapon had been captured from the British in a previous engagement. Bullets were dug up by the hundred in the years following the battle, a few being found at times right up to the close of the last century. Another relic of the past was it small box that had been left by Lieutenant Ingalls of the British forces, who was on guard at the Cook place for some time after the battle.

The most interesting of all the reminders of the past was the Casselman home itself. The heavy beams supporting the floor had been hewn out of solid logs with a broad-axe one hundred years before my -visit. The lumber forming the floor had been whipsawed by the grandfather of Nelson Casselman and his neighbours. At one end of the main room was a stone fireplace, nine feet wide by four feet deep, and five feet high; but this had been bricked up and was no longer visible. "I can remember, though, when all our cooking was done in that fireplace," said Mr. Casselman.

The Cook tavern of 1813 was displaced in the 'twenties by an imposing brick structure, which at one time served as the half-way house between Montreal and Kingston. Even the interior walls were of brick. "The mortar used in laying those bricks," Mr. Cook told me, "was made from lime burned on the premises. The stones from which the lime was burned were broken by dropping on them twenty-four-pound cannon balls that had been picked up from the field of battle.

"In the old staging days the tavern was a lively place. I have seen in the yard at one time four stage coaches with horses ready to move. Priests and bishops, lawyers and merchants were among the guests, and beds were set as close together as that," said Mr. Cook placing his outstretched palms side by side. "But it was when the lumbermen dropped off on their way up or down the river that things really did liven up. As many as two hundred of these were about the house at one time with enough fiddles to furnish music for the whole party. British officers and soldiers stopped there, too, on the way to or from Kingston. On one occasion a couple of officers had ten thousand dollars in coin with which to pay the troops at Kingston and other posts. The officers, when going to bed, put the coin on the window-sill as they were afraid the weight would break through the floor. They did not even lock the windows, but a sentry stood outside the door and other soldiers slept in the yard."

The country about Prescott was the scene of stirring events at a later date. I visited "The Windmill," with its memories of 'Thirty-Seven. This structure, built of stone, one hundred feet in circumference, sixty feet high, and with walls three feet thick was no mean fortress at the time of the Rebellion of 1837.

"My father was engaged in the attack on the raiders who had seized the windmill," David Reid told me. "He said that even the big guns brought from Kingston were incapable of damaging the building. The stones had been set in wedge-shape and the pounding of the artillery seemed but to drive them more firmly into place. "

George Heck, who was on service at the time of the attack, said that some of the buildings near the windmill were set on fire. One of these was a bakery, and a couple of the enemy had taken shelter in the oven. Their bodies, burned to a crisp, were found after the action."

The man who told of this incident was a grandson of Barbara Heck, the Mother of Canadian Methodism; and that opens up a more pleasing tale of the days of old. "All the preachers that passed this way in the early days of Methodism," said Mr. Heck, "stopped at our place. Rev. Dr. Bangs was one of the first of these. He was stationed at Montreal in 1806, but frequently travelled as far as Toronto, going all the way on horseback. Dr. Green was Chairman of a district that took in Bytown, Gatineau, and Rideau. He often spent four or five weeks in covering his mission. There were some stirring revivals in those days. Forty were converted at one meeting held in Augusta. Rev. Erastus Hurlbut and I were converted together at the revival held there in 1835. During every summer camp-meetings were held north and west of Prescott. The music was all vocal, the Whitney family being among the most noted singers of the time. Henry Hodge and Thomas Coates were among the other singing leaders. All the old-time hymns were used, `OH, FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES TO SING' being a prime favourite."

"The Little Blue Church" is a standing memorial of these early days of Methodism. In the cemetery alongside rests the body of Barbara Heck in company not only with other early leaders in Methodism, but with those of other denominations as well. "The Johnston cemetery was, I believe, the first in the neighbourhood," said Mr. Heck, "but the Little Blue Church cemetery was laid out shortly afterwards. Six people, amongst them my father, undertook the clearing of the ground."

The cemetery is beautifully situated by the roadside with a gentle slope to the south where the majestic St. Lawrence, emblematic of eternity's flow, sings a nightly lullaby over those whose labours are ended.


[The material for this section was obtained through the generosity of. Miss Edith M. MacCammon, of Gananoque, who loaned the, editor the manuscript of a book she has in course of preparation, "The Story of Gananoque." Miss McCammon is a descendant of Charlotte Macdonald, a sister of the Charles Macdonald, who married Mary, Colonel Stone's only surviving child.]

Immediately after the American Revolution some ten thousand United Empire Loyalists settled along the north shore of the St. Lawrence. The region was without roads, the only means of communication with their nearest point of supply being by water. The British Government furnished these first settlers with farming implements, grain and potatoes for seed, and some clothing, sufficient to tide them over the first three years of their sojourn in the wilderness. On the heels of this first ten thousand came other refugees, but for these no such provision was made, and for them, from the beginning, bush-life was most trying.

The chief necessity of the pioneers was a shelter for their families. The rudest of log cabins were the first abodes, and these were built by the joint labour of the settlers. Sometimes the cabin would be built around a stump, which could be used as a hand-mill, or, by placing some basswood slabs on top, would serve as a table. For these homes glass was not always obtainable and in many cases light was admitted through oiled paper stretched over holes in the walls. The household utensils were of wood—wooden plates, wooden platters, wooden forks, and wooden spoons. In some households forks and knives were unknown and home-made spoons were used instead.

Wild fruit abounded, and this was gathered and either preserved by using maple sugar or dried for future use. Walnuts, hickory-nuts, butter-nuts, chestnuts, and beechnuts were stored up for winter. Honey was obtained from

wild bees and maple sugar was made in large quantities every spring. Game was plentiful and each settler had a store of venison and squirrel salted down ini barrels made of the hollow trunks of trees. Tea was scarce, a luxury to be used only on state occasions. These first settlers used, as substitutes, sage, sassafras, thyme, spicewood, hemlock, and a wild herb called the tea-plant. "Coffee" was made from peas, barley, acorns, and roots of the dandelion. Physicians were almost unknown, and these pioneers collected and dried medicinal herbs and stored them for time of need.

But they were far from being in a land of plenty. Three years after the arrival of the first group of settlers, the crops, owing to frost, were almost a total failure. The British Government was no longer doling out aid and famine stalked through the land. This period of scarcity reached its height in 1788. In that year money was sent to Montreal and Quebec for flour; but the answer came back: "We have none to spare." In some places along the lower St. Lawrence "corn-meal was meted out by the spoonful, wheat flour was unknown, and millet seed was ground as a substitute. Here and there in sheltered spots the wheat crop escaped the frost and ripened early. The starving inhabitants flocked to these fields, even before the wheat ripened, plucked the milk-heads, and boiled them into a kind of gruel. Half-starved children haunted the banks of the river, begging sea-biscuits from the passing boatmen .... Families existed for months on oat porridge; beef bones were boiled again and again; boiled bran was a luxury; ground-nuts and even the young buds of trees were eagerly devoured. Fortunately rabbits and pigeons were plentiful, and these saved many settlers from actual starvation."

Col. Burritt, the first settler north of the Rideau, was one of the first-corners. Shortly after he made his home at Burritt's Rapids, lie and his wife were attacked with fever and ague. Having no neighbours, they were forced to rely on themselves. So severe was their illness, that they were at length confined to bed and helpless. For three days and three nights they were without fire or food, and had made up their minds that they must die At this juncture a band of Indians appeared on the scene The squaws tenderly nursed "their white brother and sister, supplied them with food, and administered simple but effective remedies. Meanwhile the braves cut. the corn in a small field the colonel had succeeded in clearing, and stored it in a log shack. The colonel and his wife made a speedy recovery, and ever after kept open house for the red men. It was a common thing to wake in the morning and discover a score of aborigines reclining in the hall and other parts of the house. When proceeding up the river in the spring they frequently left many articles with the colonel for safe-keeping, not forgetting, on their return, in the fall, to present him with a rich present of furs."

The Indians in this part of Canada were Mississaguas. They seem to Ihave acted with equal generosity towards the settlers generally, and on October 19th, 1787, they received a special grant of two thousand pounds in goods as a reward for the aid they had given the United Empire Loyalists. From the Indians the settlers learned the art of making maple sugar, of spearing fish by torchlight, and of making clothes from deerskins. From the Indians, too, they got moccasins, splint or Indian brooms, and baskets of all kinds.

One of the most annoying things the pioneers had to contend against was the prevalence of bears, wolves, and foxes. It was almost impossible to keep sheep, pigs, or fowl from these rapacious nocturnal prowlers. How common were wild beasts can be gathered from the fact that Joseph Slack, an early settler near Farmersville (Athens) killed on his farm 192 deer, 34 bears, and 46 wolves. As a bounty of four dollars was paid for wolves' heads and two for those of bear, a skilful hunter could profit by the presence of these pests. But sometimes they men-- aced the lives V of the settlers. On one occasion a girl of sixteen was sent on horseback with a bag of corn to have it ground at the mill in Yonge. It was

midnight before the coin was ground, but this dauntless lass began her return journey along the blazed path to her home. As she cantered along under the spreading trees she was startled by distant yelps and barks, which grew ever nearer and nearer. She urged her horse to its utmost speed, but at times so close were the wolves that on looking back she could see their baleful eyes gleaming through the pitchy darkness. Nothing daunted she kept on her way, her steed urged to its utmost speed by the menacing death at its heels- At last, almost exhausted, she reached the door of her home, her bag of precious food intact.

These early settlers were not without their simple enjoyments. One of the first things they did was to set out orchards. "When the trees began to bear, the best apples were kept for winter use, and the rest made into cider. The apple-bees were much enjoyed by young and old. The boys, with their home-made apple machines, peeled the apples, then tossed them to the girls, who, with their knives, would quarter and core them, while older women would string then with needle and thread and tie them so they could be hung up to dry. Then followed a supper and after that a dance .... A wandering fiddler, usually an old soldier, would be called in. If there was no fiddler the boys whistled, or the girls sang dance music through combs covered with paper."

Gananoque, or Cadanoryhqua, as the name seems to have been spelled at the time of the coining of the U. E. Loyalists, although not founded until nearly a decade after the first settlers took up homes along the St. Lawrence, became the commercial centre of the region between Brockville and Kingston. This was due to the business foresight and energy of its founder, Captain Joel Stone. Captain Stone had paid a heavy price for his loyalty to the Crown. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War his fine estate was plundered and he was forced to save his life by flight to New York, where until the close of the war he was active in the British interests, fighting both by land and sea.

In 1776, he was ordered to take up arms against the British Government, but lie refused.

At the close of the war, he visited England, where business kept him until 1786. In that year he sailed for Canada, having been enrolled as a military pensioner with the rank of captain and granted forty pounds a year. In 1787, he started out in search of a location, and in a birch canoe with an Indian guide journeyed westward until the Gananoque river was reached. The spot attracted him. He decided to apply for a grant of the land on both sides of the liver and had the land surveyed. But, when he sent in his application, he found lie had a rival in no less a person than Sir John Johnson, who was industriously acquiring grants for speculative purposes. However, the difficulty was overcome by assigning the land on the eastern side of the river to Johnson and that on the west, 700 acres in all—to Stone.

In the summer of 1791, Captain Stone took possession of his grant, landing at a point just west of the present railway station. The only white person in the vicinity was a Frenchman named Care, who, with a few Indians, was living on Tidd's Island (Tremont Park). Stone got in touch with Care who came to the mainland and built a shanty on the point at the end of what is known as Water Street. Here he kept a house of public entertainment for all who passed on the river, the only highway of travel at this time.

Stone went energetically to work in his new home and before long had a well-built house, a grist-mill and saw-mill in operation, and a general store. He had attracted settlers and brought in workmen, and a thriving community was soon in being. It is worthy of note that, as early as 1793, he built a substantial schooner of forty tons burden, the Leeds Trader, which for many years was in use on the river and on Lake Ontario.

Under the able leadership of Joel Stone, now known as "Colonel," Gananoque grew rapidly. When war broke out in 1812, it was in a flourishing condition and attracted the attention of the American force at Ogdensburg. Colonel Stone took charge of the military defences of his district, and when the Americans, under Major Forsyth, landed on the Canadian shore they encountered vigorous opposition. Forsyth's great desire was to capture Stone, and for this purpose attacked his house. But the colonel had made his escape, and his wife, as valiant as himself, defended their home. She was shot in the thigh, but held on till help came. At the time there was a considerable sun of money in gold in her possession. This she threw into a barrel of soft soap,—an effective safety-deposit vault,—and it was overlooked by the invaders when at length they succeeded in gaining entrance.

In his later years Colonel Stone was greatly aided in his work by the Macdonald brothers, Charles and John, the former of whom married Stone's only daughter, Mary. But to the end of his long life he was the moving spirit in the community lie had founded, with a keen eye to its material and moral welfare. As a Justice of the Peace he at times played the part of a little autocrat. "Play-actors" were a forbidden

thing in his little kingdom. He classed them with "vagrants and vagabonds." In March, 1816, three "actors" appeared in Gananoque and advertised a performance to take place at the Brownson House, then recently built. The irate colonel waited on them and ordered them to "pass on from this House quietly and not to perform the riotous feats of tumbling, etc."

Eleven years later, in September, 1827, another band of "play-actors" had the temerity to visit Gananoque. But the leader of the company, James R. Millor, did not move on promptly when ordered and the colonel issued this intensely interesting warrant, indicative of the times and the man:

"Whereas James R. Millor, Master and Director of several vain persons, calling themselves Playactors, Tumblers, etc., did refuse to obey the Orders officially Delivered to him by Joe[ Stone, Esq., one of His Majesty's Justices assigned to keep the Peace, etc., in the said District, Requiring him, the said James R. Millor to desist from Playacting, Tumbling, etc., in the village of Gananoque as so doing would be considered a Great Insult offered to the Legal Authority, and in that way of obtaining money from the vain and thoughtless part of the Human family, is against the Peace of His Majesty's Liege subjects in General."

If Millor did not obey he was to be confined in Brockville gaol for "the space of Ten Hours." Millor may have weakened, as there is no record of his having been conveyed to the gaol at Brockville.

But Colonel Stone was a benevolent despot, and the prosperity of the village he founded and the permanent strength it has as a manufacturing community are due mainly to the start he gave it.

Return to Book Index


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus