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The Pioneers of Old Ontario
Up Bruce and Huron Way


This story, which had its beginning in the neighbourhood of Brockville, was told me one June evening in 1898 by R. McLean Purdy as we sat together, where Eugenia Falls marks the opening of the picturesque valley of the Beaver. Mr. Purdy was boric near Brockville, but in 1.837 the family decided to move to where Lindsay now stands.

"From Brockville to Cobourg the trip was made in comparative comfort by steamer," Mr. Purdy began, "but after leaving Cobourg it was one trouble after another and each succeeding trouble seemed a little worse than the one just surmounted. Kingston Road appeared to be a bottomless sea of mud—mud which might have served for plastering houses but was a most unsatisfactory material for road-making. The first stop was near Port Hope, and there some of the family belongings, which were too heavy to move further in the then state of the roads, were temporarily stored with a relative. Our second night stop was at Oshawa, which was at that time just being `hatched out.' Next day we drove fifteen miles to Lake Seugog, and the following night people and horses were sheltered in the same building—that is, if the place deserved the name building. Earth formed the floor, there were great open spaces between the logs of which the walls were built, and we could count the stars overhead by looking up through the breaks in the roof. Luckily there was no rain that night. Next day men, women, and horses were once more close companions, all being herded together on a flat-bottomed boat for the voyage over Lake Scugog. Scugog then no more deserved the name of lake than the shelter of the night before deserved the name of house. It was a mass of marsh and grass, the only clear water being that in the channel followed by the scow. Camp was pitched on Washburn Island, and next day we reached our destination at the point where Lindsay is now located. A relative, Wm. Purdy, was living there. His father, Jesse Purdy, had lived on the Hudson before the American Revolution, and was given four hundred acres in return for building the first mill in Lindsay.

"The whole place was a tangled mass of cedar and hardwood; but visions of the future were present, and the remaining two hundred acres forming the townsite of to-day were sold in half acre lots at twenty and thirty dollars with five acre park lots at proportionate prices.

"In 1854, T moved to Meaford, following the route north of Seugog, south of Lake Simcoe, and up through Nottawasaga to what is now Duntroon. Duntroon has been a place of many names. When I first reached there, a man by the name of McNabb was keeping tavern and the place bore his name. Obe Wellings bought the tavern later, and the name of the locality changed with the change in ownership of the hostelry. Altogether there were at least a dozen changes of name before Duntroon was finally hit upon. Continuing on our way we found fairly good sleighing over the Blue Mountains, but when we struck Beaver Valley we were once more in liquid mud. The Parks and Heathcotes had settled in the valley before us and there were a few buildings in Meaford, one of these being occupied as a store by one of my brothers. Living in Meaford then were Wm. Stephens, D. L. Dayton, John Layton, and Philip and Frank Barber. After remaining a short time at Meaford, I pushed on to Eugenia Falls, where I made my permanent home.

"At that time, which was before the Northern Railway had been extended to Collingwood, supplies for Meaford were teamed from Barrie to Willow Creek, and from there they were floated down the Nottawasaga River to its mouth. They were then put on board bateaux, which, waiting for favourable wind, hugged the shore of Georgian Bay to Meaford.

"In the first years of the settlement, incoming settlers provided a sufficient market for the products of those who had arrived earlier. When a surplus was produced we had to team our stuff to Toronto, the journey occupying several days. Wheat disposed of, after all the labour involved in production and marketing, sold for a dollar a bushel. Return loads consisted of such things as salt, bought at from two dollars to two dollars and a half a barrel; calico, at twenty-five cents per yard, and tea, up to one dollar a pound.

"The first Houses in the valley consisted of two rooms, one above and one below, the upper floor being reached by a ladder. Instead of chairs we had benches made of split slabs. Beds and tables were made of the same material.

"A colony of beaver had a dam where Sloan's mill was afterwards built, but these timid animals left soon after white men began to come in. Near where Kimberley afterwards sprang up was a favourite resort for both deer and wolves, the ground frequently being tracked like a cattle-yard. Once, when I had occasion for some reason to retrace my steps, I found that a wolf had been stalking one.

"In the early days of the settlement, the men, after putting in their spring crops in the scanty clearings, went off in twos and threes to earn money in the more advanced settlements at `the front.' Meantime the women remained to keep lonely vigil in the log cabins, while the night wind was pierced by the howling of wolves in the neighbouring forest. Frail in body some of those women may have been, but granite in spirit they all were."

Shortly after his arrival at the Falls, Mr. Purdy began securing records for what he called "The Eugenia Falls Album." In this album visitors who went there during a period covering nearly half a century were asked to record their impressions.

One of the first entries was made by Joseph Wilson, of Nottawasaga, and James Perry, of Essa, who built a saw-mill at the Falls in May, 1858.

On June 8th of the same year, R. L. Tindall, "Minister of the Gospel, Melauchthon," ventured the prediction that "some day this will be a place of resort and of much business." N. C. Gowan, a son of Ogle R. Gowan, who was a visitor in 1860, also hazarded the role of prophet when he wrote,---` `God has done it nobly, wisely,

well; a city here will rise." Both prophesies have been fulfilled, in part at least. This beauty spot is a "place of resort," and, if a city has not risen at the site, power generated at the Falls, and carried by that most mysterious and wonderful of agencies, the electric wire, is used in turning the wheels of industry in a dozen urban centres.

There are hundreds of pages in the Album with sentiments grave and gay expressed thereon, one of the best being that left by Silas Hallett, of Ravenna, who visited the Falls in 1888. "This is a day that will never fade from my memory." Mr. Hallett voiced what every man, capable of appreciating Nature's works, must feel on visiting Eugenia, one of the most beautiful scenes in all Ontario.

John Sewell, who went into Euphrasia in 1845, told of one incident that furnished a striking mental picture of conditions in the country south of Meaford at that time.

"One day when my brother and I were out setting mink-traps, a man suddenly rose up before us and I was a good deal more scared than I would have been had a bear appeared in place of the man," said Mr. Sewell as I chatted with him one evening. "I did not suppose that there was any other than my brother and myself for miles around. The stranger said his name was Ellwood, that he was a trapper, and that his home was in the United States.

"Fifteen years later than this, when Samuel Wylie settled near Woodhouse, the seventeen mile drive to Meaford was considered a long day's journey, and over part of the way horses were up to their middle in mud. One family that came in about that time had to cut up cotton bags to make clothing and another was forced to subsist for some time on turnips. Some food, however, was cheap enough. At the Chantler store in Meaford salted suckers could be bought at a dollar a barrel, and salmon as long as a man's aria cost ten cents. But dollars and cents were scarce—just how scarce is indicated by the fact that one year's taxes for the whole township of St. Vincent amounted to sixty-three dollars, thirty-seven and a half cents. Robert Mitchell was the first collector for the township, and he had to pay the taxes over to the treasurer in Barrie. Once, when Mr. Mitchell was about ready to start off for this purpose, he discovered that the wallet containing the tax money was missing. Looking about he saw his old sow with the purse in her mouth, scattering the money over the snow. The bills were recovered but the small change was lost."

The extension of the Northern Railway to Collingwood made easier the task of settling the Georgian Bay townships west of that point; but even then the hardships and dangers were trying enough. When the mother of J. W. Patton first went as a young woman to Rocklyn, in Euphrasia, she journeyed by rail to Collingwood. A letter sent in advance asking her brother-in-law to meet her at Rocklyn had not been delivered, so the remaining twenty miles, a good deal of the way through the bush, was begun all alone and on foot. At a still later date, when Mrs. Patton desired to visit her old home, she and her husband carried their child while walking to Meaford, thirteen miles away, to take boat for Collingwood. On the return journey, no steamer being due, Mrs. Patton and another woman engaged passage by small boat from Collingwood to Meaford. "A storm came up while we were on our way," Mrs. Patton told me, "and I had to use the baby's hat in baling out the boat. My clothes became so soaked with water that I could hardly move, and I thought that each wave as it came would engulf us."


Most of the records of the early days in 1-Huron on which I have drawn, were obtained from those of the second generation. But I found one man, Moses Pierce, of McGillivray township, who could tell of what "these eyes have seen and these ears have heard."

"I had been living in Markham township," said Mr. Pierce, "and in my early days Yonge Street was fairly passable only as far north as Thornhill. Passengers could ride that far by stage; but on going further they not only had to walk, but at intervals had to assist in prying the stage out of bog holes with handspikes. When I left for the Huron tract, the usual means of making the journey was by boat from Toronto to Hamilton and after that it was ride by wagon or foot it. We took wagon from Toronto to Hamilton, and that was a three days' journey. London to Clandeboye, twenty miles, took another day. For the last five or six miles to the place where we settled, we had to zig-zag through the bush with an ox-team.

"The land in that section belonged to the Canada Company and the price was from three to ten dollars per acre. This may seem to those of the present day a low price for land, but where was the money to come from?

Even oak timber was unsaleable here then. Some of the finest oak that ever grew was split into rails to make snake-fences, and the timber was still sound as a bell fifty years later. Other equally good oak was rolled into log-heaps and burned. Those logs to-day would be worth more than the cleared farms on which they were burned. To give you an idea of how scarce money then was I may mention one incident. An Indian offered the entire carcass of a deer he had shot for a dollar, but there was not a dollar between our place and the town-line to make the purchase.

"Yes, deer were plentiful then. I have seen five on our farm at one time. Wolves were numerous, too, and once a pack of these brutes kept the Gamble boys prisoners all night in a bush where they had been making sugar.

"Two acres of the bush had been thinned out before we went on our place, but the shanty was without a door, and a hole in the roof, besides serving for a chimney, furnished the only sunlight. There was not a nail or piece of metal in the whole structure. Some of the cabins in the neighbourhood were so built that oxen could haul logs right up to the fireplace.

"The family bed in the first cabin was provided by boring holes in one of the wall logs, driving stakes in these supported by posts at the outer end, and laying on top slabs split from basswood with the smooth side up. As the family increased the bed was widened.

"In the first ten years, although wheat was sown year after year, few settlers produced enough for their own bread. The grain would give excellent promise at the start and then the rust would come and destroy it. After the rust came the midge, and this continued until we secured midge-proof wheat. Naturally flour was a scarce article. When one neighbour secured a bag or two, this was shared with others, and, when the flour was gone, it was a case of potatoes and corn. Even potatoes were scarce at times. When nuts failed, the squirrels ate our potatoes, and more than once the seed-cuttings were destroyed before they had time to sprout. The flour that was obtained was secured at the cost of heart-breaking toil. One couple sixty years of age, carried their grist nine miles on their backs. A Scotch girl walked eight or ten miles to our place and carried one hundred pounds of flour home on her back. Her way led through an unbroken bush, in which you could see only a few yards ahead and wherein you had to be careful of your bearings to avoid getting lost. When my crops failed, in order to earn money enough to keep things going, I would help my neighbours with their building all day and do my own logging after night fall. At times after chopping all day, I have made barrels during half the night."

William Pierce, a son of Moses, gave a touch of humour to the story of the past. "The first school I went to," said William, "was held in a log shanty, twelve by fourteen feet. The teacher was in the habit of getting drunk, and, when he was incapacitated, his wife took his place. At noon hour, on my first day at school, she locked us in, as she said, to prevent the bears from getting us, while she went to. dinner. Tiring of the confinement before the hour was up, we determined to get outside. The only means of exit was a hole in the gable end of the shanty, and we could not climb up the log wall from the floor to reach that opening because the spaces between the logs had been neatly chinked up. This difficulty was gotten over by one boy standing on the shoulders of another and so reaching the top log. Then he pulled the others up in turn and all slipped out of the hole in the gable end. In a little while a cry was raised that the teacher was coming, and then the boys clambered up the outside like a lot of bears, slipped in through the hole to their seats, where they were found quietly in place when the teacher opened the door."

Linwood Craven, like his neighbour, Moses Pierce, was one of the originals and, like Mr. Pierce, could tell of the almost unbelievable hardships borne by those who blazed the way. In the case of Mr. Craven, indeed, the hardships began with his arrival in Canada in 1842. Smallpox was raging in the country in that year and Mr. Craven contracted the disease while in Montreal. "After I recovered I was almost ready to go back," Mr. Craven told me, "and I set a stick on end in the street and decided that if it fell to the east I would go back and if it fell to the west. I would stay. My wife was determined to remain in any case, and so it was perhaps fortunate that the stick fell to the west. I exchanged my sovereigns in the office of Mayor Beaudry. The last I saw of the yellow coins they were laid out in the form of a horse-shoe in the mayor's window.

"When I settled in McGillivray, there was not a white settler between our place and Lake Huron save fora little French community about Brewster's Mills on the lake shore. There were numerous Indians, though; and one of these, old Chief Petanquet, once, while drunk, laid my jacket open with a knife. Seizing an axe, I said that I would cut him down if he did it again. That sobered him and he apologized, at the same time giving me his knife as a pledge of future good behaviour."

The goddess of chance appears to have been frequently called upon to settle the choice of first location. Norris and Sallows, two neighbours, flipped a coin for first choice in Colborne. The first of the Snells and a neighbour drew lots in Hullett. Craven said that he would give or take a quarter with `Big Jim' Robson for first choice in McGillivray. "When Robson took the quarter I felt certain that he did not intend to remain," said fir. Craven," and sure enough he never came hack after locating.

"When I arranged to put up a shanty, although it was only eight logs high, neighbours refused to assist until I provided a gallon of whiskey. After the shanty was up, it was `short commons' for us all for some years. For tea we used burned bread, and peas for making imitation coffee. When our first child was born, there was not a pound of flour in the house, and, when I went to neighbour after neighbour with a pillow-slip to borrow soiree, I found plenty of corn-meal, but no flour. At last I was able to get a little from Robert Armstrong; but this was only enough for the mother of the babe, and I had to do with corn-meal for six weeks.

"That winter I chopped eight acres, and next spring my wife and I logged most of it by hand. I cut the logs in short lengths so that they would be easier to handle, and cut the trees off close to the ground so that stumps would not be in the way of cultivation. It was certainly no light winter's work, to cut up the trees, many two and three feet through, growing on eight acres. After the land was cleared, we had to carry rails by hand for fencing; but the slowest work of all was raking up the leaves.

"When our first grain was harvested, it was put in a stack near the cabin and there was no place to thresh it save on the cabin floor. I carried in one or two sheaves at a time, and in threshing I had to stand between two of the split logs forming the roof so that the flail would not hit the ceiling. Meantime my wife covered baby with a blanket to prevent the dust from choking him. When the grain was threshed, we had to drive six or eight miles to the mill and, short as that distance was, two days were spent going and coming. Sometimes we had to go a second time for the grist at that. Once, when a party of four of us were going to Brewster's mill, eighteen miles distant, we ate the small lunch carried with us in going. On arrival at the mill, Brewster told us that lie had no food either to give or sell. There was, however, a pot of potatoes boiling on the stove and an Irishman in the party seized one of the potatoes. That and a squirrel which we caught had to serve us until we reached a tavern on our return trip. "On the same journey I carried an axe on my shoulder, and a man named Train, following behind, laid his lower lip open when he stumbled against it. 'Without a word of complaint, he split a leaf from a plug of tobacco, drew the cut together, and came on as if nothing had happened.

"Yes, the rust played havoc with all of us in the early days of wheat-growing. Had it not been for the introduction of Egyptian wheat,

which proved rust resisting, I believe many would have starved. We were all hard enough pressed as it was. One year, when my tax bill came due, I could not meet the bill although it was only two dollars. In order to raise the money I took a load of hay to London, twenty-five miles away, by ox-team, spent two days on the way, and sold the load for exactly the amount of my taxes.

"Our first Methodist preacher was named Case. He and a mulatto, a Baptist, preached in the same cabin. The Methodist had no horse; even if he had possessed one he could not have taken it over the roads as they then were, and so he walked to his several appointments."

"When my father settled on lot twenty-seven on the seventh of Hullett, he was the `farthest north' white man in Western Ontario," James Snell told me. "The upper part of Huron and the whole of Bruce were covered by an unbroken forest. Father's worldly goods consisted of the axe on his shoulder and a quarter in his pocket.

"Even two years later than that, when he married, it was often potatoes and cabbage for meals one day, varied by cabbage and potatoes the next. One neighbour was without flour for two weeks. Once, when an attempt was made to bring flour overland by way of Clinton, the supply was all gobbled up before Clinton was passed. A neighbour carried half a barrel of flour on his back from Clinton to his own home, a distance of three miles. William Young, of Carlow, spent his first weeks in the shelter of a tree; and flat stones, taken from the bed of a creek, formed the fireplace in which his food, mostly game and fish, was cooked. One day, father, on his way home, met a bear at a point where the road was very narrow. Father stepped on one side, the bear responded by stepping to the other, and so each passed on his way—an exhibition of good manners of which father frequently expressed his warmest appreciation.

"The land in our township was bought at from three to twelve dollars per acre, depending on the quality of the timber. That was merely the first cost. To clear ten acres of black ash swamp on our farm cost twenty-five dollars per acre; and after that there was the stumping, stoning, fencing, draining, and building. They tell us Canadians are a great people. They should be. They are the descendants of the greatest stock the world ever produced. None but men of strong arms and brave hearts could have accomplished the work that was accomplished by the pioneers of Old Ontario."

How well that work was accomplished and to what extent the children of these pioneers were worthy of their ancestors, is shown in one case by the history of the Snell farm itself. A little over half a century after the first tree was cut on the farm, stock produced there captured twenty-one prizes, eleven of these firsts, at the Chicago World's Fair, the winnings being made in open competition with communities that had three centuries of civilization behind them.

"My father moved to Huron in 1835," said Henry Morris, another Colborne township pioneer. "At that time there were only three houses in Goderich. In one of these, a log shanty, father spent his first night with a pile of shavings for a bed. Father and his brother chose as their location in Colborne, lots six and seven on the ninth, tossing a copper for first choice."

Mr. Morris told an interesting story of the clock his father took with him to the township, which clock was still keeping perfect time when I talked with him sixty-five years later. "The clock was made in Germany," said Mr. Morris, "and belonged to a man for whom father worked near Hamilton. It had been sent to a watchmaker's for repairs and father was told that he could have it by paying the charges. The offer was accepted, and in the next sixty-five years it was repaired only once."


"Our family arrived at Kincardine township at three o'clock in the afternoon of a March day in 1851, and our first task was to clear about five feet of snow out of the shanty that was waiting for us. This shanty had been built by my brother in the previous autumn; but the one door had not been hung, or the walls chinked up, which accounted for the accumulation of snow. Although I was only seven at the time, my task was to assist the other children in gathering moss to block the spaces between the logs forming the walls of the shanty. Next I was sent to cut hemlock boughs, and these, spread on the earthen floor and covered with blankets, formed our bed. Another blanket closed the doorway." Thus Neil McDougall began his story.

"Next day we put in one window and built a chimney formed of sticks and puddled clay. Fire in the open hearth soon baked this clay as hard as brick. A permanent door was made of lumber brought with us, but basswood logs were split to form the floor. A space was left before the fireplace and this was afterwards filled in with cobble-stones.

"Our family, coming originally from Scotland, had spent some time in Brock township. The journey from Brock to Kincardine was made in a sleigh by way of the lower end of Lake Simcoe, Orangeville, and the town of Durham. At Durham, we were detained by a storm for three days, sleeping meantime on the floor of a shanty belonging to a man named Hunter. At the town of Kincardine, or what is now the town, the sleigh was left behind and the remaining ten miles made on foot, each one of the party carrying some of the household effects. My share, although, as I said, I was but seven years of age, consisted of the tea-kettle, tea-pot, and a blanket. An older brother carried the family table. Not a tree was chopped along that ten miles and the snow was from four to five feet deep in the woods.

"In the previous fall, my brothers had left a yoke of oxen with a man at Priceville, who promised to keep them over winter for their work. The keeping was so badly done that when we picked them up on our way, one gave out on the road and afterwards died and the other was kept alive only by feeding it scones; we had no hay.

"Owing to the crippling of our ox-team, we had to do our spring logging by hand. We possessed only an acre of clearing that spring, but next fall that acre was literally covered with nice mealy potatoes. During the summer, John McPhail, a neighbour, purchased another ox and that made a yoke for our joint use, the first ox-team in the section. We bought a cow, too, and during the next winter the cattle were maintained on a few turnips, a little oats, and the browse in the bush. The cattle seemed to know that meal time was coming when they saw the men start for the bush with axes, and they followed after. A tree was no sooner down than the animals were feasting on the juicy sprouts of the top. They actually came out fat in the spring.

"At the beginning, all our supplies were packed from Kincardine, ten miles away, and it took two bushels of wheat to buy a pound of tea. With boots at seven dollars per pair, you will not be surprised _when I tell you that some went barefooted in winter. When cattle were killed, we took the skin from the bend at the knee to make moccasins. Sometimes, owing to rough weather, supplies of flour at Kincardine became exhausted, and then the settlers' food was limited to potatoes and fish. Occasionally, in winter, the fish gave out, too; and then it was potatoes and cow-cabbage. Some families lived for weeks at a time on these, with a little milk and butter added. The cattle fed on cow-cabbage, too. These plants grew to a height of about two and a half feet, and cattle would eat all they could hold in half an hour. At times, when we could not get our wheat. ground we boiled it whole for food.

"The Rev. William Frazer, a Baptist, who had a small grist-mill, was a missionary as well as a miller. For twenty-five years he preached in the little community, walking eight or nine miles to keep appointments, which I never knew him to miss, rain or shine, winter or summer; and he never took a dollar in pay for this service. He served for a time as inspector of schools in addition to his other work.

"There was not it doctor within sixty miles; still I never knew of a death in child-birth. Cuts were common when the bush was being cleared, and were treated with home-made salves."

"Two or three families were dependent on one cow for their milk in the early years," said Charles McDougall, an older brother of Neil. "In the first two years, we never once tasted meat, and our tea was made by using burned bread crumbs. Scones were fashioned on a rough board split from a basswood log. People in the township of Bruce, to the north of us, were still worse off. I have seen them drive past our place with oxen drawing home-made wooden carts that frequently got stuck in the mud holes. The people of that township, like ourselves, had to go to Kincardine for their supplies; but in their case the journey extended over two or three days."

A typical incident of pioneer days in Bruce County was mentioned by Mr. McDougall. In a year of scarcity three men started for Ash-field, two townships away, to secure potatoes. Growing hungry by the way they stopped at a cabin to ask for food.

"I have only enough in the house to make supper for the children," answered the woman who came to the door.

"Then we cannot take that," said the men.

"But you will," was the instant response. ''My husband has gone off for flour, which he will surely get, and the children can wait until he returns. Come in and eat."

Another touching story of a father's devotion was told by Mr. McDougall.

`'Among the first arrivals in Bruce were six families from Tyre, Scotland," said he. "When the party arrived at Walkerton, the nine-year-old daughter of Donald McKinnon became ill and the father paused in his journey to nurse his sick child, while the other members of the party pressed on to Kincardine. After the child partially recovered, the father took her on his back and started after the others, wading the Saugeen River on the way. But the child died almost as soon as Kincardine was reached, and her body was the first one laid in the old cemetery where the Presbyterian Church now stands. Grief and the hardships of the trip proved too much for the father, and he also succumbed shortly afterwards."

One can almost believe that, in the days which followed, others in the party envied the two who had fallen at the threshold of the new settlement. Home and kindred were beyond the sea, all was new and strange, and before the scanty means of livelihood brought from beyond the seas could be added to by production in the new home giant trees had to be cleared away by men who did not know how to wield an axe.


"Is it worth while?" The question was asked by Peter Clark of the township of Culross between sixty and seventy years ago. It is no wonder Mr. Clark thus queried. It was the depth of winter. The habitation occupied was a log shanty twelve feet by sixteen feet, the spaces between the logs being filled with mud plaster. The only company he had was W. H. Campbell, and there was not then a single house in Teeswater. The site of Wingham was still part of the original forest; Lucknow was not even a cross-roads; and all about was unbroken bush.

Mr. Clark's experiences before reaching Bruce were also such as to produce a feeling of pessimism. From London to Clinton he and his companion, Campbell, had tramped forty-eight miles over mud roads in one day in the previous autumn. Clinton to Goderich, over still worse roads, was covered in a second day. Goderich to Lucknow, over country almost without roads, occupied the third day, and, on the fourth, the site of Teeswater was reached over blazed trails. There the night was spent in the woods. This was on the ninth of September, and from that time until October, when their rude cabin was finished, the forest furnished the only shelter Mr. Clark and his companion had. Is it any wonder that the companions asked themselves if there would be any roads, neighbours, schools, churches and the other necessities and comforts incident to civilization? It is not surprising that for a time, Mr. Clark decided it was not worth while; and, after distributing his immediate belongings among his nearest neighbours, he started for Goderich to visit an old schoolmate, H. D. Cameron, then principal of the school in that town. At Mr. Cameron's solicitations Mr. Clark tried for a teacher's certificate, and, passing the necessary examination, secured a school at WVawanosh. That was the turn of the tide for him. While teaching at Wawanosh, he visited his farm in Culross often enough to hold it under the conditions of the grant. Later on he taught the first school in Teeswater, but eventually settled down on his farm.

It was, however, a long and dreary wait for the things that came later. "In the beginning," Mr. Clark said, "I more than once packed one hundred pounds of wheat on my back to the nearest grist-mill, and that mill was thirteen miles away. Once, after assisting at a raising two miles from my farm, I lost the blazed trail in the woods while going home in the dark and lay down to spend the night in the bush. Awakened by the howling of wolves, I started a fire to frighten the animals off and then lay down and slept on until morning.

"My greatest scare, though, occurred in that first fall. We had plenty of game, but were often down to our last crust of bread. Campbell on one of these occasions decided to go to Riverdale for flour and other provisions. He started on a Monday expecting to return next day, but when he did not get back on Wednesday nor even on Thursday I fairly shook with terror. I feared that Campbell had been drowned, and that I would find it impossible to give a satisfactory explanation of his disappearance. In imagination I could even see the sheriff and the hangman's noose; but at last I heard a great splashing down the river, and in a short time Campbell himself appeared."

While almost all the pioneers whom I interviewed, told of the spirit of mutual helpfulness that prevailed in the early days, there were occasional references to displays of meanness and selfishness. One incident of this nature occurred when two travellers were going south on the road leading from Dufferin to the front. One traveller was on foot and one in a sleigh. As the latter caught up to the pedestrian a request for a ride was curtly refused. The one on foot, in the then state of the roads, was able to travel as fast as the one in the sleigh, and as the parties passed and repassed each other repeated requests for a lift, or even for the privilege of hanging on behind, were denied. But just retribution was not long delayed. Both travellers reached the same tavern as night came on. The one on foot was known there; the man driving was unknown. The footsore pilgrim told his tale, and the churl with the team was promptly cast into the outer darkness where he belonged.

Mr. Clark told of a somewhat similar experience. "On the way back from the distant mill, with packs of flour on their shoulders, the first settlers naturally got hungry by the way," said Mr. Clark. "On some occasions, on dropping into a wayside cabin, even the privilege of making scones from their own flour was refused. But this was a rare exception and was more than over-balanced by the open-hearted hospitality in other quarters. John McBain and his wife were a particularly generous couple. No traveller was ever permitted to pass their door while hungry, and a bed was always at the disposal of one who appeared as darkness approached. Many of the Culross pioneers had reason to bless the McBains.

"Another of the whole-hearted ones was Samuel Woods. In their second year some of the settlers did not have even potatoes. Samuel, whose home was in a hollow log, had not so very many himself, but he was always ready to share up with others. Whenever a hungry one came along, Sam just pointed to the potato patch and told the visitor to help himself."

The question, "Is it worth while?" which Mr. Clark asked himself shortly after the middle of the last century was well answered before that century ended. Well-tilled fields had then succeeded the tangle of the forest; stone and brick residences had displaced the log shanties; and a community had been built up in which the homely virtues of the pioneer period did not disappear with the coining of prosperity.


"I moved into Kinloss in the same year 1854 —that Mr. Clark moved into Culross," said Mr. Corrigan a friend of Mr. Clark. "In one respect a more unfortunate time could not have been selected for making the venture. The Russian war had forced wheat up to two dollars and a quarter per bushel and our people had not yet begun to produce wheat. It had forced pork up to ten and twelve dollars per hundred weight and the settlers were buyers, not sellers, of pork. As few of them had more than fifty dollars to start on, you can imagine how far their available funds went in the purchase of necessary food. As a matter of fact many were compelled to subsist for weeks on cow-cabbage, a vegetable that then grew wild in the woods. This cabbage was not unlike lettuce, and boiled with pork was a real luxury; but few had money to buy the pork.

"Then, a year or two later, just when our people were beginning to get on their feet, and wheat in the newly made clearing was seemingly about to yield an abundant harvest, one night's frost blighted the whole prospect. Not a bushel of wheat was harvested in the settlement that year.

"The hardest blow of all, however, was sustained through an act of the authorities. The Government of Sandfield Macdonald had aided the people with loans of money and seed in the year when frost came, and in. 1868-69 the Government ordered that the interest, which had been allowed to accumulate while people were trying to regain their feet, as well as the principal, must all be paid off at once. It was reported, whether truly or not, that the Government was impelled to this action by financial interests in Toronto, which had just received large sums of Old Country money to be loaned. In any case the people of Bruce rushed to these money-lenders for funds to meet the demands made upon them. Loans obtained from these lenders were repayable in annual instalments and the interest figured out at about twelve and one half per cent. Scores of those who had struggled through the trials of the pioneer period, who had borne up even in the year when their wheat was destroyed by frost, now with old age approaching went down beneath the load of the mortgage. They were forced to sell their belongings and move to the United States. `Only for the mortgages we could have pulled through,' was their bitter cry. It was a cruel blow, and Canada lost many good citizens at that time.

"In one respect we were favoured," continued Mr. Corrigan with a smile. "Most of those who settled in Kinloss went there in the prime of life. There were few children to educate or aged to care for. But for this I do not know how any would have pulled through. Death came occasionally, even to a community in which the death rate was low because of the ages of those composing it, and in the absence of regular cemeteries, most of those who died were buried on the farms their labour had been helping to create. One such burial-place was located on one of my own farms. Facilities for marriage were as scarce as facilities for burial. When my wife and I were married we had to go to Owen Sound for the purpose, and we spent. two days going and a like time returning.

"The infrequency of religious services also bore heavily on the pioneers. This hardship was felt with especial severity by the Roman Catholics, who were fewer in numbers than the Protestants. Our first priest had his headquarters in Owen Sound. He was able to visit us only once a year, and the entire journey from Owen Sound was made on foot.

"Our first wheat was cleaned either by sifting it through a screen or placing it on a sheet and then shaking the sheet so as to throw the grain up in the air and allow the wind to carry off the chaff. When fanning-mills came in, they were taken from farm to farm as threshing outfits are now."

The Corrigans had an easier time of it in Bruce than most of those who pioneered in that county, because before going there, they had pioneered in Hastings and had accumulated twenty-three or twenty-four hundred dollars - quite a fortune for that day.

"But we had our share of it when I was a lad in Hastings," Mr. Corrigan concluded. "I have heard my father say that be had to tramp twenty-five miles to buy a pipe, and that when he first settled in Hastings his worldly possessions consisted of an axe, a ham, and a five do]-tar gold-piece. We moved from Hastings to Kinloss in a covered wagon, a month being spent on the way. We had to stop over for two weeks at Cooksville owing to one of our horses having been injured by a kick, and it was while there that I had my first sight of one of the first great labour-savers; a mowing-machine.

I believe ours was the first wagon to enter Kinloss; and that wagon, which had a canvas cover, formed our habitation until a shanty was erected."


To the late John S. McDonald, one of the most thoroughly upright men who ever sat in the Legislature of Ontario, I was indebted for some reminiscences of early days near Ripley.

Mr. McDonald came from Ayrshire in 1854. After spending some fifteen months in Ancaster, he determined to make a new home in the township of Kincardine. His route lay through Galt, Stratford, and Goderich, and eight days were spent in making the journey with horse and ox-teams. "Galt," Mr. McDonald said, "was then a small village; but Stratford, which had lately been swept by fire, held a thousand people, while Goderich boasted of nearly two thousand inhabitants. From Galt to Goderich the road was all mud or corduroy, and it was with difficulty Mrs. McDonald held her seat in the wagon as it bumped over the roughly laid logs.

"The slow rate at which the journey was made may be illustrated by one incident. When a short distance on our way, I inadvertently left my watch at Black Creek and did not notice the loss until four miles further on. I at once started back on foot to recover the time-piece, the remainder of the family meantime continuing northwards. After I had secured my watch, the stage carrying the mail came along, and loping to join nay family more quickly by this means, I jumped on board. I soon saw, however, that I could walk faster than the stage was being driven, and so jumped off again and resumed walking, catching up with the others on reaching Hunter's Corners, as Seaforth was then called.

"The country was fairly well-settled as far as Stratford; but from that place to Goderich the clearings were small, and the townships of Kinloss, Ashfield, Huron, and Kincardine, while mostly taken up, were still covered with forest. From Belfast to our new home, a distance of eighteen miles, there was no roadway whatever, the only guide to the lot being a blaze left by surveyors; and over the last twelve miles of that blazed trail Mrs. McDonald carried an infant in her arms.

"It was fall when we reached our home in the bush and the first winter was spent in making a clearing. In spring, after burning the slash and putting in a crop, I tramped all the way back to Ancaster to earn enough to see the family through the following winter, Mrs. McDonald and the children meantime spending three weary months with the nearest neighbour.

"In the fall, with my cradle on my back (there were no self-binders in those days), I tramped home to harvest our own little crop and prepare for winter. The purchase of groceries necessitated a walk of eight miles each way. The Harris mill, twenty-two miles distant, was the nearest point at which we could obtain flour, and that meant two days in going and coming.

"For four successive years I spent the winters in chopping, the springs in burning and seeding, and the summers in working for other farmers at 'the front.' Then it seemed as if at last. I could venture to put in the whole year at home with my family. I had seven acres in wheat and some other crops as well, and it looked to me like the dawn of prosperity. But, just as the wheat was ripening, the whole prospect was blighted in a single night. Frost came with the darkness, and wheat, potatoes, and all else went down in one common ruin.

"Without wheat to harvest, there was no use in remaining home any longer; and so once more the weary pilgrimage to the front was undertaken and fall and winter were spent in earning money, not only to carry the family-through the winter but to buy seed for the following spring. The set-back left us very nearly where we had started, and it was eight long years after our first winter in the bush before I was able to spend all my time on our own farm. Even after that there was constant danger of frost and sometimes more or less severe loss was sustained. Indeed, it was not until the bush fires of the 'sixties burned off the black muck on the surface that June frosts ceased to be a source of worry.

"It was not alone the lack of knowledge of how to use the woodman's axe that was against the emigrants from Scotland when they settled in the forest then covering Huron and Bruce," continued Mr. McDonald. "Many of the newcomers were from the Island of Lewis and had been fishermen in the old land. As fishermen their periods of labour had been governed by the weather. When nature favoured, it had been long periods of arduous toil for them, while with foul weather came complete cessation from labour. The habits these fishermen had inherited from their forefathers they brought with them to the Canadian bush. During inclement periods when others were preparing for the fine days to come, these would be resting. That, of course, militated against success under the changed conditions prevailing here. It was marvellous, though, what these men could endure. I remember one of them carrying a hundredweight of flour in a barrel on his back from Kincardine. He might. just as well have carried it in a bag, but he put it in a barrel because the barrel was given him. That awkward load he carried for fourteen miles through the bush simply to add a wooden barrel to his store. At the end of the journey, when asked if lie was tired, he said: 'No, but she'll be a little pit sore aapoot the back.' "

Mr. McDonald in describing his experiences in cleaning wheat, said: "We used a `wecht' for that purpose. This was a sheep-skin with the wool removed. The skin was tacked to a wooden rim, something like the end of a drum, but the skin was slack, not tight. We used this as a scoop to lift the grain from the bin and then allowed the grain to fall on a sheet Plaid on the ground, the wind blowing off the chaff as the grain fell. One day, when we were about out of flour, there was no wind. When a breeze came up with the sunset, I began cleaning and kept at the work, by the light of the moon, until two in the morning. This job followed a full day's threshing with the flail; and before daylight next morning I was off with my grist to the Harris mill, twenty miles away.

"All the settlers from our section took their grain to that mill. The grist was carried on jumpers and usually only two or three bags were taken at a time. One day was spent in going to the mill, the grain was ground at night and the return journey made next day.

"When we took our grist to the mill," Mr. McDonald went on, "we spent the night at a log tavern while waiting for it to be ground. We climbed a ladder in going upstairs to bed, and, when in bed, the roof was just above our heads. In the morning the ceiling was coated with frost where the cold air had come in contact with the warm air exhaled from the men's lungs. Our cow-hide boots, in which we tramped through slush in going to the mill, would also be found frozen as hard as bricks, and we had to thaw them at the stove before we could put them on."

Patrick Cummings, when warden of the County of Bruce, told me the following story of "the religious mill.'' ''The `religious mill' was the Shantz mill at Port Elgin, operated by a man named Leader. The miller refused to run a minute after twelve o'clock on Saturday night. On one occasion, during a period of special pressure, a helper in the mill proposed to run right through the last night in the ,reek in order to catch up. A man who happened to be present at the time, for a joke on the helper, put some wet grain in the hopper as the clock was nearing the midnight hour. Exactly on the stroke of twelve the wet grain struck the stoles and the mill stopped dead.

"`I told you,' said the joker, `this was a religious mill and would not, under any circumstances, run on Sunday.' "

The miller, his latent superstition aroused, was struck with awe and never after that did he even think of attempting to run the mill on Sundays.


The family of Hugh Murray, of Underwood, moved into Bruce in the "famine year." "It was not the freezing of the wheat alone that caused suffering among the people," said Mr. Murray. "The grasshoppers ate the pea crop and squirrels scooped out the potatoes, leaving nothing but empty shells. If it had not been for the corn and wheat supplied by the Government, I do not know what the settlers of that day would have done.

"Then, when we began to produce again we were handicapped by the lack of a market. It was a godsend to the new settlement when G. H. Coulthard, from near Manilla, started business in our section. Inc bought anything the settlers had to sell, but his chief service to the community was in establishing a market for ashes and cord-wood. What we received for these products seemed like `found money.'

'But people worked for that `found money,' all right," added Norman Robertson, who at the time this story was told was County Treasurer of Bruce. "I have seen as many as twenty Highland women, in single fyle, on the way to the ashery, each carrying a two bushel bag of ashes from the burned fallows. These loads were carried as much as six or eight miles and the ashes were sold on delivery at twopence per bushel, while cord-wood went at seventy-five cents to one dollar per cord."

In the sunnnier season, the River Saugecti was made use of by a number of Bruce pioneers in reaching the interior of the southern parts o that county. Other pioneers, landing at Southampton from lake vessels, made their way up the river in canoes. "The current was too strong to paddle against," Thomas Bryce of Dumblane told me, "and so one man had to walk along the shore and pull the canoe with a rope while another held the craft off the land with a pole. Many went up as far as Paisley, a distance of fifteen miles, in this way. My people came in the other way. Striking the river at Walkerton we built a raft, placed our supplies on it, and floated twenty-one miles down stream to our destination. Several other families did the same. Each family built its own raft, and when the journey was completed, the raft was left to float at will on down the river."

Mr. and Mrs. Cook were of those who came in by way of Southampton in 1851, and Mrs. Cook had with her four children, aged from one to eight. "Whatever will you do with these poor little chicks up here?" was the first greeting she received on landing. It is no wonder solicitude for the children was expressed. "The shanty to which we went had a bark roof and this roof leaked so badly that when it rained my husband had to hold an umbrella over us when we were in bed," said Mrs. Cook. "The floors were made of such lumber as drifted ashore from passing vessels. Once, when the children were ill, my husband went to Port Elgin, five miles away, to get a little milk for them. On another occasion a friend brought in a chicken all the way from Owen Sound, but unfortunately the flesh spoiled with the heat during the journey and could not be used."

Captain McLeod, of Kincardine, in speaking of those pioneers who came in by way of Lake Huron, said that the passenger rate from Goderich to Kincardine was fifty cents and the freight rate on goods from Windsor to Kincardine six dollars per ton. The captain and his brother built the first vessel put together at Kincardine, a little craft of eight or ten tons.

"We cut the planks for that craft with a whip-saw," the captain told me. "I bought the whip-saw in Goderich for five dollars and carried or trailed it all the way to Kincardine. A platform was built on the side of a bank and supported by posts. Beneath this platform was a pit six or seven feet deep, and, when sawing, my brother stood in the pit while lie pulled down on the saw, and I stood above to pull up. After finishing our boat, we cut all the boards for flooring, roof, gable ends, and windows for a house eighteen feet by twenty-four and got a yoke of nine-year-old oxen for our pay. It was a fair day's work to cut from two hundred and fifty to three hundred feet of lumber in a day with a whip-saw, but some days, when everything was running well, we got up to four hundred."

John McNab, a son of the first Crown Lands Agent for Bruce, gave a vivid description of three scenes in the early history of the section.

"In my youth," said Mr. McNab, "the county ended at Southampton on the north, the peninsula above that still being in the hands of the Indians. Once a year Captain Anderson came up from Toronto to distribute annuity money among these Indians. His route was by rail to Collingwood, boat to Owen Sound, and from Owen Sound to Southampton with Indians

who carried his luggage. I have seen as many as nine hundred of the red men gathered to meet the captain and receive their annuities, while the harbour was dotted with small craft, owned by traders waiting to exchange their goods for the money the Indians were to receive.

"Later on, when the Indians surrendered their lands, these were put up for sale, buyers coming from Toronto and equally distant points. In the excitement of the auction some wild bidding occurred, the offers in many cases being more than the land was worth. Some of the purchases were afterwards thrown back on the hands of the Government and in other cases a reduction in price was made.

"The crowd that attended the auction of the lands in the peninsula was well nigh paralleled by a previous rush. Several townships were opened for sale in South Bruce in 1854, and in September of that year two thousand people came into Southampton. They slept in camps outside the village; and at night their blazing camp fires were like those of a besieging army. By day the gathering was like a congress of nations. Highlanders, Englishmen, and Germans were intermingled; and the Gaelic, English, and German tongues were heard in the different groups. A remarkable thing, both in connection with this gathering and the annual payment to Indians at an earlier date, was that although on both occasions whiskey was everywhere, I did not hear of a single quarrel.

"Another picturesque scene occurred in the spring of the year when the Indians came down from Manitoulin to sell their maple sugar. The journey was made in mackinaws,—open boats with a schooner rig; and the sugar was carried in mococks,—containers made of birch bark each holding from twenty to thirty pounds. I am told that this sugar eventually found its way to a Montreal refinery, from which it emerged at last as ordinary commercial brown sugar.

"After the incoming settlers had located their lands, they frequently tramped forty or fifty miles in order to make their payments at the Crown Land office in Southampton. Not a little of the money used in making payments was English gold, and this was usually carried in belts next the person. Those carrying their money in this way would, on arrival, go into a room off the office, strip, remove their belts and then come back to the office and pay over their money."

A story very similar to that told by Mr. McDonald was the one given me about the same time by A. Livingstone, who was then living a little west of the town of Durham, in the neighbouring county of Grey. When Mr. Livingstone moved to his new home from Toronto in the late 'fifties, it was necessary to make the journey in winter because roads were impassable in summer. "Orangeville at that time consisted of a store, one of two taverns, and a few houses," said Mr. Livingstone. "There was a fair road from Orangeville to Durham, but from the latter place there was nothing but a `blaze' to mark the road to the lot I had selected, four miles west. Our nearest neighbour was three miles off in the bush; and, although a little milling was then done in Durham, most of the wheat grown in our township was taken to Guelph, fifty miles away, to he ground.

"The first spring after our arrival, we planted potatoes in the little clearing made during winter, and then I and my two brothers walked down to Vaughan to earn money with which to buy supplies for the following winter. It took us three days to cover the distance. In the second spring, we had nearly fifteen acres ready for crop, and after putting this in oats, barley, and potatoes we once more proceeded south to spend the summer in Vaughan. This practice continued for three or four years, but after that we were able to spend all our time at home."

Hardships were not, however, at an end even then. Durham Road, now one of the finest highways in the province, was at that time mud and corduroy. "In the spring," said Mrs. Brigham, a neighbour of the Livingstones, "the logs were frequently afloat in the water, and in passing over a place like that we had to jump from one log to another. There was no bridge over the Saugeen west of Durham, but a tree which had fallen across the stream afforded a reasonably safe passage for people on foot." The first team of horses was taken in by William Hopps, the year after the Livingstones arrived. For the first few years, however, some of the settlers did not even have oxen, and all the operations on bush farms, from logging to harvesting, were performed by hand.

"In the beginning, too," Mr. Livingstone said, "our buying and selling was all done locally, incoming settlers providing a market for the surplus produced by those who had gone in ahead. Where marketing was confined to such narrow limits, there was bound to be a glut at one time with a shortage at another. When there was a surplus our produce went for a song; when there was scarcity famine prices prevailed.

One summer when flour vent up to nine and ten dollars per barrel, people who could not pay the price were obliged to use corn-meal. Even corn-meal was almost beyond the reach of those, who, to buy food, worked on the road at seventy-five cents per day and boarded themselves. Many, indeed, were obliged to mortgage their farms and all their belongings. In not a few cases mortgages were foreclosed and families after years of toil were forced to move away.

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