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The Pioneers of Old Ontario
On the Penetang Trail


Quite a settlement had been formed along the Penetang' Road north of Barrie ten years before settlement began even at the southern end of Innisfil, the township forming the west shore of the lower end of Lake Simcoe. There were two reasons for this. The first was due to comparative ease of communication; the second, to market facilities. The old military highway between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay followed the line of Yonge Street to Holland Landing, thence up Lake Simcoe to Kempenfeldt Bay and then again overland to Penetanguishene. Hence it was a comparatively easy matter to reach the country about Crown Hill, Dalston, and Craighurst several years before the opening of the lower section of the Penetang' Road between Holland Landing and Barrie provided for the settlement of Innisfil.

The principal reason for the earlier settlement in the more northerly section was based on market considerations. The naval and military post, first established at Nottawasaga, was transferred from that point to Penetanguishene in 1818 and somewhat later the post at Drummond Island was added. The presence of a military and naval station thus made this northern port a centre of commercial activity. It was a centre of Indian trade as well, "and there was," as a grandson of one of the Crown Hill pioneers expressed it, "a general belief that Penetang' was destined to be the metropolis of Upper Canada."

The Penetang' dream of the pioneers has not come true, but Crown Hill, which owes its origin to the existence of the old naval station on Georgian Bay, has to its credit something that cannot be claimed for any other rural section of Ontario. It gave to the province the first head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and in the son of that head the first farmer premier of the province. The Drurys, Partridges, and Hicklings were among the first to come in along the upper end of the Penetang' Road, settling in 1819 near where Crown Hill now is; the Lucks, another large connection, corning in a year later. The Drurys came from England; the Lucks and Partridges, from Albany, N.Y.

"When Grandfather Partridge moved in, lie brought his wife and two children with him as far as Holland Landing," one of the third generation told me. "From Holland Landing he walked alone all the way to Penetang,' his route around the west side of Lake Simcoe to Kempenfeldt Bay being over a blazed trail. After satisfying himself as to the future of Penetang' he started to walk back, digging into the soil at intervals by the way in order to learn its quality. He walked twenty-five miles before finding what suited him, and finally located near Crown Hill, taking up four hundred acres in all, half on the Oro and half on the Vespra side. Having built a log cabin he went back to Holland Landing for his wife and children and began family life in the new home in the bush in October. Afterwards, when the road was fully opened out, lie found that his cabin was almost in the middle of the King's highway. Hardships m You can judge of general conditions at that time when I relate one fact told me by my grandfather. He packed his first grist on his back from Crown Hill to the east end of what is now Barrie and then paddled it in a dugout the rest of the way, twenty miles, to the old Red Mill at Holland .Landing."

One hundred years ago Penetang' Road was an Indian highway, as well as a military road, the Indians traversing it on their way to Toronto for the annual distribution of presents by the Government. On one occasion, as narrated by Hunter in his "History of Simcoe County," a number of drunken red men called at the home of James White, while his wife was alone in the house, and were promptly chased out again by Mrs. White, who had armed herself with a pair of tongs.

Adventures with bears there were, too, one of these being narrated by Hunter. Gideon Richardson, to protect his pigs against the black marauders, built a pen opposite the door of his cabin and kept a log fire burning at night beyond the pen. One night, after a rain, the fire could not be lighted and bruin took advantage of the situation to raid the pen. In the course of the attack one pig was hurled through the door of the cabin into the midst of the sleeping inmates. There was no more sleep for the family that night.

One of the first cares of the settlement about Crown Hill was to make provision for the educ'a.tion of the children, and some time before 1837 a voluntary school was established, with William Crae as the first teacher. Crown Hill pioneers were also among the first to take advantage of the Education Acts of 1841-43, under which an annual provincial appropriation of twenty thousand pounds was made to assist in the work of primary education. In fact, a school was established on the Vespra side as early as 1842 with Edward Luck as the first teacher, a position he filled for twenty-two years. The selection of Mr. Luck was peculiarly fitting in at least one respect as, from first to last, no fewer than fifteen of his own children passed under the rod in that same school.

"The building was, of course, of log," said i grandson of one of the pioneers, "and the benches were of plank with home-made legs supporting them. In the beginning the building was used for a church as well as a school, and there was a pulpit in one corner for the church services. Pastor Ardagh and Canon Morgan were the first to officiate. Marriage services were performed there, and on such occasions the benches were moved back and boys and girls lined up in front of the pulpit as witnesses."

The old minute book of the section, dating back to 1844, is still in existence. This records that Thomas Ambler, George Caldwell, and Jonathan Sissons, the latter grandfather of Professor Sissons of Victoria College, were the trustees in 1845. The record further shows that the salary paid Mr. Luck in that year was twenty-five pounds currency "over and above Government allowance and taxes." In order to make tip the amount required to keep the school going, sixteen of the settlers agreed to pay one pound for each child sent to school by them, the largest single contributor being William Larkin, who paid four pounds. Among the other contributors were Jonathan Sissons, Thomas Mairs (one of the first. importers of "Durham" cattle), Charles Partridge, Charles Hickling, Thomas Drury, and Richard Drury, the latter being the grandfather of Premier E. C. Drury.

The amounts contributed by these enlightened pioneers for the education of their children may seem small to those of the present generation, but they were in reality relatively larger than similar contributions to-day. Incomes were small. By that time local production had exceeded the requirements of the local market at Penetang' and an outlet had to be found at Toronto, seventy miles away over rough roads. The prices obtained for farm produce in general at the provincial capital may be gauged by the fact that oats teamed there, reaped with a cradle and threshed with a flail, sold for twenty-five cents per bushel.

Among the first purchases in the way of supplies for the new school, as an ancient record further informs us, were "two grammars, costing four shillings, two and one-half pence" and "three dictionaries costing five shillings, seven and one-half pence." In 1852, eleven families raised sixteen pounds, fifteen shillings and nine-pence for the school, the largest contributor in that year being Richard Drury, who gave two pounds, nineteen shillings and three-pence. At the annual school meeting held on January 31st, 1853, with Jonathan Sissons in the chair, it was decided, on motion of G. Hickling and E. Luck, that there "shall be a free school." This resolution does not seem to have gone into effect at once as nine of those present voluntarily bound themselves to "raise any amount needed in excess of the legislative grant and municipal levy. Among the nine guarantors were J. Sissons, Charles Hickling, Charles Partridge, 'Thomas Drury, and Richard Drury. In 1855, a further forward step was taken when the trustees were empowered to buy maps of the world and of America as well as books to be distributed as prizes at the next examination of pupils.

I remember once hearing one of the faculty of Cornell University say that lie could have made a much better man of a certain student had lie been given the selection of that individual's grandparents. The present Premier of Ontario was fortunate in the selection of his ancestors. In the arduous work of the pioneer days his grandfather and great-grandfather had their full share. in the midst of blackened stumps, and with the primeval forest still unconquered, as the old school record quoted from shows, they bore the heavy end of the burden in providing for the education of the children of the pioneer settlement. In establishing municipal government the Drury family also took part ; Thomas Drury having been a member of one of the early councils of Oro, while Richard Drury served as Reeve on different occasions, and Charles Drury, father of the Premier, beginning as reeve of Oro ended his political career as Minister of Agriculture for the province. It is not by one of fortune's freaks that E. C. Drury to-day holds the position of first citizen of the wealthiest and most populous province of Canada.


Few men had a wider or more varied knowledge of early days in Simcoe County than William Hewson, who told me his story in Barrie in the summer of 1900. Mr. Hewson had seen Canadian voyageurs on their way to Montreal with pelts, when Lake Simcoe was a link in one of the chief highways between the Upper Lakes and the Gulf; he had seen the annual movement of Indians back and forth between Toronto and Georgian Bay; his father's home was one of the halting points for British soldiers on their way to and from Penetang', and he was eye-witness of the beginning of the white migration to the country surrounding the lake which bears the name of Upper. Canada's first governor.

Mr. Hewson was located at a particularly favourable place for viewing these movements, having settled with his father on Big Bay Point in 1820. From that date until after the last century ended he lived almost continuously in Simcoe County.

"When I was a lad," said Mr. Hewson, "one of the great receiving depots in the days of the fur trade was maintained by Alfred Thompson, of Penetang'. Mr. Thompson's winter receipts of pelts had an aggregate value of from thirty thousand to forty thousand dollars. When ready to sell he advertised in England and Germany, 'and representatives of European firms came out to submit tenders, the highest being accepted. Our home at `The Point' was on the highway connecting Toronto and Georgian Bay. Past our door Canadian voyageurs, employed by a Montreal firm, paddled their canoes loaded to the limit with rich furs taken in the hunting grounds of the great north country. It was a day's journey by canoe from Lake Couchiching to 'The Point,' and when the Indians were on their return journey from Toronto after receiving their annuity money, I have seen seven hundred camped on our farm at one time. Soldiers on their way to and from the fort at Penetang' also made our home a resting place. Later on, when the tide of white immigration began to flow into the country about Lake Simcoe a good deal of that tide swept around our farm. At that time two or three bateaux, carrying settlers and their effects, made regular trips between Holland Landing and Barrie, and we could see these as they rounded `The Point'.

"The most picturesque scenes and exciting times were furnished by the Indians. In summer the clothing of the men was limited to breech cloths and that of the women to petticoats, the body being left bare from the waist up. On the whole journey from Toronto northward rascally traders plied the Indians with whiskey, obtaining in exchange the guns, blankets, and tomahawks which the Indians had received from the Government. By the time Big Bay Point was reached the Indians, soaked with whiskey, were ready to quarrel on slight provocation. When a general scrimmage began, the squaws grabbed the papooses and ran for the bush. Strange to say, all this fighting was done with fists; I never once saw guns or knives used. The Indians were usually chaste in their domestic relations, but one old chief, John Essence, had three wives. When converted to Methodism he was told he would have to put away two of these, and the old polygamist sought a way out. On being told that he could retain all three wives if he became a Catholic, he promptly abjured Methodism for what seemed to him a more liberal faith."

This talk led up to tales of early marriages among the whites. Mr. Hewson's father was a magistrate and as such was authorized to perform the marriage ceremony. His field covered the whole country from Holland Landing to Penetang. "One of the first marriage ceremonies performed by my father was when he declared his neighbour David Soules legally wedded. Soules had gone to Pickering for his bride, a Miss Yeomans, and the trip across Lake Simcoe was made in a boat rowed by the prospective groom.
"The law required the posting of notices of intention to marry in three prominent places for three weeks before marriage. A widower, a Quaker about to remarry, put up one of his notices in the cleft of a tree, hoping thereby to comply with the law while at the same time avoiding publicity. It happened, however, that a search party, while hunting for a man who had been lost in the bush, came across this notice and soon made it public enough to comply with the most rigid of legal requirements. One day, when father was away from home, a negro came to our place to be married. When this man found father was away he wanted my mother to act, on the ground that the Bible pronounced man and wife one. He contended, therefore, that what one could do the other could surely do as well. However, the colored man was told he would not only have to wait until father returned but until notice could be given also. Three weeks later, after legal notice had been given, when father went to perform the ceremony, he found the couple already living together as man and wife. One couple, far from either minister or magistrate, did not have the ceremony performed in their case until one of their sons was grown up.

"The first Methodist minister in Innisfil township was Hardy by name, and he was hardy by nature. His field was from 'Penetang' to 'The Landing'; he covered that distance twice a week on foot and held nine services in the seven days. "There were few better stands of pine in Ontario than that of Innisfil when the first settlers came in. Near the site of the Twelfth Line Church a man named Pratt had a particularly good lot of pine trees and lie offered these, as they stood, at one cent per log to Robert Thompson, who then had a mill at Painswick. But pine was worth so little at the time that the offer was refused. When the old Northern Railway was built, pine did begin to have a value, and quite an active lumbering industry sprang

up in the township. Sage and Grant, who introduced bob-sleighs into Innisfil, had a mill at Belle Ewart that at one time employed seventy men. Mills were also established at `The Point', Tollendale, Craigvale, the Seventh Line, Gilford and Lakeland. At Lakeland, iii addition to the mill, there was at dock, hotel, store, and a really attractive group of homes with locusts ornamenting the front yards."

But all these mills have disappeared long since. and Lakel<aiid and Belle Ewart, would be mere sand beaches to-day had it not been for the development of the Lake Simcoe ice trade in winter and tourist traffic in summer.

At the time that Mr. Hewson related to me his stories of the days when Lake Simcoe was an important link in a great highway between north and south I obtained from Dr. B. Paterson, then of Barrie, some further particulars regarding the beginning of the Toronto Penetang route. According to Dr. Paterson the journey between these two places was at times made by an entirely overland route as early as 1814.

"At that time," Dr. Paterson said, "my father had a contract for transporting supplies from Toronto for the garrison of two hundred men at Penetang'. The entire journey was made by an overland route, passing to the westward of the bay at Barrie. Over part of that route, however, axes had to be carried to cut trees out of the way, and the trip occupied two weeks. Holland River was crossed on a floating bridge, and frequently, on returning to the river, it would be found that the bridge had been carried away, and it was then necessary to build a new one. The only house between Penetang' and 'The Landing' at that time was a hewed log affair at Crown Hill.'

By Andrew Wallace, one of the pioneers of Innisfil, I was given some further particulars about. the Lakeland milling enterprise. "A man named Vance invested thirty thousand dollars in that venture," Mr. Wallace said. "The mill did not run very long and some years later, when the property had fallen into decay, Vance visited the scene of desolation. As he was standing on the wreck of the wharf looking into the water below some one asked him what was interesting him. "I am trying to discover where my thirty thousand dollars went," was the reply.


The family history of Mr. Henry Smith of Barrie, another descendant of the Simcoe pioneers, is remarkable for its variety of colour. The name was originally Schmidt, and the first of the name in America was Heinrich Schmidt, an officer in the Hessian troops sent over by George III at the time of the American Revolutionary War. This Heinrich was the grandfather of Henry Smith, whose story follows:

"The troop-ship, on which my grandfather sailed to America, was eighteen weeks in crossing from Germany," said Mr. Smith. "So long was the voyage, that the officer in command of the troops asked the admiral of the fleet if he was quite sure that he had not passed America in the night. When my maternal grandmother, who was also with the troops, caught sight of a field of corn after landing, she exclaimed: `America must, indeed, be a rich country when there are so many ribbons here.' She mistook the leaves of the ripening corn, glistening in the evening sun. for ribbons hung out to dry.

"After the Revolution my grandfather received a grant of land in the township of Marysburg, Prince Edward County, and that is how Smith's Bay obtained its name. A man called Snider, who had a rather notable nose, settled on a prominent point in the same township and hence the name, locally applied, of Snider's Nose."

Mr. Smith's own life was about as varied and full of adventure as that of his grandfather. As a lad of fourteen he assisted in rafting timber down the St. Lawrence. "More than once, in going through the big chute at the

Cedars, raft and raftsmen were submerged in the waves, and it was then a case of sit tight or stay under," said Mr. Smith. "Some of the timber forming the rafts came from Prince Edward County, but more of it came down the Trent. Oak and pine logs were rafted together, the latter helping to keep the former afloat. A good deal of the timber was for spars. You can judge the length of some of this spar timber, when I tell you that I have seen five, six, and even seven saw-logs cut from one tree. The record spar, which was one hundred and twenty feet long, came from Big Bay Point on Lake Simcoe. Eight or ten teams were used in hauling such timbers from the bush to the water's edge. When the rafts arrived at Montreal they were broken up and loaded into sailing vessels for shipment to England. Those timber vessels had large port-holes in their bows, and the timber was hauled to these holes by horses operating a windlass and then shot into the hold. When the timber fleet was in Montreal harbour the masts appeared like a great forest from which the limbs had been stripped. As I went down the river on rafts I often met immigrants coming up in bateaux or Durham boats. These vessels were much alike save that the bateaux were open while the Durhams were partially decked over. Men, women, and children were huddled together in these craft by day and camped on shore at night.

"All the lakes and rivers were then full of fish. I helped haul in a net near Willard's Beach in Prince Edward County that contained fourteen thousand fish, and I have seen salmon near there that were eight inches through the body. In one case a salmon actually broke the handle of the spear and got away, but was afterwards caught with the fragment still in its body."

In 1847, Mr. Smith moved to Vespra, north of Barrie. The journey from Toronto to Holland Landing was by stage. "Near the end of the journey," said Mrs. Smith, "the driver, who was drunk, lost control of the horses on the down grade of one of the hills. The body of the stage pitched from side to side, forward and back, the passengers meantime holding on to anything within reach. It is a wonder our necks were not broken.

"From the `Landing' to Barrie passage was taken by the steamer Beaver the remains of which are now buried beneath the foundation of the local Grand Trunk Station. From Barrie we followed the old Sunnidale or Nine Mile Portage Road to Willow Creek."

I am indebted to Mr. A. F. Hunter for the history of this old highway, which dates back to 1814, and was built in the first place as a military highway. Early in the War of 1812-15 a British force had captured the fort on Mackinac Island. Later on the Americans prepared for its recapture. in order to reinforce the Brit -ish garrison a force was despatched from Kingston in February, 1814. This force marched overland via Toronto to Holland Landing and thence over the ice of Lake Simcoe to Barrie.

Front Barrie the Nine Mile Portage Road was cut through to Willow Creek. There, trees, cut from the surrounding forest, were fashioned into bateaux, and in these improvised craft, when spring came, the relieving force floated down Willow Creek to the Nottawasaga River, along that river to Georgian Bay, and thence to Mackinac. Block-houses as bases of supply were built at 1-lolland Landing, Barrie, and Willow Creek; the Barrie block-house being located where the music hall now stands. Willow Creek was quite an important centre of settlement for years afterwards, but to-day not one stone remains upon another. Only a few holes mark the site, these holes having been dug in search of gold which tradition said had been buried there.


There is possibly no other Ontario farm with the exception of farms along the lake frontier, which is so prominently connected with local history as is the old Warnica homestead,—lot thirteen on the twelfth of Innisfil,—opposite the beautiful avenue of pines on the Penetang' Road, two miles south of Barrie.

The farm was given to John Stamm for his services with Button's Cavalry in the War of 1812-15, and settlement duties on the place were begun by Stamm. Once, when on his way to the place from Markham township, Stamm narrowly escaped drowning in Lake Simcoe. That was enough of that location for him, and he sold his place to the first of the Canadian Warnicas for ten dollars. The Warnicas took possession in 1825. Shortly afterwards, because of the growiug t raffle between north and south, the house on the place became an mu; and, although there were only two rooms and a loft available for travellers, some distinguished guests were entertained there. It is said that Sir John Franklin spent a night at the inn on his overland trip to the Arctic regions, and a voyageur sent back by Sir John sought shelter at the same place on the return journey. Bishop Strachan, on journeys north and south, made this a stopping place; and Sir John Colborne, when Governor of Upper Canada, was provided with food and lodging there when on his tour of inspection of the military post at Penetang'. So well pleased was Sir John with the accommodation provided that he offered each of the Warnica boys a free grant bush lot. How little such lots were valued at the time is evidenced by the fact that the boys did not think it worth while to go to Toronto to secure the deeds of the property tendered them.

When the Warnicas first settled in Innisfil, Lake Simcoe was still a connecting link on the Toronto-Penetang' highway, and Big Bay point was located right on that highway. David Soules, one of the first settlers on `The Point', told Warnica he was a fool to settle so far to the west. "You will be away off the main road," said Soules, "and the blackbirds will eat all your crops." To-day, however, it is `The Point' that is isolated while the old Warnica farm fronts on one of the principal provincial highways.

At the beginning the Warnicas endured many privations. Clothing was largely made of homegrown flax, and one of the IVarniea boys of that day had to stay in bed while his one linen shirt was being washed.

The first grist from the Warnica farm had to be hauled to the old "Red Mill" at Holland Landing. Once when a grist was being taken it was intended to make the round trip in a day, but the men were storm-stayed at Grassi Point on the return journey. The night, however, was spent in comparative comfort, as Indians who were camping there at the time supplied the Warnica boys with blankets.

Running all through these old-time sketches incidents are related in which the first settlers were indebted to the Indians for kindness such as that shown the Warnicas. The conduct of the aborigines stands all the more to their credit when the manner in which they were being plundered and brutalized by white traders is borne in mind.

Slowly but surely times changed for the better. The settlement along the Penetang' Road north of Barrie, producing beyond local needs, demanded a route all the way to Toronto, and money was raised, apparently by public subscription, to build around Barrie Bay a link to connect the old Penetang' Road north of Barnie with the line north from Holland Landing. Two of the Warnica boys were given the eon- tract of cutting out the bush from Tollendale to Churchill, a distance of eleven miles, at five dollars per mile. That would seem very small pay to road-builders of to-day, but five dollars went a long way when Innisfil was young. The hardest part of the Warnicas' task was at Stroud, which, although dry enough now, was a difficult swamp at that time.

Previous to this the Warnicas had made considerable money in teaming military supplies intended for the Penetang' garrison over the Nine Mile Portage Road between Barrie and Willow Creek. Then, when settlement began to move into the Sunnidale and Beaver valleys, they obtained remunerative employment in teaming the effects of the more northern settlers to their destination.

The first of the Warnicas, besides being a pioneer in the matter of settlement, was a participant in the inauguration of municipal government in Innisfil. He, with Charles Wilson and John Henry, formed the equivalent of the first local council when Innisfil was municipally organized in 1841. He was also a member of the Home District Council, which then met in Toronto. The manner of election for it place in the latter body is an illustration of the free and easy way in which elections were carried on in the early days. Warnica and David Soules were contestants for the office and the election was held at the old Myers tavern at Stroud. To decide the matter it was arranged that one of the contestants should lead his supporters south along the road from the tavern while the followers of the other should be led north. The one that had the largest following, and this was Warnica, was declared elected.

Some of the family history of the Warnicas is as interesting as it that of the farm with which the family name has been identified for a century. The first of the family was a Dane, whose name was spelled Werneck. As a young man Werneck possessed considerable means, which he spent largely in seeing the world. On his return to Denmark, while telling of some of his adventures, his word was questioned, whereupon Werneck promptly struck down the

"Doubting Thomas." For this he was fined forty kronen by a Danish magistrate. On paying the fine Werneck asked if a second offence would cost the same, and was assured it would. Another forty kronen pile was promptly counted out with the first, and then Werneck knocked down the magistrate. At a much later date, while playing the fiddle for a party in his Innisfil farm, this fiery Dane had the misfortune to fall, and, when one of the party asked if the fiddle had been broken, the fiddle was hurled at the head of the questioner for making the first enquiry about the instrument instead of for the life that might have been lost in the fall.

Some time after the forty kronen incident Werneck sailed for New York, and there the family name was changed to Warrick. On coming to Canada, at a still later date, the "k" was changed to "a", and for three generations Warnica has been one of the best known family names in the township of Innisfil.

While in New York State Warnica married a German -widow named Myers. Mrs. Myers' parents, and all of her grandparents with the exception of one grandmother, had been killed and scalped during an Indian raid in the Mohawk Valley at the time of the American Revolutionary War. The surviving grandmother had been scalped and left for dead, but survived for years afterwards. Mrs. Myers herself escaped the massacre because, as a babe, she was asleep and was overlooked.

A combination of Danish and German blood in the first of the family with subsequent intermarriage amongst descendants of the English, Irish, and Scotch pioneers of Innisfil, the Warnicas, like the old Hessian soldiers and the descendants of the palatinates of Sunderland, furnish a striking illustration of the varied nature of the strains entering into the making of the Canadian commonwealth.


When I listened to the story which follows, near the close of the last century, the country between Barrie and Penetanguishene had long played its part in Canadian history. Penetang' itself, like Toronto, figured in the War of 1812-15, and the settlements between Barrie and Penetang' began almost as early as settlements near Toronto. The Drury farm at Crown Hill, for example, was taken up by the grandfather of the Honourable E. C. Drury in 1819, and the Methodist Church at Dalston bears the dates 1827-97. At the same time, not far from the road leading to Penetang,' pioneer conditions still existed twenty-five years ago.

What is here related is based mainly on what I was told by Thomas Craig, of Craighurst, who was then living on the north half of lot forty-two on the first concession of Medonte. Of that farm something could then be said that probably could not be said of any other farm in Ontario. The lot was taken up a.s a grant from the Crown by Mr. Craig's grandfather in 1821, and from that time, until 1899, there was never a mortgage against the property, the only records standing in connection therewith in the Registry Office at Barrie being in the form of transfers from father to son.

"There were," said Mr. Craig, "two reasons why grandfather located so far north. One was that. the land about. Kernpenfeldt Bay was all in the hands of military pensioners and that about Daiston in the hands of a company; the other was that. the British garrison at Penetang' provided a convenient market.

"Penetang' garrison was maintained until about the middle of the century and was made up in part of some of Wellington's veterans. One of these, Charles Collins, was in the 52nd Regiment at Waterloo. John Hamilton was another Waterloo man. Private McGinnis served in the Peninsular War and received his discharge at Penetang.' He left a number of descendants in the country west of Craighurst.

"As a boy," continued Mr. Craig, "I saw parties of soldiers passing along the road on their way to and from Penetang.' They travelled in small parties so as not to crowd stopping places between Toronto and Georgian Bay. Once, when a party was on the way north, the officer in charge swore that he would march his men from Newmnarket to Penetang' in a. day. He did it, but two of the men died by the wayside. One of these was literally done to death by mosquitos and was buried near where Wye-bridge now stands.

"I have seen Indians, hundreds and hundreds of them at a time, going along the same road on their way to and from Toronto. In late fall they went south to make baskets in the woods, then standing near Toronto, and to sell them in the city. In early spring they returned to the Christian Islands to make sugar, to fish, and later on to engage in the fall hunt. Although drunkenness frequently occurred among the Indians, we did not fear them as they never offered to molest the settlers."

Speaking of early, experiences Mr. Craig went on: "Grists had to be carried all the way to Newmarket, but the Government mill at Coldwater later on relieved us of the necessity of snaking that journey. About 1830, Government and settlers joined in erecting another mill at Tidhurst. For our groceries we were still compelled to go to Newmarket, where the first of the Cawthras then had a store. The road between here and Barrie was nothing but a trail; from Barrie to Holland Landing we travelled on the ice in winter and by boat in summer, and from Holland Landing to Newmarket by Yonge Street. The round trip occupied three or four days. In the beginning supplies were packed on the back, but later on two or three joined in the use of an ox-team and jumper. Eventually F. C. Drury's grandfather and my father ,joined in building a road around the bay at Barrie, and then the entire journey could be made without crossing Lake Simcoe.

"The first post-office north of Newmarket was at Penetang'. There was a regular mail service from Toronto to Newmarket, but mail for points further north was given for delivery to the first reliable settler who happened to come along. This volunteer carrier, the beginning of rural mail delivery, distributed his letters as he passed up Yonge Street and time Penetang' Road, and handed in the regular mail-bag for Penctang' when he reached that point. Sometimes there were letters still in this bag for settlers along the way, and these had to be sent back as chance offered."

The first wagon that passed over this road was made in 1826 or 1827 by a man named White, of Newmarket. It was built largely of Swedish iron and was still in existence at the close of the last century.


As the country about Creemore, in Nottawasaga, was settled at an earlier date than was Flos, the hardships of the Nottawasaga pioneers were greater than those sustained by the Flos pioneers.

One of the early settlers in Nottawasaga was Joseph Galloway, who located near Creemore in 1852. Some twenty years before that time, Mr. Galloway's father, who was then living near Bradford, teamed flour into the northern township with oxen. "That flour," said Mr. Joseph Galloway, "was sold to the settlers at eight or ten dollars per barrel; but it was worth the cost as a week was taken on the round trip, and over a great part of the way the country was solid bush. Tt was dear flour to the settlers all the same, as some of those who purchased it had earned the necessary money by working in the harvest fields at `tile front' at fifty cents per day. Some were unable to pay the price and, on one occasion, one mail weilt without bread for nearly two weeks.

"Even when I moved into the township one-third of the lots for the last fourteen miles of the way had not a tree cut on them, and the others had but small clearings. Deer were more plentifill then than sheep are now. On the Currie farm, just outside of Creemore, were `licks' to which deer came in droves. In a nearby creek, now a

mere dribble, one could catch a pailful of speckled trout in an hour. In one night wolves killed fourteen sheep.

"We had the choice of four markets—Barrie, Bradford, Holland Landing, and Newmarket. To reach Barrie, the nearest of the four, involved a journey covering two whole days and part of the nights. Our usual practice was to leave before three in the morning, and if we got back at midnight of the second day we considered ourselves lucky. Twenty-five to thirty

bushels made a load of wheat. The price was fifty cents per bushel, and half trade at that. A yoke of oxen, weighing over a ton each, sold in Toronto for sixty-five dollars. A change came with the extension of the old Northern Railway to Collingwood and with the Crimean War. In the fall of 1854 I sold wheat for fifty cents at Bradford; the next year I got one dollar and a half at Stayner. "It was plain living in the early days. Our log house was eighteen feet wide by twenty-four feet deep, and eleven logs high. There was a stone fireplace and chimney at one end, and to reach the upper rooms a ladder was used instead of stairs. Bread was baked in a pot that would hold half a pail of dough and the baking was done by putting the pot in a pail of ashes on the hearth. We had a frying-pan with a long handle in which we cooked venison and trout, the pan being placed on the coals in the fireplace. There were wild plum trees about a mile away, and from these we gathered two or three pails in a season."

The parents of Archie Currie, formerly M.P.P. for West Simcoe, were also among the early settlers in Nottawasaga, coming there from Mariposa. In moving they crossed Lake Simcoe on the ice, and proceeded thence by way of Orillia and Barrie to the sixth of Nottawasaga. "The clearing on the place to which we moved was barely large enough to enable us to see the blue sky above," Mr. Currie's mother told me. "There was no floor in the house when we arrived, only a few boards to set the stove on; and, the doors not being in place, we hung blankets over the openings to keep out the winter wind. What is now Creemore was a network of tangled trees."

It was the practice of the first settlers to go in parties when teaming their produce to Barrie with ox-teams. There were no taverns by the roadside, and at dinner or supper time a halt was made at a clearing. While the oxen ate their hay, the men smoked their pipes and gossiped, an occasional drink of whiskey causing the gossip to flow more freely. Sometimes a party would be storm-bound in Barrie, and in that case a good deal of the scanty receipts from the produce sold would be used up in paying for lodging. In one instance a man was forced to send home for money to pay his way back. In another case a settler, who had packed his load on his shoulders, lost his way in the darkness on the road home. After vainly groping about for some time he lay down with a pine knot for a pillow and when he woke in the morning he found himself within a few rods of his own door.

Nottawasaga was not, like Flos, a prohibition township. In the former whiskey was as free as water. It was a common practice at stores to keep a barrel on tap at which customers were free to help themselves at will. One store at Stayner continued this practice as late as the 'sixties and in connection with that particular store and barrel a story is told of a hoax perpetrated by a practical joker of the day. While the barrel was free to all who came in, it was assumed that only such as were customers would take advantage of the hospitality offered. There was one old chap who seldom bought anything over the counter although he frequently drank there and a young fellow decided to cure the old toper of the habit. So when the thirsty one came in one day, and as usual began edging his way to the open barrel, his attention was purposely diverted for a moment and meantime the tin cup attached to the whiskey barrel was filled with coal oil. The oil was taken at a gulp before the taste was noticed, but it is probable that the weakness for free drinks was cured there and then.

Tragedy was closely linked with comedy in the drinking habits of pioneer days. A young -man of eighteen, with Indian blood in his veins, was noted for his strength and courage even in a community where these qualities were a commonplace. He could lift a stone that a team of horses found it difficult to move, and one of his feats was to stand on his head at the pinnacle of a newly raised barn. He could, too, hold his own with the hardest drinkers in carrying his load of liquor. But one day he overdid it. He accepted a wager that he could drink a pailful at one sitting. He swallowed the lot in three gulps, staggered to a fence corner and died.


Hardships quite as great as those borne by most of the pioneers were endured by the first settlers between Hawkstone and Rugby, on the west side of Lake Simcoe.

"When our people came here in the early thirties," said Jolm Robertson, a son of one of the Rugby pioneers, "they had to bring their flour all the way from Hog's Hollow. The flour was teamed as far as Holland Landing and then carried by boats, manned by Indians, to Hawk-stone. From Hawkstone the settlers packed it on their backs to Rugby, a distance of six miles, and even to Afedonte, six miles further on. The flour was usually carried in bags, but on one occasion Grandfather George Robertson carTied home almost a barrel of flour on his shoulders.

'In 1833, the Government built a grist-mill at Coldwater. This was intended for the use of the Indians, but it served settlers about Rugby as well. Being only fourteen miles distant, it. proved a great convenience. Even at that, however, two days were spent going and coming with grist. At times it took longer, as not infrequently fifty teams would arrive at the mill in one day, and then people had to wait their turn. While waiting, the men cooked `chokedog', a mixture of flour and water, for their food. It was as hard as a brick on the outside and soft as blubber in the middle."

Real comfort carne, though, when, in 1855, a man named Dallas built a mill between Orillia and where the Hospital for Feeble-Minded now stands. The stone foundation for this mill was laid by the father of Duncan Anderson. [Duncan was for years a popular Farmers' Institute lecturer and later served three terms as mayor of Orillia.] While engaged in this foundation work Mr. Anderson Sr., lived at home, three miles away. Still he was always at work at the mill at seven, remained until six, and after returning home he frequently worked in the logging field until ten at night. The old Dallas mill disappeared long ago, but part of the foundation still standing shows that the stones were well and truly laid.

In the first year of the Rugby settlement, before there was enough cleared ground on which to grow potatoes, George Tudhope, formerly clerk of Oro Township, planted some potatoes on shares at Holland Lauding. He pitted his share when dug, and next spring moved them to Hawkstone by boat and from Hawkstone carried them to Rugby on his back. One spring when potatoes were exceptionally scarce, people actually dug up the tubers they had planted for seed in order to secure food.


"I have been here in Innisfil longer than any man now living in the township. My memory

goes back to the time long before the railway, when the forests, which then covered the land, were filled with game and when Indians were as numerous around Lake Simcoe as they still are about the north shore of Georgian Bay." It was J. L. Warnica, then in his eightieth year, but who would have passed for less than seventy, who made this statement. The story that followed fully warranted the expectations aroused by the introduction. When Air. Warnica was a young man, all the merchandise received in Barrie was teamed there from Toronto, and much of the teaming was done by Mr. Warnica himself. "When passing over `The Ridges' I have, from an elevation, seen teams as far north and south as the eye could reach," said lair. Warnica. "It was like one huge funeral procession, and it was made up of wagons from as far away as Medford and Penetang' on the north, as well as wagons that had drifted in from intervening side roads.

"The Innisfil teamsters had two favourite stopping places in Toronto. One was the Fulljames House, at the corner of Queen and Yonge streets, and the other was the old Post tavern nearly opposite the St. Lawrence market. The Fulljames place stood well back from the corner and covered practically the site now occupied by the Eaton store. Great sheds for the accommodation of teamsters filled the yards. The corner at that time marked the northern limits of the city. The buildings in Toronto were scattered like those of a village. The Queen Street asylum was two miles out of town. The father of my first wife bought ten acres and an old tavern opposite the main gate of the asylum for one thousand dollars.

"Yes, there were plenty of taverns in those days," continued Mr. Warnica. "Between the head of Kempenfeldt Bay at Barrie and Yonge Street wharf in Toronto, there were sixty-eight licensed houses—one for each mile of the road and three to spare, besides eight or ten unlicensed places. Distilleries were also numerous. There was one at Tollendale, opposite Barrie, and another on the creek that runs through Allandale. These were, however, soon snuffed out and the bulk of the business in this line passed to the Gooderhams. Most of my freight, when I was teaming, consisted of Gooderham whiskey. Six barrels made a load and, after being hauled all the way to Barrie, it retailed at twenty-five cents per gallon.

"But then the freight bill was not very high," Mr. Warnica went on. "The regular charge for teaming a load of whiskey to Barrie was eight dollars. Out of that the teamster had to pay for the feed of his horses, board for himself, and the fee at seven toll gates. I remember once, when another teamster and myself had a miscellaneous lot of merchandise for a Barrie merchant, we were charged with the loss of a box of ribbons. I do not believe we ever received the box, but we had to pay for it all the same. On that occasion, when expenses had been deducted, there was just seventy-five cents to divide between us for the round trip. After that we preferred to haul whiskey as there was no chance of loss on that.

"If freights were not high, expenses incurred by freighters were not extravagant either. Supper and bed for a man and hay for his team cost fifty cents at a wayside tavern. It is true that it was not exactly royal fare. There were three beds in each room and two people slept in each bed. There were no stationary wash-stands, in fact, not so much as a washstand of any kind. A basin stood in the bar and each man took his turn in going out to the pump for a clean up.

"Some of these stopping places were not too warm. I well remember one night spent at McLeod's tavern, a little north of Aurora. The building was of frame and not plastered at that. There were two thin cotton sheets and one quilt, and a very thin one it was, on the bed. I had

to rub my toes to keep them from freezing in the night.

The accommodation north of Barrie was poorer still. Once, early in March, father and I undertook to move a camp of Indians from Tollendale to Rana. There was at that time a tavern, known as The Half Way House, about midway between Barrie and Orillia. We proposed to stop there for dinner, but the Highland landlord informed us that he had no flour. `I have plenty of good whiskey, though,' he said, evidently wondering what a man wanted to eat for so long as he could get plenty to drink. Unable to get dinner we decided to push on to Orillia. There we ordered dinner and supper in one and took our Indian charges over to Rama while the meal was being prepared. When we returned to the tavern I found, after unhitching, that I could not get my horses into the only stable in the place as the door was too low for the animals to pass in. The landlord proposed that I should let them stand in the shed all night, but I was afraid that they would perish with cold after the hard drive. So when supper was over I started for home, where I arrived at five next morning, after having been nearly twenty-four hours on the road.

"The roads, south as well as north of our place, were as poor as the tavern accommodation. The low places on Yonge Street and the Penetang' Road were covered with corduroy, and as the logs were of uneven size you can imagine what it was like driving over them. A little before my time a party of traders on their way north to trade with the Indians reached Grassi. Point toward evening. On their arrival one of the traders was taken ill, but next day they went on to where the old Sixth Line Church now stands. The man's condition became worse and that night he died. His body was buried at the foot of a giant maple, which then stood just inside the present cemetery grounds. From the tragic nature of the trader's death there arose a story that the place was haunted, and a half-breed who then carried the mail between Penetang' and Toronto quit his job because he had to pass the place at night.

"I once had a bad fright, there myself. I was on my way from 'Toronto, accompanied by my uncle in another wagon, with a load of freight. We had been held up at Bradford by a thunderstorm and when we reached the sixth line it was pitch dark. A fire had been started by some men engaged during the day in improving the road and this fire spread to the hollow stub, all that remained of the big maple marking the grave of the trader. As I came near the spot I beheld what seemed to be a light moving slowly up and down. I at once thought of the spook story and my hair stood on end with fear. What I really did see was a succession of fitful flames showing first at one hole in the maple stub and then at another higher up or lower down. It was all right when the explanation came but exceedingly uncomfortable before learning the cause of the light.

"No, I was not born in Innisfil," said Mr. Warnica as the conversation drifted off in another direction. "I was born near Thornhill. My grandfather (Lyon) on my mother's side established a grist-mill there before the time of Thorne, after whom the place was named. A Pennsylvania Dutchman, Kover by name, took a couple of stones from the creek and dressed them for grinding. Before that we did our grinding in a coffee-mill we had brought with us. Before that again people crushed wheat with the head of an axe in a hole made in the top of an oak stump. This stump was on the third of Markham, near Buttonville, and I remember quite well seeing the hole in it and hearing the story. To my Grandfather Lyon was issued one of the first two Crown deeds granted in Markham."

Turning once more to the early days near Barrie, Mr. Warnica had something to say of Indian life and the abundance of game that then filled the woods. "I have seen," he said, "as many as one hundred Indian tepees in the woods about Tollendale on the south side of Kempenfeldt Bay. It was an interesting sight to watch the making of an Indian home in winter. The head of the family, carrying bow and arrow, tomahawk and knife, strode ahead. The mother, carrying one or two papooses on her back, as well as the household belongings, followed. When the site selected for the camp was reached, the Indian chopped down a few saplings with crotched tops. The squaw meantime, with a cedar shovel, formed a circular hole in the snow. The crotched sticks were set up around this and covered with bark or evergreens; a fire was started in the middle of the tent, evergreen boughs were spread on the ground and covered with fur, and, in half an hour, the house was ready for occupation. While the work of preparation was going on the papooses, strapped to flat hoards, were hung up on trees by hooks at the heads of the boards. If one cried the mother would stop work for a moment and soothe the child with a gentle rocking accompanied by a lullaby.

"Game—bear, deer, partridge, and pigeons—was more than abundant. I have killed partridges with a club. I once struck down a pigeon with an ox-goad; another time, with two shots—one fired into a flock of pigeons as they were feeding on the ground and the other as they rose—I secured twenty-nine birds; I have frequently brought down ten or a dozen at a single shot.

"As a boy, I have heard the wolves howling in the woods at night, and in the morning the sweat would pour from me with fear as I went into these same woods to hunt for the cows. On one occasion I helped capture two young bears on the Penetang' road opposite our place, a little south of Barrie. We cut down the trees in which the animals had taken refuge and then killed them with clubs.

"What became of the pigeons? I do not know, but I have a theory. At theory is that all this game was placed here for the use of man when no other form of food was available and that it disappeared when the need for it no longer existed.

"I have witnessed almost all the changes that have taken place in Innisfil," said Mr. Warnica as he concluded his story. "I was here at the beginning of the settlement, and I was already a young man when the railway came. I bought my first overcoat with money earned in making pick- and axe-handles, and cart shafts, for use in the work of construction. I came here as an infant, and the longest time I have spent away from home was when I put in twenty-eight days at the World's Fair at Chicago. I was always interested in fairs; I attended twenty-two out of twenty-four of the old Provincials in the days when the fair was held alternately at London, Kingston, and other places."

Mr. Warnica's first wife was a niece of John Montgomery of Montgomery's Tavern and his second, a niece by marriage of Samuel Lount, one of the martyrs of 'Thirty-Seven. But Mr. Warnica himself was a mere child in the troubled times of the 'thirties and all he knew of the period before the rebellion was a mere matter of hearsay. He told of one incident, however, that throws some light on the conditions that helped to fan the flames of revolt.

"My uncle William," he said, "was one of the first advocates of free schools and he once broached the subject at a meeting at Barrie. `What do you need such schools for?' stuttered one of the Family Compact champions. `There will always be enough well educated Old Countrymen to transact all public business, and we can leave Canadians to clean up the bush.' "

The sentiment thus expressed is not wholly dead yet, although it exists in a somewhat different form. There are still those who think they were made to ride while others were made to he ridden.


One of the most interesting and instructive accounts of pioneer life of Upper Canada during the early part of the last century is contained in Reminiscences of a Canadian Pioneer, by Samuel Thompson. Thompson was a man of some education, having served a seven years' apprenticeship in London, England, at the printing trade. He was a writer of ability and no mean poet, and during his later years in Canada was an editor and publisher. He remained but a short time in the bush, but the account of his experiences throw much light on pioneer conditions.

A settler to reach Canada from the British Isles had in nearly every case trying experiences. Little thought was given to the comfort of the emigrants by the transportation companies of those days, and the journey across the Atlantic was not the least of the trials the early settlers had to endure. Thompson's case was no exception. He and his two brothers, Thomas and Isaac, sailed from London in the spring of 1833 in the Asia of 500 tons, a large ship for those days. Buffeted by head winds, the Asia spent a fortnight in the English Channel, but, a favourable breeze springing up, they made an excellent run until the banks of Newfoundland was reached, when it seemed that their voyage was about ended. Here they encountered a furious storm, against which the Asia could make no progress. To make matters worse, the vessel sprang a leak, the ballast shifted, and. lying at an angle of fifteen degrees, she wallowed in the tumbling waves. Crew and passengers manned the pumps continuously, but still the water gained on them. The captain discovered that the leak was in such a position that when running before the wind it -would be out of water, and so to save his ship he turned about and made for the Irish coast and succeeded in reaching Galway Bay. Here the damage was repaired, and with the addition of some wild Irish, Roman Catholics and Orangemen, to her list of passengers the Asia once more headed Canadawards. On the passage the vessel was almost wrecked, when passing through a field of icebergs, "by the sudden break-down of a huge mass as big as a cathedral."

When Quebec was reached, the passengers of the Asia were transferred to a fine steamer for Montreal. At Lachine, bateaux were provided to carry them up the St. Lawrence. While at Lachine they had a picturesque reminder of the vastness . of the land in which they were about. to make their homes.

"While loading up," says Thompson, "we were favoured with one of those accidental `bits' —as a painter would say—which occur so rarely in a life-time. The then despot of the North-West, Sir George Simpson, was just starting for the seat of his government via the Ottawa River. With him were some half-dozen officers, civil and military, and the party was escorted by six or eight Nor'-West canoes—each thirty or forty feet long, manned by some twenty-four Indians, in the full glory of war-paint, feathers, and most dazzling costumes. To see these stately boats, with their no less stately crews, gliding with measured stroke, in gallant procession, on their way to the vasty wilderness of the Hudson's Bay territory, with the British flag displayed at each prow, was a sight never to be forgotten."

It is unnecessary to detail the Thompsons' westward voyage, similar to that of other settlers already described in this book. Sufficient to say that they reached Little York on the steamer United Kingdom during the first week in September, 1833, four months after leaving London. "Muddy Little York," as it was not undeservedly called, had then a population of about 8,500. According to Thompson, "in addition to King street the principal thoroughfares were Lot, Hospital, and Newgate Streets, now more euphoniously styled Queen, Richmond, and Adelaide Streets respectively." Where the Prince George Hotel now stands was "a wheat-field." "So well," writes Thompson, "did the town merit its muddy soubriquet, that in crossing Church Street near St. James' church, boots were drawn off the feet by the tough clay soil; and to reach our tavern on Market Lane (now Colborne Street), we had to hop from stone to stone placed loosely along the roadside. There was rude flagged pavement here and there, but not a solitary planked footpath throughout the town."

The Thompsons purchased a location ticket for twenty pounds sterling, and set out for the Lake Simcoe district "in an open wagon without springs, loaded with the bedding and cooking utensils of intending settlers." After a day's journey, they reached Holland Landing and from there crossed to Barrie in a small steamer. Barrie, at that time, consisted of "a log bakery, two log taverns,—one of them also a store,—and a farm-house, likewise log. Other farm-houses there were at some little distance hidden by trees." So desolate was the prospect that some members of the party turned back, but the Thompsons pressed on "for the unknown forest, then reaching, unbroken, from Lake Simcoe to Lake Huron." To the Nottawasaga river, eleven miles, "a road had been chopped and logged sixty-six feet wide; beyond the river nothing but a bush path existed."

They toiled on until nightfall, covering a distance of eight miles and at a clearing in the forest came on a bush tavern, "a log building of a single apartment." "The floor," writes Thompson, "was of loose split logs, hewn into some approach to evenness with an adze; the walls of logs entire, filled in the interstices with chips of pine, which, however, did not prevent an occasional glimpse of the objects visible outside, and had the advantage, moreover, of rendering a window unnecessary; the hearth was the bare soil, the ceiling slabs of pine wood, the chimney a square hole in the roof; the fire was literally an entire tree, branches and all, cut into four-feet lengths, and heaped up to the height of as many feet." As the dancing flames lit up the apartment, they revealed "a log bedstead in the darkest corner, a small red-framed looking-glass, a clumsy comb suspended from a nail by a string,. . . stools of various sizes and heights, on three legs or on four, or mere pieces of log sawn short off." The tavern was kept by a Vermonter, named Dudley Root, and his wife, "a smart, plump, good-looking little Irish woman." The pair evidently knew how to cater for the occasional guests, as the breakfast provided for the Thompsons proved,—` `fine dry potatoes, roast wild pigeon, fried pork, cakes, butter, eggs, milk, `China tea,' and chocolate—which last (declined by the Thompsons) was a brown-coloured extract of cherry-tree bark, sassafras root, and wild sarsaparilla."

On through the forest they trudged looking about for a favourable location, and finally selected a hard-wood lot in the centre of the township of Sunnidale. Here, with the help of a hired, expert axe-man, they soon had half an acre cleared of its "splendid maples and beeches

which it seemed almost a profanation to destroy." In quick order they erected a log shanty, twenty-five feet long and eighteen wide, "roofed with wooden troughs and `chinked' with slats and moss .... At one end an open fire-place at the other sumptuous beds laid on flatted logs, cushioned with soft hemlock twigs, redolent of turpentine and health."

Thompson gives an interesting account of the method of clearing the land, and in this connection points out that in the Sunnidale district some of the young women were almost as expert with the axe as the men. One of these, Nary—, "daughter of an emigrant from the county of Galway ... became in time a 'firstrate' chopper,

and would yield to none of the new settlers in the dexterity with which she would fell, brush, and cut up maple or beech." She and her elder sister, "neither of them older than eighteen, would start before day-break to the nearest store, seventeen miles off, and return the same evening laden each with a full sack flung across the shoulder, containing about a bushel and a half, or ninety pounds weight of potatoes." One of Mary's neighbours a young lad, Johnny, a son of one of the earl- Scotch settlers in the Newcastle district, who was about her own age, was a famous axe-man. Mary was anxious to try her skill with the young Scot and got her brother, Patsy, who was Johnny's working-mate, to vacate his place for her. She proved herself quite as skillful as Johnny, and, it would seem, lost her heart to him. The sequel shows to what perils the women of Ontario were subjected in pioneer days. One day Mary was felling a huge yellow birch. As she neared the end of her work, her mind seemed to wander from her task and "she miscalculated her final cut and the birch, overbalancing, split upwards, and the side nearest to Mary, springing suddenly out, struck her a blow so severe as to destroy life instantaneously .... In a decent coffin, contrived after many unsuccessful attempts by Johnny and Patsy, the unfortunate girl was carried to her grave, in the same field which she had assisted to clear." Thompson adds: "Many years have rolled away since I stood by Mary's fresh-made grave, and it may be that Johnny has forgotten his first love; but I was told, that no other has yet taken the place of her, whom he once hoped to make his `bonny bride.' "

The Thompsons had some heart-breaking experiences. "We lead," writes Thompson, "'with infinite labour managed to clear off a small patch of ground, which we sowed with spring wheat, and watched its growth with most intense anxiety until it attained a height of ten inches, and began to put forth tender ears ... . But one day in August, occurred a hailstorm such as is seldom experienced in half a century. A perfect cataract of ice fell upon our hapless wheat crop. Flattened hailstones, measuring two and a half inches in diameter and seven and a half in circumference, covered the ground several inches deep. Every blade of wheat was utterly destroyed, and with it all our hopes of plenty for that year."

One of the worst pests the early settlers had to contend with was the wild pigeons, a bird that, so far as is known, is now extinct. These swept down on the land in myriads and grain and pea fields were stripped clean by them. In several other cases in this book these birds have been referred to, but Thompson's account of them is most interesting. There was a pigeon-roost a few miles distant from where he and his brothers had settled. To this roost at the proper season "men, women, and children went by the hundred, some with guns, but the majority with baskets, to pick up the countless birds that had been disabled by the fall of great branches broken off by the weight of their roosting comrades overhead. The women skinned the birds, cut off the plump breasts, throwing the remainder away, and packed them in barrels with salt, for keeping."

Thompson points out that these pigeons were an important factor in connection with the vegetation of these early days. He noticed that when land had been burnt over it was almost immediately followed by "a spontaneous growth, first of fireweed or wild lettuce, and secondly by a crop of young cherry trees, so thick as to choke one another. At other spots, where pine trees had stood for a century, the outcome of their destruction by fire was invariably a thick growth of raspberries, with poplars of the aspen variety." Thompson was not content with merely observing this seemingly miraculous growth of new vegetation, he investigated the matter. ``I scooped up," he writes, ``a panful of black soil from our clearing, washed it, and got a small tea-cupful of cherry stones, exactly similar to those growing in the forest." He naturally concluded that the pigeons were responsible for the strange growth of cherry and raspberry in the burnt, lands.

Becoming dissatisfied with their Sunuidale lot, the Thompsons exchanged it for one in Nottawasaga in the settlement called the Scotch line, where dwelt Campbells, McGillivrays, McDiarmids, etc., very few of whom were able to speak a word of English. Their life here was similar to that of other settlers whose stories have already been told. One incident is worthy of record as it shows the primitive condition of things in a community only thirty-four miles from Barrie. Flora McAlmon, the wife of Malcolm McAlmon, the most popular woman in the Scotch line settlement, died in childbirth, largely due to the fact that no skilled physician or experienced midwife was at hand. Her brother came to the Thompsons to borrow pine boards to make a coffin. Excepting for some pine they had cut down and sawn up, "there was not," says Thompson, "a foot of sawn lumber in the settlement, and scarcely a hammer or a nail either, but what we possessed ourselves. So, being very sorry for their affliction, I told them they should have the coffin by next morning; and I set to work myself, made a tolerably handsome bow, stained in black, of the right shape and dimensions, and gave it to them at the appointed hour." And in this rude coffin the weeping bearers bore the remains of fair Flora McAlmon "through tangled brushwood and round upturned roots and cradle-holes ... to the chosen grave in the wilderness where now, I hear, stands a small Presbyterian Church in the village of Duntroon."

On several occasions Samuel Thompson had walked to Toronto, a distance of ninety miles. In 1834, before leaving Sunnidale, he made his first trip, "equipped only with an umbrella and a blue bag, . .. containing some articles of clothing." The first part of his way was over a road strewn with logs over which he had to jump every few feet. Rain came on, and as night approached he found himself far from any human habitation. He returned to "a newly-chopped and partially-logged clearing" he had passed on the way. Here he found a small log hut in which the axe-men, who had been at work, had left some fire. He "collected the half-consumed brands from the still blazing log-heaps, to keep some warmth during the night, and then lay down on the round logs in the hope of wooing sleep."

"But," he adds, "this was not to be. At about nine o'clock there arose in the woods, first a sharp snapping bark, answered by a single yelp; then two or three at intervals. Again a silence, lasting perhaps five minutes. This kept on, the noise increasing in frequency, and coming nearer and again nearer, until it became impossible to mistake it for aught but the howling of wolves. The clearing might be five or six acres. Scattered over it were partially or wholly burnt log-heaps. I knew that wolves would not be likely to venture among the fires, and that I was practically safe .... I, however, kept, up my fire very assiduously, and the evil brutes continued their concert of fiendish discords ... for many, many long hours, until the glad beams of morning peeped through the trees; when the wolves ceased their serenade, and I fell fast asleep, with my damp umbrella for a pillow."

When he awoke, he continued his journey to Bradford, where he was hospitably entertained by Mr. Thomas Drury, and given a. letter of introduction to a man of whom he "had occasionally heard in the bush, one William Lyon Mackenzie." The remainder of his journey was "accomplished by stage—an old-fashioned conveyance enough, swung on leather straps, and subject to tremendous jerks from loose stones on the rough road, innocent of Macadam, and full of the deepest ruts."

When the Thompsons left London for Canada, they were sanguine "of returning in the course of six or seven years, with plenty of money to enrich," and perhaps bring back with them, their mother and unmarried sisters. In the meantime the sisters came to Canada and found life on the bush farm totally unsuited to their tastes. The brothers, too, were far from satisfied. Their holding promised them only years of unremitting toil, with but a small return. They saw other opportunities and so disposed of their property, Thomas and Isaac moving with their sisters to a rented farm at Bradford and Samuel going to Toronto, where he was long to play an active part in the business and intellectual life of the community.

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