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The Pioneers of Old Ontario
By way of Yonge Street


"When I first knew Toronto there were not more than two or three brick buildings between the market and Yonge Street. There was not a building of any kind on the west side of Yonge between Queen and Bloor. Yonge Street north of Toronto was not then the straight highway it is now, but twisted and turned in all directions to avoid the hills. About Unionville the country was covered with magnificent pine. People wondered how they would ever get rid of it all, and trees, as straight as a ruler and as free from blemish as a race horse, were cut down and the logs burned in heaps. Ropes and harness were made from home-grown flax, and almost every home had its wheel and loom where clothing for the family was made. The first cooking stove seen in Markham, brought in by a Yankee peddler named Fish, did not have an oven attachment but only holes in which pots could be placed.. Bread was baked in pans set in coals. A black-ash swamp near Unionville was full of wolves. In the evenings bears came into the oat fields, and, gathering the heads together in their fore paws, feasted in peace on the ripening grain."

All this was given from the personal recollections of Simon Miller, who was living in Unionville in 1898. Through his immediate ancestors Mr. Miller was connected with the very earliest stages in the history of what is now the metropolitan district of which Toronto is the centre. One of his most prized possessions was a document dated "Navy Hall, 29th of April, 1793," signed by J. G. Simcoe, the first governor of Upper Canada, and addressed to the officer commanding at Niagara. This document was a command to the officer in question "to permit Nicholas Miller, Asa Johnson, Jacob Phillips, Abraham and Isaac Devins, and Jacob Schooner" to bring in free of duty from the United States "such goods and effects as household furniture, chairs, tables, chests of clothing," etc. The Nicholas Miller mentioned in this document was the grandfather of Simon, and Isaac Devins was the grandfather of Simon's wife.

The original home of the Millers was lot thirty-four on the first of Markham, the Yonge Street farm later on occupied by David James. This and the old John Lyon farm were the first two for which patents were issued in Markham. The log cabin built on the Miller lot was probably the first house erected in Markham, and the body of Grandfather Miller, who died in 1810, is believed to have been the first buried in the old cemetery at Richmond Hill.

Three of Simon Miller's uncles on his mother's side took part in the War of 1812-15. These were Kennedys, after whose family the old "Kennedy Road" was named. One lost a leg at Queens-ton while charging with Brock in an effort to recapture the gun taken earlier in the morning by the Americans and then turned against the British. A Major, of the well known family of that name in Pickering, had a piece of flesh flicked from his leg by the same discharge. Mr. Miller's mother heard the explosion when the old fort at York was blown up as the Americans entered the town after capturing it, and Mr. Miller himself as a lad heard the boom of the first gun fired in the skirmish at Montgomery's Tavern in 'thirty-seven.

"After school had been hastily dismissed on the latter occasion and 1 was on my way home," said Mr. Miller, "I met a company of Highlanders headed by skirling bagpipes coming out of Vaughan, on their way to join Mackenzie, but as the latter was already in retreat they were too late for the affair. For weeks afterwards loads of prisoners passed our door on Yonge Street on the way to Toronto to stand trial for high treason. Many of those in charge of the prisoners had themselves been implicated in the rising and took this means of turning aside suspicion from themselves. The worst of the direct effects of the rebellion was not the tearing of men from their families. It was the feuds, lasting for years, which originated at that time. Years afterwards, `you are a rebel' or `the son of a rebel' was the signal for a fight. When men gathered at grist-mill or for the annual `training day' the whiskey hardly started flowing before a fight commenced in some corner, and in a short time the row became general.

"One of the worst consequences of the freedom with which liquor was to be obtained at this period," continued Mr. Miller, "was seen in the case of the Indians. All the Indians of that day from the Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay country came to Toronto once a year to receive money and goods, which the Government gave them in return for the surrender of their lands. I have seen them coming down Yonge Street in twos and threes, magnificent specimens of manhood, their head-dresses decorated with eagle feathers, and carrying war spears in their hands. Too often they went back in a very different condition. The white man knew the Indian's fondness for whiskey, and whites waylaid these children of the forest and supplied them freely with firewater in exchange for the goods the Indians had received from the Government. Frequently, by the time the red men reached Thornhill on their way home, they had neither goods, blankets, nor money, and had to beg food for maintenance on the rest of the journey northward. Notwithstanding the manner in which they had been robbed, and the fact that they were armed, I never heard of a white man being killed by them. Eventually, however, the scandal became so great that the Government adopted the plan of carrying the annuities for the Indians to their reserves and paying them there.

"In 1822, and again in 1823, grandfather and father found it necessary to go to Philadelphia to look after some property interests that had not been disposed of when the family left Pennsylvania. Both journeys were made on horseback. Three years later a third journey was made to the Quaker city, but this time in comparative comfort. From Buffalo to New York passage was taken by Erie Canal boats, and from New York to Philadelphia by ocean vessel. When I went to the States in 'forty-seven, I took boat from Toronto to Lewiston, from Lewiston to the Falls by horse-car with the horses driven tandem, and from the Falls to Buffalo by a train which ran on wooden rails covered with strips of iron."

Henry Horne, for many years postmaster at Langstaff, in a pamphlet published in the last century, gave some particulars of the difficulties encountered in travel at a still later date than that mentioned by Mr. Miller. 'Tr. Horne made a trip to Toronto in the fall of 'fifty-two by the section of the old Northern Railway then open. There were no passenger cars on the line. Passengers had to stand up, and when the engine required water the train was held lip while the crew dipped the necessary water from open ditches beside the track.

When the Millers and Devins first settled in Markham there was no grist-mill anywhere within reach and all the flour used in the neighbourhood was ground in a coffee-mill Grandfather Miller had brought with him from Philadelphia. At a later stage a man named Thorne established a hundred-barrel mill and general store at the place which bears his name. Big as his mill was, it was unable to cope with the trade that came to it. "I have seen," said Mr. Miller, "a procession of wagons loaded with wheat that kept the mil f. running until ten at night. Thorne was a kind-hearted man, and many poor settlers in Adjala, and Tecumseh were indebted to him for the flour necessary to carry them through until the following harvest. His end was an unhappy one, though. Embarrassed by unfortunate speculations in wheat he committed suicide.

Burials were simple affairs among the pioneers. In one case the body of a man who had no relatives in the country, was enclosed in a coffin made of slabs split from a basswood tree and buried on his own farm. In fact a number of the first settlers were interred on the lots taken up by them. When the lots afterwards changed hands the bodies were in some cases removed. In others, agreements were made for the maintenance of the burial plots. But who is to enforce such agreements when even the descendants of the original owners of the property are far away? Inevitably the ground made sacred by the dust below will come under the plow, and some day, when a ditch is being dug or a foundation laid, men of a new generation will wonder what tragedy was hidden with the bones then brought to light."


When I was a boy "The Queen's Bush" was frequently mentioned in conversation in much the same way as "The Peace River Country" is now. The term was then -applied to the Huron tract, a territory stretching from about Goderich to Georgian Bay, and in which settlements were just beginning to be formed. The territorial description was a moving one, however, and was applied generally to any lands which were still largely in possession of the Crown; and, as lands passed from the Crown into the hands of settlers moving west, and still further west, the description moved with the tide of settlement.

The story that follows was told to me in 1906 by John Claughton, who remembered when the name of Queen's Bush covered territory as far east as the township of Uxbridge. The conditions under which I fell in with Mr. Claughton were in themselves a striking illustration of the marvellous change wrought in Ontario in the course of one lifetime. I was on my way from Barrie to Whitby, driving on that occasion, when night found me with a very tired horse, near Epsom, in the township of Reach. There was not a house of public accommodation within miles, and yet Mr. Claughton, who proved the Good Samaritan in a time of need, remembered when Epsom had two hotels; Prince Albert, three; and Utica and Manchester, two each—all the places named being within a few miles of each other.

"At that time," said Mr. Claughton, "farmers from Georgina, Brock, Uxbridge, and Scott all teamed their wheat to Whitby or Oshawa. When this traffic was at its height there would be a string of teams stretching as far as the eye could reach and all moving south. It was almost impossible to drive north then because of the traffic moving in the opposite direction. That was when the old plank road extended from Manchester to Whitby. Much of the plank for that road was cut in the Paxton mill at Port Perry. There were five toll gates on the highway, and the toll for the round trip was three York shillings. [A York shilling, equivalent to twelve and one half cents, was a common unit of calculation in early days.] The wheat taken over it to Whitby was shipped to Oswego and thence to England. The wheat taken to Oshawa was ground in the Gibb's mill."

Mr. Claughton's memory, and what he had heard from his parents, covered a period antedating even the time of the old plank road. He told how the Paxton's, when they first settled near the site of the Dryden farm, had to drive thirty miles to Toronto for household supplies.

"I can remember," he said, "when what was practically a solid bush extended all the way from Epsom to Port Perry. I have seen mast timber, seventy to eighty feet long, taken out of Reach, four or five teams being required for the hauling. I have seen the best hardwood sold in Whitby at a dollar a cord. I have seen ten acres covered by great bonfires in which the best of pine, elm, and maple were burning. When, after such prodigal waste, timber began to grow scarce in the neighbourhood, people went to `The Queen's Bush' in Uxbridge township and helped themselves, there being no one there to say them nay.

"One night, after having left Uxbridge at eight o'clock, I heard a pack of wolves howling in the Black River swamp. There were many wolves in the swamp on the thirteenth of Reach and sheep had to be penned up at night for protection. A man named Shaw was on his way home carrying a heavy Bible lie had borrowed from a neighbour when he meta bear. He dropped the Bible and ran, the sacred volume being recovered unharmed next day. One Sunday, when I was out walking near Epsom, three deer suddenly rose up in a small clearing almost in front of me.

"The first threshing-machine used in the neighbourhood was one of the old `pepper-mills.' One man raked the straw as it came from the cylinder, a second raked it a little further, and a third pitched it to one side. If there were more than one day's threshing, the grain on the floor had to be cleaned up before threshing could go on."

"Where are the pioneers and their descendants`?" I asked.

The answer came in something like a wail: "Gone, gone—gone almost to the last man and the last woman. The bodies of the pioneers lie in neglected or forgotten cemeteries. Their descendants have been scattered as if by the four winds of heaven. In many cases even the names are forgotten. Of the families living between Whitby and Oshawa in the 'forties I do not believe one remains to-day. Between Manchester and Whitby it is much the same. Only two or three remain between Epsom and Manchester."

Still, although so few of the children or grandchildren remain where their families first settled, there is occasional evidence of a tie yet connecting them with the place where the light of day was first seen. One such evidence I found near Gamebridge while on this same journey. There a school library had been provided by the late Andrew Gunn, one of the founders of Gunns Limited, in memory of boyhood days spent in the bush when his father settled on the east side of Lake Simcoe. At Utica, again, I had seen "Memory Hall," which had been erected by T. W. Horne, one of the contractors for the building of the King Edward Hotel, Toronto, this being Mr. Horne's contribution to the community life of the section his parents had helped to create.


This story has its beginning in Scotland; it touches North Carolina, and has its closing scenes in the township of Eldon. It begins with the eighteenth year of the past century, and almost the whole period is covered by a life that had not, when the story was told in 1910, run its course. Colin McFadyen, believed to be the oldest resident then in Eldon, at that time in his ninetieth year, but still bright of eye and with none of the ashen hue of age, gave the particulars.

Shortly after the end of the Napoleonic wars times were desperately hard in the old land and men began to turn their eyes in the direction of the New World, where people were fewer and opportunities greater. Among those who looked abroad were Mr. McFadyen's father and some of his friends. They finally determined to start for Wilmington, Delaware, where an acquaintance was already engaged in the woollen industry.

"It was no palace steamer in which father and his friends arranged to make the journey," said Mr. McFadyen. "It was an old sailing ship that had years before been condemned as unfit for the carrying of passengers. Our people did not know this at the time, and gladly paid the seven or eight pounds per head demanded for their passage to America. The vessel, although very old, was a fairly good sailer. Once during the voyage another craft was seen to be following. Fearing that she might be a pirate, the captain put on full sail and the possible enemy was left `hull down.' The old vessel proved more seaworthy than was expected, as she was able shortly afterwards to ride in safety through a West Indian hurricane.

"At length Wilmington was reached, but the place did not suit the people, and they determined to go on to North Carolina, and it was there that I was born. Eventually they tired of Carolina. Although my uncle held slaves, my father objected strongly to the system, and he objected also to taking the oath of allegiance to the United States, as he was being constantly urged to do. Attention was thus naturally directed towards Canada and one of the party was sent to spy out the land. The investigation proved satisfactory and, in 1828, a party consisting of my father (Archie McFadyen), Archie McMillan, Colin Campbell, and their families determined to set out for the north.

"It was a genuine trek. The whole distance was covered in wagons, the men and boys walking alongside the rude vehicles. I walked every foot of the way myself, although then only nine years old. The journey from Carolina to Hogg's Hollow, where we first located, occupied seven weeks, and on only two nights did we have the shelter of a roof. One of these two nights we spent in a vacant house. Where did we sleep the other nights? On the ground, with a blanket beneath and the blue sky above. If it looked like rain we crawled under the wagons, which were covered with canvas. One of my brothers was born on the way—that occurred in Virginia—but this was allowed to delay us for only one day.

"Yes, the road was none too smooth," Mr. McFadyen went on. "We climbed mountains, up the face of which the horses could barely haul their loads. In going down the other side the men had to apply brakes to prevent the wagons from running on top of the animals. We crossed rivers, sometimes over bridges, but frequently at fords. In many cases bridge tolls were levied not only on teams, but on pedestrians as well. In order to reduce the charges we sent the wagons over the bridges, while the men and women in the party crossed on the backs of horses as these swam the streams.

"We crossed the Niagara River at Black Rock, the crossing being made in a ferry worked by horses with treadmill power. When we reached the Humber River, six miles out from Little York, as Toronto was then called, we found the bridge gone, and we had to wade the stream. While crossing the water came into the boxes of the wagons, and in going up the opposite bank it seemed at times as if the horses would fall back on top of the vehicles."

The party finally reached Hogg's Hollow and settled there for a year. Then they set out for their permanent home in the township of Eldon. This was the worst of the whole journey. Once, when they struck a cedar swamp, the wagons sank to the axles and a whole day was spent in going four miles. The Horses were barely able to pull the wagons through the slime, and the men had to carry the luggage on their shoulders. The wagons could not be taken beyond Uxbridge, the rest of the way to lot seven on the first of Eldon being a blazed trail. All told, five days were spent in making a journey that an automobile would cover now in less than two hours of a summer afternoon.

"There was not a tree cut on the place when we arrived," said Mr. McFadyen as he proceeded to tell of conditions in the new home, "but in three days we had a cabin built. It was of course made of logs, with the spaces between the logs filled with moss and the roof made of split basswood. As we had no feed left we had to get rid of the horses, and father traded one for a steer and twelve bushels of wheat. He borrowed a yoke of oxen to bring the wheat home. This was ground into flour between two grindstones that were made to revolve with a crank turned by hand. The wheat was poured by hand through a hole in the upper stone. Between dark and bedtime enough would be ground to provide for the next day's needs. Later on we thought we were well off when we got a coffee-mill to do the grinding.

"It was hard enough to get along in the early days. Potatoes and corn were our chief reliance, and the only ready money was earned by sailing on the lakes. We found work enough at home, however,—cutting down trees in winter, splitting rails and fencing in spring, and burning fallows in summer. The last was hard work. I was my father's principal helper, and we had to keep moving the burning logs closer and closer together while the heat of fire and sun combined caused the perspiration to pour from its in streams.

"It was a lawless time, too, in the early days. Dougall Carmichael, my mother's brother, came out to us in 1832. He walked from Sutton by the road, after having his goods landed at Beaverton. When he went to Beaverton to secure the goods, some men there began shooting and my uncle, fearing for his life, fled. Returning later he found a chest broken into and sixty sovereigns and some clothing stolen. Years afterwards, when I was returning from Mount Albert, where I had been with a load of grain, a man told me he knew of the robbery and that the robber had buried the gold under his hearthstone near Beaverton.

"Another time when I was driving to Toronto with a load of grain l had with me a couple of wolf skins, which a man in Toronto had agreed to buy. I had stopped at Markham to feed the horses. That was in the days of the `Markham gang' and Markham had a bad name. Consequently while waiting in the hotel until my horses were through feeding, I kept my eye on my sleigh. But a cutter drove up alongside as i watched, my skins were whisked into it and the rig was out of sight, before I could pursue."

']'his reference to the wolf skins naturally brought up hunting stories, and once Mr. McFadyen got started on this line the stories came thick and fast.

"When father killed the steer we had secured in exchange for one of our horses, he found it necessary to go to a neighbour's for salt with which to cure the heat. When on his way back, and in the middle of the `big swamp' of 'fhorah, there was a sudden and terrific howling from a pack of wolves—a howling that seemed to make the woods fairly tremble. Father dropped the salt and ran back to the neighbour's, where he stayed all night. W lien lie returned to the place where he had dropped the bag, he found the ground tramped up as if a herd of cattle had passed by. There must have been a large number of wolves in that pack.

"The wolves were particularly destructive on domestic animals. A three-year-old steer belonging to the McMillans was pulled down in a swampy place, and all of the animal eaten except the portion under water. No less than eighteen sheep belonging to us were killed in one night.

"In order to check the marauders I bought a trap and caught one wolf with it. I set it again, but the next wolf carried the trap away with him. I followed the trail with a dog, but could get no trace of either wolf or trap. I then secured another trap, fastened it with a trace-chain, and in this I captured a number of the beasts. Generally a wolf was badly cowed by being caught a.nd I could dispatch the brute with an axe; but one fellow that I found soon after the trap teeth had been sprung on him was very fierce, and I had to stand at a safe distance and shoot him with a rifle. Finally one big wolf actually smashed the trace-chain and got away with the second trap. I followed the trail until I could see the bushes shake in which the brute had hidden. I fired at the spot, and then, when I saw the bushes move a little further on, aimed at that point and fired again. Everything then seemed quiet and I got down on my knees and peered under the bushes. The wolf was lying there all right, but I fired another shot to make sure, and then brought him out. `Ve received a bounty of six dollars for each wolf killed, but one dollar had to be paid a magistrate for the certificate on which payment was made. The hides were of no value if taken in summer, but there was always sale for a good winter pelt."

Mr. McFadyen's adventures were not confined to wolves. Many a bear also fell before his rifle. Once, he treed a bear in a big elm and with the first shot put a bullet through the animal's heart. On another occasion he wounded a bear, and, as it was getting dark, he was unable to follow the trail. Next morning the hunt was resumed and bruin was seen seated by a punk- log and using the powdered fibre as a salve for his wound. "It seemed almost cruel to kill the animal under such circumstances," said Mr. McFadyen in describing the adventure to a friend. "But when the excitement of the chase was on, and I remembered the havoc wrought by the black-coated enemy, I did not stop to think of this, and a second shot finished the business."

Sometimes the hunter found himself hunted. One Sunday, as Mr. McFadyen was on his way to church, he saw a bear and two cubs in the oat field. The old bear ran off and Mr. McFadyen tried to catch one of the cubs, but lie was glad to abandon the effort when he found mother bruin after him. On another occasion Colin McLachlin, a neighbour, shot and wounded a bear. When he endeavoured to dispatch the animal with an axe, the bear knocked the axe to one side and grabbed McLachlin's thigh. A brother, who fortunately happened to be present, then seized the axe and killed the bear with a stroke. But even in death the animal held on, and it was necessary to pry the brute's jaws apart before the thigh on which they had fastened could be released.

A little thing like lacerated flesh did not count in those days. People were inured to pain and all were qualified to render first aid to the wounded. Once, when a neighbour's head had been laid open with an axe, Mr. McFadyen himself sheared away- the hair and patched up the wound.

On another occasion a settler was so badly frozen that a number of his fingers had to be amputated. A doctor from Newmarket was called in to perform the operation. The charge was forty dollars. Later on it was found that sufficient had not been taken off the little finger, but it was considered hardly worth while to risk having to pay another forty dollars for a trifle like that. Accordingly a neighbour sharpened a jack-knife and a chisel; with a few deft cuts the flesh was laid open with the knife, turned back with the fingers, and then, with one stroke of a hammer on the chisel, the protruding bone was cut off with neatness and dispatch. The skin was next put back in place and homemade salves did the rest.

Mr. McFadyen's stories of hunting adventures did not all have the scene laid in the wilds of Eldon and Thorah. When he was living in North Carolina, great black snakes, not poisonous, played havoc with the family's flock of chickens. One night his sister heard a commotion in the poultry yard and on going out found a snake in possession of a chicken and in the act of climbing a tree with the prey. Miss McFadyen seized a pitch pine torch, and with this burned the snake so badly that it dropped the fowl and wriggled up the tree. Next morning the snake was still in the tree.

At another time the mother of the family went to the meat-house for a piece of meat. As she was in the act of looking up, a rattlesnake struck at her foot. There was no fainting, not even a shriek; instead there was a quick motion of the hand, the rattler was seized by the tail, a motion as in "cracking" a whip followed, and net a very much surprised rattler lay on the ground with its back broken.


"There were seven of us, father, mother, four boys and one girl, when we moved into Thorah in 1831," said Alex. McDougall. "It was September when we arrived, and the chill of autumn was already in the air. There was not a tree cut on the place, outside of the small space covered by a little shanty in which we were to lodge, and it was too late to produce food to carry us over the winter. In order to provide for his familv—I was then a lad of fourteen—father took jobs threshing grain with a flail. His lay was in wheat, and the nearest point at which wheat could be ground into flour was at Newmarket. We boys, in the meantime, were busy with our axes, and by spring we had chopped fifteen acres of bush.

"Some of neighbours were worse off than ourselves. One man, with nine children, was forced to carry all the grain he used that first winter to Newmarket on his back, and to carry the flour back in the same way. He was kept going and coming all winter, because no sooner had he carried in one load of flour than he had to start back for another.

"Even after we had begun to produce a surplus of grain on our place it was still hard enough for us to live. All of the first crops were cut with the sickle and threshed with a flail. The grain was cleaned by throwing it up in the air from a sheet. The surplus wheat was sold at fifty cents per bushel, but sometimes it, was so rusted that we could not sell it at all. A little later on Beaverton traffic was diverted from the Newmarket route towards Whitby, and our wheat was sold at Manchester at the end of the old sixteen-mile plank road leading north from Whitby. In order to make the journey in one day with a team it was necessary to start at four o'clock in the morning, and even then we did not reach Manchester until dark. The return journey was not made until next day. I have seen sixty teams in Manchester over night. There was plenty of stable room for the horses, but the men had to sleep two or three in a bed and, in some cases, on the floor of the bar or sitting-room. Frequently good wheat, marketed at such cost in hard labour, was sold at sixty cents per bushel. Grain of poorer quality, or not so well cleaned, sold for less.

"Everything in the way of supplies was scarce in the early days. I have known people to drive up here from Cannington to get straw with which to carry their stock over until the cattle could get out and browse in the woods. Still there was no actual suffering from want of food. If one had a little surplus, those who were short were always welcome to share in the bounty. Then the woods were filled with deer, and Indians brought us fish from the lake, which they exchanged with us for flour and pork.

"One of the great privations at the beginning was in the long intervals between regular religious observances. I remember when we were crossing the ocean, William Hunter, who afterwards settled in Chingacousy, came to our quarters and had prayers with us every night and morning. After we arrived at our new home the first regular services were held by the Rev. Mr. McMurchy, who came over from Eldon township for the purpose. John Gunn, father of the founders of Gunn's Limited, was a volunteer helper. He made a regular practice of reading Scriptures and praying with the old people of the settlement, who, owing to growing infirmities, were unable to attend the regular church services that were held. Daniel Cameron was another who helped in this same way."

"When church services were held, people travelled as much as thirty miles to take part," said Angus McDougall, the son of the speaker. "I have known them, even in my time, to come in lumber-wagons from as far as Sutton on the south, Uptergrove on the north, and Woodville on the west to the old stone church at Beaverton. Their earnestness was shown not only in the distance they travelled but in the patience with which they sat through services lasting from eleven o'clock till four, while their simple faith and devout thankfulness were voiced in the Psalms which filled the old church with a stern melody. Duncan Gillespie was the precentor. He read the Psalms line by line, and then led the congregation as they sang in praise and thanksgiving. The favourite Psalms were the one hundred and third and one hundred and twenty-third:

`Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God
And not forgetful be,
Of all the gracious benefits
He bath bestowed on thee.
Who with abundance of good things
Both satisfy thy mouth
So that even as the eagle's age
Renewed is thy youth.' "

Those who had not met him outside of his Toronto home would never have dreamed that Donald Gunn, one of the first members of the firm that is now Gunn's Limited, had gone through an experience little different from that of Mr. McDougall. Straight and active as a man of thirty, when nearly seventy, and with the calm of one upon whom care had never rested, he was far from looking the part of a pioneer who had borne the burden of the old-time harvest and the fierce heat of the logging bee that preceded ii. Still there were few men who had a larger part in the trials and privations of the days that are gone. The John Gunn, referred to by Mr. McDougall, was his father, and Donald was one of nine sons whose axes cleared the old homestead that now forms the basis of Dunrobin farm north of Beaverton.

Day after day he swung the cradle, leaving four or five acres of levelled grain to show for his day's work. In the beginning he did more than this. He put in ten hours a day cradling on the farm of Colonel Cameron, and did the cutting at home in the early morning and late evening. In all this he was well aided by another member of the family—Dr. Gunn, famous all over the Huron tract for his skill as a surgeon.

"The flail had pretty well gone out before my time," said Mr. Gunn, "and the sickle was a thing of the past. But I have teamed a good many hundred bushels of grain to Manchester or Whitby that had been cut with a cradle.

When we teamed all the way to Whitby, our practice was to make Manchester the first stage of the journey, and then double up the load there and let one team take it the rest of the way. The start from home was made at midnight, and Manchester was usually reached at daybreak. Fifty-five bushels was a load, and we frequently sold, for fifty or sixty cents per bushel, wheat that had been cut with a cradle and hauled all the way to market. I have seen as many as seventy of these grain teams at Manchester in a day, and a dozen men have frequently had to sleep on the floor in a room fifteen by fifteen. Manchester, which you might go through now almost without knowing it, was then the greatest grain market in Canada. Mr. Currie, father-in-law of Colonel Paterson, K.C., was one of the principal buyers; the father of Dr. Warren of Whitby was another; and Adam Gordon, who owned the farm afterwards belonging to 'Bay-side' Smith, and now part of the hospital site on the lake shore at Whitby, was a third. Mr. Perry was amongst the later buyers. Drinking was as common there as it was at other places in Ontario at the time, and few of those who marketed the grain, at such a cost in labour and for so little in return, went home sober.

"I generally managed to have a load both ways," went on Mr. Gunn. "On my way back I picked up a cargo of oats, pork, etc., and brought it to our home in Thorah, on the way to the lumber camps in Magnetewan. The start from home for the lumber camps was usually made at four o'clock in the morning, in the midst of intense darkness, and with the thermometer not infrequently ranging around thirty below zero. I always carried shovels, because it was often necessary to dig through snow five feet deep in order to allow teams, met on the road, to get past. No, I never felt cold. I wore mocassins, and a plaid over the chest, and always walked when going up hill. These trips occupied three days going and three days returning."

"I remember another kind of experience in the deep snow of the early days," put in Airs. Gunn, who had been listening to the story of hardships in which she shared. "It was shortly after we were married. We had gone down to Stormont on a visit to my old home. A great storm came up while we were there, and Mr. Gunn decided to leave me with my friends a while longer, but to start for home himself. He left at nine in the morning, and after plowing through the snow for a mile, managed to get back to where I was stopping at two in the afternoon, and had to remain there for a fortnight before the road was opened up."
"As there were nine of us on the home place, and it was only a hundred acre farm, we had to engage in a lot of outside work in order to make money to keep things going," Mr. Gunn went on. "I made a heap of money with a team of horses taken into the lumber camps to skid logs in winter. After doing this I have come home in March and helped to cut down twelve or thirteen acres of bush before spring. Before the railway came through here I teamed store goods to Beaverton from Belle Ewart across Lake Simcoe on the ice, the goods having been carried as far as Belle Ewart by the old Northern. The first time we went to Toronto from here, we went by the old Emily May to Belle Ewart, and from there by rail."

Of Mr. Gunn's father and his work, I heard more from Mr. Gunn's old neighbours than from himself. Mr. Gunn, the elder, was not only a minister to the spiritual wants of the people in the days spoken of, but he cured the bodily ills of the afflicted as well. Although not a physician he had an extensive knowledge of medicine, possessed a rare skill in simple surgery, and cared for the sick and suffering over an area of twenty-five miles.

He was, too, the first man to put an end to the use of liquor at logging bees. It was the practice at all loggings of that time to divide the fallow off in sections, and for each gang engaged in the work to try to get its section finished first. The whiskey pail was always at hand to keep the workers keyed up to the highest pitch. One day on the Gunn farm, while a particularly keen race was on between the rival gangs, a man shoved a log from his section to that of the rival gang, and was caught at it. The blood of all the gangs, hot with the race and still further heated with the liquor, was at the boiling point already and the attempted cheating started a fight on the spot. Mr. Gunn, then in his prime, jumped between the fighters, and holding each at the end of a powerful arm shook both into submission. Then, mounting on a log-heap, he gave all the men a quiet talk, and declared his intention of never again allowing liquor at a logging on his place. He kept his word, and by so doing helped not a little in the spread of temperance reform over the whole neighbourhood.

On the Gunn farm there is a little "city of the dead," that dates even farther back than does that which lies under the shadow of the old stone church. In this older place of burial lie representatives of another people, who spoke another language. It is the resting place of Indians who had gone to the happy hunting grounds before the white man came. The graves are located along the banks of an old water-course, and are shaded by the cedar, elm, and balsam, which line one side of the driveway leading to the family residence. A great balsam marks the head of a grave in which rests a chief's daughter to whom the call came in girlhood's prime. Many years ago, before the Indians of the Lake Simcoe reserve were converted to Christianity, members of the tribe made regular pilgrimages to the place for the purpose of engaging in pagan rites in the presence of the dead. Later on, when the homes of the white men began to dot the cotuitr y the Indians ceased to visit the place.
It was at that time a low, swampy neighbourhood, and before it, was cleared up there frequently appeared before the gaze of alarmed settlers a fitful phosphorescent glow dancing over decayed logs. The belief was spread that it was the spirits of departed red men looking for the mourning relatives who came no more. But, with the clearing of the land, the uneasy spirits of the woods disappeared, and now the dead lie silent and still while the night wind sighs in the swaying tops of the evergreens above. 'There they lie:

"Unknown and unnoticed.
Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing beside them;
Thousands of throbbing hearts where theirs are at rest and forever,
Thousands of aching brains, where theirs have ceased from their labours,
Thousands of weary feet, where theirs have completed the journey."

here and there over, nearly the whole of Ontario, the pioneers found traces of Indian occupation before the coming of the white man, Few localities had a richer store of reminders of a passing race than the township of Nottawasaga. When the Mad River covered the present site of Creemore and deer licks existed on the Currie farm near that village, this township was a favourite fishing and hunting ground for the Indians. On the Melville farm on the fourth concession, a plow one day struck a soft place in the ground and search revealed a collection of parched corn, and cakes burned hard as bricks. On almost every farm in the township tomahawks or Indian pipes have been plowed up. Regular Indian burying grounds were located on the town line of Nottawasaga and Sunnidale, and on the second and fourth of the former township. In these graveyards were found masses of bones, together with kettles, beads, and weapons. One of the strangest finds was in the Indian graveyard on the second concession of Nottawasaga, consisting of a number of sabres, tied together, which apparently had never been used. A pioneer took three of these sabres to serve as a trap for deer that had been feeding on his oat crop. He set the sabres point upwards, covered with light brush as a screen, at a place where the deer had been jumping into the field. Next morning an animal was found impaled, but unfortunately it was the best horse on the farm. It is said that another of these old sabres, which doubtless came from France, served for years as guard for the portals of an Orange lodge. It was surely a strange fate which caused this sword, probably blessed by a Jesuit priest for service in the hands of a soldier of Catholic France, to become a prized possession of a lodge devoted to the perpetuation of the memory of King William.


At the beginning of June, 1899, one of the pioneers of the Islay settlement on the east side of Lake Simcoe was still in the flesh in the person of John Merry. At that time all the lots between one and five on the seventh of Eldon, save one, were in possession of direct descendants of the men who had settled on them sixty years before, at a time when the country for miles around was solid bush. Of the toil endured by the pioneers on the last stage of the journey to their destined home in Eldon I was told by Donald McArthur, a son of one of the original settlers.

"From Toronto to Holland Landing teams were employed in carrying the belongings of our people," said Mr. McArthur. "But the people

themselves walked every step of the way, the horses having all they could do to haul the freight over the great hills and across hollows where the mud was nearly knee deep. At every hill, indeed, teams had to be doubled up. From `The Landing' to Beaverton open boats were used. It was after Beaverton was left behind that the greatest toil was experienced. For fifteen miles through the bush there was nothing but an Indian trail, and over that distance our people carried their bedding and other belongings on their backs.

"Quick work was done, when the locations on which our people proposed to make their homes were finally reached. Rude shanties were put up on one day and equally rude fireplaces were constructed outside for cooking. Next day stone fireplaces were built inside and the smoke from these was allowed to escape through a hole in the roof, no chimneys being yet in place. The `chinking' of the log walls was not completed until the approach of winter made this imperative.

"When the first grain crop was harvested, the nearest place at which it could be ground was the old `Red Drill' at Holland Landing, and the grain sent there had to be `packed' as far as Beaverton. The settlers generally went in couples, each man carrying a bushel of wheat on his back. On the return journey the carriers depended for food on bread made on the way from the flour they carried with them.

"Wolves were a great source of worry and loss. One morning my mother turned our sheep out of the pen at daybreak and a belated wolf destroyed six of them before the flock could be rounded up. The brutes even attacked the cattle at times, but they made little by such attacks when a number of cattle were together. In these cases the cattle formed a circle with cows and calves in the centre, the oxen with lowered heads forming the outer circle. Against that defence wolves attacked in vain.

"The first Presbyterian minister in the section was the Rev. Mr. McMurchy, and by him most of the children were baptised. Later on these same children formed new unions under his benediction. The usual practice in connection with weddings was to have banns published on three successive Sundays, and on the Wednesday following the last announcement the wedding would take place. All weddings were real community affairs. The women of the settlement went the day before to bake and assist the bride. On the evening following the ceremony the fiddler mounted his bench, and from before sunset until the sun rose again flying feet kept time to the music."


From James St. John, who was nearly ninety years of age and still with intellect wholly unimpaired when I interviewed him in the township of Brock in 1900, information was obtained concerning the annual township meetings of the early days.

"When it came to the making of laws," began Mr. St. John, "the general practice was for some one to propose a rough outline of what was desired. This was reduced to writing by a magistrate present, who afterwards mounted a wood-pile and read the formal document which was then submitted for ratification by the assembly. One of the first of the local laws in Brock provided that fowl, which continued to trespass after warning had been given to the owner, might be shot by the party on whose land the trespass occurred. When this measure was

being read for the approval of the meeting someone asked what was to be done with the carcasses of the fowl shot.

"`Eat them,' I said from a side bench.

"`Eat them,' repeated the magistrate as if reading from the formal document.

"At once there was a rush for the wood-pile on which the magistrate was standing, and the wood, the reader, and the crowd were thrown into one tumbled mass. But it was all done in good nature, and was merely one of the ways in which animal spirits expressed themselves at these annual meetings."

Mr. St. John also told a story of an old-time parliamentary election that reads, in some respects, like a news item of U. F. O. activity of the present time.

"We had," lie said, "been electing lawyers year after year and found that these hardly noticed us after election day was over. In order to devise means of changing all this we held a meeting in our township and decided, by almost unanimous vote, that we would elect a farmer in the then pending election. Two candidates were in the field, Hartman, a Reformer and farmer, and Scobic, a Conservative and lawyer. The latter was a very clever talker and succeeded in persuading all of those who had attended the meeting, except myself, to go back on the decision reached and to support him. Notwithstanding the defection of Brock, however, Hartman was elected, and he proved one of the best representatives who ever sat for the constituency.

"Polling in that election took place at Newmarket and continued over two days. During that time both candidates kept open house. No strong liquor was supplied, but beer was as free as water. Still, notwithstanding the abundance of liquor and the excitement of the election, 1 did not see a single fight during the contest."

Telling of an incident of another kind, Mr. St. John said: "Indians- were numerous all over the Lake Simcoe district, and in early spring eight or ten camps were formed by these on my father's farm while the squaws engaged in basket-making. The -Indians were all ardent `Queen's Men' and would not hear a word spoken derogatory of Victoria the Good, who had then recently ascended the throne. One of the settlers, McMaster by name, for a joke, made some slighting remarks about royalty in the presence of a group of these Indians, and they threatened to kill him. Taking refuge in our house, he got me to hide him under a pile of straw in the sleigh and drive him past the Indian camp to his home. When driving past the camp an Indian jumped on the sleigh for a ride and sat down on the straw, not knowing I1 e Master was underneath. When McMaster at last got out near his own door, after the Indian had disappeared, he said he had been almost smothered under the straw. But he was cured; he never tried another joke with the Indians."

When Mr. St. John entered Brock with his father, in 1821, there were only three other settlers in the township. Mr. St. John was then twelve years of age, and from that time until his ninetieth year he worked almost continuously. Part of his labours consisted of chopping the bush from three hundred acres with his own hands.

Speaking of the early struggles, Air. St. John continued: "We worked hard, and for limited rewards, but never suffered want. My first crop of fall wheat had just nicely headed out when a foot of snow fell. Fortunately there was no frost and the wheat afterwards yielded an aver- age of forty bushels per acre. vI cut that crop with a reaping-hook, threshed it with a flail, cleaned the grain with a borrowed fanning-mill, and hauled it to Stouffville with oxen. And what do you think I got for the grain on deliver? Three York shillings a bushel, with half of that in store pay, and I had to wait three months for the `cash' half of it!

"The very next year, however, the price of wheat went to two dollars and a half per bushel. Afterwards it sagged to between one and two dollars and then, when the Russian War came, it rose above two dollars and a half. One winter, when wheat was quoted at about a dollar a bushel, I arranged to market the twelve hundred bushels that I held from the previous season's crop. After hauling out one load one of my horses broke a leg while playing in the yard and I was not able to resume marketing before the following June. The loss of the horse, in the end, proved a most fortunate accident as, when I did sell my wheat, the price was one dollar and eighty-five cents.

"These occasional high prices, and the uncertainty of them, were really a most unfortunate thing for the country. Farmers assumed obligations in order to buy more land for wheat growing, and this sent land prices up to speculative levels. I could have sold our farm then for one hundred dollars an acre, whereas, after prices dropped, I could hardly have secured sixty dollars, although in the meantime the farm had been greatly improved. The worst effects, however, were felt by merchants, many of whom went mad in grain speculation. One of the heaviest plungers was a man named Laing, in Whitby. I have seen him come from the bank with a stack of bills as big as a hand satchel, and this would not last him over three hours while his buying ventures were at their height. When wheat dropped to seventy-five cents, he failed and many failed with him.

"In the period I speak of (this was before railways were built in Ontario, Victoria, and Peterboro Counties) Whitby was one of the greatest grain markets in the country. Wheat from all around the east side of Lake Simcoe was teamed there. The work of teaming was facilitated by the improvement of the road from Brechin to Manchester with the county's share of the Clergy Reserve Fund, and the building of the plank toll road from Manchester to Whitby. When that plank road was at its best a team could haul from one hundred to one hundred and forty bushels of wheat at a load, but the hard surface proved as injurious to the feet and legs of horses as concrete pavement does now. At that time as many as fifty teams might be seen in a string along the old Centre Road; at Manchester fully two hundred teams were assembled at one time; and at Whitby sleighs extended for a mile from the harbour front up into the town. Many a good horse was fatally chilled while waiting on the ice for the unloading of the grain hauled.

"It was the opening of the main line of the Grand Trunk, combined with the existence of an excellent harbour, that made Whitby in the 'fifties and 'sixties the market for all the country tapped by roads leading to the north. I well remember the day when the line was opened. It seemed as if the whole surrounding country emptied itself into Whitby on that occasion.

Every hotel—and there were then six in the town and three at the harbour—was filled to overflowing, and the streets were lined with empty wagons and buggies whose owners were off to Toronto on the excursion of their lives.

"At a still earlier date than this, when the country was first being settled, wolves were numerous in the ravines about Sunderland. One day I heard some of these after our sheep. Without waiting to get my gun 1 rushed to the defence of the flock and jumped on the back of a wolf I found attacking a fine ewe. The brute was so surprised that he ran for the bush without waiting to see what had dropped on him. The ewe was somewhat mauled, but I doctored her with turpentine and not many days afterwards she gave birth to a pair of fine lambs. After I had released this ewe from the wolf, I went at a second of the marauders, which was attacking another of the flock, and beat him off with a fence rail. I was a little too late in this case and the second sheep died of her injuries."

Nor were animals the only victims to be attacked by wolves. R. L. Huggard, when living in Whitby, told me that James Lytle was once treed by wolves near Kendal in Durham County. "After climbing the tree," said Mr. Huggard, "Mr. Lytle broke branches and, using these as clubs, tried to drive the wolves away, but when the animals snapped at his feet he was glad to climb back to safety and remain on his perch until the besiegers disappeared with daybreak. When at last Lytle, almost frozen, did get down lie found the snow around the base of the tree packed as hard as a sleigh track.

"More fortunate was a man named Morrison who lived near Uxbridge in the early days. This Morrison was a famous fiddler and his services were in great demand at the winter dances. Frequently, after the dancers had gone he tramped home alone. One winter night, as he was trudging along with his fiddle tucked under his arm, he was surprised by a pack of wolves. A roofless old shack was near at hand, and up to the peak of the rafters scrambled Morrison. Whether from a sense of humour or riot I do not know, but, as the cold increased, Morrison bethought himself of playing a tune for the howling pack below. So he took his fiddle from his case and struck up a lively tune, when, to his utter astonishment away scampered the brutes at topmost speed into the bush. He had many a laugh afterwards as he thought of himself on that cold still night. beneath the

bright winter stars fiddling away from his lofty perch. Unconsciously he had stuinbled upon what has become a well established fact that wolves are terrified by the strains of a violin. He never wanted for protection against wolves when on his lonely night tramps after that."

It may very well be added here, in connection with reference to township meetings, that Colborne was one of the first townships to be municipally organized in the Huron Tract, convenience of access to the port of Goderich having facilitated early settlement there. In the last June of the past century, thanks to the courtesy of Henry Morris, of Loyal, I had the privilege of going over the first records of Colborne 's municipal governinent. These records began with the fourth of January, 1836, whn the pioneers of the township met at the Crown and Anchor )lotel kept by the father of Mr. Morris in the then village of Gairbraid, to start the municipal machine. The meeting was held in accordance with "the terms of Statute V, William IV, Chapter 8." Under the terms of that statute, the annual township meeting held at the beginning of the year not only elected commissioners, as the township councillors were then called, but the several township officers, from clerk to fence-viewers, as well.

Election troubles of a kind for which Huron has since been famous began early in the county's history. At this first township meeting in Colborne, J. C. Tims and John McClean were candidates for the clerkship, and Daniel Lizars, who was in the chair, declared the latter elected. Thereupon three of the votes cast in this election were objected to and a scrutiny called for, the final result being that McClean was declared to have a majority of two. Even this did not end the matter, because later on proceedings were taken against one of those present for having voted "contrary to the terms of the statute in that case made and provided," and in due course a tea-pot belonging to the offender was seized to satisfy the law's demands, the said tea-pot being held until one of the commissioners put up security for the fine imposed. Troubles over the clerkship, having once begun, continued intermittently for a couple of years. McClean resigned the day after the meeting at which he had been elected, and the township commissioners appointed his rival Tims to fill the vacancy. On October 25th following, Tims resigned in turn, and James Forrest London was appointed. London served until April 25th following, and then he, too, resigned, and A. R. Christie was made clerk.

The annual township meeting of the 'thirties of the last century did more than elect a local government and officials. It also made laws for the governance of the municipality. At the first township meeting for Colborne, one of the laws passed declared that "bulls and stallions shall not be free commoners," and that "stray dogs found at large should be liable to be impounded." A "legal fence" was defined as one six and a half feet high with not more than four inches space between the rails for the first two feet, and that for the next two feet the space should not be above five inches. At the third annual meeting, held in 1838, one of the laws passed in public meeting assembled declared that cattle of "the habit and repute of being breachy" should not be permitted to run at large.

Shortly after the township government was organized, a commissioner complained of the blocking of certain roads through trees having fallen across the same. One of the cases of which complaint was made was that wherein a "large maple" had fallen from lot one, concession three. Two other complaints were also lodged concerning trees which had fallen from lands belonging to the Canada Company. In all cases complained of the owners of the land were called upon to remove the obstructions. The Canada Company, through Thomas Mercer Jones, claimed non-liability. The statute of the day, it appears, attached liability only to "enclosed lands," and as the Canada Company's lands were not "enclosed," and, in fact, had no improvements on them, exemption was claimed. Thus the actual settler, who was living on and making more valuable the hundred acres held by him, was liable for trees falling from his place blocking the highway. A great corporation, that held thousands of acres which were being made more valuable by the labour of others, claimed exemption from the same liability because its property was not enclosed. It is not surprising that the Canada Company was even more unpopular in the early days of Western Ontario than some other corporations operating have been since then.

The Crown and Anchor Hotel in which Colborne's first municipal government was formed disappeared long since. The village of Gairbraid itself, like many other hamlets of pioneer times, has also disappeared, and for about half a century a one-time scene of bustling activity has been part of a plowed field.

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