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The Pioneers of Old Ontario
Working into the Flat Country


The Treffry family, who settled in Norwich township, Oxford County, came from England in 1834. There were eleven members in the family, and the cost of the journey from Quebec to Norwich alone was five hundred dollars. But that was only the money cost. What the move involved in hardships suffered and inconveniences endured, may be realized in part from a review of some of the incidents which occurred on the journey. In this case reliance does not rest wholly on uncertain memory. John Treffry, the head of the family, kept a diary from the day lie left the old home in England until the end of the first five years spent in the bush of Oxford County, and it was from this diary that most of what follows was taken.

'Phe ocean voyage, and even the passage of the rapids of the St. Lawrence in Durham boats, similar to experiences narrated by others, need not be recounted. But something new is added by the Treffrys' experiences on the steamer Enterprise, on which they sailed from Bytown, now Ottawa, lo Kingston. The first adventure occurred when the steamer sprang a leak and it became necessary to borrow a pump from a barge in tow to keep the water under control. Two days later the engine broke down and the captain took two of the Durham boats, which the steamer was also towing, and started for Kingston to secure assistance. Meantime those on board the steamer ran short of provisions and had to make good the deficiency by fishing. They even tried to capture a deer which appeared on the bank, but failed in the attempt. The situation was not made brighter when the cook mutinied. Finally the captain returned with hell) and provisions, and the Enterprise was able to reach Kingston by the thirteenth of May, seven days after leaving Ottawa.

From Kingston to Toronto the journey con-tinned by steamer, but from Toronto to Hamilton passage was by "smack." Among the passengers was the Hon. James Crooks, father of Ontario's first Minister of Education. Hamilton was reached at noon of the second day after leaving Toronto.

From Hamilton Mr. Treffry, one of his sons, and a Mr. Stoneliouse engaged a driver to carry them to Waterloo. At the first night's stop the one inn of the place was, in the language of the diary, frill of "immigrants of all sorts," and the three of the Treffry party had to sleep in one bed. The driver slept with his horses and, the diary records, "fared best of all." At Stratford accommodation was still more, limited; men, women, and children were all sleeping in one large room, and Mr. Treffry could hardly reach his bed without stepping on them. The news heard next morning was even more disheartening than the lack of accommodation. Wheat and oats in the Huron Tract had "all been destroyed by frost," Mr. Treffry was told, and the landlord had scoured the whole country round in a. -vain effort to secure sufficient hay and oats of the former harvest for horses sheltered in his stable. Although it was the eleventh of June, the diary record states that it "was cold," and a man met with stated that for two years the crops had all been destroyed by frost. To this the landlady added that she had at that time planted her garden three times.

Nevertheless Mr. Treffry decided to locate on lot two on the tenth of Norwich, "a Clergy Reserve lot abandoned by a black man." It was

not until the twenty-first of November that an oven was built, and the floor of the cabin was not laid until December 16th, eight months and twelve days after the Treffrys had left England. Some idea of the isolation of the family may be gathered from the fact that the first letters from the old home, written on the nineteenth of June, were received on the twenty-first of September. The time spent in carrying a letter from Toronto to Norwich alone was five days and the cost of carrying a letter to New York was two shillings, Halifax currency. There was at this time, no uniform currency for Canada.

Everything in use about the new dwelling was home-made. The oldest son made a washtub, wheel-barrow, and bedsteads, while the head of the family constructed a wooden harrow. Part of the furniture consisted of a chair with elbow rests and a table, both being of cherry. All of the wood used was cut green out of the

surrounding bush. On January 29th and 30th, 1835, the oldest of the Treffry boys was engaged in making boots for "litle Henry," a younger brother, and later in the year the father spent part of the time "mending boots." Frequent entries of this nature indicate that the shoes of the family, as well as furniture and utensils, were of home manufacture.

The first grain grown on the 'Treffry farm appears to have been threshed by "rushing." In ordt;r to thresh in this way, a pole was placed horizontally two feet above the floor of the barn or cabin, and then as much wheat as one could hold in his hands was beaten over this pole to thresh out the grain. One entry in the diary relates that Mr. Treffry spent most of a day in "rushing" sixty-six sheaves, from which a bushel and a half of wheat was obtained. After being threshed the grain was put on sheets to dry and then sent to a neighbour's to be put through a "winnowing-machine," the primitive fanning-mill of that day. Fodder corn was harvested in a wheel-barrow. The production of the grain itself involved equally strenuous and unremitting toil. The fences surrounding the new clearings were made of green brush, and when the brush dried these fences formed a very indifferent protection to growing crops. It is not surprising, therefore, to find one diary record stating that Mr. Treffry spent the whole of one night "keeping cattle out of the oats." Crops produced at such cost in labour had to be cared for, and the diary tells us that the whole of the Treffry family got up between two and three one morning, when rain threatened, to stack sheaves of wheat that had been left lying in the field after the previous day's cutting. Naturally, despite all these labours, there were periods of shortage, and on October 5th, 1835, the diary states that it had been found necessary to borrow "five pounds of flour and four pounds of Indian meal, being quite out of bread."

Winter cold and summer heat brought their trials a.s well. The fall of 1834 set in early, before the completion of the Treffry cabin, and in the diary we are told that the family "suffered much from the wind blowing through the roof and between the logs." The other extreme was experienced in the previous August when the first clearing was being burned. On some days not a breath of air stirred. The thermometer registered one hundred and ten in the shade and the heat was made still more unbearable by the fierce fires in the blazing log-heaps.

The first tragedy of the new household came in the second year in connection with burning the fallen timber. "Little Henry," a tot of three, and the chief sunlight in the home, went out to see his father at work "on the burn." Straying too near a pile of blazing brush his dress caught fire and in a moment the tiny lad was wrapped in flames. The child was seized by the father, the blaze extinguished, and the quivering body carried to the house, where oil and flour were applied to the burns and laudanum administered to ease the pain. Death came painlessly at midnight, the little one "going off into a sweet sleep." "The trial to his parents, brother, and sisters is very great," the simple record goes on, "yet we have abundant reason to be thankful to the Almighty for removing him as easily and so soon. Had he lived until the following day his distress would have been beyond description."

The Treffrys were friends and many of their neighbours were of the same faith. These, all came to offer sympathy and assistance. One brought a coffin in which to enclose the body; others furnished teams for the funeral; four neighbours carried the remains to Paulina Southwick's. "There," the diary says, "after sitting a short time we set off in three wagons to the burial ground. Our worthy and kind friend Justus Wilson had made the needful preparations at the grave. After sitting some time at the meeting-house we removed the corpse to the ground. "

The diary quoted from contains the names of the passengers of the ship Brogilla on which the Treffrys sailed from England. There were fifty-nine in all and only one of the company had been engaged in agricultural pursuits before sailing for Canada. Mr. Treffry himself had been a merchant in England. The others were cabinet-makers, miners, shoemakers, old soldiers, carpenters, and so on. Still there is no doubt that the bulk of them settled on the land. Certainly the Treffrys did so, and made good in their new occupation. The first Tuckers, of Wellington County, were weavers in England, yet they and their direct descendants made an exceedingly creditable record as farmers in a county where good farming is the rule. In fact comparatively few of those who came from England and Scotland between 1820 and 1850 had been engaged in farming before leaving the Old Land, but they and their descendants were mainly instrumental in laying the foundations of agricultural Ontario. The opportunity is open to the idle of our cities, whether newly arrived or native born, to emulate the example of the heroic men and women of a past generation. The opportunity is infinitely greater to-day, because those now here have at least. some knowledge of conditions, which the pioneers had not, and there is no comparison between the hardships for beginners of that day and beginners of the present.


"When my father settled in South Dumfries, he and his neighbour, Ford, shared a house in common. All the lumber used in that house father carried on his back for three-quarters of a mile. His own lot was eight miles away and, after toiling from daylight till dark in building a house on his own place, he went to Ford's to spend the night. While father and his neighbour were preparing homes in the bush, their wives were working in Hamilton to earn money with which to buy needed supplies. Mother spent her money in buying a cow, and the cow's back was broken in the woods shortly after being brought home. When a sow which father had purchased was killed by a bear and the little pigs she left behind perished from' hunger, it seemed as if the accumulation of misfortunes was almost too much to be borne. But there was a silver lining to the dark clouds which then hung overhead. In buying the sow father had paid part cash and given a note for the balance. When he went to pay the note the holder refused to accept another cent, declaring that father had already paid more than he had received value for."

The above story, told by Andrew Elliott, well known for years in Farmers' Institute work, was paralleled by what Mrs. John Shearer, mother of another well-known Institute worker, related shortly afterwards.

"When our family first settled near where Bright now stands, wolves came regularly to drink at a spring on our place," Mrs. Shearer said. "I was only eight years old then, but young as I was, and notwithstanding that wild animals were everywhere, I frequently went to Hayville, six miles off, to exchange butter and eggs for household supplies. My load was a heavy one going—five or six pounds of butter and as many dozen eggs. But as the butter sold for five cents in summer and never over ten cents in winter, and eggs at the same price per dozen, and as all purchased supplies were as dear in proportion as these commodities were cheap, my burden was light enough coming back.

"The lumber for our house was hauled fourteen miles, and father made the shingles by hand. When the first settlers went in, the land had not been surveyed, and the settlers, besides having to pay three dollars per acre for bush lots, were compelled by the Government to put up two years' rental for their occupancy prior to survey. Nor was that all. When the survey was finally made a number found themselves on wrong lots, and this led to much confusion and loss.

"For years, before doctors were available, men travelled miles to have wounds, which they had received in the bush, drawn together by a paste which father was skilled in making. Night after night, too, I have held a candle while he fashioned coffins for those who died. The first. burial in Chesterfield cemetery was that of a little child of Robert Brown, who afterwards moved to Kincardine. No minister was available, but the neighbours gathered by the graveside and stood with bared heads beneath the overhanging trees, while Father Baird read a chapter and Father Scott led in prayer and then all joined in singing a Psalm.

"This was not the only case in which the pioneers provided their own religious services. Every Sabbath day a community prayer meeting was held in Chesterfield schoolhouse and a Sunday school was conducted for parents and children alike. Half-yearly visits were paid by the Rev. Mr. Ritchie, and during these visits marriages were solemnized and the rite of baptism administered to children. I have seen as many as thirty children baptized in one day."

And the Elliotts and Shearers who saw all this—who moved into unbroken forests where there were no schools, no churches, and but few neighbours—lived to see the day when from the Elliott farm alone the cash sales ran up to three thousand dollars a year, and the value of all farm property in Oxford was placed at thirty-two millions. With this increase in wealth came the blessings of a community life enriched by churches, schools, and all the other adjuncts of the advanced civilization rural Ontario enjoys to-day.


Each district in Ontario had its own peculiar form of hardships in the early days. On the extreme west of Lambton, facing on the St. Clair River, the superabundance of water was one of the chief causes of hardship. The land there is little above the level of the lake, and the day after a rain the soil has the consistency of glue. What it must have been like before roads

were opened up and graded will be readily imagined by any person familiar with the conditions of the locality to-day.

Wood was the first money crop in West Lambton—elm, oak, and walnut logs for the mills, and cordwood for the wood-burning steamers that took on fuel at the river docks on their way up the lakes.

"I have seen," said W. T. Henry of Sombra, "six or seven yoke of oxen engaged in `snaking' one log out of the bush; and even then the cattle had all they could do. The sloughs were full of water. As the log passed through these its head was completely submerged, and it required the power of a steam tug to pull it along. The men were as hard worked as the cattle. Boys of seventeen did the work of grown men. When engaged in hauling wood to the river docks, three loads, of two and a half or three cords each, brought five or six miles, was an average day's work. As a lad of seventeen, I have unloaded my first load at six o'clock in the morning. People to-day have no idea of the magnitude of the cordwood business of those days. You see those old piles that line the river near the shore?" said Mr. Henry pointing to the west. "They formed the foundation piers of old-time wood docks. These lined the river almost as completely as wharves line the front of a modern city harbour, and even then they didn't afford accommodation for all the wood brought out. I have seen the road, leading inland from the St. Clair towards Wilkes-port, so closely piled up with wood on either side that you could hardly get a team through. Over one of the docks near the outlet of this road as much as a million cords of wood must have been delivered from first to last."

James Bowles, reeve of the township, who for years had been largely engaged in lumbering in that section, supplemented what Mr. Henry had said. "In the very early days," he said, "a bushel of potatoes was considered a fair price for a fine walnut tree. Even at a comparatively late date, from two and a half to three and a half dollars per thousand was considered a reasonable price for elm logs. When the figure went up to four dollars people thought that they were making lots of money. If I had on my home hundred acres all the elm timber that has been cut from it, the growing trees would be worth over fifteen thousand dollars. There must have been a million feet cut from the place before I secured it."

Not many years ago Morpeth was and Ridge-town was not. To-day Ridgetown is a thriving town and Morpeth is almost unknown. The changed conditions are in this case wholly due to the influence of that most powerful of all factors in regulating commercial conditions—the railway. The Burys and Springsteins, whose homes are near Morpeth, can tell you of a time when that thriving little village formed one of the great market centres for wheat in Western Ontario. At that time there was no Ridgetown and very little of Chatham. In fact, farmers then teamed grain from the immediate vicinity of where the Maple City now stands to sell it in Morpeth. It was a common thing to see three or four vessels lying at the dock on the lake front taking on grain, while a stretch of teams a mile and a half long, waiting for delivery, extended back along the road. And, even as Naples in a day far back had its Pompeii, so had Morpeth its suburbs. One of these was Antrim. Antrim was right on the lake front, with a brick tavern (loved by the sailors of that day), as its social centre. To-day not a sign of the suburb remains; the hotel has disappeared to the last brick, and of the other buildings not a trace is to be found.


Already ten days at sea, twenty-two days more to spend on the ocean, a crowded emigrant ship, and—smallpox on board. That was the situation with which Hugh Johnson, one of the pioneers of the township of Bosanquet, was faced when on his way from the old home in Scotland to the wilds of Upper Canada.
"I was," said Mr. Johnson, "accompanied by lily father, mother, six brothers, one sister, and my own wife and two children, the youngest only three months old. We had left Glasgow on June 18th, 1847, in the 'Euclid of Liverpool,' with a full list of emigrants bound for Quebec, and it was on the tenth day out that the ship's doctor reported that a little girl, who had been taken ill was down with smallpox. For the next twenty-two days we were, day and night, in the presence of one of the greatest plagues that has afflicted humanity. The situation was not so bad for our party, although the sick were on both sides of us, because most of our family had been vaccinated; for others it was one continuous horror.

"Bad as it was on board, it became infinitely worse when we readied quarantine. On our arrival at the dock, ropes were stretched across the deck so as to leave a passage in the middle. A doctor was stationed on each side of this passage and only one person was allowed through at a time. All those who showed any symptoms of the disease were forced to go into quarantine, while others were sent ashore. The only exceptions made were in the cases of well mothers, who were permitted to accompany sick babes. I am an old man now, but not for a moment have I forgotten the scene as parents left children, brothers were parted from sisters, or wives and husbands were separated not knowing whether they should ever meet again. In some cases they never did meet again.

"But, bad as was our plight, that of the emigrants on board a ship from Ireland was much worse. This vessel led us up the Gulf, and for mile after mile we passed through bedding which had been thrown overboard from her decks after the people to whom it once belonged had died. It was the year of the Irish famine. The poor folk on that Irish ship, wasted by starvation and fever-stricken when they went aboard, died like flies. We were told that half of those who left Ireland in that craft found a watery grave before the wretched remnant reached Quebec.

"Our family escaped illness altogether, and, after landing at Quebec, we made a fairly quick passage to Hamilton, most of the way by steamer. We had relatives in Lobo, who had settled there twenty years before, and it was our intention to go to them. When we reached Hamilton, we were fortunate enough to find a couple of wagon teams, that had just come in from London, going back light. These we engaged for eighteen dollars to take us along.

"I remember one little incident that occurred as we were passing through Paris or Woodstock, I forget which. While waiting there a young woman, after surveying us from the door of an hotel, said we were the `best looking lot of emigrants she had ever seen.'

"From London we went out towards Lobo, and as we were on the way we met some people going toward the town we had just left. We looked at them and they looked at us, but both parties passed without speaking. It afterwards turned out that these were our relatives, who were going to London to meet us; but, as we had fitted ourselves out with hats purchased after our arrival in Canada, they thought that we were Canadians.

"However, we all finally came together in the home of our relatives, and there we remained for five weeks. That is where we had our first experience in a Canadian harvest field; but it was nothing very new to us as the cutting was all done with old-fashioned reaping-hooks. Even the `cradle' was not in general use at that time.

"Our spare time was spent in looking for land; but this was an idle quest, as all the good land near there had been taken up; and so we went back to Williamstown, where settlement had begun two years before. We found there trees cut down but not yet burned up, and the whole country had the appearance of being stricken with the direst poverty. So drear was the spectacle that father expressed the wish that he had never seen Canada. Another thing that depressed him was the fact that we seemed so far inland—so completely out of touch with the great world outside. We heard of Sarnia and the lake on which it fronted, and determined to go there. We started on foot through Adelaide, and stopped at the Wesley tavern for dinner. In the cool of the evening we resumed our walk, and near dark we saw a group of figures about a great fire in the bush and, with pictures of wild Indians and burning at the stake in mind, fear filled our hearts. Great was our relief when we discovered that the men were settlers making potash.

"We kept on walking, expecting to find some house at which we could spend the night; but, no house appearing, we at last late in the night —went into a log barn and made our beds in a haymow. We had a glen with us, and I slept with that in my arms all night long so that I might be ready in case we were attacked by bears. But no bears appeared. Indeed, although the country about here was practically all bush then, I have never seen a wild bear in my life, and I have seen but one deer. I suppose the presence of an Indian reserve at Kettle Point accounted for the scarcity in that section in the early days.
"Next day we started for Warwick and had dinner at a tavern then kept by Mrs. Nixon. She told us we would find better land on the lake shore, and gave us a letter to an old naval captain, named Crooks, who was living near Errol, on the shore of Lake Huron. While following the road we came to a marshy crossing near where Camlachie is now situated, and as there was a cow-path running off to one side we determined to follow that, thinking that it would take us around the wet place. We soon found instead that we were all the time getting further and further into the woods, and feared that we might lose ourselves and die in the wilderness. So we took a course by the sun and struck off in a direction that we thought might bring us to the road at a point beyond the marsh.

"At last we came to a house and asked for something to eat. The woman who lived there said she had no flour but would cook us some potatoes. We decided to push on, meantime allaying our hunger with berries picked on the roadside. At another house we again asked for food and once more found that nothing but potatoes was to be had. At last we came to the lake, and were cheered by the thought that we were once more in touch with the great world beyond. Soon afterwards we reached Errol, and there we had supper.

"After supper we asked for Captain Crooks, and were told that he lived eight miles further up the shore. We started for his place and passed a logging bee on the way. It was there I first saw oxen at work. When we got to Captain Crooks' place, the Captain came out and asked its who we were. We told him our names and said we were looking for land. He invited us to stay all night, promising to show us land in the morning, and land where there was no frost such as they had in Lobo. This sounded good to us, and the fact that it lay alongside the lake was an additional attraction. We made our selection, but had to go to Goderich, where there was an office of the Canada Company, to complete the purchase, the price of the land being four dollars an acre. We put up a house that fall. Everybody helped us in getting a start; the whole neighbourhood was then like one big family."

Speaking further of conditions that existed in the early days of the settlement Mr. Johnson naturally referred to "Joe Little," a Methodist missionary, who was one of the characters of pioneers times. Little was appointed the first tax-collector for the settlement, and when he found a settler who could not pay he offered to make up the amount himself.

"He soon found many who could not pay," said Mr. Johnson, and the result was that when he got through collecting, instead of having something coming to him, he was in debt.

"The people thought Little would know better next time, so they appointed him collector for the following year as well. But the same thing happened again. Not only that, but once, when Little came across a poor settler with only one pair of boots, and these full of holes, he took off his own good shoes and exchanged them for those of the less fortunate fellow. Little had to use basswood bark to tie the worn-out boots to his feet as he went on his round. That is an illustration of the spirit of the pioneer days in Bosanquet," said Mr. Johnson, as a hurried interview came to a premature end.

Not far from where the foregoing interview took place, under the shelter of a bit of primeval forest which breaks the winds that sweep in from Lake Huron, is a little burying ground Where some of those who assisted Mr. Johnson in subduing the wilds of Bosanquet are resting from life's labours. Here lie the Whytes, the Sissons, the Johnsons, and others.

Not all had reached maturity when the summons came. "Our daughter and our son-in-law" are words inscribed on a stone which records that death came to a young couple, one of whom died in April, 1852, and the other in July of the same year, at the ages of twenty and twenty-one. Here, too, smallpox took its toll, and one of the sleepers was buried at midnight with none but a brother present to shed the last tears by an open grave.

Of all the silent reminders of those who are gone, none tell a more pathetic story than that behind the simple inscription "Found Drowned," above the naive of Robert Parkinson. Parkinson was not one of the pioneers. He was an American, and his body, with life barely extinct, was found in June, 1885, on the shore near the little cemetery. How he came there need not be told, but a brother in the United States, who heard of what had happened, asked that Christian burial be given the remains. Strangers interred the body beside their own dead and erected a simple marble slab to mark the place.

Away to the east, at the junction of the twenty-seventh of Warwick and the London road, is another little cemetery with a history. Near here Lieutenant James Robertson, of the Seventy-Ninth Foot, located in 1850, and twelve nears later, at the age of seventy-eight, his body was laid at rest at "the corners" within sight of his home. On the monument is recorded the fact that he was a native of Perthshire. There is given, too, a list of the engagements in which he formed part of the line against which the columns of the Little Corsican, then over-running Europe, spent themselves in vain. The list is an imposing one, including Corunna, Busaco, Fuentes D'Onoro, Salamanca, Pyrennees, Toulouse, and closing with that greatest drama of the nineteenth century—Waterloo. In the same little enclosure are other stones which mark the resting-place of wife, son, son's wife, and two grandsons. Only one of all the family is left in the person of a daughter.


In the creation of the Talbot settlement in Elgin County, both elements that entered into the make-up of the original population of Ontario joined. Some of the fathers of that settlement came from the United States, while others came from across the seas.

"The first to come," William Watson, a son of one of the originals, told me, "were John Pearce, Stephen Backus, and Walter Storey from Ohio, and George Crane from Ireland. After their arrival, and before 1816, there followed James Watson, John Barker, Burgess Swisher, James Burwell, Charles Benedict, Timothy Neal, David Wallace, James Best, Neil McNair, Joseph Vansyth, Jekyll Younglove, John Mitchell, Benjamin Johnson, Obadiah Pettit, and John Cowan of Fingal."

When Mr. Watson told the story, he was able to point to the remains of a frame structure that formed the original home of the Watson family. Not far off was a venerable spruce, which his father brought as a seedling from near Buffalo and planted in Canada. On the same lot were eighty apple trees, out of an original plantation of one hundred and seventy-three, grown from seed that Mr. Watson's father had brought all the way from Pennsylvania. This was probably the first bearing orchard west of the Niagara frontier, and for years it was the sole source of supply in apples for a large neighbourhood. On the Watson homestead there was erected, too, the first school in that part of the country.

"The troubles of the new settlement began with the War of 1812-15," Mr. Watson went on. "After the defeat of Procter at the Thames, the American forces burned Colonel Talbot's mill and stole the horses and even the furniture and provisions belonging to the settlers. They also took the men prisoners, but afterwards released them on parole. The result of the devastation caused by war was that the little colony, which had just begun to get on its feet, had to start all over again.

"Even without the handicap caused by war the struggle was strenuous enough. If a man broke a logging-chain, he had to travel sixty-six miles to the nearest blacksmith at Long Point to get it fixed. Grists, usually carried on horseback through the bush, had to be taken to the same point. My father once brought in fifteen barrels of flour by sail-boat, and next day there was only half a barrel left. All the rest had been divided among the neighbours. Even I can remember when it was a day's journey to St. Thomas, more than half the distance being over corduroy roads through the bush. I recollect, too, when there was no cash market for wheat. Later on when we did get cash, farmers sold, for fifty cents a bushel, wheat grown from seed harrowed in among the stumps with an ox-team, cut with a sickle, bound by hand, and threshed with a flail. It was almost impossible to get enough cash to pay taxes and other unavoidable bills, but to the people of that day there may have been some compensation in the fact that whiskey was only eighteen cents a gallon.

"A real boon it was that venison and fish could be had in abundance. I shot many deer in my younger days in the settlement and also helped to make war on their natural enemies, the wolves. The latter were so numerous that it was impossible to keep sheep.

"For years the settlers were without a regular mail service. It was not until 1816 that a mail route was established from Watford to Talbot. Even this was slow and irregular and the cost of postage fearfully high.

"There were no ministers in the early days and marriages were solemnized by magistrates. Although my father was not one of the original settlers, lie was here seven years before he heard a sermon. The first service was held by the Presbyterians in 1819, and a Methodist mission was established shortly afterwards.

"But all were brothers then, and this greatly helped in making hardships endurable. If there was a barn to be erected, all assisted in its erection. When a wedding was to take place, the whole neighbourhood was invited. But the great social events of the settlement were the neighbourhood dances, which were held every week in winter, the neighbours taking turns in providing house room. The biggest room in the house was cleared, the great logs roared and crackled in the open fireplace, and flying feet kept time with the wild whirl of the music."

But the joyous throngs of that day have passed with the primeval. forest. In the old churchyard at Tyrconnell they lie beneath the green sod, while the waves of Lake Erie murmur softly as they slumber.


When David Dobie first settled on the banks of the Thames in the Township of Ekfrid, there were but a few scattered settlers on the Longwood Road; between that road and the river, a distance of some three miles, not a tree had been cut. On the north side of the stream there was not a house to be found in a stretch of ten miles, and on the Dunwich side the forest extended without a break for a distance of eleven miles. The Glencoe of to-day is a city in comparison with the London of that time, for when Mr. Dobie first saw London there were only two brick buildings in the place.

"There was," Mr. Dobie said, "a great deal of fine walnut growing along the river Thames, and, when a market was found for it in Detroit, it sold at seventy-five cents a standard log—a standard making three hundred feet of lumber. Immense rafts of pine were afterwards floated from Dorchester, beyond London, to 'Detroit. I have seen half a dozen of these rafts, each one hundred and fifty feet long, go down in a single day, some of the logs measuring three feet through at the butt.

"Another picturesque feature was added by the Indians. Indians then constantly passed to and fro in their canoes between the reserve at Moraviantown on the one side and Munceytown on the other.

"Game? The woods were full of game. Standing where we are now I have heard three packs of wolves, from different points, howling at once. One morning, in going out on a hunt after a. slight snowfall, I saw the marks where

twenty-five deer had lain on a knoll during the darkness, and a little further on, where twenty-seven more had rested. Going further still, we sighted the two lots in one bunch, "Wild turkeys were still more numerous. We sowed our first wheat among the stumps from which the trunks had been cut and burned. Next morning, after the sowing, it seemed as if there was a turkey on each stump. Some of the birds were big fellows, too. I have shot some that weighed thirty pounds, and in the fall, after the walnuts had fallen, they were rolling fat. Once I came up with a flock in a hollow; they did not see me but had been alarmed by my approach, and all crowded together. I got six of them with one shot.

"Pigeons were the most numerous of all. Sometimes it seemed as if a new-sown field was blue with the hosts of them. The first herald of their approach would be a darkening of the sky, and, when in full flight, masses of them would stretch as far as one could see in either direction. They nested in a grove over the river, and just before the young squabs were ready to fly settlers would shake them off the limbs by the dozen. They were then considered in the best condition.

"But the game was far from being all profit. Clearings were small, and what wheat was produced in the early days sold at fifty cents per bushel. In many cases the crop, scanty at best, was almost wholly destroyed between the ravages of deer, racoons, and wild fowl; a serious thing for settlers who were nearly all desperately poor. Some of them, who had been helped out from the old country, had not a second coat to their backs. One year was particularly hard, and a few of the people were obliged to dig up the seed potatoes they had planted for food.

"The Scotch were perhaps the best off. Most of them had been sailors or fishermen in the old land. They spent their spare time on sailing vessels on the lakes and earned money in that way. One of these, John Graham, afterwards living near Glencoe, sailed the lakes for sixty years, latterly as captain of a steamer.

"In the beginning, not even so much as surveyors' lines had been run, and people frequently lost their way in the woods. On one occasion two children, sent on a message, wandered into the marsh west of where Dutton now is to pick blueberries, and could not find their way out again. The whole neighbourhood turned out and kept up the search for three days. The searchers found the place where the children had lain down to sleep but could not find the little ones. They had given up hope, when the lost ones suddenly appeared at the edge of a. clearing. The children, on seeing the searchers, whom they did not know, ran back into the woods, and it was with difficulty that the party came up with them and brought them home. The stray ones were, fortunately, none the worse for their adventure, blueberries having provided them with abundant sustenance."

Then Mr. Dobie proceeded to tell of the only case I have heard of, after diligent enquiry, in which human life was destroyed by wild beasts.

"In the early days," said he, "whiskey was in abundant supply at barn-raisings, bees, and other such operations. One night after a raising, a party of the helpers were on their way home, and one, who had imbibed more freely than the others, refused to go further. He was accordingly left in a fence corner to sleep off the effects of the liquor. Next. morning, on his failure to return home, some men started out to look for him. They found the place where he had slept, but there was scarcely a shred of body, or even of clothing, left. Wolves had found him helpless, torn him limb from limb, and feasted on the mangled carcass.

"Liquor was plentiful enough even at a later date than I speak of. On the Longwood Road there were six taverns in nine miles, and there were two distilleries near Delaware and one at Mount Brydges to keep these and other taverns in the neighbourhood in stock. After Mosa, or Brooke fair, it was a common thing for men to lie out all night by the roadside.

"Another tragedy of the early days," said Mr. Dobie, as he thought again of the man torn by wolves, "originated in the refusal of accommodation to an Indian. One night a dusky hunter came to the cabin of Archie Crawford and asked leave to stay all night. Crawford had no accommodation available and told the latter to go on to the next cabin. The Indian had his gun over his shoulder and, as he turned to the door, lie glanced along the barrel, pulled the trigger and Crawford fell dead with a bullet. through his head. No, the murderer was not arrested. He disappeared in the wilderness, and Ekfrid's first murder went unavenged.

"A man named Gunn, who lived in Talbot Settlement, had rare skill in the setting of broken bones. He frequently travelled twenty-five miles on horseback over bush trails to set a broken limb."

How Mr. Dobie happened to settle in Ekfrid, and the story of the journey lie and his friends had to make in reaching there, is no less interesting than his reminiscenses of the pioneer days. In the early 'thirties a number of settlers near Fredericton, N. P., became dissatisfied with their surroundings and determined to seek out new homes in Upper Canada. Accordingly Andrew Coulter, James Allan, and a German were sent to spy out the land. On arriving at Windsor they walked to Chatham, from there to Sarnia, and spent Christmas at Westminster. Next spring the party returned to Fredericton, and it was decided that only those named above should remove to Ekfrid; but Mr. Dobie's father and Mr. Clanahan, whose son was afterwards postmaster at Glencoe, decided to seek homes in the new land as well.

"We went by schooner from St. John to New York," he said, "and spent thirteen days in Covering the seven hundred miles, twice as long as it takes to cross the Atlantic to-day. From New York we took the steamer to Albany; then by Erie Canal to Buffalo, and from Buffalo we travelled by steamer to Port Stanley. On the way from Port Stanley to our new home, <a distance of fifty miles, two days were spent.. All told, we were a month on the journey."

By way of contrast, it may be said that when Mr. Dobie and his daughter paid a visit to the old home at Fredericton after railway communication had been established, they were just thirty-four horns on the way - less by fourteen hours than the time spent in making the last fifty miles to Ekfrid in the 'thirties.

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