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Forest, Lake and Prairie
Chapter II
Guardians - School - Trip to Nottawasaga - Journey to Alderville - Elder Case - The Wild Colt, etc

My guardians were good and kind people, and I never can forget the interest they took in me, but they believed in industry and thrift, and indeed had sore need to, for the salary of a teacher on an Indian mission in those days was very small. My time was spent in going to school, in carrying wood and water, and running errands.

During this time my guardians made a trip to the Nottawasaga country, and I went along. Our mode of transport was an open boat, and we coasted around Cape Rich and down the bay past Meaford and Thornbury, and I remember one night we camped on the beach where the town of Collingwood now stands. There was nothing then but a "cedar swamp," as near as I can recollect. Finally we came to the mouth of the Nottawasaga River, where we left our boat and made a walking trip across country to Sunnidale, and while to-day the whole journey is really very short "by rail" or "steamboat," then to my boyish mind, the distance was great and the enterprise something heroic.

Those deep bays, those long points, those great sand-hills, how big then, and long, this all seemed to me; and yet, how all this has dwindled down with the larger "experience of life."

While at Sunnidale, I spent some of my time fishing for "chubb" in a small mill-pond, and, one day to my great surprise, caught a most wonderful fish or animal, I could not tell which. It finally turned out tobea "mud-turtle." How to carry it home puzzled me. However, eventually I succeeded in bringing the strange thing to the house. Somebody told me to put it down and stand on its back, and it was so strong and I so little that it could move with my weight.

Often since then I have seen a big Indian, with a big saddle, and load of buffalo meat all on the back of a small pony, and I have thought of my "mud-turtle" and my ride on its back.

Father did not remain very long at "college." An opening came to him to go to Alderville and become the assistant of " Elder Case," in the management of an industrial school situated at that place.

Father in turn opened the way for my guardian, Mr. Cathey, who became teacher at this institution, and accordingly we moved to Alderville.

This was a great trip for me—by steamboat from Owen Sound to Coldwater, by stage to Orillia, by steamboat to Holland Landing, by stage to Toronto, and by steamboat from Toronto to Cobourg. All this was an eye and mind opener—those wonderful steamboats, the stagecoach, the multitude of people, the great city of Toronto, for even in 1850 this was to me a wonderful place. To be with mother and father once more, what joy! New scenes, a new world had opened to my boyish imagination. I felt pity for the people away there in Owen Sound, shut in by forests and rocks. I commiserated my little brother in thought, left as he was on the bush farm, under the limestone crags. What did he know? What could he see? Why, I was away up in experience and knowledge. In vain, folks might call me "Little Johnnie." I was no's little in my own conceit, for I had travelled; I was somebody.

Here I saw the venerable Elder Case; I think I may safely call him the Apostle of Indian Missions in Canada. He took me on his knee, and placing his hand on my head, gave me his blessing. Then there was his sweet womanly daughter. She was as an "Angel of Grace" to my boyish heart. She lifted me into the realm of chivalry. I would have done all in my power at her bidding. How these memories have been as a benediction all through life and kept me from going astray, many a time in my youth.

In the meantime a little sister was born. We named her Eliza, after Miss Case. The Indians called her No No-Cassa, or humming-bird, for she was a great crier; nevertheless, she grew to womanhood, became the wife of a Hudson's Bay Company's officer, who later on was made an Honorable Senator. To-day my sister is a widow, and is living near the historic city of Edinburgh, overseeing the education of her youngest son, who is attending one of the famous schools of "Old Scotland."

Father's life at Alderville was a busy one: the boys to manage, and some of those grown into young men were very unruly; the far in to run, coupled with circuit and mission work. Many a ride I had with him to meetIngs in that vicinity. Elder Case had a fine mare; no one else could handle her like father. She had a colt, now grown to be a great big horse, black as coal and wild also. He had broken all his halters heretofore, but father made one of strong rope which held him, and then proceeded to break him in.

One day as father was leading this colt, he called me to him, and lifted me on his back. Fear and pride alternated in my mind, but finally the latter ruled, for I was the first one to ride him. Many a broncho have I broken since then, but I never forget the ride on Elder Case's black colt.


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