Remember When ?
Hester Ann Gill, eldest daughter of the late Jacob & Sarah (Sutherland) Gill, founder of the well known family in this district
February 21, 1929
(in her words)
Jacob Gill moved his family from Newmarket to Penetang in 1829. On Monday, October 1st, we started and got to Holland Landing, there we made ourselves as comfortable as we could in one of the old Government Buildings as there was no other shelter for the night to be found. The next morning we got our breakfast as best we could then the goods were put on board a schooner and about noon we were ready to start down the Holland River. We were on that boat until the next afternoon when we came to the head of Kempenfelt Bay now Barrie where we and the goods were landed in a small boat as there was no wharf of any kind at that time. When we got on shore we built a fire and cooked our supper as there was no place we could get in. There was a little store house, kept by a man named Sullinger, which Father got the goods put into. Then we climbed up a hill that seemed very high and long and came to a place where a man named Walker was building a new house and he was kind enough to let us have the use of it for the night. Next day Mr. Walker in a big lumber wagon drove us out on the Penetang Road to where a man named Carriage had a brewery, there we stayed until the afternoon of the next day, father having gone out to Oro to get a team to take us on to Penetang. He got an old coloured man named Smith and it was afternoon on Friday when we started from there. We went onto where some people named Richardson lived and tried for a nights lodging but could not get in so we had to go on in the night and darkness with a lot of little children crying and cross for their supper, ‘til we came to where some people named Craig lived. They were building a new house, it was not very far on but had a floor and a fireplace in it, and the people were very kind to us, helping father to get a fire to warm ourselves by, and we were sadly needing it, we soon had something hot to eat, as we had food and camp kettles with us and while we were busy making ourselves comfortable Mr. Craig had a big pot of new potatoes boiled, bringing them in hot and steaming, and for a lot of such hungrey folk as we were, it was a treat. next morning we were up betimes and had our breakfast before it was light but early as it was, Mr. Craig’s people had been up long enough to bake a loaf of bread, (in a baking kettle) made of wheat ground in a steel mill and used without sifting the bran out. It was the sweetest bread I ever ate. The kindness of these people was great. Well, we were on the road early that day, the wagon going first with the little ones and provisions, the rest of us walking. At noon we stopped to rest, feed the horses and get our dinner. Then we started thru what was called the nine miles of bush, and surely it was a dreary day. The road through the tall dark pines so narrow that in several places father had to get a pole to pry the wagon hubs off the trees. it was long after dark when we came to Mrs. Monday’s where we got shelter for the night. Next morning, Sunday, we arrived at the town of Penetang about two miles from what was called the Establishment, where the soldiers were. Next morning we were taken across the bay to the mouth of the river on which the mill that Father had built for Mr. William Robinson was, where we were intending to live.
When we got on shore we were met by an oxcart to take the things up to the house. We children were a happy lot, running wild through the woods. (I do not think there is anything that makes us feel so free as to get into the woods that are just as the ‘Great Father’ planted them).
We were soon at the house, (just one week from one home to the other) the goods being brought in by batteaux for Nottawasaga Bay, having been brought across the portage from Kempenfelt. This mill was built to saw lumber for the Government buildings that were erected at that time. There was a large stone house built for the soldiers and brick house for the officers. The lumber and timber was made at this mill. Some of it being too long and too large for the mill was sawn by men, the log lying on beams over a pithole in the ground, one man standing on the log and one in the pit, pulling the saw up and down. Then it was taken down and made into rafts and floated down the bay to the place where the buildings were. When this was done Father went too and was bookkeeper and paymaster to the men who were working at the building during the summer of 1831. The next winter we went back to Newmarket. We went in sleighs and were only about three and half days going back.
In the spring of 1832, Father came here (to Orillia, that is) to engineer the building of the chief’s house for the "Indian Department". Here as well as at Penetang the greater part of the lumber was sawn by men with what was called a whip saw. At that time this place called the "Narrows Village". Until there was a Post Office all fathers letters that came were mailed to Penetang and then sent onto him once a month by the soldiers who brought the money to pay the men with. Father came in the spring and the family came in June of the year, 1832. We came to Holland Landing and stayed there all night, in the same old log house as before, then loaded the things on an open schooner and came down the Holland River, got as far as Mr. McVittey’s, where we had dinner. At Eight Mile Point had supper and a run in the woods, then went on the boat again and as there was no wind the man had to paddle all the way from there to the Village. It was about ten o’clock when we got to Orillia and the whart was some trestles put out in the water about twelve feet apart and poles about six inches thru laid on them (the end of one laid between the ends of the other two) so that there was a pole and a space alternating and when we were on them the poles would spring up and down like a weavers treadle so we were very glad when we were on land.
Next morning we were up early to see the new place. There were from twelve to sixteen log houses which had been built for the Indians, the school house forming the centre. They were built in the form of a "V". Above these were two larger houses, one for the farmer kept to teach the Indians and one for the minister. The greater part of these buildings were south of the Coldwater Road and for about three miles toward Coldwater there were at intervals houses on each side of the road the road built for the Indians before we came. Father, superintended the building of the chief’s house and then surveyed the Indian Reserve Lands thru to Coldwater. This reserve lay along both sides of the Coldwater Road. He also built both the saw mill and flour mills here and at Coldwater for the Indians.
In the fall, 1832, the last of the boating, Captain Wood came and settled down where Bay Park is now and Mrs.Wood told me that they lived that winter in a shanty (16 x 12) until after Christmas without a firepalce, building a fire at one end of the room. Money was not wanting but was not much use just then as there ws no way to get away from here after the lake was frozen over and non but Indians to do anything. Then there came one of the hunters down from the north and stayed with them until spring and knowing more about how to make them comfortable, he built a fireplace and filled in between the logs that formed the walls so as to keep out the cold and snow, thus makin the cabin warmer. At that time this place was called the "Narrows Village", afterward "Newtown" and then "Orillia".
My first ride to Coldwater was in 1833. I went over on horse back alone on a pony of Father’s starting about nine in the morning. At that time the road consisted of a track out thru the woods with a log bridge to cross the North River and another at Purbrook without a house of any kind from "Bass Lake" to "Coldwater". My father was then building the mills there for the Indians. (Saw Mill and Flour Mill) The next ride I had to Coldwater was in the fall of 1846. I was then married to Leonard Wilson since August of 1834 and was then living on our farm on the town line between North and South Orillia.
My Father, then living at Coldwater, had been ill for a long time and I received word that if I wished to see him alive I would need to go at once. So there being no conveyance of any kind to be had and only one horse (a three year old colt which had never been saddled) at liberty. I told the neighbours who were trying to help me, I would go to him. So they got a saddle and got it on him with difficulty. When I was mounted they strapped a quilt on behind the saddle and put my oldest little boy, about eleven years old, on it and we started about four in the afternoon. near "Price Corner" we had a long causeway to cross, and in crossing, the horse got his foot in a hole between the logs and fell on his side. how it was that horse or riders were not hurt I could not tell but we were not and I led the horse over to a log and got on myself but could not get the boy on, so we went around to Mr. Fraser’s on the Coldwater Road and he put him on again. By this time it was getting dark but we went on. When we got to the other side of "Purbrook", the horse would keep turning to go back home, so I let him turn but always turned him all the way around so as to go onto Coldwater. We got there about ten o’clock, my father was still living and lived three days after, thus died one of Canada’s pioneers.
He came to Canada in 1812, going first to Nottawasaga River Mouth to build ships for the Government and was left there with two other men to care for the things that belonged to the Government. Sometime before spring their provisions gave out and they could get nothing short of Penetang. After waiting four days they started on a breakfast of one biscuit each. About two miles before they got to the barracks, one of the men gave out and had to be carried most of the way and Father always said he believed it saved all their lives as anxiety about their companion and helping him to walk short distances, kept them all from freezing and gave them something to think about besides their own weariness and suffering.
To these notes by Mrs. Wilson, Mr. Jacob G. Wilson the eldest son, who accompaned his mother on her ride to Coldwater) adds: When mother and I went in the night to Coldwater there were no clearings or houses between where "Warminster" is now and a distance of seven miles. All a dense forest of timber, somethimes inhabited by bears, wolves and lynx. I have had some experiences with bears that I could tell about if it would interest anybody.
The old coloured man Smith lived for sometime in Orillia and burned a pit of charcoal for my father about 1848 and and a son of his, John Smith, cut a cord of woood out of the tree in an hour on a bet before several witnesses who piled the wood.
The sawmill that my Grandfather, Jacob Gill, built for the Indians was at Marchmount. It is still there and was called "Hare" as my mother writes. The Indian Mill, until it was acquired by the late Jacob Powley about 1856, Mr. James Quinn told me that he assisted at the building of this mill.
From the notes of Verna Aconley
The Caldwells and Lucks
When this history of our Caldwell and Luck families was begun, it was intended to be no more than a gathering of statistics. The more information that was obtained, the more it seemed that statistics told very little, about the people. So statistics are at the back of this folder, and the story of our people, as far back as available records go, begins at Crown Hill.
The Caldwells produced big families, and the descendants of the first Caldwell, of whom we have record in Canada, add up to well over 100, not including the present young generation.
No account of the Lucks or the Caldwells would be complete without reference to their Church. They took religion VERY seriously.
*The following is taken from "A History of Vespra Township"
The Free Methodist congregation had its beginnings with the revival camp meetings held in Thomas Luck's bush, Lot 16, Conc 1, Oro. A camp meeting made it possible for people from great distances, Muskoka, Toronto, and the Northern United States to meet for a week or two. As support was gathered from the community, a church was built.
Alfred Caldwell and his wife Alice (Luck) farmed all or part of the land which George Caldwell had bought. (The reasons by which the youngest son came into possession of the family farm are lost in the century since.)
They had six children, all of whom married, though not early.
The following account of the early days of Coldwater was written by my grandmother, Mrs. Thirza McDermid, and was published in the Coldwater News, January 18, 1940.|
***** Early days of Coldwater reviewed by Mrs. McDermid at JR W.I. meeting *****
Mrs. T. McDermid gave a splendid and decidely informative paper on the early history of Coldwater to members of the Junior Institute when they met for their regular meeting at the home of Mrs. Norris Walker last Thursday evening. The paper is published here in full and will prove to be of great value and interest to the subscribers of THE NEWS.
EARLY DAYS OF COLDWATER(By Mrs. McDermid)
This land, or estate was situated in the flat lands or swamp along the west side of what is now Coldwater Road, and from the nature of the soil when it was formerly owned by Sir John Colborne, Governor-General at the time, he called it "Clayfields", which name has remained with the property ever since. On it Captain Anderson built a log house and moved his family to it from Penetanguishene. He erected other houses for the Indians a mile apart along the river and Indian Hill. (Indian Hill runs on the east side of Coldwater towards Orillia and is most prominent at Eady where the Number 12 Highway crosses the railway line - Ed. Note - Par). These houses were built by one Jacob Gill, millwright, who also built the first flour mill, store and school in the new hamlet. Many descendants of this Jacob Gill live in and around Coldwater.
Captain Anderson superintended cutting the road from Coldwater to Orillia. In 1834 he opened the first Post Office in Mendonte. No white folks were allowed to settle here at first except those connected with the Indian Agency. After a number of years Captain Anderson sold his property to Wm. Noble Rutledge, who became the first Warden of Simcoe County years later in 1877. Other pioneers who came about this time were William Rawson, Joseph Craddock, and John Borland. Joseph Craddock was the son of a British lieutenant who had married a native woman, and settling here was given 50 acres of land as his grant from the Crown.
John Borland was a son of Captain Borland, an old Nor'west trader who had distinguished himself in the Canadian Militia during the war of 1812-15. He took an active part in all the engagements on the Niagara Frontier. It is told it was he who on Queenston Heights (himself badly wounded) pillowed on his breast the head, and bent to catch the last expiring sighs of his gallant commander, Sir Isaac Brock, the first military hero of Uppper Canada.
Among others who came here about this time, 1837, was John Eplett, father of Mr. S. D. Eplett, who for years was are genial postmaster. And the Lovering family, who first settled in Medonte, but a little late came to Coldwater and bought and built a home on the land now owned by Andrew Lovering, a grandson, who still has in his possesion the first deed of land which his father received from the Indians.
How many of today's residents know that this little river was once the building place of vessels for ocean navigation? But this is so. In 1855 a sailing vessel was built at Coldwater by Messrs. Hayes and called the "REINDEER". She was loaded with white oak and floated down the river to the bay, sailed by Georgian Bay through the lakes, the Welland Canal, down the St. Lawrence and across the Atlantic to Liverpool, where she was unloaded of her cargo. She was sold in Britain and brought a good price. There was another craft of note built here about the same time, called the "SARDINIA", and made the same trip as the former.
In 1862 Coldwater boasted two stores, two hotels, there were no railway facilities at this time and for some years later. Also two stages were run from here to Orillia daily, Sunday excepted. George Caswell and William Borland were the owners. The village grew in size and prosperity continued.
Our first postoffice was kept by one, Mrs. Shaw, over on what is known as C.L. Brown's property; then it was moved over to what is now Main Street to a house where Mrs. Wm. Graham now resides, and Mr. S.D. Eplett took charge. After some years Mr. Eplett sold it and built a residence and postoffice on the west side of the town, across the mill bridge, where it remained for years. The first school was built on the west side of the road at the southern end of the village, on the Caswell property. It was a log structure and was the only educational centre for quite some time.
Over seventy years ago the Methodist Church started a mission in Coldwater. At first they held services in the log school. It was served by men sent over from Orillia. After a couple of years they erected a frame church on the ground where the skating rink stands. (This rink, now gone, stood at the right side of the entrance to the Fair Grounds next to the creek. On the opposite side of the road, into the Fair Grounds, was the remnants of a brick yard kiln - Ed. Note - Par). Rev. J. Clipsham was one of our earliest ministers stationed here. He had the honour and unique privilege of returning to preach on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ministry and again he came in 1929 to preach Thanksgiving services in the United Church. About the time that the Methodists started a church, the Anglicans came; their first church was a frame structure and stood on the bank of the river on the spot where Mr. Milton Eplett's store stands. (Main Street, southwest corner next to the bridge - opposite the Bank - Ed. - Par). Their first rector was Rev. Charles.
As the land around were heavily wooded with pine and cedar in 1873, the first shingle mill was built and operated by Joseph Brown (Author Thirza McDermid's father - Ed - Par), who came from Georgetown. The mill was erected at Balsam Valley and later owned by Blaney, south of the village. After a year and a half, Mr. Brown sold and bought 50 acres north of the village and built another mill, which he operated for several years. Mr. H.L. Lovering built one also, and those two mills were run for more than 25 years, providing employment for a number of men.
Not having a railroad on which to ship their stock, these mill ownes had to ship their output by water, loading the shingles and lumber on scows. These were taken by tugs down the river through the channel to the bay near Fesserton, where it was reloaded on sailing vessels that then convoyed its cargo through the Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, to Goderich, Windsor or some lake port, where the stock had been sold.
We had in the 80's a fair sized steamer which carried passengers to and fro between Coldwater, Midland and Penetanguishene, called the "MAID OF MIDLAND", with John Borland as its captain. In 1875 or '76, the old Midland railway was built from Port Hope through to Midland, which proved a big boom to the village and country around. The late Mr. S.D. Eplett has the honour of being the first station agent. He held this position for a period of twenty years, when he resigned to devote his full time to the post office.
In 1875 the village built a new school which was the first brick building here, on the land owned by Dr. Park. This served the public until 1890, when the present school was built. In the early 80's two lively interests were operating in the carriage works and blacksmith business owned by William Robinson who came here from Newfoundland, where he was born in 1838, and started his shop in Coldwater in 1858. Also, one Hugh McCullough.
In 1882 W.J. Leatherdale purchased the McCullough interests but before he obtained possession, it was totally destroyed by fire. However, in a short time two more modern up-to-date buildings were erected and later as business increased through additional lumbering and agricultural interests in the community, these buildings were enlarged and part of them are still standing.
Our first drug store was opened here over 50 years ago by one Henry Carter, in the front room of the house now occupied by Lorenzo Mills. Mr. Carter carried on the business for some time and was succeeded by one William Williamson for a year or two in a little store owned by John Gray, Sr., on the present site of The Bank of Toronto. He in turn left and Mr. G. Millard, a young Orillian, came in and has carried on the business ever since. He has now one of the most up-to-date stores north of Toronto.
About this time James V. Lazonby, father of our esteemed citizen of the same name, started our first paper, the "INVESTIGATOR". It was a splendid paper, full of news and comments for the villagers and countryside. After a few years, he was succeeded by Wm. King of Orillia, who ran it for a time. He was succeeded by John Gray, Jr. and he sold out to a Mr. French who resold to Mr. Howard Chester, who changed the name to "PLANET" and published it for many years, until his death.
The boat works of Wm. Bush has brought attention to Coldwater. The Bush name is known in many parts of the United States as well as Canada.
Coldwater has had four notable athletes. George R. Gray, who gained the fame as being champion shot putter in the world; John Gray, Jr. amateur oarsman of Ontario; Henry Gill, champion all-round athlete of the world, and afterwards holding the position of lecturer of athletics in Illinois University; and James Lazonby, one-time sprinter. All these have won many cups and medals as a reward for their achievements.
Coldwater became a police village in 1897, and since that time has put in all the modern improvements, good cement streets all over town, waterworks that cannot be surpassed anywhere for purity and natural pressure, electric lights, good pavements, in fact everything for the comfort and health of its inhabitants.
In 1908 a Continuation School was started in part of the Public School as the people began to realize what it would mean to our boys and girls to be able to get as high as the fourth form in education in their home town. In 1923 the new Continuation School was built (now Coldwater apartments -Ed - Par) and has proven a great asset to the youngest generation of the village and the surrounding country.
We have now as three fine churches - Anglican, Presbyterian, and United - as you will see in a place twice the size of our town. Also you can see our large skating rink, one of the best in the county, which is used as an agricultural building for our wonderful Fall Fair; and lastly, many beautiful homes with fine well-kept lawns.
We have two railroads running through town and giving good service.
Coldwater, although not as large as in former years as to population, is still the leading village in the township of Medonte, and its postoffice is the only one in the township with a government saving bank. If anyone does not believe all that has been said about Coldwater's beauty and opportunities, just come and visit us!
(Editor's note: Thirza Brown came to Coldwater as a child of four in 1873 with her parents Joseph and Mary Anne. In June of 1892 she married James McDermid and they moved into a new home built for her by James. This house is currently owned by John and Lorraine Orr. Thirza moved with her eldest daughter Grace Robins to Oro Station in 1940. She moved in 1945 to Toronto to live with her other two daughters, Jessie Batson and Muriel McDermid. She died in Toronto in November 1953 and is buried in Coldwater. Thirza McDermid was my maternal Grandmother. Strangely, during all this history of Coldwater, Thirza made no mention of the Coldwater Mill, which many believe was the original reason for settlement in Coldwater. Perhaps she was to close to it and it simply missed her attention. The mill was owned by her son-in-law, Aulden Robins, in partnership with Charles Eplett from about 1923 until Aulden's death in 1936. The Ontario Historical Plaque, at the site of the mill, indicates the mill was owned in 1849 by George Copeland. George Copeland was Aulden Robins' Great-Grandfather.
An old friend, a house, celebrates
The following excerpt appeared in the Toronto "TELEGRAM" under the date of August 6, 1947. Mr. and Mrs. James Lazonby lived in the small English cottage at the (then) edge of the Village of Coldwater, next to the house now owned by John and Lorraine Orr. As we lived immediately next door in the Orr house, we know them well. I was "adopted" by them, as had been my older brothers before me, as they had no family of their own. However, in compensation, their extended family stretched to all who knew them, and all who knew them loved them well! Mr. Lazonby was a tailor, by trade, who had a shop on the Main Street in Coldwater. At some point during the Depression of the 1930's, his business was moved back to his home. Their home, though extremely modest by any terms, was known far and wide for its' immaculate lawns and extensive flower gardens - all hand tended.
Mr. and Mrs. James Lazonby, first couple to be married in a Coldwater church (August 4, 1904, in the Anglican Church) for 43 years have marked their honeymoon anniversary with a canoe trip... in which they spent their actual honeymoon.
COLDWATER, Aug 6 (Staff Special) - Paddling along together on a honeymoon canoe trip every year since their wedding in St. Matthias Church here 43 years ago, Mr. and Mrs. James Lazonby are looking forward to their golden wedding trip as they drift along the Severn River today.
"We are going to have a big party at Big Chute with our friends on our 50th trip, "Mrs. Lazonby told the Telegram." We've made a good many friends along the shores of district water in the 43 years we have been paddling together, and we'll all be together at our Golden wedding party."
Admitting they are both getting older, but not very much older, the paddling Lazonbys declare they wouldn't miss their annual canoe trip for anything. Mr. Lazonby is 74 and his wife 72.
"CANOEING THE LIFE"
"You know, the young fellows today are missing a whole chapter out of their lives when they pass up the canoe in favour of a motor boat, "Mr. Lazonby declared." There's something about the easy, restful feeling you get along a familiar stream in a canoe that you can't get in any other way. Of course, these days you have to watch for the fellows in their speedboats or they'll run you down, but get off the beaten track in a canoe and you'll find contentment and happines."
Today as Mr. and Mrs. Lazonby drift down the Severn River and put in along the route to visit old friends and talk over old times, they are carrying out their recipe for keeping young.
"I've had that canoe for 52 years, as near as I can figure," Mr. Lazonby confided to the Telegram. "I know the waters around here like a book. As we glide along with only the music of the dip of our paddles, we can look back over more than 40 years of honeymoons and there's a lot of contentment in enjoying memories like that."
** AMUSING MEMORIES **
"Of course," he added, "there have been a lot of lighter spots that bring a smile when you look down memory lane again. We were just chuckling about one of them just before you got here," he admitted. "Mrs. Lazonby had just called me in to read a wire from some very good friends of ours who met us on a trip a good many years ago. It was just a telegram saying congratulations and best wishes, and then it said, 'We hope you'll take a bathing suit this time.' That's what we were chuckling about."
Mr. Lazonby explained that on the trip recalled in the telegram, he had decided to take a quick dip in the water in the evening, miles away from everywhere and alone with nature.
"I had just got nicely in the water when a canoe came around the bend, and did I ever break for cover in a hurry," he related. "It happened to be these people whom we knew very well, and it has been a joke with us all through these years."
Last Friday afternoon as they prepared for an early Saturday morning departure, Mr. and Mrs. Lazonby packed their kit and checked over the canoe and sail in the back yard of their little cottage on the outskirts of Coldwater.
** CANOE HALF CENTURY OLD **
The canoe, which has been a source of pride to Mr. Lazonby for more than half a century, also is the proof of his contention that basswood is better than cedar for a canoe.
"I went and picked out the wood myself, and an old canoe maker, name of W.T. Bush, made it up for me. The ribs are oak, and the deck is butternut, and I've just scraped a couple of dozen coats of varnish off it and it's as sound as the first day I took it out," he declared. "Its had a few bumps, and is getting kind of worn in spots, but we'll take a lot more trips in it yet."
They shun any modern conveniences, and carry a fire-blackened pail in which they have made their tea and porridge for many years.
"There's the secret of that," Mr. Lazonby declared as he pointed to the black coating on the tin pail. "If we cleaned it up it wouldn't last at all. The black preserves it. We cook everything in it right in the fire, and carry a couple of tin cups and plates because everything around here is rock."
"We just tie up wherever we are and pitch our tent and make our fire," Mr. Lazonby explained. "Then we are up with the dawn and away before the wind comes up."
CANOE HAS SAIL
The canoe is rigged with a leg of mutton sail, which is not commonly used on the few canoes you see these days, he pointed out. "There's a lot of canvas there and you get the most of the light breezes," he smiled.
While pointing out they don't travel for distance these days, Mr. Lazonby recalled the longest distance he ever travelled in a canoe in one day was 45 miles.
"It was a pretty long day," he added. "Now we just take it easy and six or seven miles is enough. We go where our fancy takes us and there's enough water over the rock to float us."
They are now on their second tent in 43 years, and while it is a substantial bell tent, Mr. Lazonby assured the Telegram he can handle it in very short order when the occasion arises.
"We don't have to drive pegs in this country, we just hold it down with rocks on the ropes," he pointed out.
(FOOTNOTE: The Lazonbys did celebrate their fiftieth Wedding Anniversary, in Coldwater (and six more anniversaries followed) but not on a canoe trip as was envisioned. Advancing years had their say in the matter. However, they did complete an anniversary trip in all but one year in fourty-eight consecutive years! The canoe, as I recall, went to a museum in Midland. Mr. Lazonby died in September 1960 at the age of 85, at home in Coldwater. Mrs. Lazonby reached 90 years of age, as she said she would. Both are buried in Coldwater. The story of their canoe trips is a feature of "RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT" museum in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I knew them well through my early life. I sailed and canoed with them in the old canoe on many occasions. The most memorable of these "trips" was when Mr. Lazonby and I were locked through the lock at Port Severn. We were the only occupants of the lock at the time!
To view 2 pictures, one of Paul Robins in 1937/38 canoeing with The Lazonbys and the other a picture of the Lazonby House circa 1912/15 CLICK HERE
More Pioneer Reminiscences, Orillia Packet, March 7, 1912
Mr. Jacob Willson Tells of Orillia's Early Days and Relates Some Bear Stories
Following up the interesting reminiscence from the pen of the late Mrs. Leonard Willson, published in last week's Packet, a member of the Packet staff had an interesting conversation with Mr. Jacob Willson, concerning early days in Orillia. Mr. Willson was born here in May, 1835, and was therefore one of the first white natives of Orillia. His memory goes back to the very early days, and he can relate many interesting facts and incidents connected with Orillia's pioneers. Mr. Willson himself was the first man to cut logs for export on the site of Orillia. He purchased the timber from his grandmother, Mrs. Jacob Gill, and put the logs in the lake here to be taken to Bell Ewart, where Messrs. Sage, Greene and Hickson had a sawmill, in 1856, Mr. Willson's grandfather, the late Jacob Gill, who came here sometime prior to 1834, built his house on what is now Gill-street, where he had on hundred acres of land. The house was a two storey structure, with large fireplace, adjoining which there was an oven, and was considered a very comfortable place. [I found the plans at the Simcoe County Archives] Mr. Willson believes the house is still standing, though it has of course been completely transformed. He is not sure by whom it is now occupied. The adjoining farm of 200 acres, still known as the Moffatt Farm, was then owned by "Squire" Moffatt [Andrew], who came here prior to the white settlement as a teacher to the Indians, and afterwards engaged in business and became a man of substance and influence.
Packet & Times, May 14, 1987
The following article titled "My Grandfather's Store" known as "Our House" was written by Bill Hall, grandson of J.H. Wilson. The store, originally opened by Leonard "Yankee" Wilson in 1834 on Matchedash Street South, between Colborne & Elgin, later moving to the corner of Matchedash & Coldwater Streets in 1850. The business was taken over by Joseph Hugh Wilson in 1877. by September 1905 JH Wilson had three brick stores built at the south east corner of Mississaga East and Matchedash (161-165 Mississaga East).
Doors opened in 1834
Groceries, wholesale flour, sugar, feed and seed, and a butchershop in the store to the east.
I started to work on my 13th birthday, 1928, Saturdays and after school other days, full time in the summer. I got a dollar a day and $1.25 on Saturday. A lot of people shopped by phone so putting up orders and delivering them was my main job. Bringing in 1500 lbs of ice, twice a week for the fridge was a heavy job. I sliced cabbage to fill a 60 gallon barrel to make sauerkraut. The barrel was left from year to year with a small amount left in to start a new batch. The barrel was filled with a layer of cabbage and then a layer of salt, until filled. It was then left by the stove to work. Another job was making sausage. The meat was ground in a hand grinder. Grandad always did the seasoning himself as he claimed he had a secret formula. The casings we made from sheep gut. This was pushed on the spout of the sausage press, a hand crank pushed the meat in, after this they were tied. We made about 50 lbs. a week. We also made headcheese, which was made from pigs heads. My job was, after the heads were split and cooked, to separate the good parts and put it in pans to set, a most popular meat loaf. Chicken feed mixing was another of my jobs. Some people had special mixes they wanted. I remember Stephen Leacock always liked the corn cracked twice and lots of buckwheat to make the egg yolks yellow. We had a hand operated corn cracker. Most of the delivery was done with a horse and rig, rush orders delivered on my bicycle. Later we got a Whippet roadster with a box in the back. I learned to drive this when I was 14, which was quite a thrill. I had driven the old Model T Ford chain drive flatbed truck which we unloaded train-car loads of sugar and salt. There was about 30 tons in each car. We supplied other stores in town with this wholesale. Cattle were brought down from the West to Grandad's farm on West Street and Fittons Road, and when they were fattened up we would butcher them. About once a week, we supplied most of the hotels like the Royal, Fern Cottage, Big Chief and many more. A job I didn't like was cleaning chickens and turkeys at Christmas. We had a cheese cellar where about 15 - 20 40 lb cheeses were aged. When ready the cheese was cut into three pieces with a wire and a clothespin on each end. These pieces were about 20" in diameter and about 4" thick. These were put in a cheese dispensor which had a rotating table and a hinged knife to cut the cheese in wedge shaped pieces. We sold 1 cent candies and it was a major decision for the kids what they spent their 4 or 5 cents on. There was 1 cent gum, little candies on a paper, pieces of taffy and many other goodies. The old flatbed truck was loaded with all kinds of meat, bread and other things and driven around the lake to supply the cottagers every Saturday in the summer.
TEA IN LARGE BOXES
Tea came in large leadlined boxes from China and India, black green, orange-peko, leaves only, broken etc. We blended this, some customers having their own special blend. Coffee was roasted and ground in an old hand grinder. The only canned vegetables were peas and corn and pork and beans. We had salmon and sardines in cans. Salmon in a 1 lb. Can was 18 cents and 10 cents a half lb can. Eggs were two dozen for 25 cents and bread 5 cents a loaf, milk 10 cents a quart. The store stayed open on Saturday nights until there were no more people to be seen, usually after midnight. After closing the meat had to be put away in the refrigerator. During the day a lot of meat was hung out in front of the store - sides and quarters. Some of the other things we made to sell were sweet and hard cider. Cider vinegar had the mother kept from batch to batch. Nearly everything was in bulk and had to be packaged when sold. Tallow was made from beef fat and sold to waterproof boots. The layer of fat lining the pigs insides was made into lard. The lead from the tea chest was melted and dropped into water to make shot for shotgun shells. Beef was pickled in barrels to make corned beef. Ham, bacon and some sausage were smoked in the smoke house at the back of the store with hickory smoke. Herring were salted and pickled in barrels. The Indians would catch these small fish in the spring run through the Narrows, sometimes catching a hundred pounds in one day. They also brought in wild mushrooms, puff balls and morrels, which there was a good demand for. They also brought in gentian root which we sent to China.
BUSINESS BY "TRADE"
A lot of business was done by what we called trade. We had a till with a roll of paper - what we bought was put on one side, what they bought was put on the other and the balance was payed in cash. Nearly all the butter, eggs, and fruit and vegetables were bought from the local farmers. There was a price advantage for trade. While at the store my Uncle Edgar grubstaked Prof. Morrison , and Mr. Richardson who discovered Uranium in the pitchblend at Wilberforce about 50 miles from Orillia. I had the job of delivering to them. The ore was shipped to Port Hope where it was processed to get radium which was used at the time for watch and clock dials. These trips were made once a week in my Uncle Edgar's 1929 Pontiac, a very good car at that time. The store was willed to Andy McNab in 1940 by J.H. Wilson, but not the building or the property. They went to my cousins Lockwood and Jim Wilson, sons of Uncle Edgar.
From The Orillia Packet, April 18, 1912
LETTER FROM MR. J.O. COATES
Some Impressions of Vancouver
From Vancouver Mr. J.O. Coates writes, in part: -
One from the East has no conception of what real estate business means until he makes a trip to the West. In the street, in the hotel corridors, in the store, office, and on the trains, everywhere one goes the feverish topic of conversation is Real Estate, until one feels that there is something in the air that is almost uncanny. The prices asked for uncleared lots, on which one would desire to make a home, are so appalling that one almost feels as if one was seeking an entrance into a land of eternal bliss. However, I must say that wealth is pouring in here from some source; for the manner in which these cities and adjacent municipalities are building roads, laying sidewalks and pavements, putting in sewerage and water works in districts where for blocks a house has not been erected as yet, puts to shame the dilatory methods of municipal improvement in many towns in the old Province of Ontario. Shaughnessy Heights, which until threeyears ago was a vast forest and wilderness, to-day is being cleared, streets laid out and paved, electric lighted, sewers and water works installed, and many beautiful homes are adorning the site - among which the $100,000 mansion of Mr. W.L. Tait crowns the summit. I had the pleasure on Thursday eveningof meeting at Mr. Tait's residence many old Orillians who had gathered to greet Mr. A. Tait, who is on a visit to the Pacific Coast. Among them were D.M. McKinlay, G.H. White, A. Kerr, W.O. Black, J.O. Perry, L. Wilson, and many others. To-day I drove in an automobile from Westminster to Vancouver, over beautiful roads and through Stanley Park - a park set aside by the Dominion Government and being improved and maintained by Vancouver. The day was delightful, trees just beginning to break out in leaf. Occasionally one sees fruit trees breacing out in blossoms, while crocus and daffodil and pansy are blooming everywhere. Away across English Bay and the Inlet one sees the Capelino Canyon; and beyond, the snow-capped range of mountains stretching far away to the north and west. The climate appears delightful and the scenery is grand. The people are optimisticand full of hope, and have a pardonable pride in their own and their adopted land, and ill give to their posterity an inheritance such as possibly can no other province in our fair Dominion. For all this, however, I think old Ontario is yet the best for me, and Orillia is after all a pretty good place to live in. Possibly I shall be able to point out to many others why they are just as well off in the old home town as they would be in the Golden West. When I return, let them ask me. I hope to take a trip over to Victoria next week, of which much is said as to its future prospects. Railroad building is going on apace, and the Canadian Northern has construction camps all the way from Port Mann to Kamloops. Many other railways are projected, and the Coast people are looking for greater things to come their way when these roads are completed. Mr. J.O. Coates is the son-in-law of Leonard Wilson & Hester Ann Gill, married to Hester Anne Wilson. The L. Wilson mentioned in the article is the son of Leonard & Hester Ann Gill. He moved to British Columbia around 1891.
In our search for pioneer history, we called on Mr. James MORE, Dunedin, who was born in Pennsylvania 75 years ago, and was brought to Sunnidale Township during infancy. The family moved into Nottawasaga a few years later, and in this township he has spent his long life and tells many interesting stories of the changes he has seen. During the late forties, a Mr. HUNTER who lived on the Penetang Road, had the contract to carry the mail from Barrie to Owen Sound. Owing to ill health, he re-let the contract to Mr. MORE'S father. James was then about 13 years old, and used to carry the mail for all the country between Barrie and Owen Sound, and ride on horse back in summer, in winter he used a sleigh. He wore thick boots and warm clothing, but never an overcoat or overshoes, and never was frozen, except the tip of his nose. This fact contains much food for thought, and would make a good text for a sermon on the proper care and clothing of the body. The mail route started at Barrie, where the post office was kept by Mr. Sanford (?), the next office was at Sunnidale Corners, kept by Mr. Gillespie. Where Stayner stands was then a howling wilderness, and he, followed a rough bush road through what is now the main street, directly west to Duntroon, where the office was kept by Mr. McNabb. Collingwood's only existence then was a big wet swamp with rabbits running through. From Duntroon he continued west, over the mountain to Beaver River, where the postmaster was Mr. Rorke. Then north to Meaford, where Mr. Burchill kept the office. This called to mind that Mr. Burchill had a brother, Sam, who kept store and made some startling request - one being after death that he should be opened and filled with salt; another that he should be buried crosswise at his mother's feet. The latter request was carried out, but not the first. There was then only one general store in Owen Sound. This was the terminus, and to make the trip there and back occupied a week. The trip was made every week. From Barrie to Sunnidale was nearly all forest, the only residents being a Smith, who kept a public house; Rachel who supplied meals to travelers near New Lowel; O'Connor, who kept hotel five miles south of Sunnidale Corners, and Rogers lived opposite O'Connors. Between Sunnidale and Duntroon, the only clearing was at the 4th line corner, then called Clegg's Corners. Duntroon was first settled by Scotch crofter's, to whom the Government granted 5-acre lots, and those were mostly all cleared east and west along the side road. On one occasion Mr. More has dismounted to walk for a change, and on coming to a mud hole, which extended across two lots, it caused him some alarm to see his horse strike into the woods on the opposite side to which he was going, and colly ignoring all orders to stop or retrace his steps, but he came back to the mail road at the end of the mud hole.
In gong over the mountain the road passed through a ten mile forest. About half way through the forest there lived an old couple names Brock, who supplied meals for travelers. The Brock's adopted a sister of Harry Sherman's and left her all they had to leave. After their death she went to live with a family called Reid, who kept store near by. Mr. Climie, Congregationalist, was the first minister in Nottawasaga. He had kept the Duntroon Post Office before Mr. More Carried the mail. Once when Mr. Climie was walking through the 10-mile forest with an umbrella in his hand, a bear suddenly rose on its hind legs before him. They stood regarding each other in silence for some time, when Mr. Climie suddenly opened his umbrella at the same time springing towards the bear, which disappeared into the woods. Mr. More carried the mail for two years and never encountered wild animals. He once heard wolves on the mountain and once saw a martin cat. It was about twice the size of a common house cat and brown in colour. It climbed to the top of a small tree and seemed anxious to escape. Stepney was the first tax collector in Nottawasaga: Hewson first treasurer, and Angus Bell, first clerk. Mr. More's father was the first school teacher who taught in Duntroon. He was followed by a teacher named Rogerson to whom James More went. Later, Livingstone taught in a building on the corner of the graveyard, used for both church and school. Taylor Campbell went from house to house making clothes.
Johnny Ross, the first white male child born in this township, was born at Pine-tree corner, 8th line. When his father was killed in his mill, a strange incident occurred at Leach's, a mile away, which seems like telepathy. Mrs. More was helping Mrs. Leach to sort over some bags, some of which had been borrowed from More's. They thought they saw blood on a bag, spoke of it and looked again, but could find no trace of it. This occurred exactly at the time that Ross was killed.
Fishing was worth while in those days-it was easy to catch a dozen or two of trout with a hook and line in an hour. Hooks were hard to get, and substitutes were made of bent pins. They used to catch mullets and suckers with nets set at the mouth of Batteau Creek. Some killed trout by striking them in the water with rods.
Lake Mills was on the Bay about a mile east of Collingwood. The mill was built by old Mr. Gooderham and operated by Melville. Mr. More was once returning from Lake Mills when he heard a strange screeching, for which he could not account until he overtook a man driving a yoke of oxen and a cart which he had made himself entirely of wood, the wooden axles caused the screeching sound.
Mr. More remembers the opening of the Indian pit on the glebe lot, first lot east of Duntroon. It was estimated to contain about 200 skulls besides other bones. There were also several copper kettles, tomahawks, and other utensils.
The Indians used to set up camp in different parts of the bush to make baskets, bread trays, etc., but never took to agriculture. They traded their baskets and other wares for food supplies. The Indians usually came in pairs to ask for food. Once (in Sunnidale) about 200 Indians collected in front of the house occupied by the More's and came two at a time for bread until Mrs. More found it necessary to refuse. She sent James (then a little boy) to bring his father and uncle who were building there own house a half a mile away. He had to pass between a double row of Indians and was retarded for some time by an Indian boy jumping in front of him for the amusement of the crowd. Till they chose to let him pass. When he returned with his father and his uncle there were no Indians in sight.
We thus come to Scotch Corner proper and to a man and his family named McCAUSLAND, who in the early sixties, came up from Barrie. He was a carpenter by trade, and a millwright, but a perpetual motion crank. He had an old house or shanty partly underground and his workshop extended away back partly underground also. A sister lived with him, but his sons, as they grew up left the old home and refused to live with their father. Many a time have I visited his shop and at times I was almost awe stricken at the machines he had so fearfully and wonderfully made. The man must have worked 20 hours a day, thinking of nothing but his machine, scarcely taken time to eat, and only doing for many years just sufficient work in little odd jobs here and there to provide himself with potatoes on which he kept himself alive. I might mention here that William MACDONALD, the senior member of that family, was also a perpetual motion crank and many a night they would meet and discuss the capabilit! ies of the machine which were to revolutionize the mechanical world. A curious point is that both these men were more than ordinarily intelligent on any subject but perpetual motion..
Somewhere about the winter of 1853 and '54 at a township meeting held at the Corners an event occurred that it never can forget. It was a beautiful winter's day and the gathering was from all parts of the township particularly Creemore and the 4th and 6th lines. There had always been rivalry between the Highland Scotch element and the Irish, good natured it was, but both sides loved a bit of a scuffle when too well primed with whiskey. On this occasion before the polls closed a race was proposed by some of the men between the Irish and the Scotch champion.
The two competitors selected were Sandy CARR for the Irish side and Sandy CAMPBELL, son of the late Paisley John CAMPBELL for the scotch. Both these young fellows were braced up with plenteous draughts of good malt whiskey, the crowd gathered, the course was measured, and with a one, two, three, they were started. Neither of the racers could run in a straight line and before the goal was reached they had covered considerable more than the measured distance. Eventually they finished so close together that it was difficult to know which was the victor. A dispute arose, instantly all took sides and in less than 10 minutes every man was fast locked in a grapple with his nearest foe. There were no police to maintain order and it was the biggest row known. I always called it the Battle of Bowmore" The fight extender over two hours till sundown and the combatants awayed to and fro off the hard road to the deep snow, each to drunk to do his enemy any serious harm. I sat with several other boys on a fence outside Willing's Hotel and cheered them on. Darkness fell ere the battle ceased and an old Irishman named McBRIDE (Father of Bob McBRIDE of the Dutch Settlement) took a lantern and went to seek the dead and the wounded, finding none he searched the snow carefully for faces of blood, but in vain. The Battle of Bowmore was therefore, unlike that of Linden when the sun was low. To this day no decision of the memorable day has been satisfactorily given.
Mr. Fred T. Hodgson has been kind enough to give us some most interesting reminiscences, which were dictated just before our last issue and are not therefore, directly called forth by those given us by an "Old Timer"
In some respects Mr. Hodgson's recollections do not exactly accord published, but the main point are the same.
As nearly as possible we give Mr. Hodgson's own words.
It was 60 years ago this next August that I first landed in what was then known as Scotch Corners, now Duntroon, and it was a tiny hamlet consisting of two taverns, one stable and one dwelling house. The taverns were kept by noteworthy men named WILLINS and McNABB. The later a log building and the other a much more pretentious building of (adobes) sunburned bricks of unburned clay. It had two stories. McNABB might be described as a wild, rough highlander, good natural, bighearted and always ready to befriend a man or fight him. The Township elections were generally held at his place and lasted sometimes two or three days. Duntroon was then the central point of the whole district and Creemore had just commenced, a mill was being erected there. The voting at the elections was open, that is to say everyone knew how every other person had voted. As boys we always looked forward to election time as promising much fun.
The Division Court was also held at Scotch Corners and Judge, now Senator GOWINS, presided with great dignity. He had a natural aptitude for sifting the good from the bad evidence. I am very sorry to say that in those days people were not always careful as to the strict truth of their evidence and this aptitude of Judge GOWINS was most useful and necessary to enable him to arrive at correct decisions. Settlement of court dues was in bills, but for damages or other claims between party and party the payment was in kind. Money was scarce then and a dollar seemed as big as a real cart wheel. There was as you know stores in the village. Whiskey then was almost as cheap as water and flowed more freely. Glasses or cups were hardly in fashion and the liquor was served up in pails and a tiny dipper sufficed in lieu of a tumbler. On election days this was before long discontinued and they had to buy what they required over the bar. About five cents for a tumbler full was the price. But at logging bees, plowing bees or rasing bees and such gatherings the indiscriminate drinking still prevailed for a number of years. It must be remembered, too, that the liquor was not the velvety, innocent Seagram rye of today, but genuine fiery malt whiskey, white as water and with a very high percentage of alcohol, and when I look back to those days and remember the hard drinking of the old settlers and the long lives they had (many living until over 80). I come to the conclusion that it is not the whiskey that kills in drunkenness but something else in these modern times.
You should have notes of some of the folk of those old times and I will endeavor to recall them, most of them originally came out in 1836 and settled on 5 acre lots.
There was "Tally Ho" STEVENS, so called because he named his farm Tally Ho. His wife had inherited the farm from her first husband, Mr. FRAME. Tally Ho STEVENS was the "biggest" man around here. Towards Glen Huron on the 8th there were very few settlers then. John McGREGOR, Mister PYECROFT, who died not long since. Donald BELL among whose descendants are Mrs. FORD of Collingwood and the CARMICHAELS, Duntroon, and Archie FERGUSON, dead now 40 years. Archie FERGUSON's son Peter was a well known figure. He is now a professor at the Agriculture College at Indian Head. At one time he was Reeve and the leader of all the Scotch and with all his advantages might have amassed much wealth, but he had not that bent. It was during his reeve ship that the discussion arose at Barrie amongst the County Council on the question of bonsling? the proposed Simcoe and Huron Railway, the first railroad in Ontario. The votes were even and all hinged on Peter FERGUSON. Contrary to the wishes and en! treaties of his father, his family and many of his friends, he cast his vote in favour of the bonus and to him, therefore, is the credit for the existence of this line today which is now G. T. R. His family and friends feared that the charge on account of the bonus would be to heavy and they feared they would become impoverished and lose the farms which they had. His father at great expense to himself, when he could ill afford it had given Peter a good education and Peter became in turn reeve, postmaster at Collingwood, school teacher and store keeper at Duntroon. The last venture proved disastrous and involved his parents as well as himself in serious financial difficulties. His father came from the Isle of Islay, Scotland and was originally a stone mason.
To be continued
The Leach family from whom the Hodgsons originally acquired their farm, was founded by an ex-adjutant of the British Army. One of the best swordsmen in the army he was sent in Napoleons time to Portugal to train the Portugese and drill them into shape. He was at the siege of Badajoz and through the Peninsular War, gaining many medals. On returning to England he sold out and took in part satisfaction 700 acres of land at Scotch Corners. It was several years before he came out to his estate of wild Bush. He arrived with his wife and a large family after living a time in the United States. A daughter of his married Donald MacDonald, a son of William MacDonald, another old settler. Mrs. Westcott of Collingwood is a grand-daughter of this same Leach. This now brings me to the MacDonald family. Donald MacDonald settled at Batteau an had a numerous family who should be mentioned. One son is now in Chicago, and engineer to a large firm erecting elevators in the west; one daughter Mrs. Flint, is in Toronto; another married Mr. Elliott of the Batteau and they moved to Saginaw; another son, William is in Toronto and doing well, it was the youngest daughter that married Mr. Westcott.
The Coopers- James Cooper was an enterprising man and just the stamp for a backwoods life. He built the first sawmill at Batteau, later on Tally Ho Stevens built a second mill there and Cooper had a share in it, but the mill finally fell into the hands of the late Wm. Gibbard, whose memorial tablet is in All Saint's Church, Collingwood. Gibbard sold it and eventually it became the property of one BOURCHTER (a brother-in-law of the late C. Macdonald who was killed on the railway a year ago.)
Mr. Mair must not be forgotten; he was the first minister to settle in the township. An old kirk preacher, he generally used Gaelic for his sermons but occasionally tried English, which was very lame and halting. As young boys I remember we used often to laugh at the old man's attempt at the English tongue. He was a good pious man. However, and kept the flock well together. He lived on a small stipend from the Government, the proceeds of a parcel of land and just what his parishioners contributed. The church then was held in a log school house right where the present graveyard lies to the west of the Duntroon Road. A second church was built later on the bank of the Batteau where another graveyard was established in land donated by the William MacDonald mentioned above.
Granny Adair, too was a well known figure. She was a midwife and lived in a little shanty by the roadside
Mary McLean was an old maid. She lived on a 25 acre farm to the East of the road just above the Batteau. I do not know who has the property now. She had some nieces one of whom married Bob Jackson, coachman to the late Mrs. Lett.
Referring to the LEACH family, there were 3 boys and 3 girls-viz- James and George, now living on a farm at Duntroon, Alfred, a druggist, in Millbrook, Betsy, widow of the late Donald MACDONALD, Jane, widow of the first Mr. CAMPBELL, a tanner, and secondly the late Robert STEPHENS of Collingwood, and Mary, widow of the late Mr. GREAVES of Collingwood.
The farm opposite "Tally-Ho" was at one time owned by Mr. TROOT, who was connected with Mr. ROBINSON mentioned last time you were here. Mr. TROOP, also left the farm and went to New York where he became a manufacturer of lead pipe and made money. His family is living there yet.
The farm opposite the southern portion of the LEACH homestead was at one time owned by Mr. LAMONT, who eventually moved to Sunnidale and erected a sawmill here. The adjoining farm was owned by the CARRS, a well known family in the township.
To be continued
E. M. June 27, 1907 p1
Mr. HODGSON Sr., has kindly given us a further instalment from the well stocked storehouse of his memory and we are thus able to give our readers some historical points which few, if any, others can impart.
We must first make two corrections in our last instalment, vis. the spelling of the celebrated "Tally-Ho" man's name as STEVENS, which should have been STEPHENS, and that the plot of ground which was called "God's Acre" was given by Mr. MACDONALD and not by Mr. HODGSON.
After mentioning these corrections our informant proceeded.
"In speaking of the part which is now called Glen Huron, we must not overlook the family named RAIRDON, a good old Irish name, Mr. RAIRDON was a good Roman Catholic, but one of his greatest delights was to walk with the Orangemen on the 12th of July. He was a quaint old fellow and a practical joker. Another man was McBRIDE, an eccentric man he was and lived a little north-east of the present day Glen Huron in a shanty away in the woods. When I knew him he was over ? years of age, having been among the first settlers in the locality. He had been educated for a priest, but never took orders. Every morning he rose early an bathed in the creek, winter or summer he still bathed. When the thermostat stood 25 below zero he would make a hole in the ice and have his morning dip just the same. Of several sons which he had, one was killed. I think near Creemore while digging a well, a large stone falling on his head. Another became a pedlar and was the oddest fellow I ever met. He used to hump his pack from here to Toronto sleeping just where he was at nightfall, in a wood, or by a fence, or anywhere at all.
Some years after the time just mentioned a number of new families entered the township. The principal of these was Mr. Hugh FRAME from Glasgow, an uncle of the late Police Magistrate FRAME. He was an original character and fond of music. He soon became Justice of the Peace and the principal legal advisor to nearly everybody round, securing a large conveyancing practice. He and the Misses FRAME, his three nieces, the brothers, Donald, William and Walter MACDONALD and myself formed ourselves into a sort of choral club and the first concert ever given west of Barrie was by this club in an upper room at WILLING'S hotel, in aid of a fund to start a circulating library. Not many dollars were netted, but a few books were purchased and they were kept by either Donald or Malcolm BLAIR at Duntroon. Some years later the library was enlarged, 40 to 50 books added, some being presented by the late Rev. John CAMPBELL who had settled in Duntroon. The date of the first library I would place at 1852. When the Town Hall was erected in 1860 permission was given to keep the books in it with W. J. FRAME as first President, Donald BLAIR first Librarian and myself as first secretary.
There were one or two again, on the 8th Line toward Glen Huron, Jimmy LAWLOR, whose wife died last winter, his daughter married Mr. MATTS. LAWLOR'S father lived with him and was an old pensioner with his breast covered with medals of the Peninsular War. At that time he was the only man in the Township who understood anything of the healing art, having been on a surgeon's staff in the army. Many a man had good reason to bless old man LAWLOR. DALLAS was another family up that way. William DALLAS had the farm now owned by the MACGREGORS on the west side.
Opposite "Tally-Ho" farm lived one ROBINSON, who, after clearing a part of his farm gave up and went to New York where he became a rich manufacturer.
The first settlers on the farm near the side line north of "Tally-Ho" and east of Hurontario was William MARTIN, who was a Scotch man from Paisley and had, I well remember, rather agnostic views about religion. He had a considerable education and was well read and I always liked to be in his company and listen to him. His family was smitten with the white plague and I am not aware that one of them is left in the township.
Behind MARTIN'S farm resided a very curious character named BURCHILL, better known as Dr. Sam BURCHILL. He was peculiar in his habits, somewhat of a hermit and liked to live alone, though he had several sisters living. He passed as a herb doctor and would undertake to cure all ailments by means of the most mysterious and gruesome concoctions that his imagination could conjure. I always felt there was a certain something lacking in Sam in spite of the fact that he was pretty well informed and had seen something of the outside world. He had peculiar ideas about death and the precise way folks should be buried. I believe he left peculiar instructions as to his own method of burial. He was living a few years ago and may be eking out an existence somewhere yet, but I think he is dead.
By-the-bye the first horse brought into the township was used on the "Tally-Ho" farm by Mr. FRAME, the father of our Police Magistrate.
Mr. HODGSON here concluded what we hope is the first instalment of a series of most interesting and instructive interviews. We would be glad if any others of our readers would oblige us with personal recollections of pioneer times. Our representative would call to take down particulars at any time.
The James COOPER mentioned in the first interview, built a little sawmill at the Batteau, where was then no settlement, because the land was considered to poor to cultivate, but all round, where are now flourishing farms, the ground was covered with the most beautiful growth of pine, of the white variety mostly, with a considerable quantity of Norway. Each tree was a straight as a rush with trunks up to 80 to 90 feet long, nearly to the top, where grew a little tuft parallel to each other and no branches of foliage. This forest grew for years after the mill started, and remained untouched until at last dealers came out from Quebec and they were converted into square timber and shipped via the City of Quebec to England.
Some two or three years after the little mill was started a larger mill was built by J. D. STEPHENS and his brother, which eventually fell into the hands of BOUCHIER, LYONS and Company (as I stated before) and COOPER was crowded out of his own mill by some legal process. He (Cooper) ultimately kept a little store "at" Nottawa, when that had become a village of some importance. I clerked for him in that store, and Thomas LONG Esq., then a boy not quite my own age, became chore boy and he and I slept on the floor over the shop. A better boy than Tom LONG to do his work never lived, Cooper had acquired the habit of driving around the country a good deal to speculate on cattle, etc., and it made no difference at what hour he returned, Tom would get up, attend to the horse, and fix at with no sign of grumbling or complaint. There is no doubt in my mind that this strong feature of Mr. LONG'S character was the chief reason for his success in life. Not a bit afraid of work, he was careful of his cash, and it was while I was clerking at this store that the first real estate deal was undertaken that Mr. LONG ever had. He bought 50 acres of land in Osprey Township from a Jim McLAREN (later well known in Collingwood) and had not quite enough cash to pay for the land which was bought under a quit claim deed (see note at foot re this) I drew up the deed myself, a single document, and held it in trust until the balance of the purchase money was paid. I need hardly say that on pay day Mr. Long completed the payment and I handed the deed over to him. Mr. LONG has since told me that he held that property for sentimental reasons for over 40 years.
The first Sunday School held in the township was held in the house of Mr. TROOP, nearly opposite Tally Ho farm. The teachers were Miss. Mary STEPHENS, sister of Tally Ho, Miss Maria FRAME, sister of the late Police Magistrate and a young man named Irah SHARMAN. The scholars consisted chiefly of the families of SHIELDS, LEACHES, WILLINGS. This school did much good and was something more than an ordinary Sunday School, for besides religious services, the young ladies gave lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic.
This Miss Mary STEPHENS afterwards married Mr. BOYLE of Owen Sound, whose family were very prominent in that town. Mr. BOYLE occupied some Government position. Both are dead.
About 1851 a few young fellows about the CORNERS formed a debating society with J. D. STEPHENS, Hon. Pres., Marshall STEPHENS, late of Glen Cairn, President and Henry STEPHENS, younger brother, secretary.
The committee on subjects were Frank HEWSON and Peter BEVERIDGE, Peter FERGUSON and John LIVINGSTONE, Donald MARSHALL and Malcolm BLAIR. The debates took place in the old log school house by the road-side near the graveyard of Duntroon. I remember the first debate very well. The subject, a common place one, was "Which is the most useful to mankind, the cow or the horse!" The little school room was packed. The leaders were the late John STINSON, of Singhampton, who championed the cow, and Peter FERGUSON, now at Indian Head, who fought a sturdy battle for the horse. Frank HEWSON, Sr., umpired, and the arguments were so well run on both sides that he found it difficult to come to a decision. Eventually the cow won, much to the chagrin of Mr. Peter FERGUSON and his followers. I was on his side. I remember it well, it nearly caused a fight. But these debates did good, in keeping the younger fellows from wasting time and money at the taverns, and they proved an incentive to them to hunt up information on the subjects debated. W. J. FRAME and M. N. STEPHENS were active members. The first store near Duntroon was kept by Tally Ho STEPHENS and his prices would frighten folks of the present day. Tea was often as much as $1.00 to $1.50 per pound, tobacco the same, and common brown sugar 25 to 30cents a pound but as all business was then done on a yearly credit system, it was no trouble to buy at all, no money was needed and frequently when the year came around and the amount became due to the storekeeper it was not money, but a renewal note for another 12 months that was given in payment. Every pound of goods, too had to be teamed from Toronto, so it is no wonder prices ruled high.
This Mr. STEPHENS was a fine energetic person, and quite the right man for the place. He had a large tannery north of the farm where a number of hands were kept busy. He bought all the hides he could for twenty miles around, and established a shoemaker's shop and furnished farmers with long boots, had a saddler's shop and made harness, employing a number of men in the trade. He also bought cattle and fattened them on his own place thus giving employment to a number more. Every year he sent a drove to Toronto and he himself made regular trips to and fro on horseback. Just the man needed for the country. He might have become immensely wealthy, but did not become so, a fact which speaks more for his honesty than a book full of sermons - he died quite poor.
Note. A quit claim deed- Under the government land regulations existing at that time, a settler, before completing the full duties required of him to entitle him to a deed of absolute ownership could transfer his interest to a second party by giving as undertaking not to claim that land from the Government and vesting all his right and interest in that second party, who thus took the place of the original settler so far as the Government was concerned.
E. M. July 11, 1907 page 1.
Origin of names.
We are informed by one of our readers that he thinks the name of BOWMORE must be derived from the name of a Clachan (hamlet) in Argylshire where a celebrated whiskey is distilled.
Duntroon, he thinks, would be the correct spelling of the modern name. There is a little village of this name in Argylshire, also.
By Mr. HODGSON
The first carriage which came into the township was brought by a man named ROSE, who appeared somewhat suddenly and mysteriously, with his wife, daughter and two boys in the vehicle drawn by a fine span of horses.
He was supposed to have driven all the way from some place beyond Buffalo, USA. It was in the summer of 1850, I think. There were of course, no houses to rent, although he seemed to be in possession of plenty of cash to pay rent had one been available.
He, however, went on to a small farm owned by STEGNEY, the assessor, where was a clearing of about two acre, but he neither farmed, nor seemed to have any desire to do so, devoting most of his time to driving about and hunting.
The carriage, of course, was an object of much curiosity to the old settlers, and when the vehicle and its owner were mentioned the old folks shook their heads mysteriously as if there were some meaning about Mr. ROSE and his family. They remained in the township over a year and than left as mysteriously as they came. Twenty five years later I met a man at a hotel in Detroit, who seeing that I had registered from Collingwood, had hunted me up. This was one of Mr. ROSE'S sons and he was then living at Springfield, Ill. Both parents had died and the children had been left well to do.
Another family that lived a little to the northeast of Glen Huron was that of the SMITH'S. They came to the township about the same time that I did, and there was a large family. The old man died shortly after their settled and the mother who was more than an ordinary woman, worked the farm with the children, and they became fairly well off. They had come directly over from near London, England, where Mrs. Smith had been in the employ of Lord Lansdowne, father of the late Governor-General of Canada. As a boy I loved to go to the house because of the cheerful disposition and good nature of all the young folk there. The mother was an excellent cook and was able to serve up a fine spread from the limited choice obtainable at that time. About 1855 or 56 she contracted some kind of disease which affected her eyes so much that she became blind and never recovered her sight, though living to a great age. It is only some 8 or 9 years ago that she died. Her sons were, George, Charles and Reuben. The eldest left home early, the second took care of the farm and remained on it all his life. One of Mrs. SMITH' daughters married William BAILEY, a saddler employed by J. D. STEPHENS. This BAILEY was some relative of the HENRY'S now in Collingwood. Another married George FISHER of Sunnidale, and both are alive yet. Other of the SMITH'S on the female side settled around Glen Huron and Creemore.
I do not know the precise origin of the name Bowmore, probably Mr. Dave JARDINE would. It was in 1854 or "55 that letters began to come addressed to that name instead of Scotch Corners. Later, through the efforts of the Rev. John CAMPBELL, the name Duntroon was substituted.
About 1854 or '55 many of the 5-acre lots changed hands and the older settlers had taken up larger farms. A few of these who may be mentioned are the SWALMS, BIRTLES, MARTINS, and others. About this period the first township officers were elected- the late Angus BELL as Town Clerk, an office held until death and Township Treasurer in the person of Frank HEWSON, father of the present Frank HEWSON of Duntroon. Bill STEPHNEY was the first assessor. Mr. HEWSON was treasurer until he died a few years ago. Another noted election was when Tally Ho STEPHENS ran for reeve and WEBSTER of Creemore opposed him. At this time Creemore had grown to considerable importance owing to the mill put up by the WEBSTERS. An effort had been made by the latter faction to have the township elections made at Creemore but since the place was at one corner of the area, and Bowmore the centre, the latter place has always retained the privilege.
The rivalry between WEBSTER and STEPHENS was often intense and much manipulating was done by the folks around both places to secure the return of their own man. Tally Ho STEPHENS however, held the fort for several years. Before leaving this section of the country I might mention a Quaker family named BOWERMAN which settled near what is now Dunedin. It was then called Bowerman's Settlement. They built a small mill there and another branch of the family moved to the site of the present village of Singhampton and erected another mill there. That locality was then called Bowerman's Mill or Mad River Mill for many years.
The Bowerman's sold out to the RICHMOND family, some of whom live around there yet, and after a short time it passed into the hands of two brothers TANNER who eventually disposed of it to the SINGS, also Quakers. It is from the last named family that Singhampton derived its name. Josiah, the youngest brother lived there until a few years ago when he moved to the North West. Cyrus, the elder, moved to Meaford and for many years might be said to have "run" that town. He was several time Mayor of Meaford. His sons took Government appointments and one of them is now Civil Engineer in charge of the Bay.
Between the 8th and Singhampton lived several families well known in the early times- the STINSONS, LIVINGSONS, (Mrs. WINTER and Mrs. GORDON of Collingwood, are daughters of this house) the RICHMONDS, the MOORES, (This should be MORE) John MOORE died years since, his son John (should be James) carried the mails from Toronto to Owen Sound for a short period, and another son is the maker of fruit baskets at Clarksburg. (This would be Henry MORE) Mentioning the mails reminds me that for a number of years they were conveyed from Toronto to Owen Sound on horseback by one HUNTER. One day in the city a span of horses ran away and HUNTER dashed out to stop them. This he did, but he was killed, a bright bright little fellow he was too. Another family was that of the ALLENS. Baldy ALLEN was the founder and lived just outside of Duntroon to the left of the hill entering from Collingwood. The cellar remains yet and a few plum trees in the old orchard. To Baldy ALLEN belongs the credit of introducing the first threshing machine - about 1840 or 1850.
It was an open cylinder one and the admiration of all the farmers. "Baldy" was a queer but energetic man and died in harness. A few more families about Duntroon deserve note. The HUNTS, CARMICHAELS, LIVINGSTONES, SULLIVANS, McCOYS, McCONNELLS, two of R. McCONNELLS daughter are unmarried and live on the Stayner road near the Batteau, and opposite them lived William FINLAN to whom belongs the credit of growing the first apple in the township. He planted his orchard just east of the Batteau Creek where it crosses the Stayner road. These were about all the chief families there. In your reminiscences by an Old Timer you note Ross's mill at Batteau: that millpond was the bathing place for us boys. After ROSS'S death his widow married Mr. GORDON. Mrs. ROSS was a fine old lady liked by the boys for her pumpkin pies. Any party held there was always gladly attended in order to get a taste of those pumpkin pies. She was Lower Canadian French. She had a number of sons of whom still some survive and her two daughters still live, Jane. Mrs. SHIELDS, widow of the late John SHIELDS and Julia, Mrs. CARR, whose husband Edward kept the village inn for many years.
E.M. JANUARY 23, 1908
History of the Negro Population in Collingwood.
A PAPER WRITTEN BY MISS HILBORN AND READ BEFORE THE HURON INSTITUTE ON TUESDAY NIGHT.
As long ago as 1860, the year that the Prince of Wales, now King Edward V11, visited our Town, when Collingwood was thinly settled, the majority of the houses being of the log or board with here and there one of more stately proportions, the Negro population of our town numbered about 16 individuals. Several families of these lived on Beech Street, two in the east ward - then the old village . The names of the head of these families were Mr. PIECRAFT, who for some years rang the town bell; Mr. BRACKENBURY, head waiter in the Armstrong House; Mr. HARDEN, a cook; Mr. Joseph RODNEY, lime burner; Mr. EUBANK, a cook; Mr. David GANT, unmarried, being a barber at the North American Hotel; Mr. Henry HENDERSON, a plasterer, who boarded at the Georgena House, and Mr. PORTER, whose daughter, Mrs. CANE is still living in town.
In these early days the post office was situated on Hurontario Street, near where CAMERON'S block now stands. It was kept by a Mr. Peter FERGUSON. Later this site was on Huron Street, the Postmaster being the late W. B. HAMILTON. The first brick building in town was the Queen's Hotel, on the corner of Huron and S. e. Marie Streets. It was then a store owned by the late Mr. McMASTER, and built by Mr. Beatty.
About 1863-64 these early settlers had their numbers augmented with family by the names of WORKMAN, MASON, RANDOLPH, BROWN, COOPER, CRAWFORD AND LEVI.
A number of the pioneers of Collingwood, among them our colored friends, were what was termed "squatters," living in little shacks, near what is now the Town Park, Mr. RANDOLPH'S home being situated on a part of the present park property.
The late Mr. DUVAL was well known in our town for many years. On Huron Street he kept an ice-cream parlor and made and sold soft drinks. In connection with this he also ran a barber shop. His son, Charles DUVAL, has succeeded his father as a barber in the present stand on Hurontario Street. There are those still living who well remember Huntie PIECRAFT who always wore a large red turban. This, together with her stately form, gave her quite an aristocratic appearance. She was well known for her culinary art, and in her youthful days her strength was such that she could lift alone a barrel of flour into a wagon.
Before the B. M. E. Church was built services were held in the homes of the people. A Mr. WOODS, a local preacher, used to sometimes conduct these meetings.
In 1871 the British Methodist Episcopal Church was erected, Bishop Disney conducting the dedicatory service, the Rev. Robert JOHNSON of Bronte, being the first pastor. He was succeeded by Revs, HALE, O'BAYNAN, CROSBY, MAYO, ANDERSON, HARTLEY, MINTO, LAWSON, CEPHAS, STEWART, HOLDEN, BROWN, LYBURITS, and McCLURE who is the present pastor. His home is in Owen Sound, but he visits Collingwood about once a month. The parsonage which was situated a little east of the church, was built a few years after, the late Dr. I. B. AYLESWORTH having interested himself in raising funds for its erection.
A familiar face to some was that of the saintly Elder, or Bishop HAWKINS, the sweet singer, who used to visit the Collingwood church. His was the Spirit of his Master, and unity and love would follow in his steps. The church and parsonage were burned in 1898, - nine years ago, - and for some time our friends had no place of worship. Another church has been erected on the site of the former one, it has never been completed. In order to make it comfortable more money is needed. A Sabbath school has been established, with a Superintendent, assisted by three teachers. Amongst the scholars you will find bright, pleasing children, who with encouragement and kindness will develop into good and useful citizens.
There are supposed to be about 100 hundred of our colored friends in town, the majority of them living in the south-western section.
In closing I would say that if acquainted with them, as the writer is, you would find among them true and loyal hearts, not only as a friend, but to what constitutes real goodness and truth.
Enterprise Messenger February 18, 1909
ONE OF THE PIONEERS
The Stayner Sun says:- Of the early days none can tell more entertainingly than our fellow citizen Mr. M. GARTLAN, in the history of the Town of Collingwood, and that of the Town of Stayner he is especially well versed, and one day recently it was The Sun's good fortune to hear him talk about this time.
"Forty-one years ago, the 9th of March, I came to Stayner, or as it was then called Cameron, in honor of John Hillyard CAMERON, a prominent lawyer of Toronto in pre-confederation days," he said. "A street, Hillyard, in the eastern part of the town, was also named after that gentleman, but he is almost forgotten by the present generation," added Mr. GARTLAN.
Previous to coming to Stayner Mr. GARTLAN, spent ten years in the Town of Collingwood, whither he had gone from his native village, Wellington Square, now Burlington, to purchase sugar and other commodities from Indians who came there in considerable numbers at different times of the year to trade their products for provisions, tobacco and other goods, and on the side "firewater" or whiskey. Even before this Mr. GARTLAN had been preceded by his father, who had determined to go to the Saugeen district to secure land for himself and family, but who upon reaching Collingwood, ascertained some of the difficulties to be overcome in reaching Owen Sound district, and there decided to return to his former home near Hamilton.
Once in this section our present citizen remained. While in Collingwood he was for a year or so an employee of Messrs. T. LONG & Bros.
In 1850 the firm determined to open a branch in Stayner and Mr. GARTLAN was sent to manage it. In less than two years he became a partner, a position he occupied until 1890, when he purchased the interest of the Messrs. Long Bros.
Upon coming to stayner, Mr. GARTLAN said, "there were few buildings, indeed, our log store was the first. This was erected in the site of the present building, and was destroyed by fire some years after the business was commenced." Continuing he said, "the business grew rapidly in the early days, and with the advent of the railway when the local name CAMERON was changed to the official appellation of Nottawasaga Station, there came more people and incidently more business places. Time has wrought many changes, and but a very few of those who saw the first train come to Nottawasaga Station now remain, indeed nearly all the early ones then engaged in business have since gone.
Within a year or so after the advent of the railway in 1855 the name of the town was again changed to that at present in use. This name was selected in honor of Hon. Thomas Sutherland STAYNER, who was the Postmaster Inspector General in the early fifties. That gentleman or his father was interested in some land in the vicinity and afterwards were several others who later became prominent in the public life of Canada. Sir John A. McDONALD and Hon. Oliver MOWATT being in the number.
Mr. GARTLAN has seen the town grow from the forest to the village state, and from that to its present important proportions. He has always had faith in the place, and has yet. He is today active and loves a chat with old friends, and is always ready with a good story of days gone by. May he be granted many more years, is the wish of his friends, who are legion.
THE TAYLOR HISTORY