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- Life in Canada Fifty Years Ago - 30/31 -


straighten up there. That will do. Now men, at the word 'Right about,' each man has to turn to his right, at the word 'Left about,' each man turns to his left. Now then: Attention--Right about face." Confusion again, some turning to the right and others to the left. A few strong phrases follow--"As you were"--and so the thing goes on; the men are wheeled to the right and left, marched about the field, and, after being put through various steps, are brought into line again. The commanding officer, sword in hand, looks along the serried ranks, the sergeants pass along the line, chucking one's head up, pushing one back, bringing another forward, and then rings out the word of command again: "Atten_tion_! Shoulder arms! Make ready, present, fire!" Down come the old guns and sticks in a very threatening attitude, a random pop along the line is heard, then "Stand at ease"--after which the Colonel, in his red coat, wheels his charger about, says a few words to the men, and dismisses them. The rest of the day was spent by every man in carousing, horse-racing, and games, with an occasional fight. After the arduous duties of the day, the officers had a special spread at the tavern, and afterwards left for home with very confused ideas as to the direction in which they should proceed to reach it.

Fifty years ago, shaving the beard, in Canada at all events, was universal. If a man were to go about as the original Designer of his person no doubt intended, a razor would never have touched his face. But men, like other animals, are subject to crotchets, and are wont to imitate superiors, so when some big-bug like Peter the Great introduced the shears and razor, men appeared soon after with cropped heads and clean chops. I do not remember that I ever saw a man with a full beard until after I had passed manhood for some years, except on one occasion when I was a youngster at school in the old school house on the concession. A man passed through the neighbourhood--I do not remember what he was doing--with a long flowing beard. We had somehow got the idea that no men except Jews wore their beards, and the natural inference with us was that this man was one of that creed. He was as much of a curiosity to us as a chimpanzee or an African lion would have been, and we were about as afraid of him as we would have been on seeing either of the other animals.

The township of Adolphustown, in the county of Lennox, is the smallest township in the Province. Originally the counties of Lennox and Addington, Frontenac, Hastings and Prince Edward were embraced in the Midland District. These counties, as the country advanced in population, were one after another set off, the last being the united counties of Lennox and Addington, separated from Frontenac, and with the town of Napanee as its capital. The township in my young days was known as fourth town, as the townships east of it as far as Kingston were known as first, second and third town. Immediately after the American War, the land along the Bay of Quinte, embracing these townships, with fifth, sixth and seventh town to the west, were taken up, and the arduous task of clearing away the bush at once began. The bay, from its debouche at Kingston, extends west about seventy miles, nearly severing at its termination the county of Prince Edward from the main land. The land on either hand, for about thirty miles west of Kingston, is undulating, with a gradual ascent from the shore, but when Adolphustown is reached, Marysburgh, in the county of Prince Edward, on the opposite side of the bay, presents a bold front, its steep banks rising from one to two hundred feet. From the Lake of the Mountain, looking across the wide stretch of water formed by the sharp detour of the bay in its westerly to a north-easterly course for fifteen or twenty miles, the observer has one of the most charming scenes in America spread out before him. In the distance, the lofty rocky shore of Sophiasburgh, with its trees and shrubs crowding down to the water's edge, stretch away to the right and left. To the west, the estuary known as Picton Bay curves around the high wooded shore of Marysburgh, and beneath and to the east, the four points of which the township of Adolphustown is composed reach out their woody banks into the wide sweep of the bay like the four fingers of a man's hand. For quiet, picturesque beauty, there is nothing to surpass it. On every hand the eye is arrested with charming landscapes, and looking across the several points of the township you have dwellings, grain fields, herds of cattle, and wood. Beyond you catch the shimmer of the water. Again you have clumps of trees and cultivated fields, and behind them another stretch of water, and so on as far as the eye can reach. The whole course of the bay, in fact, is a panorama of rural beauty, but the old homes that were to be seen along its banks twenty- five and thirty years ago have either disappeared altogether or have been modernized. It is now very nearly one hundred years since the first settlers found their way up it, and it must have been then a beautiful sight in its native wildness, the clear green water stretching away to the west, the sinuosities of the shore, the numberless inlets, the impenetrable forest and the streams that cut their way through it and poured their contingents into its broad bosom, the islands here and there, upon which the white man had never set his foot, water fowl in thousands, whose charming home was then for the first time invaded, skurrying away with noisy quake and whir, the wood made sweet with the song of birds, the chattering squirrel, the startled deer, the silent murmur of the water as it lapped the sedgy shore or gravelly beach-- these things must have combined to please, and to awaken thoughts of peaceful homes, in the near future to them all.

The Bay of Quinte, apart from its delightful scenery, possesses an historical interest. It is not known from whence it received its name, but there is no doubt it is of French origin. Perhaps some of the old French voyageurs, halting at Fort Frontenac, on their way west, as they passed across it, and through one of the gaps that open the way to the broad expanse of Lake Ontario, may have christened it. Be this as it may, it was along its shores that the first settlers of the Province located. Here came the first preachers, offering to the lonely settler the bread of life. On its banks the first house devoted to the worship of God was erected, and the seed sown here, as the country grew, spread abroad. Here the first schoolmaster began his vocation of instructing the youth. The first steamboat was launched (1816) upon its waters at Ernesttown, near the present village of Bath. Kingston, for a long time the principal town of the Province, then composed of a few log houses, was the depot of supplies for the settlers. It has a history long anterior to this date. In 1673, Courcelles proceeded to Cataraqui with an armed force to bring the Iroquois to terms, and to get control of the fur trade. Then followed the building of Fort Frontenac. The restless trader and discoverer, La Salle, had the original grant for a large domain around the fort. Here, in 1683, La Barre built vessels for the navigation of the lake, and the year following held a great council with the Five Nations of Indians, at which Big Mouth was the spokesman. The fort was destroyed by Denonville in 1689, and rebuilt in 1696. It was again reduced by Colonel Bradstreet in 1758.

In Adolphustown many of the first settlers still lived when I was a boy, and I have heard them recount their trials and hardships many a time. Besides the U. E. Loyalists there were a number of Quaker families which came to the Province about the same time, leaving the new Republic, not precisely for the same reasons, but because of their attachment to the old land. During the war, these people, who are opposed to war and bloodshed, suffered a good deal, and were frequently imprisoned, and their money and property appropriated. This did not occur in Canada, but they were subject to a fine for some time, for not answering to their names at the annual muster of the militia. The fine, however, was not exacted, except in cases where there were doubts as to membership with the society. This small township has contributed its quota to the Legislature of the country. T. Dorland represented the Midland District in the first Parliament of the Province, and was followed by Willet Casey, when Newark or Niagara was the capital. The latter was succeeded several years later by his son, Samuel Casey, but, as often happens, there was a difference in the political opinions of the father and son. The father was a Reformer, the son a Tory; and at the election, the old gentleman went to the poll and recorded his vote against his son, who was nevertheless elected. The Roblins, John P---, who represented the county of Prince Edward, and David, who sat for Lennox and Addington, were natives of the township. The Hagermans, Christopher and D---, were also fourth town boys, with whom my mother went to school. The old homestead, a low straggling old tenement, stood on the bay shore a few yards west of the road that leads to the wharf. I remember it well. It was destroyed by fire years ago. The father of Sir John A. Macdonald kept a store a short distance to the east of the Quaker meeting-house on Hay Bay, on the third concession. It was a small clap-boarded building, painted red, and was standing a few years ago. I remember being at a nomination in the village of Bath, on which occasion there were several speakers from Kingston, among them John A. Macdonald, then a young lawyer just feeling his way into political life. He made a speech, and began something in this way: "Yeomen of the county of Lennox and Addington, I remember well when I ran about in this district a barefooted boy," &c. He had the faculty then, which he has ever since preserved, of getting hold of the affections of the people. This _bonhommie_ has had much to do with his popularity and success. I recollect well how lustily he was cheered by the staunch old farmers on the occasion referred to. A few years later a contest came off in the county of Prince Edward, where I then resided. In those days political contests were quite as keen as now; but the alterations in the law which governs these matters has been greatly changed and improved. The elections were so arranged that people owning property in various counties could exercise their franchise. The old law, which required voters to come to a certain place in the district to record their vote, had been repealed; and now each voter had to go to the township in which he owned property, to vote. Foreign voters were more numerous then than now, and were looked after very sharply. On this occasion there was a sharp battle ahead, and arrangements were made to meet property owners at all points. There were a number from Kingston on our side, and it fell to me to meet them at the Stone Mills Ferry, and bring them to Picton. The ice had only recently taken in the bay, and was not quite safe, even for foot passengers. There were six or seven, and among them John A. Macdonald, Henry Smith, afterwards Sir Henry, and others. In crossing, Smith got in, but was pulled out by his companions, in no very nice plight for a long drive. The sleighing was good, and we dashed away. In the evening I brought them back, and before they set off across the bay on their return, John A. mounted the long, high stoop or platform in front of Teddy McGuire's, and gave us an harangue in imitation of ----, a well-known Quaker preacher, who had a marvellous method of intoning his discourses. It was a remarkable sing-song, which I, or any one else who ever heard it, could never forget. Well John A., who knew him well, had caught it, and his imitation was so perfect that I am inclined to think the old man, if he had been a listener, would have been puzzled to tell t'other from which. We had a hearty laugh, and then separated.

[Illustration: SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD'S EARLY HOME.]

I have often heard my mother tell of a trip she made down to the Bay of Quinte, when she was a young girl. She had been on a visit to her brother Jonas Canniff (recently deceased in this city at the age of ninety-two), who had settled on the river Moira, two miles north of the town of Belleville, then a wilderness. There were no steamboats then, and the modes of conveyance both by land and water were slow and tedious. She was sent home by her brother, who engaged two friendly Indians to take her in a bark canoe. The distance to be travelled was over twenty miles, and the morning they started the water in the bay was exceedingly rough. She was placed in the centre of the canoe, on the bottom, while her Indian _voyageurs_ took their place in either end, resting on their knees. They started, and the frail boat danced over the waves like a shell. The stoical yet watchful Indians were alive only to the necessities of their position, and with measured stroke they shot their light bark over the boisterous water. Being a timid girl, and unaccustomed to the water, especially under such circumstances, she was much frightened and never expected to reach her home. There was considerable danger, no doubt, and her fears were not allayed by one of


Life in Canada Fifty Years Ago - 30/31

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