J. Smyth Carter.

The story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 online

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was appointed. Since the latter date a new grand stand and other buildings
have been erected and a general revival of interest has been manifested.
The County Fair board for 1904 are: President, W. K. Farlinger; 1st Vice-


President, Fred McRobie; 2nd Vice-President, Thomas Campbell; Directors,
Thomas Irving, Reuben MacDonell, A. C. Casselman, Dr. E. McLaughlin,
F. B. Robertson, George W. Reddick, J. S. Hickey, James Barry, and W. T.

The Matilda Township Agricultural Society was organized about the year
1861. Conspicuous among the active promoters of the association were the
late Captain John Strader, Simon Barkley, James Bell, John Graham, John
Marsellis, James Donaldson, Josephus Rose. The first president was Robert
Lowery; the first secretary, Adam Harkness. The early advertisements were
hand written and the first fair held in an open field just north of Dixon's
Corners. For three or four years the society flourished, large crowds were in
attendance, but the sources of revenue were insufficient to erect suitable
buildings and fence the grounds . Finally, through the direct agency of Dr.
John Harkness and Thomas McNulty, then president and secretary respect-
ively, the sum of $600 was raised by notes sold to farmers and others
interested in the Society. A small field was rented from George Thompson,
the needed funds were secured, and the fair entered upon an era of prosperity
that knew of no abatement for twenty years. At length the growth of the
institution demanded larger grounds, and a site was chosen half a mile to the
west, where some good exhibitions were held, but the interest soon began to
wane and finally the Iroquois Driving Park was chosen as the place of
exhibition, the first fair being held there September 16th, 17th and 18th, 1898.
Surrounded by one of the best agricultural districts in Eastern Ontario, and
possessing such an ideal site, there is no reason why this exhibition should not
continue to flourish. The following are the officers and directors for the
year 1904: President, A. Harkness; 1st Vice-President, R. Gibbons;
2nd Vice-President, A. D. Harkness; Directors, Charles E. Tuttle, Amos
Sellers, E. M. Dakin, W. M. Merkley, Fred McRobie, James Collison,
J. H. Currie, George Reichardt, Fred Everett; Auditors, G. H. Davy,
B. A., W. A. Coulter; Secretary-Treasurer, James Flanagan.

Mountain Township Agricultural Society was established in 1857. Among
the promoters of the movement were Reuben Shaver, Alexander Rose, John
Fraser, Joseph Hyndman and Samuel Rose, the last named serving as presi-
dent for several years. Itinerancy characterized this early fair, being held at
South Mountain, Inker-man and Hall ville alternately. For a time the new ven-
ture flourished, but finally ceased to be. In 1893 the fair was re-established, a
good site was leased close to South Mountain, suitable buildings were erected,
and since then the Society has flourished. The officers for the year 1904 are:
President, Elgin Montgomery; Vice-President, Benjamin Storey; Secretary-
Treasurer, Martin Kavanaugh ; Directors, Thomas Eager, Dr. Porter. James


Hess, Hugh Marquette, William Timmins, William Shaver, Andrew
Redmond, R. P.Anderson, George Keys.

Winchester Township Agricultural Society was also founded in 1857, and
has since continued. Among the early presidents was C. J. Fox, with J. D.
Laflamme secretary. For several years the exhibition was held alternately
at Winchester and Chesterville, but about 1876 the former place was chosen
as a permanent location. Grounds were rented from David Christie
until the purchase of the present site from Thomas Irving. This Society
has always carried with it a fair share of success, by showing an improvement
both in the number and quality of the exhibits. As recently as the year 1903
a considerable sum was spent in improvements. The board for the year
1904 are: Honorary President, J. P. Whitney, M. P. P.; Honorary Vice-
Presidents, Andrew Broder, M. P., Adam Johnston, W. G. Smyth; President,
J. F. Ault; 1st Vice-President, J. W. Bogart; 2nd Vice- President, Ira Christie,
Directors, Patrick Kirkby, D. J. Kennedy, W. J. Mulloy, Frank Parker,
Thomas G. McLean, John Jordan, Charles Dwyer, G. E. Earl. Ira Christie, J.
W. Ault, Alex. Cameron, Merrick Durant, sr., R. L. Suffel, G. Hutt. E. Beach;
Honorary Directors, D. F. Sutherland, Wesley Hamilton, James Drinkwater,
Robert Fraser, J. F. Cass, J. S. Ross, N. W. Morton, D. B. Oliver, S. S.
Reveler; Auditors, F. S. Manning, S. S. Reveler; Secretary-Treasurer, W. J.

For several years an agricultural society exhibited in Williamsburg
township. The place of exhibition was east of North Williamsburg. Success
crowned the efforts of the promoters for some time, but a few years ago the
project was abandoned.

Thecountry fairs of the past and present afford considerable contrast. In form-
er years the morning of the fair was a time of unusual stir about the
farm house. The lumber wagon was laden with varieties of grain, beets f
mangel-wurtzels, the spreading heads of cabbage, huge pumpkins, large shape-
less potatoes and other products, while the good housewife contributed her
quota of home-made linen and flannels and perhaps a display of old-fashioned
rag carpet. The farmer and his family then secured quarters in the wagon
and all set off in a jolly mood for the fair. But these pioneer customs
have greatly changed. The exhibitor and his wife and children
no longer sit in the high wagon amid the sheep and cattle pens enjoying their
noon-day lunch. Even the three-seated family carriage has suffered eclipse
by the present handsome top buggies which convey the farmer and
his family to the exhibition. The attention of the visitors is engrossed by horse-
racing, trapeze and high wire performances, the crazy clown or the strong man;
no time apparently to glance at the products of home labor, the display of fat


cattle, the lazy pigs or the innocent sheep. In fact the event may be classed
as a great visiting day, friends meeting friends. What changes Time has
wrought !

The Dundas County Farmers' Institute originated at a meeting held at
Iroquois January 16th, 1886, The first officers were: President, John Hark-
ness; 1st Vice-President, Dr. Anderson; 2nd Vice-President, M. D. Willard;
Secretary-Treasurer, W. A. Whitney; Directors, Thomas Morehouse, James
Collison, William Deeks, A. Van Allen, J. P. Fox, Thomas Hamilton, Alex.
Eose, George Lannin. In addition to the regular June meetings, mass meet-
ings are conducted annually in each township, at which subjects closely
connected with the science of agriculture are ably handled by both college
professors and practical farmers. This institute has been productive of much
good; the interest is growing, while a government grant of $25, a county grant
of a similar sum, and an annual membership fee of 25 cents, afford ample
funds, there being at present over $200 in the treasury. The present official
board consists of: President, H. J. Whitteker; Vice-President, Ira Christie;
Secretary-Treasurer, J. P. Fox; Auditors, A. Kennedy, W. J. Mulloy. The
Directors for Matilda are, William Clark, James Collison, A. D. Harkness, W.
G. Smyth, W. G.Robertson; Williamsburg, M. J. Casselman, G. E. Merkley,
F. E. Farlinger, C. F. Whitteker, Alex. Thorn; Winchester, W. H. Casselman,
A. Allison, J. W. Bogart, P. Mclntosh, J. P. Fox, Wilbert McElroy; Moun-
tain, Andrew Kennedy, H. Marquette, J. Render, J. Christie, W. Brown, R.

Ploughing matches were instituted in many parts of the province where the
people were anxioxis to overcome the slip-shod methods peculiar to pioneer
agriculture. In an old issue of the Morrisburg Courier there appears a report
of a contest held Oct. 10,1877, on the farm of Capt. Farlinger, under the auspices
of the Agricultural and Arts Association of Ontario. The judges for the occas-
ion were William Eadie, Russell; Major McLennan, Lancaster, and G.
Dalglish, Augusta. Among the prizes were a gold medal donated by Dr.
Brouse, M. P.; a silver medal by A. Broder, M. P. P.; ploughs by J. F. Millar
and John Allison, respectively, and several cash prizes. In order of precedence
the sviccessful contestants in the senior class were, John McEwen, Russell;
Robt. Sangster, Lancaster; Thos. Irving, Winchester; Jas. Watson, Osgoode;
Christopher Johnston, Williamsburg; George Bentley, Lancaster; Roderick
McLennan, Lancaster; John Campbell, Osgoode; Robert Vallance, Osnabruck.
In the junior class, Duncan McDougall, Russell; Alex. McConnell, Winchester;
Alex. Malloch, Osgoode; John Mclntosh, Winchester; Wesley Gallinger,
Osnabruck; John McLeave, Osnabruck; Charles E. Tuttle, Matilda. In the
boys' class, John Johnston, Williamsburg; Thomas Deeks, Williamsburg;
William A. Tuttle, Matilda; Sidney Helmer, Matilda; Allen Graham. This


county has been the theatre of other similar trials of skill. Surely the art of
properly turning the soil is a primary step in successful agriculture and worthy
of emulation by successive generations.

The society of Canadian husbandry constitute the bone and sinew of our
fair land. Although agricultural evolution in the past has been extensive
yet there is no time for idling. The goal is not yet reached. Let
every farmer truly appreciate the dignity of his calling. From the ranks to
which he belongs there are continually being drawn men to fill the noblest
positions both in the business world and in the councils of the nation, those
who possess the strength and prowess of aspiring manhood. May the farmers
of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry in common with their brethren through-
out the length and breadth of this fair land remember that they stand on the
threshold of opportunity, and may with spirit undaunted go forth and
achieve still greater things for Canada in agricultural development .

The twentieth century has been ushered in. What secrets will it re-
veal? What wonders in store ? The development of electrical science is sure
to figure as the industrial star of the present century. Perhaps it is more than
mere fancy to picture our farmer riding along on his horseless plough or
cultivator, but sach is marvellously possible. The automobile, now so expens-
ive and rare, is yet destined to carry the agriculturists of Canada to
church or to market as does now the time-honored steed. The infancy
of the electrical age is all we see; the alphabet only has been recited.
The method of lighting and heating rural homes will be an additional wonder
when old Father Time conies to close the books of this century December
31st, A.D. 2000.

Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade;

A breath can make them, as a breath hath made;
But a bold peasantry, then* country's pride,

When once destroyed, can never be supplied.



It is one thing to see your road, another to cut it.



IF in this story we are to have a comprehensive history we must
not forget the primitive and circuitous roads of Dundas. Along the St.
Lawrence the earliest means of travel and transportation was by water,
while in the back country settlements the "blazed path" through the woods
extended from house to house and from settlement to settlement. These
paths followed th course of the higher ground. If the pedestrian sought
horseback riding as an easier mode of travel, the boughs of the trees were cut
away and the paths thus rendered more open.

The progress of the county demanded an improvement in this regard. In
low places there were constructed "corduroy roads," so called on account of
their resemblance to the King's corduroy cloth. In building these old cross-
ways logs cut into lengths of eighteen or twenty feet were placed parallel in
the roadbed from which had previously been removed stumps and other
obstructions. In placing the logs care was exercised; the interstices were
sometimes covered with mud but the swampy soil was of little use in that way
and at best such a road was rough and dangerous. Even yet the frosts of
winter raise some of these old logs from their peaceful bed. During spring
and fall the "earth roads" were muddy to excess. Often threading their way
among stumps over the circuitous road, the oxen hauled the sled laden with a
few bags of wheat bound for the distant mill, or a cargo of black salts to be
left with the country merchant, in exchange for household necessaries.

Not only the ill-conditioned paths but likewise the presence of wolves ren-
dered travelling unpleasant, and many incidents are told of the


dangers overcome. An old resident of Matilda relates some personal remin-
iscences of an amusing character . Speaking of the existence of Cupid, our
jovial informant stated that the young man on courtship bent usually made
the journey to the humble domicile of his lady-love on foot or on horseback,
carrying with him a quantity of dry cedar bark, and if any danger of wolves
appeared the bark was set on fire. Under such circumstances it may be
assumed that he "made hay while the sun shone." Journeying on foot was
the common mode of travel, even to outlying places, such as Kemptville, By-
town (Ottawa) and Cornwall. Besides, the "corduroy road" didn't offer a
congenial alternative. The young people especially enjoyed the "country
walk," and an elderly Williamsburg resident relates that often on Sunday
morning all the boys and girls from the vicinity of his home would flock to-
gether and walk to North Williamsburg to attend Sunday school, their
numbers augmented as they proceeded.

While the back country roads were poor, the front road along the St. Law-
rence river was in better condition. From Montreal westward goods were
conveyed by what were termed "Canadian trains," being composed of a num-
ber of short sleighs with long runners, each drawn by one or two Canadian
ponies. In his interesting description ef these trains and their drivers, Mr.
Pringle says : "The men dressed in blankets or etoffe du pays, capotes and
trousers with sash begirt waist ; feet shod with beef moccasins, and head cov-
ered with a bonnet rouge of bleu, trudged along behind their loaded sleighs,
occasionally cracking their short-handled long-lashed whips or calling out
'march done' if a horse appeared to be forgetting his duty." The mixed
cargoes replenished the stocks of the country stores.

The conveyance of passengers and mail was another problem. The stage
route from Montreal to Toronto passed along the front of Dundas. At the
famous "Blue House," the "Myers' Inn," and at other places regular and fre-
quent stops were made, but it was at the old Williamsburg stage-house where
the chief interest centred. Here a change of horses was made, and passen-
gers taken aboard. This historic house, near Stata's Bay, is now a com-
fortable dwelling. The old stage coach, long since put out of business by the
introduction of steam railways, was indeed an interesting vehicle. Mr. Pringle
says of it: "The stage coach was strongly built, the carriage part of it adapted
to go through rough roads if necessary. The body was closed at the front
and back and covered with a stout roof. The sides were open but protected
by curtains that could be let down if rain came on ; there was a door at each
side fitted with a sliding window that could be lowered or raised as the
weather was fine or stormy. There were three seats inside, each of which
was intended for three passengers; those on the front seat sat with their backs
to the horses, those on the back and middle seats faced them ; the back seat
was the most comfortable. Outside there was the driver's seat and another


immediately behind it on the roof, each of these would hold three
At the back of the coach body was the baggage rack for the trunks which
were tightly strapped on and protected by a large leather apron. Lighter
Hi-ticles of luggage were put on the roof, which was surrounded by a light
iron railing. The coach body, including the baggage rack, was suspended on
strong leather straps which were stretched on the elaborate frame work of
the carriage. The whole affair was gaudily painted, and with its team of four
fine horses, with highly polished harness, looked very attractive and was by no
means u,n unpleasant mode of travelling when the roads were good and the
weather fine. * * * The best seats in fine weather were those on
the outside of the coach, as they commanded a good view of the country on
all sides. A traveller who could interest the driver and get the seat beside

him might get -a good deal of information regarding localities and events along
the road."

In winter covered sleighs were used, and in spring and fall strong open
wagons. The latter at times mired, when the passengers were obliged to
alight, often in the darkness, and assist in the work of extrication. When
the roads were good the stage covered from 60 to 75 miles per day, and thus a
trip from York (Toronto) to Montreal was covered in five days.

As the country opened up and became more thickly peopled, the roads re-
ceived more attention. The rear townships were anxious to establish com-
munication with their more favored neighbors to the south. Before there
was a. good road from Mountain to the St. Lawrence, a forest route, circuit-
ous indeed, was traversed. Along this road the residents of Mountain often
came to the front to trade at the store of Harry Steacy and others. Through
Matilda this old route curved away to the east of the present gravel road, and
in that vicinity, at the homes of Charles Rose, James Locke and other resi-
dents the Mountain settlers frequently stopped.

Early in the previous century the opening of a road at the eastern boundary
of Williamsburg was discussed. The following is a copy of a document dated
July 2, 1827, and signed by Levi Bancroft, surveyor of roads for the county of
Stormont. It reads : "The subscriber hereby gives notice that agreeable to
a petition from twelve freeholders of the Township of Osnabruck requesting
the nine mile road to be laid out through the first concession between the
townships of Osnabruck and Williamsburg, leaving the commons to the west,
he has viewed the ground and laid it out as follows : Commencing at the
southwest angle of lot 37, thence north 24 degrees, west to the rear of said
concession, that being the eastern line of said road, and to be forty feet in
Width. Any person or persons having any objections to the aforesaid road
are requested to appear at the next general Quarter Sessions of the Peace, to
be holden in the town of Cornwall, and there make their objections known."


The foregoing was read and approved of in open session July 12, 1827, and tha
signature of Joseph Anderson, chairman, was appended.

An old minute book of the District Council contains a by-law passed under
date of 1843, which states that in each township there shall be appointed a
"Board of Superintendents of Highways," the number of members composing
such board to be regulated according to the representation which the town-
ship shared in the District Council. The board was to divide the township-
into sections, to hold four meetings annually, and to direct pathmasters in
the construction and improvement of the roads. Each Board of Superintend-
ents was to report to the District Council yearly as to the condition of the
highways, the needed improvements and probable cost of same. As remun-
eration for their services the members received exemption from high-
way assessments, while the chairman, in addition to this, was awarded the
sum of seven shillings and six pence. In the construction of any bridge,
causeway or road, it was lawful to procure timber or stone from any un-
enclosed or unimproved lands adjacent thereto, carefully avoiding, however,
any unnecessary waste. Such were the conditions of highway building back
in the 40*s, before the days of township councils.

There is, however, another side to this rather interesting narrative. For four
months in the year the roads were almost ideal. As soon as the ground was
frozen and the snow began to fall, you could go almost anywhere with ease and
comfort. Every lumber trail that had been cut through the bush, and
every stream large enough fco ensure an opening between the trees on either
side became a highway. There were no blizzards in those days and no drifts
except in the clearings, and these were not large enough to seriously affect
the situation. Those of us who have had to brave our storm-swept roads in
the open country, and who have felt the grateful shelter of even a small
strip of woodland, should not be too severely censured if we feel disposed to
envy rather than pity the lot of ocr grandsires.

What is now termed the Matilda gravel road was in early days an unworthy
thoroughfare. Being the principal road from the north leading into
Matilda village the travel thereon was extensive and the road was annually
becoming worse. A short distance north of the present residence of James
Fisher was one of the places which gained notoriety. Finally in 1851 a by-
law was passed by the Matilda council which provided that the road should
be graded and planked. The contract of constructing the southern portion
was awarded to Malcolm McGruer, a Scotchman, at the price of $1,200 per
mile, while from Dixon's Corners north the work was done by Alex. Mac-
donell and George Brouse for $1,000 per mile. Closely associated with the
execution of Mr. McGruer's work was the late John Armstrong, who could
relate many amusing incidents which occurred during the construction.


The road was completed about the close 1852, and was a very fine driveway
for a few years, but decayed so rapidly that in 1858 the work of gravelling
Was well under way and three years later it was a gravel road. Gravel not
proving altogether satisfactory stone was resorted to, and in 1875 a crusher
was purchased. This seemed to be what was needed and resulted in a great
improvement on this and other leading roads in the vicinity.

The Flagg or Robertson road, extending north from Flagg's Bay, between
lots 6 and 7, Matilda, is one of the oldest roads in Dundas. A few years after
the first settlement of the county a circuitous route was marked out and
travelled for several years until the present road was surveyed, about 1820.
This has always been one of the leading roads to the front of Matilda.

The Williamsburg gravel road, extending from Morrisburg to North
Williamsburg, was many years ago built by a company of local financiers.
Two toll gates were placed thereon. The undertaking proved a public benefit
and also well repaid its owners. Although the road passed into other hands
it continued as a toll-road until recently purchased by the municipalities con-
cerned, and since then the tolls system has ceased to exist in Dundas.

The Eastern Ontario Good Roads Association constructed half a mile of
model road in this county during the year 1901. A grant of 300 was made to
the Association by the Counties' Council, with the understanding that one
mile of road was to be built in each of the three counties. The selection of
the road was also made by the Counties' Council, and in Dundas the southern
portion of the Carman road was chosen. The Association was to furnish the
machinery and experts to direct the work ; the cement was to be furnished by
a company manufacturing that product, while the municipalities concerned
Were to provide for labor and other material. It was expected that Iroquois
and Matilda would co-operate in this arrangement, but Matilda withdrew,
with the result that only three-quarters of a mile was built, the cost of which
Was borne by Iroquois.

The system of roads in Dundas corresponds with the general thrift and pro-
gress. In the front townships the lots are one and five-eighths miles in
length, but at several places cross-lot roads or given roads are found. These
add greatly to the convenience of the farmers. The rear townships,
however, possess an advantage, the length of the concessions being three-
quarters of a mile. Scanning the county, only a few of the regular nine-mile
or headline roads, or portions thereof, are yet to be opened. The presence of
good roads even in the few marshy places is also worthy of mention.

While our county can boast of a number of good roads there is still room
for improvement in many sections. Stone and gravel roads are being con-
structed and improved yearly. But like the city directory of fifty years ago,

Online LibraryJ. Smyth CarterThe story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 → online text (page 6 of 40)