Daniel Stong's First House

A lamb grazing in the field in front of the Stong Farm at Black Creek Pioneer Village.  Holly Cawfield Photography
Stong Grazing
Early spring and the lambs were out grazing with Daniel Stong's
first and second houses in the background.

Stong Homestead

On its original location 
The Stong Homestead was established in 1816 by Daniel Stong and Elizabeth Fisher Stong. The first building in the farm complex is believed to have been the one storey log house. The Grain Barn was constructed circa 1825. In 1832, the Second House was built as the main farm house and the first log house was reused as an outbuilding. 

In 1957, restoration to an interpretive date circa 1832 was begun on The Second House, a two and-a-half storey log house. The asphalt siding and one storey frame shed was removed. New clapboard cladding was reproduced from photographic evidence. A one storey, open, frame verandah was reconstructed based upon a circa 1900 photograph. Interior changes included moving the interior stairs and reconstruction of a period fireplace and chimney in the kitchen. The nineteenth century Doddy House shown in the archival photograph was removed prior to 1957.

Mr. & Mrs. Stong's First House

Stong Cabin Doorway

Daniel Stong’s First House 1816
On its original site
This sturdy, squared log house with finely dovetailed joints built by Daniel Stong and Elizabeth Fisher Stong is the oldest building at Black Creek Pioneer Village. With its three small rooms and large stone fireplace, it shows both the simplicity of the early pioneer home and the hard work of survival. The home was lived in by the Stong family until 1832 when it became an outbuilding used for storage / poultry. There was some log replacement and a new window opening with a 6/6 sash introduced in 1957. All in
terior partitions and the fireplace date to the 1958 restoration
Tending The Hearth

Cook Pots
Tin Pails

Spinning Wheel and ladder-back chair with homespun fabrics in the background.

Mrs. Stong's Bonnet
Fleece  -  The sheep have been shorn and the wool awaits
carding, spinning and weaving.
Stong House Bedroom
Bedroom Two

Apple Storage Cellar -  circa 1850

Original Location: Edgeley, Ontario (Jane Street and Hwy #7) 

Built using field stone and brick. Only 8 feet by 7 feet on the inside it took 65 man days to dismantle and rebuild this tiny structure on site at Black Creek. It has two sets of doors to better insulate the space for fruit and root vegetable storage. A small vent at the opposite end from the doors was opened and closed according to the weather to regulate the temperature inside. Wooden bins along the walls held the apples in layers of straw to insulate the fruit and increase their storage life. The Apple Cellar was dismantled and re-erected at the Village.

Outhouse Outback

Lighting the Fire

Lucifer or friction matches are a comparatively recent invention. It is not much more than fifty years since Congrieve brought out his self-lighting or phosphorus-tipped match. The first matches of this kind were made in blocks, and were so imperfect that it was some years after their invention, however, before their use became general. In the early days, and well on into the middle of the nineteenth century, fire was got by means of the flint and tinder-box. When fire was so difficult to obtain people were very careful not to let their fires go out, and it was no uncommon sight to see persons going a mile or two through the snow to their nearest neighbor's to get a few coals to start the fire on a cold winter's morning. It was the custom to cover up the bed of coals with ashes at night before retiring, so that there would be some left with which to start the fire in the morning, all that was necessary being to add kindling wood and blow the embers into a flame with the hand bellows.

The following amusing incident is told by a descendant of one of the old pioneers: One morning, the fire on the hearth having gone out, one of the daughters cut up a handful of cotton cloth and placed it in the fireplace, while one of the sons loaded the gun with a wadding of cotton and discharged it into the bundle of rags, so as to set them on fire. The father of the family, who was still sleeping, was awakened by the report of the gun, and came hurriedly downstairs, thinking something terrible had happened, but was well contented when he found a blazing fire the result.

When matches were first introduced they were not, as now, tipped with phosphorus, but were simply pieces of stick dipped in melted sulphur. These sulphur sticks, or matches, as they were called, were lighted by placing them in contact with live coals or the flame of a candle.
When we stop to consider, we have reason to be startled by the fact that we now enjoy so many privileges and means of comfort that were unknown fifty years ago even. We are led to conclude that the past century has seen more progress than any previous century of which we have any record in the world's history.

The tinder-box was a tin box with a tight-fitting cover, used for making and preserving the tinder, which was made by holding finely-cut cotton or linen rags over the uncovered box, setting them on fire and, after they were all in a blaze, allowing them to drop into the box beneath, then replacing the cover and smothering the fire. The charred remains formed the tinder. To get a light all that was necessary was to strike the flint and steel together over the opened box, so that the sparks would fall into it and ignite the tinder, after which it was touched with a sulphur stick and the fire applied to the kindling-wood in the fire-place. This was the English way.

Among most of the early settlers punk—a fungus growth in decaying wood, thoroughly dried—frequently took the place of the tinder. The flints they used were often Indian arrow-heads, which were found in many places when ploughing. By placing a piece of punk on the flint, held in the left hand, and striking the flint with a piece of steel (usually the back of the-steel blade of a pocket-knife ) held in the right hand; the sparks would fly on to the punk and ignite it, after which it was placed in the fire-place, kindling-wood added and blown into a flame.
Some used the old flint-lock gun for starting a fire Some such combustible material as tow or linen cloth cut fine was placed in the flash pan of the gun. The trigger being pulled, sparks would fly into the pan and cause ignition. Once, when an uncle of the writer was getting fire in this way, the gun happened to be loaded. The steel ramrod, which was in the gun at the time, was driven into the board ceiling of the room, where it was allowed to remain for some time as a reminder of the incident.

In imagination we can see the industrious aunt walking back and forth beside the spinning-wheel, attaching a length of carded wool to the spindle, then twirling the monster wheel and drawing the wool out into yarn, stopping now and then to examine the thread and singing to herself as she marches back and forth over the floor. Day in and day out she keeps at it. After she has a spindle full of yarn it is wound on the reel into skeins, a peculiar clock-work contrivance attached to the machine, making a click every time a knot is wound on. After enough knots had been wound on to make a skein, they were tied together and hung up. Four skeins of fourteen knots each was considereda good day's work. A machine called "The Swift" was used for unwinding the skeins when the yarn was being wound into balls.

For spinning flax a smaller wheel was used. It was kept in motion by a treadle worked by the foot, the operator sitting down while spinning. A bunch of flax was fastened on to the distaff, a forked stick at the front end of the wheel. The white flax was pulled off the distaff, attached to the spindle by the spinner, and lengthened out into linen thread, which was tied into bundles called "hanks."

The high wheel for spinning wool, it appears, was used by most of the descendants of the settlers from the United States, and was probably the kind used by the people of New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The low wheel was used mostly by the settlers from England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany.

THE first houses and barns of the settlers were built of logs. When a new settler came into a neighborhood, the neighbors, and if there were any within a convenient distance, would assemble at the "raising" and help the newcomer to rear his domicile. Some of these houses were substantially built, but the first put up, being often erected in a hurry and without any assistance, were only temporary structures or cabins, twelve to sixteen feet square, one story high, built shanty style, i.e., with the roof sloping one way and covered with bark or small hollowed basswood logs, laid in tile fashion. 

A small window, containing six or eight lights of glass (sometimes oiled paper), furnished light, although square holes closed by a shutter were sometimes made to take the place of windows. The chimneys were built of sticks and clay, bricks not being procurable, and lumber being scarce, the doors were made by splitting pieces of timber into rough boards, and in some cases the hinges and latch were made of wood. The floor was made of split logs, and sometimes the earth, packed down hard, served as a floor. 

The logs comprising the walls of the old log houses were notched so as to fit into each other at the corners of the building, with the ends of the logs left projecting a foot or two. After the building was completed, these logs were usually sawn off. The cracks between the logs were chinked, i.e., filled with wedge-shaped pieces of wood and plastered with clay, moss often being stuffed in temporarily to keep out the cold. Many of these primitive houses contained only one room, one end being occupied by the fireplace and the other by the beds of the family. In the two-storey houses, in many cases, the upper storey or loft was reached by a ladder, sometimes from the outside
These old log houses were quite comfortable, and some of the old settlers made shift in them for years when they might have had better. Fifty years ago even, many of them were still to be seen standing in the oldest settled parts. This tardiness in doing away with the old log houses was due partly to the fact that they were exempt from the taxation that was imposed upon stone, frame and brick structures.

The furniture in these primitive houses was very rude and plain, and did not consist of much more than a bedstead, chairs, or stools, and a table, all home-made, with shelves on pegs in the wall for holding the dishes.


Farms in the Canadas may be divided into four classes. Firstly, choice farms in the immediate vicinity of the larger towns; secondly, those on a line of railway; thirdly, such as may enjoy the advantages of direct water communication, a good road, an adjacent market, &c.; fourthly, those in the wilderness. Notwithstanding the constant demand for wholly, or partially cleared farms, there are always plenty of them in the market. It is one characteristic of the genuine American, that he is seldom or never contented with his belongings. He is generally ready to make a trade, and to sell anything in his possession, from the old homestead to the new cradle. Let his farm be the best in the township, he is open to an offer. If he be a Yankee, he is tired of farming, and intends trying storekeeping, or running a saw-mill, or a meeting-house for a spell. If a Canadian, it will generally turn out that his head has been completely turned by some specious paragraph or advertisement which has caught his eye, in the columns of hi& weekly paper, to the effect that farming in the British provinces is all moonshine, and that the only place for the industrious husbandman with small capital, is on the new line of railway, in Buncomb County, Gammonia Territory, in the land of the Stars and Stripes. The number of well-to-do Canadian farmers who have been lured by these advertisements emanating from the offices of shrewd Yankee land-speculators is past belief. A good many of them, after having frittered away all their capital, find their way back to the vicinity of their old home, but their experience is not sufficient to deter others from doing the self-same thing, and the result is, that many of the best farms in the Canadas are to be seen advertised for sale in the Montreal, Toronto, and Hamilton papers.


An excerpt from Catharine Parr Traill's description of her arrival in Canada.
by Catharine Parr Traill

The shanty is a sort of primitive hut in Canadian architecture, and is nothing more than a shed built of logs, the chinks between the round edges of the timbers being filled with mud, moss, and bits of wood; the roof is frequently composed of logs split and hollowed with the axe, and placed side by side, so that the edges rest on each other; the concave and convex surfaces being alternately uppermost, every other log forms a channel to carry off the rain and melting snow. The eaves of this building resemble the scolloped edges of a clam shell; but rude as this covering is, it effectually answers the purpose of keeping the interior dry; far more so than the roofs formed of bark or boards, through which the rain will find entrance. Sometimes the shanty has a window, sometimes only an open doorway, which admits the light and lets out the smoke*. A rude chimney, which is often nothing better than an opening cut in one of the top logs above the hearth, a few boards fastened in a square form, serves as the vent for the smoke; the only precaution against the fire catching the log walls behind the hearth being a few large stones placed in a half circular form, or more commonly a bank of dry earth raised against the wall.

[* I was greatly amused by the remark made by a little Irish boy, that we hired to be our hewer of wood and drawer of water, who had been an inhabitant of one of these shanties. "Ma'am" said he, "when the weather was stinging cold, we did not know how to keep ourselves warm; for while we roasted our eyes out before the fire our backs were just freezing; so first we turned one side and then the other, just as you would roast a guse on a spit. Mother spent half the money father earned at his straw work (he was a straw chair maker,) in whiskey to keep us warm; but I do think a larger mess of good hot praters(potatoes,) would have kept us warmer than the whiskey did."]

Nothing can be more comfortless than some of these shanties, reeking with smoke and dirt, the common receptacle for children, pigs, and fowls. But I have given you the dark side of the picture; I am happy to say all the shanties on the squatters' ground were not like these: on the contrary, by far the larger proportion were inhabited by tidy folks, and had one, or even two small windows, and a clay chimney regularly built up through the roof; some were even roughly floored, and possessed similar comforts with the small log-houses.
[Illustration: Log house]

You will, perhaps, think it strange when I assure you that many respectable settlers, with their wives and families, persons delicately nurtured, and accustomed to every comfort before they came hither, have been contented to inhabit a hut of this kind during the first or second year of their settlement in the woods.

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