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Below, excerpted from:
Roughing It In The Bush
Roughing It In The Bush
Mrs. Moodie has already stated that we procured lodgings at a certain hotel in the village of C—— kept by S——, a truly excellent and obliging American. The British traveller is not a little struck, and in many instances disgusted, with a certain air of indifference in the manners of such persons in Canada, which is accompanied with a tone of equality and familiarity exceedingly unlike the limber and oily obsequiousness of tavern-keepers in England. I confess I felt at the time not a little annoyed with Mr. S——'s free-and-easy manner, and apparent coolness and indifference when he told us he had no spare room in his house to accommodate our party. We endeavoured to procure lodgings at another tavern, on the opposite side of the street; but soon learned that, in consequence of the arrival of an unusual number of immigrants, all the taverns in the village were already filled to overflowing. We returned to Mr. S——, and after some further conversation, he seemed to have taken a kind of liking to us, and became more complaisant in his manner, until our arrangement with Tom Wilson, as already related, relieved us from further difficulty.
I now perfectly understand the cause of this apparent indifference on the part of our host. Of all people, Englishmen, when abroad, are the most addicted to the practice of giving themselves arrogant airs towards those persons whom they look upon in the light of dependents on their bounty; and they forget that an American tavern-keeper holds a very different position in society from one of the same calling in England. The manners and circumstances of new countries are utterly opposed to anything like pretension in any class of society; and our worthy host, and his excellent wife—who had both held a respectable position in the society of the United States—had often been deeply wounded in their feelings by the disgusting and vulgar arrogance of English gentleman and ladies, as they are called. Knowing from experience the truth of the saying that "what cannot be cured must be endured," we were particularly civil to Mr. S——; and it was astonishing how quickly his manners thawed. We had not been long in the house before we were witnesses of so many examples of the purest benevolence, exhibited by Mr. S—— and his amiable family, that it was impossible to regard them with any feeling but that of warm regard and esteem. S—— was, in truth, a noble-hearted fellow. Whatever he did seemed so much a matter of habit, that the idea of selfish design or ostentation was utterly excluded from the mind. I could relate several instances of the disinterested benevolence of this kind-hearted tavern-keeper.
As soon as Mr. S_____ found that we did not belong to that class of people who fancy they exalt themselves by insulting other, there were no bounds to the obligingness of his disposition. As I had informed that I wished to buy a cleared farm near Lake Ontario, he drove me out every dya in all directions, and wherever he thought farms were to be had cheap.
"When I was a young man," said Neil McDougall, who has already been quoted, "it was considered the proper thing to call one's companions up for a drink whenever a bar was reached, and there was then a bar at almost every cross-roads. The man who did not take his liquor was looked upon as a milk-sop."
"Even some of the ministers opposed the temperance cause in those days," Mr. Welsh continued. "One of the first to introduce a change was the Rev. Alexander Sutherland, a Presbyterian divine, who came into the Queen's Bush in the 'seventies. This minister not only preached temperance to the men in their homes but he went to the bars and induced men sodden with liquor to o home and sober up. In 1864, a young Methodist missionary, either Marshall or Maxwell by name, formed the first temperance lodge, at a place that was then known as Starvation, but is now Pine River. The influence of these two men was simply amazing. It was largely as a result of their efforts that a community once much given to drunkenness, is now noted for its sobriety."
Others of those interviewed gave much of the credit for the change to the children of the pioneers. These, seeing the evils of drunkenness in their elders, were ready converts to the gospel preached by devoted clergymen such as the Presbyterian and Methodist ministers named above.
Steel pens are a comparatively modern invention. It is not much more than seventy-five years or so since they were introduced. Previous to that time the writing was all done with the quill pen made from the quills or large feathers taken from the wing of the goose. People usually kept a bundle of these on hand for use in making pens. Sometimes they would be taken out when plucking the geese, but usually they were gathered when the geese shed their feathers, the quills being found scattered around the yard. They were then boiled in water to remove the oil and make them hard and pliable.
All that was necessary in making a quill pen was a good sharp pen-knife, in fact this was how the name pen-knife originated. Many persons in the olden time were quite expert penmen and some of them who had always been accustomed to use quill pens preferred to still use them even after the invention of the steel pen. Until quite recently, points made from quills were kept for sale in some of the stationery stores. The ink the old folks used was made at home in various ways. One kind was made by boiling the inner bark of the soft maple in water and adding a little copperas to the solution. Nut galls and copperas [sic] were also frequently made use of for making ink. These old-fashioned, home-made inks were good and durable, the writing in some of the old letters and documents written a century ago being as distinct to-day as when first written. Before the days of blotting paper it was customary, especially among students and professional men, to keep a box of fine sand on the desk before them, to dust on the paper after it had been written on, so as to dry up the ink quickly. The ink-well always had small holes in it for inserting the quill pens in when not in use.
Few men witnessed more varying stages of the pioneer period than did Abraham Campbell, whom I met at lot twenty-eight on the first concession of Chingacousy in July, 1899. Mr. Campbell spent his life on the farm on which he was born when Chingacousy was the farthest settlement north of the lake. As a child and youth he saw other pioneers pass his door on their way to the virgin forests of Dufferin, Grey, and Bruce. He was witness of the annual summer pilgrimage of the men from the newer lands of the north to the older settlements of the south in search of employment in which they might earn bread for the winter. As the forests of the northland were pushed back before the attack of the axe-men, he viewed the winter procession of teams by which the gain of the north country was hauled toward lake ports. To all this Mr. Campbell was able to add what his father had told hint of days prior to the period covered by his own recollection, the period when even the Niagara district was young. His father as a youth was at Queens-ton Heights, Stoney Creek, and Lundy's Lane, and one of the most prized possessions of the Campbell homestead, when I was there in 1899, was an iron pot, eighteen inches in diameter, captured from the American forces at Stoney Creek, and still doing duty in the Campbell homestead over eighty years later.
Mr. Campbell's father and six brothers took up one thousand acres in Chingacousy about 1820, after having Journeyed from the old family home in Lincoln County by an ox-team. From Cooksville to their locations, the way led over a road made through the bush with their own axes. A quarter of a century later Campbell's Cross, on the highway connecting north and south, was a scene of bustling life.
"There was a tavern there containing eighteen rooms," said Mr. Campbell, "and in those rooms I have known twenty or thirty people to be accommodated over night. As late as two o'clock in the morning I have seen the bar-room so full of people that one could not get near the bar itself. There were three stores in the village at that time, and they were all busy places. Whence did the business come? Largely from the north country, which by that time had begun to produce a surplus. I have seen as many as one hundred teams arrive with grain in a single day. Part of the grain was bought by local merchants and teamed by them to Port Credit for shipment by water. Some of the farmers hauled their own grain all the way to the lake port.