Old Land Mark Changes Hands - In Family Since Foundation
Over three quarters of a century ago, when our forebears were pioneering Old Ontario, there settled in the township of Ops, in Victoria County, a miller, Alexander Feir by name, and his wife. His object was to establish, on Pigeon Creek, mills for the accommodation of a quickly populating country.
One can picture the young couple travelling by wagon, on which were piled all their earthly possessions, pausing at the top of the last long hill to look out over the beautiful valley of the Pigeon Creek, the beauty of the picture thrilling their souls and the promise of it elating their minds. Yet, ere they pressed on down the ribbon of road into their land of promise, it seems natural to suppose their eyes turned back to the end of the long road over which they had come, where loved ones would be lonely, so that their mounting anticipations would be tempered by memory.
Mr. Feir was not the first owner. An old settler named James Cunningham had built a cabin and begun clearing the land which the miller had bought from him.
Mrs. Feir was wont to tell in later years, how as she sat on the stump of a tree near the cabin door that first day waiting for a fire to be made, an old settler came to her and said, "Well, Mrs. Feir; it's a mighty purty creek." This she maintained, had been told her continually all through the years.
Building operations were soon under way. The dam and mills took form. A new cosy log house was built and the real business of living begun. Think of the lack of tools that handicapped these stern old builders: yet what solid buildings they put up.
As the family grew, "lean-tos" were added, until, when completed, it had the appearance of being bodily transported from Ireland. There were nine children; two girls and seven boys. As they grew up a sawmill and shingle mill were added to the gristmill. A blacksmith shop was built and an adjoining farm bought.
The blacksmith shop became the centre for a large group of neighbouring boys to spend the long evenings. One can picture these youths gathering around the roaring fire, the kindly chaff and merry songs, the castles in Spain that grew out of the dancing sparks. One is halted here by the certain knowledge that some of these dreamers were called from this life before they had time to realize materially their castle in Spain, or saw it fall to ashes.
There was such a happy neighbourhood of much coming and going among the families. It is said that the "Feir" table was never laid without its extra place for the possible stranger.
The years flew by. The family was scattered, The old lady and gentleman at a ripe old age passed on to a new life of service, leaving behind them a splendid monument of honourable service to the community.
John Feir, who owned the neighbouring farm, took over the mill for some years. Later Isaiah Feir, who was living in Peterborough, had an accident which left him unable to continue his work there, so he took over the mills. He built a new gristmill and rejuvenated the sawmill. For twelve years he carried on a splendid business there, but cruel misfortune and the piling up of years have forced him to sell "Feir's Mills" to strangers.
Yet, the community have voiced the opinion that for many years to come, the place will continue to be called "Feir's Mills". Before leaving the old homestead, their many friends and neighbours presented Mr. Feir with a gold watch and chain, and his daughter, Miss Ruby, with a club bag, and on behalf of Ops School Mr. Feir was the recipient of a club bag in return for the gift of an organ to the school. The presentations were made in Reaboro Community Hall, where a full evening's programme was enjoyed.
Mr. Feir and Miss Ruby are making their home with his daughter, Mrs. R. H. Johnston of Omemee for the present.
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