Early Settlement of Laxton Township

1900 by S. STAPLES.

That success can be obtained, by determination, and self-sacrifice, is well illustrated by the early settlers of this country. To the people of to day the stories, and adventures, of our early fore fathers, appear more like fairy tales than a reality. No doubt, they struggled against many hardships, and misfortunes, which now a days would discourage the majority of our young men.

If we could imagine the whole of Canada, or the greater part, a dense forest, with no passages save those made by the Indians, who were only part civilized, all kinds of wild animals roaming about and no place of shelter. When tired or if night over took you on your journey there was a good bed on the ground. Still the courageous and preserving settlers pushed on and on. Eighty-five years ago this country was "wild and wholly" as ever any part of Canada had been.

The immigrants came across from Great Britain and the continent in sailing ships long tedious voyages they were, taking from six to eight weeks, When they arrived in Quebec they continued their lonely trip to all parts of Canada. Those settling in this part of Ontario were taken by boat up the lake to Whitby. Here they landed, and were left to their own fate.

From this place they walked, or perhaps were met by some of the earlier settlers, with lumber wagons. For those settling in our country, it meant a long and uncomfortable journey; but they were sturdy, energetic people who, after years of hard and toilsome labour hewing logs for a rough shanty to live in, clearing little by little, the land, were the means if making this country what it is today. By wool obtained somewhere, or from their own sheep, they spun, knit and weaved their own clothing. Those not having buttons used the thorns of trees instead. After growing a little flax they made their linens. Rough as those were they answered the purpose. The stock and even their families were never safe from attack by wolves. If the pioneer had not a shed he was obliged to partition off part of his dwelling for his cow or any animals he might have. A few having settled close together, they arranged for some place for educating their children. At night the school or shed, which ever we might call it, was used for keeping their sheep, cattle etc. When morning came the little band of schoolmates swept the place out, then assembled for their day's lessons. Those not being able to secure vegetable seeds, sent some of the family to pick greens from what the cows were eating, knowing that they would eat nothing poisonous. With a bag of wheat the happy old farmer would toddle off to the closest mill, perhaps twenty-five or forty miles away. He did not know whether he would ever return; he might make a good lunch for some of the wild animals for all he knew.

Notwithstanding all this it was necessary to have something to eat. If he hadn't wheat he would crush or hammer some coarse grain such as corn or barley.

With this he kept his family if he was lucky enough to have one. It's not too pleasant batching it now, what would it be like them? By the rapid development since that time, what will this country, yes even this country be fifty years hence? It would be difficult to have so many remarkable improvements; still there is certainly room for a great many.


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