THE POLLED - ANGUS CATTLE
THE BIG ISLAND HERD AND FARM - 1886
A Magnificent Breed For Canada
Mossom Boyd's Judicious Enterprise in Stock-Raising -- List of Aberdeen-Angus Importations -- "Etaine of Aberlour," "Ermine Bearer" and "King of Trumps."
(From the Canadian Live Stock Journal for August.)
The island home of the Aberdeen-Angus Polls lies in Pigeon lake, opposite to the lesser island of Bobcaygeon, on which the flourishing village of the same name is built, and which contains the residence and the sawmills of the Messrs. Mossom Boyd & Co., the owners of the Big Island and its now famous herd of Aberdeen Angus Polls. Pigeon Lake is a part of that magnificent chain of water communication the various links of which will soon connect the Georgian Bay with Lake Ontario via Lindsay, Peterborough and the River Trent.
Bobcaygeon is an island rock, in many parts flat as a board and nearly as level, split by ten thousand narrow fissures where most readily a walking-stick would sink down into the darkness of it's crevices. It is covered here and there by numerous little groves, which obtain a livelihood on a soil where man would starve were no supplies brought in from the mainland. It seems to form the borderland between the limestone and granite formations, apparently the home where the demons of the earth held carnival while the battle of prehistoric formations still raged. A few miles to the north the hills are being honeycombed to obtain supplies of lead and iron ore, and of late Bobcaygeon quarries are being largely drawn upon for the stateliest edifices of Lindsay.
The island of Bobcaygeon lies at the outlet of Sturgeon Lake, so named from the giant denizens that fattened in its waters in great numbers before the raft of lumbermen had floated on its bosom. The river on its southern shore is piled full of logs for the sawmills of the Messrs. Boyd, no less famous than their herd of stalwart blackskins. It is reached from Toronto by the Midland railway via Lindsay, some 70 miles, and is some twenty miles northeast of Lindsay. The Communication from Lindsay is by boat, the Esturion making her two round trips a day and connecting closely with the trains.
The sail is very pleasant. The Bobcaygeon dams have raised the waters many feet in depth, submerging the lowlands on either side of the Scugog river; making here and there vast fields of naked poles and stumps where the trees that once flourished in the lowlands failed amid the waters of submergence. This alone is unsightly in the sail down from Lindsay.
Our trip was made on one of those loveliest days, when June, like an unobtrusive maiden, was holding out her gentle hand, beckoning the tired brain to come and rest awhile upon her bosom. The sight of Sturgeon Point on such a day, jutting out into Sturgeon Lake was almost tantalizing, when one couldn't land to lie down and rest awhile amid the leafy boughs of the grove of beautiful oak that cover the point in all its borders. Here it is that many of Lindsay's chieftains have built their summer cottages, and hang out an annual truce to the hard battle of life. On such an occasion one feels like grasping the wheels of time, and, with superhuman effort, trying to hold them fast awhile.
The late Mr. Mossom Boyd, the father of the present proprietor of his numerous estates, built his cabin in the wilderness some fifty-three years ago. In the long fight with the giants of the forest he conquered, and not many years since laid him down to sleep the last sleep with that noble army of pioneer heroes now mostly passed away.
The aged boatman on Pigeon lake who told us the story of his life had been almost a lifetime in his employ, and the old man's voice grew tremulous with emotion as, looking back through the vista of departed years, he dwelt upon the untiring energies and the true generosity of that Celtic heart which he has served during all those years.
When the standard of the business fell from the hand of the senior Mossom Boyd it was grasped by that of the younger and a forward march was sounded in its every avenue. The acres of sawdust that lay upon Bobcaygeon rock were piled up higher; new stables were built at the mills to accommodate seventy horses for the lumber woods in winter and the farm in summer. The pine stump rooted in the fields of the four hundred acre farm on the mainland were torn from their moorings and in huge bonfires churned into ashes. The stones were disturbed in their resting places and borne away, suitable barns were built on the Verulam mainland and on the Big Island, and in 1881 the first consignment of Aberdeen-Angus Polls were brought to their new island home, the first of the breed that were owned in Ontario outside of the experimental farm.
After careful deliberation he (Mr. Boyd) determined to supplant the stock which he possessed with Aberdeen-Angus cattle of the purest types from which stock could be bred, the character of whose pedigrees would be unquestioned. In the summer of 1881 he therefore invested in a few specimens of the breed and exhibited them at the Toronto Industrial the same year, the first that up to that time had been shown at any fair in Ontario. They had been brought out by Mr. James Hunter of Sunnyside, Alma, Ont., at the same time that he brought out the importation for the experimental farm. In this lot were Mayflower of Altyre 3rd (4763) of the Mayflower family, and Wanton (4610), by the Erica bull Etonian (1638), and Princess Alice, descended from Auld Granny (1). This purchase is referred to in the work of Macdonald & Sinclair issued on polled cattle a short time after. Later in the same year he purchased from Hon. J. H. Pope some ten head of young females, including Dagmar 5th (4528), of the Matilda branch of the Queen tribe; Pauline (3872) of Easter Tulloch breeding; Waterside Queen (3208) of the Kinnaird Fanny family; Dominion Girl (5206) of the same, and others of equally good breeding.
In 1882 Mr. Boyd bought a lot of some five heifers from Mr. G. Whitfield of Rougemont, Que. These were Coquette 10th (4668), a two-year-old bred by Sir Geo. Macpherson Grant, of the Ballindalloch Coquette family, which produced Coquette 11th, the champion fat stock heifer at the Smithfield show in 1885. Etaine of Aberlour (8203), whose portrait appears on the first page of this number, of the Ericas [SEEN BELOW]; Roserine of the Westertown Rose family, got by the famous Challenger (1260), the sire of the no less famous Chivalry (1765), and the Countess of Dunboyne and Lady Abindon, both from the renowned Kaiser 1263).
THE IMPORTED ABERDEEN-ANGUS COW ETAINE OF ABERLOUR (8203) AND HER CALF EXILE (8042). The property of MOSSOM BOYD & Co., Bobcaygeon, Victoria County, Ont. In the spring of 1883 some twelve head were added by purchase from the importation of the Messrs. Geary Bros. of Bill Bro. London, and Keillor Lodge, Bothwell. Victoria of Aboyne (5542) came with this lot, for which the firm paid 196 guineas in Scotland; as, did Morlich Isabel (6538), of the Windsor branch of the Queen tribe; Waterside Alice (1287) descended from Old Granny (1), and Duchess of Verulam, of similar descent but bred at Bill Bro. Some other purchases were made, but of less moment.
From what we have just penned regarding the grounding of the herd it is apparent that it stands as firmly on the rock of indisputable pedigree as does the island rock of Bobcaygeon between the forks of the Bobcaygeon River. In securing cattle of this class and possessing the requisite individual merit as well, Mr. Boyd spared neither pains nor cost, paying for all the animals bought from $600 to $1500 per heard.
After Etaine of Aberlour (8203), Pride of Findhorn 3rd. (4758) comes next in value. She was calved March 12th, 1880, bred by Mr. W. C. Gordon Cumming of Altyre, Forres, from the aire Black Watch (1242) and the dam Pride of the Findborn 3243 (sic), tracing back to Black Meg )766). Then follows Lula Windsor, a pretty black two-year old heifer, bred at the Big Island Stock Farm, sired by Lord Dundreary of Ambleside (2946) and from the dam Lulu of Ambleside (6372).
Where one hundred head of the blackskins are kept, as at the Big Island, it is vain to particularize thus, but we would do them an injustice did we fail to mention that a large representation of the herd contain the blood of the Ericas and Prides, two strains that have covered the breed with a renown that is imperishable, even though their achievements should henceforth be confined to the past.
It will be remembered by those conversant with the story of the breed that at the Cortachy sale held by the Earl of Airlie October, 1882, four Erica heifers made and average of £388 10s, and that when Mr, R. C. Auld, now of Dexter, Michigan, held his sale on September 19th, 1883, four of the Prides sold at an average of £310 16s. although one was a calf but three months old. One of the lot, the one-year Pride of Aberdeen 30th (5209), brought 510 guineas.
If possible the Messrs. Boyd have shown more care even in the choice of their stock bulls. Those now at the head of the herd are Ermine Bearer (2082), King of Trumps (2895), and Chivalry (1765) of Ontario show yard renown. The young stock of recent years are mostly from the two former; many of those yet to be will be from the latter, purchased from Messrs. Hay & Paton of New Lowell late in 1884. The portrait of Chivalry (1765) appeared in the December number of the Canadian Live Stock Journal, 1883. In that year he won first at the Dominion exhibition and at the Industrial, Toronto, and the silver medal for the best bull of any age. In 1884 he was again first in his class at both exhibitions, and carried silver medal at the Toronto Industrial. His sire is Challenger (1260), victorious at the Highland Society's shows in 1873 and 1874, and his handsome picture is honoured with a place in the 5th. volume of the Polled herd book.
Ermine Bearer (2082) bred by Sir George McPherson Grant, Ballindalloch, is after Young Viscount (736), an Erica sire 1st prize-winner at three consecutive shows of the Highland society, and in 1870 the winner of the champion cup at the International show at Kilburn, and tracing through Juryman (404), Trojan (402), Cupbearer (50) and the venerable Old Jock (1), all winners of the Highland society's shows, each in his day. His dam Ermina (4171) is also and Erica, but the breeding consists only of the reunion of the strain of Erica blood separated by four generations of Ancestry.
King of Trumps (2805) also sired by Viscount (736) is from the dam Kohinoor (2984) and traces back through the Prides of Aberdeen to Black Meg (766). In his ancestors on the sire's side Clansman (398), President 4th (368), Hanton (228), Angus (45) and Panmore (51) were all Highland society first-prize winners, and Black Prince of Tillyfour (366), the sixth waymark up the stream, was the sire of Prizewinners.
Our visit to the Big Island was made in the afternoon of June 11th, when the sun was sinking slowly towards the wooded Fenelon hills. Mr. James Thompson and son and Mr. Wm. Maw of Brooklin were of our number, as were two young Scotch farmers named Turner from near Edinburgh, who had come to see for themselves the capabilities of our country with a view to possible settlement, We can only say to all such, welcome to this land of opportunities, where no wall of a ruined agriculture is abroad upon the air, and where British farmers possessing a little money and more good sense and nerve are sure to ride upon the crest of the wave of an ever-rising prosperity when they locate judiciously within our borders.
Pushing out in a little fleet of three small skiffs we soon reached the Big Island, for the waters were so beautifully calm that the "black duck with her glossy wing" might have swung upon them "silently" with the very quietest movement. Our starting point was opposite the structure where the furnace that consumes the dross from the saws is kept burning continually like some vast Gehenna fire. The cattle are taken to the island in a barge in the spring and remain until days when the faded leaves fall down, when they are taken to winter quarters at the steading on the Verulam mainland. A rim of forest runs along the water's edge, within which is pastureland that has never been torn by share of plow. Ascending an eminence far inland on this island of 1,225 acres we looked down upon the slopes covered with heaps of stones resembling the tents of a vast encampment in the distance. All around us stumps of trees were seen that had furnished many a mast for vessels on the deep. Solitary stragglers stood here and there holding our their ragged arms for a sympathy that will never come, and broken stubs with charred jackets spoke of past conflict with the flames. Amid the stones that lay around, some in heaps and more alone, were piles of logs lying close in the embrace of hastening decay. Here amid such inoffensive companionship the Aberdeen-Angus Polls, the Oxford Down sheep, built well upon high pedigreed imported stock, and mares that work in the lumber woods of the north in winter, but rear their young in summer, gotten by Clydesdale sires, have all things in common, sharing the grasses one with the other, one large and happy family. After lying about an hour discussing future Angus probabilities, some on stone, some on the ground, we catch sight of moving black spectres far downward on the plain. Soon a large wing of the blackskins come trooping by with the astonished look of families in the backwoods who seldom see a stranger. Their strong bodies, well packed with flesh and glossy as the skin of seal, call forth our commendations, and we look first at the cattle and then at the slender pastures. Some two-year grade steers among them call forth expressions of surprise when their age is told.
We were pleased indeed with the accuracy and the fullness of the private records the owner, a sure harbinger of success, and opinion finding strong confirmation in the statement that in the past two years and a half but two head of cattle had been lost.
In the annual battle of the show rings the Big Island cattle have come in for a fair share of the honours. In addition to the prizes hitherto mentioned at the Dominion exhibition, Ottawa, King of Trumps (2895) came in for an easy first, as did the bull calf Abbotsford (3411). The same year at the Toronto Industrial, King of Trumps was first, and also the bull calf Fairleader (3721), since sold as stock bull to Messrs. Hay &Paton of New Lowell. At Ottawa the same year the cow Wanton (4010) came 2nd; the three-year old cows Lady Abingdon (5804) and Etaine of Aberlour (8203) were 1st and 2nd, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd were won by one-year heifers, and smaller prizes for the three calves (now beautiful) two-year heifers, Exile, (shown in our engraving), Lulu Windsor and Countess of Big Island.
In 1885 at the Dominion Exhibition, London, the ground was well contested. King of Trumps was first again, as was Abbotsford (3411) and the two-year old heifer Duchess of Verulam (6832). A goodly number of prizes also went to other members of the herd.
The day of our visit was a red-letter day in the history of the Big Island herd. At Lindsay, when the Esturion to the northward sailed away, she had on board the entire county council of Victoria, in session at the time, en route for a visit to the herd of Mr. Boyd, The members of the legislature were also on board. They were ...of the herd, and with the enthusiasm of...(sic) met at Bobcaygeon by Mr. Boyd with a number of carriages and driven first to the farm of Mr. Charles Fairbairn, for sixteen years the reeve of Verulam, and evidently one who can till a farm as well as steer the township ship through the ever-shifting shoals of county council seas. The steading of Mr. Boyd was taken in, and the fine specimens of the Angus Polls, with their deep, strong, glossy, rounded forms, evoked expressions of admiration from the thirty representatives present. Before the Esturion cast off her moorings three hearty cheers, that echoed throughout the island were given in honour of Mr. Boyd and the good work he is doing in Angus cattle.
The battle of the beef breeds in Canada is, we believe, as yet in its beginning. The din of battle reverberating in other lands is soon to reach our shores. When the price of Angus bulls to be used for crossing comes down to the Shorthorn level in Ontario they are going to be used, and although they may not drive the Shorthorns to the wall they will certainly share with them Canadian Pastures.
We have seen their grades in the meadows of Eastview and on the plateaus of Hillhurst in Quebec. We have admired them at Keillor Lodge while feeding around the fringes of Underwood at Bothwell; we have criticized them severely in winter quarters at Kinnoul Park, and in every instance we have considered them a success for beef production. It only remains for our Canadian breeders of the Angus cattle to repeat in Ontario what the breed had done at the Smithfield and Chicago shows to commend them to the favourable notice of the farmers who are intent upon producing a good class of shipping cattle.
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