I find that I have written six short sketches of the places, and people with whom I was familiar in boyhood days. Your request that some one should write up Solina has caused me to refresh my memory of that little town. It was early named “Pilchardtown” (though perhaps not officially.) A pilchard is a fish resembling the herring, found on the coast of Cornwall and Devon, and I conclude now that a number of the early settlers were from those parts. Just when it received its present name I do not know. It matters little, for it’s the people who make the place, and they all appeared to me as good people. The Beer’s Allin, Lee, Cowle, White, Washington, Bice, Baker, Pascoe, Werry, Reynolds, Hogarth and others, stand out clearly as I write. Mr. Beer and his son John P, were the blacksmiths of the village, and Wm. Charles Beer, the school-teacher, and afterwards the minister for 50 years, John Cowle and his sons, William S and John, carried on a tailoring business until their removal to Enniskillen, Wm. And Daniel White the faithful and hard-working stonemasons, Parmenus Allin, general store, and last but not least, my good old friend Simon Lee, the wagon-maker. He put his conscience into his work, used the best material and the product was enduring.
Mr. Lee was a member of the church at Eldad, and always impressed me as being a devout and godly man, and the memory of his prayers in the home lingers with me. We can recall the images of our friends and make them live before the eye of a loving memory. We hear their cheering voices and feel the contact of their living hands. Mrs. Lee was a good cook, very hospitable and much attached to her family, often referring to her son, Daniel, who had gone to reside in Boston, Mass.
Among the young men who became prominent and useful in later years, I recall Mark Bice and Nelson Washington, as physicians; Charles M. Bice, a lawyer; Arthur J. Reynolds, and W. S. Cowle, as teachers; Wm. C. Beer, Robert McCulloch and C. W. Reynolds as ministers. Not far distant was born in 1846, Edwin S. Washington. I heard his first efforts as a local preacher, and distinctly remember his appearance, manner, texts, tone of voice and general demeanour. He, was indeed, a promising young man, and a bright future was predicted for him. In 1869 he graduated, (B.A.) at Cobourg College, and then spent three years as junior pastor at Grafton, Whitby and Markham. The sad accident which terminated his career, July 2nd, 1872, will be remembered by the older folk. His brother, Wm. C. Washington, M.A., is well known in the hometown where he has resided for some years. James Graham, father of Rev. J. W. Graham, D.D., of Toronto, was the junior preacher on the Bowmanville Circuit in 1861-1862, and he boarded at Mr. Geo. Washington’s, Solina. His Irish humour, keen intellect and great ability as a preacher made him a universal favourite. The local preachers of the community were, as far as I can recall, Peter Werry, P. Allin, Jas. Reynolds, Geo. Washington.
Reference has been recently made to the “Sons of Temperance” Society of the village. For a short period I was a member of it. The late Solomon J. Williams, whom I have well and favourably known from my youth, was one of its most active and gifted members, often contributing tot the “good of the Order” with a speech and debate. Other members and contributors were A. J. Reynolds, J. C. Groat, W. S Cowle and several young women of the families of Hogarth, Washington and Reynolds.
Eldad Church was largely the centre of the social and religious life of the people; whither they went in large numbers. It was not my privilege to attend its services, because of distance, but many of its members and preachers I knew very well, and I infer from locals I see in the newspaper, that “Eldad” continues to be an active force for good in the life of the community.
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