A Trip Through the Back Lakes of Newcastle District

This web site is a copyright work. The reproduction, copying, downloading, storage, recording, broadcasting, retransmission and distribution of any part of these pages (including all text, compilations, graphics and source code) without the written permission of Michael Stephenson is strictly prohibited.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephenson. All rights reserved.

"Erigua parte estates reliqua..ad "BOBCAGUINEM profisei contendi.:_Cesar.

I am arrived at Peterborough, as you will perceive by the Postmark of this Letter, and shall start tomorrow on my proposed visit to Bobcaguin. It is evening, and having a few moments to myself, I have seized my "grey goose quill"

"That mighty instrument of little men"

to give you a brief description currente calamo, of what I have seen, trusting you will give me credit for the alacrity with which I thus fulfil my promises. Enpassant, I see the miserable rogues are at you about the Post Office, _what gulls! Now are they not led by the nose "as readily as asses are," and are they not too as venomous as the blind worm. The York Courier is also up in arms, _how ludicrous! __"Now Gregory, remember thy smashing blow.

I will not waste your time by remarks on the country between here and Cobourg, any further than to observe that the wheat crops are generally abundant, but the grain light, and some of it very smutty: - one farmer in Hamilton has been necessitated to dispose of the whole of an extensive crop of wheat to the distiller at a serious loss in barter for whiskey: - the corn is greatly injured by the late frosty nights, and, I fear little of it will ripen - fortunately but small quantities are grown in this neighbourhood, it being an uncertain crop; - the injured crops will make excellent fodder for the cattle.

The township of Otonabie is improving rapidly, and possesses 'capabilities' that would render it a rich, and favourite township, did not the intervention of the Rice Lake very much tend to interrupt the communication with the front: - the opening of the Trent navigation will do great things for Otonabie. Several respectable gentlemen from the United Kingdom have purchased cultivated farms there this summer, and I learn are highly pleased with their situations. The farms on the road between Anderson's and Peterboro are assuming a very interesting appearance; particularly those situated on the last six miles of the route. The road for the last distance is in excellent order, - quite as good as your front roads; - and everything indeed bears the impress of great prosperity. With the exception of Rubidge's and Connin's, two excellent houses, and all around them smiling with cultivation, I did not observe any frame buildings - they do not appear to be in vogue in Otonabie, a circumstance which to my particular taste is not to be regretted; for a good log house is far more warm, comfortable and picturesque in the forest, than a raw, grey weather-boarded, frame house, which, unpainted, (as such houses commonly are) looks very cold and uncomfortable. Many of the farms are rid of the ugly looking stumps; while the extensive clearings, the large out-houses, and numerous cattle and pigs, denote a degree of improvement and increase in worldly means truly gratifying.

You are curious I dare say to learn what impression Peterborough has made on me; - whether I am pleased, or disappointed in my expectations. You know that I am nothing without I am critical, and that I possess that most dangerous propensity of calling things by their proper names; - at the present moment I am not in the humour to speak well of any place, for the spirit of Diogenes is upon me; my time and temper have both been wasted in all the agony and turmoil of preparation for the trip to the Back Lakes, - purchasing stew pans, fry pans, blankets, and all other unmentionable articles, the uses of which I am as ignorant of, as a good Mahometanmay be presumed to be of corkscrew. Impute, therefore, any thing I may say derogatory of Peterborough, to "the house, the clime, the time, the pots," and the miserable candles "paling their ineffectual fire."

Peterborough, then, is what you described it to be, a fast rising, prosperous, and very extensive village, occupying, in proportion to the number of its houses, a large extent of ground. It is full of bustling merchants, and amply provided stores. A rich and populous county surrounds it on every side, and the neighbouring farmers find it a ready and excellent market for the surplus products of their industry, of which however, small quantities only have ever been shipped to Montreal; the demands of the numerous new settlers being fully as great as the supply. Last year 4000 emigrants were sent to the Newcastle District, most of whom were settled in the back townships and must have tended to raise the price of the necessaries of life in Peterborough. - the best evidence of the excellence of the market here is the price of land in Douro (a township to the north of Peterborough, and one of the most promising portions of the district) as compared with the lands in front.

Peterborough possesses a ready communication with every part of the district. No one who examines the map of this province, and contemplates the chain of noble Lakes, stretching their huge arms across the richest portion of the Newcastle district, - separated from lake Simcoe merely by a narrow strip of land, and connected by their rivers, the Trent and Otonabie, with Lake Ontario, - but must be astonished at the amazing advantages which such facilities hold out to this town, commanding as it does every benefit that can be derived from them. Situated at the head of the navigation of the Otonabie, the only outlet for the waters of those extended Lakes, it is pointed out by nature as the metropolis of the back country; while of the above river, leave nothing to be wished for to enable it at once to arrive at wealth and importance. - The contemplated Works of the Trent Canal, if they be carried into execution, will eventually furnish a water communication with the Bad of Quinte, and thus enable her Merchants to ship goods to Montreal without breaking bulk. The rail-road to Lake Chemong, in connection with the short canals that are already in progress and rapidly advancing to completion will likewise render the Lakes navigable to within a few miles of Lake Simcoe - from whence to Balsam Lake it is proposed next year to open a canal. It needs then no great stretch of the imagination to fancy an early day when the waters of the mighty Superior will mingle with those of the Rice Lake.

Peterborough possesses all the repulsive features incident to the new and fast thriving towns of this country. The first arrangement which displeases the eye on walking through it, is the singularly straggling position of the houses. The streets are, I am ready to believe, laid out according to some preconceived and fixed plan, but the outlines are so ill-developed, that it would puzzle the penetration of La Place himself to define their contemplated direction, by any calculations derived from the position of the houses. -The next offence to all ideas of neatness or beauty arise from the regiments of deplorable looking pine stumps, standing like sentinels round almost every house in the out-skirts of the place. But such things are easily tolerated, and are perhaps unavailable in a town which has sprung up, as it were, in a night, from the silence and solitude of the wilderness. However there is one intolerable nuisance - the more offensive because unnecessary - which gives a desolate appearance to the part of the town where it is situated - I allude to the stagnant pond near Mr. Murphy's store. It is a great eye-sore, and little conducive to the health of the inhabitants; - but such is the inexplicabilisnis of the long of mill-dams, that although this is situated in the centre of the place, no consideration on the score of beauty or healthiness can possibly lead to its removal - Oh! "for a breath to utter what I think of such practices.

Most of the town is pleasantly situated and some parts are really beautiful. The neat little villas perched on the hill above Mr. Hall's extensive establishment particularly attracted my attention, and the situation of McFadden's Tavern is still more attractive - a situation indeed of which a nobleman might well be proud - the broad, rapid, glittering Otonabie, rolls its clear waters by the very door of the tavern, and at a short distance beyond divides to surround a thickly wooded plot-green to the water's edge. "The world of eye and ear" is greatly narrowed by the interminable forests, which literally girdle in and overshadow Peterborough. As the woods are cleared around, the prospect from the upper part of the village will be exceedingly picturesque.

The number of inhabitants are 850. Prosperity and plenty are settling among them and altogether presents a scene of much interest. The accommodations at the taverns about the same as at Cobourg, if that be any commendation, and the daily demands on your pocket also the same. Every one is very civil and obliging and apparently alive to the warmest hospitality. It is with pride and satisfaction that I hear from every person the most pleasing remark, on the general tone of society here, - so truly British in its feelings, habits and manners, as to render it still more dear by association and by its rarity. Long may such feelings spread and flourish among the prosperous people of Peterborough - who, by the by, are singularly proud of their village, and jealous of any remarks derogatory to its character.

Peterborough is, per excellence, the most loyal village of Upper Canada, and is an excellent example of what a British settlement is sure to be under good management. A perverse jaundiced-eyed, Canadian Editor has lately stigmatized himself by some remarks on the comparative energies of the Canadians and the Americans. in which he takes a malicious delight moderating the spirit, emulation and perseverance of our settlers. On the good taste of such observation I cannot now take time to debate; but the people here are a proof of this incorrectness, even if an American writer with more honourable and praiseworthy feelings had not added his testimony in evidence of the national importance of this province, and the endless spirit of commercial and agricultural enterprise of its inhabitants.

The sudden rise of Peterboro is truly astonishing, and can only be ascribed to the times in which we live. Leaving home for Canada is no longer considered the fearful undertaking that it once was. Our minds are becoming habituated to the idea of leaving home - (an act once thought to be only justifiable by the presence of the most pinching poverty) - and thousands of old country people join us every year. Some are attracted to the immediate connection of family ties, or by the pleasing reports and pressing invitations of their successful friends-few ever forsake us after a short residence in this country. Hence the number of emigrants who have poured into the back townships, and given an attraction and character to the district of Newcastle not enjoyed to the same degree by any other portion of the province; inducing hundreds of capitalists to pitch their tents among us after wandering a weary pilgrimage through the most fertile parts of the West Country. Hence also the rapid increase of Peterboro within the last three years." The chief emporium of the back settlements, it promises in a few years to be one of the largest and richest towns in the province.



"Per varios cusus, per tot discrimina reruin,

Tendimits in Bobcayguinem"-Virgil.

"Who doth ambition shun,

And loves to live i, the sun

Seeking the food he cats,

And pleased with what he gets,

Come hither, come hither, come-hither;

Here shall he see

No enemy,

But winter and rough weather." -Shakespear.


Here I am at last, and a pretty specimen of mortality; my face is burnt and rubicund, my hands blistered, and my limbs cramped by lying out so many nights, with nothing to shade us from the dew but the trees under which we slept. I am, as you may imagine, in no key for letter writing; but as an excellent opportunity presents itself, free from interruption from my companions, who are in full chase of a Fox, I gladly take advantage of it to write you.

On Monday morning, at "shout of rooster," we started from Peterborough, four determined and jovial fellows sirs, a most thorough - paced Cockney; J-t, "an envious emulator of other men's good parts"-and a perfect epitome of a hot-headed Patlander, -K-r, from "vamous Zoomerzett Shire," and you most obedient servant. We engaged a wagon to take us to Bridgenorth, about six miles distant from and to the north west of Peterborough, on Lake Chemong. The jumbling and jolting of the wagon over rough road was really terrific, and we had to hold on by the seat like "grim death." Poor S-rs was seated between two of us, peering around "like and owl from an ivy bush," his face inexpressible contorted, and looking the picture of distress and misery. On we went helter skelter over and uneven, undulation country, gradually rising above the level of Peterborough, until reaching the crown of a high hill, we gained a beautiful view of an immense extent of country, including the RICE LAKE PLAINS, which rose bold and clear in the distance, and formed a prominent feature in the scene. The land is stony, but seems of excellent quality, and has apparently been generally settled for several years, for nearly every lot is occupied and large quantities of land cleared. The road, in as much as it is a back road, and leading to the utmost boundaries of civilization, is a good sort of a road, but is by no means unsusceptible of improvement, seeing that it required the utmost skill of our driver to save us repeatedly from a lodgement in frequent suspicious holes. A little expense, however, would put it in good order, for the soil is naturally dry. -The superabundance of stones will some day furnish excellent and cheap materials for forming a Macadamized road, whenever the means of the surrounding country will support the necessary expense of a road constructed on that principle.

The village of Bridgenorth is at present in puris naturalibus. We found there it is true a exceedingly neat and comfortable Tavern, but mirabili dictu, it is the only house in the village. It is, however, admirably provided with all the necessaries of life, so that we had nothing to complain of. It is kept by Dore, who, enjoying the enviable lot of having no one but his wife to dispute his authority, is as big as a three-tailed Bashaw, and his decrees are accordingly looked upon as absolute. On entering we received a hearty and noisy welcome from our shrewd host, and found ourselves in the midst of a jovial party of mechanics, who were laughing and carousing round a bright fire, and who considerately gave way to permit our mixing with them. Our bustling hostess egregiously excels in the science of the "flesh pots of Egypt" and quickly prepared us an excellent dinner-consisting of fowls, (which by-the-bye we shot for her) warm bread, butter as yellow as butter-cups, eggs with savoury ham, and every thing betokening the Land of Plenty, instead of the confiner of barbaric life. - We slept there, and on the next morning roused ourselves early from the arms of Murphy jumped into our skiff, already prepared for us; with three hearty cheers, pushed from the shore, and proceeded on our destined route.

Chemong is an extensive lake, lying between Ennismore and Smith (two populous and wealthy townships - the latter containing a population of a thousand souls) - it is long, narrow, and shallow, with an extremely muddy bottom. The country around is hilly and varied; with several clearings on the lakeshore. The landscape is excellent and scenery picturesque but wearies the eye by the sameness of its forest-garb; we gaze in vain for those countless objects which adorn and diversify the varied landscapes of a cleared and long settled country - so numberless in hues, and so exhaustless in their excitement to the organs of vision: The most beautiful landscape in the world would be veiled and rendered monotonous by the unvaried and everlasting green of the forest.

After rowing four or five miles we came in sight of the Indian village situated on the point of a long tongue of land that separates Buckhorn Lake from Lake Chemong. The village looks pretty and picturesque - but there are few evidences of much prosperity perceivable among its "red" inhabitants - poverty I should say is more common among them than property. The red man does not gain much by civilization - as a husbandman he is unsuccessful - in religion he is a fanatic; he shrinks beneath the superior intellect and more practiced head of the white man; becomes distrustful, reserved and cunning; he looses his manly, simple, and independent character, and evidently avoids contact with those whom he painfully feels are superior to him. His luxury still is to wander in unrestrained liberty through the everlasting and uninhabited forests; his native home, - of, in his canoe, to ply his solitary and lonely way along the woody shores of these extensive and far-winding lakes - hunting the red deer the otter, and the beaver, and trusting to chance and his own resources for subsistence. The Indians are said to be decreasing in number. A few years hence and they will have forsook these lakes - the march of improvement and civilization is fast lemming them in, and will at last drive them into the more savage and inaccessible wilderness of the north-west-for certain it is that the white man and the red cannot dwell together. Yon many cede them lands and make laws to preserve them in possession of them - you may form them into communities and furnish them with implements of industry to make them tillers of the soil; but it will not succeed - you cannot eradicate their attachment to a wild roving life. "The sun is my Father, and the Earth my mother, and on her bosom will I recline: said Tecumseh to General Harrison, when invited to take his seat at the Council Board a short time previous to the battle of Tippecanoe, and stretching himself with his warriors on the green sward, he proudly refused the invitation.

This village was formed under the superintendence of Elder Scott, who deserves great credit for the pains he has taken in the worldly and spiritual interests of his read protégés. The number of Mud Lake Indians were about 100 - but John Iron, the Chief of the Mud Lake Indians, having received under his protection John Crane, Chief of about 60 Scugog Indians, has added considerably to their number.

The Indian village is the landmark by which to discover the channel leading to Buckhorn Lake as it forms the northern band of the entrance of that channel. The route then lies directly N. W. until you arrive at the second log house, inhabited by one Bill McCue, a distance of about three miles from the Indian village, and from which a second departure may be taken, observing to turn a bold point and broad channel to the north, at about the eighth of a mile from Billy's house. Here a most beautiful lake opened upon us - Pigeon Lake.

"In all her length far winding lay,

With promontory, creek and bay;

And islands that empurpled bright

Floated amid the livelier light."

Capt. Nichol's is the only house we saw or heard of in Harvey, bordering on the Lakeshore and the lots around it the only tolerable land we observed. We were told of their being better at some distance back, which is probably the case, tho every one admits it to be stony. The Lake shores are rocky, and covered with dwarf pines, and rugged scrubby oaks-in appearance very sterile and repulsive. We were kindly treated at the Captain's; his servant, a stout honest, simple minded Irishman, was delighted to see us (for visitors there, we found, were few and far between; with little to break the monotony of a back woodsman's life - not even a cow or a pig for his companion) - on a Sunday his only pleasure is to sit by the lake-shore, all alone, pensively gazing o'er the lakes, till he is wearied, and then return to his shanty to think of the olden times and of old Ireland. We were invited to shake down our blankets in the shanty, which we did. The next morning we received full directions as to the course we ought to pursue to reach Bobcaguin, and none but blundering blockheads could have missed that place; but we were fated to go through a chapter of accidents, and missed our way accordingly, with all the ease imaginable. We doubled the picturesque point opposite to Little Bob, and rowed due north-our light and fragile skiff, dancing on the waves, for the wind was high and the Lake broad. Every moment the wind became fiercer, and the waves higher, till the less daring among us were fearful of a capsize; but as the wind was favourable for us we kept on our course, and shot rapidly and merrily along the rocky shores of the western side of Harvey, never doubting but that we should soon hear the roar of Bobcaguin Falls. At length we arrived at a long narrow shelve of rocks, running diagonally across the lake, when we thought it better to proceed more cautiously, for our course now lay amidst scarcely covered rocks, fringed with gigantic water weeds, which hung around thousand arms like huge polypi - Numerous rocky islands presented themselves in endless variety-formed of immense boulders rudely piled on each other, "like the fragments of a former world," and covered with cedar and low brush. But for the clearness and transparency of the water - "deeply, darkly, beautifully blue" - we must have split upon some one of the innumerable rocks which treacherously way-laid us. On we still went, however, nothing fearing-riddling our way between the lovely islands; delighted with the beautiful scenery, which changed every moment of our progress. At last we were completely bewildered-the wind was blowing a perfect hurricane, and we dare not lay our boat broadside to the trough of waves. To prevent being swamped, we were obliged to run the boat to the lea side of a small island and dragging her into a cozy little crevice in the lichen-stained rocks, we cheerily proceeded to build a wigwam and light a fire for cooking. Having failed to shoot any of the legions of wild fowl which swam among these lakes, we were obliged to bring our pork into requisition; and cooked a large piece of it. Importunate as were the sensations in our epigastriums, we could scarcely touch the beastly product of the pork-barrel with which we had provided ourselves at Peterborough - in was doubtlessly taken from the venerable sides of the mother of fourteen generations of pigs, and defied all our skill in the gastronomic art to render it palatable. We waited several hours for the wind to lull, but it raged on with continued fury; - so making our minds up to sleep a la signe de la luner, we opened our cask of whiskey, and agreeably to rule, took possession of the island, and christened it by the name of Calypso.

Carefully protected from the wind by the bulwark we had raised to windward, to form which nearly every stick on the island was cut down, and with a blazing fire before us, we were quickly "o'er a' the ills o' life victorious," and became so full of fun and hilarity that we no longer seemed to be made of the same dull clay which forms the component part of our soul's composition. The spirit of Democritus animated us all; for it was impossible to resist the impulse of the moment. Such a crew of jovial wretches you never beheld; - the wind roaring around us, our fire fierce and flaring, and our toddy excellent. Presently a sudden impulse seized our cockney friend-he sprung on his legs, and in a stentorian voice like Boanerges, the God of Thunder, - you know his emphatic manner - he proposed as a Toast, "Bobcayguin and the Backcountry" In an eloquent and thrilling speech, his soul bursting out through every feature of his honest English countenance, he painted in fervent and flowery language the hopes, the fears, the hardships, and the joys of a backwoodsman's life. It was now J***t's turn-fancy him, O Chatterton I with the vis anima burning on his characteristic face, standing up, and blushing like the recording angel as he gave his toast "The Fair"-you know what a Mahommetan he is, and will not wonder at such a toast in such a situation. Sed hac "hactenus.

About an hour before sun-set the clouds dispersed, and Eoles having called in his turbulent South-Western, we once more trusted ourselves to the already appeased waves, and plied our way back to the point round which we had lucklessly turned in the morning. It was one of the most splendid evenings I have ever witnessed, and in its loveliness might have challenged Windermere and her peaceful isles - the calm seclusion, the bright waters, glittering and spangling in the rays of the sun and all speckled with "innumerous islands' - the leafy woods, varied by the splendid countless tints of autumn, with the pine.

"Grouping their dark hues with every stain," formed a scene which I shall never forget. Night drew on a pace, Little Bon, and it burnt pines, were yet a long way in the distance: fearful of not reaching it by day light, we rowed into a peaceful looking bay, guarded at its outlet by a thickly wooded island; at the further end of it we pushed ashore, and having fortunately found and old wigwam under a huge cedar tree, we kindled a fire, threw our wearied limbs on our blankets, and welcomed reposed.



"---Is there any

Amongst us of so fat sense, so pamper'd

Would chose luxuriously to lie a-bed

And purge away his spirit? Send his soul out

On sugar sops and syrups? Give me Liberty!"


My last letter terminated in a detailed account of our escape from the sequestered and interesting Archipelago in the northern extremity of Pigeon Lake. I left our party cosily lain on their blankets before a roaring fire and under the protecting shade of a gigantic cedar tree.

About midnight I awoke, chilled by the dew and cold air. The sky was clear, with just so much light as made darkness visible. I looked around on my companions; they were asleep. Insensibly I fell into fitful musings "full of the influence of the hour, the time, the spot," and touched by the almost awful repose and stillness of nature. An old owl, by way of affording us company in so sequestered a place, fixed himself on the topmost bough of the tree under which we slept, and startled me every few minutes by sending forth the most insufferable sepulchral sounds. He kept up his pitiful moaning the whole night long, which joined to the frequent splashes in the water at our feet, for we lay close to the lake shore, and the melancholy screams of unknown animals, were sufficiently trying to the nerves, and did not fail to awaken a thousand accordant and fantastic ideas. I tried with my eye to pierce the pitchy darkness of the opposite shore; a wolf howled from its depths and the neighbouring hills re-echoed bank the sound in numerous echoes till my spirits almost shrunk from the painful sense of superstitious awe which was creeping over me. This, I mentally exclaimed this is solitude; for never before had I so painfully felt the presence of nature. Once more I tried to court sleep, but fancy had taken the helm, and until morning "stood tip-toe on the misty mountain's top my mind floated gently, but irresistibly on the confused tide of memory.

It proved a delightful morning; the glorious sun flung his beams in a golden shower over the quiet bay before us, whose waves glimmered bright & came rippling on the winding beach in soft murmurs. Behind wee old frowning rocks, and the leafy labyrinth of ancient trees, among which the smoke from our fire gracefully curled. The Lord of the Day continued to ascend. Our Zoomerzett Shore lad with sedulously employed under the "trysting tree," in the melancholy task of preparing a mess of pottage from our unsavory pork; a task which he seasoned by uttering unprofitable lamentations. S__rs was at a little distance beyond, seated on a stone, cleaning his incomparable "Manton," and ever and anon casting his eye askant, with involuntary symptoms of disgust, on the insufferable mess, off which he imagined we were doomed that morning to make a full meal. I could not help feeling a malicious delight at the disconsolate appearance of our worthy brotherhood, under such sickening prospects. But that providence "which doth the ravens feed; yea, providentially caters from the sparrow" ruled it better for us. Suddenly S-rs attention was attracted by a long line of ripple, stretching far into lake. He directed out attention to it, and K-r proclaimed at a deer, which had evidently just left a jutting point of land on our right, and was fast making for the other side of the water. We gave a shriek of delight grasped our fire arms, which rested against the cedar tree, rushed simultaneously to the boat, and like mad creatures pushed from the shore. It was a moment of the highest excitement; our hearts beat quick and loud and every face bespoke the most intense anxiety. Nothing was heard but the quick, heavy, wild pulls of the rowers, and the occasional, low, impatient, but animating remarks of our exhilarating Irishman. At last came the exulting assurance of success; that we were fast gaining on our noble quarry; that it was a large buck, with huge antlers spreading like, branches upon the water; that it was hesitation had turned from its course, and was now swimming before us in grand style. As yet I had now once turned my head to look but pulled at the oar with heart and main. I had not in former days rowed Searle's cutters, on the Thames, without some credit to myself; the gurgling noise at the bow of the boat, and the boiling foam which we shot past, spoke our rapid progress and shewed that my right hand had not forgot its cunning. A discharge from S-r's gun now struck the deer behind the head and turned the distracted creature again from its course. I now looked round and saw it straining every nerve to gain the shore. Its dark burning eye was fixed on us, and its ears answering by their vibratory motion to each new struggle. But it was all in vain. A deer was to die that morning on the shores of Harvey. Never more was this poor dappled wretch to lift his head among the cedar boughs of Verulam, nor snuff the cool air around the howling falls of Bobcayguin. As we closed, J-t Stood up with his gun, and struck the deer senseless with the buttend, driving the hammer n the lock deep into the victims brains, while K-r, seizing it as it rolled lifeless floating by, lifted it from the water, drew the blade of his knife across its throat, and consigned the body, all weltering in its blood, to the bottom of the boat-tenderly though, and reverentially, not doubting it was the monarch of "the native burghers of this desert city." Upon such a joyful occasion, three loud shouts of victory were uproariously given! We now turned back to our encampment singing "See the conquering hero comes."

I must not pause to dilate upon the extraordinary scene that followed; our appetites were not merely prompt but importunate. A stoic surely must have laughed to see us; each eager to commence his meal, and with wistful eyes watching the fire over which hung a pot whose contents were no ways inferior to Jacob's pottage. It was indeed a scene of pleasure and buoyancy, such as luxurious indolence can never witness.

After finishing an excellent breakfast, and sending round "the shell of joy," we took to our boat, and with some regret at leaving such a secluded but happy spot, the scene of much triumph and hilarity, rowed out from the bay, and passing the wooded island at its mouth, we once more bore away in search of the long sought Bobcayguin.

After pulling South for nearly an hour, we beheld, on turning an angle of the shore, a scow come out from a narrow opening in the woods. We did not doubt this outlet was that which we had now for two days been anxiously endeavouring to discover. We instantly made for it, and found it to be a deep narrow, rapid river, whose sides wee frowning with rocks; wild and romantic in appearance. The hoarse roar of falling waters soon reached our ears; after passing along this river for nearly a mile we came in sight of the Falls of Bobcayguin - and narrow and insignificant they are; quite undeserving a name which associates your ideas with such a sight as the stupendous and magnificent Falls of Niagara, or the grandeur of those of the beautiful Clyde. We were obliged to unship our traps, and drag the boat up the Falls. This was easily accomplished. A neat log house lately erected, and inhabited by an Irish family, overlooks the falls. Its inmates are ever ready to assist the traveler, either in dragging his boat up the rapids, or furnishing him with such necessaries as so distant a place can afford. In the spring and late autumnal months, the mass of waters sweeping over the falls is vastly increased, and it is said there is little difficulty at such times in shooting a loaded skiff over them. Above the falls are the rapids, extending about half a mile; and these also were easily passed. After surmounting the most difficult part of the passage, we pushed ashore at Mr. Savers, on whose lot we ________________________ house, constructed at great expense and with every attention to comfort. Beyond Mr. Sawyers we met little difficulty. Now and then we ran on some one of the immense rocks, which form the bed of the rapids; but fortunately in every case avoided an upset; yet once or twice it required our utmost attention and the most vigorous and persevering efforts to escape that catastrophe; we were not such Anabaptists as to think it necessary one would be baptized before he could give an account of what he had witnessed or believes. On coming into still water we found ourselves at the entrance of Sturgeon Lake, one of the most beautiful of this chain of lakes, but whose beauties poured down the rain in one sheet of water, and necessitated us to push ashore and invoke the hospitality of Mr. Need. This gentleman, whose house is the Ultima Thule of civilization, was from home, but on our apologetically appealing to the weather, his servant obligingly assured us we were welcome to every accommodation which he could command in the absence of his master. We were soon in good spirits again; a comfortable log house, a cheerful fire to dry our clothes, and the unusual mental luxury, (in the back woods) of a well-selected library, like Harp of David, put every evil spirit to flight.

It was impossible to get further that night; the next morning we had an opportunity of looking over the improvements and were pleased at the great attention and care the worthy proprietor had bestowed to neatness and regularity. An excellent log house, nearly finished, two shanties, with a neat garden and extensive clearing form the items. We were informed of a road which is now about being cut through the forest to Cameron's Falls which will not only throw open a new line of lots, but also considerable shorten the distance between Mr. Needs and the Falls. Opposite to Mr. N. is the farm of Mr. Doreas C.K.

N.B.- Please to notice an error which, in my last letter, I inadvertently made; it is Pigeon Lake and not Sturgeon Lake which runs through Harvey.




The morn is up again, the dew morn,

With breath all incense, and with cheek all bloom,

Laughing the clouds away with playful scorn,

And living as if earth contain'd no tomb, -

And glowing into day: we may resume

The march of our existence: and thus I,

On thy shores, fair Verulam May find room

And food for meditation, nor pass by

Much that may give us pleasure, if ponder'd fittingly.


What a splendid autumnal morning! - The ancient forests are clothed in the most gorgeous attire of many-colored Autumn, - violet, brown, bright yellow, scarlet and russet green, all mingled together, like the assemblage of tints in a kaleidoscope. - Beautiful is the scene, though the umbrageous woods are still and silent, and though "the smiling face of cultivation" be not here. We hear the murmur of the tiny waves on the sandy shores of Verulam; but no sound of life, no songs from the merry choristers of the woods come caroling along the placid waters; no lawns stretch to the water's edge, nor peasant's cot looks out from the stately forest trees and golden orchard, speaking to the heart of life, industry, poetry and love. Yet - it is lovely, and the imagination rests on the quiet sight in many a pleasant dream, gliding among its own beautiful imaginings, like our own light skiff, or like a water-bird, floating noiselessly among the rushy havens of the neighbouring islands.

But Need's is now far behind us, and it is time to say something of Sturgeon Lake. And yet what can I say, but that it is as pretty as water, land and forest well can make it. It runs through nearly the center of Verulam - an excellent township, full of good lands with little swamp, and about being thickly settled by, wealthy emigrants. He we are, however, at Sturgeon Point - a bold, jutting promontory, where the trees grow like an orchard; and so perfectly delightful in its views and situation, that I can fancy no prettier place for a residence, and were it mine, I should be loath to sell it for any price. We went ashore, and found the soil rich and dry. It was just the place for an encampment, and though not immediately pressed by the calls of hunger, we were seduced by the attraction of the place, but principally by a crystal spring bubbling from a rock, and running in a little mossy bed down to the water's edge, once more to break our fast. As we sat regaling ourselves, like so many wandering gypsies, and smoking our pipes, we watched a fish-hawk come slowly voyaging up the lake. His old enemy, the bald eagle, was near; - that infamous harpy who lives on the skill and dexterity of his weaker neighbour. The fish-hawk is an admirable fisher, and will strike a fish from an immense height, with as much certainty as an Indian with his spear. "The hawk in his fishing pursuits sometimes mistakes his mark, or over-rates his strength by striking a fish too large and powerful for him to manage, by whom he is suddenly dragged under, and generally both perish."

Wilson, speaking of the bald eagle, says, there appears something more tyrannical in his mode of obtaining food than altogether accords with the equality of republican legislation. Elevated on the dead limb of some gigantic tree, that commands a wide view of the neighbouring shore, he seems calmly to contemplate the motions of the various feathered tribes that pursue their avocations below. The snow-white gulls, slowly winnowing the air; the sand pipers coursing along the sands, trains of ducks streaming over the surface; silent cranes, intent & wading; clamorous crows, and all the winged multitudes, -high over all these hovers one whose action instantly arrests all his attention-by his wide curvature of limb, and sudden suspension in the air, he know him to be the fish-hawk, settling over some devoted victim. His eye kindles at the sight, and balancing himself, with half opened wings on the branch, he watches the result. Down, rapid as an arrow from heaven, descends the object of his attention; the roar of its wings reaching the ear as it disappears, making the surges foam around. At this moment the eager looks of the eagle are all ardour, and levelling his neck for flight, he sees the fish-hawk emerge, struggling with his prey, and mounting the air with screams of exultation. These are the signal for the eagle, who launching into the air instantly, give chase, and soon gains on the fish hawk; each exerts his utmost to mount above the other displaying in the encounters the most sublime aerial evolutions. The unencumbered eagle rapidly advances, and is just on the point of reaching his opponent, when with a sudden scream, probably of despair and honest execration, the later drops his fish; the eagle poising himself for a moment, as if to take a more certain aim, descends like a whirlwind, snatches it in his grasp ere it reaches the water, and bears his ill-gotten booty silently away to the woods.

Opposite to Sturgeon Point is the Scugog River, on which are situate Purdy's Mills. The lands around are rich, with noble timber, particularly on the left side of the Scugog River. But the general character of the land of Verulam immediately bordering on the Lake shore, as far as we have seen, is not attractive. On the long slopes running back from the water we observed beautiful land - perhaps everywhere on these Lakes it is found better on the second line of lots. Travellers merely passing along the Lakes, without pioneering into the interior will be disappointed in their expectations. The approaches to the back lots we found, however, sufficiently difficult and intricate, the undertaking being "double, double, toil and trouble" - but the result will repay every labour, and I doubt not, authenticate the truth of whatever I have asserted of the quality of lands in Verulam.

The first settlers in this Land of Promise are necessarily doomed to undergo many of the privations and hardships incident to a new settlement; yet they will escape some of them, and may reckon on enjoying many advantages, unlocked for in new townships, so far removed from the front, and not possessed of an internal navigation. Bad roads, the bane of a new country, they will be greatly independent of, for the chain of Lakes, passing as we have seen within six miles of Peterborough, is as a grand thorough-fare running through the center of an extended settlement, knitting every part of it together, and connection the most distant portions, and at once furnishing a cheap means of transmitting the produce of the farms to the advantageous market of Peterborough, as well as providing the settler with luxuries and comforts, the want of which, more than any other cause, renders him too frequently discontented with his lots.

In spite of these redeeming points, there are many circumstances attending a settlement in the back-woods peculiarly trying to an irresolute mind-to the bold and determined they are the incentives to exertion. To me there is something melancholy - almost painful -i n beholding a family of emigrants leaving your wharf at Cobourg, to bury themselves in the deep and appalling solitudes of the wilderness. To see them after overcoming the many dangers & countless privations of a long voyage, delighting their minds by fond anticipations of the contented lot, which it will be their fortune to enjoy in this Land of Goshen; after longing to gaze on the grandeur of our forests, and looking forward to that day as the blessed termination of all difficulties and the consummation of all their hopes-how vividly can I picture to my mind the melancholy disappointment that must come, like a lowering cloud o'er them, when the dark catalogue of difficulties attending a first settlement in the back-country is suddenly displayed to their astonished sight. I fear many as heart has sunk at such a moment in despair.

Among these difficulties though apparently the most trifling among them, are the myriads of mosquitoes that swarm around these Lakes. They are, we understand, cruelly tormenting, defying almost every means of defence used against their attacks. Nothing will dislodge them from the houses, but suffocating clouds of smoke, raised by a smudge in the middle of the room, a remedy not less disagreeable than the annoying insects it is intended to remove. McTaggant says they are exceedingly greedy things; if with a pair of sharp scissors we clip away the half of the body of the one that is sucking, it will not desist and attempt to fly away, but continue to suck for hours, the blood flowing wing from where it was severed in tow! A blood-thirstiness only equalled by the sanguinary leech - and black flies are common, and exceedingly troublesome.

The atmosphere here I believe to be particularly healing: there is a bracing and elastic influence about it that gives a ruddiness to the complexion, and speaks of good health and spirits. It is not deteriorated by those noxious exhalations which render a settlement on some of our lakes so unhealthy at particular seasons of the year-shrouding beneath those filmy vapours a poison, more injurious to man than a pestilence, mapping the foundations of life, and engraving on the cheek of youth the deep furrows of age. The waters are pure, translucent and deep; the shores rocky, with no alluvial deposits; while the cool breeze sweeping over them leave nothing for Goddess of Hygein to wish for.

One leaving Sturgeon Point the lake winds through the eastern part of Fenelon. Verulam is the commencement of fine lands but Fenelon, I consider, the Campagnard Ore of the unsettled country lying to the west of Peterboro. In the size of its timber, it falls short of the highly coloured descriptions we received from the Far-West of the head of Lake Ontario; - but all is not gold that glitters.

Our course now lay through a narrow channel compressed on either side by huge weather-beaten cliffs of limestone, which are formed in layers so level and equal in thickness, that they appear as though lain there in rude masonry, - and some

-wave encircled, seem'd to float,

Like castle girdled with its moat.

The current is rapid, deep and winding; its waters black and troubled, strongly contrasting with the bleached faces of the time-eaten rocks, which were again brought into strong relief by the dark foliage of the shaggy pines, whose outstretching branches threatened to shut out the light of day-

The traveller's eye could scarcely view

The summer heaven's delicious blue,

And thus gave a somber and melancholy wildness to the scene, which was rendered still more impressive by the distant roar of Cameron's Falls, coming fitfully on the wind, or suddenly bursting loud upon the ear, as the boat turned some particular point of stream. We rowed laboriously along against the current, each of us unconsciously becoming silent and reflective - till after rowing about a quarter of a mile we rounded a promontory and shot rapidly forward, under the favor of a strong eddy, into a broad basin of foaming water, in full sight of Cameron's Falls. The noise and uproar were prodigious.

Search the Ontario Genealogy Website

Historical Visits to Ontario Villages and Towns  Take a trip back in time to the late 19th century and explore the towns and villages where your ancestors lived, loved, laboured, laughed and played.

Ontario Images of the Past   Thousands of Images of City, Town, Village and Country Life

Ontario Land Registry Records Research Thousands of your ancestors and where they lived in Ontario

Upper Canada (Ontario) Newspaper Notices Database 

Ontario (Upper Canada) History and Pioneer Family Research 

Queen's Own Rifles - Old Photos of Members 

Upper Canada District Maps (Circa 1800) 

Upper Canada (Ontario) History Books On-Line Index

Ontario County Directories Victoria, Haliburton, Hastings, Peterborough, Durham, Northumberland, Muskoka, and Old Ontario County

  Central Upper Canada (Ontario) Marriage Database 22650 Marriage Records Indexed 

  Central Upper Canada Baptism Database 25000 Anglican, Methodist, Roman Catholic and Church of Scotland Marriages indexed

Upper Canada (Central Ontario) Burial Database 4500 Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Church of Scotland Burials indexed

  Eastern Upper Canada Marriage Database 1200 Anglican, Roman Catholic and Church of Scotland Marriages indexed

  Eastern Upper Canada Baptism Database 3000 Anglican, Roman Catholic and Church of Scotland Baptisms indexed

  Eastern Upper Canada Burial Database

Upper Canada Land Petitions 51000 Records Indexed

  Upper Canada Land Leases and Miscellaneous Petitions 10000 Records Indexed 

Upper Canada (Ontario) Sundries Database 

  Upper Canada (Ontario) Toronto Insane Asylum Database

  Upper Canada (Ontario) Kingston Insane Asylum Database

  Upper Canada (Ontario) London Insane Asylum Database 

  Upper Canada (Ontario) Malden Insane Asylum Database

  Upper Canada (Ontario) Hamilton Insane Asylum Database

  Ontario Genealogy Historical Newspaper Collection  Historical Newspaper Files from various regions of Ontario 

NEWSPAPER Genealogical and Historical Records - Thousands of entries

  Ontario (Upper Canada) Map Collection  Great site for locating your ancestors in Ontario

Ontario Genealogy Postcard Site - Great old-time landscape views

  Upper Canada and Ontario CRIMINAL Database 

Ontario Genealogy Database Index Site 400 000 Genealogy Records Indexed

 Join the Ontario Genealogy mail list now. Discussion group for genealogy and history of the Province of Ontario post 1867, or join the Upper Canada (Ontario) mail list now, discussion group for genealogy and history of Upper Canada prior to 1867.

Subscribe: Type subscribe in message subject and body.

Ontario Genealogy Mail List

Upper Canada Genealogy Mail List

Need HELP With Your Family Research?...

Northumberland County Genealogy and History

Victoria County Genealogy and History

Durham County Genealogy and History

Haliburton County Genealogy and History

Peterborough County History and Genealogy

Newcastle District (Upper Canada) History and Genealogy

Ontario County History and Genealogy

Upper Canada History and Genealogy

Echoes of the Past - Ontario Genealogy Home

Search the Ontario Genealogy Website