The Pioneers of Old Ontario, 1923

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Media: DATA CD - 1 CD
Author: W. Loe
Year: (1923) 2004
Publisher: Archive CD Books Canada

This book entirely lives up to it's title. It originated as the byproduct of the work of William Loe Smith, a reporter who was sent out to collect stories on current rural conditions for publication in The Weekly Star beginning in 1897. In conversation with the people he came into contact with while gathering this information, however, he began to hear stories and first hand accounts of the very beginning of the settlement of Ontario. Fortunately for us he decided to record these stories so we, today, can relive some of the original pioneer experiences in the words of those who lived through the events.

A great many of the original pioneers' names are mentioned in this book, but given in the context of how they lived their lives rather than as a cold, impersonal, statistical listing. The stories are grouped by the areas in which they occurred and so many of the original settlement towns and districts are also mentioned and, sometimes, described. There is a full index of names in the book and these names can be found by clicking on the More information link below. The stories are illustrated with over 70 black and white drawings including a portrait of Mr. C. F. Doherty who's father refused a section of land because it was too low and wet. That land is now bounded by Queen, Yonge, University Av. and College streets in the center of Toronto!

Some stories show a very human nature. Take for instance the story of a "mean and generally disagreeable fellow" who came to the notice of "The Cavan Blazers" a vigilante group who took it upon themselves to maintain a semblance of law and order. To quote, "When he got up in the morning he found the wagon, still loaded, astride the ridge of the barn. He may not have enjoyed the work of getting the wagon and bags down from the roof, but he was a better citizen afterwards."

Not that the life of these pioneers was all fun and games. Far from it! Consider this quote for instance, "There was no one in the new settlement with the medical skill of Grandmother Trull, and, in answer to a question as to what happened when people took ill, Mr. Hoover made the grim answer: " We let them die and then buried them.''"

Anyone interested in our ancestors who settled Ontario should read this book. These were remarkable people!

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The Pioneers of Old Ontario, 1923


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