Lanark Society Settlers Letter #2
Signed by “Pioneer”
Having arrived at Lanark, the British government having
fulfilled their engagement we were now left in the freedom of our own will.
The first thing we had to attend to was the erection of wigwams Indian
fashion to shelter the women and children and likewise to get the luggage into a
place of safety. We then had to call
at the King’s store or land office and get our names recorded.
I may here mention that the land office was conducted by Colonel
Marshall, assisted by two clerks. Their
duty was to direct the settlers, give them their share of government employment
and pay them their first installment of the money grant as soon as they were
located on the land. The three
gentlemen who were appointed to do the business in the land office were men of
the right stamp and transacted the business to the great satisfaction of all
parties as I never heard a complaint about them.
One clerk told a witty story about a son of old
The men now formed into parties, got a list of land from
the agency that was open for location in the several townships where they wanted
to go, engaged a guide and then started out to the woods to select a farm.
As soon as they had made their selection they returned and reported it to
the land agent. They were then duly
located, got a location ticket and were then entitled to their share of the
government articles and the installment of the government grant.
Now began the tug of war. The
settlers of N. Sherbrooke and on the south of the Mississippi in Dalhousie made
scows and boats and took their luggage and supplies by what was called the
Mississippi (illegible word) to the head of the Dalhousie Lake on the east side.
It had to all be carried from
Sugar making being over, all hands had to go to work to burn off the brush, roll the logs into piles by hand, and rake the leaves into heaps and then burn all off and then spread the ashes over the ground. Having thus prepared our little fallow of two or three acres, we began to plant our corn and pumpkins, potatoes and turnips along rows with the hoe and spade. About this time there was quite a rush to the old settlements to buy cows. They were generally successful and this added very materially to our life as you know Scotchmen can easily live if you give them plenty of milk and meal.
Planting being done, nearly all the men and girls had to start to look for work wherever they could find it as it was quite evident that their little crop would not be sufficient to carry them through another winter. They generally found employment but the wages were very small, then getting from $10 to $12 per month and girls $3 and that often in trade of some kind. In the meantime, provisions were getting scarce and could not be had even though you had the money and before the potatoes were ready to dig several families in our neighborhood were entirely out. One of our neighbors had to live on fish and a little cannel and another neighbor with five or six children was entirely out of food. They had a cow and wood and boiled basswood leaves and ate them with a little butter. The husband away working, the mother went to the foot of Dalhousie Lake and gathered the mussels out of the lake and carried them home and boiled them and in this way managed to live for several weeks. This was no doubt an extreme case but there were many not much better off. The first relief was the potato and they were soft when we had to begin on them. By and by the corn began to get plump, it was extensively boiled and formed quite an addition to our humble fare.