Known as the heartbeat of the Hastings Highlands, the town of Maynooth was home to many colourful characters... many of Fabian's family (the Fitzgerald side) harken from Maynooth. One of the more interesting characters was Billy Carswell.
On November 21, 1904, William Carswell, 23, a farmer from Maynooth Ontario married 21 year-old, Annie Gannon. William “Billy” Carswell, was the son of Thomas Carswell and Mary Creighton. Annie was the daughter of John Gannon and Mary Brown. William became the local Justice of the Peace and in 1906, he initiated a daily stagecoach service, running between Maynooth and Bancroft.
The following is a poem, written by William Carswell:
I’ve heard it said there’s no Maynooth in Ireland any more.
For the Irish brought it with them when they landed on our shore.
When they reached good old Ontario with their hilly chunk of land
They laid it down in Hastings North, upon a bed of sand.
Then they got their shovels and they spread the land around,
And each man was allotted a fair sized hunk of ground.
They settled down upon this land to make themselves a home,
And so those ramblin’ Irishmen were never more to roam.
They were a rugged bunch of men, and seldom ever sick,
And every dogan man of them, was a real Old Irish Mick.
As long as you behaved yourself, they sure would use you right.
But if trouble you were seeking, they’d oblige you with a fight.
Now to refresh your memory, with some familiar names,
Old timers will remember them, and from the place they came.
Some well-known Irish Characters, are included in my ist,
And my sincere apologies, if any I have missed.
There were the Hickey’s and the Coes, the Rody’s and Flynn’s.
The Rouse’s and the Netterville’s the Cassidy’s and the Green’s.
The McAlpine’s and the Dillion’s, the McNallys and the Cannon’s,
The Fitzgerald’s and the Deady’s, the \kelly’s and the Gannon’s.
Another group of men, that I would also like to mention,
Names that you’ll remember, when drawn to your attention.
There were the Weaver’s and the Wotten’s, the Haryett’s and the Smith’s,
The Maddock’s and the Carswell’s, were among the cliffs.
There were the Neiman’s and the Golden’s, the Sheridan’s and the Breen’s,
And scores of other faces, that will never more been seen.
The Goodwin’s and the Perry’s, the Leveques and the Scott’s.
The Burlanyettes and Buckley’s all had their favourite spots.
They worked and lived there side by side, they had the ups and downs.
And although they weren’t all Irishmen, they help build this little town.
A lot of years have past and gone, since those old days of yore.
And many smiling faces aren’t with us any more.
But the younger generation, still carry on their names,
But some how or another, things just don’t seem the same.
Everything has gone modern, not like it used to be.
If you read my blogs, you can't help but recognize my love of history and genealogy. I have been working on my own family tree for years and years... and have some branches that go a very, very long way back.... in fact, my last blog was about one of my UEL ancestors.
I've been thinking, today, about how brave immigrants are. I mean... I can't imagine leaving everything behind and striking out to a foreign place... possibly not knowing the language or customs.
Earlier today, I read a letter that my third-grand uncle (Dr. John Aitken Carlyle) wrote (from Ecclefechan, Scotland) to my third-great grandmother in Canada... many years ago, it provided me with the information I needed to find details about her journey to this country. My maternal grandmother spoke about this family a great deal... her grandmother Catherine had spoken a great deal of her mother and, certainly, Thomas Carlyle was held in great regard by the entire family.
I wanted to share this letter, today... just because.
JOHN AITKEN CARLYLE TO MRS. HANNING, HAM-
ILTON, ONTARIO, CANADA.
Scotsbrig, 27 June, 1851.
My dear Jenny, — Mr. Smellie wrote
punctually to tell us you had sailed on the
27th of last month exactly according to
appointment, and that he had seen you on the
day following some twelve miles down the
Clyde, having gone to give you a Brooch you
had forgotten in his mother's house. He said
your berths looked very comfortable, and
spoke of the Clutlia as a tight good ship,
every way fit for the voyage. Almost every
day since that time we have had westerly
winds, and if you have had the same, your
voyage is likely to be considerably longer
than you anticipated. I hardly know whether
to write by this week's post, or wait till next,
but it seems best to err on the safe side, for
you will expect to find a letter at Hamilton
whenever you arrive, and be much disappointed
if there be none. My writing need
not be otherwise than briefly, as we are all
going on in much the same way as when you
left us. Our Mother has been uneasy when-
ever the winds were sounding loud, and once
or twice she has taken to bed, but she is now
at least as strong as usual and moving about
in the old way. She desires me to send her
love to yourself and the children, and kindest
regards to your husband, and bids you write
without delay whenever you get to your home
in the far West. We had a note from Dum-
fries two days ago, Jean and hers are all well,
James as busy as possible with one thing and
another. We expect them here next week,
and hope Jean will remain a few days. Mary
was here on Tuesday last. She is looking
stouter than usual and things seem to be a
little more prosperous at the Gill than they
have been of late years. I was there very
lately along with Jamie, who went to purchase
some cattle. From Chelsea we heard yester-
day. Tom is busy with his Life of J. Ster-
ling 1 , which is now going through the press.
He has not yet decided whether we are to
expect him here or not this season. There is
one of the Miss Welsh's of Liverpool staying
with them at Cheyne Row.
Little Jamie takes this with him to Annan.
I need not add any more except to mention
that Mr. Goold had received a letter from
your husband to you addressed to his care, a
short time after you sailed. I will send you
a paper now and then with its two strokes if
we continue all well.
Our Mother sent a copy of the second edition
of Cromwell's Letters to Mr. Smellie,
the week after you sailed, and had an
acknowledgement from him. She wished him to
have some memorial from her, for all his
kindness to you in looking after your berths,
Ever yours affectionately,
J. A. Carlyle.
Recently, I wrote about Pioneer Women as I've been thinking a great deal about the region and the hardships our settlers endured. I thought I would share an excerpt from a book that included the following story about one of my fourth great-grandmothers.
Margaret Parliament 1770-1868
Wife of James Amit Morden 1762-1840
Mrs Morden, of Sophiasburgh, was born upon the banks of the Hudson, forty miles from its mouth. Her birthday stretches back ninety-eight years. She came into Canada with her father, George Parliament, who was of German parentage, born upon the sea and like the ocean, he was throughout his brief life tossed up and down with scarcely a day of calm and sunshine. The family reached the Fourth Town and only six weeks after her father’s eyes were closed in death. Mrs. Morden has a distinct recollection of the rebellion. Her father was staunchly loyal, and she has heard him repeatedly declare that he would lay his bones in the King’s domains. During the war he was imprisoned twice, at Goshen and Poughkeepsie. She was thirteen years old when they came to Canada and remembers the many weary days of travel by Oneida Lake. Her father walked and drove the cattle all day, her mother would sit up till late at night over the camp-kettle preparing food for the party to use the following day, so that would be no delay on the way. Having crossed from the States, the Skenectady boats landed at Little Catariqui. The father was down below on the St Lawrence swimming the cattle across the stream. They found their flour was nearly done. She, with a little sister, went along the shore of the village of Kingston to buy flour, she had only enough money to buy a quarter of a hundred of second flour, which she carried from McAulay’s store to the hungry company at the Little Catariqui, where they were wind-bound. She remembers the appearance of the shores as they journeyed along, the rude log cabins in small clearings. The family of eleven children settled upon the north shore of Hay Bay. The eldest boy was nineteen years old. They now thought that they, in common with the other settlers, would be permitted to work out a peaceful and happy future, but the arrow of death was already in the bended bow. The mournful occasion can hardly be appreciated, the father of eleven children in the wilderness suddenly cut down. Each of the neighbours had quite enough to do to care for his own family. All these terrible facts are fresh in the mind of the venerable lady. The events of later years are faded from her memory, but those are too deeply engraven upon her mind, by the pen of sorrow, to be erased while life lasts and mind sits enthroned. The subsequent events connected with the family are no less distressing. They had one cow, the milk of which supplied them with their principal food. Fish was occasionally caught. But they often had to seek herbs and greens. For weeks they were in the greatest distress for the very necessaries of life. All of the family who were old enough went out to work. The following spring, and the subsequent ones, her mother made sugar, not to use in the family, “oh! No, that was too great a luxury.” It was carried and sold for flour. Mrs Morden remembers it, for she carried much of the sap. She subsequently worked out, until after several years she found a kind supporter. Mrs. Morden, whom the writer saw nearly four years ago, (1865), was then, although so old, yet vigorous and sprightly, with a kindly face, and even a sharp eye. Of all the persons it has been our privilege to converse with, there are only a few who gave such clear and appropriate testimony and afforded so much satisfaction. She confined her remarks strickly to the questions, and we learned much in a short hour. She spoke, feelingly’ and with Christian nobleness said she, “I have lived a long time and had many blessings, thanks be to God”. Thus spoke the lips of one whose youth had been spent in another century.
History of the settlement of Upper Canada (Ontario): with special reference to the bay Quinté
By William Canniff, Great Britain. Army. King's Royal Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Great Britain. Army. King's Royal Regiment. Battalion, 2nd
Published by Dudley & Burns, 1869
Original from Harvard University
Digitized 4 Oct 2007
One can't possibly visit or live in this area of Ontario without seeing evidence of our aboriginal beginnings and pioneer settlers. While the earliest Europeans arrived in the 1600s, first as explorers and missionaries, after the discovery of wild life that could supply the European demand for fur, small settlements began to dot the landscape.
In the late 1700's, British Empire Loyalists began moving from the United States into Canada. The Governor (Lord Simcoe) offered 200-acre land grands on the condition that the grantee would clear five acres, build a house and open the road across the front of his lot. Over the next hundred years, Europeans flocked to North America with similar offers for free land and adventure, in order to escape oppression, persecution and poverty. Passage was expensive and frequently most spent all of their money on the two month journey and supplies they hoped would last the first year.
In most cases, the first course of business for a settler was to cut down trees and build a cabin. Women and men worked together on the land, no matter the task and pioneer life revolved around the bare necessities of existence in the wilderness- shelter, food, clothing and fuel.
Once arriving at their allotment, many pioneer families first built a sod house. This they would fashion from turf cut from the ground, which they overlapped onto a crude wooden frame. These sod houses were often dug into the side of a small hill. The earth would be packed hard to form a floor and blankets would be used to block openings, as protection from the cold. The family would live in this shelter until a clearing had been made and sufficient wood had been harvested to build a small cabin.
One can only image the difficulty they had in felling thousands of trees with diameters of four feet, using only a hand-axe- not to mention the torment of mosquitoes and other biting insects. Branches were removed from larger trees and logs were stacked for drying and later use as building material or for firewood. Many early settlers were killed by falling trees. Grains like wheat would be planted around the stumps in rough clearings for a couple of years, until the land could be worked to plant better gardens and crops. If a man was lucky, he might have an ox to help with the heavy task of pulling logs and stumps.
Cows were important to the settlers, as the females produced milk for dairy products and calves could be sold, traded or slaughtered for eating. Butter was made by pouring milk into a wooden barrel which had a handle in the centre. The handle of this churn would be turned until the fat separated from the liquid. The liquid would be poured off and the fat was made into slabs and kept in a cool place. Male cows could be trained to pull a plough or wagon. Sheep were important, as well. Wool was used to fill bedding and spun or woven into yarn to make clothing and blankets.
Shorn sheep's wool would be matted with dirt and had to be washed, dried and combed with carders which were basically wooden paddles with wire teeth. After it was carded, the smooth wool was pulled and twisted into a thick thread. Pioneer women would often use a drop spindle, which was an eight inch stick with a flat wooden disk at one end. A short thread would be created by hand and tied to the end of the drop spindle and then she would turn the spindle like a top while adding more wool fibre to create a long thread. Once the spindle reach the floor, the thread would be wrapped around the stick and started a gain.
Pioneer farmers had few clothes and wore them constantly, so mending was a constant job for the women. Garments that were outgrown or too worn to mend were pieced into blankets, like quilts. Pioneers grew flax because they could weave the plant fibre into linen for underclothes, curtains, tablecloths and bedclothes. They also used flax to make sleepwear and cooler summer clothes.
Once the stumps were pulled and rocks cleared (one can only imagine the back-breaking work that went into this chore!), larger crops could be planted. Potatoes, turnips and other root vegetables would be stored in a pit lined with straw. A hollowed out stick would be stuck into the pit to release the gas that would build up. In the summer, the root cellar was used to keep milk and butter from spoiling.
Apples would be harvested in the autumn and stored in barrels lined with straw. Some apples would be used to make cider, applesauce, apple butter and vinegar. It was common to slice apples and dry them in the sun or by the fire. During the winter, these slices would be soaked in maple syrup and used in pies. The same would be done with a variety of fruits and berries.
Most of the cooking was done over an open fire. The women and children would wear heavy wool clothes to protect them from the sparks and the risk of scalding from the contents of the caldron. Bread was baked in a pot that would hold half a pail of dough and the baking was done by putting the pot in a pail of ashes on the hearth.
Hogs were essential to the pioneer farmer. They needed little attention and could eat whatever was given to them. The aboriginals taught the pioneers how to smoke mean, so not only were the pigs butchered and cured, the lard was used for candle making. A spoonful of lard could dimly light a small room. For stronger light, the soft inner part was stripped from cattail stems and dipped in lard. Although smoky and smelly, they worked well. On special occasions, they used candles made from the tallow (cow or sheet fat). These were made by dipping a long thing piece of string into heated tallow, then let drip dry and dipped repeatedly. Sometimes a stick would hold multiple strings that would dipped at the same time.
Chickens were also useful, providing both meat and eggs. Wild pigeons were pests that gobbled up grain seeds, soon they became a delicacy and now are practically extinct. Ducks and geese provided meat and feathers. These feathers were used to stuff clothing, quilts, pillows and mattresses which made them much warmer. Those who could write would use quill pens made from bird feathers and ink made from mashes walnut shells, salt, vinegar and lampblack (the black soot collected by holding a dish over a kerosene lamp or candle flame).
Paper was an expensive scarcity, thus farmers would often write things left to right and then rotate their paper a quarter turn and write from the bottom of the page to the top, over the words. The currency in use was Spanish banknotes, although money was valued in British pounds, shilling and pence, but British coins were in short supply.
The pioneers made soap by collecting fire ashes in barrels and leaving them out for rainwater to wash over them. What remained was called lye. This was put into a large caldron and mixed with lard, fat scraps, drippings and leftover bits of candle. This liquid would turn into a jelly that was stored in stone crocks. A jug of this concoction was kept near washbasin and spooned into water for bathing, or the caldron on wash day. A barrel of ashes and twelve pounds of lard made 40 pounds of soap which would last a pioneer family about a year.
There are recipes for making flour from dried acorns... although milled flour was avaialbe, it sold for eight to ten dollars a barrel, but the expense ultimately included a weeks trip to the merchant. Usually the women would stay home to keep the fires burning and home school the children.
The men often spent months away from home, working on farms or hunting and trapping to get food for their families. As industry grew, they found work on logging crews or mining. Meantime, the women took on all the responsibilities of caring for the homestead and children. They were amazing people.
Early maps of Upper Canada included only settlements, lakes and rivers. Vital to travel, these vital waterways opened up the rest of Ontario to the south and the west, enabling explorers and traders to travel along the St. Lawrence from Quebec City to the interior routes heading west, to Georgian Bay and beyond. The timber and other goods traded along these waterways would eventually find their way to market, in England and France.
Before the arrival of settlers, the York River watershed was a hunting and harvesting area for the Algonquin Indians. This watershed was but one of many transportation corridors which provided passage between the south-eastern highlands of Algonquin Park and the lowlands of Conroys Marsh, south of the village of Combermere.
The area around the hamlet of Boulter, Ontario is very special. Spectacularly varying topography throughout the region offered the native people safety and strategic defence. Travel along the Boulter and Fort Stewart Roads offer jaw-dropping views. The hills are remnants of mountains that once rivalled the Himalayas and part of the mineral rich Grenville belt that contributes to Bancroft's reputation as the Mineral Capital of Canada.
In this area, lowlands and marshes yielded natural crops such as rice and berries. The earliest European explorers and settlers adopted native traditions in order to survive in the wild. They also learned to understand the importance of the waterways. It is no wonder that the area played an important role in the development of Bancroft, Combermere and Barry's Bay.
Workers at Craigmont.
In 1876, the RobillardMountain at Craigmont was found to contain corundum. Mining began in 1900 and the Craigmont Mine, at one time the world’s second largest producer of corundum, provided jobs for up to 2000. Remnants of this old mine and load-out are still visible on the north shore. There were many smaller mines in the region in the late 19th and early 20th century. Graphite, feldspar, uranium and other mineral resources were, and still are, plentiful.
Part of the Conroy Marsh.
The Little Mississippi River is a river the outlet off Weslemkoon Lake, ending in the York River which in turn empties into the Madwaska River which is a tributary of the Ottawa River.This river joins the York River where it flows through the Conroy Marsh Conservation Area.
The York River
The York River meanders through the York River Uplands, from AlgonquinPark’s southern tip and south to BenoirLake, ElephantLake and BaptisteLake, following a path cut through the Canadian Shield millions of years ago. As the river descends from the Madawaska Highlands, its size and velocity increases. The narrow waters flowing at High Falls in Algonquin Park double in volume by the time they reach Egan Chute to the southeast, having been fed by other streams which empty their waters into the York River along the way. Papineau Creek and Egan Creek are but two of the York River’s navigable tributaries that offer the explorer a chance to venture deeper into this watershed.
As its banks grow further apart, the Yorkmeanders through Kings Marsh and finally into Conroys Marsh, where it opens up into a vast wetland and connects to the mighty Madawaska River and Kamaniskeg Lake.
This area is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Among the 60 species of birds in the area, visitors might see an osprey diving for fish, a pileated woodpecker pecking on the trunk of a tree, or a rare eagle soaring above the canopy. Many birds nest in cavities of dead and dying trees.
Of the 14 species of mammals in this watershed, the moose and the white-tailed deer are among the most familiar. Smaller mammals such as porcupines, beavers, muskrats and raccoons and porcupines are predominant, as well. There is always a chorus of peepers and other mating amphibians.
Other wildlife to see and hear along this waterway include:
• warblers, great blue herons, kingfishers, ducks
• fishers, otters, hare, skunk, fox, black bear, red squirrel, flying squirrels, owls
• snapping and painted turtles, various snakes
• spring peepers, leopard, green, and bull frogs
There are many field guides provide more detail of the abundant wildlife. A full line of Peterson Field Guides and the handy, waterproof Peterson Flash Guides are available from Pinecone Publishing. If you're in the area, stop by the Pinecone Sanctuary and purchase a copy!
Trees and Shrubs
With roughly 45 species of trees and shrubs, the explorer will find a great diversity of habitat along this watershed. The trees are a popular attraction in the autumn when the leaves of the maples, poplars, oaks and birches change from shades of green to a dazzling display of yellows, oranges and reds. Other significant species are large hemlock, red and white pine, and eastern white cedar that grow in the lowlands.
Also rich in berries, nature's bounty provides source of nutrients for mammals and birds alike. Here you will find wild strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The banks of the York River at Conroys Marsh are a popular stopover for many who relish cranberries which ripen in the autumn. Mushrooms, fiddleheads and morels are also abundant.
Little Mississippi Conservation Reserve
This wilderness area is made of six separate parcels of Crown land buffering the Little Mississippi River. The river flows in a northerly direction from WeslemkoonLake to Conroys Marsh. The total area of the reserve covers 1,006 acres and offers no services. The shoreline is varied with large wetland areas, red maple swamps, and cedar and white pine forests.
Conroys Marsh Conservation Reserve
The total size of this wetland is approximately 2,400 hectares. This Provincially Significant Class One wetland offers an ideal day trip for paddlers of all levels of experience. Its smooth waters can be reached by the York River to the west, the Little Mississippi River to the south, or the MadawaskaRiver to the northeast. Once out in the marsh, there are few dry areas to disembark from a canoe or kayak.
The MadawaskaRiver is part of the Saint Lawrence Riverdrainage basin.It is 230 km (143 mi) long and drains an area of 8,470 km2 (3,270 sq miles). Its name comes from an Algonquian band of the region known as "Matouweskarini", meaning "people of the shallows".
From time to time, property comes up for sale on these beautiful rivers!