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Puslinch Township Farmer Gives Away His Land


(from the Puslinch Pioneer, v. 17, issue 10, June 1993.)



A 68-year-old bachelor, John Little, has given his 200 acre farm, on Rural Route No. 2, Hespeler, to Wellington County, to maintain a forest plot and game preserve.


“A farm goes on year after year until somebody dies. Then the es­tate has to be settled. The woodlot provides a source of immed­iate cash, so a contractor comes in, slashes his way through, and leaves a desolated area,” explained Mr. Little.  “I've seen it happen to many farms.  When the timber is gone there’s nothing left but barren ground.  This farm has been in our family since 1839 and I don't want to see it happen here.”


100 Acres in Bush


Of the 200 acres, 100 acres is an excellent and well kept woodlot in which there are hardwood trees that were growing before John Little’s grandfather, Robert Little and his brother, James Little, settled on the land in 1839.  During the war, the government

cut hardwood logs in the woodlot for the shipbuilding industry.  “Some of the logs they took out were 32 feet long and 35 inches thick at the small end,” related Mr. Little.  “One oak tree had 137 rings.”


Mr. Little is interested in conservation in all its aspects and it is this woodlot, and the wildlife that finds refuge there, that he is particularly interested in preserving.


Should Revert to Crown


“The land came to us from the Crown.  I have no near next-of-kin who can carry on, so I felt that the land should revert to the Crown,” explained Mr. Little.


Mr. Little related that last summer he began turning the idea over in his mind.  “One day I met my legal advisor and he said, “For no reason at all I had a dream about you and your farm last night and it made me wonder what you were planning for it.”  I asked him if he thought that the government would be interested in it? Well, we wrote a letter and pretty soon Mr. Marritt (zone forester, Galt) came to look the farm over.  Since then the arrangements have been made.”


Can Carry on Until Death


The old Crown deed, yellowed and fragile with age, was among the documents that figured in the trans­fer of title to the county.  Along with the transfer, there is an ag­reement between the county and Mr. Little that allows him to carry on as usual until his death.


Mr. Little can't imagine living any place else.  He was born and has lived on the farm all of his 68 years.  His father, Joseph Little, arrived there at six months of age and died there in 1905.  He and his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Little, who also died there, came from Tyrone county in the North of Ireland.  “And what better place is there to come from?” laughed John Little as he told of his forebears.


His father built the present house about 1868, when he was married.  The barn, put up in 1855, is the third, he related.  The first two were built of logs.


In the Early Days


A couple of anecdotes told to Mr. Little, when he was a boy, recalled the life of the settlers.  “One day my grandmother was get­ting water from a spring near the road.  An Indian touched her on the shoulder and, without saying a word, led her to another spot nearby where there was a much better spring.  Another time my grandmother was baking bread in the kitchen.  An Indian walked in, put a loaf of bread under his arm and strode out of the house.  The next day he returned with a large cut of venison.”


Anyone walking through the woodlot with Mr. Little could understand why he would hate to see it destroyed.  On a summer evening, or in the spring or fall of the year, he finds his greatest enjoy­ment in a walk through the trees to a spring that bubbles forth from underneath the roots of a large tree.  The birds and animals, the varied flowers and plants native to the district, are all familiar to him, for he has been a keen student of them for many years.


Coon, Foxes, Birds


“Deer,” he remarked, “come and go, but I am more interested in watching the life of the coon and the foxes and birds that frequent this bush year after year.”


He told of watching the antics of a family of coon that have their home by the spring, of the bittern by the swamp and the birds of every type that nest year after year on his land.

“When you get tired of city streets,” he advised, “come out here with a pair of field glasses and a notebook and observe the abounding wildlife we have.”


Next Thursday, the farm will be a scene of great activity, for on that day the Wellington County council will meet there to formally receive the gift, and the children of Puslinch township are meeting there to plant more trees and take part in the ceremony.


(This article originally appeared in the Galt Daily Reporter newspaper for Saturday April 6th 1946.)