Few have spoken more highly, few have such fond recollections, few have contemplated and understood more deeply, of the nature of a community, where a childhood was spent and a human being well shaped for the long pilgrimage of life, and the community was Puslinch Lake.






The Legacy of Puslinch Lake

by Thomas H. Lamont

(written in April 1933.)


My father, Peter Lamont, was born in Kerry Kowl, in the parish of Kilfinnen, in Argyleshire, Scotland, on March 8th 1806.  In the early spring of 1831, he, with his father, Alexander, and mother and four brothers, viz., John, Alexander, William, and Joseph, set sail from the harbour of Greenock, in a schooner, as there were no steamers sailing in those days. 


After a boisterous journey, and adverse winds, which drove them nearly back to where they had started from, and having to be put on short allowances for good and fresh water, they landed in Canada after a voyage of 89 days.  As there was not a foot of railway in Canada at the time, they proceeded by smaller vessels to Hamilton. 


From this place, they had to proceed on foot through the forest, carrying all their possessions that they took from Scotland, a distance of more than thirty miles, to their homestead, which was then known as the Clergy Reserve, south half of Lot 6, in the 2nd Concession, of what later became known as the Township of Puslinch.  This Lot was on what was known as the Little Lake, there being two lakes, and this one the smaller.






At that time, the whole region round about was solid forest, not a tree having been cut on the homestead.  The first thing was to build a log house, but where the family abode, while this work was being carried on, one can only conjecture.  Perhaps in a tent, if they were fortunate enough to have one.  However, after the house was built, they cleared a small space and planted some potatoes, and from this plot were grown enough potatoes to subsist on, together with venison and fish, during their first winter.  At that time, deer were plentiful, and there was an abundance of fish in the lake.  My father, Peter Lamont, and his brother, William, were expert carpenters, and my father was also a millwright and soon found work in helping to erect the first flour mill in Galt, known as Ferry’s Mill.


The following autumn, in 1832, John McAlister and his family arrived from Scotland and selected as a homestead the north half of Lot 6, but did not at once erect a house.  The two families lived together that winter.  For beds, plenty of hemlock boughs were laid thickly on the earth floor, and on these, the families lay, with a blazing fire in the huge fireplace.  No one was cold.  These families, during their long residence in the neighbourhood, were fast friends.  My father built the grist mills known as the Doon Mills, which may still be in existence.






During the summer of 1833, there occurred what I believe to be the first drowning accident in the Little Lake.  It appears that Joseph Lamont, the youngest of the five brothers, aged about seventeen, went in a canoe to fish and shoot ducks, and having anchored the canoe in a good spot for fishing, shot at a flock of ducks as they were passing overhead.  He stood up in the canoe while taking aim, and it is supposed he slipped and fell backward into the lake. 


He, being a good swimmer, struck out for shore, but being handicapped with a heavy overcoat and knee boots, he did not proceed far before he sank.  His brother, Alexander, was at the shore, and saw the accident, and called to his brother to turn to the canoe and take hold of it, but apparently he paid no attention to what was said.


The boat, being anchored, how was he to get hold of it?  To aid him in the recovery of the body, he went at once to the house, a hundred yards distant, and secured his mother’s large wooden tub and carried it to the lake, got into it, and paddled to the canoe and, with the canoe, paddled to the spot where he thought his brother sank.  Here, he saw him lying on his back in clear water about twenty feet deep.  He did not attempt to dive for the body, but paddled to shore and secured a hooked pole and with it raised the body as quickly as possible, carried it home, and endeavoured to restore life, but to no avail. 


There were no undertakers those days, not a board to make a coffin.  So Alex was obliged to take off through the forest to Galt, where his brothers, William and Peter, were working at the mill, and convey the sorrowful news.  They made a wooden coffin and carried it seven miles, on their shoulders, to the house of mourning.  There was no minister to conduct the service or give words of comfort to the dear mother and family, no hearse or long funeral procession, or even a graveyard, so the body was gently lowered in a grave dug on the homestead, in a little hillock, about a hundred yards from the northeast shore of Little Lake.


The sudden death of her dear son lingered so heavy on the mother that she pined away, and in less than two years, she died, and her mortal remains were placed beside those of her dear boy, in 1834 or 1835.








Other buildings having been erected, the family started to raise sheep and pigs, but these appear to be risky things to start with, as their first five sheep were devoured by wolves, and the first large pig was carried off by a bear, but it seems it was too much for the bruin, for the pig returned in a day or so with part of its neck eaten away.  A pack of wolves overtook one of the brothers, who failed to reach home before dark, and he was obliged to climb a tree and remain until daylight, when the wolves slunk away.


Gradually, other settlers began to arrive and settle near each other.  Three Irish families settled to the north and northwest of my father, viz., John Barret, Charles Barret, and Thomas Collins.  The Gilchrist family came in 1843, from Kintyre, Scotland, and all lived, as neighbours should, in peace and harmony with each other.  My father, being a player of the bagpipes, and his brother, William, a fiddler, their services were in demand among the Scotch families, when the pipes were in demand, and at the double wedding of Peter and Malcolm Gilchrist, he had to play many Scottish tunes and Irish reels.  I am told that Peter and Malcolm were married at Badenoch, that after the festivities were over, a procession was formed and the brides, leaning heavily on the arms of their newly made husbands, were led by Peter Lamont, playing the pipes, through the primeval forest, on foot, a distance of 17 miles to their homes, there to reside and raise families till the parents died.


My father’s brother, William, married and settled on the south half of Lot 5, which lot he sold in 1855 to my father.  William went to live in Chatham and John married and moved to Highgate.  His brother, Alexander, remained a bachelor and became the first assessor and tax collector in the district.  One morning, he was called to breakfast and there was no response.  His room was entered and he was found lying on his back, dead. With his hands peacefully laying on his breast.  His remains were laid with those in the little graveyard previously described.






Still more Scottish families came to the district, namely Peter and John McMaster and the McCormicks, John Ross, then the English neighbours, John Eagle and his wife and James, Elijah, and William and daughters, Mary, Ann, Matilda, and Rose.  Then came several Irish: Thomas and Edward Ellis and families, Robert Little and his stalwart sons, Joe and Robert, and daughter, Hannah, and not forgetting James, who became a Presbyterian minister.  Then, Thomas Fyfe and John and James Dickie.  Then those of German descent, viz., Neil Holm and son, Dan, Nicholas and Jacob Cober and Elias Whitmer.  Never was there a finer settlement of law-abiding people, and Christian.  Often heard my father say that, then, a man’s word was as good as his bond.  When any transaction took place, neighbour and neighbour, not ever a note was required.


The first school was built on the southwest corner of John Dickie’s farm, rear Lot 6, 2nd Concession, of logs, with a cottage-shaped roof, and strong board shutters on all windows.  The building was about 36 to 40 feet square.  In the centre, a large box stove, which when red hot, as was often the case, no scholar therein was cold.  On one side was a raised platform, on which stood the master’s desk and arm chair.  Then, facing it and on either side were the wooden desks, facing the wall, and for seats there were long, backless benches, at which the scholars sat with their backs to the master, afraid to look around, in fear of the teacher reprimanding them for inattention to their tasks.  Yet, from this primitive school have gone out pupils who made their mark in the world or are still doing so under various trades and professions.  Mention of some of these will be made further on.  In the old school house the first religious services were held, generally conducted by a layman by the name of George Duncan, one of God’s real servants.






Services were held here until the stone church was built in 1861 on the northwest corner of the farm of Edward Ellis, front Lot 9, 2nd Concession.  Most of the stone material  and labour were supplied gratis by the neighbours.  The carpenter work was done by Thomas and Edward Ellis and Peter Lamont.  This church was known by the name Ellis Methodist, but was attended by all Protestant denominations, but the regular ministers and local layman were Methodists.  This church at that time should have been called “The United Church of Puslinch Lake”.  The Sunday school was always conducted by a Presbyterian or Methodist Superintendent and the teachers were of mixed denominations.  My father led me by the hand to Sunday school in 1861.  I can recall some of those who conducted the services in this church, namely, Reverend David Savage, Reverend M. Ferguson and as lay preachers, George Copeland, David Rife Senior, and William Ellis, all fearless expounders of the Gospel of good news.  I remember that the first lights were tallow candles, then lamps with fish oil, and how wide our eyes opened when we saw the first coal oil lamps.


Here, the children from the entire neighbourhood attended Sunday school.  Here, the saintly Mary Ellis was one of the teachers of the senior girls and also Lizzie Archibald, another class.  She later became the noble wife of William A. Dickie and in later years, much beloved.  R. H. Knowles became teacher of the young men’s class.  Many of those under his charge did not or ever will forget his beneficent influence on their after lives.  James Eagle and Robert Little were the earlier superintendents of the Sunday school and made many sacrifices of their time and talents in their efforts on behalf of the Sunday school.


The Sabbath was observed as sacred in those days.  I will remember the time when no wheels were turned on the Great Western Railway passing through Hespeler to Guelph.  But, in later years, on a certain Sunday morning, we were all astonished to hear the whistle of a locomotive and rushed out of the house to satisfy our ears that such was true.





I might here mention how the Township of Puslinch received its name as such, and also the larger of the two lakes a similar name.  In the days gone by, when the settlers wished to have a portion of the forest cleared, it was customary to first call a number of neighbours together.  This is called a “bee”.  This is composed of the more stalwart fathers and sons.  They went together in the early spring with their axes and began a slashing, that is, they fell everything before them.  This was allowed to lay on the ground all summer, when it was fired, and after the fire had burned all limbs and brush out of the way, another bee was called.  But this time, besides the axes, oxen and hand spikes were required.  The unburnt trees were cut into lengths suitable to the oxens’ strength, for dragging to a spot where a pile was to be made.  The oxen drew the logs to the pile and the men rolled the logs until the pile became higher and higher.  These piles were again fired and burnt until the whole was reduced to ashes, thus leaving the ground clear of all but the stumps.  On one of these occasions, at one of these logging bees, there was a man named Lynch, and being somewhat behind in his effort, the captain of the bee called out, “Push Lynch”, and thus, the derivation of the name Puslinch, which is pronounced the same as push Lynch.







I might mention the names of the public school teachers who taught in the log school.  The first was Alexander Fraser, about 1852.    Then, John Munro, Mr. Mewart, Mr. Collins, and R. H. Knowles, then, not more than 20 years of age, at which time there were many stalwart boys as old or older than himself and many fair maidens of equal age.  Among some of the older boys were John, Bob, Thomas, and Charles Barret, Mike, John, and Thomas Collins, Bob, John, James, and Charles Hill, George Taylor, Dave, John, Wesley, Ed, and Nat Ellis, Bob Hammersley, William and Bob Dickie, William “Pomp” and Wes Eagle, Enoch Clemens, Bill Parks, and Joseph Lamont. 


Among the older girls attending the old log school at the same time were: Agnes Barret, Fannie, Maggie, Kate, and Helen Collins, Barbara and Janet Lamont, children of William Lamont, Hannah, Lizzie, and Jennie Taylor, Maggie and Hannah Ellis, Sarah and Bella Hammersley, Christie, Joan and Ann McAlister, Martha Heritage, Jennie, Maggie, and Mary Dickie, Sarah, Hannah, and Mary Clemens, Kate, Ellen, and Annie Duncan, and Lizzie, Mary, Anna, and Hannah Parks.


Some of the younger set attending at the same time were: Chris and George Collins, Pete Barret, Jack Dickie, Jim Ellis, Sam, Eliza, and Bill Eagle, Dave, Joe, Sam,(page missing).







Pupils who became teachers were: John Barret, Tom, Chris, Kate, and George Collins, Christina Gilchrist, Tom Dickie, William S. Dickie, James. H. Ellis, and Thomas H. Lamont. 


Of those who branched into other professions were:  John K. Barret, Inspector of Inland Revenue and editor of North West Rivers, Bob Barret, Master of Mechanics, Thomas Collins, Professor of Dental Surgery, Dental College, Detroit, Tom Dickie, M.P.P. in British Columbia, and Thomas H. Lamont, Manager and later, Inspector and Valuator of the Portage La Prairie Insurance Company, now doing business coast to coast, having branch offices in Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton, with head office in Portage La Prairie. 


Military men were: Nathan Ellis, Captain of No. 5 Company, 29th Battalion and first class military certificate Artillery, and John W. Gilchrist, similar certificate.  As real soldiers on the battlefield who saw service, we had the sons of the late Thomas Ellis, David, John W., and Edward.  The two former, with Jack Hart, in 1861, enlisted in the Civil War in the united States, on the northern side.  John Wesley was killed in action.  Jack Hart was thought of as being killed, but after several years, he returned to Puslinch.  David was severely wounded several times and remained in the United States.  Edward served during the first Riel Rebellion in 1885, under General Middleton.  Ed died on his farm, north of Winnipeg, in 1910, age 63 years.


Other prominent characters from Puslinch were Donald McCaig, Malcolm McCormick, Principal of Guelph Business College, Dr. Frank Shaw, of Carberry, and Robert McWilliams, of Dundalk.







Interesting personalities: In a record such as this, it seems fitting that special record or mention should be made of outstanding personalities of the early days and the services that they rendered to the community. 


Special tribute must be paid to two women of those early days, namely Mrs. Janet Duncan and Mrs. Mary Ellis.  With the skill born of many experiences, and their unfailing attitude of helpfulness, they came into homes and proved a real blessing many times.  They were sent for in cases of severe illness, and they never failed to respond to the call.  The genuine services rendered by such women can never be fully appreciated and to all such, we, of a later generation, pay tribute.  Both have passed to the Better Land, but the memory of their good works remains.


Two brothers, Archibald and Sandy McAlister, were among the earliest notable characters.  Archibald was born on the homestead in 1832, and Sandy in 1835.  They were but young lads when their father died and therefore they knew the hardships to hew a home out of the forest, although hard work did not seem to shorten their lives, as both lived to see over the allotted span.  Archibald died August 9th 1919, age 87 and Sandy, December 4th 1921, age 84.  They were the sons of John McAlister and Christina Ramsay, his wife, natives of Argyle, Scotland, and from them, they inherited the splendid constitution and physique that enabled them to play a conspicuous part in all the hard work and vicissitudes of early pioneers.  They were the first persons in the locality to own a threshing machine, and for more than a quarter of a century, they did practically all the threshing for their neighbours and others.  Where feats of skill were required, such as logging bees and barn raisings, they were the men first called upon for such occasions.  Sandy was an excellent judge of horses and his services, as a buyer in the old country and as a judge at fairs, were much in demand.  They were men of sterling integrity and would scorn to do a mean act.  They were beloved by all who had the privilege of their acquaintance.






Another well-known person was Alex Parks, who came from Preston to live at Puslinch Lake in 1843.  On the northwest bank of the lake, he built a house of entertainment and afterwards a regular hotel.  He and his esteemed wife, Mary Ann Eagle, catered to the public until the time of his death on February 5th 1880.  His place was the only real place where picnics gathered to have a good time, with boats for the family or only two.  Those who did not bring their baskets would be supplied with meals by Mrs. Parks and her helpers.  The large island was the place sailed to and there on the grass or on temporary tables an appetizing feast was spread and the day generally ended with a social dance at Parks Hall on the mainland.


All entertainments, we had.  As comic singer, an accordion player, August Begerow, and as general entertainer, James H. Ellis, whose fame was such that his services were in demand outside of the neighbourhood.  John Marvin Eagle also used to recite his favourite poem, “The Smack in the School”.


As administrators of justice, we had Thomas Ellis and Samuel Taylor, whose duties were generally light.  The delinquents who came before them were punished generally by wise council or severe reprimand.


Regarding the Big Island, it may be asked who was the original owner and who built the stone structure on the same, whose ruins are, I believe, still in existence.  The first owner, as far back as record goes, was Father Sanderal, a German priest of the parish of Guelph, and in about 1847, he furnished the money for the building of a monastery on the island, to a monk named, John Shoeman (or Schumann).  During the building of the same, the priest made a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land, for two or more years and, upon his return, found the building inadequate to his expectations and abandoned it for a monastery.  Shoeman sold it and the effects, as directed by the priest. 






A man by the name of Bins, I am told, was the purchaser, who in turn sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Pembroke.  Mr. Pembroke died some years later, so his widow held it until, we believe, it was sold to the Mayor of Guelph, Mr. Sleeman, and John Davidson, of the same city, in 1879.


These men at once began improvements on the island by making it have a park-like appearance.  On the mainland, opposite and north of the island, there was erected a spacious hotel, and the first man put in charge was the late Sam Whitmer.  On May 24th 1880, the steamer “City of Guelph” made its first trip from the mainland wharf to the island.  This steamer was built at Barrie and was a side-wheel, 41-foot keel, 9 foot beam, and 130 feet over all.  It had a 12-horsepower boiler and the engines of 4-horsepower each.  It would seat 50 persons and make 8 knots per hour.  Billy McMillan was the first engineer and Dick Mahoney, captain.  The next engineer was Mr. King, of Toronto.  The first bus (not motor) started to run between Guelph and the lake, round-trip tickets 50 cents, on August 11th 1881. 


The first large sailboat that ploughed the waters of the lake was built by Tom Frame who owned, at one time, the thirty acres of land lying between the two lakes.  He kept a hotel in a large building at the east end of this place, on the shore of the big lake.  This sailboat was used to convey passengers to and from the island and would accommodate 30.  It was a very old boat in 1861, for I well remember having a sail in it that year, and it was never used much after that date, so it must have been built about 1848.


The above mentioned hotel and grounds were later sold to James Turnbull, then later to Fred Kent, and later to John Bond, and then to George Martin Senior.  The two last mentioned never used it as a hotel.  There was another large building of logs and, in the yard, a good stable built, we believe by Pembroke.  I remember his widow living in the house, which stood where the Lakeview Hotel now stands.  I also remember John Martin occupying it for several years.






Shortly before it became owned by John Davidson, it was occupied by Harry Pearce, who conducted a butcher business and hotel.  While his wife and he were absent, the house was burnt to the ground with all contents.  Suspicion rested on a certain party, but no arrest was made.  It was burnt the summer of 1875.  The above mentioned Harry Pearce was a great hunter and kept several good hounds.  He was an expert marksman and rarely missed his aim. 


Another hotel was built, about 1850, at the extreme east end of the lake, by a German, Frederick Begerow.  As an added attraction to his place, for children and young people, he made, with his own hands, a set of hobby horses.  I had many a ride on them when I was a mere boy.  Thus, at one time, there were four hotels all doing business at the same time.


The second school house was built about three hundred yards northeast of Peter Lamont’s house, but on the farm of John Bond.  It was of stone and the greater part of the stone was hauled by neighbours from James Eagle’s stony flat and from the farm of his brother, Elijah, in 1864-65.  This school was ready for occupancy in January 1866, and Richard H. Knowles, who was the last teacher in the old school, was first in the new one.  He taught in this school, we believe, for ten years, and was followed by John Tovell, who taught for three years and who, on February 12th 1881, married Miss Hannah Dickie, eldest daughter of the late James Dickie, of Lakeview Farm.  She was one of the most popular girls in the neighbourhood.  The next teacher was Peter Kilgour, of Guelph, son of School Inspector Kilgour.  He taught for one year and was succeeded by John Stewart, who taught in 1881.  He was followed, in 1882, by Major McGregor, who taught that year and part of 1883, and John Watson completed it, followed by Miss McWilliams, the first lady teacher in No. 11, and she was still teaching when I left for Manitoba in April 1884.







The next drowning accident in Little Lake was George Eagle, son of Elijah Eagle, in his 10th year, the morning of January 2nd 1882.  The lake, previously not frozen over till the night before.  On the morning, George and his little brother , Dave, went from their home, about 300 yards from the east shore of the lake.  Leaving his brother on the shore, George apparently wanted to try the ice before allowing his brother to follow, but he proceed but 50 yards before he fell through the ice.  George made a brave struggle for life, as he broke a hole in the ice 10 feet in diameter, but in the icy water, he gave up the struggle.  Little Dave apparently stayed on the shore till the struggle ceased, for being afterwards asked how long he stayed, he said “till George stopped breathing”.  He ran home and told his mother, “George is in the lake”.  She sprang from the house and called Mr. Eagle as she passed the barn.  She outran her husband, who was just in time to seize her as she was in the act of jumping into the open water in an attempt to save her son.  The body remained upright, as the top of his cap could be seen above the water.  The last act of the mother to her son was to tie his cap with a band under his chin.


The first drowning in the big lake, that we have any record of, was that of Miss Lizzie Goldsmith, of Preston, if memory serves, in the summer of 1875, during a Sunday School picnic on the island, when the boats were returning laden with passengers.  A sudden squall sprang up and huge waves dashed over the sides of the boat in which Goldsmith and ten ladies and one man were sailing.  This caused the ladies to move to one side, capsizing the boat and throwing all into the water, about 8 feet deep.  The only swimmer was the man, who valiantly was able to place everyone so as to have a hold on the sides of the overturned boat, but Miss Goldsmith became hysterical, lost hold of the boat, and sank.  The others were soon rescued.  Grappling irons were secured from Preston and Hespeler, but it took three days and nights to recover the body.  I saw the body after it was taken to shore.  The accident cast a gloom over the neighbourhood and Preston, where Miss Goldsmith was a beloved teacher in the Sunday school.







The next drowning took place on June 17th 1917, and was that of Lieutenant Robid, a returned soldier.  He had been convalescing at Homewood Sanitarium, Guelph, and on the fatal day, with a party of friends, visited the lake, and with an attendant, named Gowan or Golan, had gone for a canoe ride.  Gowan had stopped paddling so that the canoe would come to shore broadside.  Gowan, being in the bow, heard a splash, and turning round, saw his companion in the water.  The latter yelled for a paddle and Gowan at once threw one, but he went down before he could reach it.  His remains were taken to Guelph and sent to the soldier’s home in Sorel, Quebec.


A frame building, known as the Temperance Hall, was built across the road on the south of the stone school in 1876.  Thomas Ellis gave gratis, from his south east bush, the pine trees to make the lumber, and the young men of the district cut down the great trees, over four feet in diameter, cut them with crosscut saws into logs, hauled them to Kribs Mill in Hespeler, there cut into lumber, and then hauled to the building site.  The building was used as a lodge for the Sons of Temperance that flourished there for several years.  It was also used for general entertainment, dances, and music lessons given by Abram Whitman, and also great debates on various questions.  Among the principle speakers were John Gilchrist, William S. Dickie and his brothers, Tom and Lex, John S. Stewart, George Collins, John W. Gilchrist, John Fyfe, William J. Little, Charles Dunker, Charles and Peter Barret, Dave Clemens, M. J. Eagle, Frank Cober, John Tovell, and Thomas H. Lamont.  There were great political contests and many political meetings were held in this hall.






The last political meeting that I remember was between James Goldie and Mr. Guthrie, of Guelph.  At this meeting was Thomas Cowan, of Galt, and others.  Tom was eagerly sought after by the Tories at meetings of this kind.  I remember on this occasion how he illustrated how fearful of the Tories were the Grits, when one of the latter, he said, awakened out of a dream with the shriek in his ears of “Tories! Tories! Tories”.  This particular contest was held on September 1878.  The poll resulted in favour of Mr. Guthrie, with a majority of 311.


Regular prayer meetings were held in this hall for several years on Sunday evenings, and were generally conducted by that man of unblemished character, George Martin, who afterward became manager of the House of Industry, in Kitchener, and who died March 3rd 1930, at the advanced age of 89 years.


The greatest rain up to this time fell for four days and nights, viz., September 10th to 14th, 1878.


Here, we must not forget the renowned baseball team called “The Pastimes of Puslinch Lake”, a team that was rarely defeated, composed of Captain J. W. Parks, Tom Collins and his two brothers, Chris and George, Peter Barret, Nathan Ellis, Peter Kilgour, and Mr. Devan.  They played many games in 1878-1879.


During 1853-54, there was erected a building of massive framework, for the purpose of a sawmill, on the farm of Peter Lamont, Lot 6, now owned by Chris Bond.  It was situated about 100 yards west of the little cemetery.  I do not know the name of the man who financed its construction, but William Lamont did the building of the structure.  The machinery was placed by George Duncan, and it was ready for the boiler and, for this, cash could not be advanced, and so the project ended.  This caused great disappointment to the neighbours, for the mill yard was piled with the finest of great pine logs, ready for the saw.  This building was afterwards used as a barn by the late John Bond, who bought the farm in 1862.





The little cemetery, previously mentioned, was about 40 feet square, surrounded, at one time, by a handsome picket fence, painted white, built by my father, Peter Lamont, between 1853-54.  This plot contained the remains of Joseph Lamont, 1833, his mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Lamont, and their son, Sandy.  Then George Duncan, 1854, Joseph Hardman, July 1856 ─ over his grave was the only headstone erected.  In 1861, Mrs. Lamont, an aunt of my father, but the mother of Mrs. Janet Duncan.  I attended, with my mother, the funeral of this woman.  The procession walked the whole way, headed by six men, who carried the coffin on three poles under it.  In later years, the two above, namely Joseph Hardman and Mrs. Lamont were removed and buried in Hespeler Cemetery.  I suppose that the headstone of Joseph Hardman, July 1856, is the oldest in that cemetery.  The remains of the others will likely repose where they were laid by loving hands, till God’s trumpet shall call, “Arise ye dead and come to judgement”.


January 2nd 1854, my father married Margaret Hewitt, and Thomas H. Lamont was born on June 22nd 1856.  My only sister, Emma, was born on November 23rd 1859, and my only brother, Alexander, February 10th 1861.  My brother married Harriet Martin and moved to Manitoba in April 1888, and now resides on his farm, “Beaver _____”.  My sister married George Gregor, of Morriston, who, with my brother, moved to Manitoba, where he farmed a number of years, and now lives retired in Portage La Prairie.  I also live in the same city.






The McAlister brothers and John Dickie and his son, William, were together the owners of the first horse-drawn machine that would cut grain.  That would be about 1866.  It was the wonder of the neighbourhood.  The machine was drawn by two horses, driven by a man who sat on a high seat, and the only revolving machinery to it was that which drove the pitman, which caused the knives to work back and forth between guards of iron.  The machine cut a swath five feet wide, and the cut grain fell on a wooden platform, behind which another man sat with a fork of three wooden prongs, with which he pulled from the table enough grain to make a sheaf and cast it to the ground on the right side of the machine, to keep the machine going.  It required five binders to tie the grain, not with binder twine, but with a band, made dextrously from a handful of the grain that lay on the ground.  There were four sides to a field, yet it took five men to do their work, and each man tied only one side, as his share.  Previous to this time, all grain was cut with a cradle, and the hay cut with a scythe, and left in windrows, to be further gathered by a hand rake.  These were the days that required men of brawn and muscle, and girls of the same requirements, as often they assisted at haying and harvest.  There would certainly be less unemployment today if we had to go back to the days of our forefathers, and do the work as they did it.


Looking back to those days from this later time, we realize that although life seemed harder in some ways, the people were just as happy, perhaps more so.  Then, each individual realized his duty to the community and tried to make that contribution as best he could.  Life was simpler and when any pleasure came, it was enjoyed keenly by young and old.  People realized that happiness is more the attitude that you take towards life and that, in their own hands, lay that happiness, more or less.





Today, nearly all of the men and women who bravely faced pioneer conditions in the new land of the Puslinch Lake district have passed on to their reward, and only those who have lived during that period, or experienced like conditions in some other part of the country, can realize how much courage, faith, and endurance were required to carry on in spite of all difficulties encountered.  Thus, to this generation is passed on the task of upholding and carrying on the work so well begun by the pioneers, trying to realize their dreams and ambitions for old Puslinch pioneers, and each individual contributing his or her share towards that developed as far as possible.  Realize also, as the pioneers did, that spiritual as well as material development is necessary if the proper growth is to be maintained.  May we go on keeping these aims and ideals ever in mind, trusting and striving to the fullest possible development, lest we break faith with those who have gone before, the pioneers of the Puslinch Lake district.






When we think of the “old friends” that have passed on before us, what a multitude of deep and varied emotions are called forth from the soul by the utterance of these two words.  What thronging memories of other days crowd the brain when they are spoken.  Ah, there is magic in the sound, and the spell that it creates is both sad and pleasing. 


As we sit by our fireside, while the winds are making wild melody without the walls of our cottage, and review the scenes of bygone years, which flit before us in quick succession, dim and shadowy as the recollections of a dream, how the old familiar faces will rise up and haunt our vision with their well-remembered features.  But ho, where are they, those friends of our youth, those kindred spirits who shared our joys and sorrows, when first we started on the pilgrimage of life?  Companions of our early days, they are endeared to us by many a tie, and we now look back through the vista of years upon the hours of our communion, as upon green oases in a sandy waste. 


Years have passed over us with their buds and happiness, their flowers, fruits, and snows, and where now are those old, familiar faces?  They are scattered, and over many of their last narrow homes, the thistle waves its lonely head.  After life’s fitful journey, they sleep well.  Some are buffeting the billows of time’s stormy sea in distant lands; though they are absent, our thoughts are often with them. 






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