The Poetry Corner in Puslinch




Thoughts on a Key by Dr. Simon Peter Morlock








The Carriage Shop by Paul Ross








John Vogt  by George Meldrum








The Poetry of Alice Parker Isles








Duncan Martin  by J. Alex Howitt








Morriston Stars by the Village Bard        








J. Alex Howitt’s I Wish I Had Them Now








Malcolm McCormick’s Puslinch Lake








To the Puslinch Lake Poet  by Donald McCaig








“Thoughts on a Key”

by Dr. Simon Peter Morlock, March 1949.


Simon was a doctor of osteopathy, a graduate of the American School of Osteopathy.  He practiced in Toronto, Brantford, and Stratford.  He retired to Morriston.  He was a faithful Sunday School pupil and teacher and his greatest joy was to sing the old hymns in the Morriston Church.  We are greatly indebted to Simon.  He was our village historian and is responsible for the preservation of a great portion of our history written here.  His manuscript “The History of Early Morriston and Surrounding Families, 1927, updated 1934” is colourful and informative, an entertaining account of pioneer Morriston.  It has been used as a source book for this work and is quoted extensively.






Simon Peter Morlock


(from the book, “Our Village of Morriston”, by Marjorie Clark.)




Thoughts on a Key


A key is something which discloses

To the mind in understanding,

To a subject or a problem

And renders farther finding.


There’s a key to every problem

And every subject has a key,

Invention is the key of progress

In the air, on land and sea.


There’s a key unlocks the present,

It's the fruits of ages past,

For the future will be lessons

Of the present and the past.


There’s a key that holds the future

And it's held there by the mind,

Discovery leaps into unknowns,

What a man thinketh that he’ll find.


There’s a key stone binds an arch

On each door and window bound,

The tall building stands securely

By the foundation below the ground.


There’s a key that holds your conscience,

Doing wrong you can't get by,

With what measure you do measure

Will be measured you on high.


There’s a key that leads to science,

To its project its a guide,

Art and culture are advancing

In the world on every side.


There’s a key that leads to power,

If it’s good it lives by love,

Service is its secret power

And prayer to our God above.


There’s a key to our Redeemer

And the feeling leads to skill,

It’s through Christ we come to glory,

And that key is our will.


There’s a key that leads to mercy

But a deeper key is love,

It's this key that draws us closer

To our Heavenly home above.


There’s a key to every sinner

If he'll listen to the plea;

Christ calls each one to surrender

For he died to set you free.


There’s a key to every Christian

Who will heed the Gospel call,

To go out to every nation

In the world preach Christ to all.


So the key of life goes with us

Whether near or from afar,

How we’ve used the key of talents

Really makes us what we are.








The Carriage Shop


Paul Ross


Good day, my friends!  I’ve come at last,

To thank you all for favours past.

And hope when you the Brock Road travel

That fine macadimize and gravel,

At Aberfoyle, you’ll surely stop

And come and view my carriage shop.


I’ll make or mend your ploughs and harrows,

Your gigs, your carts, and your wheelbarrows,

And carriages of all descriptions,

In them I’ll warrant no deceptions.

And buggies too, the very best,

There’s none can beat them in the west.


In this great age of railway speed,

My friends, you will a carriage need.

Your wives and daughters labour hard

Tis fit they should have some reward.

And you who lead a single life,

Come buy one ere you seek a wife;


For when that you your produce sell

You get more cash than you can tell.

Bring it along, give me a call,

I’m sure that I can suit you all.


No more your time and labour waste.

I’ll please the most fastidious taste.

For I’ve the best and latest style,

At my ol’ stand in Aberfoyle.




This poem appeared in the Guelph newspapers in May of 1855 and was also reproduced in the book, “History of Guelph 1827-1927” by Leo A. Johnson, page 338.







John Vogt

by G. J. M.

(George Meldrum)


Mine host of the Inn in Morriston town,

By observance of law has gained some renown,

He caters, ‘tis true, to both great and small,

But for drunkards and loafers has no use at all,

He keeps a good house and is famed far and near,

For his bountiful table, his liquors and beer;

And travellers weary with city’s loud din,

Find a haven of rest in this countryside inn,

Mine host is John Vogt, of Danish blood he,

And has travelled the country from mountain to sea,

He is courteous to all and by all is believed,

His word as his bond, is duly received,

Now this genial host was lacking a wife,

To rule o’er his home and brighten his life,

His chances were many, both hither and yon,

But his heart it was captured in old Walkerton,

So away to the north he hies in great fettle,

This lady to wed and this matter settle,

Their vows are recorded, the two are made one,

With best wishes from all to Kate Farquharson,

On the first of December of nineteen naught nine,

This marriage took place, then across the state line,

On a tour extended to where I know not,

Ere we welcome to Morriston, Mrs. John Vogt.







The Poetry of Alice Parker Isles




Evening at Arkell Plains


In the crimson sunset glory

As it slowly sinks and fades

There’s a pleasant valley lying,

Bathed in evening’s transient shades.

Girt with forest, hill and river,

Pastures rich, and fruitful land

Gifts of health and peace and plenty

Freely given with lavish hand.

Perfumes, as a breath from Eden,

Float upon the balmy air,

Colours which delight the senses,

Paint a prospect broad and fair.

A lone form ‘twixt earth and heaven

Wings its solitary flight

While the evening star’s faint glimmer

Marks the first watch of the night.


No sound breaks the calm of evening

As we watch the lingering rays

Save the hermit thrush outpouring

His full heart, in rapturous praise

As, his vesper hymn he warbles,

Full, sweet notes in minor chord,

Making the wooded depths re-echo,

As the garden of the Lord

And behind us, a low murmur,

Wafted on the gentle breeze,

Caught between the dark pine branches

Whispered ‘round among the trees.

Nature, hushed in awe, seems listening

For the Master passing near,

Walking in the cool of evening,

And His voice, she fain would hear.

Something seems to lift life’s burden,

Bids us leave our cares behind

Tells us of His Presence near us,

Asking us, to seek and find.

Musing thus, our thoughts soar upward

Lost in things beyond our ken,

Till a hare starts from a thicket

And we come to earth again.


On the highest peak, the pine trees

Grim of visage, ever stand

Sentry-like with arms uplifted

Solemn guardians of the land.

As I view thee from the upland

And, upon the landscape gaze

Haunting memories stir within me

Tales, oft heard in by-gone days.

Of the pioneers, whose story,

Could the ancient hills but tell,

Deeds of courage, no less worthy

Than on fields where heroes fell,

How, through hardship, want and danger

They both toiled and hoped and prayed

And from out the virgin forest

Each, a humble dwelling made.

How they sowed for us their lifeblood,

That we’d reap in coming days,

Knowing little, of the struggle,

Which so dearly won them praise.


Some lie yonder, in God’s acre

Resting till another day,

Waiting in that dreamless slumber

Till the shadows flee away

Here their silent dust reposes

While the stones, their vigils keep,

Ever and anon, reminding,

That, we, soon like them, shall sleep.

Dark descends upon the hamlet

And the pale moon’s face appears

With her gaze, serene and steadfast,

Which dispels night’s gloomy fears,

She, through centuries unchanging

Does, her appointed times fulfill

And, with earth and heaven rejoices

To obey, God’s sovereign will

Of His blessings, full and plenteous

Gifts of sunshine and of rain

Thou has drunk, in fullest measure

Peaceful village of the plain.





Ode to My Pillow


Dear comrade of the quiet night,

Of downy softness, snowy white,

How eagerly I long for thee,

When, after daily cares, I’m free,

And night has spread, with soothing hand

Her sable mantle o’er the land.

Whate’er I feel of joy or fear

I pour into thy listening ear,

Assured thou never would betray,

But guard it safely night and day.

There's naught, like thee, that softly woos

Sweet slumber, which our strength renews;

Naught, that such comfort can impart

To aching head or aching heart.

In dreamland's isle you float with me,

To travel over land and sea,

But always we return once more

And nestle closer than before,

Till flushing of the eastern sky

Betokens that the morn is nigh.

Reluctantly I see the light,

And part from thee, my pillow white!




At the Sepulchre

(In Keeping With Easter Monday)


They came to the tomb, ere break of day,

Where the form of their well loved Master lay,

While, with spices and odours sweet, they sped,

One to another, they sadly said,

"Who will roll us the stone away?"


"He is not here!" in dismay, they cried

As, they sought, in vain, for the crucified,

But lo!  An angel, in shining white

Kept watch, through the lone and silent night,

And had rolled the stone away.


Why seek the living with the dead?

He met their wondering gaze and said,

But hasten!  These wondrous tidings tell,

To the sorrowing few, who loved Him well,

That the stone has been rolled away.


They returned and found it even so,

But Mary wept, nor could she know,

That behind her, He stood, whom she adored,

And she thrilled, as she heard His quiet word,

That earliest Easter Day.


Would we seek the risen Lord today

As we grope about, 'mid the shadows grey,

A stone of pride or doubt or fear,

May bar the way, but 'twill disappear,

And we'll find, when His loving voice we hear,

That the stone has been rolled away.



by Alice Parker Isles

 of Arkell, Puslinch Township, Ontario.

April 17th, 1933.








Lines on the Death of the Late Duncan Martin Esq.,

Badenoch, Puslinch, Ont.

by J. Alex. Howitt, Morriston, Ontario.




Voiceless and sightless, still and cold

What is this thing called, death,

Why should we shrink when we behold

Our loved one robbed of breath?

Why gently move and softly speak

When he can no more hear,

Why dash the tear-drop from the cheek

Why feel that sense of fear?


Oh, the immortal part has fled

That lit his kindly eye

The smile that seemed a warmth to shed

Forever has passed by.

That something no one can define

He winged its flight away

And everything we called divine

Has left the senseless clay.


Yes Duncan, noble, generous, kind

While lives a man who knew

Thee well will say "twas hard to find

A heart as thine so true".

Not by the aged but by the young

Around thee listening hung

To tales told in the highland tongue

And songs great Ossian sung.


Ah, those were tales when boy-hood hours

Are full of future schemes

But now since death has stilled thy powers

In memory pictures dream

Will still live on and oft come back

Each well remembered talk

Tho' we may roam o'er many a track

Far from Badenoch.


Oh Badenoch homes when late the lamp

In future burns where care

Disease and may be death's cold damp

Has claimed a victim there

One gentle form no more we'll see

Beside the sufferer's bed

One face alas there'll never be

That soothed and comforted.


His sons and daughters scattered far,

His ever faithful wife,

Their cheeks shame's blush need never mar

For tho a well spent life,

Tho faults as others have he had

As servant and as lord,

He made a stranger ever glad

Around his table board.


No Duncan will be there at hand

As chieftan of his clan.

For well did he jokes understand

When mirth and pleasure ran,

Yes, all of mortal that remains

We place beneath the sod,

His worry, trouble, cares and pains,

We leave them to his God.







The Morriston Stars

by the Village Bard



The following brief article, with poem attached, appeared in the Guelph Mercury newspaper for May 17th 1898.


Baseball - The Morriston Stars, the crack juvenile club of Puslinch Township, hereby challenge any club in Puslinch whose average age is 14 years.  Their backer is the village bard, who sizes them up thuswise:




We are not the size

Of men in ladies’ eyes,

Still we can make a noise.

Whoa, haw, gee!


We are not so very tall,

Still we know the battle call,

When they yell out, come, play ball.

Whoa, haw, gee!


We lads have never been,

To see our noble Queen,

But we play upon a team,

Whoa, haw, gee!


That is faster than a bike,

Richer than the red Klondike,

You can meet us if you like.

Whoa, haw, gee!


There is George and Charlie Brown,

From the far end of the town,

Who as runners gain renown.

Whoa, haw, gee!


There is Binkley of the store,

Wurtz from the southern shore,

And L. Huether’s to the fore.

Whoa, haw, gee!


There is Beaver who can bat,

Better than a big muskrat,

And Matt. Elliot too is pat.

Whoa, haw, gee!


There’s Wesley Fahrner true,

And the Campbells coming too,

Oh, they are a jolly crew.

Whoa, haw, gee!




Bat, bat, the boys are coming,

Cheer up, let the others come.

For beneath our captain true,

We can give them lots to do.

And we’ll fight for our beloved village true.







The following poem, by J. Alex Howitt of Morriston, was published in the Guelph Mercury newspaper on Thursday May 14th, 1896.



I Wish I Had Them Now


I often dream of days gone by,

When beauty decked my brow,

O’er childhood scenes I fondly sigh,

I wish I had them now.


Gone are the lads of number ten,

Youth’s transit, oh dear how

They quickly passed to ranks of men,

I wish I had them now.


Gone are the maids, a bachelor I,

To court them none allow,

The old are married, young pass by,

I wish I had them now.


Gone are my ivories to decay,

Four left me in a row,

The rest are chiselled by my clay,

I wish I had them now.


Gone are the clustering curls that lay,

Round my wrinkled brow,

The best have vanished, rest are grey,

I wish I had them now.


I wish I had the suit of tweed,

I gave to Gerald Gow,

The overcoat to Robert Reed,

I wish I had them now.


I wish I had each dollar bill,

I lent to friends who’d vow,

They’d pay me, but I’m waiting still,

I wish I had them now.


I wish I had most everything,

The good Lord would allow,

Then I would have a glorious spring,

I wish I had them now.








Puslinch Lake

by Malcolm McCormick

(on revisiting after the lapse of years)


Aye, once again, O silent, sylvan lake,

I stand upon thy verdant, wave-splashed shore;

And cherished memories within me wake,

As I recall halcyon days of yore.


Oft have my willing footsteps hither strayed,

Ere yet the glow of boyhood’s days had fled,

Ere yet the dreams of youth were rudely frayed,

Or loved companions numbered with the dead.


How fair the morn when, from yon eastern hill,

Thy waters greeted first my wond’ring sight;

Thy radiant beauty made my bosom thrill,

With the pulsations of a new delight.


The western breeze upon the ripples played,

That gaily sparkled on thy bosom fair,

Thy island woods their graceful branches swayed,

And scattered fragrance on the morning air.


With eager hands we pushed the boat from shore,

That waiting lay upon the pebbly beach,

My comrades twain took each a willing oar,

And forth we sped, the island shades to reach.


In merry converse sped the happy hours;

No voice save Nature’s mingled with our own;

A joy that knows no touch of care was ours;

Ah, why have boyhood’s hours so quickly flown?


But now the scene is changed, O sylvan lake,

And stately mansions sentinel thy shore;

Amid thy woods the slumbering echoes wake,

Responsive to the steamer’s sullen roar.


Tis evening, and o’er yon same eastern hill

The rounded moon comes slowly into view;

Her mellow splendour falling calm and still,

Bedecks with myriad gems the water blue.


Dear are the scenes of childhood to the heart;

Deep their impression stamped upon the mind;

Though earth’s wide orb their presence from us part,

Fond mem’ry paints them still with pencil kind.








To the Puslinch Lake Poet

by D. McC.,

 (Donald McCaig)



Dear Poet of the Puslinch Lake,

You beat through memory’s glades and dells,

And gather from each shady brake,

Some rare sweet flowers,--Heart Immortelles.


But as you back in mem’ry stray,

O’er silent years like moments fled,

You find her Album leaves are grey,

With ashes of her buried dead.


My mem’ry too has held her wake,

O’er empty shrouds of morning haze

And doubting stands, what path to take

Along life’s dim forgotten blaze   (See note 1.)


For it is now so long ago,

Since I youth’s thoughtless paths have trod;

That I must up the current row

Than you a longer, rougher road.


I scarce dare write, “When we were boys”

Fate then gave sun with shadow mixed;

Our highest hope, our purest joys,

Were but old gold, with drab betwixt.


And yet I know there was a time,

When I had dreams survived the night;

Heard echoes from a fairer clime,

Saw rays of pure, though distant, light.


I’ll write it, “yes, when we were boys,”

Football and cricket school-days, these

Not heard of, no, our early joys,

Were axe-e-dents, in felling trees.


Toil’s vassals have so small a range,

Through youth or age, in change of toys,

But still I feel for me a change,

At least in pounds avoirdupois.


Well, I have seen your sylvan lake,

Where caught I gudgeons, not a few;

But found alas! The finny take,

Like other friends were spiny too.


I’ve paddled by its bulrush shore,

That ne’er beyond their calfhood grew;

Twas only paddle then, not oar,

A dug-out navy all we knew.


Till rose a pious Teuton, who   (See note 2.)

Resolved to build a boat, and took

The model for his big canoe,

From somewhere in the Pentateuch.


She, broad as any ancient barn,

Was thereunto of equal height;

And somewhat longer than my yarn

Twas said about a coach and eight.


She was indeed a wondrous craft,

And nautically rated thus;--

Her aft was fore, her fore was aft,

Her tonnage minus, leakage plus.


She had a pump and deck to show,

Between the waters firmly fixed;

And just a little space below,

The lake and hold were badly mixed.


She tried one voyage, ran aground,

With dire misfortune in her wake;

The pump was taxed, but soon ‘twas found

Twas wisest first to pump the lake.


So thus the Teuton’s venture bore,

That sad, sad fruit; “what might have been!”

One voyage only, nothing more;

Then left to rot in quarantine.


Yes I have seen your “sylvan lake,”

With Nimrod soul, have hunted there;

And sought the timid deer to take,

But always feared ‘twould be a bear.


Your “sylvan lake” yes let me dream,

And mid its shades the past recall;

The red man’s whoop, the eagle’s scream,

The grey wolf’s bark, the Dutchman’s yawl.


And let me see once more broke loose,

That essence strong of soot and whey!

The spirit of potato juice,    (See note 3.)

Pure aqua vitae, uisge-beatha!


That flew around in tuns and butts,

The heralds of a stormy night,

That played Old Harry with your guts;

The sure pre-curse-rs of a fight.


The soul of every logging bee,

The monarch of an ancient fair;

That never felt the great N. P.

But revell’d freely everywhere.


That watched around our natal bed.

And waited all along our way;

To see us christen’d, wooed and wed,

And shrouded too, then packed away.


All this around your sylvan lake,

Has had its day, and passed, but why

Should mem’ry the dark scenes awake?

Sweet poet of the lake good-bye.




Note 1:   A gash on the trees, by which travellers found their way through the bush in early times.


Note 2:   A Mr. Holmes built a large boat between thirty and forty years ago to navigate the Puslinch Lake, but it proved a failure.


Note 3:   About thirty-five years ago the manufacture of whiskey, uisge-beatha in Gaelic, from potatoes became quite an industry around Preston, and the farmers of that day, who thought it necessary to have a drop of the pure quill in their houses, were wont to start in the morning with their grist of potatoes and return in the evening with a supply of the vile stuff.  But these were not the days of protection and Jacob Hespeler’s efforts in the “old rye” line killed the potato adventure.







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