Scotty Hall Tells of Giant Pines in the Heart of Puslinch Highlands

by Findlay Weaver


(from the Guelph Mercury newspaper for May 26th 1951.)


Shown in the accompanying picture is George Angus “Scotty” Hall inspecting a packet of old-­time sulphur matches handed to him by Bill Sleeman.  This fol­lowed a meeting in the Mercury office between these two to dis­cuss and exchange recollections of unusual craftsmanship included in a vast accumulation of collectanea in the home of the late George Sleeman.


In this Mercury engraving from a staff picture, George Angus “Scotty” Hall, seated, is shown holding a packet of old sulphur-tipped matches of about sixty years ago, before the coming of what were hailed as safety matches and minus the noxious sulphurous odour emitted by the  old type.  Bill Sleeman had these matches and a finger-ring puzzle, in line with his habit of carrying items selected from his vast accumulation of 19th century relics.




These two agreed that the table described by J. D. Peterson was not the one in the Sleeman home, the latter having extraordinary craftsmanship of inlaid feature and lines so fine as to simulate edges of shavings, but with no designs pictured in colour or of birds.  It seems therefore that the mystery of that other table has still to be pursued.


George Hall, himself a wood workman of parts, was particula­rly enthusiastic about the carv­ings of grapes adorning the legs of the table.  Like Mr. Sleeman, he was familiar with the fact that table, in addition to an intric­ate piece called a secretary, with puzzling trick drawers, be­sides other items, including chairs, were gifts to the late George Sleeman in appreciation of favours, by a German craftsman named Fischer who lived at Morriston back in the 1860’s.  ­All of these pieces of furniture were made of walnut.  George Hall, however, who is today’s personality in the series of “Way back” sketches, remembers that the old German craftsman used to buy tall pine tree from the Barker farm on the Brock Road, which is about 5 miles from Guelph Post Office.  That farm subsequently came into the ownership of the late John R. Dickson and was, in course, inherited by his daughter, Ella, now Mrs. George Hall.  Mr. Hall now tills 100 acres of that farm, the other 100 acres having been sold.


Giant Trees


  In the old days, the pine woods there used to be so thick and the trees so big, that even in daytime lanterns had to be carried in order to make foot traffic in those woods really feasible.  George still possesses a board made from one of those trees, which without piecing is 30 inches in diameter.  The old German craftsman bought one there that was 27 inches in diameter.  There was a set price of 50 cents which he was obliged to pay, after lopping off all of the limbs, which remained for use as firewood.


Another recollection about the same old artisan was that he used to walk to Dundas and back to his place at Morriston, bringing a heavy load of glass, which he strapped to his back.  Ease in carrying the load was accomplished by means of a fixture clamped about his forehead.  The panes of glass were used in connection with pieces of furniture which he manufactured, for which he was famous all about the district.  Neither Mr. Hall nor Mr. Sleeman could recall whether or not the old gentleman had remained in Morriston up to the time of his passing, but they both spoke of a grandson of his, named Frank Kistenmaucher, having for years carried on business at Morriston as a cabinet maker and undertaker.  The name of the latter appears in the County of Wellington directory of 1875-1876, a copy of which is owned by Dan Heffernan of 53 Surrey Street, who kindly loaned this directory to the “glancing back” scribe.


George Hall and Ella Dickson were married in January 1917.  The officiating minister was Reverend N. A. Hurlbut, then pastor of Paisley Memorial Church, Guelph.  They have three daughters who are Elma, now Mrs. Herb Heimbecker of Toronto, Jean, now Mrs. Tony Page of Guelph, and Miss Norma of Toronto.


War Veteran


George Hall is a veteran of World War I in which he saw service with the 13th Royal Highlanders.  After being wounded he was eventually a patient at the old Speedwell Hospital in Guelph, being one of the first batch of soldier patients there.  Subsequently, he served as a supervisor of occupational therapy in government institutions, based on his carpentry proficiency.  After terms at St. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, and seven years in Hamilton, he eventually returned to this district where he has remained ever since.


As a farmer, he is known for his purebred Guernsey cattle and as a dairy specialist.  He is a native of Stirling, Scotland and recalls boyhood experience as a printer’s devil in the office of the Stirling Sentinel.


◄ End of file ►