Lennox and Addington Historical Society Papers and Records, Volume 1, 1909
Note.-These letters were written by an "old resident," and were published in The Beaver in 1873 and 1874. They appear in one of the Historical Society Scrap Books.
LETTER I. LETTER II. LETTER III. LETTER IV. LETTER V. LETTER VI. LETTER VII.
About the year 1834, (some forty years ago), through the influence and exertion of the late John S. Cartwright, Esq., the
were established by Royal Proclamation of His Excellency, the Lieutenant-Governor, half-yearly at first, on the first Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in March and September, and afterwards on the same days of the months of June and December in each and every year. Those fairs formerly were advertised by handbill, but latterly, having become a regular institution of the country, so that every one, far and near, knows when the Napanee Fair takes place. Butchers, pedlars, hucksters and traders attend from various parts of the Province, while the farmers and others who have stock or produce to dispose of bring it to the fair, where they are sure to obtain a good price. Thousands of people assemble, and tens of thousands of dollars change hands yearly. Although the fair now only continues for one day every three months, still it is a great acquisition to the place. Many tales and incidents might be related of the doings at the fairs, but we must pass on.
We next propose to take a retrospective view of the
FORMER BUSINESS MEN OF THE PLACE.
many, of whom have passed away. We have already mentioned the names of some of the pioneer merchants of Napanee, viz. : Messrs. McPherson, Benson, Campbell, Detlor and Roblin, who were among the first to venture to commence trade in this newly settled county. To these we may add Messrs. Stewart & Ramsay, who carried on trade as general merchants, in the corner store of the Rennie Block ; they also built the dwelling house now occupied by Mr. George Wilson. Mr. Paul Wright for many years carried on business as merchant and lumberman, his store being kept in various parts of the town. He has long since gone the way of all the earth. E. A. Dunham, Esq., for several years conducted a mercantile business-also in various parts of the town. He is now Collector of Customs and in comfortable circumstances at Port Burwell. Robert Esson, Esq., for many years carried on an extensive trade, in a frame building, now burned, which stood where Henry's Bookstore now is ; -he still resides in Napanee. Robt. Easton, Esq., for many years traded in dry goods and groceries ; he is now Treasurer of the town. George Wilson, Esq., for over twenty years was a merchant in Napanee; he is still a resident of the town, and is ticket agent of the G.T.R. Mr. Alex. Mackay, for several years a merchant in Napanee, kept his store where Mr. Henry Douglas now keeps; he some years since retired from business and shortly afterwards died. Henry T. Forward, Esq., for several years traded in Napanee; he has retired from business and now resides on Piety Hill. Hon. J. Stevenson for several years had a large mercantile trade. He retired some years ago, and is now residing in the West Ward of the town. He was since elected to represent the County of Lennox in the Ontario Legislature, and was elected and for four years served as Speaker in the House. Wm. Miller, Esq., who has retired from business, was for many years a leading merchant of the place. He has held several positions of prominence, being at one time Reeve of the town, and Warden of the County. Thomas Lamb for many years carried on a mercantile trade, and some years since removed to Brantford. Theodore Georgan for several years carried on the drug business in this place. He removed to Barrie some years ago, where he still resides. Dr. James Grange for several years was engaged in the drug business in this place. He afterwards studied medicine and practised here for some time, but is now practising at Petrolia. Geo. H. Detlor, Esq., for several years carried on trade as a merchant. He was elected M.P.P., was many years in H. M. Customs at Kingston, and is now residing at Goderich. Mr. Wm. Wright for several years carried on a mercantile trade in Napanee, but for some years past he has been doing business at Tweed, in Hastings. Mr. Eli Clark also carried on a mercantile trade for some time; he afterwards removed to Kaladar, and is now keeping a temperance house in Picton.- Arch. McNeill, Esq., for a number of years kept a store in Clarksville, but has been dead for, many years. Charles James, Esq., was for many years a merchant in this place, and is now Clerk of the Division Court. William Parrish, Esq., also for many years carried on the hardware trade in Napanee, and has retired from business. Would time permit, I might mention Maley & Fraser, Neilson, Prior, Foot, Fraser, and others who have carried on business in Napanee during the past forty years.
SLEIGHING FORTY YEARS AGO.
The extremely fine sleighing we are at present favored with, and the dashing equipages and turnouts our present generation supports, very forcibly calls to our mind what sleighing was in olden times, when young Canada had not yet developed that fondness for everything "fast", which may now be said to be the predominating trait of its character. Country visits in the neighborhood of Napanee were then the favorite resorts for sleighing parties, and box-sleds the popular vehicles. A cutter was a rarity, even a quarter of a century ago, and the young man who could drive in one behind a spanking team was considered a youth of wealthy pretensions and a prize worthy of the demulcent darts of the daughters of designing mothers.
Instead of going out for a jaunt in single sleighs with no special place to visit, our fathers organized sleighing parties to go in a "bunch", and jolly indeed those parties must have been from their accounts. "Bill" or "Sally" went around to their neighbors and gave the invitations, while the owners of big "bobs" were called upon to be on hand at a certain time to carry the party to its destination. When the team came, the driver went from house to house, as directed, picking up one here and another there, until the full complement was made up, when off they started at a tearing pace-they called it a "tearing" pace in those days-and with merry mirth and many a joke they enlivened the way to their intended resort. Many a time, on the way thither, the cap of an unlucky wight would suddenly and mysteriously disappear over the side of the sleigh, and go whirling into the deep snow; and, when the horses were stopped to allow him to recover his lost head-gear, the chances were nine out of ten that they would be started upon a brisk trot before he had time to quite reach the sleigh or recover his seat, thus giving him an opportunity to display his pedestrian powers.
We remember an incident of a sleigh load going off some five miles to visit an old friend. The night was bitter cold, and when they got there the family were not at home, having gone off visiting themselves. What was to be done? The next neighbor was a "jolly good fellow", so they soon agreed to go and visit him. On they went, and were soon at his fireside, with "very glad to see you all ; take off your coats and make yourself at home." One of the party, unfortunately, happened to enquire, "Where is neighbor so and so ; we came to visit them, and as they were not at home, thought we would come and see you." "Is that so," replied the neighbor, "then warm yourself quick, and be off as soon as you can. You can't visit here, " and so they departed, much chagrined.
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