Author’s Note:- When I edited this there was no author’s name on this piece in the Almonte Gazette and I wish we knew who provided such great real-life detail to the local ‘poultry experience’.
I was reminded of some of the experiences of my boyhood regarding poultry fairs half a century or more ago, and I thought some at your younger readers might care to know something of how their fathers did things when lads.
We lived on a farm near Pakenham and the town was a great centre where James Dunnett were the chief bayers and shippers. They went to Montreal mostly because Toronto was not known very much then and in those days Toronto was very far away. In addition to the dairy produce we had the great saw log and lumber industry. It was quite common to see ten or twelve teams at one time heading for town–then there was the cordwood. An immense amount of cordwood went to Pakenham. They drew cordwood until the sleighing was over– in those days there were more teamsters, and with the lumbering and other activities Pakenham was always a pretty busy place.
Photo by —Almonte Gazette 1920
However it was poultry we are here to talk about and we had turkeys. It may seem strange to the present generation to learn that we brought our turkeys into Pakenham in droves. Sometimes we had hundreds in a drove. The buyers went into the country and bought them and we boys helped to drive them. Pakenham was the great poultry centre and all roads led to it.
The turkeys were slaughtered in the village and the town would have feathers flying all around it for weeks after the Fair. It took several days to do the killing and plucking of the turkeys, and we young fellows were delighted to get a chance to catch the turkeys for the men. They had special clips for seizing: them by the legs. The birds were bled and hung up by the feet as they were easier to ship.
I might mention that Pakenham besides being the centre for poultry was also the great centre of this part of the country for dairy produce. Huge quantities of butter were shipped from Pakenham to Montreal. Brown and McArthur, James’ Hartney and some of the teamsters were great friends of the boys. There was William Mooney, for example. W e were always keen to get a ride with him. I can remember that every Friday he would have the Almonte Gazette and he would sit in the sleigh reading every word of it and leave the lines to us youngsters. We were delighted, of course.
Hon. William Templeman was editor of the Gazette in these days, and William Mooney used to think that every word “ Bill” Templeman wrote was just about right.Then there was John Hudson. He was a man of no education, but he was a wonderful poet. He would sit on his sleigh and spin out his poetry to out great enjoyment. Hudson’s poetry appealed to me very much and I have always been sorry that I have no copies of any of his poems.
I remember two brothers, Micbael and Christie Curry. Michael always wanted to have a crowd of boys with him. He was what you called a real boys’ man, so we were invariably, glad to see his team come along the road.
I am afraid, however, that I am wearying you with my reminiscences so I will close for the present.
1895-A fox killed eighteen turkeys one night, belonging to Arch Campbell, of Lanark.
1895-At the Almonte Poultry Fair turkeys went from 8-9 cents a pound and geese 5 to 6 cents. There was very little poultry.
December 24, 1920-Prices at Lanark: Chickens -averaging 25c to 30c; Geese 32c, Turkeys from 45c to 51c per pound
Perth Courier, December 21, 1888
Perth Poultry Fair—The quantity of poultry that changed hands at the fair at Perth this year was much smaller than that of last December. For a variety of reasons there was less raised by the farmers this season that usual while last year’s product was an exceptionally large one. The amount bought this year was about 40 tons. Of this, Messrs. A. Meighen Brothers and Messrs. A.R. McIntyre & Co. secured 11 tons and Wilson and Noonan 7 tons. However, a carload of live turkeys were shipped earlier in the season to New York by various buyers and other lots were shipped up the C.P.R. by A. Meighen Brothers, etc., so that the whole product this year would probably aggregate 60 tons. But if the quantity this year was smaller the quality and price this year were better than last. The second day figure for turkeys was 12 cents and 13 cents and a few choice lots brought 14 cents. Geese brought the highest prices of the average. There were more buyers here than at the fair but some were so scared at the prices that they never bought a pound of stuff. On the whole, the fair was a good one and profitable to the farmers. Mr. Robert Lawson, Jr., of Middleville sold to Messrs Meighen and McIntyre 662 pounds of turkey at 13 cents and 131 pounds at ten cents. Mr. Thomas Frances near Lanark Village got 14 cents a pound for his lot of turkeys. Mr. William Purdon, Jr., Dalhousie had another fine lot of poultry one of his turkeys weighed 22 pounds. Mr. David Ferguson, 1st Concession Drummond, sold 38 turkeys to a private party in town at 14.5 cents a pound. He sold ten besides at $3 each for brooking purposes next year. He lost about 50 young turkeys this year through foxes. Mr. John Doyle, Drummond, sold his geese for 12 cents a pound. This is the best we have heard.
Perth Courier, December 10, 1897
Lanark Links: The sleighing has been very fine for a few days and as a result business has been quite brisk. The farmers are taking advantage of it and the streets of our village are thronged with sleighs. Should this snow remain Friday will be a very busy day being the one appointed for the turkey fair here. Generally that day is a very important one for the ladies of the surrounding country and they may be seen with their loads of poultry trying to secure the best possible returns for their labors in that line during the summer.
Perth Courier, Dec. 5, 1879
Auction Sale—Mr. George Devlin will sell at his store, Perth, on Tuesday next (Poultry Fair Day) a large lot of miscellaneous house furniture, cutter and buggy, and vehicles of various kinds.
Perth Courier, July 22, 1892
On Wednesday, 6th July, William Mackey of Bathurst near Fallbrook cut his ankle bone while scoring with a broad axe. The wound was evidently not a deep one but after bandaging it he took to his bed and seemed to sink slowly to his death. Dr. Hanna of Perth attended him but complications set in till blood poisoning resulted and Mr. Mackey died on Thursday last. His remains were buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery in Perth and were attended to the grave by an immense concourse of friends and relatives. He leaves a wife and family the eldest a young man of 17 years. He was hardly out of his prime being 48 years old when he died. His wife was a daughter of the late Edward Bennett of Bathurst. Mr. Mackay was a very intelligent and well read man popular in his neighborhood and a staunch Reformer. He was an enterprising and successful farmer and his turkeys on Poultry Fair Day always took the best prizes.
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