The Smits on a road on their farm in Richmond hauling in potatoes. Public Archives
It’s hard to fathom that 183 years ago in 1834 most everyone walked and not on smooth roads, but more like corduroy roads or through forest trails. Imagine those that were used to horse and carriage in the old country suddenly having to rough it when they came to this part of the bush in 1820. Some road-side taverns were not known for having luxury meals, and an average dinner at the end of a travelling day was a sparse meal of ground maize and treacle. Who could face the early unforgiving Canadian scenery on a meal like that?
They said the road to Richmond was a miserable one that led through the woods for nearly 20 miles with many swamps. What would the early settlers say today to streamlined cars hitting 60 km on a smooth paved surface? No one was impressed with Richmond in those days, but they were with Perth. At Richmond there were 30 to 40 log homes, a small tavern run by Sargent and Mrs. Hill, with tolerable accommodations- but there was no roof. However, this spot had been recommended by the Trip Advisor of the day as a “Paradise of Upper Canada” when it was no more than what some called a “Purgatory”.
Richmond was surrounded by swamps, and the Main Street was below a small rivulet that ran nearly parallel with it. For 30 miles to Perth the name of the road became “Road to Ruin” because it was chiefly travelled by those ‘from the swamps’ who had to attend court in Perth and mostly empty pockets were the fruits of their journeys. Litigation was as costly then as it is now.
Perth on the other hand was a pretty little village well watered and with a desired population some wished could be transferred to their own villages. It was new lands, new traditions, and new forms of expressions of blazing your own trail.
Re: Smit Photo above