Black and white photograph of women at Halladay Cemetery in Elgin, Ontario around 1910
When Mr. James Scannell, of Chelsea, went to Portland township with his parents in the year 1860, Portland was still almost a virgin wilderness. The township had not long been opened for settlement. Mr. Scannell’s father, John B. Scannell, had left the third line of Huntley and had gone into Portland to take advantage of the fine and cheap timber land which was there being offered to settlers.
Mr. James Scannell was fifteen years of age in 1860, and therefore old enough to be able to give an intelligent story of things as they were in Portland in 1860. At that time the roads were mere trails through the virgin forest and the settlers were few and far between. Over 85 per cent of the settlers were single men, who were “proving” their claims. Some of them were from Eastern Ontario, but most were from Western Ontario.
Mr. Scannell tells that in 1860 out of a total number of settlers of about 60 there were only six women. When a young settlers decided to take to himself a helpmate on his farm, he usually went back for a time to his old home and secured one. In Carleton Place they were missing men and had too many women.
The first settlers spent nearly all their time cutting the pine and oak off their farms and hauling them the nearest creeks, where the lumber jobbers took them off their hands. The creeks in question all fed into the Lievre river.
Mr. Scannell saw the beginnings and growth of the village of Portland. The start of the store and other enterprises of Wm. F. Bonsall and the erection of the churches. For fifteen years from 1860 Portland township did not know what a doctor looked like.
There was practically no ordinary illness, and when anyone happened to break their leg or arm there was always somebody in the settlement who could set the limb. If the injury happened to be serious the victim was hauled to Ottawa or Hull on a buck-board. In later years Mr. Scannell left Portland township and moved to Kirk’s Ferry, where he ran a grocery store. Still later he moved to Chelsea village, where he and Mrs. Scannell conducted a summer hotel for years.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.