You Don’t Mess Around with Oxen!

You Don’t Mess Around with Oxen!



The early settlers had various sorts of troubles. There have been various instances of how horses and cows which settlers in this district had brought with them from other parts of Canada or from the United States had suddenly taken it into their heads to leave their masters and return to their former homes, sometimes many miles away.

In the year 1832 an English officer and his wife came to the Peterborough district and settled on the banks of a small lake near Rice Lake. In the first year of their occupation they purchased a yoke of oxen from a farmer twenty miles away, from a farm which was largely cleared and the oxen which he sold had been mainly used in plowing and like occupations.

But when these oxen were taken to their new home, which was in the thick scrub of a “bush” farm. they were put at work chiefly in hauling logs. Their work was rough,  unpleasant and heavy.  Whether the oxen talked the matter over among themselves is of course not known, but it is on record that one night they left their bush home together.

Thinking they had merely wandered into the bush and would return at their pleasure. the ex-officer suspended his log hauling and waited. After a week had passed the ex-officer started a search for them, assisted by some of the nearest neighbours. Their tracks led to the banks of the little lake and there they ended. It was evident to the experienced neighbours that the oxen had either waded or swam across the lake.

A boat was secured and the lake crossed. The marks of the oxen were found on the opposite shore.Then the tracks were traced into the bush. To make a long story shorter, it is related that those oxen had travelled through thick bush, swampland, creeks and small lakes twenty miles to the farm of their former owner.

The wife of the officer, who in 1846 published on her Canadian experiences, wrote: “Oxen have been known to traverse a tract of wild country to a distance of 30 or 40 miles, going in a direct line to their former haunts by unknown paths, where memory could not avail them. In the dog we consider it is scent as well as memory that guides him to his far off home: but how is this conduct of the oxen to be accounted for? They returned home through the mazes of Interminable forest, where man with all his reason and knowledge would have been bewildered and lost.”



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.

  1. relatedreading

    Carleton Place Herald –Life in Lanark County

  2. “Naked and Afraid” in Lanark County –McIlquham’s Bridge #2

  3. William Millar, Farmer No. 14, 2nd Concession of Dalhousie 1820

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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