‘Oh no – a Highwayman!’
There is certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place
If you wanted to a direct line to Kingston by stagecoach you had better get yourself to Brockville, as the main stagecoach line ran from Montreal to Kingston. It was situated on the King’s Highway along the banks of the St. Lawrence where cars whizz by each other these days at death defying speeds.
You have to remember Morphy’s Falls, Perth, Almonte, Smiths Falls and other small towns were fairly isolated with the closest large settlement being Brockville. The route to Brockville said some was like a large travelling wolf pack with as many as 200 wagons journeying along the roads each day. The road was narrow because of the trees and swamps, and it was literally more than just a trail through the dense woods.
At first, this was the only land route from Montreal to Kingston and in the winter it really wasn’t that bad for travelling, but in the summer it was just awful. In low and swampy places round trunks of trees were laid to prevent the wheels sinking into the mire.
In 1837 a local Lanark citizen described his travels as “ A heavy lumbering vehicle reeling and tunblin along pitching like a scow among the breakers of a lake storm.”
Photo- Lanark County by Linda Seccaspina
When a bad spot was reached and had to be passed, travellers were frequently compelled to get off the stagecoach and trudge ankle deep through the mud. The rate possible to travel in stage coaches depended on the elements. In the spring and fall no more than two miles per hour was all that could be accomplished.
The cost of travelling was three times that of a first class fare charged later on the Grand Trunk Railway. However, stories of great speed on occasions are related to stage coaches depending who it was and how many horses they had. It was customary at one time for the governor of Ontario to proceed up and down the St Lawrence in a large bark canoe rowed by 12 men and followed by another boat in which tents and provisions were carried.
WELLS FARGO RULES FOR RIDING THE STAGECOACH
Adherence to the Following Rules Will Insure a Pleasant Trip for All
- Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.
- If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted, but spit WITH the wind, not against it.
- Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.
- Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.
- Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.
- Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.
- In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry wolves.
- Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
- Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.
The WATT family ran a line from their store to Bytown (see below by Taylor Kennedy).
Other early (1830’s) stage coach lines went from Bytown to Aylmer, Quebec to take people
to the steamboat docks for travel westward up the Ottawa River
Read More on: Bytown or Bust
Also read: The Lanark Heritage Transportation Project- Phase 1