(By Donald Fraser, Victoria, B.C.)

With improved transportation facilities the old Spring and Fall Fairs in Perth have become a thing of the past. I think, however, the Perth boy who has had no experience of these old fairs is to be pitied. We thought of them for weeks ahead; we had no money to save up for the occasion, but that did not interfere with our enjoyment for a moment. We had all our faculties and what more does a healthy boy need? Holidays were not given then as now, on every possible occasion. But there was no school for us on Fair Day.

We rose early; to wash our faces and take breakfast (which) had to be done, but it did seem an awful waste of a boy’s precious time. We were afraid something would come into the fair without our seening it. We had to be on nearly all the leading roads at once, and see everything as it came in. What a comparing of information went on and how quickly wonderful reports had to be confirmed by personal investigation! The ubiquitous reporter of the present day isn’t in it with us of those old times.

By ten o’clock the market square was well covered with cattle and rows of waggons along the street line. The apple waggons and the honey waggons, what boy can forget them? Think of one of Mrs. Allan‘s ginger cakes, and a whole copper’s worth of honey in it. And her ginger beer in stone bottles; there never was before and there never will be again any half so good.

The cattle buying began early. McShane of Montreal; Murdock of Kingston; James McParland and his two sons, John and James, were busy men. How quickly the bargains were made! No haggling, the cattle marked and driven off, every hoof sold by four o’clock, the farmers well satisfied and a good many dollars in their pockets. When this was over horse racing began; in very early days the course was at the far end of the old burying ground bridge at the foot of Brock street, in the neighborhood of James Murphy‘s. Latterly the course was from the White House to Matheson Hotel on Drummond street. No record was ever taken then of the time on these occasions. I have seen some good trotting on the ice in the days of Andrew Hope. James Patterson and Hart‘s old black horse from the shanty used to surprise us.

Towards evening, I am afraid the faithful historian would have to record few sanguinary contests; old grudges had to be settled, but we can conveniently forget them. Wireless telegraphy was undreamed of, but the rapidity with which we heard of anything going on from Pat Dooher‘s to Geordie Barrie‘s would surprise Marconi. Good old Father McDonagh could restore peace and quietness quicker than a score of policemen nowadays. His presence was sufficient, but occasionally the old gentleman caught the spirit in the air and wielded his heavy cane in true Connaught style.

After dark the horse trading; who can remember old Louis Campeau? He lived in French village; this was a row of shacks on each side of Beckwith street, east end of the present bridge. Sometimes it was called Slabtown. Louis was never known to refuse a trade; the more dilapidated the steed the quicker he closed the deal. The artist of the Toronto News, who portrayed the Liberal party in the saddle for thirty-two years, must have been a Perth boy, and had Louis’ steeds impressed upon his memory.

Next day we took our corporal punishment and made no complaints. But wasn’t it a shame to punish little boys, who had been so happy and who took so lively an interest in such important institutions as the Fair days in Perth.