Transcribed for the LCGS website by Eileen Bashak.

The Ottawa Daily Free Press
Saturday May 17, 1879 OFF TO MANITOBA
Another Exodus to the Farmers’
El Dorado
How the Intended Settlers Fare by
the Way

Should the present exodus from Ontario to Manitoba continue, the latter will soon lose the somewhat ambiguous title of the “Great Lone Land” bestowed upon it in days gone by, when perhaps its loneliness had charms for the “noble savage,” and those few whites who settled there early, and knowing the fertility of the land did not care to have many neighbors of their own complexion. The last few years have done much towards making known the capabilities of the Manitoba soil, and our Ontario farmers, ever far-seeing, in matters agricultural, soon began to see the advantages afforded by that country in their own particular calling. The few pioneers who had the courage to venture into the almost unknown land began to thrive, and to let their friends know of their prosperity, and as news, good or bad, travels quickly, people began little by little, to make enquiries as to this “land of promise” and the consequence was that others ventured to break up their households in Ontario, and went into the prairie province, there as it were to commence life afresh. They too were in their turn, successful and urged their friends to go out and prosper likewise. The consequence of all this has been that each season has seen an increase in emigration to the North-West until it has reached the dimensions it has done this spring. If a sceptic wanted a proof of the esteem in which Manitoba is at present held by agriculturalists, he should have visited the St. Lawrence and Ottawa depot on Tuesday last, when he would have had all his doubts removed beyond all question. Mr. A.H. Taylor the popular agent of the Grand Trunk railroad has, during the present season arranged four parties of intending settlers in the North-West, and the one it was the privilege of your correspondent to accompany so far as Detroit Junction was the fourth, which set out on Tuesday last his object being to judge for himself of what class of people were going out, what they were going to do, what prospects they had, and in fact, all about the excursion generally. The party, it should be said, consisted of 172 full passengers, representing 215 souls, exclusive of one car of passengers from Millbrook and one car from Peterborough, representing about 150 souls. There was also one car of freight from Peterborough, and two from Millbrook. These were added to the Ottawa party on the way to Sarnia. Your correspondent was told to hold himself in readiness to start at 10 a.m., sharp, but when he reached the depot it was evident that some few hours must elapse before a departure could be effected, so he employed his time by making a tour of


which presented somewhat the appearance of an agricultural show ground the day before the fair. Horses, wagons, (the latter in all stages of dismemberment) agricultural implements, cattle, and all the various articles that go to make up a farmer’s stock in trade, were scattered about in every direction waiting transferment to the cars that were to convey them to their new sphere of action in the great North-West. Besides these were household furniture and baggage of every conceivable kind, from a pianoforte down to a rocking chair, proving that while the useful was considered, the ornamental was not forgotten. There was even a house and farm buildings awaiting transportation; these belonged to Mr. Lowe, of the Department of Agriculture, who has purchased some ten thousand acres of land near Emerson, some sixty miles from Winnipeg. The buildings he has constructed in sections, finding it more economical to pursue this plan, than to consume time in putting off his building operations until the arrival of the people he has sent out to his estate. Mr. Lowe’s forethought in this respect, is worthy of imitation of all intending settlers, who have sufficient of the needful at hand. He has despatched a number of employees and thirty horses, and before the fall will have his arrangements in fair working order, and ready for active operations next spring. The stuff he has sent out filled eight cars. Doctor Schultz, M.P., seeing that there was a necessity in the Province for well bred stock, shipped two car loads of prime Ayrshire bulls and heifers, purchased from Mr. Allan Grant of Fitzroy, and one car load of horses, including one three year old stallion of an excellent stamp. Most of the farmers had stock of various kinds, and the contents of the cars when loaded, were of as varied a kind as those of


There were two peacocks, a couple of pigs (belonging to Mr. W.A. Loucks of Winnipeg, and designated by him as “his stock”) a span of mules, a bull dog, a deer hound, besides all sorts of feathered pets in the passenger carriages. Some of the cars contained large quantities of seed raised chiefly in the Ottawa district from which, as a matter of course, most of the travelers came from.


was of course crowded with people assembled to witness the departure of the train, and bid adieu to their friends who were going by it. Some were tearful at leaving those with whom they had been intimately acquainted all their lives, but truth to say those who were going away were in better spirits than those who were left behind. Finally all was in readiness for the start and the voice of Mr. A. McCullough, who had charge of the train, was heard giving the warning signal of


and the sixteen heavily laden cars moved out of the station amid the parting cheers of the numbers on the platform. By the way before proceeding further on the journey, it is only right to state that Mr. A. G. Peden, General Passenger Agent of the St. L. & O. Railway, Mr. R.K. Clare, General Freight Agent of the same line, and Mr. Jas. E. Parker of Mr. Taylor’s office rendered yeoman’s service in expediting matters at the station, but despite their efforts the start was not effected until half-past two, and


were berthed in Grand Trunk first-class cars, Mr. Wainwright, the general passenger agent of the road, being anxious that everything should be done for the comfort of the party and his efforts in this respect were not only successful but were duly appreciated. Once well on the road, your correspondent made


The people soon appeared to adapt themselves to their novel position; they seemed to have laid in a goodly stock of provisions of all kinds and they had disposed of their odds and ends of property about their places in the carriages with as much method as if starting on a five days’ railway journey was an every day’s occurrence. Here and there a bird cage was hung up, and its occupants appeared to be in as good spirits as their owners. The children made themselves comfortable after their fashion , and seemed as pleased as possible to think they were “off to Manitoba.” The female portion of the party of course, with the handiness of the fair sex, generally soon had things “put to rights,” while the men lit their pipes and compared notes as to their prospects in their new homes. People who had never seen one another before struck up an acquaintance, and before the train reached Prescott everybody was on the best terms with everyone else, and the greatest good humor prevailed. After a short delay at the Junction, where another first-class car was in waiting in order that the passengers might not be overcrowded, another piece of thoughtfulness on the part of Mr. Wainwright, the train proceeded to Brockville, where Mr. Taylor was in waiting with another party from the Canada Central district. This addition brought the number of cars up at twenty-eight, and two trains were made up, with three passenger carriages on one and two on the other. Shortly after ten o’clock a start in earnest was effected, and the travelers were fairly on their way to their new homes. Before turning in for the night the musical members of the party commenced to exercise their vocal powers, each car having its separate concert. The melodies performed ranged from “My Grandfather’s Clock” to Moody and Sankey’s hymns. One young lady in the car in which it was the good fortune of your correspondent to be seated possessed a voice of great excellence, and sang some songs in a style that would not have disgraced many professionals. In due time the drowsy god began to make his influence known, and some of the “dodges,” if the term may be used, to secure comfortable roosting places were quaint in the extreme. Of course there were no sleeping cars, and each one had to exercise his or her ingenuity in devising an apology for a bed. Some had boards which, when placed across the seats and the cushions placed upon them, made excellent couches, while others had camp chairs, which also answered well. To the females, of course, were given up as many seats as they wanted. Your correspondent not having provided himself with either planks or a camp chair, was fain to occupy half of a double seat with the Hon. Mr. Sutherland, who was on his way out to his home. Of course on a long trip, such as the one undertaken by the party, some inconveniences have to be put up with, but the exercise of a little ingenuity combined with patience and good humor, will modify them in a wonderful degree; the three virtues named prevailed, and the party only laughed at one another, when one complained of an ache in some part of the body, caused by sleeping in and unwonted position.


Belleville was reached, and there was a general turn-out and enquiries as to “how do you feel,” to which there returned the universal reply, “First rate! Never better.” Then there was a rush for the pump of excellent water at the station for the morning ablutions, and also for a cup of tea, the conductor (your correspondent does not call to mind his name) having considerately kept a stove going in the van, for which he deserves the thanks of the party. Coburg was reached about seven o’clock, where those who had not cared to carry provisions with them, were supplied with a breakfast at the ordinary rate, and proper justice was done to the meal. The “twenty minutes allowed for refreshments” soon expired, and the journey was resumed without delay. At Port Hope it was expected the Peterborough and Millbank party would be met, but in consequence of the delay that occurred in Ottawa, they had gone ahead. The run between that place and Toronto was a good one and enjoyed by everybody; the folks had settled down to various occupations the women reading or attending to the wants of their youngsters, and the men either discussing the country passed through, the state of the crops and a hundred other subjects. The “fragrant weed” was freely indulged in and here and there a coterie of four might be seen deep in the mysteries of four-handed euchre. A short stop was made in Toronto, when the second train came along. The animals were watered and fed for the second time — the first being at Belleville — and this important matter having been attended to, once more the journey was resumed. Of course it was not without its incidents; a large party is never without some queer genius or another, and this one was provided with a never-failing source of fun in the shape of


The readers of the Free Press must picture to themselves an individual of low stature, clad, so far as nether extremities were concerned, in a pair of pantaloons made of an unknown material, which were stuffed into beef moccassins or shoe packs that came nearly up to his knees; add to this a “coat of no formal cut” that had decidedly seen its best days, for assuredly it could never see much worse, and a once white straw hat perched on the top of a shock head of hair, the whole being covered with a thick layer of real estate, and they will have a fair idea of Moccassin Joe as some wag christened him. What countryman he was is a question difficult to solve, for he was of the polyglot order, English, French or Gaelic were all the same to him. He was a walking edition of Burn’s poems, and although he was considerably “disguised” when he went on board the train, and remained so until your correspondent left the party at Detroit Junction, he always appeared to have his wits about him until the train reached Guelph, when he got off to “refresh” and the train started without him. For some time he was not missed, but presently some one asked “where is Joe?” A search for that worthy revealed the fact he was non est, but at Sarnia the next morning Joe was seen placidly wending his way towards the nearest hotel smoking the same dirty two inches of clay pipe he had in his mouth when he got on board at Ottawa — he had come along by the second train and was just in the same happy frame of mind as ever. Joe stood all the chaff with the most imperturbable good humor, sang a song, and then offered to treat the whole party — he was great fun if you only kept on the windward side of him — it was not well for a person whose olfactory organs were sensitive to go to leeward of him. The last seen of Joe was at Detroit, when he was standing on the hind platform of a car slowly waving his straw hat in farewell to Mr. Taylor and your correspondent. Certain it is that the party will not want for amusement if Moccassin Joe remained with them to the end of the journey.

Stratford was reached at supper time, and Mr. Taylor had considerately telegraphed ahead to the keeper of the refreshment rooms at the station to have a substantial meal ready for those who chose to partake of it, so that no unnecessary time was lost. The train was soon under weigh again, everything going smoothly and everybody feeling as jolly as Mark Tapley. By the way, speaking of the last named individual, surely Mr. Loucks of Winnipeg must be a lineal descendant of his — for he was jollity personified — he was here and there and everywhere like a corpulent Will o’ the Wisp. When he was not enquiring when and where he could water and feed the animals under his charge, he was nursing some crying baby and comforting it in stentorian tones — somehow or other he made a most successful substitute for a nurse of the proper sex, for on one occasion he came out of what might fitly be termed, the family car, with a face radiant with satisfaction, and with evident pride informed the occupants of the car in which your correspondent was seated that a baby had been crying for forty minutes straight on end, and that during the two hours he had nursed it, it had never uttered a whimper! He supplemented this statement for about the fortieth time by exclaiming, “I say Mr Taylor, shall I be able to get feed for those horses at Port Huron.” The answer was, of course, an affirmative one that had been given also for the fortieth time, but the query began to get monotonous. Mr. Loucks is of a loquacious turn, and waxes eloquent on the subject of Manitoba, and certainly is a most enthusiastic advocate for emigration to that province. He delivered a l ecture on that subject during the trip, and held forth for half-an-hour, concluding his oration by proposing three cheers for Mr Taylor and your correspondent, who he, styled “distinguished gentlemen” ahem, and they were given most lustily, he leading them with the voice of a bulldog Bashan, the crowd proclaiming the fact that they were “jolly good fellows” and someone producing a flask, their healths were drank in a very cordial manner. Between him and Moccasin Joe there was no lack of material for mirth there.

Port Sarnia was reached at about one o’clock in the morning, too late to cross to Port Huron a drizzling rain was falling and the weather was disagreeably cold. The party made themselves comfortable enough until the time arrived to cross the river. Here is a fitting place to mention the attentive and courteous manner which the conductor of the first train treated his numerous passengers and in him the Grand Trunk have a valuable officer. Port Huron was reached about half-past seven, when the work of examining, by the Customs officers, the baggage of those persons going to Minnesota and Dakota commenced. There were not many of these however, most of them going to Emerson and its vicinity. The baggage of those going to Manitoba was bonded, as were also the horses and cattle, and all would go through without further trouble. The Customs business occupied some time, and it was afternoon before the two trains made a start for the Detroit Junction, where the passengers changed cars for the Michigan Central, Mr. E. Wiley taking charge of the party from Port Huron to the Junction. As the departure was made some one proposed


for having provided such excellent accommodation. These were given in the heartiest manner, and they were well deserved for the most fastidious could not find anything to find fault with.


occurred on the journey between Port Huron and that was the presentation of the following address to Mr. Alexander H. Taylor by Mr. Alex. Thompson, of Cainville, Ont., on behalf of the party.

Detroit, May 15th 1879 To Mr. A.H. Taylor:

Kind Sir,

We, the passengers under your care, beg leave to express our thanks to you before we separate, for the extreme kindness, care and attention which we received from you while on our journey to the great lone land of Manitoba. Although our trip has been long, it has nevertheless been pleasant, for all cares and troubles have been removed from us by your ever careful attention to our many wants. And we also express our utmost thanks to the Grand Trunk officials for furnishing such a trusty officer as you to care for our many requirements while traveling. On our whole journey, we have not heard one unkind word from you in answer to the many annoying questions that have been asked you from time to time, and it is our sincere wish that all our fellow Canadians, who propose coming after us on this journey, may have the good fortune to have you to guide and care for them. Again thanking you, we bid you a kind farewell and a safe journey home.


Alex. Thompson, David Graham, James Howison, John Thomson, A. Armstrong, W.H. Armstrong, J.G. Dennis, James D. Robertson, Robert Templeman, Robert Duncan, R.J. Duncan, W.H. Duncan, William James, Matthew (sic) Taylor, Joseph Smith, M.C. Farlane, . M. Armstrong, Adam Maxwell, Robert Robertson, A.N. Couch, W. Edwards, W. Johnson, John Edwards, A. Reid, D. A. Machan, R. Garrett, Jas. Rankin, John Jenkins, Mrs. J. Jenkins, Isaac Murphy, Jane Reid, Mrs. R. Knox, W. Powell, D. McPhail, Miss. J. Moore, A. McPhail, E. Jordan, R. J. Foster, H. Herrod, John Rea, Mrs. McCuaig, S. Kerfoot, George Dart, D.A. Stewart, Miss Traveller, Mrs. Stewart, Richard Costel, M.P. Kennedy, Thomas Murray, John Withers, N.E. Mathewson, H.C. Brown, W.A. Loucks, W. Johnson, Mrs. H. Fee, Thomas Quinn, Denis Lyons, Wesley Fee, John McCaffrey, Abraham Lackey, E.F. Smith, Robt. B. Johnston, A. Johnston, W. Wilson, Hugh McNulty, John Townsend, H. Hetherington, Mrs. Bradshaw, Thos. W. Wilson, William Downey, Robt. Armstrong, John Dixon, Geo. B. Dixon, Theophile Gagnon, Wm. Turnbull, John Turnbull.

Mr. Taylor returned a suitable reply, thanking them for the address, and the kind wishes contained therin.

Detroit Junction was reached about five o’clock, and the change of cars was effected without confusion. The Michigan Central, following the example of the Grand Trunk, had placed first-class carriages on, and the passengers were soon comfortably settled in them. Loucks, the irrepressible, shook hands with everybody that came in his way and if he had not been held back, would have hugged Mr. Taylor and your correspondent. The last “good byes” were said, the last hand shaken by them, and the train moved off with as happy a lot of people that ever made voluntary exiles of themselves for the purpose of bettering their position in life.


was the proper one. Many of them were farmers in well-to-do circumstances, who took with them ample capital to give them a good start in their new home, while others were farm hands and artisans who had been thrifty enough to save sufficient to pay their passage and have a tidy little sum besides to keep the wolf from the door while seeking work. With the exception of Moccassin Joe, they all appeared to be sober, industrious men, with a look about them indicating that they were not afraid of hard work,


which scares some people who would like to try their fortune in Manitoba, is a mere nothing, and may be made, as your correspondent has attempted to show, into a very jolly, pleasant trip. The arrangements made by the Grand Trunk are perfect. Everything that can be done to secure the comfort of the parties is done. The trip averages about four days, and, with pleasant companions and the prospect of doing well in the new land, that time soon passes away.