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September 26, 2023

A tour of Wellington, 1833

<p>AN ENDURING STANDARD  A selection of mastheads that have adorned the Picton Gazette dating back to its formation as the Hallowell Free Press in 1830. (Picton Gazette Photo)</p>
AN ENDURING STANDARD A selection of mastheads that have adorned the Picton Gazette dating back to its formation as the Hallowell Free Press in 1830. (Picton Gazette Photo)

Hallowell Free Press, September 30, 1833

We take this opportunity of publicly expressing our thanks for the liberal manner in which every facility was afforded us for the prosecution of our researches at Wellington, and for the frankness and candour with which our enquiries were answered. In a particular manner we beg leave to express our acknowledgements to Dr. Keogh, and Messieurs McFaul and Dougall.

Hallowell, 28th Sept. 1833

Dear Hew—I made an excursion the other day to Wellington, for the purpose of examining the West Lake and the Sand Banks; places which I dare say you have never heard of even by name. I know, however, that you take great pleasure in hearing of the improvements which are now in progress throughout this country, and of all the remarkable objects which it contains. I proceed therefore to give you a rapid sketch of the result of my observations.

Wellington lies a westerly direction from Hallowell, and is ten miles distant from it. The road between the two places is remarkably good. The intermediate country possesses a gently undulating surface, which is as agreeable to the eye to rest upon as it is favorable to the interests of the Agriculturalist. The soil is what is termed a sandy loam: it is extremely fertile and is in a state of high cultivation. Were you here you might at first be inclined to smile at this last remark, immediately after having witnessed the magnificent system of farming pursued in Great Britain. The numberless black stumps and half burnt trees with which the face of the country is occasionally studded over, give it a melancholy and desolate appearance, notwithstanding the luxuriant crops which are everywhere produced. And then the zig-zag wooden fences would seem bare and naked to the eye of one fresh from contemplating the neatly trimmed green hedges intermixed with roses, honeysuckle and sweet briar which everywhere prevail throughout merry England.

Notwithstanding however the unpicturesque appearance presented by half decayed stumps and wooden fences, we meet with very fine views all along road. At this season of the year the scenery is particularly fine from the beautiful variety of tents afforded by the different species of wild shrubs and forest trees.

To give an idea of the enterprise of the people, and to show how quickly every natural advantage is made available to the purposes of gain I need only mention that between Hallowell and Wellington we passed three small streams. On the first of these, which is about four miles distant from Hallowell, there are a Saw, a Grist and a Fulling Mill, together with a Carding Machine. On the second, which is about one mile farther, there are a Saw and a Grist Mill; and on the third, which is about two miles still further on, there is a Saw Mill.

About halfway between Hallowell and Wellington there is the commencement of a fine village, which for want of a proper name I shall call Whitesville. It is well situated upon the side of a gentle acclivity, and already consists of about 12 or 14 well built and cleanly looking houses.

Proceeding for a short distance beyond Whitesville, we first come insight of an extensive marsh into which the streams just mentioned empty themselves, and where after struggling for two or three miles they ultimately find their way into the West Lake. This marsh is several miles long, and is in some places about a mile broad.—If we meet if we may be allowed to compare small things to great, it bears a great resemblance to the Pontine marshes in Italy, and like them, the immediate vicinity of this place was formerly far from being healthy.

Wellington was commenced only three years ago and it already possesses a population of upwards of 100 souls. The houses are neat, substantial, and well built. The great proportion of the inhabitants are tradesmen, and from all I could learn or observe, seemed to be in thriving and happy circumstances. In this place there are a Tan Yard, a grist and Saw Mill: and in short every branch of industry necessary to the comfort and enjoyment of life is cultivated in this young and flourishing village with the utmost assiduity and zeal.

It would seem that the care of the body generally precedes that of the soul, for there [are] already at Wellington two comfortable Inns or Hotels as they are called, par excellence. I doubt much whether they would please the fastidious taste of the illustrious Captain Hall, or the genteel Mrs. Trollope. I am certain, however, that every traveller who remembered that but a very few years ago the sight of the village of Wellington was a howling wilderness, would be inclined to hold up his hands in wonder and astonishment at the comforts which mine host of the Lion rampant could place before him.

There are also at Wellington an excellent School, and in the immediate neighborhood a Quaker and a Methodist Meeting House. We understand that the inhabitants of Wellington have it in contemplation forthwith to erect Roman Catholic and Protestant places of worship.

The country surrounding Wellington has for many years been in a state of high cultivation: the soil is deep, rich, and with little labour highly productive. It is, I am informed, as good as any in Canada for the production of Wheat. All the lands here are cleared, and only so much left in wood as is necessary for fuel. To give an idea of the wealth and industry of the Farmers, and the Agricultural resources of this part of the country, I need only mention that several farmers have this year produced no less than from 900 to 1000 bushels of Wheat, exclusive of Peas, Oats and Potatoes: and I was informed that one gentleman, a Merchant in Wellington, shipped between September 1832, and June 1833,

18,000 bushels of Wheat,

1,000 barrels of Flour,

1,000 bushels Spring grain,

100 barrels pork.

And this, I was told, is the average of his yearly shipments.

To give an idea of the manner in which Wellington is situated, I ought to mention that the West Lake is only separated from Lake Ontario by a range of sand hills, called the Sand Banks, varying from 20 or 30 feet to one mile in breadth. Where Wellington is situated, the two Lakes are only 30 feet distant from each other and the village runs along the margin of both.

The view from the westerly part of Wellington is exceedingly fine. On the one hand we have the Sand Banks, crowned with tufts of creeping shrubs and stunted trees, stretching away to the South West, and forming what is very unpoetically called the Big Sand Bay. On the other hand we have the great expanse of the crystalline waters of the magnificent Ontario.—No one can ever look upon this beautiful sheet of water, or indeed upon any other of the great inland seas of this extraordinary country without indulging in a train of thought and feeling of the most refined enjoyment. I give the author of the following lines credit for expressing so beautifully the thoughts of which everyone must be conscious on beholding the scene which is it is his object to illustrate:—

 

Thy smile is glorious when the morning’s spring

Gives half its glowing beauty to the deep:—

When the dusk shallow dips his drooping wing,

And the gay winds that o’er they bosom sweep

Tribute from dewy woods and violets bring,

Thy moving billows in their gifts to steep.

Thou’rt beautiful when evening moonbeams shine,

And the soft hour of night and stars is thine.

 

Thou hast thy tempests, too—the lightning’s home

Is near thee, though unseen;–thy peaceful shore,

When storms have lashed thy waters into foam,

Echoes full of the pealing thunder’s roar,–

Thou hast dark trophies,–the unhonored tomb

Of those now sought and wept on earth no more.

And many an goodly form,–the loved and brave

Lies whelmed and still beneath thy sullen wave.

 

Here too at early morn, the hunter’s song

Was heard from wooded isle and grassy glade;

And here, at ever, these clustered bowers among,

The low sweet carol of the Indian maid,

Chiding the slumbering breeze and shadows long

That kept her lingering lover from the shade;

While scarcely seen, they willing waters o’er

Sped the light bark that bore him to the shore.

 

Those scenes are past.—The spirit of changing years

Has breathed on all around,–save thee alone.

More faintly the receding woodland hears

Thy voice, once free and joyous as thy own.

Nations have gone from earth,–nor trace appears

To tell their tale,–forgotten or unknown.

Yet here unchanged, untamed, they waters lie,

Azure, and clear, and boundless, as the sky.

American Mag.

It was my intention to have given you a description of the Sand Banks, of several phenomena presented by the West Lake, and of certain mineral springs in the neighbourhood of Whitesville. This however must for the subject of another communication.—Meantime I am your’s, &c.

  1. R.
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