from The Guide November 15, 1877
In 1817 a number of emigrants arrived from Alston Moor, Cumberland,
England. John Smith (better known as Shoemaker Smith), with others, settled
here, but the Lees, Melbournes, Waltons, Dicksons, etc, went farther north with their families and drew land in Smith, where they
settled. They travelled by the blaze of the trees from Smith's Creek to
Rice Lake and there embarked in boats and rowed up the Lake and the beautiful serpentine river
Otonabee and disembarked on its shore. Mrs Thomas Melbourne was the first female that landed and the
first white woman that planted her foot on the plains on which the town of Peterborough now stands.
All the old pioneers have passed away. There are only two of their sons living that
we are aware of, those of the Messrs John and Joseph Walton, who occupy the old homestead and
bear the highest reputation as agriculturalists in the Province of Ontario.
In taking a passing notice of the pioneers of this vast northern district in
its primeval state, with many of whom the writer was acquainted, there are a few anecdotes, among
many others, in connection with then, that we cannot refrain from publishing.
One of the settlers, who had located himself on the most northerly lot in the settlement, and at some distance from the rest of the
settlers, in his loneliness was afraid of losing the time when the day of rest
approached. He had recourse to a novel time piece in the shape of seven sticks which he placed in the corner of his
cabin. Commencing with Monday he displaced one each morning, the last one standing announcing to him that
Sabbath had returned. Every succeeding Sunday evening he replaced his sticks in the allotted corner
to be ready for operating the ensuing week. On going to his corner one delightful morning in harvest
time, he found but one of his sticks left standing in its place, bearing the welcome intelligence
that this was the day of rest. After attending to his toilet and partaking of his frugal breakfast, he started on his
usual visit to his brethren in the more populous part of the settlement and to his astonishment found
them busily engaged at work in the harvest fields. He upbraided them for this newly engendered
worldliness, which he was at a loss to understand and altogether unprepared to witness this wanton breaking of the
fourth commandment. But after being convinced of his error and that the Sabbath
had passed and this was Monday morning, he exclaimed - "Well, it's Sunday by my sticks and I'll keep it."
At a subsequent date, when he became owner of a flock of sheep, at the
first shearing time, he drove them through the forest to Port Hope for the purpose of washing
and shearing them, for which he received the jeers and ridicule of his friends, but at their own expense, as he
convinced them that the sheep were better able to carry their wool than he, for if he sheared
them at home he would have to carry the wool on his back to this place, here to
exchange it for 'store goods' as the term was in those days.
In the spring or 1819 a public meeting was held in the village to settle on a
permanent an suitable name for Smith's Creek, when it was proposed by the late G S Boulton, Esq, who was
then a resident, that it should be called Port Hope, which was carried unanimously.
In this year by proclamation the Governor appointed Port Hope a port of entry and
M F Whitehead, Esq, was appointed the first Collector of Customs, which position he held for half a
century in a courteous and obliging manner, which gave great satisfaction
to the public; with the exception of two years during which he was
dismissed on some unfounded information, as at the expiration of that time he was
reappointed. Indeed, his long occupancy of the office, through all the political vicissitudes the country
has passed, is fraught with stronger argument than any we could adduce in testimony of the general
satisfaction he gave, and his unswerving urbanity to those who have had business transactions of a
serious character with him in official capacity was invariably acknowledged.
He was, nevertheless, placed in many unenviable positions in the early period of his office caused by
smuggling, which was carried on pretty extensively for a number of consecutive seasons of navigation with impunity,
and as this was the only safe landing place in the county in those days, the ramifications of this unlawful traffic
were not limited to the narrow boundaries of Port Hope but extended to the adjacent townships and rendered the
office of the Collector of Customs anything but a sinecure. Many who were suspected of being principals in those
illicit transactions were men occupying high positions in the community and in many instances in responsible situations of
legal authority in the county. Though circumstantial evidences were numerous and strong against the parties
suspected, yet they were not sufficient to convict. In all these disagreeable situations in which
his office placed him, he was never charged by the public of being too officious in
his endeavors to bring the offenders to punishment, or too avaricious in
seizing the contraband goods, as were many of the revenue officers of the Mother Country, who have thus rendered
In 1821, the unattached townships of Cavan, Manvers, Cartwright, Emily,
Ops and Mariposa were attached to the County of Durham by Act of Parliament.
Land was not considered of much value by the early settlers of the County; and our locality was not exempt from this
fallibility. Innumerable instances night be added of land being disposed of for a mere bagatelle;
and refused on terms quite inadequate to its intrinsic value. We will, however, only relate a few instances in
The College lot, containing 200 acres and forming the eastern part of the town,
could have been purchased at one time by the late John D Smith for 3
shillings, 9 pence an acre, he having the first refusal on account of possession, but he did not think it
worth the money. About 20 years ago the College authorities made their last valuation
of the lot - $8.00 an acre - and gave Mr Smith the option of either taking it at that
price or giving up possession. He chose the latter course and the College authorities took it.
One of our old townsmen in 1821 sold 100 acres of excellent land in the Township of
Smith, a few miles from where is now the town of Peterborough, for 12 dollars.
That excellent farm, about a mile west of Port Hope on the Lake Shore
Road, owned by the late Wm Barrett, was once sold for six dollars.
It would be uninteresting to continue the subject further.