Smiths make two-day trek to their new home in Smithdale

 In Community

Today we have another installment about the Smith family’s journey from Yorkshire, England, to Smithdale, lot 16, Concession 6 in the township of Nottawasaga. Last month we found Charles Smith working alone to build a suitable shelter for his family, who were waiting at Brentwood, Sunnidale Township. The year was 1836 and the season too far advanced for a move that fall. In the spring of 1837 the move to their new home was underway.

There were no wheeled vehicles and even if there were, roads were not suitable for a wheeled conveyance. All overland transportation had to be done in a crude sleigh or “jumper” as they were called. During their two years in Sunnidale the Smith family had acquired a cow and a few hens as well as a few other requirements. The journey from Brentwood to their new home was arranged for April 1837. Grandfather had engaged a settler who had a yoke of oxen and a jumper to move his family and affects over the route.

The journey was started one morning at daylight. The going was rough as the jumper bumped over stumps and other obstacles. They arrived at Ballygrant, two miles west of Stayner, by noon. (This is where Fairgrounds Road meets County Road 91.) At Ballygrant there was a roadside inn where they rested and ate lunch. They proceeded on to Scotch Corners, later called Duntroon. Here they found another group of settlers on five-acre lots. They then started south on the Eighth Line and by evening had reached the hill half a mile north of Glen Huron.

At this location they found a partly built log shanty. Their teamster was tired and told them to unload as he would go no further. They had been 12 hours going 22 miles. All were weary and glad to call it a day. They made the best of a crude roofless cabin. The following day was Easter Sunday. Grandmother looked into the crate of hens and was delighted to find a new laid egg. It pleased her and she considered it a good omen.

During the previous year Grandfather did some scouting to find a route to move his family to their new home. He found a deer runway at the west end of his own farm. The runway eventually crossed the Eighth Line nearly opposite the cabin where he and his family had spent the night.

They walked about two miles to their home. Grandfather had to make several trips back to the cabin on the Eighth to carry other possessions to their new home.

The story has been handed down that Grandfather never killed an animal except if it was needed for food. Fortunately all members of the family were healthy and as game and fish were plentiful they always had food, though sometimes it lacked variety.

To purchase such necessities as flour, tea, sugar and salt Grandfather would walk to Barrie. It was a hard two-day journey. However, five years later a Government Land Office and store was opened two miles south of Creemore (or what would become Creemore.)

Last month I promised to bring you the story of the snake in the bed and about the death of Charles Smith at a young age. I have run out of room and hope to tell you that part of the story next month.

This tale is from the writings of C.B. Smith (Bert) in a document called The Smiths of Nottawasaga, edited by James David Smith, 2003.

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