Risky route through 10-mile forest

 In Opinion

This year we have been telling the stories of the first mail deliveries to this area. We are talking about the days when Stayner was just a howling wilderness and Collingwood was just a big wet swamp with rabbits running through. When the story left off in March we were reading an account of an interview with Mr. James More of Dunedin which appeared in the History of Nottawasaga Township published in 1934. Mr. More was telling of his experiences carrying the mail by horseback from Barrie to Owen Sound.

“On one occasion Mr. More had dismounted to walk for a change and on coming to a mud hole, which extended across two lots, it caused him some alarm to see his horse strike into the woods on the opposite side to which he was going, and cooly ignore all orders to stop or retrace his steps but he came back to the mail road at the end of the mud hole.

“In going over the mountain from Duntroon the road passed through a 10-mile forest. About half way through the forest there lived an old couple named Brock, who supplied meals for travellers.

“The Rev. Mr. Climie, Congregationalist, was the first minister in Nottawasaga. He had kept the Duntroon post office before Mr. More had carried the mail. Once when Mr. Climie was walking through the 10-mile forest with an umbrella in his hand, a bear suddenly rose on its hind legs before him. They stood regarding each other in silence for a time. Then Mr. Climie suddenly spread his umbrella, at the same time springing toward the bear, which disappeared in the woods.

“Mr. More carried the mail two years and never encountered wild animals. He once heard wolves on the mountain and once saw a martin cat. It was about twice the size of a house cat and brown in colour. It climbed to the top of a small tree and seemed anxious to escape.

“Mr. More’s father was the first school teacher who taught in Duntroon. He was followed by a teacher named Rogerson, to whom James More went. Later a Mr. Livingston taught in a building on the corner of the graveyard, used for both church and school (for those of you who drive through Duntroon, you will see a marker for this site.)”

The interview goes on to tell about Johnny Ross, being the first male child born in this township, about fishing being worthwhile in those days, about a screeching ox cart and about the opening of an Indian (Petun) ossuary at the first lot west of Duntroon. For those of you who are interested, you can find this account in Nottawasaga: The Outburst of the Iroquois available in our local library.

Next month: Creemore’s first post office.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment