Articles of Interest
Page Twelve


People from Our Past - The Way It Was - Allensville 1871

by Marion Belanger

Mary Louise SLOUGH was born at Allansville, Stephenson Township Muskoka in 1871, daughter of George Henry SLOUGH and Mary ETT. Many years later she wrote the following letter to her daughter. Our sincere thanks to her great grandson James Churchill of Dregon,U.S.A for sharing this colourful letter with us.

" My Esther ..since you had so much fun coming into the world it seems only fair to say you had no edge on my own experience and here is the way it happened to me.

My parents moved from Font Hill in the year 1869 to what later on was "Allansville" At the time they came driving in there was one family ahead of them. The old team of white horses drew a fairly good looking wagon loaded to capacity .. all the belongings of the family and five children, 3 girls and 2 boys tucked snugly in among the "stuff". ages 8, 7, 5, 3, and 1 year. Yes and a white lady cat with five kits ... which is another story of how the first morning when the time came to break camp they found three of the kittens in the back of the waggon.. but the second morning all five were there, and the cats feet was sore from the many trips she made to set her family move, you see, they had been left behind with a neighbour. Now enough of the cat story and back to the beginning of our selves. The one family already located took over the job of housing the folks, altho they were a pretty full house of parents and 6 children . But since they had been so anxious and insistent for them to come, well they could do no less - ok yes they managed fine, and my folks began at once , after locating their homestead alongside to cut trees, prepare them and build a log house. Quite a roomy domicile about 12x12 feet so you can understand how difficult it would be for 2 men alone to put the logs in place - but it soon went up, and had a fine roof of cedar shakes, a window in the west end - also a very spacious front porch built of logs and shakes. Oh a very fine roomy home , after being quartered with the good neighbour the last few weeks - they moved in and everything went along fine until the food supply began to dwindle and Father had to go where he could earn the wherewith to buy more. Then Mother discovered there was another baby on the way - and tho brave as could be .. she could see trouble ahead. However Father had gotten work at 25 cents 12 hours a day and his meal's (boiled beans and rye bread) and that was something to look forward to in the spring, as the logging company (The Dollar Brothers, which is now the Dollar SS Line) only paid the men after the log drive ended in April - and the mill pay'd them, so that fall and winter the little family grew bone and stature on Irish potatoes, but they were very good potatoes - no worms like the more modern spud of to-day - well to make matters more difficult it began to snow plenty by October, and kept on untill all small trees was snowed under, and to get wood to feed the great stone fireplace built in the end of the log house the only means of warmth became more and more of a problem especially as Mother grew heavy with child and weak from lack of proper food. I doubt if they counted their calories - Vitamens or Mineral content so it came December 1871 - the last month of her waiting. Every day she walked over the hills of snow in search or what ever limbs of trees she could chop off and haul to the house on the hand sled -it was a stout hand made sled not like one buys to-day in the shop - and she thot that at last she had enough to last thru untill she would be up and able to gather more after the new baby came, but she had not counted correctly for some reason, for on the 28 of December in the afternoon the pains of Birth racked her so she crawled on her knees to get the load ready, and then the most wonderful thing happened -a new family had been moving in on land adjoining our's on the east - well their two son's came by and told her to go in and they would bring her wood. And they loaded up several big loads which they cut themselves - more than Mother could have cut in a week of ever such hard work. But things were beggining to pop around the cabin, the children had to be herded into thier trundle bed early (that's a stout low bed that is pushed under the big bed in the day time) so she could have a bit of privacy during the birth. But the hurry and I suspect a bit of worry on the side stopped her pains for several hours making it almost 2 in the morning of the 29th of December 1871 when I came to join the group. Well knowing she had to be nurse as well as mother, she wrapped the 2 1/2 lb. stranger in the very warm wool lining of a garment she had, and placed me Oh so gently in the back of the bed while she took care of her own need's. There being too much snow to think of burying the afterbirth she had to burn it in the log's of the fireplace. They are not easy to burn either.

So only when my turn for care came around she discovered the u-cord had not been well tied but the cold had frozen the cord and quite a space around it so the bleeding did no harm. Then she had to chip ice from the water bucket that was always by the door and pack the navel to take out the frost and not leave it sore. But by the time she had everything under control the children began to wake up and of course and ask questions about how the new baby sister got here in all the snow since they could not even go out to play - and the cold that night stood about - 50 degrees below zero.

They finally hit upon the perfect solution. My brother said he bet that the cat had dragged me in for one night - before that she had brot in a rabit and came to his side of the trundle bed with it so it was settled in their minds anyway, even tho mother knew better. And that's how I came to my Mom. She wrapped me on a pillow, tho pillows were scarce, for six months, to be sure of warmth and also to make handling easier - and tho it took quite some time to get a start I did fairly well with what I had to work on. There were three more after myself - a girl and two boys - one boy died at three months old.

The new country began to be settled with families from everywhere, and many times my mother was called out in the day's and nights that followed to help other women bring their babies - and alway's I trudged along with her if it were at all possible, not to help but to curl up on her shawl and sleep, untill she was ready to go home. Those were happy days. Sometimes they gave me a lump of brown sugar, and better still a few raisins or currents maybe bread and a cup of milk. As I remember it now I think I was born hungry and never refused any thing that could be called food. But raisins were my choice - tho boild potatoes with salt was pretty good and I like them today as well as then.

P.S. Darling

If You tire before you get thru this just chuck it in the stove - no one else has ever read it and these things were not isolated to one family. For instance a boy was born in 1871 on Xmas day to a new family going thro to thier land -in the partly finished little log hut being erected to serve as a church and ??? by the settlers - no fire, no beds, and only part of the roof on, but we had a fireplace and a whole roof.

Written (unknown date) by Mary L. Slough born December 29, 1871 and sent to her daughter Esther Henningsen who was adopted and renamed Dorothy Webster.

This article first appeared in the November 1990 newsletter, Volume 6 - Number 2


People from Our Past - The Swiss Move to Parry Sound District

by John Wallace Smith

Whatever their personal reasons were .. my ancestors decision to leave their homes in Switzerland and emigrate to Canada came as a result of four events.

1) In Switzerland, large imports of American grain had caused a slump in local market prices.

2) In Ontario, the Free Grants and Homesteads Act of 1868 granted 100 acres of land, free, to anyone over 18 years of age who was prepared to clear and cultivate 15 acres and erect a home on it within 15 years.

3) Canadian owners of steamship lines, anxious for business, arranged with the government to provide passage from Liverpool to Quebec City for the sum Of five pounds payable by the immigrant and at the same time it was arranged through and subsidized by the Canadian Government, to furnish free railroad transport from Quebec City to the immigrants destination.

4) In 1872 the Canadian Government appointed Baroness Elise von Koerber, a European lady who had lived in Canada for 16 years, as immigration agent. She was charged with the responsibility of encouraging settlers to move to the uncleared region of Nipissing, Ontario.

With her urging four experts soon began exploration of the Nipissing region where they stayed from October till November 1873. The group was directed by the great Swiss traveller and mineralogist Jakob Kaderli. In his report was the soil description, the climate, the possibilities of clearing the land and the suitability of the land for farming. He also gave interesting details about the few European immigrants who had already settled in the region. Other members of the expedition were Jakob Brunschweiler from St. Gall; Edouard Schmid, a horticulturist from Bale; and Edward von Zuben, also a horticulturist originally from Alpnach and apparently the only member of the group who decided to stay as a result Of the survey!

Madame de Koerber conducted a publicity campaign in Europe particularly in Switzerland, where she field press conferences and distributed leaflets. She organized information meetings for prospective immigrants in Berne Liestal and Saanen among other places. She must have been convincing because quite a few farmers sold everything and headed for the Nipissing region to apply for free land grants.

The first Swiss arrivals settled land near Hungry Lake (now Carmen Lake) in Chapman Township in what was known as the German Settlement. Later, because Of the poor, rocky land first granted to them, many moved to nearby Magnetawan.

Gottlieb Brand (later Brandt) sailed from Liverpool, England aboard "SS Quebec" on May 19, 1875 in company with several Swiss families including the Fred Noll family. They landed at Quebec City June 3, 1875 after a voyage of 15 days. They then travelled by train to Parry Sound District and applied for land grants. Gottlieb and Fred received adjoining land in Chapman Township on December 1875. Equipped with a broadaxe, a hatchet, a crosscut saw and 50-60 feet of stout rope they made their first clearing on Fred's land and built a cabin with trees they cut down on the site. Gottlieb spend the winter with the Noll family while the men, prepared a clearing and built a cabin on Gottlieb's land. In the spring of 1876 Gottlieb sent for his wife Louise and their four children, Chris, Fred, Adolph and Louise.

Food was still scarce during their second winter. As a matter of fact in March 1877, in a letter written by Jules Munk of the Doe Lake settlement to the Minister of Agriculture, mention is made of the "hardships brought on by the lack of food". This resulted in the authorization by the Minister of the purchase of "16 barrels of flour and 8 barrels of pork for the families that are in want of help at the moment".

This assistance moved the immigrants to send the government the following note on April 5. 1877:" The undersigned Swiss in Magnetawan return to the Government of Ontario their heartfelt thanks for the liberal aid". The note was signed by "Emmanuel Hauswirth, Rodolphe Reinhart, Gottlieb Brand, Peter Reinhart, Christian Linder, Peter Haldi, Frederick Noll, Christian Raaflaub, Joseph von Allwen and Christian Santschi".

At this time was a man named Francois Louis Courvoisier, his wife Louise Marie (Betria) and their seven children. Francois came to Canada first and on July 4, 1878 Louise and the children sailed from Liverpool aboard "SS Pollynesian" bound for Quebec City. This family were to have settled at Rosseau but on their arrival discovered that all the land had been taken by other settlers and land speculators so the family began to walk until they came to Poverty Bay where they decided to settle. On August 1, 1878 Francois Louis, his son Francois Henri and daughter Urania all recieved patents for their land in Croft Township.

This same year John Urlich Gutjahr and his wife Marie, their two sons, Victor and Shuloe, and daughter Elina had left Switzerland and settled on 200 acres in Croft Township April 28, 1878. Shuloe (Joseph) drowned in the Magnetawan River when he was 16 years old.

On October 23, 1882 Francois Henri Courvoisier married Elin Gutjahr. They settled on Henri's land and raised 10 children one of whom married John T Brand(t) thus becoming my grandmother.

By 1877 Madame von Koerber had brought several hundred Swiss to Canada. With her encouragement and assistance many of these had settled in her colony in the Parry Sound District. Most of the German speaking settled at Magnetawan while the French-speaking chose the Doe Lake area. Although the hardships discouraged many, by 1881 about 200 Swiss remained in the region. The 1881 census lists the Swiss inhabitants as follows: 45 in Chapman Township; 34 in Lount Township; 20 in Croft Township; 18 in Ryerson Towship and 9 in Nipissing Township.

On December 31, 1882 some of the Swiss settlers assembled at Magnetawan to form a protestant church. Among the names of the founders mentioned are: Aellens, Boo, Biossert, Brand, Courvoisierv, Eidam, Fahndrick, Fitzer, Gerber, Grunig, Gutjahr, Haldi, Hauswirth, Kaenel, Kernen, Knoepfli, Kuehni, Matti, Meyer, Noll, Quartier, Raaflaub, Reinhart, Rosselet, Salzmann, Schmidt, Sixt, Stucki, Sumi, Thiel, von Zuben, Uelliger, Wersten and Zingrich.

Gottlieb and Louise Brand(t) had five more children born in Canada. Of the nine children four of them married Courvoisiers: Chris married Louise Courvoisier, John T. married Marie Courvoisier, Albert married Florence Courvoisier and Mary married Charles Courvoisier. Fred married Jenny Phillips, Adolph married Catherine Noll, daughter of Gottlieb's old friend Fred Noll, Louise married Mike Sollman, Sophia married William Bradley and Emma married Oliver Smith. These children all married in Canada produced a total of 71 children. These 71 children in turn had 172 children that I have been able to account for so far and I don't have them all yet! Thus two Swiss immigrants, Gottlieb Prand(t) and his wife Louise Courvoisier, were responsible for the creation, to date, of between 250 and 300 descendants with two more generations uncounted! (I'll leave that task for someone else to do). Gottlieb Brand(t) died in June 1913 and was buried at the Burk's Falls Cemetery. His wife Louise died in 1920 and was buried at Ahmic Harbour Cemetery.

My grandparents John T. Brand(t) and Marie Courvoisier were married in 1903 and started farming near Cecebe on Lots 2 and 3 in Concession 12 of Ryerson Township. Their next door neighbours were Albert and Florence Brand(t) and the two families farmed her for nearly 4 decades. At one time Albert (Ab) operated a sawmill on his farm. Fred Brandt and his family moved to Niagara Falls in 1920 and dropped the "d" from Brandt becoming Brant. Some years later they moved back to Burk's Falls where they remained.

John and Marie had nine children born on the farm: Mildred, Tillie, Grace, Leonard, Howard, Harold, Roy, Alice and Eileen.

In 1939, Roy and Harold Brandt opened a small "Joy Gasoline" station on the east side of Highway 11, about 1 1/2 miles north of Burk's Falls. Both boys were called up for military service, so John and Marie sold the family farm to their son Leonard and his wife Agnes (Spiers) and started in the gasoline station business! The business prospered so they built a larger gas station and added a grocery store which they named "Brandt's Country Store". Since neither of them could read or write, their daughter Eileen joined them and did all the paperwork for the business.

In 1942, John T. built a dance hall behind the store and it became an instant success; possibly because John had discovered that, while other places closed at midnight on Saturday, he could run his store on Standard Time rather than Daylight Saving Time as other had to do, and thus stay open an extra hour! Since he was outside the town limits and nobody ever complained, he operated this way for many years. John T. called all the square dances. Music was supplied by his daughter Eileen on piano, son Leonard on the violin and guitar played by Ming Moore. After 22 years the business was sold to their son Harold and his wife Mildred (Graham) and John and Marie retired to a home on Highway 11 near Berriedale.

In 1970 John T. accidentally swallowed a toothpick, but thought nothing of it. Unfortunately the toothpick perforated his intestine and peritonitis developed. He died five days later. Mary lived until 1973 and they are buried together in the Burk's Falls Cemetery.

Note: Our sincere thanks to John for his permission to print his story in our newsletter. John Would be pleased to hear from anyone who might add to his story about the Swiss Settlement in the District of Parry Sound.

Mr. John Wallace Smith, Box 122e, R.R. # 2, Stroud, Ontario. LOL 2MO

This article first appeared in the November 1990 newsletter, Volume 6 - Number 2

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