An early description of Beverly and West Flamborough Townships, taken from “Statistical Account of Upper Canada” by Robert Gourlay. Also included are the questions circulated to each township, and notes or explanations of specific words in the queries.
1st. Name, Situation, and Extent of your Township?2d. DATE OF THE FIRST SETTLEMENT OF YOUR TOWNSHIP, NUMBER OF PEOPLE AND INHABITED HOUSES?3d. NUMBER OF CHURCHES OR MEETING HOUSES; NUMBER OF PROFESSIONAL PREACHERS, AND OF WHAT SECTS?4th. NUMBER OF MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS?5th. NUMBER OF SCHOOLS, AND THE FEES PER QUARTER?6th. NUMBER OF STORES?7th. NUMBER OF TAVERNS?8th. NUMBER OF MILLS, AND OF WHAT DESCRIPTION, WITH THE RATE OF grinding, SAWING AND CARDING WOOL?9th. THE GENERAL CHARACTER OF THE SOIL AND SURFACE?10th. THE KINDS OF TIMBER PRODUCED, NAMING THEM IN ORDER, AS THEY MOST ABOUND?11th. WHAT MINERALS, IF ANY, HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED OR INDICATED; COAL, LIMESTONE, IRON, STONE, PLAISTER OF PARIS, SALT ROCK, SALT OR OTHER REMARKABLE SPRINGS?12th. BUILDING STONES, IF ANY, OF WHAT QUALITY, AND HOW MUCH PER TOISE THEY CAN BE OBTAINED FOR AT THE QUARRY?13th. IF BRICKS HAVE BEEN MADE, AND THEIR COST PER THOUSAND?14th. IF LIME IS BURNED, AND THE PRICE PER BUSHEL, AT THE KILN?15th. WAGES OF BLACKSMITHS, MASONS, AND CARPENTERS; AND THE RATE OF THEIR PIECE-WORK RESPECTIVELY?16th. WAGES OF COMMON LABOURERS PER ANNUM, PER WINTER MONTH, PER SUMMER MONTH, PER DAY IN HARVEST; ALSO, WAGES OF WOMEN SERVANTS PER WEEK, FOR HOUSEWORK, AND FOR SPINNING?17th. PRICE OF MOWING GRASS FOR HAY; PRICE OF REAPING AND CRADLING WHEAT; saying in each case if board and lodging is included?18th. COST OF CLEARING AND FENCING A GIVEN QUANTITY OF WOOD LAND; SAY FIVE ACRES, BY CONTRACT?19th. PRESENT PRICE OF A GOOD WORK HORSE FOUR YEARS OLD; ALSO, A GOOD COW, OX, SHEEP, OF THE SAME AGE?20th. AVERAGE QUANTITY OF WOOL YIELDED BY SHEEP; AND WHAT PRICE THE WOOL NOW BRINGS BY POUND?21st. ORDINARY TIME OF TURNING OUT BEASTS TO PASTURE, AND OF TAKING THEM HOME INTO THE YARD OR STABLE?22d. ORDINARY ENDURANCE OF THE SLEIGHING SEASON, AND OF COMMENCING PLOUGHING IN SPRING?23d. ORDINARY SEASON OF SOWING AND REAPING WHEAT?24th. QUANTITY OF WHEAT REQUIRED TO SOW AND ACRE, AND HOW MANY BUSHELS PER ACRE ARE CONSIDERED AN AVERAGE CROP?25th. QUALITY OF PASTURE: 1st. AS IT RESPECTS FEEDING, AND WHAT WEIGHT AN OX OF FOUR YEARS WILL GAIN WITH A SUMMER’S RUN; 2d. AS IT RESPECTS MILK, AND THE QUALITY OF DAIRY PRODUCE, NOTING THE PRICE WHICH BUTTER AND CHEESE MADE IN THE TOWNSHIP WILL NOW FETCH?26th. ORDINARY COURSE OF CROPPING UPON NEW LANDS, AND AFTERWARDS WHEN BROKEN UP FROM GRASS; STATING ALSO WHEN AND FOR WHAT CROPS MANURE IS APPLIED?27th. IF ANY LAND IS LET ON SHARES; TO WHAT EXTENT THIS IS PRACTISED; AND WHAT THE ORDINARY TERMS?28th. THE PRICE OF WILD LAND AT THE FIRST SETTLEMENT OF THE TOWNSHIP; ITS PROGRESSIVE RISE AND PRESENT PRICE; ALSO OF LAND SO FAR CLEARED; STATING CIRCUMSTANCES AS TO BUILDINGS, PROPORTION CLEARED, OR PECULIARITY, IF ANY, OF LOCAL SITUATION; REFERRING IN EVERY INSTANCE TO ACTUAL SALES?29th. QUALITY OF LAND NOW FOR SALE?30th. STATE OF PUBLIC ROADS, AND IF CAPABLE OF MUCH IMPROVEMENT AT A MODERATE EXPENCE; ALSO, IF ANY WATER CONVEYANCE; OR, IF THIS COULD BE OBTAINED, EXTENDED, OR IMPROVED, BY MEANS OF CANALS, LOCKS, &c. &c.31st. WHAT, IN YOUR OPINION, RETARDS THE IMPROVEMENT OF YOUR TOWNSHIP IN PARTICULAR, OR THE PROVINCE IN GENERAL; AND WHAT WOULD MOST CONTRIBUTE TO THE SAME?
1st.The queries are exhibited on the left hand pages, that they may be more readily referred to from the replies.
2d.As there is a correct map of the Province attached to this volume, which shews at a glance the SITUATION AND EXTENT of each township, the replies to Query the 1st. have been omitted.
3d.The word STORE is synonymous with shop in Upper Canada, and invariably used for this.
4th.The RATE OF GRINDING, being fixed by statute at ONE-TWELFTH of the produce ground, replies to that query are omitted.
5th.BRICKS are smaller in Canada than in England. They are an inch shorter, and otherwise proportionally less.
6th.In all cases, labourers have their board and lodgings allowed to them, besides the money quoted in the replies: answers therefore, to the part of query 17, respecting this, have been omitted.
7th.The word CRADLING denotes mowing with a scythe, mounted with hoops, so as to lay the swath regularly down for sheaving.
8th.The SLEIGHING SEASON is when there is sufficient snow on the ground to admit of sleighs (sledges) being used on the roads instead of wheel carriages.
9th.The term SHARES will be understood where it occurs in the Replies.
10th.My 28th Query required a reference to ACTUAL SALES; which unfortunately has been too little attended to.
11th.In many of the Reports, prices were given in DOLLARS: in some, NEW YORK CURRENCY, or 8s. to the dollar, was spoken of. To prevent confusion, I have converted these into the provincial currency of 5s. to a dollar, and four dollars to the pound, of 18s. sterling.
12th.The word PLAIN, often used in the Reports, denotes a tract, where the timber is thin or free of under-brush, generally kept in this state by successive burnings.
At a numerous Meeting of the Inhabitants of West Flamboro’ and Beverly, held in pursuance of a Public Notice, at Matthew’s Tavern, in West Flamboro’, on Monday the 1st of December, 1817, for the Purpose of taking the Address of Mr. Robert Gourlay into Consideration, and answering the Queries by him proposed. At which Richard Hatt, Esq. was chosen Chairman, and James Crooks, Esq. Secretary.
3d. No Episcopal church or public place of worship in either township, or any resident minister, though we are sometimes visited by the resident clergyman of Ancaster, and by Methodist preachers regularly attended every Sunday at private houses. The Tunkers also have divine service regularly performed.8th. Two carding machines, charge 6d. per lb. One fulling mill. One oil mill.9th. The soil of Beverly, rich loam, and intervals; West Flamboro’ the same; both very healthy and pleasantly diversified with hill and dale; are well watered with spring streams.10th. White oak, red oak, pine, chestnut, sugar maple, beech, basswood, elm, hickory, black walnut, butternut, cedar, cherry, mulberry, plums, and crab apple trees.11th. Salt springs, and indications of iron ore, as yet but little explored. Plaster of Paris and marl are found in these townships.12th. Limestone abounds, and some freestone, both of very good quality for building; the expence of labour in quarrying being the only one.16th. Wages of labourers from 1l. 10s. to 4l. 10s. per month.24th. We generally sow one to one and a half bushel of wheat per acre, and get in return from 12 to 40 bushels per acre; average crop about 16 bushels per acre.25th. Quality of pasture, clover, and Timothy; white clover springs up naturally after clearing. Our young cattle and cows generally run out till after harvest, then we put them into our folds.26th. Our new lands we generally harrow in wheat first, then seed down with grass, or plow, sow oats, or plant Indian corn, then pease and wheat again; or fallowing, sow wheat, then rye, and a succession of spring crops. Very little land has yet been manured, and that generally orchards, and ground for flax and Indian corn. Our orchards produce apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, and cherries. Gooseberries and currants are the natural productions of this country. We generally cultivate our orchards in grain, which produces us large crops; such is the genial nature of our climate.27th. The ordinary mode of renting land is on shares. Landlord furnishes lands fenced, team, utensils, and half the seed, for which the tenant returns half the produce in the bushel. Tenant feeds himself: or landlord furnishes only land fenced; gets one-third in the bushel; tenant finding team, seed, utensils, and feeds himself; lands are always to be obtained to these terms.
28th. Wild lands at first settling, sold for 10l. per lot of 200 acres; and now sells from 10s. to 1l. 10s. and 2l. per acre, according to its situation and advantages. A farm house may be built of logs for 25l. ; frame house, 75l. to 250l. ; a good frame barn, 125l.29th. Much land is for sale in these townships, and if a good price is offered, scarcely any farmer will refuse to sell his improved farm.30th. Our roads are tolerably good, and are improving; they are yet capable of much improvement. We consider the water communication of these townships not much improvable by canalling, the ground being too high. We have at present a very flourishing village, increasing fast, in West Flamboro’, on the head waters of Lake Ontario.31st. The remainder of these townships, that is, the uncultivated lots, are in the hands or persons not resident in the province, or in the hands of such residents in Canada, who keep them – asking high prices: depending on the industry of the inhabitant settlers for making roads, and improving their own lands, by which means the unsettled lots become valuable enough in time to bring the high prices demanded for them. With respect to the province in general, could some other mode be devised, to dispose of the vacant lands of the crown, or part them, rather by selling them, than granting them in the present mode, it would, no doubt, not only bring capital into Canada, to make purchases, but it would also beget a further interest in the purchasers, to bring in useful settlers, as well those with property, as those wanted for clearing the lands, and handicraft tradesmen. It would settle the country with a yeomanry, who in times requiring soldiers, would no doubt be found such as were wanted; besides procuring a fund to the crown for its lands, which at present appear to produce little or nothing. Under such policy, we think Canada would immediately shew another face; and would, we presume, improve full as fast as we have seen the country opposite to us in the United States; our natural advantages being infinitely superior to those enjoyed by the citizens of that country.
RICHARD HATT, Chairman.
JAMES CROOKS, Secretary.
Names of persons present.
Originally published in Heritage Happenings, October 1988.
© The Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society 1988, 2021.