The following interesting letter the writer has received from Mr. John N. Lake, now of Toronto, a prominent business man, real estate dealer and business promotor in that city, and a prominent official in the Methodist church. He is an Ernesttown old boy and spent his early days at Morven. Fifty years ago he was engaged with his brothers, Samuel and James Lake, in extensive manufacturing of carriages, wagons, cutters and sleighs at that place, where a considerable number of skilled mechanics and men were constantly employed and where business to the extent of thousands of dollars was every year transacted.
The older brothers, Samuel and James, who are both alluded to in the accompanying letter, are both now dead, but some of their descendants are yet among our well known citizens. Not one stone appears to be left on another of what was once their extensive and busy work shops at Morven. The writer well remembers the time they, and some other enterprising people, made that a busy village and almost a veritable hive of industry.
Few would imagine that within the memory of men thus alive and active and almost within sight of Napanee, wild beasts should have been such a dread to the people. Our townsman, W. N. Doller, J. P., and we doubt, not other readers of The Beaver, took part in the general wolf hunt south of Napanee river to which allusion is made in Mar. Lake’s letter. Up to that time some very serious depredations had been committed on a number of the sheep flocks of several Ernesttown farmers, and all became interested in ridding the township of its common danger.
The lane down the farm of the late George I. Smith, where Mr. Lake experienced his exciting wolf chase, is just a few rods from where the Fredericksburgh station is now located. The lane is still there, and between the farms now owned by M. Schell and Patrick Hunt, but the days are very far past when any danters are to apprehended there from wild beast.
Mr. Lake may not have intended all his letter for publication, but we take the liberty of giving it entire.
Here it is:
My dear Mr. Casey - Your interesting article about Elijah Storr whom I knew, in my boyhood was read with much satisfaction. All those Old Time Records are to me of special interest and I am sorry I did not take The Beaver these late years and secure them all. You speak about Robert Carson and William Hall in 1842. I knew them both though only a boy. But the name Hall should be been Haw, William Haw. You may have written it right and the printer may have made the mistake. He was a good preacher, but a man of fiery temper. He travelled till 1857 and was expelled, I think when he was at Dunnville.
In a former article you speak about the wolves. I remember in January, 1847, my brother Sam. was going to Morven from Napanee and was met by two wolves in the road just west of Little Creek, and had to retrace his steps - which I fancy were long ones - to the top of the hill, where the toll gate stood for many years, to get help. The same winter I was followed by wolves through the woods on the late George I. Smith’s farm as I was going down to my brother James’ place near Big Creek. I ran as fast as I could through the woods and when I got to the clearing at the south kept on down the late to the barn on Mr. Smith’s place, and as I opened the gate I disturbed a large flock of geese, which in their fright set up an awful squack and I thought the wolves had me sure. I never was so scared in my life, before or since. I remember a great wolf hunt about 1844 or 1845, when all the woods between the Napanee river and the York Road as far east as Wilton was hunted over and the wolves driven out or killed. I think the last one was killed about 1863 in the woods between Switzer’s hill, south of the old Switzer church, and the town line between Ernesttown and Fredericksburgh. But oh! the changes since then in the country, the old families, etc. but I will not say the former days were better than these, there is progress all along the line. I am so glad you are gathering up the fragments of history and saving from oblivious some past events.
May you long have health and strength to continue the good work. I send you my warmest greetings and trust you are well and prosperous in the best sense.
JOHN N. LAKE