from The Guide  September 20, 1877
It will not be uninteresting to give an account of the means of passenger travelling and transport of merchandise from Montreal to Port Hope; the condition of the roads leading from the latter place into the back townships; the manner in which farmers brought their grain to this market; the state of the roads to Cobourg (at this time named Hardscrabble) and York in 1826-36. The communication for passenger travel was by stage to avoid the rapids in the St Lawrence, and steamers through Lakes St Louis and St Francis and from Prescott to Kingston; thence up the Bay of Quinte per steamer Frontenac, calling at Belleville and Hallowell (Picton) to Carrying Place (Trenton), then by stage (Ogden's). This is the route the writer, in company with another young man, took on our tour of inspection, to ascertain if we should prefer the Upper Province to that of Montreal, York being the place for our interned home.

At Prescott, we first heard of Port Hope, whose euphonic name attracted our attention; and its two monosyllables of more than philosophic import, portrayed to the mind that it must be endued with some elevating natural facilities for attaining a prominence commensurate with a name of so much significance. It inspired us with the idea that this was the place for settlement, which, on reaching, confirmed us in our first impression and determined us on making it our home. After a week's sojourn, we embarked on our return to Montreal for our baggage on [a] schooner for Kingston, owned by the late Mr Leonard Soper. We embarked at Kingston for Montreal in a Durham boat.

In coursing along near the northern shore of the Lake for a few miles, we entered the St Lawrence where it now takes its name. The first object of importance that attracts attention is that most transcendent freak of nature's handiwork - the 'Lake of the Thousand Islands'. The beautiful and ever changing scenery these countless Isles present superseded all the ideas we had formed from what we deemed delusive descriptions given of this truly 'marine paradise' and indeed, if it is possible, its beauty seemed enhanced in beholding its diversified appearance on our downward trip in our little craft, to that of the upward trip on the steamer, which we almost fancied was not the same deep enchanting spot which we had so recently beheld with such rapturous and unfeigned delight.

We now leave this elysian archipelago and noble Ontario behind and emerge into the free expanse of the majestic river, where everywhere beauty meets the eye. After passing through the smaller rapids, we approach the Long Sault and, keeping near the shore, we were swept through its feverish waters, rolling down the declivity with safety and entering the smooth waters of Lake St Francis. At a place designated Mrs Taylor's, a pilot was engaged to steer our craft down the Coteau, the Cedars and the Cascades. A long tiller was fixed aft to assist the man at the helm, manned by three stout fellows. We ran these perilous rapids with lightning speed, unconscious of danger, as all the passengers had to lie down on the deck and have a canvas thrown over them, and in safety reached the still waters of Lake St Louis and thence through the Lachine Canal which was not quite finished at this period.

In order to become initiated in the different modes of passenger travel between the Upper and Lower Provinces, we undertook the arduous task of ascending the St Lawrence in a Durham boat, the only means of transport for the hardy emigrant in those days and for many years subsequently, to which we shall refer when we revert to the events of the earlier days in our narrative, we therefore on our return engaged passage to Kingston in the boat containing our baggage. The motive power applied to propel our craft up this noble river was novel indeed to us, though we enjoyed it well.

After passing through the Lachine Canal and the Lakes St Louis and S Francis, we entered the river, the crew pushing the boat along the shore with long poles. In ascending rapids the tow line was brought into requisition in the use of which the passengers lent a hand to drive away the ennui the tedious and slow method of locomotion produced. When we came to the Long Sault Rapids, horses were attached to the drag line, the crew using the poles to keep the boat from coming too near the shore. On the fifth day we reached Prescott and on Saturday morning started for Kingston in tow of the steamer plying between the two places and arrived in the evening. On the Tuesday following, we left Kingston in the schooner Red Rover, Captain Threw, and on Thursday, the third day, anchored off Port Hope, about a mile and a half from the shore, when Messrs William and Thomas Henderson and others with whom we were acquainted came from the shore to the boat for goods belonging to the former persons. They took ours on shore and would receive no remuneration, saying they welcomed young mechanics coming to settle among them.

The roads approaching Port Hope were impassable for teams in the spring and fall. Sawmills, with the exception of Marsh's grist Mill, were the only manufacturing institutions in the Township. Intercourse between them was then cut off. It was impossible to reach Potter's Mill. We select this mill because greater improvements have been made at this place, which now bears the name of its great prototype of the celestial empire, Canton. This mill was situated where now is erected the far-famed Salter's Flouring Mill, owned by George B Salter, Esq.

The Hope Chapel, belonging to the Wesleyan Methodists, erected here in 1831, was first and for many years the only place of worship in the Township. In its burying ground rest many of the first pioneers. Near the site of that old chapel is now erected a beautiful brick church, its spire, stained glass windows, organ, etc, equal to any in the Dominion for the size of the place. The old church is moved to a corner of the lot and used as a lecture hall, for tea meetings, etc.

In this place also is the mud house, the first and only one of the kind in this neighbourhood, if, indeed, it is not the only one in the Province, erected by the late William Peters, Esq, built after the method of those in England in ancient times, which, contrary to the anticipation of the inhabitants, has withstood the vicissitudes of the seasons of the country for upwards of 30 years and is at this time a neat and comfortable dwelling occupied by his son, Mr N Peters.

The state of the road between Port Hope and Cobourg was similar to that of those mentioned above. It was not uncommon for people attending Court in spring to leave their horses in the stable and walk to Amherst (now joined to Cobourg) where the old jail and court house now stands, and return in the evening, preferring this method to that of going on horseback.

The farmers of Cavan and Emily depended entirely on the winter season to bring their wheat to market. These hardy pioneers had to leave their homes long before the dawn of morn with their sleighs drawn by oxen (there being very few horses) and travel all night on their return in order to save expenses, as the small remuneration they received for their laborious work and unrelenting assiduity required the most rigid economy, the price of wheat being only 50 cents per bushel. They had to pass through the Village Inn (now Millbrook) there being no centre road as now, and travel east to the boundary line road to Graham's Tavern (now Bailieboro), kept by Mr George Elliott, where is now erected the spacious hotel owned by the obliging host, Mr Aikens, thence to Bletcher's Corners, the other main calling place. In these places large log fires were kept up, night and day (Sundays excepted) for their accommodation.

It was a tedious and difficult task to travel northward on this road in a cutter as the traveller would often meet from 50 to 60 ox sleighs loaded with wheat in the space of a mile. The monotony that this state of the roads, mentioned above, created in the village was really appalling.

We hope our readers will pardon the diversion in mentioning here that the inhabitants of the Townships of Hope and Cavan are mainly indebted to the indefatigable exertions of the late S S Powers, Esq, of Canton for the present excellent road running through the centre of these Townships.

In the month of May, 1831, we first visited York (Toronto). We left Port Hope in Ogden's stage about 2 o'clock am and arrived at York at midnight. Horses were changed once on the route. The road at this late season was almost impassable in several places and the passengers had to walk through the woods. At the Rouge, they had to make their way on foot, the horses having work enough to drag the empty stage coach (lumber wagon) through the dangerous pass. We expected to have returned by the same conveyance but were agreeably disappointed, as Captain Moisier had commenced his trips with the steamer Niagara, the only one on the Lake in Canadian waters, which made its first trip in 1827. It arrived early on Sunday morning and on going on board to engage our passage we were informed by the Captain that he was going round the head of the Lake to Niagara, from whence he would sail direct to Port Hope, there not being business sufficient to warrant his coming back to York. He agreed, however, to charge us no more for taking us by this route than he would if he had sailed direct for the latter place, with the exception of the charge of 5 shillings for one day extra on board, which we gladly accepted.

The only place we recollect of calling at between York and Niagara was Hamilton, then a small village, though at this early period some people were endowed with that prescience to predict that at some future time it would become the great emporium of trade of the great extended agricultural districts of the western country.

Early on Monday morning we arrived at the ancient town of Niagara from whence we sailed to Port Hope. This was, of course, a natural consequence, as the business of the capital of the province held out no remunerating inducements for the steamer to call back there on her downward trip. It could not be expected for her to find at any intermediate place, if even there had been any harbour or wharf to facilitate a landing, that which the principal town could not confer.