From Henry2 York. Published in the Meaford (ON) Monitor.
From a former resident of St. Vincent. The following letter from Mr. H. York, formerly of St. Vincent Township, contains much valuable information respecting that portion of the North West from which he writes. The persons mentioned in it are all from this section, and many of our readers being personally acquainted with them as well with the writer himself, will be pleased to hear from him.
Sharon Township, Man., Feb. 22. The winters are not so dreadful as represented by some, it is cold enough at times for a few days and then moderates again. We have a good fall, more bright, sunny weather than you have in Ontario, with less snow, it is now about a foot deep, it sifts down light in fine particles and is very dry, it does not stick to a person's clothes.
We succeeded in getting a good share of first-class land, myself and Thomas took 640 acres, Will 320, the two girls 160 each, all clear land, and an addition of two lots of wood land, one 10 and the other 20 acres, altogether over 1300 acres, we could have taken 160 more free for my wife, but we began to think we had plenty.
We have ploughed up 80 acres on my place, cropped 60, Tom has about 55, Will less, we have threshed 300 bushels and have 4 stacks to thresh yet, probably 4 or 5 hundred bushels more. Thos. has 400 bushels of wheat threshed, and two stacks to thresh on his place. Will and I are now going to Emerson, sixty miles, with two loads of wheat, 100 bushels, quite a chore to draw out a large crop. This is the first season we had much to sell.
The land in this part is first-class soil, two feet and a half deep, rich, black, and loamy, and not so sticky and tenacious as that near the Red River, but is more workable and produces enormous turnips, potatoes, and garden vegetables.
I would not wish any of my acquaintances to come here expecting to get 40 bushels of wheat to the acre, 35 being the most we know of and 32 the most we have raised. Had that on five acres of ours. Take all round will average 30 bushels to the acre, 50 bushels of oats. Oats sell here at 50 cents, and wheat 90 cents at Emerson, so you see farming will pay here.
School and Municipal taxes both came to $12 on my 320 acres. Our stock consists of two span of large strong horses, two yoke of oxen, five cows, and five young cattle, ten pigs, ten turkeys, four geese and a lot of other fowls, and a pony.
Farm Implements - four plows, two sets harrows, one wagon, two sleighs, a self-binding reaper, the last named did the work complete, our boys cut one hundred acres for the neighbors, changing horses and working night and day, saving four or five men to bind and the women folks to board.
We have also an Abell Threshing machine, fanning mill, grain crusher, and seeder. This is a grand country for working machinery, it being pretty level and without stones or stumps to impede the plow, harrows, or reaper, and there will be an immense quantity of grain raised around this part next season.
So I think we have not lost much by coming here, as Tom has been bid $4000, for his half section, and my half has more improvements and buildings than his.
People coming here should not bring Ontario ploughs. They are not adapted to this country. We use steel ploughs sharp as a knife, coulter like a plate rolls round and cuts its way in the sod. The first breaking we plough two inches deep and twelve or fourteen inches wide, turn it over quite flat, let it lay till fall, then turn back same way two inches deeper.
We have one 12 inch and three 14 inch ploughs, and it requires a strong team to use them. We sometimes put two yoke oxen on one plough. A plough costs from $22 to $25; pair iron harrows, three sections, $15; waggons $80 to $95; cows $40 to $50, and scarce at that.
The water runs are called ravines, with banks from 3 to 15 feet deep, and when it runs to lower level spreading out over the surface perhaps a mile or two and then forms a ravine again. This is the reason why some get wet land, but it is rich and grows very heavy crops of hay. These places will be ditched in time.
I was bringing a load of oats from Lyde's place to this, and the grass was above the wheels to waggon rack, and I could not see over it. Stock do well on it. There is plenty of low meadow around here, and thousands of tons of hay could be cut which is burnt up by the prarie fires every season.
The South Western Railway is graded to the Boyne settlement, about twelve miles from this place, and is located to go three miles east of our place, and will be pushed ahead next summer, so the farmers will be able to sell their next crop near home. There is to be a station at Nelsonville, six miles from here.
John Laycock has a splendid half section, south east corner of this. They broke up a large piece last summer. He is well suited with the place.
Would not want to induce people to go and live there, when a few years ago they did their best to drive people away and would not allow a man to sell a bushel of produce without grabbing half of the price. Well, wonders never cease and I am almost induced to go back as they seem to be recovering their senses, if ever they had any.
George Long, who started from here last June for Edmonton, arrived there safe with his family, oxen and waggon all right. I met his brother and William Neelands, who have taken up land up there. He says wheat there is $2 per bushel, oats $1, meat and sugar three pounds for a dollar each.
A stretch of land here is called Pembina Mountain, though not all actually on the Mountain. The Mountain, when you get up the rise, is a fine stretch of table land, which is thought by some the best land in the Province. Part of it is settled by the Mennonites from Russia.
Our place is watered by a living spring which forms a ravine with high banks and flows through half the place, giving water for stock about forty rods from the house. We have a well of good water at the house 12 feet deep, which has not failed yet, though several neighbors draw water from it who have not wells of their own.
Ontario people should be careful how they buy town lots in this province, as there are paper towns springing up in many places, some of which are very small, and a person would be puzzled to find them.
If you could extract anything out of this letter that would interest anyone you would oblige me by sending to the Monitor to publish. There is no free land in this township, but plenty second hand. Some few lots in next township free. They will be taken as soon as the snow is off. H. YORK
N.B. Since writing the above we have had a cold snap, glass down to 20 below zero.
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