Agricultural and Statistical Report of the County of Welland for the Year 1852.

McMicking, William (1805-1857), Author
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Handwritten notes by William McMicking about agriculture in Counties of Lincoln and Welland.
Headline: "Agricultural and Statistical Report of the county of Welland for the year 1852"
20 pages; size: 25cm x 34.5cm
Parts of this work were later published as "Agricultural Report for the County of Welland, 1854" (to which the prize for £20 was awarded). The pages written by William were mixed up with pages with different handwriting, probably by Thomas McMicking as an inscription on a separate page reads:
"In 1850 Father, and Brother Thomas, were each asked to write a paper for the agricultural society , which was to be held in Drummondville, and these are some of the copies, that have been kept all these years, and I hope my children will keep them as long as they live. Nov, 25 1926, Mother"
According to The McMicking Family website, the only daughter of William McMicking to live long enough to write this note was Emma Louise McMicking (1851-1930). Her brother was Thomas McMicking (1829-1866)
William McMicking was a Secretary of County Welland Agricultural Society in 1852 and 1853, and Reeve for Stamford in 1855.
Date of Original:
March 29, 1853
Local identifier:
Language of Item:
Huggins, Jean A. E. (1895-1989)
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library
Agency street/mail address
10 Anderson Lane P.O. Box 430
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
Full Text
Agricultural and Statistical Report of the county of Welland for the year 1852.

The County of Welland is situated on the south side of the peninsula lying between Lakes Erie and Ontario. It is bounded on the north by the County of Lincoln; east, by the Niagara River; south, by Lake Erie; and west, by the County of Haldimand. Its mean breadth is about 18 miles, from north to south; and its length 25 miles, from east to west. It contains 230,000 acres of land; with a population of 20,141. It consists of eight Townships; viz., Stamford, Willoughby, Bertie, Crowland, Thorold, Pelham, Humberstone, and Wainfleet. The County is intersected, longitudinally, by the Welland River, which empties into the Niagara River, at the village of Chippawa, 2 1/2 miles above the Falls.
The Welland canal opens a communication for vessels across the peninsula from lake Erie to lake Ontario. Besides these there are several other streams of greater or less magnitude which traverse the country in every direction. There are comparatively few springs of water at the surface of the ground, but an abundance of that necessary article may be obtained in any part of the country, by digging to the depth of 10 to 30 feet.

The face of the country is generally level, although sufficiently diversified by hills and vallies, to render it both agreeable, of an easy and friable nature, but in one part or another of the county, it may be found of every shade, from light drifting sand, to clay so heavy and tenacious that water will scarcely penetrate it. The climate of Welland is famed for its salubrity, but subject nevertheless in common with [PAGE 2] with the rest of Canada, to extremes of heat and cold. The worst feature perhaps is the long continued drought that very often prevails at mid-summer, proving very prejudicial to the interests of the grazier, as well as unfavourable for the maturing of spring crops and which, no doubt, is occasioned in a great measure, by its peculiar situation, between two great lakes, which attract the electricity in the clouds to both sides, and thus deprive it of the benefit of the frequent thunder showers that visit other parts of the Province.
But the soil is of many different grades of composition, and the climate so variable, that to give a full description of its geological structures, or its peculiarities of climate, would require more space that can be allotted to it, within the compact of a brief report. Suffice it to say that both are the whole favourable for the production of almost every variety of grain, fruits or vegetables, that belong to this latitude.

It is almost unnecessary here to remark, that the scenery of Welland, both natural and artificial, stands unrivalled throughout the world. To establish the truth of this remark, it is only necessary to add, that the Falls of Niagara, nature's grandest work, pours its mighty flood within the limits of the county; and that the broad and deep channel of its stream is spanned by the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, the noblest effort of art, within sight of the raging cataract. A little further down the stream, the whirlpool, as if in imitation of the mad, roaring waters above it, winds its eddying current, and bids bold defiance to the daring navigator. On each side, the river is bordered with lofty banks of the most rugged [PAGE 3] description, and decked with evergreens; the whole forming a complete series of the most sublime and romantic scenery.
Welland was one of the earliest settlers counties in the province. The first settlement was made along the Niagara River, in the year 1784, at the close of the revolutionary war, when a few bold pioneers of the forest struck the first blow to reclaim the county from its native wilds. If the present inhabitants of the county would compare their condition with the hard fate of those revolutionary exiles, and consider how many hardships they quietly and cheerfully endured, in order to make their adopted country a comfortable home for their posterity, it would tend to hush the complaints that are sometimes so unworthily raised, against the affairs of the county.

This county was the scene of several battles in the American war of 1812, such as Fort Erie, Chippawa, Lundy's Lane, Beaver Dams, and Queenston Heights. The county has participated pretty largely in all the modern improvements, but more particularly in the science of agriculture, and within the last ten years great advances have been made in every department. The Welland Canal, commenced in 1824, and completed in 1848, at a cost of about five millions two hundred thousand dollars, overcomes the obstructions to navigation in the Niagara River, and opens a passage for the produce of the far west into Lake Ontario, and thence to the Atlantic; and is, no doubt, destined to be the great thoroughfare of western commerce. The Erie and Ontario Rail Road, from Queenston to Chippawa, built in 1841, was intended for the same purpose, but the trade by this Road has not been so [page 4]so successful as anticipated. It is now in contemplation to continue it to Fort Erie, on Lake Erie, and to Niagara on Lake Ontario. The route has been surveyed between Queenston and Niagara, and the stock subscribed, and it is intended to commence building the road this summer.

The Great Western Railway is also in course of continuation, commencing at the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge and running diagonally through the Township of Stamford, there is a line of telegraph in operation from Queenston to Chippawa. There is also very extensive tannery, two steam saw mills, grist mill, planing machines. A steamboat plies regularly during the summer season between this place and Buffalo. One mile below Chippawa on the Niagara River, there is a grist-mill, cloth factory, carding machine and fulling mill belonging to T. C. Street, Esq M.P.P. Waterloo is a small village in the Township of Bertie, at the east end of Lake Erie, at the influx of the Niagara River, over which there is a ferry between this place and Black Rock in New York State. Thorold, in Thorold Township, on the Welland Canal, a short distance above the ridge of the mountain [PAGE 5] mountain, is an incorporated village of 1091 inhabitants. The principal trade carried on at this place is in flour; the canal furnishes an almost unlimited water power, which is chiefly employed in driving grist mills, the largest of which is that built by Jacob Keefer Esq. There are also sawmills, plastermills, planing machine, &c, in full operation, and carrying on a very extensive business.

Allanburgh, also in Thorold Township, and on the Welland Canal, 4 miles above Thorold Village, is a manufacturing village of 300 inhabitants: here there arc saw-mills, grist-mills, pailfactory, each contributing its share to supply the increasing demands of the county, and receiving in return its due proportion of the profits.
Port Robinson, another village in Thorold Township, 2 miles from Allanburgh, between the Welland Canal and Welland River, which to this point, 8 miles from its mouth, is navigable for steamboats, is an active manufacturing and commercial village.
Merrittville, four miles from Port Robinson, at the aqueduct where the Welland Canal crosses the Welland River, is in the Township of Crowland. This place has been chosen as the county town for Welland in case it be separated from Lincoln.
Port Colborne is a small village in the Township of Humberstone, on Lake Erie, at the outlet of the Welland Canal.
Font Hill in Township of Pelham is a thriving village, but wanting in water privileges, which are so abundantly supplied to villages along the canal. Besides those already mentioned there are several small villages in the county.

Farms vary in size from 50 to 400 acres, a large majority containing 200 acres. These are generally divided into lots or fields of about 10 acres each. [PAGE 6] The fields, with very few exceptions, are enclosed with the common zig-zag rail fence, this being the cheapest and best method that has as yet been tried. In some few instances stone fences have been adopted, which considering the abundance of the material in some sections of the county, is a durable and not very expensive fence; and occasionally too may be seen the thorn hedge, which succeeds very well when it can be protected from the ravages of mice, that take shelter from the winter under the banks of snow, and subsist on the bark of the young plants.
Farm houses may be seen of almost every form, size, and material, from the log cabin of the early settler to the stately brick or stone mansion of the independent gentleman. The same remark may apply to barns and outhouses, although by far the greater number are frame; the number and size of which, by the way, together with their snug appearance, are not the worst criteria for judging of the prosperity of a county.
Farming operations are, for the most part, conducted by the owners of the land themselves; of late years, however, the renting system has been to some extent adopted. This may, and does, work very well in some cases, in which the tenant is observed to be more prosperous than the proprietor himself has been ; yet it is natural to suppose that a tenant would not feel the same interest in improving, and especially in ornamenting, a farm which he has no guarantee for holding beyond a few years, as if the farm were his own; and hence the system is a bad one, and calculated to hinder the general improvement of the county.

Farm labour is generally performed by horses, although for some operations, even in the older parts of the county, oxen are preferred, as being more easily fed and [PAGE 7] more readily yoked.
Farming implements have reached the highest state of perfection, and contrast very favourably with the clumsy contrivances of former times. The plough, the emblem of husbandry, deserves the first notice. This indispensable part of the farmer's implements has undergone a more wonderful transformation than almost any other machinery, The old bar-share, patent, and bull-ploughs, (although each, doubtless, in its time served its part, and ought not to be despised,) are fast giving place to the improved iron Scotch ploughs, so entirely different from the antiquated things formerly used for ploughing, that they would scarcely seem to have been intended for the same purpose. There are several celebrated plough makers in the county and its immediate neighbourhood. The ploughs most esteemed are those manufactured by J. McSherry of St. Davids, in the Township of Niagara, which have carried off several prizes at the Provincial Fairs, and those manufactured by John Morley of Thorold village. Harrows have also been subjected to the improving process; and the unwieldy stump harrow has been exchanged for lighter implements of a more convenient form, and better calculated to accelerate the labours of the husbandman. Thrashing is almost universally performed by machines, of which there are many different kinds, too numerous to admit of description. Mowing and reaping are as yet mostly performed by the scythe; both mowing and reaping machines, however, have been introduced and adopted to some extent. With regard to implements of this kind, we have too long been dependent upon the ingenuity of our neighbours, the Americans; but surely we now have mechanics enough among us skilful enough to manufacture such things, and the success of Mr. Morley of Thorold who during this season constructed a reaper, is ominous of a better state of things. [PAGE 8]
Other labour-saving machines, such as revolving horserakes, cultivators, strawcutters, &c, have been generally used for some time; they are mostly manufactured in the county, but there is nothing peculiar in their construction worthy of notice. Sowing machines have been tried in cases, but they are not likely to be generally adopted. Water is raised from wells by various contrivances, galvanized chain pumps are more in use than perhaps any other plans.

Various manures are employed but farm yard manure in greatest quantities from 15 to 20 loads per acre are generally used. Lime is used to some extent, but it would be impossible to give anything like an estimate of the quantity applied to an acre. Many parts of the county are deficient in lime, and farmers would find it to their advantage to employ it more extensively in the cultivation of their land. It can be obtained for 1/10 1/2 per barrel.
Gypsum is now very generally used as a top-dressing for clover, and indeed for almost every kind of grass or grain. The advantages of this substance, as a stimulant to growing crops, particularly in light soils, though long disputed, are too apparent to be longer denied. Two lots of clover, on the same kind of soil, and subjected to precisely the same treatment, with this difference-- that one receives a dressing of gypsum, while the other does not-- present a very convincing contrast. While the plants in the former, from a more copious deposition, are green and healthy, those of the latter are yellow and sickly, and are [?] able to withstand the drought of summer. It can be purchased either at Thorold or Port Robinson for 22/6 per ton; and from one to two cwt. per acre is generally sown.
Clover and buckwheat are sometimes ploughed down, and are found to be very beneficial for renewing exhausted soils.
The more careful collection and judicious application of manures cannot be too strongly [PAGE 9] urged upon the attention of farmers. There are many things that are allowed to lie about as a nuisance, such as leached ashes, bones and other refuse, that might be applied as a manure with good effect. The time has come in which science is lending a helping-hand to elevate the calling of the farmer, and when every farmer may know what manures and what cultivation is necessary to render his land productive ; and the time will come when every farmer must know something of the principles of agricultural chemistry, to hold anything like a respectable standing among his fellow-farmers.

From the rolling nature of the land, except in the marsh lands of Humberstone and Wainfleet, and the flats of Bertie and Willoughby, it if easily drained by surface drains, and hence I believe that underdraining is not at all practised, or at least, to a very small extent.
Ploughing, as a natural consequence, has improved in a direct ratio with the improvement of the plough. The "cut and cover" system has seen its day, and has given place to the more rational plan of ploughing the whole of the land. Ploughing matches, under the direction of the different agricultural societies, have acted no mean part in bringing about this desirable end; and it may safely be asserted, that Welland is among the most skilful counties in the Province in this noble art. The general depth of ploughing is six inches. Subsoiling has not yet engaged the attention of farmers, although in old lands it would be attended with beneficial results.

Wheat is generally raised from summer fallows, which are ploughed three times. The best season for sowing wheat is in the early part of September. Very little spring wheat is grown in the county, fall wheat yielding more to the acre, and being more valuable in the market. A great many [PAGE 10] many varieties are sown, but the most common are the red chaffed white, china, and white flint. Of these the red-chaffed white wheat yields most abundantly ; sometimes 45 bushels to the acre, if it escapes rust, winter killing and other injuries, to which, being a tender variety, it is very subject. White Flint is a more hardy, and consequently a surer crop, although not so prolific. Soule's (or Sole) wheat has been tried to some extent, and promises to be a very useful variety, and well adapted to the climate and soil of the county. Blue. Stem has but lately been introduced into the county, and its qualities have not yet been sufficiently tested to admit of being; reported.
Several varieties of oats are also raised, such as small white, Poland, potato, main and black oats. The small white yields as well as any other, when the season is rainy enough to produce a sufficiency of straw, which is apt to be too short to bind. The Poland and potato oats are the best grained, but very often lodge, if they grow to any great length. Black oats, every thing considered, are best suited to the capacities of the county. Oats are generally sown on sod, or stubble land once ploughed.
Barley is not very extensively grown. The two-rowed variety is almost exclusively sown, and generally after potatoes or Indian corn. It is not considered a very profitable crop unless sown on land with a fine mould.
Pease are almost entirely neglected on account of the bugs, which, for many years, have infested the county. Grass peas are sometimes sown; they are free from bugs, but the yield in some seasons, is scarcely sufficient to compensate for the labour of sowing. Cluster pease have been introduced this year. It should be an object among farmers to introduce, if possible, some good variety of this useful grain, not subject to the ravages [PAGE 11] of the bug, or find out some means of guarding against their depredations. This being a broad-leafed plant derives a large proportion of its substance from the atmosphere, and is therefore a better preparation for wheat than naked fallows ; for, besides the profit of the crop itself, it serves to keep the land moist and free from weeds, without, in any considerable degree, abstracting the strength from the soil.
Indian corn is by no means a common crop in the county. If properly managed it is a very profitable production, and the very best food for stock, and more attention should be paid to its culture. Rye is almost entirely banished, being considered, as it really is, not worth raising. Buckwheat is very little sown except for ploughing under as a manure. Potatoes do not yield so abundantly in Welland as in some other counties, but where they are planted with ordinary care they seldom fail to yield a fair crop. They have suffered much, of late years, from the rot.

I intended to have given a table showing the average produce per acre, but could not get the desired information and statistics as the Census Commissioner for Welland did not keep a copy. Turnips, beets, carrots, and indeed all root crops, are very sparingly cultivated. This is one of the greatest failings of the Welland farmers, and perhaps the remark might apply to Canada generally. All kinds of roots might be raised at a very trifling expense, and from no other source can so great quantities of food for stock be procured. And since the rearing and feeding of cattle has become such an important part of the Canadian farmer's care, and the profits from that source, from the high price of beef, such an important item in his income, the best kind of food and the easiest [PAGE 12] method of furnishing it, should engage the farmer's most serious consideration. That method, to the agriculturist of Welland, most assuredly is the more extensive cultivation of root crops.

Welland is emphatically the fruit county. Apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries, quinces &c, whenever proper attention is paid to their culture, ail grow luxuriantly. In some parts, however, the trees have grown old, and the planting of young ones has been neglected; in such cases, of course, fruit is not so plentiful. It would be an endless task to attempt to enumerate the varieties of the above fruits, for almost every kind of the several species may be found in the county.
In improved stock, the county holds rather a respectable position. Among cattle, the improved breed most in favour is the short-horned Durham. The first of this noble breed was imported by the late Doctor Hamilton, of Queenston Heights, in the year 1836. Since that time the breed has gradually extended, by breeding from these and by fresh, importations. Still the majority of farmers see fit to waste their time in feeding what might answer as a representation of stock; something after the fashion of the Florida cattle, of which it takes three to make a shadow. When will they give up their penny-wise policy, and consult their own interest, by exchanging such animals for more improved breeds ? When, too, will they adopt a better system of feeding and protecting their cattle from the winter? for until they do, it will be impossible to keep even the best breed, in such a condition as to remunerate them for the food which they consume. It is a lamentable sight to see the barn-yards of some who might be expected to know better, without anything in the shape of a shed [PAGE 13] shed under which the cattle may take shelter from the storm, but with here and there a bundle of bones and hair, crouching under the fence, occasionally exhibiting symptoms of life, and dragging out a miserable existence through the winter, apparently for no other purpose than for parting with it in the spring. But this is happily the darkest side of the picture; for while this is the condition of too many, in a county where natural capabilities axe altogether favourable to the interest of the farmer, many noble exceptions might be reported; and indeed these exceptions are becoming so numerous that they may almost be considered the rule. The county has always been well represented at the Provincial Fairs, in the Durham class, and a reference to the various prize lists will show that it has not always been unsuccessful. A steer, two years and ten months old, was killed this winter, which weighed 1311 pounds, and a heifer, two years and nine months old was killed, two or three years ago, weighting 1085 pounds, both of the short-horned Durham breed. Animals of this breed intended for the butcher, are generally killed at two years old. Many fine animals have gone to the United States from this county, within the last few years, three bulls having been sold this month, which has greatly retarded the general improvement.
There are very few Ayrshires or Devons in the county, for although both breeds appear to be quite as well suited to the climate of the county as the Durhams, and perhaps may excel them in milking qualities, yet, the superior size, good feeding qualities, and early maturity of the latter, have rendered them more general favourites. There are, however, some fine animals of each.
I do not know that there is a single animal of the Hereford breed in the county. A large majority of the whole are still native or a cross with them.
The horses usually employed on the farm are not the [PAGE 14] largest breeds, but well proportioned animals of about fifteen-and-a half hands high; as these, requiring but a moderate quantity of food, are found to be more profitable for general purposes than any other. Good horses are very general throughout the county. A few superb blood horses have been raised in the county, but this I particular branch of husbandry, has not, to any extent, engaged the attention of farmers. Sheep of every breed, Leicesters, Kent, Southdowns and Saxons, with every possible cross of these, may be found in the county. Leicesters, of which there are many celebrated breeders in the county, are more in favour than any other. In Southdowns, Welland is the first county in the province, as the provincial prize lists of 1850, 1852 and 1853 will prove. Saxons have been but lately introduced, and the superior quality of their wool is scarcely sufficient to induce lovers of good mutton to tolerate their diminutive carcases. Among swine, the Berkshire hold nearly undisputed pre-eminence. Hogs of this breed very often weigh 300 pounds when killed at twelve months old. Some of the Yorkshire breed have been lately imported, but it is not likely that they will supersede the Berkshires. Some attempts have been made at feeding poultry for their eggs, but having been found rather unprofitable, it has been, in most cases, abandoned. Every farm, however, has its complement of poultry, but the Shanghai mania has not, as yet, very seriously infected the county.

The first Agricultural Society for this county was formed in 1832 under the title of the Niagara District Agricultural Society, which compromised the counties of Lincoln, Haldimand and Welland. A District or County Society has been in existence ever since. Haldimand has since been set apart as a separate county, and in 1852 an Agricultural Society was organized [PAGE 15] organized for united counties of Lincoln and Welland. One half of the government grant was paid to Township Agricultural Societies, in proportion to the amount subscribed by each, the amount of funds for the county society was one of the funds for the county society was one half of the government grant which was £125 and £40.5 members subscription making a total of £165.5.
The following table will show the amount of premiums, offered by the county society in each class, and the number of entries made in each class for competition in 1852:
Class / Fund offered / No. entries
Horses / £27.0.0 / 102
Horned cattle / 22.15.0 / 82
Sheep / 11.5.0 / 53
Swine / 4.10.0 / 7
Grains and roots / 7.3.6 / 36
Cultivated farms / 12.10.0 / 5
Dairy produce & manufactures / 32.4.6 / 65
Total / £117.8.0 / 350
Besides the above, the judges recommended discretionary premiums on 39 articles entered for competition, amounting in all to £5.7.6

The following were the officers of the united counties agricultural society for the year 1852:
John Radcliff, Esq., President
John Lemon, Esq. and A. C. Hamilton Esq., Vice-Presidents
William McMicking, Secretary
John Rannie, Esq., Treasurer
A separate society was formed in the county of Welland, on the 23rd day of February, 1853. The following are the officers of the new society: The following are the officers of the new society: John Lemon, Esq., President John Moore, Esq. and John Scholfield, Esq., Vice-Presidents Wm. McMicking, Secretary John Rannie, Esq., Treasurer
The following townships in Welland had agricultural societies in 1852: Stamford, Thorold, Crowland and Humberstone and Wainfleet united, agricultural societies have been organized, and the names of presidents have been sent, from all the townships in the county for the year 1853.

In order to be concise, very little has been said in the former part of this report, respecting the early settlement of the country. I will, however, in conclusion, at the risk of being though tedious, mention a few facts of a traditional character, on this point, that may not be altogether uninteresting. The first white settlement, in the neighbourhood of the county, was Fort Niagara, at the mouth of Niagara River, in New York State, which was established by the French, in the seventeenth century as a trading post with the Indians, and was ceded to the English by the treaty of 1760. During the revolutionary war, several parties, such as Butler's Rangers, the Foresters, and the followers of Captain Brant, came to Fort Niagara, at that time occupied by a regiment of British soldiers, and crossed over to the opposite side of the river, (now the town of Niagara), where they raised the British flag, in 1779. These volunteers, who were the nucleus of the new colony, were supported by the British government. Their supplies were brought up from Montreal in bateaux to Lake Ontario and thence in a schooner to Niagara. During the continuance of the war, many others were brought in as prisoners by the Indians, and sold to these parties stationed at Niagara. While they were prisoners with the Indians, many of them were most barbarously treated. Their relatives, who were too young, or too infirm to travel with them, were either abandoned without any one to take care of them, or were murdered before their eyes. The infant child of Mrs. H.- being somewhat troublesome on the march, was taken from her and thrown into woods while the mother was forced to travel on, regardless of its crying, and ignorant of its fate. Some were compelled to run the gauntlet to their lives. [PAGE 17] This was done by marking out a course, about half a mile long, and erecting a gateway of brush for a goal, through which the prisoner ran, while an Indian armed with a tomahawk and scalping knife, started after him from the other side from a standing posture; this was the only advantage allowed the prisoner in starting. If the prisoner was able to reach the end of the course, no matter how much wounded, he was pardoned; but if the Indian overtook him, he killed him. All the prisoners, women and children as well as men, were subjected to hunger and fatigue, and to the inclemency of the weather during the severity of winter.

At the close of the war, in 1783, these volunteers were disbanded, and a free deed for 200 acres of land on any unoccupied lot he chose, was given to each. They were also enrolled as United Empire Loyalists, which entitled each of their children to 200 acres of land, when they attained the age of 21 years. They were in addition, supplied with one year's provisions from the military stores, and provided with some implements, such as axes, spades, pickaxes, &c. There were, moreover, many persons favourable to the British cause, that arrived before the close of the war, and to all such a deed for 200 acres was granted, their property in the States having been confiscated. All these, together with the Loyalists, settled on lots either in the county of Welland, or Lincoln, Having thus secured homes for themselves, their next object was to bring their families, which they had left behind them, the distance to the nearest settlement was 300 miles. This journey was generally performed in three or four weeks, some with pack horses by land, others with small boats, by coming up the Mowhawk river till within twelve miles of the head waters of the Oswego, to which they carried their boats, and thence came down the Oswego to lake Ontario, following up the lake shore to the Niagara river. In a few years the settlers had each cleared small portions of [PAGE 18] of their farms, and the land being very productive, they raised a considerable surplus of wheat.

In the year 1789, known as the scarce year or starving summer, the colonists undertook to supply the troops lying at Fort Niagara, with flour, and sold all they could spare in the spring. The same year a great number of families favourable to the British government, emigrated from the States into Canada, and thus an unexpected population was cast for support on the first settlers. In consequence of this the supply of flour was quickly consumed, and for three or four weeks before harvest there was no flour or bread of any kind in the country Those that had cows subsisted on the milk, others lived on leaves of trees and plants, and on wild roots (ground nuts or wild potatoes). But the growing crop was abundant, and as soon as ripe there was enough to satisfy all demands. Almost all the merchandise required by the settlers, for number of years, was brought from Albany in small boats by way of the Mowhawk and Oswego rivers, that being the nearest market at which goods could purchase. The rapid current in the St. Lawrence River and the great distance to follow around the shore of lake Ontario render it almost impossible to bring goods from Montreal in small boats, which was the nearest market then in possession of the British.

The first mills built in the county, and I believe in Western Canada, stood upon the site at present occupied by those of T. C. Street, Esq., of Niagara Falls. They consisted of grist and sawmills, were built in 1785, and called Birch's Mills. Before this mill was in operation the settlers prepared their flour by pounding the grain in a hollow place scooped out in a log, into which a pounder was made to fit, and then by sifting it in an Indian sieve.

The early settlers being hardy veterans inured to hardships surmounted every difficulty. A rapid tide of [PAGE 19] immigration from Mother country and from the States, soon occupied all the available land in the county. Mechanics and tradesmen various kinds were induced to try their fortunes in the new settlement. Improvements gradually extended, and in 1812 large proportion of the county was cleared, fenced, and under cultivation. Nearly every lot was now provided with comfortable buildings and other appendages of civilization, and inhabited with a contented, persevering, and prosperous people. Bud; this happy state of affairs was not allowed long to continue. As has been already stated, Welland was the great battlefield of the war of 1812, and succeeding years. The county was several times in the enemy's possession; the houses of the inhabitants were either plundered or burnt, their cattle driven off or wantonly destroyed. All the able-bodied men between 16 and 60 years of age were engaged in the war--only infirm old men, women and children were left at home, and for three years farming operations were entirely suspended. When peace was restored, in 1815, the county was in a condition but very little better than in 1783; the only advantage was that the land was cleared. But some of the old soldiers yet survived - they had once overcome obstacles that appeared almost insurmountable, and they were prepared to do it again. These times have passed away, and passed, we trust, never to return. A few years of hard toil brought the affairs of the county again into their natural course.

The increase in the value of land in the county is almost unparalleled. Many a farm which now would be cheap at 2,000, was seventy years ago, exchange for a bottle of rum; and land which then was literally worth nothing, now sells for £10 per acre, the average value being about £6 per acre. [PAGE 20]

Since that time one improvement after another, following in quick and rapid succession, has brought us to our present condition, when peace spreads over us the banner of the laws, and we are permitted to enjoy, free from outrage, the fruits of our honest toil.

Stamford county of Welland
March 29th, 1853."
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Agricultural and Statistical Report of the County of Welland for the Year 1852.

Handwritten notes by William McMicking about agriculture in Counties of Lincoln and Welland.
Headline: "Agricultural and Statistical Report of the county of Welland for the year 1852"
20 pages; size: 25cm x 34.5cm
Parts of this work were later published as "Agricultural Report for the County of Welland, 1854" (to which the prize for £20 was awarded). The pages written by William were mixed up with pages with different handwriting, probably by Thomas McMicking as an inscription on a separate page reads:
"In 1850 Father, and Brother Thomas, were each asked to write a paper for the agricultural society , which was to be held in Drummondville, and these are some of the copies, that have been kept all these years, and I hope my children will keep them as long as they live. Nov, 25 1926, Mother"
According to The McMicking Family website, the only daughter of William McMicking to live long enough to write this note was Emma Louise McMicking (1851-1930). Her brother was Thomas McMicking (1829-1866)