This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Arriving in Upper Canada, the promised land, where I had deemed it quite an easy task to make "the desert blossom as the rose," and meeting with a few old friends whose knowledge of the wants of "bush life" was about equal to my own, the glowing description which Capt H., of the army, and Capt. M., of the navy, gave of the location which they had taken up in Harvey; and the offer of the use of Capt. H.'s house, not yet finished, until I could get one up for myself; induced me to visit that section; and Capt. M. volunteered to be our "compagnon de voyage and chape-rone" in Capt H.'s boat, as the greater part of the route was by water. Accompanied by my wife in an open wagon, with the rest of our party, we started early in the morning for Mud Lake, seven miles from Peterboro'. There we found the captain's boat and crew waiting for us. Quickly got on board, and fairly embarked on Mud Lake, we left the last traces of civilization behind us. Having passed the Indian village, and entered Buckhorn Lake, we were delighted with the beautiful though wild scenery through which for twenty-five miles we pulled on Pigeon and Great Bald Lakes, until darkness overtook us in Little Bald Lake, where we were to land, and we saw the bright beams of the signal fire, which guided us to the landing, at the foot of a high bare hill, from which its radiance spread in ruddy light over a superbly wild and romantic scene.
Cold and tired, we reached the landing, and with no little chagrin learned that we had to walk above a mile and a half through the dark bush to Manitou Lake, upon which Capt H.'s house was situated. However, the novelty and excitement of the scene, and a cup of fine old mulled port, which Capt M. prepared at the "beacon light" while the young men were stripping dry cedar bark for torches, served to reconcile us more to our position; and the effect of our party, each individual not otherwise laden carrying a flaming torch through the closely wooded ravine leading from the one lake to the other, would have formed a study even for a Rembrant or Rosa; while the dense wood resounded to the echoing chorus of a favorite hunting song.
Arrived at the house, over which the torches threw a warm and cheerful light, reflected upon the calm surface of the glassy lake calmly reposing in front, we felt the discomforts of the day surmounted, and prepared to enjoy the blazing fire which illumed the uncurtained windows. After stumbling over logs, planks, etc, we gained the door; and entering the hall, we might have imagined ourselves in a vast cage enclosed by transverse bars, illuminated by three blazing fires in the rooms with which it communicated. The fact was, that nothing but the outer shell of the house was completed, and the entire inside stood in its naked lathing, unconscious of the plasterer's coat One of the intended sitting rooms, with a bed room off it, had been prepared in the best bush fashion for our reception, with a pine table, two benches, the luxury of two chairs in the sitting room, and a rough bedstead of split cedar, with a small table and one chair in the bed room, through every wall of which the wind "roved wild and free" through the open lath-work. While supper was preparing, I fell to work, hammer in hand, to enclose the bed room by nailing up a most picturesque tapistry of buffalo, bear, and wolf skin robes, and blankets; and ere our venison steaks and patridges were on the table, I had completed our most Cruso-like apartment, which proved so comfortable, that I covered the walls of the other room in the same manner next morning.
Though it was late ere we got to rest, I was up early next morning, anxious to see the beauties of the situation of which I had heard so much; nor was I disappointed, for beautiful it certainly was - situated in the bosom of a small bay, two of which, separated by a ridge of moss-covered granite running out like a promontory, formed the bottom of a beautiful, clear, inland lake, about three miles long and one broad, with gently rising banks here and there broken by abrupt rocks bursting through the gentle acclivities, breaking the monotony and giving a picturesque boldness to the view. After breakfast, we sallied out on a tour of observation; and were so charmed with the situation and scenery, that we at once resolved to take up eight hundred acres next Capt. H.'s, including the adjoining bay and a fine level valley, covered with the choicest timber, stretching from it to Bald Lake; while the beautiful hill separa-rating the two bays, offered a most romantic site for a house.
On our return, we dispatched a scow with a message for my servants and baggage from Peterboro', with provisions and all other requisites for a winter's campaign in the back woods. Mr. A., who came out with us, took up four hundred acres on the lake just above us, and returned in the scow to get his own supplies and make the necessary arrangements for us both. The weather was remarkably fine, and we spent most of our time roaming over our new estate, shooting patridges on the shore and wild ducks on the lake, and building castles in the air everywhere, till the arrival of our servants and baggage. Then commenced the hurry and bustle of unpacking, and all the preparations for a first attack on the primeval forest.
So impatient were we to commence, that, ere our own servants arrived, I made a contract with two men who came in search of a job, to clear ten acres in the valley at the head of the bay, at which they were at work when my people arrived, but who obstinately refused to undertake to cut all the timber level with the ground as I wanted; so I had to let them have their own way, resolved when they were done to cut all the stumps down, that they might not annoy the eye like those which I had seen all over the country. But they willingly agreed to leave as many ornamental clumps of trees standing as I chose. Having selected the hill as the site for my house, I got a shantee erected below it on the shore, for the accommodation of my people, and set them to work with their English hatchets and cross-cut saws to cut down the timber on the hill as it was usual to be done at home, close to the ground, with as little waste as possible; being determined, in our philanthropy, to teach " the poor ignorant settlers" how to cut down the timber without disfiguring the landscape with those hideous blackened stumps.