Notes from Patrick Mason
Our gift to the next generation...
Arthur Mason, his wife Elizabeth Smythe, and their infant son, Patrick, settled on Lot 22 on the 8th Range of Rawdon, in 1821. Patrick, the author of this memoir, married Ann Coffey and the oldest of their eight children, Elizabeth, married Thomas Lane, leaving a numerous progeny of Lanes in Rawdon. Patrick farmed in Rawdon until the 1890s when, as a widower, he moved with his son, Thomas Edward, to Fall River, Massachusetts. Patrick died there in 1900.
The original hand written copy has passed down through Patrick's descendants who have made a photocopy of it available to us to share some interesting insights into life in the earliest days of Rawdon.
Arthur's farm, on the Lake Morgan Road, passed to his son John Mason, my great grandfather, to John's son Jim, when John retired to live in the village, and finally on Jim's accidental death, to his own son, Jim (sometime mayor of the Canton of Rawdon).
Research into the descendants of Arthur and Elizabeth has found them spread beyond Rawdon to Montreal, Ontario, Newfoundland, the northeastern and central United States, Alabama, Tennessee, New Mexico, and California.
I would be happy to hear from anyone with questions or information about the family.
J. Patrick Wohler
Marginal Note: This has been written in the Township of Rawdon from the lips of my Father and Mother, both present at the time.
The following verbal information, I, Patrick Mason, son of Arthur Mason and Elizabeth Smythe of the Township of Rawdon but formerly of the County of Down Ireland, have received from them viz that I was born in the parish of St. Field, Townland of Legygoyne, county of Down, Ireland on April the fifth in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen and baptized by the Revd. Priest Green of St Field and my Godfather was my cousin William Mason and my Godmother's nane was Sarah Pake. My paternal Grandfather's name was Arthur Mason and paternal Grandmother's maiden name was Catherine Branny - and my maternal Grandmother's name was Catherine Felunah and maternal Grandfather's name was Philip Smythe of Hollymount, Loughan Island, County Down, Ireland.I forgot to say that the above is copied from a scrap the I myself made some years ago as father and mother related it to me which scrap I have here attached to this page with glue of gumarabic at the head.
I have written the above in good faith and believing that their memory being unimpaired the whole of the above is reliable - But places often change names.
Signed Patrick Mason
A few notes of my past life taken from my Father's and Mother's rehearsal and my own experience as far as memory do assist me - viz I was born and baptized in the parish of St Field, County of Down, Ireland on April the fifth in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen. Father and Mother taking me with them sailed from Belfast Lough on the fifth of April of the following year in the Brig Sarah of Belfast, commanded by Captain Clements, for Canada. - and arrived at Quebec on the following month of May - where they obtained lucrative employment for the summer. But removed to Montreal in the month of October, Father going to Western Canada to work in the shanties or lumber woods, leaving Mother and myself in Montreal, which he continued to do for the space of two years - coming to Quebec in the spring with the raft.
But Father contracted a disease called Fever and ague from the water and his physician recommended him to a change of climate as a perfect cure. We therefore came to the township of Rawdon on the nineteenth day of the month of October (1821) one thousand eight hundred and twenty one. Land being obtainable by free grant to actual settlers, 100 acres to each and a further grant of 100 acres provided that the actual settler complied with certain regulations of the Crown land department - viz that the settler clear two acres deep across the whole front and open the two concessions one at each end within two years and my Father therefore got the double grant - and in a year or thereabout a few settlers came and took land near to us and settled thereon.
But some may be desirous to learn the cause of my Father settling on Lot #22 on the 8th range of Rawdon at a time when the whole Township was vacant and all in forest. Well then his reason for so doing was as follows - At that time all the land in Rawdon up to the 8th range had been granted to supposed intending settlers by what was called an Order in Council and a privilege of 4 years to become actual settlers and only two years of that time being expired at the year 1819 my Father considered a great risque to venture on any of such land lest the real grantee should come and claim his land in either of the two succeeding years, which some actually did. And those that did not, the land was sold by the Government four shillings an acre with time to pay at 6 per cent interest. My Father laboured hard and suffered many privations to make a living for us. But succeeded to make what was then considered a very good living. And after the lapse of a few years when his children began to be able to help to labour the land, gained a competence. It would be superfluous for me to state the manner and means used to make fertile fields of the mountain forest at that time. I leave that part to the imagination of the future reader. Suffice it to say that all the grain that could be produced on the land had to be carried in backburdens a distance of seven or eight miles through woods across mountains, marshes and rivers to be forded to get to a grist mill to have it made into flour as there was not one oatmeal mill at that time in Canada and in Rawdon no person had means to keep either horse or ox until several years later - the produce then was potatoes, beans for soup, and indian corn with some wheat in small quantities not general.
We spent a very secluded and lonely life for a time, yet happy in our seclusion. But after a few years we had some neighbours to settle convenient to us and as well as I can remember one Charles Heney, an Irish man and married to one Jane Fisher of Long Point near Montreal came and settled on Lot #21 on the eighth range and Wm. Blair on Lot 23 on the same range and so on one Arthur Magee also an Irishman and unmarried came and settled on Lot 20 on the same range, and the following summer he went to Montreal and happening to meet an immigrant girl on the steamboat wharf just landing from Castleblany, Ireland, her name was Catherine Burgess, he immediately married her and came to live in Rawdon for good. Then came George Keo, a ship carpenter, and took lot #24 on the same range, and a blacksmith living in Montreal of the name of Samuel Cathers was located for lot #25 of the eighth range, but sold his rite to one Thomas Price for the small sum of five pounds £5. And after the lapse of ten or twelve years nearly all the land in the Township was taken or claimed by some person, and people began to feel happy and could to a certain extent make out a rough living and in general they went to work with a will and improved their properties. And some in a few years gained a competence if not riches. And amongst them I may mention Old George Copping, an old sawyer, who came here in great poverty from England not having one dollar. Him and his son George sawed boards for my father at one copper each foot to build a new house as we had no sawmills at that time. But as I was about to remark his family soon became what is considered to be well off. And many others also in general, these who happened to get on good land have done well.
One bad feature of the new Settlement was that for twelve years no schools were established, and even then the first schools for many years were of a very inferior quality. And also the children who were grown up to be of some help to hoe, herd cows, or pick sticks were generally kept from school to nurse baby or some other work of like importance. The above may be relyed on as it was even my own case with many others as my brothers and sisters who were younger than myself and able to go to school, would be sent out of the way as the saying was. But I was not in the way so I was kept at home. But I must say here that it was hard against my will, but complaint was worse than useless. I do not blame my parents as they were in need of all the little assistance that I could be to them in their effort on a bush farm to support a numerous small family. But I must say that I was much grieved as I had the reputation of learning well at that time. But it is here necessary to state that I have been at school with thirtynine others and all had to be taught from four books, that is one Universal Spelling book, one Charity School Book, and two primers. So it is plain that in them days it was a difficulty to learn the art of reading and writing, saying nothing of the Classics, as no means was provided such as books, slates, paper or pens or pencils. My first week's writing, or attempt at writing, was on white birchbark as a substitute for paper and ink made from the bark of the soft maple tree. Be it known that some folks had turkeys and their quills were held in great esteem to make writing pens of.
The above may hereafter look fabulous as there is a tendency to improvement at present but the above is no exaggeration. I write only a few real facts of that time.
Notes from Patrick Mason