Mrs. Andrew Forbes' account of her life:
[Mrs. Forbes' maiden name was Margaret Howe.]
Published in Century Press - Toronto - 1894
The subject of this sketch is Mrs. Andrew Forbes, a lady of 88 years of
age, of wonderful vitality, and whose experiences will not be
uninteresting to many of the other people in this section of the
country; more especially as Mrs. Forbes has a wide connection and is, in
consequence, known by a great many people in Arnprior and Fitzroy. Her
memory is clear as it ever was, and these scattered notes, taken from
her own lips by her son-in-law, Mr. Henry Edey, have been handed to us
Mrs. Forbes says:
I was born in County Mayo, Ireland, in the year 1806 and sailed for
Canada in May 1822, experiencing a most unpleasantly rough crossing, the
voyage ending in New York on July 5 - the day following the celebration
of that event so dear the American heart, Independence Day.
After three days at the metropolis, we proceeded up the "American
Rhine" (The Hudson) by schooner as far as Albany, then on to Rochester
by canal boat. In those days, the St. Lawrence River had only two
schooners and it was on one of these, commanded by Captain McIntosh,
that we set sail down the St. Lawrence, reaching the Village of Prescott
some time during the night. From here we started for Perth, walking
every foot of the way and being no less than 12 days on the road. We
then made start for Lanark through the bush, our only means of guidance
being the blaze cut on the trees.
In crossing the River Tay, we experienced a little difficulty, the
capacity of the vessel at our disposal being two at a time. Our luggage
remained in Prescott until the following winter. The river safely
crossed, we winded our way through the bush for quite a distance until
we reached a clearing that was on fire, and had not a kind-hearted man
espied us at this point, we must surely have been lost. The man was a
Mr. Hammond. He threw open the door of his not uncomfortable hut and
bid us welcome until Monday morning. Mr. Hammond and his good wife,
upon learning that we were Methodists, made things especially
comfortable for us.
On Monday, we arrived at Mr. Riddell's in Lanark. There were five in
our party, Mother, Father, brother John, and Annie. Father, brother and
sister went to Fitzroy while Mother and I remained in Lanark during the
winter. My brother James, in Fitzroy, had a home prepared for us, he
having come out some years before and settled on land. He told us many
queer yet true incidents of his early experiences in Fitzroy: On one
occasion, he an his neighbour, William McAdam, after a hard morning's
work made their way back to a tree upon a limb of which they had
suspended their dinner pail - but lo and behold, when they reached the
spot, there was no sign of the dinner pail. A bear had come along in
the meantime and walked off with their provisions.
My brother cleared four acres and put it into fall wheat. In the spring
of 1823 James and John went to Brockville to earn the price of a cow and
a yoke of oxen, leaving us at home to manage the little farm. Harvest
time came, but we were at a loss to know how the crop was to be
garnered. None of your improved implements in those days. Not even a
sickle or any kind of hand tool, so it fell to my lot to go to Shipman's
Mills and procure them.
The forest was fearfully dense between our place and the Mills and the
path through, a remarkably narrow one. I was obliged to carry a lighted
torch as protection against the mosquitoes.
Having secured a couple of sickles from one Mr. Gemill who kept a small
store where Almonte now stands, I started on the return trip home. I
got to within 4 miles of Pakenham when it became late and dark and I
went into a little shanty occupied by a Mr. & Mrs. Bowes. They declared
that I must remain with them overnight, as wolves and bears were so
numerous that it was dangerous to be out. I arrived home around noon
the next day.
After our harvest was gathered, my brother John, my sister and myself
went to Bytown. I engaged with a Mr. Holester in Hull, while my sister
engaged with an English minister, the Rev. Mr. Emsley. My brother
secured work on the Sapper's Bridge. I crossed over the "Big Kettle",
as it was called then, on boards suspended on a rope. Five months
passed and we returned home to attend my brother James' wedding.
He was married to Miss Hannah Flintoff, the Rev. Mr. Bell of Perth
performing the ceremony. We repaired to the home of the bride's father,
spending the evening singing and dancing. We carried our own music with
us - a fiddle, called a violin nowadays I understand. We went from
house to house with our fiddle and a little keg and every call was a
real Irish call, you may be sure. Our teamster was kept in good spirits
and the next morning we drove to what is now Mohr's Corners. Here we
arrived at Mr. Andrews Forbes's, a young man at that time, and enjoyed
a jolly good time after which we returned home. So ended the first
wedding in America for me. I shall never forget it.
I made my home with my brother after his marriage until I myself became
the wife of Mr. Andrew Forbes, with whom, after keeping company for a
space of 3 years, I decided to cast my lot. The Rev. Mr. Bell was again
brought into requisition, the trip to Perth on this occasion , owing to
the bad roads, being made on horseback. This was in March of 1826. We
were married on the 1st of April, the clergyman telling my husband not
to make an April Fool of me.
While in Perth, we met with 2 young men, Willie ???? and Guy Landon from
above Arnprior. A few days after this, we left my brother's in a little
birch canoe and sailed down the Mississippi to our home at the little
place known as Mohr's Corners, where we lived together until death
separated us. He was just 78 years of age when he departed this life in
A family of 8 children was born, 5 sons and 3 daughters. My husband had
about 10 acres under cultivation and a log house, which of course
appeared mighty fine in those days. Our farm was all cleared before our
boys were able to do much more than attend school. One of our sons died
at the age of 24. The first marriage of the family was that of my son
William, who wedded a Miss Minerva Grant of Brockville. The next
marriage was that of my daughter Mary, who married a Mr. Henry Edey of
Arnprior. The next was Elizabeth who became the wife of Chas. Hirtch of
Nepean. She died in Ottawa, leaving her 3 sons in my care until they
were able to care for themselves.
My eldest daughter, Mary, died March 10th, leaving 7 children; 4 sons, 3
daughters, who are now being cared for by a step-mother.
I am now living with my son-in-law, Mr. Henry Edey of Arnprior, with
whom I intend to spend my remaining days on earth.
The next marriage was that of my son John, who wedded a Miss Jane
Campbell, niece of Ira Morgan, who was killed by the electric car in
Ottawa some time ago.
My husband was born in Perthshire, Scotland and immigrated 2 years
before I did. He was a member of the Presbyterian Kirk and was, for a
number of years, precentor. I felt it my duty, as I think all women
should, to go with my husband to worship.
The first clergyman who came that way in those days was a Rev. Mr.
Morris, a C. of E. rector who came once a year from Perth and baptized
any children that were to be baptized. A few years after this, a
Methodist minister appeared on the scene - the Rev. Mr. Kearns.
It might prove interesting to many to know that the first Methodist
services were held in Fitzroy in a barn belonging to a Mr. Sheriff of
Fitzroy Harbour. This was about the year 1828. We frequently walked 5
miles through the bush to attend these services. The clergymen of all
denominations used to make their headquarters at our home until the
arrival in our section of Mr. Hunt's family, who, being Methodists,
usually sheltered the Methodist clergy. Very often their services were
held at Mr. Landon's who built on the edge of the Carp River.
Occasionally a meeting was held at Mr. W. Smith's not far distant.
Preaching was also conducted once in a while at Mr. Frayer's
school-house further up the river. But the preaching evidently hit too
hard to suit Mr. Frayer and the school-house was locked. He was either
a trustee or owned the land on which the school-house was built.
If my memory services me right, the first stationed minister in the
locality was the Rev. Mr. McMann, who was stationed at Pakenham. That
was the only place where we could partake of the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper and it was no more than half a century ago. Some time after
this, the Church of England used to hold Communion services, but they
only administered it to members of that denomination. However, in those
days, Fitzroy was populated by people of every denomination and there
was almost perfect harmony among all. The glory of God and the
salvation of souls seemed to be the aim and object of the people and
when a house of worship was commenced, all rejoiced.
But I have done. These few mixed reminiscences of the early days may be
the means of refreshing the minds of the few surviving who passed
But there are those also near and dear to me by the ties of nature who
will read this narrative, friends and neighbours whom I have learned to
love and many strangers to me will read my notes also, many of whom may
ask the question - why a living God has raised me from a bed of
affliction so wonderfully and allowed me, at the age of nearly ninety
years, the full use of my reason and my memory.
The answer to this question is this: He has work for me to do - a
message for me to deliver and by His grace, I will endeavour to deliver
it, not however, like the poor unfaithful Jonah - I dare not shrink from
what I know is my duty to God.
And now a few parting words to my dear children. It is not at all
probable that you will ever again see my face in the flesh, so accept
this as a loving mother's request - "Prepare to meet thy God". How
often on earth have I folded you in my arms and silently prayed God to
care for you and guide you safely along the pathway of life. Now my
greatest thought is this, "Will we all meet in Heaven as an unbroken
family?" "May the loving Jesus lead you to the fold", is the heart felt
prayer of your mother.
My dear friends and neighbours, will we all join hands in Heaven? It
seems as though the great Spirit of God has prompted this question. May
God help you decide now for Christ and then we shall meet above.
Dear Stranger, are you a stranger to Christ - that Saviour who purchased
your pardon and redeemed you? Accept His offered mercy, for this is a
special call. Now is the accepted time. Behold, now is the day of
Salvation. Oh my brother, my sister in Christ, ask yourself the
question, "Is this my last call?" Ask it audibly, with a ring that
will never cease until you receive the witness of His Spirit that you
I will conclude by repeating the words of the Psalmist:
"Once I was young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous
forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Psalm 37:25)
As was mentioned in the story, her daughter Mary (b.1836) was married to
Henry Edey (b.1833). Henry Edey's father was Edmund Edey, the eldest
son of Moses Edey who with his brother Samuel were the patriarchs of the
Edey's of Aylmer, Quebec, where the old Edey cemetery can be visited.
The name is pronounced as in Eadie. Henry and Mary were the parents of
my great grandmother Minerva Jane Edey. Minerva Jane married Robert
Rivington of Carp. Their eldest child, Birdie May Rivington married
James William Birch (a home child). Their youngest child Florence
Minerva Birch was my mother.
Note: This article passed from the late Mrs. Willow Scofield to her
daughter Helen Armstrong and came to me via Lorne and Blythe Smith.
Helen, Lorne and I are all descendants of this amazing woman. I have
taken the liberty of correcting spelling errors which appeared in the
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