The Herald – 1878.01.19 – Letter from Johnville – History – #7
LETTER FROM JOHNVILLE
To the Editor of the HERALD
Dear Sir, — During the summer of 1861 the number of applicants was large, and the growth of the settlement consequently rapid, so much so that more land was needed, and Father Connolly, in the name of the Emigrant Aid Society, applied for another ten thousand acres, which was acceded to without any hesitation, by the Government. Within two years every lot, fit for settlement; of this twenty thousand acres, was applied for, and the applications in the Crown Land Office. Then, in view and in anticipation of other applicants and arrivals from Canada, United States and elsewhere, a third application to the Government was deemed advisable, and a survey of sixteen thousand acres was made – making thirty-six thousand acres in the aggregate.
In so large an extent of country it could not be expected that all lots would be equally good, or equally favored ; much of it is level enough, some rough and broken, more hilly and undulating ; but, taken altogether, compares favorably with the character of land in Carleton County generally. The greatest inconvenience to the settlers was the absence of large spruce, for building purposes, most of it having been cleaned out by lumber parties, before the land was surveyed. During that same summer much road work was done ; small bridges and [culberts] made by settlers, in payment for their land, a work very much needed. In the winter of 1862, the number of children in Johnville being large, the want of a school was much felt. In March, therefore, we commenced a school house – rustic style – and before May 1st we had it finished and furnished, and the school in successful operation, Miss Ellen Mahon having the honor of being the first school teacher in Johnville.
Our next great want was a post office, to spare us the time, the fatigue and inconvenience of walking to the river, five miles for all, and ten miles for some, with, or for a letter. After some negotiations between Father Connolly and the Post Master General, Hon. Mr. Steadman, on the subject, Mr. Wm. Boyd’s house was chosen, as the most suitable place for the post office, and Mr. Boyd himself employed, at twenty-four dollars a year, to carry the mail six miles, once each week. That was a memorable day and an epoch in the history of Johnville, the arrival of her Majesty’s mail, for the first time, in the settlement. [Every…ody] was there – young and old – and all anxiously expecting papers and letters, of importance, from the relatives and friends they had left behind them. Never was the opening of the mail looked for with more avidity by any people, in any place, and wonderful was the quantity of matter emptied out of that mail bag, on that important occasion.
But the great event, and the day the most memorable, was the visit of his Lordship, Dr. Sweeny, for the first time to Johnville, early in September of the same year, accompanied by Very Rev. James Quinn, St. Stephen, and Father Connolly, of Woodstock. No Bishop ever met with a more hearty welcome, from a faithful people, since the days of St. Peter. His Lordship was much pleased with the evidences of industry and improvement and the progress made in so short a time. He arrived at an hour suitable, and affording time, to see much of the settlement, and enable him to form an idea of what Johnville might become, in time.
Next morning the Bishop said Mass, after which he addressed the people in words of wisdom, encouragement and counsel. Among other things, he warned them against extravagance and the vice of intemperance, that as their lips were, so far, pure in that respect, to keep them pure ; and he hoped, for their own sake, and for the honor of Johnville, and through dread of a curse that disobedience would bring on them, there would never be a tavern opened or tolerated among them.
Never before did his Lordship have a more attentive audience, or one that better appreciated the value of his words. The hearers knew that it was not for nothing his Lordship came so far, and exposed himself to such hardships to visit them. That visit had its effect, never will be forgot, and Johnville can say, with pride, that, so far, it has escaped the curse of any such establishment or traffic.
On the occasion of this, his first visit, his Lordship decided on the site for a church, and that being done, he left for home, apparently pleased with his visit, and carrying with him the prayers and best wishes of his people. And, as we afterwards read in the St. John Freeman, gave the first Sunday after his return, a glowing account of Johnville, its condition, its progress, and its prospects in the future.