Buying Land From Colonel Talbot

This sweet looking gentleman shows that appearances can be deceiving, if we are to believe the account written about him by Father Joseph Emery of St. Joachim in 1943. Father Emery’s account of the settlement of St. Joachim includes a scary little story about what the pioneers had to do to buy land from Colonel Talbot. Talbot was the land agent who was granted most if not all of the land in southwestern Ontario by the British Government to resell to the early pioneers. Sounds like Talbot had a sweetheart kind of deal. (Talbot was personal secretary to Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe prior to being given the rights to sell all the land in southwestern Ontario .. Talbot must have been a very good secretary ..)

Here is Father Emery’s account of the difficulties of doing business with the Colonel.

“Colonel Talbot, representative of the government for colonization in this region, was living at Tyrconnell in 1802. Tyrconnell is about 75 miles from St. Joachim. It was Talbot who allotted the land to the settlers. Talbot Road (today #3 Highway) was laid out in 1803 and bears the name of the Colonel. Tradition tells us that the Colonel built himself a princely home for the time, at a distance from the road, on an elevation overlooking the vastness of Lake Erie. When a settler dreamed of obtaining land for himself, he had to take the road by foot through the forest, when the canoe could not be used on Lake Erie, eat and sleep under the stars, and after a week he arrived at Tyrconnell.

The voyage had been rough and tiring, but the reception at the Colonels, it was said, paid for the trials and fears of the traveller. To guard his home and estate, there were military redcoats on the place and he was guarded by a large pack of big dogs imported from the Mother Country. When the Canadian arrived at the fence which forbade entrance to the property, in the twinkling of an eye, making an infernal uproar, there appeared about twenty famished dogs, jumping, howling, barking, showing their teeth, aroused by the smell of the tired and perspiring stranger. The poor settler shook in his boots. A footman rushed headlong from the house, blew a whistle to keep back the animals, opened the gate and took the martyr under his protection to the house. The distance was not great, but it appeared interminable to the settler, because of the dogs, each of which, when it came his turn, sniffed at the calf of the settler’s leg, and they all chattered their teeth as though they would like to devour him.

The reception was cold, short and official. The affair over, the settler with the document in his pocket, returned to the gate accompanied by the footman and the menacing dogs. Safe at last, he took his way back through the big forest of the peninsula, enroute to the small piece of land he had cleared for himself and his children. The Colonel died in 1854, after serving as land agent for 52 years.”

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Posted on January 5, 2012, in A History of Rochester Township 1853-1978, early settlement 1790-1830 and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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