by Carl Emiry, circa 1970
In 1913, the year my father George Emiry left Manitoulin Island, there was no railway or highway to Little Current from the mainland as there is today. The only way you got off the Island in those days was by boat over to Cutler in the summer or over the ice with sleighs and teams of horses in the winter as soon as the ice was strong enough to carry a load. In the summer, the boat from Gore Bay made daily trips to Cutler and Spanish Mills, where you could catch a train to other points. This boat, called the Winona, was owned by James Purvis of Gore Bay. In the winter, the "horse and stage" as they called it, made daily trips over the ice to Spanish, hauling passengers, mail and freight. A large stable for the winter trips was owned by James Purvis as well. The Burns was another outfit that travelled the ice in winter.
In June 1913, my father (George Emiry), purchased the 160 acre farm at Massey where we are living at the present time. At that time, there was a small dock on the Spanish River in Massey. It was located right where the new bridge over the river is now. My father chartered a boat, the "John Hagart" to bring everything he and my mother owned to Massey from Gore Bay. Their belongings included more than twenty head of cattle, four horses, pigs, hens, and turkeys as well as all the farm machinery and household furniture. The boat my father chartered had been condemned for lack of sea-worthiness. This fact caused my mother a good deal of concern. It was a flat-bottomed boat, so it didn't need water as deep as other boats did. There is a sand bar at the mouth of the Spanish River where it empties into Georgian Bay, so it was necessary to have a flat bottomed board to come over that.
Our farm on Manitoulin was five miles from Gore Bay. It was a sizeable job getting everything down to the dock to load when the boat came in. They started loading it in the late afternoon of October 12th. all the cattle, horses, and heavy machinery were put on the bottom deck. Other things were piled higher. There was even a democrat ties to the die of the boat by ropes and chains. It was quite a load! Dad had lots of good help from so many good neighbours, and some of them were pretty good on the bottle too. There was lots of noise and drinking going on that night in Gore Bay. One man, a neighbour, fell into the lake and they had to fish him out. My mother was really worried. She got after my dad and wanted to know if the boat crew was drinking too. Some of the men worked hard and drank hard too.
At five o'clock in the morning of October 13th, 1913, the boat pulled away from the Gore Bay dock for the trip to Massey. It was a perfect day with no wind, and we came over with no trouble at all. One sow, though, chose to producer her litter of little pigs on the way across the water.
My mother, sisters, brothers and I travelled on the other boat to Cutler, and came down to Massey on the train.
When the boat arrived in Massey, it was unloaded and the cattle corralled in the pine trees there. We milked the cows and there for the night. The next morning they were driven out to our farm.
Believe it or not, all my father paid for that boat was $100.00 for the whole trip - but those were the prices of sixty years ago*!
*written circa 1970
PHOTOS FROM THE EMIRY FAMILY COLLECTION
This ongoing blog is a collection of articles and photos written by volunteers, staff and you, about the history of our region!