Friday, October 10, 2014

Iona Dominion Day 1867 - Surnames Riddle, Sinclair, Maryfield, Morris, Sutherland, Boston, Dolsen, Lumley, Burgess

Talbot Times Tidbit - Iona Dominion Day – page 15 – Southwold Tweedsmuir Histories

Credit for this article - Elgin County Archives

Article Surnames: Riddle, Sinclair, Maryfield, Morris, Sutherland, Boston, Dolsen, Lumley, Burgess

In old Iona's long and eventful history, one day stands out in blocked letters - Dominion Day 1867. In the long ago Iona led a hectic, vigorous life; many were the occasions for celebration - and Iona celebrated. No day can quite compare with that heralding Confederation, however. 

A town of 600 over flows with 2,000 whites and 200 Indians. From every direction, from the lake shore on the south, and the more sparsely settled river district on the north, they had driven, and those who could not drive, walked. It was a day long to be remembered. Games, dancing and horse-racing provided amusement aplenty.

The Townline was then a dirt road and on it were seen the horse races. Starting about where the highway cuts the Townline, the horses raced down through the village, the roadway made a narrow lane, the densely packed spectators on either side. The soft loose dirt muffled the rythmic beat of the horses' feet, and if the time made, bears no comparison to that of a horse race today, the personal interest in each owner and his horse quite overshadowed the question of actual speed. 

William Burgess, grocer and general storekeeper, had booth on the edge of the common grounds and J.O. Lumley, then a spent a busy day of carrying stuff from the store to the booth. Living at Iona, being postmaster and having an interest with his general store set up a refreshment booth of 11 years.Mr. Lumley's recollection of July l, 1867, is as vivid as though that memorable day were but five years back. The competition to catch the greasy pig was one of the wildest and mirth provoking events of the long day, and it is doubtful whether, when it was all over, if the pig, then securely tied, were more exhausted than the young men who had been endeavoring to catch him. It was customary for farmers to allow pigs to run unmolested, gleaning their living in the woods. Naturally, they became as wild as their forest haunts. It was one of these wild pigs which had been brought to the village, greased and turned loose.

The slow horse race presented the unusual spectacle of an Indian on a fleet pony racing past the judges, rods and rods ahead of the decrepit old plugs and their becoming highly indignant when not allowed the prize money. In this race farmers entered their oldest animals, one man by the name of Hunter, even driving up from New Sarum with a horse which he was quite agreeable to match against a turtle and bet on the turtle finishing first. The owner had to ride the horse of another man, the object being to urge it to the utmost so the rider's own horse would come in last. But the Indian, Joe Dolson, by name, had not been informed of the nature of the race. His pony could have raced backwards and still beaten many of the entrants down the stretch.

Later in the day Joe competed in the mile foot race, where his chances of success were regarded as extremely good. But, Joe, after the disgusting affair of the horse race, had been filling up on fire water, and in the foot race he stumbled and fell, breaking his shoulder. The incident of Dolson recalls another foot race, that same summer. Two Indians were matched to race from Fingal to Iona, the prize to be a bottle of liquor. By the time Peter Sutherland's farm had been reached, one Indian had established a lead of a quarter of a mile. The second Indian straining in the rear, carried a short stick in his hand, as do many runners. Working on Sutherland's farm was William Maryfield and when he saw the two coming down the road, he ran out and intercepted the second runner to learn what crime had been committed. 'Me no time - race - Fingal, Iona", panted the runner, and brushed past. (From the records of Miss Victoria Munroe, first Historical Research Convenor). In a paper read by Mrs. Robert Morris to the Iona Women's Institute in 1932, we read: 'The first Iona Dominion Day celebration was begun by Alex Boston, Walter Riddle and Duncan Sinclair. There was a fine Oneida Indian and parade, foot races and games'.

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