ON THE PENETANG TRAIL 123
utterly destroyed, and with it all our hopes of plenty for that year."
One of the worst pests the early settlers had to contend with was the wild pigeons, a bird that, so far as is known, is now extinct. These swept down on the land in myriads and grain and pea fields were stripped clean by them. In several other cases in this book these birds have been referred to, but Thompson's account of them is most interesting. There was a pigeon-roost a few miles distant from where he and his brothers had settled. To this roost at the proper season "men, women, and children went by the hundred, some with guns, but the majority with baskets, to pick up the countless birds that had been disabled by the fall of great branches broken off by the weight of their roosting comrades overhead. The women skinned the birds, cut off the plump breasts, throwing the remain-der away, and packed them in barrels with salt, for keeping."
Thompson points out that these pigeons were an important factor in connection with the vegetation of these early days. He noticed that when land had been burnt over it was almost immediately followed by "a spontaneous growth, first of fireweed or wild lettuce, and secondly by a crop of young cherry trees, so thick as to choke one another. At other spots, where pine trees had stood for a century, the outcome of their destruction by fire was invariably a thick growth of raspberries, with poplars of the aspen variety." Thompson was not content with merely observing this seemingly miraculous growth of new vegetation, he investigated the