164 THE PIONEERS OF OLD ONTARIO
obligations in order to buy more land for wheat growing, and this sent land prices up to speculative levels. I could have sold our farm then for one hundred dollars an acre, whereas, after prices dropped, I could hardly have secured sixty dollars, although in the meantime the farm had been greatly improved. The worst effects, how-ever, were felt by merchants, many of whom went mad in grain speculation. One of the heaviest plungers was a man named Laing, in Whitby. I have seen him come from the bank with a stack of bills as big as a hand satchel, and this would not last him over three hours while his buying ventures were at their height. When wheat dropped to seventy-five cents, he failed and many failed with him.
"In the period I speak of (this was before rail-ways were built in Ontario, Victoria, and Teterboro Counties) Whitby was one of the greatest grain markets in the country. Wheat from all around the east side of Lake Simcoe was teamed there. The work of teaming was facilitated by the improvement of the road from Brechin to Manchester with the county's share of the Clergy Reserve Fund, and the building of the plank toll road from Manchester to Whitby. When that plank road was at its best a team could haul from one hundred to one hundred and forty bushels of wheat at a load, but the hard surface proved as injurious to the feet and legs of horses as concrete pavement does now. At that time as many as fifty teams might be seen in a string along the old Centre Road; at Manchester fully two hundred teams were assembled at one time; and at Whitby sleighs extended for a mile