WHEN OAKVILLE RIVALLED TORONTO
THE SUMMERLESS YEAR
Some fragmentary references have already been made to "The Summerless Year" of 1816. But the real story of that season of want and nightmare was related to me by Benjamin D. Waldbrook, whom I interviewed near Oakville in the first year of the present century. Mr. Waldbrook's father came to Canada in 1817, when memories of the event were still fresh, and his own recollections went back to the beginning of the third decade of the last century.
"The spring of 1816," Mr. Waldbrook said, "opened with as fair prospects as have ever appeared at the same season since. But the sunshine of the year's morn was followed by a long night of black despair. Snow commenced falling in June, and until spring came again the whole country was continuously covered by a wintry blanket. Practically nothing was gathered in the way of a crop. Everything rotted in the ground. There was no flour, there were no vegetables; people lived for twelve months on fish and meat—venison, porcupine, and ground-hog being varied with the thin meat of cattle slaughtered because there was no vegetation to sustain them. Hay was sent from Ireland to save the stock of the starving people of Quebec; and some brought here sold for forty-