252 THE PIONEERS OF OLD ONTARIO
necessary food. As a matter of fact many were compelled to subsist for weeks on cow-cabbage, a vegetable that then grew wild in the woods. This cabbage was not unlike lettuce, and boiled with pork was a real luxury; but few had money to buy the pork.
"Then, a year or two later, just when our people were beginning to get on their feet, and wheat in the newly made clearing was seemingly about to yield an abundant harvest, one night's frost blighted the whole prospect. Not a bushel of wheat was harvested in the settlement that year.
"The hardest blow of all, however, was sustained through an act of the authorities. The Government of Sandfield Macdonald had aided the people with loans of money and seed in the year when frost came, and in 1868-69 the Government ordered that the interest, which had been allowed to accumulate while people were trying to regain their feet, as well as the principal, must all be paid off at once. It was reported, whether truly or not, that the Government was impelled to this action by financial interests in Toronto, which had just received large sums of Old Country money to be loaned. In any case the people of Bruce rushed to these money-lenders for funds to meet the demands made upon them. Loans obtained from these lenders were repay-able in annual instalments and the interest figured out at about twelve and one half per cent. Scores of those who had struggled through the trials of the pioneer period, who had borne up even in the year when their wheat was destroyed by frost, now with old age