264 THE PIONEERS OF OLD ONTARIO
their lands, these were put up for sale, buyers coming from Toronto and equally distant points. In the excitement of the auction some wild bidding occurred, the offers in many cases being more than the land was worth. Some of the purchases were afterwards thrown back on the hands of the Government and in other cases a reduction in price was made.
"The crowd that attended the auction of the lands in the peninsula was well nigh paralleled by a previous rush. Several townships were opened for sale in South Bruce in 1854, and in September of that year two thousand people came into Southampton. They slept in camps outside the village; and at night their blazing camp fires were like those of a besieging army. By day the gathering was like a congress of nations. Highlanders, Englishmen, and Germans were intermingled; and the Gaelic, English, and German tongues were heard in the different groups. A remarkable thing, both in connection with this gathering and the annual payment to Indians at an earlier date, was that although on both occasions whiskey was every-where, I did not hear of a single quarrel.
"Another picturesque scene occurred in the spring of the year when the Indians came down from Manitoulin to sell their maple sugar. The journey was made in mackinaws,—open boats with a schooner rig; and the sugar was carried in mococks,—containers made of birch bark each holding from twenty to thirty pounds. I am told that this sugar eventually found its way to a Montreal refinery, from which it emerged at last as ordinary commercial brown sugar.