Previous Pioneers of Ontario (1923) Next



many of whom had been engaged in the distilleries of Islay before coming to Canada.

At weddings, baptisms, and funerals alike whiskey flowed freely. In fact on one occasion those called in to assist at a funeral. became so drunk that they could not bury the corpse. Once, too, when Mr. Gray was about to perform a marriage ceremony, the bridegroom took him to one side and asked him to overlook the customary fee for the time being as he "had to pay four dollars for a barrel of whiskey," and that took all the money he had. "A barrel was the regular allowance for a wedding at that time," said Mr. Gray.

"Those who entered the northern part of Simcoe when I did, about 1850, had it hard enough, but those who came in thirty years earlier had it much harder," Mr. Gray continued. "I have heard the first of the Drurys and Sissons say that at times they had to depend on wild fruit for a large part of their subsistence."

While Mr. Gray was the first Presbyterian minister in Oro, he was not the first to carry the Gospel into that township. The first regular clergyman in the township appears to have been the Rev. Mr. Raymond, the organizer of a settlement formed at Edgar by runaway slaves thirty odd years before the American Civil War broke the chains of slavery in the South. "Mr. Raymond," said Mr. James Smith, a pioneer of Oro, "like Mr. Gray, was a man of varied gifts. Largely by the work of his own hands he built the Congregational Church at Edgar in which he afterwards preached for the coloured people. He also taught school in Orillia

Previous Pioneers of Ontario (1923) Next