Previous Pioneers of Ontario (1923) Next

 

STRONG DRINK, RELIGION AND LAW 313

in homespun, as they swung in the arms of the swains of long ago.

"At a later period came the camp meetings, and these were at times scenes of the most intense excitement. The sermon, and it was the real old-timer with plenty of brimstone in it, was followed by singing, and during the singing sinners were urged to advance to the penitent bench. `Come Sinners to the Gospel Feast' and `Blow Ye the Trumpet Blow' were among the favourite hymnal appeals to the ungodly. The fierce urge of the sermon and the passionate call of the singers stirred the massed audience to a state of indescribable excitement. I have seen people literally fall over each other while the anguished wails of repentant sinners mingled with the voices of the singers and the weird sound of the wind in the tree tops.

"The most exciting time of the kind I ever experienced was at an indoor revival, held by a man named Beale, at Orono in 1843. This man warned the assembled hundreds to prepare for the end of the world, which he declared was then at hand. One man actually tried to climb a stovepipe on the way to heaven and one woman went raving mad."

But there was another side to these religious upheavals of the 'forties—a side furnished by some who persistently remained without the fold. At one camp meeting, held near Myrtle, in Ontario County, a rowdy led in a gang of toughs bent on disturbing the meeting. "A magistrate who happened to be on the grounds swore in a dozen of us to keep the peace," said Mr. Powers. "As soon as sworn in we went


Previous Pioneers of Ontario (1923) Next