Drovers and Accidents from MUD ROADS AND PLANK SIDEWALKS: LESLIEVILLE 1880 PART 5
by Sam Herbert (1876-1966)
In the early days it was quite common to see a herd of cattle being driven along the road on their way to the slaughter house, or to a convenient field adjoining one. The drover and his dog kept the herd moving in the right direction, but occasionally, some boy would throw a few stones into the herd and confusion was generally the result. The drover would use every word at his command concerning the one who threw the stones, then shouting directions to the dog, the dog barking and the cattle bellowing and raising a cloud of dust. It was anything but a peaceful country scene.
Before Heward Avenue was opened through, a large field extended from the Kingston Road to Eastern Avenue, and there were generally twenty-five or thirty head of cattle in the field, that is during the grazing months of the year. There was a small shack in one corner of the field, and it was known as “Danny Arthur’s field.”
On the way home from school it was a habit with some of the boys to lower the bars of the gate, allowing the cattle to stray out on the road. This went on for some time, until one day, just as the boys were in the act, there was a terrific blast, and a stinging sensation in different parts of the body (so I was told). It was disclosed later that Danny had used his double-barreled muzzle loading shotgun, charged with coarse salt instead of shot, and had given us both barrels. For a long time we lost all interest in cattle.
Between Willow Street and Carlaw Avenue, on the south side of Eastern Avenue, there stood a large two storied, frame, white-washed slaughter house.
As Eastern Avenue was a gravel road there was always plenty of ammunition in the way of stones, and it was an easy matter to pick up half a dozen of the proper size and weight, then, just as we were passing the house to let fly a barrage and run. One day things did not go according to plan. We were ambushed. Two of us got caught, and were taken to the slaughter house. They had just finished killing and blood was scattered around. While we were being; held, those of the killing gang commenced sharpening their knives. We began to cry. We implored, begged, and promised everything. Finally one of the men asked us if we would ever throw stones at the house again. We tearfully promised never to do so. They led us separately to the door, and with a well-placed vigorous kick in the seat of the pants which lifted us off the floor, they said “get.” We “got”. I was running before my feet touched the ground, and I kept right on doing so.
Incidentally, lambs “plucks” could be bought from most slaughter houses at five cents each. The liver and heart were cut off for our own use, and the “lights” or lungs were boiled and cut up for the chickens.
A neighbour of ours, who had a good-sized market garden, used his shot gun on every possible occasion. He kept it loaded, in his bedroom. One day I heard great commotion at their home, and saw a man wrapping or tying white cloths around our neighbor’s arm. I just noticed the bundle of cloths and the blood, and I ran home to mother and told her the baby had been shot. Mother hastened over to offer help, but found it was not the baby at all. It seems George had seen a hawk in an Elm tree over across the creek, and opened his bedroom window, reached in for his gun bringing it out barrels first, and one of the hammers tripped on the window sill. George had part of his forearm blown away. The Doctor saved. the arm, but it was always a little deformed. Mother always remembered that as an example to me to be careful with firearms.