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Recollections of Bytown and Its Old Inhabitants   By:

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As no book, small or great gay or grave, witty or sublime, scientific, dramatic, poetic, tragic, historical, metaphysical, philosophical, polemical, wise or otherwise can be considered complete, particularly at the beginning, without a preface; I have deemed it expedient that the contents of the following pages should be dignified by a few lines of an introductory nature.

It was not my intention when I commenced these reminiscences to publish them in their present form, neither had I any idea of their extending beyond a few hundred lines. That I have changed my mind is entirely owing to the solicitations of friends desirous of having them in compact shape, and not to any particular ambition of my own to write a book.

I do not pretend to present the reader with anything perfect in rhythm, polished in measure, or labored in style of construction. I have aimed at the truth, and imagine I have hit it.

My object has been, simply, to gather together as many of the names and incidents connected with Bytown's early history as memory alone could recal. My desire has been to rescue from oblivion as far as my humble efforts could conduce to such a desirable end what otherwise might possibly have been forgotten. In the contemplation of those names and incidents, I have often, recently, overlooked the fact that I now live in a City with nearly thirty thousand inhabitants, and that its name is Ottawa. It has, nevertheless, been to me a pleasant labor of love to walk in memory among the men and the habitations of byegone times.

Doubtless, of the inhabitants of dear old Bytown, there are some among the dead and others among the living, whose names may not be found in this little work. These broken links in the chain will be to me a source of regret. To the shades of the departed and to the ears of the living, whom I would not willingly have overlooked without

"A smile or a grasp of the hand passing on."

I shall only say, as an atonement for the unwitting lapses of an imperfect memory, in the language once used by a friend and countryman in my hearing, as he passed a very pretty girl: "Remember, my dear, that I do not pass you with my heart."





In '28, on Patrick's Day, At one p.m., there came this way From Richmond, in the dawn of spring, He who doth now the glories sing Of ancient Bytown, as 'twas then, A place of busy working men, Who handled barrows and pickaxes, Tamping irons and broadaxes, And paid no Corporation taxes; Who, without license onward carried All kinds of trade, but getting married; Stout, sinewy, and hardy chaps, Who'd take and pay back adverse raps, Nor ever think of such a thing As squaring off outside the ring, Those little disagreements, which Make wearers of the long robe rich. Such were the men, and such alone, Who quarried the vast piles of stone, Those mighty, ponderous, cut stone blocks, With which Mackay built up the Locks. The road wound round the Barrack Hill, By the old Graveyard, calm and still; It would have sounded snobbish, very, To call it then a Cemetery Crossed the Canal below the Bridge, And then struck up the rising ridge On Rideau Street, where Stewart's Store Stood in the good old days of yore; There William Stewart flourished then, A man among old Bytown's men; And there, Ben Gordon ruled the roast, Evoking many a hearty toast, And purchase from the throngs who came To buy cheap goods in friendship's name. Friend Ben, dates back a warm and true heart To days of Mackintosh and Stewart... Continue reading book >>

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