The Day Of The Oxen

     In the early days on the Peninsula very few people owned horses, as these animals were expensive and most people were too poor to afford them on starting their new life in the bush.

     Many pioneers began their farming with a team of oxen (steers). These beasts were gentle, and if well-fed and well-cared for, grew to a huge size and were very strong.

     One well known team of oxen named Dick and Darby, were owned by the Norris family, who lived just south of Stokes Bay below the big hill, at what was known as Pool’s Hollow.

     Mr. Norris with his sturdy team was a familiar sight on trips back and forth to Shute’s shore at Stokes Bay. On his way home Mr. Norris sometimes stopped at John McIver’s for a visit. He usually brought the children some candy sticks, an act which made him very popular with the little ones. He would leave his team of oxen at the gate, hitched to the jumper, which was a crude sort of sleigh without a tongue and was used both winter and summer.

     The oxen would become curious as to what was on the jumper and would turn around and nose through the contents. One day, when Mr. Norris was overly long in his visit, the oxen found and ate, a pound of teal. Mr. Norris was very angry at this as he didn’t want to make a trip back to the store, and he didn’t dare go home without tea. Mrs. Mdver came to his rescue and loaned him part of her supply. He drove off home, whacking the oxen smartly, and calling them “dem brutes”, which was the closest he ever came to swearing.

Pages 23 - 24 of Old Timers’ Tales
A History of Stokes Bay and Area
(Bruce Peninsula)
By Helene Scott