Greener Pastures
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The fertile Scarborough land was very quickly taken up by industrious settlers, many from lowland Scotland.  By 1835, very little workable land was still available. By mid-century, it was clear that the next generation would need to find other pastures in which to earn a living from the soil. Members of the Hamilton, Tudhope, Lawrie, Rae, Thomson and other families moved from Scarborough to Bosanquet in Lambton County in southwest Ontario beginning in about 1850. About twenty years later Scarborough's population peaked -- migration to Manitoba began in earnest.

By 1890, a definite degree of farm saturation coupled with a certain spirit of adventure and a "looking for greener pastures" attitude resulted in yet another emigration from Scarborough, this time to Temiskaming district in northern Ontario. One of the men who helped open up this district to settlement was Alexander Herkes Telfer. As a member of Alexander Niven's 1886 survey crew, Telfer did his part in laying out seven townships near Lake Temiskaming. Telfer had arrived earlier in Scarborough with this Scottish parents.

Perhaps just as significant, one of the more influential southern Ontario men to actively promote this clay belt near the Quebec border was "Big Jim Chester", a Scarborough dairy farmer and county politician...


Great County to Open Up
"Big Jim" Chester Tells the World
About His Trip in the
Temiscaming District

His Brother is 370 Miles North
What the People Want is a Railway to this
Garden of Eden Country

"Big Jim" Chester, county councillor of York, and one of the finest specimens of physical manhood seen in Toronto during the past decade, dropped in to the World Saturday afternoon and in the course of a conversation with a reporter told of his recent trip to the Temiscaming district.

"Big Jim" has a brother out in that fertile district, just 375 miles due north from Toronto. His brother four years ago went from Port Union to the north with his four sons. They now control 960 acres of as fine land as can be found anywhere in Canada. As settlers, the land cost them but 50 cents an acre and today the timber alone is worth $10,000. For the past two weeks, Big Jim has been visiting his brother at Thornwall, the one village in all the mighty stretch of country known as Temiscaming.

In describing what he had seen, Big Jim said "There are miles and miles of the finest land in the world out there. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of A1 land, which so soon as it is cleared will produce all the food stuffs needed by Ontario".

"But what is the crying need of the district?" was asked.

"Oh, what is needed and what is being agitated for" replied Mr. Chester" is a railway from North Bay into that district. Why, do you know, in order to get into the district today, one has to go in a circuitous way 250 miles in order to reach a point 100 miles away as the crow flies.

"A railway from Toronto thru North Bay into the Temiscaming district would open up the country to thousands of willing settlers. Then the supplies of the lumber camps could be bought in Toronto and the sawn lumber shipped to Toronto as a centre. Further, the natural market for the district's products, which as the days go by are becoming more and more purely agricultural, would be Toronto. Toronto's trade, both export and import, would be stimulated and one of the finest agricultural regions in the world developed by such a railway."

As Mr. Chester enlarged on the necessity for a railway and the benefits that would follow in its train, he grew enthusiastic and took on a look of a veritable prophet.

Mr. Chester thought that the Ontario Government was not doing quite enough for the settlers. The colonization roads should be posted sooner. There were men he had met who lived ten and fifteen miles away from these roads who had been waiting for years for better communication. Apparently they were destined to wait still years longer.

"Well is it a good country for a young man?"

"I should say so" replied Mr. Chester "If I were twenty years younger I would rent my farm and go out into that country as a settler. I strongly advise young men to go there and take up land. In a few years they would grow independently rich."

In conclusion it might be said that a more earnest and convincing missionary never carried the story of Temiscaming possibilities to the ears of Ontario people than "Big Jim" Chester.

The Scarboro Heights Record V12 #5