The Robinson Homestead


THE ROBINSON HOMESTEAD

95 YEARS 1865 – 1960

Submitted and Preamble by Glenn Mount, Huntsville 

I do not know the author of this piece, but it is in papers from my mother, Mrs. Albert (Marjorie) Mount who lived on Conc. 5 (Reeves Rd.). It would seem it was written (c1960) by a member of the Robinson family.

Although I have no written history of our farm, I believe it ranks among the oldest settled farms of our community, having been in the Robinson family for 95 years.

In the year 1865, according to the original deed, Thomas Robinson Sr. purchased this land from the ‘Crown’ for so many ‘pounds’ – some four dollars per acre in 1960 funds.

After clearing a small piece of ground he built a log shanty. Then, banking a sum of money, he returned to Cartwright township to bring back his wife and six small children. They arrived here on Lot 5, Conc. 5, Tay Township, on the 30th day of October, 1865.

The only available bank was on his own property. He dug a hole at the root of a tree, placed his money between two chips and here buried his possessions.

When the family arrived, one of the children exclaimed; “Why, father, did you bring us to the barn first?” But in this humble home was happiness, companionship and a welcome given to strangers. Many times Mrs. Robinson has been heard saying, “Although we never were rich, yet we never were poor; we always had our home with plenty to eat and enough to wear”.

Many are the fantastic stories which our ancestors could relate, but we have been too negligent to have them compiled.

Mr. Robinson has told of being lost in the bush on several occasions, when, if it had not been for his faithful dog, he would not have found his way home. He would speak sharply and say “Go home”, then follow the dog home.

There were several small Indian groups near here. These were mostly friendly. One day when Mr. Robinson was away from home, his oxen strayed away. Mrs. Robinson followed them until she came to the Indian huts. She got them to understand her errand and they sent their children who found the oxen some three miles away. The oxen had been captured by another person, so the children said to this person: “The white squaw (sic) sent us for their big cows”.

Mr. Robinson belonged to the council which met at Penetanguishene. He used to walk to Waverley, then up the Penetang road, meet with the council then return home the following day. This was before there was a town of Midland or Victoria harbor. [Edit: The town of Midland was founded in 1871; Victoria Harbour’s town plan was registered in 1874.]

The work on the land was done by hand or with oxen. In fact the house in which we now live was built almost entirely by hand. The doors and windows framed the artistic carving on the verandah and even the first shingles were split from cedar logs. When some alterations were being made a few years ago, one board cut from the floor measured over twenty inches wide. This house, built in 1872, was long known as “The White House under the Hill”, but is now covered by Insulbrick.

Just as the method of work on the land has changed from cutting trees with an axe, sowing grain by hand and a reaping by scythe or cradle, to the use of modern machinery, so the work inside has also changed from cooking on the open fireplace, baking bread from hoop yeast (some of the hops are still growing), to having our bread delivered at the door, the use of modern electrical appliances and daily mail service.

Three generations have been born and are now living in this home: Herman Robinson, his son Thomas, now owner and operator of the farm having taken over from his father in 1957, and Thomas’ daughter Karen who is now taking the second year course at Teachers’ College in Toronto. In one (sense) was “history has almost repeated itself” in connection with this farm. The first owners were Thomas and his wife Letitia Robinson and the present owners being Thomas and Leita Robinson.

According to a family tree lately compiled by Mr. and Mrs. Herman Robinson, the Robinson family connection in Canada extends for six generations.

Although I have mentioned advancement in our homes and farm, there is one important phase of life in which I wonder if we have made any noticeable advance. That is in our spiritual living. Is our church attendance or Bible reading considered as important in our lives as it was to our ancestors? Mr. and Mrs. Robinson Sr. used to walk to Waverley (about seven miles distant) to attend church. They would take their boots off where the road was muddy, went on bare feet, then wiped their feet and put shoes on again when near the church.

Many antiques used on this farm are now in the museum in Midland; e.g. a home-made wooden barley fork, a stove with sliding front doors brought from Barrie, the first organ in this community and a round butter print. Many more might have been now cherished if we had foresight to see that events or things of the present will be the history of the future.

Author unknown, submitted by G. Mount, Huntsville.

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3 Responses to The Robinson Homestead

  1. Janet Thursby says:

    I printed off the Robinson Homestead for my father and he wanted me to send you this response :
    “Recommended from Herman Robinson via his daughter:

    I am 92 years old – The youngest son of George Herman and Alica Robinson and Grandson of Thomas Robinson Sr. (wife Letitia) the subject of your historical narration on Tay Township Heritage.
    I have the identical stories you have shared word for word in papers of mother , including a family tree and extensive generation records.
    I can recall hearing the stories over and over again as a child from my dad. He was born in Canada but whether in Tay or Cartwright Township is not known. You suspect the article was written by a member of the Robinson family. May I confirm that suspicion and claim authorship as that of my mother , as she did.
    I do remember Albert Mount. I believe he was one of the farmers who followed the machine to our place (the first Robinson farm in the area) to the threshing and corn harvesting annually held at the time.
    I do not recall the “Russell” school. There was a Russell farm on Reeves Road, on the East Side, just to the south of ours but I attended school section #18 , Twp of Tay. It was located on an East/West Line (number forgotten), the north boundary of the Robinson homestead on the corner of it and the first one to the East.
    After graduation from Midland High School and a few Air Force Years I lived in several places with my wife and family. As a result of this I lost all contact with nieces and nephews and am the only survivor of the 5 children of Herman and Alice.
    My Dad was especially proud of his Canadian heritage. He lived to a good age as well and was happy to recall the story of his parents and his two brothers (Fred & Thomas Duncan, who supplied the content of the history), travelling from Toronto in a wagon with all their possessions and settling on the original Homestead.

    As Dad got older, he repeated that story many times , as I now do with mine, and my brother Alvin and I , the two youngest and would reply “Dad, why did they go to all that trouble, if they had bought land along #7 Hwy we’d all be millionaires by now”.. Once when Al was absent I tried it,. I swear if he could have got up from his chair I would have receiving my first thrashing from a parent.

    The last owner in the Robinson line was my oldest brother (and his wife Leita) Thomas N Robinson. Present owner unknown.

    I retired in Oshawa – Jan 1983 and spent the next 22 happy years with my wife and family. I am still with family living with the youngest daughter – Janet.

    Was so glad to get your article , via Janet

    Herman A. Robinson

  2. Rob Snelling says:

    This is a fascinating article on the Robinson Homestead. I have for many years researched into the Robinson family and I am a descendant of William Robinson (in the UK) who was a brother of Thomas Robinson who went to Canada and founded the Robinson homestead. It is great to be able to read these notes and correlate them with all the information I have collected so far.

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