Commentary


Image: The Breeder’s Gazette, 1892

Thistle Ha’ first entered livestock in the Ontario late-summer agricultural fair in 1838. In 1879 this show was permanently located in Toronto and renamed the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). Thistle Ha’ did not enter the show every year – family members were busy buying livestock overseas, or exhibitions were cancelled in wartime. However, Thistle Ha’ livestock appeared at these provincial shows for a span of over 110 years until the CNE turned away from its agricultural roots to focus on attracting the urban crowd in the 1950s.

Image from Miller Family Fonds microfilm collection, copyright 1972, Archives of Ontario. Used with permission.

SchoolDays

The above image is from an 1835 Scottish school exercise book belonging to John Miller. This was his final year in school, which he completed at age 17.

John Miller was educated in the best school system in the world at that time. About 1700, Scotland organized the first national education system since ancient times, which resulted in the highest literacy rate in the English-speaking world, and was a factor in the extraordinary contributions made by Scottish intellectuals to the world in the 18th century (the Scottish Enlightenment).

The exercise book shows that he studied subjects including history, literature, mathematics, religion, and classics (Latin). It is said that mathematics was his best subject, and when he emigrated to Canada, he planned to be a surveyor.

The quality of penmanship is the same throughout the entire exercise book. In that era, unless you owned a printing press, all documents were handwritten. Clearly poor handwriting, particularly for commercial documents, was intolerable.

Newspaper source: March 1 and 4, 1972 editions of The Globe and Mail.
Image copyright 2006, Peter Shatalow. Used with permission.

LAST STANDOn March 2, 1972, the federal and Ontario governments jointly announced a plan to build an airport and adjoining city in North Pickering. Part of Thistle Ha’ farm was inside the planned airport boundary.

The announcement was a badly kept secret. The Globe and Mail published the details of the scheme the day prior to the announcement, and sent reporter John Scott along the 7th Concession to gauge public reaction. On March 1, he reported that “Very few people in the area are overly enthused about the idea.” “‘The whole idea of an airport destroys the vibrations of the way I live,’ said William Lishman, [who] says he plans to form an action committee among the residents who are opposed to the development to fight the proposal.”

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