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Pioneer Life in Zorra - 1899

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Pioneer Life in Zorra - 1899. The author, Rev. William Alexander MacKay (1845-1905), himself the son of a Zorra pioneer family and a Presbyterian minister, set out to capture not just the factual history

behind the establishment of this enclave of expatriate Scots in Canada West*, but to create a record of the more ethereal and hard to record essence of the life and times of these pioneers as they fought to build a new life for themselves. They were mainly dispossessed farmers, the results of the "Highland Clearances" of the early 1800's. These ex-Sutherlandshire natives came to Canada in a desperate attempt to regain the ability to "win" enough food to keep and raise their families without the specter of starvation forever looking over their shoulders.Carving farms - and a new life - out of the virgin forest was not without its hardships, of course, but being part of a community with a common heritage meant that they could maintain much of the social life and customs they were used to. For many this included the continued use of their Gaelic language and this helped to cushion the cultural shock resulting from the new physical and environmental forces that they had to adapt to. As a Presbyterian minister the author devotes a fair amount of his book to the subject of religion but usually as it applied to the pioneer life of his congregation. He identifies members of the early community as they become relevant to his story of the township's development (although sometimes he only identifies them by an initial.) The book contained 20 old photographs - mainly portraits of pioneer, some collages of individuals in an age class - but the photograph of the Tug of War team is missing from this copy. We will be looking for a copy of this picture and will make it available through our web site when we have found it. The other 19 plates are in fine condition however and provide some very early photographic records.This book is of obvious interest to those whose origins lie in this area of Oxford County but we would also recommend it to anyone who wanted to experience the life of a Scottish pioneer faced with the opportunities and trials of making a new life in the untamed backwoods of Ontario.We tend to select the books we make into digital editions for the information they contain so we rather consider it a bonus when the book is also "readable." We know this book IS readable because the scanner operator kept on stopping to read it out loud to us!The author did not provide an index for the original so our computer search-ability, enhanced with our FastFind search acceleration, is a significant improvement on the original and will be invaluable to those using the book for research rather than for general reading.* This was part of the area known as both Canada West and Upper Canada before the name Ontario was finally settled on.The Archive CD Books Project exists to make reproductions of old books, documents and maps available on CD to genealogists and historians, and to cooperate with local libraries, museums and record offices in providing money to renovate old books in their collection, and to donate books to their collections, where they will be preserved for future generations.

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