And now, kind reader, westward ho!
Across the Sappers’ Bridge we go;
When first in youth I cross’d it o’er,
The arch was wood, “and nothing more”—
As Edgar A. Poe doth remark
About that raven big and dark—
The wooden span, I mean, stretched o’er
The channel’s width from shore to shore,
On which skilled artificers laid
The arch of stone, so truly made,
And strong, that it to-day appears,
After the crush of forty years
And more, impervious to decay,
As if ’twere built but yesterday.
I stand upon the western side,
And see in all its verdant pride
The hill crowned with its ancient trees,
Who’s foliage rustled in the breeze
For centuries, all branching wide,
Standing untouched on every side;
A spot where the Algonquin magi,
May have reclined “sub tegmine fagi;”
For when across the Sapper’s Bridge,
The prospect was a fine beech ridge,
And “Gibson’s corner,” in old time,
For squirrel hunting was most prime,
“Prime” is a somewhat slangy phrase
For these high philologic days,
And in connexion, be it stated,
With a spot to science dedicated.
J.H.P. Gibson’s astral lecture
Will place this fact beyond conjecture.
Bound that old spot now thronged by all,
Has many a chipmonk met his fall
By dart from youthful sportsman’s bow,
Which laid the striped beech-nutter low.
No central Ottawa was then,
As now, resort of busy men—
The first stone of our centre town
By Mason’s hand was not laid down;
A forest path across the hill
To Bank Street led—the place was still;
No noisy vehicle passed there,
The dwellers of the wood to scare.
The road for carriages led round
Old Bytown’s ancient burial ground,
Upon the hill’s south eastern base,
Of which there is not now a trace;
And spreading off in endless green
To the canal the bush was seen—
The ancient forest—then the deer
To Bank Street Church’s site was near,
And ruffed-grouse, wrongly named partridges,
Whirled and drum’d between the ridges,
Black ducks and Teal did oft alight
In ponds round Corkstown from their flight,
And when the swamp down Slater Street
Was cleared, a dozen snipes would greet
At every step the sportman’s eye,
O! glorious spot of days gone by.
To listen, ah! ’twas splendid fun!
To Commissary Oriel’s gun,
As with a quick well practiced eye
He made the quivering feathers fly!
There was not then one cabin sill
Laid down on famed Ashburnham Hill,
Who’s heights with pine and hemlock crowned,
Towered o’er the wooded landscape round.
Then Bradish Billings farmed away
Where his descendants live to-day,
A man of enterprising fame,
Who from the land of pumpkin’s came,