The History of Angus, Ontario
By Hugh Hardy
It is said that when the village was first opened for settlement the land agents offered a free lot to the first male child to be born in Angus. The reward went to the son of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Hewlett, who was appropriately named James Henry Angus Hewlett.
As already intimated in this sketch, the village owed its prosperity to the lumber trade, but the first lumberman who came into Essa was not looking for lumber as we know it, but for masts and spars for sailing vessels. In fact in early times all such suitable trees were marked with a broad arrow and reserved for His Majesty's ships of the Royal Navy. Even as late as 1827, when Peter Robinson was appointed first Surveyor General in charge of Woods and Forests in Upper Canada, he was instructed to secure suitable material for masting.
Simcoe County, and particularly the plains near Angus, were well supplied with white pine. It was only natural that thousands of pieces of this valuable timber should come from that section of the country. For it must be remembered that in the fifties the sailing vessel was still the common means of transportation on sea. In fact sailing ships, just prior to their passing out in favor of steam, had reached a size and speed which they had never enjoyed before. And many a good ship which sailed the seven seas spread its canvas on masts and spars cut from the plains near Angus.
In cutting these great care was used so that they would not be broken or injured in felling. They were then hauled to Angus. This was always done in winter, and it was not an uncommon sight during this period of the village's history to see as many as ten and twelve teams of horses drawing in one stick of timber; one team always being hitched to the hind end of the mast to steady it and swing it around corners.
In loading these it was not always customary to haul them to the station yard but to a specially prepared railway cut. Into this the flat cars were backed, the masts were then rolled on skids from the ground, forming the sides of the cut, to the flat cars. One of these loading cuts can still be discerned a few hundred yards west of the Black Crossing on Tom Duckworth's old farm where the siding for this purpose ran off from the main line in a southerly direction.