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“History of Canadice” by Beverly Deats

Photos and information courtesy of Andrea and Bob Deats.

The History of Canadice

Chapter 6 - The First Town Meeting in Ontario

by Beverly Deats


The first town meeting held in Ontario after it was set off from Montgomery, resulted from the formation of the two towns, known respectively as Canandaigua and Big Tree. Two justices were appointed, one for each town: General Israel Chapin for the former, and Moses Atwater, the latter. The meeting in and for Canandaigua was held at the house of Joseph Smith, at the foot of Main Street near the lake. It was opened and conducted the first Tuesday of April, 1791, by General Chapin, who was chosen Supervisor, and James D. Fish Town Clerk.

On the same day Moses Atwater opened a town meeting at the home of Major Thompson, in the town of Big Tree.

Proceedings following the Canandaigua election have reference to the freedom of swine, properly yoked, and a bounty of thirty shillings for every full grown wolf killed in town. The oath of office was then administered by the justice to the officers just elected, and a record of earmarks required to be kept. The notice of this meeting circulating far into the woods was received with pleasure, as offering an opportunity for acquaintance and enjoyment. Dealing with the untamed forces of nature, athletic games were the means of bringing the pioneers together, and the events of the day furnished matters for thought upon the clearing for weeks.

The initial town meeting in the village was marked by an event which gives an insight to the character of the backwoodsman.

A few days previous to the meeting, a large wolf had been trapped in what is now Farmington and secured in the bay of Nathan Alrich’s log barn to be kept for the election day. Early in the morning a party repaired to the barn. Jonathan Smith and Bruce Alrich entered the bay and secured the wolf, whose feet were tied and then the wolf, being slung upon a pole, was carried on the shoulders of the men to the village.

Voting completed and officers declared, a ring was formed and the wolf let loose and the dogs allowed to enter the ring and engage in battle.

The wolf proved victorious in each instance and was finally dispatched by a rifle ball.

So ended the first town meeting of Ontario.