"It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.”
Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
For over a half-century, a stage was driven from North Keppel to Owen Sound and back each and every day. From its beginnings just after the turn of the century, the stage served the needs of those living north of Owen Sound in the wilds of stony Keppel. At a time when township roads were either a disgrace or simply bad, stage drivers would leave North Keppel at 6:45 a.m. They made stops along the way at Kemble, Presqu'lle, Hogg Post Office, East Linton, Bay View and Brookholm before pulling up in front of the Comely House in Owen Sound (the stable of which became the studio l'm working in). To return home, it was necessary to board the stage at the Comely House no later than two in the afternoon. The total fare from the Scenic City to North Keppel was fifty cents with parcels costing five cents each to transport. ln the summer, a three-seat democrat and a team of horses was used but come winter, it was time for a covered sleigh. The sleigh, built at Kemble by Charles Husband and George Vanstone, was covered over with a heavy yellow canvas. Looking very much like a prairie schooner, it was a top-heavy contraption that often was pushed over on its side by heavy winds. Buffalo robes were available to protect passengers from the intense cold. Over the years, there were many stage and mail drivers. Archie Carnahan drove the stage from 1903 to 1905 while other drivers included Earl Jones, Allan McPhatter, George Catchpole, Joe Carnahan, and Jim Beattie. Ray West was the last person to operate a stage between North Keppel and Owen Sound. By 1947, Ray West would drive the stage carrying mail and passengers as far as Kemble. Leaving his democrat and team behind, he would then use a car for the rest of the trip to Owen Sound.