"It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.”
Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
n the 1880s, the life of a Grey County farmer changed. Now, he had a broader market for his excess livestock. And a chance at some hard-earned, much-needed cash money. Local buyers soon began arriving at the farm gate, offering to purchase cattle, sheep or pigs directly from the producer or, at best, supervise their sale in far-distant Toronto. Among the most active of the livestock buyers were John B. Thibaudeau Senior and Junior of Markdale. The Thibaudeaus bought cattle far and wide, from Glenelg to Keppel to Manitoulin lsland. They also entered the market for horses, hosting horse sales for local farmers. Buyers would come from points as distant as Toronto and Montreal, searching for horses to pull their city's milk, bread and mail wagons and delivery wagons owned and operated by big city department stores. Still, farmers were often required to deliver their livestock to the nearest railway siding or station. But no provisions were made to load livestock onto trains at such sidings as The Glen or McWilliams in Genelg. As late as the 1920s, cattle drives were a common sight around Grey County. Cattle that one wished to ship to market had to be driven on the hoof to railroad stations in such towns as Durham, Priceville, Meaford, or Markdale where they were loaded and sent to the Toronto stockyards. Driving cattle was then as now, no easy task. Using farm dogs and often riding a horse, farmers would herd them along the concession lines, watching as they headed for an open gate or an unfenced bush. And when they finally made it to town, they were easily stampeded by barking dogs or towns people trying to shoo them out of their gardens or lawns. Cattle drives still take place up on the Bruce Peninsula a quaint reminder of the past.