Rolling through the Townships

By Taylor McClure, Special to The Record

Canada is known for its harsh winters and vast amounts of snow. Luckily, we have snowplows to clear the roads, allowing us to not be so isolated and to go about our everyday routine. While this is the case now, winters weren’t always so easy. Over a century ago, this type of industrial vehicle most certainly did not exist. Those who lived in rural areas, like the Eastern Townships, still needed to get around during the winter months and farmers needed to get back to work but the heavy amounts of snow made this quite difficult. So how did these early settlers get around? Horse drawn rollers. Looking through The Record archives, there are various mentions of what have been referred to as horse drawn rollers. During the winters in the Townships, it was common for a horse drawn wooden snow roller to be used to pack and flatten the snow on the roads instead of moving it. These horse drawn rollers are what made winter roads possible and what allowed sleighs, the main mode of transportation during the winter, to easily travel across the Townships landscape. It seems that it was the farmers who took on the task of driving these snow rollers and they were sent out after every heavy snowfall. According to an edition of the paper published on May 15th, 1981, farmers used to take care of the country roads instead of paying their taxes. In some cases, it seems that farmers were also paid a specific rate by whatever municipality that they were working for. See full story in the Thursday, Feb. 6 edition of The Record.

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