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An Earl in the Kawarthas

December 9, 2022

Stephen Moore, the Earl of Mount Cashell

Not long after the Kawarthas were surveyed, many land speculators rushed in to snap up lots, practically all were hoping to resell them at a profit. Stephen Moore, the Earl of Mount Cashell, however, had a different plan when he purchased a large (uncleared) estate on Cameron Lake. He hoped to bring the social structure of Great Britain to Upper Canada.

Purchasing a total of 21,107 acres, the Cameron Lake property was only a small part of his landholdings, which also included Amherst Island, near Kingston. In Great Britain, it was common for tenants to work farms, often with several layers of sub-letting at a profit, between the people working the land and the ultimate land-holder. Many gentry supported their privileged lives on the backs of tenant labour. Many migrants left Britain specifically to gain the freedom that came with life in the Americas.

Once they had crossed the Atlantic, few wanted to be tenants, even less for someone who expected to perpetuate the (despised) British class system in the Americas. Mount Cashell was never able to find enough tenants to make his landed estates profitable in Upper Canada, which ultimately cost him his Irish estates.

Nevertheless, being an Earl had its advantages. One day, he showed up at a courthouse, brushed aside the constables, and sat down beside the judge. When the judge ordered Mount Cashell removed, the constables were obliged to reply that, as an Earl he had the right to occupy the bench. Mount Cashell, of course, was terribly amused by the uproar he had caused.

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