Sunday, February 19, 2012

Blind John Scott & Preacher David Moore

Cairns Photo Collection
John Baker Scott and David Moore
They were constant companions for over 30 years, but they never saw each other.   One would lead the way, tapping with his cane, while the other followed, holding onto his friend's coattail.   John Scott was born in England on October 19, 1840, in Devon.   He was the firstborn of William Scott and Elizabeth Baker.   He sailed to Canada, with his parents, in 1842 when he was 18 months old.   During the crossing of the Atlantic, the wee lad fell victim to "Immigrant Fever", or poliomyelitis.   One of his legs became weak and permanently withered, which meant he walked with a limp for the rest of his life.   His family first settled at Fisherville, near Thornhill, then moved to Springhill (King City), and then settled on a farm at Bales Lake, just north of Springhill.   Bales Lake would become Lake Marie, decades later, and become the site for the country estate of Sir Henry Pellatt, of Casa Loma fame.   John Scott lost the sight in one eye, at age ten, while whittling a broomstick for his mother.   A year later, he fell off a raft into Bales Lake and quickly developed an infection in his good eye.   Dirty water from the lake was blamed for the infection and poor medical care by a local retired army surgeon was blamed for the loss of sight in John Scott's second eye.   The Scotts moved back to Vaughan Township and lived for 20 years at Purpleville, near Kleinburg.   Three years into their stay at Purpleville, around 1856, an itinerant Presbyterian preacher, in his early 20s, named David Moore, showed up at the Scott Farm.   David Moore was blind.   He had heard of the sightless, teen-aged John Scott, and had walked from Toronto to offer the benefit of his experiences, as a blind child and young man.   David Moore had contracted Smallpox at age two and was left blind.   He had attended a school for the blind before becoming a preacher.   The Scotts and David Moore became instant friends and the young preacher was invited to live with the Scotts on a permanent basis.   The two young blind men became inseparable companions.   They were instantly recognized and welcomed wherever they travelled in Vaughan or King Township over the years.   After 20 years at Purpleville, and another five years on a farm at Honey Pot, near Richmond Hill, The Scotts and David Moore moved to Wheatley, in south-western Ontario, in 1883.   The move to Wheatley was a grand success for the farming family but the death of John Scott's father, William, after just five years, convinced David Moore is was time for him to return to the United Kingdom.   His plans failed and he stayed in Canada.   Sadly, he never re-united with John Scott or his family and how long he lived or where he ended his days was never known.   Blind John Scott lived out his days at Wheatley and and he died on February 26, 1923.     John Baker Scott was the great-great uncle of my wife Linda, on her mother's side.
Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace 

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