Glossary: Terms found in Nineteenth & Twentieth-Century Farm Diaries

Students in HIST*3480, “Workplace Learning: Rural Diary Archive” are currently creating this glossary of terms which they feel might be unfamiliar to readers and transcribers.  The glossary will continue to grow thanks to their support.


Numbers & Symbols

500: n. A card game derived from Euchre, played in pairs. Whereas Euchre allows for only four players, 500 can have up to six players. 

&c: n. Symbol used to replace spelling etcetera, or etc.



Ab: abrv. Abbreviation of the name Albert.

Adze: n. A tool similar to an ax, but its cutting edge is perpendicular to the handle rather than parallel to the handle. Used for cutting or shaping pieces of wood. 

Aft.: Shorthand for “afternoon.”

Almanac: n. An annual calendar containing information on many subjects, including weather predictions, crop planting schedules, animal care, anecdotes, and recipes. Example, the Old Farmer’s Almanac.  

Alsike: n. (pron. al-sahyk) A type of European clover with pink flowers, grown for forage in areas of poorly drained soil.

Alum: n. A chemical substance of potassium sulphate and aluminium, used in dyeing, tanning, and medicine. 

Annual: n. A plant that completes its life cycle within a single growing season, and then dies. 

Annum: adverb. Shorthand for Per Annum, meaning yearly or annually; often used to discuss interest rates.

AP: n. Abbreviation for “As purchased”. A farming descriptor, describing the portion of food in its raw state, prior to any cutting, processing, or cooking.

Apoplexy: n. Condition attributed to someone who has been very sick, unconsciousness or incapable, resulting from a brain hemorrhage or stroke.

Apple Butter: n. Highly concentrated form of apple sauce, concentration of sugar gives apple butter a much longer shelf life as a preserve than apple sauce.

Arch: abrv. Abbreviation of the name Archibald.

Arrear: n. An obligation of completing work because of unpaid dues. 

Arsonate: Arsenic-based herbicide. Arsenic is a natural metalloid element which can be used in some agricultural and industrial practices.

Asheryn. A location that produces wood ash, and which is predominantly used as soil fertilizer.

Asters: n. Purple flowers with an appearance similar to daisies.

Atomizer: n. A device that emits liquid such as water, perfume, or medication, as a fine spray. 

Attestation Papers: n. A form filled and signed at the time of enlistment by Canadian Expeditionary Force recruits during the First World War, which states the recruit's name and address, next-of-kin, date and place of birth, occupation, previous military experience and distinguishing physical characteristics.

Axletree: n. A bar, fixed crosswise under an animal drawn vehicle, with a rounded spindle at each end upon which a wheel rotates.



Babbitt Metal: n. A soft metal alloy composed of tin, antimony, and copper. Commonly used to create bearings. 

Bail: n. A stall used for restraining cows or horses.

Bandish: v. To tie something. 

Banquet: n. An often large and elaborate formal meal where many people can attend, eat and socialize.

Barley: n. A tall cereal grass with long, straight bristles extending from the stem. The plant’s grain is used to make stock feed and brew beer and whiskey.

Barnardo'sn. Philanthropic organization based in the UK. Involved in 19th and early 20th-century program where impoverished British children were sent to live with Canadian familes.

Barn Loft: n. A space in the upper most part of a barn, stable, or cow-shed traditionally used for storage of hay or other fodder for the animals below.

Barn Raising: n. A collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community.

Barnum Circus: n. A popular circus created by P.T. Barnum in the mid-1800s that continued beyond his death.

Barrow: n. A castrated male pig.

Bartering: n. The exchange of goods or services for other goods or services. There is no money used during the exchange.

Basswoodn. Large deciduous trees with a soft color, usually used to make crates and in carving.

Batiste: n. Fine cloth from cotton or linen, often used as a lining or handkerchiefs.

Bbl: Abrv. For unit of measure, meaning a barrel. One barrel equals 42 US gallons or approximately 159 litres.

B. Church: n. Short form for Baptist Church.

Beauty of Hebronn. A type of potato that is oval in shape with rose, or pink, coloured skin and white flesh.

Bedsteadn. A bed frame.

Bed-tick: n. A linen or cotton bag filled with feathers – or straw, or wool, or cotton – and sewn shut that acted as a mattress. The fabric, called a ticking was closely woven to prevent the stuffing from poking out, and was often waxed or rubbed with soap to help keep it closed. 

Bee: n. Community gathering surrounding labour or leisure with the expectation of mutual benefits. Essentially a form of reciprocal labour exchange within a neighbourhood which helps to create social ties.

Beefer: n. A cow used for beef and not milk.

Beef Ring: n. A method of supply used by a group of middle-high class agrarian farmers. This group would consist of approximately 6-25 farms, in which each farmer was expected to supply at least one cow to be slaughtered throughout the summer months. Beef ring prices were sold at market price, which was a cheaper option than local butcher shops.

Bellpull: n. A handle or knob attached to a cord which one pulls to ring a bell. 

Berkshire: n. A rare breed of pig originating from the County of Berkshire in the south of England.  Almost entirely black, short legged;  a relatively large breed maturing at approx. 600 lbs, though can weigh up to 1000 lbs.

Bgt: v. Abbreviation of the word “bought” (past tense). Refers to something purchased in exchange for currency.  

Bible Society: n. A Bible society is a non-profit organization — usually representing a number of Churches — devoted to translating, publishing, distributing the Bible at affordable costs and advocating its credibility and trustworthiness in contemporary cultural life.

Biennial: n. A plant that lasts two seasons. It grows only its roots, stems, and leaves during the first season before going dormant during the colder months. During the second season, the plant produces flowers and seeds, and then dies.

Bilious: adj. Suffering from an internal disorder in which bile, produced in the liver, is secreted. 

Bind: v. Labour intensive agricultural activity in which grain, commonly oat, is cut and tied. This can be done by hand or with a machine.

Binder: n.  A farm implement used to cut a small-grain crop and then 'binds' the stems into bundles or sheaves.

Bitters: n. A liquid or tonic which has had bitter herbs steeped in it. 

Blackguard: n. Slang for scoundrel or miscreant; A dishonourable or untrustworthy individual.

Blackleading: v. Polishing metal (or cast iron) with graphite.

Blight: n. A plant disease, typically caused by fungi including mildews, rusts, and smuts. Also used to describe a thing that spoils or damages something.

Blue weed: n. A plant/weed that was introduced to North America from Europe. Also known as viper’s bugloss.

Blustery (alt. spelling - Blustry): adj. Describes type of weather or period of time characterized by strong winds.

Board: n. A small slate board with a wooden edge that was used as a writing tool for schoolchildren. 

Bolts: n. Pieces of a log which have been cut to lengths generally less than 8 feet.  They were further split and used for shingles, clapboards, pegs and sometimes firewood (fuel).

Bone Dust: n. Ground or pulverized bone used as fertilizer.

Booby Prize: n. A prize given in jest to the last-place person of a game or competition. 

Boom: n. A barrier placed in a waterway to obstruct the flow of water. Example: it can be used to obstruct and divert a freshet. (See: freshet). 

Borax: n. A naturally occurring mineral found in some alkaline salt deposits. Commonly employed as a cleaning agent but also used in several other applications (such as a personal hygiene products or glass additives).

Box: n.  A measurement for holding a bushel of grain with a size of 15 inches long, 10 inches deep and 14 1/3 inches wide.

Box Social: n. Term referring to a social gathering originating from the habit of women bringing boxes of food and having men bid on each food box. Popular in the early 1900s as a way to raise funds and have fun.

Brae (Braee): n. Fields: A steep bank or hillside.

Bran bolt: n. A device used to sift bran flour.

Brot.: Abrv. for “brought”.

Bruitv. - To spread a rumour. noun - a report or rumour.

Bu.: Abrv. Short for bushel.

Buggyn. A smaller horse-drawn carriage for one to two people.

Buggy Shaft: n. A buggy, also called a road wagon, was a two or four wheeled carriage, usually pulled by one horse. The shaft, sometimes referred to as "fills" or "staves" attached the horse to the vehicle. 

Bull Ring: n.  A ring made of metal designed to be installed through the nasal septum of domestic cattle, usually bulls, and used for controlling and directing cattle for handling.

Bur: n. A rough, prickly husk around some seeds and plants; the husk is easily stuck in fur and clothing. 

Burnish: v. The act of polishing metal or other materials.

Bush: n. A part of the woods or uncultivated land.

Bushel: n. A unit of measurement for the volume of dry agricultural goods such as wheat, equalling 8 gallons or roughly 36.3 litres.

Butter Prints: n. A wood press used to press butter into pucks or small bricks, sometimes with a carved decoration to identify the farm that produced the butter and used by farm families to sell at markets for income.

Butter Worker: n. A wooden, non-mechanical piece of dairy equipment.  It has a tilted board to drain the milk liquid and a long handle which is moved from side to side over the butter to work and shape the butter into form.

Byre: n. a cowshed or small barn meant only for cows



Cablegram: n. Also known as a “cable”. A message that is transmitted through underwater cable. It is meant for sending messages abroad and dates back to 1865-70.

Calico: n. A cotton cloth or fabric, often with printed patterns, that is heavier than muslin. 

Calve: v. When a cow gives birth to a calf. Example: “the cow calved this morning” (Jane Laing Rennie diary, 1872-1874) 

Camas: n. Plant from asparagus family.

Camp Meeting: n. A form of Protestant Christian religious service as an evangelical event during communion season.

Cannula: n. A tube that is inserted into the body to drain or inject fluid. 

Caperine: n. Type of ladies cape that comes in many shapes and sizes.  It was often very short and similar to a mantelet or a shawl.  It often had a high collar and fancy trim and was a fashionable accessory that added warmth around their shoulders.

Caponizing Instruments: n. Surgical tools used to neuter chickens

Carbolic: n. Toxic chemical made entirely of, or containing, phenol.

Carbuncle: n. An abscess larger than a boil, which usually drains pus and is usually caused by a staph infection. 

Carding: v. A process of disentangling fibres such as wool before weaving.

Card Party: n. Party where guests are invited to play cards (e.g. Euchre, 500).

Cars: n. Refers to train cars. Ex. “Took the Cars to Toronto.”

Catsup: n. A pureed condiment made from tomatoes. Used synonymously with its other, now more popular name, ketchup, in the 19th century.

Chaff: n. The dry casing of a seed or other harvested good, similar to a husk. Commonly used to feed livestock, or to be mixed with manure for ploughing.

Chas: Abrv. for Charles.

China Painting: v. The act of painting glazed porcelain objects such as vases, bowls, and plates; a common hobby for middle class women in the nineteenth century.

Chink: n./adj. Small slit, fissure, or weak spot. Also describes weak or defective wood.

Chintz: n. A printed, multicoloured calico fabric with a glazed finish that originated in India in the sixteenth century;, commonly used for upholstery or curtains.

Chloroform: n. A colourless, volatile, sweet-smelling liquid used as a solvent and formerly as a general anesthetic, originating in the mid-nineteenth century.

Chop: n.  Grain that has been crushed or ground and used as animal feed.

Choring: v. Present participle of “chore”. Doing the chores.

Chromo: n. Short form for chromolithograph; a type of decorative painting commonly found in middle class homes dating back to the 1840s in North America.

Churn: n. A container where butter is made through the stirring of milk or cream.

Churned: v. Past tense. The process of stirring or shaking whole milk or cream to produce butter. 

Circular Saw: n. A power saw using a toothed or abrasive disc to cut different materials (invented at the end of the 18th century).

Cistern: n.  A waterproof receptacle or tank for holding liquids, usually rainwater for household use but not for drinking.  They typically would hold 50 gallons (rain barrel size) to thousands of gallons.

Clearing: n. A tract of land, as in a forest, that contains no trees or bushes. 

Clevis: n. A u-shaped connector.

Clodsn. Clumps of soil or dirt.

Close (weather): adj. An adjective often used in the past to describe oppressive, humid weather that made it difficult to breathe.

Clothes press: n. A wardrobe or closet.

Coburg: n. A thin, single-twilled, fine or smooth woolen fabric made with cotton or silk.

Cock: n. A small pile of hay.

Coiling: vrb. The process of putting hay into coils or cocks; small conical heaps of partially dried hay that are put together in such a way so as to continue the drying process but prevent severe deterioration by rainfall.

Colorado Bug: n. Another name for the Colorado potato beetle.

Colt: n. Young, uncastrated male horse typically under four years of age.

Confinement: n. A period of rest before and after childbirth. Other names include postpartum confinement or lying-in. 

Conflab: n. A discussion. 

Cordn. Standard unit of measurement for firewood that when stacked measures 4 feet/1.21 metres high, 4 feet/1.21 metres wide and 8 feet/2.44 metres long (128 cubic feet/3.62 cubic metres) 

Cordwood: n. Wood that has been cut into uniform lengths, used especially as firewood.

Corn Fodder: n. Maize plants that is typically used for feeding stock; specifically for feeding cattle.

Cotswolds: n. A type of sheep.

Cottonaden. A coarse fabric made of different materials resembling wool; used as work clothes. 

Coulter: n. A blade vertically mounted to a plow that cut vertically into the soil ahead of the ploughshare.

Coupling Pole: n. Also known as “reach”. A wooden plank that connects the front and back axes of a wooden wagon or trailer. Often had pins to extend or shorten the bed of the wagon or trailer.

Covenant: n. A binding agreement between members of a church to not do something specified. Weekly meetings held for mutual accountability and support for discipleship. 

Crab Apple: n. Small, sour wild apple that is a member of the Malus genus. The fruit is smaller than a traditional apple and is less than two inches in diameter. Commonly used in jams and jellies. 

Cradlern. An agricultural worker who uses a cradle (a kind of broad scythe).

Crankshaft: n. A shaft that runs along a car’s engine and converts the vertical movement of the pistons into horizontal rotational movement.

Cream Separator: n. Machine that separates cream from skim milk using centrifugal force. 

Crockery Store: n. A store that sells plates, dishes, cups and other items.

Crokinole: n. A board game popular in Canada where players take turns shooting discs across the circular playing surface, with their goal of having their discs land in the higher-scoring regions of the board, while also attempting to knock away opposing discs. Best described as table-top curling.

Cross Plow: v.  A second plowing, with the second plowing direction being different (usually at right angles) from that of the first plowing.

Croup: n. A respiratory infection in the upper airway, obstructs breathing and causes a “barking” cough.

Cts: Abrv. Short for "cents." Refers to monetary value.

Culls: n. Any inferior product, i.e. inferior potatoes, damaged by disease, (both in field and storage), bruising, adverse environmental conditions, unacceptable size and lack of markets. They are separated from the good potatoes and thrown into “cull piles”.

Cultivate: v. To prepare and use land for raising crops or gardening, typically by removing weeds and loosening the soil to optimise the retention and penetration of air, water, and nutrients.

Cultivation: adj. A practice in agriculture. The act of loosening and breaking up of the soil. Also known as tilling. Performed around existing plants by hand using a hoe, or by machine using a cultivator, to destroy weeds and promote growth by increasing the amount of air and water able to come into contact with the soil. 

Cultivator: n. Farm implement or machine designed to stir the soil around a crop to promote growth and destroy weeds.

Culvert: n. A channel that allows water to pass under a road or railway for the purpose of drainage.  

Cupped: v. Past tense. A process involving warming the edge of a round cup and placing it on an area of the body to increase blood flow through suction. 

Currant: n. Small berry that grows on shrubs, the shrubs being similar to a gooseberry. They have a sweet and acidic berry flavour; delicious fresh, added to baked goods, or in preserves or jams. There are red, black, and white currants.

Curry Comb: n. A tool made of rubber or metal with short "teeth" on one side that is used in a circular motion or multiple short, swift strokes to help loosen dirt, hair, and other detritus on the skin of cattle  and horses.

Cutter: n. Lightweight, horse-drawn sleigh; usually only holds two people.

cwt: abrv. Hundredweight. Equal to 100 pounds.



Daily Globe: n. Former name of the famous Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mail. The paper began in 1844 as the Globe then between 1861 to 1911 it switched its name to the Daily Globe. In 1911 it officially became the Globe and Mail.

Darning:  n. To mend a hole in a knitted item using yarn.

Declension: n. A way to categorize nouns, pronouns, and adjectives according to their inflections. 

Del: Abrv. Abbreviation for the word delivered.

Delco: n. An acronym for Dayton Engineering Laboratories Company, a manufacturer of automobile electronic parts. It can also refer to the distributor in the engine of an automobile.

Dell: n. A valley, especially one that is small and deep. 

Democrat: n. A horse-drawn buggy or carriage, that has a rear seat.

Derrick: n., an apparatus at the end of a beam which is used for hoisting and lowering materials (an early construction crane).

Discingv. The breaking down of large lumps and clods of soil with a disc harrow or other implement, which cuts and loosens the soil for planting. This technique is used to chop a crop residual and increase decay of plants, making the soil more manageable and easier to cultivate. Commonly used for soybeans and cornstalks.  

Discoursed: v. to utter or give forth musical sounds, used with objects, such as an organ.

Dipper: n. A ladle or scoop.

Diphtheria: n. A serious bacterial infection caused by Corynebacterium diphteriae. It is a contagious infection that affects the mucous membranes of the throat and nose.

Dipping: vrb. Refers to the immersion of animals (esp. sheep) in water containing insecticides and fungicide; shepherds and farmers used to protect their sheep from parasitic infestations.

Docking: v. The intentional removal of an animal’s tail. Common animals that have their tails docked for animal welfare purposes are sheep, pigs, and dairy cattle.

Doleful: a. Expressing sorrow; causing grief or affliction.

Dooryardn. An open area in the center of the farmstead surrounded by farm buildings and shade trees.  It should not be confused with the barnyard where livestock exercised and were watered.  In the dooryard, the family and neighbours might tie their team of horses, lay out long tables for the feast following a barn raising, get drinks from a well, repair machinery, or build a dog house. The farmer’s bedroom often looked out over the dooryard and the back kitchen door opened onto the dooryard.

Doublingintv. To practice two-crop farming; grow two crops at once on the same land repeatedly.

Drachm: n. A small unit of weight; 1/16 of an ounce. 

Dredging: v. Removing material from water beds, typically with the use of specialized machines.

Drill: n. An agriculture tool typically used for making a hole so that you can plant seeds and sow them.

Driver: n. A type of horse used for harnessing to carriages, buggies, or saddling. Lighter weight and less muscled than the draft horses typically used in farm work.

Drive Shed: n. A term often localized in Ontario which refers to a small building or enclosure used to house critical farm machinery, or the horses of visitors, sheltering them from the elements. Drive sheds were often separate from the barn itself, though sometimes they could  be integrated into the barn structure.

Drouthy: adj.  A Scottish word for thirsty or dry.

Drover: n. An experienced stockman who moves livestock, typically over long distances.

Drying Day: n. A fine day, appropriate for hanging clothes out to dry; a phrase typically used by Irish or Scottish settlers.

Ducking: n. An instance of being soaked with water, especially unsuspectingly. Example: “Had to stop on account of the rain. Got a ducking.” (Courtland Olds Diary, 1895)

Dumb stove: n. A stove that does not contain an opening in the room in which it is used, but instead is connected by a pipe to a functioning stove in the room below.  

Dung: n. Primarily animal manure or faeces but sometimes mixed with dirt. (see Manure)

Dunning Letter: n. A written demand for payment, sent to a debtor when they do not pay on time. 

Dysentery: n. Historically known as “the bloody flux,” an infection of the intestines that causes bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms include fever, incomplete defecation, dehydration, and abdominal pain.

Dyspepsia: n. A widely-used term for indigestion that was common during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. It refers to pain or discomfort in the abdomen, usually after eating or drinking. 



Early Rose: n. Variety of potato known for its edible pink skin and red-streaked flesh.

Ect: abrv. Alternate version for "etc.," itself an abbreviation for the Latin phrase et cetera, meaning “and the rest.”

Electric Car: n. Refers to trams or street cars which ran on electric motors. These began replacing horse-drawn carriages in the 1890s.

Electric Storm: n. Synonym for thunderstorm.

Elevator: n. Or ‘Grain Elevator’; equipment used to convey grain to the top of storage bins in a building used to store grain.

Emery: n. An abrasive paper used to clean up surfaces.

Endless Chain: n. A type of pattern for quilts consisting of interlocking rings, which was popular during the 19th century.

Ensilage: n. An alternate term for silage, which is a particular type of animal feed comprised of the greens of various plant materials. The decaying plant material is often compressed to removeoxygen, and stored in a silo for later use.

EP: abrv. of “Edible portion.” The portion of food served following any cutting, processing, or cooking.

Eph.: Abrv. for the name Ephraim.

Espy- v. To see something from a distance suddenly or unexpectedly.

Euchren. A trick-taking card game commonly played with four people, working in pairs, and a deck of 24 or 52 standard cards.

Evg: Abrv. for evening.

Ewe: n. A female sheep.



Fagot: n. A bundle of sticks, twigs, or branches bound together and used as fuel, a fascine, a torch.

Fallow: n. Plowed and harrowed farmland left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production.

Fanning Mill: n.  A machine with a fan that moves air across and upward through sieves to float off and separate the light straw, chaff, and dust from wheat, oats, rye, and barley kernels.

Farrier: n. A craftsman who trims and shoes horses' hooves.

Fenian: n. A member of the Fenian Brotherhood, which was an Irish republican organization founded in the 1850s, but their origins trace back to the 1790s. In the 1860s, the Fenian Brotherhood conducted raids into Canada. 

Firkin: n. Small wooden cask used for liquids, butter, salt, and sometimes fish which was usually equal to one-quarter of a regular-sized barrel.

Flailn. A tool consisting of a wooden (or metal) staff with a short heavy stick swinging from it. The instrument is predominantly used for threshing grains beating the grain from the straw.

Flat: n. A large flat area of ground that has been cleared of forestry and is ready for cultivation.

Flax: n. A blue-flowered herbaceous plant, grown for its highly nutritious seeds. Flax fibers are also used in linen production.

Floom: n. ‘Mill Flume’; delivers restricted water flow directly to the water wheel of a mill, helping the wheel turn so the mill can operate.

Flying Visit: n. An idiomatic phrase used to describe a short, fleeting visit.

Foaled: v. The birthing of a foal (baby horse) by a mare.

F.O.B.: acronym. Short for "Free On Board." Is a business term regarding the shipping of products. Specifies at what point respective costs and risks involved with delivery of goods shift from the seller to the buyer. Note: It does not define at what point the ownership of said goods is transferred. “FOB origin” means the buyer is liable for any damages, while “FOB destination” means the seller is liable for any damages.

Fodder: n. Coarse food for livestock, composed of entire plants, including leaves, stalks, and grain, of such forages as corn and hay.

Fore: n. Short form of Forenoon, meaning the time between sunrise and noon.

Forenoon: n. Before noon; the morning.

Free Church: n. A Christian denomination or independent church (usually of Protestant origin) that is intrinsically separate from the government and state church. Free Churches generally do not define traditional government policies or Church theologies.

Freestronen. Easily molded rocks; often used as a part of construction and replication work because of its durability during chiseling.

Freshet: n. A flood resulting from heavy rain or extreme springtime thaw. 

Furrow: n. A plowed trench in the ground that is long and narrow. Farmers make them for seeding and irrigation.

Furring up Turnips: v.  A method of preserving turnips in the field where a plough is made to pass between two rows of plants, to throw up the soil which covers and insulates the bulb and roots.  This allowed for storage in the field until early spring when the turnips were exposed for feeding by pigs, cattle or sheep.



Gadding: v. To wander around restlessly with little purpose but to seek fun and entertainment.

Gang Plow: n.  A plow with two or more plow bottoms designed to turn two or more furrows at one time.

Gangrene: n. Tissue death caused by lack of blood supply; caused by injury, infection, or illness. May require amputation and can lead to death. 

Garnet Chili: n. Variety of potato known for its hardiness and resistance to disease.

Gauntlet: n. Sturdy glove with a long loose cover over the wrist.

Geo: Abrv. for the given name George.

Gentian: n.  An herb made from the gentian plant root and used in tonics for domestic animal digestive problems and can also be applied to the skin for treating wounds.

Gimlet: n. A small, screw-tipped tool used for drilling holes.

Gingham: n. A cotton fabric made from dyed and white yarn woven in a checkered pattern. Used as tea towels, dish cloths, and clothing. 

Girdled: v. To cut away the bark and cambium in a ring around a tree, branch, etc. For example, mice will girdle an apple tree.

Glass: n. Alternate name for a thermometer.

Glebe: n. A piece of land with an ecclesiastical parish used to support parish priest.

Glib: adj. Smooth or slippery. Example: “Very hard freeze, the ice was all glib.” (James Cameron Diaries, 1870)Shape 

Glutton: n. An excessively greedy eater.

Golden Wedding: n. Celebrations commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of a wedding. 

Good Templars: n. A.k.a. International (or Independent) Order of Good Templars, a temperance society based on the practice of total abstinence from intoxicating drinks. Founded in 1851 in Utica NY, the brotherhood spread to England in 1868 and then to Canada and worldwide.

Gooseberries: n. A deciduous shrub, native to Canada, ranging in height from 0.6-1.5m, reproducing through the cross-pollination of flowers.  The green fruit are sour but tasty when sweetened and eaten as a preserve or sauce.

Gospel Truthn. A statement which is perceived as completely true, often used in relation to religious sermons or principles. 

Grafting: n. Process for a shoot/twig is inserted into a slit in the trunk or stem of a living plant, where it receives sap creating an offshoot.

Grain Cradle: n.  A type of scythe with a blade and long wooden fingers attached on one side and used for cutting and collecting grain stalks into bundles for ease in tying into a sheath.

Granary: n. A room (usually in a barn), where threshed grain and animal feed is stored.

Grangen. Another word for a barn; alternatively, a granary which is a storehouse for threshed grain. 

Gravel Pit: n. An open pit mine where gravel is dug out of the ground.

Grenadine: n. Thin, loosely woven fabric made of silk, cotton or wool.

Greystone: n. A species of turnip more similar to a swede. It has a high yield and must be sown late in the growing season.

Grippe: n. A virus disease like or the same as influenza.

Grist: n.  Grain that has been separated from its chaff and then ground at a gristmill into flour.

Grubbing Stumps: v. The process of removing stumps from the ground with the intent to plant crops in that location. The trunk and branches are already removed. Special axes, teams of horses and sometimes chemicals are used to loosen and remove roots.

G.T.R.: abrv.for Grand Trunk Railway, a train system in Ontario in operation until 1923.

GT Train: Abrv. for Grand Trunk Train, a train system in Ontario in operation until 1923.

Gudgeons: n. Socket-like fitting which allows rotation of rotating shaft.

Guineas Fowl (sometimes called Guineas): n. An omnivorous bird with black or greyish feathers with white spots and a featherless head. Farmers raise them for their meat, eggs, and feathers.



Hacktree: n. A type of tree or shrub that is related to elms that have small and sometimes edible berries (called hackberries). 

Hag: n. An area from which peat has been cut, leaving an overhang; a boggy area.

Halter Shank: n. The halter is animal headgear designed to catch, hold, lead and tie animals.   It may be made of leather, rope or other material.   The shank is attached to the halter usually under the animal’s jaw.  This is used to tie or lead the animal.

Hank: n. A coil of material, fabric, hair, or rope. Example: “Bought 3 hanks of thread.” (James Cameron Diaries, 1870) 

Harper’s Illustrated Weeklyn. Name of an American magazine that went on to be known as Harper’s Magazine. Began publication in 1857.

Harrow: n.  An implement with spike-like teeth or upright disks, which is drawn mainly over plowed land to level it, break up clods, root up weeds, and prepare the surface of the soil so that it is suitable for seedbed use.

Hauling: v. To pull or drag with effort or force. Commonly used when discussing pulling (or hauling) hay.

Hayfork: n. Can mean either a hand fork used for hay (also called a pitchfork), or a machine that uses ropes and pulleys to move hay from a wagon to a haystack in a barn loft. 

Haymow: n. Part of barn where hay is stored.

Hayrack: n. A small structure with a roof.  It holds hay for animals and is placed on legs so that vermin can’t harm it. 

Headland: n. Land on the coast that ends in a cliff.

Heatless Day: n. As part of the rationing effort during the First World War, municipal fuel controllers declared February 9, 10 and 11, 1918 as “Heatless Days,” where all stores, factories, and public buildings, with a few exceptions, were required to shut down their heating systems; citizens were also encouraged to ration their coal supplies.

Heifer: n. Young female cow.

Hemlock: n. A coniferous tree of the pine family. It typically grows 30-50 metres tall and downward facing branches.

Hen Housen. Or Chicken coop is a place where you would keep your chickens in, very often in the winter time. It is an efficient way of cultivating eggs. They can easily become very warm because of the heat generated by the chickens.

Hoar Frost: n. Severe frost; deposits of ice crystals attached to objects exposed to free air, forms when dew is deposited below the freezing point. Crystallizes on trees, leaves, and other surfaces.

Hoe: n. A tool (usually for agriculture) used to dig up surface on the ground or thin out plants.

Holstein Steer: n. A male cattle with little back fat that result in highly lean beef.

Hope Chest: n. A box or chest containing items stored by an unmarried woman in anticipation of marriage. Items can include clothing, linens, and quilts. (See Trousseau

Horehound: n. A relative of the mint plant that can be made into an extract or confection from its dried leaves. 

Hot Bed: n. A raised planter filled with various layers of decomposing straw, manure, and other forms of organic matter. The hot bed provides extra heat to the soil to help seeds grow in colder climates or while out of season. 

House Dress: n. A simple, informal dress worn by women performing housework, designed for simplicity, practicality and comfort. The proliferation of stylized house dresses started in the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries. The house dress would only be worn in a private, domestic setting, and not in public.

House of Industry: n.  The Ontario government passed the Houses of Refuge Act in 1890 which provided each county with grants for land purchase and construction of a building to shelter the destitute, homeless, “feeble-minded”, elderly and unmarried pregnant women.  The local county council would decide who were the “deserving” poor to be allowed into the "Poor House" and to be provided with accommodation, clothes, and simple food.  The oldest surviving House of Industry or Poor House in Canada is in Wellington County.  It operated as a Poor House and Industrial Farm until 1947 when it became a County Home for the Aged and in 1974 it was transformed into the Wellington County Museum and Archives.

Humbug: n. a hard candy, usually striped in two different colours and available since the 1820s.   

Hungarian Grass: n. A coarse drought-resistant annual grass grown for grain, hay, and forage.

Husking: v. Removing husks, especially those of corn.



I.O.F.: n. The Independent Order of Foresters (IOF) is a fraternal organization, which entered Canada in 1875.  It provided insurance to its members.

I.O.G.T.: n. Independent Order of Good Templars; a fraternal organisation based around the principles of temperance, founded in 1851 and now known as the International Organisation of Good Templars.

Indian Summer: n., a period of unseasonably warm and dry weather that occasionally occurs in the northern hemisphere during late autumn. Can also refer to a period of happiness or success occurring late in life.

Inquest: n. A judicial act to receive information in relation to an incident, like a death.

Ish Kabibble: n. A Yiddish slang phrase that roughly translates to ‘Should I worry?’ or ‘no worries’, and often was used to make light of or shrug off a particular situation.



Jading: v. To make or become dull, worn-out, or weary, as from overwork or overuse. 

Jag: n. Unit of measure. A small load, such as that of hay. A jag is roughly 20-25 Bushels.

Jas: n. Short form for the name James.

Jersey: n. Small breed of dairy cattle originating from the British Island of Jersey. Known for high milk production and high butterfat content in their milk.

Jigger: n. A mechanical device that moves in a jerky, reciprocating motion. For example, a jigsaw; also refers to a pump-powered railroad handcart. 

Johnnycake: n.  A cornmeal flatbread originating from the native inhabitants of North America. It is alternatively called: jonnycake, johnny cake, journey cake, shawnee cake or johnny bread.

Joist: n. A length of timber or steel supporting part of the structure of a building. It is typically arranged in a parallel series to support a floor or ceiling.

Jno: Abrv. for the name ‘John.’

Julep: n. A pleasant-tasting liquid medicine used to ease the taking of other nauseous medicines. 



Kerosene Oil: n. A light fuel oil created by distilling petroleum, often used to fuel domestic heaters and lamps and used as a cleaning solvent.

Kirk: n. Scottish word, meaning “Church”. Used specifically to refer to the Church of Scotland.



Lamp mat: n. A small piece of decorated material placed under lamps to protect furniture from the damage from heat.

Lance: v. To open or pierce with a lancet (a sharp, surgical instrument), especially a boil or abscess.  

Laudanum: n. Is an alcohol solution that contains approximately 10% powdered opium – the equivalent to 1% morphine – and was used as a narcotic painkiller for illness. Was reddish-brown in colour and extremely bitter.

Leached Ashesn.  The powder left behind when wood is burnt; often used as a type of fertilizer.

Lifting turnips: v.  The process of removing or harvesting the turnip plant including bulb and roots from the soil before storage and feeding to livestock.

Linsey: n. (Also called Linsey-woolsey). A coarse and sturdy fabric made of wool and linen or cotton. 

Lithograph: n., the process of producing a picture or writing with an oily substance to transfer ink  on to a flat prepared stone (often limestone)

Liver sausagen. Also known as Liverwurst, it is a type of sausage made of pig or calf liver.

Love Feast: n. A symbolic community meal or service in Christianity (in particular, Methodism) where the congregation shares food and goodwill together. 

L.P.S.: abrv. for the London Port Stanley Railroad. 

Lucerne: n. A variety of alfalfa crop.

Lumbago: n. Pain in the lower back; a backache.

Lye: n. A strong alkaline solution, sodium hydroxide, that is highly soluble in water and was used for making soap.



Mangelwurzel: n. Root vegetable; variety of beet. Most commonly used to feed livestock although people can consume them. Aka mangels

Mangolds: n.  A reddish-yellow, cultivated root vegetable related to sugar beets and used as a fodder crop for feeding livestock.

Mansen. The residence of a minister (of a Presbyterian church).

Manuren. Animal feces that is applied to the ground as fertilizer to enhance agricultural growth.

Mare: n.  A mature female horse.

Mashing: n. Essential step in the brewing and distilling process. Grain and water are combined then heated to stimulate the breakdown of starch into fermentable sugar.

Mashing rake: n. A piece of equipment used in the brewing and distilling process to agitate the mash and ensure everything is evenly heated. 

Measlesn. An infectious disease that can form rash like and feverish symptoms among

Melodeon: n. A small reed organ; a kind of accordion.

Mensuration: n. The branch of geometry that deals with the measurement of length, area or volume/the act or process of measuring.

Mercuryn. Chemical compound found in thermometers; also used to refer to the thermometer itself.

Merino Wool: n. A gentle type of wool that absorbs odor caused by bacteria, and can be worn for longer without washing. 

Methodist: n. A form of Protestantism that derived from the beliefs of John Wesley and George Whitefield. Its theology is a mixture of Calvinist belief and the Church of England.

Middlings: n. (commonly known as Wheat Middling) a quantity of bulk goods, especially flour of medium fineness

Milkhouse: n. A building on the farm where milk is collected, cooled, and temporarily stored, to protect the milk from the smells, dust, and microbes of the barn environment.  

Millstones: n. Large circular stones used to grind grains, such as corn, barley, or wheat. 

Milk Fever: n. Disease affecting cows after birth; caused by temporary blood calcium deficiency (hypocalcemia) due to nursing requirements of the calf. 

Miſs: Adj. Term meaning miss; the third letter is a long “s” which occurs in the beginning or end of a word. It was slowly being phased out during the 1800’s. Example: dreſs.

Mislyadj. A type of weather; lightly raining, or drizzling.

Mizzle: n. A light rain, or drizzle.

Morn.: Abrv. for “morning.”

Mortisern. An instrument used to cut square or rectangular holes in a piece of lumber. John Ferguson describes mortising planks of wood when constructing new fences for his farm.

Mouldboardn. The curved metal blade in a plow that turns the earth over. John Ferguson likely uses horsepower to power his plough.

Moulding Potatoes: v.  The process of drawing soil around the stems of the emerging plants.  This protects the young potato plants from frost and stops tubers near the soil surface turning green.

Mouth Organ: n. A reed instrument that has multiple chambers fitted with a free reed, over which the player places their mouth and makes music by inhaling and exhaling. A harmonica is a type of Mouth Organ.

Mucilage: n. A viscous or gelatinous solution derived from plant roots, seeds, etc., and used in medicines and adhesives. John Ferguson purchases a bottle at the local drug store. 

Musk Melons: n. Species of melon that has been developed into many varieties such as cantaloupe and honeydew.

Mustard: n. A pungent powder or paste made from mustard seeds.  Used as a seasoning, condiment or a topical treatment for inflammatory conditions. Can use leaves, seeds, and oil to make other medicines. 



Neuralgia: n. Intense pain to the head caused by pain in the nerves.

Normal School: n. An institution for the training of teachers. 

Northern Spy: n. A variant of apples.

Nursery: n. Place where young plants and trees are grown for sale or for planting elsewhere. Often more protected/fenced in from elements and pests.

Nut Coal: n. An abbreviation of chestnut coal. A type of anthracite coal that is the cleanest burning coal and contains the most energy (energy unit: BTUs} per pound. Anthracite coal is made of relatively pure carbon and burns with little flame and smoke.

Nux Vomica: n.  A homeopathic remedy containing strychnine that comes from the seeds of the nux vomica tree and is used in tonics for domestic animal digestive problems, especially as an appetite stimulant.



O.C.Abrv. When occurring after a number, it is an abbreviation for “o’clock” Example: 8 O.C.

Odd Fellows: n. A Protestant British based fraternity that promoted charity and philanthropy.

Oilcake: n. The solid remaining after pressing a substance for its oil (also press cake).

Oleaginous: adj. Oily or greasy. 

Orchardn. An area of land dedicated to cultivating fruits trees, nut trees, sugar trees, and shrubs.

Organdy: n. a fine translucent cotton or silk fabric that is usually stiffened for women’s clothing.

Overshoe: n. A shoe that’s worn over another shoe, usually to protect the footwear beneath from the elements. Generally made of a waterproof material, such as rubber or leather. 

Oyster Dinner: v. A very popular dinner during the 18th and 19th centuries due to the development of the canning and oyster businesses. This resulted in large amounts of oysters being harvested and sold at a cheaper price than other meats.  



Pacer: n. Breed of horse that is naturally gaited, used for riding and harnessing to carts or buggies. 

Pailing or Paling: n. A fence made from pointed wooden or metal stakes; a picket for a fence.

Pall-bearer: n. A person in charge of helping to carry or officially escort a coffin at a funeral.

Pansy Books: n.  Isabella Macdonald Alden was an American author who wrote under the pseudonym of Pansy.

Pantryette: n. A single cabinet acting as a pantry.

Paring: v. To pare; Rimming the hooves of livestock.

Paris Green: n. A toxic emerald green coloured compound containing arsenic and mixed with flour, often used as a dye, wood preservative, and insecticide.

Paris Greeningv. To add Paris Green to an object, such as potatoes. An aceto-arsenite of copper called “Paris Green” was first used to control the Colorado potato beetle.

Pasture: n. Land that is covered with grass that is used to feed animals, especially cattle and sheep.

Patriotic Concert: n. During the World War I these were often fundraisers to help fund the war in Europe. They would often play music and show some propaganda.

Patriotic Meeting: n. A meeting for volunteers of various “Patriotic Leagues” created during the First World War, that raised funds and other resources for soldiers serving overseas, as well as their wives, children and other dependents in Canada. 

Patrons of Industry: n. A rural political association dedicated to upholding and encouraging the moral, social, intellectual, political and financial situation of farmers and to preserve the way of life that existed in farming communities in the late nineteenth century against encroaching industrialization. It cooperated with the urban labour movement to address the political frustrations of both groups with big business.

Patty pansn. A cupcake tray.

Pea Stockn. the vessel that contains the seeds of a plant (not the seeds themselves). Usually referred to as a pea pod.

Peck: n. An imperial unit of dry measure (wheat, peas, beans) equivalent to ¼ of a bushel, 2 gallons, or 16 pints.

Pedigree: n. record of descent of an animal that provides its genealogy.

Penny reading: n. A form of public entertainment in the 19th century consisting of readings, poetry recitation, and other performances. The cost of admittance was one penny. Penny readings were popular among the working class due to its accessibility. 

Perennial: n. A plant that lasts multiple growing seasons. The roots of the plant become dormant during the colder months and begin to regrow during the warmer months.

Pew-renting:  v. The practice of renting church pews for exclusive use; charging or paying rent for exclusive use of pews.

Pd.: vrb. Abbreviation for paid; used within the documentation of transactions or records of accounts.

Phaeton: n. A light, open, four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage.

Philharmonic: adj. Fond of or devoted to music; music-loving.

Phrenologist: n. A person who studies the size and shape of the skull, based on a belief that it is indicative of one’s character. A practitioner of phrenology.  

Picking icev.  the process of cutting the ice out of a frozen body of water.

Pigged: v.  A sow that is farrowing or delivering piglets.

Piggery: n. A farm where pigs are bred and raised as livestock.

Pigweed: n. A variety of weedy plants; sometimes used as pig fodder. (see Fodder)

Pillow Block: n. Used to house gudgeons and mounted as support for a rotating shaft.

Pillow Ticks: n. A tightly woven and durable textile, contains a pillow’s filling to keep it shaped. Traditionally a striped design in muted colours.

Pinion: n. Small gears engaging with larger gear, common in steam powered equipment

Pit Wheel: n. Part of a mill. Mounted on the opposite end of the axle to the waterwheel.

Pleurisy: n. Medical condition characterized by inflammation of the 'pleura' (a membrane surrounding the lungs and separating them from the chest wall). Causes pain that worsens with breathing. Caused by pneumonia or other lung diseases.

Plough: n. Old English and Canadian way of spelling plow. A farming implement used to overturn soil to aid in soil fertility before planting seed.

Plough Ironn. The iron blade of the plough used to loosen or turn soil before planting.

Ploughshares: n. The main cutting blade of a plow, behind the coulter.

Plow: n. Machine used in agriculture to cut and rotate the soil, often used when planting seeds. Generally has a metal or wooden frame with metal blades attached to rotate the dirt and can be pulled by livestock or mechanical farming equipment. 

Pock-pitted: adj. Marked with small divots. Pockmarked.

Pointing: n. Either cement or mortar used to fill the joints of brickwork or masonry, especially when added externally to a wall to improve its appearance and acts as a weatherproofing shield

Polled: adj. Livestock without horns i.e. a polled Angus heifer.

Polonaise: n. Popular style of dress from the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Has three distinct bunches to its skirt, with two at the side to extenuate the width of the wearer’s hips, and one at the back. Also features a cutaway at the front with the intention of showing the design of the petticoat underneath. 

Poplar: n. A deciduous tree, that is a part of the Willow family, and is grown in North temperate regions for the use of timber and pulp. These trees are characterized by their fast growing, slender, and catkin-bearing aments.  

Potash: n. A compound of alkaline potassium used primarily as a fertilizer to support plant growth and crop yield. It is made by soaking plant and/or wood ashes in a pot, then evaporating the solution and collecting the remaining residue or “pot ash”. 

Poverty Stick: n. Another name for a flail.

Pr busAbrv. for per bushel.

Prattle: v. To speak in a frivolous fashion.

Privy: n. Another term for an outdoor toilet or outhouse. 

Probatev. Judicial process that occurs upon the death of a person in order to administer their estate. This legal process involves a will that has to be ‘proved’ in court and accepted as valid documentation of a deceased person’s last testament.

Pugging: v. To track an animal by its footprints; or v. to pack a space to make it fireproof or deaden sound.

Pullet: n. A young hen, especially one that is less than a year old. Often not laying eggs yet and with a small comb and crop.

Pullman Car: n. Throughout the United States circa 1900, Pullman Cars were used as railroad sleeping cars, and operated by the Pullman Company.

Pulper: n. A machine designed to remove pulp from agricultural produce.

Pulverize: v. To reduce something to fine particles. For example, pulverized oats make oat flour. 

Pusley: n. A variety of succulent plants; sometimes called purslane. 



Quadrille:  n. A square dance for four couples, consisting of five parts or movements, each complete in itself.

Quaint: adj. Describes something seen as attractively unusual or old-fashioned. Often used when describing something cute/cosy/small.

Quart: n. A unit of capacity for liquids equal to a quarter of a gallon or two pints, equivalent to approximately 1.13 liters in Britain.

Queer: adj. To describe something as peculiar, bizarre, strange, or unusual.

Quince: n. Pome fruit that comes from a deciduous tree.  It looks like a pear and is golden-yellow when ripe.

Quinine: n. A medicine used to treat forms of malaria; made from cinchona bark.

Quintette: n. A composition for five voices or five instrumentalists; a group of five singers or five instruments.

Quire: n. A collection of 24 or 25 sheets of paper of the same size and quality.

Quorum: n. The minimum number of members in a democratic assembly needed to conduct business.



Rack Lifter: n. A type of vertical elevator designed to lift racks, especially racks of hay. Used ‘horse power’ in the past, but now mechanized. 

Rape: n. Also known as rapeseed or oilseed rape; a particular group of cultivated plant produced mainly for its oil-rich seed.  It is used directly for animal feed especially for swine and poultry and for planting seed.  The oil can also be processed to produce edible vegetable oil and meal for animal feed.  It is usually planted as part of a crop rotation involving wheat and barley where its role is to suppress weeds and improve the soil quality.

Raw: adj. Used to describe the weather, bleak, cold, and damp conditions.

Reaper: n. this refers to a person that typically uses a sickle to harvest wheat, rye, and other grains.

Rec: Abrv. Abbreviation of the word received. 

Rec’d: Abrv.  Received. Often in reference to a letter. Example: “I rec'd a letter from John.”

Reeven. The president of a village or town council.

Regatta: n. A boat race, occurring as a single race or series of races. 

Render: v. The process in which animal byproducts are converted to materials that can be used for other purposes. This could include turning animal droppings into manure, churning milk into butter, or fat into lard. 

Rheumatism: any disease or condition characterized by inflammation or pain in muscles, joints, or fibrous tissue; especially rheumatoid arthritis.

Richd: n. masc. Abbreviation for the name Richard

Ridgeboard: n.  Boards that are brought together as a section of solid timber that is positioned horizontally along the line of the ridge of a roof and serve as part of the support system for roofs on buildings.

Ridging: v. Plowing alternate strips of land in ridges to protect plants from flooding and to give certain plants such as potatoes more room to grow.

Rign. A term that refers to a horse-drawn carriage.

Ringbone: n. Osteoarthritis affected the bones of a horse’s foot. 

Ringing: v.  To clip a metal or wire ring on the nose of a pig to inhibit rooting (burrowing their nose) into the ground outside or to reduce fighting inside in pens.

Roan: adj. Describes colour pattern on an animal's coat/hair (often a horse or cow) mainly consisting of one color but interspersed with hair of another color. 

RobtAbrv. for “Robert”

Root House: n. A wing of a building used for the storage of foodstuffs or other related goods.

Rosettes: n. A rose-shaped decorative object, typically made of ribbon or silk that is pleated to resemble a rose or other flower. 

Russets: n. Type of apple that have a rough, brownish skin.

Ruby Wedding: n. Celebrations commemorating the fortieth anniversary of a wedding.

Rust: n. A fungal disease that affects grains such as wheat and barley and is most commonly observed as deposits of powdery rust-coloured or brown spores on the plant stems, leaves and grains



Sabbath: n. A day of rest and worship, commanded by God. Activities may include: praying, meditating, studying the scriptures, attending church, writing letters to family members and friends.

Saleratus: n.  “sal-uh-rey-tuhs” - sodium bicarbonate used in cookery; baking soda.

Salsify: n. “sal-suh-fee” - a purple-flowered, composite plant, Tragopogon porrifolius, whose root has an oyster-like flavor and is used as a culinary vegetable.

Sam/Sam'l: Abrv.  Abbreviation of the name Samuel. 

Sapped: v. Past tense. Tapping and draining a tree of its sap. The draining of sap typically occurs during the beginning of spring and the sap collected from the maple tree can be boiled down to make maple syrup, maple sugar, or molasses. 

Sawlog: n. A felled tree trunk suitable for timber.

Scalding Trough: n. A long box filled with water and placed over a fire and dead pigs were placed in it so that their hair could be scraped off easily prior to butchering.

Scantling: n. A timber of slight width and thickness used as a stud or rafter in a house frame.

Scarlet Fever: n. A bacterial infection in the throat. Symptoms include sore throat, headaches, enlarged tonsils, fevers, skin rashes, and chills. It mostly affects children.

Scours: n. A term for diarrhea, specifically in calves; caused by inflammation of the intestines. A major cause of death in calves before they are weaned.

Scow: n. A large, flat-bottomed boat capable of navigating shallow rivers, used for transporting bulk materials like sand or ore.  

Screenings: n. Refuse taken away after grain cleaning process.

Screwjack: n. is a type of jack that is operated by turning a leadscrew. Also known as a “jackscre”.  Commonly used to support heavy loads, such as the foundations of houses, or large vehicles.  John Ferguson uses a screwjack to support his barn while replacing rotten timbers.

Scrutineer: n. Person who oversees polling (especially in elections) to prevent the occurrence of corruption or genuine mistakes.

Scud: n. A fast:moving shower of rain or snow driven by wind.

Scuffle: n. A type of Dutch hoe that can be used by pushing and pulling; also called a scuffle hoe. (see also - Scuffler, Scuffling)

Scuffler: n. Similar to horse drawn plough. Used to uproot weeds growing between the ridges in which turnips etc have been planted. The width of the scuffler can be altered to fit the space between the rows.

Scuffling: v. Uprooting weeds and turning soil in the ridges between planted crops.

Scur: n. A distorted horn that is regrown after the removal of an undeveloped horn in a young animal, such as goats, sheep, and cows. 

Scythe: n. A long handheld tool used to cut grass, harvest grain. Wood handle metal blade.

Serge: n. A type of strong woollen cloth used to make clothes.

Set a hen: v. The act of convincing a hen to brood by creating a dark, safe spot for her nest and possibly using dummy eggs to convince her to sit; this is done when a farmer wants chicks rather than eggs.

Shearling: n. The skin of a recently sheared sheep. One side contains sheep wool, whereas the other contains tanned, suede surface. In the 19th century Shearlings were often made into stylish jackets and boots. John Ferguson has sheep on his farm and occasionally mentioned the shearing process. A shearling coat which was extremely popular in the nineteenth century.

Sheaves: n. Bundles in which cereal plants, such as wheat, rye, etc., are bound after reaping.

Shimmie: n. 19th-century slang for a chemise, a shirt worn next to the body over which a corset would be worn.

Shingles: n. Also known as herpes zoster, a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters.

Shirting: n. A fabric used for making shirts. 

Shock: v. To arrange cut grain into cone-shaped piles prior to collection and threshing.

Shod: v. Past tense. Typically refers to a horse being equipped or "shoe-d" with new horseshoes.

Shooting Match: v. Sport enjoyed at both recreational and competitive levels, involving proficiency tests of accuracy, precision and speed in shooting firearms.

Shorts: n. A mixture of bran and coarse flour.

Short clothesn. a clothing style for babies, usually worn around the times that children began to walk or crawl. Prior to this they would wear longer swaddling clothes, appropriately called “long clothes.”

Shorthorns: n. Beef cattle.

Showery: adj. Refers to period of time characterized by frequent rainfall.

Sickle: n. A handheld farming tool with a semi-circular blade. Typically used for cutting grain, lopping, or trimming crops.

Silo: n. A vertical structure typically cylinder-shaped that is used to store bulk materials such as grain, coal, cement, food products and sawdust.

Silo Filler: n. A machine for blowing, elevating, or unloading chopped fodder into a silo.

Singing school: n. A school where students are taught to sightread singing music. Often associated with Protestant Christianity. 

Singlingint. v. To practice one-crop farming; grow a single crop on the same land repeatedly.

Slab Wood: n. Large, rough-sawn pieces of natural wood; can be used for building tables, desks, countertops, etc.

Slake: v. To cool something off with water (or another liquid). 

Sleepers: n.  Logs used as floor beams or joists in barns that held up the floors and were hewn on the top and bottom sides while the two edges were left rounded showing the live edge.

Slope: v. To move to or from a place secretly or silently, as to avoid detection. Example: “I sloped my classes today.” 

Smut Machine: n. A machine that separates dirt and smut (a parasitic fungi) from grains.

Snath: n. The handle of a scythe. 

Snood: n. Knitted material fashioned into a hood or scarf, pinned or tied to the back of a woman’s head to hold their hair. Or when fishing, it can also mean a short line attaching a hook to the main line. 

Snowshoes: n. Footwear designed to walk on top of snow by dispersing the weight of the wearer over a greater surface area, preventing them from sinking into deep snow.  

Social: n. A gathering, usually organised by religious groups or clubs.

Sod: n. The surface of the ground with grass growing on it.

Soda Biscuit: x. A cracker or cookie made leavened with soda and buttermilk; also called a saltine. 

Soft Day: adj. A partly misty and drizzly day.

Soln. Roman sun god; also used as a synonym for the sun.

Soldiers of the Soil: n. An initiative run by the Canadian Food Board during the First World War, designed to recruit young adolescent males to work on farms, especially urban males who did not go overseas to fight. The program was designed to increase agricultural output during the war.

Sons of Temperance: n. A brotherhood of men throughout the United States and Canada who who promoted and supported the temperance movement.

Sorreln. Large sour-tasting arrowhead-shaped leaves used in salads and sauces; also, a horse of a brown-orange to light brown colour.

Sown. A fully grown female pig.

Sow: vb. Agricultural activity where seed is placed on, or planted in the earth.

Sower: n. A person who plants seeds to grow a crop. 

Spavin: n. A disease affecting horses where an inflammation of the bones occurs around their hock (the hollow behind their knees). 

Spelter: n. A soft metal alloy composed of zinc and lead. Relatively inexpensive and easy to work with.

Spile: n. A small wooden peg or spigot for stopping a cask.

Spudding: v. to dig up, especially weeds.

Spree: n. A time of uninhibited activity; a party.

Spring Toothing: v. To using a spring tooth, sometimes called a drag harrow, which is a type of harrow; specifically a type of tine harrow. It uses many flexible iron teeth mounted in rows to loosen the soil before.

Spring Wheat: n. Wheat sown in the spring and harvested in late summer or fall.

Squalls: n. An unexpected, or sudden, storm that is partnered with snow, rain or sleet. It differentiates from snow storms by its intense and rather short time frame; an average of 30-60 minutes.

SS: Abrv. Sunday School. Similar abbreviation is “S School.”

Stable: n. A building set up and adapted for keeping horses.

Stagness: adj. Refers to the state of being stagnant. Example: “Stagness day,” meaning that the day was stagnant or dull. 

Staid: n. Past-tense, meaning to remain in the same place, state, or position. Traditionally spelled 'stayed.'  (This is a constant misspelling through Roseltha Goble’s diary entries)

Stanchion: n. a sturdy upright fixture that provides support for standing cattle or livestock by enclosing around their neck.

Stave: n. A piece of wood used as a post or plank when building a structure; or attached side by side to make a barrel or bucket. 

Stn: n. Abbreviation for the word "station."

Stone Boat: n. A type of sled that was often was often drawn to carry heavy objects rather than to plough fields. A good example of this is David Rea’s Diary where they use it to gather stones. J.L

Stone Pinions: n. A nut mounted on the millstone spindle.

Stook: n. Also known as shock or stack. A stook is a bundle of grain stalks such as wheat, oats, and barley that are arranged to prevent the tops from touching the ground while still in the field. This occurs before the collection of the stook for further processing. 

Stooking: v. Arranging sheaves of grain in 'stooks.'  

Storm Windows: n. Also known as a Storm Sash, a window fixed on the outside of a standard window for protection and insulation during bad or winter weather.

Stover: n.  The leaves and stalks of field crops, such as corn or soybean that are commonly left in a field after harvesting the grain.  It can also be directly grazed by cattle or dried for use as feed.

Steer: n. A castrated male calf and raised primarily for beef.

Stopfnadel: n. The German word for darning needle, which is a simple but large needle used for threading yarn.

Straw Stack: n. A pile of straw (dry stalk of cereal plants) that will be turned into bales.

Stringer: n. A piece of timber that is used horizontally to support upright posts. 

Strop: n. A strap made of leather used for honing a razor. 

Stubble: n. Residue left after a crop has been harvested, in particular the stems.

Stump Fence: n. A property line or fence line that is made using stumps from trees that have been cut down. The stumps mark the division of territory.

Sturgeon: n. A large, primitive fish with bony plates on its body, typically found in the northern hemisphere. Often used for its caviar and flesh.

Sugar Bush: n. A plantation of sugar maples.

Sugar Off: v. To complete the process of boiling down the syrup while making maple syrup until it is thickened enough to crystalize and become sugar; n. A gathering held at the time of sugaring off, also referred to as a sugar social.

Suit: abrv. A lawsuit; a claim or disagreement brought to a court of law for a ruling.

Sultry: adj. Of the air or weather; meaning very hot or humid.

Sulky Rake: n. A horse-drawn hay rake that had a seat for the operator.

Summerfallow: n. A portion of farmland that is purposely not used during a growing cycle to allow the soil to build up nutrients and moisture to produce a more bountiful yield the next season.

Sundries: n. Miscellaneous items/things not important enough to be mentioned individually.

Suppern. Was a light meal in the evening.  The main meal was “dinner”, served at midday,  and was meant to keep people sustained during heavy farm work.

Swain: n. A young gentleman who is a potential lover or suitor. This could be used to define a boyfriend, or a man of interest.

Swale: n. A sunken or shallow channel of land, with gently sloping sides. Swales can often be shady and marshy.  

Swarth: n. Turf/soil covered by grass.

Swedes: n.  A white or yellow root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip also called rutabaga.  The bulbs and tops are used for livestock feeding.

Sweet Pea: n. An annual, fragrant, climbing flower that blossoms in spring and summer in a variety of colours such as red, white, pink, purple, and blue. The petals are shaped like a butterfly’s wings.



Tallow: n. fatty substance made from animal fat.

Tar Feltn. Base material typically used as an underlay beneath other building materials, particularly roofing or siding materials.

Tea: n. British term for an afternoon-to-evening meal. Sometimes the main evening meal (i.e., dinner), depending on location. Dinner, on the other hand, could refer to what in North American English would now be called "lunch."

Temp: Abrv. Abbreviation of the word temperature. 

Temperance Movement: n. to abstain from consuming alcohol, either against intoxication or consumption entirely. The movement was widespread in the 19th and 20th centuries in Canada and the United States, and was often associated with religious organizations.

Theodolite: n. A telescope-like instrument used for surveying land. Allows for the accurate measurement of horizontal and vertical angles.

Ther: Abrv. for thermometer.

Thicknessing: v. The process of planing wood to create even sized boards. 

Thinningv. Tp remove some plants in a field or crop like turnips to make room for other plants.

Thos: Abrv. for “Thomas”.

Threshing: v.  The process of loosening the edible part of grain from the chaff to which it is attached and this may be done by beating the grain using a flail on a threshing floor or by feeding it into the cutting box of a threshing machine.

Ticking: n. A linen or cotton fabric used as a covering for mattresses and/or pillows. 

Tile Drainage: n.  A drainage system composed of ceramic clay pipes and installed below the surface of the field to remove excess water from the soil below its surface.  The water table is lowered, and the crop plants can properly develop their roots and increase crop yield.

Timothy Seed: n. A variety of grass seed that produces fibrous and shallow rooted grass that is used for pasturing livestock and hay production.

Tinsmithing: v/n. Making or repairing things made of tin or similar metal alloys. The job/trade of a tinsmith. 

Tole: n. Sheet metal and/or tinplate that can be painted, enameled, or lacquered to make decorative and ornamental domestic wares. 

Topping: v. A process by which a mower or other implement is used to remove the aerial part of a crop to prevent seed formation and distribution; typically done in summer months to avoid soil contamination and germination.

Topping Turnips: v. The process of removing the leaves above the turnip bulb before storage which extends storage life.  The leaves should be cut off approximately 1 inch above the top or crown of the bulb.

Toweling: n. A thick absorbent fabric used for towels.

Transmutation: n. The action of changing or the state of being changed into another form.

Treacle: n. The syrupy byproduct of sugar refining, better known as molasses. 

Trocar: n. A sharp, hollow, cylindrical device used to make incisions during medical processes for the purpose of inserting a cannula. (see Cannula)

Truss: n. A strap wrapped around one’s waist to support the abdominal muscles when lifting heavy objects or to support a hernia.

Tidy: n. A tidy is a small container that can be used for small items, such as sewing materials, hair accessories, etc.

Tincture of Arnica: n. Topical oils that were used to treat muscle soreness, bruises and repetitive strain injuries. The oil is usually mixed with water in a solution. John Ferguson uses this solution to help his pain after a farming incident involving a cow and his flail.

Traction Car: n. A steam-powered tractor used to move heavy cargo on roads, and sometimes provide power to a given location. While they were large and powerful, they were also slow, heavy and difficult to manoeuvre. Also called a traction engine or road locomotive.

Trough:  n. A long, narrow open container from which animals can eat or drink.

Trousseau: n. Clothing and linens given to or collected by a bride for her wedding and marriage life. In particular, a formal or traditional set of these items. (See Hope Chest

Tun: n. A large cask or vessel used for brewing and distilling. Commonly made out of wood but can also be constructed of metal. 

Turnips: n. A type of root vegetable often planted after your main crop like wheat or barley. This makes it so that you can have more use out of the soil

Turnpiking: v. The process of creating a ditch on the side of a road in order to carry water, also known as a portage trail.

Turpentine: n. A fluid obtained from pine trees. Since ancient times it has been used medicinally as a topical or internal home remedy.

Tun: n., a large beer or wine cask, a brewers fermenting vat or tub, often made out of wood or copper

Twitch-grass: n. also known as “couch-grass”, “quick grass”, “quack grass”, “scotch grass” or “devil’s grass”. A troublesome widespread weed in Canada, that relies on wind for cross-pollination. Traditionally known as the hardest weed to get rid of. Flowering occurs in late June-July, and the seeds mature in early August-September. The seeds produce blueish-green spikes that range from 5-30cm in length. The weed can last from 1-6 years. 

Twp: Abrv. for Township.



Ult: Abrv. Derived from the latin world “ultimo” meaning “last”; in or of the month preceding the present one.

Underskirt: n. A skirt worn underneath an overskirt, helps the overskirt to hang smoothly. Also called a petticoat. 

Undertaker: n. A person whose occupation is preparing dead bodies for burial or cremation; in the business of making arrangements for funerals.

Underwaist: n. Blouse worn under clothes to which other garments can be pinned.



Valise: n. A small travelling bag or suitcase.

Vapour Bath: n. a bath in vapour, formerly believed to have medicinal benefits.

Verbena: n. A typically purple annual or perennial long-flowering plant that survives hot weather, over 250 species of this plant exist.  It means romance or sweet memories and used as a tea or in lotions can reduce pain and inflammation.

Vespers: n. A service of evening worship and prayer, relevant for Catholics. 

Vestry (1): n. A committee of elected members for the Christian church. They are responsible for conducting congregation missions and managing the church’s resources and finances.

Vestry (2)n. A room in a church where vestments are changed and parishioners conduct meetings.

Vestry Meeting: n. An annual meeting held by the Church of England to elect churchwardens and deputies for the upcoming year.

Victory Bonds: n. A bond issued by a government during or immediately after a major war; a loan that could be redeemed with interest after five, ten or twenty years.

Viz: adverb This is an abbreviation of the Latin word videlicet, meaning ‘namely,’ ‘as follows,’ or ‘that is to say.’ Most commonly it is a word used to further explain a point or introduce an example.



W.A./W.A. Meeting: Abrv. Abbreviation for "Women's Auxiliary."

Washboard: n. A tool used to clean clothing and textiles by hand. Made of a rigid material such as raised corrugated zinc or wood. To clean dirty cloth or fabric, scrub against the surface of the board using water. 

W.C.T.U: n. Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. One of the first organizations of women devoted to social reform integrating the religious and the secular. Through education and example the WCTU hoped to obtain pledges of total abstinence from alcohol, and later other drugs. Excessive use of alcohol was seen as an explanation for violence in the home. The WCTU formed in Canada in 1874 in Owen Sound, Canada.

Wether: n. A castrated goat or ram. 

Whd.: Abrv. for “weighed.”

Whiffletree: n. A crossbar, pivoted at the middle, to which the traces of a harness are fastened for pulling a cart, carriage or plow. Also called a whippletree, singletree or swingletree.

Whitewashing: v.  The application of white paint made from slaked lime or chalk and used for routine barn sanitation by coating over the rough surfaces such as barn walls.

Widow Fundn. Also known as a 'Widow’s allowance,' it is an allowance of funds or personal property received by a widow after her husband’s death to meet her immediate requirements.

Wincey: n. A plain or twilled fabric, made of wool, cotton, or linen, that is used to make warm shirts or pajamas.  

Winrow: n. Alternative word for 'windrow.' A row of hay raked together to dry before putting into heaps, bales or to be stored.

Wringer: n. A device with two rollers to squeeze water out of anything wet.

Wm: Abrv. Abbreviation for the name “William."

Worm tub: n. A vessel used in the distilling process to cool down alcohol vapors and convert them into liquid. Consists of a tub filled with cold water and a large coiled copper pipe.  



:X: : A symbol that may be used in a diary next to a date to indicate that the day is a Sunday, e.g., “3:X:”.



Yearling: n. An animal (especially a sheep, calf, or foal) a year old, or in its second year.

Yellow Aberdeen: n. Variety of turnip from Scotland known for its hardiness.

Yoke of Oxen: n. A yoke for oxen was a wooden beam that was placed between two oxen to allow them to pull heavy loads. However, other animals such as horses, donkeys, mules, and water buffalo were also able to be yoked.  A team of two oxen was commonly known as a “yoke of oxen.”