World View

The State Of The World

A daily Commentary by Wayne Blank

"The State of The World" Number 40
Complete Index Of All Issues

Why Pioneers Aren't Rebels


  • The English-language word "pioneer" originated from an Old French word that meant someone who goes ahead to prepare the way for another.

  • The English-language word "rebel" originated from a Latin word that meant someone who revolts against the government to which he owes allegiance.

The approximate 30 sovereign nations in North and South America, from Canada in the north to the southern tip of Argentina in the south, were settled primarily by pioneers from England, France and Spain. As pioneers, they were not creating new countries; they were expanding the world-territory of the countries of which they were citizens. As such, although they were half-way around the world, from their political perspective, they never left home.

An example, using the house in which I live. The land was granted to English pioneers by King George III on May 13, 1805. I have a copy of that land grant that I obtained from our county land registry office in Brantford. The land was given to a patriotic pioneer.

The house was built not long afterward, by an Englishman, Edward Paling, according to English customs. The house was well built. It has stood rock-solid for over 200 years (with modern upgrades, such as electricity in the 1930s and telephone in the 1940s). It has witnessed the War of 1812, Confederation in 1867, the First and Second World Wars, the Cold War, and a multitude of events through all of that time.

Edward Paling was also a faithful Christian. From his own land grant, he donated the land and much of the building materials for an English Methodist church that was built just across the road (a road was built after the land grant). Mr. Paling and his family could look out their kitchen window and see that church which stood until the late 1960s (I walked past that church hundreds of times as a child growing up).

The church, like the house, was built to last. It was however demolished by a 1960s era land owner across the road who had purchased it from a different church denomination that had acquired it some years before. As it happened, that man's own daughter was the last marriage to have taken place there about 10 years before.

The drawing below, done in the late 1800s, is of that very church.

Woodberry Church

Generations of the Paling family lived in this house until the late 1930s. They were born here, lived here, died here for about 120 years. Their children played in this house just I did many years later.

Mr. Paling and his wife Mary lived to be quite elderly, both over 90. I didn't attend their funerals of course, but I am certain how they were conducted.

Both died in this house. I know that because I found copies of their official death certificates at the land registry office. Their funerals, as was typical until the mid 1900s, would have been held here - almost certainly in the very room in which I am writing this - the largest room in the house, known back then as the "parlour" (from a French word that meant to speak) - it's where families, and visitors, met.

The funeral procession, horse-drawn carriages, would have left the house and drove across the road to the church where a service would have been held. The procession would then have made its way to a local cemetery (the church didn't have one - ironically, it might have not been demolished if it did).

There are a number of "pioneer" cemeteries not far from here. It took me months to find his grave - because there was no record of his burial place, and old grave stones, if they survived, often become eroded and difficult, or impossible, to read.

Nevertheless, I found it in the cemetery in Princeton (about 3 miles from here, on the highway to Woodstock) on an overcast autumn day, that although dreary, enabled the reading of the stones easier than in bright sunlight. I took the picture below a few minutes after I found the grave of the pioneer who built this house.

The stone was somewhat taller than those around it, which made me suspect that he was either regarded as a prominent citizen of the time (which he was), or that his family in their grief had made an excessively large stone.

But then I discovered why it is so tall - although it has his name, humbly at the very bottom, the top area is engraved with Bible Scriptures about faith and the coming resurrection. A large stone, not as a monument to the man, but as a testimony to his unwavering patriotism to his country and his God.

Edward Paling

Thank you Mr. Paling and family. I will care for and defend your pioneer home for as long as it is in my power to do so.

Wayne Blank