Thursday, October 5, 2017

Dream 24 "The Herd of Lambton Hall" (George Brown, 1880)

Seven weeks after being shot by a disgruntled Globe employee, George Brown dreamed that a herd of cows had come to speak with him on his deathbed. He could see them outside his window, dull bells clanking around their necks as they chewed cud and kicked up a musty cloud of dust. He could hear their hooves on the hardwood downstairs and as they clomped up to the second floor to squeeze into his room. It was tightly packed in there. The air was foul, green with the fumes of the manure that soaked into the rug, and buzzing with flies.

They had concerns, these cows. They pushed up to the side of his bed, all wet bovine noses and bad breath. One was there to talk about Bow Park. The financial situation at the farm had the beast worried. Another was upset about the poor Liberal showing in the last election. Some of them wanted jobs. One wanted money to make telephones with Alexander Graham Bell. More than a few had ideas about the newspaper’s redesign. They were all annoyed and short-tempered.

But George Brown was barely listening. His attention was fixed on the only cow in the room who hadn’t said a word. She was down closer to the foot of his bed, calmly licking at the wound in his thigh. When he tried to shake her off, he found his leg refused to move. So when she started to chew at it, there was nothing he could do — just lie there in pain and wait.


George Brown was a Father of Confederation and the founder of the Globe newspaper. He was shot by a disgruntled newspaper employee in 1880 and, refusing to give up his demanding schedule, he died slowly of his wound. He lived in a house at the corner of Beverley and Baldwin Streets in Toronto called Lambton Hall (now a National Historic Site) and owned a farm called Bow Park just outside Brantford.

You can read more about the assassination of George Brown in Jamie Bradburn's post for Torontoist here. Explore more Toronto Dreams Project postcards here.