The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series
Avoca — (Runs 215, 241, and Class II 163)
(Runs 215, 241, and Class II 163)
The Avoca Station, which lies at the back of Mt. Torlesse, was taken up by Charles John Harper, a son page 221of the Bishop, in October, 1857, and February, 1858. He called the place the West End.
It is rather an awkward place to get in or out of even now, and until a woolshed was built there a few years ago, the sheep were shorn at Craigieburn. But in Harper's time they were shorn on the place, and George Harper, who worked there for his brother, used to pack the wool out on bullocks, three sacks on each, then sledge it to the West Coast Road, where he yoked the bullocks up in a dray, and so to Christchurch.
Charles Harper sold the station in 1864 to Foster and Moore; who sold it in 1873 to Karslake and Anson, of Mt. Torlesse. It was afterwards worked with Mt. Torlesse for some years, and later with Craigieburn until 1907, when H. G. Heath started it again as a separate place.
Heath sold it in 1913 to John Carmichael, formerly of Birch Hill in the Mackenzie Country. Carmichael did not stay long, and since his time it has changed hands several times. The present owners, T. and E. Clarke, bought it in 1924.
I have given accounts of Harper, Karslake and Anson in the notes of other stations. Foster was Reginald Foster the stock inspector. He was born at Evesham, Worcestershire, in 1841, educated at Cheltenham College and Oxford, and came to Canterbury in 1861. Before he bought Avoca he worked as a cadet with Mannering at Birch Hill. In 1872 he took the management of Craigieburn, but went on with Avoca as well. He was chairman of the Upper Waimakariri Road Board and persuaded the Provincial Government to make the road over Porters Pass reasonably safe, for which services his neighbours presented him with a gold watch. When he and Moore sold Avoca he farmed near Waipara for a short time, but was appointed stock inspector for North Canterbury in 1876 and afterwards became chief inspector for the Canterbury— Kaikoura district. He died in Christchurch in June, 1910. I knew him towards the end of his life. As he had known every station and most of the squatters in Canterbury during near fifty years, he was a splen-page 222did man for stories about the old days, and very well he told them. Unfortunately, since my notes were burnt, I can only recall one of them. Foster arrived one evening at Lyndon and old John Tinline, with his venerable white beard and his high chirrupy voice entertained him until very late indeed with observations and reflections. The more gin he drank, the more sententious he became. At last, before going to bed, Tinline said, 'Foster, I attribute the great success I have had in this colony almost entirely to my having made a rule, and always kept it. I never have a drink before the sun is over the yard-arm, before 12 o'clock in fact.' Next day it poured with rain so Foster couldn't make his inspection and had nothing to do but sit and watch Tinline writing letters for an English mail. By about 10.30, after his unwonted potations the night before, he began to wish Tinline's 12 o'clock rule to the devil, but then noticed that Tinline himself was taking surreptitious squints at the clock, and at about a quarter to eleven Tinline got up and said, 'Well Foster, this is one of those exceptions that prove the rule,' and unlocked the cupboard.
Moore was the Rev. Lorenzo Moore, many years Vicar of Papanui. Before taking orders he had been a major in the Indian Cavalry. He had two sons, Fred and Lorenzo, who worked as cadets with Foster. His daughter married Sir John Gorst.
Heath had been a cadet with Savill at Hororata and Craigieburn, and now lives in Palmerston North.
John Carmichael was for many years my overseer at Glentanner. He was one of the best shepherds that ever came to the country, and could walk through merino sheep on a hillside and disturb them as little as most men would disturb crossbreds. He was very superstitious. I happened to tell him that one year when I was at Mt. Peel, an unusual number of deformed lambs had been born—one with two heads, several with five legs, and half a dozen hermaphrodites. 'Oh, that's no' a good sign, there's no luck in the like o' that,' said John, and I was glad to be able to con-page 223firm his opinion by telling him that the '95 winter which very nearly ruined John Barton Acland, the owner, had followed that lambing.
I thought no more about it until the following spring when we got the Glentanner lambs in for marking, and saw that there were far more black lambs among them than usual, so I asked John whether this also portended bad luck. 'No, no, black lambs is the sign of an increasing business,' said John, and sure enough I had one of the best years I ever had.
I also had an unusual number of black lambs at the beginning of a very good year indeed at the Lanercost in the Amuri. Nowadays at Cecil Peak I seem to have unusually few black sheep—not half a dozen black fleeces from a flock of 9,000, but on the other hand I do not remember ever seeing a badly deformed lamb there.
After he sold the Avoca, Carmichael retired and lived in Wellington where he died in 1927.