John McGregor  (1840 - 1918)

Lake Tekapo with Lake McGregor and Lake Alexandrina in the background known for good trout fishing.
 Lake Tekapo to the right. Cass Valley in the center and the small pond is Lake Murray. In 1873, John McGregor obtained a licence for a piece of land in the forks of the Cass River, and named it Glenmore and held the run for 16 years. He named it after a valley in Scotland.

 - Highland Shepherd to Station Owner

When you head up country and over Burkes Pass the country side changes dramatically from green farmland to tawny tussock. This is the Mackenzie were winters are always severe and Lake Tekapo and the Southern Alps suddenly appear, an area that will always be an asset to New Zealand.  In the1880s the population was 80% Scottish, and many came from the Highlands, spoke Gaelic, arrived in the 1860s with their collie dogs and wore the kilt for social occasions and studio portraits. The Scots were use to the severe climate and isolation. They were thrifty and industrious. Lady Barker wrote in Station Life in New Zealand in 1870 "Scotchmen do particularly well out here; frugal and thrifty, hard-working and sober, it is easy to predict the future of a man of this type in a new country." The settlers were independent and were able to master the environment and cope with most problems. Vast run holdings are still necessary to maintain enough sheep to make a profit. The pure merino is still the predominate breed because it has proven to withstand the rigours of the semi-arid Mackenzie, the rough country and the extremes in temperature.

Reference: Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Canterbury edition. Vol. 3  pages 960 - 962. Published 1903

McGREGOR, JOHN, Sheep farmer, Burkes' Pass.  Mr McGregor was born in Banffshire, Scotland, in 1840, and was brought up to farming.  He came out to Lyttelton in the ship "Chariot of Fame," in January, 1863, and immediately on landing was engaged on the Grampiams run, Mackenzie country and he drove 3,000 sheep there from Waimakariri.  Mr McGregor stayed at "The Grampiams" for five years, and then had charge of Gray Hills and Whale's Back stations for several years.  In 1874 he bought Glenmore station, consisting of 40,000 acres at Tekapo, and carried it on for sixteen years.  Mr McGregor then went to Burke's Pass, and bought his present property of 500 acres known as "Glenavon" and carries on sheep farming.  He also owns eighty acres with his residence in the township.  In 1902 be bought the Rona run of 1400 acres, which almost adjoins "Glenavon," Mr McGregor was for eight years a member of the Mount Cook Road Board, first elected in 1876, and in 1883 organized a petition for having the road district formed into the Mackenzie county.  He succeeded in his undertaking, and acted as chairman for the Mackenzie County Council for ten years.  He had twenty miles to ride to meetings and yet he missed only three in the sixteen years of his connection with the road board and county council.  Mr McGregor has served on the local school committee and was a prompter of the Burke's Pass Domain Board of which he is chairman.  He was for nine years a member of the Waitaki Licensing Committee, and for twenty years was secretary of the Tekapo Jockey Club.  He has been a Justice of the Peace since 1882.  The first trout turned into lake Alexandrina were brought from Christchurch by Mr McGregor.  He was married, in 1878, to a daughter of the late Mr Stent, of Melbourne, and has six sons and three daughters. Burford, photo in his older years without a hat. [Arthur James Burford had a studio in Princess St. Timaru between 1901 to 1912, so the photo was taken between these years]

Reference: William Vance High Endeavour, 1965, pg 177

John found the country too cold to winter sheep, so in partnership with Tom Macdonald and John and William Robinson, they bought Castle Hill from Alfred Cox in 1875, amalgamated the two properties, and retained the name Glenmoore.

"To be young and fit and keen, alone in a mountain world with only the skyline beyond: what a life for a young man" a shepherd voiced

Reference: Robert Pinney South Canterbury Runs. Chapter 10. Glenmore

John McGregor, a Roman Catholic, was no ignorant Scot. The Banffshire region remained largely Roman Catholic after the Reformation (16th century). His diaries are written regularly, tidily and in a clear hand. The spelling is good, and aberrations are phonetic or otherwise accountable. His own daughter's name was spelt Ratchel, no doubt as he pronounced it.  His horse was called Warrick. There is often poetry in the use of "morn", "even" and "noon" and on phases such as "gloomy with sparks of rain". He wrote his reminiscences as an old man sometimes wrong in the dating. In 1863, Henry Ford, a passenger on board the Chariot of Fame, engaged John McGregor, age 23,  as a shepherd, with another, and they drove 3000 merino wethers to the Grampians Station. There McGregor worked as a boundary keeper.  In 1873 Castle Hill was sold to McGregor.  In June 1875 "Robinson and McGregor" took up Glenmore. Times were very hard.  He held the station through some bad winters and ended up "skinning some sheep".  From 1878 times became very hard and the 1879 snow was a major disaster. In the 1880s times became harder still, and prices for wool cruelly low and in 1884 there was a "a phenomenal spring snowstorm" and with colossal losses. His friend was Andrew Cowan, a Highlander, who also served on the Mount Cook Road Board, who was born in Rosshire and came out to Canterbury in December 1863.  McGregor and Cowan use to help each other muster and McGregor would use Andy's boat to get to Tekapo. They would call upon each other with their wives and children. By 1888 to 1890 McGregor was no longer living at Glenmore but had a house at Burkes Pass. This must have been convenient for schooling and Road Board meetings and he attended church, enjoyed his garden and rabbits. Like all good councillors he got a road to Glenmore. Better than some, he got a road past Glenmore to the Mistake. In 1891 The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company  ended up taking over Glenmore.

Mistake Peak from Lake Tekapo.

Geraldine Co., South Canterbury, Sheepowner Returns Year  1879 	 1880     1881 
McGregor, John, Glenmore, Lake Tekapo 			 14000 	10000 	13000
John lost 4000 sheep 1879-1880 due to the hard winter.

Reference: South Canterbury, A Record of Settlement, 1958

page 343
The introduction of trout and their naturalisation in the rivers and streams of South Canterbury was so successful that at one time the Opihi River gained a reputation which attracted anglers from all parts of the world. The original stocking of South Canterbury waters was undertaken by private individuals. Melville Gray, of Ashwick liberated trout in the streams of the Fairlie basin in 1871. Selby Tancred placed fifty young brown trout in the Waihi River in the same year. Trout was liberated by Gray, Tancred and Herbert Meyer in 1872. In 1873 E.T. Walker, R. Inwood and J.A Young began systematically to stock the Waihi, and Gray released another lot in the streams around Fairlie. Poaching became a problem and rangers were therefore appointed and gazetted throughout South Canterbury in 1875 including Lachlan McPherson of Mount Four Peaks, Edward Elworthy of Holme Station, John H. Raine of Sherwood Downs, W.S. Davidson, manager of Levels, Oswald McCallum of Arowhenua, C.G. Tripp of Orari Gorge and John Henry of Peel Forest. Poachers if caught and convicted paid a fine of £50.

page 345
At the instigation of G.E. Mannering, at that time manager of the Union Bank of Australia in Timaru and an enthusiastic fisherman trout were liberated by John McGregor in Lake Alexandrina (Cass Valley in the centre), in 1881, the year in which 10,000 fry were also placed in high-country streams and rivers. These fish, however, never thrived in the glacier fed lakes and rivers, and Alexandrina today is the only stretch of water in the Mackenzie where good trout fishing is obtained. In 1956 215,000 rainbow and 289,000 brown trout were liberated in Lake Alexandrina.

Timaru Herald, 4th December, 1879, page 3Reference: William Vance High Endeavour, 1965, pg 178

Photo between pages 112 and 113
A group photo "First Mackenzie Council" 
J.  McGregor seated in front on a chair wearing a hat.

Next page another group photo

"Mackenzie Country sheepmen of early 'seventies"
Kneeling front row a  J. McGregor. A middle age man.

Lake Alexandrina: The lake was named after Alexandrina Robinson, a sister of William and John Robinson, partners with John McGregor in Glenmore Station. The trout, for which the lake is now famous, were liberated by John McGregor in 1881. McGregor said that the young trout were sent from Christchurch by train to Albury and by coach from there to by Burkes Pass by Elijah Smart and Maxwell Black. It was midnight when they arrived at Burkes Pass, where McGregor was waiting. McGregor took possession of the trout, drove straight-away to Lake Alexandrina and liberated them there just before dawn. All the trout, except three, survived the long and varied trip.

Lake McGregor: Not far from Lake Alexandrina, this lake was named after John McGregor, owner of Glenmore Station.

Reference: Jubilee History of South Canterbury (1916) Page 26
                    Timaru Herald 4 December 1879 pg3

Introduction of trout. The first trout introduced into South Canterbury, on 2nd Dec. 1869, were liberated in a branch of the Tengawai, at the Point by Messrs. Meek and Howell; they numbered 12 fish, and were brought from the Otago Acclimatisation Society. The next fifty were turned into a creek by W.K. Macdonald, of the Orari, on 27th Dec. 1871. The first reported liberation in various Mackenzie County streams was on 4th December, 1879 and in Lake Alexandrina, Gray’s Creek, and the Upper Pareora Rivers on 14th October, 1881.


Lake Alexandrina from Mt John, Nov. 2011

Reference: NZ Post:

Scenic Reflections stamp series issued in 7 July 2000
Lake Alexandrina - $1.80 stamp
The Mackenzie Country’s Lake Alexandrina is small and delicate when compared to the mighty Lake Tekapo to its east, one of the South Island’s largest lakes. Its clear water contrasts with the opaque turquoise waters of the glacier-fed Tekapo and neighbouring Lake Pukaki. Motorised boats are not allowed on Lake Alexandrina, making it an attractive option for those seeking peaceful picnicking or undisturbed fishing. Alexandrina is a favoured spot with trout anglers and a few quaint huts or baches, or cribs as known in the South Island, dot the shoreline. In 2003 there were one hundred and seventeen hut holders at Lake Alexandrina paid an uniform annual charge of $134.

18 April 2014. On a stormy afternoon visiting friends who where at their bach for the Easter holidays.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Rob KERR 27 September 2007 Timaru Herald
Owning a bach is becoming harder as land near water becomes more expensive. Last summer Timaru man Garry Linton and his mate Auckland businessman Hamish McKenzie took the plunge to buy a nostalgic, owner-built bach at Lake Alexandrina. Perched above the outlet stream and close to Lake McGregor, it's the kind of spot Kiwis working overseas dream about and photographers use in calendars. Bits and pieces from home, both treasure and tat, have made their way to the bach. You walk in and feel at home - it's as if you have been there before. The Pinex wall boards, mix of carpets, collection of glasses, promotional jugs and ashtrays, recycled building materials and furniture are familiar. Bedrooms are reached by walking through other bedrooms and the loo is outside. The dated, the cute, the make do, kitsch and quirky have been thrown together and it feels just right. Timaru painter Colin Smith created the bach. In his early 20s he was keen on fishing and wanted a Lake Alex bach. In 1958 a tiny hut came up for sale for 400 - a large amount of money. He bought it unseen and later discovered it had to be relocated from beside the outlet bridge.

The Mackenzie County Council and Acclimatisation Society oversaw the fishing huts that are now on Department of Conservation administered land. Colin was offered a section to lease half-way up the "Middle Huts" hill. "I looked at it and thought I can do something with this. This is bloody good." He gained a building consent and inspections were made during construction. In the Timaru Army Hall he built a kitset frame and walls to extend the hut. For about six months he worked on the hut with plenty of help from friends. Colin poured concrete piles in old paint drums, The sections were freighted and assembled over a busy weekend. The flat roof and exposed beams were inspired by a magazine article on a Canadian holiday home. The bach has a large, party- friendly lounge. The flooring timber came from the Alliance Textile Mill and is lanolin preserved. As a painter, he picked up items from renovations. The kitchen came from a farm in Hakataramea and paid for with use of the bach. Other items Colin made. The bach began as a bachelor pad. "We had some rowdy parties in there and had some fun." Later two more bedrooms were added on. Over almost 40 years Colin, and later his family, decorated the hut. His family moved away from the area and he and his wife Barbara went to work in Christchurch. The bach was sold in the late 90s to former Timaru man David Wakefield. Last summer it came on the market and through word of mouth it quickly sold. The new owners think they have something unique. "Tekapo and Lake Alex are a special part of the country and being a local you know what a treasure that place is," says Garry. Colin is delighted the bach has kept so much character and is still being enjoyed. "It was built on a shoestring and it worked out really well. I just couldn't sit there and twiddle my thumbs, I liked to do something. It's been a bloody beaut bach and we had some happy times there."   

 

The Kiwi bach (pronounced batch) or crib is likely to be a very long way from SH1, have a fantastic view, perhaps not even have electricity - and be regarded as paradise by generations of a New Zealand family. The only place you will find "huts" is in South Canterbury. Local holiday homes get the "hut" label regardless of their location, on the coast, at a river or by a lake.

 

That someone who was "baching" was temporarily living alone, not indulging in music by the German composer; and that down south a crib was a holiday home, not a prop from a nativity play.


It can be calm or rough.

Kiwi Christmas Message

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the bach
not even a weta was making a scratch.
Woolly socks were hung by the pot belly with care
In the hopes that Santa soon would be there.

The children were snoozing in a light summer breeze
Whilst dreaming of spongy pud and lime green cream freeze
And Dad in his walk shorts and me in my jandals
Had just settled down for a couple of handles.

When out on the lawn I heard such a ruckus
I sprang from my Lazy Boy to see what the fuss was.
I ran to the sliding door, gasping and wheezing,
Threw open the curtains and upped the venetians.

The moon on the sand and the trailer tarp
Lit the beach up just like Eden Park.
But still when I saw, I thought I was asleep,
A miniature Kingswood pulled by eight tiny sheep.

With a little old driver, sipping a Fanta,
I knew in a moment it had to be Santa.
Faster than Phar Lap on steroids they came.
and he coo-eed and shouted and called them by name.

"Now Kevin! Now Sharleen! Now Rangi and Beck!
On Darryl! On Shazza! On Bilbo and Shrek!"
To the top of the pagoda, to the top of the wall!
"Get in behind! Get in behind, all!"

As sandflies around the barbeque fly
When they sniff the sizzlers and take to the sky,
So up to the top of the bach they flew
With a boot full of toys and Santa Claus too.

With a handbrake stop, they arrived on the roof,
Four Goodyear tyres and thirty two hoofs.
And as I quickly turned and ran to the lounge,
Out from the chimney Santa came with a bound

He was wearing boardshorts, and gumboots on foot
and his whiskers were covered in six-month old soot.
A bundle of toys he had on his back
As if on OE with a brand new Macpac.

He looked like he's come from the beauty parlour
With rosy red cheeks like pohutakawa.
A gorgeous big grin and white as white hair
With wee little tufts growing out of his ears.

He had a broad chest and a round beer gut
That shook when he laughed like Jabba the Hutt.
He was jolly and plump, a right jolly hobbit,
And I laughed when I saw him, I just couldn't stop it.

He gave me a wink and a bonza thumbs up
and I quickly realized he wasn't a nut.
He went straight to the socks without saying a thing
And filled them with Barbies and Shrek-2 keyrings.

Then giving his nose a jolly good scratch
He flew up the chimney with an almighty flash.
He jumped in the Kingswood and cranked the ignition,
And then they took off, like some NASA mission,
But all I could hear as he drove out of sight
"Merry Christmas to all, have a jolly good night.

Beautiful New Zealand series 1984
Lake Alexandrina - 70c
Lake Alexandrina, a small and beautiful satellite of Lake Tekapo, a scenic reserve of 24 ha, surrounded by short tussock grassland and a few willow trees, in the Mackenzie Basin, is only open during June and July for fishing. Lakes Tekapo, Pukaki, Ohau and Benmore are open all year round. Lake Alexandrina is a wild life refuge for the southern crested grebe, NZ scaup, Australian coot, black back gull, little shag, NZ shoveler, paradise shelduck, Australian black swan, black stilt, grey teal and an exceptional trout fishing resort, and home for the South Island Acclimatisation Society. Map  If heading north to Pukaki the turn is on the right just after Tekapo, down a shingle road to the Mt John Observatory, opposite the access to the Canal Road. Lake McGregor is the first wee lake, also teeming with waterfowl, and has a campground.

Lake Alexandrina - 1st Nov. 2009, photo taken by me.

Reference:  Electoral Gladstone District - 1876-77

Name of Elector  		  	Place of Abode 	Place where Property situate 
No: 304 McGregor John 	leasehold 	Glenmore 	Glenmore, Mackenzie Country

Reference: Timaru Herald

Birth: On February 15th 1879 at Glenmore station, the wife of John McGregor, of a daughter.
Birth: On the 29th August, 1885 at Burke's Pass, the wife of J. McGregor, of Glenmore Station, of a daughter.

Reference: Timaru Cemetery Database

Looking at this you can see why John and Sarah were buried at Timaru and not Burkes Pass. John McGregor died at the age of 80 on 2 July 1918. Buried 5 July 1918. Timaru Cemetery, General Section, Block B,  Plot 66. Clergyman: Priest. No headstones.
Sarah died at the age of 65 on 8 October 1918. Buried 11 Oct. 1918. Timaru Cemetery, General Section, Block B, Plot 66. Clergyman: Priest, Mary McGregor at age 3 was buried at the Timaru Cemetery 20 December 1881, General Section, Block B, Plot 67. Clergyman: Priest. An infant aged two days was buried at the Timaru Cemetery 31 July 1891. General Section, Block B, Plot 67. Clergyman: Priest.

Grey River Argus, 5 July 1918, Page 2
A Timaru wire states that the death is announced of John McGregor, of Fairlie, in his 80th year. He was an early settler in the  Mackenzie Country and a member of the first Mount Cook Board Board for many years.

Ashburton Guardian, 3 July 1918, Page 4
The death is announced of Mr John McGregor, of Fairlie, in his 80th year. He was an early settler of the Mackenzie Country, a member of the first Mount Cook Road Board and its successor, the Mackenzie County Council, of which he was a member for many years. 

All Highland as Heather.

Why did he name his properties "Glenmore" and "Glenavon" ?

Banffshire, a former maritime county in the north-east part of Scotland in the Grampian region, bounded on the north by the Moray Frith; on the east and south-east, by Aberdeenshire. In 1873, John, obtained a licence for a piece of land in the forks of the Cass River, Lake Tekapo, and named the run 'Glenmore', probably after a location in the Scottish Highlands. Later John purchased another property, a farm at Burkes Pass and named it 'Glenavon'. One of the large glens in Banffshire is named Glen Avon. He probably missed the Highlands and this area reminded him of the Old Country so he named his properties after locations he was familiar with. Canterbury received more Highlanders with farming backgrounds between 1853 and 1870 than other parts of the country because special efforts were made to recruit Scottish shepherds. Due to significant emigration of Highlanders to Australasia, where today are found considerably more descendants of Highlanders than in Scotland itself. Banffshire population in 1861 - 4673. 


In memory of Ernst Spahr, aged 62 and Fritz Spahr, aged 63, of Switzerland tragically drowned in lake Alexandrina 22nd February 1992.

South CanterburyGenWeb Project Home Page

TROUT IN THE WAITAKI LAKES.
North Otago Times, 24 February 1897, Page 3

The local Acclimatisation Society has for the last two or three years contemplated a trip to the lakes at the head waters of the Waitaki river in order to ascertain the correctness or otherwise of the reports furnished to it as to the quantity and quality of the trout in these lakes. With this object in view a party consisting of Dr de Lautour and Messrs John Sinclair, George Dennistoun and Jas. C. Milligan (members of the Waitaki Acclimatisation Society), and Dr Hayes and Messrs Aspinall, Mackintosh, and Palliser (representing the South Canterbury Society) met at Lake Ohau on the 15th inst. The local Society took with them Mr M Petenen, with his nets, who gave most valuable assistance. Mr Jas. Macdonald, of Oamaru, also accompanied the party.

An early start next morning brought the party to Glenmore in the evening, between Lakes Alexandrina and Tekapo. Lake Tekapo Is not quite so milky as Lake Pukaki. Lake Alexandrina, some five or six miles long, it a beautifully clean lake, and the party, standing on the terraces looking down into Its depths, could see shoals of beautiful trout swimming round its margins. This lake has a few beaches suitable for seining, but the rocks on the edges frustrated many attempts. A few very nice fish were, however, secured, weighing from 61bs to 131bs. These were in splendid condition. This lake is also full of feed. It communicates with Lake Tekapo by a small stream, a large-sized lagoon, some five or six acres in extent, lying midway between the two lakes. The lagoon was netted, but the fish could not be reached. A few trout were taken out of Tekapo, inferior to those in the other lakes, and very similar to those that are token out of the Waitaki that have not gone to sea. The weather during the whole time was beautifully fine, and the outing was enjoyable. Dr de Lautour returned to town on Monday night, and the remainder of the party are expected to reach town to-morrow morning.

Timaru Herald, 4 December 1897, Page 4
Mr M. S. Black. Three Springs, wrote in reference to the supply of some Paradise flappers, and the secretary was authorised to arrange for them. Mr Black reported that five or six of the geese released at Lake Alexandrina are breeding.

Like a black hawk swooping
I shall whirl upon the Southern Island,
Sweep it with my name as with a tempest,
Overrun it like a play of sunlight,
Sigh across it like a flame, till Terror
Runs before me shrieking!
—Arthur H. Adams.

I must be free as the wildest thing
....
Free to laugh in the beams of day,
Free on the blast to be borne away."
—William Pember Reeves.