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BRANT COUNTY, ONTARIO BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

Brantford Township History

 

These Township Histories have been transcribed by Bill Bowman from Warner and Beers History of Brant County 1883. They are being posted as Bill completes them. A big thank you to Bill for his hard work!

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BRANTFORD TOWNSHIP

Page 361 - This township, the largest and most central of the County of Brant, is a level surface of seventy-nine thousand two hundred and forty-seven acres, thoroughly well cleared, and containing some of the best wheat-growing land in Canada. It is bounded on the north by the Township of South Dumfries; on the south-west by the Township of Oakland; on the south-east by the Townships of Tuscarora and Onondaga; on the east by the Township of Ancaster, in the County of Wentworth; on the west by the Township of Burford. It contains the Villages of Cainsville, Mount Pleasant, Mount Vernon and Langford, and is watered by the tortuous current of the Grand River, which enters the township at Paris on the northern town line; also in its western district by the smaller stream known as Whiteman's and Mount Pleasant Creeks, with several tributary brooks; and on the eastern side by two rivulets, once famous for the trout which have since unaccountably disappeared, and named Hynd's and Fairchild's Creeks. Since the destruction of the forests these creeks have considerably decreased in size, but are still of use in irrigating the country through which they flow.

The settlement of this township dates from the commencement of the present century. The first white settler was Mr. John File, who found the entire region covered with forest, oak, pine and maple, and used as a hunting ground by the Six Nation Indians of the Iroquois tribe, who considered the whole region on each side of the Grand River as their indefeasible property.

Bottom Page 361-362 - The earliest settled district of this township was among the oak openings on the banks of the brook known from the name of the first settler along its margin, as "Fairchild's Creek." There the land reclaimed from the primeval forest repaid the labours of its first cultivators by a return of forty bushels of grain to the acre. The fame of its fertility became known, and a sprinkling of settlers soon gathered on either side of the creek and to the eastern bank of the grand river. Among these pioneers of Brantford Township were John Oles, Senr., and Isaac Whiting; also Major Westbrook. The latter was the son of one of the veterans of the War of the Revolution, Mr. Anthony Westbrook, the representative of an old English family of high Tory and Cavalier principles, who settled for two generations in New York State, but refused to acknowledge the new order of things, or change the Union Jack for the Star and Stripes. He cast his lot with the other Loyalists who gave up a settled home in a prosperous country to seek a precarious sustenance in the unsettled wilds of the Canadian forest. Such men were no ordinary immigrants. Under the stroke of their stalwart arms the forests disappeared, the land gave forth its increase, the wild beast and the painted savage receded, English-speaking Canada, With all its wealth of cultivated soil and settled country, came into being. Among the earliest of these settlers, as has been said, was Mr. John Oles the elder, who came to Brantford Township in 1806, and found himself on a wilderness, without a track through its forest except the trail known to Indian hunters, and no white neighbours nearer than the few dwellers in the log shanties around the mill at Brantford. In 1810 there were but three families settled in the region between Brantford and Ancaster, to the eastern side of the Grand River. Where the undulating ground beside Fairchild's Creek indicates the alluvial deposits of some mightier water-course in prehistoric ages, several settlers took up land which amply repaid their labours; and in twenty-five years from its earliest settlement , the entire township had become a well cultivated and thriving settlement.

Bottom Page 362-365 - In fact, Brantford township has an earlier and more prosperous history than Brantford Town. Where now a stately city of over ten thousand inhabitants extends its brilliant streets, a village by the curvature of the Grand River contained a few Indian huts and two log houses, owned by John Stalts and Enos Bunnell. The site of this first rude beginning of Brantford was called Mississagua Hill, from the fact that it was a favourite camping ground of the Mississagua Indians of the Iroquois tribe, settled on the neighbouring reserve of the Grand River. Such was the condition of Brantford as late as 1810. In that year, however, the Government of Upper Canada opened what is now the principal road leading through the County of Brant from Hamilton to London. When the war broke out in 1812 a considerable sum was expended in improving this road for military reasons; It was throughout crosswayed with logs in order to render it available for the transport of troops and military stores. This road was in 1815 much improved, being planked for a considerable distance, graded, and, when the requisite labour could be obtained, levelled up with gravel. Although still the leading thoroughfare of Brant County, the "Old London Road" has never been a pleasant or satisfactory highway. A tradition survives among the last survivors of the older generations that in the first decade of the present century an American traveller from Boston passed through this region and gave to several of the villages the names by which they are at present known. Thus the hamlet now called Boston owes its ambitious designation to the fact that the explorer in question found there four families, all of whom were immigrants from his native city who had been venturous enough to seek a home in the untrodden wilds of Western Canada. This part of Brant County was settled by men who had no capital beyond a few necessaries and their own strong self-reliance and sturdy arms. They had to endure privations and encounter hardships which at the distance of sixty years seem like the fictions of a DeFoe. One of the oldest residents in Cainsville has related how he had to drive to Hamilton with an ox-team through almost unbroken forest, in order to attend at his post as juryman. The jury was at that time convened from a region as large as a German Principality, and so strong was the sense of public duty, that although obliged to travel at their own expense and exposed to great hardships, the jurymen of those primitive days never failed to answer to their names.

When the last verdict had been rendered and the court closed, the ox-team was hitched up and the two days' drive through the woods was resumed. Well was it when the wolves, hunger-driven through the oak forest, failed to over take the slow-moving equipage. As late as 1830 the entire area of what is now Brantford Township remained in the possession of the Six Nations Indians, but at that date the town plot of Brantford and the north part of the township of the same name were deeded away, and further surrenders were made from time to time until the whole township was ceded and settled. When a subdivision was effected of the four original districts into which the Province of Upper Canada was divided, this township was made a part of the Gore District, and was incorporated in the County of Wentworth, until it was attached to the new County of Brant on the formation of the latter in the year 1852.

Part of Page 365 - Brantford Township The regular concessions in this township number from north to south; the lots are counted from west to east. The shape of the township is exceedingly irregular, the settlement having been effected by purchases of land contracted with the Indians through their representative, Captain Brant, and arranged without the slightest regard to regularity. The soil of the Township of Brantford is almost without exception admirably adapted for agricultural purposes. West of the grand River, and south of the town line of South Dumfries as far as the second range east of Mount Pleasant Road, it is fine sandy soil, level and with a gravel subsoil, very productive, and with seemingly exhaustless wheat-growing power. This plain country extends on the east side of the river north of the Town of Brantford as far as Paris, and for three or four miles on each side of the Grand River. To the south of this region the soil is stronger, consisting of a rich clay loam. All through the township the geological formation is limestone, with occasional formations of gravel.

Page 365-366 - A leading episode in the history of this township is the raid of the American General McArthur, who with some seven hundred cavalry, chiefly the Kentucky Mounted Riflemen, invaded Canada by way of the Thames Valley, and on through Oxford County and Burford Township, with the object of relieving an American force then besieged by British troops at Fort Erie. Mr. John Oles, already referred to as one of the oldest settlers of this township, was present at the repulse of this General at the bend of the Grand River. The river, although the month was October, was unusually high, so much so that it would have been hazardous for the invading army to attempt passage. The eastern branch was held by a force partly made up of Indians and partly of Canadian Militia, who showed such a bold front to the invaders several of whom fell at the first fire exchanged across the river, that General McArthur abandoned all idea of marching on Fort Erie, and at once retreated through Burford and the Thames Valley to his own country. It is not the least noteworthy incident in the annals of our country that this repulse of a well disciplined body of regular troops was achieved by native Canadian soldiers unsupported by a single company of the old country regulars. There was at that time no bridge over the Grand River at this point, the only means of crossing being an old scow navigated by an Indian. Mr. Oles, who used to delight in fighting this battle over again, was wont to tell how the Canadian soldiers entrenched themselves under the shelter of an abutment of a bridge which had been swept away by a spring freshet some years before, the Americans being posted in a farm-house and its outbuildings on the other side. Mr. Oles witnessed the death of a Kentucky rifleman who had crept into a disused oven on the river bank, from the vent hole of which he maintained a galling fire on the Canadian troops. But a Canadian militiaman, taking aim at the vent hole of the oven, fired with so accurate an aim that one loud cry was heard, and the American's fellow soldiers dragged out his dead body, which was buried on the spot.

Disheartened at this repulse the raiders retired; and thus, unaided by the boasted prowess of foreign armies, Canadians defended Canada. Since that memorable day, the township which we are describing ranks with those happy countries which have no history. Unlike the Townships of South Dumfries and Burford, Brantford Township took no part in the insurrectionary movement of 1837-38. Like the capital of Brant County, this township takes its name from the remarkable Indian chief whose capacity for receiving the lessons of civilization did so much to promote the well-being of his own countrymen, and the peaceful settlement of the country around the reserve which had been so generously granted to them by the British Government. It is but seldom that the cession of American soil from the aborigines, who claim by priority of tenure the right of ownership, has been so peaceably accomplished as by this redoubted chief of the once terrible Iroquois. And it is remarkable that all the transfers of land effected in this township by the sole agency of Captain Brant were conducted with an unimpeachable integrity which, in 1811, drew forth from the members of a Government Committee appointed to investigate Indian affairs, the following testimony: " Whether Captain Joseph Brant did or did not on all occasions execute the trust reposed in him faithfully towards the Indians, the trustees are unable to judge, no evidence having been laid before them on that subject; and it is only right to observe that no improper conduct whatever has been imputed to him before the trustees; and they are therefore bound to assume that he discharged his duty with due fidelity."

Balance of Page 366 and Part of Page 367 - Brantford Township About three miles from the Town of Brantford stands an old frame church built by the Mohawk chief who has given his name to town and township. It has no pretensions to architectural correctness, being built in the "carpenters' Gothic" style common to country churches of the period. But it is remarkable as being the first edifice erected for Christian worship in Upper Canada. It was built by the benefaction, and in part by the mutual labour of the extraordinary man whose remains are interred in an oblong tomb, covered by a single stone slab, beside the church. Much of the prosperity of Brantford Township is derived from the railways, which afford its farmers such convenient access to the great markets east and west. The Harrisburg branch of the Great Western Railway passes through the township in a north-east direction from the Town of Brantford leaving the township at the north-east corner. The Grand Trunk Railway runs through the centre of Brantford Township, into which it enters on the south-east town line, close to the Village of Cainsville, and having passed through the Town of Brantford, takes a north-west direction, and leaves the township on its north border, near Paris. The Brantford, Norfolk and Port Burwell Railway runs in a westerly course from the Town of Brantford, leaving the township between the fourth and fifth concessions of the Burford town line. The hardships endured by the early settlers in Brantford Township, as compared with the easy times and accumulated conveniences now enjoyed by their successors and descendants, may be estimated by reading a passage from an Act of Parliament of the year 1873(33 George the Third, chapter sixth, section fourth), in which it is enacted "that the Court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the Western District of Upper Canada shall commence and be holden in the Town of Detroit, on the second Tuesday in the months of January, April, July and October." Detroit is situated one hundred and fifty miles from the Town of Brantford. Exclusive of the Town of Brantford, the population of Brantford Township is 6,555.

Part of Page 367 - Village of Cainsville This is the most important business centre in the Township of brantford. It is named after Peter Cain, an American, one of the first settlers, and the proprietor of the first hotel in the village. It is a post village on the old Hamilton and London Road, is three miles distant from Brantford Town, and is a flag station on the Grand Trunk Railway. It contains two churches, one Episcopal Methodist, the other Church of England. This village was laid out in 1837 by the Grand River Navigation Company, and undertaking in which a large amount of the capital was subscribed by the Indians of Grand River reserve. It contains two hotels, a very handsome white brick school house in the Italian renaissance style, several stores, a match factory, four waggon shops, four blacksmith shops, a grocery, cheese factory, and about three hundred inhabitants.

Balance of Page 367 and Part of Page 368 - Village of Cainsville The Churches
As has been stated, are two in number. The Church of England edifice is much out of repair, and owing to the accident that the leading members happen to have lately removed from the neighbourhood of Cainsville, its services are but insufficiently attended. the Cainsville Methodist Church is the handsomest and most commodious public building in the township outside the Town of Brantford. It is built on a lot donated by the late Peter Cain, the father and godfather of the village, in 1851. The building of the church was given out by contract, and after some difficulties with the Building Committee, was entrusted to Messrs. Mellish & Russell, of Brantford Town. The first Pastor was the Reverend Thomas Jeffers, whose zealous labours and eloquent sermons are still remembered with gratitude by the survivors of the generation now rapidly passing away.

In 1876 the increasing membership of the Methodist denomination in this locality was such that the church accommodation became quite insufficient for the worshippers. Arrangements were accordingly made to secure a lot for building a new church in a more convenient location in the centre of Cainsville Village. The site chosen was part of the old school house lot. the school house itself had in former times served as a house of prayer for both the Church of England and the Methodist denominations, who had been accustomed to hold service there on alternate Sundays. The Rev. Mr. Usher, of the Town of Brantford, officiated on behalf of the Church of England congregation, the Rev. Thomas Fawcett on behalf of the Methodists. When this first Cainsville Church was built, the trustees were: Captain Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea), D. Lawson, Mr. Lane, C. Johnson, Abraham Hawley, George Lincoln, E. C. Beams, and Alexander Westbrook.

Part of Page 368 - The Cainsville Cheese Factory was established ten years ago by Messrs. Hunter and Paterson; it is now owned by Mr. E. H. Wilcox. the building and plant used in the cheese factory cost about $1200. The building is a large and commodious frame house; it has changed proprietors several times, Mr. Henry Martin having succeeded to Mr. Paterson, and in 1882 he gave place to Mr. E. H. Wilcox, who has placed this factory on a permanent basis of success. His success is the natural result of a considerable past experience in cheesemaking. The annual estimate of the business done in this cheese factory is $6,000. The first important building in this township was the mill erected by James Percy, Esq., about two miles east of the village of Mount Pleasant, which in the primitive nomenclature of those days was known as "Mud Holler," on lot six, second concession, in the first year of the present century. This mill was, in 1813, sold by private contract to thomas Perrin. It was burned by order of the American General McArthur on his march, after the repulse sustained from the Canadian Militia at Brantford, to Thames Valley and the Detroit River. Soon after this, in the year 1813, this mill was rebuilt by the same Thomas Perrin. The total value of the exports from Cainsville in 1881 is estimated at $60,000. The Post Office was established in 1854, David Dresser being the first to hold the office of Postmaster. there are now six carriage factories, and a considerable business is done making the various agricultural labour-saving machines now so extensively used by the farmers of Ontario.

Balance of Page 368 Cainsville History

The first general store was established in 1839 by Mr. A. Duncan, now of Brantford Town.

There is a waggon factory which has been in operation for thirty-one years, and which does a good business throughout the county.

The match manufactory first set on foot by Mr. Allan Blanchard has been in operation for seventeen years. It turns out a total of twenty-eight thousand packages of block matches per annum.

The Village of Cainsville promises every qualification of being a pleasant summer resort, and at present is largely used by the residents of the City of Brantford. The road, which forms its main street, is adorned on each side with handsome villa residences and picturesque groves of trees. One of the most noteworthy features of the Cainsville scenery is Bow Park on the opposite side of the river, the favourite estate of the late lament Liberal statesman the Honourable George Brown. In the "British Farmer's Guide to Ontario," published by the Ontario Government in 1880, it is on record that in this model farm of our Province, there is maintained "perhaps the largest herd of shorthorns in the world." For an extensive description of this enterprise the reader is referred to Chapter VII. of the General County History. The price of land in this part of the Township of brantford ranges from eighty to a hundred dollars per acre.

As has been stated, the beautiful white brick church of the Episcopal Methodists is, outside of the city of Brantford, one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in the County of Brant. There is an average attendance of about a hundred and fifty; the pastor is the Rev. C. G. Colmore. Cainsville has for some years had an Orange Lodge and a temperance Society.

Part of Page 369 Personal Histories of Brantford Township

Among the oldest residents in this township is Mr. James Reid, of Cainsville Village, an early settler, and for many years a Magistrate in the Commission of the Peace. Mr., Reid was born in 1818 in the Village of Doune, in Perthshire, Scotland. He was the son of Thomas Reid and his wife, Margaret Russel. In this family there were six children, of whom one survives in Australia, one in Scotland, and one in Canada. Mr. Reid received the excellent common school education for which Scotland is famous, and emigrated to this country in 1848, since which time he has been a resident of Cainsville. In 1845 he married his first wife, Margaret McLennan, who died in 1855, leaving three children, of whom two are now living. In ten years, afterward he married his second wife, Elsie Simpson Tuttle, of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, by whom he had two children. Mr. Reid has been a most influential citizen of the Village of Cainsville, and in 1881 was elected Reeve. In 1882 he was presented with a handsome watch as a testimonial of the respect and good-will of the residents of Brantford Township.

Part of Page 369 Personal Histories of Brantford Township

Edmund Burke Wood The gentleman bearing this historic name is foremost among those whose political services have shed lustre on the Township of Brantford. He was of Irish descent, and was born near Chippewa, in Upper Canada, in the year 1817. His father had for some years resided in the United States, whence he removed into Canada just before the outbreak of the War of 1812. As a boy Edmund Wood had but scanty educational advantages, but he had the benefit of three teachers not to be outdone in these days of competitive examinations on the brain; these teachers were Nature, the Bible and Shakespeare. The boy spent a healthy youth in converse with the woods and streams, with the noblest lakes and the grandest cataract in the world. The accidental loss of an arm turned his thoughts in an exclusively intellectual direction. Disabled from bodily labour or farm pursuits, he chose as his vocation in life that which in Canada to those who deserve success, leads to the highest positions- the Bar. Having graduated at Oberlin College in Ohio as Bachelor of Arts he became a law student in the office of Messrs. Freeman & Jones at Hamilton, but returned to Brantford in 1850, and was admitted to the Bar in 1854. His political career is too well known to need more than a passing reference. The fact that he represented in Parliament a county named after the last and most illustrious chief of Indian warfare, induced the late Thomas D'Arcy McGee to give him the happily-invented nickname of Big Thunder. To his wisdom and practical common sense the Township of Brantford is indebted for much of its present prosperity.

Balance of Page 369 and Part of Page 370

Hudson Cleater This pioneer settler was of English descent, being the son of John Cleater and his wife, Margaret Hunter. He was a grandson of John Cleater, Senr., and Mary Kenwick, and was born in Brantford Township on November the 7th, 1839. On October 4th, 1860, he married Jane, daughter of Samuel Gordon and his wife, Mary Ramsay, and granddaughter of James Ramsay and his wife, Mary Carnagie. This lady was born on September the 24th, 1838, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. They have a family of five children: James, born on the 4th of December, 1866; Mary Jane, born August 6th, 1862, now engaged in teaching school; Elizabeth, born on September 24th, 1865; Annie, born November 21st, 1868; and Agnes, born August 10th, 1872. Other Old Settlers

Among the other pioneer settlers of this township are to be reckoned the names of William Duncan; of William Simpson; of William Sears; of Joseph Thomas, Peter Cain and David Lawson. The venerable John Oles, still resident on his farm at the pleasant village of Langford, can remember the earliest events of this township. Mrs. Darling, of the same village has survived a husband who was one of the old landmarks. East of John Oles' farm is the homestead of the Vanderlip family.
 
Part of Page 370

Village of Burtch

This little hamlet is situated four miles south of the Town of Brantford. It contains one church of the Canada Baptist denomination; one general store, a waggon factory, a blacksmith shop, and a population of fifty. The Baptist Church was built in 1869 in the usual country church modification of Gothic, and cost $2,500. It has a seating capacity of two hundred and fifty. There is service every Sunday at 1:30 p.m., and Sunday school at 3 p.m. Besides these services there is a prayer meeting on Thursday. The average attendance at the Sunday services is one hundred and fifty.

Falkland Village

This post village, which was formerly named Beamsville, is situated four miles west of Paris on the township line between Burford and Brantford. It contains a neat frame church, erected twenty years ago by the Primitive Methodist community, two blacksmith shops, two general stores, a tailors' shop, and some hundred inhabitants.

Balance of Page 370 and Part of Page 371

Mount Vernon Village

This picturesque village is situated seven miles from Brantford Town, and one mile from the township line of Burford, and seven miles from Paris. It was laid out in 1830 by Mr. Thomas Perrin, and for some time bore the appellation of the "Chequered Sheds." The first of the ten taverns at present carried on was opened in 1830 by John VanNorman. The pioneer settler of this now thriving village was Mr. Thomas Perrin, who established the first general store as early as 1835, who built a saw-mill in 1840, and a grist mill in 1845. In 1848, Mount Vernon was raised to the dignity of a post village, Mr. Thos. Perrin, to whom the village owes most of its present prosperity, being selected to fill the office of Postmaster. Mount Vernon contains a Methodist church, erected thirty-three years ago at a cost of $2,000, and having a seating capacity of three hundred. There is service every Sunday at 2:30 p.m., also prayer-meeting on Thursday, and Sabbath School at 10 a.m. The village contains two hotels, a doctor, a cabinet and a waggon shop, a general store, a tailor shop, a blacksmith shop, a barrel and stave factory, a carding mill, a grist mill and two hundred and fifty inhabitants. The Mount Vernon Woollen Mills have been carried on with success for forty-three years; the Stave and Barrel Factory for twenty-seven years.

Balance of Page 371

Village of Langford

This attractive village is situated on the old London and Hamilton Road. It contains a long and Straggling row of houses fronting the London Road, a brick built Methodist church, a general store, a post office, of which Mrs. Dowling, a widow, is the Postmistress. The population is estimated at two hundred. It is about two miles east of Cainsville.

Village of Mount Pleasant

This delightfully situated village is five miles to the south-west of Brantford Town, close to the township line between Brantford and Oakland Townships. The name is a misnomer, the "Mount," pleasant as its appearance undoubtedly is, being an unbroken plain. There are three churches, all of some architectural merit, those of the Methodist, the Presbyterian and the Anglican denominations. There are also three general stores, as many blacksmith shops, a cabinet shop, two shoemakers, a doctor, a grist mill and over two hundred inhabitants. The English Church is a substantial frame building which was put up in 1844; the congregation has diminished since that time. The Methodist Church, a handsome building of brick, was erected in 1861, and cost $6,000; it will seat four hundred. The Presbyterian Church, a small frame building dating from 1841, will seat one hundred and fifty, and cost $700.

Village of Newport

This post village, situated on the Grand River, is three miles south of the Town of Brantford; it contains two brick-yards, a hotel, three stores, and one hundred and fifty inhabitants. It was surveyed by Mr. Burwell, and laid out for settlement by Mr. T. Smith, in 1857. In 1822, a tavern was opened by Mr. A. Brown; in 1845 a general store was established by John Bell. The first school, a log building, was built in 1847. In 1855, the village was furnished with a post office, the first Postmaster being Thaddeus Smith.

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