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Historic Lanark County Documents from the Perth Courier

Received from: Christine Spencer - c-spencer3@northwestern.edu


This document contains the following articles:

History of the Balderson Church

The Auld Kirk

Early Settlers

Early Settlement of Fallbrook and Playfair

Perth’s Old Fashioned Fair Days

The Rectory at Beckwith

History of the Tay Canal by Stuart Wilson

Captain William Richards and the Enterprise

Who Can Forget SS #15, Drummond

Stirring Events Marked the Early Days of Westport

75th Anniversary of the Meighen Brothers store

Closing of the Meighen Brothers store

The Passing of Dr. W.A. Meighen

Familiar Names on the Rolls of the Perth Bible Society, 1836

The Moir Family of Ramsay Township

 

Perth Courier, October 31, 1946

History of the Balderson Church

About 107 years ago a church was organized under the pastorate of Rev. W. Bell.  This church was known as the Bathurst Church and Henry McDonald was precentor at a salary of $2 per year.  The old pioneers of over a century ago, Duncan McNee, James Young, W. Allan, James McNaughton, James Ward, John Bothwell, Peter McIntyre, John McIntyre, N. McNaughton, Allan Ferguson and Peter McFarlane and others whose names are irretrievably lost, were anxious for moral improvement through the teaching and preaching of God’s word.  In the early days previous to the erection of a church in 1839 they met in their homes for worship.  

The old pioneers kept the faith in spite of the fact that they did not have a minister.  Reverends Bain, Baily(?) and Geddes followed Mr. Bell from 1840-1880.  In 1880 the church became known as the Balderson Presbyterian Church.  Presbyterianism had a substantial foot hold in this locality and there is nothing more interesting to those who are carrying on in the United Church today than to learn of a pious ancestry.  At this time in Drummond township the early settlers had to drive a considerable distance to Knox Church in Perth.  As many of these settlers had come from Scotland, a land where the ordinances of divine grace were faithfully observed, the people felt they must have in their own community some visible sign of Jehovah’s presence.  To this end, Duncan McLaren, an elder of Knox church, Perth, was chosen to appeal to the Brockville Presbytery for permission to form an congregation.  After some discussion, the Presbytery granted the request and steps were taken to form a congregation in connection with Balderson.

In 1877 the mission fields were formed in connection with J.K. Baily as the first missionary who remained for two summers.  He was followed by John Geddes, who labored for a year and a half after which he returned to Scotland.  The two missions were established as one pastoral charge in the summer of 1880 and Rev. J.G. Stuart as minister who was inducted into the charge in October, 1880.  The organizers of the church in Drummond were Duncan McLaren, James Shaw, and James Stewart.  Mr. J. Stewart deeded the land for the church. Rev. W. Burns of Knox Church, Perth, conducted the opening services and preached.  The first precentor in this church was Adam Young.  He was followed by John Hillis, Wesley Clark, D.A. McLaren and W. McFarlane, deceased.

Drummond Church celebrated its 65th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 15, with Rev. N. Holmes of Ashton as guest preacher at both services.  The men of the pastoral charge have been:

Rev. J.G. Stuart, 1880-89

Rev. J.S. McIlraith, 1890-1911

Rev. J.G. Greig, 1911-1919

Rev. G.C. Treanor, 1919-1922

Rev. R.A. McRae, 1922-27

During the pastorate of Rev. R.A. McRae, the charge passed into the United Church and has been in charge of the following:

Rev. C.M. Currie, 1927-30

Rev. McNaught, 1930-33

Rev. G.A. Beatty, 1933-38

Rev. J.R. Dickinson, 1838-41

Rev. N.G. Graham, 1941-45

Rev. W.E. Mercer, 1945

In 1882 it was decided to erect a manse with Messrs. James Shaw, Adam Armstrong, Duncan MacGregor, W. McNaughton, H. McTavish, J.P. McIntyre and A.Allan as a committee.  The present manse is a substantial brick building.

In 1900 the Balderson congregation made plans to erect a stone church.  It is a substantial building and is situated in the Balderson village.  It is a landmark worthy of the old pioneers.  It is a splendid monument to their memories and also to the rev. J.S. McIlraith for his over 20 years of ministry here.  The church is a gem both externally and internally and reflects great credit on the capable workers who erected it.  Miss McKenzie presented a memorial font to the church in memory of her sister Mrs. Nelson Whyte.  This, with its beautiful memorial windows, will bring sacred memories to the worshippers which will be to them more than a passing sentiment.

In 1931 the Prestonvale congregation joined in with the Balderson charge. This congregation dates back to 1820, over 125 years ago.

In 1821 Rev. J.C. Peale was stationed at Perth.  Rev. Samuel Bolton followed him.   They visited what was called the “new township”.  In 1826 these were united with Perth with a united membership of 299.  In 1827 Rev. W.H. Williams was sent to the Mississippi circuit.  It is difficult to understand the large extent of territory included in the circuit.  The Methodist ministers walked out from Perth carrying their saddlebags on their backs and held services in the homes and afterwards in the log school house until the first church was built.

In 1925 the Prestonvale Church with all the Methodist churches of the district entered the United Church of Canada and six years later the Prestonvale congregation became part of the Balderson charge.

Perth Courier, July 30, 1970

The Auld Kirk

(Not Transcribed in Full)

Upon the completion in 1818-20 of a survey by Capt. Sherwood the chief surveyor of Upper Canada a few settlers moved into Ramsay Township—Thomas and James Smart and Robert and Archibald Wilkie took up lots in Concession 9.  Other settlers, among them Thomas Lowry, Edward McManus, Archibald Muir and Neil McKillup, took up lots on the adjoining concessions, 8 & 10.  About the same time, David Shepherd, a United Empire Loyalist, built a saw mill on his 200 acre lot on what is now Almonte.  Shortly thereafter, a few families who had been organized as the Lanark Society Settlers, superintended by Col. William Marshall, of Perth, arrived in Ramsay.  The Lanark Society had been organized primarily to assist Scottish emigrants who had been gravely affected by the depression which followed the end of the Napoleonic war.  Many of these emigrants were members of the established Church of Scotland.  On their arrival in Ramsay in 1822 they met other followers of the established church who had arrived earlier in the same year.  For over ten years the spiritual needs of these settlers were served by the Rev. William Bell, minister of the Rideau Settlement, an ardent Presbyterian, whose missionary duties took him long distances away from his Drummond Township headquarters; and by Rev. George Buchanan of Beckwith Township.  These itinerant missionaries made frequent visits but did not set up any congregations or churches.  As the number of the Church of Scotland adherents grew, the need for a resident minister and  a place of worship became clear.

The first minister to accept a call from the newly formed congregation in Ramsay township was Rev. John Fairbairn, who assume duties early in 1834.  He had received his appointment from the Glasgow Colonial Society in March, 1833 and served for about two months in Bathurst and Johnstown Districts.  Described as a “young man of deep piety, fervent in prayer and an excellent preacher” he served until 1842.  It may be that the controversy which had been brewing in the Church of Scotland for some time prior to the disruption of 1843 contributed to Rev. Fairbairn’s decision to return to Scotland where he later became minister of a Free Church congregation in Greenlaw, Berwickshire.

Within the first two years of Rev. Fairbairn’s stay in Ramsay, the congregation built a manse and church on two lots of two and a half acres each, purchased from John Mitchell.  The manse later was sold to the minister of the Reformed Church and is still in good condition at its site opposite the “Auld Kirk”.

The Rev. John Fairbairn’s successor was Rev. Alexander Kidd, who served for a few years before he was succeeded by Rev. John McMorine.  He ministered to the Presbyterians at the “Auld Kirk” until 1864.  In that year, a new church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, was built about three miles away, near Almonte.  The Ramsay congregation of the established Church of Scotland began worship at St. Andrew’s “on the second Sabbath of January, 1864”.

Since then, the “Auld Kirk” has been little used.  At present, part of the church is used as a mortuary vault.  The remainder is used as a chapel for the large cemetery which adjoins the building and as a meeting place for an annual memorial service.

Perth Courier, June 6, 1924

Early Settlers

The date of the first land taken up is April 17, 1816 and among the pioneer settlers were John Halliday, Lot A; Alexander McFarland and Jas. McDonald, Lot 1; William Mcgilivery and Alexander Cameron, Lot 2; John Brash and William Rutherford, Lot 3; John Miller and Robert Gardiner, Lot 4; James Drysdale and John Allan, Lot 5; John Ferrier and Robert Barber, Lot 8(?); all on the 10th Concession of North Burgess.  Sgt. Thomas Brooke settled on the 9th Concession.

In Bathurst, James Miller and John Simpson settled on Lot 26; William Spalding and John Hay on Lot 25; John Ferguson and John Flood on Lot 23; William Holderness on Lot 21; Thomas Cuddie and Joseph Holdsworth, Lot 39; Alexander Kidd and James Fraser, Lot 18; George Wilson and William Johnston, Lot 15(?); Robert Gibson and Samuel Wilson, Lot (illegible, also looks like 15); John McNee and John McLaren, Lot 14; John McLeod and James Bryce, Lot 13; Samuel Goudy and Thomas Scott, Lot 22(?); George Lester and Thomas Barrie, Lot (illegible).

In North Burgess, Sgt. Thomas, Lot (?); Thomas Consitt of the navy, father of Messrs. G.A. Consitt of Perth, barrister and the late A.F. Consitt of the Scotch Line, drew several lots and settled on lot 21(?) on the 1st Concession.  He and Capt. Alston entertained the Duke of Richmond during his stay here on his fatal journey towards the village of Richmond.

In North Elmsley, the following lots were taken the same day:  Lot 27 by Peter and William McLaren, father and son (on this lot the first tree of the settlement was felled); Lot 23 by James Taylor and James McLaren; Lot 29 by Alexander Simpson and James McCoy.

To each group of four families in the new settlement was given a grindstone and a crosscut and a whip saw; each family received an adze, hand saw, drawing knife, shell auger, two gimlet door locks and hinges; scythe and snath, reaping hook, two hoes, hay fork, skillet and camp kettle and blanket for each member of the family.

In the township of Drummond, in June of 1816 the Military Colony of Perth came in.  Among the veterans were Ensign Gould of the 4th Royals, on Lot 7, Concession 8; J. Balderson, 76th Regiment of Foot, after whom the village of Balderson is named, Lot 1, Concession 8; Jas. McNiece and T. Bright both of the 76th Foot, former on the west half, latter on the east half of Lot 10, Concession 9; Henry McDonald, 8th Foot, east half of Lot 21(?), Concession 8; Thomas McCaffrey, 76th Foot, Lot 12, Concession 8; John G. Malloch (who afterwards became county judge), Lot 14, Concession 7; James McGarry, Lot 10, Concession 7; Donald Campbell, Lot 3, Concession 7; Peter McLaren, east half of Lot 8, Concession 7.

Henry McDonald long outlived the others.  He did not come into the township until October 10 of that year; the other military settlers having mostly settled in the June preceding.  He was treasurer of the municipality of Drummond ever since the first operation of the Municipal Act of 1850 until he died.  While serving in the British army he took part in the capture of Copenhagen and Martinique, W.I. and during the Anglo-American War, was present at Sackett’s Harbor and most of the battles of the Niagara frontier, including Lundy’s Lane, where he was taken prisoner remaining in confinement until the close of the war.

Duncan McCormick(?) was one of the earliest settlers who taught school in Drummond, the original school house being built in 1817 on Lot 5, Concession 7.

At the same time, the three bordering townships received quite an addition to their populations from another military source.  In Bathurst, these settlers were from the unit of the “Glengarry Fencibles” a corps raised during the war of 1812-14 from discharged soldiers from various line regiments together with a small detachment of the “De Wattevilles”.  The Fencibles were disbanded in Kingston on June 1, 1816 and at once proceeded to their new locations.  Among them were Captain J. Watson, quartermaster and Captain Blair, adjutant of the same regiment; Capt. McMillan; Captain Mackay; Sgt. Quigley; John Hoover; Magnus Flett; Benjamin Johnston and two Trumans.  The widow of Captain Quigley whose name was Mary Hunter, was born at St. John, N.B., and followed him through the various campaigns of the War of 1812-15 and lived until an advanced age.

The detachment of the military colony settling in North Burgess was composed of members of the disbanded “De Watteville” Regiment.   These were originally members of various German corps which had formed the “German contingent” and some Belgian soldiers, all of Napoleon’s Grand Armee, who having been captured by the British, accepted the offer of their captors to take up arms against the Americans in the War of 1812-15 and thus escape prison confinement.

Perth Courier, July 16, 1926, July 23, 1926 and July 30, 1926

Early Settlement of Fallbrook and Playfair

The following is a paper prepared by Mrs. George Kerr and read at a meeting of the Fallbrook Women’s Institute.  The first installment appears this week and the balance will follow in the next two issues.

The modern historian has to a great degree discarded the old idea that the history of a country consists of treaties and invasions, etc., with their dates in detail.  He seeks rather to give us an insight into the social life of the common people and to make us acquainted with their struggles to better their social, moral and material conditions.  The object in preparing this article is to briefly and plainly sketch the early settlement of our community of Fallbrook and Playfair for the younger generation.

By the phrase “early settlement” we refer to the original location of the early settlers in the part of the Bathurst District between the 9th and 12th Concessions where the two places known as Fallbrook and Playfair are situated.

In early days with the British occupying the country, the vast areas of land were thrown open for settlement.  The U.E.L. having settled along the southern frontier of Upper Canada and their success with agriculture in their forest homes kindled the zeal of the British government to place other settlers in the western colony.  This resulted in bringing to Lanark County many of the people who first settled in these parts.  In the year 1815 a proclamation was issued in England for free passage for those desirous of proceeding to Canada for the purpose of settling on the land as a further inducement to settlers they offered free provisions during the voyage and for some time after their arrival.  They were also given a cash bonus of twelve pounds sterling as a loan.  Then to each group of four families was given a grindstone, cross cut saw and whip saw while each family received an adze, scythe and snath, reaping hook, two hoes, pitch fork, skilled, camp kettle and blankets for each member of the family.  Quite a number took advantage of this offer.  At the close of the Peninsular War when many of the regiments of the Duke of Wellington’s were practically disbanded, many of the officers as well as privates were induced to come to Canada and ship load followed ship load across the Atlantic all destined for somewhere in Canada.

One of the centers to which many of these officers and soldiers directed their course after a long and wearisome voyage in a slow sailing vessel, which sometimes took seven weeks or longer, was Lanark County.  If small pox broke out among them they were quarantined a long time before they could land.

Quite a number of the first settlers came from the Highlands of Scotland, chiefly Perthshire and naturally the name of Perth appealed to them as this was one of the first places of settlement for Lanark County.  Needless to say, some of them wandered a great distance from Perth before settling on a site on which to build a home for themselves and their families.  As there were no proper roads in those days, just paths made through the bush till they reached the rivers, then boats were made and used to carry their scant supplies from one place to another.  At certain places there were ferries where they crossed before they got bridges built.  Although those early settlers were not all trained settlers they fought a stern and successful battle with the wild forest and the forces of nature.  With many privations, they endured hardships and worked hard and long clearing land, making roads and bridges, building their houses which were mostly of cedar logs, roofed with scoops (which is hollow in the center, split and laid with the hollow side up and the other down covering the joints in that way).

Later on they build a lime kiln and had the lime for plaster.  Many stone houses were built and today many of those houses may be seen in good condition with the cozy fire place.  Now the present generation are enjoying the fruits of their labor.  They are all passed away today. 

We will now mention some of the names of the pioneers.  During the first year of 1813 Col. Playfair arrived in Quebec with his regiment.  As the American War was going on, he was ordered to take 100 men to Kingston in the month of February.  As there was no rod and snow four feet deep in places and the weather bitter cold, many succumbed on the way.  But the Colonel reached Kingston with the residue.

After the American war, he came to Perth for a short time and then came out this way.  He crossed the ferry at McDermott’s Corner and came up the Mississippi as far as the rapids at Playfair and there on the high bluff on the south side of the river he spent his first night.  An old stone chimney remains there at the present time.  This is where the first house was built.  The colonel soon built another comfortable house on the north side of the river for himself and his wife.  Mrs. Gillies, Sr., of Carleton Place was born in this house and some years ago when her daughter visited Fallbrook  she made a specific request to be shown this spot where her mother first saw the light of day. One reason for the colonel coming so far back from the frontier was to avoid the horrors of war he had witnessed in the War of 1812.

At this point of the Mississippi, there was a splendid water power.  After he had located he set about building a saw mill, grist mill and later on a carding mill.  These mills did good work for a great many years under his supervision.  Later on his two sons, Johnny and Andrew, went further up the stream and built two mills one on each side of the river and for many years did a flourishing business.  There was plenty of pine forest and great demand for lumber for building purposes.  In later years, the mills were operated by John J.’s son William who many of us will remember as of a kindly disposition and a good businessman.  He was married to Elizabeth Mitchell, sister of Mrs. P.J. McIlquham, of Lanark.  They spent the greater part of their lives here.  He moved to Lancaster, near Hamilton, a few years before he died.  When he was in business a great quantity of lumber was drawn to Oliver’s Ferry at the Rideau and shipped from there.  This gave labor to both men and teams during the winter months.  Large quantities were delivered to Perth.  At one time there were two tanneries. One was situated on what is known as the foot of the church hill on the bank of the river and the upstairs was used as a hall for meetings and lunch served until the church was built.  Col. Playfair was a true British subject always trying to help and promote the development of his country.  He was a local preacher and in later years was a member of the House of Commons.

Another person who was highly esteemed by all who knew him was his nephew John, better known as Little John, son of John Playfair, Easton Square, London.  He was a local preacher and had a great gift of oratory and could speak on almost any subject without much difficulty.  He was a great reader and when he read an article he could remember it.  He came from England some time after the Colonel. As he had learned the trade of blacksmith, he had a shop for this work and also made bolts for the sleighs used in the lumber shanties.  He was a great church man and was one of the men who were instrumental in getting the church built at Playfair.  During the early settlement of the county, it was surveyed into 100 acre lots and could be had for settlement duties.  There were also 100 acres in each district set aside for clergy, known as the Clergy Reserves.  The church and property at Playfair was deeded to the Methodist Church in 1860.  The carpenter was John Keays and everyone helped.  It was a united effort by everyone and all were welcome.  There was not other church nearer than Balderson or Lanark.  The first death that occurred was that of Robert Russel.  It took three days to make and brush a road to Lanark to bury him.  The coffin was taken in an ox cart.  The first minister was Rev. Alexander Lester.  Mrs. Lester who resides in Perth now, was the first bride in the new parsonage.  This church is still in good condition.  Two years ago it was remodeled and painted.  It is now known and the United Church of Canada.  Rev. G.L. Ralph is the pastor.  Yes, the old church, dear to us, all and many have taken their stand for the Master’s service here.  During the later years of Rev. Plett’s pastorate, there was a Christian Endeavor Project formed and from that Society, four young men went out to study for the ministry:  Rev. W.T.G. Brown, now in Sydenham Street Church, Kingston; Rev. John Caldwell of Manitaba; Rev. James Caldwell of Saskatchewan; and Rev. John McConnel near Winnipeg.  Meetings were held on Friday evenings.  Prayer services and choir practice were on Wednesday evenings with a good attendance of both young and old.  Every member of the choir was expected to know the hymns for Sunday services and we enjoyed the practice.  The old time singing school under Professor Lewis about 46 or 50 years ago was a source of pleasure for those who attended. 

Now, to look back at other settlers who came from England, Ireland and Scotland in the year 1820 were William Buffam, mill wright; John Jackson, Thomas Skillington and Alexander Shanks.  John McDonald who was a junior officer in the 104th Regiment under Col. Playfair, took up land the same time as the colonel.  In the year 18?? John Playfair and brother of the Colonel and father of Little John, James, William who was a book keeper for Messrs. Shaw and Matheson for many years, Jane and Louisa his  two daughters and his wife, settled on the 12th Concession one mile east of the Playfair Iron Mines.  His son James cleared the land and improved the farm.  There is a splendid gravel pit on his farm.  Large quantities are used for highways and also for cement work.

The Playfair Iron Mines were the property of John J. Playfair the Colonel’s son.  In 1869 he sent samples of the ore to Montreal to have it assayed and it proved to be of such great value that they sent a man to open up the mine.  In a very short time, a Mr. Cowan of Ottawa who was overseer, put on a gang of men and a large quantity was taken out and drawn to Perth but in those days they did not have the facilities of operating a mine that they have today.  First the water and the ore were drawn up in large buckets with chains and pulleys; using a team of horses for drawing that and a team of about 30 men were employed.  It gave steady work to the men and teams in winter time.  Quite a large quantity was taken out and all went well until one evening the men went off work and came down to Sandy Bain’s tavern.  The water filled the mine shaft where they had all their tools.  Needless to say the men got filled with liquor and were unable to return to work when they should have been on duty.  The result was that the tools were buried in the water and as the main shaft was very deep they were unable to proceed with the work.  The mine was closed down and the remained so for many years.  Some years ago Mr. Caldwell bought the property from Mrs. J. Forgie, daughter of John J. Playfair.  During the war, in 1915, a small quantity was taken out from the banks near the main shaft by a firm from Montreal.  Last year W.K. Smith of Toronto bought these mines and minerals of 150 acres of land.  Also they bought the mineral rights of another 150 acres.  They claim it has a good iron mine also.  It is a beautiful place where Mr. Smith has built his up to date house on the hill above the rapids where you get a good view of the scenery along the banks of the Mississippi River.  People come from far and near in the summer with their lunch baskets to spend a quiet afternoon under the shady maples.  There is also a splendid water power on the Mississippi at this spot. 

Playfair village has for the most part passed away.  Places that were once busy have disappeared.  Still the scenery of the majestic Mississippi River holds its enhancing beauty and many an auto load of visitors stop by its banks and fish and spend the day resting away from the noise and bustle of a busy town.  It is an ideal spot for a summer resort.  The county highway passes through from Lanark to Perth also at McDonald’s Corners.  Every year the Sunday school and children hold their annual picnic along the shore on Mr. R. North’s property under the shady trees. Two important places remain where the village once was—the beautiful home built by John J. Playfair (father of Mrs. Forgie) who now owns the property and has improved the large stone house where she and her daughters spend the summer months and last but not least the little church on the hill where the two communities of Fallbrook and Playfair worship together.  The Anglican Church at Fallbrook was built two and a half miles up the 11th Line as most of the congregation lived up there when the church was built.

Among the early settlers that came to Fallbrook were Messrs. Ben Bolton and Sandy Bain.  Bolton took land on Bolton’s Creek on the lower 11th Line.  He built a saw mill and grist mill which was certainly a boon to the new settlers in those places.  Shortly after this two Ennis brothers (oatmeal makers) from Ireland also built a mill up on the Fall River where John Blair now lives.  Later on the mill was sold to Little John Playfair.  In later years another saw mill was built opposite where Jas. Anderson’s mill now stands.  William Anderson had built on the opposite side, a fire occurred and both mills were burned down.  Mr. Anderson built again and this mill is still doing good work in custom sawing under the management of James Anderson, grandson of William who built the mill.   Among the early settlers were Mr. and Mrs. George Buffam from England who settled on the south side of the Fall River in the year 1846.  The place where the village now stands was maple and pine woods.  Many rafts of pine timber were floated down to Quebec in later years.  Mr. Clendenning who lived where Mr. Peter Kirkham resides took down the first raft to Quebec.  George Buffam was a first class mill wright and carpenter and as the industry of the new village was mills, his work was in great demand.  One son, Robert, and daughter, Mrs. Cameron, still reside in the village.  In his youthful days, he often went down to Quebec with the rafts of square timber taken down the Mississippi.  In years gone by the lumber farms of Boyd Caldwell and son and Peter McLaren did an immense trade in lumber along the Mississippi.

The first hotel was kept by Frank Hughes, situated on Bolton’s Creek.  It was burned down and then he built where W. Walroth & Son now keep a general store and post office.  Sandy Bain kept a little store up on the hill where Herb Gallagher now lives and then he built a hotel on the banks of the Clyde River.

William Lees, ex-M.P.P. was a native of Bathurst.  He was the youngest son of William Lees who came from Roxborough, Scotland in 1817.  He lived for a while in Ogdensburg, New York and then came to Fallbrook locating on the farm now owned by Charles McKinnon.  Mr. Lees early displayed an aptitude for public affairs and management of people.  He was placed at the head of municipal council for a score of years.  He was the county warden for three years.  After his father’s death he managed the farm for some time and then he sold it to Thomas Gallagher and moved up to Fallbrook and had a grist mill and saw mill built on the Fall River.  Alexander Wallace, millwright and George Buffam built the mills for him in 1851.  In 1879 he was elected as a member for the provincial parliament.  He was a very charitable man and took a great interest in the school  He presented Fallbrook school with the school bell.  He was a trustee and secretary for a number of years.  Alexander Wallace, millwright came out from Edinburgh(?) and settled in 1873.  His daughter, Miss A.C. Wallace, artist and music teacher, still resides in this village and has a beautiful collection of paintings and water colors.

John E. Playfair bought the Lees property from the late A.E. Lees who conducted the business for some years but owing to ill health sold to John E. Playfair and moved out west but only lived a few years afterwards.  The old saw mill is still in use.  The grist mill was burned down 21 years ago.  Mr. Playfair built a cheese box factory.

Fallbrook was originally Bolton’s Mills as they were built by R.(?) B.(?) Bolton on Bolton’s Creek and later operated by S. Bain and Jacob Bolton.  Then George Wallace bought them and did a splendid business in the woolen trade for a number of years.  Later on his brother William was in partnership with him.  They were afterwards sold to Donaldson Brothers and got burned down 23 years ago.

The first blacksmith was built and owned by Sandy Hunter at the island where James Cameron conducts his shop and worked up a good trade in later years.  J. Cameron still is doing a good business in his work shop while his son Walter keeps the blacksmith shop and general store.  Mrs. John Fumerton began store keeping on a very small scale—thread, needles, boot laces and school supplies and Mr. Fumerton drove a team for W. Lees.  However, it was not very long until she worked up a good business and this tore was conducted on a large scale by Mr. Fumerton and his son James for many years.

Another man who figured in the business part of Fallbrook was W.G. Cameron.  He and his wife came to Fallbrook in 1875.  He bought the hotel from William Smith and afterwards kept the general store and post office.  No liquor was sold in Fallbrook by license since the Scott Act was passed.  Later on Mr. Cameron sold out his business to the late Daniel McKerracher and moved to Perth.  He was a manager for the Lanark Mutual Life Insurance Company.  Daniel McKerracher worked up a splendid business in this store.  He was a very obliging and kind hearted man and he took an interest in school, church and community work.  A few years bore his death he sold this property to W. J. Walroth and his son Ralph who conducted a good business in dry goods, groceries, etc.

Other old pioneers were Thomas Foley and William Keays on the 9th Concession.  They were hardy and industrious and cleared their land and made splendid farms out of their bush lots.  It is on Mr. Keays’ land that the Feldspar Mine is located.  They are hauling it to Glen Tay and shipping from there.  There are signs of feldspar on several of the farms on the 9th Line of Bathurst which is a short distance from Fallbrook.  Years ago when the macadamized road was built to Fallbrook there were two toll gates between Fallbrook and Balderson.  You had so much to pay every time you passed through with a vehicle.  The coppers came in handy for tolls when they were in a hurry.  But the old settlers tell us it was an awful nuisance especially in the winter.  Frank Hunter of Playfair used to break the stone with a sledge hammer for the stone road and he made a good job of it as they had no stone crushers and they had a very good road to travel.  Alexander Montgomery lived in the toll gate (house??) at Fallbrook for many years.  He was a cattle drover and was a school trustee for some years.  John Mitchell, another pioneer, had a mill six miles up from Fallbrook on Bolton Creek.  Harvey’s had another saw mill.  The Murdoch family settled on the north side of the Fall River.  One son was a Baptist minister.  For a while he lived on the farm where J.C. Anderson now resides.  As he preached in Lanark, Drummond and Middleville, the farm was not worked much and when J.C.’s father came down to see about buying the place he naturally inquired of a neighbor what sort of soil it was.  “Well” said the neighbor, “I can tell you one thing about it.  It can grow fine burdochs and big thistles”.  “Is that so” said Mr. Anderson, “well, I am glad to hear it.  For if it can grow this, I shall soon have it growing something better”.  He was very optimistic, could see the best of everything.  He bought the farm, planted an orchard, kept a nursery for a number of years and today it is one of the best farms in this part of the country with nice grounds and beautiful flowers.  His son J.C. and Mrs. Anderson have been a great help to the community and enjoy seeing the young people play tennis on their lawn where they always receive a hearty welcome.  J.C. is a member of the Bathurst Council and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Fallbrook Cheese Factory.

As McDermontt’s Ferry was down the lower part of the 11th Line, it was settled there first by the Lees, Mackies, Murdochs, Bains and Fosters who afterward moved to western Ontario.  Andrew Kerr bought this farm and settled on it with his family, coming from Pakenham about 54 years ago, his oldest son Dawson was drowned in Mud Lake in the fall of 1880 while out duck hunting.  George Kerr, J.P. also agent for Lanark Mutural Life Insurance Company.

The first school house was situated at the foot of Bolton’s Hill now Ashby’s.  It was built of logs and the first teacher was Alexander Shanks from Scotland.  He taught for a short time here and up at Bathurst line.  He was a weaver by trade and his wife a great seamstress.  She made all the wedding garments by hand which was quite a task in those days with so many fur bellows and frills not the plain dresses we have today for which we are very thankful.  This old school was also used for Sunday school in those days and Rev. A. Murdock visited this place some 25 years ago and writes the following item about the old fashioned Sunday school in those days:  “The building itself was not much to look at as during the week it was used as a public school  It was built of cedar logs chinked with splits and plastered.  It stood high upon the bank of Bolton Creek, furnished of the rudest description, seats around the wall and made of butternut.  The teacher was a little lame man and he believed in ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ if he deserved punishment.  There were only two windows one in the east and one in the west and we all thought there should be one in the south where we could have varied our studies by looking out to see a duck, muskrat of black bass go swimming by.  It was a great day for the boys when a raft of square timber came down this creek.  The dam was only a short distance above the school, but we could see the great white sticks some of  them sixty feet long enter the narrow slide, pausing for a moment, balancing on the brink, then go plunging down, tossing a spray of water high in the air.  The old dam and mill were driven by a ponderous wheel and was a constant source of delight to the boys.  Once in a while the miller would open the door and show us the wheel in motion.  This was a picturesque spot.  The white birches trailed their drooping branches in the rushing water.  The hamlet was a busy place during the week.  The grists came and went away.  Along side was the saw mill driven by that primitive contrivance called a flutter wheel and a single saw in a ponderous frame slowly ate its way through the logs.  Now the mills are gone the wheels have made their last revolution.  The dame is gone, the stream has dwindled, there is high water for a few weeks in the spring and then diminished flow but on the Sabbath a great peace fell upon the scene. Those old settlers remembered the Sabbath and kept it holy.  Everybody went to church.  Those days the Sabbath was not given up to pleasure as it is in many places today.”

“The Sabbath school superintendent was known as Little John Playfair.  A Methodist local preacher, happy, cheerful and optimistic and a good singer.  The old fashioned Sunday school had no frills.  It opened with a hymn, Duke St. Hebron and Dundee were favorite tines played and then each line of class got its study. Each scholar had his own Bible and we were there to learn the Bible. The older scholars have all passed away, a few of the younger remain and not one trainee in that school made a shipwreck of his life.  Frank Murdock became a doctor in Pittsburgh, Rev. Alexander Hardy became a Methodist minister in Montreal, William Clendenning was school inspector at Walkerton.  These are a few of the boys who distinguished themselves.  Other assistants in the Sunday school were G.C. Mills, Miss Barbara Murdock, William Lees and the Colonel’s son know as Big John who was a very tall man.”

Later on the present public school was built on the main road on the hill a much better situation for it, surrounded by lovely maple shade trees and the children have a good play ground.  The Women’s Institute is opposite. In 1919 they bought two acres of land for a play ground for school children and young people for base ball and lawn tennis.  The school trustees gave $25 towards it.  The first teacher in this school was Mr. Fowler than Mr. Jamieson who still resides in Perth.  Thomas Balderson, uncle of Robert who taught here a few years ago, P.C. McIntyre of Winnipeg, Miss Lafferty, Miss Cameron, W.H. Churchill and many others.  In the early days when Miss Lafferty taught, there would be between 70 or 80 scholars in the winter months.  Some of them were grown up young men and women taking advantage of an education when they were not busy on the farm.  About 30 years ago an additional room was built and two teachers supplied for a number of years.  Now the number of pupils has diminished and there is only one teacher, Walter McFarlane of Toronto.

Mrs. E. Foley now Mrs. Edward Buffam of Toronto taught the senior room for ten years and many of her pupils taught in the Fallbrook school afterwards—Laura Skillington, Dr. Blair, Morna Cameron, Lloyd McKerracher and Dawson D. Kerr all proved successful teachers.  The first young men who went to college from this present school on the hill were Andrew Lees of Vancouver and W.A. Moore who was County Clerk and lived in Perth for many years and now is in Hamilton and from that time on this district and the surrounding district have produced doctors, ministers, nurses, druggists and teachers galore.

One more place I will mention as it is very important to the surrounding country and where some thousands of dollars are distributed every year is the Fallbrook Mutual Cheese Factory built in 1884, 42 years ago and has been in operation six months of the year ever since thought it passed through some hard times.  One year when the late William Lees was secretary there was very little demand for cheese in Canada and he shipped it to Liverpool in the fall and the pay did not come until the following May and then only realized five cents per pound of cheese when their payments were made.  And yet they had faith and kept on and tried again.  The factory is will equipped and in good order with Peter Kirkham, cheese maker and George Kerr, secretary and chairman.  The names of the men who were instrumental in getting a cheese factory built were the late William Blair, Sr., William Lees, Thomas Ennis, Sr., James Playfair, William Jackson, Chares and William Mackie.

In the early days money was hard to get.  The making of potash was one way they had of getting cash when it was shipped to Montreal and graded.  If it was first grade a one hundred pound barrel would bring $20 cash.  Potash was made by burning log piles, gathering the ashes, and putting them in a (illegible word) and watered.  Then the lye was boiled in very large metal kettles until it was like red iron, then cooled.  Afterwards it was filled into strong oak barrels and shipped to Montreal.  Sandy Campbell, a Scotch pioneer who came out in 1920(?) made a great many of those barrels as he was a cooper.  When Sandy was going to be married he asked the girl’s mother for her and she said: “Ay, ay, Sandy but bide a wee bit till the barrel of potash is ready and they would have some silver”.  But Sandy was a determined young man and saw no need of waiting.  He had Mr. J. Rozin(?), Patsy’s father, drive them into Perth where they were married and came home that evening to see a tree had fallen across the road this side of the creek up on the Lanark road.  The teamster jumped the horses over it and the front wheels made it but the two hind wheels and Sandy and his bride were left on this side of eh creek and as there was no bridge and the horses on the far side Sandy picked up his bride and forded the stream carrying her safely over on his back.  Although he was not a big man he was very strong.  After Mr. Lee’s grist mill was built he worked there and often after work carried one hundred pound bags of flour home with him a distance of three and a half miles.

People tell us that before the grist mills were built some have carried a bushel of corn and seed all the say from Brockville.  Before they got coal oil for sale in the stores they used tallow candles made in molds and they had some very fancy candle sticks.  When traveling through the bush after night they used gummy pine for a torch.

Perth Courier, October 9, 1925

Perth’s Old Fashioned Fair

A local old timer grew reminiscent as he chatted with the Courier the other day and among the interesting matters related was the holding of Perth’s annual spring and fall fairs in the olden days.  The spring fair was held on the first Tuesday in May when the winter’s stall fed cattle were brought to town and sold off to local and foreign buyers.  The fall fair was, however, by long odds the more important and was held on the second Tuesday in October.  Hundreds of cattle were brought to the market square for exhibition and purchase.  The market house, the present quarters of the care taker of the town hall, police office, etc., was at that time laid out in stalls where meat was kept.  One of the most prominent outside buyers of cattle coming to Perth in those days was a Mr. Devlin of Ottawa.  Among the old time local buyers were the late James Noonan (ex-warden of Lanark County), Robert Balderson, Barrie Brothers, George Findlay and Ed. Griffith.  On fall fair day Gore Street on both sides between the two bridges would be completely filled up with farmer’s vehicles of various description of the sale of apples, cider, honey and other farm produce and a brisk business was enjoyed throughout the day.  A Mr. Dobbie from back of Lanark was for many years a familiar figure as he sold his produce displayed on several packing boxes purchased or rented for the occasion from the local boot and shoe merchants.  Mr. Dobbie bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus and no doubt the youth of those days looked upon him as a brother in October, to be too early to expect the annual visit from the real Santa Claus.  One of the greatest past times on fall fair day for the rising generation was the purchase of a copper’s worth of honey on a chip or any available contrivance considered neat and clean.

Perth Courier

The Rectory of Beckwith

(Not transcribed in full, this article appeared in conjunction with an historic plaque that was being put up.)

Beckwith received its first large group of settlers in 1818, most of them Scots Presbyterians but numbers of the Church of England adherents soon arrived many of them from Ireland.  These were ministered to monthly by Rev. Michael Harris from Perth some fifteen miles away.  Early in 1823 they petitioned Lt. Gov. Sir Peregrine Maitland for permission to accept the “King’s Store” for use as a church.  In forwarding the petition on Feb. 19, Michael Harris appended an endorsement in which he remarked that in holding a service in Franktown he was “compelled to make use of the tavern which you will agree…..is not the most proper place.”

As the warehouse had by the outlived its purpose, Sir Peregrine readily approved the settlers’ request and it served for five years as their church.  By 1826 the building was urgently in need of repair and Harris received an estimate of $70 or $90 for the repair required.  Writing again to Maitland he requested the opinion of the estimate and said that “instead of repairing it we should lay out whatever funds we could collect on a new building as the money to be expended on the old one would go far in putting up…..a stone church”.  The congregation, he continued, “may offer to put the whole of the stones and lime on the ground if your Excellency will permit the funds to be approved to that end and they would much rather turn the old store into a temporary parsonage…and have a good, substantial place of worship.”

In March of 18?? a portion of the “Park Lot” #6(?) in Franktown (the site of the warehouse) was formally granted by the Crown for a church yard and it was decreed that a share in the proceeds of the sale of government property in Perth should be allocated towards the erection of the church itself.  It appears that construction began in earnest that year and that the building was sufficiently completed for use in 18??.

The first resident rector was Rev. Richard Harte, a native of Ireland, who was appointed May 9, 1829(?), his parish report of June, 1833 described his duties.  “I preached every Sunday morning at 11:00 with the exception of about 12 Sundays in the year when I performed services at Carleton Place, Beckwith every Sunday evening at a log building about four or five miles from Franktown towards Richmond.  Latterly, however, I have gone once a month (week days) to Smith’s Falls and I have visited Pakenham and Fitzroy once a year in Feb. since I have had charge of this mission.”

The capacity of the church at Franktown, the report goes on to say, was 250 to 330 which is surprisingly large in view of the present meeting accommodations and makes it seem likely that the church originally had a gallery.  It probably enjoyed a capacity congregation on August 21, 1838(?) when Rt. Rev. C.J. Stewart, Bishop of Quebec, confirmed 106 candidates there.

In 1837 the parishioners raised the considerable sum of about $100 towards the erection of a “parsonage house”.  This handsome little stone building, in private hands, stands a short distance west of the church.

Perth Courier

History of the Tay Canal by Stuart Wilson

Surgeon General Thom, who came with several units of the military to be disbanded here, was granted Lot 1 on the 1st Concession of Drummond.  This reaches from North Street to the Scotch Line, 200 acres.  He started a saw mill very early where the Haggart Mill later stood.  The Allan Sawmill was a recent work and was steam powered at Glen Tay.  Joshua Adams started saw mills and carding mills, and grist mills followed and then fairly large woolen mills. 

When I was young, a fairly large number of people had built houses and were employed as weavers, etc.  One can envisage the march of progress in the change in basic needs of the first settlers when the wives made up the wool with their own spinning wheels.  Then here and there carding mills sprang up along the streams.  Large woolen mills with improved looms like those at Glen Tay appeared.  These have been absorbed by larger concerns.

The little home pounding out the first few bushels of oats or wheat; then to stone mills; then to larger roller mills; then those disappeared giving way to the large flour mills.  When we go up the Tay we come to the Bowes dam.  A man named Mott is the first I can find who was the owner of these rapids. William Morris also appeared, then John Allen, then the Lauries, Badour and Bowes.  Saw mills and grist mills made it a very busy place.  Lauries was a fairly large stone mill when I was young.  Her and there on the river a few settlers and squatters built their huts, some working on the log drives and shanties in season.

A few hundred yards above the Bowes dam my grandfather and his brothers ran a mill for thirty years.  An uncle was killed in this mill.  Just above is a large stone house owned by Duncan McDonald, once the home of the Wilsons.  A hut above this was occupied by a brother of my grandfather who had gone haywire after seeing a brother of his crushed to death on a square timber drive.  A half mile further up the river stood in my young days a tall stone chimney all that remained of a house built long years ago.  Over 138 years ago a man named Dennison lived here.  I expect the news of gold in California gave him an itchy foot and he took off leaving a wife and son Tom Dennison.  After many years the wife believed him dead and remarried a William Laurie and started another family.  Then the truant turned up.  He realized he was not wanted but tried to entice Tommy to go with him but Tom refused.  He never was heard from again.  Tom became my wife’s other grandfather and drive boss.

Above this point the river divides, the main part being the rapids where the William Morris carding mill, later McCabe’s oat mill is standing today.  Above this is the Ritchie mill.  Perth at one time got the current for its street lighting from a generator here attended by Carl Adams who later bought the whole property.

The other section of the river cuts off a mile up and flows east across the Scotch Line and further down crosses back again to join the main river at “Bryce’s bridge”.  On this branch J. and G. Scott ran a saw mill for years later the Munroe boys got it.

On Grant’s Creek which joins the Tay above “Roger’s Road” there were two power plants at Allan’s Mills, a mill was built by John Allan and later sold to Francis Allan as a saw mill.  This was replace by a roller mill in 1890.

In 1823 Archibald Fraser drew a land grant by the waters on the fast moving Tay River four miles above the town of Perth.  With the countryside being rapidly settled, the river was soon harnessed by a dam, a saw mill, a grist mill established on the bank of the Tay River.  These mills remained in full operation until 1896 when they were purchased by the town of Perth.  The saw mill was demolished and the grist mill expanded to produce hydro electric power for the town.  This plan was sufficient to supply the normal needs of Perth until 1822 when the town began purchasing power from the Ontario Hydro Electrid Power Commission.  John Bowes, who had been the operator of the hydro plant since 1908, purchased the property and continued the grist and power mill.  Unlike most antiquated power plants this mill did not close down and become abandoned. To this day the hydro plant produces the power for the operation of the Bowes homes and farm now owned by Anson Bowes.

Perth Courier, July 24, 1925

Captain William Richards and the Enterprise

When the Tay Canal was put into operation and steamboats plied upon it, the little steamer Enterprise was built at Perth by Captain William Richards for the merchants to run between that place, Bytown and Kingston.  By this gentleman, the Enterprise was commanded during the period of its operation on the Rideau and Tay routes. A native of Wexford, Ireland, he had had an adventurous career.  At the time of the Irish Rebellion, both his father and mother were piked in their own home and he was saved by the intervention of his nurse who claimed him as her own child.  At the age of 13 he went on board of man of war and served in many campaigns in different parts of the world.  He was through the naval battles of the War of 1812 and his ship formed one of the escorts of the Chesapeake when it was conveyed to the harbor at Halifax.  Later he emerged in thrilling skirmishes with pirates and though in many hand to hand fights he was never seriously wounded.  When he left eh navy, Capt. Richards invested his prize money in a schooner in which he traded, first in the Bay of Fundy  and afterwards in the West Indies.  He afterwards engaged in shipbuilding and produced a brig named the William and Mary in which he made several trips to the West Indies.  On one of his return voyages, carrying a cargo of molasses, the ship encountered a typhoon which put her upon her beam ends and caused her complete loss.  Capt. Richards and his men clung to the wreck until the managed to free a boat and in this they managed to reach land.  The loss of the brig also meant the almost complete failure of her captain for the cargo was not insured.  Upon his return to New Brunswick, he gathered together what funds remained to him and with them purchased a plot of 14 acres outside of Perth with a brick cottage erected upon it where he and his wife spent the remainder of their lives.  The operation of the Enterprise, even in the capable hands of Captain Richards, was not attended by the success which her owners had anticipated.  After two or three years it was found that the shallowness of the canal and the number of obstructions which existed on account of it were obstacles too great to be surmounted by private enterprise.  In the year 1835 the owners of the boat came to the end of their tether and she was broken up, her machinery being sold to the firm of George Buchanan and Company of Arnprior.  This firm installed it upon the steamer George Buchanan which was built as the first to rein(?) up Chute(?) Lake and which Captain Richards commanded two seasons or more.  He then returned to Perth where he died about 1860.

Perth Courier, June 21, 1935

Who Can Forget SS #1, Drummond

By one of the 3rd School – in the Lanark Era

Not Transcribed in Full

SS #15, Drummond, on the Scotch Line where Nat McLenaghan’s lane entered the road once stood a wide spreading elm tree with a trunk of enormous size.  How this great elm rejoiced to see brides coming to cabins and homes springing up north, south, east and west.  Wider and wider it spread its branches when in mid summer with its luxurious foliage it kindly bestowed cooling cover.  The storms blew, fires razed, and on every side the companions of this elm passed but still it grew and flourished with the settlers.  George McFarlane, Hophni Aytoon, Walter McIlquham, James McIlquham, William Cunningham and William Cuthbertson had farms in this section.  They all had large families which was a great asset to a young country.  Soon a school house was necessary and erected near to where the present school house stands, only on the opposite side of the concession.  The school house was built of logs.  The old tree witnessed the clearing of the site, the rearing of the building, the mothers preparing the children for school and the youngsters toddling off and the settlers taking shelter from the hot July sun while doing statute labor.  About 1840 the once unbroken forest assumed the appearance of farm land.  New houses and barns were erected and during the winter months the sound of the flail was heard in the barn from early morning until darkness while in the home the hum of the spinning wheel was heard accompanied by the steady beat of a woman’s feet as she walked backward and forward drawing out and twisting the thread and running it on the spindle.  One hot August day as Nat McLenaghan and George McFarlane were resting under the old elm, Nat became reminiscent and told George the story of how he crossed at Oliver’s Ferry.  Lighting an ancient clay pipe he began, “I got to the ferry where a man with a birch bark canoe was ready to take me across for a small sum.  I agreed.  He told me to jump in.  Being nimble on my feet I skipped into the canoe which as readily slipped from under me and I fell into the water.  I could not swim so I clenched the water with mighty force but every clench I took it slipped.  I managed to get to the shore and immediately armed myself with stones which I hurled at the head of the canoe man as I thought he had fully intended to drown me.  He assured me of his innocence and his sorrow, advising me not to be so rash when getting into a canoe.  I took his advice and on the second attempt I was quickly taken across.”  The old elm recorded it as another instance of the green Irishman.

On the register in the almost forgotten school are the names of McLenaghan, McFarlane, McIlquham, Culbertson, Cook, Cunningham, Brown, Hunter, Echlin and Finlayson are found in profusion.  While in these families triplets were unknown yet we know that the first school house had to give way to a much larger building to accommodate the ever growing community.  Families of one or two children were a rarity while the ordinary family consisted of 9, 10 or 11.

In time, new names were at the head of households.  Looking over the list of more than a half century ago, the old elm finds the names of John McLaren, William McFarlane, Ed. McLenaghan, Charles McLenaghan, William Cunningham, James Cunningham, Dick Haley, William Cuthbertson, J.K. McIlquham, John Watson, Archibald McTavish, J.S. Tullis, William Tullis, Henry Echlin, William McIlquham, Wat. McIlquham, Dick Hawkins, J. Hunter, Bob Finlayson, John McFarlane, James McFarlane, Ed Rathwell, J. Hudson and others; names were dimmed by the passing years.  All had inherited the sturdy frames of their fathers and were schooled to meet obstacles with determination.

The second school house was too small and new quarters were demanded.  Duncan McGregor reared the third school house to comply.  The roof was covered by hand made shingles, the floor of boards and it boasted four windows.  A platform ran along part of the north side and over the platform was a black board made of pine boards painted black.  The desks were hand made of pine, strongly built but the tops often gave way to the sturdy jack knife.

Peter McIlquham and James McLenaghan of Drummond vividly recall their early childhood school days.  They tell of the games played, the pranks performed, the fights in the school yard, the reading, the writing, the arithmetic, the hickory stick.  The old schools are clear in their memories particularly the second school which they attended.  The floor of sided logs with gaping cracks filled with bread crumbs invited the rats to dine upon the refuse.  How often would their eyes fill with tears when they dropped the slate pencil and it would disappear between the logs on the floor to fraternize with the rats.  Slates were precious and all exercises were worked on them, the exercises being ushered into oblivion by means of spittal and the coat sleeve.  Some of the early teachers were:  Chrisholm, Cameron, Reynolds, Morgan, Long, Gilespie, York, Stone, Wiley, Thompson and Comrie(?).  They were of the old school—rank and fearless—and they always kept to the proverb “spare the rod and spoil the child”.

The registers of the third school contain the names of a later date.  Many of these have passed from the scene of action.  We find the names of Bill Selton; Eddie, Arthur and Alice Cuthbertson; Ettie, Annie and William Cunningham; Jack, Janet, Bill and George Echlin; Sinclair and Jessie Craig; Tom McCaffrey; William May; George McIlquham;  Jack, Jessie and Dave McIlquham; Mary, Alex, Bill, Wallace, Laura and Eva McLaren; Bob, Kate, Tom, John, Edwin, Fred and Minnie McFarlane; John A., Clara and Ida McFarlane; Dick, Bill, Fred and Kate Hawkins; Ned, Lizzie and Janet Hunger; J. Stevens, Joe Hudson; William Lambert, and others whose names were dim.

Some of the teachers were:  Gibson, Doherty, Thompson, Cunningham, Graham, McFarlane, Robertson, Kerr, McEwen, and McCue. 

These are some of the names of the teachers and students of the third school of many years ago, replaced by a more modern building on a new site on McLenaghan’s farm but still bears the name of McIlquham’s school.  The fourth school was built by Connors and Legary and stands in strong contrast to the former buildings.  It is modern in every respect and is a concrete monument to the memory of F.L. Mitchell, late inspector of the public schools in Lanark County.

Perth Courier, September 21, 1934

Stirring Events Marked the Early Days of Westport

(Old Time Stuff in the Ottawa Citizen)

And now we come to the beginning of things in Westport, that snug little village on the Rideau Lakes about 32 miles this side of Kingston.  Thomas Joseph Quinn of 217 Besserer Street, Ottawa, was born about three miles from Westport 83 years ago and lived and labored there for a great many years and later moved to Perth before going to Ottawa.  Mr. Quinn is one of the few remaining links between the present and Westport’s pioneer days and is wonderfully active for a man of his age and has an excellent memory.  He has given us a life like description of that village as it was when he was a boy.   Mr. Quinn’s father, the late Thomas Quinn, came out from the north of Ireland about the beginning of the 19th century and settled in the township of North Crosby where there was no sign of a village.  There were a few scattered settlers in the district but things were still in a very primitive state.  A few of those rugged path finders who had already established homes in the forest vastness and whose names may be associated with the founding of the village of Westport were Thomas Manion, James McGough, Hughie Burns, James Lappon, Bernard Trainor and John McGlade.  Years before the village came into being, early settlers erected a little log school house on the boundary line between North Crosby and Burgess and it was there that the children of the pioneer settlers in both townships received their education.  Some of them had to walk three or four miles over rough forest trails to reach school.

The first school master that Mr. Quinn remembers was one Thomas Gash(?) Cash(?) who in early life had suffered an injury to his right leg and as a consequence walked with a considerable limp.  Mr. Gash was succeeded by Barney Stanley who hailed from Stanleyville in the township of Burgess.  A few of Mr. Quinn’s school mates were John Quigley; Barney, John and Rosie McGlade; James Thompson; John Thompson; William Thomas; Bridget and Mary Manion; Betsey McGalde; Patrick Hynes; Laurence and Mike Bennett; and Charles and John McShane.

Mr. Quinn states that as far as he can recollect, the first merchants in the village of Westport were Alexander Arnold and John Foley.  Both kept general stores dealing in dry goods, hardware, groceries, produce, etc.  One of the leading men in the community at the time was a W. H. Fredenburgh, who conducted a grist mill and was reeve of North Crosby.  In the very early days there were no fewer than five blacksmiths in the village.  They were Joseph Skillington, Peter Donnally, Mike Adams, Mike Bennett and John Dwyer.

In the early ‘60’s the town boaster a population of 300 souls, a busy main street, three churches, a fine school house, several hotels and many fine residences.  By that time the firm of Folsom, Arnold and Co, had established a reputation as the leading lumber manufacturer in the county of Leeds.  They also had mills in Albany, New York.  Some of the leading men in the business and social life of the community at that time were Robert F. Birch, tailor; Robert Brash(?), grocer and carpenter; Thomas Bowes, inn keeper; John Butterworth, weaver; Francis A. Cameron, hotel keeper; John Clark, physician and surgeon; George Douglas, shoe maker; Rev. John V. Foley, parish priest; James Kehoe, inn keeper; James Kelly, shoe maker; Peter Kelly, wagon maker; Joseph C. Lingo(?), blacksmith; Rev. Stephen McEathron, Baptist minister; John McGregor, bailiff; John McGuire, teacher; George Murphy, blacksmith; John O’Brien, shoe maker; James Truelove, joiner; William Watt, grocer; and Walter Whelen, post master and general store keeper.

Mr. Quinn relates that when the post office was first established in Westport the villagers had to send to Brockville and Kingston for their mail.  There was no stage operating between these points at that time and as yet very few horses were available in the district so they used miles for the purpose.

In those days North Crosby and Burgess were full of “scrappies”, big, husky farmers who were ready to scrap on the slightest provocation and who took delight in demonstrating their ability along these lines.  Most of the impromptu fights for which the early days were noted took place at the fall fair.  Some times it would be a grudge fight but more often there would be no apparent reason for the hostilities other than a desire to show off. 

Wherever these battles were staged there was no interference.  Always a ring was formed around the combatants and they were not only permitted but encouraged to fight it out to a finish—until one or the other had thrown up the sponge.  Time and again these physical contests were waged right on the main street of the village.  Mr. Quinn recalls one occasion when two huskies of the village staged a grudge fight in front of one of the stores.  During the melee one man chewed the others thumb right off.  Court proceedings followed and at a cost to the chewer of $200.

Mr. Quinn states that he was the man who erected the first light on Westport’s main street, opposite Foley’s General Store.  It was a coil-oil lamp hung on a stout cedar post.  He was designated to keep the lamp filled and the light on.  He usually filled the lame every second night.  Later in his career he conducted a hotel known as the “American House”.  At that time there were two other hotels in the village, the Windsor, operated by Patrick Curry and the Wardrope which was on Bedford Street but Mr. Quinn cannot recall the name of the proprietor.

Mr. Quinn relates that during the fall of each year horse races were run on the main street of the village.  Farmers in their old fashioned gigs would line up at one end of the street and race to the other end and back again while both sides of the street would be lined with spectators from all parts of Burgess and North Crosby.  He stated that at one time he owned a horse named “Limber Jim” who could beat all comers.

Mr. Quinn could recall many of the old barn dances which were “great affairs”.  In those days there were some fine clog(?) dancers in the district.  These included John McGlade and his sister Rosie.  Then there was a Miss Trainor who was a splendid fiddler.  She was a blind(?) girl.  Her services were always in demand.

Perth Courier, May 23, 1924

75th Anniversary Party of Arthur Meighen & Brothers, Ltd.

An occasion unique in the town of Perth was celebrated last Saturday afternoon and evening at the Arthur Meighen & Brothers, Ltd., which was the climax of the three days celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of their firm.

The firm is well known in the county of Lanark and eastern Ontario and last Saturday at their birthday party were friends and customers numbering nearly 2,000 from all parts of the county.

The occasion was honored by the presence of the Right Honorable Arthur Meighen and his charming wife as well as many members of the Meighen family, including Mrs. Templeton of Belleville who is the only surviving member of the family of the founder of the business which has just celebrated in such a fitting manner an occasion rare indeed in these times of instability.  The celebration on Saturday was a birthday party to which everyone was invited and were shown to the second floor of the store by the genial manager J. M. Meighen, one might readily forget that this was a place of business as entertainment and the good things of life were provided plentifully.

The room, which at other times comprises the millinery, ready-to-wear and home furnishings was transformed into a beautiful tea room decorated and laden with good things for the party.  The table decorations consisted of roses, snap dragons, carnations and sweet peas in profusion and the color scheme in pink was a picture pleasing to the eye.  At the other end of the large table pouring tea were daughters of the late William Meighen, Mrs. Robert F. Kellock of Cornwall and Mrs. J. Campbell Douglas of Smith’s Falls.  The huge birthday cake, which was on exhibition in the window for some days previous, was on the table and the honors of cutting the cake fell to the eldest daughter of the late William Meighen, Mrs. Gordon C. Edwards of Ottawa, assisted by Miss Nora Meighen, daughter of Dr. W.A. Meighen, president of the firm.  Passing through the crowd, serving the good things provided, were the other daughters of the late William Meighen:  Mrs. Arthur H. Campbell of Montreal and Miss Lenore Meighen and his granddaughter Miss Edna Edwards and they were assisted by members of the staff of the millinery department and the wives of the men of the staff.

One noticed mingling through the crowd the familiar face long associated with the Meighen business and one well known to any one who has had business dealings with the firm during the past forty years—Hugh Robertson, who, though no longer actively connected with the business is a valued family advisor of every member of the firm.

The store was beautifully decorated for the occasion and the windows attracted much attention.  The one window to the right contained the birthday cake and as a background an elaborate shield in white and gold with the figure “75” and the words “Year” standing out well on the shield.  White satin drapery and numerous plants and ferns made a fit setting for the cake and other decorations consisted of a dress worn over 83 years ago with a bonnet of that period while a costume of the present year was shown in comparison.  The other large window contained the safe used by the firm 75 years ago and also the ledger used in the business.  A piece of glace(?) china purchased 75 years ago, well preserved and in beautiful design was also among the exhibits.  Dresses of 1848 with hats of that time in between the large coal skuttle polte(?) and the smaller bonnet attracted much attention and a lady’s carriage parasol of 100 years ago also received a great deal of attention.  An umbrella of 85 years ago completed this exhibit which was shown in a window having as a background brown and gold drapery with large gold figures “75” carrying out the idea of the 75th anniversary.  This window also held plants and ferns aplenty and received mush favorable comment.  To Miss Meighen and Miss McCann much credit is due for the decorating and the success of the event.  An orchestra provided music during the afternoon and evening and until 10:00 people continued to come and partake of the hospitality of the firm at their 75th anniversary.

During the afternoon those who were fortunate to be present at the moment listened to an address by the Hon Arthur Meighen who after announcing the winners for the ladies register congratulated the firm of Arthur Meighen and Brothers on their record of 75 years.

Perth Courier, August 8, 1930

Closing of the Meighen Brothers Store

The historical firm of Arthur Meighen & Brothers, Ltd., in business in Perth since 1848, ceased business last Saturday night after a long and honorable career in the mercantile life of Perth.  The portion of the Meighen block, the block having been purchased some months ago by Dr. W.A. Meighen, former president of the firm, occupied by the Meighen firm, is now in the hands of the carpenters who are renovating in order that it may be used by other firms in the future.  The ground floor will be used by Chainway Ltd., of Toronto, who will open a business there next month.  The second floor will be devoted to offices.  Dr. L. Thompson will move his dental practice there and Mr. T. Arthur Rogers his law practice.  The third floor will be divided into apartments.  A coal office for Mr. J.H. Meighen is now being constructed at the rear of the block.  The other businesses occupying the remainder of the block are the Dominion Stores, Rudd & Neilson on the ground floor, Bell Telephone Co. on the second floor and the Taber Business College on the third floor. 

The origin of the Meighen firm by the late Arthur Meighen in 1848 was in a building on Gore Street known as the Douglas property where the Balderson block now stands. In 1867 Mr. Meighen purchased the splendid property on the corner of Gore and Foster Streets where he afterwards carried on business.  About that time Mr. Meighen admitted as partner in the business his two brothers William and Robert.

Arthur Meighen died May 31, 1874 and the business afterwards was conducted by William and Robert until October of 1885(?) 1895(?) when W.A. Meighen, only son of the founder of the firm, was admitted as partner.  These gentlemen carried on until April 10, 1909 when an agreement to dissolve partnership having been decided upon, Robert Meighen retired, leaving the partners W.A. and William Meighen in possession of the business.  W.A. Meighen died in June of 1914 and after his death William Meighen, the senior partner, was sole owner of the business and carried it on successfully until his death on March 1, 1917 after which the business was conducted by the executors of the estate until his beneficiaries acquired control and formed a limited liability company known as Arthur Meighen and Brothers, Ltd., with the following officers:  Dr. W. A Meighen, President; J.M. Meighen, Vice President and Treasurer; Miss L.M. Meighen, Secretary.  The firm celebrated its Diamond Anniversary in May of 1924.

The enterprise of the firm was never questioned.  They possess the means to push their projects and to carry them to a successful issue and by their honorable and straight forward manner in dealing with the public won the esteem and respect of all.  There was no firm in this section of eastern Ontario more widely or favorably known than the Meighen firm.  The late William Meighen, whose name was a synonym for honor, was associated with the business for a period of over half a century and the attributes so essential to success were possessed by him to a marked degree.

Perth Courier, Jan. 4, 1935

The Passing of Dr. W.A. Meighen

The sudden death in the Great War Memorial Hospital on Thursday evening December 27 of Dr. W.A. Meighen came as a shock to this whole community.  He was stricken with paralysis while typing a letter on Thursday afternoon.  Two of his fellow practitioners were summoned to his aid and immediately rushed him to the hospital where he passed away at 6:00 without having regained consciousness. It was Mrs. Meighen’s second sore bereavement within a few weeks, her sister Mrs. Griffis(?) having passed away at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Meighen on December 8.  Dr. Meighen’s loss to the town has been deeply felt and particularly so in his death occurring during the festive season.

The late William Arthur Meighen, M.D., was born 61 years ago in Perth.  His father, the late William Meighen, was a native of the county of Londonderry, Ulster, Ireland and came with his parents and brothers to Canada about the year 1840 and afterwards became a member of the pioneer mercantile establishment of Arthur Meighen and Brothers, following some years in business for himself.  He was a gentleman of the old school, a member of the town council and mayor of Perth from 1885-86. Dr. Meighen’s mother’s maiden name was Harriett Francis Nichol and a daughter of the late Dr. James Nichol and Mrs. Nichol, the Meighen and Nichol families having been two of the best and earliest families in Perth.

Deceased was educated at the Perth public school, Perth Collegiate Institute and U.C. College in Toronto, then studied medicine at McGill University, Montreal, graduating from that institution with an M.D. in 1901 and began practicing his profession in his home in the town of Perth with his office on Wilson Street between North and D’Arcy Streets, then in the former residence of the late Dr. Munro which he purchased and where he remained until his death.

In his medical profession he had consistently adhered to its best conditions and earned the genuine gratitude and affection of countless patients in town and country to whom he administered with a kindness, sympathy and friend which made him universally admired.

In his younger days he was one of the most prominent athletes in hockey and bicycling.  He was center player on the Perth Hockey Club and as a bicyclist won various first prizes at different meets in Ontario which at that time were popular events.

He was medical health officer for the townships of Drummond, Bathurst, North Elmsley and South Sherbrooke and surgeon of the county goal in Perth.  He was medical representative of the Department of Pensions and National Health and was a member of the fraternity lodge I.O.O.F since 1893 and also medical examiner in that order.

On the death of his father on March 1, 1917, the mercantile business in the familiar stand at the corner of Gore and Foster Streets was conducted by the executives of the estate until the beneficiaries acquired control and formed a limited liability company known as Arthur Meighen and Brothers, Ltd., with Dr. Meighen as president.  The firm celebrated their diamond anniversary in May of 1924 and in August of 1930 ceased(?) business, the Meighen block having been purchased some months previous by the deceased, who made various changes and improvements it resulting in it becoming one of the finest business blocks in the town.

In April, 1909 he was married in St. Catharines to Dora(?) Elizabeth Benson, daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Manly Benson.  Dr. Benson had been a prominent Methodist divine with several charges throughout Ontario including the former Asbury Methodist Church of which he was a pastor from 1904 to 1908.

Deceased is survived by his wife and one son Benson at home and one daughter Miss Nora Meighen, registered nurse, Montreal.  He is also survived by five sisters—Mrs. Gordon C. (Edna) Edwards of Ottawa; Mrs. Arthur H. (Mabel) Campbell of Westmount, Quebec; Mrs. R.F. (Isobel) Kellock of Toronto; Mrs. J. Campbell (Morna) of Douglas; and Miss Lenore Meighen of Smith’s Falls.  Three brothers also survive:  Messrs. James Meighen of Perth; and R. Ernest Meighen and Desmond N. Meighen of Toronto.  He was predeceased by one sister Mrs. J. Edwin (Laura) Frost of Smith’s Falls.

Many hundreds paid their last tribute of respect tot eh deceased by attending the funeral held on Sunday afternoon from the family home on Wilson Street to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of which the deceased was a life long member.  The service was conducted with dignity and simplicity by Rev. Dr. Bunyon McLeod during which the two favorite hymns of the deceased, “I Need Thee Every Hour” and “Unto The Hills Around Do I Life Up My Longing Eyes” were sung.  Following the service the cortege proceeded to Elmwood.  Pall bearers were Dr. Arthur C. Fowler, Messrs. J.S.L. McNeely, John L. Dietrich, Robert L. Thornbury, James McVeity of Rideau Lake and T.E. Foster of Smith’s Falls.

Among those from out of town attending the funeral were Rt. Hon. Senator Arthur Meighen, ex-premier of Canada, cousin of the deceased; Mr. and Mrs. R.F. Kellock; Messrs. R. Ernest Meighen and son Muir, Desmond N. Meighen, M. Starr Benson and Miss Emily Mohr of Toronto; Mr. and Mrs. Gordon C. Edwards, Miss Edna and Mr. Max Edwards, Major Clyde R. Scott and Wainwright Cleary of Ottawa; Mr. and Mrs. Arthur H. Campbell of Westmount, Quebec; Dr. J.A. Johnston and Mrs. C.F.R. Taylor of Carleton Place; Mr. and Mrs. J. Campbell Douglas and son Stewart, Miss Lenore Meighen, Dr. J.T. Hogal and Dr. R.M. Ferguson, Dr. H.A. Whitcomb, S.A. Ross and J.E. Burns of Smith’s Falls.

Perth Courier, Feb. 19, 1937

Familiar Names on the Rolls of the Perth Bible Society in 1936

Records of unusual and great interest not only from the stand point of age but a chronicle of deep interest in the circulation of the Book of Books have been brought to light in Perth.  The 100th anniversary of the formation of the Perth Auxiliary Bible Society, a branch or auxiliary of the British and Foreign Society was fittingly observed at the 100th annual meeting in the town hall here on the 24th January, 1936.

A complete record of the organization in 1836 until the present day has been preserved and one is greatly impressed with the penmanship of the secretaries of the early years and the neat and methodical manner in which the records were kept and the enthusiasm displayed by the members. 

One of the rules governing the society states “the Society shall consist of all those who are disposed to promote its object without regard to differences in religion”.  The general subscription fee was five shillings and this amount would constitute the donor a member as long as he continued to pay his subscription.  A donation of five pounds could make the candidate a life member—five pounds were not so plentiful in those days as the record does not show any life members.

H. Glass was the chairman of an organization meeting and it is noticeable that many of the names of the officers are still prominently connected with the business life of Perth and district, throughout the Dominion and other countries.  Hon. William Morris was the first president, the Morris family having been one of the first settler families of the town and the name is among prominent Canadians of past ages while the descendents are to this day holders of responsible positions.  Hon. Alexander Morris, a son of the first president of the Perth Bible Society, was Lt. Governor of Manitoba and a grandson, Wilfred R. Morris, F.C.A., Peterborough, is a member of the firm of Morris and Laurice, chartered accountants while there are many other descendents.

Mr. A. Thom, M.P.P. one of the vice presidents, played a very important part in the early life of Perth and the settlement and won distinction as a businessman and received the endorsement of the electors to represent them in the provincial legislature of the day.  Thom Street in Perth is named after him.  In those days, the electors did not use ballots, open voting being the procedure usually several days being set aside for the counting of the votes.

Another vice president of the society was Henry Glass, the leading hardware dealer of the town while J.G. Malloch, Esq., was the third.  This gentleman was later county judge in Lanark and father of E.G. Malloch, county Crown Attorney for Lanark.

The secretaries were the three resident ministers, Rev. William Bain, T.C. Wilson and J. Brock of the Baptist Church.  William Bell, Jr., was the treasurer and John Bell the depository.

The committee was composed of many men whose descendents are still residents of the district among them being Malcolm Cameron, M.P. and M.P.P., Robert Kellock, father of James F. Kellock and grandfather of R.F. Kellock of Toronto, W. McGrath, George Cuthbertson father of George Cuthbertson of Perth, Thomas Nichol father of Messrs. Thomas and Neil Nichol of Perth, and several others.

Donations were received from:  P. McIntosh, Thomas Brooke father of Miss Brooke of Perth, James Flintoff whose grandchildren and great grandchildren are residents of Drummond, Richard Walker, Thomas Ecklin, William Likely, Robert Shaw grandfather of Messrs. W.S. and F.A. Robertson of Perth and grandparent of the Shaw families of Drummond.  David Hogg, father of the late David Hogg for many years Perth’s under taker and also grandparent of Mrs. Fowler of Perth, and William Williams, John Hunter, Henry Orr, Robert Gemmell, Laurence Gemmill grandfather of Donald Fraser, John Bell a blacksmith, Hon. R. Matheson father of the late Col. and Hon. A.J. Matheson, Capt. McMillen, John Miller and Alexander Cuthbertson.  There were two other names on the list of the charter members but they were illegible.

The minute book from 1836 to Feb. 17, 1868 is in a fair state of preservation and no doubt will be deposited some place where it will be preserved for future generations to peruse, possibly in the Perth Museum.

Perth Courier, June 19, 1925

The Moir Family of Ramsay Township

G.S. Moir, druggist, Ottawa, recently loaned the Citizen the following letter written by his grandfather, James Moir in the year 1825—just 100 years ago—to a relative in Scotland.  The letter was written by James Moir of Ramsay Township about 2 ½  miles  from Almonte and was written about four years after the family had settled on what is now called Clayton Road 2 ½ miles from Almonte.  James Moir at the time the letter was written, was a youth.  His father was William Moir, who was the pioneer Moir of Ramsay.  It is a bit romantic that a letter written 100 years ago and sent to Scotland should have been preserved and even found its way back to the point where it was written.

When the Moirs went into Ramsay Township in 1820 the place, as narrated by Moir, was a “wilderness”.  Mr. Moir (who wrote to an uncle named John Baird at Candling Court, Glasgow), explained in starting that he had not written before (four years of silence) because they had been “hitherto not well settled”.

The letter which he wrote was to be carried by a Mr. Easton and young Moir remarked that he need not give a “detailed account of the country” as Mr. Easton would doubtless tell them all about it.

Young Moir, in starting, used the then current expression “we are all well at present and hope this will find you the same”.  He went on to promise a “true account of everything” and went on to say that when they landed in Ramsay having first come to Perth, they had to travel about 20 miles before they could find a “spot in the wilderness” which they liked at all.  A lot of country they “did not think well of”.

The spot they finally selected (on the Clayton Road) was “6 miles from any neighbor”.  The first thing the father did was to “cut down some trees to let the sun in”.  After that and before building, he and his father went back to Perth where they had left his father.  The boy writes that he and his father were so discouraged by the lonesomeness of the place they had selected they pretty nearly made up their minds not to go back.

But just at that time, a number of other Scottish families came on the scene looking for land and Moir, Sr. directed them to land along side of the property he had selected.  With nearer neighbors assured the Moirs went back to the new farm and began active operations.  It appears that when settling operations began the little Scotch colony who were to live near the Moirs clubbed together and built a flat bottomed scow on which they took their house hold effects down the river.  It is evident that the colony did not own many “effects” as “several trips” were sufficient to get down all their stuff, including provisions.  Before winter set in that year (1821) all the new settlers had their log shacks and a supply of wood cut for the winter.

During the first winter, James and his father chopped down the trees from four acres.  The first winter was pretty dreary from all accounts but it finally passed.  There were a lot of sugar maples in the district and when the spring came everyone got busy making sugar.  Then when spring had fully come, all the settlers proceeded to burn, “in large heaps” the trees they had cut down.

On May 20, the Moirs were able to sow Indian corn and by June, they were able to get open ground to grow potatoes. 

A big event on the farm that year was the purchase of a cow.  Although no reference was made to wheat, young Moir remarks that the first year they had a crop of “16 bushels of wheat” and they secured 300 bushels of potatoes.

The next winter, the Moirs worked hard and cleared six more acres making ten in all.  The following summer they got in a much larger crop.  But sad to relate, the frost came early that fall and “nearly destroyed it all”.

Next came a story in progress.  That winter the Moirs went to Perth and “bought a yoke of oxen to work the farm”.  James remarked parenthetically that “the horses in this country are not for working on the farms.  They are for running the carriages on the streets.”

In the third year we read that things had progressed so well with the Moirs that they “began to build a barn”.  The barn was one of the old fashioned log barns and the letter tells that ten of the neighbors helped to raise it.  The raising was done in one day. 

Next comes the relating of an exciting incident.  This happened in the spring of the third year.  It seems that one of the neighbors named John Forbes, had run very low in provisions and the Moirs, having more then they required, Moir Sr., told his sons to take a sleigh and the oxen and take them a supply via the river route.  It was just the edge of the “breaking up” season.  While James was on the river, rain began to fall and it grew warm with the result the ice became covered with water.  He became alarmed.  While wondering what was best to do, he was overtaken by a neighbor who assured him “it was all right, there was no danger”.  About two miles further on the neighbor proved to be wrong.  Suddenly, the Moir oxen and sleigh and the neighbor’s oxen and sleigh both went through the ice.  This was a new experience for young Moir and he had no precedent.  They heard men in the distance.  Moir hurried on over the water-covered ice and finally after going about two miles he found some men on the river working in a saw mill.  His appeals for help brought half a dozen of them to the scene. After much trouble they managed to get both pair of oxen and the sleighs out of the water.  The story goes on to say that owing to exposure, one of the pair of oxen (that owned by the stranger) died.  The team owned by the Moirs recovered.

By the end of the third year, the Moirs had cleared 80 acres in all and had bought another farm for which they paid thirty pounds or $150.  They paid for it in grain.  In the summer of the fourth year, the Moirs built “a fine new house”.  Sixteen of the neighbors helped them build it. 

At this point, James Moir told his uncle that he and his father were both well pleased with their holdings and general conditions and that they would not go back to Scotland.  He intimated that in this country a man could be a gentleman without having a lot of money to his name.  (They had by this time become imbued with the democratic principles of the new country.)

James told his uncle that they owned two pair of oxen, two cows, two “young cows” and a “good number of swine”.  And now hear young Canada boast “we keep as good a table as you in Glasgow although we have not as much money.”

Then followed some personal references during which he hoped that God “would prosper” his uncle “in all his actions”.  In closing, he said that it was his wish that as soon as the roads were good enough to ship a barrel of corn flour.

In due time the Moirs made good in a large way and became one of the leading families of Ramsay.  The Moir homestead on the Clayton Road is now owned by Mr. Rivington.  The descendents of the original William Moir alive now are G.S. Moir and G.A. Moir of Ottawa, J.C. Moir of North Bay, J.S. Moir and R.W. Moir of Arnprior and David Moir of Barene(?), Alberta.


Posted: 15 December, 2005.