Historic Lanark County Documents from the Perth Courier
Received from: Christine Spencer - firstname.lastname@example.org
This document contains the following
History of the Balderson Church
The Auld Kirk
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
Courier, October 31, 1946
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
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
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
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
Courier, July 30, 1970
(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.
Courier, June 6, 1924
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.
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.
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
Courier, July 16, 1926, July 23, 1926 and July 30, 1926
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Courier, October 9, 1925
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.
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
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
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.
of the Tay Canal by Stuart Wilson
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
Courier, July 24, 1925
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.
Courier, June 21, 1935
Can Forget SS #1, Drummond
one of the 3rd School – in the Lanark Era
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.
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.
Courier, September 21, 1934
Events Marked the Early Days of Westport
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
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
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.
Courier, May 23, 1924
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
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
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.
Courier, August 8, 1930
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.
Courier, Jan. 4, 1935
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
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
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
Courier, Feb. 19, 1937
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
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.
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
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
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.
Courier, June 19, 1925
Moir Family of Ramsay Township
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
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
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
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.