History of the County of Perth, 1825-1902
William Johnston, 1903
Peter Robinson Jarvis, a pioneer of this county, was fourth son of Fredrick Starr Jarvis, U. E. Loyalist, and born in the township of York, August 16th, 1824. His grandfather fought for British supremacy during the revolutionary war, and at its termination had to fly for his life to British territory. As a refugee he came to Fredericton, N.B., in 1808. As a U.E. Loyalist his father obtained a grant of land near Oakville, serving in the war of 1812 and the rebellion of 1837. Subsequently he was appointed registrar of the Home District, and acted as Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod in the old Parliament of Canada. Later he became Sheriff of the Home District.
In 1809 Colonel Jarvis removed his family to Upper Canada, and in 1818 received his appointment as registrar. Like many others of our pioneers Mr Jarvis began his education in a log school house, where he attended for some time, being afterwards sent to a grammar school in Cornwall. He seems now like a connecting link of the past and present, having been taught by Bishop Strachan, and was a school mate of Hon. John Sandfield McDonald. Having completed his education he shipped from New Orleans for China, residing in Canton as representative of an American Tea Co. Returning from that port he visited the Cape of Good Hope and St Helena, arriving safely in Toronto after a long voyage. For a short period he entered into the milling business at Galt, and in 1847, along with his brother, came to Stratford.
On his arrival in this new backwoods hamlet he rented from Mr W. F. McCulloch a grist and saw mill and a distillery. Thus he identified himself with the commercial intrests of the village, forming a connection which has been continued ever since. Stratford's first assessment was made by Mr James Woods, who, with Mr Jarvis and brother, made valuations and counted the houses, while quietly smoking their pipes in a little back office. If remuneration for performing this important function was not great, neither did their duties seem very onerous. A brick block erected by Mr Jarvis, and known as the Jarvis block, was the first to be built in Stratford.
In discharging those duties which every good citizen owes to society, this pioneer had done his part. For many years he interested himself in educational work, serving with acceptance on the trustee boards. His connection with Stratford school boards extended over a period of thirty years, when he resigned his position as chairman of the high school trustees. At one period of his career he was a candidate for parliamentary honours, and in good old orthodox style issued his address to the intelligent and independent electors of Perth County, sub subsequently withdrew. The reader is referred to the local history of Stratford for further information regarding the work of his time.
Over fifty years ago, when Queen Victoria was young, he received a commission as ensign of the first Batt. of Perth Militia, under date March 14th, 1851. This document is fearfully and wonderfully impressive, opening with an array of titles and distinctions which appear to use like piling up agony. For the information of our readers we insert it, as follows:-
"His Excellency the Right Honourable James, Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, Governor-General of British North America, and Captain and Governor-in-Chief in and over the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Island of Prince Edward, and Vice-Admiral of the same, etc., etc.
"To Peter Robinson Jarvis, gentleman. Greeting: Reposing full confidence in your loyalty, courage and good conduct, I do hereby constitute and appoint you, during pleasure, to be ensign i the Fourth Batt. of Huron Militia, taking rank and precedence from the 14th day of March, 1852. You are, therefore, carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of ensign by exercising and well disciplining the inferior officers and men of the said militia, and I do hereby command them to obey you as their ensign, and you are to observe and follow all such orders and directions as you shall from time to time receive from me or your superior officers, according to law.
"Given at Toronto the fourteenth year of Her Majesty's Reign.
"By command. Signed, Elgin & Kincardine."
In 1849 Mr Jarvis married Miss Marion Neilson, the issue of a long and happy union being a family of ten children. In religion he is an Episcopalian, and in politics a Tory of the old school. His life has been peaceful though eventful, and during his career he has seen all those mighty influences called into existences by the genius of our great men which has produced such marvellous results in the world. He has long passed three score and ten, and is now nearing that period which some by reason of mere strength are said to attain. Still hale and hearty, however, he attends to business has he did over fifty years ago. He is robust in health, portly in figure, relishes spinning a yearn of the long past, and on the whole is a fine specimen of ye grand old country gentleman of ye olden time.
Meg Fuller Perth County Coordinator
Copyright © 2007-2008 by ONGenWeb.. All rights reserved. Individual submissions remain property of submitter or author. Last updated
September 22, 2007
Photos in banner courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF34-051862-D and LC-USF34-031979-D.