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London Free Press May 31, 1938 pg 20

St Marys, Given Start as Little Falls, rounds out its first Century

By Kenneth A. Routledge

In 1839, Thomas Ingersoll made certain arrangements with the Canada Company to erect a saw and grist mill as an inducement to settlers to locate in the new Township of Blanshard.

Two years later, in the autumn of 1841, Mr Ingersoll came with a staff of workmen to what is now St Marys. A saw mill was erected on the south side of the present Water street, close to Trout Creek. A log house was also built in which Wm. Carroll, with his wife and child, conducted a boarding-house for the workmen.

The following year two more houses were built and the hamlet of Little Falls had its being.

In 1843 two stores were erected, one by Mr Crittenden and the other by Jas. McKay, on the north side of Queen street. On the south side Mr Crittenden also erected the first hotel. Mr Ingersoll's grist mill was completed, and Little Falls began to consider itself an enterprising hamlet.

In 1844 Mr Jones, Canada Company Commissioner in Goderich, visited the settlement, accompanied by his wife. Many settlers were locating in Blanshard and the villagers now decided that the hamlet, rapidly becoming the trading center for a growing community, deserved a more high-sounding name than Little Falls. The honor fell to Mrs Jones, who had subscribed ten pounds towards erecting a school, and whose name was Mary. Until this time the village had had no postal facilities beyond those volunteered by Mr McKay and Mr Crittenden and in 1845 a regular mail service was established from London.

First Merchant

About this time streets were laid out and few [a] private residences began to appear among the blackened stumps which still disfigured the principal thoroughfares. Among the merchants were Edward Long, Harrison, George McIntyre, Moscrip, Barron, Flaws, Guest, McCuaig, McDonald, Hutton and others. Their stores were low structures with gables to the street.

About 1847 a foundry was erected at the west end of Queen Street bridge and two years later another foundry, where agricultural implements were manufactured, was opened by John R. Moore. In this year, too, Gilbert McIntosh opened a carding and fulling mill on Thames avenue. Industry was still further promoted by Mr Weir and Mr Forester erecting flax mills and in 1888 David Maxwell & Sons removed their implement factory to St Marys.

Railroads had a large share in the progress of St Marys. In 1858 the Grand Trunk reached the village and for a few years the place was an important grain market. During autumn the market square was for several hours each day blocked with teams. The completion of the Grand Trunk to Sarnia, in 1860, and the building of the London, Huron & Bruce opened new markets for the settlers and almost for a time paralyzed St Marys.

In 1843 Nicholas Roger came to the new settlement and opened a 'seminary' for the training of the youth of the section, in a corner of his shanty. During that year, too, Rev Mr Brough, later arch-deacon of Huron Diocese, visited Little Falls and 13 years later Rev Mr Lampman was stationed there and a church erected. Methodism was established in 1848 by Rev William T. Williams who was followed a year later by Rev. Thomas Williams. In 1852 a Roman Catholic mission was opened by Rev. Father Kirwin, services being held in the home of Patrick Whelihan until a church was erected. Rev. Dr Proudfoot was the first Presbyterian minister to be stationed in St Marys although services of this denomination had been conducted almost from the beginning of the settlement.

In 1851 a grant was made by Thomas Ingersoll, for the nominal sum of five shillings, of two lots on which to build a Presbyterian church. The lots were in the bush so a 'bee' was made to clear sufficient land for their purpose and in 1852 a frame church was erected, the congregation for several years sitting on planks laid on blocks of wood. A second Presbyterian church, Knox, was built in 1879. This was destroyed by fire on March 16, 1891, and rebuilt the same year.

[Note: The next paragraph is missing the extreme right side on my copy]

Prior to 1855 St Marys ... a portion of Blanshard and that year separation ... place, each having a local g[overn]ment of its own. Nine years ... St Marys became an incorp[orated] town and withdrew from municipal organization.


Meg Fuller Perth County Coordinator

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The Townships of Perth County

Blanshard Township and town of St Marys
Downie Township
North Easthope
South Easthope
Ellice Township
Elma township
Fullarton Township
Hibbert Township
Logan Township
Mornington Township
City of Stratford
Wallace Township and town of Listowel

Outside Links (Not part of this site)

$ Perth County Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Stratford-Perth Archives
The Stratford Beacon-Herald the main newspaper for the area

The Listowel Banner is the main newspaper in the north part of the county

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Perth County Historical Foundation
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Township of Perth East
Township of West Perth
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