Historic Lanark County Documents from the Perth Courier

Historic Lanark County Documents from the Perth Courier

Received from: Christine Spencer - [email protected]

The document contains the following articles:

G.B. Farmer, Shoe Merchant

Marks family of Christies Lake

Grand Old Lady of Lanark Dies—Mrs. Ellen Boes

History of Elections in Lanark County

Plan of Lanark Village, and other Townships, 1827, With Names & Concession Numbers

Last Remaining Stage Driver is Dead—Patrick Spence

The Dalhousie Settlers of Innisfail Township

Archibald Rankin

How Almonte Got Its Name

The Early Post Offices

The Voyage of the Buckinghamshire

History Leading Up to the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Perth

History of the Catholic Church in Perth

St. Patrick’s Church, One of the Oldest Mission Churches in Ontario

Perth Planing Mill

History of Knox Church, McDonald’s Corners

Death in Pembroke of Rev. Father P.S. Dowdall

Perth Courier, November 10, 1922


Two photos of G.B. Farmer accompany this article, one at the age of 21 and one at the age of 71

A few weeks ago it was announced by us that G.B. Farmer, boot and shoe merchant, had dispensed of his business and stock and that on the 1st of October he intended to retire.  Mr. Farmer, when he gave up the business, had been in business for over half a century, having started in a little building on Gore Street which stood on the back of the little river, long since torn down, the site of which is now covered by the south east corner of the Code block; this was in 1872.  Before making his parting  hour to the public, he was able to say that on the 30th September that he was the only one left of those who were in business fifty years ago and had continued in it year after year up tot eh time of his retirement.  In 1867 he commenced to learn the business with the late David Holliday who kept a shoe store in a building where the public library now stands.  Mr. Holliday having opened a branch at Arnprior, at his request G.B. Farmer went up there in 1869, where he remained until the fall of 1871 when he returned to Perth to attend school with a view of taking a university course.  He went to school to Dr. Thornton for six months but circumstances prevented him from carrying out his desire so at the end of the school term, he commenced business as stated above.

From his pioneer venture in the days of his boyhood, for he was only 20 years of age when he faced the world in this way, he built up a large and flourishing trade, second to none in the county, and excelled by few in the province outside of cities.  This was done by faithful and diligent devotion to business and by his natural urbanity as well as business capacity.  He has seen the boot and shoe trade in the world change from a mere merchant workshop where “home made” alone could be had to conditions at present where the products of big factories fill the shelves and where “hand mades” are a curiosity.  But Mr. Farmer has been more than a man of business.  For some years he was an active and competent member of the Board of Education.  To mention the names of those who formed the board at that time shows how passing we are.  They were Dr. Kellock, F.A. Hall, R.J. Drummond, Fred Mason, J.M. Rogers, John A. McLaren, Dr. Munroe, W.A. Moore, Charles Meighen, Judge Senkler, E.G. Malloch and G.B. Farmer.  During his time on the board, C. Rice retired the secretaryship and Mr. Jamieson was appointed.  The clerks also owe Mr. Farmer a debt of gratitude for the early closing of stores as he and Mr. Drummond, then manager of the Bank of Montreal, canvassed the town for three years before obtaining early closing for two nights in the week and that for only two months in the summer.

He has always taken a lively interest in the welfare of the boys of the town and many men are now filling positions of honor and trust in the world and can look back with thankfulness for the help and encouragement they received from him.  He was also a fearless and consistent advocate of prohibition when it was not so popular as it is today and can tell many a story of days of battle.

We understand his successors Messrs. Smiley and Thomson are both practical shoe merchants.  Mr. Smiley successfully carried on a similar business in Shawville, Quebec for a number of years and Mr. Thomson was for years in one of Ottawa’s large shoe stores.  He is a returned soldier and while overseas in Buxton, England after the war he took a course in Orthopedic Gymnasium in connection with the Buxton Hospital; he is a most competent shoe fitter.

Perth Courier, August 29, 1968

Marks Family of Christies Lake

The early history of Christies Lake is lost to posterity.  “The Killarney of Canada” was the name given to it by the late Thomas Marks, the little bit of heaven set in the heart of Lanark County.  It is situated 12 miles southwest of Perth in S. Sherbrooke.  If there is a “Christie” who settled there and perpetrated his name in this lake no information is obtainable.  The earlier known settlers in the area were the Thomas Marks family and the William H. Patterson family.  Thomas Marks was the father of the seven Marks Brothers who became known from one end of America to the other in the theatrical world.  Robert Marks, the eldest brother, was the founder and manager of their enterprise which varied from solo tours and duos, trios and troupe entertainment all of which was in great demand by theatrical managers during the great era of vaudeville.  One of the most outstanding landmarks on the shores of the lake is the old Marks homestead which is still in fairly good shape and as one ambles through the rooms one can visualize the Marks brothers practicing for a winter tour.  This homestead is a great tribute to Canada’s greatest contribution to the vaudeville stage and the Marks brothers.

Perth Courier, October 25, 1936

Grand Old Lady of Lanark Dies

Mrs. Ellen Boes died in St. Frances General Hospital on Wednesday, October 16, little more than a month after she celebrated her 101st birthday.  Mrs. Boes, probably the oldest resident of the Ottawa District, had been confined to the hospital for about two months. 

Born in Kitley Township September 12(?) 13(?), 1834, she had lived virtually her entire life in the immediate vicinity of Smith’s Falls, never venturing far from her place of birth.  She was formerly Ellen Berns, daughter of a pioneer settler of this district.  Her parents came from Ireland about 1830, responding to an appeal sent out by the British government of that day to the overcrowded and distressed British Isles for settlers to come to Canada, a new land of much promise, and accept land grants.

Mrs. Boes’ pioneer parents accepted their location in Kitley Township and there she was born.  After her marriage she resided in Montague Township and on the death of her husband about 27 years ago she came to Smith’s Falls making her home here ever since.

Blessed with a remarkable memory and a twinkling Irish wit, she was a brilliant conversationalist and on recent birthdays had entertained relatives and friends with interesting tales of long ago.  She could recall from first hand knowledge many events of interest in Canadian history and remembered vividly incidents in the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny.  She was 30 years of age before the consummation of the Confederation and lived under four British sovereigns.

Mrs. Boes had been privileged to witness great changes during the course of her life.  She saw the coming of the railways, the auto and the airplane.  She saw modern farm machinery make agriculture a comparatively simple and luxurious occupation compared to the old days when the pioneers of her childhood cleared the lands, sawed by hand, cut with a sickle, threshed with the flail, and had little or no market while even oxen were considered minor luxuries.

During her life and until her advanced age made even moderate activity impossible, she had been a regular attendant of St. Francis de Sales Church and in religion she was a devout Roman Catholic.

Loved and respected by her immediate relatives she was known to hundreds of others in this district through publicity given the celebration of her 100th birthday and news of the passing of Lanark’s “Grand Old Lady” occasions deep and lasting regret throughout this section of the Ottawa Valley.

Left to mourn her loss are two sons John and James Boes of Smith’s Falls and five daughters:  Mrs. W.R. Fursman of Marden, Manitoba; Mrs. George Marquette of Smith’s Falls; Mrs. J. Hennerty and Miss Annie Boes of Watertown, New York; Mrs. W.R. Carroll of Oil Cilty, Pa.; and two sisters—Mrs. Elizabeth Donovan of Toronto and Mrs. Jane Murphy of Jasper.  Eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren also survive.  The funeral was held on Friday morning from the residence of her son James Boes, 2 Maple Avenue to St. Francis de Sales Church and thence to the R.C. Cemetery.

Perth Courier, October 25, 1935

History of Elections in Lanark County

From the Almonte Gazette

Lanark North

1867—Hon. W. MacDougall, C., Acclamation

1872—D. Galbraith, L., 141

1874—Galbraith, L., Acclamation

1878—Galbraith, L., 43; J. Jamieson, C., 68; Jamieson, C., 105

By Year Election

1880—(Jan.22), D.C. MacDonnell, L., 98

1891—(Dec. 31) B. Rosamund, C., 430

1891—Jamieson, C., 601

1896—B. Rosamund, C., 276

1900—Rosamund, C., 7

1904—T.B. Cadwell, L., 53

1908—W. Thoburn, C., 6

1911—Thoburn, C., 227

Lanark South

1867—Alex Morris, C., Acclamation

1872—J.C. Haggart, C., 904

1874—Haggart, C., 420

1878—Haggart, C., 324

1883—Haggart, C., Acclamation

1887—Haggart, C., 882

1891—Hon. J. G. Haggart, 630

2896—Haggart, 379

1900—Haggart, 384

1904—Haggart, 890

1908—Haggart, 769

1911—Haggart, 1,167

By Year Elections

1869—(Nov. 29)—Hon. A. Morris, C., Acclamation

1888—(Oct. 22)—Hon. J.G. Haggart, C., Acclamation

1913—(Dec. 13)—A.E. Hanna, M.D., C., 134

1917—A.E. Hanna, C.

1918—A.E. Hanna, C., Hon J.A. Stewart, C.

1921—Hon. J.A. Stewart,C.

1922—Dr. R.F. Preston, C.

1926—Dr. R.F. Preston, C.

1929—Dr. W.S. Murphy, Ind., C.

1930—T.A. Thompson, C.

1935—T. A. Thompson, C.

Perth Courier, Sept. 22, 1933

Plan of Lanark Village and other Townships, 1827, with names

(Transcriber’s note, the dates below are confusing, the map is 1827 yet some later dates appear, one can only assume that the map itself was originally 1827 and later dates were penciled in??)

(Donated to the Perth Museum by T. Arthur Rogers of Perth)  This plan, dated Surveyor General’s Office, Toronto, June, (year illegible), and is signed by John Macaulay, Surveyor General.  The names of the east and west (approximate) streets were Argyle, Prince, George, York and Canning while Hillier, Clarence, and Owen ran at right angles to these.  Most of the lots had the names of the owner written thereon and the dates on which the patents had been issued.  James Mair was at that time the largest property owner with 14 lots in his name while William Mair was down for one.  These were all dated July and August, 1845.

John Hall, Esq., had five lots (1843-44-45); J.R. Gemmell, one, 1844; Jas. McLaren, one 1845 and the Baptist Society with two lots (date illegible).  The Caldwells do not appear to have yet arrived on the scene but in 1830(?) Boyd Caldwell and Co. founded the woolen mill which was the principal support of the village during the succeeding half century.

Set of Maps or Plans of the Townships of Lanark County, with the exception of Dalhousie, Ramsay, Beckwith and North Sherbrooke which are missing.  Like the plan of Lanark Village, the names of the then owners and dates on which they had been granted are inscribed on the occupied lands.  Some mention of these names may be of interest to descendents of these pioneers many of whom are living on the original locations.  For this purpose each township will be taken in its turn.


On the first concession we find the names of such well known pioneers as Dr. Thom, A. Fraser, J.T. and R.(?) James, Nathaniel and William Stedman, J. Hand and James Bell.  On the 2nd Concession (the part within the town of Perth)—Col. Taylor, Capt. Marshall, Greenly, Harris, Malloch, and Haggart and going eastward C.H. Sache, Henry J.T.&R, William StedmanR.(?) or N.(?) James and Thomas Hands (1855)  On Concession 3—R. Greenel, B. Glen, James and W. Morris, Sutton Frisell, J. McPhail, John Tatlock (1851), T. Doyle, Michael and John Foy (1853).  On Concession 4 Thomas Poole, J. Richmond, J. King (view the 1830(?) grant of the east half of Lot 12 in the museum), W. Morris, Hon. R. Matheson, T.M. Radenhurst.  On Concession 5 Martin Doyle (1853(?)), G. Richmond, Charles Devlin.  On Concession 6, D. Macnee, D. Campbell, P. Campbell, T. Bothwell, W. Thompson, and James Codd (Code).  On Concession 7, D. Campbell, F. McIntyre, T. Whyte, P. Campbell (Beech Groove Lot 6, birth place of Archibald Campbell, Sr., and now owned by the Carr-Thompson family), McGarry, W. Shaw, J.&D. McLaren.  Concession 8, J. Balderson (of Balderson’s Corners), T.&J. Richardson, W. Fraser, T.&W. Stedman, W., M.J. & G. Gould, J. McLenaghan, and P. Sinclair.  Concession 9(?) (paper shows “IV” must be misprint) J. McIntyre, C. Campbell, J&W. Tullis, P. McIntyre, P. McTavish, (initial illegible) and N. McLanaghan, D. & J. Robertson.  Concession 10(?) J. Campbell, J. Cuthbertson, W. & J. McIlquham.  Concession 11 J. McIlquham, R. Matheson, Esq. (1846?)  Concession 12 L. Drysdale (1845?), Hon. Malcolm Cameron (East(?) Lot 9, Concession 12 and west ½(?) Lot 13, all dated 1845 and north of the Mississippi River)

Bathurst Township

Concession 1(?) (West to East along the Scotch Line) Robert Boarnes(?), Anthony Katz, John & William Ritchie, James and John Bryce, Thomas McLean, S.(?) Wilson, heir of George Wilson, A. & James Fraser, Alexander Dodds, Jas. Boarnes(?), T. Cuddie, Francis Allan, William Old, t. Consitt, John Adams, Jas. Allan.

Captain Adams owned Lot 21 (1847) and west ½ of Lot 20 on Concession (number not listed) while Thomas Manion was on Lot 17, Concession 3(?)

M. Cameron, Esq., had the west ½ of Lot 13,Concession 5; John Doran had been granted Lot 1 on Concession 3(?) (at the west end of Bennett’s Lake) on July 4, 18?7) (Transcriber’s note, the third digit in the last date was illegible). W.A. Playfair owned lots 22 and 23 on Concession 12(?) and John P. Playfair got Lot 21, Concession 12 in 18?? (last two numbers illegible)./

Christies Lake was then called Myers Lake and its outlet to the Tay River.

North Elmsley

The fourth concession south of Rideau Lake were still vacant.  J. McVeity was located on the north shore of Rideau Lake on Oct. 8, 1846.  Patrick King, ditto in the same year.  Thomas Dudgeon, ditto, 1850 and J. Beveridge the next year.  William Croskery and Rev. M. Harris each had a half lot on Lot 27, Concession 9 north of Otty Lake.  This place is inscribed “Surveyor General’s Office Kingston Jan. 11, 1844.  True copy, signed Thomas Parks

North Burgess

Prior to the “Irish Invasion” George McCullen(?) McCulloch(?) secured 87 acres at the west end of Otty Lake in 1845.  Alexander Cameron got the east half of Lot 5 Concession (number illegible) and the south portion of the west half of the same lot in 1849 and George Palmer obtained Lot 10, Concession (illegible) in 18??(illegible).  John Holliday, Sr., was down for the Clergy Lot 3(?) in the 9th (?) Concession.  Between 1850(?) and 1859(?) the following Irish settlers arrived on the scene coming largely from the counties of Down and Armagh:  Messrs. James O’Connor, Pat Booker(?), Sam Chaffey, Pat Kelly, T. Donnelly, James Deacon, Thomas and William Ryan, Felix Bennett, Francis O’Hare, John Doran, Jas. Lappen, Bernard Farrell, Bernard Byrnes, Peter Power, Pat O’Neill, John Farry(?)Parry(?), Patrick McParland, Michael McNamee, M. Byrnes, Jas. Byrnes, John McVeigh.  Black Lake was then called Salmon Lake and its outlet was the Salmon River.  Hon. R. Matheson owned lots at both Otty and Rideau Lakes.  Dr. James Wilson held the east (?) half of Lot 2, Concession 2(?)3(?) (west side of Otty Lake), John Oatway had lot 23(?) 22(?) Concession 10 (1852(?)1862(?) and T.B. and William Scott secured land on the Upper Scotch Line in 18??(illegible).  However, about half the township was still open for settlement.

S. Sherbrooke

Hon. William Morris and Dr. Wilson owned Lots 18, 19, 20, on Concession 2(?) on the north shore of Myers (now Christies) Lake—the location of the Christie Lake Iron Mine.  And these two Perthites likewise held hundreds of acres of adjacent ground—probably to protect possible extensions of their iron deposits.  There were many Corry (or Korry), Deacon, and Elliott holders and Hon. R. Matheson, John Playfair, William Lees, and Thomas Brooke had sundry lots.

Lanark Township

Its principle feature is the River Clyde which intersects its western part from north to south.  Such names as James Mair (1845), G. Watt, John Close, Robert Robertson, Patrick McNaughton, Robert Craig, Jas. Rankin, Neil McCallum, Alexander Stewart, Alexander Yuill (1858(?)) and J.W. Anderson indicates its Scottish character.

Pakenham Township

About the middle of the last century the Dickson family appears to have been the largest land owners here.  Samuel Dickson is credited with 850 acres or more while Andrew Dickson (the third sheriff of the District of Bathurst) held 650 acres and Robert James and William Dickson some more.  The Hilliard and Combs(?) farms were also extensive holders as were James Wylie, William Wylie, Hon. William Morris, and James and Alexander Snedden (1858 and 1853).

Lavant Township

With the exception of the large holders probably in connection with lumbering operations of Boyd and Alexander Caldwell, William McKey and John Gillies, this township appears to have been practically unsettled during the 1850’s.

Darling Township

Like Lavant, this area seems to have been given up to lumbering operations, sundry lots being held by Messrs. James Gillies, and Peter McLaren (1856), Alexander Caldwell (1855), Robert Haley (1846(?)), C. Henry Bell (1856(?)) and M. Cameron.


Mostly vacant but Patrick Gilhuly had Lot 27, Concession 7 (1841) and J.G. Malloch owned part of Lot 27, Concession 3(?) (1856)

Perth Courier, November 19, 1909

Last Remaining Pioneer Stage Driver Is Dead

Patrick Spence, one of the best known men in eastern Ontario, died at his home in Perth on Monday afternoon.  He had been failing for some days and the end was not unexpected.

Patrick Spence was born in the north of Ireland in 1822 and came to America when a lad of 13 in company with the father of William and John McLenaghan.  He was thrown upon the mercies of the world when a lad for his parents died during those dark days of famine in Ireland.  He did not have any brothers or sisters and his sole relative on this continent when he reached here was an uncle in Ogdensburg, New York.  To him he went but the spirit of independence was strong within him and young Spence started to learn his living.  Horses were his passion.  Evan as a lad of ten years, in his native country of Ireland, he drove stage coaches and when he reached Ogdensburg he secured employment as a stage driver there and at Potsdam.  Upper Canada attracted him and he came here and established a stage route between Perth and Brockville.  In this business he continued until the Brockville and Ottawa Railway was built when he devoted his time and interests to livery.   Many of our citizens and those who lived here years ago still remember the old days when Pat Spence drove up from Brockville and on Wednesday the Courier was speaking with one who can remember the first time he went out to Kitley with the gentleman whose funeral he was attending that morning.

Mr. Spence was one of the last surviving stage drivers of the old pioneer days in the 19th Century.  He went his way for years as a young man through a trackless bush between here and the front and he has seen the whole district cleared, settled and grid ironed with all the improving equipment of modern civilization.  Mr. Spence was as well known along the route as he was in Perth.

When the coaching days were gone, Mr. Spence permanently established himself in Perth.  He married in May of 1858 Ann Murphy, sister of John Murphy of Rideau Lake who was present at the funeral.   Their first home was on Herriott Street in a house between the Ferrier and Riddell properties.  Here he conducted a livery stable.  Later he moved to his present home on Drummond Street where for long years his livery stables were kept.  He kept good horses for he thoroughly understood them and enjoyed good commercial and traveler’s trade. At the time of the American Civil War, Mr. Spence contracted to supply the Federals with horses and hundreds of animals passed through his hands for service in the State’s civil disturbances.

Mr. Spence loved horses.  He knew them like a book and always had a remedy for any of their ailments.  It is no exaggeration to say he had no peer in this country as a reinsman.  Thousands of horses passed through his hands during his lifetime but in all the long years he spent with them he never had a team he liked better than Frank and Prince.  They were a handsome, intelligent span.  Sympathy between them and their owner seemed human.  They were guided as much by his voice as by his hand and on one occasion their quickness to respond to his voice was the means of saving him and them from a gang of thieves.  It was the night of the burglary in the Meighen Brothers’ store.  Mr. Spence was returning from a trip to Westport and in the darkest hours of night he had turned on to Gore Street.  When opposite the home of James Callahan, he noticed three fellows separate and approach him on the road.  At the critical moment he called upon his team and the response they gave him knocked one of the thieves against the fence and left the other two behind.  Mr. Spence let his horses run to Cox’s Corner where he quieted them again by word of mouth.

Were the anecdotes Mr. Spence could narrate of the life of the leading men and women of Brockville and the Johnstown district chronicled the present generation would possess a volume rich in historical matter.  The deceased was honored and respected in all sections by men of all parties and beliefs.  It was his privilege in the olden days to drive the leaders of the two parties.  It did not seem natural unless he was the driver to either the Conservative of Liberal aspirant.

In connection with his livery, Mr. Spence drove a hearse for years before he engaged with Mr. D. Hogg for whom he drove for 32 consecutive years only retiring four years ago.  In that time the deceased has attended about 4,000 to their last resting place. He was present when the first corpse was laid in Elmwood Cemetery and also at St. John’s Cemetery and he has witnessed the transformation of these cemeteries from vacant fields or bush lots into silent cities of the dead.

Mr. Spence lived an unostentatious life for 87 years.  He never had an ill word for any of his neighbors and abhorred pretense.  He was kind of heart and considerate always and the quiet, helping hand he gave was none the less efficient because he gave assistance quietly.  He never took any part in municipal matters and his politics were not generally known but it is understood he leaned towards the Liberals.

Coming to this country a poor orphan boy but with an honest heart and mind, he has parted from this life leaving a most comfortable competence for his next of kin.

Mr. Spence is survived by his aged widow and one son John at Wayside and one daughter, Mrs. C.J. Foy of town.

The funeral took place on Wednesday morning to St. John’s Church and cemebery and was very largely attended.  The pall bearers were Messrs. James Allan, Allan Grant, Timothy Horan, Michael Murphy, Joseph McBain and Mr. P. Adams.

Perth Courier, September 30, 1932

The Dalhousie Settlers of Innisfail Township

Not Transcribed In Full

A reprint from the Barrie Examiner

A memorial erected to the Dalhousie settlers of Innisfail township, perpetuating the memory of a band of Scottish settlers from Dalhousie Township who located in Innisfail early in the last century and whose descendents played a large part in the up building of that township—a handsome memorial was unveiled and dedicated in the 6th Line Cemetery last Saturday afternoon, Sept. 17, 1932.  There was a large attendance although the weather was rainy and possibly kept some people away.  The sun came out long enough to permit the carrying out of the ceremony but the addresses had to be postponed until later in the day. 

The memorial is in the form of a cairn surmounted by a kildalton cross and is 19 feet high.  Stones were specially selected by the builder Alfred Davis of Belle Ewert from the farms which these Dalhousie men cut out of the forest 100 years ago.  On the cross are carved an axe and a sickle emblematic of pioneer labors.  The monument is of excellent workmanship and is a credit to the builder and worthy of the rugged men and women in whose memory it is erected. 

On the octagonal side of the monument are bronze panels bearing the names of eight families of these settlers, while on the front of the monument facing #11 Highway is a bronze tablet bearing the following inscription:

To commemorate the honored group of Scottish Dalhousie Settlers Allan, Cross, Climie, Duncan, Laurie, Jack, Todd, Wallace, who came to Innsifail Township A.D. 1832 after ten year’s stay in Dalhousie, Lanark County, Ontario.  This emblem is erected by their descendents A.D. 1932 and placed on the threshold of the pioneer log kirk and a later edifice.

Octogenarians present were Mrs. Charles Cross, 86; William Jack, 82; and Joseph Todd, 82(?) 92(?).  They are the oldest members in their respective families.  A  number of objects of interest from pioneer days were exhibited.  These included a piece of a weaver’s beam used in Dalhousie Township owned by Miss Mary Jack; a lute over 100 years old played by Mrs. Martha Cross; also her husband’s white linen trousers made of hand made material which were wore to kirk and on other special occasions; a weaver’s shuttle brought to Canada from Scotland by Isabella Malcolm who afterwards became the wife of Charles Todd whose grandson Charles MacLennan resides on the old pioneer homestead of Charles Todd; cooper’s tools and a Bible brought from Scotland by the grandfather of John Wallace of LeFroy(?); a Paisley shawl owned by Mrs. (Rev) A.B. Reckie(?) of Binbrook and worn by her grandmother Wallace on her wedding day.  Howard Allan has a wicker chair made in Dalhousie before these settlers came to Innisfail.

The chairman in a brief address gave a few facts regarding the Dalhousie settlers. He felt that the memorial was a tribute not only to these but to all who opened up settlement in the township.  The sterling and kindly character of these early settlers were practiced, preached and left by them.  They were noted for their friendliness, always ready to help those in need.  Mr. Allen pointed out that while some sought to cast odium on the Dalhousie settlers for their supposed sympathy with the “rebels” in 1837, some of the settlers and their descendents were distinctly honored.  When the municipality was organized William Cross was elected as its first reeve, Eben Todd was an ex-warden and others in these families have also served in important positions.

Short sketches from family histories wee given by the following:  Allan by Fred Allan, Churchill; Cross by Mrs. (Rev.) Tarkington; Little by the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Little of Innisfail; Duncan by William Duncan of Lefroy; Jack by Mrs. William Jack of Lefroy; Todd by Elmer Rothwell of Gilford; Wallace by Robert Wallace of Hamilton; Laurie (or Lowery) by J.J. Whalen of Vancouver.

In connection with the Todd history Mr. Rothwell read portions of a letter written 90 years ago by Thomas Todd, Edinburgh, to his brother John Todd in Innisfail.  It dealt with the politics and relative conditions of that day in Scotland and pictured a depression as bad as that through which the world is passing today.

A.F. Hunter’s History of the County of Simcoe contains the following sketch of these pioneers “Innisfail, like West Gwillimbury(?), had its ‘Scotch Settlement’ but the group of settlers which it comprised came from another quarter and at a later date—the autumn of 1832.  Previous to that year they had settled in the township of Dalhousie, Lanark County but finding its rocky surface anything but a congenial dwelling place and seeing no prospects of making a permanent home here they came to Innisfail.  Their native place was Glasgow and its vicinity where some of them had belonged to the recalcitrant brotherhood of Glasgow weavers so notorious in British history.  They left Scotland at the time of the intense public excitement preceding the passing of the Reform Bill.  Most of them had taken part in the agitation and like the Pilgrim fathers of an earlier time they preferred to life beyond the sea rather than endure the grievances of their native land.  Most of the, too, were platform orators and enthusiastic Reformers, which their descendents are to this day.  The individuals who, with their families, composed this interesting group of settlers were:

John Lawrie, N1/2 Lot 17, Concession 2

Rev. John Climie, S ½ Lot 17, Concession 2

John Todd, S ½ Lot 19, Concession 2

Hugh Todd, North ½ Lot 12, Concession 5

Garvin Allan, Concession 3(?), Lot 15(?)

Robert Wallace, South ½ Lot 18(?) Concession 6(?)

William Duncan, South ½ Lot 18(?) Concession 6(?)

William Cross, Lot 20(?), Concession 6

James Jack, North ½ Lot 21, Concession 5(?)

They settled close together and this circumstance together with the fact that a number of their descendents remained at the old homesteads and in the neighborhood gave the southeastern part of Innisfail the Scotch-Presbyterian flavor which it possessed.

At the Rebellion of 1837 some of these settlers did not desire to go to the front and assist in the quelling of the uprising as that natural sympathy to some extent with the principals advocated by William Lyon McKenzie and his party.  Asl the Dalhousie settlers were not outspoken in their opinion on the matter they were suspected of having non-pacific intentions.  One of the possessed an old rusty musket which was promptly taken from him lest he aid the rebels cause and he was forced by loyalists to go to the frontier.  This circumstance attached the name “Rebels in Disguise” to the Dalhousie people and their descendents for some years after the Rebellion.  Another report was circulated that they had been banished form Glasgow to Dalhousie and that they had fled from their places of banishment to Innisfail.  This report was chiefly made to do duty at municipal elections when any of the Dalhousie settlers were candidates.

John Lawrie on, on the list given above, was a prominent person in his neighborhood and a platform speaker of ability.  His two sons John and William Lawrie together with Dugald McLean were the three sawyers of the settlement for which they manufactured almost all of the lumber for the district with a whipsaw in one of the ole time saw pits.  About the year 1840 John Lawrie, Sr., and McLean obtained a canoe near DeGrasse Pt. on Sunday afternoon and set out to cross the lake to Roach’s pit on the opposite shore.  They were never heard of afterwards and it is supposed they had been drowned off De Grasse’s Pt.

The other son William Lawrie, probably better known than any other member of the group.  A few years after his arrival at Innisfail he married a daughter of Rev. John Climie and filled a variety of callings.  At one time he preached occasionally; at another he occupied the position of chief constable after having served a term in Bradford as Bailiff of the Division Court and another in Barrie in the office of Sheriff Smith.  At another time he was bailiff, auctioneer, etc and traveled throughout the county to a considerable extent in these capacities.

Rev John Climie, the second individual on the above list had been a weaver in a village seven miles from Glasgow.  A brother of his started the famous Clark spool firm of Glasgow.  The name of the firm continued for several years as Climie and Clark.  His family consisted of four sons and some daughters who came with him from Scotland. One of the sons died in Innisfail soon after their arrival.  Rev. John Climie, Jr., of his family, was a Congregationalist minister and was stationed from 1849 onward for some time at Bowmore in Notiawaxaga(?) and subsequently at Darlington(?) in 1851; Bowmanville in 1856; and Belleville in 1861.  It appears to have been difficult for him to abastain from taking part in politics.  His son W.R. Climie was secretary of the Ontario Press Association and editor and proprietor of the Bowmanville Sun until his death in 1894(?).  William Climie another son of the pioneer lived on the homestead on the 2nd Concession line.  The two remaining brothers George and Andrew went to Perth County.

Perth Courier, October 16, 1931

Archibald Rankin

By R.A.J. in the Ottawa Citizen)

Archibald Rankin who for more than a generation ranked as one of Lanark County’s outstanding men today spends the evening of his long and useful life in a ivy clad cottage that is surrounded by a wealth of beautiful flowers and where from the shaded rose arbors this fine old gentleman may look out upon the rugged hills and verdant valleys—whose enchanting beauty attracted his forebears, perhaps because it so resembled the burns and ferns of beloved Scotland.

The quaint little village of Middleville where Mr. Rankin resides was once a center of social and commercial activity and shared with Lanark Village the distinction of being the community center for these early settlers who came to Upper Canada in 1820-21.  Among the number who came out at that time were Archibald Rankin and his wife Jean Scott; they came in the fall of 1821 when Lord Dalhousie, who is described as a distinguished soldier and close friend of Sir Walter Scott, was governor of Canada.  The Rankins settled near Middleville and a few months after their arrival a son was born and they called him James.

Eventually James Rankin and Jean Campbell were married and to that union a family of six were born the eldest son being Archibald Rankin, subject of this sketch who has lived his useful life of 82 years in that vicinity most of the time on the farm that had been cleared through the toil of his pioneer grandfather.  His services to the community have been generous; his ministry to those about him have been unselfish and his attitude has been:

“Thrice happy then if some one can say

I lived because he has passed my way.”

After acquiring a modest education in the quaint little school at Middleville, Archibald Rankin qualified as a teacher and for four years taught in the school in which he had been educated.  He became clerk of the municipality a post which he filled with the utmost satisfaction for the record period of 52 years he having succeeded his great uncle William Scott.  Mr. Rankin recalls that John Rayside Gemmill was the first municipal clerk when the township was organized; he was also the first to publish a newspaper in Lanark County and subsequently as a publisher went to Sarnia.

But clerk of the municipality was only part of Mr. Rankin’s many and varied duties.  He was a secretary and treasurer of the famed Middleville fair over a period of 55 years; he practically organized the Middleville Division of the Sons of Temperance; he was a member of the Sons of Temperance when he was 13 years old; he attended several conventions as a youth and in 1913 at the Cahawa(?) Convention he was elected Grand Worthy Patriarch of Ontario, the highest office in the gift of the members.  He was treasurer of the Congregational Church of Middleville for more than half a century and he continued to serve as treasurer and Sunday school secretary after the advent of the church union.  He was secretary of the local Oddfellows and Foresters Lodge throughout the greater part of his life.  He joined the church choir in the days of the precentor and tuning fork and is still an active member at the age of 82.

Mr. Rankin recalls the coming to Middleville of the first clergyman of the Congregational denomination.  He was Rev. R.H. Black, a sturdy man of strong principles who came out from Dunkirk, Scotland in 1852 and organized the congregation in Middleville.  In that church, Mr. Rankin was married to Beatrice Ellies(?) Ekles(?) daughter of a pioneer of Dalhoiusie Township who passed away in 1900.  They were the last couple upon whom banns were pronounced.  The license system came into vogue at that time.

While performing the exact duties of his many offices, Mr. Rankin also operated a farm on the outskirts of Middleville but in 1913 he disposed of the property and moved to his attractive present home in the village where with a devoted daughter he is enjoying the peaceful sunset of a busy life.  He is a constant reader, a deep thinker, and his penmanship is like copperplate; he delights to dwell on people and events of the past and perhaps his most treasured possession is a Bible presented to him by the pupils of that little Middleville school upon his retirement in 1876.

Asked his favorite author, Mr. Rankin says he found enjoyment in reading the works of most good writers; of the poets he prefers Burns and thinks for clearness of expression an depth of sentiment the Scotch bard wrote nothing better than this:

“Ask why God made the gem so small,

And why so huge the granite

Because God meant mankind should set

The high value on it.”

Perth Courier, March 14, 1968

How Almonte Got Its Name

In 1821, Daniel Shipman built a saw mill on the Mississippi River in Ramsay Township at the site of Almonte and the following year a grist mill.  The place was for years known as Shipman’s Mills and was resorted to far and wide by settlers in the adjoining townships.  When a post office was opened by James Wylie in his store in 1837, however, it was named Ramsay after the township.  A letter from him to Crown Lands Commissioner Sullivan has the manuscript postmarked “4th January, 1839, Ramsay” written on two lines joined by a bracket.  On the other hand, a letter from Alexander Snedden, Ramsay, to Surveyor General Parke of Montreal, has a large double circle broken by RAMSAY, U.C. in red with “23 Sept., 1844” written on it.  For a time, people called the village Ramsayville.  Subsequently a Mr. Mitcheson built a grist mill on the east side of the river; laying out a portion of the land into town lots and called the place Victoria.  To settle the confusion of names, a public meeting was called and they voted to call it Waterloo but the post office authorities refused to accept the name because of another village with that designation in Waterloo County.  After much indecision, and many suggestions, Almonte was decided upon.  It already appears as an alternate name in an 1857 directory but the post office was not changed from Ramsay to Almonte until later.  (transcriber’s note, the date was given but it was illegible.)

Perth Courier, March 7, 1968(?)

The First Post Offices

(Not Transcribed In Full)

A post office called Perth Upon Tay was established right away in 1816 with the man in charge of the settlement for the government, Daniel Daverne, as post master.  When Daverne absconded with funds, which were in his care, he was replaced in 18?? (illegible, maybe 1830).  Perth-Upon-Tay now became simply Perth.  A letter by Taylor in the Ontario Archives of P. Robinson, Commissioner of Crown Lands, York, written on January 31, 1831, is postmarked with a small double circle broken by Perth with the date written in red.  In 1837 Francis Allan took over as crown lands agent and postmaster in Perth.

In the spring of 1821 Alexander Ferguson opened the second store in Lanark Village and the same year completed a grist mill.  The next year the Lanark Post Office was opened with J.A. Murdock as post master.  He was replaced in 1835 by John Hall who was to be postmaster into the 1850’s(?).

Along the southern edge of Lanark County the route of the Rideau Canal was surveyed in 1826(?).  The Rideau Canal was completed in 1832 when the lumber trade began to assume considerable dimensions at Perth.  The Tay River was deepened and had locks built on it and a branch canal of eight miles made to connect it with the Rideau.

Many were attracted by the prospect of obtaining work on the building of the Rideau Canal and a village sprang up on it in Montague Township, five miles south east of Smith’s Falls. Kilmarnock Post Office came into being at this village in 1828(?)1829(?) with James Maitland as post master and he was to continue in the position until the 18590’s.

Smith’s Falls took its name from two circumstances.  The first was a succession of falls on the Rideau River at that point to be largely done away with by the locks of the canal.  The other was the ownership of the land it was to occupy by a man named Smith who waited for high prices so that the forest remained on the site while Perth and other places were already springing into importance.  In 1828, however, this land lying mainly on the Elmsley north township side of the line with Montague, came into the hands of Abel Ward who built the first house and grist and saw mill.

That year to Rideau Canal was being planned and expectations of its being constructed brought quite a number to Smith’s Falls foremost among them William and James Simpson who bought half of Ward’s land and together with him laid out the original village.  Locks reduced the water power of the falls to manageable shape which was used to propel a number of industries.  Smith’s Falls Post Office was opened in 1830 with William Mittelberger as post master.

In 1832 William Simpson became post master of Smith’s Falls, replaced in 1837 by G.C. Mittelberger.  He held the position till close to 18?? (illegible) when James Shaw, Jr., took over.  There is a letter in the Ontario Archives from James Shaw written to Surveyor General Parke on August 10, 1840.  It is post marked by a large double circle enclosing Smith’s Falls in italics with 17th Aug., 1842 written on it.

In 1818 Edmund Morphy and his sons located in Beckwith Township where Mississippi Lake discharges its waters into the river of the same name.  In 1820 Hugh Bolton built the first mill there between Perth and Bytown, now Ottawa.  Around this nucleus soon collected stores and a hamlet called Morphy’s Falls.  When the post office was opened in 1826(?) the name was changed through the influence of its post master, Caleb S. Bellows, to Carleton Place suggested, perhaps, by its proximity to Carleton County.

Perth Courier, March 12, 1937; March 26, 1937; April 2, 1937

The Voyage of the Buckinghamshire

On Sunday morning, April 29, 1821, the old sailing ship the Earl of Buckinghamshire, at one time the pride of the Indian merchant fleet, lifted anchor from the east quay at Greenock and slipped past the last headlands of the Firth of Clyde and headed, hull down, into the long Atlantic surges.  This white sailed argosy of 600 tons register, bore the dreams and hopes of 607 Scots who had cut the ties of home and were embarked on a 7 week voyage to a new land of promise.

As a sort of re-conditioning course, the settlers were advised to prepare themselves for outside work.  Girls were instructed in knitting and spinning and the boys in making fishing nets and preparing tackle.  Finally, all were exhorted to call to mind the days of old and the precepts and principles so beautifully exemplified in Soctia’s cottages.

Four ships were chartered to sail in April and May of 1821.  They were the George Canning of 435 tons, carrying 420 individuals; the Earl of Buckinghamshire, 600 tons, carrying 607 passengers; Commerce, 418 tons carrying 429 passengers; and the David of London, 380 tons and carrying 364 passengers. The Buckinghamshire was evidently considered a first class boat for its day and the Greenock Advertiser comments on her sailing as follows:  “From the accommodations on the Earl of Buckinghamshire, which are exceptional of their kind and the great heart of the ship between decks it promises to afford to the emigrant as satisfactory a conveyance to their destination as any vessel hitherto fitted out from the Clyde notwithstanding the vast number on board”.  The reporter also noted “the most respectable appearance of the emigrants” on board the ship.

The Buckinghamshire was not so very seaworthy.  She was an old tub and in a later voyage the same year went down with all on board.  It is on record that in the previous year she docked at Kingston and on that occasion there played on her deck a curly haired boy later revered in Canadian history as Sir John A. MacDonald.

Passengers on board the Buckinghamshire were restricted in baggage to a few personal effects and bed clothes, pans, pots, crockery.  Children had to be vaccinated or they could not proceed.  Everybody was advised to have their hair cut short and “no smoking or lighted candles were allowed betwixt decks”.  On the other hand the owners of the ships were bound by charger to ensure a sufficient quantity of water in well seasoned casks which was to be measured out daily and also “provided sufficient furnaces for cooking victuals and baking oat meal bread”  Cabin accommodations containing 3(?)8(?) berths was also specially reserved for women overtaken by childbirth.

The passenger list of the Buckinghamshire included the names of Caldwells, Gemmill, Craig, MacFarlane, Menzies, McIntyre, Moir, McVicar, Lockhart, Brown, Lang, Easson(?), McLaren, Herron, Finlay, Houston, and nearly 600 others.

Listed among the 490 on board the George Canning were such names as Blair, Barr, McInnes, Cummings, Miller, Gunn, Beveridge, Stirling, Stewart and Yuill.

On board the Commerce with its 423 passengers were Barrs, Muirs, Brownlees, Campbells, Toshacks, Robertsons.  The David Of London in its complement included the names of five families of Gilmours, John Findlay and wife and five children, three Bairds, two Parks, two McIlquhams, Robert Carswell, James Lietch, four Whittons, William Gourlay, James Bryson and several McDonalds.

In the exodus of the year previous (1820) among the first arrivals were James hall, John Mair, Duncan McPherson, Charles Isdale, Peter McLaren, Alexander Ferguson, John Turreff, David Bowers(or Bowes?), and James Campbell.  There were also those who pushed on to Watson’s Corners.

Fortunately, a record of that memorable voyage has been kept in a diary by Andrew Lang, a passenger on board the Buckinghamshire who eventually settled at Shipman’s Mills (now Almonte) on the Mississippi.  Lang’s keen observations have brought into sharp focus a series of vignettes of those weary days at sea so that we can now visualize the scenes in the following word pictures extracted from the diary.

April 29—The day began with an early rising of the children and later with the birth of a child on board.  The men showed great dexterity in getting their stores stowed away and I cannot but help to admire the moderation of the captain in his conduct towards the passengers.  They appear to be very much on deck but some of them sit in calmness in bed with very little reading.

Tuesday, May 1—We lost sight of land today—a beautiful day.  There is such confusion and noise that it puts an end to almost all solid thinking.  Bedtime came with its usual attendants—darkness and the roaring of children.

Wednesday, May 2—Awakened by the squalling of children.  There is plenty of fun and laughter at the odd ways of some of the men and women.  Some got drunk and were very troublesome.  One man was put in irons.  At 12:00 at night we ran aground, the bowsprit almost touching a big rock.  There was very little terror or excitement.

Thursday, May 20—A very good day.  Nothing but the usual bustle for bread and meat from morning to night.  On Sabbath we had a sermon at noon.  There was a decent little group of young and old with their faces clean and their appearance serious.  A ship passed just as the sermon ended.

May 25—A fine day.  It was considered today that the passengers were not so well used by some of the crew as they ought to be.  The mate had struck a man before this with a hard spike but the little man had resented the blow by giving a kick and the affair produced a new regulation.

May 28—a heavy sea rolling at 11:00 and continued the whole night.  The first scene that I saw when the ship began to roll was 14 or 15 of the passengers tumbling headlong on top of one another.  The caboose followed and cooking utensils and girls and mothers after them and the confusion caused quite a bit of laughter.

May 29—Everyone is telling a neighbor what a bad night he had for really such a tumble of cans, bundles, and pots I never saw before.  About 16 of us had a good glass of rum in the forecastle.

June 5—This morning we saw land for the first time since we left Scotland.  St. Paul’s Island on the right and Cape Breton on the left.

June 15—There is a new scene before us this morning.  Really, it is a very beautiful one—trees to the hilltop—cultivated places and wild rocky looking hills at a distance with ranges of white houses for they were all in rows.  The women appear to be enraptured at the prospect and it is no wonder.  Two boats came along side of us with herring, bread, and tobacco—15 d. for a loaf of bread; 15 d for four dozen of tobacco; 6 d for a dozen herring.

June 16—We saw Quebec in the evening and it looked beautiful.  I at last got my feet back on terra ferma and really I am well pleased to have it so. 

Another trying experience was the journey to Prescott, which was reached on June 30, two months after leaving Greenock.  Some idea of the conditions of overland travel faced by this gallant company of men, women and children, is gleaned from the revealing notations of Andrew Lang, made concerning one bivouac under the stars:  “In endless confusion we slept in the open air and our hands were wet with dew in the morning?

The only known record of this nightmare journey into the bush is to be found in an archival pamphlet written by John McDonald, who described the hardships of primitive travel.  The exertions of the emigrants on the trip as far as Prescott had left most of them in a weakened condition.  Besides, they suffered terribly from an intense heat and from drinking river water.  Nights in the open were often with wet blankets and contributed much to their general debility.

Apparently traveling schedules and billeting arrangements had broken down when the various parties left Prescott.  Each group from the parent emigrant society in Scotland had endeavored to keep together but evidently the emigrants from the four ships left Prescott at almost the same time, causing considerable congestion and confusion before being sorted out and sent on their way.  McDonald pictures conditions at Prescott thusly:

“Here we began soon to feel the effects of our rough journey and of our lying out in the fields.  Many were afflicted with the bloody flux.  Some took fevers and many died of a few days illness.  Our situation became very alarming, the people generally complaining of indisposition.  I continued here three weeks.  The cause of our delay here arose from the great multitude that were lying  at this place before our arrival.  Here we found half the passengers from the ship David of London—the whole exceeded 1,000 people and it took a long time to carry all their baggage along a road of 14 miles to New Lanark.  Each society had to wait its turn of getting away.  Many were obliged to wait here on account of sickness and many died.”

When the journey resumed from Prescott, McDonald’s party only traveled six miles before stopping for the night at an inn, sleeping on the floor.  At day break they were then on their way to Brockville where they breakfasted. After a brief pause the party turned north and struck out back through the country.  They probably followed the route of what is now Highway 29.  The wagons containing the women and children were sometimes over turned and hopelessly mired and when the wagons upset there were usually casualties.  En route the settlers slept in barns where ever possible and they were afraid of snakes having seen many on the road.

As the approached their destination of New Lanark conditions became worse.  They also heard disturbing news of sickness.  McDonald attributed the malady to stagnant atmosphere never rarified by the solar rays.  In fact, McDonald seems to have been unduly appalled by the forest and its silence for he observed that “no sound of music, is ever heard there but a melancholy death like stillness reigns in the forest except where they are agitated by the tempest or storms”.

In a depressed mood, McDonald complained of the exertion required of the settlers in selecting their future locations of 100 acres each, of the distance from market, of the general destitution of the settlers and their fears of the coming Canadian winter.  Doubtless the morale of some was low due to the difficulty of the overland journey and the sense of strangeness and nostalgia for home.  But they apparently recognized a new opportunity to retrieve their independence and in that spirit energetically began to erect their temporary shelters and to clear a patch of land where the sunlight could strike through.

Perth Courier, Nov. 16, 1965

History Leading Up to the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Perth

Not Transcribed in Full

By Rev. Robert More, Jr., Pastor, Almonte R.P.C.

Two photos accompany this article one of the grave of David Holliday 1818-1900, his wife Christina Sinclair, 1825-1903; William A. 1867-1891; James R. 1856-1897; Francis S.C. 1854-1932; Christina E. 1864-1939.  The other is of Rev. James McLachlin, dates from this stone are illegible on the photo and Christina, his (wife??).

“I see no warrant in Scriptures for using these hymns”, so spoke Elder John Holliday in the First Presbyterian Church of Perth on December 22, 1827.  With this first outspoken tendency toward the Reformed Presbyterian or Covenanter Church, was seen in and around Perth.

Since the Reformed Presbyterian Church (locally called “Cameronians” on occasion), in Perth was last seen in the 1870’s and because records are getting scarce and memories are getting dim, this brief sketch of the denominations is submitted to the readers of the Courier by rquest.

The Rev. William Bell as is well known, arrived in Perth on June 24, 1817.  One of his earliest members, if not an initial elder also, was John Holliday.  He came to Perth and settled on the Scotch Line (Burgess Township, Lot A Concession 10) as early as April 17, 1816.  He was also the original school teacher in the Perth Military Settlement with his old school house standing at the corner of the Scotch Line Road and Glen Tay Road.  Being of Presbyterian persuasion, when Mr. Bell came, Mr. Holliday joined that church

From the start, there was friction between these two ably endowed men with some of the expletives being plenty ripe.  When Mr. Bell began advocating the use of hymns in a “fellowship hour” meeting, John Holliday uttered the protest at the start of this article and refused to join with the “innovation”.  This action triggered his eventual withdrawal from the church, probably along with his large family and friends, chief of whom was Adam Scott Elliott.  They then aligned themselves with St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in December, 1830 but found this church was even further from their convictions after a time.

About harvest time in 1833, the 8th Line Ramsay (near Almonte) Reformed Presbyterian Church received a missionary pastor from Scotland, Rev. James McLachlan.  When Mr. Holliday learned of this, he immediately petitioned the Ramsay Church (in the fall of 1835) to allow their pastor to come and preach to them every five weeks.  This was approved with the result that gradually Mr. McLachlan ministered equally in time between Perth and Carleton Place section of the “Ramsay congregation” of the Covenanter’s Church.  Mr. Holliday, obviously, welcomed this preacher of like faith.  But not so all, for the Rev. Mr. Bell wrote Rev. McLachlan “should have come to a sparsely populate place not to Perth where religion is well conducted and with plenty of ministers.”

The Perth Reformed Presbyterian Church grew, with the result that elders were elected on August 29, 1837 and a congregation organized on October 9, 1838 under the Scottish Reformed Presbyterian Synod.  The original elders were John Holliday and John Brown (who he was is not known) with John Walker (likewise) and Francis Holliday being chosen as deacons.  Although it cannot be proven absolutely, it seems this congregation met in the Holliday school (and in his home on occasions, probably) for at least once Mr. Bell mentions worship services have been scheduled for the school.

To the Hollidays and others, there seemed to be a tendency to deny the faith—perhaps over the matter of refusing to vote in political elections and consumption of alcoholic beverages.  Thus the congregation brought the matter before the Rochester Presbytery of the U.S.A. Reformed Presbyterian Church which they had joined but one month before (on October 7, 1851).  A special commission was sent to the congregation and they dissolved the pastoral relationship on November 7, 1851 and especially decried the resort to the local newspaper (still in print) as a means of airing differences.

But Presbytery’s righteous action only aggravated the situation with an unknown number of members retaining the pastor and the Hollidays obeying it implicitly.  Because this group built a new church building and lasted longer as a congregation it would seem they were the stronger of the two.

Since the Scotch Line people kept the pastor, they took the name “First Presbyterian (i.e. Reformed Presbyterian) Church, while those who moved into the town were called the “Second Presbyterian Church”.  This group probably met often in the home of David Holliday who seemed to live about this time at the corner of Colbourne and Drummond Streets.  The Presbytery taking note of the worsened situation, then organized the town folks into a congregation on June 12, 1852.  For a time, they only received spasmodic preaching mostly from Rev. John Middleton, a Covenanter pastor of Lisbon, New York (near Ogdensburg).  When Presbytery released him from that congregation, the Second Presbyterian Church immediately called him and he was installed on October 24, 1854.

Perth Courier, August 8, 1963

History of the Catholic Church in Perth

By Clyde Bell

In 1820 the first Roman Catholic priest was sent from Quebec.  He was a Frenchman Rev. Father LaMothe.  He boarded in a log house situated at the end of the Beckwith Street bridge and in the absence of a better place he held mass in a room in the house. Father LaMothe stayed only one year in Perth and he was succeeded by a young Irish priest Father Sweeney who seemingly remained for only a couple of years.  Neither of these priests had any fixed place of residence and it was not until Father John McDonnell’s time that the first priest’s house was built.  Museum records indicated that Father McDonnell came to Perth in 1823 and remained here until 1838.  He lived to be upwards of 90 years, closing his long and useful life in Glengarry County.

The first church was built on what was Sand Hill across from Harvey Street from the present site of the Anglican Church rectory.  A map of Perth dated 1820 and now on display in the Perth Museum shows the exact location of the church.  The construction was begun in LaMothe’s time (or LeMothe, both spellings are used in the old records.)

The church was burned down in 1853.  The fire was believed to be of incendiary origin—some of the old residents of the town told me that it was the result of a 12th of July dispute, others say that it was caused by a political row.  The present church (St. John the Baptist) had been built and in use for five years at the time the old church was burned down.  An attempt was also made to burn it during the fire at the old church, the priest and some others thought of the new church and running towards it saw two men running into the fields but were unable to capture them.  Rags and tallow had been forced into an opening of the church but those responsible had been frightened away before a fire could be started.

The present church was opened for service on Christmas Day, 1848 according to Museum records.  Father McDonagh was the priest at the time, succeeded by Rev. Father McDonnell.  At the time Father McDonagh thought of building this church, the congregation could not afford it. Captain Anthony Leslie, offered to give the land and advance the money for the church on the condition that he should hold the key and when the payments were not made at the proper time, he would keep the church locked. The offer was, of course, rejected and Alexander Thom then came forward and donated the land.

Jessie Buchanan Campbell, in her book “The Pioneer Pastor” reports that Father John McDonnell had hosts of friends among the Protestants, who liked him for his candor, his independence and his eccentricities.  Once he read from the pulpit a list of contributors to the fund for some important church enterprise.  Each member who gave liberally was commended warmly by name.  Those whose subscription he deemed not in proportion to their means received a broad hint to that effect “it is na sae muckle as it micht be”, he would add.  As the names and subscriptions were announced, each Protestant on the list was praised in this peculiar fashion:  “Verra gude indeed for a heretic”.  Then singling out some member of his flock, who had been rather close, he would exclaim “Eh, mon, are ye nae ashamed o yersel to rin behind a heretic?”

One member of his congregation once suggested to Father McDonnell that he should hold funerals in the afternoon since this was a more common time for persons having to come a considerable distance.  “What, mon” demanded the startled priest “would ye hae me holding services at a time when the poor Lord’s ears are filled with Protestant nonsense?”

Perth Courier, December 19, 1968(?)

St. Patrick’s Church, One of the Oldest Mission Churches in Ontario

St. Patrick’s Church, one of the oldest mission churches in Ontario, stands on the summit of a hill overlooking the Mississippi River in Ferguson’s Falls.  If this small edifice could speak, it would tell of the changes that have taken place in the district for the past 112 years.  In 1820 the first settlers came to Ferguson’s Falls.  At that time they had to walk through the woods to Perth to worship.  It was usually a two day trip, going in one day and returning the next day.  When any member of the community died, their remains were carried into Perth and buried in the old cemetery on the banks of the Tay River.

There was no church at that time and the first evidence of a priest coming was in 1820 when Father LaMothe came from Quebec.  He came at certain times during the year to those scattered throughout the county and held Mass in private homes.  He continued these visits until 1823 when he was replaced by Father Sweeney who did the missionary work in the territory.  Towards the end of 1823 Rev. Father McDonald came as the first resident pastor and for 15 years the priest labored.  He erected a frame church in Perth and in the outlying districts “stations” were erected and services were held at suitable times throughout the year.  The next priest to be sent to Perth was Rev. Hugh McDonagh in 1836(?).  During his pastorate the present church at Ferguson’s Falls was erected on account of the twenty miles or territory included in the parish at that time and the ever increasing congregation, it was decided that provision would have to be made to take care of the spiritual wants of the people who lived in the outlying portions of the parish and who had been required to make such long and tedious journeys to Perth to attend Mass.  Accordingly, in 1836, a church was built at Ferguson’s Falls.  Logs used to make the church were cut on the farm owned by a Mr. Scantlan.

 Two years after it was built it was moved to the present site.  After it was placed on its permanent foundation the present vestry was added.  It was named St. Patrick’s Church in honor of the patron saint of Ireland.

On account of the slow mode of transport usually on horseback or by ox cart, as well as the extensive territory over which he presided, it was not until 1856 that the Archbishop of Kingston was able to make his first official visit to Ferguson’s Falls to take part in the dedication of the new church.

It was a mission church being part of the parish of Perth with Father McDonagh as its first pastor.  It was filled to capacity on Sundays and in fact, for a large percentage of the congregation, there was standing room only.  People came to attend mass from McDonald’s Corners and above the “float bridge” in Lanark Township.

John Quinn was the first person buried in the cemetery adjoining the church.  The people who had died previously to that had been taken to Perth for burial because there was no cemetery in Ferguson’s Falls.  Since the opening of the church, several bodies have been brought back from Perth and re-buried.  Father McDonagh passed away in September of 18??(illegible).  His successor was Rev. Dr. Chisholm who was pastor for twelve lyears before he suddenly passed away from a heart attack on May 1, 1878(?)

Priests were sent from Kingston for the next twelve months to take charge of the congregation.  On the 1st of June, 1879, Rev. John O’Connor was installed.  He was later raised to the dignitary of Dean.  During his pastorate the new church at Carleton Place was formally opened.  Ferguson’s Falls then severed its long connection with the parish of Carleton Place thus becoming a mission of that parish.  Father Michael O’Donoghue was the first pastor.  In 1869 he was transferred to Perth and Father M. O’Rourke installed as pastor in Carleton Place and its mission church at Ferguson’s Falls.  He was later transferred to Westport where he remained until his death.

In October, 1907, Father Kearney was appointed for the first resident priest of Lanark parish and Ferguson’s Falls was transferred once more from Carleton Place to Lanark.  In 1912, the present steel roof was put on the church.

Father Carey was the next pastor.  During his pastorate, which ended in 1925, the fence was removed from around the church proper and a new one was erected. In 1925 Father Sullivan was installed as pastor and he remained there until the summer of 1928 when he was succeeded by Rev. Father Whelan.  Father Whelan had the interior of the church redecorated, the statues renovated and a grotto built at the rear of the statue of St. Theresa.

The next pastor was Father Clancy who remained until 1941 when he was transferred to Carleton Place.  He was succeeded by Rev. Father Healy.

In 1944 the cemetery grounds were improved and tombstones reset in proper formation.  This work was done in the form of bees by the parishioners.  A cobblestone cross designed by Father Healy was erected in the cemetery.  In 1945 the exterior of the church was painted by Mr. Watt of Lanark who also painted the surrounding fence.

Perth Courier, June 11, 1970

Perth Planing Mill

Photo accompanies article of the former Kippen residence across the street from the Perth Planing Mill and also a photo of the old Clement home next to the Perth Planing Mill

A few weeks ago, the Perth Planing Mill held its 120th anniversary celebration—this mill having begun operation in Perth when Alex Kippen founded the company in 1850.  Mr. Kippen had attended school at Tayside in Scotland before coming to Perth in 1833.  Between 1833 and 1850 he was the man responsible for the construction of the town hall at a cost of $10,000, the Bank of Montreal and many of the stately homes on Drummond Street.

The Planing Mill’s main function in those days was the manufacture of wood products mainly windows and doors.  Custom lumber for farm work took up a large part of the business.

Alexander Kippen, son of Duncan Kippen, worked with the planning mill up to the  time of his appointment as postmaster.  It was then that the youngest son, also named Alex Kippen (and the father of Mrs. N.E. Sproule who still lives in Perth) took over the business. 

When the youngest son of the founder ran the business he formed a partnership with William Allen who had a saw mill at the far end of Peter Street by the Tay River.  The two worked together for some years with Mr. Allen shipping lumber up to the mill where Mr. Kippen and his 20 employees turned it into sashes and doors.  Eventually, this partnership fell through and a few years later Peter Clement took over the mill.  He ran it for a few years and then his son Bill Clement took over the operations.

25 years ago Bob McLenaghan began working part time at the mill.  He used to deliver lumber by horse and cart.  Soon Mr. McLenaghan went into partnership with Mr. Clement and later took over total operation of the planning mill.

There was only one serious and perhaps exciting moment in the long history of the mill.  20 years ago lightening struck the tall smokestack on Sunday afternoon.  Fire was raging throughout the building when the doors were opened but the building was saved from any really serious damage by the fire fighters and others on hand.

Mrs. Sproule recollects her father checking the mill every evening for fire hazards.  She said her father was very proud of the fact that they had no fires.  Today the mill is still in the hands of Bob McLenaghan and his son John works at the mill as assistant manager.  Mr. McLenaghan is proud of the fact that the Perth Planing Mill is the second oldest lumber yard in Ontario.  The oldest is situated in southern Ontario.

Perth Courier, August 23, 1945

History of Knox Church, McDonald’s Corners

The first settlement of the township of Dalhousie, Lavant and North Sherbrooke was undertaken at Dalhousie in the fall of 1820 by Scotsmen from the neighborhood of Glasgow and Paisley who, before leaving their native land, had formed themselves into groups or societies, the most important of which was the Losmahago comprising 33 families or perhaps as many as 300 emigrants in all.  They sailed from Scotland on July 4, 1820 in the ship Prompt arriving at Quebec about two months later.  Not having made any arrangements for settlements they were induced by government officials by a grant of 100 acres for each head of a family and a cash grant of ten pounds sterling if they selected Lanark County as their future location.  The same agency undertook to transport them and their belongings to the location for two pounds sterling each.  They came via Prescott and reached Perth on Sept. 15, 1820.

Another vessel, the Brock, making a faster passage, arrived at Quebec bearing another society of seven families.  The Transatlantic Society, who selected home sites simultaneously with the Lasmahangos.  They actually were the first settlers of Dalhousie,  though closely followed by the Lasmahangos.  Of the former, five families of James Blair, John McLellan, John McNangle, Neil Campbell, and Donald McPhee all settled on the 1st Concession of the township.

The passengers of the Prompt remained in Perth until Sept. 30, 1820 when the government paid an installment of one third of their bonus money.  Then they set out for their new home in Lanark Village in wagons.  Near there, on a hill top overlooking the Clyde, they were deposited with their baggage and they located a short distance to the west of the present site of McDonald’s Corners.  Prominent among the original members of the community were James Martin, William Barrett, Charles Bailey, James Watson, George Brown, Thomas Easton, George Easton, Edward Conroy, Peter Shields, John Donald, John Duncan, Andrew Park, James Park, John Todd, William Jack, James Hood, Alexander Watt, and Robert Forest.

North Sherbrooke was first settled in 1821 by a subsidiary society of Lesmahangos of Dalhouisie, formed in Scotland by John Porter, Daniel Ritchie, James Gilmour, Anthony McBride, Ebeneezer Wilson, Duncan McDougall, Archibald McDougall, Arthur Stokes, William Christelaw, Josiah Davis, James Nesbit, and Alexander Young.  The settlement was in close proximity to Dalhousie and its history was largely identified with that township.

The residents of Dalhousie and North Sherbrooke organized a local government under crude municipal laws as early as 1821.  Records indicate that a Mr. Vertue was first collector and Thomas Scott was township clerk in 1828.

In these townships, the first place of public worship was in St. Andrew’s Hall built about 1828 with Rev. D. Gemmill from Dairly, Ayrshire, Scotland as the first minister.

When the present system of municipal government was introduced in 1850 the three townships formed a municipal union and elected a council comprising John Kay, Edward Conroy, Donald McLeod, William Purdon and James Smith.  John Kay was named reeve and Andrew McInnes clerk of North Sherbrooke, was treasurer.

Before the erection of the first church building at McDonald’s Corners in 1836(?) services were held in a grove.  The original building was a log structure on the present site of the home of Dr. M.R. Kerr.  Rev. J. Findlay became the first regular minister of the charge in 1846 serving Dalhousie, McDonald’s Corners and Elphin communities until 1850.  After a vacant pulpit for five years, Rev. James Geggie(?) was installed in 1855 and remained until 1862.  Again a vacancy occurred and in 1862 Rev. Walter Scott succeeded until 1864.  During the year 1864 to 18678 no record of appointment exists but in 1875 Rev. William Burns of Perth acted as moderator with Rev. Mark Turnbull as missionary from 1870 to 1872.

In 1872 the second church building, a plain, drab structure 60 by 30 feet was erected.  The outside walls were of great 3 x 4 inch planks dowelled with oak pins and the inside walls of wainscoting, lath and plaster.  To this church Rev. Robert McKenzie came in 1875 and remained until 1885.  During his ministry, the church grew and prospered.

In 1885 the Snow Road Church was organized and a building costing $1,600(?) was erected.  At the 1886 Assembly, the churches of McDonald’s Corners and Elphin were transferred to the Presbytery of Kingston so that they might be grouped with Elphin and this arrangement lasted until 1927 when they became part of the Presbytery of Lanark and Renfrew.

In 1886 Rev. A. MacAulay became minister and occupied the newly erected manse at McDonald’s Corners.  After a respite due to the loss of his voice, Rev. MacAulay continued his ministry until 1891 when he received a call to Woodville.  He was succeeded by Rev. W. K. McCulloch until 1892 when Rev. James Binnie, honors graduate from Queen’s University, took charge, remaining until 1902.  Mr. Binnie then proceeded to other posts and died at Durham in 1944.

Rev. W.A. Gray came to the charge in 1902, remaining until 1908 and he was responsible for the building of the present church.  The cornerstone of the present church was laid on June 3, 1906.  Rev. A.J. McMullen succeeded to the charge in 1908, remaining until 1917 when Rev. A.M. Lettle(?) came in 1918.  He remained until 1926.  The charge was transferred from Kingston to the Lanark and Renfrew Presbytery in this year and in 1928 the present minister Rev. Kenneth McCaskill, M.A., entered upon his ministry.

Perth Courier, April 22, 1927

Death in Pembroke of Rev. Father P.S. Dowdall

Not Transcribed in Full

When Rev. Father Patrick Sylvester Dowdall drew his last breath in Pembroke General Hospital at 3:00 on Easter morning, there passed away a priest in whom competent ecclesiastical authorities pronounce to have been the most prominent personage, outside the hierarchy in the Roman Catholic Church in Ontario. 

Rarely has a plain priest, occupying a comparatively humble post in the church, enjoyed such profound and widespread influence.  From the Ottawa River to the Pacific Ocean, he was known and revered by bishops, priests, relatives and thousands of lay men in every walk of life.

In the death of Father Dowdall, the Roman Catholic Church in Ontario loses one who has been described as her greatest priest.  Towering over his brother priests not merely physically but also in intelligence and spirit, he nevertheless chose to remain to the end a simple diocesan priest in a plain black robe.  Twice he declined to allow his name to be put forward for vacant Episcopal posts, twice he declined the appointment of vicar general of the Pembroke diocese and twice he declined the monaignorial purple.

Yet while evading honors, he never avoided duties.  The humblest task assigned to him by his bishops was ever accepted by him with joy.  A striking example of this occurred in 1887.  He was then stationed at the Cathedral at Ottawa and was sought by Bishop Lorrain, the vicar apostolic of Pontiac, who needed a parish priest for Mount St. Patrick, a small rural parish in what is now the Pembroke diocese.

Upon the invitation of the Bishop Duhamel, Father Dowdall at once accepted the humble post.  Ottawa’s loss was Pembroke’s gain.  In the building up of the Pembroke diocese, Father Dowdall ranks next in importance to Bishop Lorrain and Bishop Ryan.

Rev. Dowdall was born in Drummond Township, parish of Perth, on December 13, 1855.  His father was John Dowdall, who was a Canadian born farmer and his grandfather was Patrick Dowdall, who had occupied a prominent post as a teacher in Ireland before coming to Upper Canada and becoming one of the pioneer settlers of the parish of Perth.  The future priest acquired his life long love of study from the intellectual atmosphere in his father’s house.  For his grammar school, he went to Pakenham and lived there for three years with the parish priest, the saintly Father Lavin.  From this priest the young student learned lessons of priestly zeal and piety which he never forgot.  In 1872 he went to St. Michael’s College in Toronto.  He made a brilliant course in the classics and philosophy, winning the Dufferin medal for classics and the gold medal for math and general proficiency.  For a few years, he served on the staff of the college and counted among his pupils two future archbishops—Archbishop Spratt of Kingston and the late Archbishop Evoy of Toronto.

At this period of his life, which looked as if he were called to the religious life in the Basilican congregation, after a trial of a few years, he found that his vocation lay in the broader though less conspicuous field of the diocesan clergy.  He was ordained a priest on July 1, 1883.  It was characteristic of his humility that though he won the coveted degree of doctor of divinity he never used the title.

The vicarate of Pontiac that is the present diocese of Pembroke was created a year previous to the ordination of Father Dowdall and Bishop Lorrain succeeded in obtaining from Bishop DuHamal the service of the brilliant young priest.  For the next three years, Father Dowdall who was a giant physically as well as intellectually, acted as secretary to Bishop Lorrain.

The year 1886 saw him on the staff of the Cathedral in Ottawa and many old timers yet remember his fiery eloquence and burning zeal.  Six feet two and a half inches in height, his piercing eyes and raven locks and magnetic personality made an impression that was never forgotten.  Possessing a grasp of theology that was exceptionally thorough, a command of English that never failed, a knowledge of the human heart that was a searching as it was sympathetic, he carried his auditors with him into the religious hearts of Christian heroism.

It was at this moment when his future career in Ottawa seemed so promising that he was invited to accept a difficult yet humble post in the rural regions of eh vicorate in Pontiac.  Her he showed not merely that perfect humility which was ever ready to obey the slightest wish of his superiors but also that extraordinary resourcefulness which enabled him to master whatever circumstances in which Divine Providence placed him.  The people of Mount St. Patrick found in Father Dowdall not merely a namesake of their patron saint but, in the restricted sphere of a parish, a 19th century edition of Ireland’s apostle.  Mount St. Patrick had then several scattered missions and three of these named Esmonde, Black Donald and Griffith owe their churches to Father Dowdall.

In 1891, he was named parish priest in Eganville, sent there by Bishop Lorrain with the commendation “Father Dowdall is a man with a frame of iron and a heart of gold.”  His work at Eganville is well known.  In the early years there his field of labors comprised not only the parish of Eganville but also the missions of Golden Lake, Round Lake, Basin Depot, Madawaska, Whitney, Cache Lake, Brule Lake, and Canoe Lake.  The territory was indeed an extensive one but the splendid physique and fiery zeal of the missionary reveled in the task and obtained the 100 fold fruit promised to apostolic workmen.

Serving a parish 100 miles long, spending three days on a single sick call, traveling by freight train, lumber wagons, stage coaches, and buggies, he contrived to reach the most outlying families in his district.  While thus covering this immense territory, as often as not without the help of a single curate, he organized a parish in Eganville which was a model to Ontario.

Merely to have erected and paid for the spacious and impressive St. James Church in Eganville would have been no mean achievement.  Yet this is only a small part of his activity in the town.  A life long student himself, he made Eganville the most important rural center of Roman Catholic education in Ontario.  To this day, the Roman Catholic separate continuation school in Eganville is one of only two such in Ontario though a number of similar schools which have been modeled upon it are doing similar work in giving recognition as continuation schools by the Ontario Department of Education.  That department does not favor separate schools doing secondary work.

Father Dowdall had a profound recognition of the value of the separate school system to the Roman Catholic Church in Ontario and spent long years endeavoring to acquaint himself and others with the school laws, regulations, and courses of study issued and authorized by the provincial legislature and the Department of Education.  On this subject he became the leading Roman Catholic authority in Ontario.  At the same time, he sought to improve upon those responsible for the education policies of the Ontario government that the separate school were equally with the public schools integrated as a part of the Ontario school system and should therefore be allowed and encouraged to develop and expand.  Father Dowdall ever maintained that separate school trustees had by the Act of 1863 constitutionally been guaranteed by Confederation all the rights of the pre-confederation common school trustees and consequently the right to have secondary school work taught in their schools.  This question is at present before the Supreme Court of Ontario.

After laboring so strenuously and successfully for 22 years in Eganville, Father Dowdall went in 1914 to Pembroke to become rector in St. Columbia’s Cathedral.  Though then only in his 60th year, the terrific labor to which he had subjected himself had undermined his constitution and with his flowing white locks and long white beard, he already had the appearance of a man in his 70’s.

Though no longer able to do the work of six priests, as in his early days in Eganville, he continued, despite constant physical distress, to do the work of two or three.  Never during his long priestly career, did he allow the distracting demands of administrative work or the fatigue and pains of illness to prevent his daily meditations on divine things and his constant study of theology.

To Pembroke he took the tireless energy and wonderful zeal he had shown in Eganville, Mount St. Patrick and Ottawa.  In 1918 in order that the whole diocese and not merely the cathedral parish might be the sphere of his activity, Bishop Ryan named him supervisor of Roman Catholic schools and religious education in the Pembroke diocese.

The late Father Dowdall is survived by four brothers—Edward in Winnipeg; John of Cobalt; and Peter and James of Perth and by two sisters—Mrs. Bernard Rodden of Toronto and Mrs. P. McHugh of Eganville.  Rev. Edmund Bryce, parish priest of Morrisburg, is a nephew.

The funeral service began at Pembroke on Monday afternoon with the chanting of the misirere, and the body of the late Father Dowdall was taken in procession from the Bishop’s house to St. Columbia’s Church.  Rev. W. P. Breen, officiated with Rev. Fathers O’Gorman and Holly as deacon and sub deacon.  At the vespers of the dead, which followed, the Bishop of Pembroke presided, assisted by the vicar general, the Right Rev. Mgr. Z. Lorrain.  Matins and lauds were recited by the clergy in the evening.  The funeral mass was chanted on Tuesday morning by Bishop Ryan who also preached.  Tuesday afternoon there was a funeral procession from Pembroke to Eganville by motor and the body was laid in state in the parish church till the final funeral mass was held on Wednesday morning, after which the body was interred in the Eganville Roman Catholic Cemetery.

Posted: 05 January, 2006.