Early Settlement

Early Settlement - Essay Three - submitted by Jan - [email protected] - Posted 9 August, 2001.

Lanark Era
Nov. 8, 1916


Historical Essay which was awarded the Third Prize of $2, donated by Mr. W.
P. McEwen, Perth

In 1815 a proclamation was issued in England offering a free passage to those
natives of Britain who were desirous of settling in Canada, where each male
who had reached his majority was to get a grant of land. As an inducement
they were to get free provisions, not only on the passage out but after their
arrival, until the land which was given them could support them. Each man
was given, at Government expense, 10 shillings sterling as a loan. To each
group of four members was given a grindstone, a cross-cut and whip saw; each
family received an adze, a handsaw, drawing knife, one shell auger, two
gimlets, door lock and hinges, scythe and snath, reaping hook, two hoes, hay
fork, shillet, camp kettle, and a blanket for each of it's members. On July
4th, 1820, the ship Prompt sailed with passengers from Glasgow and Paisley.
They arrived at Brockville early in September. They then set out in sail
boats and crafts for Perth. They stayed there until Sept. 30th. The
Government then paid one-third of their bonus money and they set out for
their future home and were conveyed in wagons as far as the present site of
Lanark, where they found a paper nailed to a tree in the forest with the words
"This is Lanark." At the top of the hill, overlooking the Clyde, their
luggage was deposited and the wagoners left them to shift for themselves.
They then hired Lieutenant Fraser to guide them to their location, which was
named the Township of Dalhousie, called after Lord Dalhousie, then Governor
General of Canada. They nearly all settled within two or three miles of what
is now Watson's Corners. There were thirty families in the vessel, in all
about 300 immigrants. Prominent members with their families were Charlie
Bailey, James Watson, Geo. Brown, Thomas Easton, Geo. Easton, Edward Conroy,
Peter Shields, Robert Urquhart, John McNicol, Andrew Park, John Todd, Jas.
Hood, Alex Watt, John Donald and John Duncan. The last two named settled at
Dalhousie Lake. The first child born in the Township was christened Mary
Dalhousie Park. She married Jas. Watson and moved to Western Ontario. The
first religious service was held in St. Andrew's Hall, which was built about
1828, the Rev. Dr. Gemmill being the first to officiate in that sacred
office. Those settlers were all Free Masons and they built the Hall and a
company of men came out from Perth every St. Andrew's night and held a feast
with their brother Masons. Each of the settlers had brought a box of books
with them, and they decided to put them together and leave them in the Hall.
They appointed Geo. Easton, President, and Jno. McIntyre, Secretary. They
wrote to Lord Dalhousie asking him to be their Patron. He wrote back and
thanked them and gave them the use of his Coat of Arms. He also sent them
100 shillings worth of books, with encyclopedia in four volumes, all stamped
with his Coat of Arms. The people for miles around walked to St. Andrew's
every Sunday, where service was held until 1860, when the present St. James
Church was built. The carpenters were Geo. Urquhart, Donald McNicol and his
son John. In 1850 the present form of municipal government came into force,
when Dalhousie, North Sherbrooke and Lavant were formed into a municipality.
The first councilors were John McKay, Edward Conroy, Donald McNicol, Wm.
Purdon, Jas. Smith, John McKay being elected Reeve by his fellow councilors.
Two very sad events took place. One was the loss of a son of Jas. Hood. He
and a sister had walked to Lanark and on their return they parted and took
different roads for the last two miles, the boy, going the way they usually
went, called at a house where the woman of the house, Mrs. Millar, gave him
some milk and bread to eat, and he started through the fields for home and
was never seen again. The neighbours turned out and searched for days. One
man remarked if a pocket knife had been lost it would certainly have been
found. About 50 years after a man confessed he had shot him accidentally.
His parents felt so grieved they sold their farm to Joseph Hetherington, who
had been living near Sherrif's Lake. A few years after he went to Fullaton,
Ont., after selling out to David Machan, a well known resident, who lived on
the farm until his death a few years ago. The other fatal accident befell a
son of Robert Urquhart. He was out hunting and following a deer track.
Another young man, Wm. McMillan, was following another track. They both came
near to where the tracks crossed. Wm. Urquhart was dressed in gray.
McMillan, thinking it was a deer, fired, shooting Willie through the thigh.
He attempted to tie up the wound but left him in a small stream of water and
ran to a neighbour's, Mr. Hunter's, and told them he had shot a man and
directed him where to find him, he going on to his home. Mr. Hunter carried
him to the road but he died before he reached home. Donald McNicol, a son of
John McNicol, bought out the mill property belonging to the Wallace Brothers,
where his son still carries on the business. A few years ago there was a
history of the saw-mills in the Canada Lumberman where it stated that
McNicol's was the oldest mill in operation in the Province of Ontario. There
are a few relics carefully preserved yet. Mr. Jas. Park of Watson's Corners
has a set of penny-weight scales which were given to his grandmother as a
wedding present. They are neatly packed in a metal box and are quite a
novelty. Donald McNicol has one of the whip-saws given to the first
settlers; a Highland brooch, dated 1778, with the owner's initials engraved
on it, and the plaid it was worn on; a horn-spoon to sup the parritch; also
the metal of the first kind of plough used in Canada.

Edna McNicol
Lanark R. R. No. 4
(Age 13)