Lanark Era Nov

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

Lanark Era
Nov. 1, 1916


Historical Essay which was awarded the Second Prize of $3, donated by the
Lanark Era.

We Dalhousians, who are at the present day living in such a beautiful land,
should remember the hardships which our forefathers had to bear to make this
township so rich and bountiful as it is to-day.

The first settlement of Dalhousie was in the fall of 1820.  Among the first
settlers were - James Blair, John McLellan, John McNangle, Neil Campbell,
Donald McPhee, James Martin, Wm. Barett, 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, Alex. Watt, Robert Forest and George Richmond.

The first settlers of Dalhousie came from Glasgow and Paisley, Scotland. 
These settlers came across the Atlantic Ocean in two ships, the Prompt and
Brock.  These families formed themselves into colonization societies before
leaving their native land.  There were two societies, the "Lesmahago" and
"Transatlantic," the Lesmahago being the most important.  This society
consisted of 33 families, or 300 immigrants in all.  The Lesmahago society
sailed from Scotland on the Prompt on July 4th, 1820, arriving at Quebec
about two months later.  Not having any definite plan as to a place of
location, they were here met by officers of the Government, who, as an
inducement to secure their settlement in Lanark County, offered them a grant
of 100 acres for each head of a family and 10 shillings sterling for each
person as a cash bonus.  This offer having been accepted by the Lesmahagos,
the Government undertook to convey them to their chosen location for two
shillings sterling each, and, as the passage between Quebec and Prescott
consumed two weeks, it was the 15th of September before the party reached
Perth.  Five days later than the departure of the Prompt from Greenock,
another vessel, the Brock, sailed from the same port, having on board the
"Transatlantic Society," consisting of only seven families who had determined
upon settling in the Canadian forests and there erecting a future home.  The
Brock arrived at Quebec several days in advance of her sister craft, however,
and the "Transatlantic Society" found themselves in Lanark County selecting a
location at the same time as the "Lesmahago," and were actually the first to
settle in Dalhousie though closely followed by the Lesmahago.  Of the former
society several became disgusted with appearances in Lanark County and pushed
on across the American border.  The immigrants selected their lots by each
one taking from a hat a slip of paper with the number of a certain lot upon
it, and the number drawn was the lot which was assigned to him.

When the first settlers reached America they sailed from Quebec to Prescott,
from there to Brockville, and thence to Perth through the woods.  They were
driven in wagons from Perth to Lanark.  When they arrived at Lanark the only
thing that told them that it was Lanark was a piece of paper nailed to a tree
with "This is Lanark" written upon it.  Near here, at the top of the hill
overlooking the Clyde, the luggage of the party was deposited and there they
were left by the wagoners to shift for themselves.  Their first shift was to
employ Lieutenant Fraser to guide them to their proposed location in
Dalhousie.  If any settler felt dissatisfied with the appearance of the lot
assigned to him, a new one was assigned to him which corresponded more
closely with his views of the fitness of things.  The location selected by
this party was a short distance west of Watson's Corners of the present, and
there they settled to do the best they could to make a living.  One man,
under the name of James Watson, settled farther east than the others and kept
a tavern.  This was the beginning of Watson's Corners, it being named for
James Watson.  Other settlers settled nearer Lanark, and others farther away
towards McDonald's Corners, Poland and Lammermoor.

The first settlers brought very little from Scotland with them.  Their
possessions were very small, consisting of their clothing, very little money,
and a few rude cooking utensils.  Of thye first settlers none are left to
tell the tales of their many hardships in the forest.  Near the site of old
St. Andrew's Hall on the farm now owned by Mr. Thomas Craig, a few are laid
to rest.  Among those who are buried there are Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Park, and
Mr. and Mrs. James Park.  Mr. and Mrs. George Easton are buried on the farm
now owned by Mr. John Molyneaux, fourth concession, Dalhousie.  Mr. and Mrs.
Thomas Easton are buried at Watson's Corners cemetery.  Mr. and Mrs. Edward
Conroy are buried on the farm now owned by Mr. William McDougall, sr., fourth
concession, Dalhousie.  Many of the first settlers moved to different parts
of Canada to live in later years.

The movement originated with some English and Scotch gentlemen, who enlisted
the sympathies of those in authority at the Colonial Office of the Imperial
Government, and provision was made, under the superintendence of the
military, to locate a large number of Scotch families, chiefly from the
Highlands, on wild lands of the Province of Upper Canada, which were at that
time controlled absolutely by the Home Government, from whom those composing
this colony received free passage from Scotland to Canada, and each male
adult thereof received, in addition, a grant of 100 acres.  Under the
arrangements respecting this new Canadian colony, over three hundred men,
women and children, set sail from Greenock.  The Government also gave them
some tools and implements, such as axes, adzes, pitt-saws, augers, hoes,
shearing-hooks, a few nails, hammers and moccasins.

Among the old country relics are two guns which were brought out by Edward
Conroy, which are a London smooth-bore Rodger-made shotgun, and a Goulcher
Rifle with powder horn and moulds.  These are now in the possession of Thos.

A day should be set apart, as a special holiday, for speechmaking, to
commemorate the brave men and their wives, who were not afraid to accompany
their husbands to a strange new land, to undergo all the hardships and
privations which we know so little of at present time.

Lillian Conroy
Watson's Corners, Ont.
(Age 14)