Alfred Ellis Celebrates 96th Birthday

by Findlay Weaver


(from the Guelph Mercury newspaper for September 22nd 1951.)


Just west of Puslinch Township’s Glen Christie is the Maple Grove farm of Carl Ellis, where his father, at the age of 96, still takes a keen interest in operations.  Marking the anniversary of the birthday of Alfred Ellis, there was a notable gathering at Maple Grove on Thursday of last week.  This was really two days in advance for the actual birthday of Alfred Ellis was September 15th 1855.


  The interesting 1951 event was organized by Mrs. Howard Strycker under the sponsorship of the Jubilee Women’s Institute of Glen Christie.


At 96, oldest resident and acclaimed “Grand Old Man” of the district, Alfred Ellis remains alert and surprisingly fresh looking.  He was, of course, the centre of interest of the gathering at the Ellis farm which is on what is now called the Airport rather than the Kossuth Road.  His hearing remains keen and his eyesight good and he is ever on the qui vive as to what is going on.


This farm is second on the left off the Guelph Highway.  Maple Grove farm is noted for its herd of 45 purebred Guernsey cattle.  The original farm home was the birthplace of Alfred Ellis.  He has passed all his 96 years in that immediate vicinity.  His friends rate highly his chances of becoming a centenarian.


Neighbours from all around the countryside were present for the great occasion, marking a notable event in the district annals.  Many relatives were there including his daughters, Mrs. Alvin Gingrich of Hespeler, Miss Lourene and Miss Ella of Kitchener, joining their brother Carl and the rest of the home family.


Seen here with the prospective centenarian in this picture, taken on the occasion of his birthday anniversary celebration, sponsored by the Jubilee Women’s Institute of Glen Christie, are his daughters, seated, Miss Ella of Kitchener, standing left to right, Miss Lourene of Kitchener, Mrs. Alvin Gingrich of Hespeler, and on the right, son Carl who now directs affairs at Maple Grove Farm.


Alfred Ellis at 96


An interesting circumstance in connection with nearby Glen Christie is that the plant there operated by Gypsum Lime and Alabastine (Canada) Ltd., is on lots 1, 2, and 3 where, over 40 years ago, O. B. Ellis, a relative of the subject of this sketch, established a lime kiln, later purchased by Christie, Henderson and Company.  There too, David Christie erected the building for the interdenominational Sunday School that still serves the district.


David Christie was a native of the township of Nassagaweya.  Following the purchase of the Glen Christie business by Gypsum Lime and Alabastine (Canada) Ltd., he came to Guelph and lived here to the age of 88.  His remains rest in Woodlawn Cemetery.


From Ireland


Original pioneer of the family of Alfred Ellis in America was William, who emigrated from the county of Cavan, in Ireland.  He located in Pennsylvania in the 1770’s but after the revolutionary war he came to Canada as one of the United Empire Loyalists.  As a reward, he received a Crown deed to 200 acres of bush-land in the Beaverdale area southwest of what is now the town of Hespeler.


The old farm was subsequently divided and what was the original Ellis home is now occupied by Paul Sittler.


William Ellis raised a family and it was his son David, father of Alfred, who acquired the 142 acres now constituting Maple Grove farm.  Thus, the farm has remained in the possession of the Ellis family for 110 years.


Alfred Ellis entertained his friends with many interesting reminiscences of early days of the district at that birthday anniversary gathering.  He told them that he had no particular recipe for long life other than the exercise of hard work that had fallen his lot throughout his active years.  He had never formed the regular habit of smoking tobacco but would still feel lost if he hadn’t a plug of chewing tobacco in his pocket.


Even the day’s morning rain proved to be no hindrance in keeping up the stream of visitors who kept arriving in the afternoon and the early hours of the evening.


Another point of interest in connection with Glen Christie is that this community is less than half the age of Alfred Ellis.  There was no settlement there before the time 46 years ago that O. B. Ellis started a lime kiln on lots 1, 2, and 3.  Before that, he had been identified with lime kilns south of Hespeler.  That concern was discontinued after being sold by O. B. Ellis.


Successor to David Christie as manager of the establishment at Glen Christie was Wm. P. Gamble, now living on Norfolk Street in Guelph.  He remained in charge up to the time of selling out to Gypsum Lime and Alabastine (Canada) Ltd., that concern being a merger of many kilns, of which the Glen Christie establishment was by far the most extensive and valuable, said to be rated in the million dollar class.


William P. Gamble married a daughter of David Christie and was an 1897 graduate of the O.A.C.  From 1900 to 1910, he was on the staff of the Chemistry Department of the College and was Honorary President in 1911.


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