The Court of Chancery

November 16th 1865.


This court opened on Thursday last, the Hon. Chancellor Vankoughnet presiding.  As there were several intricate and lengthy cases for hearing and in most of them, a great many witnesses to examine, the business of the Court was not finished till Monday.


Mahon vs. McLean: ─ This is a case of great importance, and as it is of special interest to the people of Puslinch, we give the particulars pretty full, in order that the public may understand the merits of the case.  The plaintiff, who is a farmer in the immediate vicinity of Aberfoyle, sought to cancel the patent held by the defendant to the land and mill privilege on which his grist mill, also in Aberfoyle, is erected.


In 1832, the Government had a sale of lands in Puslinch.  At that time the only known mill privilege was in Aberfoyle.  It was offered for sale by public auction, with the conditions that the purchaser should erect a saw and grist mill within a certain specified time.  The mill privilege was bought by the plaintiff on these conditions, and the rest of the land in the township was sold on the distinct understanding that these mills would be erected in Aberfoyle within the time mentioned in the conditions of sale.  These conditions were never complied with in any respect by the plaintiff. 


In 1842, he succeeded, by misrepresentations to the Government that no mill privilege existed on the property, to get the conditions attending the purchase cancelled.  After having done so, he sold a mill site on the identical property to the late George Schatz, guaranteeing ten feet of head, where he had made the government believe no such privilege existed.  After Mr. Schatz purchased the land, he erected a saw mill and constructed a dam, but never raised it to the height promised by the plaintiff, in consequence of continued annoyance from him.  He was repeatedly subjected to these annoyances in the shape of lawsuits both in Hamilton and Guelph, to recover damages alleged to have been done by the dam, but really for the purpose of keeping the privilege from being of any practical use to the people in the township.


  Mr. Schatz died in 1852, leaving Messrs. Cockburn and Black as his executors.  They attempted to carry on the business of the tannery and saw mill for the ten years following, but were also subjected to constant annoyance and lawsuits from the plaintiff.  In the early part of 1863, Mr. Geo. McLean made an offer to the executors, that if they would procure a patent directly from the Crown, for the privilege in question, he would purchase the same from them, and guarantee the erection of a good grist mill for the benefit of the public. 


A petition, signed by almost every individual in Puslinch, was transmitted to Mr. Stirton, M.P., and by him, presented to the then Commissioner of Crown Lands, urging upon him the propriety of cancelling the sale as originally made to Mahon.  A petition from the executors, to the same effect, was also sent down.  Through the untiring efforts of Mr. Stirton, who was acting in behalf of his constituents and the public at large, and who laid the whole facts of the case before the Commissioner, action was taken upon the petitions.  The sale to Mahon was cancelled, and a patent issued to George McLean, giving him the same privileges as were originally sold to Mr. Schatz in 1842.  Mahon, it must be borne in mind, during all this time, had never paid more than one or two instalments on the land, and consequently had forfeited the conditions of the original contract.  He now brought this action to quash the patent granted by the Crown to the defendant, on the ground that the Commissioner had not been informed of all the facts when granting it.


It was proved during the examination, however, that the Commissioner had been put in possession of all of the facts, and that the plaintiff was aware of that, from the fact that he had sent a letter to the Governor-General, calling his attention to what the Commissioner was about to do, which was precisely what he complained of.  A great many witnesses were examined, among others, the member for the South Riding, the Warden of the County, and many of the most respectable farmers in the district.


     The Chancellor gave his decision on Monday, which was that the bill be discharged with costs, thus leaving Mr. McLean in full possession of all the rights and privileges granted him under the patent from the Crown, and putting the plaintiff in for all costs.  We congratulate Mr. McLean on the result of the trial.  Amid many difficulties and in the face of many obstacles, he has put in operation a first-class mill, which is of the greatest service to the farmers.  We also congratulate the people of Puslinch on the result, for it settles, we hope forever, a dispute in which they have been deeply interested.  But for the energy and enterprise of Mr. McLean, and the efforts of Mr. Stirton, they would not be so advantageously situated as they now are.  We hope that Mr. McLean will long live to enjoy the reward of his toil, and the farmers of Puslinch to enjoy the benefits that such a mill confers on the township.








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