From Badenoch to Badenoch:  A Story of Two Communities


This article originally appeared in the book

A Genealogy of Badenoch Families

by Llewella McIntyre and Marjorie Clark, 1999,

and was modestly revised in 2012.







"Cuimhnich air na daoine bho'nd'thainig thu"

(Remember the race from which you are sprung)


The Highland People


In the sixth century, Celtic people left northern Ireland to settle in Kintyre, a long arm of land on the west coast of Scotland that stretches southwards to within a few miles of the Irish coast.  They spread through the Highlands, an area so mountainous and difficult to traverse that unified military control or unified government was impossible.  Small, isolated, unevenly distributed communities organized themselves in districts under the leadership of chiefs.  These were mostly little groups of eight to ten houses in the glens and straths or on the edges of lochs or the sea.  Roads were few and very bad.  There were few villages or towns and there was no concentration of population.  Around 1750, there were 300,000 inhabitants.




The people spoke their own dialect of Gaelic (pronounced with the “a” as in “at”, not “gaylick” which is the Irish form), a language musical in its very enunciation, which persisted for over a thousand years.  In 1704, although Inverness was mainly English speaking, the countryside around was almost totally Gaelic.


The majority of the emigrants to Badenoch, Ontario spoke both English and Gaelic.  Gaelic speakers were still to be found in the Ontario community after 1900.






The Clan System


This race survived largely because of the intense support of the clan system.  The clan was originally an extended family with the chief as its head.  All members originally belonging to the extended family were able to prove their kinship, thus, the interest in genealogy.  The soothing word “cousin” spoken diplomatically was enough to place every man at ease.


However, the same surname did not necessarily imply relationship.  The MacKays of Kintyre were no relation to the MacKays of Sutherland.  Soon the concept of  “clan” was broadened to include dependants as well as descendants, then, to those living in close proximity or affiliation, as new territory was acquired by the clan.


Every chief surrounded himself with as many followers as possible since his importance and defence were dependent on the number and fidelity of his tenants.  The ordinary man’s safety and means of livelihood depended on the protection of the chief and his other adherents.  The clan regarded the chief as their father and themselves as his children.  He governed as a noble prince and saw himself as a trustee for the people and for posterity.  He was bound to protect and maintain them and he was the source of all justice.  He settled all disputes and regulated all matters at his discretion.  There was no appealing his judgment, however the clan elders had the moral authority to counsel or restrain their chiefs.  Although some chiefs were indeed evil despots, most governed with reason and impartiality.  The most sacred oath was to swear by the hand of the chief.  The land was the chief’s, but the glory of the chief was the glory of all his kindred and followers.


By 1745, the clan chiefs were civilized, even sophisticated men.  Most had been abroad to Paris, Florence or Venice and could speak French, sometimes Italian.  They certainly all spoke English.  Their sons were highly educated and their daughters accomplished in drawing, embroidery and music.


In time, various clans laid claim to their own particular parts of the Highlands and defended them by warfare.  They lived in mutual rivalry and suspicion.  The most lasting feuds sprang from disputes over land.  The history of the Highlands is one of perpetual clan wars, raids and counter-raids.






Origins of Our Badenoch People


Donald Grant, son of Peter Grant of Fernsdale (Lot 32, Rear Concession 9, Puslinch), in an article for W. F. MacKenzie’s column, “County of Wellington”, in the Guelph Mercury on July 22, 1907, stated his belief that few of the families who emigrated from the parish of Insh to Badenoch, Ontario had been resident in that parish for many generations.  This is a summary of the article:


In earlier times, the Comyns ruled Badenoch.  Following this was the time of the McPhersons, who were the senior branch of the Clan Chattan (meaning the children of the cat).  During this period, this wild, secluded, hilly region became a refuge for many.  As tenants were a source of wealth and army recruits, these refugees were cordially welcomed by the McPherson chief.


Therefore, of the families of our Badenoch, Inverness-shire people:

Kennedys were of Ayrshire stock;

MacEdwards  (the name means sons of Edward, of Saxon origin) were descendants of an English soldier, probably one of Cromwell’s men who stayed behind;

Grants were direct descendants of Grant of Rothiemurchus;

McLeans originally came from the west coast and claimed kinship, through a younger son, with the house of Duart;

Martins were an offshoot of the Cameron clan and descended from Martin Cameron, who was said to be a relative of the celebrated divine who founded the sect, the Cameronians;

Clarks appear to have settled in the Spey valley earlier than the other families.  All trace of their arrival is lost in the mists of antiquity.  The name indicates descent from some member of a religious order disbanded during the Reformation.  Clarks were numerous and influential throughout Badenoch, Scotland before the close of the 18th century.  The wife of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. McDonald, was a Clark of Dalnavert, a relative of the Clarks of Tomfad;

The McDonalds, McPhersons, Watsons and Daniel Campbell also emigrated from Badenoch.






But not all the Highlanders were from Badenoch.  Duncan McKenzie of Lot 29, Front Concession 9, Dougald Campbell of Lot 27, Rear Concession 10, and Allan McIntyre of Lot 30, Rear Concession 10 were from Argyleshire.  Neil Smith of Lot 35, Rear Concession 10 was from Islay.


The Puslinch settlement was by no means an exclusively Highland settlement.  The following were from Lowland Scotland:  Matthew Elliot of Lot 37, Front Concession 8 was from Castleton Parish, Roxburghshire; William Simpson of Lot 36, Front Concession 9 was from Ellon in Aberdeenshire; Alexander Nichol of Lot 35, Rear Concession 8 was from Forfarshire and the Darlings and the Buchans on the Gore, near Flamborough, were also Lowlanders.   Nor was it exclusively Scottish:  John Linderman was Dutch and John Gilmour was Irish.  However, Highland emigrants did form the majority of the settlement and the Badenoch, Scotland people constituted the core group of the Highlanders, especially in the early years.  Because of this, the prevailing culture of the community was Highland.






The Naming System


The Highlanders had a systematic manner for the naming of offspring, depending on sex and birth order. 

The 1st male was named for the paternal grandfather.

The 2nd male was named for the maternal grandfather.

The 3rd male was named for the father.


The 1st female was named for the maternal grandmother.

The 2nd female was named for the paternal grandmother.

The 3rd female was named for the mother.


The 7th and following children could be named at will.


The custom of “naming after” in this way persisted in the New World to the fourth generation in some families.  After this time, children were still named for their predecessors but not consistently nor systematically.


This method of naming caused many people to have the same name.  This presented a difficulty for distinguishing which “John Clark” or “Peter McLean” was meant.  A system of nicknaming arose.  Physical appearance was one way to differentiate.  Therefore, in 19th century Badenoch, Puslinch, there was Black Kate (dark-haired Kate) McLean and White Duncan (blonde-haired Duncan) McPherson (of nearby Crieff), Big Donald (size) McDonald and Little Peter McLean.


A woman could be identified by her husband’s persona.  Thus, in Badenoch, Ontario, there was Maggie Bob (Bob Clark’s wife, the former Maggie McLean, who became Maggie Clark) and Maggie Dunc (Duncan McLean’s wife, the former Maggie Clark, who became Maggie McLean).






Sometimes an individual would be dubbed for a particular incident in his life, as was the case with John Kennedy, who visited California during the gold rush, and was thereafter called Callie Kennedy.  An occupation was also used, as in Honey Donald McDonald (the beekeeper), Peter the Miller Clark and Peter the Councillor McLean.  As it happened, Honey Donald McDonald and Big Donald McDonald were the same man and Little Peter McLean was also known as Peter the Councillor McLean.  In succeeding generations in Badenoch, Ontario, when second names became common, the second initial would be used to identify the person as in Peter C. McLean or J. P. McPherson.


Some variation in spelling has occurred over the years in family names beginning with the prefix Mac or Mc (meaning “son of” in Gaelic).  Thus, both spellings may be found in Mac/Mc families in this genealogy or the individual may write the name differently than listed. This has happened in the family names McDonald, McLean and MacEdward.








The Highlanders believed they were descended from a race of giants called the Fiennes, whose leader was named Fionn.  His wife was Grainnhe.  He had a giant dog called Bran.  One of Fionn’s major attributes was his hospitality.


“The door of Fionn is always open and the name of his hall is the stranger’s home.  No one ever went sad from Fionn.”

                                ------ old saying


Kylerhea in Skye and Glenelg on the mainland were very much beloved of the Fiennes and they were believed to have lived in Glenelg.


At a place called “Imir Nam Fear Mora” (Field of the big men) in Glenelg, there were some burial mounds believed to be the graves of the Fiennes.  One day in the early 19th century, two of these mounds were opened.  In them were stone coffins containing the skeletons of two men and a woman, all considerably larger than life size today.  The two best preserved measured eight and a half feet and eleven feet and appeared strong-boned and well proportioned.


Fionn, himself, was said to be buried near Killen and Grainnhe beneath a cairn on the summit of Ben na Cailleach in Skye, just across the water from Glenelg.






Land Division


The rights and interests of all Celtic tribesmen were prescribed in minute detail in the “Senchus Mor” (the code of the tribes), which regulated cultivation and pasture and the making and repair of roads.  The lands of the chief were rented to his relatives on easy terms in larger or smaller farms according to the importance of the individuals concerned, and were parcelled out by them to friends and relatives on the same kind of terms.  These principal tenants, or “tacksmen”, were the gentlemen of the clan.  They acted as military officers and managers of land.  The tenants rented to subtenants.  Thus, every man was a farmer and a renter of land.


In return, the tacksmen provided the chief with as many fighting men as they were able and a share of the produce.  The system encouraged the subdivision of land into lots as small as possible because the more the land was sub-divided, the larger would be the number of men in the chief’s army.  As a result, there were a large number of tenants and subtenants on very small plots of land, which could support only a couple of cows and a small crop of oats.


The renter’s other obligations were to pay a small sum of money as “malanaich” (rent), submit some butter or oatmeal or part of a sheep, goat or poultry and to assist the tacksman or tenant to farm the land he retained in his own hands.


These people, who had always been tenants, felt it well worth the extremely hard work to own one or two hundred acres in the new land.  Since the property could not be sub-divided as in Scotland, in the Badenoch, Ontario community the tendency was to bequeath the farms to the eldest son.  This caused many younger male siblings to seek their living in areas of the country still opening up to settlement.  Second generations, therefore, frequently left for more northerly sections of Ontario and third generations for the Canadian or American west.






Military Service


Among the pioneers were those who had fought in previous military campaigns and at least one had suffered a permanent disability; John Grant had lost an eye in the Napoleonic Wars.


The pervasiveness of the military in the lives of the Highlander was the root of continued participation in the military in the New World.  A list of members of the “Second Battalion of militia for 1837” includes the following Badenoch men: George McLean, John MacEdward, William Martin, Alex Watson, Duncan MacEdward, John McLean, Donald MacEdward, Peter McIntyre, James MacEdward, Alex McLean, Duncan Martin, Robert Clark, Angus Clark, Robert Kennedy, Robert Forbes,  Lauchlan Kennedy,  James Martin,  James Martin Jr., Charles McCrea, Thomas O’Rourke, James Gordon, John McDonald, Angus McLean, Alex Kennedy, James McDonald, Allan McDonald, John Little and Duncan Campbell.


In later times, the men of our families went to battle for Canada, and there were a number of casualties of World War I and World War II.






Land Use


The weather in the Highlands is capricious.  It is windy.  In the central highlands temperatures can drop as low as –10° F.  But long hours of daylight during summer encourage growth, particularly of grasses, and therefore the traditional economy was pastoral, and cattle, the wealth.  Argyll was exceptionally green and fertile; Islay was the most fertile of the Argyll Hebrides.


In the Highlands, in the 3rd century, there was no cultivation of the land.  The people pastured livestock, hunted, gathered wild food and fished.  By the time of St. Columba (6th century), they had been tilling the land for some time.  In the 13th century, the country was divided into large holdings consisting of small portions of arable land and extensive tracts of pasture.  Through the 15th and 16th centuries the principal crops were oats, barley, rye, wheat, hemp, linseed and flax.  Vegetables were grown by the late 1700’s.  Potatoes were introduced around 1770, and in the next decade or two they became the staple food of most Highlanders.  Turnips were added a little later.


Crop rotation was unknown in the first half of the 1700’s.  Instead, the land was divided into infield and outfield.  The former was constantly cropped either with oats or barley along with an occasional ridge of flax where the ground was thought suitable.  The latter was ploughed three years for oats and left for the next six for pasture for horses, black cattle and sheep.






The implements of cultivation were the “cas-chrome” (literally, crooked foot) which consisted of a piece of wood about 6 feet long bent near the lower end with a thick flat wooden head which was shod with an iron tip.  It could be used on steep slopes that were inaccessible to the horse-drawn plough.  Twelve men working the cas-chrome could turn an acre a day.  The early horse-drawn ploughs (previous to 1800) required four horses and four men and did a poor and shallow job.  Intensive use caused a hard “pan” underneath the tilled earth, which blocked drainage.  There were primitive harrows but no hoes.  Since the society was highly communal, men joined together in working the land.  There were no wheeled carts, so all bulky commodities had to be transported on horseback or sleds or carried by people.


They began to plough on Candlemas Day (Feb. 2nd) and finished sowing in June.  Then, there was nothing to be done in the fields until harvest in September.  Grain was not cut; it was uprooted.  The grinding of grain was a daily chore for the women; every house had its grinding stones.  When there was a crop failure, the situation for the people was sometimes desperate.


With the exception of milk cows and sheep, animals were seldom housed in winter and in severe winters many perished.  They kept great numbers of horses, small, active and hardy, resembling the Shetland pony.  For most of the year horses ran wild among the hills but in very inclement weather they were brought into the glens and fed.  Sheep, less important, were kept for wool and mutton.  They were housed a good deal of the time, partly because they could not withstand the winters outside and partly because of wolves.  Goats were kept for milk and skins.  Highlanders had a special regard for cats, which were enjoyed as companion animals as well as valued for their prowess at pest control.






Their most important livestock, however, were their small, shaggy, black cattle. Since it was primarily a pastoral economy and not a cultivating one, cattle-raising was the main activity.  The green hills were covered with cattle, their manure fertilizing the soil.  Cattle were sold to buy metal goods, salt, tobacco, and the occasional article of dress.  During the summer, cattle were kept on the hills to prevent damage to the unfenced crops.  After harvest, they were brought back to the glens and allowed to roam freely.


There was an annual migration of whole families to the summer pastures in the hills.  This was an occasion of sport and mirth.  At the end of August or early September, drovers collected great herds and took them to the markets, usually at Crieff, sometimes Perth, Falkirk, Stirling or northern England.


This wild country, thinly inhabited and with plenty of places of concealment, made it easy and tempting to drive away someone else’s cattle roaming the hills.  The Highlander did not view this as wrong.  “The animals”, they said “were made by God; they derive their food directly from God’s pasture, on which man has expended neither labour nor money; therefore the animals are the common property of mankind.”  Furthermore, they believed in the balancing of accounts.  “If we steal our neighbour’s cattle today, our neighbours will steal ours tomorrow ----- and as for the “Sasgunnaich” (Lowlanders) well, their country belonged to our forefathers, so it is a land where every Highlandman can take his prey.”


Highlanders regarded Lowlanders as a mongrel race, spiritless in action and effeminate in habit.  Lowlanders regarded Highlanders as fierce and savage, proud, ignorant, and insolent.


By the middle of the 18th century, those who participated in cattle-stealing forays seem generally to have been “broken” men, that is, not belonging to a clan and possibly regarded as outlaws.  They were particularly successful near the Lowlands where there was less danger of retaliation.  According to the Old Statistical Account, prior to 1745, the district of Rannoch was “in an uncivilized, barbarous state, under no check or restraint of laws”.








Food varied with the seasons.  In spring, bread or oatcakes and “brochan” (oatmeal porridge) with sometimes a little meat, formed the staple.  In summer, milk and whey mixed together was the main diet.  In winter they had a heavier diet:  butter and cheese, beef, mutton and goat, together with bread and brochan.  Occasionally, they also ate poultry.


Aside from water, their only beverages were alcoholic.  In the 17th and 18th centuries, much of their grain was used for brewing ale and “usquebaugh” (whisky).  A whisky, brewed at the end of the 17th century, four times distilled from oats and so potent that it was dangerous to drink it neat, was called “stop the breathe”.  A milder brand was called “trestarig” meaning “protection spirit”.  Claret wine was imported very cheaply from France.








Wool and hides were important sources of revenue earlier than the 13th century.  The spinning wheel did not come into general use until about 1750.  Yarn was dyed with various lichens, heather, berries, alder, furze, broom and dandelion.  Local weavers, male and female, wove it into cloth on a wicker instrument called “cleadh luaidh”.   Flax was made into linen.  Leather was made locally but the bulk of it was manufactured in Inverness.  In addition furs (martin, beaver, weasel and fox) were sent to the Lowlands, England and the continent.


Milk was made into butter and cheese and sold in the markets of Inverness, Perth and Inverary.  For centuries, beef was shipped in barrels to the continent.  Timber was floated down the rivers Tay, Spey, and Ness to the Lowlands.  In the 16th century, salmon from the Spey, Ness, and Beauley were shipped from Inverness to Holland, France, and Venice.  In the 17th century, there was slate quarrying at Ballachulish.


From very early times, ale was brewed by the women, for local consumption.  In the 16th century, brogue, a malt liquor, was brewed extensively.  Early in the 16th century, whisky began to replace ale and brogue.  Before Culloden, private stills were started by tacksmen, all over the Highlands.  The result of the stringent revenue laws that followed Culloden was the rise of illegal distillation, which continued into the 19th century. 


People were almost entirely self-sufficient.  Blacksmiths, armourers, tailors, shoemakers, weavers, coopers and carpenters plied their trades in every district.  They made nets and hooks for fishing, brooches and rings, ploughs and sleds, and built their own homes.  These skills served the emigrants to the New World well, for self-sufficiency was an absolute necessity in the very early years.  The Badenoch settlement in Puslinch had shoemakers, tailors, blacksmiths, sawyers and carpenters.








The Highland peasant lived in a rectangular cottage of stone, built without mortar, with walls 3 to 6 feet thick.  It was usually one room but sometimes a partition of clay divided the house into a larger and smaller apartment.  The fire was placed in the middle of the floor of the larger apartment, which was used as a general living room, while the smaller was reserved for the livestock.


The roof consisted of thatch of turf, heath or rushes tied on round timbers placed at wide intervals across the building.  The house usually had but one door and often no windows.  Directly over the fire, an opening was made in the roof, through which part of the smoke escaped, the remainder filling the house and finding its way out by way of the door.  The thatch was replaced each spring, the discarded being used to manure the crops.  In the New World, the pioneers first built shanties to shelter themselves, then log houses.  By 1848, there were a few stone houses in the Badenoch district.








The Highland man’s outfit consisted of two parts:  the shirt and the mantle.  The linen shirt was large with numerous folds and wide sleeves, flowing loosely to the knees.  It was called the “leine-chroich”.  The “breacan-fheile” (mantle) was a plaid pattern, one piece of wool cloth six yards by two yards, drawn up over the back and across the left shoulder leaving the right arm free, fastened with a brooch of wood or bone at the chest, tied round the middle with a leather belt and pleated from the belt to the knee.  It was dyed using alder, willow, lichen and certain roots.  The thick woollen mantle was worn in all weather.  Except in the most extreme conditions, men could sleep in the open without shelter, if necessary.  Trousers were favoured for work at sea or while riding a horse.


The modern kilt is a derivative of the original Highland dress.  The pattern of the plaid varied from place to place, such that a man’s home could be determined from it, but it was not indicative of his name, an idea that the Highlander would have considered ridiculous.  Most of the “name” tartans sold today were invented in Victorian times when the fantasy of the “romantic Highlands” was at its zenith.


A sleeveless jacket of deerskin was worn over all.  Bare feet were the rule, but sometimes coverings of untanned hide, cut to the shape of the foot and held on with thongs, were worn.


The sporran, or purse, was fastened to the front of the lower portion of the garment.  It was made of goat or badger skin, or occasionally leather, often divided into compartments and ornamented with a mouthpiece of silver or brass.


For women, the “arisaid” was a wool cloth with a plaid pattern, usually basically white, which reached from the neck to the feet, pleated and tied round the waist with a belt of leather.  No headdress was worn before marriage or until attaining a certain age.  The hair was tied with bands often with some slight ornamentation.  After marriage, women wore the “currachd” (mutch), a bonnet of linen tied under the chin.








Among the Highlanders, there was a custom called “hand-fast” marriage, a sort of trial marriage, which gave the couple the option of separating for certain well-defined reasons after a year’s time.  Children resulting from such unions were given the father’s family name and were recognized and accepted as part of his family as well as the mother’s.  This custom seems to have persisted into the 19th century, despite Christian teaching.  This would explain the significant number of early Duff’s Church baptism records that list the child as “natural” as opposed to “lawful”, a natural child being born into a hand-fast union, and a lawful child into a marriage, pledged before God.  These traditional attitudes eventually gave way to Victorian attitudes by about the third generation in the New World.  By this time (about the 1880’s) out-of-wedlock children were frequently disguised as belonging to their maternal grandparents and carried that family name. 


Early marriage was the rule.  Wedding presents of a mixed character were given lavishly.  The ceremony was followed by riotous rejoicings.  The guests brought their own food and drink to the wedding feast.  Dancing outside to the bagpipes and inside to the fiddle went on all night, sometimes beginning again the next day.


Within the Badenoch, Ontario settlement, the second generation married almost exclusively into its own ethnic group (Highlanders).  This was still the preference of the third generation, but by then, there were also marriages to people of Lowland Scottish extraction.  By the fourth generation, there was intermarriage with the descendants of other White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (Irish, English, German and mixtures thereof).  By the fifth generation, few descendants bear only Highland blood.








When death occurred, a wake was held with plenty of food and drink and dancing.  The dance was opened by the nearest relative of the deceased.  Tears and laughter were mingled with a celebration of the virtues of the deceased.  The “coronach”, a lament combined with a eulogy, wailed by women mourners at the funeral of a person of distinction, was a token of respect.  Heavy drinking after a funeral was common.


The chiefs frequently profited by the death of their tenantry.  A sort of death duty called “calps” allowed him to take possession of the best cow or ox or horse of the dead tenant.


The men of the clan carried the coffin from the home to the burial ground on their shoulders.  The position of burial was held of great importance.   They were buried with feet towards the east so that they might face our Lord on the last day.  This is the case with the early graves in Crown Cemetery, Puslinch.






The Ceilidh


On winter nights, Highlanders gathered around the peat fire in their cottages to tell the traditional tales, sing the ancient songs, and ask cunning riddles.  They recited the deeds of Fionn and their ancestors, the Fiennes.  They had a gift for poetry, humour and satire.  Music was played on the clarsach (harp) and later the bagpipes, fiddle, and Jew’s harp, and the young people danced.  While they listened, the men made baskets, mended nets and twisted rope and the women spun, carded, mended or knitted.








The Highland people were mainly healthy, sane and sensible, what they called “duine foghainteach” (a sufficient man).  In 1790, according to the “statistical account” of Sir John Sinclair, disease of any kind was rare. 

Their sayings reinforce this idea:

    “Is righ gach slan” (every healthy man is a king),

   “Tha an duine slan gu na darra” (man is by nature healthy),

  “Chan eil euslainte gun oc-shlainte, agus chan eil tilleadh air abhas” (there is no disease without sacrifice and there is no turning back of death).


Highlanders seem to have lived to old age, often exceptionally old.  An English visitor to Lewis, Captain Dynes, stated that in the middle of the 17th century there were a number of centenarians and some of one hundred and twenty years.  Similar instances of longevity were noted one hundred and fifty years later on the Island of Jura.  This longevity prevailed, despite the prevalence of alcohol, poor sanitary conditions, the absence of doctors and the frequency of violent death.


Remedies for certain maladies included:  foxglove (digitalis), broom-tops and juniper berries for heart disease, mint for flatulence, burnt oatcake and dried and ground fowl gizzard for indigestion, male-fern for worms, and tar water for chest problems and skin disease.  They believed in the curative power of wells and waters.  They spoke of each disease as a spirit having a distinct personality.


They believed in the power of the Christian God to heal as illustrated in the following affirmation:

“Christ went out in the morning early.  He found the legs of horses in fragments small.  He put marrow to marrow.  He put pith to pith.  He put bone to bone.  He put membrane to membrane.  He put tendon to tendon.  He put blood to blood.  He put tallow to tallow.  He put flesh to flesh.  He put fat to fat.  He put skin to skin.  He put hair to hair.  He put warm to warm.  He put cool to cool.  As the King of power healed that, it is in His power to heal this, if it be His own will to do it - through the bosom of the Being of love and of the three of the Trinity.”


A remarkable family, the MacBeaths, sometimes called Beatons, were known throughout the Highlands for centuries for their hereditary practice of medicine.


Among the Badenoch settlers, Margaret (Martin) McLean had been trained in midwifery at the hospital in Edinburgh.  This medical knowledge proved invaluable to the emigrants, particularly in the early days, before the availability of doctors.








Early Highland people practised a form of baal worship (fertility worship) common to ancient peoples.  St. Columba and twelve companions brought knowledge of the true God when they came from Ireland in 563 A.D.  They established a religious community on the island of Iona, the vestiges of which remain today.


Rumblings of discontent began within the established church in the early 1400’s, and many reformers were accused of heresy and burned to death.  George Wishart and his pupil, John Knox, were notable Scottish reformers.  The Reformation installed Presbyterianism as the state religion of Scotland in 1560, but some Catholic communities still existed in the Highlands.


Evangelical Protestantism held that faith was a matter of the heart rather than the mind; that it was a gift from God through revelation and conversion and that Christ alone could do this.  A visible symbol of salvation was participation in the sacrament of Communion.  Emphasis was placed on preaching the word of God.  Only metrical Psalms were sung and these were in the people’s own language.  Observance of the Sabbath was essential.  The Latin mass, celibate priesthood, and elaborate church music were abolished as not in accordance with scripture.


The early 1800’s comprised a period of spiritual re-awakening and the emigrants brought their Presbyterianism with them to the New World.  In 1834, Thomas Wardrope, a licentiate of the Church of Scotland, settled on Lot 35, Front Concession 9 of Puslinch Township.  He began to hold worship services in homes, barns and sometimes in the open air.  In 1837, the Badenoch pioneers along with the Presbyterians of Crieff, Corwhin and the 3rd Concession, Puslinch, erected their own log church situated in what is now the front section of Crown Cemetery.






In 1839, on the recommendation of James Gordon of Lot 36, Rear Concession 10, Badenoch families recruited Rev. William Meldrum from Scotland and he arrived in November.  He was ordained by the presbytery of Hamilton and conducted his first service on March 11, 1840.   Rev. Meldrum invited the congregation to Bible study and instruction after the regular worship service, thus laying the foundation for the first Sunday school connected with the church.  He made his home with the Peter McLean family and on Christmas Day 1845, he married the youngest daughter, Ann McLean.  That year, they bought Lot 33, Front Concession 8, in the adjacent Morriston area and  he owned it until his death.  In 1852, he went to Vaughan Township, York County and later to West Zorra, but returned to retire to the village of Morriston in 1871 where he lived until his death in 1889.  His son, George succeeded him on the farm.


In 1854, the congregation replaced the log church with a stone church, built opposite Crown Cemetery, on the west side of the Brock Road.  They named it Duff’s Presbyterian Church for Dr. Alexander Duff, a missionary of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland who had visited the area that year.  On Sunday, June 25, 1967, a plaque was unveiled in Duff’s Church in memory of Rev. William Meldrum, by his granddaughter (George’s daughter), Elma Gibbs.  This house of worship remains to this day, some 160 years later. 






Other Beliefs


Although the Highlanders became Christians, many of the ancient beliefs persisted and some of these ideas were still held by the emigrants to the New World.


During the 17th century, much of the time in the courts of law in Scotland was taken up with the trials of witches, although witch burning was less prevalent in the Highlands than in the Lowlands, England, and Europe.  Witches were believed to have the favour of the devil, and the ability to transform themselves into animals, especially cats and hares, and to cause storms, disease, ships to sink and crops to fail.


Highlanders also believed in fairies, little people, sociable and friendly, who dwelt underground and were normally invisible.  Fairies had cattle and children of their own, which they sometimes exchanged for mortal children.  If a child was more troublesome than ordinary, or not thriving, or if there was an unusual expression on his face, or if he had a voracious appetite, or if he was different in any way from normal children, parents suspected that he was not their own but a fairy changeling.  Various ways were used to test the matter: dropping the child into a river, exposing him on a hillside overnight or suspending him over a hot fire.  Adult fairies were attractive, and susceptible mortals fell in love with a “leannan-sith” (fairy sweetheart).  However, fairies had an aversion to iron and this, combined with rhymes to invoke the aid of the Trinity, would protect one from them.






The ancient belief that an evil can be caused by the eye was common to many societies and still exists in some societies to the present day.  The Highlanders believed the evil eye could be used to harm their stock.  There were individuals, who possessed the hereditary ability to protect from it, for which talent they reaped personal authority and monetary reward.


Highland people also believed in “taibhsearachd” (second sight), an ability to see and hear ghosts, wraiths and death sounds, and to foresee, in visions, things not known by ordinary mortals.


They believed that on every November 12th (Old Hallowe’en) the spirits of their dead ancestors returned to earth to visit their former homes, and they built huge bonfires as welcoming beacons.


Highlanders attached a great deal of significance to omens.  When setting off on a journey or beginning any work, they were particularly anxious to avoid persons, beasts, birds, or objects that were thought to be unlucky.  Also, certain things could only be undertaken on certain days.








The church established by St. Columba encouraged education.  St. Columba himself spent much of his life reading, writing and preaching.  In 1646, Parliament passed a law stating that every parish was to be provided with a school, subject to the jurisdiction of the presbyteries.  This parochial school system continued until 1872.  Pupils were taught in English, as in 1616, Gaelic had been outlawed by the government, a measure used in an attempt to control the Highlanders.


In 1701, a group called “The Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge” set up schools.  They espoused the use of Gaelic.  In 1768, they transcribed the New Testament into Gaelic and it was widely distributed throughout the Highlands.


School was taught in churches, granaries and stables, six days a week, from sunrise to sunset.  In many cases, there were no desks or benches.  The scholars sat on the floor, on rushes, or straw.  In the 18th century, hours were reduced to 6 AM to 7 PM daily.  Summer holidays were two to three weeks long.



This system produced a reasonably literate society.  Most of the Badenoch, Ontario emigrants were from Inverness-shire, Argyllshire and Perthshire, where instruction was more likely to be available than in the north or in the Isles.   They could read and write, unlike emigrants from other parts of the world.






However, it was twelve years before the Badenoch emigrants were in a position to erect a school building in their own community.   The first school in the settlement was a log building erected in the summer of 1843, on Lot 33, Front Concession 9.  It was soon inadequate for the number of pupils and it was not centrally located.  It was replaced very soon after 1850 by a new frame school built on Lot 31, Front Concession 10.


In 1852, Puslinch Township Council established twelve school sections in the township.  Badenoch was School Section Number 9 (S. S. #9).  By the third generation, the pupils who began their education in Badenoch School were embarking on careers as ministers of the gospel, lawyers, doctors, dentists, teachers and bankers.  In 1880, James E. McLean taught 93 pupils at S. S. #9.  In 1889, the frame school was replaced by a stone school, built directly behind it.  In the 1960’s, all the district schools in the township were closed and students were transported by bus to a central school in Aberfoyle.  Badenoch School was closed in December 1964 and the building has been used as a community centre since then.








The writings of the Highlands had their origins in a rich oral tradition of proverbs, folktales, traditional romances, poetry and stories of Fionn and the Fiennes.


Among the writers were:

Duncan McCrae of Inverinate: 1635-1693

Mary MacLeod (Mairi Ni'n Alasdair Ruaidh): 1615-1720

Iain Lom: circa 1620-1710

Robert Kirk: circa 1641-1692 (translated the psalter into Gaelic in 1684)

Sheila of Keppoch (Silena Ceapaich): 1600’s

Lachlan MacKinnon (Lachunn Mac Thearlaich Oig): died 1734

Murdoch Matheson (An T-Aosdana Mac Mhathgamhna): early 1700’s

Roderick Morison (the Blind Harper): born 1656

John MacKay: 1666-1754

Alexander MacDonald: circa 1745

Duncan Ban MacIntyre of Glenorchy: 1724-1812

Mac Codrum: 1710-1796

Rob Donn: 1714-1778

Dugald Buchanan: 1716-1768








The Highland people were a music-loving race who enjoyed singing for its own sake.  There were five types of songs:  legendary ballads, lullabies, love songs, hymns and action songs.  There were ballads of romantic love, historical drama, Norse heroes and the Lords of the Isles.  Action songs were sung to all sorts of rhythmic work: churning, baking, grinding grain, nursing children, milking, haying, mowing.  Usually the verses were sung solo and all joined in the chorus.


The “clarsach” (harp) was in use prior to the 9th century; it began to decline in the 17th century.  The bagpipes became immensely popular and the violin came into use after 1745.  The fifty years following were the golden age of Gaelic poetry.  Poems would be chanted to a harp accompaniment.  The harpist, generally trained in Ireland, was a highly paid man of importance.  He carried news and messages from one chief to another as well as being a musician.


In the New World, the pioneers sang and danced first to the accompaniment of the fiddle, as they called it, and later to the fiddle and piano.  Over the years homes, drive-sheds, barns, and the Badenoch School were the venues of many lively dances.



The Seannachie


Between 1500 and 1745, the clan seannachie, often an Irish Celt or a clansman trained in Ireland, was employed by the chiefs to record their family genealogy and history and to transmit it to future generations.  Perhaps this explains the remarkable interest in genealogy that many descendants of Highlanders retain to this day.








This ordered society continued until around 1715 when James Francis Edward Stuart (1689 - 1766) from the Royal House of Stuart made an abortive attempt to seize the Scottish throne.   It had been amalgamated with the English throne in 1603 when James VI of Scotland also became James I of England.  However, by 1714, George I of the House of Hanover was on the throne of England and Scotland. The Highlanders supported the Stuart claim to the Scottish throne.  The uprising led to measures designed to control the Highlanders, such as the surrendering of weapons. The Highlanders responded by relinquishing old and rusty ones and hiding the best ones.  The Highlands were occupied under General George Wade, who built military roads and established forts.




In 1745, James Francis Edward Stuart’s son, Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie, 1720 - 1788), raised an army of supporters of the Stuart line (Jacobites) and marched to the Lowlands, routing government forces, which were composed of both Lowland and English regiments, at Prestopans and occupying Edinburgh.  They were stopped at Derby in England, just two days’ march from London.  Turning for home, they fought a rearguard action, routing another government force near Falkirk.  Early in 1746, they made what became their last stand at Culloden.  Five thousand ragged, hungry Highlanders, sleepless from the previous night’s attack on Nairn, went against nine thousand commanded by the Duke of Cumberland, George II’s second son, William, to be remembered ever after as “Butcher Cumberland”.






Charles fled.  Wounded clansmen, lying on the battlefield, were slaughtered by the cavalry.  Innocent bystanders were also murdered.  The total Highland dead was 1200 and 3,470 were taken prisoner, of which 120 were executed and 936 were sentenced to transportation to the Caribbean.


To the English, this was a rebellion that had nearly succeeded in overrunning England, as well as Scotland, which they regarded as their territory also.  The Prime Minister, Lord Newcastle, wanted the Highlands “utterly reduced”, and Lord Chesterfield called for genocide, suggesting a wholesale massacre of the Highland peasants. 


For months afterward, as the King’s army hunted for Charles, the Highlands were terrorized.   Houses were pillaged and burned and whole villages and islands were razed and laid waste.  Suspected rebels were executed and their precious black cattle sold in the Lowlands.  Every domestic animal or bird was killed or removed and anything of the least value was looted or destroyed.  The stately homes of the chiefs were ransacked and burned.  Women were raped.  Three men, who were heading to Fort William to surrender their arms, were waylaid and hanged.  Many, who survived this chaos, died of cold and starvation in the following winters.  All law and order collapsed.  Thieves and thugs took advantage of the situation.  Little warlords imposed their own order in the vacuum left by the chiefs.  After 1745, it took a generation or more for some measure of normal law and order to be resumed.






All this time, the Highlands were under military occupation.  Badenoch and the McPherson chiefs suffered a great deal.  There followed a series of acts by the government aimed at destroying the Highland clans once and for all.  The estates of eleven chiefs, who had supported Charles, were seized by the Crown.  Any Highlander caught carrying arms was subject to the death penalty.  The wearing of plaids or any other traditional Highland dress was forbidden on pain of transportation from 1746 to 1782. 


After Culloden, the Highlands were never the same again.  The grassy mounds, that mark the mass graves of the clansmen, symbolize the passing of the Highland way of life.  The Highlands started to empty.








The process of “improvement” began to be spoken of as early as 1746.  To initiate the perceived need for “improvement”, Highland people were portrayed by English and Lowland newspapers as a violent, tribal society of barbarians, savage inhabitants of a backward region given to thievery, romanticism and warfare.  The image was concocted, too, by poets, writers, and singers, including Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott.  Their manner of dress was depicted as a silly costume.  (The costume was eventually used to symbolize the whole of Scotland when the country was threatened with full-scale assimilation by England in the 19th century.)  This distorted picture of the Highland people was created in order to promote the idea, that they needed to be “civilized”.  The stereotype of the penny-pinching, inebriated, kilted Highlander persists to this day.


One Highlander actually became quite famous by taking advantage of the “noble savage” image.   James MacPherson, of Ruthven, was the 23-year-old son of a Badenoch tenant farmer, working as a private tutor.  Later in his life, he became a civil servant, sat in Parliament and served as a diplomat.  He “translated”, what he claimed were ancient Gaelic poems, purportedly written by a 3rd century Gaelic bard called Ossian.  The tales were complete forgeries and amounted to the re-fashioning of poems, which had long been available in Ireland and the Highlands.  They were written in flowery poetic English prose and, except for a brief appendix to “Temora”, no Gaelic text was published.  There were three volumes, “Fragments of Ancient Poetry, collected in the Highlands of Scotland” (1760), “Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem” (1761), and “Temora” (1763).  When they appeared, James MacPherson enjoyed enormous success and the poems of Ossian were eventually translated into eleven languages.






The stereotype of the Highlander was widely accepted and it was used to justify actions taken which would drastically change the lot of the Highland people.  The “improvements” soon began to appear.


At the same time that the chiefs lost military power, they were brought into increasing contact with the more luxurious world of the Lowland landowners.  To finance this lifestyle, the chiefs raised the rents on their lands.  Rents doubled in 25 years.  When their clansmen couldn’t pay it, they rented to strangers who could pay, disregarding the customary hierarchical rights of their extended families of tacksmen and tenants in the holding of land. 


The breakdown of the established order caused a state of confusion, which lasted for at least one hundred years (1750-1850).  This change started at the south and spread north.  Chiefs became merely landlords, rather than the trustees of the collective cultural inheritance.  By 1750, some chiefs, desperate for money, were raising rents so high, that their tacksmen could not pay them. 


By 1755, three-fifths of the chiefs no longer lived in the Highlands.  They lived in Edinburgh or London where they ran up huge tailors’ bills and entertained themselves with gambling.  Increasingly, they looked upon their ancestral lands and tenants as just a source of cash. 


In the last decades of the eighteenth century, many tacksmen emigrated and took their tenants with them.  From 1763 to 1775, 20,000 people left, mostly for the United States.  Some tacksmen were replaced by strangers, who oppressed the people left behind and drove them off their land.  By 1815, it took all of the tenant’s cash in return for the use of the land.






About this time, the Cheviot sheep was introduced.  It was bigger than other breeds, produced more wool and was very hardy.  From 1755-1760, Lowland sheep farmers began to rent land in Argyle and Dumbartonshire, and during 1760-1770, in Perthshire and Invernesshire.  They could pay higher rents than the traditional tenantry.  They spread north to Rosshire in the 1790’s.  By 1800, they were widespread in much of Argyleshire, western Perthshire and parts of Inverness-shire, as far north as Fort Augustus, and had begun to appear in Sutherlandshire.  Close cropping and over-grazing by the sheep depleted the lush grasses, and the hills became barren and unproductive.


Deeply in debt, some chiefs sold their lands.  (This had the same effect on the tenantry.)  Glentromie, in Badenoch, was sold in 1835 to Henry Baillie, a wealthy merchant from Bristol, England.  Lochbroom, in Rossshire, was sold in 1835.  The Duke of Gordon sold lands in Badenoch and in Lochaber in the 1830’s.  Islay was sold in 1852.  During the years 1830-1880, two-thirds of the Highlands were sold.  Although many chiefs were initially disinclined to change, either from attachment to their people or love of feudal show, ultimately, the people were betrayed utterly by their very own chiefs.






The Clearances


Highland tenants were evicted from their traditional lands to make way for sheep and sheep farmers.  Within a few minutes of the serving of notices, with sheep already milling about, their cottages were pulled down over their heads or were set afire.  The old and sick died of shock and exposure.  When the women protested, they were beaten and shot.  Occasionally, those evicted would return, broken-hearted, when all was quiet, to die of exposure by the blackened stones of their former home.  This became known as “The Clearances”.  The Clearances were so vast and undocumented, with whole communities disappearing, that it is still difficult to determine the facts.  The brutality with which the people were compelled to leave their ancestral land was shocking.


Landless, the people starved.  Disease raged, typhus, tuberculosis and dysentery.  They lived largely on potatoes.  There were serious food shortages in 1782-83, 1795-96, 1806-07, 1816-17, 1836-37.  The year 1783 was remembered as “bliadhna na peasrach” (the year of the peasmeal), when the government sent relief supplies of meal made from peas.  The year 1846 was known as “the year of the great hunger”.


Some of the displaced tenantry were persuaded to become fishermen, particularly around 1780-1790.  Others were settled on wasteland, that was previously uncultivated.  Kelp gathering was a successful, but wet and difficult, occupation until the end of the Napoleonic wars, when the market collapsed.  A landlord could get 20 pounds a ton but the tenant would get only 2.  The chiefs squandered the vast profits made from kelp on extravagant living in the cities.  Unlicensed whisky making provided a livelihood for some between 1760-1840.  From the late 1700’s onwards, many of the young adults of both sexes went to the Lowlands for temporary or seasonal employment at the harvest, in the fisheries, textile factories or as domestic servants.






The Highland Soldier


Highland soldiers were renowned as brave, tough and very, very aggressive.  To provide for their families, seventy thousand clansmen served with the English army during the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815).  They also served in many military and naval campaigns in the Seven Years War (1756-63), the American Revolutionary War (1775-83) and the Crimean War (1853-56).  They enlisted in such numbers, that they brought a significant contribution to income.  Several Highland chiefs raised recruits by offering a plot of land in return for a son to go to war.  In three different properties in mainland Inverness-shire, there was a temporary pause in eviction and dispossession, in the 1790’s, as chiefs in the district attempted to recruit the tenantry to their personal regiments.








With the Napoleonic Wars over in 1815, and their homeland becoming a sheep pasture, many looked to Canada and the United States as places, where they could begin again.  Highland immigrants played a greater part in the settlement of Upper Canada (Ontario) than any other nationality.  They continued to exert influence long after their numerical predominance declined.  They came to Stormont, Glengarry, the Talbot settlement in the Grand River Valley, the Huron Tract and throughout southwestern Ontario.


Much of the emigration was led by tacksmen, who were accustomed to taking a lead in clan affairs.  They were men of substance, able to charter vessels and pay for the removal of their tenants.  Ships sailed from Fort William, Skye, Stornoway and Islay.  By the 1820’s, between 1/2 and 2/3 of the entire Highland population had been driven from their homes.  Where once many families had been, now there was only a shepherd, his dogs and sheep.  The glens and straths were desolate and empty in 1854, when the Crimean War broke out, and the English army sent recruiters to the Highlands.  They were greeted with jeers, with men bleating like sheep and barking like sheep dogs.  “Since you preferred sheep to men,” they were told, “let sheep defend you.”


The Gaelic culture of Highland Scotland had been destroyed.  In 1901, there were one million Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia but only 250,000 in Scotland.  The Canadian novelist, Hugh MacLennan said, “Above the 60th parallel in Canada you feel that nobody but God has ever been there before you, but in a deserted highland glen you feel that everyone who ever mattered is dead and gone.”






The following is quoted directly from “The Highland Clearances”, (1963), by John Prebble:


“The sailing of an emigrant vessel was a deeply emotional experience for those leaving and for those who remained.  The Highlanders were like children, uninhibited in their feelings and wildly demonstrative in their grief.  Men and women wept without restraint.  They flung themselves on the earth they were leaving, clinging to it so fiercely that sailors had to prise them free and carry them bodily to the boats.


A correspondent of the Inverness Courier watched the departure of some Kildonan people from Helmsdale:  “Hands were wrung and wrung again, bumpers of whiskey tossed wildly off amidst cheers and shouts; the women were forced almost fainting into the boats; and the crowd upon the shore burst into a long loud cheer.  Again and again that cheer was raised and responded to from the boat, while bonnets were thrown into the air, handkerchiefs were waved, and last words of adieu shouted to the receding shore, while high above all, the wild notes of the pipes were heard pouring forth by far the finest of pibroch tunes, “Cha Till mi Tuille” (We Shall Return No More!).”






Conditions on the emigrant sailing ships were nearly as appalling as on the slave ships.  Often they were merchant ships.  The timber trade required large vessels, but these had low freights on the outward journey.  The emigrant traffic to Upper Canada and the Maritimes was an effective means of utilizing surplus capacity and cutting return costs.  They were rotting wooden wrecks.  Water was contaminated and insufficient even for cooking and drinking.  Washing was impossible.  Passengers were required to supply their own food and, since the passage was invariably weeks longer than advertised, this frequently ran out.  Over-crowding was such that there was no privacy for the most personal of functions.  Disease was usual:  smallpox, dysentery, cholera and typhus. 


Members of the McLean family, who emigrated to Puslinch in 1833, told of nursing those ill with diphtheria in tents, so as to isolate them from the general public, upon their arrival in the port of Halifax.  The two eldest children of James and Grizel Gregor died of cholera shortly after arrival in Hamilton in 1834.  Between 1847 and 1853, at least forty-nine emigrant ships sailed and were never heard from again.  And for all this, passage was very expensive and two-thirds of the emigrants had to earn it in port.






The Canadian Boat Song

by John Galt


Listen to me, as when ye heard our father

Sing long ago the songs of other shores;

Listen to me, and then in chorus gather

All your deep voices, as ye pull your oars;

Fair these broad meads, these hoary woods are grand;

But we are exiles from our father’s land.


From the lone shieling of the misty island

Mountains divide us, and waste of seas---

Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,

And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

Fair these broad meads, these hoary woods are grand;

But we are exiles from our father’s land.


We ne’er shall tread the fancy-haunted valley,

Where ‘tween the dark hills creeps the small clear stream,

In arms around the patriarch banner rally,

Nor see the moon on royal tombstones gleam:

Fair these broad meads, these hoary woods are grand;

But we are exiles from our father’s land.


When the bold kindred, in the time long vanish’d

Conquer’d the soil and fortified the keep,---

No seer foretold the children would be banish’d

That a degenerate lord might boast his sheep:

Fair these broad meads, these hoary woods are grand;

But we are exiles from our father’s land.


Come foreign rage - let discord burst in slaughter!

O then for clansmen true, and stern claymore---

The hearts that would have given their blood like water,

Beat heavily beyond the Atlantic roar:

Fair these broad meads, these hoary woods are grand;

But we are exiles from our father’s land.






Badenoch, Ontario


Our Highland ancestors immigrated to the district of Badenoch in Puslinch Township, Ontario from the district of Badenoch in Inverness-shire and other parts of the Highlands under these circumstances.


In 1831, Donald McLean (age 25), Peter Grant (35), Donald Martin (35), John Kennedy (23) and Catherine (32) and her husband, Alexander McBain (32) left the Highlands of Badenoch and sailed from Greenock, near Glasgow, to Montreal.  Donald Martin, John Kennedy and the McBains stayed at Glengarry, an established settlement of Highlanders in eastern Upper Canada, that first winter.  Donald McLean and his brother-in-law, Peter Grant, came to Crook’s Hollow (near Greensville, north of Dundas), which was a centre of industry, where there were many mills.  They worked there during the winter of 1831-32.


In the spring of 1832, they travelled up the Grand River as far as Elora.  They decided that this country was too remote and went back to Guelph and down the Brock Road, then only a blazed trail (one followed nicks cut in trees), to about the town line of Flamborough, where two brothers were clearing bush.  The next day they went with one of the brothers to Lot 35, Rear Concession 8, Puslinch, then owned by a German settler, Andrew Stahl, who went with them to look over the land.


Donald McLean chose Lot 31, Front and Rear Concession 9.  Peter Grant chose Lot 32, Front Concession 9, directly adjoining.  They built a shanty on Donald McLean’s land.   There are two firmly held but differing ideas about exactly where the shanty was located, either on Front, Lot 31, slightly west of where Jim McLean’s house presently sits or on Rear, Lot 31, at the spring near the crook in the road.  The other four joined them and all six lived together in this first house in Badenoch.  That fall, 1832, they sowed wheat on land, which they had cleared on both lots.






  Donald Martin settled on Lot 30, Front Concession 9, John Kennedy on Lot 35, Rear Concession 9, and Alexander and Catherine McBain who came from Insh Parish, Badenoch, on Lot 32, Rear Concession 8, which they named “Baile mhonaidh”.  Alexander McBain (born 1795) and his wife Catherine (born 1795?) had no children.  Catherine, whose maiden name is unknown, died on July 26, 1856.  When Alexander died intestate on Aug 15th, 1871, this lot reverted to the Crown.


In 1833, Donald McLean’s parents, Peter and Margaret McLean and their family, the John and William Clark families, and the Kennedy family arrived.  More friends and relatives (around 100 in all) followed the same year and in the next few years most of the land on Concessions Rear of 8, whole of 9, 10, and 11 from Lots 26 to 38 was settled.  They chopped down the forests and established their farms and industries.  Clearing the bush was a dangerous activity and at least one of the immigrants, Angus McPherson, lost his life, when a tree fell on him.


This area, in what is now southeastern Puslinch Township, Wellington County, they called Badenoch.  On the northern extreme of this area, on Lot 26, Rear of Concession 9, originally owned by Andrew McRobbie, is a small and reedy lake. This property was sold to the McLeans.  They named it Loch Buidhe (pronounced Lock Boo-ee and meaning Yellow Lake) after Loch Buidhe in Scotland and the surrounding area became known as such, too.






Although tradesmen established their shops within the area, Badenoch did not develop a village or town centre but remained a farming community.  But on the community’s very westernmost fringe, in 1844, Donald Campbell kept a small store in a log building on the northeast corner at the intersection of the Aboukir Trail (which became the Brock Road) and the Badenoch Road.  James MacIntosh had a tailoring business on the adjoining property, and John MacEdward, a blacksmith shop and dwelling on the next.  This was located on the southwest corner of John MacEdward’s farm, Lot 30, Front of Concession 8.  This village they called Elgin.


After the Brock Road was constructed in 1848-1850, the area opened up and the village of Elgin began to grow.  In 1849, Richard B. Morrison built a frame store on the southeast side of the Brock Road and the Badenoch Road (Donald MacEdward’s farm, Lot 31, Front of Concession 8) and, such was the influence of R. B. Morrison, that shortly after, the village was renamed Morriston.  Although the population of Morriston itself became predominantly German after 1850, Badenoch people continued to conduct business in the village.


Donald McLean and Alexander Nichol were members of the first Crown Cemetery Board.  Nearly all of the Badenoch pioneers are buried in Crown Cemetery, in Puslinch Township, situated on the Brock Road (Old Highway 6) just north of Morriston across the road from their church, Duff’s Presbyterian.  Tombstones can be found here for most, but not all of them.  Many of the old stones have vanished with time, particularly in the old centre section, and it is likely that no stones were ever erected for some. 






In the early years, before Crown Cemetery was opened, it is possible that there were burials on farms.  This was definitely the case with members of the Gregor family, probably James and Grizel Gregor, who lived on Lot 33, Rear Concession 8 before 1866.  They are said to be buried on the hillside in the front field, near the road, although the stone piles that marked their places have disappeared.  There were also three unknown burials on Lot 30, Front Concession 8, now Morriston Meadows subdivision, just north of Currie Drive at Highway 6.  All succeeding generations of these families, who remained in the area for their lifetime, have been interred in Crown Cemetery and some bodies and ashes have been returned from far away to rest among their forefathers.


About 1881, the Credit Valley Railway laid track through Lots 37 and 38, Rear of Concession 8, and Lots 37 and 38, Front of Concession 9.  This is now the Canadian Pacific Railway.


On a beautiful day, July 26th, 1933, nearly 3,000 residents and former residents of Badenoch gathered at Badenoch School to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of their forefathers.  Although one hundred years had passed, the committee was composed almost entirely of descendants of the original settlers, P. Campbell, D. Buchanan, D. McDonald, D. G. Hanning, P. J. McLean, D. MacEdward, D. McLean, G. Clark, J. Scott.  The afternoon was spent watching baseball games and renewing acquaintances.  The ladies of the community supplied a supper.  This was followed by a programme, of which Duncan McLean was chair.  Former residents gave speeches, a pipe band provided music, and the evening ended with an open-air dance.  The following Sunday, an outdoor worship service was held in the schoolyard.






The 1960’s were years of change.  In 1960, Highway 401 was constructed through the middle of Badenoch, dividing about seven farms, rendering some no longer viable and changing the lifestyle to one considerably more urban, as contact with larger centres was facilitated.  This road was built through the middle of Lot 30, Rear Concession 8, (Malcolm Clark’s farm), took a corner from Lot 30, Front Concession 8, (then owned by Carmen Johnston), through the middle of Lot 31, Front of Concession 9, (Peter Gordon McLean’s farm), took 22 acres of Lot 32, Rear Concession 9, leaving 30 acres landlocked on the east side of the new highway and 45 acres on the west side, (Jack McLean’s farm), through Lot 33, Rear of Concession 9, (Peter C. McLean’s farm), through Lot 33, Front of Concession 10, (also owned by Peter C.) and the north corner of Lot 36, Rear of Concession 10, (Jimmy Martin’s farm).  Following this, many lots have been severed and the properties further divided.


In 1962, the Halton Conservation Authority bought Lot 37, Rear of Concession 10 from Becky and Mary McDonald.  In 1965, the Halton Conservation Authority bought 88 acres of Lots 37 and 38, Front of Concession 10, from Aileen, Margaret and Helen MacEdward, the north east part of Lot 36, Front of Concession 10, from Bob Hunter, and the west corner of Lot 36, Rear of concession 10, from Jimmy Martin to construct the Mountsberg Dam and the Mountsberg Conservation Area.


Badenoch School was closed in 1964.  Discussions began in March 1965 about establishing the former school building as a community centre.  Later, a delegation from Badenoch attended a township council meeting in this regard.  In the autumn of 1965, a rental agreement was signed with the township, and Badenoch Community Centre was created.






Members of about thirteen of the original families remained in the Badenoch area for generations.  At the Canadian Centennial in 1967, there were eight century farms (a farm which had remained in the same family from 1867 to 1967).


The owners were:

Eric (Chick) Clark

John & Chrissie Clark

Malcolm Clark

Duncan MacEdward family

Allie McLean

Gordon McLean

Peter J. McLean

Norman & Mary Tosh



Badenoch celebrated the Centennial with baseball games and a concert at the community centre.  The Badenoch Centennial Committee published a 56 page book of text, photographs and maps, entitled “Badenoch 1832 – 1967”. 






Throughout the years, many aboriginal artefacts were turned up, when the land was worked.  During the summer of 1983, there was an archaeological dig under the direction of PhD candidate, William Fitzgerald and project director, Kenneth Oldridge on Lot 28, Rear of Concession 8 (originally settled by Robert Ord of Berwickshire in 1850, later known as the McPhee farm).  It was determined that this had been the site of a Neutral (Attawandaron) village of about 400 to 500 inhabitants in 1500-1530 A D.  Another larger site, covering five to nine acres and containing several thousand people on Lot 32, Rear of Concession 8, originally settled by Alexander and Catherine McBain, and more recently owned by the Elliot family, has not been excavated.  The Neutrals were nearly wiped out by the Iroquois in 1651, and those remaining died of diseases like smallpox and measles.  Any native people found in the area when the settlers arrived would probably have been Mississaugas.


On August 20th, 1983, another celebration was held to mark 150 years since the settlement of Badenoch.  A baseball game was held in the afternoon and there was an extensive display of historical photographs and artefacts in the Badenoch Community Centre.  A musical programme followed in the evening.


On Saturday, June 24th 1989, a social, followed by a potluck dinner, was held to mark the centenary of the building of the stone school, which is now the Badenoch Community Centre.






In 1998, seven farms remained in the ownership of the original families.  There were about 50 members of those seven original families living in the Badenoch area.



Chick Clark on Lot 31, Rear Concession 8, the farm of his great-grandfather, John Clark Jr.



John Clark and Donald Clark on Lot 29, Front Concession 9, the farm of Duncan McKenzie, great-grandfather of Chrissie (McLean) Clark



John Allan Clark and Jim Clark on Lots 29 and 30, Rear concession 8, the farm of their great-great-grandfather, John Clark



The MacEdward family - Aileen, Margaret, and Helen MacEdward and Audrey (MacEdward) Douthart on Lot 37, Front Concession 10, the farm of their great-great-grandfather, Duncan MacEdward



Alastair and Ian McLean on Lot 30, Rear Concession 9, the farm of Alexander McLean, their great-grandfather



Jim McLean on Lot 31, Front Concession 9, the farm of his great-great-grandfather, Peter McLean



Barry and Ken Tosh on Lot 27, Front Concession 10, the farm of John McLean, their great-great-great-grandfather


Many other descendants of the early Badenoch Ontario families have found new homes throughout Canada and the United States.







In June 2007, in honour of the 175th anniversary of the founding of the community of Badenoch, a day of celebration was proclaimed, held in grand style, with a concert, a dance, and a barbecue supper, and in the community centre, historical displays brought forth previous generations and the memories of their many good works, freely given, reminding all that good works are twice blessed, blessing both those that receive and those that give, serving equally well a community and its members, and finally, so that the day would not be forgotten, a book, “Badenoch 1832 ─ 2007”, was published.






From Badenoch to Badenoch:  A Story of Two Communities


This article originally appeared in the book

A Genealogy of Badenoch Families

by Llewella McIntyre and Marjorie Clark, 1999,

and was modestly revised in 2012.


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