A Gentleman of the Press:

 The Story of John Bayne Maclean









Professional in style and tone throughout, the book “A Gentleman of the Press: The Story of John Bayne Maclean and the publishing empire he founded” by Floyd S. Chalmers, Doubleday Canada Ltd., 1969, delivers a truly enjoyable biography of an important figure in the history of Canada’s publishing industry, and as it touches our purpose here, contains significant material relating to Puslinch Township.  Regrettably, this fine book is no longer in print and, with the passage of time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to locate in libraries and so, here, a brief “Puslinchian” passage is presented, with acknowledgement and heartfelt gratitude extended to both author and publisher.




















John Bayne Maclean in his middle years.

(Portrait by Moffett)








Son of the Manse


“In men and women the first essential is good breeding, good stock.”

J. B. Maclean, 1934.


He was born in a manse, son of a clergyman, and all his life he thanked the Good Lord for this initial benefaction.  The place was tucked away in the remote backwoods, and the house, square, two­-storied under a steeply sloping roof, and built of sawn boards bereft of any finish except weathering, had an appearance more for­bidding than inviting.  The domestic amenities numbered just the three essentials, viz. the pump, a few yards from the doorway, the tiny outhouse striving for modesty among a clump of shrubbery around toward the other side, and the vast kitchen stove demanding ceaseless stoking for its delivery of food and warmth and nose-crinkling wood smoke.  The only mental diversion ready to hand was represented in two bookshelves of ecclesiastical works.  But such circumstances bothered him not at all, especially when he viewed the scene from an ampler atmosphere fifty years later.


That little manse in the Canadian forest, he was always to declare, had predetermined the whole course of his life.  As one exposed early to the stem doctrine of Presbyterian predestination, he would probably have accepted with perfect calmness the famous discovery of Nietzsche: “Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature; it is our future that lays down the law of our today.”






One might almost say that John Bayne Maclean’s future was shaped by a certain incident in the Orkneys, off the northerly tip of Scotland, about thirty years before his birth.  It happened that a very personable and able minister, poor, yet a descendant of an old Ross-shire family and a close relative of a belted earl, had hoped to be installed as assistant and successor to the aging incumbent of the pulpit of Shapin­say, one of the outer islands.  As a substitute preacher on several occasions, he had sensed an immediate rapport between himself and the congregation; now, with the news that all leading families in the church had signed a petition for his appointment, the Reverend John Bayne had full confidence in the outcome.  But Lord Dundas, parish patron and thus final arbiter, showed his dour, unyielding character by replying to the members’ appeal with a tersely worded note, end­ing . . . “Mr. Bayne is a very worthy young minister.  I have, however, a rule in these matters from which I cannot depart. Your obedient servant, Dundas.”  Whatever the “rule” was it did not permit his ap­proval of the congregation’s choice.


Dejected, and longing to feel a fresher, happier climate around him, Bayne left on a visit to Canada West (now the Province of Ontario), fully intending to return to Scotland within a few months.  Somehow, his sailing date kept being postponed as he went the rounds of Pres­byterian groups, discovering old friends and making new ones, and in general savouring the confident atmosphere of a New Land.  It was not surprising, therefore, that eventually, as his biographer expressed it years later, “God gave him to Canada”, and more precisely to Knox Church in Galt, where he was inducted in 1835.






Through the years of devoted leadership that followed, the Reverend Bayne was to win the unswerving love and loyalty of his “Free Kirk” supporters, plus the respect of the whole community of Water­loo and Wellington Counties.  People took naturally to the handsome bachelor.  They admired his capacity to judge and handle a horse and his pipe-smoking put them at ease-though they agreed, often over their own nips of an evening, that it was “a guid thing” for a minister to be “teetotal” (the queer new word, recently imported from England).


Bayne’s inbuilt sense of humour needed no alcoholic stimulant.  Once at a synod meeting that went on endlessly, with no move by the Chair to call for a vote on the two resolutions presented, the man from Galt finally rose. “Moderator,” he said, relaxed and smiling, “I like neither of the motions now before the house, and hardly know which to vote for.  Indeed, I feel like an ass between two bundles of hay, or rather, and to save my own reputation, like a bundle of hay between two asses.”






In 1856, Dr. Bayne decided to make a leisurely visit to Scotland, and in this too, there is evidence of the hand of destiny on an unborn Maclean.  Before leaving, he received a delegation of settlers from West Puslinch, eight or ten miles east of Galt, who asked if he would be so kind as to try to find a young, dedicated minister “with the Gaelic” who could take charge of their new church at the crossroads.  Previously West Puslinch farmers and storekeepers had gone to services at East Puslinch, several miles away.  But with the spread of settlement and burgeoning of families, it had been necessary for the West to organize its own place of worship.  Every­thing had been in readiness for several years, except for the dishearten­ing fact that no minister fluent in the ancient tongue of the Highlands (still in daily use in the Puslinches) had yet been found.


Dr. Bayne accepted the commission with alacrity.  On arrival in Edinburgh, he wrote to his friend, the Reverend John Bonar, D.D., distinguished theological professor and at that time Convener of the Colonial Committee of the Free Church, requesting any suggestions on behalf of those good souls, leaderless and languishing, in Canada West.  Bonar took immediate action with a letter to one of his most promising former students, the Reverend Andrew Maclean, a native of Moy, Inverness, born and brought up with the Gaelic, sound as to doctrine, now thirty-six and still unmarried.






There must have been a quick and enthusiastic reply, for, on August 26th, 1856, Bayne dispatched to the unseen candidate’s address in the Hebrides a long, explanatory description of the vacant pastoral post, “having heard from Mr. Bonar of your willingness to go out to Canada.”  In his barely decipherable hand, he gives information con­cerning the geography and church history of the Puslinches, mentions that several worthy men in the West congregation would help a new minister get settled, and “the stipend offered is £150 yearly, equal to £120 sterling and I believe might be depended upon.”  As to “outfit” (special expenses of the trip), he is sure that the usual al­lowance accorded to missionaries would be forthcoming.  Material pros­perity in Canada is very great, he declares.  Poverty is almost un­known, the church has obtained a firm footing and will increase in her numbers and service, “and no faithful minister need think he is going from a higher to an inferior field of usefulness-but very much the reverse-in going from Scotland to Canada.”


Two months later Dr. Bayne and the Reverend Andrew Maclean were to be traveling companions on the long journey, via New York, to that missionary goal: an empty pulpit in a quiet corner of a sparsely settled land.






Everywhere the eye turned in Canada West, it encountered some­thing new and different.  Instead of the sombre majesty of the Highlands wreathed in low clouds or mist, this was a world of well-defined colour; a smiting blue arc of sky to contrast with the whiteness of the snow, or in Maytime with the sudden, sharp greens as the thick forests of maple, oak, beech leafed out, or, come October, to form a backdrop for the riotous crimsons and golds interspersed with the black-green of cedar.  The landscape had an intimacy that could put a man at ease: the pleasant dips and swells of the earth’s surface were close by, a wooded mound rising gently behind a new barn, or a pretty gully falling away within a stone's throw of a farmer's front door.  Plenty of pure water filled the creeks and ponds or awaited the well digger.  Indeed, here, at the remote little hamlet marking “the corners”, it seemed as if God had specially prepared a new environ­ment, clean, ready, companionable---ideal for a stranger in a strange land.






But the term “stranger” could hardly apply to a Scotsman, however recently arrived, when he found himself in a parish numbering one hundred and eleven ex-Highlanders with their families, McBeans, Stewarts, Gilchrists, and others from the ancient clans.  He had even discovered that on one of Puslinch Township’s longest roads every farmhouse on either side belonged to people of his own name.  It didn’t matter how the spelling changed, as change it did, Maclean, M'Lean, MacLean, McLean, plus Maclane and Maclain in similar variations; what warmed his heart toward them and the others was the immediate sense of fellowship springing from a common heritage.  The old ways of the glens and hills of home had not been lost, and when the young minister ended an afternoon visit with “Beannachd leat!”-the Gaelic farewell that carried an overtone of blessing­---there were often tears and smiles simultaneously on the faces of the group clustered in the doorway.  Another link with the past, small but significant, had been established with the renaming of the village, known as Fraserville in its early days, after Crieff, that picturesque town in the Highlands, situated midway between the city of Perth on the east and Loch Earn to the west.






The eager missionary had much to be thankful for.  God had been kind in sending him to serve among people of his own breed.  And God had placed him near two dear friends and fellow toilers in the vineyard: Galt’s John Bayne, for whom affection and respect deepened every day; and, about twenty miles to the north, in the church at Elora, the Reverend James Middlemiss, a constant companion during student years in Edinburgh.


Maclean and Middlemiss had indeed seen much together.  They had first met in 1842 at the Edinburgh Normal School.  Like a number of his classmates, Andrew had been selected, and sponsored as to tuition fees, etc., by the educational committee of the Presbyterian General Assembly; his good character and sound though modest upbringing as the son of Evan and Katharine (Fraser) Maclean had been vouched for by the local minister at Moy.






Under the guidance of his new fellow student, Middlemiss, a few years older and with some university work behind him, a broader world began to open.  In place of his former teen-aged dreaming of an Army career, Andrew found himself sharing his friend’s hope for a future in the pulpit, to which end he diligently pursued the es­sential subjects of Latin and Greek under the other man’s tutoring.  Day and night they were together, talking, arguing, exchanging doc­trinal interpretations, analyzing their intimate revelations of God and His mysterious ways.  Every Saturday evening, they attended the Normal School’s meeting for Bible discussion and prayer; another night was given over to the students’ Mutual Improvement Society that engaged in debates on such exciting topics as church patronage or total abstinence.  When the latter subject had its airing, all present were volubly “in favour”; but what happened at one annual supper of the Society had to be pardoned on the grounds of local custom.


The hotelkeeper in charge of the menu included, quite naturally, in the manner of a Scottish banquet, a well-laced cup; the members, thrifty Scots to a man, partook of everything set before them, and very soon the atmosphere became remarkably relaxed, with jests and recitations spontaneously erupting around the table.  Some days afterward, a certain unfortunate unable to attend reported that he had heard on good authority that Andrew Maclean had been guilty of “im­propriety” with his contribution of a song.  Unfortunately, from the standpoint of posterity, there was no clue as to Andrew's choice!  Was the song about lad and lass in the mountain pass . . . or a boy from Moy contriving a ploy . . . or just another rousing to-arms against the “damned Campbells”---the clan that made deals with the English? We’ll never know.






But in the main, life for these young men was a serious, dedicated business.  In 1843, when the Presbyterians went through their great “Disruption”, splitting into two groups-one willing to accept the new State Church concept with its over-all power, the other stoutly devoted to Free Church principles-Maclean, Middlemiss and most of the Normal students and staff moved out of their school and thus away from the control of the official Kirk Session of the city.  With old-time Celtic determination they organized their own Free Church Normal School which was to function successfully for many years.


After graduation, Maclean took up his role as teacher, serving in several Highland communities; by careful saving over these years he was able to fulfill his dream of returning to Edinburgh-first to take his Arts course at the university, and next to move on to Free Church College for his Theology.  Then, in swift succession, came ordination and appointment to the church in the Hebrides, where after less than a year’s tenure he was to receive and act upon the “call” to Canada.






Now, here in Ontario’s Wellington County, he found he was seldom without bookings ahead, as a visitor to two or three other pulpits, due to his facility in both Gaelic and English.  Neither Middlemiss, to the north, nor Bayne, closer by, in Galt, could speak the ancient tongue, and though they visited Crieff frequently and participated in the service, it remained for the church’s own minister to deliver the regular Sunday sermons.  When Andrew was able to accept their press­ing invitations to join with or substitute for them, they quickly learned to have full confidence in his capacity with their larger congregations.


Maclean had been early marked as one of the dependables for duties at synods, Presbyterials or other special occasions, even willing to meet the expenses out of his own pocket, since no official fund for travel existed at that time.  And such assignments could be arduous. “Those were the days when there was no railway nearer than Galt,” Middlemiss wrote later in his reminiscences, “and many a weary corduroy road” had to be covered on or behind a horse, whether to reach the Great Western’s station in that town or to attend meetings at points farther still without benefit of train service.


A year after his arrival in Canada, Maclean was one of several clergy chosen to officiate at the ordination and induction of a new minister in Owen Sound.  The group had to assemble first in Toronto, there board the train for Collingwood, then transfer to a boat for the slow passage across Nottawasaga Bay, around the point of land and into the Sound; and of course at the conclusion of the solemn ceremony the visitors faced the same travel plan in reverse.


By the time Maclean saw his backwoods manse again, more than three days had elapsed, yet the actual distance between Crieff crossroads and Owen Sound is just about ninety miles.






On Thanksgiving Day in 1859, the much beloved John Bayne col­lapsed, and his last concern, while his assistant and the doctor were persuading him to undress, drink some essence of peppermint and lie down, was that someone must be found to go in his place to preach for his friend Maclean, at the Crieff church that morning.  Within a few hours, the Reverend Dr. John Bayne was dead.  Galt and its environs, and many communities roundabout were to mourn his passing, and Andrew Maclean was never to forget this friend and mentor who had sought him out in the Old Land and intro­duced him to the New.  When, within a short time, an official announce­ment proclaimed him Moderator of the Session, succeeding Bayne, he was deeply moved by this acknowledgment within the Church of the love and confidence which had bound the two together.






How Maclean, nearing his forties and still a bachelor, “did” for himself in the Crieff manse has never been revealed.  The house was of fair size, obviously planned for family living: a big country kitchen complete with pantry across the rear; a small dining room with fire­place just forward; then, opening off the staircase hall at the front, the minister’s study on one side, the small parlour on the other.  Up­stairs the wide centre hall, equipped with storage closets, led to the uniformly small bedrooms, two on either side, each with a sharply descending ceiling under the roof slope.


Perhaps a women’s committee of the church took over some of the housekeeping, or he may have had a servant----indeed, he needed one if only to prepare meals and see to the supply of sheets and blankets for his frequent clerical guests.  These included from time to time the Roman Catholic priest from Guelph or Galt, who would drop in after visiting the three or four families of his faith nearby; our Andrew had not a vestige of prejudice, and he and the Reverend Father would settle down for an evening of lively talk and reminis­cences befitting two ex-Highlanders.  Perhaps they competed for the best blow on Andrew’s bagpipes, or, again, deliberately retired early in order to be fresh for a fishing or hunting expedition in the woods next morning.  Could be that they even enjoyed a drop or so of Scotland’s bottled nectar-for some comments on Andrew's career indicate this as a probability, even though one member of his family line in later years went to some pains to mark such references as “not true”.






But Andrew’s bachelor days were soon to end.  In 1861, when he was forty-one, he married Catherine Cameron, a spinster three years his junior.  Her address at the time was her family’s newly settled farm in Simcoe County, but, like her husband, she was a native of Inverness, having been born in the village of Belmachree where the Camerons of Lochiel had been residents in an unbroken line, or so the legend ran, for seven hundred years. Certain strains of Mackillican and Macintosh-of-Raigmore blood also contributed to her solid High­land background-and just as undoubtedly to Andrew’s new state of domestic pride and bliss.  Whether he had known her in the Old Country cannot be established with certainty, but there is strong likeli­hood that the Church itself brought them together by way of Andrew’s acquaintance with her brother and brother-in-law, both of whom had been in the theology course in Edinburgh and were now ministers of rising prominence in Ontario’s Grey County.


What a happy change for the lonely middle-aged pastor, a wife at the manse---to see to the housekeeping, the vegetable garden, the coal-oil for the lamps, the Monday ritual of the washtub, and the meals day in, day out; a wife to take her place in a forward pew at every service, a worshiper who knew all the hymns by heart, one who counted it a privilege to lead and teach the Ladies’ Bible Class in the Sunday school!  The minister felt that he was a lucky man indeed ­and especially as the months advanced and there were unmistakable signs that a new Maclean was imminent.






On September 26th, 1862, the great event occurred with the birth of a son.  And as that day was Friday, the new father---probably pacing up and down beside his desk with its tumble of sermon notes --- ­had ample time to prepare a prayer of reverent joy and thanks to deliver from the pulpit, come Sunday.  It was perhaps not inadvertent that he should mention the child’s name in advance of the christening.  He was happy to embrace the Heaven-sent opportunity to honour his late friend and mentor, and the combination of names had an honest, forthright ring: John Bayne Maclean.


The child grew and flourished, and with each passing season evinced an expanding interest in the life around him.  West Puslinch might be dismissed as an unexciting backwater by some but not by this youngster with the inquisitive mind.


All those Macdonalds, Munros, Stewarts, et al, in the neighbourhood were learning to be ready for his questions. “What made your cow have twins?” “Doesn’t your father wear a coat for dinner?” (Shirtsleeves at mealtime were definitely taboo in the minister’s house.) “Why is the barn empty?” (But the farmer’s answer, no matter how honest, didn’t matter, for John Bayne Maclean was never to admit at any point in his eighty-eight years the sad truth that the soil in the Crieff area was poor, stony and unpromising.)






In all such conversations the boy’s face would have an intent, listening look, the piercing blue eyes wide open under the arched brows.  That steady impersonal gaze was to remain a fixed feature in all the years ahead, much as would the high cheekbones with their shining rosy skin.  His hair was brown, neatly parted in the centre in the manner of the times.  His physique had an agile wiriness that exactly matched his restless, eager mind.


People didn’t scare him; he was never shy.  Once, when still of pre­school age, he accompanied his father to Acton where the Reverend Andrew was to conduct the Sunday morning service.  As the church had no vestry, the minister deposited his silk hat and cane beside his son whom he settled in a pew toward the front.  Everything remained in decorous order during the hymns and the collection rounds but mid­way through the sermon little Johnnie became restless (those hour-long nineteenth-century sermons!) and decided, first, to try on the topper, and then get the stick firmly in hand, and finally stride up and down the aisle.  The performance lasted some minutes until one of the congregation persuaded him to stop trying to steal the limelight and subside quietly on the seat beside her.






A second son, Hugh Cameron, joined the Macleans some four years after the first.  Now the family was complete, and in a modest, careful way, able to enjoy activities as a close-knit group.  For the children there would be dramatic stories of families and clans from the far past and neither of the boys would ever forget the blood-and-thunder heritage from their father’s line.  The Macleans were descended from Gilleain na Tuaigh, the “Youth of the Axe”, who made his reputa­tion as a fighter in the thirteenth century and played a gallant part at the Battle of Largs against the Norsemen.  Fighting for James IV at Flodden (1513) they were led by the Maclean known as Hector of Duart, who was to give his life in order to save the King’s.  The Macleans were always ready to take up swords for the Stuart kings, and in Montrose’s famous victory at Inverlochy (1645) another Hector, chief of the clan, died on the field.  From that moment in history arose the Macleans’ famous battle cry “Fear eil’ air son Eachuinn”, which translates to “Another for Hector”.  Small wonder there has almost always been a Hector among the Christian names of each generation of clan Maclean families.


There were ancestors too at the Battle of Culloden (1746), scene of tragic disappointment for Bonnie Prince Charlie and his thousands of Scots.  Catherine Cameron Maclean’s grandfather had been there, a lad in his teens, and as he lived to well over the hundred mark she had often heard the story of that long-ago day from his own lips. (Years later, John Bayne Maclean would recall, “My mother used to repeat stories my great-grandfather told her of his capture by the English Dragoons in the retreat from the Culloden battlefield, the last stand of the Stuarts.”)






And, of course, the manse’s firstborn had early learned the special significance of his own name, for the late Dr. Bayne continued as a powerful influence in his friend’s home and life.  On certain occasions, the Reverend Andrew would bring forward one of his treasured pos­sessions: a seal inscribed with the motto, “Fear Not When Doing Right”, which, accompanied by solemn blessings, had been presented to Bayne many years ago by a famous Moderator of the church of Scotland, the Reverend Thomas Chalmers.  When Bayne brought Andrew to Canada he passed the seal on to him.  (Ninety years later its message, still potent, still sound, was to be adopted as John Bayne Maclean’s company motto, and for years the words appeared in a decorative line on the certificates for editorial achievement given to winners in the firm’s various annual awards.)


John Bayne Maclean’s first taste of education from blackboard, slate and textbooks was in the one-room school at Crieff where he spent two years.  On completion of those early grades a student had to transfer to the establishment at Killean for the rest of the course.  That meant a walk of almost five miles each morning and the same with back to sun each afternoon.  So it came about that during the long winter stretches, when the snowdrifts were taller than a boy, young Johnnie stayed as a boarder with the teacher, Hugh MacPherson, whose house was just west of the school.






The sole community gathering-place at Crieff, the church itself, contributed special events to the local calendar.  A week-night soiree, as reported in the Guelph paper in February 1869, filled the building “to its utmost capacity”, and there were “provisions . . . of a dainty yet substantial character, provided by the people of the congregation and others of the neighbourhood”.  The choir “discoursed some excellent music . . . with a taste and skill which surprised every one present”.  The Reverend Andrew was chairman, there were no fewer than four visiting speakers, and the net proceeds amounted to $68.


It was also from that same frame church, sedate with its typical Victorian-Gothic windows down each of its two long sides, that a certain congregational scandal developed-of a kind to enliven local gossip for many a month.  It seems the Crieff blacksmith, one Christo­pher Moffat, was at heart a frustrated revivalist, always the first and longest contributor to spontaneous prayers at mid-week meeting, given to argument with the minister on any private or public occasion short of the regular Sunday services, and, in general, as one church member put it, “a man with tongue trouble”.






The Reverend Andrew tried to keep him under control, but nothing availed, and finally Moffat determined to transfer to a Galt church and to that end requested his certificate of church membership from Mac­lean-an appalling thought, especially as the minister knew the people who would soon have to suffer.  Andrew refused; a few days later when he heard Moffat was forwarding his request to the district Presbytery, the minister sat himself down and drew up a document listing eighteen charges against the man.  Weeks of bickerings back and forth, meetings, committee hearings, etc., ensued, but Andrew would not budge.  Eventually, perhaps for the first time in Ontario history, the Presbytery, rather than an individual church, over the signature of its minister, issued a membership certificate on behalf of Moffat.  The Crieff minister did not appeal the decision, but it is extremely likely that he did not approve and did not forget.  The Reverend Andrew Maclean, though gentle in manner, was, as a friend of his once wrote, “not wanting in Celtic fire, which could, on occasion, burst into flame”.






In the pulpit, he was a calm, convincing speaker, a man who used reason and sound deduction for his message rather than oratorical flourishes.  Many years later, in a letter to a friend, John Bayne Maclean described his father in these words: “He possessed a fine clear mind.  He was acute in discrimination and logical in his discourses.  He was unassuming, pious and substantial. He was to the last a hard student of the Bible, deeply attached to his flock, and very solicitous for the eternal welfare of each of them.  He had an intense abhorrence of every­thing dishonest, false and hypocritical.”


And again in his mature years, that same son enjoyed detailing the standard of discipline, which the Reverend Andrew practiced in his home life. The boys were brought up to obey, to learn the importance of keeping their promises.  Any repeated infraction deserved the rod­, as when young John Bayne for the second time in a month lingered at the creek with his schoolmates until well past the manse’s regular teatime. “I deserved the whipping,” the son confessed later, “and my real misery was caused by hearing my mother cry out, “Oh, Andrew don't-please don’t.”


Aside from these strictly domestic episodes, it was long ago established that the Reverend Andrew Maclean did indeed have a strong Christian influence on young people. There was a certain occasion when he al­most succeeded in diverting one of Canada's great railway builders in the direction of the ministry.






Sir Donald Mann, co-promoter with Sir William Mackenzie of the Canadian Northern Railway, as well as numerous public utilities in other countries, had been brought up in his father's manse at Acton.  The two ministers were close friends and exchanged pulpits from time to time.  The Reverend Hugh Mann had hopes that Donald (then in his teens, about ten years older than little John Bayne) would follow his father's career, but there was obvious resistance on the part of the lad.  “In his despair,” as John Bayne Maclean was to phrase it, in a contribution to the Presbyterian Record in 1911, Mr. Mann took his son to Crieff for a heart-to-heart conference with a man they both respected.  The interview was conducted in Gaelic.  The Reverend Andrew strongly advised young Donald to follow his father's wishes, assuring him that “a boy as conscientious as he was would certainly make a good minister.” Andrew recalled how in his own youth in Scotland his family had intended him for the Army, and then when he abandoned that idea and chose the Church, people had laughed and hinted there was too much of the devil in him to make a minister!


Donald took the advice gratefully and seriously, to the extent that within the next few weeks he made plans to enter the University of Toronto. “His trunks were packed and at the station,” John Bayne Maclean continued in his article, “when he suddenly announced a change of mind.  Gathering a few more belongings in a small satchel, he told his father that he would not go to the university, but would go out and make his own way in the world.  He put on his hat and started across the fields.  His father found him at the station and said that, if he insisted, he could go with his blessings, and a Bible. The trunks were taken home, and Donald went away on the train with the satchel.  That Bible he carried for many years, and still has.  It went with him in the lumber woods, on the plains, through the Rockies, in South America, in China and wherever else his varied career has taken him.”






Maclean and Mann remained good friends throughout their lives, and as old friends do, exchanged memories of their early days.  They no doubt remarked on the fact that the good pastor at Crieff was never to know the outcome of Donald Mann's sudden reversal of decision.  For some time, the Reverend Andrew Maclean's health had been fail­ing; he suffered from dropsy, a condition resulting from excess fluid in the body’s tissues or cavities.  Perhaps as a result of the increasing physical weakness, he was the victim of melancholia.  Even his fellow Presbyters were aware of the change, as indicated in a few lines of the long, moving tribute which appeared in the church’s Home & Foreign Record of July 1873.  “He became nervous and despondent and looked at the dark side of things,” wrote the anonymous contributor. “This often led him to shrink from fellowship with those whom he suspected, although in many instances there was no ground for his suspicion.”  In the spring of that year his illness took a fatal turn, and he died on April 20th, 1873, in his fifty-third year.  The little church at Crieff was taxed beyond its capacity by the throng of mourners from the county roundabout and the many ministers from near and far who came to participate in the last rites and watch him laid to rest in the graveyard just a few steps away from the pulpit which he had served so faith­fully for sixteen years.


The scene changes, swiftly, inevitably, now that the family’s sole support had been withdrawn and there was no longer a rent-free house.  Mrs. Maclean and her two sons, then ten and six years old, were taken under the wing of her brother, the Reverend James Cameron, D.D., in Chatsworth, near Owen Sound.






Pioneer Village


“Most people think of a small community as being a sort of Utopia . . . actually that isn't a true picture.”

Kate Aitken, in “Never a Day So Bright”.



The return of the native to Crieff was rather different from other millionaires’ back-to-the-land movement.  For John Bayne Maclean there had been no nostalgic dream awaiting the right time for fulfill­ment, no tired city man’s urge to get away from it all and discover the joys of Nature or prize cattle.  The Colonel was no romantic, a point that stands forth clearly in the story of his sudden re-acquaintance with the little crossroads hamlet where he had been born.  Quite simply he found, or thought he found, there was a job to be done, and he assumed it with enthusiasm, unsparing of both time and money.  That the completion of the project would mark the beginning of a new private career, filled with fascinating interests, was a development quite unforeseen, by him at any rate, although the record of his whole life contains instances of one thing leading to another.






When his mother died in 1916, he and brother Hugh had taken her to Crieff for burial beside the Reverend Andrew.  On this, the first visit in more than forty years, the Colonel was shocked by the neglected condition of the churchyard and general surroundings.  A year or two later he made a more leisurely trip, chiefly for the purpose of de­ciding on a suitable monument for his parents’ graves, and hoping that his earlier impression of the place would be proved wrong.  Not so; the weeds were hip-high, it was dangerous to walk about because of the bumps and hollows in the ground; tombstones leaned drunkenly or lay in pieces, and whatever vestiges of fencing remained could not keep out the wandering cows.


By the time he climbed back into the car, which Ritchie, his driver, had waiting in the rutted gravel lane, the Colonel’s original plan had been considerably extended. 


As a memorial to his parents and also to their friends and fellow worshipers buried here-the Galloways, Stewarts, McDonalds and others-and as a gift to the community, he would undertake the complete renovation of the area and make provision for its future upkeep.  He must engage the best professional designers avail­able-and that meant Messrs. Olmsted Brothers, recognized as North America’s leading landscape architects.






If some people thought he was aiming too high, going too far both in geography and investment, he took no notice.  The old Boston firm had achieved impressive results in such developments as New York’s Central Park and Montreal’s Mount Royal; the same high standards were required for Crieff’s little cemetery and church lot, comprising hardly more than an acre.  Here, too, was another opportunity to prove his long-held theory that whenever Canada imported an inter­national architect, or editorial consultant or operatic director, some young Canadians would benefit from their association with the masters. Thus, far from denying Canadians a job, he felt he was helping them, in turn, to reach the top.


On Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, 1924, people from nearby cities and towns gathered with the local folk to admire the results of Olmsted Brothers’ work, join in the dedication service, and express their appreciation to Colonel John Bayne Maclean in person.  He was a happy man that afternoon, delighted to conduct the little groups about, sharing the landscaping lore acquired during his project, explaining the why’s of this shrubbery corner, that choice of tree, the height and thickness of the graveyard’s stone enclosure, and in turn enjoying the others’ family recollections as they stood respect­fully in front of the massive grey granite monument bearing the brief histories of his parents.


There were old local tales to be exchanged, and the Colonel never tired of hearing them, or saving them for a playback on his return to Toronto.  One of his favourites had to do with a certain Scot who had settled in Crieff equipped with little more than an expertise in distilling.  Yet from a modest shanty hideaway north of the village he rapidly be­came a business success, supplying the needs of the whole township with a new brand of whiskey yclept “Kilrae”.  It was powerful stuff, as indicated by the leading Crieff storekeeper who, after sustaining a nasty fall in his cellarway, answered a customer’s solicitous inquiry with the honest statement, "'Twas no accident, mon; 'twas Kilrae did it."






Those had been the “boom” days for the area, the 1870’s of the Colonel’s childhood, when Crieff was a crossroads village.  Many changes had occurred in later years; fires had demolished various log or frame structures; the old church and school attended by Maclean had been replaced by buildings erected some time after the family moved to Chatsworth. One familiar place remained: the manse, his birthplace, its silhouette still the same staid, squarish bulk with centre doorway, steeply sloping roof over the upper bedrooms, twin chimneys at either end, and the kitchen wing projecting toward the rear.  The old driving shed at the bottom of the vegetable garden had also managed to survive.  But it was obvious the property had lost any reason for being; no minister had been in residence for years; here stood merely a sad, dilapidated reminder of another century, another way of living and serving, and the end was inevitable.


So it must have seemed to the Colonel, yet the good folks of the Presbyterian congregation were deep in a plan that would abruptly change the course of his thinking.  In 1925, they presented to him and his Maclean descendants the manse and its half-acre lot, in grateful recognition of his zeal and generosity.






What a surprise! What a pleasure! Quite aside from the sentimental associations involved, here was a completely new experience for John Bayne Maclean, in that he had never before received a gift of “real property” by deed or inheritance.  (In fact, this would be the single such occasion of his lifetime, for even Munsey, who died in that important Crieff year, 1925, had no thought for him in a will dispos­ing of many millions, the bulk of which went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  “All that money--and he didn't even leave Jack a pair of cuff-links,” as Mrs. Maclean tartly remarked.  The Colonel paid little heed to such comments; loyalty to his friend could not be shaken.  He made his own private reply to William Allen White, the Kansas editor, who concluded his famous summing-up of the American publisher thus: “Frank Munsey contributed to the jour­nalism of his day the talent of a meat packer, the morals of a money­changer and the manners of an undertaker. He and his kind have about succeeded in transforming a once-noble profession into an 8 per cent security.  May he rest in trust.  The Colonel’s files still contain that clipping, and along the margin there is a penciled comment in the familiar hand: “White was a dirty skunk.” Those words were probably the strongest ever used by John Bayne Maclean.)






Soon the new Crieff program was nicely under way.  Architects took charge of a careful restoration scheme which would retain the original character and plan of the manse as closely as possible, while adding all the comforts of modern living, and finally achieving a spanking-­white Colonial clapboard house, snug and serene among its new lawns and gardens.  Year by year, further improvements were made, the most ambitious being the moving forward of the old carriage-house to a situation where it could be linked with the main dwelling by means of a roofed patio.  Thus the cavernous place where the Reverend Andrew had kept his horse, buggy and cutter became the nucleus for the Colonel’s spacious private retreat, laid out exactly as he designated, with large, airy library paneled in pine, amply windowed and having a handsome fireplace, and with plenty of space remaining for a big bedroom, bathroom and entrance hall.


The acreage expanded too.  Those constantly watchful eyes of the new country gentleman had noted the absence of beneficial bird life­, the hawks and owls which kept rodents in check, the many sparrow types which lived on weed seeds, the others which pursued bothersome insects, and the reason was clear, the natural woodland habitat had long ago disappeared, levelled for crops or pasture.  So, when a farm next to the manse became available, the Colonel purchased it and started a reforestation project.  As other neighbouring properties came on the market, he acquired them, winding up with a total holding of more than 300 acres.  His idea now was to establish, alongside his new wood­lots, a modern (he avoided the term “model”, as too suggestive of theoretical agriculture only) working farm, which would become a source of information and inspiration in the best practical methods for the whole district.






Again, Olmsteds were consulted and layouts for the most efficient and attractive development prepared.  At this point, the Colonel de­cided he must have an expert on such matters close at hand and, of course, he had already picked him out.  Gordon Culham, a talented young Canadian, was a member of the Boston firm’s staff; he had graduated from Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph, later from Harvard, and was now specializing in estate design.  On a trip to Olmsted’s headquarters the Colonel met Culham and urged him to return to Canada to carve out a career in a field which was, so far, sparsely served.  “In fact,” he said, “I will promise you enough work to make the move worthwhile.”


It was a deal, and from his new office in Toronto, Culham moved about, supervising the many projects at Crieff-the access lanes, enclosures on the expanded farm, carefully interpreting the Colonel’s later ideas, as when he decided to remodel the local school grounds for play area and neat landscaping-also redesigning the surroundings of the Austin Terrace house, and doing the permanent ground-and­-garden plan for the Tyrrell’s new country place northwest of the city.  The Colonel was indefatigable in living up to his promise.  Sometimes he had to admit defeat, as when his efforts to have Culham engaged as consultant for the Niagara Parks Commission petered out; neverthe­less the Colonel’s own project for the beautification of the grounds of the University of Western Ontario which Culham carried out, made significant compensation for such setbacks.






At that period, few universities engaged land engineers or area architects to plan for future growth, and such agglomerations of mixed styles and patchwork placing of buildings as seen at Toronto and McGill campuses were the result.  Maclean was determined that “West­ern” would be different, and the president and board of governors, in accepting the offer of his rather untraditional gift, were happy to promise their full support.  Together, the Colonel and Culham visualized an over-all scheme that would isolate the grounds from encroachment of the urban influences, which were bound to grow along with the city.  The approaches, paths, driveways, as well as the lots specifically as­signed for building expansion, must be sited in a manner to ensure beauty, dignity and peace, as well as service, for the foreseeable fu­ture.  That meant the drawing-up of a twenty-five-year program at the outset, and the careful detailing and supervision of each phase of the basic construction work.  Culham took on the job enthusiastically and the Colonel kept him in funds for the Western undertaking over the next five years.  The long-range planning made possible by John Bayne Maclean, LL.D., is still being admired in London, Ontario, today. And the Colonel would have rejoiced to learn that in 1966 his brilliant collaborator, Gordon Culham, received the honorary degree in recogni­tion of his services over many years as “a partner in the development of Western.”






Fresh contacts and friendships developed, inevitably, from these special Maclean ventures.   J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day and its ritual of tree planting for American communities, especially through the schools, became a regular correspondent.  In the Colonel’s files is a first day cover of the U.S. stamp issued on the first Arbor Day, and sent to him by friend Morton.  Later, son Joy Morton, the salt king (“It never rains but it pours”) continued the happy relationship, and, after he had built an arboretum near Chicago in memory of his father, frequently sent specimen saplings across the border for use in Crieff.  On a visit to the younger Morton, the Colonel was delighted to discover that his friend had attended London’s Hellmuth College, the predecessor of Western.  He suggested to the university authorities that Morton be given an honorary degree, and the idea was promptly approved.  Unfortunately, Joy Morton died a few days before Convocation, and it was left to the Colonel to come forward to accept the posthumous award of citation and hood, for later delivery to the family.






The Crieff activities multiplied.  During the restoration of the manse and the three old fieldstone houses belonging to the contiguous farms, numerous quaint artefacts from pioneer days came to light in sheds, basements and attics. “These things must be saved,” the Colonel de­clared, viewing the collection of Gaelic psalm books, legal documents, coins, tin-type portraits, school readers, and larger items such as primitive farm tools and household furnishings.  Some of the last-men­tioned, spool-legged tables and stands, several sturdy chests of drawers, etc., were carefully refinished and took their place in the country-style decorating scheme of the manse.  For the remaining miscellany the Colonel set aside a small building as a museum where all members of the community, and especially the young people, he hoped, would visit and study these symbols of the busy life of their forefathers.  To round out the display he engaged Captain John Gilchrist, something of a local historian and certainly a skilled artisan, to fashion small-scale models of early farm implements, housekeeping aids, plus carefully detailed reproductions of the important buildings in old Puslinch, including the first church at Crieff.  As the collection grew­, frequently added to by well-wishing neighbours, the Colonel announced that he would erect a special fireproof building to house it.


World War II forced abandonment of that plan; indeed, there was to be little further development of the Maclean interests at Crieff.  Shortage of help slowed the activities at his “demonstration” farm, and the pure-bred Ayrshire herd, comprising up to thirty head of cattle, including two bulls famous for their prize ribbons, had to be dispersed.






The Colonel probably saw Crieff for the last time in the spring of 1950.  If he could visit it today he would feel sad about the changes that time and the pressures of highly specialized agriculture have wrought.  Some of the farmers have moved away to more productive areas; houses are boarded up; the school has been closed for several years, with resulting disintegration of the property.


The Colonel’s residence and adjacent acreage, willed to his nephew, was bought by the Danish Association of New Canadians and operates as a social and vacation resort.  All remaining lands and buildings were bequeathed to the Presbyterian Church in Canada, but mean­time three of the Colonel’s faithful associates have rent-free occupancy of them for life, under his explicit arrangements.


Miss Dove, long-time secretary, spends her summers in one of the fieldstone houses, the farm manager and his family live in another, and the gardener, who supervises maintenance of church and cemetery, etc., occupies the third.  The reforested section has flourished, and a good deal of cutting goes on, especially for the Christmas tree trade.  The greater part of the pioneer collection was turned over to the Wellington County Historical and Research Society for permanent dis­play in the Elora museum, some miles distant.






The present panorama at Crieff falls sadly short of the Colonel’s vision.  Yet who would be so coldly pragmatic as to dismiss the whole effort as wasted?  In his sixties, when most executives are forced to consider retirement, John Bayne Maclean entered buoyantly on a totally new adventure of study, planning, rescuing, and building.  For the next twenty years and more, he was the visiting squire, the local benefactor, yes, but, more importantly, a man busy with a dozen de­cisions, all leading toward an avowed purpose.  He was no farmer, he made many expensive mistakes; nonetheless, he laboured unstintingly to bring rural renewal to a played-out stretch of Ontario countryside.  What he actually achieved was a second great personal heyday, constantly stimulating, wholly satisfying for himself.


Only a few people in Toronto had any inkling of the extent of the Crieff development. At long intervals, the Hunters and Tyrrells might drive out for Sunday tea in the manse, and on the return trip deplore among themselves the cost of the new concrete piggery or the latest notion in sanitary poultry-houses-on wheels.  One of the most fre­quent visitors, of necessity, was the internal auditor from the com­pany’s business office; assigned to the job of keeping the farm books, he wrestled valiantly with inventories, assessments, taxes, staff lists, wages, and at a certain point found himself forced to probe the mysteries of butterfat content in milk. “The Colonel was sure his herd’s production rated the best price going,” Ed Paterson recently recalled. “Yet the dairy he shipped to constantly produced records showing the milk lacked the proper butterfat ratio.  I even went to the plant to watch the lab tests.  Neither the Colonel nor I could get to the root of the problem.  Then one Monday morning he came back from Crieff in a state of glee. “Paterson, I've solved it!” he said. “I dropped by at the herdsman's house; there was no one around, so I went in-and what do you think I found in the cellar? A separator, and three full pails of cream! I want you to fire the thief at once.”








No other friends or associates, however, reached that degree of confidential exchange concerning Crieff.  Mrs. Maclean did not like the place.  On her first visit she had been horrified by the proximity of the cemetery to the main floor bedroom furnished expressly for her.  Unable to move about easily she could find no pleasure in shady walks and woods full of wild flowers.  Her friends were not available for teas and dinners.  Although relenting sufficiently to make one or two more excursions, each as unnerving as the first, she showed little interest.


So, lacking a hostess in residence, the Colonel set aside any thoughts of special parties or weekend guests, and most of his friends had to be content with the vague rumour that “he seems to own a farm some­where.”  And, just as inevitably, his wife was to endure many lonely days, sitting in her wheelchair at Austin Terrace.  Rather than face an argument, the Colonel would say to Ritchie, “Run along the hall and tell Madam we are leaving for Crieff at ten o'clock.” Immediately “Madam” would call back on the intercom phone to protest.  But the Colonel had made up his mind, and, as he had never learned to drive, it was essential to have the chauffeur along.  The two men became familiar figures in the village neighbourhood, both of them fond of walking and ready to take off across the fields to call on one of the “Mac” families, and both turning up regularly for Sunday service at the church, a routine which the Colonel followed only in Crieff.






The Colonel’s will, disposing of his million-dollar estate, reflected the philosophy that had guided him throughout his lifetime.  First, he took generous forethought for his secretary, chauffeur, and servants of long-standing.  No cash was left to any relative, but Hugh Cameron’s son, Andrew, received the valuable real estate of 7 Austin Terrace, plus the Colonel’s residence and 50 acres of land at Crieff.  The sum of $100,000 went to the University of Western Ontario to establish the Bishop M. F. Fallon Chair in Medicine.  Upper Canada College re­ceived $10,000 in memory of Hector Andrew Fitzroy Maclean, and for the purpose of providing an endowment to further the instruction of pupils in matters of “good health, good morals, and fair play, earn­ing a good living, saving money, and rendering public service.”  The residue of the estate, including the remainder of the Crieff property, went to the Presbyterian Church in Canada, as an endowment for various specified purposes, such as augmenting the stipend of the minister at Crieff, assisting the schools in the neighbourhood, providing young men and women of the area with bursaries to finance their courses at University of Western Ontario or at Ontario Agricultural College.  The will paid a special tribute to his father and recalled the happy relations between Gaelic-speaking Catholics and Protestants during the long-ago days when the Macleans occupied the manse.


Certain of the will’s provisions in reference to Crieff were hardly feasible for implementation, owing to the changing character of the locale.  Fortunately, perhaps on the insistence of his long-sighted lawyer, the Colonel had provided that any surplus income could be used for the general purposes of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  The church, too, became the recipient of some 60 shares-1.2 percent of the outstanding total-of company stock, which turned up unex­pectedly, probably quite forgotten, in the Colonel’s strongboxes.






Compared with the multi-million-dollar fortunes his various friends left for the business historians to analyze, John Bayne Maclean’s personal financial record is modest indeed.  Yet he was a shrewd investor in that he had made enough money “in the market,” as he often liked to recall, to support his high standard of living, while permitting profits from his own company to remain intact for cor­porate expansion.  He became a rich man whose wealth was much less than it should have been.  If he had set himself a goal for multi­millions, he could undoubtedly have made it, but it is a question if he would have been happier.  A scribbled note, found in his files, reads:


“My desire has always been to earn a living and save enough to take care of myself and dependents in our latter years.  I have never had any ambition to build a fortune and to leave one to relatives unaccustomed to the trusteeship of great wealth or wealth, which experience in Canada particularly, shows to be the worst possible inheritance for young people.  It is the ruin of young people.  You have only to look about you to see abundant proofs of this.  Good char­acter and a capacity for hard work are the very best inheritance that any of us can give to our families and employees.”






The brothers, Hugh Cameron and John Bayne Maclean were guests of honour at a church anniversary occasion in Crieff.  The tablet on the cemetery wall was erected by the congregation in 1934 in grateful appreciation of all that Lieutenant Colonel J. B. Maclean, V.D., LL.D., had done for the community.
















On the left above, John Bayne Maclean’s birthplace, as it looked a half-century later, when he made his first trip back to Crieff.  The house was derelict, having been unoccupied for many years.  On the right, after the Colonel’s careful renovation and additions, the old manse emerged as a picturesque country retreat.  The wing in the foreground, containing his private apartment with spacious library, took shape over the core of the old driving shed, moved from the rear of the lot.







Reverend Andrew Maclean



The family in 1873, Catherine, Mrs. Andrew Maclean, recently widowed, with her two sons, eleven-year-old John Bayne and seven-year-old Hugh Cameron.







Colonel John Bayne Maclean in uniform





In a quarter-century of devoted service to the Canadian militia, John Bayne Maclean wore a variety of uniforms.  Here, in his early twenties, he is lieutenant in the 10th Royal Regiment Grenadiers, at Toronto.






For special Scottish occasions such as a gathering of the Clan Maclean Association, he had ready the full Highland regalia---not, it’s true, identifiably military but nonetheless warlike with sword and pistols.





By 1898, a great dream was realized, and Maclean (seated second from the left) achieved commanding officer status.  Here, with other “pillboxed” officers of the Duke of York’s Royal Canadian Hussars, Montreal, he attends a field-training exercise.







The colonel is resplendent in full-dress uniform of the Duke of York’s Hussars.  From white-cockaded fur busby to the spurred boots, the complete outfit, as supplied by the best London makers, cost $1500.









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