The McPhatter Letters


(The recollections of the first generation of settlers in Puslinch Township,

recollections gathered by Mr. Matthew McPhatter.)






Please note that the complete McPhatter letters are available in book form from the Puslinch Historical Society.








An Introduction to Introductions


This introduction, the first of three introductions, and the least significant of three, purposes only to confirm the quality of what is to follow.


The second introduction, by Anna McCormick Jackson, relates the miraculous journey that the McPhatter letters undertook before their survival was ensured, by Anna herself.  Of the countless ways that Anna has contributed to the preservation and dissemination of Puslinch Township history, and of all the debts of gratitude that she is owed, perhaps it is for the McPhatter letters that she should be most abundantly praised, for within the collected letters of Matthew McPhatter reside the clearest glimpses of the township in its earliest moments.


Finally, in an introduction that is well within the realm of perfection, Matthew McPhatter, in a humble and self effacing manner, belying the worth of the historical gem that he had fashioned, addresses, with most affectionate reverence, the object of his work, to preserve the memories of the very first pioneers and therewith, a record of the remarkable courage and labour that had built the author’s now familiar and beloved home, the “grand old” Township of Puslinch.


The letters themselves provide a most genuine history, demonstrating the uniqueness of that which each of us considers as important from the past, and it is as a composite wherein the strength of the letters lies, for taken as a whole, the impact of the letters far exceeds that of its individual parts.  For those who seek a tangible past, the McPhatter letters are not far from it.






Introduction to “The McPhatter Letters”


Anna Jackson


This collection of “letters” originated in 1897 when Matthew McPhatter interviewed many older people in the township and recorded their memories as individual “letters”.  In some instances he requested written letters from former residents.


The “interview letters” frequently have a change of person, or narrator, in the first paragraph.  Thus, a letter may begin: “The subject of this sketch was born in...... in the year ... and came to Canada in..... settling on lot .... My parents”… et cetera.  The reader will not be the slightest dismayed by the text if it is understood beforehand that often the interviewer, Mr. McPhatter himself, introduces or begins a letter and then with brilliant dexterity, often in mid-sentence, switches people and continues as if the interviewees or letter writers are relating their own story.


These letters were given by Matthew McPhatter to the school teacher, Alexander McIntyre for safe keeping when Matthew left the community.  Alexander McIntyre also moved away, to Niagara-on the-Lake, taking the material with him.   


In the late 1930’s or early 1940’s, John W. Gilchrist, first cousin of Alexander McIntyre, became the caretaker for Colonel J. B. MacLean’s Museum at Crieff.  J. W. Gilchrist wrote to McIntyre’s sister requesting that the letters be sent to him at the Museum.  She complied with the request.  It appears that J. W. Gilchrist made a few additions, e.g. McCaig, McFarlane.  It also appears that A. McIntyre edited the letters; in a few cases it has been necessary to use that version. The Crieff Museum was closed after Mr. Gilchrist’s 1942 death, and the letters were placed in the Guelph Township vault, under the care of the Clerk at that time, Thomas Gilchrist.


When the Annals of Puslinch were being prepared in 1950, the editor, William A. McCormick, retrieved the letters; their contents were in part used in the Annals, and the originals remained in Mr. McCormick’s possession.  By inheritance, they have come into my safe-keeping.


Having read and re-read their contents, I have come to recognize the value of the information contained in this collection.


Consequently I have taken the time to commit them to word processor and print because the original pencil-written pages are becoming faint.  They remain almost totally unedited.  Some of the information is incorrect; indeed, there is the occasional inconsistency in a few letters.  The writer (interviewer McPhatter) apparently had his own views of valuable content, commenting that space would not permit more material.








The McPhatter Letters


compiled and introduced by Mr. Matthew McPhatter.











Many of the inhabitants of Puslinch have on several occasions desired me to write a history of the township.  I have not undertaken this task because I thought that I could do it better than any other person; indeed, it would have pleased me if some one of the many in the township who are much more competent than I had undertaken the task - but as no one else seemed inclined to take it up and the old settlers are fast passing away, so that it is now or never, and had it been done ten years ago much information might have been obtained that is now lost, I did my best to get as correct a history as possible and I now dedicate it to the people of my native township.


Hoping that all the imperfections in the work will be overlooked and that in the future it may form the basis of a more extended history of our grand old township.


Puslinch, September 1897.



The editor,

Matthew McPhatter.








At your request, I give you a few reminiscences of the past 36 years in Puslinch when I settled here in 1861.   Many changes have taken place.  


My old neighbours are nearly all gone:  Major Heath, Colonel Saunders, and others who were my nearest neighbours. The former was about the only magistrate in our section in these days and people went to him from all quarters to get his advice and get their disputes settled.   Major Heath came from Nottingham England and was a thorough English gentleman.  Col. Saunders amused me often with his stories of India, where he was before he settled here.   I have often heard him remark that he has felt the heat here more than he ever felt it in India, and the changes there were so sudden that the glasses on the sideboard would sometimes be cracked with the cold after the extreme heat.  


Mr. Stirton was my neighbour for years and a very kind and obliging neighbour he was.  I voted for him the first vote I ever gave without asking whether he was Grit or Tory, knowing him to be an honest man.  


Mr. James Glennie succeeded him and he was a very good neighbour.   He, Mr. P. Mahon and myself were the first to organize the Puslinch Farmers Club and we saved hundreds of dollars for the members by purchasing our implements, seeds etc. at wholesale prices.   In those days, farming was a paying business and we could afford to live on the fat of the land.  I have got as much as $1.45 bushel for barley and got a cheque from the late John Stewart for $112 for one load.  


Mr. Buchanan is another of my neighbours and a very old settler, having come there in early days.   He lived in one of the first houses built in Puslinch, some 60 years ago, by the McPhatters.   He now owns over 200 acres of first class land and he and his sons are considered amongst the best farmers in the Township.  


Mr. Sorby succeeded Col. Saunders and he has joined the great majority; a better neighbour could not be.   His two sons are now the leading horse breeders of the province, especially in Clydesdales and Hackneys.  They also have some the best pedigreed Ayrshire cattle and Shropshire sheep in the country.  


Another very old resident still alive in my neighbourhood is Mr. Robert Porter, now in his 80th year, who has bred some fine horses in his day.   Mr. James Laurie is another horse breeder of note in that section, breeding some first class carriage horses. He was made a Justice of the Peace some few years ago; was first President of the Central Exhibition, 25 years ago, and has been twice since.


James Anderson.

 (known as the Laird of Puslinch)








The late Fredrick Begerow Esq. was born in Germany in the year 1802 and came to Puslinch in 1851 and kept the Highland Chief Hotel at Puslinch Lake for many years and had a family of four sons and three daughters.  


The youngest son, August, is well known in Puslinch and Galt and he can remember the early days around the Lake when in spring time and fall of the year that wild ducks were there in thousands.   Sometimes the sky would be black with their flying over the lake and sometimes the wild geese would visit the neighbourhood.  Also fish were very numerous at that time.  There were sunfish, black bass, perch, sucker fish and _____.  The most numerous were the perch.  The perch and the black bass were the best for table use.  Sometimes the black bass were caught weighing seven and eight pounds.  Pheasants, quail, wood ducks, and hare were also numerous on the lake and sportsmen would be there from far and near, fishing and shooting and boating, and the lake has always been known as one of the most healthy summer resorts in western Ontario. 


At one time there were five hotels on the lake, four along the shores and one on the big island, that covers in extent about five acres of land, and besides, there are the other three islands of less extent.  Mr. Arnold kept the hotel on the island.  Alex Parks, Mrs. Pembroke, Thomas France and Fredrick Begerow kept hotels on the shores.  


Some parts of the lake are about twenty-five feet deep and the water in the Little Lake, close by, is supposed to be fifty feet deep; curious to say, the Little Lake has no outlet or inlet except a channel dug from the Little Lake to the big one.  The water out of the Little Lake runs into the big lake and the big lake has no inlet but it has an outlet that runs out from the north shore and runs northwest and empties into the River Speed at Krib’s Mill near Hespeler. 


There have not been many accidents on the Lake considering the amount of traffic that has been there for the last sixty-five or seventy years. The only fatal drowning that can be remembered was Miss Goldsmith, from Preston, in the month of July 1867.  There was a picnic from Preston and in some way, as it was a windy day and the boat was overloaded, the boat capsized, and Miss Goldsmith sank and never rose again.  Her body was found two days after by the late John Currie. 


Again, on 14th Oct.  1895, Robert Lamb was out on the lake shooting ducks, and he and Alex Patrick had some ducks and were in the act of shooting, when the boat capsized, and he sank and never recovered and was found about two hours afterwards.


                                                          August  Begerow,

                                                           Killean District.








The subject of this sketch is a very old resident of Puslinch, being born in the county Armagh, north of Ireland and now is 88 years old.  She arrived in Puslinch along with her husband in 1833, having seen all the early days in Puslinch.  Her memory is good and she can recollect many incidents that are worth relating.


Having cleared the farm where they now live, Lot 22, 3rd Concession, her husband being a stone mason, always worked at his trade in summer, and Mrs. Borthwick always had the responsibility about the farm, which she bought from the Crown.  They had a family of sons and daughters who grew up as time went on and were able to help to make home more happy. 


In those early days, we hauled our flour from Galt on our backs, which we did for many years after we came to Puslinch.  We were making maple sugar and maple molasses in those days, and we would make money on selling maple sugar and later we made cheese to sell. 


In moving here, we came by what is now called Galt but then was known as an Indian settlement.  Shades Road was north of here, about a mile north of our farm. 


Mr. Borthwick died in the year 1866, being a very intelligent man, and belonging to the Freemasons. 


The Indians were plentiful in the early days in these parts. They had a wigwam nearby.  They were in the habit of visiting our shanty asking for food and sometimes they would pull the turnips out of the turnip patch, roast and eat them.


The wolves were very destructive in those days and would kill the calves and lambs in the neigh­bourhood.  Hunting for the cows in those days was a trying job. Sometimes I would go down to the Second Concession, as far as Willie Blue’s farm, to find them, 5 miles through the bush.


Mrs. Charles (Silomie) Borthwick.








The subject of this sketch was born in Wurttemberg, Germany in 1820 and was educated in Germany and arrived in Puslinch in 1847.  He commenced the business of boot and shoemaker in Morriston.   He married Margaret Boyer on the 3rd December 1850 and they have a family of 5 sons and 4 daughters, all married but one.


They were first finishing the Brock Road that year.  R. B. Morrison kept store where he does now and Chris Little kept the Morriston Hotel. 


Among my sons are Solomon, Barney, George, William and Charles.  Solomon and William are butchers, and Barney keeps hotel at Carlisle.  My family have lived here in Morriston ever since we were married and have made a living at shoemaking.


          Bernhart Brown,









I was born in Wurttemberg Germany, and when about two years old, my parents brought their family to America, sailing on the ocean for 58 days.  Having reached New York, it still took two weeks to get to Buffalo.  From there, we moved near St. Catharines and finally settled here, in what was then a wilderness.  Father built a shanty, about sixteen feet square, and in that small space, not only our family, but others, eighteen persons in all, resided for several months until a second shanty could be erected for the others.


Trees, which would be worth considerable money now, were hewn down and burned or sold for almost nothing.  Instead of the farming implements of today, the hoe was our plough and the sickle was our reaper.


The wolves stationed themselves on a hill near by and kept up howling until the light was put out; then they would pace around the shanty in flocks.  In broad daylight, bears came looking through the windows and took pigs out of the pen.  We bought one cow and father traded a rifle which he brought from Germany for a second cow.  The cows each had a calf and these calves grew to be our first oxen.  Then, we thought ourselves lucky.  The cattle bravely defended the sheep against the wolves, but even then, they could scarcely be kept.  The oxen would lie down some distance apart and the sheep would get between them, and were safe.


Sugar making became the rage, and many days and nights we worked in the woods gathering sap and boiling maple syrup and sugar.  My sisters used to carry baskets of eggs and maple sugar on their heads eight miles to a store.  We used to go forty miles for apples.  Our nearest market was Dundas.  Our nearest post office was Guelph, and church, we had none for many a year.  What is now Becker's log stable, was our first church.


Indians used to camp near here and in return for milk, potatoes, and such like, kept us supplied with venison, and they were faithful friends indeed; when I ate venison, how I could run.  In fact, I couldn’t walk and four hours sleep did me more good than eight hours now.


We used to go to Guelph nine times a week with logs, and at night, made shingles.


Our shanty gave way to a somewhat larger log house in which we lived until 1855, when we built the stone house in which we now live.


                                                          Charles  Callfas









John Carter, the subject of this sketch was born in Wiltshire, England, in 1813, and came to Guelph in the year 1828 when there were only a few shanties on the site where Guelph now stands.  He took up 100 acres of land when he married, in 1833, on the plains of Puslinch.


At that time, there came from England and settled on the plains, the Carters, Thomas Arkell, John Iles, Charles Willoughby, Henry Haines, James Hewer, Henry Decker, John Hewer, Thomas Petty, Lewis King, Joseph Bell, Henry Dory, James Wilson, John Haines, Henry Thatcher, Jesse Cooke, Henry Bright, and the Terry family that kept a beer shop near where the English Church now stands.  These were the names of the first English families that settled on the Plains and they were the first pioneers. 


As well, there was a settlement to the south of the Plains, of Irish families, by the names of Lynch, Hanlon, Mulroney, Mooney, Fitzmorris, Burns, McNulty and James Hamilton, who kept the hotel on the Brock Road that was the first hotel in Puslinch and is still standing on the same spot, as a land mark.


On the east and south was the Scotch settlement.  Their names were Hume, Cook, Green, Scott, Beattie, Johnson, Murray and Orme.  These were the early settlers in the Arkell district ─ also Duncan Stewart and Duncan McFarlane.


John Carter

Arkell District.









The subject of this sketch was born in Queens County, Ireland in the year 1825 and arrived in Puslinch in the year 1832 and took up lot 17 concession 7, Brock Road, when all was a wilderness.


I spent all my young days in the wilderness and spent my schooldays in the first school that was built in Puslinch which was built on Lot 17 on the 8th concession on the Brock Road.  Among my school mates were David Stirton, and the Ellis, Hammersley, Hanlon, Kennedy, Allen, and Lynch children.


The origin of the name Puslinch:  Cassie and I are led to believe that at a house raising, and in pushing up the logs, one John P. Lynch was not working as well as they thought he should be and they were calling out for Lynch to push upon the log that was going to be set on the building, so the word and name Pushlinch.  After that, Puslinch Township was named.


In our arriving in Hamilton we started for and intended, with an oxen team, to settle in what is known later as Pilkington Township, but travelling through the bush was a consideration and as my father and mother, brothers and sisters were on our way up from Hamilton, the roads were very bad.  We stopped at James Flynn’s tavern or what was known later as the McMeekin and still later as the Ingram Hotel, on Lot 18 on the Brock Road, and we stopped over night, being very tired, and our ox team being done out.  Well, we bought the farm where we have lived ever since; where we built and cleared the land.  


My father died in 1850 and my mother in 1862.  I, being the youngest of the boys, stayed on the home farm.  My brother, Robert had lived on Lot 16, the next farm, and he died in 1881; his family still owns the farm.  My eldest brother, Hugh, lived on Lot 17, 9th Concession and he died some 32 years ago.


I can remember the first township meeting held in Puslinch was held at Flynn’s tavern in the year 1833 and James Henry was chairman.  The “chair” was a big hemlock stump opposite the tavern door.  Making laws pertaining to the affairs of the township, I find that there has not been any record of this meeting kept.  The Brock Road was known then as the Aboukir Road, but after was  called the Brock Road, from Dundas to Guelph, called after General Brock.  At that time Puslinch was part of the County of Halton and was later on connected with the County of Waterloo.


We would make maple sugar in those days and would trade with stores at 3 cents a pound. The first store in Aberfoyle was kept and owned by John McFarlane, father of the late Duncan McFarlane.


I can remember when the Indians would camp in the district and I have seen as many as 65 deer laying dead in their camp, on their return from a hunting tour and we would trade a loaf of bread for a whole carcass of deer after the hide was taken.  The Indian wigwams were very large, that I can remember.  Where the hole in the centre ______, built of poles and shingled with hemlock brush, and the fire in the center of the wigwam.  The squaws and the young Indians would keep plenty of dry wood on hand, from dry sticks or dry timber got through the bush.  When night would come the Indians, squaws, and young Indians would sit around the fire and they would smoke tobacco and sumac.  They would cut and dry the wild sumac and would smoke it in their pipes when their tobacco would run short.  I have often seen them hang their papoose (young Indian child) on a limb of a tree facing the south, in the fall of the year when the child would be strapped or tied to a board on its back, tied on with slippery elm or dog wood bark, tied around the feet and the arms, and the little ones would hang there and kick, squeal, and crow for hours at a time.  I could relate many such incidents but space will not allow; but these were the happiest days in my life while young and amongst the Indians and wild beasts in the forest in Puslinch in the early days.


                                                            Martin Cassin,







Caufield or Caulfield


Patrick Caufield was born in Kilkenny County, Ireland, in 1819, and came to Puslinch in 1832.  His father was a stone mason and worked on the Rideau Canal and then took up land, Lot 13 on the 3rd Concession ( the homestead of the Caulfields).










John Clark came to Puslinch in 1833.  His son, Angus, was one of the four that came out in 1832.  The family consisted of 7 sons, Angus, Robert, Duncan, Donald, John, Peter, and Malcolm, and 3 daughters, Christina, Janet and Mary.  They took up 600 acres from the crown, lots 29 & 30 on the 8th, and 33, 34, 27, 28 on the 9th. 


John Clark was considered the patriarch of Badenoch settlement and was for years the leading farmer in Puslinch, raising many horses and cattle. Shortly after the family was located, he bought a pair of steers in Flamborough, but that first night the wolves killed and devoured them.


Malcolm remained on the homestead.  Robert Clark’s sons have four farms in one block.  John and Hugh married two daughters of Alex McLean.  It can readily be inferred from the numerous and early settlement of the Clarks on fine arable land of large extent that the family is now an important element in the population and wealth of Puslinch.










Nicholas Cober, the subject of this sketch was born on Yonge Street, Toronto, Vaughan Township in the year 1821, May 17th, and received all the schooling he got on Yonge Street.  His father, Peter Cober Esq., also was a native of Yonge Street.  His grandfather who bought 1000 acres of land, Lots 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 on the 3rd Concession of Puslinch, about the time that it was surveyed, was a native of Pennsylvania and arrived in Toronto in the year 1779.  In 1844, he arrived in Puslinch, Lots 5 to 11 on the Second Concession.  Mr. Cober is a self made man, having built all his own buildings and made all the improvements by his own handy management.


But to return to the early days:  the first year of arriving in Puslinch he cleared 12 acres of land, it being all bush at this time.  We built a hut and my wife and myself logged and chopped all the farm with exception of 10 acres.  For neighbours at this time we had Jacob Cober in Lot no. 5 north, Neil Holm on no. 6 and McAllisters no. 6 on the second concession; and Mr. Collins on no. 4. 


At these times wolves, deer, and bears were numerous and I have seen many of them shot by hunters by the name of David Berriner, David Gilchrist, David Ellis and Abe Gingrich.  Logging bees and log barn and houses were the rule of the day and Mr. Cober has many incidents to relate and always had a grog boss at all gatherings of these sorts and very rarely seen men the worse of liquor. 


We had six of a family.  Four are yet alive: 2 boys married and one daughter.  Noah, the eldest son now lives in Maryborough Township, is saw-milling and farming. The daughter, Margaret, married John Goudy in Michigan.  They are farmers.  Miss Mary is at home with her parents.  Jeremiah at home on the homestead, works the farm. 


Mr. Cober is a member of the German Baptist Church and has one of the best improved farms in the township of Puslinch.  Everything is in good order, latest improvements in buildings, fences, and machinery. 


                                                          N. P. Cober








Mrs. Thomas Collins was born in King's County, Ireland in 1816.  On the second of May 1834, her parents and the family sailed from Dublin in the "William & Anne" and arrived in Quebec in June.


She married Mr. Collins in 1842 and they have occupied Lot 5, 2nd Concession. Early neighbours were Mr. Longley, where Mr. Barrett now lives on Lot 5; John McAllister where Archie and Alec are; John Barrett on Lots 2 and 3; Mr. Shelly on Lot 3, and Mr. Burke on no. 1, north on the 3rd, Peter Cober had taken up 1000 acres. 


Mrs. Collins has 10 children, all living at the time of writing.








The subject of this sketch was born near Howich, Rochsburyshire, Scotland in the year 1817 and was educated in Scotland and came to Canada in 1832.  He lived in Lower Canada for 2 years, then came to Puslinch in 1838 and worked at public works for a number of years previous to coming to Puslinch. 


His brother, William, had the contract of building all of the Brock Road, from one end to the other, and came here to Arkell in the early days and is now one of the oldest settlers and had 7 brothers and two sisters.  My brothers are all dead but one, Thomas, who is living in Hamilton. 


Mrs. Cook has been dead for 14 years and left a family of 8 boys and girls.  Mr. Cook is now in his 80th year.


                                                          Walter Cook.








The subject of this sketch was born in the state of New York in 1824 and came to Puslinch in 1831, then being only seven years old. 


I have spent all my life in Puslinch and am the oldest settler alive in this part of the township and he has seen the forest cleared and improved, logged, fenced, and improved with buildings, roads, concessions, and accommodations in living by what we had in the earlier days.  We built one of the first log houses in this district that is still used as a dwelling, near Arkell village, owned now by Peter Petty. 


I married Susan Iles 48 years ago and have a family of 5 girls and one son in Manitoba and the daughters, some are married and some are living at home.  I have over 300 acres of land, bounded on the east by Nassagaweya Township. 


On our first coming out to Puslinch we had for neighbours, Mr. F. W. Stone who came from New York at the same time as me, Mr. Thos Arkell, James Carter and his family, Charles Willoughby, and Thomas King and family, and Peter Hume and family.  We had sociable people to live with and would do anything to help each other in any way to make everything easier. 


The first yoke of oxen we had in company with the late F. W. Stone and we worked them together for 3 years; then we were able to get a yoke of oxen each.  Thomas King owned the first horses in this section.   One was a black mare and the other was a sorrel  horse.  Later on, Mr. King owned the first threshing machine (open cylinder) in the district.


William Henry Decker









The subject of this sketch was born in the city of Cork, Ireland in the year 1820 and came to Puslinch in 1844 and taught school in Puslinch, at the Downey School, called after himself and this district has been known as the Downey School section ever since, and he taught school in Puslinch for 24 years continually, being the Public School teacher in Puslinch.  Sometimes he had as many as 80 scholars and an average of about 60 scholars.  Mr. Downey some time ago retired and came to Guelph to live and is now living in the city on his pension of two hundred and fifty dollars yearly.

He had a first class certificate and at that time there was only one other in the county of Wellington that had a first class certificate.


Mr. Downey had a family of three daughters and three sons.  One of his sons, Joseph P. is editor of the Guelph Weekly and Daily Herald.


Patrick Downey,

Late School-teacher at the

Downey Road School Section, Puslinch.








Patrick O’Neil Doyle, with his wife and three children, emigrated from Borris in the county of Carlow, Ireland in April 1830 and was one of the first settlers in the Township of Puslinch on Lot 13, 4th Concession, now called Borris.  Here he remained until his death in 1848. 


The late P. O’Neil Doyle took a great interest in public office, was one of the first councillors of the township and always voted reform, travelling as far as Dundas to cast his vote.  His two oldest sons, John and James lived for some years in the township and were elected councillors at different times.  James Doyle took an active part in the McLee scheme of colonizing in 1854 and the settlement of a large colony in Hastings County, near the present Maynooth.   He lived there until 1865 when he went to the United States, where he remained until his death in 1882.  John Doyle also moved to the States in 1879 and is now dead. 


Michael P. Doyle, youngest son of Patrick O’Neil Doyle now owns the old homestead and has added 400 acres more to it.  His third daughter, Ellen, joined the Loretto Convent in Guelph in 1861 and taught  the Convent school there for 25 years.








Elijah Eagle was born in Norfolk County, England, in 1833 and arrived in Canada in 1837.  He attended school in Puslinch and Hespeler.  In Puslinch, his schoolmates were the Gilchrist, Wilkinson, Little, Dickie, Collins, Barnett, Hart, Smith, Heffernan, and McGinnis children, and others. 


Except for some small spots here and there, where the settlers were making clearings, Puslinch was all bush when he arrived.  Once a deer was chased by some wolves into the lake.  The ice was thin and the deer broke through, but managed to escape with a broken horn.  Some boys among whom I was, followed the deer out through McKellar's bush onto McMaster's where the Killean School now stands. The deer was exhausted with loss of blood from the broken horn and we killed it with clubs and trailed it home.


There were several families of Indians living near our place in lodges, hunting and fishing and making baskets.








James Eagle was born in Norfolk County, England in 1831.  When 6 years of age, he arrived in Canada and for some time lived at Sheffield, Beverly.  In 1845, he took up his residence in Lot 6, 2nd Concession, adjoining Puslinch Lake.       


His mother, Annie Eagle, was the first school teacher in the Dickie Settlement.  She taught school at the farm house while Mr. Eagle and the boys were logging and clearing the land.  The scholars were the Fyfe, Chaseman, Ransom, McAllister, and Lamont children.  When the section for school purposes was formed, the teacher would teach for two weeks in each house until the whole section was visited.  Then a schoolhouse was built on the Dickie estate on Lot 7. 


Mr. Eagle’s house was also where preaching was held, when Mr. Nichol held services according to the rites of the Primitive Methodist Church.  All people in the section attended. 


On this Lot 7, a shop was opened where the wood work for the ploughs of the Preston Plough Factory was made.  The ploughs were all of the no. 4 variety in those days.


Fishing and hunting were great sport.  Mr. Eagle remembers Alex Parkes and himself spearing 40 big black bass in one evening on Puslinch Lake. 


Mr. Eagle has a family of 6, three sons and three daughters.  Mrs. Eagle’s maiden name was Martin, giving rise to many humorous allusions, when it was said that an eagle ran away with a martin.


For a number of years, Mr. Eagle has lived in Hespeler where he has been prominent in the Council and in the Methodist Church there.








Thomas Ellis was born in Waterloo County in 1816.  His brother Edward and he became carpenters and worked at this trade till the McKenzie rebellion broke out.  They volunteered in the militia and had considerable military experience in those troublesome times, at Hamilton, London, and Chippewa. 


They came to Puslinch in 1839 and settled on Lot 9, Edward on the south half, Thomas on the north.  At that time about all the land was taken up, but there was very little cleared of forest; the township was almost a wilderness.  The Shades Road was about 1 1/2 miles west. 


Thomas was elected to the District Council in 1848 and 1849; to the Waterloo Council of 1850 and 1851; and to the council of the United Counties of Wellington and Grey in 1853.  He was made a Justice of the Peace in 1850.  In 1856, he became Captain in the 2nd Battalion of the Wellington Militia, and in 1881, he was made a Major.  He had 5 sons and 2 daughters, one of whom died in infancy.


The family members have all been soldiers.  The eldest son, David, was studying medicine at Ann Arbor, Michigan when the American Civil War broke out.  He enlisted for the north and served in the Army of the Potomac.  He is living in New York.  The second son, John Wesley, also was a federal soldier who served under General Thomas.  Nothing has been heard from him since 1862.  The third son, Edward, went to the North-West with the first Riel expedition under Wolseley, and he remained there ever since.  Nathan, the fourth son, was Major of the 29th Battalion, previous to his removal to New York.  James, the youngest, is on the homestead, and is Captain of No. 5 Company of the 29th Battalion.








Mr. Falconbridge was born in Belfast, Ireland, in the year 1811 and departed this life in his 81st year.  He was the youngest son of the late Samuel Falconbridge Senior, of Drummondville, now Niagara Falls south, who successfully carried on a large mercantile business there for a number of years and was also Postmaster of that place for a long period and when he resigned that office on account of old age, he was the oldest Postmaster in Canada. 


The family came to this country in the year 1820, or thereabouts, when the subject of this sketch was only 9 years old.  His father had a large family and he only had the advantages of two winter sessions at school; consequently he had to carve out his own fortune and educate himself besides. 


Very early in the history of the township and when only a few settlers were here, his father, while out on a prospecting tour, came to Guelph when there were only two or three houses there, then came down into Puslinch as far as where the Hamilton Hotel stands and remained there all night, if not longer.  Very few settlers were in this township at that time; there were no roads, only paths through the bush. 


Mr. Falconbridge Jr. was in the general store business at Niagara Falls and also at Allanburgh, on the Welland Canal, during the time the canal was being built and was called out to do military duty in 1837 during the McKenzie Rebellion. 


At the time that the Brock Road was built, he came here and leased the store and property, at what would later be called Aberfoyle, from Kenneth MacKenzie, now residing in Manitoba.  He arrived here with his family on the 17th of March 1851 and was closely identified with the township and its history till his death. 


Shortly after he arrived here, the inhabitants felt the lack of postal facilities to communicate with their friends and therefore a meeting of the residents was called and the result was a petition to the Postmaster General, asking the government to establish a post office here and to appoint Mr. Falconbridge as Postmaster.  The government complied with their request and opened an office here and put Mr. Falconbridge in charge as Postmaster in the fall of 1851. 


The office was named, after considerable discussion, Aberfoyle, after a place in Scotland, in honour of the father (birthplace) of the late Duncan McFarlane, who afterwards filled very acceptably several different offices in this municipality for a number of years.  And he was one of the early pioneers and was closely connected with municipal, school, and political matters for a number of years.  Colin D. Campbell, barrister, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, a former resident of this place and a friend of the writer, was traveling in Scotland a few years ago and his party remained overnight in Aberfoyle, Scotland.  That place reminded him so much of Aberfoyle, Ontario, that he sat down and wrote to the Postmaster here. 


On the retirement of the late John Hammersley Senior from the office of Treasurer of the Corporation of Puslinch in June 1856, Mr. Falconbridge was appointed to fill that position, without any solicitation on his part.  He retired from office in favour of his son, Blair, in the year 1888. 


He was of a retiring disposition and preferred home life to public life; consequently he never took any very active part in politics.  His sympathies were with the Liberals, however, and he always supported them.








Donald Ferguson, for many years Postmaster and storekeeper at Killean, was born in Invernesshire, in 1832.  He came to Puslinch in 1851 and engaged in store-keeping, first on the Brock Road and afterwards on Lot 9, of the 1st Concession.  He agitated for and procured a Post Office at this store, which he called the Killean Post Office. 


Donald was for a long time superintendent of the construction of roads in certain districts in Muskoka and spent his summers at his work there.  He died in the year 1891, leaving a wife and large family. 


Lewis Ferguson, a younger brother of Donald’s, was also long a well-known resident of Puslinch.  He had been employed for 2 years in New York as bookkeeper at the store of J. S. Stewart and Co. and from there went to live in South Carolina.  But the yellow fever broke out and Lewis came to Puslinch, where he opened a general store at the Brock Road.  Subsequently he took up his brother's small business at Killean, and there he remained for a number of years.  He married Jean, a daughter of Neil McCormick, and is now a merchant in Galt.








The subject of this sketch was well known in Puslinch as Postmaster at Killean Post Office for many years.  He was born in Invernesshire and came to Puslinch in the early days.  He saw that there was not much chance at home for a poor boy and so he set out from Scotland and sailed from Liverpool to New York and made one of the fastest trips across the ocean up to that time, having completed the trip in 21 days and that was looked upon in those days as something phenomenal.


Arriving in N.Y., he took a position with J. S. Stewart & Co. of New York as bookkeeper and lived there for 2 years.  From there he went to South Carolina for some time.  When the yellow fever broke out, I left and came out to Puslinch where my best days were spent on the Brock Road near Morriston and at Killean. 


I followed the grocery and dry goods business all my life.  Being the youngest son of six, I had to paddle my own canoe all my life time, since I was 10 years old.


                                                           Lewis Ferguson.








The subject of this sketch was born in Midlothian, Edinburgh, Scotland and spent part of his school days in the old country and arrived in Puslinch in the year 1835.  His father, John Fleming, lived in Midlothian but never came to Canada. 


I married, in 1852, Jane Cockburn, sister of Hugh Cockburn, and had a family of 2 sons and 3 daughters.  My wife died in the year 1861.  My mother died in 1835, leaving me and my two brothers and one half sister to hunt out a living for ourselves in a new country. 


I worked for John McFarlane on the 2nd Concession for some time and can remember being water boss at logging bees.  The ox teamsters at this bee were John McDiarmid, who is still alive and is now 95 years old, the late Donald Munroe, George Taylor and Matthew McPhatter, John Marshall, Peter Dimond, Hector Smith, Donald Ferguson, Peter Robison, Malcolm, Peter, and Alex McNaughton, and I was water boss and Peter McNaughton Senior was grog boss.


John McFarlane was a tailor by trade and went out making clothes for all the settlers, and would go out to Guelph Township and make clothes for the Laidlaw, Elliott, McCorkindale, and Cleghorn families, and others. 


I can remember well the first murder committed in Puslinch in the month of March, when Buntin stabbed Allen.  That took place at Flynn’s Tavern on the Brock Road.  He got off on a plea of self defence, which was proved to be correct. 


I can remember the first settlers in Badenoch settlement, Donald McLean, Peter Grant, and Alex McBean, and they built a shanty on Lot 32 on the 8th Concession in the year 1831.   The year after, the John Clark family and the Peter McLean Senior families arrived; also later, Mr. William Kennedy Senior came to Badenoch, and Malcolm Clark was the first born male child in Badenoch, who is now living at the time of writing and is now 64 years old on Hallow-eve night, for it was his birth day, and the first marriage was Peter Grant & Phenala McLean, daughter of Peter McLean, who was the first settler. 


Malcolm Clark had the first frame barn in Badenoch and it was framed by a Frenchman.  His name was Zip Parttoe and he died in a shanty with old age on Matthew Elliott’s farm. 


The first female child was Jane Elizabeth Nichol, eldest sister of Col. Nichol, who is now at the time of writing 61 years.  Both of the first born in Badenoch are still alive and good for many more years. 


The first horse that was owned in the Badenoch settlement was owned by Peter Idington.


                                                          Alex Fleming.








Alex Fraser, 2nd Concession, of Puslinch, was born in Lochbroom, Rosshire and sailed from Stranraer in the Island of Bute in 1838 and came directly to the Township of Puslinch and arrived in Quebec in October and settled on the 1st Concession of Puslinch on Lot 29, and in 1840 moved to Lot 17 on the 2nd Concession, Puslinch where he lived and married Kate Black in the year 1857.


Kate was born in Argyleshire, Scotland and arrived in Puslinch in the year 1854, then being only 23 years old.  Mr. and Mrs. Fraser have a large family of sons and daughters.  The daughters are all married and settled down for themselves. 


Mr. Fraser has seen some of the early and hard times in Puslinch and helped to build all the first houses and barns in this section of Puslinch, when it took two days to come from Hamilton with his loads of wheat for grist and they had to carry their flour on their backs from the Brock Road, about 4 miles and about 20 miles from Dundas, and 25 miles from Hamilton.  The Brock Road at that time was near all corduroy road from Dundas to Aberfoyle and all loads were carried by oxen and sleighs in summer.  There were no wagons in Puslinch. 


Oxen were worth from $50 - $60.; cows were worth from $10 - $12.; horses - there were none in Puslinch; wheat was worth 50 to 60 cents; oats were 12 1/2 cents in trade; potatoes were 25 cents in the field. 


For neighbours, I had Donald McCaig and family on Lot 17 on the 2nd Concession, and Hector Smith on Lot 18 on the 1st  concession, and Donald McShannoch, on Lot 17, 1st Concession.  The next nearest neighbours were Neil McPhatter, his good wife, and sons Matthew, James, and John, who lived on Lot 15 on the 1st Concession.  Then, next came Alex McNaughton, who lived on Lot 10 on the First Concession. 


In those days, the people were very cheerful and would go out to a house or barn log raising on a Monday morning and keep on going to house or barn raisings every day till Saturday of that week and keep it up for a month at a time, in the month of March every year, and a dance every night.  No violin music, but the Irish or Scotch Pipes.  Whisky Kilrae and good, too. 


Then, logging bees began about the first of June and would continue on till the frost would come in the fall of the year. Sometimes 10 and 12 yokes of oxen in one field with 4 men and a driver with every yoke of oxen, and could log ten acres and even more in a day.  Then a dance at night.  Lots of whisky on the field with a grog boss and a man carrying water to the men at work at the bee. 


The women at that time had to cook with the old fashioned bake kettle with red hot coals of fire above and coals below and I can tell you we had good bread and cooked the meats in a tin oven in the fire place. 


In those days, there was only one store in the city of Guelph, and one store that stood where Morton’s Oatmeal Mill stood later on, and Wyndham Street was not cleared of timber at that time. 


The Guelph Fairs were held twice a year in the months of May and October of every year, and there would be a great many oxen and cows for sale on the grounds opposite Morton’s Oat Meal Mills.


The McKenzie Rebellion time, leaving the district to join the rebels at Toronto and other places.








Mrs. Fyfe was born in Tyrone County, Ireland, in 1830.  Her parents emigrated to America in 1831, and took up land in Puslinch in 1834.  Her father paid 18s.6d per acre for his farm. 


Mr. and Mrs. Fyfe were married in 1852 and started life together on the farm that is still the homestead.  The only neighbour they had in 1834 was the late Neil Holm, who occupied Lot No. 6 on the 3rd Concession.


Once, her father and mother coming home at night from Betsy McGinnis’ wedding, lost track of the blazes and could not find their way.  They had to stay in the bush all night.   When daylight came they found close by the remains of a deer newly killed by wolves.








The subject of this sketch was born in Kintyre, Argyleshire, Scotland, in 1824, and arrived with his father, the late John Gilchrist, his mother, brothers, William, Archie, Malcolm, and Anne, Duncan, myself, Mary, Peter and Kate.


We sailed from Glasgow in June 1843 and sailed by the sail ship "Hamilton" and arrived in Quebec after 5 weeks and 3 days.  The sailing commander was James Dickie and we arrived in Puslinch in July and Hector Smith hauled our luggage by oxen and sleigh from Aberfoyle and we settled on Lot 11 on the 1st Concession and the family worked all together for a number of years. 


Then, as the time went on, each one of the sons settled on farms, all in the township of Puslinch, where they and their families are known from one end of the township to the other.  I settled on Lot 15 on the 2nd, where we now live and raised a family of 6, four sons and two daughters, all settled in different parts of Ontario except Mary who married Hugh Dickie and lives in Michigan, and Neil who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I married Euphemia Wilkinson, daughter of the late Neil Wilkinson, in 1857, and Mrs. Gilchrist died in 1869, leaving me with a large family.


                                                          John Gilchrist.








The subject of this is the oldest first male child born in the township of Puslinch. He was born on the 25th of December, 1832, and being a twin, had a twin brother, who died when he was 21 years old. 


My father arrived in the township from England in April 1832 and the first work he did was to chop and log and clear the land in the city of Guelph, where the J. P. Williamson, the Golden Lyon, and where Bell’s Piano and Organ Factories are now and where the J. B. Armstrong Factory now stands, and all those streets, McDonald St. and Market Square, and where the Royal Hotel and where the Grand Trunk Railway Station now stands.  My father cleared this land for Mr. Sandiland, the banker, who died about 35 years ago. 


He then came to Puslinch in the next September, onto Lot 17 on the 8th Concession, on the Brock Road.  Then, I was born, on the day after the shanty was finished, and I heard my father say that he had not a pound of flour in the house at that time and went to Galt through the forest and got 50 pounds of flour and carried it home on his back.


He was the first Puslinch Township treasurer, also the first township clerk and chief magistrate for 40 years, and voted at Streetsville when there were only 3 votes in the township and the names of the voters were my father, James Stirton, and Matthew McPhatter and they voted at Streetsville.  At this time, Puslinch was known as the District of Gore and belonged to the County of Halton.  Then, later on, it belonged to the County of Waterloo.  Then, in 1848, Puslinch was joined to the County of Wellington. 


He was also Captain of the Militia at the time of the McKenzie Rebellion and his company went to London.  The late William Leslie and Alex Smith were his lieutenants, but they did no active service, as there was a settlement arranged two weeks after they got to London and the rebellion was settled in March 1838. 


Peter McBeath was the first constable in Puslinch; the first reeve was John Cockburn; John Black was the first township assessor; Richard Ellis was the first township collector.  Then later, Mr. Ellis was assessor and collector till the year 1849.


Now for an incident:  the first fight in Puslinch between the Irish and the Scotch.  It happened at Flynn’s Tavern when Big John Thomson, Matthew McPhatter, Angus McKellar, Little John Thomson, John McPherson, Neil Thomson, and many others from the 1st Concession were in the hotel drinking, and having a lively time.  There were also among them all the McLeans and Hannings and the Clarks from Badenoch.  When the Scotch boys gave some offence to the Irish boys and Thomas Armstrong went up to James Hamilton’s hotel on the Brock Road and out north to the Irish settlement and called out all the settlement and brought them along down to Flynn’s Tavern.  Among them were Armstrongs, Lynchs, Clears, Eustaces, and the Readys, Kinsellas and others, and they went at it with shillelaghs, sticks, and hand to hand and in every shape they could get at each other and kept it up from 3 o’clock in the afternoon and kept it up all night till midnight and they tore the house almost to pieces.  The bar was torn down, everything left in pieces.  This was the first Irish and Scotch fight in Puslinch.  


The first settler in Puslinch was a Welshman, name unknown, who settled on Lot 13 on the 8th Concession, owned later by William Graham.  This Welshman lived there only three years when he died and was buried in Wear’s orchard.  He was the first man who died in Puslinch.  Among the first settlers were Thomas Bailey, William Harrison, and James Kidd.  They came in 1830 and they took up Lots 14 on the 8th and Lot 14 on the 3rd concession; a John McGee came in and took up Lot 16 and Dan McFarlane took up Lot 15 on the 7th Concession where James Scott, our reeve, now lives. 


William Graham built the first sawmill in Puslinch on Lot 23 on the 8th Concession and got their power from the Mill Creek and it was from this mill that the Mill Creek got its name.  This creek runs south west through Puslinch and enters into the Grand River at Galt.


                                                          John Hammersley,









The subject of this sketch was born in County Monahan in the north of Ireland and came to Puslinch in 1827, in the month of June of that year, and came to Guelph two months after the first tree was cut in the City of Guelph. 


In 1833, he took up Lots 12, 13, 14, 15 & 16 on the 6th Concession of Puslinch, it being clergy reserve at that time and he was to pay at the rate of seventeen shillings and six pence per acre for the land upon conditions of actual settlement at that time.  Peter Robertson was commissioner of Crown lands and his first payment was made on the 5th of February 1833 and he was one of the first actual settlers in Puslinch. 


He lived on the estate, cleared and improved and paid for the properties, raised a family of 3 sons and 4 daughters, James, Patrick, John, Catherine, Margaret, Mary & Sarah.  All the daughters are alive, but Mr. Hanlon himself died in 1882, and his son James died in 1873.  Patrick owns the homestead, an immense property with good buildings and well improved fields, and John lives on Lot 3 on the 7th concession, also a well improved farm, just 3 miles from Guelph, almost adjoining the model farm.


The late Felix Hanlon was one of the earliest settlers and could relate many incidents of the earliest days in the bush and how he, when carrying flour home from Guelph, the wolves overtook him in the bush and treed him up a tree and kept him there till the next morning, leaving the flour at the bottom of the tree, and the wolves trampled and destroyed the flour so that it was of no more use.  Being of a cheerful disposition, he often would relate to his family the romantic history of the earliest days in Puslinch.


                                                          Late Felix Hanlon.








The late John Iles, one of the pioneers of the Township of Puslinch, emigrated from England in the year 1836 and came over the stormy Atlantic in the ship called the “Caledonia”, by way of Quebec, and was nine weeks wrestling with wind and waves, and came up the St. Lawrence, drawn up the rapids by horses that were guided by a man with a large knife, to cut the rope and let us run back in case the horses became overpowered. 


We landed at Hamilton on May the first, the same year, and arrived on Puslinch Plains on the 3rd day of same month, all well; we lived in a house on the Town plot of Farnham Plains the first year and then moved onto a farm of Mr. John Arkell, of three hundred acres, now known as the Haines farm, which had quite a large clearing for those days.


This was about the time of McKenzie’s Rebellion, when some people were not satisfied with the government or what was called the Family Compact and so made a great fuss.  We stayed on the above farm for three years.  Father was not called out to shoot anyone.  I suppose he, being a good Tory and a loyal subject of Her Majesty, was allowed to stay at home and protect his family. 


I remember two or three things that happened in those days.  One was a man dressed in soldier’s clothes, with a red coat, of course, came to our house.  Father and mother were away and we children, having heard that soldiers, some of them, wore red coats and killed people, we all got frightened, ran away and hid ourselves when we saw the man coming and left the house unprotected; of course, life is sweet.


Another, also happened when Pa and Ma were away.  A near neighbour of ours came, he said to keep us children company during the evening, and he got us to hunt up the whisky jar.  So he took a little drop at times and sang songs and told stories, so we enjoyed a very pleasant evening; of course, whisky was cheap and good in those days - 25 cents a gallon.  


Another was on the 2nd of June, 1839.   When it was thought necessary to make all men soldiers, the militia of Puslinch was called out and was put through a process of training on Farnham Common (without guns).  It was a grand field day, I assure you, and they had plenty of liquor on the grounds and some person or persons were kind enough to give the writer liquor.  I got drunk and dizzy at the age of five years and the world seemed to be turning round with me but I did not know at that time that it did go round. 


Father had taken up another farm of two hundred acres in the same neighbourhood, near what is called Arkell Post office, and cleared some ten acres and put up a good log house.  He moved onto this farm in the spring of 1840.  The land was very good, strong and heavy, with very heavy timber, mostly maple and beech, many of them two feet and one half in diameter.  The land is a little rolling but not steep, has a very fine appearance, and is said to be the best farm in the township of Puslinch. 


Well, there was at this time, my father and my mother and a family of seven growing up, four girls and three boys, and we got along comparatively well, with lots of hard work.  Pa was a good hand to keep us boys at work and did a fair share himself.  Chopping in winter, logging bees in summer was the order of the day in those times, with plenty of whisky.  In the course of time, things changed.  There was not much more chopping and logging to do and the stumps were getting pretty well rotted out of the first cleared fields.  On hardwood timbered land, the stumps would get pretty well rotted out in ten years and then the fields could be ploughed and worked much easier. Pa was considered to be a first class farmer.


He went back to England in ‘53 to see his parents and friends and purchased a number of Durham cattle and Cotswold sheep, but coming across the Atlantic, the cattle and sheep were all lost in a fearful storm.  Afterward, he bought Durham cattle and Cotswold sheep in Canada and kept a very fine stock of both, till he retired from farming in 1864, and moved into Guelph.


The first break in father’s family was when our oldest sister was married to Mr. Thomas Carter in 1847.  After two more years, our next oldest sister married Mr. W. H. Decker in 1849.  Those were the two oldest of the family.  Then fortune skipped two, of course, boys are mostly slow; and the third daughter was married to Mr. Wm. Caufield in 1854 and moved to the Township of Egremont.  In 1856, the second son and fourth of the family married Miss C. Arkell, the eldest daughter of the late Thomas Arkell, and moved to the township of Eramosa, farmed thirty two years there, and then retired to the Royal City.  In 1860, the fourth daughter and youngest of the family married Mr. D. Bardwell, of Eden Mills.  She had one daughter.  It died at the age of about two years and Mrs. Bardwell died in 1865.  Last, but not least, the third son and sixth of the family married Miss Isabel Orme, only one of the family of the late Peter Orme, in 1854.  He is living on a plot adjoining the town plot of Farnham plain, near Arkell.  Father died in 1888 at the good old age of 82 years, leaving a widow and four sons and four daughters.


                                                          Guelph, May 1st, 1987.








William (Crocan) Kennedy came out with the Clark, Grant, and McLean families in 1833, and, with his wife and four sons and three daughters, took up Lots 34, 35 and 36 in the 9th Concession. 


Lauchlan, the oldest son, is still living (1898) at the advanced age of 94 years, and has been from the beginning an elder in Duff’s Church.  He has a family of 6, three sons and three daughters.








Henry A. Kirkland Jr., of Union Ontario, eldest son of Henry Kirkland Sr., writes, with regard to the matter of our family’s history in connection with Puslinch, I do not remember exact dates.  We arrived in Guelph the summer of 1834. 


Father’s farm or lot was then all woods.  As soon as he could put up a log house and have a little clearing around same, we moved into it (which was that fall).  We had to go to Guelph to church for some years. 


I went to Dundas in 1842 to learn my trade (carriage builder) and was away from home, except on visits, for 12 years.  During that time the Kirkland Church was built. Father was put in as Public School Inspector. 


David Stirton lived for many years on the adjoining farm to father’s, and would likely know, as he and father were very intimate friends, and I have no doubt that he could give more particulars, as he took an active part in public affairs for many years.


H. A. Kirkland,

per his son WMK, druggist, Galt.








The subject of this sketch was born in the north of Ireland, near Londonderry, and came to Puslinch in the year 1830, and took the land where he now lives, ever since that time, and has not been a month away from the farm, Lots no. 9 and 10 on the 7th Concession.


This farm is one of the first farms that was bought from the Crown Lands Office in the Township of Puslinch and my father took up 200 acres and paid $2.00 per acre on conditions of actual settlement, and the writer saw the location tickets for the land in which Mr. Laird has been the possessor ever since the first of October 1830.  At that time, Peter Robinson was Commissioner of Crown lands and R. C. Thornhill was the agent, and in Elora, Andrew Geddes was the District Agent. 


At this time, the Brock Road was not cleared or chopped out and our moving out here in the bush from Hamilton was in wagons and oxen through the bush with a very heavy luggage.  My father had one yoke of oxen that he bought in Dundas and they were the first yoke of oxen in the township and we called them Buck and Bright and we kept them for a number of years and worked them in the bush. 


My brother, Hamilton Laird, lived and worked together with me till 1853, when we dissolved partnership.  Then I kept the old homestead and my brother Hamilton got Lot 8 on the 7th Concession, where his family now lives. 


Our first neighbours after we came here were George Patterson, Joseph Lynch, Patrick Carroll, and William Carroll and they took their land up from the Crown on the November 20th, 1828.  They were one year after Humphrey Loveradge, the Welshman, who was the first settler in Puslinch and built the first shanty in the township and lived on Lot 13 on the 7th Concession, where he lived for three years when he died on that lot, and he was the first settler and the first death in the township.  This man took up this farm before the township was surveyed.


About the Shades Road, it was in the early days and we had no roads and we had either to go to Dundas for flour or go to Preston and there were no roads to Preston at this time.  Absalom Shade and James Henry, the two together, made a road from where now Hespeler stands out where Mr. Kribs Mill is now and out to where Mr. Niebauer's farm now is and out by Mr. Strahan’s old farm and out to the 7th Concession out to where the first shanty that was built in Puslinch and the old Weir Farm now is.


It has been very interesting to have an interview with and hear many histories to tell about wolves killing the young cattle, the cows, and the sheep, and the bears would kill the pigs and he came very near being killed by a bear and tells of how he lived with the Indians in the bush and speaks very well of how the Indians used him and can remember seeing a wolverine or panther in the bush and of how he met the panther in the bush and how he and his brother went out to hunt the panther that was howling in the bush and he can remember of being lost in the bush when the Indians were sent out after and found him near McCrae’s Corners. 


I can remember many reminiscences of early days at logging bees.  One logging bee, I was at Richard Hewitt’s farm, where D. Sorbey lives now, and there were about 30 yokes of oxen there at this bee and we had it all staked out and we logged about 30 acres that day and when night came we had a dance on the green grass and we had jolly times, these days, and I can remember the stump of the first tree that was cut in Guelph on April 17th 1827 and after years when I can remember this same stump was made use of with a sun dial on it and we often went to see the sundial to know the time of day.


                                                          James Laird.








Robert Little was born in Kingston in 1835.  In 1840, the family moved to Puslinch.  His father, his mother, and brother, William, drove from Kingston with a team of French Canadian horses by way of Toronto, Hamilton, and Hespeler, New Hope it was then called, all the way to Puslinch, to a brother-in-law named Robert Oaks on Lot 8, 3rd Concession. 


Mr. Little Senior took up Lot 9, adjacent, 200 acres, and bought it from a land agent in Toronto.  Then, leaving William with Mr. Oaks, he returned and brought the whole family, 6 in number, by boat to Hamilton.  A teamster was hired to bring them up the Brock Road to where Aberfoyle now stands.  They stayed over night at John Black’s, and left on foot on the next day for their new home.  The next night they stayed at Peter Stewart’s, and the day after that, they reached Lot 9.  James McGinnis, whose father’s house they passed, carried Robert Little on his back over the swamp that formed part of the Little property. 


Robert’s first school days were spent on the 6th Concession at Lot 11, on the farm of William Thomson. The teacher was Thomas Jermy, an Englishman.  His schoolmates were children from the Heath, Doyle, Lynch, Phelan, Kirkland, McGregor, and Berringer families, and many others. 


Mr. Little was married in 1862, when he bought the farm that he now occupies.  In 1875, he built a cheese factory with a capacity of 1000 lbs. a day, and four years later added a butter department.  This was the first cheese factory in the County of Wellington.  Mr. Little has four children.








Michael Lynch was born in the County of Carlow, Ireland, and, with his parents and brothers, arrived in Puslinch in 1832.  They settled on Lot 15 of the 4th Concession, which has remained the family homestead since.


Their first neighbours were the families of Doyle, Ready, Lynch, Hanlon, Caulfield, Tobin, McGinnis, Kirkland, Heath and Stirton. 


The spade was used instead of the plough.  The ground was covered by being scratched with brush, and their reaper was the hook.  The crop was carried on backs to the stack and thrashed with a flail. 


Ned Gilmore had the first yoke of oxen in the district.  Patrick Allan had the first mare; he bought her near Collingwood.  She had a foal two years in succession and then disappeared, lost, strayed, or stolen.  Six months after, she arrived at her old owners, safe and sound, near Collingwood. 


Mr. Lynch was married in the year 1845 and has a large family of sons and daughters.








John Marshall Senior was born in Scotland in 1807 and came to Puslinch in 1830 and lived on the 2nd Concession, where he married and raised a family of 7 children, four sons and three daughters: John and Alex, in Michigan, Neil, in Waterloo, and Archibald, on the homestead on the Brock Road, and Mrs. McLaren, Mrs. Ferguson, of Killean, and Mrs. Livergood, in Waterloo.      


John Marshall Senior died in 1880.








The Scotch Presbyterians of Badenoch Settlement, yearning for the religious privileges of their old home, decided to send to Scotland for a minister.  Through the representations of a Mr. Gordon, who had lately come from the old land, the people unanimously agreed to invite the Reverend William Meldrum, who had lately graduated from Aberdeen College, to come over to be their pastor.


Mr. Meldrum was born in Abernethy, Morayshire in 1806.  After completing his education at Aberdeen he returned to his native parish and on the eve of accepting a call from a neighbouring congregation he received the letter from Puslinch.  Feeling that this was, to him, the “Macedonian cry”, he immediately accepted the Puslinch invitation and began to make preparations for his voyage.  In the autumn of 1839, he reached his destination and was warmly welcomed by the people.       


“When death’s dark stream I’ll ferry o’er

to all this surely shall come,­

In heaven itself I’ll ask no more

Than just a Highland welcome.”


Having no church, the old school-house on Lot 28 in the 8th Concession was fitted up for divine service.  An event long remembered, by those who witnessed it, was his ordination in this same old log building, when Lauchlan Kennedy took off his plaid and placed it under his knees as he knelt to receive the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. 


His charge at first also included Nassagaweya, but after a year, the West Puslinch people being desirous of having a preaching station in their neighbourhood, he withdrew from Nassagaweya and thence forward ministered to the congregations of East and West Puslinch preaching in Gaelic and English in both places and going to the west every third Sunday.  The West church was then in the neighbourhood of Killean and the Badenoch people regularly attended the services there, walking the eight miles, while the people of Killean were often seen at the church on the Brock Road.  The East Puslinch congregation increased rapidly until it became necessary to enlarge the church.  Then they built an addition, more than doubling the accommodation.


Mr. Meldrum, desirous of having his relatives in Canada, took up land, Lot 33 in 8th Concession, fronting the Brock Road, in the hope that his father would come out and settle on it.  But owing to the death of his mother about this time, the family decided to remain in Scotland.  He resided with Peter McLean for the first seven years, going on his pastoral rounds on horseback, the most convenient mode of travel in those days.


On Christmas day 1846, he married Anne, the youngest daughter of his host, his friend, the Reverend David Allen of North East Hope officiating.  He then built a house on the land he had previously located and resided there as long as he remained in Puslinch.


As was customary for ministers in those days, he and Dr. Smellie, of Fergus, at different times went on mission tours to the sparsely settled districts farther north, laying the foundations of the Presbyterian Church in those sections.  After fifteen years service in Puslinch, he removed to the vicinity of Toronto where he remained for four years when, he received a call from Harrington (Oxford Co.) which he accepted and where he spent fifteen years. 


Upon retiring he came back to the old homestead in Puslinch where he resided until his death in November 1889.








James Moran was born in Carlow in the south of Ireland in 1823 and came to Puslinch in 1842 along with my father, mother, brothers and sisters and settled in Puslinch on the farm where I now live, Lot 16 on the 3rd Concession. At that time, all this district was all forest in its wild state. 


I have three brothers, Patrick, Thomas and William all living in Puslinch, except Thomas, who lives in Glenelg.  My sisters are all living in Guelph.  My brother Patrick lives on the farm adjoining, Lot 15, and my brother William lives on Lot 10 and 11 on the 3rd Concession.  We have lived here ever since we came to Canada.


We belong to the Roman Catholic Church and live in the Downey School District where we have toiled and made a living for ourselves and our families.


                                                          James Moran.








The subject of this sketch was born in Germany in 1826 and came to Puslinch, when 5 years old, with my parents, and settled on this home on Lot 32 on the 7th Concession, fronting on the Brock Road.  My father died some years ago and left me with five brothers and three sisters and I was left on the homestead and have seen all the earliest days in Puslinch.  I helped to chop, log, and clear all of this farm, and others besides. 


When we came here to Puslinch there was only one settler between here and where Guelph now stands and that one settler was the first settler who lived on the farm where Mr. Wear now lives on the Brock Road.  He was a Welshman but I never knew his name.  He died after living in the shanty about 3 years.  This Welshman was the first settler in Puslinch and he was the first death in Puslinch.


In these earlier days, the Indians were very numerous in this part of Puslinch.  They had a camp built of poles stuck up on end and then covered over with hemlock brush and built so that there would be a hole left on top to let the smoke out.  Sometimes, in summer time, they would have their fireplace out opposite their camps, and I have often seen them roasting their venison on the fire with wooden sticks made like a fork with a long handle on it.  They would roast the one side of the venison, then cut the part out that was roasted, and then place back in the fire the chunk that remained and roast it again and so on till they would have it all roasted.  Deer in those days were very numerous and the Indians would kill a great many of them and we never were scarce of meat, as the Indians would trade a carcass of deer for bread and vegetables or anything that they needed at the time. 


At this time, of course, bears and wolves were numerous and there was a hunter who lived here, his name was Rife, who made a living at hunting, and he would go out and hunt when the wolves were only young with his dogs and rifle and he would take the young ones.  Sometimes he would get a great many in one nest.  I remember one nest that he found and he got nine young wolves, and sometimes he would get the old wolves at the same time. 


At that time, the little streams or spring creeks were near full of trout.  Speckled trout were so easily got that my brother, William, and I would go out fishing and in a short time we would have all the trout that we could carry home. 


Mr. Morlock has many incidents to relate of early days.  One time he relates that Mr. William Leslie, being in Galt on business and on his way home from Galt, night overtook him, and there being no roads, only blazes here and there through the bush, he got lost and the wolves overtook him and he climbed a tree and had to remain there over night and when daylight came he got home safe, as the wolves disappeared when daylight came. 


I can remember the first young cattle my father owned.  They were killed by the wolves and in hunting for them we found the remains of one of them and my father and Mr. John Wise went out to watch the carcass and shoot the wolves on their return for another feed.  All of a sudden they saw about 25 wolves and they were so afraid of them, being so numerous, that they quietly took to their heels for home and never fired a shot at them. 


My father owned the first plough in Puslinch.  It was made like a shovel, only of heavier iron and hammered out.  Then he made a beam out of wood, round, of course, and made the handles or stilts out of poles out of the bush, and finished in this way, we used it for some years.  The first wagon, my father bought two wagon wheels, which he bought below Hamilton, and he made a two wheeled wagon that he used with the oxen. 


My father owned one of the first yokes of oxen in this district, and my father and Charles Calfas had the first horses.  Mr. Calfas owned one and my father owned the other, and we would work them together when we wanted a double team. 


I have 128 acres of land now and well improved, in good shape, stone house and bank barns and well fenced.  In the early days, my father and all the other settlers were very poor.  My own father, when he arrived out here, had only a cooking kettle that he carried on his head, and in money, he had only a six pence and when the little sack of flour we had, got done, he went through the bush to where Preston now stands, and a man there, named Mr. Erbe, owned a grist­mill and my father bought flour from him on credit, and could not pay for the flour when the time came due to pay for it, and it was two years before he paid for the flour in these early days. 


I was the second son and Chris Calfas and myself were kept looking after the cattle, and not having any clearing, we would leave home every morning, Chris and myself, with all the cattle and we would stay in the bush all day with the cattle, and when evening would come we would drive the cattle home and in this way we had many experiences in the wild bush in Puslinch.  When deer, bears, and wolves were so numerous, often I can remember meeting the old bears and their cubs on the cattle paths in the bush, but was never attacked by bears as I would leave the path and let Bruin have the path all to herself and her cubs. 


As the years went by, we went into maple sugar making.  We would tap the trees by cutting a notch on the south side of the maple tree and make a spile of split pine timber.  Using a spile made of iron, made sharp and in a circle, we drove it into the tree below the notch where we tapped and then we drove the wooden spile into the place where we cut with the iron spile, and in this way we could convey the maple sap out into troughs, chopped out of pine and black ash wood, and made to hold about one bucket of sap.  Then we would boil it in large boilers, made for that purpose, and boil the sap down till it came to a syrup.  Then we would change it into another boiler and skim the syrup in a skimmer and put it into another boiler and boil it down until it came to sugar.  At the last, we had pans that we used to let it cool, and when it became hard maple sugar, we would sell it and trade with the grocers and get our groceries, et cetera.       


Chris Morlock,









R. B. Morrison, merchant, Morriston, was born in Perth, Scotland on October 19th, 1826 and emigrated in 1840.  We sailed in a sailing ship named “St. Lawrence” and it took 5 weeks on the ocean.  My father and aunt were among the passengers, also Donald McPherson, styled “Donald Dhu”, and his sons John, James, Duncan, and Angus. The latter died shortly after the family arrived at Hamilton.  His daughters were Kate, Isabella, and Elizabeth. They all settled near Crieff, in Puslinch, after working out near Stamford. 


He came to St. Catharines and learned cabinet making in 1845; came to Dundas and was clerk in a Dry Goods Business, with his brother Thomas.  In May 1847, the writer started a general store, where Morriston now stands, in the end of a blacksmith’s shop, owned and run by the late John MacEdwards, in which he remained 18 months, when he had to build more extensive premises. 


The Brock Road was not started until 1848 and finished in 1849.  The settlement in the Morriston area was for the most part German and Highland Scotch, with some lowland Scotch and Irish.  The land was comparatively new and land clearing was the order of the day.  The village got its name Morriston in 1850 and the Post Office was opened on the 1st of January 1854, and he has been the Postmaster.  Soon afterward he assisted in a lumber speculation in Goulias Bay.  In consequence, the Aberfoyle Mill came into his hands, and it became the main cause in bringing him into bank­ruptcy. 


He still maintains the Post Office, to which he was appointed by the Honourable Malcolm Cameron, and subsequently by Hon. Robert Spence.  He has been a commissioner in the High Court of Justice since May 1858, being appointed by the late Judges I. B. Robertson, J. A. MacLean, and R. Burns.


A fire in July 1860 was the means of his building the Brock Block on the south side of the Brock Road, which he vacated in January 1894.  He also started a business in Hamilton, on the corner of John and Main Streets in 1870, sold it in 1874, and retired from business in Morriston and Hamilton in 1875.  He sold the Morriston Business to Ross Tyrrell.


                                                          R. B. Morrison.








The late John Munro was a native of Rosshire Scotland, born near Cromarty Firth, the birth place of Hugh Miller.  He, with his wife and family of three children, left one of the most lovely spots in Scotland and took passage for Canada in a sailing vessel called the “Lord Seaton” and, after four weeks of tossing on Atlantic billows, landed in Quebec, the Gibraltar of America.


As he had a brother-in-law then living in Galt, and one of its principle merchants, he came on to that town, sailing up the St. Lawrence and round by Ottawa to Kingston, then across Lake Ontario to Hamilton, where he engaged a team to bring himself and family to Galt.  No railroads existed then.  After spending a few weeks in Galt, he rented a farm in the township of Wilmot for three years.


When his lease of the farm expired, he paid a visit to Puslinch.  Here he met with a number of his countrymen, and feeling so much at home amongst them, he concluded to purchase a farm.  After looking about for a short time, he bought Lot 27 in the 7th Concession of Puslinch, where he remained till the time of his death which occurred in February 1890; just one year after, his noble-souled wife followed him to the great beyond.


He, with his wife and family, endured many hardships at first, clearing the land and tilling the soil.  He would often speak of the hardships, privations, and struggles of those days, and also of the kindness and friendship of his neighbours. 


One occasion, when coming down from Wilmot by way of New Hope, now Hespeler, his horse got stuck in a mud hole near John Smith’s place – “Collector John”.  He could not get the animal out and the more it struggled, the deeper it sank in the mire.  It was night, dark and getting late.  No house within sight; woods all around ─ so he shouted with all his might, hoping that some one of the settlers would hear, and come to his assistance.  The late Rev. Smith, who was then living where his son John now resides, came to his aid and after a good deal of planning they succeeded in getting the horse on “terra firma”.


Mr. Munro left four of a family, two sons and two daughters.  One of the sons, and a daughter are living on the old homestead.  Another son is Principal of the Ottawa Central School.  The other daughter, Mrs. Birney, with her husband and family, are living in Calgary, Alberta.


Mr. Munro was a member of the Presbyterian church and in politics, a staunch Reformer. 


“Life is but a little dream, a vapour, which appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.”         


                                                          written by his son

                                                          12th March 1897.








Archibald McAlister was born in Puslinch early in 1834 and is one of the first of the children of Puslinch.  He has always lived on the farm where he was born.  He often played with the Indian children, he speaking Gaelic, they, Indian.  He attended school at Dickie’s.  Among his schoolmates were Robert, James, Joseph, and Harriet Little, and Thomas and Kate Barrett.


When the crust was on the snow the wolves would chase the deer and easily catch them.


Mr. McAlister is a familiar figure in the west of Puslinch where he has thrashed grain every season for 33 years. 


Once, the pigs strayed away in the fall of the year and were lost in the bush till spring.  They lived all winter on beechnuts and came back in good condition.








The subject of this sketch is the oldest living settler in the township of Puslinch. He was born in Perthshire in April 1818 and got most of his schooling in Scotland.  He arrived in Puslinch in December 1830 when it was all a wild forest, among only 16 other settlers in the township at that time.  Among those were James Kidd, William Harrison, Duncan McFarlane, James Flynn, John Winer and his father were those who were in when I came.


We sailed from Greenoch and sailed on the sail ship called “Carthur”, under Capt. Smith.  At the same time, my father, grandfather, sister, and aunt came.  My grandfather was then 70 years old and lived to be 90 years.  My grandmother died the same week; grandfather died on Monday and grandmother on Thursday of the same week in the year 1851. 


We arrived in Quebec and then travelled up the St. Lawrence River to Kingston, then to Toronto, and as we arrived in Toronto, we met William Lyon McKenzie and he took us to his own house for a few nights.  Then we went out Yonge Street to Hogg’s Hollow and we remained there for some little time.  Then we made our way up from Yonge Street and my father and I walked up from Toronto to Puslinch when it was all bush. 


There we took up the home where we have ever since lived for 67 years.  We bought it from the Crown in Toronto and paid $2.00 per acre, it being Clergy Reserve.  We built a shanty 20 x 12 feet.  Later on, we built another shanty facing the first one.  Then we made this all into one house and lived very comfortable there, but provisions were very hard to get.


The Guelph mills had not yet started and my father went to Galt and bought a barrel of flour and brought it as far as where Hespeler now stands.  My sister and I went through the bush to where the barrel was left in a shanty on the road, and we had bags, three in number, and we took the flour out of the barrel and put it into the bags and carried them home on our backs.  But before we started on our way home with the flour, we made scone with part of the flour. Then we made our way home rejoicing.  At the same time I never remember of going to bed hungry.  We were more easily pleased than the people are nowadays. 


My father then went and worked on the Desjardins Canal for one year and my sister went on her way from the shanty to meet him some distance down, where Schaw Station now is.  When she met a bear with one cub, she was very much afraid but went on her way till she met her father. 


In traveling through the forest in those days at night, I often, when very dark, would catch the oxen by their tails so as not to lose my way and sometimes we would have a torchlight made of cedar bark hammered down and made in shape for carrying. One time I and another boy  got lost in the forest.  It was in the fall of the year and we were very much afraid that we would have to lie out in the bush at night.  But we got out at last, near where Hamilton’s Tavern now stands, near Guelph, and we got home safe.  Another time my grandmother got lost in the bush and we hunted till darkness overtook us.  Next day, early in the morning, I found her sitting on a log that crossed the stream of water, partly covered with the water.  We got her home safe and sound and she was not much the worse of her perilous experience.


Logging bees, and house and barn raisings were the rule of the days and we lived together very happily and cheerfully.  It was in 1831 that the first part of Puslinch was surveyed and David Gibson surveyed all the township.  His home was on Yonge Street, Toronto, and in 1830 he surveyed the Brock Road and the next line, the 7th Concession.  Then, in the year 1831, David Gibson surveyed the remaining parts of the township, both the old survey and what is known as the new survey.  My sister Mary, after married Thomas Todd, cooked the bread for Mr. Gibson and his men while they surveyed this township of Puslinch.


Mr. McBeath’s memory is so clear that he can remember every incident that took place in the early days in Puslinch, although he is now 79 years old.  When the writer came to interview him about the history of his early life, he was on the roof of his sheep house shovelling off the snow, up about 20 or 25 feet from the ground.  He says: I have a good farm of 240 acres in good condition, well improved, with good houses and barns on them and all other improvements. 


Mr. McBeath has retired some six years ago.  His mother died in 1891.  His oldest son is on the homestead.  One son, Peter, is a carpenter in Hamilton and James is in Dakota.  Mary married Charlie Cober, Maggie married Frank Coburn in North Dakota, and Mrs. Bell is at home with her father. 


I knew Shades Road and it joins the Brock Road at Mr. Wear’s Farm on Lot 15 on the 8th Concession or Brock Road.  I always traveled on that road on our way to Shades Mill in Galt. 


And about the McKenzie Rebellion:  I was living in Puslinch and what I was going to say about the clergy reserve was that the English Church wanted to lease the Clergy Reserve land to the settlers and the English Church would then receive the rent and benefit and this was the principal reason that caused the McKenzie rebellion.  The English church wanted one seventh of the profits of the land.             


                                                          Malcolm McBeath








Hector McCaig was born in Nova Scotia in 1830 on Hallow Eve night, was the son of Donald McCaig; he married Mary McKenzie in 1852.  She died in 1874, age 40.  He came to Puslinch with his father and brothers Alexander, Malcolm and six sisters.  All my sisters and brothers are alive yet, but my brother Alexander and one sister and my father and mother. 


We arrived in Puslinch 60 years ago when it was all new and I have seen all the early days of Puslinch.  The first settlers on the 3rd Concession were Hector Smith, William Blue, the McCormick and McKay families, John and Alex Wilkinson, and John S. McLeakin.  On the 2nd Concession were Peter Robinson, John Martin, Neil Wilkinson, Alex Black, and about four years after, my uncle, James McCaig, came and settled on Lot 18 with his family. 


The eldest son of James, Donald, was Inspector of Schools in Algoma district and is author of a book of poems.  Hector McCaig, the subject of this sketch, has also been a successful farmer, going into mixed farming and has been, from the early days, one of the best judges and breeders of horses in the County of Wellington.








William McCormick is one of the old pioneers in Puslinch.  He was born in Argyleshire, Scotland in 1806, October 15th, and was educated in Scotland and can remember of the Battle of Waterloo and, at that time, he can remember being then a little boy and how the little ones would say to each other that the French were coming and they would be very much afraid in those days in Kintyre, Argyleshire. 


It was the Gaelic language that we were taught, and I knew all the shorter Catechism in the English language and did not understand one word of it.  The teachers would teach both the English and the Gaelic at the same time in the schools, so that really the Gaelic language was my first language. 


I married in Scotland and had two children before leaving Scotland.  William and Margaret were born in Scotland and when I came to Puslinch it was all a forest.  We came here in the year 1842 and built our first shanty on my place of logs and split timber and we never used a nail in all the building.  Instead of nails, we had to use pins made out of wood and for the flooring we split a pine log and we had a good comfortable shanty and after the shanty was finished we had only 2 shillings left to commence life with in the forest.  But we were brave hearted men, and with courage and industry, we soon made a comfortable home for ourselves in the dense forest.


I took up Lot 19 on the 1st Concession, where we have lived ever since, and have raised a family of five sons and three daughters.  The eldest son, William, lives on the adjoining farm, Donald and Angus, on the homestead.  John, the smithy, has the Blacksmith shop on the homestead, Angus on the homestead and Malcolm, better known as Principal McCormick, being the second youngest son.  The eldest daughter, Margaret, married John Currie and lives in Westminster Township, near London.  Barbara, the second daughter, married Colin Campbell and they live in Belmont.  Mary, the youngest daughter, married James McNaughton and lives in Qu’Appelle, Assiniboia.  All have good homes.  


Mr. McCormick is still a healthy man at age of 91 years.


William McCormick.








The subject of this sketch is the oldest man in Puslinch township.  He was born in Perthshire in the year 1803 and came to Puslinch in the year 1833, coming to Puslinch when it was all forest, and he has seen all the early days in Puslinch. 


He married when he was 30 years old, Margaret Stewart, in Scotland, and left for America with his wife a few weeks after, coming by New York, staying there a short time and then coming up to Niagara, to Hamilton, and to Puslinch, through the bush. 


His wife died in 1880, being 83 years old when she died.  She died leaving a family of five sons and one daughter married, Mrs. Donald McKenzie, of Kinloss, Ontario; Archibald in Kinloss, Donald living near Galt, Allan on the farm at Aberfoyle, and John on the homestead and Hugh on his farm on the 7th Concession, Puslinch.  The sons are all farmers and have been a prosperous family.


John McDiarmid is the oldest man alive in Puslinch at this time and may live for some years to come, he having all his faculties except his hearing, which is a little dull.  And last year, he, at the general election, voted for Mr. Innes, the Reform candidate for South Wellington, and has always been a reformer and never voted otherwise.


                                                          John McDiarmid.








Allan McDonald, the subject of this sketch was born in Invernesshire Scotland in the year 1826 and sailed from Cromarty and arrived in Quebec amongst the French Canadians in 1840, and in that year we went to New York State.  My parents and brothers and sisters, remained in New York for two years and in the year 1842, I and my two brothers, we started and walked all the way from New York to Puslinch and it took us just one week to walk that distance with two meals to eat every day. 


Then my brothers took up 400 acres near Linderman’s Mills, where Forbes Mills now stands, and we logged and cleared all that land, built houses and barns and lived there until 1872.  I retired and moved to Morriston and have lived here ever since.  In the early days we had such hardships to contend with that if we were not of good material we never could have stood it. 


I married Jessie McLean in 1854 but had no family. 


Mr. McDonald has been a true reformer and was one of Mr. Stirton’s best supporters in all his campaigns in South Wellington.


Allan McDonald,









John McFarlane came to Canada from Perthshire in 1834.  He was a cooper by trade, and while in Dundas, he lost his wife and two sons.  He moved to Puslinch and settled on Lots 16 and 17, Concession 10.  He had the first store on the Brock Road, Puslinch Township, known as Aberfoyle. 


Three children survived:  Mrs. James Harvey, Duncan, and John.  Duncan (1818-1891) married Janet Taylor. Issue: Mrs. Edward Kingsbury; Annie, and John who died in California; George and Duncan (Dakota); Mrs. Robert Amos, Guelph; Mrs. Chris Little, Puslinch; Mrs. Rev. John Little, Rockwood; Mrs. George Orr, Vancouver B.C.; Robert (1869-1826) on the homestead married Mary Murray.  Issue: Lila, Marjory, Hazel, Mary, Lindsay, Duncan.  Lila married James McCaig.








Evan McIntyre was born in Invernesshire, Scotland in the year 1758, the youngest member of a large family.  He married Christina Grant and until they emigrated, they occupied a farm in Glenfeshie, Invernesshire.  The family consisted of five sons and four daughters. 


In 1841, Alexander came to Canada to obtain land suitable for the settlement of the rest of the family.  John Clark, of East Puslinch, was an uncle by marriage and the Grant, Clark and McLean families were all his relations, so that Alexander came directly to Puslinch.  He bought Lot 6 of the Gore, south half, and shortly after, the remainder of the family, except one who had married in Scotland, came and settled there.  The father died soon after, at the advanced age of 89 years.  The mother lived until 1871, her 94th year.  In the year 1844 they sailed from Glasgow to New York and came to Puslinch in that year.


There was a family of nine:  Mary (Mrs. Watson), Margaret (Mrs. Clark), Bella (Mrs. Bell), Janet (Mrs. Archibald Gilchrist), John, Donald, Alexander, William and Peter.  We all came to Puslinch, except Mrs. Bell, who remained in Scotland.  John, the eldest son, bought Lot 9 of the Gore and lived there for many years.  He married Mrs. Blacklock, a native of the island of Lewis and they had four children.  His stepson, James Blacklock, is now a resident of Dakota, and a prominent and active politician and legislator there.   Alex was one of the leading school teachers in Puslinch, for many years at Crieff and Killean, and resides now at Niagara-on-the-Lake.  William also taught school for many years.  Janet married Archibald Gilchrist in 1855 and lives on Lot 16, north half of the 2nd Concession.  Margaret married Robert Clark, son of John Clark, of the Badenoch Settlement and Mary married John Watson of the same locality.  They all have large families.  Alex and Mrs. Bell, Mrs. Gilchrist, and Donald McIntyre are still living.  Donald is near London, Alex is living at Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Mrs. Gilchrist is living on the homestead in Puslinch.








Mrs. Angus McKellar of Killean was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland in 1821 and came to Puslinch with her father, the late Walter Bone, in 1835 and in 1840 married Angus McKellar.  When Killean and district was near all forest, we settled on Lot 7 on the 1st Concession where we have lived ever since and raised a family of 5 daughters and six sons, who have homes in different parts of the USA and Ontario. 


I am one of the very first settlers that is left.  Not one other is left to remember the early days on the 1st Concession and the trials that the first settlers had to bear, carrying our flour on our backs from Galt.


Our neighbours were Archibald Ramsay, Neil Thomson, Neil Currie, Archibald McMaster, Alex Ramsay, and Norman Ramsay. 


I can remember when the old log school was built and the contract was let to one William Lamont, and in size, it was 28 x 36 feet, one door and five windows with rough boards for seats and desks.  The trustees were A. McMaster, Angus McKellar, and Matthew McPhatter, and the first teacher was Neil Currie. 


Wolves, bears, and deer were numerous in those days around Puslinch and Mill Creek and the wolves were very destructive sometimes.


Mrs. Angus McKellar,









Donald McLarty was born on the estate of the Duke of Argyle, in Argyleshire, and left the highlands of Scotland in 1836, being then 4 years old, along with his parents and one sister, and sailed on the sail boat “Cursier”, arriving in Quebec.  The time in sailing was 4 weeks and 3 days, arriving in Puslinch Township in the same year, to a dense forest and the forests abounded with any amount of wild deer, bears, and all sorts of wild animals. 


Mr. McLarty was educated in the town of Galt, having as his teacher Mr. John Gowenlock, and later on, he had Mr. Fyett. 


Mr. McLarty is one of the older residents in the township, has lived on the 1st Concession for over 52 years, and has seen a great many ups and downs.  He married Miss Mary Coy, daughter of Nathan Coy, of Guelph, and they have a family of 6 boys and five girls. 


Mr. McLarty can remember of the McKenzie Rebellion and can remember of his father, the late Dougald McLarty, and John McLarty being on sentry duty when 17 prisoners were taken.








Donald McLean, the eldest son of Peter McLean, was one of the four pioneers that came out from Badenoch, Inverness, in 1832 to Puslinch, to procure land for the folks at home.  He took up lots for himself, his brother Alexander, John, and for his father, which last was the homestead.  The next year, the remaining members of the family emigrated.  There were four sisters who afterwards became Mrs. Fraser, Mrs. Grant, Mrs. Hanning and Mrs. Meldrum. There were also two younger brothers Peter and George.


Peter is now on the homestead farm.  He was for some time Deputy Reeve of Puslinch.  Peter McLean Sr. died in 1852.  He was a good old man, of quiet, retiring habits.  The McLeans are numerous and influential in East Puslinch. 


Alexander McLean married Christina Cameron and had a family of 10 children, 4 sons and 6 daughters.  Alexander was fond of hunting deer and bear in the early days when game was plentiful.  He is now living in Morriston.








John McLennan remembered the early days when Dougald McLarty moved onto the farm in the bush on Lot 8 on the 1st Concession, opposite where now stands the Killean School. 


In moving out he had a wagon, called at that time the high carryall, that took two yokes of oxen to haul.  The wheels were cut out of the end of a pine log and were about ten inches across the tire.  All the wagon was made of wood, for no iron was to be got at this time.  When moving out, they were on the road near the Forbes Mills Dam, and on the load of moving, he had a barrel of herring and two or three jars of whisky.  The whole business rolled down the hill toward the dam.


It being Saturday evening, he went on home and left the herring barrel and the jars of whisky behind.  The next morning:  John Thomson, Angus McKellar, and Neil McCormick were helping to move and at the spot where the upsetting took place, they had stayed, with the herring barrel and the jars of whisky till the next morning (Sunday Morning).  Here, Dougald McLarty returned to see what had become of part of his load of effects.  He found that the herring barrel was near empty and the jars of whisky were just about exhausted.  The fun was immense for all concerned.


John McLennan,

Killean District.








John McMillan was born in Argyleshire in the year 1830 and came to Puslinch when he was only 16 years old, when Puslinch was in a wild state and logging bees were all the rage and Whiskey Kilrae, and we would often have a fight before noon and two in the afternoon, and then we would be on very friendly terms after. 


I had to work very hard all my life, from the time I came to Puslinch until the present time ─ chopping cord wood, digging wells, and all such hard work was what I followed for my occupation and I know what it is to earn a living by the sweat of my brow and have seen all the early days in Puslinch.


I lived on Lots 5 & 6 on the 1st Concession, west of where Killean now is, and I had for neighbours Angus McKellar, Black Alex McColl, Dougald McLarty, Archibald McMaster, Neil McCormick, John Clark, Archibald Ramsay and his sons, Alex and Norman, John Blair and Charles Blair, Jackson Wilkinson and his sons, Donald, John, Duncan, and Alex, Big John Thompson and Little John Thompson, Laughlin McMillan, Donald Currie, Donald McTaggart, Andrew Gibson of Gibson’s Saw Mills, Matthew McPhatter, Thomas Paddock and sons, Elder Neil McPhatter, Peter Gilchrist, and Malcolm Gilchrist.  In those days, George Page kept a Public Tavern House and general store at Killean and Killean was our headquarters at this time.


The first sawmill built in Puslinch was built on Lot 15 on the 1st Concession.  They used the whip saw and it was manned by 4 men.  The mill was built on the side of a hill, with a dugout, and 2 men would be below and 2 men above the log.  They would pull and shove on the saw and cut the lumber in that way, for the church that was built on Lot 15, for flooring, doors and windows and for the whole section.  For a time, they got the lumber in this way.  After, Mr. Andrew Gibson built the steam mill on Lot 13 on the 1st Concession, where lumber was more easily obtained.


                                                          John McMillan.








The subject of this sketch, Malcolm McNaughton, was born in Perthshire, six miles from Stirling, in 1819, and I got my education in Scotland and we sailed from Greenock on an American Sail vessel and we were 31 days on the sea.  That was counted a very fast trip at that time. 


We landed in New York and came up the Hudson to Albany, then we came to Rochester, then across Lake Ontario to Toronto and we remained on Yonge Street for a short time.  Then we came out to Puslinch by Hamilton and we arrived in Puslinch in June 1831.  At that time the township was all forest and wild.  My parents, brothers, sisters, and I came and settled on Lot 25 on the 7th Concession. 


At that time I can remember all the settlers in the township:  McBeath, Winer, Wise, Stout, Croft, Hammersley, and a Welshman whose name I cannot remember, but I believe that he was the very first settler in Puslinch.  I can remember him very well on account of my father sending me to his place to buy potatoes and we paid 50 cents a bushel and had to carry them 5 miles on our backs home through the forest. 


The first yoke of oxen my father bought from James Mulroney.  They were young steers and the first time we yoked them they stuck their tails over their backs and made through the bush. 


In those early days, deer, bears, and wolves were very numerous and I can remember many incidents of deer hunting and I can remember shooting two deer with one shot.  My father brought a good shot gun, twist barrel, and he sent me out one afternoon, not thinking of me as a boy of between eleven and twelve years old.  I went out near the swamp and I saw a deer looking straight at me and I aimed the gun and fired straight at his breast.  The bullet cut the point of his heart as we saw after skinning him, this being the first deer that I killed.  Later on, I was hunting and there were three deer and two of them stood side by side, like a yoke of oxen together.  When I fired, I shot the first one through the horns, and the other one through the heart. 


In those days, there were a great many pheasants and sometimes I would get a number of them, and wild ducks were numerous and I would kill lots of them, and wild pigeons, why, the sky would be black with them flying in the air, and out in the Badenoch Settlement they had a rookery where they used to hatch.  I also did some bear hunting and wolf hunting, and I have something to say about the way we chopped, logged and cleared the land in the early days. 


In the fall of the year, we would go through and cut the underbrush and pile it up in good shape.  Then, in the winter, we would commence and cut the biggest trees first.  Then, we would notch the smaller timbers, fell them on top of the big timbers, so that it saved us so much hard work when the fire came into it.  We cut the trees in lengths about 20 or 25 feet long so that the oxen could haul them easier.  When logging, we would make the log heaps so that they would burn well, and after we would brand them, fire them, and get the land ready for wheat. 


We would rake the leaves and chips together in heaps and burn them and would sow the wheat on them, without ever ploughing.  Then we would harrow the land, with a home made drag made the shape of a capital “A” with wooden teeth, as there were no blacksmiths here at that time.  I have often had 40 bushels per acre on this land, the first crops.  When out clearing for others, we got about $4.00 per acre and about $12 or $14 per acre for chopping, logging, and leaving it ready for the first crop. 


In the year 1846, I married Janet Stirton, sister of David Stirton, ex MPP, and had a family of seven sons and four daughters.  My eldest daughter died young.  The second married Chris McBeath and the third married Angus Stewart and lives in Manitoba, as do three of my sons, and Daniel lives on the 2nd Concession, and two sons and one daughter at home on the homestead. 


I have come through a great deal of hardship in my days and have seen Puslinch cleared from a wild forest to a prosperous and well settled country with all the fine homes you see nowadays.     


Malcolm McNaughton,

Morriston P.O.








Matthew McPhatter, son of Neil McPhatter and Grace McKinnon, was born at Killean, Argyleshire, Scotland, February 7th, 1814.  In May 1831, Mr. McPhatter, with his father and his three younger brothers, came by Greenock and Liverpool to Canada, the voyage taking seven weeks and three days, and landing at Quebec.  There were 13 deaths on the ship, one being his younger brother, Hector. 


The family came to Little York, now Toronto, and stayed one year on Yonge Street in Little York.  In 1830 and 1831, David Gibson who was government surveyor, surveyed the township of Puslinch and, by the advice of Mr. Gibson, Mr. Neil McPhatter bought Lot no. 14 and 15 on the 1st Concession, Puslinch, Lot 14 being given to Matthew and he immediately took possession.  At the same sale in October 1831 at Little York, Lot 9 was bought by William Blue, Lots 10 and 11 by John Thomson, Lot 12 by Angus McDonald, Lot 13 by Mr. McNeil, Lot 16 by Alex McNaughton, Lot 17 by Archie McShannock, Lot 18 by Hector Smith, and Lot 19 by Malcolm McPhatter, all on the 1st Concession of Puslinch. 


In March 1832, the family moved from Little York to Lots 14 and 15, 1st Concession, Puslinch and for two years the nearest neighbours were A. McKellar and D. McKellar, Lot 2, Gore of Puslinch and John McColl, Lot 7, Concession 10, Beverly Township which was 4 miles away.  A house, very well built, on Lot 15, made of log and built by the family, was good enough to protect them from the fierce and wild animals that had full control of the woods at that time.  No pigs could be kept for bears killing them; neither could sheep for wolves killing them and their lambs. At night their wild screeches could be heard for miles. 


The first preaching done was by a missionary who would go from house to house and speak the gospel.  However, in a few years a church was organized near Morriston on the Brock Road and  the residents from the 1st Concession and the Gore of Puslinch  walked regularly to church at Morriston.  In 1836, Neil McPhatter granted enough land for a church on Lot 15, which was at once built.  The corners were built by A. McCormick, Neil Thomson, James McPhatter and the subject of this history.  The first minister was William Meldrum who preached in both English and Gaelic, every third Sunday.  Mr. Gillies McBean was appointed overseer of the building of the church, which was built free gratis by all interested, some of the lumber being cut by a whip saw and run by 2 men, one in what was called a sawpit and the other above.  By this means lumber was made for houses.  The first elders were Gillies McBean and Neil McPhatter whose term of service lasted 40 years. 


The name Puslinch was given to this township in 1830 through Mr. David Gibson, the government surveyor and Mr. Lynch, living there about Lot 20 on Concession 5.  Mr. Gibson, having stayed all night with Mr. Lynch, was preparing to leave in the morning, told his host to push on, meaning not to be discouraged, but to go on and clear up his farm.  From this, it was called Puslinch by Mr. Gibson at Little York when the land was to be sold. 


The city of Guelph only constituted a few houses and so also did the town of Galt.  The provisions were carried for some years on their backs until the road got opened up, where oxen and sleigh or cart were used to take in the necessities of life.



Matthew McPhatter.








John McPherson was born in Badenoch, Invernesshire, Scotland in the year 1812 and spent all of his school days in that shire and was the second son of late Donald McPherson who emigrated to Puslinch from Scotland, in 1840, with six sons and four daughters and settled on Lot 27 on the 1st Concession, Puslinch.  Mr. McPherson is one of the most intelligent farmers in the township, with a family of 6 sons and 2 daughters, all doing well in different parts of Canada and the United States:  Duncan, in Michigan; Donald on his farm on the 4th Concession, is a Puslinch Township councillor; Angus on the 2nd Concession of Puslinch, and Alex on the homestead; James and John in California; the daughters married, the eldest to Kenneth McLennan of Galt and the youngest is married to Donald McCaig, of the 2nd Concession, Puslinch.


Mr. McPherson sailed from Scotland, via Glasgow and Liverpool, and landed in New York, coming directly to Puslinch, and started taking down the timber and logging it, making the land ready for the plough.  He cleared all the farm, where he has lived ever since, which is one of the best improved farms in the township.  He has seen all the early days, logging bees, barn and house raisings and have a spree at night, and was very happy in those days, coming as I did from the old country in good health and strength.  In the old country I followed the cattle and sheep, drovered, buying cattle and sheep in Lewis, Isle of Skye, and in Sutherlandshire, and in other parts, and drovering them at Falkirk, Edinburgh, and other places, such as Doon. 


He and his parents arrived in Canada with considerable money.  Mr. McPherson was always a member of the Church of Scotland.  He married Sarah McPherson, a daughter of Duncan McPherson, who arrived from Scotland 52 years ago. 


Mr. McPherson is now in his 85th year and is hale and hearty yet.



John McPherson









John Paddock was born in Shropshire, England, in 1823, and was the second son of the late Thomas Paddock, who in 1833 came to Puslinch with his family of 4 sons and 2 daughters.  The names of the sons were George, John, Thomas, and Richard and the daughters were Maria, who married Henry Bond in Beverly, and Jane, the youngest of the family.  Only John and George are alive now. 


In the earlier days, Mr. Thomas Paddock took up from the Crown about 600 acres of good land on the 1st and 2nd Concessions, near Killean, and since then has improved the properties in clearing and fencing, building and ditching, so that now they are beautiful properties.


Mr. John and Richard Paddock were the most successful breeders of horses in the county of Wellington for many years.








Hugh Reid was born in the village of Bonny Bridge, Parish of Deney, in the County of Sterling, on the 10th of December 1822.  His ancestors have been owners of Bonny Mills for at least 500 years, as the dates on their tombstones show.  He was educated at a private school in the village of Parkfort till 10 years of age, afterwards at a grammar school at Deney Lowhead.  Being fond of reading, he studied Joseph’s History of the Jews, Rolland’s Ancient History, Russell’s Modern History, McCally’s History of England, and other modern writers. 


He left Glasgow on the fifth of June 1841 and arrived in Puslinch on the 17th of July.  He and his brother Thomas walked from Hamilton wharf to their brother, William, who was then settled on Lot 19, front of 3rd Concession.  The roads then were in poor condition.  The Brock Road was cut out and some of the swamps crossed.  The road from Dundas up the mountain was little more than a cattle track and from the Brock Road to my brother’s, we had to follow the blaze through the bush.  With the exception of the hotels, there was not a decent house from Dundas to Guelph. 


A good many new settlers came into Puslinch that fall, amongst them Alexander McKay, who settled on the next lot to my brother and afterwards bought him out.  We spent that fall and winter with my brother, assisting to clear land and built a new house and stable.  There was no snow that winter except about six inches during the last week in January.


He hired with John Marshall the first of April 1842 and stayed there twenty months.  The snow came on that winter on the 2nd of November and did not go away till  the 10th of May 1843.   It kept gaining all winter till the first of March when it snowed steady for three days and nights, when not a fence or stump was to be seen .  We went to Guelph Fair with sleigh and load of wheat on the 6th of May.  Wheat was then .50 per bushel and oats .10 in trade.  Nothing would sell for cash but wheat in November. 


I hired with John Linderman for the winter to work in the sawmill, and in April 1844, I rented the farm and sawmill of Evard Farret, deceased, and in the fall, I married the widow and have lived on the property ever since.  I carried on the lumber business for 8 years but quit for want of water.  We had seven children, two sons and five daughters.  Two daughters are dead.  The rest are scattered over America.  


In 1845, he joined the Primitive Methodist Church and was for 10 years a local preacher in that body.  In politics, he was a keen reformer. 


In the spring of 1882, he rented his farm and retired from business.  He has had poor health for the past five years, but he still takes pleasure in driving a good fast horse and drives out as often as health and weather permits.








Mr. William Ross is native of the island of Burra in the Orkneys.  He sailed from Aberdeen in the ship “St. Andrews”, bound for Quebec, and in the month of May 1847 arrived there.  Mr. Ross had been previously a whale fisher, and his early life was full of adventure and danger.  On his first voyage, the crew took 19 whales. 


In 1851, he married Isabella Dunbar.  They have 4 children now living.  Three sons, John, Hugh, and James now occupy farms in the township.  The homestead is Lot 9, rear half, of 1st Concession.  When Mr. Ross came to it, there were only four acres cleared.  In 1863, he built his barns, large and commodious frame buildings, and in 1872, the dwelling house that he now occupies. 


His earlier neighbours were Peter Gilchrist on Lot 10, James McMaster on Lot 9, Mr. Cassidy, Edward Ellis, and Sam Taylor on Lots 8 and 9, 2nd Concession.  Neil Currie lived near the big lake.  The only horse team then was owned by the Gilchrists.








Mr. James Scott was born in Selkirkshire, Scotland in October 1823 and got my education there and came to Puslinch in the spring of 1838 and have cleared and improved the farm, Lot #6 on the 10th Concession, and I have seen all the early life in this part of Puslinch.


I got married in March 1844 and have a large family of 13, nine boys and four girls.  My wife, Elizabeth Johnston, who was the first child that was born around Arkell, was rocked in a sap trough. At that time, there was a great wolf hunt in this section of Puslinch.  The settlers turned out with pitch forks, scythes and some had guns, and after that hunt, wolves were not troublesome.  After that, the bears were still troublesome, killing the settler's pigs et cetera.        


J. Scott








John Scott, of Killean, was born in Blackcraig, Perthshire, Scotland and came to Puslinch in 1857 and settled on Lot 14, on the 1st Concession, near Killean, and has been one of the most prosperous farmers in the township, having a farm that contains 600 acres . 


Being a shepherd, and brought up among the heather, after coming to Puslinch, I went into mixed farming and can say that I have made a success of it.  I went into sheep breeding and raising cattle for beef, and also butter making, which have all been profitable.  In days gone by, I have been able to keep the wolf from the door and have never been at a loss on sheep and cattle breeding since I came to Puslinch. 


John Scott,









William Scott was born in Howick, Scotland, in 1812 and, with his wife, came to Canada in 1839. They first settled in Dumfries; later on, they moved to Woolwich, where Winterburne now stands, and in 1848, came to the Gore of Puslinch. 


Mr. Scott bought Lot 10 from Donald McInnes, who was afterwards a wholesale merchant of Hamilton.  He afterward bought Lots 9, 11, and 12.  The Leslie Station, C.P.R., is on his property. 


Mr. Scott had a family of 10 children, 7 sons and 3 daughters.  The daughters married Andrew McBean, Robert Jamieson, and John Jamieson.  William is living in Dumfries; Andrew on Lot 12, Gore; Adam in Arizona; John on Manitoulin Island; James on Lot 11, Gore; and Walter died in 1893.  Mr. & Mrs. Scott died in 1896.








Peter Stewart was born in St. Fillians, Perthshire, Scotland, in 1822 and arrived in Canada in 1834, and arrived in Puslinch the same year, and bought this farm from a man named James Burnside, and has lived here ever since, and have now 200 acres of land, all in good order and a well stocked farm. 


He can remember many of the old time reminiscences of earlier days.  On the way out from the old country, with five brothers and five sisters, the husband of one of his sisters died in Montreal from cholera and that dreaded disease was prevalent all over Canada at that time.  On the way up from Montreal, there were 21 oxen teams, driven by French Canadians, and on the way, the rapids were about to take the teams into the river.  The ropes were cut and the boat was left broadside against a rock, but we were all saved by being allowed to remain on the rock till morning, and arrived safe in Toronto.  We remained there 3 weeks, and we arrived in Hamilton. 


We could not get a house to live in on account of the cholera.  We stayed in Hamilton till the next fall.


Early days in the bush, I have started out with my oxen on Monday morning and did not return till Saturday night, being at a logging bee down on the 1st Concession and the Gore every day in the week.  At one logging bee, when whisky was plentiful and good, Charles Borthwick was grog boss and I was driving a neighbour’s oxen, and they were very heavy and lazy, and I got tired driving them, and in the afternoon, I gave each ox a bottle of whisky.  I had the liveliest team in the field and the oxen, I am glad to say, belonged to Kenneth McKenzie, an old Puslinch neighbour, now of Burnside, Manitoba. 


However, I must here say that, in those days, the neighbours were so good to each other, and would be happy to have to eat a scone made of flour and water, and we would have some wild gooseberries, stewed, and maple sugar with potatoes, venison, (deer meat) and sometimes bear meat.   We were very happy.


Another time, we had a shanty to live in without any door but an old country blanket hung over, when the bear came and got among the pigs and took one of them.  I took a fire brand and gave chase, overtook the bear and struck him across the head, but he would not let loose of the pig.  The dog, a large, heavy one, made an attack on the bear.  Still he would not let loose, but he took the pig to the hill in the bush and had a good meal out of it and left what he could not eat under a turned up maple tree. 


Many other histories I can relate of hunting bears and deer.  One evening, we caught a good sized cub, killed him and took his pelt off.  When the old bear came along, we had all we could do to keep her away; the roar of her was terrible.  She was looking for her cub and came when we were all in bed.


In those days, there were no Concessions and roads made, but trails and blazes on the trees, so that we could see, and I can well remember Shade’s Road through Puslinch.  It followed on near the Accommodation Road, and now is on the blind line between the 4th Concession and the 5th Concession, and we at that time followed Shade’s Road, with our loads of maple sugar on our backs, to Galt.


Another incident of early days was hauling whisky to Toronto with 2 yokes of oxen with a wagon, for David Allen, of Guelph.  His brother, Robert Allen, and I started from Guelph before daylight in the morning for Toronto with a big load, and we sold whisky all the way down, and we took four days on our way there and home.  We sold it out by the barrel, for 20 cents per gallon. 


I have raised a family of 9 children, 4 girls and 5 boys, all at home but 2, who are in Manitoba.


Peter Stewart








The name “Puslinch” was given to the township by Lady Colbourne, wife of Sir John Colbourne, who was, at the time of the survey of the township, Governor of Upper Canada.  It was named after the estate in the south of England, being the family home of Lady Colbourne’s family.  Puslinch is composed of Clergy Reserve lands, and until Guelph was opened up in 1827, was kept in undisturbed wilderness. 


Mr. Galt, the founder of Guelph, being very anxious to have a more direct way to the Lake Ontario than around by Galt, induced the government to have a survey of a direct road through the wilderness, to meet another survey through the Flamboroughs.  David Gibson, a housing surveyor, was instructed by the Surveyor General to have this done at once on April 9th, 1828.  Mr. Gibson started at the Guelph end and ran a line to the other end, below Schaw Station.  He also surveyed at this time the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th concessions.  The 11th was the Nassagaweya line; this is what is known as the “old survey”.  The balance of the township and the Gore, known as the new survey, was not laid out until 1831.


The contract for cutting and clearing the portion of the road that was within Puslinch was let to Absalom Shade, of Galt, who had been one of the Guelph contractors, and was one of the most pushing and enterprising men in Canada.  As soon as the road was fit, even for foot passengers, it was frequented by dozens of emigrants in search of land. 


The first person who moved into Puslinch was a Mr. Lewurtch, but others had their land located and the first instalment paid before him.  Lot 9, Rear of the 7th Concession was owned by McPherson, and better known as the Carter farm, was the first.  This Lot was entered in the government books in June 1828 in the name of William Carroll.  Patrick Carroll, his brother, and John Clair located the adjoining lots, Lot 10 on the Rear of the 7th and Lot 10 on the front of the 8th Concession.  The latter is still owned by William Clair, the only son of the emigrant owner and we may here state that his sister, Mrs. Hugh Cassin, is entitled the honour of being the oldest resident of the township, she having lived continuously for 69 years in the township, and a most worthy specimen she is of the mothers of our country.


There appears to be a vacuum of 6 years after the first settlement before we have any authentic record of municipal organization, but on January 4th, 1836, we have a report, in full, of a meeting of the residents of the township, held at the inn so long known as the headquarters or place of public meetings, known at this time as Flynn’s Hotel, Mr. McMeekin purchasing the property some four years later, and we may here state that this place was for many years later the general rendezvous for all public gatherings.  It was well situated on the leading road of the township, nearly central as regards distance from all parts. 


The many amusing scenes enacted here would make some of the richest treats that the humorist could desire.  Town Meeting day was the holiday of the year and was always largely attended.  Every bush-whacker was expected to air his grievances and councillors and pathmasters were subjected to a full share of criticism and abuse.  A thought-out defence or explanation was simply useless and “grin and bear it” was the wisest course.  The meetings were held in the old frame barn.  The floor was literally packed; the standing chairman was Mr. John Cockburn.  He took his stand on the swing beam with his secretary, Alex Smith, at his elbow.  The elevated position of the pair gave, them an immense advantage over the crowd.   Although one of the fairest of men, he knew it was no earthly use to delay and wait and listen to this or the other interruption with 50 odd pathmasters and fence viewers, pound-keepers, assessor, and collector to appoint, besides going through the township by-laws, fixing the height of lawful fences and regulating the rules of what animals should go at large.  It often happened to be a severe cold day.  Then, it was no wonder that business went with a rush.


The following may be given as a specimen:  "Who is to be appointed in John Smith’s place?"  “Put him in again”, says one. “No, No” comes from several parties –“He’s no fair - he winna work himself and he’s no particular about the hours”; but while this discussion is going on John Smith’s name is down by the active secretary, and when declared to the meeting, a howl of disgust goes up.  And then an adjournment to the bar is proposed by the disgruntled anti-Smithites, and so the meeting goes on.


At the meeting of 1836, three gentlemen were appointed to a Board of Commissioners.  These men were Thomas Todd, John Linderman, and Patrick Doyle and Charles Armstrong, Township Clerk.  The following year Patrick Doyle was replaced by James Stirton and John Hammersley was appointed clerk.


1838 was the last year of the commissioners.  The following year, 1839, the name or title by which the three gentlemen elected were called was “Town Warden”.  Their names were James Stirton, John MacFarlane and John Roach.  In 1842, the new Municipal Law came in force.  William Leslie and Alexander Nicoll were chosen to represent the Township of Puslinch in the District Council in the Gore District, and although the township boundary was within a little more than a mile of the County town of Wellington, yet those gentlemen had to go to Hamilton to represent their township and had to continue doing so until 1846, when Puslinch was joined to Wellington.  In looking over the period of the Commissioners and Wardens there is little to say in its praise. 


Local self government, which was so long contended for by the people, was doled out by dribbles for fear that they would hurt themselves on “suckling republics”, as they were called by the ultra conservatives.  They gave way bit by bit.  The appointment of Wardens was made by the Government Assize Body, of intelligent and practical members, not appointed by the Crown.  Chairmen and clerks had also to be appointed by the government out of three names sent to them.  


In 1849, the first Township Council, which deserved the name, was elected - five gentlemen were elected representing the different portions of the township. They were Messrs. Cockburn and Ellis (the old members) and Leslie, Stirton, and McRobbie.  This Council, at their first meeting, appointed John Cockburn and Thomas Ellis to represent the township in the County Council.  The work of this practical body of men soon became manifest in the rapid improvement of the roads in the township.  Although the general character of the township with regards to construction of gravel roads was most difficult, yet by consistent and persistent effort on the part of the Council, with the assistance of the people, the naturally rough roads eventually became comparatively a credit to the country at large.


The people of Puslinch deserve great credit for their indomitable energy in overcoming the natural difficulties of their position.  Unlike many others, their township received no help from any outside source to the making of roads.  Neither the Government or the County Council gave any assistance, but for the fact that the Brock Road was the outlet for the county, and must be kept in a fair state of repair, Puslinch would have been left severely alone as far as roads went.  The construction of the Brock Road into a county gravel road in 1848 made a marked improvement to the township; Aberfoyle and Morriston were the creations of the change, and not withstanding that heavy tolls were exacted, the change was greatly for the better. 


The Township was divided into five wards for a number of years.  This did away with the old style of town meetings, much to the regret of the fun loving portion of the community, but they had a very good substitute in the unusual agricultural shows.  These gatherings were attended by immense gatherings and the dinner held in the evening gave an opportunity for the exhibitors to air their eloquence, telling how they cultivated the monster turnips and other roots, showing in numerous cases how the ridiculous and the sublime could be jumbled together. 


Take the following as an illustration:  The first speaker (who had taken some prizes for pigs) “Mr. President, ha’ pity that man who could not appreciate that lovely black sow or that beautiful white pig that I showed today”.  Of course, love and beauty in pigs was too much for the excited audience.  The orator had to cave in and up jumped his next neighbour and delivered himself as follows: “Mr. President: I can’t follow my neighbour and his excessive concern over the swinish multitude, but I will take this enlightened audience with me to the company of Sir Isaac Newton, the discoverer of the Law of Gravitation, but I could if they do so.” But this was too much.

This must suffice as a sample of after dinner oratory, and so the night went on with song and chatter and the Puslinch annual holiday was spent. 


But the great improvement in the modes of farming was soon manifest throughout the township, and the Annual Ploughing Match, the elder child of the show, was a great means of improvement in farming operations.  It introduced an improved style of plough and the implements, and we may here say that the seed sown in this time has borne good fruit, even to the present day, when we may see the position to which Puslinch has advanced as a leading agricultural township. 


In 1833, one of the most important events took place in connection with the farming interests that up to that time had happened in Canada.  Mr. Rowland Wingfield, a plucky young Englishman, came out to Canada in 1831.  He made the acquaintance of David Gibson, who was then engaged in the survey of West Puslinch.  Wingfield, with Gibson's advice, located a block of 800 acres in the west corner of the township in one of the best sections of the whole settlement.  Wingfield, after letting a large contract of clearing and the erecting of buildings, returned to England, principally for the selection and importing of first class stock to stock his new farm.  As stated, in 1833, his herd arrived and was composed of 6 or 8 of the best thoroughbred Durham cattle which ever came to Canada.  He also had a fine lot of Southam sheep, Berkshire pigs, and a number of fowls of various breeds and a couple of pure collie dogs, the first, up to that time, that had been seen in our new community. 


With common care and prudence, the venture would have been a great success, but unfortunately for the enterprise, as far as the importer was concerned, it was a failure.  But if Mr. Wingfield lost his money, by his own folly, the county of Wellington was a great gainer.  For this importation, this whole section of country was indebted, and its character established as the best section of Canada.  The cause of Mr. Wingfield’s failure was due to Mr. Wingfield’s involvement in a political election in which he was financially embarrassed and as a result had to sacrifice his farm and stock.


David Stirton








John Winer, the subject of this sketch, is the oldest settler that the writer has come across in Puslinch township.  He says that his father, mother, brothers, and sisters came here to Puslinch from the state of New York in 1830 and settled on the farm where he now lives.  His parents died many years ago and brothers and sisters live in Huron County. 


I started on the old homestead of 107 acres, where I live, which I helped to clear and improve on, till now we have a very comfortable house on Lot 33 on the 7th Concession on the Brock Road.  When we first came here to Puslinch, we had no accommodations, no shanty, no clearings and the first home I had in Puslinch was in a tree.  We lived in the shade of this tree for some time until we got up a shanty, and the nearest neighbour we had was the first settler on record, who built up towards Guelph or where Guelph now is, and we called him “Welshman”.  He was the first man to settle in Puslinch.  He had a son and a daughter, and when he died, shortly after, his son and daughter left the district and we never heard of them anymore.  So that I can say that “Welshman” was the first settler and his was the first death in Puslinch.


My father, Paul Winer, and the family left New York in February with two yoke of oxen and two sleighs and came across Lake Ontario on the ice with all the load that the two yoke of oxen and sleigh could take.  When we got to Kingston the sleighing was all gone and we traded one yoke of oxen and a sleigh for a wagon and we came along through the bush till we came to Puslinch.


When we arrived in April 1830, we commenced to hew out a home for ourselves out of the forest.  At this time, where the Brock Road now is, it was newly underbrushed, and from Dundas we had to follow the marks on the trees and the Indians were the only company we had, there being many of them in the forest then.  I have seen deer run through the bush like big flocks of sheep and very often chased closely by a pack of wolves. 


In those days, we had very hard times.  We lived very skimpily, there being no fruit or nuts of any kind growing wild before the timber was cut, that we could eat, and the first flour we got was at Crooks Mills at Crooks Hollow and the other food we would have, venison, and we made out till we got pork and beef and other foods that came after. 


I married 47 years ago, Leni Moatz, and have a family of 10, 6 boys and 4 girls.


                                                          John Winer,







Improvements in Implements by 1897.


For many years the implements used on the farms were primitive in design and rude in construction, but well adapted for the work that they had to perform.  Settlers coming from Britain quickly perceived that they must modify their views regarding such things by adapting themselves to the circumstances of a new country, as well as possible.  But as the clearings increased in size and the stumps disappeared, the demand grew for implements and machinery to take the place of the old “Number 4 Plough”; the “Queen of the West” and the Mahaffy Ploughs came into use.


When the oxen became despised as aids on the farm and horses came into general use, Wilkinson Ploughs and the Goudy Ploughs were introduced.  Blacksmiths began to vie with each other in turning out the lightest, most wide-spreading, and most serviceable implements.  The cradle displaced the hook, while lighter wagons and more comfortable sleighs took the place of the cumbrous vehicles that had done duty in pioneer days.  No longer were the sleighs shod with strips of bark and the spring pole wagon seat was supplanted by one supported on the elastic steel. 


Then the days of machinery dawned.  The first reaper was the Galt reaper, manufactured by Luitz & Co. and was brought into Puslinch in 1866.   It was a combined reaper and mower.  The reaper part was known as the self dropper and had to be drawn at a trot to make to make it work at all satisfactorily, especially when the grain was a little damp.   So exhausting was this work on the horses that two teams had be kept in the field for needful changes.  Self rakers came next and after them came the self-binders, about 1882.  The latter performed its work at first with wire, but afterward with twine.  William Scott, Matthew McPhatter, Richard Bond, and Richard Paddock were the first to purchase the combined reaper-mower.


The eight-horse power thrashing machine, “The Spike” or “Buzzard” followed the flail, but if it did not thoroughly separate the grain from the straw and chaff, the newer thrashing machine took its place about 1851.  William Stewart, now in Victoria, Australia, brought the first ten horse power and separator, a Hamilton make, into the township of Puslinch and later Adam Young, the venerable thrasher, brought another separator and ten horsepower into Puslinch.  Later still, in 1882, he introduced the steam engine, a Brantford make, and nowadays there is nothing used but the steam engine, and they are quite numerous. 


Even the sowing is not now performed by hand, broadcast and drill machines being employed for the purpose.  Tillage is no longer confined to the old single plough and the harrow is an addition to innumerable improved forms of implements.  Both of these we have, the Gang Plough and the Spring tooth cultivator, in great variety, which largely answers the purpose of both the plough and harrow.


Spades, shovels, hoes, manure forks, and hayforks, as we have them today are fully fifty percent lighter than those we used in the early days. and the same may be said regarding almost every other farm implement in which steel has taken the place of iron.  Hand tools, like these just mentioned, must ever retain a place on the farm, although they are not now employed to anything like the extent of their old time applications.  Modern devices have largely displaced them all, except on the very small plots of ground, and every year decreases the amount of labour formerly done with such tools.  The best illustration of such devices may be found in the present day method of loading and unloading hay by means of the hay fork, slings and horsepower, which is used to carry the material to the most distant part of the mow.  Also, roots are no longer chopped with a hand knife, but the turnip puller does the work completely.


In the dairy, too, it would astonish our grandmothers if they could have but a peek or two at the way things are managed.   That is, where there is a dairy, but on many farms the departure has become most modest in its proportions, and equally so, its aims for the milk, which, when not sent to a joint stock Company’s Creamery or Cheese Factory, is usually made into butter to supply Guelph, Hespeler, Galt, and Hamilton Markets.


The vast improvement that has taken place in implements has enabled the farmer to dispense with the employment of so many extra hands, as were formerly required during busy seasons, and has not only rendered it necessary for him to provide special accommodation for the housing of his machines, but has laid upon him the obligation to become, in considerable measure, a mechanic.






Hunters and Shooters in Puslinch


In the early days, when game was plentiful, David King, on the Plains, was one of the principal cracksmen and shooting deer was his hobby.  He made a special study of deer and bear hunting.  John McQuillan and his brothers, William and Thomas, also were hunters.  The Reeves brothers, Mark, Luke, and John, were the principal shots in Puslinch for many years, and held the highest record for deer hunting for many years. 


John McQuillan can relate many incidents of deer hunting.  One morning, he and his brother, William, shot two fine deer before seven o’clock in the morning.  It was in 1853, and we had been hunting the day previous and had chased two deer into the cedar swamp on Mill Creek on Lot 8 on the rear of the Gore.  We came across two deer on one side of the old log bridge and I shot the buck and alongside of him stood the doe and I shot her through the heart, splitting her heart in two.  It ran about 100 yards, then took a leap into the air and fell dead.  Another deer that William McQuillan killed in 1859 was known as the Virginia Monster.  It had a white spot on its forehead.  It was shot in Mr. Valen’s swamp and was sent to the Niagara Museum and is still to be seen there, stuffed, and is one of the attractions in that museum.  It weighed, after being killed, 250 pounds.  It was grey in colour.  John McQuillan can remember of killing 49 foxes in one season, and we can remember of having company and we went out hunting and killed 18 foxes in one day.  They were all red, but one was silver-grey.   In those days, we made a business of deer and fox hunting and Peter Green, the Indian hunter, lived in Puslinch, and we were often in his company.







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