The McPhatter Letters
(The recollections of the
first generation of settlers in
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
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”
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.
“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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
(known as the Laird of Puslinch)
late Fredrick Begerow Esq. was born in
youngest son, August, is well known in Puslinch and Galt and he can remember
the early days around the
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.
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
have not been many accidents on the
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.
subject of this sketch is a very old resident of Puslinch, being born in the
cleared the farm where they now live,
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.
subject of this sketch was born in
were first finishing the
my sons are Solomon, Barney, George, William and Charles. Solomon and William are butchers, and
Barney keeps hotel at
was born in
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.
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
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
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.
used to go to
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.
Carter, the subject of this sketch was born in Wiltshire, England, in 1813,
and came to
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.
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
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.
subject of this sketch was born in
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
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,
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.
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
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
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.
Caufield or Caulfield
Caufield was born in
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.
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
Cober, the subject of this sketch was born on
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
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.
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
Cober is a member of the
N. P. Cober
Thomas Collins was born in King's County,
married Mr. Collins in 1842 and they have occupied
Mrs. Collins has 10 children, all living at the time of writing.
subject of this sketch was born near Howich,
brother, William, had the contract of building all of the
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.
subject of this sketch was born in the state of
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.
married Susan Iles 48 years ago and have a family of 5 girls and one son in
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
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
had a first class certificate and at that time there was only one other in
Downey had a family of three daughters and three sons. One of his sons, Joseph P. is editor of the
Late School-teacher at the
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.
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
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
Eagle was born in
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
There were several families of Indians living near our place in lodges, hunting and fishing and making baskets.
Eagle was born in
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
Eagle’s house was also where preaching was held, when Mr. Nichol held
services according to the rites of the
this Lot 7, a shop was opened where the wood work for the ploughs of the
and hunting were great sport. Mr.
Eagle remembers Alex Parkes and himself spearing 40 big black bass in one
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.
a number of years, Mr. Eagle has lived in Hespeler where he has been prominent
in the Council and in the
Ellis was born in
came to Puslinch in 1839 and settled on
was elected to the District Council in 1848 and 1849; to the
family members have all been soldiers.
The eldest son, David, was studying medicine at
Falconbridge was born in
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.
Falconbridge Jr. was in the general store business at
the time that the
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.
office was named, after considerable discussion, Aberfoyle, after a place in
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.
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
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.
Ferguson, a younger brother of Donald’s, was also long a well-known resident
of Puslinch. He had been employed for
2 years in
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.
in N.Y., he took a position with J. S. Stewart & Co. of
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.
subject of this sketch was born in Midlothian,
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.
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
can remember the first settlers in Badenoch settlement, Donald McLean, Peter
Grant, and Alex McBean, and they built a shanty on
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 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.
was born in Argyleshire,
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
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.
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
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.
those days, there was only one store in the city of
McKenzie Rebellion time, leaving the district to join the rebels at
Fyfe was born in Tyrone County, Ireland, in 1830. Her parents emigrated to
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
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.
as the time went on, each one of the sons settled on farms, all in the
subject of this is the oldest first male child born in the
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.
then came to Puslinch in the next September, onto
was the first
was also Captain of the Militia at the time of the McKenzie Rebellion and his
company went to
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.
first settler in Puslinch was a Welshman, name unknown, who settled on
Graham built the first sawmill in Puslinch on
subject of this sketch was born in
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.
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
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.
went back to
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
(Crocan) Kennedy came out with the Clark, Grant, and
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.
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
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
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.
this time, the
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.
the Shades Road, it was in the early days and we had no roads and we had
either to go to
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.
Little was born in
Little Senior took up Lot 9, adjacent, 200 acres, and bought it from a land
first school days were spent on the 6th Concession at
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
Lynch was born in the County of Carlow,
first neighbours were the families of Doyle, Ready, Lynch, Hanlon, Caulfield,
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.
Scotch Presbyterians of Badenoch Settlement, yearning for the religious
privileges of their old home, decided to send to
Meldrum was born in Abernethy, Morayshire in 1806. After completing his education at
“When death’s dark stream I’ll ferry o’er
to all this surely shall come,
In heaven itself I’ll ask no more
no church, the old school-house on
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.
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
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.
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
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.
have three brothers, Patrick, Thomas and William all living in Puslinch,
except Thomas, who lives in Glenelg.
My sisters are all living in
belong to the Roman Catholic Church and live in the
subject of this sketch was born in
we came here to Puslinch there was only one settler between here and where
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.
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
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.
B. Morrison, merchant, Morriston, was born in
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
fire in July 1860 was the means of his building the Brock Block on the south
side of the
R. B. Morrison.
late John Munro was a native of Rosshire
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
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
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.
occasion, when coming down from Wilmot by way of
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
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.
subject of this sketch is the oldest living settler in the
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 took up the home where we have ever since lived for 67 years. We bought it from the Crown in
father then went and worked on the
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
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
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.
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
knew Shades Road and it joins the
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.
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.
Mr. McCormick is still a healthy man at age of 91 years.
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.
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
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
McDonald, the subject of this sketch was born in Invernesshire
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.
McDonald has been a true reformer and was one of Mr. Stirton’s best
supporters in all his campaigns in
McFarlane came to
children survived: Mrs. James Harvey,
Duncan, and John.
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.
1841, Alexander came to
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
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,
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
Mr. McLarty was educated in the town of Galt, having as his teacher Mr. John Gowenlock, and later on, he had Mr. Fyett.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 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.
first sawmill built in Puslinch was built on
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.
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.
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
family came to Little
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
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
name Puslinch was given to this township in 1830 through Mr. David Gibson,
the government surveyor and Mr. Lynch, living there about
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.
McPherson sailed from Scotland, via
and his parents arrived in
Mr. McPherson is now in his 85th year and is hale and hearty yet.
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.
John and Richard Paddock were the most successful breeders of horses in the
Reid was born in the village of Bonny Bridge, Parish of Deney, in the County
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.
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
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
1845, he joined the
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.
William Ross is native of the
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
earlier neighbours were Peter Gilchrist on Lot 10, James McMaster on
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.
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.
Scott was born in Howick, Scotland, in 1812 and, with his wife, came to
Scott bought Lot 10 from Donald McInnes, who was afterwards a wholesale
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.
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
could not get a house to live in on account of the cholera. We stayed in
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
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.
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
incident of early days was hauling whisky to
have raised a family of 9 children, 4 girls and 5 boys, all at home but 2,
who are in
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
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 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.
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
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.
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
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.
1833, one of the most important events took place in connection with the
farming interests that up to that time had happened in
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
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
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.
father, Paul Winer, and the family left
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.
Improvements in Implements by 1897.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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