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which for over thirty years has been dedicated to coverage of Puslinch
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A History of School Section #3
by Cleo Melzer
(from the Puslinch Pioneer for April 1984, volume 8, issue 8.)
In 1940, Margaret Barclay, wife of James Barclay Jr., asked Mr. Maddock, a descendant of one of the early pioneers, if he would write a short historical sketch of the places, people, and events of School Section # 3. Mr. Maddock kindly agreed. Margaret’s daughter, Jessie, (Mrs. Joseph Hewer), graciously lent this history to the Puslinch Pioneer, and we in turn would like to share it with our readers, and so we begin.
The history of School Section No. 3, dates back almost a century. Unfortunately, none of the pioneers remain from whom we might have obtained direct information. We feel no tribute is too great to pay those early settlers, who braved the dangers and privations of the first days, when, by the sweat of their brow they felled the kings of the forest to make a tiny clearing and built the first shanties, serving as homes, to be replaced later by substantial log dwellings. Foot by foot, the clearing was enlarged till potatoes could be grown between the stumps and a few handfuls of treasured wheat sown. The logs were hewed by hand for the buildings, which were only a few days in construction, as all the neighbours within reach lent a hand. The shingles also were split by hand. Oxen were used for the heavy work. As soon as possible a cow and a few sheep were procured. The wool was prepared at home to be sent to the weaver, which turned out long wearing homespun. Tailors were quite numerous who went from house to house and outfitted the male members of the family. The maple trees were tapped, and a supply of sugar, syrup, and vinegar was the result. Home-made tallow candles furnished light; laundry soap was made from potash, and even laundry starch, from potatoes.
To this district came many families
They lived with only the road between,
this being a given road between the 4th and 5th Concession, which was made
for the accommodation of farmers taking their wheat to Holm’s grist mill on
What was formerly known as “Strachan’s
Corners” was the centre of the business life of the community. A general store and tavern were run by Mr.
& Mrs. Strachan, with a blacksmith shop adjacent. The farmers traded their produce, which was
Later, Mr. Strachan bought the farm, on the corner of which the store was located, from Mr. Ewing. He was succeeded by his son who sold it in 1891 to Mr. J. Barclay. The store was run for some time by Mrs. McGill, the shop by B. O’Connor, after which, the buildings were occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Fitzpatrick, a veteran of the Crimean War. At present, 1940, the well-tilled fields bear no trace of what was once the scene of such activity.
In the earliest days, a school was
built on the corner of the Lynch farm across from the home of Mr. J. Phelan,
but memory of it has passed into oblivion.
Not being centrally located, it was moved to the North-East corner of
the Thompson farm now owned by Mrs. M. Lynch, the last teacher there being
Mr. Charles Walker, later a broker in
In the early fifties, the school site
was changed to where
In some cases, he taught the second generation. His higher education enabled him to pass pupils qualified to an advanced place in the High School at one time. He had as many as 104 pupils on the roll. He and his wife lived and raised their family in a small house that was built in the school yard. It was only when an old man that he retired to the city.
In the year 1880, a
The History of School Section #3
by Cleo Melzer
(from the Puslinch Pioneer for May 1984, volume 8, issue 9.)
In the early days, most of the farms comprised only 100 acres, which meant more neighbours, but as time went on many added to their farms, and having no need for the buildings, they were removed. One of these was that of Mr. R. Maddock, whose pretty farm home and rare old English garden was an outstanding feature. They moved to the city, when the land was divided and sold.
In the log house, on the farm now owned
by Fred Crawley, lived for many years, Mr. Raeme,
with his family, formerly a Southern planter of French descent and with
considerable wealth. He had married a
mulatto. The younger generation were
for the most part coloured. Before the
Civil War, he left his country
The church was replaced in 1888 by the
present stone structure. It is located
on the N.E. corner of Mr. J. Clark’s farm, which is part of a block owned by
the late Squire Howitt, his predecessor being Mr. Roland Wingfield, a
gentleman of wealth who came to Canada in 1831 and took up 800 acres. He erected a large stone house, known as “
Possibly the oldest dwelling in Puslinch, although in excellent repair, is “The Cottage”, which stands on land which has been in the McWilliams’ name since 1831 and is now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. R. Slater. When it was built, it was completely surrounded by virgin forest. A marriage was solemnized within its walls 88 years ago. Quite a number can claim it as their birthplace. Not a few spent the evening of life amid its peaceful surroundings, while several young couples started on life’s journey under the shelter of its roof. If its old walls could speak they would record many tales of courage and adventure. Being by the roadside many travellers turned in to its hospitable door, one of whom was a friendly Indian Chief, who was a frequent visitor. None were refused a welcome. Mr. Charles McWilliams was the township’s first assessor.
There are several other very old houses
in the section. One is Mr. Kinsella’s house which has been standing over a hundred
years. Also quite old is the Moran
homestead, now occupied by Mr. Gilroy.
Another of the many worthy of mention is that of Mr. J. Anderson, a
gentleman of leisure from
The social life of the neighbourhood was kept alive by means of picnics, bees, and raisings in the summer; dancing parties, tea meetings, etcetera in winter. Names of some of the sweet singers of that day are still mentioned by the older people. These gave freely of their gifts with no thought of recompense.
In those days, wolves were a real menace, stock having to be securely housed, and they were sometimes known to steal a carcass of meat almost from under the roof. A true story is told of the ancestor of a prominent family, who, when returning home from Hamilton, where he had been to purchase flour, was attacked by a pack of wolves on Mr. Foster’s farm. He climbed the nearest tree where he had to spend the night as the wolves continued their watch until daybreak. One can imagine his relief when they retired. Another is told of two maiden ladies living some distance apart. Each went in search of their cow, usually easily located by the sound of the bell, but being a foggy evening both got lost, but happily found shelter in the same abandoned shanty and spent the night, although frightened almost to death by the sound of prowlers.
Occasionally bears were seen. Two women picking berries noticed one quite close by, picking berries too. In their hasty retreat, they left their full pails and never found them although they returned to search. Wild bees’ nests were often found with a good supply of delicious honey. Sometimes, we wonder if there was not more real happiness in those days, even if they had to ride over rough uneven trails in spring-less wagons and had none of the comforts that we take as a matter of course. The wheels of time have revolved so often that it is hard to imagine their simple lives in contrast to the rush and hurry of our modern world. Will the next century show as many changes?
family settled on
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