Past and Present — Ninety Years Ago and Now.
History of the Settlement.
(By J.M. WALKER, Gananoque)
On the occasion of the visit of the “Old Boys” and their wives, sisters or daughters to the historic Town of Perth, we propose giving a brief history of the settlement of the town and townships around, obtained from public records, from incidents handed down from father and son, and from other stories current in the neighborhood. There may be no doubt much more to be said on the history of the pioneers and the work they did, but in the small compass of a page of the Courier there is no room for greater details. Doubtless when the “Old Boys” get together they can supply one to another much that has been unrecorded and forgotten by the majority, and so history can be made to live over again when their fond recollections of a dim past and a “tale that was told” long ago pass again from one old neighbor to another.
The population of the town is now about 3,500; the assessment this spring $1,346,470. The manufactories are but few, and number a hosiery, felt mill, planing mill, two foundries and machine shops and steam saw-mill. The town has a system of sewerage and its own electric light plant for street lighting and store lighting and lamps; also its own water-power, eight miles up the Tay to operate it. A private company owns the water-works and incandescent lighting plant. The town possesses four or five miles of granolithic sidewalks, and the roadways of the main streets are laid with macadam, steam rolled and rounded at the centre; its other main assets are a handsome Town Hall and fire appliance, including a Silsov steamer; a large and imposing Public school building and a Separate school building; a substantial stone bridge, two part wood and steel, and one wooden bridge. The Government built and owns the four iron swing-bridges, which cross the canal. There are five substantial churches, two of them new, and three improved so as to be about “as good as new”; one of the finest skating-rinks in the Ottawa Valley, built only a few years ago, is one of the side public attractions, and the C.P. railway station is a commodious and handsome structure, built of the purple-layered sandstone quarried near the town, admired by all visitors.
The House of Industry, in Bathurst, just outside the town limits, is the latest creation of the kind in the province, and competent judges claim it is easily the finest House of Refuge in Ontario. It is up-to-date in every respect, built of the beautiful Bathurst cream-colored freestone, and is commodious enough to accommodate not only our own homeless poor, but the friendless indigents from Renfrew and Carleton Counties, which, under arrangement, send their poor to the Perth home for keep and house comfort.
The Tay canal, seven miles long, connects the Town of Perth with the Rideau system, following mostly the windings of the river, and entering the Rideau by a mile cut and two locks at Beveridge’s Bay. A tow-path, bounded by rip-rap, extends through the town and a considerable distance into Elmsley, forming a smooth and permanent roadway. The cost of the canal was about half a million dollars.History of the Perth Settlement.
The first official reference found of the early settlement of the Town of Perth and adjoining townships is a communication from the adjutant-general’s office, dated Quebec, August 15th, 1815, Alex. McDonald, Esq., and Major David McGregor Rogers were appointed superintendent and deputy superintendent of the said establishment, with salaries of £300 sterling each and field officers’ allowances.
The movement which culminated in this “establishment” originated with some English and Scottish gentlemen who enlisted the sympathy of those in authority at the colonial office of the imperial government, and provision was made, under the superintendence of the military, to settle a number of Scotch families, chiefly from the Highlands, on wild lands in the Province of Upper Canada, which were at that time absolutely controlled by the home government, from whom those composing the immigrants received free passage from Scotland to Canada, and each male adult, in addition to a grant of 100 acres of land. Under the arrangement respecting this new Canadian colony, over three hundred men, women, and children set sail from Greenock, on the Clyde, June 11th, 1815, and landed at Quebec, on September 4th. They at once ascended the river as far as Brockville, where they spent the winter of 1815-16 in temporary huts.
During their stay there, late in the autumn of 1815, a party of explorers from this colony visited the present site of the town of Perth to “spy out the land” for their kindred, before they could commit themselves to a position from which, once taken, it would be difficult to recede. One of these was Mr. Thomas Cuddie, grandfather of Mrs. George Templeton, of Calgary, Alberta, and he it was who cut down the first tree in the proposed settlement. He selected a farm on the Scotch line, and died in Perth not many years ago. The party camped the first night of their arrival in the locality on the right or west bank of the River Tay, very near the south end of the old stone bridge that stood so long on Gore street. They made a bush camp almost in front of the spot where Spalding & Stewart‘s distillery stands, cutting down an immense elm tree for the purpose. The stump of this tree remained as a sort of landmark for many years. This camp became the temporary headquarters of the prospectors till they decided upon the locality about them as the best procurable in the district, when they returned to their comrades at Brockville, all of whom came on and settled in the townships of Bathurst, North Burgess, North Elmsley, a few in Drummond, and some within the present limits of the town of Perth, though the greater number located in the immediate neighborhood on what is known as “The Scotch Line,” forming the boundary between Bathurst and North Burgess townships.
The date of the first land taken up was April 17th, 1816, and among the pioneer settlers were John Halliday, lot A; Alexander McFarlane and Jas. McDonald, Lot 1; William McGilvery and Alexander Cameron, lot 2; John Brash and William Rutherford, lot 3; John Miller and Robert Gardner, lot 4; James Drysdale and John Allan, lot 5; John Ferrier and Robert Barber, lot 8, all in the 10th concession of North Burgess. Sergt. Thomas Brooke settled on the 9th concession.
In Bathurst, James Miller and John Simpson settled on lot 26; William Spalding and John Hay, lot 25; John Ferguson and John Flood, lot 23; William Holderness, lot 21; Thomas Cuddie and Joseph Holdworth, lot 19; Alexander Kidd and James Fraser, lot 18; George Wilson and William Johnstone, lot 15; Robert Gibson and Samuel Wilson, lot 15; John McNee and John McLaren, lot 14; John McLeod and James Bryce, lot 13; Samuel Gundy and Thomas Scott, lot 12; George Lester and Thomas Barrie, lot 11; and John Ritchie, senior and junior, lot 10, all in the 1st concession. Capt. Thomas Consitt, of the navy, father of Messrs. G.A. Consitt, of Perth, barrister, and A.F. Consitt, Scotch Line, drew several lots, and settled on lot 21, in the 1st concession. He and Capt. Alston entertained the Duke of Richmond during his stay here on his fatal journey toward the village of Richmond.
In North Elmsley, the following lots were taken the same day : lot 27, by Peter and William McLaren, father and son (on this lot the first tree of the settlement was felled); lot 28, by James Taylor and James McLaren; lot 29, by Alexander Simpson and James McCoy.
To each group of four families in the new settlements was given a grindstone and a cross-cut and a whip saw; each family received an adze, hand-saw, drawing knife, shell auger, two gimlets, door lock and hinges, scythe and snath, reaping-hook, two hoes, hay fork, skillet and camp kettle, and a blanket for each member of family. Many complaints of bad agency and wanton disregard of settlers’ conveniences were made, and were bitter and well founded.
In the Township of Drummond no members of the original “Scotch Settlement” located; but in June 1816, “The Military Colony of Perth” came in. Among the veterans were Ensign Gould, of the Fourth Royals, on lot 7, con. 8; J. Balderson, 78th Foot, after whom the Village of Balderson is named, lot 1, con. 8; James McNiece, and T. Bright, both of 76th Foot, former on west half, latter on east half lot 10, con. 9; Henry McDonald, 8th Foot, east half lot 11, con. 8; Thomas McCaffery, 76th Foot, lot 12, con. 8; John G. Malloch (who afterwards became county judge), lot 14, con. 7; James McGarry, lot 10, con. 7; Donald Campbell, lot 3, con. 7; Peter McLaren, east half lot 8, con. 7; Henry McDonald long outlived the others. He did not come into the township till October 10th of that year, the other military settlers having mostly located in the June preceding. He was treasurer of the municipality of Drummond ever since the first operation of the Municipal Act in 1850, until his death ten or twelve years ago. While serving in the British army he took part in the capture of Copenhagen and Martinique, W.I.; and during the Anglo-American War was present at Sackett’s Harbor and most of the battles on the Niagara frontier, including Lundy’s Lane, where he was taken prisoner and remained in confinement till the close of the war. Duncan McCormick was one of the earliest settlers and the first who taught school in Drummond, the original school house being built in 1817 on lot 5, con. 7.
At the same time the three bordering townships received quite an accession to their military population from another military source. In Bathurst, many of the settlers belonged to the “Glengarry Fencibles,” a corps raised for the purposes of the War of 1812-15, from discharged soldiers from various line regiments, together with a small detachment of the “De Wattevilles,” mentioned further on. The “Fencibles” were disbanded at Kingston, June 1st, 1816, and at once proceeded to their new locations. Among them were Captain Watson, quartermaster, and Captain Blair, adjutant of the same regiment; Captain McMilllan, Captain MacKay, Sergeant Quigley, John Hoover, Magnus Flett, Benjamin Johnston, and the two Imans. The widow of Captain Quigley, whose name was Mary Hunter, was born at St. John, N.B., and followed him through the various campaigns in the war of 1812-15, and lived till an advanced age, dying only a few years ago.
The detachment of the military colony settling in North Burgess was composed of members of the disbanded “De Watteville Regiment.” These were originally members of various German corps which had formed the “German contingent,” and some Belgian soldiers, all of Napoleon’s Grand Army, who having been captured in battle by the British accepted the offer of their captors to take up arms against the Americans in the war of 1812-15, and thus escape prison confinement. Brevet Major-General De Watteville was colonel of the regiment; hence the name. Many of these located in North Burgess, others in Bathurst, but the great majority remained only a short time, and of those who abandoned their new homes a few returned to their native land, but most of them left for the United States, a majority of whom, it is said, to join the regular army of the republic. Sufficient of them remained however, to impress their names, their religion, and their customs upon the localities where they lived, and their descendants in the two townships and in Perth are numerous today. On the sixth concession line of Bathurst may be [xxxxx] yet the teasel growing by the wayside, [relics?] of the plants brought from Germany and the Low Countries by these settlers and cultivated for the purpose of raising the nap on the coarse woolen cloths woven on the looms in their humble homes.
As far as can be traced now in the public records, the following is a list of the disbanded soldiers of the De Watteville Regiment who took out patents for crown lands in Burgess and Bathurst. Many of their lands were sold by the sheriff, when the locatees deserted their lots: —
|Name Lot Con When Patented Samuel Hoffman — 4 Oct. 9, 1815. Simon Earhart, sr. 15 4 Aug. 1, 1812. Manuel Asselstine 15 4 March 12, 1816. John Keller 18 4 June 13, 1816. Peter Cornelius 18 4 June 15, 1816. John Amey 22 4 Nov. 21, 1816. David Bins 24 4 Oct. 9, 1816. Nicolas Simmon 25 4 Oct. 9, 1815. George Botter 7 5 Oct. 9, 1815. Clement Mott 11 6 June 17, 1816. John Skriver 25 6 Oct. 9, 1815. George Manger 14 7 June 20, 1812. Christian Saunders 15 7 Dec. 16, 1830. Assel Earhart 20 7 Nov. 21, 1815. Amah Youmans 21 7 Oct. 9, 1815. M. Rutter 26 7 Oct. 9, 1815. Peter Adam 7 8 Nov. 25, 1820. Gorge Tebus 8 8 May 18, 1824. John Boshart 9 8 May 30, 1820. John Stoller 12 8 Dec. 9, 1820. Rudolph Bachman 14 8 Nov. 25, 1820. Anreas Angst 16 8 June 30, 1821. Henry Kupper 16 8 June 20, 1821. John Carscallen 18 8 June 165, 1816. Andrew Michaluck 3 9 Dec. 21, 1820. Jacob Straub 5 9 Apr. 24, 1820. George Kaizer 6 9 Apr. 12, 1820. Godfrey Stelzer 7 9 June 1, 1820. Jacob Effinger 8 9 June 20, 1821. Jean Micklor 8 9 June 20, 1821. Clemen Eyers 13 9 June 20, 1816. Edw. Ryckmann 13 9 June 15, 1816. Nicolas Van de Bogart 25 9 June 14, 1816.|
|Name Lot Con When Patented Martin Kunder 6 2 May 17, 1820. Anton George 6 2 Sept. 28, 1820. Louis Pennett 7 2 Oct. 30, 1821. John Becker 9 2 May 24, 1821. Jacob Ferens 11 2 Oct. 30, 1824. Franz Wistandeck 12 2 May 20, 1820 Joseph Cobeija 13 2 Oct. 11, 1825. Joseph Couvion 22 2 May 15, 1820. Simon Bodart, sr. 4 3 May 13, 1820. Simon Bodart, jr. 4 3 June 2, 1820. George Hoffschmit 5 3 Nov. 3, 1820. Lepold Newhold 5 3 Nov. 2, 1820. Andreas Stillar 6 3 June 20, 1820. Bartolomew Gallino 7 3 Dec. 17, 1821. Joseph Kregg 8 3 June 1, 1821. Joseph Witzall 11 3 May 20, 1820. Louis Kendt 11 3 Dec. 17, 1821. Christian Leechman 12 3 June 2, 1821. Casper Siegle 13 3 Dec. 17, 1821. Gerrard Schmit 15 3 June 1, 1820. Maynard Meyer 15 3 Apr. 20, 1820. Jean Lentz 16 3 May 17, 1820. John Lenwalder 18 4 Apr. 10, 1820. Paul Stephemet 19 4 Apr. 15, 1820. George Altemas 1 5 Apr. 9, 1827. Thos. Castle 8 5 Oct. 31, 1821. Joseph Tysick 8 5 Oct. 30, 1821. James Alphin 14 5 June 19, 1820. Jacob Bachmann 18 5 Oct. 29, 1821. Jacob Grossmann 19 5 May 16, 1820. Jacob Vonvoltenbert 19 5 May 16, 1820. Benost de Rout 22 6 May 15, 1820. Samuel Lentz 24 6 May 17, 1820. Andrew Brantsky 24 6 Oct. 31, 1821. Pierre Klien 15 7 Oct. 31, 1821. Jacob Swisley 18 7 Nov. 2, 1821. Louis Sayer 22 7 Nov. 2, 1820. Thos. Sockol 25 7 Sept. 29, 1720 [sic]. Jean Baptiste Pouplon 26 7 Sept. 28, 1828. Jean Vanizen 20 7 Feb. 28, 1824. John Nuttal 14 8 May 19, 1820. Dewitt — — —|
Among the military settlers in North Elmsley in 1816, were Captain O’Brien and Lieut. Pelton (after whom “Pelton’s Bay,” a few miles down the Tay River, was named), who settled on lot 23; Lieut. Alex. Fraser (Fencibles), lot 27; John Campbell, lot 21; John Smith, lot 20; Louis Grenier, lot 17; Alex. Morrison, lot 16 — all in con. 10. After these the earliest settlers were Ewen Cameron, Archie and Duncan Gilchrist, John Robertson, Robert Huddleston, and Joseph Cosgrove.
In regard to the first surveys of the townships adjoining Perth, the work was done under the direction of the Quartermaster-General’s department. The first official reference we find regarding it is a letter from Alex. McDonald, superintendent of the settlement, to Sir Sidney Beckwith, a high official of the Foreign Office, dated Pike River, 29th April, 1810. Pike River was the original name of the Tay, the stream on which Perth is situated. We find also a later despatch from Mr. McDonald to Captain Fowler, Assistant Quartermaster-General, Quebec, dated “Perth, on River Tay, 10th May, 1816,” both the river and the town having acquired the new names from the settlers of the Scotch colony, many of whom were natives of that part of the land of the heather. The above despatch complained of the inadequacy of the force of engineers to survey lots as fast as settlers wished to locate them, many having to “squat” in the forest before the survey, with the probability that their location would be changed when the surveyors’ work was finished. The whole survey of this section was under charge of Capt. Reuben Sherwood, a U.E. Loyalist, who had settled after the Revolution at Brockville. Sergt. Quigley was a chain-bearer with the party which surveyed Bathurst, this party being under command of Capt. Hayes, an assistant of Capt. Sherwood.
In considering the requirements of the colonists, the religious and educational were not forgotten by the government, a clergyman and a school teacher having been specially selected and sent out to attend to their spiritual and intellectual welfare. The Rev. William Bell, a Presbyterian clergyman of Edinburgh, sailed from his native country in the spring of 1817, arriving in Perth in June, 1817, the government giving him a stipend of £100 sterling per annum. [Transcriber’s Note — see Hints For Emigrants, on this website, which is the published account of Rev. Bell‘s journey to Perth]. The late Mr. Jas. Bell, registrar of South Lanark, was one of his sons, and was born in Perth in 1817, very shortly after his parents arrival here. He is said to have been the first white child born within the present limits of the town. John Holliday was the teacher sent out with the emigrants. He was originally from Glasgow, and sailed from Greenock on the Clyde in 1815, with the first settlers. He located on the northern corner lot in the Township of North Burgess, No. A, con. 10. The schoolhouse in which he taught was on lot 21, con. 1, Bathurst. His salary was £50 sterling per annum, paid by the government. He had sons and daughters, of which one yet survives — Mr. James Holliday, of this town, who is in his ninety-third year. He was born in Scotland, and is perhaps the only survivor of the original pioneers.
Among the first settlers in Perth was Staff Surgeon Thom, a native of Scotland, who owned that section of the town now known as “Grantville,” and who has a daughter surviving, Mrs. C.H. Gamsby, of Florida; Surgeon-Major Reade (who was sent for from Richmond to attend the then Governor-General of Canada, in his dying hours), one of whose sons born in Perth rose to prominence as a general in the British army; Major and Brevet-Colonel Powell, formerly commanding officer of the 103rd Regiment, previous to its disbandment at Quebec, and who was then appointed superintendent of the military colony; Lieut.-Col. Marshall, of the Fencibles, who superintended the location of the colonists; Captain Henry Graham, of the 103rd Regiment, afterwards the Hon. Henry Graham, who was born in the north of Ireland, and with his regiment was through the Peninsular War with Wellington. He was present at most of the battles and sieges in those memorable campaigns, including Cuidad Rodrigo and Salamanca, in the first of which he volunteered in the forlorn hope, and was wounded in the melee. Mr. John M. Graham, of this town, is a son. In addition there was Captain Joshua Adams, of Glen Tay, once warden of the Bathurst District Council, father of Mr. Joshua Adams, of Sarnia, barrister, and of Mr. Franklin M. Adams, of Glen Tay; Captain McMillan, afterwards registrar; Captain Leslie, afterwards agent of the Commercial Bank; Hon. Roderick Matheson, father of the present provincial treasurer of Ontario; Hon. William Morris, father of the late Hon. Alex. Morris; Sergt. Matheson, afterwards jailer; Lieut.-Col. James Taylor, grandfather of Mrs. Robert Walker, of this place; Sergt. Angus Cameron, of the 78th Highlanders, father of the late Hon. Malcolm Cameron; Major Fowler, Major Greig, Capt. Fraser, Captain Fitzmaurice, Captain Kinnear, Captain Watson, quartermaster of the Fencibles, Captain and Adjt. Blair, Capt. Ferguson, Captain Mackay, Captain Freer, Captain De Lisle, Sergt. Manion, 49th Foot, Sergt. Richey, William Tully, James O’Hare, John Ferguson and one Stewart, an army schoolmaster, who, with Mr. Tully, started the “Examiner,” the pioneer newspaper of Perth, afterwards merged into the “Courier.” Lieut.-Col. Playfair, also of the Regular Army, father of Mrs. (Hon.) Peter McLaren, came out about the same time but settled in the back concessions of Bathurst.
Father Lamothe came to the settlement at a very early date, following closely on Rev. Wm. Bell, to minister to the Roman Catholic settlers, but he died two years later, to be succeeded by Father John Macdonnell, uncle of the late Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald.
The first assessment, made in 1817, showed there was but one cow in Bathurst at that time. The only yoke of oxen in the settlement for a few years belonged to Mr. James Bryce, lot 12, Bathurst, Scotch Line, and in the early days supplies were brought in from Brockville, forty miles distant, or from the earlier settlements on the St. Lawrence, twenty miles away, by the men, on their backs. Horses were not seen in the settlement for some years to come, and rough, miry roads, few bridges of the roughest kind, slowly succeeded the blazed paths or floats to cross the streams. Swamps were spread all through the low lands in the neighborhood of Perth, especially in Drummond, and the present West Ward of the town was practically a dense cedar swamp. Mosquitoes swarmed in myriads and malaria followed their poisonous stings and the exhalations of the decaying vegetable matter that grow so densely in these soggy, float lands. Fever and ague was the prevalent disease until the forests were cleared up and the swamps drained, and lingering sickness or death from this all-prevalent disease attacked every family until the land was opened up to the sunlight.
The first township organization took place in 1817, and Bathurst was the first to adopt it. Samuel Purdy and John Ferguson were the assessors for that year. One of the first undertakings of the settlers was the building of a log bridge over the Tay River, where Gore street crosses it. During the progress of the work, one of the men employed on it, William Holderness, took a violent fit of sickness from a cold contracted by working in the water. He was taken to the nearest house, belonging to a Mr. Sky at the rapids below Smith’s Falls, where the railway bridge now crosses the Rideau, being conveyed thither by William and Charles Merrick, founder of Merrickville, drawn there on an “ox-jumper,” but he died in three days — the first death in the settlement. In July following his wife gave birth to a daughter, Elisa Holderness, the first female born in the settlement. In the spring of 1817, when the bridge on the Scotch Line, across the Tay, was under construction, a son and daughter of Mr. John Campbell, one of the first settlers on the line, were drowned. They were crossing on the stringers before the floor was laid, when the boy accidently fell into the water, and his sister jumping in to save him, both perished.
When the Municipal Act came into force in 1850 the townships in the settlement had grown in thirty-three years into well developed and respectable farming communities, and the four municipalities around Perth and the town itself complied with the necessary conditions and selected their first reeves. These were: Bathurst, (to which South Sherbrooke was then united), Josiah Richey, father of Mr. W.M. Richey, lockmaster, Smith’s Falls; North Burgess, John Doran, Jr.; Drummond, Murdoch Macdonell; deputy reeve, Patrick Dowdall; North Elmsley, James Shaw, Jr.
The Council of Perth, incorporated as a village in 1850, consisted of J.S. Nichol, M.D., mayor; George Cox, John Doran, Robert Douglas, John McDougall and Murdoch Macdonell, councillors.
The population of the above by the last official census at that time, was 10,838 souls; area, 313 square miles. Part of this tract, near the Rideau, is rough and rocky, but most of it is comparatively level, some rolling, and as a general thing, fertile, comprising mixed varieties of soil. Though essentially an agricultural region there are extensive deposits of phosphate, mica, iron and plumbago. The mica mines are found in Burgess principally, and are quite generally [worked???]. The large plumbago mine at Oliver’s Ferry is in operation, but there is nothing doing in the phosphate and iron mines.
We are told that the area of the greatest prosperity for Perth was the decade following the construction of the Rideau Canal. Although not situated on the originally devised canal, the River Tay was dredged, deepened and finished with locks so that barges could run between Perth and any part of the Rideau system. The ruins of these locks are still to be seen at “Dowson’s” and near Port Elmsley. And so, Perth, although not on the main canal, became a depot for supplies while the Rideau was being completed, which occurred in 1832, it having been begun in 1826. Just before the completion of the canal lumbering operations assumed large proportions around Perth, and by 1834 a large number of wealthy lumbering firms made it their headquarters but gradually the lumbering business fell away as the pine timber disappeared from the forests, and the town assumed the staid commercial aspect of a purely agricultural centre that has ever since been its distinguishing characteristic. The town may not be lively in a business sense, and its main street may be said to be somewhat old-fashioned in its architectural features, but it is wealthy, its residences handsome and comfortable, and its tree-embowered residential streets, and well-kept lawns and gardens are attractive to strangers and an object of pride to the citizens. When the “Old Boys,” their sisters or wives are revisiting the old town, look around them as they read this, they will contrast the beauty of the residences, the masses of tree-foliage, along the streets, the excellent roadways and clean cement sidewalks with what they left behind them ten, twenty or forty years ago; and they, too, will see something to be proud of, as former residents, when they become aware that old Perth has not gone back, but progressed along all lines — that it has attained a heritage of beauty and the means of solid comfort, and at the same time has widened its built-up area, and its many new streets and blocks now cover the green fields of years gone by.
The first court house was built on its present location in 1821. Destroyed by fire, it was replaced by the present substantial structure, with cut stone front, to which, as detached wings, have been added the registry office and jailer’s residence. The jail at the rear, and facing on Beckwith street, was erected in 1862.
The town hall was built in 1863 at a cost of $12,000, and at that period was the handsomest public building of the kind north of Brockville. Its lofty cupola tower contains a town clock, in which our citizens feel some pride. It was placed there through the efforts of the late Mr. James M. Millar, mayor for 1873-74. The cream-colored freestone, of which all these public buildings, and so many of the other buildings in town are constructed, is praised for its bright appearance and its beauty by outside visitors.Municipal Organization.
By Act 38, George III., Canadian statutes, the townships of Goulbourn, Beckwith, Drummond, Bathurst, March, Huntley, Ramsay, Lanark, Dalhousie, North Sherbrooke and South Sherbrooke were declared within the limits of the county of Carleton.
On November 22nd., 1822, proclamation was made, setting these townships aside under the name of “The Bathurst District,” and an act passed January 2nd, 1823, specified Perth as the judicial seat. This lasted until 1842, when the townships of Montague, North Elmsley, and North Burgess were detached from Leeds county and appended to Bathurst District. In 1849 Bathurst District was divided into the two Counties of Lanark and Renfrew and Carleton County, each being allotted its present complement of townships.
The first parliamentary election was held in 1820, when the Hon. William Morris was returned. In 1829, or early in 1830 he and Capt. Donald Fraser, ex-army officer, were elected. Capt. Fraser was father of the late Mr. William Fraser, county treasurer, and of the late Mr. Donald Fraser, county attorney, and lived in the square frame home in Drummond, near Lanark Village, now occupied by Mr. Patrick Rogers. This Parliament was short-lived, and in 1823 another general election was held, when both gentlemen were again returned. To show their political bent, it is recorded that Mr. Morris voted for the expulsion from the House of the radical agitator, Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie, and Capt. Fraser moved the motion. In 1834, Mr. Morris was again elected, and had for his colleague, Col. James Taylor, mentioned before in these notes.
Here the Hon. Malcolm Cameron came upon the scene, where he remained a striking character for years. His father was a sergeant in a Scottish Highland regiment, and bore the Gaelic name of Angus Cameron. The son was born at Three Rivers, Quebec, in 1828, but the family early removed to Lanark County, where the father died shortly after. The mother kept a stopping place at the Mississippi River, when the road in those times led to Lanark Village, and the youthful Malcolm included among his juvenile labors the work of ferrying passengers across the river, before the bridges were built along the way. As might be expected in the primitive times, when Malcolm was a poor lad and both money and shoes were scarce, his feet were both shoeless and stockingless, and in after years when he entered public life as an advanced Liberal, an opponent of the Tory Family Compact, and was found to be a formidable and dangerous opponent by the oligarchy, which ruled with a ruthless hand, his enemies cast it up to him and his friends that the Reform candidate had been not long before only “a barefooted boy.” The attempted slur was accepted as a compliment by Malcolm and his supporters, and became a war-cry in the campaign being carried on along the concessions and side lines, and did much to carry the Liberal banner to victory. Mr. Cameron was elected for Lanark and Renfrew over Col. Powell, and the appellation of “the barefooted boy” accompanied him and his memory in a fond sense, through life. He became a minister of the Crown, after moving to Sarnia and was noted besides for his zealous and able advocacy of temperance principles. He carried on a mercantile business in Perth in early days, and had for a partner at one time the late Mr. Robert Gemmell, father of Mrs. Gemmell Allan, of this town. He started the “Bathurst Courier,” now the “Perth Courier,” in 183[?], and had for the printer a young man twenty-two years of age, who came from Montreal, where he had learned the trade, to manage the new paper in the backwoods village of Perth. His name was James Thompson; and this is our present venerable townsman, now ninety-three years of age, who, for over fifty years held the position of sheriff, first of Lanark and Renfrew and then of Lanark County alone. The unsuccessful candidate referred to, Col. Powell, afterwards sheriff, was a native of Sligo, Ireland, and was a Peninsular veteran under Wellington, having command in the 103rd Regiment. He returned to Ireland and died in his native county. Among the other unsuccessful candidates up to 1848 were Benjamin De Lisle, merchant; Dr. George Hume Reade, ex-army surgeon, and Clerk of the Peace, Perth; Capt. McMillan, half-pay army officer; Capt. Alex. Fraser, formerly of the 49th Regiment.