This was published in the Perth Courier, December 22, 1916.
A copy of the original 1877 article was found and material which was omitted from the 1916 article has been included, and a few differences and hand corrections noted. Text from the 1877 article is enclosed in [[double square brackets]]. Transcribed by Charles Dobie.
A hundred years ago last spring the band of settlers from the Scottish Lowlands, who had subsisted the previous year at Brockville on what rations the Home Government had supplied them, began to arrive on the banks of the Tay — until then called “Pike River” — and to take stock of their surroundings. The prospect to them could not have been inviting. Before and around them stretched the illimitable forest growth of pine, maple, elm, oak, beech, hemlock, spruce, etc., in all their massive and confused growth. The Perth district was one where all these trees grew in massive luxuriance, and how to fell them and to clean the land for agricultural purposes must have been a problem to these sons and daughters of the cities and towns of the south of Scotland, very few of whom had perhaps never handled an axe, or a saw, or a plough, in their lives, for the greater proportion of them were artizans of some kind of another — hand loom weavers, principally — and people totally unused to the rougher lives of the pioneer conditions of their native land. Interspersed in these virgin forests were stretches of swamps and marshes, whose malarial odors and miasmas, with the aid of the swarms of mosquitoes they engendered, introduced among the settlers the plague of fever and ague, or what some called, chills and fever, and, which existed as a festering source of this annoying and lingering desease until fillage and drainage disposed of the cause, one or two generations later. But for long years, as our grandmothers told us, this swamp fever had its victims in almost every household, and was a veritable plague in the young settlement. As close companions of these evil stretches of water and rotting vegetation were flowing creeks and rivers, and the beautiful lakes that still exist everywhere in the western part of this country; and those were filled with fish of the choicest kind for food — bass, pickerel, pike, salmon, and the smaller species, and to still further aid the settler in his food necessities, the woods were filled with game — partridge, ducks, pigeons, deer and many other of the wild creatures which until then were only the prey of the Cree Indians who had been the only human beings to use and frequent the prolific wilds in the vast expanse of this part of Ontario, and who have left their marks of occupation on the shores of Otty, Rideau, Christy, Dalhousie and Mississippi and other of our beautiful lakes in this county, in the way of pottery, flint arrow heads, stone implements of war, hunting and domestic use, and of other pieces of their handiworks now in the collections of antiquarian fanciers, in the museums, or in a hundred private houses in the community. The settlers were more or less friendly with what remained of the original frequenters, and were taught by them how to make use of the maple sap for domestic use, and to convert it into the most delicious of all products for household consumption and which to this day is a delicacy second to none in the world of saccharine luxuries.
We can imagine the difficulties that beset these pioneers at the start, and how individual settlers, with their primitive appearances and total want of experience, would have despaired and perhaps given up under the new conditions if this trial had not been made as an organized body, with friends and companions in trouble all around them. As it was many succumbed to their environments, and went away to other parts of the country or to other lands, and others died in the fight with primeval life, and many a lonely and unknown grave in the town cemeteries mark where the now forgotten pioneer laid down his or her weapons before the fight with forest and swamps had well begun. But the battle went on, and steadily the sunlight and the golden-edged clouds gladdened more and more the eyes and hearts of the brave men and women who came to make Perth and the Scotch Line their home. Next year or so, a pastor was sent to them from Scotland in the person of the Rev. William Bell, whose diary of personal experiences and of the growing ambitions of this and adjacent settlements was published in the Courier some years ago, and many of whose descendants live in Perth and other parts of Canada. In a little while, other settlers came into the neighbourhood. Halfpay officers of the 103rd, 104th and other Regiments of the Imperial service had been granted lands in the settlement, and many came to occupy them, among whom were Major Jas. H. Powell, Lieut. Henry Graham, Col Andrew W. Playfair, Lieut. Thos. Consitt, Dr. Alex. Thom, etc.; and the rank and file of the de Walkville [sic] and de Meuron Regiments — men from Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Poland and Italy — arrived also in the early days and took up crown lands in Bathurst and North Burgess, but only a fraction of these remained. Then came numerous settlers from the county of Wexford, Ireland, and occupied Government lots all over Drummond, Elmsley, North Burgess and Bathurst, and all through the counties of Carleton and Leeds.
The following article appeared in the Ottawa Citizen years ago, [The Daily Citizen, Monday, Nov. 5 1877 — Ed.] and will be found interesting now:
Text from the 1877 article which was omitted in 1916 is enclosed in [[double square brackets]].
Turned Swords Into Ploughshares
[[Perth, 20th Oct. — In his sketch of the town of Pembroke and its belongings, which appeared last week in The Citizen, your correspondent edeavored to show what a British tar could accomplish when he made up his mind to it, and now in order to make manifest that there is no intention of bestowing more kudos upon one branch of Her Majesty’s brave defenders than another, it is proposed to set forth how]] Some veteran military heroes, who had borne the brunt of the Peninsular and the American wars, turned their swords into ploughshares, and from being sons of Mars, became disciples of Cincinnatus, forsaking the art of war, for the peaceful and more profitable pursuit of tilling the soil. Before, however, the soldiers arrived on the scene, the fame of the fertile tract of land on which the “fair town of Perth” now stands, had travelled abroad, and reached the ears of some canny Scots, and with the forethought of their race, Joshua-like, they sent out scouts into the promised land, and these returned with such favorable reports, that in 1815 a large number of families left Scotland and settled in 1816 on what is now called the “Scotch Line”, situated in the 1st concession of Bathurst, 10th of Burgess, forming as it were, a little trans-Atlantic Scotland, a peaceful, thrifty, and industrious community, who, in after years, by their own handiwork, and almost unassisted, built up for themselves and their posterity independencies. [[But, however, as the settlement is not exactly in the town of Perth proper, and it is with that your correspondent proposes, almost exclusively, to deal, although much of interest might be written relative to the Scotch line, the subject has to be dismissed for the present at all events, with the mention of one notable fact, which]] This speaks volumes for the intelligence of those pioneers. They, even in the wilderness in which they had cast their lots never lost sight of the importance of educating those who were to fill their places when they had gone to their long homes; so in the same year, the Earl of Bathurst, under whose auspices, if your correspondent is not mistaken, the settlement was founded, sent out one John Halliday, a dominie well versed in the learning of the age, [[and doubtless as firm a believer in the persuasuve influence of the “tawse” [a leather thong split into strips and used as a whip — Ed.] as Mr. Andrew Irving was, and is to the present day,]] and under his regime the future colonists grew up to be what they are still, shrewd well informed men and women.
Perth, which derived its name from the city in the Land o’ cakes [sic], is situated on the banks of the River Tay, which empties itself into the Rideau Lake, a few miles from the town. The first thing that strikes a stranger visiting the place is the substantial character of its buildings and the regularity and well kept appearance of the streets, the latter running at right angles, the old ordinance survey, when the town was laid out in lots in the early part of the present century, being adhered to.
The Private Dwellings and Stores
are for the most part constructed of free stone, which is obtained close to the town, and is of a fine white quality, conveying an impression of durability and cleanliness not often noticed in towns of its size. Brick has also been most extensively used in building operations, frame erections being almost the exception, and not the rule, as it is almost everywhere else. There is an entire absence of the appearance of “an old worn out town,” as it has been called by those interested in detracting from its merits; on the contrary there is a staid, solid business air about it and its inhabintants, highly indicitive of prosperity and wealth, both of which it enjoys to a very large extent. [[Business failures are few and far between, this being due, doubtless to the fact, that merchants and store keepers generally are content with their own legitimate trade, and are not to be lead into the wild schemes of speculation and over trading so commonly met with in places of greater magnitude. Most of the business men have been long established, the majority of them are large property holders, while not a few have acquired handsome competencies, and could retire upon such at any time they chose. The trade of the place is almost as conservative as its politics, and goes on now in as steady a manner as it did a quarter of a century ago. Of course, if the proposed Toronto & Ottawa railroad passes through Perth, a great impetus will be given to the mercantile enterprise of the town, but walled in as it is now, with the almost impassible barrier of enormous freight charges for the conveyance of merchandise, those engaged in business are content to tread the old path which has led them to wealth by somewhat slow, but, withal, certain degrees. If the railroad company should choose the route through a comparatively sterile and . . . text hidden by fold]] Before speaking of the early history of the town itself it should be stated that the district immediately surrounding it is rich in mineral products, superphosphate of lime, beds of mica, plumbago [graphite — Ed.] of the finest quality, stone for building purposes and iron are to be found in quantities, [[and, even with the present imperfect means of transit large quantities of phosphates are shipped annually for Great Britain and the United States, and it is safe to predict that if the railway is constructed on the Southern route plan vast industries will spring up that will soon make this section of the country one of the most important in Canada.]]
So much, then, for what Perth is now and what it may be in time to come. And now to take a glimpse of what it was in the long ago, when trade and commerce were yet unborn and the only signs of civilization were the scanitly cleared and sparcely planted patches of ground here and there, and the sound of the hardy settler’s busy axe, as he tellsomely
Hewed Out a Home in the Wilderness
for himself, his wife and little ones. Hard times did these people see, and many were the privations they had to endure, but patience under difficulties in time to come, as is manifest at the present day, brought its reward. One of the earliest of pioneers was Mr. Francis Allan, who arrived in 1816, and settled on the Scotch Line close to Perth, but the oldest inhabitant of the town proper, and who is now alive, a hale and hearty man of seventy-two years is Mr. John Manion, son of the late Sergt. Manion of the 49th Regiment, and who possesses a memory as green as one of his own meadows in the spring. It is to him and Mr. James Bell, the Registrar of the County, who was born in the town in 1817, that your correspondent is indebted for the facts now presented to the readers of the Citizen. Perth may be called a strictly military settlement, as it was first peopled by half pay officers and discharged non-commissioned officers and men, when peace was declared after the Peninsular war. Grants of land were made by the Government, captains receiving 800 acres of land, lieutenants 600, ensigns 400, non-commissioned officers in proportion to their rank, and privates 100 acres. Many of these lots, Mr. Manion‘s for instance, remain intact to this day, and are still owned by the descendants of the original grantees. Others have been sold at large prices. In 1816 Captain Joshua Adams, a veteran who served in the American war of 1812-13, in the Canadian militia, was about the first to draw a town lot of an acre, and he erected a tavern thereon. Shortly after that settlers of the class before mentioned began to pour in, and pending the taking up of their allotments, camped on the island in the Tay River, which now forms the centre portion of the town. The settlers were for the most part 49th Regiment and Foreign Legion men, who, with their wives and families were conveyed in the month of May, 1816, in wagons, from the various stations at which they were discharged, to Portland, twenty-eight miles north of Brockville, where
They Embarked in a Scow
owned by a man named Lindsay, thence down Rideau Lake and up the River Tay to Perth. Here was a Government storehouse, under the charge of Capt. Fowler, Capt. Gregg, having as a subaltern Mr. Davern and Mr. Alex. Matheson and Sergt. Campbell, of the Glengarry Fencibles, as issuers of stores. The storehouse was on the southwest corner of one of the present bridges, where Spalding‘s brewery is now, and there on the 24th of each month, rations with necessary household and agricultural implements were issued to the settlers — males received per diem, one pound of pork and the same weight of flour — females half that amount, children of ten years and upwards, the same as females, and under ten, one quarter rations. This arrangement was only to last until the settlers had got some land under cultivation, and were in some sort of position to help themselves — at this time the settlers lived in the crudest of huts, roofed with bark and wooden boughs, and as the winter came on most of them moved off to Brockville, Prescott and Montreal, and there remained until the following spring, However, the first year a quantity of potatoes were planted, and three bushels of seed fall wheat, obtained from the Government store, was also put into the ground. As the spring of 1817 opened, the settlers began to return, and clearing the land, commenced in good earnest. Many of the single men, however, got sick of a backwoods life, the work being too hard for them, and they either turned trappers or hunters, or else sought employment in the more settled parts of Canada and the United States. The married men having the responsibility of wives and families to provide for, stuck manfully to the task before them and were not long in laying the foundation of a career of prosperity. The year of 1817 was, however, one of great hardship and privation, and the settlers were in great straits, in fact, on
The Very Verge of Starvation.
The crop of potatoes was destroyed by the frost, and the rust got into the wheat. Some families lived for three weeks on the wild leeks they found in the woods. An application was at last made to the Government for the issue of an additional half ration per head, which was granted, and the famine which was imminent was averted. Referring to the failure of the potato crop, Mr. Bell tells how his father offered one man two dollars per bushel for the potatoes in his plot, and he would dig them himself. The man refused the offer, and a few days after, the frost came and killed all he had — so much for avarice. At this time Mr. Manion‘s father was working in a field logging, without the aid of oxen, in the month of June, for four pounds of flour a day, all he had to support his family on, but this, says Mr. Manion, “was a God-send after living on leeks for nearly a month!” He added, that he has hated that esculent ever since, and would not have one in his soup on any consideration, but “he reckoned there were some Welshmen among them who thrived on the diet, but it was not strong enought for a North of Ireland stomach!” Timely assistance, and a patient waiting for better times, tided the settlers over their difficulties; the lane turned and the highway to prosperity was soon reached; the clearings became larger, the dwellings began to assume some semblance of comfort, crops were better year by year, and each spring saw fresh bands of settlers coming to Perth, and quite a large community was formed by degrees. While this was going on, the Capt. Adams before mentioned, gave up his tavern, and put up one of the
First Grist and Saw Mills
on lot 20, [[Glen Tay]] [ink notation on 1877 copy — Ed.] in the 2nd concession of Bathurst, County of Lanark, and he soon begain to drive a brisk trade. The first store, an old Canadian can well recall to recollection what the stores of those days were, was opened in 1816 by Mr. (afterwards the Hon.) Wm. Morris, father of Lieutenant-Governor Morris, of Manitoba, the latter subsequently partner of Mr. W. H. Radenhurst, the present respected Mayor of Perth. This store was on the south side of the River Tay, then unbridged, and there the town may be said to have started, though it has since grown altogether in a northerly direction. A ferry was then used to ply across the river, and cattle when moved from the north to the south side, and of course, vice versa, had to swim the stream. The next store was established by Benjamin Delisle, an ex-captain in the Canadian Fencibles, who came to the settlement in July or August, 1816. His store, which is still standing, was also on the south side of the Tay, near where the English church is now. Mr. Delisle, after doing business there for many years, removed to Montreal, where he died not very long ago. Others came in their turn, and the place begain to be in some measure independent of other markets at a distance. As the settlement grew, of course someone was wanted to look after their spiritual welfare, and then came
The First Protestant Clergyman,
in the person of Rev. William Bell, a Presbyterian minister, and father of Mr. James Bell, the present Registrar of the County. He had his church, which has been burt down, in the southeast portion of the town. He ministered faithfully to his flock for many years, and was highly esteemed by the members of all creeds as being a thoroughly good man. In 1820 came the Rev. Michael Harris, an Episcopal clergyman, and co-temporary with him was the Rev. Father Lamottie, the first Roman Catholic priest. Both these gentlemen’s memory is still held in veneration by several of the old residents of Perth, who speak of them in unqualifed terms of respect. Then, of course, the physical ailments of the settlers had to be attended to, and
[[A Desciple of Galen,]]
a Dr. Thom, formerly of the 41st Regiment, came among the people. The gallant, and no doubt, learned doctor, must have been a gentleman of a practical turn of mind, or else the place was so unprofitably healthy that time hung heavily on his hands and the piastres did not come in plentiously enough to please him, for he started a grist and saw mill on the site of the one now belonging to Mr. John G. Haggart, M.P. History does not go so far as to state whether the doctor had a lathe mill for the purpose of turning his own wooden legs, but probably that branch of industry was not sufficiently developed in Perth at that time to make it profitable; it is on record though, that the saw mill and the compounding of physic agreed well together, and the doctor accumulated many shekels, doubtless well earned. Before his advent, any small parcels of grain raised had to be ground in pepper mills, or boiled whole. About this time too, the seed for the patches of ground cleared had to be carried on men’s backs from the settlement behind Brockville, and a good proportion of the provisions were taken into Perth in the same way. A good story is told apropos of the difficulties which the people in those days experienced in getting their grain ground at this mill; sometimes the miller was extremely dilatory about the operation and required a great deal of coaxing to induce him to perform the work. One farmer named Haley had brought a couple of bushels of wheat on his back some six miles away from the settlement, having to walk through bush and mud, the latter in places knee deep, three times in order to get his flour, and on each occasion was unsuccessful. Some one who knew the miller well suggested that a bottle of whiskey would have the effect of hastening his movements, so Mr. Haley supplied himeself with one. The miller saw him coming up the hill with the “cratur” under his arm, and forthwith called out to his men, “Haley’s grist next!” Haley had found out the soft spot in the man of flour’s nature, and in future always went provided with the needful stimulant to his energies.
In 1817 the first native of the town, Mr. James Bell, was born. This gentleman’s father, who it will be remembered was the Presbyterian minister, used to tell of the difficulties to be contended with in a trip from Perth to Brockville in those days; there was nothing but a foot trail, and that not particularly defined either — scarcely a vestige of human life was to be seen, and the only marks of civilization were the few miserable cabins of some settlers near the bank of the Rideau River. The woods then abounded in
many of which man was not desirous of forming any close acquaintance with. Bears, wolves, wolverines, wild cats, etc., deer, partridge and other game were plentiful, but the prices given for the pelts scarcely paid for the means adopted for obtaining them, to say nothing of the trouble and risk; but, notwithstanding this, several of the settlers then eked out their scanty livelihood by the sale or barter of the spoils of the chase.
A few years of which were not remarkable for any event of importance passed over the heads of the settlers, who kept adding to their numbers people of all classes, creeds and nationalities. Prominent among those who went out to seek their fortunes in the wilds were Captain Marshall, Captain McMillan and Captain McKay, all of the Canadian Fencibles, which had been embodied for service for several years previously; Lieuts. Watson, O’Connor (of him more anon), and Monk Mason (afterwards recalled for service in the 24th Regiment), Blair, of the Glengarry Fencibles; Playfair, and Fraser, the father of Mr. James Fraser, Deputy Clerk of the Crown in Ottawa. Of these now none remain. Lieut. O’Connor, met with his death at the hands of justice at Brockville Gaol, in either 1821 or 1822. The circumstances were briefly as follows: O’Connor, who was a member of the Roman Catholic faith, had a servant man named Porter, who was an infidel and scoffer at everything pertaining to religion. The two men had been to Brockville one day purchasing some provisions, and while in the town they drank enough rum (old rye was in its infancy in those days) to make them quarrelously drunk. On the way home they got into a religious argument, and in the course of it Porter applied a most offensive epithet to the name of the Virgin Mary. O’Connor‘s angry feelings were aroused at this, and he demanded that Porter should withdraw the expression he had made use of, but he persistently refused to do so. O’Connor said if he did not do so he would blow his brains out, but Porter laughed at him, and the wrangle continued until they reached O’Connor‘s house, when the Lieutenant went in doors, almost immediately re-appearing with a loaded gun, which he presented at Porter at the same time repeating his demand for a withdrawal of the expression. Porter still refused, and O’Connor, true to his threat, pulled the trigger, and the infidel fell a dead man. O’Connor was taken into custody and after remaining in jail for nine months, expiated his crime at Brockville. This was the first crime of any magnitude committed in the settlement, which, up to that time, had been characterized by peace and order, and an entire absence of any serious infringement of the laws, which were then, of course, in but a crude state. The body of O’Connor was, as was the custom in those days, given up to a surgeon for dissection, and his skeleton is at present in possession of a doctor in Pembroke, and a portion of his skin now forms the covering of a bible in the possession of a resident of Perth — a queer use to put a part of “the human frame devine” to! As the subject of crime has been adverted to here, it may be a fitting place to note that the
First Jail and Court House
was built of brick, on the south side of the river, in 1821 or 1822, probably its erection extended over a portion of both years. The structure was afterwards burnt down, and the present one, a handsome free stone edifice, was put up in its stead.
The first death recorded in the anals of Perth was that of the wife of Sergt. Wallesley Ritchie, of the 89th Regiment, in 1816, and her remains were interred in what is now the English cemetery, on the south side of the Tay. Mortality does not seem to have been large until the year 1832, when the cholera was the cause of some deaths among the settlers.
The next band of emigrants to take up their abode in the township of Lanark were a number of Paisley weavers, whose descendants now form a great portion of the wealthy residents of the district. They all took up land and entered vigorously into farming pursuits. They were an industrious, law abiding folk, adapting themselves easily to their new mode of life, and were soon a large and important item in the list of colonists. Despite the hardships which, perhaps from the extremely sudden transition from the use of the loom and shuttle to that of the spade, axe and plough, they felt in a keener degree than their fellow settlers, they rapidly acquired wealth, and not a few of them have left to their posterity handsome dependencies.
Fall wheat was first grown in large (for those times) quantities in 1823, and the succeeding years. The only outlet and market for it was Brockville, to which place it was taken by ox teams, a crude road having, by this date, been made, there being no horses in the settlement until about 1830, when Mr. Henry Glass procured a team. The wheat sold in Brockville at three shillings and sixpence currency per bushel, and the settlers were paid in kind, taking home supplies for their families — but a very small quantity of money being afloat in those days, in fact, until some of the veterans applied for and obtained pensions from the British government, the whole, or nearly the whole, trade was done on the barter system.
The making of potash became quite an extensive branch of industry, and large quantities of it was shipped, both winter and summer, by ox teams to the Brockville market. For this article money was generally supposed to be paid, but the amount was nearly, as a rule, eaten up by the credits obtained by the farmers from the storekeepers, who, it would seem, invariably got the best of the bargain, although the settler tried to sail as close to the wind as possible. The trade in potash was an extremely brisk one until
The Lumber Trade
was opened up in 1834 by Rogers & Thompson, Porter & Gemmel, Alex & Henry Montgomery, James Flintoff and others, whose names your correspondent could not with any degree of accruacy ascertain. The lumber operations in the immediate vicinity of Perth were of a most extensive character, and the settlers then saw to their sorrow the amount of valuable timber which had been burnt by them when clearing their lots, and the thousands of dollars which had been literally thrown into the fire. However, they were not the kind of people to indulge in vain regrets, and not a few of them went into the business themselves and carried it on for some years successfully and profitably. The timber thus obtained was drawn to Brockville, there rafted, and went by the St. Lawrence river to Quebec; large quantities were also floated down the Tay to the Rideau river, and thence to Ottawa, en route also for Quebec. Staves and square oak for many years formed the staple of the trade. This business while it performed the important office of clearing the land, of course, was the means of bringing large numbers of men into the town, for by this time the settlement had grown to a size which entitled it to that designation, and stone houses following the first one built (still extant) in 1823 by John Ferguson, a Highlander, who delighted in the patronymic of Craigdarrich, began to be erected on all sides. Perth then commenced to be
A Place of Importance.
But previous to this, and as far back as 1824, before Carleton was made a county in itself, the Court of King’s Bench sat there twice a year, and all the law business of Bytown was transacted there. Perth was originally in the District of Johnstown, but was subsequently made into the District of Bathurst, which embraces that portion of the now county of Carleton north and west of the Rideau, and also what is now the County of Renfrew. When Bytown became Ottawa, Perth was shorn of much of its importance, the present Capital, with its more advantageous surroundings and facilities for carrying on a vast lumber business, soon outstripped her elder sister with rapid strides. Meanwhile, Perth was not idle, but in its own quiet but sure commercial method of carrying on trade, increased in solidity and wealth, each year witnessing the opening of extensive stores. A distillery established by Henry Graham, an ex-Captain in the army during this period, formed an important item in the commerce of the place, and it at present boasts of one of the most perfect in the Dominion, that of Mr. J. A. McLaren, who manufactures Scotch whiskey equal to the best Glenlevat ever brewed in Scotland. Mr. Graham‘s distillery was situated on the west side of one of the bridges and the latter is called Graham’s bridge to this day. One of the early storekeepers was
The Late Hon. Malcolm Cameron,
who, when a boy in 1821, used to ferry passengers across the Mississippi River on the road to Lanark, and whose parents kept a public house or stopping place for the settlers of that district close to the ferry. In after years Mr. Cameron kept a tavern and afterwards a general store where the extensive establishment of Messrs. A. Meighen Bros. is now. Subsequently he was in partnership with Mr. H. Glass and carried on business on the present site of the Hick’s Hotel.
The Construction of the Rideau Canal
in 1825 did Perth an immense amount of good, opening up as it did, a direct line of communication and means of conveyance with the River Ottawa. During the years the canal was being made trade was very brisk in the town, the large number of men employed on the work, being the means of causing a considerable amount of money to be put into circulation. About this time, too, a private enterprise called the River Tay Navigation Company was formed for the purpose of deepening the channel and making it navigable to the Rideau River. Large sums were laid out by the company, locks were constructed, and for a time a considerable amount of traffic by means of flat bottomed boats was carried on; but in time railroads took the trade away, and the locks, on the building of which so much money had been expended, have now fallen into decay and only remain as monuments of a scheme which eventually did not turn out as profitable as its projectors anticipated. The company built a steamer called the Enterprise, which was launched on the Tay right at the town, in the year 1833. She, however, only made two trips and was then transferred to the Rideau canal, on which she ran for many years. When she was broken up, her engines were put into one of the steamers built by Mr. Jason Gould for the navigation of the Muskrat lake and river. Goods from Montreal at this time, consigned to Perth, were brought in barges up the Rideau Canal via Ottawa, and then up the River Tay. This state of things continued until that stream began to fill up, and the locks got into bad repair and became useless. Then part of the merchandize intended for the town was taken in via Oliver’s Ferry by teams. Then the Brockville & Ottawa railway was bult, and this effectually killed the traffic on the Tay Canal, and the latter gradually fell into complete disuse. The business then was entirely of a mercantile character, but lumber of excellent quality was still being taken out of the northern and western portions of the neighbouring county.
The First Newspaper
which was called the Examiner and was edited by either Mr. Wm. Tully or John Stewart, who was also a schoolmaster. This was in 1825 or 1826. The Examiner afterwards merged into the Courier in 1834, when Mr. John Cameron, brother of the late Hon. Malcolm Cameron occupied the editorial chair. At his death, Mr. Malcolm Cameron succeeded him — from his hands it passed into those of the present Sheriff of Lanark, Mr. James Thompson, who conducted it for many years. Mr. Chas. Rice, the present Clerk of the County Court, bought it from Mr. Thompson, and after running it successfully for some time, on his appointment to the office he now holds, he sold it to Mr. G. L. Walker, in 1863. In 1868 Mr. Walker took Mr. J. M. Walker into partnership. The former died in 1874 and the Courier became the property of the present proprietors, Messrs. J. M. and W. T. Walker, who now carry on the business under the style of Walker Bros. The Courier is Reform in politics, and enjoys an extensive circulation.
The Expositor, the Conservative journal, was established in 1861, and is consequently in the sixteenth year of its existence. Its first proprietors were Messrs. Thomas Cairns (the present postmaster) and Thomas Scott; at that time the British Standard was in existence, but it has since ceased to wave, and has gone to that particular corner of Hades from whence no newspaper was ever known to return. On the appointment of Mr. Cairns to his present office, he retired, and Mr. Scott continued to publish the paper as sole proprietor until the 1st of September, 1873. He received his commission as a Captain in the first Red Cross River expeditionary force under Col. Wolsley, and going in command of the second expedition he determined to remain in Manitoba, selling the paper in September, 1873, as before mentioned to Messrs. Bedford and Elliott, who conducted it until 1875, when they sold it to Mr. A. J. Matheson, the present proprietor, who conducts it most ably. The Expositor has an excellent circulation among members of both political parties, and is a good specimen, as indeed is also the Courier, of a country newspaper. Perth appears to have been a sort of Eldorado for knights of the quill, so far as snug appointments have been concerned, or else the brethren must have possessed abilities of an extraordinarily high order, and have been fortunate enough to have their merits appreciated and recognized in high quarters, and reaped rewards accordingly. Here’s a list: — Mr. J. Thompson, late of the Courier, Sheriff of Lanark; the late Hon. Malcolm Cameron, also a Courier man, made a Senator; Mr. Charles Rice, also a Courier man, Deputy Clerk of the Crown and Clerk of the County Court; Mr. Thomas Cairns, while of the Expositor, Postmaster of Perth; Mr. Thos. Scott, another Expositor man, he, being martial in his tastes, was made a “Captain bold” of Red Riverites, and if your correspondent is not mistaken Mr. Richard Shaw, now holding an appointment in the Inland Revenue, was once belonging to the noble army of Bohemians. Ye gods! If your correspondent had his newspaper career to commence again (which he is glad he hasn’t) Perth would be his starting point certainly, for the lines of all who have been there, of a surety, have been cast in pleasant places, yea even exceedingly pleasant places! Well, well, we can’t all be sheriffs, and deputy clerks of crowns and senators, with comfortable seats in gorgeous chambers and getting $1,000 for doing it, and postmasters, and brave centurions having men under us, and inland revenues and such, so let us rest and be thankful, waiting patiently for the good time coming, and which has been coming from time immemorial and is as far off now as it ever was. Eheu! “It’s better to be born lucky than rich,” so they say, but the sentiment of the adage is an extremely doubtful one. Now for something for the antiquaries. On the green sward in front of the Court House are
Two Brass Field Pieces
(three pounders) to which there is quite a history attached. The little “barkers” were originally taken from the French by the Duke of York, in Flanders, and did service for the British in the American war, when they were taken from Gen. Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga. They were retaken from the Americans by the British at the Battle of Chrysler’s Farm, on the 11th of November, 1813, which affair Mr. Manion‘s father took part in, and Mr. Manion himself, then only a youngster of about seven year’s old, was an eyewitness. He relates how the women and children belonging to the troops engaged in the fight were sent down Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence in bateaux, and the one in which he was with his mother was struck in the bow by a round shot, which fortunately did no injury to those on board. With a youngster’s curiosity, and of course, not knowing the danger he was in, he crawled up the bank, under which the bateaux was moored close to where his father’s regiment was, and from there saw the repulse of the American dragoons when they attempted to force a passage across a bridge. Mr. Manion says that, long as that is since, he has still a vivid recollection of the scene. As probably your correspondent will not have occasion to mention this gentleman’s name again in the course of this sketch, it is worth mentioning that in the same year (1813) he crossed Lake Ontario from Kingston to Niagara, with Mr. Peter White, sen., the pioneer settler of Pembroke, in the man-of-war “Earl of Moira“, which had the 49th Regiment on board. By the way, it was almost omitted to be mentioned that the two guns alluded to have still the original trails and axles, and they bear the inscription on the breech, “J. & R. Verbruggen, freerunt 1775 and 1776“, showing by the name of their maker that they are either of Flemish or Belgian manufacture. They were taken to Perth when peace was declared, and presented to the town and are now used for saluting purposes on high days and holidays.
Several Affairs of Honor
took place in Perth and neighbourhood; some were bloodless, others resulted in one or other of the principals getting a little of the heated sanguineous fluid let out of them, and their “honor” satisfied and but one bad or tragic termination, that being the affair between the late Judge (then Mr.) Wilson and Mr. Lyon, of Richmond, [[nephew of]] [correction made in ink, written over “brother to” — Ed.] the late Mr. Robt. Lyon Fellowes. A lady was the cause of the quarrel, and the parties met at a spot, just outside the town; at the [[second]] [correction made in ink, written over “first” — Ed.] discharge Mr. Lyon fell, never to rise again, Mr. Wilson surrendered himself to the authorities, was tried and acquitted. Another encounter, but of a ludicrous nature, in which Mr. James Boulton, then a leading member of the bar, played a prominent part, took place about the same time. It seems that a dandified gentleman, whose name your correspondent cannot at this moment call to mind, raised the choler of the irrascible Mr. Boulton, who applied some terms to him, the use of which he was always an adept in. The dandy challenged him, Mr. Boulton, who was by no means deficit in pluck, naturally objected to being made a target of, and the more his would-be antagonist called him out, the more Mr. Boulton wouldn’t go. Finally the dandy began to allude to him as a poltroon [coward — Ed.], and boasted of his own valor and sense of honor in having done the proper thing by challenging him to mortal combat. This was more than Mr. Boulton could stand, so one fine day he invested in a good stout horsewhip and sailed forth on the warpath, seeking his enemy to inflict condeign punishment upon him. Finally his search was rewarded by his discovering his man somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Court House, and then the fun commenced. J. B. drew the whip smartly across the body of his adversary, who with a howl of anguish and a bound which would have done credit to a modern acrobat, put off down the street as fast as his tightly pantalooned legs would carry him, closely pursued by the blows upon any portion of the dandy’s body where the whip could light conveniently. The race continued for some couple of hundred yards, and a lady who witnessed the scene has stated that “she never saw better time made over the same distance”. After this, people gave up sending challenges to Mr. Boulton, his skill in handling a flagellatory implement being sufficient to make him as bullet proof as a shirt of mail.
As men became more engrossed in business their notions as to indulging in pistol practice upon each other altered in a marked degree, and duels became things of the past. They began to study the rules of debit and credit more closely than the code of honor; the “bloods” of that day began to get too old for fighting, and the rising generation did not care much for the amusement. The town kept on growing and the trade increasing, nothing of any great importance occurring for the succeeding years, the history of the latter being generally uneventful and perhaps the most exciting affair which has come about in the last 30 years being the present struggle about the route of the Toronto and Ottawa Railroad, and a few days will see that settled. The next epoch of the annals of Perth will be the commencement of the work of constructing the line, and the one to follow that will be the opening of it for traffic.
Adverting once more to the Perth of the present day, mention should be made of
which are six in number, St. James’ (Church of England) is a remarkably handsome building, situated on the hill on the south side of the river, adjacent to the Court House. It is Gothic in style, and built of the white free stone found in the vicinity of Perth, and cost $17,000, and the tasteful rectory close to the church building, and finished but a short time ago cost $5,000. The church consists of chancel, nave and two aisles, and a tower will soon be erected at the north west corner of the building, at an outlay of $5,000. The structure is 136 feet long and 66 feet wide. The nave is 110 feet long and 66 feet wide, and the chancel is 24 feet deep. The interior is not disfigured by galleries, and the wood work is of pine, stained and varnished, and of chasie pattern. One beauty about the building is that it was consecrated free of debt, and that is more than can be said of many other edifices of the same character. Perth is one of the old Canadian rectories, of which there are but a few in existence. Since the days of the Rev. Michael Harris, A. M., the first rector, who ministered in the town for 38 [1877 copy says 33 — Ed.] years, there have been the Rev. A. Dyne, who remained only three years, and the present respected rector, the Rev. R. L. Stephenson, A. M., a good and genial graduate of the “Silent Sister” Trinity College, Dublin, who had pastoral charge for 20 years.
The Roman Catholic church is a substantial stone building with some pretentions to architectural taste, the Rev. J. J. Chisholm, D. D., is the clergyman, and is a gentleman distinguished for his condition and piety.
The other places of worship are Knox church, Rev. W. Burns; St. Andrew’s, Rev. W. Blair, D. D.; Baptist, Rev. J. Forth; and the Methodist, Rev. J. Freshman. All the buildings if they are not strikingly handsome, are at least well adapted for the purpose of divine service. After the churches naturally come
and first among these, of course, is the High School, a remarkably handsome building from the design of Mr. Arnoldi of Ottawa. It is of three stories and is of white brick, and cost about $16,000, without the land. The interior is admirably arranged and there are few in the Province to surpass it. The average attendance is 75, and the staff of masters are: — Messrs. F. Michell, B. A., head and mathematical master; P. Perry, B. A., classical and modern languages; J. Stewart, English and science.
Little can be said in favor of the Common School building; it answers the purpose, and that is all. The average attendance is about 375, the staff of teachers being Messrs. Raine, head master; and Mortimer, Miss Anderson, Mrs. Moodie, Miss Forgie, Miss Thornton, and Miss Holmes all of whom are most efficient.
Perth can boast of a fine Town Hall, in which is also the Postoffice, which was built some 10 years ago. It contains a spacious room for concerts, public meetings, etc.; Council Chamber, Town Clerk’s office, caretaker’s rooms and lock up. A handsome tower, in which is a clock, surmounts the whole, which is quite an ornament to the street. Mr. W. H. Radenhurst is the present Mayor, and so popular is he that he is now serving his third term of office. Mr. Thos. Brooke is Town Clerk, the same gentleman is also Clerk of the County.
The Other Officials
are: Mr. James Thompson, Sheriff; Mr. E. S. Senkler, County Court Judge and Master in Chancery; Mr. Joseph Jamieson, Warden of the County; Mr. James Bell, Registrar; Mr. Charles Rice, Deputy Clerk of the Crown, Clerk of the County Court and Surrogate Court; Mr. E. G. Malloch, County Crown Attorney and Clerk of the Peace; Mr. W. W. Berford, County Treasurer; Mr. W. H. Grant, Official Assignee; Mr. Robt. Kellock, Deputy Sheriff and Gaoler. The committee on the Toronto and Ottawa Railroad is composed of the Mayor, Messrs.. E. Elliott, H. A. Mathews, J. Kippen, and W. J. Dennison.
The Assessment of the Town
One of the best criterions of the value of property in the town is, of course, its assessment roll, which, considering that building operations have not been very brisk during the last decade, presents a most respectable figure. For the last three years it has averaged $1,065,270, not at all bad for a place of only 2,800 inhabitants.
The Learned Professions
are well represented. The barristers are Messrs. W. H. Radenhurst, J. W. Douglas, F. F. A. Hall, E. Elliott, E. G. Malloch, and A. J. Matheson. The Attornies are two in number — Messrs. G. A. Consitt and W. W. Berford. The Physicians, Messrs. J. D. Kellock, H. C. Rugg, William Grant and R. Howden. Mr. F. A. Kennedy is the only dentist. By the way it is worth noting that gentleman has one of Prof. Bell‘s telephones, which will be in operation between his house and his office next week.
are two in number, the Bank of Montreal, R. J. Drummond, manager, and the Merchants Bank, James Grey, manager. The latter institution occupies one of the finest stone buildings in the town. Speaking of buildings, some of
The Private Residences
in Perth are worthy of notice for the taste displayed in their style, and among the houses are Judge Malloch, Victoria Hall, [Ed. Note: this building became the Great War Memorial Hospital and still forms the main entrance to it] Drummond street, Messrs. Peter McLaren, H. D. Shaw, W. S. Senkler, J. J. Henderson, Drummond street; John A. McLaren, Nelson street; Mrs. Wm. Shaw, corner Drummond and Foster streets; Dr. Chisholm, Wilson street; James Gray, Agent Merchants Bank, corner Dunn and Foster streets; H. Ryan, Drummond street.
claim the next share of attention. There are seven altogether, the principal ones being Hicks, Allan’s and the Revere House, the latter a new one. Hick’s Hotel, kept for the last ten years by Mr. Wm. Hicks, who has been twenty years in the business, and thirty-six years a resident of Perth, is a most comfortable house, as quiet as a private dwelling. Excellently well managed, and the rule of early hours is judiciously adopted. Mr. Hicks quaintly says “he likes to go to bed the same day as he gets up.” There are thirty-three well furnished bedrooms, four parlours, four sample rooms, spacious dining-rooms and office. A capital table is kept, and the cuisine is under the immediate superintendance of Mrs. Hicks, whose comely presence makes the house look thoroughly homelike. This hotel can be confidently commended to those who journey Perthward. His Honor Justice Burton stayed there during the late assizes. Allan’s hotel, under the proprietorship of Mr. Thos. Jordan, is also a most comfortable house, which has been established some forty years. It contains forty-four good bedrooms, four parlours, four sample rooms, a reading room, billiard hall with three tables, and all the offices necessary to a first-class house. Mr. Jordan keeps an excellent table, and is deservedly popular with the travelling public, who patronize him extensively. There is a good livery attached to the hotel. The Revere House, recently opened by Mr. W. Wilson, is also a comfortable hotel, and is earning for itself a good reputation. The proprietor does his utmost to provide well for the comfort of his patrons.
The Principal Storekeepers
are, as has been said before, mostly men of wealth, and Perth ranks high in the opinion of commercial travellers for the stability of its business men. They are: — A. Meighen Bros., (established in 1847), Shaw, Matheson & McMaster, J. T. Henderson, Alex. Robertson, general storekeeper; A. Allan, hardware; W. O’Brien, boot and shoemaker; Hope Bros., tinsmiths; W. Farrell, saddler, John Hart, bookseller and stationer, fancy goods, etc., and besides these there are a host of smaller, but well kept stores.
Your correspondent in taking leave of Perth must bear testimony to the good old world-like character of its residents and their kindly manners, and he only hopes that a few years will bring the town nearer to Ottawa, by means of a new railway, and that the proposed railway will bring them every kind of prosperity.