Submitted by Michael Dawber, and published in the LCGS newsletter, February, 1999.
Anyone who has researched the County of Lanark has seen the phrases “Lanark North” and “Lanark South.” The terms are found on all kinds of historic documents, including wills, post office records, land transactions . . . you name it.
However, I have been asked — many times — “Where is the line between North and South?” And, “Why is there a line at all? What does it mean?”
The division of Lanark into North and South dates back to the time when Lanark County was split into two provincial electoral districts (or ridings). At the time of Confederation — 1867 — the county was represented by two Members of Provincial Parliament, and two Members of Parliament in Ottawa. At the time, this was as many seats as were held by the City of Toronto. (How things change!)
Throughout the rest of the 19th Century, then, it was common for people to speak of “Lanark North” or “the South Riding of Lanark.” The post office records in Ottawa usually describe post offices as being in Lanark North or South. Even today, the Federated Women’s Institutes continue to have districts called Lanark North and Lanark South.
As the population shifted, and the towns and cities of Ontario grew rapidly, rural representation in the legislatures shrank. By 1914, Lanark County was given only one seat in the House of Commons. The Ontario government followed suit in 1933, when — as a cost-saving measure during the Great Depression — the provincial legislature was reduced from 112 members to just 90. Lanark North and Lanark South were merged, and the county has been represented by one MPP ever since.
As a guide for researchers, I have reproduced the provincial legislation creating the North and South Ridings of Lanark. As periodic reviews of the riding boundaries were made, laws (usually called The Representation Act of a given year) were introduced to redraw the seats. The boundaries were not static — for example, at one time, North Sherbrooke Township was included in South Lanark.
The legislation has been transcribed verbatim (except for the Constitution Act of 1867).
|Constitution Act, 1867||Lanark North: Townships of Dalhousie, Darling, Lanark, Lavant, Pakenham, Ramsay, Sherbrooke North.|
Lanark South: Townships of Bathurst, Beckwith, Burgess North, Drummond, Elmsley North, Montague, Sherbrooke South, and the Town of Perth.
|Representation Act, 1908||Lanark North: “The Electoral District of North Lanark to consist of the Townships of Beckwith, Dalhousie, Lanark, Ramsay, Lavant, Darling, and Pakenham, and the Towns of Almonte and Carleton Place, and the Village of Lanark.”|
Lanark South: “The Electoral District of South Lanark to consist of the Townships of Montague, Elmsley North, Burgess North, Sherbrooke South, Sherbrooke North, Drummond, Bathurst, and the Towns of Perth and Smith’s Falls.”
|Representation Act, 1925||Lanark North: “The Electoral District of North Lanark,– to consist of the Townships of Beckwith, Dalhousie, Darling, Lanark, Lavant, Pakenham, Ramsay, Sherbrooke North and Sherbrooke South, the Towns of Almonte and Carleton Place and the Village of Lanark.”|
Lanark South: “The Electoral District of South Lanark,– to consist of the Townships of Bathurst, Burgess North, Drummond, Elmsley North and Montague and the Towns of Perth and Smith’s Falls.”