J. Smyth Carter.

The story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 online

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Online LibraryJ. Smyth CarterThe story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 → online text (page 1 of 40)
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With Portraits and Illustrations




Page 53,
Page 68,
Page 68,
Page 95,
Page 103,
Page 122,
Page 128,
Page 130.
Page 133,
Page 136,
Page 151,
Page 158,
Page 167,
Page 170,
Page 187,
Page 201,
Page 217,
Page 245,
Page 297,
Page 322,

line 20. For "could only" read "only could."

line 18. For "half a mile" read ''three-quarters of a mile."

line 31. For "five-eighths" read "three-eighths."

line 32. For "John H. Merkle" read "John H. Meikle."

line 25. For "Emma" read "Anna."

line 6. For "were" read "was."

line 13. For "Robert Naugh" read "Robert Waugh."

line 14. For "Jack" read "Zack."

line 25. For "double" read "divided."

line 19. For "69" read "68."

line 1. For "member" read "numbers."

line 11. For "Marion Goldsmith" read "Marion Gould Smith."

line 34. For "J. C. F. Ruff" read "Rev. J. C. F. Rupp."

line 3. Omit the words "after being pardoned."

line 22. For "1855" read "1885."

line 2. For "Rev. W. C. Cowell" read "Rev. W. C. Powell."

line 15. For "retired" read "retiring."

line 38. For "retreat" read "report."

line 33. For "of George" read "or George."

re Brinston's Corners, the name of R. Wallace, undertaker, is


Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year 1905, by
J, Smyth Garter, at the Department of Agriculture


THE footprints of Time like the sands of the seashore wash out with the
lapse of years, and hence the work of gathering and preserving historical
data must be considered no easy task, especially in the county of Dundas,
with a history extending over one hundred years, and unusually rich in story,
legend and romance. With the death of the original settlers much of his-
torical interest passed away with them, thus making the work of preparation
of this volume difficult, since accuracy has been the writer's chief endeavor.

From a mass of material sought at great labor and expenditure the work
of scrutiny and. selection has been no sinecure, while the limitations of a
single volume have made abridgment and certain omissions unavoidable.

I desire to express my sincere thanks to those whose assistance I was fortun-
ate enough to secure. To A. C. Casselman, of Toronto, I am indebted for the
maximum share of the chapter on "Foundation and Settlement"; to Adam
Harkness, fur the chapter on "Drainage"; and to Arthur Brown, I. P, S., for
the chapter relating to "Public schools." The work of each of these gentle-
men will speak for itself. I am also under deep obligation to Thomas Mc-
Donald, of the County Registry Office; to officers of the Crown Lands Depart-
ment, Toronto; to officers of the Militia Department, Ottawa; to the local
members of Parliament, the clergy of surrounding counties, and others, re-
presentative of every section and interest in the county. To Ira W. Becksted,
Iroquois, Ont., is due the credit of having photographed most of the views
herein reproduced, including the designing of same.

Since the pages of this book are not laden with unsightly foot-notes, an
apology is due those whose works have been consulted. Many sentences and
paragraphs have been selected from "Dundas: or a Sketch of Canadian His-
tory," by James Croil,andfrorn"Lurienburgh: or the Old Eastern District," by
Judge Pringle. These volumes have been especially helpful. Among others
might be mentioned the "History of Leeds and Grenville," by T. W. H.
Leavitt; "Smith's Canada," 1850; works by Canniff Haight; old newspaper
fyles and directories of the county, and many historical records
and books preserved in the Library of Parliament and in the Department of
Archives at Ottawa.

In the prosecution of this task my object has been to present an unbiased
record of one of the most historic counties in eastern Ontario, for the ac-
complisment of which I have labored in all sincerity, although my ef-
forts have been somewhat handicapped owing to the absence in many cases
of official data. Whatever my short comings as a writer may be, or should
censure fall on my efforts, I shall ever be proudly conscious of the fact that in
this work I have endeavored to be just.

Rowena, Ont., Dec 14, 1004.



Topography and Geology . . . 13

The Days of the Indian 18

Foundation and Settlement , 26

Domestic Life 43

Agricultural Evolution 56

Roads and Travel 64

Drainage 72

Municipal Government 90

Public Schools 110

High Schools 139

Religious Life 162

Parliamentary Representation : . 207

Bivouac and Camp-fire 228

Courts and Officials 287

Books and Newspapers 288

Boundaries and Neighboring Counties 29

Williamsburg Township , 308

Matilda Township . . . . , 318



Mountain Township . .
Winchester Township


Morrisburg . . . .

Winchester Village . .
Chesterville ......

Biographical Sketches
Notices of Early Settlers
The First Families .












Canal Scenes '' i , ; .

Sir Wm. and Sir John Johnson, etc. . . , . .

Agriculture and Dairying

Counties' Buildings and Officials . . , . . . ' % -;."''.
Counties' Council at Morrisburg, in 1892 . '. " * >
Cornwall and Stormont Members of Counties' Council, 1903-4
Dundas Members of Counties* Council, 1903-4 . ; : . ,

Glengarry Members of Counties' Council, 1908-4 -. . , ,

School Houses . . . . . . ,

Early Buildings . . ;

Queen's College Group . . .....

Iroquois High School . ....

Morrisburg Collegiate Institute . ....

Churches . . . ....

Ministers . . . ....

Churches . . . ....

Early Members of Parliament . ....

Recent Members of Parliament . ....

Members of Stormont and Glengarry ....

Crysler's Farm . . ....

Mclntosh Tree Prescott Windmill ....

South African Veterans . . . . , .

Groups of Five Generations . ... ,,/;

County Court Officials . ....

Barristers, etc. . . ....

Pioneer Journalism . . . ....

Present Newspapers and Editors . ....

J. Wesley Allison, and Island Views . . . V

Residents of Cornwall and Vicinity . . . . ' .

Relics of Ye Olden Days . . . . .

Williamsburg Officers . . . . v .';

Williamsburg Residences . . ...


, 29-30
. 89-90
. 93-94
. 97-98
. 101-2
. 105-6
. 115-16
. 125-6
. 137-8
. 145-6
. 155-6
. 175-6
. 165-6
. 193-4
. 205-6
. 213-14
. 223-24
. 233-34
. 243-4
. 253-4
. 263-4
. 269-70
. 275-6
, 285-6
, 289-90
. 295-6
. 305-6
. 309-10
. 313-14


Matilda Officers

Matilda Residences . '.

Mountain Officers . . ."

Mountain Residences

Winchester Township Officers

Winchester Township Residences

Iroquois Officers .

Iroquois Residences . . ' .

Iroquois Water.Light and Heat Commissioners

King Street, Iroquois

Morrisburg Officers

Morrisburg Residences .

Main Street. Morrisburg

Winchester Village Officers

Views of Winchester Village

Chesterville Officers

Views of Chesterville , .,

M. P. Beach, I. W. Becksted, Geo. E. Merkley

Dundas Physicians .

Early Williamsburg Settlers . .

Early Matilda Settlers '.. . .

Early Winchester Settlers . . . '

Early Settlers of Mountain and Matilda .

Ice Bridge at Morrisburg , /




























FROM the standpoint of the geologist the county of Dundas presents little
of conspicuous significance. Its comparatively level surface, devoid of
any elevations or depressions sufficiently marked to indicate the nature of the
underlying rocks, make it fittingly designated one of the "garden-beds of the
St. Lawrence valley." Could we, however, read from Nature's infinite book
of secrecy we would discover much to interest and inform us concerning the
hidden strata which form the rock bed beneath.

The physical birth and subsequent geological history of many places are
qualified with serious ancient disturbances, such as earthquakes and volcanic
fire, but after careful study, on the part of the geologist, it has been concluded
that the physical changes in connection with the underlying strata of the
county of Dundas have been of a more peaceful, orderly and gradual nature.

There can be no doubt that when the lower rocks were formed they consti-
tuted the bed of a very ancient ocean. Through subsequent ages this condi-
tion continued, while succeeding strata were deposited until Dundas and
vicinity finally emerged from its watery birth-place to form a part of the land
area of North America.

In the year 1868 a discovery was made which serves to strengthen our
conclusions. In that year while laborers were engaged in cutting down a
bank in the neighborhood of Cornwall town bones were found at a depth of
twelve or fourteen feet beneath the surface. The late Judge Pringle (to whose


work we arc indebted for this data) and the late Charles Poole became inter-
ested in the discovery and had the bones gathered up as they were disinterred.
These were placed together and with the exception of one or two of the
vertebrae, the whole skeleton was secured which proved to be that of a white
whale. These and kindred discoveries combine to prove, without doubt, that
at some pre-historic period this portion of the St. Lawrence valley was a
submerged area.

Our county may be described as the centre of a great trough or basin with
the rim plainly visible in the neighboring counties of Carleton and Russell to
tbe north ; in Leeds and Lanark to the west ; in Soulanges and Vaudreuil, to
the east of Glengarry ; while a few miles to the south of the St. Lawrence the
same belt of ancient rocks appears. The circumference of the basin seems to
have either remained stationary or to have risen slightly, while the ex-
posed strata is of the same formation as that hidden in the centre of the

Without further consideration of the surface character of the basin let us
discuss the quality of the strata beneath. Our initial investigation reveals to
us a characteristic peculiar in a large measure to central Canada. Our sur-
face clays or sands properly belong to the Tertiary or Post-Tertiary periods
of geology. Beneath these is found a deposit of the lower Silurian formation
which forms the base of the whole system of stratified rocks. Between this
strata and the surface clay or sand only minor deposits are found, while in
other parts of the world these intermediate substances are more extensive.
This is particularly true of the coal producing areas of the United States the
coal being found between the two layers to which we have referred above.
The lower Silurian rocks appear to overlie the Laurentian ; these latter are
found in the rim of the Dundas basin and quite possibly underlie our county,
thus forming the foundation of all the other rocks.

In ascending order the next formation is that of the Calciferous Sandrock,
succeeded in turn by the Chazy. The latter passes through the eastern part
of Carleton and skirts the western part of Dundas. The limestone found in
Dundas belong to this group. The Trenton group of rocks, in which is in-
cluded the Chazy, comprises as well the Birdseye, Black River and Trenton
limestone. These rocks are generally pure grey, blue or blackish limestone
very regularly stratified. The county of Dundas rests upon this group
although the rocks are here visible only in river channels and in quarries, but
it is believed that they underlie the whole county to a depth of more than
one hundred feet. By a careful examination of the different divisions of the
Trenton series there are discovered the remains of millions of strange and
peculiar animals. In fact it would appear that the waters in which those
ancient rocks were deposited were literally teeming with forms of animal life


which are now extinct. Realizing this condition the residents of Dundas,
Stormont and vicinity may be said to be living upon the graves of extinct
forms of life.

Covering the rocks, in the county of Dundas, is a deposit of clay or sand
constituting soil which is noted for its powers of fertility and productiveness.
In the make-up of our soil geologists have discovered the remains of older
rocks, Avhich, by climatic influences, have been ground into various degrees of
fineness and hence in our soil there must be present the constituents of those
ancient rocks containing among others quartz, felspar, mica, garnet, lime,
hornblende, iron, etc. All these surely lend virtue to our soil.

In our brief survey of the geological conditions of Dundas we have retreated
to the pre-historic ages and followed through the various stages of life and
strata formation. In this our efforts appear meagre, and our picture can
scarcely be designated an outline, yet it may enable us to form some concep-
tion of the Infinite Power which carved the great earth structure, and of the
ages necessary to lay the hidden foundations previous to man's appearance
on the scene.

In examining the work on "Geology in Canada, 1883," we find something of
local coloring ; subsequent reports, however, seem not to deal explicitly with
Dundas. The report of 1883 says : "Black limestone occurs in the northwest
corner of Williamsburg, about a mile from the right bank of the South Petite
Nation river. Being the most westerly exposure of black limestone met
with, connected with the southern division of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence,
it is probable that it may belong to the Birdseye and Black River formation.
There is nothing to contradict this view in the aspect of the rock, but no
fossils have been obtained to confirm it. Farther down the river, at the
eleventh lot of the second range of Winchester, similar beds hold Leperditia,
but here also the formation is uncertain. Still farther down, at Armstrong's
Mills, on the twelfth lot of the 4th range and in several places in the neigh-
borhood, quarries are opened in black limestone beds, but there they are
characterized by Trenton fossils . From this vicinity similar limestones occur
at interyals all along the way to Crysler's Mills, in Finch, and nearly the
whole of the township appears to be underlaid by such strata in a generally
horizontal position. At Crysler's Mills, on the twelfth lot of the tenth range
of the township, a section shows alternations of grey or bluishand black lime-
stone, dipping N. 40 E. at an inclination of a little over forty feet in a mile.
Lumps of iron pyrites occur in the beds, and the strata are intersected by a
set of small parallel veins of calc-spar running about N. W. and S. E.

Westward of the High Falls, at Cook's Mills, on the Castor river, in the 8th
lot of the ninth range of Russell, which would be in the streak of the strata,


at the High Falls already alluded to, there is a section of about five feet con.
sisting of dark blue limestone, alternating with black shale. Several of the
shale beds are very fossiliferous. On the south bank of the Castor, in the
next range to the west, thick beds of dark blue limestone dip N. 40 W. 32,
and farther west, at Louck's Mills, on the eleventh lot of the fourth range,
the dip, which on the south side of the stream is S. 34 W. at an inclination
varying in the distance of a hundred yards from sixty to five degrees, is on
the north side N. 40 W. 17.

The primitive forest of Dundas numbered among its trunks nearly every
variety of tree found in Upper Canada. These included several species of the
lordly pine, the oak, elm, beech, birch, ash, maple, larch, spruce, balsam,
hemlock, tamarac, cedar, hickory, etc. Of the hickory Mr. Croil remarks :
"It is largely manufactured into hand-spikes, 20,000 of these in their rough
state were shipped from Dundas in 1859." Many of the varieties of wood
named haye almost, if not wholly, disappeared. In the extermination of this
primitive forest what excellent timber was turned into ashes, The lofty pine
and oak with their umbrageous tops must have been considered the princes
of solitude .

Other varieties of vegetable life, then and since, have abounded in countless
forms, thus adorning our land. The botanist, as he traverses our beautiful
woodlands, finds even yet ample compensation for investigation and research.

Our county is well watered. The St. Lawrence and the South Petite Nation
rivers, with their numerous feeders, serve as draining agencies. Swamps
occupy a very disproportionate area ; few of these attain the nature of a bog,
and by proper means of drainage each can be rendered tillable. A consider-
able acreage has already been thus reclaimed. The watershed dividing the
basins of our two rivers is not distant from the St. Lawrence, as the Nation
takes its rise within a mile and a half of the great river, where the elevation
is only thirty feet above the surface of the St. Lawrence, or 252 feet above
the sea, and falls but 144 feet in a hundred miles before reaching the Ottawa,
in Plantaganet township. Its minimum fall, coupled with the fact that the
greater part of the surface drainage of our county falls to the lot of the Nation
river, accounts for the latter's congested condition at certain seasons. Spec-
ial artificial means have been employed to render the river more adequate
for drainage ; but this portion of our subject is fully dealt with in a subse-
quent chapter of this volume. During earlier days the Petite Nation, with
its numerous creeks and feeders, afforded motive power to various mills which
were of convenience to the farmers. These mills would generally operate for
a few months each year. This river also afforded the principal means of
getting the timber to market.

The supply of pure and excellent water to be obtained is a source of comfort


to the inhabitants of Dundas. Generally, at depths varying from fifteen to
sixty feet, no difficulty is experienced in procuring an abundance of the
precious fluid. Occasionally this depth has to be exceeded. Owing to the
comparatively level area of our county surface springs are not so numerous
as in more hilly districts. These we fancy lend a picturesqueness to the
landscape, but the natural beauty of the level mead and stubble tracts of
Dundas, dotted with an occasional fringe of forest, are our quota of charm.
The famous Winchester Springs are deserving of special reference. An
analysis of the water proves that they contain iodine, bromine, iron, potassa,
soda, sulphur and sulphide of carbon gas. This famous resort consists of two
springs a few yards apart, one of which is more strongly impregnated with
iron than the other, and medical men, who have had opportunities of studying
the effects of water on the system, are unanimous in their verdict that for
such diseases as rheumatism, dyspepsia, biliousness, scrofula, skin diseases
and general debility they have no equal. The water, to some, is not pleasant
at first, but the exhilarating and general beneficial effects of the gas in the
water are so apparent that after a few draughts it is taken with a relish,
more particularly when it is found to stimulate the most precarious appetite.
These popular Springs, situated about the centre of the county of Dundas,
therefore possess a certain attraction for many people.

It might be interesting to note that the discovery of the Winchester springs
was effected by a government surveyor, named Frazer, toward the close of
the first quarter of the previous century. He at once reported his " find, "
but a number of years passed without any attention being directed thereto.
Later, the government sent out an exploring party to locate the springs and
report as to their value. At that time the springs were on the banks of
the creek and the water then being high they could not be located. Since
then the course of the creek has been deflected.

The second discoverer of the famous springs was Thomas Armstrong, a
lumberman. He and his men were afflicted with scurvy from the constant
use of salt meat. By the use of the water their health recruited and they
were entirely cured. These springs have for many years continued to be an
attractive centre for visitors from different parts of Canada and the United

In the year 1900 a spring was discovered on the bank of the St. Lawrence,
opposite the residence of A. C. Casselman, Morrisburg. The water tasted
strongly of sulphur, and visitors by the score made their way to the place .
Great enthusiasm prevailed as to the possibility of establishing a sanitarium
there, but apparently the wish was father of the thought. The spring,
however, is still patronized.

Another matter of local interest which has lately occurred is the discovery


Of oil and gas in Dundas county. This discovery has not only engaged the
attention of our citizens but has also brought to the scene men who are
numbered among the rank and file of that great industry.

Some time ago while engaged in drilling for water, on the farm of Luther
M. Barclay, of Williamsburg township, a strong flow of gas was struck. At
once the well was abandoned and some difficulty was experienced in stopping
the flow. Expert geologists later examined the ground and were favorably
impressed with the indications, endorsing the presence of both gas and oil.
At other places in the vicinity similar conditions were found to exist. During
the year 1903 the Great Northern Oil and Gas Company, Limited, secured an
option on 1,500 acres in the neighborhood of the find and a drill was subse-
quently placed for operation.

This place of interest is located about midway between Winchester Springs
and North WilliaiEsburg, and since drilling has been begun by the Company
scores of people have visited the place. The Great Northern Oil and Gas
Company, Limited, are also operating in a district in Russell and Prescott
counties, known as "The Brook, " and also at Manitoulin Island. The drilling
at the former place began in July, 1903. As to the outcome of the industry
in Dundas we are, at time of writing, unable to speak, but the presence of oil
and gas in sufficient flow to warrant initial operations in that direction has
already been demonstrated.

Alas for theinl their day is o'er,

Their fires are out from shore to shore;
No more for them the wild deer bounds

The plough is on their hunting grounds.



THE very early history of Dundas forms a part of the story of the " North
American Indians." Tradition gives prominence to many incidents, enriched
with the peculiar life of the red men as they roamed o'er the vast panorama
of forest and river. Our county now smiling with beautiful homes and
cultivated fields was once the abiding place of the Indian. Perhaps for
centuries the swarthy race trod over our lands. While evidences of their
abode, here, are perhaps not so striking as in some other portions of Canada,
yet sufficient remains to prove beyond a doubt thac Dundas and adjacent
lands were occupied by those Arabs of the American wilderness.

The historic Point Iroquois was one of their favorite resorts. Here, amid
the peaceful groves of pine and maple they built their camp-fires and held their
pow-wows. Here, they revelled in the joys consistent with their natural
tastes, and as they viewed the mighty river so picturesque at this spot
what fancies must have thrilled them? What an ideal environment it must
have presented to their minds, for they undoubtedly delighted in the belief
that the land would ever remain to them. By the presence of the Indian an
attribute of romance characterizes the Point, which may be justly considered
one of the most beautiful spots along the St. Lawrence.

In 1903 in the township of Edwardsburg, a short distance from the
western border of Matilda, a discovery was made that is of considerable
interest in this connection. On the farm of Bufus Froom is located

Online LibraryJ. Smyth CarterThe story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 → online text (page 1 of 40)