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] 40 Vic, Chap 36.


conditions of wind and weather, but, once in, vessels have all the pro-
tection needed. Port Elgin harbor is an excellent one for a vessel to
winter in, there being no danger from spring freshets, as is the case
where the harbor is placed at the mouth, of a river.

The village of Port Elgin has ever been liberal and public-spirited
in granting bonuses and loans to encourage the establishment of
industries in its midst, and also in providing means for useful and
needed public improvements, as the following list of issues of deben-
tures shows. Prior to 1885 the total issue amounted to $16,000. The
following list up to that year is probably correct; after that year it
is so:

In 1875 Debentures issued for $3,000 for town hall.


5,000 for school purposes.

3,000 for bonus to grist mill(Grey &McChesney)

5,000 for harbor improvements.

1,000 for bonus to foundry.

5,000 for loan to grist mill (Geo. A. McKay).

5,000 for loan to button factory.

4,000 to build High School.

4,20J to build Public School.

In 1897 the unpaid debenture debt and interest amounted
to $13,127.06. There existed at the same time a floating debt of the
village nd the two School Boards which amounted to $3,992.39, mak-
ing a total indebtedness at that time of $17,119.45. -This being found
burdensome and oppressive, application was made to Parliament to
consolidate the debt and extend the payment of the same over twenty
years. The application was granted and an Act 1 passed authorizing
the issue of debentures to the extent of $17,000 for the said purpose.
Since then the further issue of debentures has been :

In 1902 Debentures for $ 4,000 as bonus to brush factory.

" 1903 " " 10,000 as bonus ($3,000) and loan ($7,000) to Do-

minion Harness Co.

" 1903 " 4,530 for construction of granolithic sidewalks,

"Local improvements."

" 1904 " " 5,800 for construction of granolithic sidewalks,

" Local improvements."
By-laws passed, f 7,000 to Wm. McVicar, bonus to sawmill and




spur line of railway to harbor.

-Debentures yet -( 30,000 for system of waterworks.

10,000 loan to the Stevens, Hepner Company brush
to be issued. ^ factory.

Prior to the vote being taken, in June, 1906, on the last two men-
tioned items, the then debenture debt of the village was stated to be
$34,005.49, exclusive of local improvement debentures.

It will be noted what a large amount has been voted by the rate-
'60 Vic. Chap. 76.


payers in the endeavor to build the village up as a manufacturing
centre. Success has unfortunately not attended all these efforts. At
present the leading industry of Port Elgin is probably the brush
factory. This was established in 1883 by John Hepner (previously a
resident of Napanee) and six business men of the village. Two years
later, in February, 1885, the works were destroyed by fire. A stock
company was then formed under the name of the Port Elgin Brush
Co., Limited, and the works rebuilt. T. I. Thompson was president of
this company, and B. B. Boyd manager. Ten years later the company
went into liquidation. In June, 1896, the plant was purchased by H.
H. Stevens, John Hepner and E. H. Schiedel, who carried on the busi-
ness under the name of Stevens, Hepner & Co. In 1901 the last-
mentioned gentleman retired from the firm. In that same year new
buildings were, erected and the capacity of the plant doubled. Five
years later, in the spring of 1906, the firm made a proposition to the
village, offering to erect an addition to their factor}*- of 180x36 feet, of
three stories and basement, and to double their capacity for. produc-
tion, provided the village would install a system of waterworks
(affording fire protection), and guarantee a loan of $10,000 for ten
years. The proposition was accepted by the village, and the required
by-law was passed by a large majority. The business is at present
carried on under the name of The Stevens, Hepner Co., Limited.

Another manufacturing plant that promises to add materially to
the business of the village is the AVm. McYicar & Sons sawmill, at
the harbor. A bonus of $7,000 to this firm was voted upon and
carried, September 16th, 1905, in consideration of which the firm
undertook to erect a large sawmill, and also to purchase the, right-of-
way for a spur line of railway from the Grand Trunk Railway station
to the harbor, to grade the same and supply the required railway ties,
the Grand Trunk Eailway Company at the same time offering to
supply the rails and lay the track. W. McVicar & Sons also agreed
to furnish a locomotive and engine-house. At the time of writing
considerable work has been done, and the line is almost completed. 1

A bonus and loan totalling $10,000 was granted to the Dominion
Harness Company, in 1903. This company has not, as originally

'At the time the railway to Southampton was surveyed the intention
was to have the railway enter Port Elgin on the lake shore side, and the
station in proximity to the harbor. Considerable and mistaken opposition
to this proposal was met with from property holders in the eastern part of
the village, under the impression the centre of business would be moved
to the vicinity of the proposed station. Unfortunately the views of these
men carried, and it is only now, after many efforts, that the railway will
reach the harbor.


started, been a successful venture. In 1906 the company was
reorganized under the name of the Dominion Pressed Steel Company,
to manufacture shovels and similar goods. John George is the
president of this company, and F. Miehle is the manager. High hopes
are held that this firm may prove a success and the village derive
benefit from the assistance rendered.

The first school building of the village stood on the site of the
present High School. A Miss Agnes Lawrence was the first teacher.
Her father, Alexander Lawrence, was the next who endeavored to lead
the youth of the village in the paths of learning. The school build-
ings and furnishings at first were none too elaborate. These condi-
tions improved, however, as the years rolled by. In 1875 a good
brick school-house was erected, and in 1890 a further advance was
made when the present handsome school premises became the home
of the village Public School. The High School was opened in the
fall of 1889. For the first fifteen years J. T. Lillie, B.A., filled the
position of headmaster, and did so in a manner that brought credit
both to the school and to himself. On his resigning, Mr. J. Camp-
bell Clark was appointed his successor. In addition to the schools
belonging to the regular educational system of the province, there
existed an Academy, connected with the United Brethren Church,
during the years 1880, 1881 and 1882, the principals of which we r e
the Rev. A. B. Sherk and D. B. Sherk.

Public religious services were in the very early days held in a
building erected for the common use of all denominations. The
Presbyterians were the first to be organized into a congregation. The
following extract from the Annual Report for 1894 of this congrega-
tion is so complete that it is worthy of permanent preservation, and
a large extract therefrom is here given : " While yet the settlers were
few in number and were separated from one another by the primitive
forest, the Presbytery of London, realizing that many of them
belonged to Presbyterian families, sent in one and another of their
ministers to let the people feel that the church had not lost sight of
them, and was interested in their welfare. Among the first to
come (in 1854) was the Rev. John Scott, then of St. Andrew's, Lon-
don (afterwards Rev. Dr. Scott, of North Bruce), who, having come
early in his ministerial life to preach and dispense ordinances, and
by the way to gather together the scattered few and lay the founda-
tions of Presbyterianism in the district, spent the last ten years of
his ministry among some of the very people for whom he had many
years before done something to supply with the means of grace, and


keep them in connection with the church of their fathers. The
reverend doctor tells how that in the early fifties he more than once
or twice, by appointment of Presbytery, visited this northern country
and preached at Southampton, Port Elgin, Dunblane, Paisley and
North Bruce. One of the first services held within the bounds of
what afterwards became the Port Elgin congregation was conducted
by him in the house of Mr. John Smith/ on the 6th concession of
Saugeen. In those days so dense was the bush that the minister
failed to find Mr. Peter Smith's, although it was only about a mile
and a half from his brother's at the riverside, on what is now the
McGillivray farm. The Kev. W. Ball, then of Woodstock, visited the
district in 1854, and dispensed ordinances at various places. The first
ordained minister was the Eev. James H. McNaughton, who was
settled over the congregation of Southampton from 1855 to 1859, and
who had a number of preaching stations, Port Elgin among the rest,
which were supplied more or less regularly by him for several years,
without their being united to form a pastoral charge. About the
time of Mr. McNaughton's resignation Mr. Alexander Fraser was
appointed as missionary at Port Elgin, where he labored with so
much acceptance that he was called as pastor, and ordained and
inducted on the 22nd of October, 1861. In July, 1862, we find a
communion roll of 53 members; but as eleven of these had been
added since Mr. Eraser's settlement, the membership at that time
must have been about 42. The first church, which was built in 1860,
was soon found to be so inconveniently situated (the village having
grown in a different direction from that which was originally
expected) that it was never fully completed; and in 1870,
although the membership was not by any means large or wealthy,
yet, animated with commendable zeal, and realizing that a conveni-
ently situated church was necessary to the advancement, if not of the
very existence, of Presbyterianism here, the erection of the present
church building was determined upon and a substantial and comfort-
able brick church with basement was erected. Early in 1871 the
basement was opened for worship. The church had not been erected
much more than a year, when the Rev. Mr. Fraser, who had faith-
fully and amid not a few hardships ministered to the people for
about eleven years, tendered his resignation, which was accepted early
in 1872. After a vacancy of about eighteen months, during which a
union had been consummated with Dunblane, the Eev. D. C. McKay,
M.A., was called and settled as pastor of the united charge. Scarcely
had he entered upon his ministry when he was stricken down, and


died on September 21st, 1873, after a short pastorate of only five
weeks. Eighteen months again elapsed before the settlement of the
Eev. James Gourlay, M.A., was effected. Meanwhile the church
building had been completed and finished at a cost of about $4,000,
besides a further expenditure for the bell, and was opened on Septem-
ber 27th, 1874, by Kev. A. Topp, D.D., of Knox Church, Toronto."
This building was enlarged in 1889 at a cost of $1,300, and
extensively renovated in 1901. The pastorate of the Eev. Mr. Gourlay,
which extended over twenty years, was terminated by his resignation
in July, 1895. The Eev. A. H. Drumm was the next to minister to
the spiritual needs of the congregation. He was followed by the Eev.
A. Mahaffy, who was inducted in January, 1900, to this charge, which
he continues to minister to. The congregation held jubilee services
on July 9th, 1905.

Other denominations were not long in following the example set
by the Presbyterians, and proceeded to organize as congregations, the
United Brethren being the next to do so. In 1866 there were five
churches in the village, the three others not above mentioned being
the Methodist, the Mennonites and the Church of the New Jerusalem.
In a few years the congregation last mentioned ceased to be, but the
number of denominations in the place remained the same, as the
Baptists formed themselves into a congregation. Subsequently, some
time in the seventies, congregations belonging to the Church of Eng-
land and the German Evangelical Church were formed. The above-
mentioned number of religious denominations in this locality has of
late years been increased by a congregation of Latter Day Saints
(Mormons), whose church is just beyond the southerly boundary of
the village.

The attractions that Port Elgin offers as a summer resort are
yearly becoming more and more appreciated. The splendid beach,
the bracing breezes that blow from off Lake Huron, and the mineral
spring and baths are attracting each season an increased number of

The efforts put forth by the people of Port Elgin to hold annual
gatherings of the pioneers of the county are worthy of the fullest
commendation. The first of these was held July, 1899, and is referred
to in Chapter VIII. Since then these gatherings have been held
annually, and are one of the events of the summer at Port Elgin.

At the time of writing the village is possessed, as not before for
years, with a sense of its possibilities. That it may have the courage
to press on and attain is certainly the desire of its well-wishers.


FOR a number of years in its early days the village was known
by the names of Saugeen or Southampton, one as commonly used as
the other. The former was that used by the Post-office and Custom
House Departments, as well as by the public generally, while as
Southampton it was known by the Crown Lands Department, besides
being the name of the village mentioned in the special Act passed for
its incorporation. It took many years 2 before unanimity was reached
as to the name to be used when speaking of the village.

The idea of la}'ing out a town plot at the mouth of the Saugeen
River was early thought of by the heads of the Crown Lands Depart-
ment. Even before a plan for the division of the county into town-
ships had been settled upon the decision to have such a survey made
was arrived at. This is indicated by a letter on record among the
correspondence of the Department, dated October 1st, 1847, addressed
to R. Lynn, P.L.S., directing him to survey a town plot at the mouth
of the Saugeen River. Why he did not immediately proceed to carry
out these instructions the author cannot say. Four years passed, and
it was the summer of 1851 before he made the survey.

The first settlement made at Soiithampton was in 1848 by Capt.
John Spence and William Kennedy, the particulars of which are to
be found in Chapter III. 3 These two pioneers were before long
joined by James Orr and George Butchart. At first they were all

'At the time the name Southampton was bestowed upon the prospective
town it did not seem appropriate, as it was then the most northern lake
port in the province. Possibly the name was bestowed in the hopes that
in its development the town might rival in importance its famous English

2 It was 1889 or 1890 before the name of the post-office was changed
from Saugeen to Southampton, and 1895 when, as a port of entry, Saugeen
was changed to Southampton.

3 In addition to the biographical incidents relating to Captain John
Spence given in Chapter III., it might be stated that he was a skilful,
brave seaman, traits of character he markedly exhibited in the rescue
of the crew of a large American vessel from a watery grave under most
dangerous circumstances. The American Government recognized this heroic
act by presenting Capt. Spence with a very fine gold watch.



engaged in carrying on a fishing business, Spence and Kennedy having
purchased of the Niagara Fishing Company its plant and rights at
the Fishing Islands. This did not prove a successful venture, and in
a few years was dropped. Capt. Spence took to sailing, being in com-
mand of a vessel called the Sea Gull. Win. Kennedy left to
engage in a search for Sir John Franklin, James Orr opened a tavern
in the village, and George Butchart took up land and started a saw-
mill at Port Elgin, as related in the next preceding chapter. Among
the earliest settlers who came in after the above-mentioned were
Alex. McDonald, John McLean, Jos. Gilbert, Peter Brown, John
Cooke, Jas. Lambert, Thos. Lee, Robert Eeid, Richard Hill and James
Calder. The last three mentioned were storekeepers. In August,
1S51, Crown Land Agent Alexander McNabb 1 and his son, John M.
McNabb, arrived at Southampton. His stay that year lasted until
the beginning of December. In May of the following year he brought
his family to the village to take up their permanent residence there.
Among others that settled in the village in those early days, at a
slightly subsequent date, might be mentioned John C. Coulson, John
Belcher, John Peck, J. M. Kelly and John Ewing.

The winter of 1851-52 opened with sad forebodings for the hand-
ful of settlers at Southampton some dozen or more families who
depended for their supply of the absolute necessaries of life upon
what was brought from time to time to the village by sailing vessels
from Goderich. As the winter drew on, the supplies were found to be
running low. The settlement was relying upon Capt. Alex. McDon-
ald, in command of the Saucy Jack, to bring in, before navigation
closed, what flour and other provisions would be required. Unfor-
tunately he delayed his time of sailing too long. His vessel was caught
in a gale, and it, with all on board, perished. It was a black outlook
for the settlers, some of whom made their way to the older settle-
ments, there to remain for the winter. 2 For those who stayed at the
village supplies sufficient to maintain existence were by some means
brought through the deep snow and a roadless forest from Owen
Sound. Nevertheless, it was a winter of many privations.

A graphic description of Southampton in 1852 is given in a letter
written by Mr. Andrew Crawford, a student missionary, sent by the

*A biographical sketch of Mr. McNabb is given in a footnote in
Chapter V.

2 Mr. Kennedy, in " Pioneer Days," p. 72, seq., gives a graphic account of
their tramp through the snow to Owen Sound.

510 AS IT WAS IN 1852

Presbytery of London, to minister to the spiritual needs of the people
in this locality. An extract from the letter which bears date May
25th, 1852, is here given:

"Our village (Southampton) is quite a new place; it only rose
into existence last summer, and already it numbers about thirty
houses. Though but a village at present, Southampton is laid out for
a large town, and judging from its situation and other advantages
connected with it, this contemplated design may be speedily realized.
Many town and park lots have already been taken up, and some excel-
lent frame houses are being erected thereon. The streets are regular
and wide; some of them have been opened. Several large reserves
have been laid off for churches, schools, market buildings, court-house,
a cemetery and other public institutions. There are already three well-
filled stores, and even now the inhabitants have the privilege of weekly
mail, despatch and arrival. At present a few inconveniences arising
from the situation and circumstances of the place are, of course, to
be expected and experienced."

A post-office, known as Saugeen, was opened in the village in
1851. The first postmaster was Eobert Eeid. He held this office
until 1857, when Thomas Lee 1 received the appointment and retained
the position until his death in 1901. On January 26th, 1855, the
present system of post-office money orders was instituted. Of the 160
offices in Canada at that time authorized to issue such orders, Saugeen
was the only one in the county of Bruce. There is no doubt this
privilege was on account of the presence of the Crown Land Office in
the village. Two years after the establishing of a post-office the gov-
ernment made Saugeen a port of entry for the collection of customs.
John McLean was the first officer in charge. That an idea may be
obtained of the business done at this port in the early days, the fol-
lowing figures from the returns of 1855 are given : Exports, $629.20 ;
imports, $6,614.02 ; amount of duties collected in 1855, $843.58. It
is said that a great deal of whiskey used to be smuggled in at this
point from the United States, and tales, are told of the devices to
get the officer out of the way while the goods were being landed.

1 Thomas Lee settled in Southampton in the spring of 1851. In partnership
with his father-in-law, Thomas Godfrey, he built the first bridge over the Saugeen
River, on the line of the Elora Road. The bridge was known as Burgess' bridge
and crossed the river in the vicinity of what is now known as McCalder's bridge.
Besides holding the office of postmaster he was engaged for some years as a for-
warder, commission merchant and insurance agent. For many years he was one of
the wardens in the Church of England congregation, and was the village treasurer
for twenty-six years. His death took place February 20th, 1901.



An agency of the Bank of Upper Canada was established at
Southampton as early as 1854, Alexander McNabb being the agent.
The large payments made on account of land purchases doubtless
accounted for the presence of a chartered bank in what at that time
was only a small backwoods village. On the failure of the Bank of
Upper Canada, the Commercial Bank of Canada opened an agency
in Southampton, of which Alex. Proudfoot was agent. His successor
was Alex. Sproat. Mr. Sproat was also county treasurer, and when
it became necessary for him to remove to Walkerton when it became
the county town, he succeeded in taking the agency with him. From
that time (June, 1867) until the Bank of Hamilton in 1898 opened
an agency in Southampton, the village was without a chartered bank.

At the time the provisional County Council commenced to thresh
out the county town question (this was in 1857), the village of South-
ampton considered itself as possibly the premier village of the county
because of having resident there the Crown Lands Office and a bank
over and above all that Kincardine, its strongest rival, could boast
of, except, possibly, in the matter of population, in which Kincardine
slightly excelled. Into the fight for the county town Southampton,
therefore, entered, with strong hopes of capturing the coveted prize.
In addition it had assurances made by government officers that it was
certain to be the county town. To strengthen its claims for the
coveted honor, incorporation was sought. As the required population
did not reside within the proposed limits of the village, this could
not be obtained in the manner laid down by statute, so Parliament
was asked to pass an Act of incorporation, 1 which was done, July 24th,
1858. The record of the county town contest is given in Chapter VI.
There is related how that on two occasions an effort was made to make
Southampton the county town of the north half of a divided county.
Both of these attempts came to naught, as well as those to make it the
county town of the county as a whole.

The election of the first Village Council occurred shortly after
incorporation, in the summer of 1858. In a footnote 2 the names are

J 22 Vic. Chap. 42.

2 Reeves of the village of Southampton: James Calder, part of 1858;
Thomas Webster, part of 1859; J. T. Conaway, part of 1859, '60, '62, '63,
'71, '72, '78, '79; John Eastwood, 1861; Thomas Adair, 1864 to 1868, 1873
to 1877; Alex. Sinclair, 1869, '70; W. S. Scott, M.D., 1880 to 1883, 1888
to 1892; George E. Smith, 1884 to 1887, '93; A. E. Belcher, 1894, '95,
part of '96, '98; C. M. Bowman, part of 1896, '97; William McGregor,
1899 to 1902, '04; N. B. Zinkan, 1903. List of mayors of the town of
Southampton : A. E. Belcher, 1905, '06.


given of all those who held the honorable position of reeve during the
years the municipality ranked as a village. In 1904 the necessary
steps were taken to have Southampton raised to the status of a town.
A census revealed a population of over 2,400 (but this was at the
height of the season of summer visitors), so after the required notice
had been given, the Lieutenant-Governor issued a proclamation that
Southampton be erected into a town, which proclamation came into
effect on Monday, December 26th, 1904. At the election that followed
in 1905, A. E. Belcher 1 was elected the first mayor of the town, an

Online LibraryNorman RobertsonThe history of the county of Bruce and of the minor municipalities therein, province of Ontario, Canada → online text (page 51 of 56)