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Puslinch Historical Society Spirit Walk
20 September 2015
Lynn Crow, presenter
I was born Catherine Howie and married Peter Hume, a shepherd, in Northumberland County in the north of England. I'm here this afternoon to tell you about my husband Peter and our family. Peter was born in Northumberland in 1779 to a family of Scottish descent and was always proud to be a Scot. The Borders country spanned both SE Scotland and NE England, hence the name. One of the characteristic features of the families in this part of Lowland Scotland two centuries ago was the shepherd's check cloth they wove of natural light and dark woolen yarns for the wraps worn in the fields for warmth. These were in contrast to the highland plaids which were woven in a tartan sett using wool dyed from the plant material of the highlands. The Puslinch archives has a photograph of Alexander McKay of Concession 3 proudly wrapped in his shepherd's check. My husband Peter wore a similar wrap as well and he never went out without his 6-foot crook.
In 1831 we immigrated to Upper Canada with 4 of our 5 children - 3 sons and 2 daughters. My husband chose 300 acres: Front and Rear of Lot 11, Concession 10 and Front of Lot 12, Concession 10. The front lots face Watson Road today. Although we arrived in the Arkell area at the same time as the Arkell and Carter families we are honouring today, when Peter was choosing his land he felt that the Puslinch Hills southeast of Farnham Plains were more suitable for his chosen focus on sheep rearing. Eventually he divided his Crown holdings between our sons. The eldest son, Thomas came to Puslinch 5 years later and took up another 100 acres facing Concession 11 on the eastern boundary of Puslinch. The task of clearing the homestead fell to our three sons, as Peter was 52 when we emigrated. Our sons were hard workers and excellent choppers, so were chosen as corner men for log buildings in the Arkell area – an honour awarded only the best builders.
We remained members of the Old Kirk. There were Anglican and Methodist congregations in Arkell, but Peter wanted the family to maintain the religion of his Scottish forefathers as Presbyterians. I died in 1848 after just 17 years living here. On the 1861 census Peter, who was 52 when we arrived, was age 82 and living with our daughter Isabelle's family in Arkell House, as she had married Thomas Arkell. Peter died just a year later.
As I mentioned, our eldest son Thomas Hume emigrated after the rest of us. He farmed the Rear of Lot 10, Concession 10, as did his descendants. His son William T. was next and by 1906 his grandson Isaac Hume. This branch of our family was hit hard with typhoid fever in the 1890s. Isaac's mother Annie was hospitalized, and his brother Willie died of the disease in March, 1896. In 1898 Isaac sold Lot 10 and this branch of the family left Puslinch for British Columbia.
Our son William, b. 1811, was 20 when we immigrated to Puslinch. He married Ann Anderson of Fifeshire, Scotland and inherited Lot 11, Front Concession 10 from his father. William and Ann's son David bred Oxford-down sheep there. David's son Boyd Hume then farmed this part of the original homestead. The fieldstone farmhouse built in David Hume's time is a Listed property in the Township's pictorial inventory Puslinch: Our Heritage and as such has been plaqued. Unfortunately, a beautiful stone outbuilding with arched entryways on the property was damaged by lightning and over the years the structural damage led to its demolition at the end of the 20th Century. It had been an ideal sheep barn.
Our son Adam Hume was born in England c. 1809 and inherited the Front of Lot 12. Adam was one of three trustees on the 1850 deed for the original log school in Arkell. He and William had one of the first teams of horses in the Arkell area. He married Jane Murray, from a neighbouring farm and Robert, James, Agnes and John were their children. An 1867 record of a sale of purebred livestock organized at the farm of F. W. Stone lists our Adam Hume showing purebred sheep – no surprise!
Adam and Jane's son James Hume was the next to take over his father's farm and was active in a farm organization called ‘The Grange', so acquired the moniker Grange Jim. The Grange organization was organized in the United States in 1867 after the Civil War in order to help the farmers of the south rebuild their livestock after depletion by war. The main focus of the Grange was animal husbandry and the organization still has 160,000 members south of the border today. In 1872 it was a political party in Ontario later expanding to the Farmers' Union of Canada. The United Farmers of Ontario party formed a government in the provincial elections in Ontario in 1919 with Ernest C. Drury as Premier. Our Jim died in 1908 but would have been delighted.
Following in his father's footsteps, Jim was known for his flock of purebred Cotswold sheep. Exhibiting them at the Puslinch Show and competitions further afield, there is a photograph of James with his son Stewart and their pen of 3 champion Cotswolds in 1900, in the book written for the 150th anniversary of the Puslinch Agricultural Society.* James was on the Fair Board, on Puslinch Council from 1891 to 1898 and was Deputy-Reeve in his final term. He married Eleanor Stewart of Paisley Block, Guelph Township, and their son Stewart at age 12 helped drive their team (Buck and Bright) to haul bricks from Christie's Lime Kiln quarry when they were replacing a frame home with a more substantial brick farmhouse on the homestead in 1886. Stewart had two sisters, Eliza and Jean. The latter married Henry Leachman of Nassagaweya. The Leachmans moved to Aberfoyle where their son Jimmy Leachman became the village blacksmith.** Stewart and his wife Helena were next to farm Adam's farm, followed by their son Oliver who was the last to farm the original homestead. *** Oliver and Ginny held the Crown Deed to our original land in Puslinch, as well as the Bible we brought with us from England.
The Arkell Women's Institute was first organized in 1909 with Mrs. Stewart Hume (Helena) as President and Mrs. David Hume ( ) as Secretary. A photo in the archives of the Guelph Public Library records that Mrs. Stewart Hume (Helena) was the oldest living member of South-Wellington District Institutes in 1976. Her husband Stewart Hume was President of the Puslinch Agricultural Society in 1912, as was his father James before him in 1887.
In subsequent generations, David Thomas Hume, Edward Hume, Herbert Hume and James Hume of Puslinch served in W.W. I and Roy L. Hume, W. Harold Hume (also from Puslinch) enlisted in W.W. II.
The first crossroad south of Arkell Road was named Hume Road by Puslinch Council in the 20th Century in honour of the Hume farms that surrounded it east of Watson Road – Lot 10 being on the north side of the crossroad, and Lots 11 and 12 on the south side. I hope when you drive past Hume Road, you will remember our family and their expertise as sheep farmers.
*The Agricultural Society in Puslinch, 1840-1990 p. 27 Lynn Crow visited Oliver Hume in 1989 when compiling the agricultural society's history and was given the photo to scan by Oliver, son of Stewart, grandson of James, gt. grandson of Adam and gt.gt. grandson of Peter and Catherine.
** See PHS Spirit Walk 2014 biography of Jimmy Leachman, Aberfoyle blacksmith.
*** Oliver Hume was interviewed in 1976 by Jackie McTaggart for the Puslinch Pioneer – at the time his family went going back 145 years in Puslinch. He recalled the winter of 1942-43 when it took 5 days for road crews to open the 10th Concession down to Fitton's for huge snowdrifts. He skied to Arkell via Starkey Hill and on into town where he had left his car at the church shed. Bob Barnett and Jim & Dick Starkey had formed their own road crew for this area, as it was up to residents to clear their way to main roads. Mr. Barnett owned a caterpillar tractor and they mounted planks behind, using this to regularly open Arkell Road out to Highway 6. Since this plow didn't throw snow to the sides like modern plows, the township paid several men .25 an hour to stand on the planks and shovel. In this interview, Ginny Hume mentioned the winter of 1947-48 when the hydro went off in December and wasn't restored until the Arkell Institute's Valentine's dinner and dance. The phone was also out and it wasn't repaired until much later.
Oliver's mother Helena, Mrs. Stewart Hume, was still living in the brick farmhouse at the time of this interview. Oliver and Ginny's older son Peter built on the corner of the farm and his children were the 7th generation to grow up on the land Peter and Catherine had taken up in 1831.
Membership in the society is open to anyone interested in the history of Puslinch Township giving you access to the archives, assistance with your research from committed voluteers, a newsletter and occasional events of historic interest.
29 Brock Road South
Puslinch Historical Society
c/o Puslinch Library
R.R. #3, 29 Brock Road South
Guelph (Aberfoyle), Ontario N1H 6H9