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Puslinch Historical Society Spirit Walk
June 26, 2016
Hugh was the second son of Rev. Andrew and Catherine McLean, and was also born in the manse at Crieff.
Hugh was six years old when his father died, at which time he moved with his mother and John Bayne to live with his uncle, Rev. James Cameron, at Chatsworth.
At the age of 14, he ran away from home and became a printer’s apprentice in Chesley, and in later years became a typesetter. He gained some military experience with the Second Queen’s Own Rifles, Prince of Wales Rifles, and 48th Highlanders, where he attained the rank of Major.
His brother brought him into his Canadian Grocer trade magazine in 1888 and in 1890, Hugh bought out Thomas Dyas’s share in the company. The company was incorporated in 1891 as JB McLean Publishing Company.
In 1894, he married Elizabeth Dyas, Thomas’s daughter, whom his brother had also courted. Their daughter Katherine was born in 1895, but died at five months. A son, Andrew, was born in November 1897. Elizabeth died six months later.
Differences arose between the two brothers, Hugh and John Bayne, and in 1899 Hugh sold his interests in the company back to John Bayne, and, leaving the care of his young son with the Dyas family, moved out west. He established himself in the publishing business by buying out a number of trade papers there. But he kept a foothold in Ontario by buying Bohemia Island in Lake Rosseau, Muskoka, and built a cottage there where he visited his son during the summers. Eventually his business brought him back to Toronto in 1908 where he lived with his son and aging mother.
He was a very generous employer, T.S. Young, a particularly valued employee, received an automobile as a bonus one year.
When he came back to Ontario, he became President of the Muskoka Lakes Navigation and Hotel Company. At the turn of the century, steamers did a thriving business transporting holiday makers to Muskoka resorts. Under his presidency, the luxurious Royal Muskoka Hotel was built in 1901 at the steamer terminus on Lake Rosseau. The hotel was also, briefly in the 1920’s, the terminus of an early commercial airline run by Billy Bishop. Until the Depression, the hotel attracted the cream of society including European royalty. It fell on hard times during the 1930’s, and burned down in 1952.
Although not as well remembered in Puslinch as his brother John Bayne , Hugh participated in the restoration and landscaping at Crieff church in the 1920’s after their mother was buried here.
After being a widower for 35 years, Hugh remarried in 1932, to Sally Leyden, a widow from Rochester. His son Andrew Dyas MacLean became chairman of his company, Hugh C. MacLean Publications. The company was taken over by Southam Publications in later years and, now is part of CanWest, and involved in TV and print both.
Hugh died in 1949 at the age of 83. He is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.
Both of the sons of the modest retiring pastor of West Puslinch Presbyterian Church became 20th century business tycoons.
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Puslinch Historical Society
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