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Puslinch Historical Society Spirit Walk
June 26, 2016
Although John Bayne Maclean is not buried in Crieff cemetery, he had such an enormous impact on Crieff that he deserves to be mentioned. He was the first born son of Rev. Andrew McLean, the first ministerhere.
When his father died in 1873, the family moved to Chatsworth where he got his education.
He began his working career teaching in a one room school in Grey County. Then he switched to journalism, becoming a cub reporter at $7/week for the Toronto Mail. By the time he was 24 he was assistant editor.
Thomas Dyas who was advertising manager, became his mentor and future benefactor. The following year, when he was 25, with financial assistance from Mr. Dyas, John started up Canada’s first weekly trade paper, The Canadian Grocer, the first of a number of trade publications that were to follow. His brother Hugh became partner for a time, but later left to start his own business ventures. The company was incorporated in 1891, as JB Maclean Publishing Co., today known as Maclean Hunter.
John and Hugh both fell in love with the same girl, the daughter of Thomas Dyas. However, she decided on Hugh, and John married a Boston socialite Anna Slade, in 1900. They had one son, Hector, born in 1903, who died at age 16 of a burst appendix while on a canoe trip in Temagami . With no son of his own, he referred to his employees as his “boys and girls”, and took a rather paternal interest in them..
John Bayne devoted his life to three things, the military, his publishing enterprises, and high society. He longed to be in the British military, but settled for the Canadian militia. At age 15, he joined the 31st Grey Regiment and by 1882 had risen to the rank of Lieutenant. Later, he served with the 10th Battalion Royal Grenadiers and 17th Duke of Yorks’ Royal Canadian Hussars, eventually becoming Lt. Col. He was referred to as “Col. McLean” from then on.
He travelled extensively for business and pleasure – New York, Palm Beach, London etc. He attended Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. He cultivated contacts in the upper echelons of society in Europe and North America, and through his wife’s family connections, this included the British upper class and the Portuguese royal family. He was in Germany at a spa when World War One broke out, and escaped by the skin of his teeth. He knew William Randolph Hearst and other American business tycoons..
He went to work in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce limousine, but he counted his pennies, and would go round the office putting the lid on inkwells at the end of the day. A pencil had to be worn down to 3” before a new one was permitted at the office. After becoming established as a “gentleman farmer” in Crieff, one of the duties of his chauffeur was to sell the eggs, cream and other farm produce brought in from the Crieff Hills farm to John Bayne’s employees,( after John Baynes had entered the building.).
When his mother died in 1916, John and Hugh wanted her buried with her husband Rev. Andrew, in Crieff . They found the church and cemetery very run down by then, and they determined to change things. They met with the Church elders, then hired the foremost landscape architect in North America to restore the property. A stone wall was built at the front and side of the cemetery, he paid for it all.
The manse where the MacLean brothers had been born had not been occupied since 1888, and was in bad shape. The congregation was so grateful for their assistance that in 1925 they gave the manse and one acre to John Baynes. He was thrilled. Over the years as adjoining property came up for sale, he bought it and eventually the farm was 300 acres in size. There was a herd of Ayrshire cattle, pigs, grain fields, orchards, gardens, and he reforested about 100 acres of land. The manse was renovated. It was a model working farm and Col. McLean’s summer home.
By then he was about sixty, and Crieff Hills became his retirement project. He used to come out in his chauffer driven limousine from Toronto. His wife was not fond of the place, and did not come often. She was an invalid and I’m told that when she did come, Col. McLean used to push her wheelchair along the paths through the gardens for an outing.
In 1949 Col. McLean’s wife died. He died in 1950 and was buried in Mt. Pleasant cemetery in Toronto.
He left 250 acres of the farm and its buildings to the Presbyterian Church which was later developed into a conference centre. Fifty acres and the manse was left to his nephew Andrew which was sold to the Danish Association to establish a retirement home for Danes in 1955, and in 1967 was visited by the Danish Queen.
At the time of his death, 34 periodicals had been established. The Financial Post, Chatelaine, MacLeans, City and Country Home and Flare magazine are some of today’s products, which now stretches to several countries. His personal estate was not notably large, as he had reinvested most of his money in the company. Today MacLean Hunter publishes periodicals, newspapers,books, prints commercial and business forms, and is involved in other media, such as Cable television.
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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