As part of our ongoing mandate to not only preserve our heritage and history but also to make it accessible to the public we have created this online research portal. Below you will find a wealth of information on the history of Puslinch categorized for easy search. Simply choose a topic below to begin your search.
Puslinch Historical Society Spirit Walk
Crieff Cemetery, June 26, 2016
Read by Gwen Paddock.
The Stewart tale is one of on-going settlement in Puslinch. Alexander and Elizabeth, nee MacGregor, married in Perthshire, Scotland in 1805 where their 9 children were born near Loch Rannoch. By the 1830s, they were considering immigrating to Canada in hopes of a better future for their large family.
Testing the waters for this family were the eldest two children, Allan and Margaret. Sailing to New York from Scotland in 1833 along with their spouses where they spent one winter, the foursome made their way to Puslinch after selecting lots on the 1st Concession.
Allan Stewart pioneered on Lot 25, F 1 (just across the road from where we are standing) and later built a log store on the Fraserville corner. Margaret and her husband John McDiarmid settled on Lot 24, F 1 and their property is now part of Crieff Hills, a retreat centre of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. The McDiarmids replaced their log home with the stone farmhouse known as the House of the Dove to today’s visitors.
Almost a decade after Allan and Margaret arrived, their brothers Duncan and Donald along with Donald’s wife Catherine came to Puslinch and spent their first winter in the McDiarmid’s log house. The next siblings, John and Marjory came via Nova Scotia in 1844 where they wintered before joining the others in Puslinch. Satisfied with the land they had taken up in Upper Canada, the siblings sent for the rest of the family. The three youngest children – Hugh, Helen and Janet – came with their parents Alexander and Elizabeth in 1854 and settled on Lot 21, R Gore, across the concession road from Donald and Catherine. Sadly, Alexander died only two years after emigrating. Reverend Andrew Mclean listed the widow Stewart (Elizabeth) along with her sons in the early records of Knox Church. When a manse was required by the church, Allan Stewart sold the Board four acres. Called Sunset Villa today, the manse is now part of the Danish Association’s property. The last to farm Lot 21 were Duncan MacGregor Stewart, known as “Mac”, and his brother Bruce.
With nine Stewart siblings in the Crieff area, they have been a prominent name in School Section 6 and married into several local families. John married Elizabeth McPherson, daughter of Donald Dhu McPherson and farmed Lot 25, R 1, adjoining John’s brother Allan’s property. Several of their children moved west about 1880 after their parents’ deaths. Marjory married Robert Valens and moved to Beverly in 1845. Hugh Stewart married Jessie Cameron of Beverly Twp. and they were next to run the store and P.O. that Hugh’s brother Allan had built. The 1877 Wellington County Atlas map of Puslinch shows Hugh owning this property. Their sister Helen May Stewart (known as “Ellen”) married Duncan “Locheil” Cameron, a relative of her brother Donald’s wife Catherine. The youngest sister Janet remained single. It was common in pioneer families that the youngest looked after the parents, in this case Janet’s mother Elizabeth.
Every community has its characters and Locheil Cameron, Ellen Stewart’s husband, was legendary in Crieff. He was well known for the whisky he produced in a ravine north of the village and sold in the district by the name “Kilrae”. A local storekeeper fell through a trap door into the cellar of his store, sustaining painful but not serious injuries. When a customer in sympathizing suggested an accident, the honest proprietor emphatically declared, “It was no accident, it was ‘Kilrae’ that did it.”
Donald Stewart, 1807-1889, had married Catherine Cameron (daughter of Dugald and Catherine Cameron) in Perthshire before they emigrated. The couple pioneered on Lot 20, R. Gore and had 7 children. The complete genealogy for this family can be found in the 1906 Wellington County Atlas. Donald and Catherine’s son Dugald Stewart attended the Rockwood Academy and went on to become a physician, as did his son and grandson.
Several generations of Donald and Catherine’s family were active in municipal life. Their son Allan Stewart, b. 1861, was on Puslinch council from 1885 to 1896, Reeve from 1894-96, County Councillor from 1896 to 1900 and Warden of Wellington County in 1899. In 1919 Allan was president of the local United Farmers of Ontario chapter. He married Jennie Paddock, daughter of Richard Paddock and his wife Grace McPhatter, in 1900. [“They were my great grandparents.” GWEN] Their son Donald Alexander Stewart (known as “D.A.”), b 1903, was on Council from 1935 to 1944 and Reeve for his final 6 years throughout W.W. II. D.A. commented in a 1986 oral interview with Marjorie Clark and Jean Barber of the Puslinch Historical Society about the personal risk of becoming Warden. It was so demanding of one’s time that often things at home slid backwards when there were was no one else to look after things. He knew of several former wardens who had lost their farms after serving. Donald was single when he was a councillor and had no one else at home so did not want to become Warden.
When D.A. Stewart was a young boy, he would accompany his maiden Aunt Lizzie Stewart on outings. She lived with his family in the early part of the 20th Century. Donald was puzzled when people called his aunt “Lizzie Coon” and heard other members of the Stewart family called by the moniker Coon. As an adult he learned that this meant they were Stewarts connected to Lord Colquhoun’s estate in Perthshire. The Scots pronounced the name “Colcoon”, sometimes shortening it to simply “Coon”. This was a relief to D.A. who as a lad had thought the name was a derisive one referring to racoons.
In the 1930s D.A. Stewart and his friend Gladwin Crow were active members of the Wellington County Junior Farmers. In the difficult economic years of the depression, they took part in a co-operative swine breeding program started by two Guelph businessmen – William Ernest Hamilton and Hugh Connyre Guthrie of Guelph – who purchased purebred pigs and placed them on the farms of about 20 Junior Farmers throughout the County. Both Donald and Gladwin continued to raise purebred pigs throughout their years farming, showing and judging at area and national competitions. In the 1980s Gladwin’s son Bill Crow and family sponsored a trophy at the annual C.N.E. swine show – the Gladwin Crow Memorial Trophy. Donald, close to retirement from farming, showed a sow in the competition and was tickled when he won, taking home that year’s trophy to display with the many others he had won over the years.
Donald’s mother Jennie was a Paddock and Jennie’s family was stricken with tragedy when her brother Fred’s wife “Tillie” (Matilda Evelyn, nee Bond, daughter of William Bond) died in 1935 at the age of 42, leaving 6 children – 4 boys and 2 girls. Tillie was buried in Killean Cemetery. [“Tillie was my grandmother and that was why I was asked if I would read this today.” GWEN]
Grandpa kept the boys with him on the farm, but the girls went to their Stewart and Bond relatives to be raised. Allan and Jennie Stewart raised their niece, Coral along with their own two children, Donald A. and Grace. Grace married later in life, to Jim Starkey of Arkell. Coral Paddock married and moved to England where she and her husband raised 4 daughters. In 1955, at the age of 52, Donald married Merne Nicol from Westover who had retired after years as an R.N. in a Buffalo, New York hospital. There are many examples of local girls who went to Buffalo to train, some returning to practice nursing back home (like Louise Robertson at Puslinch Lake) and others staying in the U.S. to work. Donald and Merne were married 25 years, but Merne’s health was failing at the time they would have celebrated this anniversary and she died the next year, in 1981.
Before his own death, D. A. Stewart willed his farm to his cousin Dr. Bruce Stewart, grandson of Dr. Dugald Stewart, so that the farm would continue in the Stewart name. Bruce studied neurology at Columbia University, the University of Edinburgh and in Copenhagen. His wife is from Denmark and they met while he was studying there. This branch of the Stewarts now own Lot 20, Rear Gore and carry on the Stewart name in Puslinch today.
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