What I Did on Beckwith Heritage Days – Alexander Stewart – Ballygiblin Heroe




Yes, I did go to Beckwith Heritage Days and took pictures, but I was really on a mission. When Tim Campbell told me how to get to the Kennedy Cemetery I was off like Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Sorry guys, but I really wanted to see the Archibald Dewar Relic monument in person. I just wanted to touch it. I know, I need to get a life!



There were lots of Stewarts in that cemetery and I took a random shot of a headstone. I hit the mother lode. Jean McGill’s book “A Pioneer History of the County of Lanark” pg 35 talks about Alexander Stewart being the last survivor of the Perthshire pioneers of 1818. She says that he died in 1892 – in his 100th year.  He had lived at Black’s Corners for 75 years and had been a farmer and merchant.  Apparently, he also made shingles by hand and was really fast at it.  He started out manufacturing potash. He was a reformer and a fearless Presbyterian.

Carol Bennett’s book “In Search of Lanark” says pretty much the same as above, but she says specifically that Sandy Stewart was “Merchant Sandy”. He had the first store in the area and had a large stone house built in the 1830s that was still occupied in 1982 (when the book was written).



The last survivor of Beckwith’s men of 1818 died in September 1892 in his 100th year. Alexander Stewart came up the Ottawa river and inland to Beckwith with parties of the group emigration to this township. He came from Blair Atholl, near Blair Castle in Perthshire, at age 25. On arrival he occupied a farm at Black’s Corners (con. 9, lot 14 E) where he lived for nearly seventy-five years as a farmer and merchant. The following portion of a local press report of his death concludes these notes on earliest Beckwith.

“Death of a Centenarian, Alexander Stewart of Beckwith, probably the last of the early Scotch settlers of the township, was born in Perthsire, Scotland, in October 1792. He came to this country in 1818 with the first settlers and took up land upon the farm where he had since lived. His brother John who died in 1874 accompanied him from the old land.

Three years after coming to this country Mr. Stewart was married to Miss Douglas,who came from the same part of Scotland. Nine children were born to them. Six are still living including …three at White Lake and Mrs. Wm. Young and Miss Betsy Stewart who resides on the homestead.

Mr. Stewart opened a store some forty years ago which has been running every since, but of late years only on a small scale. He received the cognomen of “Merchant Stewart”. He was a Reformer of the old school, and a Presbyterian.

He was most active in building the first church in Beckwith, at McArthur’s. For this building the deceased prepared the lumber with the old whip saw, and carted the other necessaries all the way from Richmond. Mr. Stewart also was very proficient in the manufacture of shingles, and could easily cut up with his hand knife three thousand a day.He manufactured potash as well.

In the troublous times of the Ballygiblins Mr. Stewart was one of those who opposed the marauding band. On one occasion he was on guard to watch a certain road, with orders to shoot down any of the dread band who might happen to pass.

It was the Sabbath day, and the old gentleman used to relate how he prayed that none of the “Giblans” might pass as he “wudna like to shoot them on the Sabbath day”.

He was also present at the final tussle at Shipman’s old place, when the leaders of the band were arrested and taken to Perth. The funeral took place on a Saturday afternoon to Kennedy’s cemetery and was one of the largest ever seen in the township.

As I spent a few hours going through the Kennedy Cemetery and the Dewar one across the dirt road I looked at the cattle eyeing me from across the field. They seemed to be wondering why anyone would spend so much time looking at gravestones. I just looked at them and said,

“Something about the way they moo attracts me like no udder.” Or something like that.


That’s Jayne and Gaby up there at Beckwith Heritage Days on Saturday from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.



Perth Courier, Jan. 18, 1889

Saturday last Mr. Alexander Stewart, 4th Line Beckwith, designated as “Big Sandy”, came to town to do business.  In returning, as a farmer on the 9th Line reports it, he undertook to light his pipe when the young and spirited team, feeling the loosened reins, began to run away.  Mr. Stewart leaned over the dashboard to pick up the reins and fell forward and down in front of the runners where he was dragged along till a boulder on the side loosened the king bolt and let away the animals.  He was found by the driver of the next vehicle to whom he said he was very much injured.  He was carried into Peter McDougall’s but objected to their sending for the doctor thinking he might recover.  He lingered on in great pain until Sunday morning when he died just before Dr. McEwen arrived who was called out of church for the purpose of seeing him.  The team ran a mile and a half where steaming and tired out they were caught by Messrs. McIlquham and Pressley who were emerging from the woods after a rabbit hunt.  Mr. Stewart was a farmer with a large business and family connections and his shocking death has sent sorrow throughout many homes both in this section and in Manitoba.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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