The Steads of Dalhousie Lake


dalhousie-lake-postcard (1).jpg

Postcard of Dalhousie Lake, which is just north-west of McDonalds Corners, Ontario. The cottages shown are on the west side of the lake. Very little has changed, except I think they are now permanent homes. Photo-Charles Dobie

Vintage Photograph of Dalhousie Lake, Lanark County.

This enlarged section shows the back of a vintage automobile at the far right edge, which is about the only thing which helps to date the photo. Note also that the man seems to be wearing a more modern bathing suit rather than a full-body costume common before WW2.  Photo-Charles Dobie


George Stead– son of William Stead who emigrated to Lanark County in 1830 with his wife Elizabeth Henderson, formerly of Middleville

George, b. 1828, at the age of 21 went to New York city and took a ship to San Francisco. He spent five yrs in the gold fields. He returned to Lanark County about 1853 and established a mill (April 9 , 1855) on the Mississippi River (Ontario) at  the  mouth of Dalhousie Lake. He had both a saw mill and a grist  or flour mill.  He sold this property to the Geddes family in 1880. The mills burned in 1878. George went to the Dakota  territory and bought some land near Turtle Creek (Manvel). He returned to Dalhousie Lake and moved with his family to the Dakotas. (1882)

In 1854, George married, December 21, Elizabeth Henderson of Middleville, Ontario.

Their children were :

  1. Martha            September  3 , 1856
  2. William Henderson   May 23 , 1858
  3. Helen Myra          April 11 , 1860
  4. Anne Maria Henderson S.July 26 , 1861
  5. George Henderson December 29 , 1865

6 Jane A  Stead                June 1868

  1. John Lawrence       June 22 , 1876

From letters written to the parents of Ronald Thompson in 1852 and 1853 George Stead relates his experiences. George Stead left New York for San Francisco on a sailing vessel April 1, 1852 to make the entire trip via Cape Horn. After a stormy  winter passage of the Horn and encountering ships in distress with whom they shared food they  arrived in San Francisco on September 1. After  four days in San Francisco they  boarded steamers for Marysville and Sacramento for the mining country. Mr. Stead spent  three years in the gold fields. He then returned east walking across the isthmus of Panama and carrying enough gold to purchase sawmills and flourmills on the Mississippi River (Dalhousie Lake). He operated these mills for twenty years, until suffering a heavy loss by fire. He sold the remainder of his property  and went to North Dakota in 1880.(The Geddes family purchased this site March 10, 1882 from The Canadian Mississippi River by Hilda Geddes)

He bought a section of land 16 miles north of Grand Forks and made his home there until his death  twenty-one years later. The letters stating these adventures were  preserved by his parents and were received by his son, George Henderson  Stead, from a sister Mrs. W. A. Moore, of Hamilton, Ontario.

This is the text of George’s letter (I transcribed it as it appeared to be spelled in the letter without any corrections of spellings): letter from George Stead to his father, William Nov 28, 1853, from the gold mines of California. (The I is Bob Douglas husband of Susan) Letter is in the possession of Susan Middleton Douglas:

“To William Stead Lanark Co., Lanark Canada West”

“Long Bar November 28th 1853

Dear father I once more take the opertunity of writing you a few lines hoping that they may find you in good helth as they leave me at pressent when I wrote to you last I did not know where to tell you to direct my next letters to in my last letter I sent you a draft for six hundred dolars on the (crossed out word) people’s Bank in montreall which I hope you will have gott some 2 or three weeks before you git this letter  when I wrote last I was In sacrimento citty I took a tramp away into the southren mines and every place I came across looked to me to be a very dull show for making much money this winter so I came back to where I was last winter I can make 2 or 3 dolars a day here but I consider that very small waiges in this country  I had the offer of 50 dolars a month for the winter but would not take it I always like to be my own bos in this country and keep trying my luck althoug I should not make so much money as I perhaps might doo by hiring out I hired out 3 days last week to an acuaintance of mine and he gave me 5 dolars a day I intend going about 15 miles from where I am tomorrow for to take a weeks prospecting in some coarse gold digings for where I am there is no cahace for making very big waiges because the gold is very fine and thinly  sold and every yeaar the ground gits more and more worked over  my old friend Peter Lawson favoured me with a letter some time ago  I once wrote him a letter and I had it in that old pocket book which I got of you the night before I left home along with all the letters that I got from home and I lost the whole consern and I never have had an opertunity to write him another  some time last winter I wrote to you of having sunck prety dep and got a good prospect  he wished to know how I sucksedid in it I never went to the escpence of gitting a pump and working it but left here shortly after that for the mountains and through the sumer there was a man jopt (?) into my old hole and hired a lot of china men and made about (crossed out word) seven hundred dolars in about 2 months  that’s california all over I do not escpect to make much for a month or 2 because it rains mostly every day at this time of the year it is poring it down now if cousin John Affleck comes to this country next spring tell him to start about the 10th of march and then he would sail from new york on the 5th and be to sanfrancisco about the 15 of april I think he can come for about 100 dolars when he comes to sanfrancisco he will take the steam boats from there to sacrimento and then to marisville and there he must stop and hire out to the first offer he can git and write me a letter and slip it into the post office I can send for it from any part of the mines by escpres every week and when I git one from him I will come down to where he is and learn him a few of the ropes of california I wish him and you to write me an answer to this as soon as you git it for I am anxious to hear If you have got the money which I sent you I would go to austrilia if I thought I wold better myself I would start for home tomorrow If I thought I could do as well as I can do here so I beg of you Dear Father and mother not to think long of our seperation give my best love to grandfather to my Brother William and sisters so no more at preasent from your afectionate Son George Stead put the same direction on my letters that you have formerly”


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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