Balderson–Lanark Era–R.S. McTavish





Perth Courier, May 8, 1947

Early settlement of Balderson—from a paper prepared by R.S. McTavish and presented at a meeting of the Balderson Women’s Institute.  It was first published in the Lanark Era in 1943

The modern historian has to a large degree discarded the idea of history of countries consisting of battles, treaties, invasions, etc., and  we like to link ourselves up with the history and lives of the pioneers who settled in our immediate neighborhood.  In so doing, I find that the history of Balderson dates back to Sgt. Balderson who crossed the Atlantic in 1816 and halted at the pretty little hamlet that is now Balderson and gave it its name.

Sgt. Balderson was a fine specimen of English soldier.  He was a quiet and peaceable man, a kind neighbor, and respected by all who knew him.  He was born in Lincoln, England in 1783 and came to Balderson in 1816 and died here in 1851.  He served eleven years under Wellington and received a medal for his service.  Sgt Balderson had met the Duke of Wellington and had a personal interview with him.

In 1815 he married Annie Hewitt.  Mrs. Balderson and Mrs. Josias Ritchie were the first white women who slept in a house in Perth.  Another soldier who came to the neighborhood of Balderson about the same time was Lt. Gould whose grandson was a resident of Perth and two granddaughter’s Mrs. Donald McIntyre and Mrs. Peter McIntyre (same name both times) both lived at Balderson.  In those days the social advantages were practically nothing except in so far as these sturdy young pioneers kept up their love of literature, education and religion.  Later on the soiree became an annual outing for the people of every clan.

In the early days one of the great difficulties was to get enough money to satisfy the modest demands of the tax collector.  Exchange or barter was the order of the day and there were very few cash transactions.  Pork, oats and potash were the staple articles the farmer of that day had to sell.  Later on the farmer, as his clearance increased in size, ventured to sow wheat and barley for the market.  The trade in cattle, sheep and lamb was then in its infancy.

The first school house at Balderson was a little cottage roofed building that stood near the site of the Lanark toll gate or rather where it was.  The first school teacher was Peter Stewart.  He was supposed to have been a very cross teacher and usually carried the tows on his shoulder and when he saw a pupil whose eyes were not on his books, he would throw the tows to that pupil and tell whoever it might be to return the tows and he may well know what happened.

Then a John Campbell taught and he was noted for his kindness.  Then followed Andrew Allan, Alexander Shaw, and William Reed in 1867-69 and then Petter Cannuary.  After that the school had two teachers and the names below are the senior teachers since that time:  Duncan Stewart, Peter McIntyre, J.P.(?) Anderson, Hugh Robertson, A.E. Smitherman, Neil McDonald, Dun. Robertson, John F. Warren, Christina McNaughton, Ed Cooper, Peter Clement, John A. McDonald, John Forrester, Miss Ferguson, John Hope, Miss McGarry, Amanda Donaldson, Robert Balderson, Veronica Noonan, Ernest McDowall, Laura Keays, Ethel James, Teresa Johnson, Annie McLean, Miss Ganon, Gert Livingstone, Well. Duncan, Gladys Warren, Ka.(?) Huckabone, Elsie Barkley, Mrs. K. Bell.

It was not expected in fact it would be a libel on the character of these old Perthshire Highlanders to ever harbor the idea that they would remain any length of time without a church and minister and in 1834 they started a subscription list to raise funds to build a church.  From among the names of the first contributors we fine a few that would be still familiar:  Alexander Montgomery, Peter Campbell, Patrick Campbell, (the Campbells mentioned used to live where Colin McNichol lives now), John McCallum, Hugh McCallum (one of these men lived where William Mather is now), John McLaren, Findlay McIntyre, Duncan McNee, Peter McTavish, Arthur Tullis and a number of Perth men subscribed.  Here are some of them:  John Haggart, Robert Gemwell (Gemmil?), Duncan Kippen.  The Sunday collections amounted to about four shillings and six pence in those early days (1836).  There were two Presbytrerian churches in Perth at that time St. Andrew’s and Knox.  Rev. William Bell was the minister at St. Andrew’s  and Rev. T.C. Wilson for Knox.  Rev. William Church and later on Rev. Bain, D.D. were also ministers.  In 1877 when another branch of Presbyterians of Drummond joined Balderson this action had to be taken to the Brockville presbytery as the Perth church at that time belonged to the Brockville presbytery but when Balderson got established they joined the presbytery of Lanark and Renfrew.  When the Drummond people made this change, Duncan McLaren from Drummond was elder and he had to inform the Brockville presbytery of the desired change and it was granted.  This Duncan McLaren who was referred to was the grandfather of the McLaren family living at Drummond Centre.  After this action was taken the Balderson and Drummond churches became self sustaining in 1877.  Although it was not supplied by a stationed minister until 1881 the congregation was taken care of by Rev. Bain. Rev. J.G.Stewart first preached at Balderson in 1881 and was at Balderson nine or ten years.  Rev. J.S. McIlraith followed him and was at Balderson 21 years followed by Rev. J.G. Greig, Rev. G.G. Treaver, Rev. N. McRae, Rev. C. Currie, Rev. T. McNaught, Rev. Beattie, Rev. R. Dickson and Rev. N. Graham.

Now the history of the Anglican church was started about the same time.  They, too, were supplied by ministers from St. James Church, Perth, Rev. Michael Harris, who was known far and wide as a very kindly man, greatly beloved by all who knew him not only by his own people but by everyone.  Next to him was Rev. Pyne then Rev. Stevenson.  It was during Rev. Stevenson’s time that the Anglican Church at Balderson liked up with Lanark.  Before that they were served by St. James Church, Perth.  The first minister who took the Balderson charge as far as can be found out was Rev. Cruder, then Rev. Gulias(?).  Next was Rev. Farrer, Rev. Holg(?), Rev. Heaven(?), Rev. Seale, Rev. Aborne, Rev. Phillips, Rev. Hodder(?), Rev. Vaughan, Rev. J.S.K.Tyrell, and Rev. Roberts.  Both denominations have handsome church properties and are a credit to the pioneers of those days showing that their interest in religion was backed up by work as well as faith.  Here are some of the names of the people who subscribed to the support of the Anglican Church:  William Cunningham, George Cunningham, Jno. Charles, George McCue, G. Willows, and William Keayes.  It might be of interest to call attention to the site of the original churches.  The Presbyterian Church stood almost on the same site the United Church is now.  The original church is now being used by John McGregor as a machine shed.

Now a word about the people of the immediate neighborhood as there were a number from here who filled important positions.  It has produced school teachers, school inspectors, doctors, missionaries, members of Parliament, authors and nurses.  Amont them we fine names quite familiar to a number of us.  R.L. Richardson was an author.  Afterwards he became a member of Parliament and then the Hugh McIntyre family that lived right alongside of the Richardson farm, and produced a son who qualified as a doctor and missionary.  Two of the same family were authors, another brother a high school inspector and another brother still who once taught school at Balderson.  He was a member of Parliament to the Dominion government and was appointed postmaster general for Winnipeg.  Another outstanding man was P.C. McGregor a high school teacher.  He was a man much respected and whose write up of Balderson years ago is responsible for much of this ancient history for I took a lot from his early account of Balderson’s Corners.

The good work of Balderson has been kept up in recent years.  There were two school teachers in the William Allan family, two from the McIntyre family of the meadow, three from the Robert Whyte family, one from the Herb Stewart family, a nurse from the herb Stewart family, a nurse from the Martin Doyle family.  Those I have mentioned all came from families living on the 8th Line Drummond.  Then in Bathurst there was the Richard Warren family that produced two school teachers, a college professor, a doctor and a member of parliament.  The other teachers that I can recall are Robert Balderson, Thomas Balderson and Henry McNaughton.

Now as to the charge from the ancient days to the present times in the immediate hamlet.  A hotel was owned and operated by one Angus McDonald in the same building that Well. McDougall owns.  After Mr. McDonald passed on his widow started a small store but did not carry on long.  She rented the property to Mr. Armstrong from Perth and he carried on only a short time.  Then John Doucitt(?) carried on a number of years then James Gould and Robert Cowie operated a store for a short time.  The McDougall property was sold to William Jones who carried on for a number of years.  Jones sold to Jas. Watt and Watt sold to Harvey McCue who sold to Mel McDougall.   He sold to Arthur Cooke and he sold to Well. McDougall.

The other store has a different record.  In 1868 J.W. Cowie came to Balderson from the Scotch Lilne in the month of February and started a small store.  The same place of business is still going strong under the management of his daughter Tily Cowie.  The post office is kept by Miss Cowie.  The two stores, post office, blacksmith shop and cheese factory were the most important places of business.  At one time there was a cheese factory owned and operated by one Moffat Bersee(?) and another on the 9th line Bathurst owned and operated by Jas. Keays.  He bought the milk and hired a cheese maker.  One of them was George Publowand his house was at Balderson where Jno. McDougall now lives.  Publow was a young man twenty years old when he hired and formed an agreement with Jas. Keays that he would give Keays one pound of cheese for every ten pounds of milk delivered and he did it.  This George Publow later became Chief Dairy Inspector for Ontario.  Then, in 1881 the farmers in the neighborhood of Balderson started a cheese factory which later developed into a Cheese and Butter Association and was incorporated with rules and bylaws drafted to conduct the business accordingly.  The original structure was destroyed by fire in 1929 and was rebuilt the same year with cement blocks as material and is, I believe, the best equipped cheese factory in Ontario.  Instructor Barr made that statement when he was addressing a meeting in Toronto shortly after he had seen the Balderson factory.



Lanark Era Vignettes-

The Lanark Era Newspaper

What was one of the Largest Funerals in Lanark County?


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News

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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