A McDonalds Corners Love Story




The biggest and bloodiest fight of all in Lanark County was the Caldwell and McLaren feud and the entire countryside became embroiled.  Signs of trouble began in 1850 and broke into open hostility in 1878 when the powerful lumber baron McLaren of Perth declared “No man but me has any right on this river.”Caldwell, of Lanark, another lumber baron, protested.

On March 6, 1884, the Privy Council in London sustained Caldwell’s counter claim  which established throughout the Empire the right of river usage via improvements of another party.  The judgment had far reaching consequences in gaining certain common rights of navigable streams for public and industrial use.

But some say there was a romance that joined the two families finally together…

The story goes that Ronald Grant who worked for James MacLaren was in love with Jessie McIlquham who was said to be the best dancer in Drummond. Jessie was the daughter of a very stern father named David McIlquham (“Mucklewham” as the Scots used to pronounce it) who was  one of the fierce Caldwell supporters. McIlquham refused to let Grant take a ‘bairn’ of his into holy wedlock. Instead of trying to encourage the father into letting him wed his daughter he became a radical “McLaren man”.

Jessie McIlquham was supposed to be at a local dance at McDonalds Corners that night in Decemeber and the tortured love-struck Grant knew he had to see her. So, he “taunted” his foreman by stating that if any McLaren employee did not show up to this dance they would be branded cowards by the Caldwell side.

Stung by such a suggestion the McLaren foreman declared “his lot” were afraid of nothing that walked, danced or fought on the Lanark line.  Down the road that night raced a sleigh filled with McLaren men to that McDonalds Corners  dance. Along with Ronald were many axe handles in case they needed them to defend themselves at the dance.

Young Grant had vowed to claim his quota of dances with young Jessie and win the right to marry her that December evening and he did. The McLaren and Caldwell ‘boys’ applauded when Ronald Grant was finally given the nod to wed Jessie McIlquham by her father that night at McDonalds Corners.

The personal feud faded and the families and followers reconciled upon the romance and the subsequent marriage between a fiercely loyal McLaren man and the daughter of a similarly fiercely loyal Caldwell man.  Caldwell and McLaren then became close friends and moved on to wider interests and illustrious careers.

And now you know the rest of the story….




013940-10 Robert James FERGUSON, 26, farmer, of Bathurst Twp, s/o Duncan FERGUSON & Bella TOMLINSON; married Maggie Robson McILQUHAM, 24, Dressmaker, of Drummond, d/o David McILQUHAM & Margaret HUNTER; wit Florence WATTERS or WALTERS & Stuart FERGUSON, both no place given, 16 Nov 1910, Drummond

On the first concession we find the names of such well known pioneers as Dr. Thom, A. Fraser, J.T. and R.(?) James, Nathaniel and William Stedman, J. Hand and James Bell.  On the 2nd Concession (the part within the town of Perth)—Col. Taylor, Capt. Marshall, Greenly, Harris, Malloch, and Haggart and going eastward C.H. Sache, Henry J.T.&R, William StedmanR.(?) or N.(?) James and Thomas Hands (1855)  On Concession 3—R. Greenel, B. Glen, James and W. Morris, Sutton Frisell, J. McPhail, John Tatlock (1851), T. Doyle, Michael and John Foy (1853).  On Concession 4 Thomas Poole, J. Richmond, J. King (view the 1830(?) grant of the east half of Lot 12 in the museum), W. Morris, Hon. R. Matheson, T.M. Radenhurst.  On Concession 5 Martin Doyle (1853(?)), G. Richmond, Charles Devlin. On Concession 6, D. Macnee, D. Campbell, P. Campbell, T. Bothwell, W. Thompson, and James Codd (Code).  On Concession 7, D. Campbell, F. McIntyre, T. Whyte, P. Campbell (Beech Groove Lot 6, birth place of Archibald Campbell, Sr., and now owned by the Carr-Thompson family), McGarry, W. Shaw, J.&D. McLaren.  Concession 8, J. Balderson (of Balderson’s Corners), T.&J. Richardson, W. Fraser, T.&W. Stedman, W., M.J. & G. Gould, J. McLenaghan, and P. Sinclair.  Concession 9(?) (paper shows “IV” must be misprint) J. McIntyre, C. Campbell, J&W. Tullis, P. McIntyre, P. McTavish, (initial illegible) and N. McLanaghan, D. & J. Robertson.  Concession 10(?) J. Campbell, J. Cuthbertson, W. & J. McIlquham.  Concession 11 J. McIlquham, R. Matheson, Esq. (1846?)  Concession 12 L. Drysdale (1845?), Hon. Malcolm Cameron (East(?) Lot 9, Concession 12 and west ½(?) Lot 13, all dated 1845 and north of the Mississippi River


Related reading:

Your Mississippi River, Ontario Fact of the Day


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 and now in The Townships Sun


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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