HISTORY OF LANARK TOWNSHIP AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION –Laurie Yuill Part 3-“There is no use in my joining the Society, as I have nothing to exhibit”

HISTORY OF LANARK TOWNSHIP AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION –Laurie Yuill Part 3-“There is no use in my joining the Society, as I have nothing to exhibit”


All photos- Laurie Yuill


In 1862 the people of Lanark Village whether from a feeling of their growing importance, or because they were not receiving their full share in the expenditure of the Township revenues because incorporated as a separate Municipality taking in a number of good farms and the Municipal Government of the Township was then located at Middleville.  

At the Fair in this year it was ordered that the Judges be provided with a free dinner, and prizes for that year were $101.55. At the Annual Meeting in 1864 money was transmitted to Mr. Shanks in Britain to procure clover seed from the old land. In this year the membership fees amounted to $139. No show was held this year but $262.30 was paid for the purchase of a number of purchased sheep, purchased at the Provincial Exhibition by William Stead, who seems to have the authority on all matters pertaining to livestock no doubt owing to the knowledge gained in his youth as a farmer on his native heath in Yorkshire and also the experience gained in the land of his adoption.

Mr. Stead was one of the first to take an interest in the Society and I am pleased that his grandsons are still evincing that same interest. At the Annual Meeting in 1865 it was resolved that all future meetings of Directors exclude the interference of other members with their business and Auditors were first appointed who were Wm. Robertson and Peter McLaren II.



All photos- Laurie Yuill


Partly owing to the Incorporation of the Village of Lanark there arose a feeling that the management of Township Society should be transferred to the Township and located at Middleville and it was felt that the place of holding the Annual Meeting gave a decided advantage to that section, and there began a struggle to obtain that advantage.  At the Annual Meeting in 1866, a motion by James Affleck and Peter Reid that the next Annual Meeting be held at Middleville was carried. At the March meeting a motion by Robert Fleming and James Reid that the next exhibition be held at Lanark was followed by an announcement that the next exhibition be held at Middleville, and the original motion was declared carried by a vote of 26 to 12.

Nothing daunted, the Middleville people set to work to secure a larger membership in their favour and at the Annual Meeting in 1867 held there, the following Directors were chosen: John Affleck, Peter Reid, Robert Stead, Peter Barr, and Wm. Robertson, the place of next Annual Meeting was fixed for Middleville, quarterly meetings to be held alternately, beginning at Lanark and the exhibition to be held at Lanark Village.



All photos- Laurie Yuill

In 1867 or 1868 it was agreed that next Annual Meeting be held at Lanark and quarterly meetings alternately. Evidently at this time there had been a movement to do away with grants to township agricultural societies for at the first quarterly meeting in March the following motion appears: moved by George Blair seconded by James Young that a memorial be forthwith brought up and forwarded to the Provincial Secretary at the earliest opportunity for continuing township societies.

At the Annual Meeting in 1869 the following extract shows how some of the members were caught napping. “From the reading of the new agricultural bill it was made evident that all members who had not paid their membership subscription for the ensuing year prior to 1st January of such ensuing year shall but have the right of voting at the election ofoffice-bearers,” consequently the few who had paid had the whole right of appointing office-bearers.  The place of the next Annual Meeting was settled by the following vote for Lanark 12, for Middleville.



In 1870 the Secretary, James Young, tendered his resignation as Secretary-Treasurer, and was succeeded by James Stewart and a contest for the presidency resulted in a vote for 17 for Edmond Anderson and 12 for Alex Stewart. At the meeting in March the Secretary-Treasurer was directed to accept American silver at 5 percent discount and to take steps to have all American silver on had exchanged into current funds.

In 1871 Peter McLaren and James McIlquham were sent to Markham to purchase two purebred Shorthorn sires, but this venture did not turn out very satisfactorily.   At the 1872 meeting James Stewart who had disposed of his business and was leaving for Renfrew, tendered his resignation and your present Secretary, a raw inexperienced youth of 23 years was chosen to be his successor.  Fortunately for me I had an excellent body of men on the Directorate, who kindly overlooked the many blunders that I made in that first year’s experience. These were Edmond Anderson, the President, whose memory I revere as an upright intelligent and public spirited citizen, giving his time and his talents for many years to the service of the Society without any thought of personal gain, as he seldom required any seed and scarcely even competed for prizes.  

The above remarks also apply to several of the other Directors and members. When we contrast his ideals and a conduct with present day ones, when one invites a friend to become a member of the Society, and is met with the reply: “There is no use in my joining the Society, as I have nothing to exhibit”, is one to blame if he concludes that the normal fibre of humanity is degenerating? The other office-bearers for that year were James Campbell Vice President, James Affleck, Peter Reid, George Affleck, James Watt Jr., James Matthie, Arch Campbell Sr., Robert Fleming, John McIlraith, and Thomas Francis.  

In this, all the animals in possession of the Society were ordered to be sold and hereafter all the meetings of the Society were held at Middleville, which then became the permanent headquarters of the Society and a special meeting was held on February 8th, 1873, to consider the purchase of land for the Society’s use. About 50 members were present but no definite action was taken as none of the farmers adjoining the village were willing to part with their lands so the Society had to continue in the old way for some time longer.



All photos- Laurie Yuill



Up until 1875, all exhibitions had been free to all comers, but in that year a motion was adopted to charge an admission fee of 10 cents and appointed Wm. B. Affleck and John McEathren as door keepers, as tickets were not use at that time.  In 1877 the Prize List was first printed in pamphlet form, heretofore, being printed on a sheet form. The old rule holding members as such until they notified the Secretary of their wish to withdraw was repealed in this year. In 1878 the Farmer’s Advocate was first introduced as one of the periodicals to be furnished by the Society, and still retains its popularity among the members. In this year another attempt was made to secure land but without results. Heretofore the Secretary-Treasurer was elected by the members at the Annual Meeting and had a vote onthe Directorate, but a change in the Agricultural Act required that the appointment be made by the newly appointed Board of Directors and depriving the Secretary of a vote unless he had been chosen as a Director,which still prevails.  

1879 must have been the low water mark in the price of seeds, common clover selling 6½ cents, late clover 7 cents, timothy 4 cents and corn 1 cent. In 1881 100 bushels of White Russian wheat and 50 bushels of Lost Nation wheat were imported, which had a beneficial effect on the wheat crop for several years.

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)




Middleville School Photos- Laurie Yuill

  1. Photos of Laurie Yuill- Somerville/Mather Picnic 1937–Charles Home, Lloyd Knowles House–Foster Family

     Mr. Lionel Barr’s Store Middleville and Other Mementos –‎Laurie Yuill‎

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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