If you read
Daniel McLaren was William Muirhead’s uncle, the brother of his mother Agnes. He also was a bachelor and very well to do. Mary McLeod and her sister Isabella were Daniel’s housekeepers and apparently upon his death when his will was read; he had left his estate to the McLeod sisters.
And so it began
So who won?
John A. Stewart, McLaren’s nephew
In 1896 COL. A.J. MATHESON, became the proprietor and editor with CAPT. J.W. MOTHERWELL as publisher. Both these worthy newspaper men have also passed to the great beyond. In 1886 CHAS. F. STONE, fresh from Perth Collegiate, entered the Expositor as “printer’s devil,” and completed his apprenticeship in September, 1890, when he secured a position on the Deseronto Tribune, later on the Wiarton Echo and the Petrolia Advertiser. In 1893, on account of the illness of Capt. Montherwell, Mr. Stone was offered the position of publisher and accepted it in March of that year. Three years later, after Col. Matheson had received the endorsation of the electors of South Lanark to represent them in the Provincial Legislature, the control of the Expositor passed into the hands of Mr. Stone, who was its editor and proprietor until early in 1914, when he was appointed Collector of Inland Revenue. His son, the late HAROLD E. STONE, who was killed overseas, published it until December 1914, when the Expositor passed into the hands of Mr. John A. Stewart. Perth Remembered
In 1900 a bottle of McLaren’s “old Perth malt whiskey” sold for 90 cents; 80 cents if you brought your own bottle. Today, an empty McLaren bottle with label intact sells for as high as $5 in antique shops across Ontario. One collector of old bottles predicted in twenty years the price for these fast disappearing artifacts of old Perth would go as high as $15 each. Full bottles of which there are still a few left just are not for sale at any price.
Despite the disparagement in prices now and in the old days, John A. McLaren, Perth’s whiskey king, managed to eke out a fairly comfortable living. In fact, he became one of the town’s wealthiest businessmen and his product was known to hundreds or thousands of Canadians from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
John A. was one of the first liquor manufacturers to put out what is known as “mickies” (12 oz bottles) on the Canadian market. The product came in amber with clear bottles the latter having a bluish tinge.
The McLaren distillery was founded in 1831 by Robert McLaren, father of John A. , who followed the traditions of the great Scotch whiskey manufacturers of his day, many of which are still going strong. “Old Perth Malt” had a unique flavor due to wood being used in the malt making, rather than peat as used in Scotland and Ireland. Its Canadian contemporaries were made in four days while McLaren was processed a full 30 days.
One of the wealthiest if not the wealthiest manufacturing establishments in Perth was the McLaren Distillery, located on what is now Stewart Park directly behind the home of Mayor E.S. Burchell on Market Square. Opposite the mayor’s house stood the McLaren stables, which boasted more than 100 bulls happily thriving on the mash left over from malt making.
Stewart Park might well stand today as a monument to John A. McLaren as well as to John A. Stewart for it was from the enterprising “booze king” that the Stewart fortune and holdings were acquired. Stewart, a relative of McLaren’s, was the principal heir in the malt maker’s will and himself became a national figure in business and politics. He served as M.P. for Lanark and entered the Bennett cabinet as Minister of Railways and Canals.
When John A. McLaren died at the turn of the century, Stewart continued the operation of the distillery along with other enterprises including the Henry K. Wampole Company and later the Perth Expositor. He was described as a shrewd businessman and opportunist as well as a master of litigation.
Perhaps Stewart’s finest display of legal finesse came with the handling of the McLaren will. Although he proved to be the legal heir, it took a bit of explaining to the powers that be before the fortunes of his kinsman could be added to Stewart’s coffers.
“Old Perth Malt Whiskey has gained such a high reputation among the judges of fine liquor it is regarded as non-injurious and has become a household staple where other whiskies would not be tolerated” said the proponents of the day.
Unfortunately, despite the eloquent pleas put forth by the hidden persuaders of yesteryear, the Ontario Temperance Act disagreed and in 1917 “Perth Old Malt Whiskey” along with its imitators was banished from the Ontario market. Prohibition had descended on the land and the whiskey sellers, the licensed ones at least, were left with empty shelves. Article from The Perth Courier– Perth Remembered
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome 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. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.
The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 10- Code Family – I conjured to myself: “You will know me later!” And Peter McLaren did.