Honest Peter McLaren of Beckwith



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It was said that Peter McLaren owned some interesting souvenirs from the days of the pioneers of this area. Mr. McLaren  was a Beckwith, Lanark County man who moved to Ottawa in his later years. He still owned a big farm,  a maple sugar factory, and a good hard maple bush. His grandfather whose name was Colin, came to Canada in the year 1818 from near Perthshire, Scotland.

Colin McLaren first lived on the Aylmer road, between Ottawa and Aylmer. He spent two years there and then took to the forests of Lanark and was one of the first settlers of Beckwith.  When Colin McLaren came to Canada he landed with but two shillings in his pocket, but had a stout heart and an intention to make good. In Scotland Colin McLaren had been a shoemaker by trade, and had never had any training in farming.

When he died he left six hundred of the finest acres in Beckwith, and a lot of descendants. When the pioneers went into Lanark or any part of this district, the government gave them some rude farming implements, including an axe, one man saw (cross cut saw), known as a whip saw, a couple of hoes. etc. Very few of the pioneer tools are in existence but the McLarens of Beckwith preserved most of the government tools, and kept them fondly as relics of the past. No idea if their family still have some of the relics around today.

Mr. Peter McLaren had a stand once at a local fair and exhibited along with his business display, these rare items. Mr. McLaren showed a double yoke for oxen which was handmade by his grandfather in the 1830s which was made from soft maple.

Among other things which Mr. McLaren exhibited was an old silk topper which his grandfather had brought from Scotland, and which he had proudly worn when he visited the kirk on the Sabbath. But someone stole that topper at the exhibition and it was never found. Colin McLaren was at one time  and administrator of his native village in Perthshire, and while acting In that capacity wore the topper, so it meant a lot to him.

The crown grant held by Mr. Peter McLaren was made out on parchment and was issued May 7. 1828. George the fourth was King then. The grant gave 100 acres the northeast half of lot 21 in the fifth concession of Beckwith. A peculiarity of this grant is that the seal was not imprinted on the document, but was attached to it by a pink ribbon.

An evidence of the religious devotion of the early Scotch settlers of Beckwith was shown by a letter written  by Rev. John Cruikshank, minister of St. Andrew’s church and moderator of the local Presbytery.  In the letter Mr. Cruikshank made it clear that the Scotch settlers of Beckwith had started a kirk and applied for financial assistance to pay the “meenister.” Mr. Cruikshank’s letter intimated that he expected that the synod would make a grant to the Beckwith kirk and that as soon as the money was passed he would “make immediate payment.” At that time, however, the presbytery had only received money at the kirk in Perth.

To show that Colin MacLaren. like most Scotchmen, was an honest man,  after he had made good in Beckwith and had secured a fair amount of this world’s goods, he wrote to his nephew, John Forbes, at Lockeam saying that when he left Scotland he was pretty hard up and it might have happened that he might not have paid all his debts before he went. He asked John Forbes to make inquiries among the neighbours and also to advertise in the local papers.

So John Forbes put an ad in the local Scottish newspapers.

NOTICE: Colin McLaren, emigrated from this to America in 1818. He requests that any person to whom he was indebted to at that time will be pleased to forward their principal accounts properly vouchered to C. McLaren, Esq., Franktown. Canada West, North America. For further particulars apply to John Forbes.

Answering Mr. McLaren’s letter Mr. Forbes told him about the advertisement he had put in the papers and added that so far no one had spoken to him. Mr. Forbes said as far as he could find out the only person unpaid was his father-in-law. It appears that in 1811 Mr. Colin McLaren had borrowed 25 sterling from Peter McLaren and had given him a demand note of hand. Mr. Forbes said that Mr. McLaren’s notice had created a highly favourable impression in the surrounding area.



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 29 Nov 1923, Thu,
  3. Page 5



Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Citizen,
  2. 26 Jul 1920, Mon,
  3. Page 3


Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 22 Jul 1953, Wed,
  3. Page 7


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 McLaren Fire — 3,000,000 Feet of Lumber Destroyed

Perth’s Millionaire Bachelor – Who Inherited His Fortune? — arlene stafford wilson

The Continuing Saga of Christena McEwen Muirhead—The McLaren Mill

McLaren Left it All to the McLeod Sisters–His Maids!

The Thomas Alfred Code Journal – Letters-Part 10- Code Family – I conjured to myself: “You will know me later!” And Peter McLaren did.

For the Love of Money-Gillies Gilmours and the McLarens

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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