The Derry Farm of Angus McDiarmid

The Derry Farm of Angus McDiarmid

This 200-acre farm – lot 24, concession 5 was originally a Clergy Reserve. In 1854 it was purchased from the Crown by Angus McDiarmid.The price paid was 100 pounds Sterling. Angus McDiarmid came to Canada with his father, Duncan, in 1818, and settled on the west half of the farm. Being a Clergy Reserve, he could not obtain title, but remained as a squatter until the lot was thrown open for sale. 

This history of the east 100 acres is rather vague. It seems certain that a man named Leslie once lived here, but at what time and for how long is not known. He, too, must have had only squatter’s rights. In any case the entire lot was farmed by Mr. McDiarmid long before thedate of its purchase.

Angus McDiarmid married Annie Livingstone, a first cousin of the African missionary, her father, Donald, who is buried in Kennedy’s Cemetery, being an uncle of the explorer. The McDiarmids had a family of eight children, named as follows: 

Donald, who died while he was studying to enter the ministry; Dr. Peter, who practiced medicine

In Iowa; Dr. Duncan, who practiced in Western Ontario; Dr. James, who also practiced

in Western Ontario; John, who inherited the farm; Margaret, who married John

Ferguson, living on the farm directly to the north of her home; Janet, who never

married; and Mary, who married Joseph Kidd. A fourth girl, Jessie McDiarmid,

although only a first cousin of the others, was brought up as a sister.

The present home is very old, having been built by Angus McDiarmid but the date is not known. It is a log house. The logs were covered with metal siding around 1900. Today the house is covered with aluminum siding. It was screened from the sixth line by a grove of trees which was planted by Dr. Duncan McDiarmid while a young man. 

He had been teaching in a grammar school in Glengarry County, and had asked for a raise of salary to 700 dollars. On being refused he resigned, and while at home he planted the trees. Some of these trees are still growing on the property today. At one point there was an earlier log home which stood at a point to the south of the present one, and across the creek, but all traces of it hav disappeared. Angus McDiarmid, on his decease was succeeded by his son John, who married Janet McRorie. John conducted a singing school in The Derry during the 1870’s. He died at an early age leaving two boys, James and John.

 His widow married Samuel Simpson, who lived on the farm until John the 2nd reached his majority. John the 2nd also known as Jack married Tena Drummond and had four children, Viola, Roy, Earl and Eric. John died in 1938 and Earl took over the farm. Earl married Mary Thom and they had two daughters. Marjorie married Douglas Campbell and lives on the ninth line of Beckwith. Catherine married Neil Thomas, their home is built on a corner of the McDiarmid farm. Earl died in 1975 and Mary in 2002. John Campbell, Earl’s grandson and his son Joey Campbell are farming the McDiarmid land today. Earl’s grandaughter Janine McLeod (Thomas) and her family live in the house built by Angus. Seven generations of the Angus McDiarmid family have lived on and worked this farm.

Beckwith Heritage Committee-Information submitted by Leona Kidd 


Kennedy Cemtery-459 Glenashton Road Lot 24, Con 8 The cemetery was named after the Kennedy family who settled in Beckwith in 1818 from the Parish of Comrie of Perthshire Scotland. The land belonged to John Kennedy and later owned by Robert Kennedy. An annual memorial service is held in June of each year, along with the Dewar Cemetery. 4.

459 Glenashton Road Lot 24, Con 7 The Dewar Cemetery is named after the Dewar family who settled from Perthshire Scotland in 1818. The land for Dewar Cemetery was donated by Mrs. Archie Dewar on the condition that the family plot would receive perpetual care.

Old Kirk of Beckwith township. The remains of the recently demolished Old Kirk Ruins may be seen near Carleton Place on the Seventh Line road of Beckwith township, two miles south and a mile east of Blacks Corners. The stone church was built in 1832, replacing a log church building. It served the first two Canadian generations of the first large settlement of Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlanders in the district of Upper Canada north of the Rideau River.

Perth Courier, November 7, 1873–On Monday last Angus McDiarmid of Beckwith went to Prospect village to make some purchases. On returning home, which he had left in apparent good health, he was taken suddenly ill and sat down by the side of the road where he was afterwards found dead. The cause of his sudden death was heart disease. He was a man much respected in his neighborhood.

The Lanark Era – Wed May 19th 1897Malvern, York County, Ontario, on Saturday, Dr. McDiarmid, aged 67 years. A son of the late Angus McDiarmid, and a cousin to William, Duncan, and Robert McDiarmid of Carleton Place .

The Derry” while recognized as a community for almost two hundred years has never been officially recognized as a place name on a map.   Yet  “The Derry” is a well known location throughout  the larger community of southeastern Lanark and southwestern Carleton Counties, Ontario.  The Derry compromises the former school section, SS No. 6, and generally recognized as lots 17 through 26 of concessions 5 and 6 Beckwith Township.  
In “The Story of the Derry”, (p. 52), George Kidd writes about origin of “The Derry” as the name of this community.

The origin of the name “Derry” is directly connected with this farm (S.W. 1/2 Lot 22, Concession 5, Beckwith; Robert Ferguson farm).  The story is told by James D. Ferguson of Winnipeg:  “The word ‘derry’ means a grove, such as is comprised principally of ash, oak or birch trees.  It seems probable that my grandmother, finding all these trees growing on her son’s farm gave the place this name, which eventually came to include the whole community.”  Mr. Ferguson states further: “There is a song which I heard sung long ago, but I remember only the chorus-
Hame, Derry, hame: and it’s hame we ought to be
Hame Derry, hame: to our ain countree
Where the ash and the oak and the bonnie birchen tree
Are all growing green in our ain countree.”

There is a place in Perthshire of the same name.  The fact that it is always spoken of as “The Derry”, and not “Derry” seems conclusive evidence that the word is the Gaelic name for a grove, containing especially those trees mentioned in the song.
  The baptismal records for Donald Ferguson’s children all include “Donald Ferguson in Derrie and his wife Mary Ferguson his spouse had their son baptized”;  providing additional insight about the origin of the name given to the community.

Until the last quarter of the twentieth century, many of the farms were owned by descendants of the pioneers who had arrived beginning in 1818. The  Ferguson, Kidd, McLaren, McDiarmid, and Stewart families lived on farms carved out of the forests by their ancestors.  Other families associated with the settlement of the Derry – Leach, McEwen and Davis lived nearby as did descendants of the Scott family.  But a decade into the twenty-first century much has changed.  Only one surname of the pioneer families, i.e., Kidd, is found on the many mailboxes which line both the sixth line, now Kidd Road and the fifth line, now Ferguson Road.  A great-great-great-granddaughter of Angus McDiarmid lives in the home which he built  and a great-great-great-granddaughter of Samuel Leach lives nearby in the fourth concession overlooking the farms of The Derry.

Also read-

Duncan McDiarmid — Family of the Derry

My favourite picture from Donna.. children of dorothea mcdiarmid of anna bertha cram and wm judson mcdiarmid

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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