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The Rankin Family

The Rankin Family

Billie Yuill & Jack Rankin of Middleville area– Photo by Laurie Yuill

Perth Courier, October 16, 1931

Archibald Rankin

By R.A.J.

Archibald Rankin who for more than a generation ranked as one of Lanark County’s outstanding men today spends the evening of his long and useful life in a ivy clad cottage that is surrounded by a wealth of beautiful flowers and where from the shaded rose arbors this fine old gentleman may look out upon the rugged hills and verdant valleys—whose enchanting beauty attracted his forebears, perhaps because it so resembled the burns and ferns of beloved Scotland.

The quaint little village of Middleville where Mr. Rankin resides was once a center of social and commercial activity and shared with Lanark Village the distinction of being the community center for these early settlers who came to Upper Canada in 1820-21.  Among the number who came out at that time were Archibald Rankin and his wife Jean Scott; they came in the fall of 1821 when Lord Dalhousie, who is described as a distinguished soldier and close friend of Sir Walter Scott, was governor of Canada.  The Rankins settled near Middleville and a few months after their arrival a son was born and they called him James.

Eventually James Rankin and Jean Campbell were married and to that union a family of six were born the eldest son being Archibald Rankin, subject of this sketch who has lived his useful life of 82 years in that vicinity most of the time on the farm that had been cleared through the toil of his pioneer grandfather.  His services to the community have been generous; his ministry to those about him have been unselfish and his attitude has been:

“Thrice happy then if some one can say

I lived because he has passed my way.”

After acquiring a modest education in the quaint little school at Middleville, Archibald Rankin qualified as a teacher and for four years taught in the school in which he had been educated.  He became clerk of the municipality a post which he filled with the utmost satisfaction for the record period of 52 years he having succeeded his great uncle William Scott.  Mr. Rankin recalls that John Rayside Gemmill was the first municipal clerk when the township was organized; he was also the first to publish a newspaper in Lanark County and subsequently as a publisher went to Sarnia.

But clerk of the municipality was only part of Mr. Rankin’s many and varied duties.  He was a secretary and treasurer of the famed Middleville fair over a period of 55 years; he practically organized the Middleville Division of the Sons of Temperance; he was a member of the Sons of Temperance when he was 13 years old; he attended several conventions as a youth and in 1913 at the Cahawa(?) Convention he was elected Grand Worthy Patriarch of Ontario, the highest office in the gift of the members.  He was treasurer of the Congregational Church of Middleville for more than half a century and he continued to serve as treasurer and Sunday school secretary after the advent of the church union.  He was secretary of the local Oddfellows and Foresters Lodge throughout the greater part of his life.  He joined the church choir in the days of the precentor and tuning fork and is still an active member at the age of 82.

Mr. & Mrs. Archie Rankin– Photo by Laurie Yuill

Mr. Rankin recalls the coming to Middleville of the first clergyman of the Congregational denomination.  He was Rev. R.H. Black, a sturdy man of strong principles who came out from Dunkirk, Scotland in 1852 and organized the congregation in Middleville.  In that church, Mr. Rankin was married to Beatrice Ellies(?) Ekles(?) daughter of a pioneer of Dalhoiusie Township who passed away in 1900.  They were the last couple upon whom banns were pronounced.  The license system came into vogue at that time.

While performing the exact duties of his many offices, Mr. Rankin also operated a farm on the outskirts of Middleville but in 1913 he disposed of the property and moved to his attractive present home in the village where with a devoted daughter he is enjoying the peaceful sunset of a busy life.  He is a constant reader, a deep thinker, and his penmanship is like copperplate; he delights to dwell on people and events of the past and perhaps his most treasured possession is a Bible presented to him by the pupils of that little Middleville school upon his retirement in 1876.

Asked his favorite author, Mr. Rankin says he found enjoyment in reading the works of most good writers; of the poets he prefers Burns and thinks for clearness of expression an depth of sentiment the Scotch bard wrote nothing better than this:

“Ask why God made the gem so small,

And why so huge the granite

Because God meant mankind should set

The high value on it.”

Bill Rankin Middleville–Photo from Aggie Yuill’s photo book by Laurie Yuill Middleville historian
Roy Yuill in front of Archie Rankins house in Middleville in 1927. He was 4 years old. He grew up to work in Lionel Barr’s General store and at Barr’s sawmill. He later became the local electrician servicing many parts Lanark County.– Photo by Laurie Yuill )

Jane Rankin Middleville –Gazette Correspondent

Middleville–The Vertical Board House–Another Beaver Medallion

Visiting the Neighbours — Middleville Ontario and Down the 511

Middleville– Yuill- Photos Laurie Yuill