Archie Yuill at Rankin’s Yard — Middleville- Photo Laurie Yuill
In 1883 another attempt to purchase land and erect a building was made when Alex Lawson agreed to sell 2½ acres for $250, the Society to pay all costs of conveyancing and fencing and was willing to allow said sum to remain as a lien on the land upon payment of common interest which was afterwards interpreted as 7 percent, and this offer was accepted and the necessary documents executed. Arch Affleck was engaged to prepare a plan of a building and tenders were advertised for and two received, Daniel Watt, $487, and A.M. Blackburn $440, the latter being accepted and the building erected. When the crowd first filled the galler parts, it was feared that the joists might give way as at Almonte, and next year these were properly strengthened and have since stood the strain. In 1885 a board fence was constructed along the front which was quite an undertaking as formerly a zigzag rail fence had been there and the panels had been filled with loose stones, and as these had to be got rid of a trench 3 feet wide had to be dug deep enough to place all these stones below the level of the surrounding surface. C.G. Jackson undertook to do all work of building this board fence 6½ feet high for $50, the Society to supply all material and a part of the remaining fence was built in each of the three following years.
ENGAGED BRASS BAND
In this year and several years thereafter the services of a brass band was engaged for the Fair. In 1886 a two-day show was held and a few years after the members were required to have all their commodities in the Hall on the first day of the show, but it was found unsuitable as the smallness of the prizes offered did not compensate the competitors for their trouble and the Society reverted back to a one-day show. In 1887 the first festival held in the community was held in the grounds by the Ladies of the Congregational Church. In 1888 Mrs. Arch Manson, Mrs. John Somerville, and Mrs. Scantilion were called in to assist in revising the Ladies’ department of the Prize List. In 1891 prizes were first given for the now popular breed of Holstein cattle and Shropshire sheep, also for flowers. A trotting match from Hugh Rodger’s gate to the gate of the grounds, on time, was keenly contested at the Fair this year. I think the winner was J.N. Dobbie’s Little Vic. In 1893 the Secretary’s salary was increased to $36 and the Hall was leased to C.G. Jackson for a skating rink, the interior arrangements were removed and the younger people of the community enjoyed an excellent winter’s sport, not withstanding the limited area.
FIRST LADY DIRECTORS
In 1897, the first Lady Directors were appointed, Misses Maggie Gemmill, Maggie A. Croft, and Jean W. Affleck, being the appointees. In 1899 a baseball match between the Jovial Sports of Ramsey and Lanark was the special attraction at the fair that year, the winners receiving a prize of $10 and the losers $5. In 1900 Mr. Andrew Baird having died after his election for this year Mr. Thomas Young who had for many years served as Director and Vice President, and who firmly declined previously the office of president was prevailed upon to accept the office in Mr. Baird’s place. The admission fee was raised to 15 cents for adults in this year, and the Lady Directors were Mrs. D.G. Dobbie, Maggie A. Rankin, and Maggie Gemmill. In 1902 the extension to the Hall was built at a cost of about $400 the Society paying $250 and the Sons of Temperance $150, in return for which they were granted the free use of the hall for 15 years as a lodge room. In 1906 Societies came under new regulations and each one was required to select a corporate name, and fix its headquarters. The following motion proposed by Albert Affleck and Arch Nairn, “that this Society shall be named the Lanark Township Agricultural Society, and that the headquarters of the same shall be at the incorporated village of Middleville in the said Township” was adopted and forwarded to the Department of Toronto. In 1907 the admission fee was raised to 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children, which prices still remain.
Archie Yuill- Photo- Laurie Yuill
DINING HALL ERECTED
In 1909 $200 was paid on the mortgage indebtedness and the Dining Hall erected at a cost of about $235.Expert Judges were employed this year for the first time on horses and cattle. In 1910 the mortgage debt was paid in full, and the proprietor of a merry-go-round was paid a bonus to bring his machine to the Fair to the great gratification of the little folks. In 1912 the Poultry House was erected at a cost of $150. On February 13th, a Livestock Judging Competition lasting two days was held by the Society under the direction of Messrs Emmerson and Dawson, the Agricultural representatives at Perth. The Secretary-Treasurer’s salary was raised to $75 in this year. The Society became affiliated with the Association of Exhibitions and Fairs, and George S. McIlraith was appointed as a delegate to attend the Convention. A grant of $10 was made to the Rural School Fair.
In 1914 10 Horse Stalls were erected costing about $125, and a well was dug in 1915 at a cost of $105. The fair of 1917 turned out like those of 1920 and 1921, to be appointed for a very rainy day, but was carried through, the admission fees only amounting to $48.50, but the weather insurance $172 paid by the Government partly made up the loss. The 1919 Fair was the only one year your Secretary has been unable to attend, being detained by sickness. Misses Agnes E. Affleck and Mabel Reid, however filled the position to the satisfaction of all on that occasion. In 1920, Mrs. Arthur Tennant, one of the most promising young men of the Society and for a number of years a Director, suggested that the Society should purchase a clover huller for the use of the locality but when he made further inquiry the cost deemed too great.
In 1921 the Directors generously granted the use of the grounds for the year as a Community Ground free of all charge. Several attempts have been made to enlarge the grounds but always without success.
Archie Yuill and Jean– Middleville– Photo– Laurie Yuill
PRESIDENTS AND SECRETARIES
The men who have filled the executive offices of President and Secretary-Treasurer since the formation were the following:
Presidents: John M.G. Hall, from May 11th 1851 till January 1854;
Alexander Stewart, from January 1854 till January 1870;
Edmond Anderson, from January 1872 till resignation January 1884;
Robert Lawson Jr., from January 1885 till resignation January 1889;
Andrew Baird, from January 1889 till death 1900;
Thomas Young, from March 1900 till resignation January 1908;
Wm. B. Affleck, from January 1908 till resignation January 1915
Crawford Dodds, from January 1915 till January 1916;
Alex McKay, from January 1916 till present.
Secretary-Treasurers: Mr. James Young served as Secretary Treasurer form the very inception of the Society till he was forced to resign by failing health in 1870 and he must have enjoyed the unlimited confidence of his fellow members for his books were so well kept that no audit was made till the year 1865.It gave me pleasure in conning over the records and financial statements, while he filled this office to observe the neatness and accuracy for the entire term, and I must confess that when I came to the first years of my own work I felt somewhat ashamed of my work in comparison. However, I improved a little be experience. Mr. Young’s salary ranged from nothing for the first two years, 15 shillings 0 pence for 1853 and gradually increased until near the end of his term when he was paid $25 per year. Mr. James Stewart, merchant succeeded for the next two years but in 1872 he moved to Renfrew and your humble servant was then appointed and has been your Secretary since that time till the present excepting the term between March 24, 1917 till January 18, when Albert E. Affleck filled the position.
Arch and Cecil Threshing Beans– Middleville- Photo Laurie Yuill
GREAT GOOD ACCOMPLISHED
It would give me great pleasure were I able to convey to you an accurate conception of the good accomplished by this Society during all these passing years, but that is beyond mortal ken, yet I am confident that results have been much greater that any of us can conjecture. A Society that held the allegiance of men like George Blair, James Young, Thomas Kelso, J.W. Anderson, James Matthie, Daniel Wilson, and many others as long as they were residents of the locality, and of men like Sylvanus Gemmill, William Stead, Peter Reid, the Affleck’s, Somerville’s, Dodds’, McIlraith’s, and many others whose descendants of the 2nd and 3rd generation are still loyal members surely worthy of respect and support is I am Confident that a great deal of the trouble in this world arises not so much from natural depravity, but as a result of misunderstanding each other, and in our Society we have a common meeting ground where regardless of creed, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregationalists, Methodists, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics, all of whom are represented on the membership list (which is at present 63 for the present year) may come together in kindly competition, or as in the present occasion in social.I sincerely trust that this may not be the last of these gatherings but that they may become of yearly occurrence. I wish to thank you all for your kind tolerance for listening so patiently to this rambling sketch.
Signed Arch Rankin
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun andScreamin’ Mamas (USA)
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”
Photos of Laurie Yuill- Somerville/Mather Picnic 1937–Charles Home, Lloyd Knowles House–Foster Family