The Historical Settlement of Leckie’s Corners FROM MM.ca
In the 1840s, the area in Ramsay Township along the eight line about half a mile west of present day Almonte was a thriving community known as Leckie’s Corners. Most settlers had made their way from Perth along the Old Perth Road which was little more than a blazed footpath through dense forest. As part of all settlers’ duties, they were required to clear the road along their property which then became the 8th Line. Settlers were also to build a dwelling within the first 3 years. The first settlers were John Mitchell Jr and John Mitchell Snr who arrived in 1821. James Nicholson who arrives in 1822 and Patrick Slatery who followed in 1823.
The Importance of the Eighth Line
In the 1820s, the Eighth Line was the main road connecting Ramsayville or Shipman’s Mills (now Almonte) with Pakenham. The Ninth Line (now Hwy 29) was only a path. The road from Morphy’s Falls (present day Carleton Place) to present day Almonte was built by statute labour in 1828. From Almonte to Pakenham, the road for many years was so bad that it could only be used for hauling supplies in winter. The road ran from Almonte to the Tannery hill on the Eighth Line and along it past the Bennie’s mill on the Indian River to Bennie’s Corners, then across to the Ninth Line at Snedden’s and on to Pakenham. With the Old Perth Road joining the Eighth Line between Lots 14 and 15, it is not difficult to imagine the Eighth Line as a most heavily travelled road. It was, therefore, only natural that schools, churches, and businesses were built along it. The present day Wolf Grove Road between Auld Kirk and Union Hall was not opened as a highway until 1967. Before that time, it was used only as a winter road.
By 1863 the community of Leckie’s Corners was well established. There was a school, a general store, a tannery, a harness shop, a blacksmith shop, a town hall and no less than three churches.
Below is a diagram (not to scale) of the significant places in Leckie’s Corners:
The Site of Old Town Hall: On this corner where this house stands, the residents of Ramsay Township, who had been holding meetings in the schoolhouse, erected a town hall in 1851 from which to conduct business. In 1916, the building was sold for lumber.
The Stepping Place: On the opposite corner where the municipal garage now stands there was a stopping house. This was a place where travelers could spend the night and stable their horses.
Site of the Old Methodist Church: The important of the church in the lives of early settlers is very apparent. Camp meetings such as the one shown below, met the social and spiritual needs of early Methodist settlers prior to the establishment of church building. Settlers were also visited by travelling ministers.
A Methodist church house, or meeting house as it was called, was a log structure built about 1835 and as one of the first churches in the area, it was open to all other denominations when not in use by the Methodists. This church no longer exists
The Free Church and Manse: Another of the community’s church built that was built in 1845/46 was known as the Free Church or Canada Presbyterian church. Land was purchased for a graveyard, church and a manse. The graveyard proved to be too stony and many bodies were moved to the Auld Kirk cemetery. The Rev William Mackenzie, father of William Tate Mackenzie was an early minister for the free church. The manse where he lived is now a private home. Twenty years later, the congregation moved to a new church in Almonte and the building was later purchased by the reformed Presbyterian church. Their minister Reverend Robert Shields, lived in the Auld Kirk manse with his wife Elizabeth, the hat maker in Leckie’s Corners. The old church was subsequently sold and became a barn. The following picture shows it in that capacity and the former manse can be seen beside. The church building was later destroyed by fire.
The Schoolhouse: ln 1856, a new stone schoolhouse was built next to the tannery. In this picture taken in 1898, the woodshed at the back of the school can be seen. It was the responsibility of the students to bring the wood in from the woodshed and keep the fire going in the school. Students also brought water to school from the nearest supply. This school served School Section Number 9 (S.S.#9). One of the early school inspectors was Rev John McMorran who became the minister at the Auld Kirk in 1846. The school was in use until 1970. The school house is now a private home.
The Tannery: The Tannery built in 1839 by Thomas Mansell who is listed as its owner in an 1851 Directory of Merchants. People from all over the area brought their Animal hides to the Tannery to be processed into leather. This involved soaking them in vats with the bark of various tress such as oak or hemlock. Tanneries were always built by a source of water that could be dammed to create a source of power to grind the bark. In this case, it was built by Woolton Creek. In 1908 it was reconfigured as the Mississippi Pride Cheese factory after fire destroyed the original cheese factory. In the 1930s it took on a new role as a dance hall for a short period of time. It had since been restored as a private residence.
Robert Drury’s Harness Shop and House: The leather produced at a tannery usually lead to the establishment nearby of enterprises that used leather. Leckie’s Corners boasted both a shoemaker and harness maker, Robert Drury, directly across the road in the 1860s. Robert Drury was born in Ireland and came to Canada with his mother and sister in 1842. It is thought that he first that he first owned a harness shop on the second floor of the Tannery. This would have been an ideal location for obtaining hides. In May 150, he purchased ½ acre of land from Thoams Mansell right across the road form the tannery and built a house and harness shop. The date that he built them is not known but an 1863 map shows the house and shop. On 28 June 1861, the following ad appeared in the Almonte Gazette.
In 1866 he moved his enterprise into Almonte.
The Mississippi Pride Cheese Factory: The first cheese factory at Leckie’s Corners appears in an 1881 map. The Mississippi Pride Cheese Factory was located up the hill across the road from the tannery. Farmers brought their milk to the cheese factory daily. It was a tremendous blow to local farmers when the factory was destroyed by fire in 1908. The owners immediately made arrangements to set up business in the tannery which had been empty for some time. Within two days it was functioning as the new cheese factory. The tannery in its new capacity can be seen in the following picture. The large tub at the left side of the building is the whey vat. After dropping off their milk, the farmers would fill up their empty cans with whey to be used as feed for their livestock.
Robert Yule’s Tailor Shop: Another thriving business in Leckie’s Corners was the tailor shop. Robert Yule was the tailor at Leckie’s Corners. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland 28 May 1808. In 1821 he came to Ramsay Township with his parents James Yuill and Barbara Colton. They settled on the east half of Lot 11, Conc 6, Ramsay. He was one of 10 children.
Robert wen to the village of Lanark, where he served his tailor’s apprenticeship under Finlay McLaren. There he met McLaren’s niece, Janet, who had also come to learn the trade, and they married.
In 1839 he purchased ¾ acre in the east half of Lot 16, Conc 7 Ramsay, where he built a house with a tailor shop on one end. The two separate entrances can still be seen.
Robert was an excellent tailor which can be seen by looking at the beautifully tailored clothing in the photograph of his family.
Thomas Leckie’s General Store: The settlement was named for Thomas Leckie, a very enterprising individual. He first shows up in records in 1839 as having a license to sell liquor at his inn, the location of which is not known. In 1846, he purchased land in Leckie’s Corners and opened a general store which probably looked much like this picture. The building was eventually moved and became a machine shed. In the same building was a Milliner named Elizabeth Waddell, seen here in one of her delicate creations: (PICTURE)
Her sister Margaret operated a dressmaking business there as well. Thomas Leckie also had a cabinet making business in Almonte, sold farm equipment and operated a sawmill. Thomas Leckie also became the editor of the Almonte’s first newspaper, The Examiner. He went bankrupt during the depression of 1857 and later in 1861 he and his family emigrated to the US. This foundation is all that is left of his general store. Leckie’s General Store changed hands many times and in the late 1800s was turned into a carriage shop run by James Scott.
Ruins of Stone House Owned by Slatery and Scotts: James Scott (owner of the carriage shop located in the old Leckie’s general store) and his wife became prominent members of the Leckie’s Corners society. community. They lived in a beautiful stone house across the road. It was demolished in 1944. The stone was used in building the retaining wall for what is now known at the Heritage Mall in Almonte. All that remains today are the stones of a crumpling wall. The house had been previously occupied owned by William Slattery whose blacksmith shop was located in a building behind the house. There was room inside the blacksmith shop for a team of horses.
The Old Log Schoolhouse: Another building of importance in a community was the schoolhouse which as located within walking distance of the majority of the people. The first school in Leckie’s Corners was a log structure located at the corner of Gleeson Rd across form Leckie’s General Store.
Edward Nicholson’s House: When Ramsay was surveyed, one seventh of the land was set aside for the government and one seventh was also set aside for the Church. This was called the Clergy Reserve. And in Ramsay there were two such lots. It was hoped that as the land became more and more settled, the value of these parcels of land would increase. These clergy reserves were always a problem for early settlers since nobody lived on these parcels and therefore did not clear the road. One of these parcels was eventually purchased by Edward Nicholson who received his Crown Land Patent in 1855. His house, a log structure, still stands.
Sweetest Man in Lanark County — Harry Toop Honey Maker
The Robbing of the Honey Pot- Andrew Cochrane Ramsay Yuill
Honey and the Andersons of Hopetown
Inside the Old Honey Pot — The Henderson Apiaries Carleton Place
What Was a Honey Wagon?- The Job of a Night Soil Scavenger
Putting Leckie’s Corners Back on the Map — The Buchanan Scrapbook Clippings
Stories of Ramsay Township– Leckies Corner’s – James Templeton Daughter’s 1931
Remembering Leckie’s Corners 1887
Tidbits About Ramsay S.S. #9 The Tannery School
The House on the Hill — Up the 8th Line of Ramsay — Jaan Kolk Files
Some Cold Hard Facts- First Tailor in Ramsay and a Cow Without a Bell