Perth Courier, April 5, 1935 ( from Rootsweb)
Middleville, lovliest village of the plain
Where hearth and plenty cheered the laboring swain
How often I have loitered o’er thy green
Where humble happiness endeared each scene!
Middleville, a name which would suggest a certain location inland as being in the middle of the township or possibly that of the county, may be the hub towards which the people of the township converge. Like its neighbors Lavant, Darling, Dalhousie, the early settlers were of Scotch origin and thoroughly educated in honesty, thrift and frugality.
As I remember the village it consisted of two general stores, a blacksmith shop, shoe shop, carriage shop, saw mill, two stopping places and three churches and a school.
Climbing a gentle incline on the Lanark road, the traveler approaches the home of William Borrowman, whose surroundings would indicate the owner to be a man of intelligence and interest in the finer arts. Entering his residence he is found to be not only a gentleman farmer but a jeweller whose tradesmanship is not surpassed by the city tradesman.
Some short distance from the Borrowman home is the Congregational Church and manse occupied by Rev. J. Lambert Alexander, a young clergyman beginning his career in the ministry. He is a true success. His real object was that of including the principles of Jesus in the minds and hearts of each hearer. He was a promising youth and afterwards became a leading light in church union. He was strong intellectually, easily approachable, of kindly disposition and tolerant in his views.
Sickness in the village was rare but what did occur was skillfully taken care of by Dr. Mather, a graduate of Queen’s. The clever young doctor was a most sociable man, humorous and intensely interested in the gems of literature. He had a hobby of taking snapshots and developing the same. One fair day he had a few in his window getting the sunlight to bring them to maturity. They remained in the window overnight. The next morning the old lady who cared for his office sympathetically remarked “You didna sell many of your pictures, doctor?”
A carriage and wagon shop was operated by David Dobbie. Carriages, wagons, cutters, and sleighs were then in demand as the motor car was then just an infant. Dave was meticulously exacting in his workmanship and a neck yolk has been known to stay in the vice for three or four weeks before released to the purchaser.
Bill Sommerville, stone mason and plasterer, spent most of this time out of the village in the summer performing work in his line for farmers and other builders. He was always happy and in rain or in shine his greeting was always: “Y-a-a-a, it is a fine day!”. Through time he left the village and took up residence in Lanark where he is now a valued and respected resident.
One of Middleville’s (illegible word) characters was the late Mrs. Guthrie. She was of a calm, refined temperament. Her acts of goodness were kindly performed. Her welcomes were genuine and her life was one of kindness, helpfulness and good will for all. She was a beautiful character the memory of whom will glow forever.
The Presbyterian Church had for its clergyman Rev. Mr. Smith, a man of strong personality. He was a Scotsman and had a good deal of a “burr” in his accent which made him very pleasing to hear. Meeting him in his home was a rare treat. His affable, pleasing manner had a fascinating power which drew the visitor close to him making him forget his vices and his woes while the pastor good naturedly and kindly pointed him to the skies. He did not gain greatness by political power neither by financial power but by service. His was true greatness. He served in the pulpit and out of the pulpit, in times of joyousness and in times of sadness he was with his people, rejoicing with those who rejoiced and weeping with those who wept. He was one of them. In memory I can see and hear him as he expounds on the text “Grieve not the holy Spirit whereby you are sealed unto the day of Redemption”. The sermon done, he placed a hand under each cover and suiting the action to the words said “The book is closed, the sermon is sealed and there was a good one.”
The merchants were Mr. Croft and A.R. McIntyre. General stores were necessary in county villages at that time. The great chain stores almost annihilated the small country stores to detriment of the community. These general stores were the meeting places in the evenings, particularly winter evenings, when weighty subjects were good naturedly discussed.
An outstanding man was Archibald Rankin who for many years was clerk for the municipality of Lanark township. He was thoroughly skilled in municipal law and was a councilor to the members of the Council. He was active in all social activities being a stager of ability. Another singer of note was Peter Morris who I can still hear singing “The Old Oaken Bucket”.
The Sons of Temperance was a thriving organization with a large membership. The township of Lanark was deprived of the right to sell spirituous liquors by what was known as the Dunkin Act and is still under that dispensation.
The blacksmith was a very busy man shoeing horses, making chains, ironing wagons, buggies, cutters and sleighs. Albert Cunningham, and R.(?) B.(?) Somerville stood the strain of this heavy work for many years before being compelled to retire. Christy Jackson, a free going, likeable man, conducted a stopping place near McIntyre’s store and catered to the traveling public with courtesy.
Across a little vale from Somerville’s shop, then up a slight incline to a small tableland stood the school house where Miss Spence taught many of the beginners at that time to recognize “hat, coat, rack”. Yes. 36 years ago.
The great annual event of the village was the “Fair” or more aristocratically speaking “The Exhibition”. This being the last fair of the year, it was always well patronized. Once visited, the conclusion is that fairs of major importance rank as minors in art skill and workmanship. In the building, the paintings, pencil work, crayon work, etc. hold the visitor. The needle work draws the admiration of every on looker; the fancy work of every description demands the unstinted praise of young and old, of the professional and the amateur. Outside the building lovers of animals leisurely move around viewing the horses, sheep, swine, cattle, calves, lambs and the common expression “did you ever see better?” is heard on all sides of the ring. When the day is over, the directors county their earnings and in their joy another success financially has been added to their credit.
The surrounding country is beautiful—the land productive and settled with a sturdy class of people. Here we find the Afflecks and the Somerville string to out number each other. No finer type of citizen to be found anywhere. The Crofts, the Guthries, the Blackburns, the Mathers, the Yuills, the Mitchells and many others of like type. These are real citizens co-operating in all good work their motto being “service for mankind”.
Open Victoria Day weekend to Thanksgiving weekend, noon to 4pm, every Saturday, Sunday and Holiday Monday. COVID-19 Protocols: Masks are recommended but not mandatory for visitors. Admission $5 per person; children under 12 free.
2130 Concession Road 6D, Middleville (Lanark) ON