Explain How Lanark County Townships Named (2), by Howard Morton Brown, Carleton Place Canadian, 16 Nov 1961

A series of brief sketches of the origins of the names of the townships of Lanark County is concluded in this second installment.  The names of the fourteen townships of this county perpetuate memories of days of hardship and heroism a century and a half ago.  They also honour notable persons who served then in peace and war in British North American Public Affairs.

Beginnings of North Lanark

Settlement in the north half of Lanark County was begun in 1820 by a large group emigration from southern Scotland and was continued by a similar and larger movement in 1821.  For the reception of these families and others the townships of Dalhousie, Lanark and Ramsay were surveyed and named in 1820 and North Sherbrooke  township also was made available.

Lanark on the Clyde

Lanark township, in which the village of Lanark was founded in 1820 as the chief centre and administrative base of the North Lanark settlements, thus gained its name before the County of Lanark was formed.  Most of the first North Lanark farm settlers came from the towns and countryside of Lanark County in the south of Scotland, including Glasgow, largest city of Scotland, and Lanark the county town of Lanarkshire.  The smaller communities which later were formed in the new township include Middleville, Hopetown and Brightside.

Sir George Ramsay The Earl of Dalhousie

The township of Ramsay, containing the town of Almonte and the villages of Appleton, Clayton and Blakeney, and the township of Dalhousie, location of communities including Watson’s Corners, McDonald’s Corners and Poland, both received names of the Governor in Chief of Canada of their time of settlement.  Sir George Ramsay (1770-1838), who became Baron Dalhousie and ninth Earl of the ancient Scottish earldom of Dalhousie, had been one of Wellington’s generals in the Napoleonic Wars.

He was Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia from 1816 to 1819, Governor in Chief of Canada from 1820 to 1828 and Commander in Chief of India from 1829 to 1832.  He died at Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh.

He visited the chief new settlements of Lanark County in 1820, and later became a patron for the opening of the Dalhousie Library in which some of his books still are preserved at Watson’s Corners.  During his term of office at Halifax he founded Dalhousie College.  At Quebec he established the Quebec Literary and Historical Society.  His son the Marquis and Tenth Earl of Dalhousie (1812-1860), a more distinguished administrator, was the last of several great governors general of India under the East India Company. 

Governor Sir John Coape Sherbrooke

South and North Sherbrooke townships, surveyed in about the year 1819, were named for General Sir John Coape Sherbrooke (1764-1830), whose name was given also to the city and county of Sherbrooke, Quebec.  After service for thirty-five years in the period of wars with France he was Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia from 1811 to 1816.  In the War of 1812-14 he conducted the defence of that province with marked success.  He served as an able Governor in Chief of Canada for two years from 1816 to 1818, when he retired with failing health.  In North Sherbrooke the community of Elphin and the Mississipipi’s High Falls power generating site are located.  South Sherbrooke township, crossed by Canadian Pacific Railway lines and Provincial Highway No. 7, contains the village of Maberly and such summer resort localities as Silver Lake Park and Lake Davern.

The Northern Townships

The county’s northern townships of Pakenham, Darling and Lavant, the last in Lanark County to be surveyed for settlers, were named in or shortly before 1822 when their surveys, continued in the following year, were authorized.  The initial granting of farm land locations in these three townships was superintended by Bathurst District Land Board, of which Colonel James H. Powell of Perth was chairman, and was begun in 1823.

Lavant in Sussex and The Duke

Lavant township, situated in a terrain of hills and lakes in the northwest corner of the county and containing localities including Lavant , Clyde Forks and Flower Station, is one of a number of places in Canada named in honour of the Duke of Richmond.  He was Governor in Chief of Canada in 1818 and 1819.  The township received its name from the Lavant River and the village of Lavant, both near Goodwood House, the country seat in Sussex of the dukes of Richmond.

Charles Lennox, Fourth Duke of Richmond (1764-1819), had been a major general and a member of parliament.  After succeeding to the dukedom he served for six years as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.  A ball given by him and his wife in Brussles almost on the eve of Waterloo gained lasting fame from being recalled in a poem by Lord Byron.  His dueling, noted in Senator Andrew Haydon’s  “Pioneer Sketches in the District of Bathurst”, was marked by an affair of honour with a member of the royal family, the Duke of York.

The death of the Duke of Richmond, of hydrophobia some eight weeks after he had been bitten by a pet fox, occurred near Richmond on the Jock River, then known as the Goodwood River.  The duke and governor was on his return from an official visit to the Perth area, during which he had walked several miles in the course of an inspection of rural settlement on the Scotch Lint in Bathurst and Burgess and in Drummond and Elmsley townships.

Major General Darling

Darling township, in the hills to the east of Pakenham and north of Lanark township and containing localities including Tatlock, White and Marble Bluff, was named in 1822 for a military officer, Major General H. C. Darling.  He then was a colonel serving in a senior post at Quebec City as the military secretary to Canada’s governor general and commander in chief of the forces, the Earl of Dalhousie.

Sir Edward Pakenham and British valour

The township of Pakenham, centered on the village of Pakenham and including an area between White Lake and the Mississippi and Madawaska Rivers, was named for Major General Sir Edward Michael Pakenham (1778-1815), the British army commander of the Battle of New Orleans.  This heroic tragedy proved to be one of the greatest and most useless human slaughters ever to occur on United States soil.

Before news could arrive from Ghent of the signing two weeks earlier of the treaty ending the War of 1812-14, a British force including several thousands of veteran soldiers recently arrived from Europe under Sir Edward Pakenham attacked the prepared defence works of New Orleans held under Andrew Jackson, the later United States president.

Instead of the six hundred men who were sent to their deaths at the storied charge of Balaclava, six thousand men, reaching the swamps of the mouth of the Mississippi without mobile artillery and without even scaling ladders, were sent forward to the town.  When the brief and hopeless attempt was abandoned one out of every three soldiers of this large British force had fallen in the deadly fire which poured from behind the defenders’ barricades.  In this postscript to the war which assured Canada’s survival the brave commander had lost his life, as perhaps he would have wished, while riding on the front line to spur on the attack.

In the strange ways of false nationalistic propaganda the classic bravery of this British force was replaced by a picture of a craven retreat promoted in a “Hit Parade” song which was spread through this country from the United States a year or two ago and called “The Battle of New Orleans”.  This is the page of military valour in our country’s history, though hardly of tactical brilliance, which is commemorated in the name of the township and village of Pakenham.

Some of the stories wrapped in the names and histories of the quiet rural and village areas which form the townships of Lanark County may become better recognized in the county in the course of time.  Perhaps this will come when sufficient consideration is given merely to their more obvious uses for tourist trade promotion.  Their colourful legacy of names will remain in any event to offer to some members of present and future generations the inspiration of glimpses of great men, great deeds and great years in the times of the founding of our now vast and still struggling nation.