Some First Events: Lanark’s First 100 Years
By Howard Morton Brown
Carleton Place Canadian, 14 May, 1959
For the countless stories of personal, business and community adventure which were written long ago by the deeds of Lanark County’s pioneers, a framework may be found in a list of some of the County’s first events. The following brief listing of landmarks and outstanding events of the County’s first one hundred years of settlement is one of many similar selections which might be made from different viewpoints or differing bases of local emphasis.
The first settler in the county commonly has been said to have been William Merrick of Merrickville. The arrival of an earlier and first settler, Roger Stevens, is recorded in this list of Lanark County events. Official contemporary records of his coming as “the first who settled on the River Rideau”, places the start of the settlement of Lanark County within seven years of the first colonizing of the province by English-speaking people, made by Loyalists from the revolted British colonies.
First Family Settled – Roger Stevens from Vermont, an ensign in the King’s Rangers in the American Revolution; at S.E. corner of Montague township on the Rideau River, 1790, with wife and three children. His occupied land extended into Marlborough township. He joined with William and Stepehn Merrick in building a saw mill in Montague at Merrickville. His death by drowning in 1793 followed an Upper Canada Order in Council authorizing a grant to him of the site of this mill and of the future village of Merrickville.
First Land Grants – In the 1790’s in the area of Montague and later N. Elmsley and N. Burgess townships. These three townships until the 1840’s remained attached to the Leeds and Grenville (Johnstown ) District.
First Saw Mill and First Grist Mill – William Merrick’s at Merrickville in Montague township; saw mill 1793, grist mill 1803. He came from New York State to Leeds County in 1791.
First Sponsored Migration – from United Kingdom – About fifty Lowland Scottish families were granted farm sites in May, 1816, on the Scotch Line in Bathurst, Burgess and Elmsley townships near Perth, when a similar number of grants were made nearby to married and single demobilized British Soldiers of various nationalities.
First Large Scale Settlement – The seven years 1816 to 1822, when seven thousand persons, mainly from Scotland and Ireland, aided by army settlement supervision and supplies, began the great task of clearing land and establishing farms and villages throughout most of the county’s present area.
First Group Migration From Scottish Highlands – About fifty families from Perthshire in 1818 settled in Beckwith township near Carleton Place; they came inland by the Ottawa River route.
First Settlement of North Lanark – Assisted emigrations of 1820 and 1821 from Lanarkshire added some 2,500 persons to the county’s population, mainly in Dalhousie, Lanark and Ramsay townships.
First Group Migration from Southern Ireland – About seventy-five families, mainly from County Cork, were brought to the site of Almonte in 1823 and settled in Ramsay and neighbouring townships.
First Resident Clergymen – Officially recognized, Rev. William Bell, Presbyterian, 1817; Rev. Michael Harris, Anglican, 1819; both at Perth.
First Visit By Governor-in-Chief of Canada – by Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond in 1819.
First Member of Parliament – In 1820, William Morris (b.1786 d.1858), Scottish merchant at Perth, defeated Benjamin Delisle; became president of Executive Council of Canada, 1846.
First Steps towards Local Government – Establishment of the judicial District of Bathurst in 1822, with centre at Perth, to serve some local executive and judicial needs of an area comprising most of the present Lanark, Carleton and Renfrew counties.
First Naming as County of Lanark – In 1824, when the ten northerly townships of the present Lanark County (excluding Pakenham) and the then unsurveyed present Renfrew County became an electoral district named County of Lanark.
KNOWLEDGE AND VIOLENCE:
First Newspaper – The Independent Examiner, Perth, 1828, edited by John Stewart, school teacher, succeeded in 1832 by the Constitution and in 1834 by the present Perth Courier.
First Public Libraries – Dalhousie Public Library, near Watson’s Corners, 1828 (still in existence); and the Ramsay and Lanark Circulating Library near Clayton, 1829.
First (and only) Extensive Riots – The ‘Ballygiblin Riots’ Carleton Place and Almonte, 1824.
First Execution for Murder – Thomas Easby, of Drummond township, 1829; found to have killed his wife and four children, publicly hanged at Perth after rejection of defence of insanity.
First Recorded Pistol Duels – James Boulton and Thomas Radenhurst, Perth barristers, June, 1830; Colonel Alexander McMillan and Dr. Alexander Thom, both of Perth, the latter wounded, January, 1883; John Wilson and Robert Lyon, law students at Perth, the latter killed, June, 1883.