A HISTORY OF PERTH IN VERSE

In its edition of February 16, 1866, the Perth Courier a “graphic history of our good town”. The Courier did not identify the author but described its source only as the “contribution” of “a poetical friend”. Nevertheless, while we cannot be 100% certain, the author was almost certainly Robert Jamieson (1848-1932).

ONE KNIGHT, GIRT WITH SWORD

On June 19, 1925 the Perth Courier published a transcript of documents “bearing upon the first parliamentary election ever held in this place, in the month of July 1820, almost 105 years ago”. The papers consisted of a petition for representation in the Legislative Assembly; the warrant appointing Roderick Matheson, Returning Officer; full instructions for holding the vote; the record of votes polled; and the certificate of the successful candidate.

CLONMEL SUMMER ASIZES DUELING CODE

When five young men met in a muddy North Elmsley Township field, a short distance south of the village of Perth, to settle an affair of honor by dueling with pistols, they executed a highly ritualized performance regulated at every step by the Irish Dueling Code of 1777.

GOD BLESS OUR LAND

But for the vagarities of a 1908 American magazine, when Canadians today stand to sing our national anthem we might, rather than fumbling for the lyrics of Robert Weir, be mumbling the words of Perth, Ontario, poet Robert Jamieson (1848-1932).

WHEN LYON FELL BY WILSON’S HAND

Over four and one-half years, between January 1903 and July 1907, the Perth Courier published, in about 50 installments, an epic historical narrative poem of more than 50,000 words, entitled The Hunter’s Bride of Otty Lake; a poem penned by part-time Perth poet Robert Jamieson (1848-1932). Included within that poem is an account in verse of the ‘Last Fatal Duel’ of 1833.

DALHOUSIE PHILANTHROPIC SOCIETY

An article by R. Douglas, first published in the Family Herald and Weekly Star, and reprinted in the March 25, 1927 edition of the Perth Courier, on The Dalhousie St. Andrews Philanthropic Society Library, established in 1828 with the patronage of George Ramsay, 9th Earl of Dalhousie at Watsons Corners, Dalhousie Township, Lanark County, Ontario.

GLASGOW COLONIAL SOCIETY

Dr. Elizabeth Ann Kerr-McDougall’s examination of efforts made by emigrant Scottish Presbyterian settlers in Lanark County to bring Church of Scotland clergymen to their townships and the measures adopted by the Glasgow Colonial Society to meet the ministerial needs of those emigrants.

WHAT THEY GOT

An itemization of provisions supplied by the British Government to 1816-1822 settlers at the Perth Military Settlement.

DOROTHEA GREENLEY PIONEER LETTER

A notated letter dated May 1, 1818 from Dorothea Blake Richardson Greenley (c1765-1828), at “Perth on the River Tay”, to her daughter Mary Richardson Richards (c1791-1861), at Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Key Dates Perth Settlement

Important events and dates leading to the establishment of the Perth Military Settlement and the arrival of the first military and civilian settlers.

Royal Proclamation 1763

The proclamation of King George III in October 1763 established the administrative structure of the Canadian (and other) colonies seized from France through the conquest of 1759-60.

Edinburgh Proclamation 1815

The British Government issued a proclamation at Edinburgh, Scotland, on February 15, 1815, offering “Liberal encouragement by His Majesty’s government to settlers inclined to proceed from Great Britain and Ireland … to Quebec with their families”. Among those responding were the first civilian settlers to arrive at the Perth Military Settlement.

Brockville Petition 1816

During the winter of 1815-1816 about 40 families, who had arrived in Canada the previous June, sent a scouting party north of the Rideau River. Having had a look at the area of their future homes at the yet to be surveyed Perth Military Settlement, they were not pleased. They petitioned Upper Canada Lieutenant Governor Francis Gore, “humbly trusting that you will permit them to settle farther up the country”.

Disbandment Orders 1816

In General Orders dated May 18, 1816 from the British Army’s Deputy Adjutant General’s Office at Quebec City ordered disbandment of the Fencible Corps and the partial reduction of De Meuron’s and De Watteville’s Regiments; with instructions, terms and conditions for “those men who wish to become settlers”.

Arrival Routes 1816-1817

Departing from Brockville, the first arrivals at the Perth Military Settlement followed three different routes, evolving from one to another over the course of 1816-1817.

Location Ticket 1816

All settlers arriving at the Perth Military Settlement, soldier and civilian alike, were issued a ‘Location Ticket’, assigning them a specific plot of land and stipulating the conditions of their grant.

Rideau Purchase 1819

After three years of negotiation and delay, the British Army’s Indian Department and representatives of a Mississauga First Nations Band resident at the Bay of Quinte signed a formal purchase/surrender of 2,748,000 hectares of land north of the Rideau River that would become all of present day Lanark County, as well as the eastern part of Renfrew and Carleton Counties.

Lanark Society Letter Lord Bathurst 1820

In May 1820 Lord Bathurst, Secretary for War & the Colonies, wrote to Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, instructing that preparations be made to receive a second wave of more than 1,200 settlers who would arrive from Scotland that summer.

Journey to New Lanark, David of London, 1821

In the summer of 1826 ‘Society Settler’ John McDonald published an account of his 1821 journey to the new settlement forming in the Townships of Lanark, Dalhousie, Sherbrooke and Ramsay.

Journey to New Lanark, Earl of Buckinghamshire, 1821

Reminiscence of the voyage and inland journey from Glasgow to the Lanark Society settlement, appearing in the December 23, 1892 edition of the Perth Courier. The author is unknown, having signed only as ‘Pioneer’.

Militia Act 1806, 1808, 1822

As part of their obligations as British Subjects, all able-bodied men between the ages of 19 and 39 years were required to serve in the Upper Canada Militia. Excerpts from the Militia Acts of 1806, 1808, 1822 detail some of the terms and condition of their service.

First Days 1824

In 1824 Reverend William Bell, Perth’s first pastor, published a book entitled Hints to Immigrants. It provided a wealth of useful detail for would-be emigrants destined for Perth and elsewhere in Upper Canada. Comprised of a series of 25 ‘letters’ written by Bell himself, an appendix included three additional ‘letters’ written by his son Andrew, who had arrived at Perth with his father at age 13 in 1816.

Marshall Letter 1824

Letter from Lanark Settlement Superintendent William Marshall to Lord Dalhousie,
Secretary for War & the Colonies concerning the settlement of Peter Robinson’s Irish immigrants in the Township of Ramsay.

Peter Robinson Testimony 1824

In the summer of 1823 Peter Robinson organized and led the emigration of 460 Irish settlers to Upper Canada, establishing them in Ramsay Township. On his return to the Britain he was called to testify before a Select Committee of the House of Lords on the outcome of his venture. The committee was specifically tasked with examining “the nature and extent of the disturbances which have prevailed in those districts of Ireland which are now subject to the provisions of the Insurrection Act”. In part the Lords were interested in hearing from Robinson to judge to what extent emigration from Ireland might help pacify that country, but also because news had reached London of disturbances among the Ramsay Township settlers (the Ballyghiblin riot at Carleton Place).

Emigration Society Petition 1826

As beneficiaries of government aid, the Cambuslang Emigration Society sent about 12 families to the Lanark ‘Society’ settlement in 1821. Five years later members of the society wishing to follow their friends and relatives petitioned the British Government for similar support. Their plea provides some insight into the circumstances (and desperation) of the Scots weavers who came to Upper Canada.

Lanark Society Letter Montreal Newspaper 1827

Seven years after the Lanark ‘Society’ Settlement was first established; an unsigned letter was published in a Montreal newspaper recounting a visit to the settlement in February of 1827. The visitor reported that he “did not hear one express the slightest regret that he had left Scotland or a desire to return permanently [but] they could not help wishing that they had the power to bestow some of their superfluity upon their starving countrymen”.

Notice To Emigrants 1832

On June 1, 1832, the ‘Office of His Majesties Chief Agent for Superintendence of Emigrants in Upper and Lower Canada’ at Quebec City followed up on Advice to Emigrants with a hand bill setting out “the principal situations in Upper Canada, where arrangements are made for locating emigrants …  in the Bathurst, Newcastle, Home and Western Districts”.

Lanark Society Settler Returns 1836

Return of Lanark Society Settlers located by the Lanark Settling Department, verifying completion of Settlement Duties and authorizing issuance of Patents (Title Deeds).

Emigration Data 1815-1845

Between 1815 and 1845 more than 700,000 British immigrants arrived in British North America, outstripping immigration from Britain to both Australia and the United States.

Lanark County Lords Day Bylaw 1860

A perceived lack of respect for the Sabbath prompted the Lanark County Council of 1860 to enact the Lord’s Day Bylaw prohibiting activities ranging from selling liquor to playing “marbles, cricket, skittle, ball, racket or any other noisy game”.

Militia Draft of 1865

In late 1864, the government of the United Canadas undertook to re-organize the colony’s Militia including introduction of a service draft. The American Civil War was still raging, but defeat of the Confederacy was in sight and concern that, having quelled the South, the Union Army would turn north. Tensions increased, in October 1864, when Confederate soldiers launched a raid from Canadian soil on St. Alban’s, Vermont. Many of the 793 Lanark County draftees interpreted the Militia draft to mean they would be sent to confront an expected American invasion.

ADVICE TO EMIGRANTS

On May 1, 1832, A. C. Buchanan, Chief Agent for the Emigrant Department at Quebec City, issued a circular for arriving immigrants. “There is nothing of more importance to Emigrants on arrival at Quebec”, he wrote, “than correct information on the leading points connected with their future pursuits. Many have suffered much by want of caution, and by listening to the opinions of interested designing characters, who frequently offer their advice unsolicited, and who are met generally about wharfs, and landing places frequented by strangers”.

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