Peter McArthur: Our Famous Canadian – 1866 – 1924

Peter McArthur: Our Famous Canadian – 1866 – 1924

Marie Williams, Glencoe: The huge crowd that packed into the Glencoe and District Historical Society Archives on February 22 proved that the “Sage of Ekfrid” is as popular today as he was over 100 years ago. In addition to 30 viewing online, over 50 turned up in person.

Read more

Early Days of Mosa Township

The most southwest of Middlesex County’s townships, Mosa Township was initially part of a much larger parcel of land including parts of Kent and Lambton Counties. Surveyor Mahlon Burwell indicated that there was some confusion regarding the naming of the township, first designated as township D and then briefly as Aragon. Finally, the name Mosa, a derivative of the Spanish word Musa (muse). However the Lieutenant Governor Sir Peregrine Maitland decided to name the township Mosa, after the Maas river.

Read more

Yoshio Shimizu, a prisoner in Glencoe during WWII

Yoshio Shimuzu: “You have to remember that we had been driven from our homes by racial prejudice in British Columbia, reviled and despised by the bulk of the population, and here in the farmlands of southwestern Ontario, we were welcomed as equals and saviours by the farming population.”
Read more
The Fenians

The Feniens are Coming!

Wardsville Volunteer Infantry Company Formed as #6 Company on January 6, 1983

To find out the details, click here for a download of Ken’s Paper or read on:

After Confederation 1867, the Province of Ontario (Canada West) was under British governance. Due to fears of what would happen after the American Civil War (1861-1865), the British authorities formed volunteer militia companies in hundreds of communities across Ontario, including our own.

The British authorities were concerned about a secret society of Irish patriots who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States with the intent of ending British rule by taking Canada by force and exchanging it with Britain for Irish independence. This secret revolutionary organization was founded on St. Patrick’s Day in 1857, by James Stephens in Dublin, Ireland. It was called the Fenian Brotherhood.

It is fascinating to imagine local kitchen table discussions about the Irish “terrorists” . Only our ancestors didn’t just talk about local politics at the coffee shop. They obeyed orders, formed militias and showed up.

On 3 Jan 1863, Wardsville volunteers formed independent militia company No. 6 within the 26th Middlesex Battalion headquartered in London. It was commanded by James T. Ward.

So what happened?

In early 1866, with tensions very high and Fenian attacks were anticipated along the St. Clair River. The Wardsville company was dispatched on March 8th to the Sarnia area and the local men “went under canvass” in full readiness to meet the enemy — in March .

But the Fenians didn’t show up. Instead, the Fenians attempted to invade Canada at Campobello Island at the Maine, US / New Brunswick border. It was a complete disaster.

The British authorities relaxed, but the clever Fenians took heart and re-organized an invasion across the Niagara River. They captured the undefended town of Fort Erie and its railway and telegraph terminals. The revolutionaries arrested the Town Council, Customs and border officials before cutting outgoing telegraph lines so help could not be summoned.

The Fenians are Coming!

Presentation by Ken Willis 15 Jan 2020

Scots Gaelic – Past, Present and Future

Trevor Aitkens grew up in Brooke township, Lambton County, and lived with his grandmother who spoke Gaelic.  On March 15, 2023 he filled the Tait’s Corners School house with students interested in learning a few words.

Trevor shows us given names on the left and surnames on the left.

Given names, surnames and place names. DONNCHADH = Duncan. DOMHNALL = Donald. AONGHAS = Angus. DUGHLAS = Douglas.

Trevor, our teacher, took us on a flight across the globe’s Celtic lands. We only had a few life preservers (we were crossing the Atlantic). Costa is wearing one of the preservers while he holds a beautiful bouquet of lucky heather.

Gaelic originated in Scotland in 500 AD and was in common use up until the battle of Culloden in 1746. After this point, support waned for the language to the point where it was in danger of becoming extinct.  During the latter half of the 19th century, it was the 3rd most spoken language in Canada and actually had a bill tabled in the Senate to become an official language.

Surnames on the left and Epenectrics on the right. Epenectrics: adding a vowel for sound purposes.

Scots Gaelic doesn’t like a lot of consonants together. AINMEAN = Names. MACEACHARNA = McEachran (descendants of the horse lord). MACFHIONLAIGH = McKinlay. MACCRUIMEIN = McCrimmon ( pipers). MACILLIOSA = Gillies. MACILLEATHAN = MacLean.

Many thanks to Simba, the camera man, and Ayako, the Zoom engineer. The Glencoe & District Historical Society is committed to making its programs accessible.
The old Tait’s Corners School house is filled with students. We shared the lesson via Zoom too.

Trevor regrets now that he didn’t learn Gaelic when he had the chance. He studied a number of other languages but realized later that he needed to pay homage to his own heritage. Trevor stumbled upon a night school offering in Mississauga in 1998 and practices the language until this day. He attracted a big audience to the Tait’s school house.

There’s no written J, K, Q, V, X, Y, Z but some of those sounds exist. There’s no Z sound or X sound.

Recent trends point towards an increase in the number of Gaelic speakers. A number of people who have no connection with Scotland are interested in learning and preserving the language. People are waiting for the 2021 Scotland census to see if there in an increase in Gaelic learners and speakers.

Gaelic Bible
JoAnn Galbraith, our Middlemiss historian, clutches a volume of Gaelic Prayers
Harold Carruthers expresses our appreciation on behalf of the live and on-line audience.

McGill Farm History & the Gunnery School

My name is Andrew McGill, I’m a young farmer and a photographer. I grew up on a farm 6 kilometres north of Glencoe, Ontario. In mid 1940 my great grandfather Fred McGill purchased a farm building which was to be moved from the site of the No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal Ontario. The building was dismantled and moved 45 kilometres north of Fingal to its final resting place on the McGill farm at Taits rd. Glencoe where it has sat to this day. My father and I think the building was then reassembled with a new roof sometime in 1941. The site of No. 4 B&G school sat on a swath of 724 acres of land that was returned to the crown for the purpose of building the training facility. One can imagine the numerous agricultural buildings on the land that would have had to be dismantled and moved in short order to make way for the multiple airplane hangers and triangle runway of the Fingal school. 

Aerial photo of the McGill farm circa 1977. The building in question can be seen directly to the left of the barn. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1977.)

McGill farm building moved from Fingal Bombing And Gunnery School site in 1940. (Photo: Andrew McGill. September, 2022.)
Aerial photo of the site of the Fingal Bombing and Gunnery School. (Photo: Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.)
Route from Fingal B&G school site to the McGill farm. (Photo: Google Maps)
Interior detail of the McGill farm building which continues to house tools and horse equipment which would have been used by the late Fred McGill circa 1940’s. (Photo: Andrew McGill, 2016.)
A restored 1942 Minneapolis Moline “Waterloo” tractor stored in the building on the McGill farms site. (Photo: Andrew McGill, 2022.)
Winifred (Eddie), Fred, and Blake McGill using their 1942 Minneapolis Moline Tractor to plant sugar beets for seed to aid the allied forces war effort. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1942.)
Alternate angle of Winifred (Eddie), Fred, and Blake McGill using their 1942 Minneapolis Moline Tractor to plant sugar beets for seed to aid the allied forces war effort. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1942.)
Clare McGill and Dorothy Brown in front of the McGill homestead with the 1942 Minneapolis Moline “Waterloo” tractor. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1942.)
Clare, Winifred (Eddie), and Blake McGill in front of the McGill homestead to mark the moment King George VI announced enlistment of eligible men into the military in Canada. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1941.)

 

Blake McGill standing with his newly restored 1942 Minneapolis Moline tractor on the McGill farm in 1993. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 1993.)
McGill Farm
Aerial photo of the McGill farm taken the year of its 100th anniversary in 2016. The relocated building can be seen clearly to the left of the barn. (Photo care of McGill family Archive, 2016.)
Dorothy (Knapp), Doug, and Ron McRae in Ilderton Ontario, 1955
Dorothy (Knapp), Doug, and Ron McRae in Ilderton Ontario, 1955. During WWII, as a 13 year old, my grandmother Dorothy along with her schoolmates were tasked with finding a plant called Alder Buckthorn, which because of its consistent burn time was used to create fuses for depth charges used to sink German navy vessels. It is told that Dorothy found enough of the valuable plant for her father to pay off the mortgage of their farm. (Photo care of the McRae family Archive, 1955.)