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History of the County of Bruce, Ontario, Canada
Township of Albemarle


"Albemarle" is the title of Lord Bury's family, the Earls of Albemarle. The Lord Bury referred to so frequently in this History became the seventh Earl of Albemarle.

Extract from the Report of County Valuators, 1879.

"The east side of this township is rock, with only a few stony farms scattered through it; the west side is sand and swamp. It has very little village property. The average price per acre is about $4."

Extract from the Report of County Valuators, 1901.

"In Albemarle there is a small section of fair land at Mar, but rock and stone seems to crop up everywhere, and roads are bad. Large sections of these townships are less valuable now than twelve years ago, and the outlook is not bright. The rate per acre is $3.25.''

An examination of the map of Albemarle shows that two different lines of survey met at lot 10 [Mr. Andrew Weir, ex-reeve, says that his farm shows that lines of survey met at lot 15, but the maps do not indicate this.] on each of the concession lines. The southerly part of the township was surveyed for Charles Rankin by George Gould, in the latter part of the fall of 1855, after he had finished his share of the survey of the township of Amabel. The northern part of Albemarle was surveyed by the party of surveyors who surveyed the township of Eastnor. The only town plot laid out in the township was that of Adair, on Hope Bay, which contained 2,025 acres. A town, however, failed to develop there, so in response to a petition the County Council, in 1879, urged the Indian Land Department to have the town plot sold as farm lands. This was acceded to, but not until the town and park lots had first been offered for sale at auction at Owen Sound in October, 1880. In 1887 only 191 acres of the whole town plot had been cleared, and in that year it was re-surveyed into farm lots.

The peninsula to the east of Albemarle geographically belongs to the township, but it has been set apart as an Indian reserve. It contains 15,586 acres, and is known as the Cape Croker Reserve. Particulars respecting it are to be found in Appendix C.

In December, 1857, the first settlers in the township took up their lands. They were John Wood and Samuel Atkinson, who settled on lots 31 and 30, concession 8, E.B.R. In the month of May following they were joined by five families, who were brought over from Owen Sound by the steamer Canadian. These were Rev. Ludwick Kribs, [In 1852, and for some subsequent years, Mr. Kribs acted as a missionary to the Indians at Colpoy's Bay, working under the auspices of the Congregational Church.] Henry Kribs, Caleb Spragge, Joseph Stringer and Ludwick Spragge. Of these the last-mentioned is the sole survivor. Late in the fall of 1857 Henry Kribs and Joseph Stringer went to Owen Sound in a sail-boat to obtain supplies for their families and others of the infant settlement. On their return trip they were caught in a storm too severe for their small craft to successfully encounter, and the unfortunate men found a grave in the cold waters of the Georgian Bay.

In the summer of 1858 Leonard Gleason commenced to build a saw-mill at Colpoy's Bay. He had only to move across from Oxenden, where he had previously resided, having been sent there a year or two previous by the Indian Department to show the Indians how to erect and run a saw-mill. The establishing of this first-mentioned saw-mill, followed shortly after by the erection of a saw and grist mill by Ludwick Kribs, had the effect of centring the trading of the settlement at the little village that now bears the name of Colpoy's Bay. A post-office was opened there in 1863, L. Kribs being the postmaster. At one time it was expected "Colpoy's" would become the town Wiarton now is. Seeing it had ten years of a start, these expectations seemed warranted, but such hopes have not been realized. The village has made no progress for many years, and being so near to the larger town at the northern terminus of the railway, there is little chance of further development.

The inflow of settlers into Albemarle has never been large when compared to that experienced by the more fertile townships to the south. As stated in a foregoing paragraph, Albemarle received its first settlers in 1857. Four years later, when the census of 1861 was taken, the population was only 54 souls all told. This number in 1871 had increased to 678. Since then the census returns exhibit a slow but constant increase, showing in 1901 a population of 1962, or almost three times that of 1871. The several localities which received the earliest settlers were; first, in the vicinity of "Colpoy's," next between the Amabel boundary and the centre of the township in the vicinity of Mar, and, at a later date, near Purple Valley. The earliest road opened was that on the town line between Amabel and Albemarle, thence north through Mar to Eastnor; the full extent of this was done by the end of the sixties. [This road was largely opened out by the Government; Hiram Parker, of Southampton (subsequently the first settler at Golden Valley), was the contractor; William Bull was the inspector of the work.] The road to Cape Croker reserve was also one early opened. The opening of other roads has been done gradually as required.

Albemarle was united for municipal purposes to the united townships of Arran and Amabel by a by-law of the United Counties Council, passed 29th December, 1857. This union lasted for three years, when Amabel and Albemarle were separated from Arran by a by-law passed September 26th, 1860. On June 18th, 1869, this latter union was dissolved and Albemarle and Eastnor were united into one municipality. To the corporation of these two townships an addition was made June 21st, 1872, by uniting to it the townships of Lindsay and St. Edmunds. On June 8th, 1877, the three northerly townships were erected into a separate municipality, and for the first time Albemarle was free from a partnership in municipal affairs.

The first reeve of the united townships of Amabel and Albemarle was Ludwick Kribs. To attend the meetings of the United Counties Council at Goderich he had to make the following roundabout journey: He first of all sailed to Collingwood and there took the Northern Railway to Toronto, thence by Grand Trunk and Buffalo and Lake Huron Railways to Goderich. He was allowed on the pay sheet for a mileage of between 200 and 300 miles. The necessity of travelling such a roundabout route speaks conclusively as to the impassable state of the roads throughout the county of Bruce in the early sixties.

On January 1st, 1870, Albemarle having been separated from Amabel, became the senior township of the northern townships on the Peninsula which formed the new municipality then created. The first reeve was Thomas H. Lee, [The following are the names of those who have filled the office of reeve of Albemarle—Thos. H. Lee, 1870, '71, '72, '73; Ludwick Spragge, 1874, '75, '76 and '77; John Shackleton, 1878, '79; John H. Whicher, 1880, '81, '83, '84; Dr. H. Wigle, 1882; John McIver, 1885, '86, part of 1888, '89 and 1895; Thomas Rydall, 1887 and part of 1888; Eph. Cross, 1890; T. S. Cotton, 1891, '92; Andrew Weir, 1893, '94, '96, '97 and 1900; Thomas Crane, 1898. '99; William Chisholm, 1901, '02; John Pruder, 1903, '04; E. Andrews, 1905; John Ashcroft, 1906.] while the two offices of clerk and treasurer were filled by John Shackleton.

When the time came (at the end of 1877) for the breaking of the municipal tie which united Eastnor, Lindsay and St. Edmunds with Albemarle, trouble arose over the finances and four years of litigation and arbitration followed, the costs of which ran up into the thousands. [The details of the suit are to be found in 45 and 46 IT. C. Queen's Bench Reports.] The settlement was finally reached in July, 1881, at a joint meeting of the Councils of the two municipalities, held at the "Half-way House" (W. Colwell's), when on motion of F. W. Stuart and R. Davidson, the united townships of Eastnor, Lindsay and St. Edmunds agreed to pay the township of Albemarle $300, in two payments (January 1st, 1883, and January 1st, 1884), with interest, in final settlement of claim. Each party to pay their costs of suit. This offer the Albemarle Council accepted and so closed this long and vexatious litigation, which might have been settled by the same method years before, and saved the large sums paid in law costs.

The report of the county valuators in 1879 enabled the people in the north to see that they had been too highly assessed by the County Council in the past; on this being pointed out, a committee was appointed, which reported that for five years the assessment of the northern townships had been too high, and recommended that 50 per cent of the indebtedness of each municipality on account of rates be remitted. (The amount of indebtedness of Albemarle on the 1st January previous was $2,781.67, showing arrears for about four years.) The remission of $1,292.72 of county rates proved a great relief to the finances of the municipality.

There are not many names in Albemarle of which the origin can be given. Mr. John M. McNabb, of Southampton, says that Cape Croker bears the name of John Wilson Croker, who was Secretary to the Admiralty; and Colpoy's Bay of Sir John Colpoy, an admiral in the British Navy, both names being bestowed by Capt. Bayfield during his survey of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. Prior to this the bay was called Sturgeon Bay, and is so named in a map now in the Department of Archives at Ottawa, prepared in 1792 for Lieut.-Governor Simcoe.

The prospects for the future of Albemarle can hardly be said to be as bright as those cherished by the more southerly townships; the extent of rocky land precludes the thought of it. The past has witnessed the lumberman gather in rich returns from her forests, and the cleared farms, where the land has been arable, have well repaid the labor expended thereon. This is attested by the numerous comfortable farm-houses to be seen throughout the township. One of these, it might be said in passing, is possibly the finest up-to-date ' farm-house in the whole county, namely, that of Mr. John McIver, and there a hospitality is extended by the owner and his good lady that accords with their big and handsome house. Mr. McIver's success has come from engaging largely in stock raising, and it is most probable that the future prosperity of Albemarle will be in carrying out this branch of farming.


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