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History of the County of Bruce, Ontario, Canada
Village of Tiverton


[The name of a town in Devonshire, England. It is said that Norman McInnis and the other petitioners, when applying for a post-office, suggested the name "St. Andrews." This the Department would not agree to, there being another post-office of that name. Of several names offered "Tiverton" was chosen, it being the name of the borough for which Lord Palmerston, the English Prime Minister, sat in Parliament, and this no doubt had something to do with the choice made.]

It was in the fall of 1850 that the primeval forest that covered the present site of Tiverton was entered by its first settler, Timothy Allan. The survey of the north part of Kincardine Township had just been completed, but that part of the township of Bruce in which Tiverton lies had not been commenced. For several years the work of clearing the bush went steadily on before the idea of a village at that spot was thought of. It was the fortune of the author, in the spring of 1857, to tramp along the "Boundary Line" from Inverhuron east to the fifteenth side-road, but he cannot recall of then seeing any evidence of the village that subsequently was developed. It was, however, in the same year that Norman McInnis there opened a store, and it is probably the year which Tiverton may claim as that when it commenced to take form; but it was 1860 before it became known by the name it now bears, that is, when "Tiverton" was given as the name of the post-office then opened. The one store was the most suitable place for the office, so naturally the postmastership was given to Norman McInnis, of whom it may be said in passing, he, as much as anyone else, deserves the honor of being called the founder of the village. He it was who opened the first store and also the first manufacturing industry of the place, which was a pot and pearl-ash factory, which he commenced to operate in September, 1860. The next industry added to this was a wool-carding mill run by A. McBain, which mill at a later date passed into the hands of James McLeod. About the end of the sixties a grist mill was added to the industries of the village, John McLeod being the miller. John Dewar, also, about the same time, opened a store, the second in Tiverton. From this time, and for the next ten or twelve years Tiverton became somewhat of a market. The grain there purchased used to be delivered at one of the warehouses at Inverhuron; this business ceased with the burning of these warehouses in 1882, as they never were rebuilt. It was during these years the village attained to its highest notch as a business centre, and new industries were started, among which were a sawmill, a planing-mill and machine shop, but the largest and most prominent of them was John McDonald's tannery, which employed about twenty-five hands and had an output of about $20,000 worth of leather per annum.

In 1874 The Watchman, Tiverton's newspaper, was founded by Alfred Robinson, who, after publishing it for a few years, sold out to John Pollard, who conducted the paper until 1890; since that date three or four different publishers have supplied, through the columns of The Watchman, the village with its local and general news.

The congregation now known as that of Knox Church, Tiverton, when first organized was called the congregation of South Bruce, and worshipped in a log building at Sinclair's Corners. In 1860 a new frame church was built at Tiverton, and the first settled pastor, the Rev. Alex. McKay, was that same year inducted into his first charge. The Rev. John Anderson [On October 14th, 1904, the Rev. Mr. Anderson commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination. A number of members of the Presbytery of Bruce were present to unite with his old congregation in offering congratulations.] in 1870 commenced a long pastorate of a quarter of a century. He was followed in the pastorate, for the years 1895-97, by the Rev. J. Stevens, and he by the present incumbent, the Rev. K. McLennan, D.D. In 1868 Glammis was united with the Tiverton congregation; the union, however, was but temporary. On July 2nd, 1900, the corner-stone was laid of the handsome and commodious brick edifice in which this congregation now worships. A good deal was made of the opportunity thus offered—and rightly so— to refer back to the early days of the congregation, and many outsiders were in attendance. The dedicatory services were held January 6th, 1901, the Rev. Principal Grant, of Queen's University, officiating.

The Baptist congregation was organized in 1855, under the zealous efforts of the Rev. Wm. Fraser, who used to walk from his farm at Lorne to Tiverton every Sunday, where he conducted services in English and Gaelic. The year 1857 was that in which the first church was built; the present one was built in 1865. [This little church has made a record that many a city church might be proud of in the number of ministers it has sent out to preach the Gospel. Among those who have thus gone forth might be mentioned: Rev. A. A. Cameron, of First Church, Ottawa; Rev. J. P. McEwen (late Superintendent of Home Missions); Rev. P. A. McEwen, B.A., York Mills; Rev. James McEwen, B.Th., Wiarton.; Rev. J. R. Coutts, Field Secretary of Brandon College; Rev. Wm. Holbin, White Lake; Rev. P. C. Cameron, B.A., Paris; Rev. Duncan Menzies (deceased); Rev. C. J. Cameron, B.A., Field Secretary of McMaster University; Rev. Carey M. Cameron (deceased); Rev. Archibald Reekie, Bolivia Mission; Rev. Lach. McLean, Michigan; Ebenezer Cameron, B.A., student pastor at Reaboro; Rev. W. P. Reekie, B.A., Sparta; Rev. E. J. McEwen, Uxbridge; Rev. T. T. Shields, Adelaide Street, London; Henry Lowick, student at Chicago; Rev. P. A. McDiarmid, B.A., Rochester; Rev. Edgar Shields, Kincardine; Rev. P. H. McEwen, Vancouver; Rev. D. P. McLaurin; Rev. Alex. Kippen (deceased); and Rev. D. S. McEwen—about twenty-five in all.]

One week and a day after the corner-stone of Knox Church was laid, the Methodists of Tiverton engaged in a similar ceremony. This congregation, feeling that the day of frame buildings for church edifices was past, have erected a commodious brick church.

Being somewhat out of the main current of the world's activities, Tiverton in the early days had at times to depend upon local effort to conduct its religious meetings. In illustration of this, the writer recalls an incident related to him at the time, which was somewhere about 1862. The annual meeting of the Bible Society was announced for a certain evening, at which an address was to be given by a travelling agent of the Society. The evening came, and with it a fair number in attendance, but no agent of the Society. The roads were heavy, so allowance was made for that. To hold the audience together until the expected speaker arrived, the chairman announced, "We will sing the 119th Psalm. (This, the reader will remember, contains 176 verses.) The tune, some familiar one such as "Bal-erma," was raised, and bravely the audience started to sing, and sing they did through thirty-two verses, when the flow of psalmody was, stopped by the arrival of the Bible Society agent.

The County Council of Bruce passed a by-law, December 5th, 1878, incorporating the village of Tiverton. According to the "Municipal Act," it was necessary that three months elapse before the by-law could become operative; this was overlooked, and the election of a reeve and councillors took place on the last Monday of December. To correct this oversight it was necessary to have the House of Assembly pass an act, which it did (42 Vic. chap. 43), to confirm the by-law and also the election of reeve and councillors. Their names were as follows: Reeve—John C. McEwen; councillors—John McAulay, Joseph Robertson, John McLeod and G. B. Lamont. The first village officials were: Duncan Cameron, clerk; Norman McInnis, treasurer; Donald Robertson, assessor; and George Dayton, collector. The names of the various reeves of Tiverton and their years of office are as follows: John C. McEwen, 1879, 1880, 1885, 1886, 1887, 1888; John McDonald, 1881; J. J. Fee, 1882, 1883, 1884; John Pollard, 1889, 1890; John McKellar, 1891, 1892, 1893; M. L. McKinnon, 1894, 1896, 1897; B. Ballantyne, 1895; Dr. W. J. Chambers, 1898, 1900, 1901; D. A. McLaren, 1899; N. McClure, 1902, 1903; J. H. McKay, 1904, 1905; A. McKinnon, 1906.

In the fall of 1897 Tiverton suffered from an extensive fire, which caused serious loss of property in the business portion of the village, most of the principal shops being among the buildings then destroyed. In view of this severe loss, the County Council refunded to the village the amount of the county rates for that year. The buildings destroyed have been replaced by handsome structures, and it is questionable if any village of its size in the county can show such up-to-date shops as Tiverton.

The public school building is one of good size built of brick, and cost about $3,500. The frame building previously used for school purposes has been turned into a town hall. In this building the author, in June, 1882, made the only political speech he ever attempted. The circumstance is here mentioned only to illustrate the political leanings of the electorate of Tiverton at that time. The meeting referred to was in the interests of J. H. Scott, the Conservative candidate for West Bruce. There was at that time only one Conservative elector residing in Tiverton, and he refused to act as chairman of the meeting to be held; so a Liberal, John McDonald, the tanner, was asked and kindly consented to act as chairman at this meeting held in the interests of the Conservative party. Mr. McDonald did this, no doubt, much against his inclinations, but it was a gracious act. The meeting did but little to change the politics of Tiverton at that time, but other causes have been at work, and the political parties are not now so one-sided. The one Conservative vote of 1882, had been multiplied in 1904 by more than thirty fold.

The subdivision of farm lots into village lots by a registered plan occurred in the following order and at the dates given. The first was made in October, 1868, and was of the west half of lot 1, concession 12, Kincardine. This was followed, in September, 1870, by one of lot 60, concession "C," Kincardine, and in May, 1873, by one of lot 1, concession 1, Bruce, and in October, 1874, by one of lot "J," concession 1, Bruce. These, with other subdivisions of farm lots, were combined in 1879 into what is known as the "Corporation Plan," comprising the five hundred acres contained in the village proper.

It is a pleasure to note that the business founded by Norman McInnis in 1857, and which was the germ from which Tiverton developed, is still flourishing, although the respected founder has passed to his rest. Another store in the village is that of John McKellar, a man who has helped to make Tiverton a business place. His name is associated with cheese manufactories, as well as with the mercantile interests of the place. Another of the business firms of Tiverton is that of Ballantyne & Ord, both members of the firm being long identified with the making of the village.

At the time of its incorporation Tiverton claimed to have a population of 834. This must have been an error, for two years later, by the census of 1881, the population was only 545. Tiverton is the smallest municipality in the county, but this designation will be changed when that day comes when the projected electric railway reaches and makes a town of Tiverton.

Subsequent to the writing of the foregoing, Tiverton has suffered again by fire. On July 19th, 1906, the grist mill owned by McCracken Bros, was burned. As there is a doubt about this industry being rebuilt in as complete a form as before the fire, the injury to the village can be appreciated.


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