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


["Culross" is the name of a royal burgh and district in Perthshire, Scotland, and also is said to be the name of an estate of the Earl of Elgin, the Governor-General at the time the survey of this township was made.]

Extract from the Report of County Valuators, 1901.

''We found the greater portion of this township first-class soil and well improved, good buildings, good fences, and in a good state of cultivation. Land is selling at good prices, and is well adapted for all kinds of farming, being well watered and having first-class roads. There is, however, a very rough strip of about two miles and a half along the western boundary, which reduces the average rate per acre very considerably, while being very hilly it grows fair crops. Having Teeswater in the centre, with C. P. E. connections, and having Wingham and Mildmay with the G. T. E., within easy reach of southern and eastern borders, the people of Culross enjoy a choice of markets, an advantage no other municipality in the county has got. The north-west part of the township has been considerably improved since the last valuation, in clearing and draining low lands. Some large drains were being constructed when your valuators were there last fall. The rate per acre for this township is $32.90, of which the village property amounts to 79 cents per acre."

The township of Culross, like its neighbors to the north, east and west, namely, the townships of Greenock, Carrick and Kinloss, was classed among those known as Crown lands. The survey of this township took place in 1852, and was made by G. McPhilips. Of all the townships comprised in the original county of Bruce, Culross was the latest in being settled. This may be accounted for by the fact that no leading road entered it. The lands in Culross were opened for sale at the time of the "big land sale," [See Appendix K.] September, 1854. Settlers entered the township in this its first year of settlement, and were fairly numerous, considering they were only squatters. At this time it was part of the united townships of Greenock and Culross, and the amount of assessment for the year 1854 was 2,923. Among the early settlers were the following: Andrew Zettle, Alexander and Archibald McIntyre, Matthew Hadwin, Thomas Maloney, Charles Irwin, P. B. Brown, James Reid, Charles and James Turner, Michael Brennan, Dougal Campbell, H. Davis, Henry Haldenby, Anthony Shoemaker, Wm. Roame, Alexander Forsyth, Ira Fulford, John McKague and others whose names the author has not been able to obtain. As an illustration of what the early settlers in Culross passed through, the experience of James Reid is here given. Mr. Reid, being stirred up by a request of the author for an account of his entrance and residence in Culross, wrote a letter in March, 1902, which was published in the Teeswater News. Somewhat abridged, it is here given:

"I landed in Culross about the 13th of September, 1854. There were very few shanties in the township, then an unbroken forest, and I was guided by the surveyor's blaze. The lots were all numbered with a sharp iron on a short post put in the ground. I took up the two lots that I am now on, on the 7th concession. Culross was mostly settled with Scotch, Irish and English, the north-east corner with Germans. The "Big Land Sale" was held on the 27th Sept., 1854. A lot of us left here on Monday morning, the 25th, and got to Southampton on Tuesday afternoon. We found it a little place with about two or three hundred of a population, three hotels, and not much accommodation for such a mass of people; but the weather was all that could be desired. A. McNabb was the Crown Lands Agent. The office was a log building about 16 x 18 feet, with a small window in the back, which was open to permit the buyers to hand in their letters, with 7 10s. enclosed, along with the number of their lots, concession and township. 7 10s. was the first instalment. Owing to the crowd it was almost impossible to get to the office window, so Mr. McNabb got two men to carry in these letters from the people. The two men were John Shennan, from Balaclava, Carrick, and Mr. M. McLean, the postmaster at Walkerton. The crowding still continued so great that Mr. McNabb saw a better plan might be adopted, which was as follows: Two constables, whom he had to keep order, told the people to all move back from the office, then two hours would be given to each township at a time, until all the county was attended to. The work went on well and was finished on Saturday afternoon. It took all the week for the sale of the lots, except some inferior lands in the townships which were sold in after years. When the sale was over the people went to their several townships to put up shanties to prepare for the winter, many of these being put up in October following. The next thing was to get something to live on all winter, and to get roads opened through the forest. In those days flour and pork were very high in price, owing to the Russian War. Flour was $10 per barrel and pork $10 and $11 per hundred lbs. Many of us in Culross carried the first flour we used on our backs 16 or 17 miles, but when the snow came we got a man and oxen to bring what we needed. Then, for work through the winter, you would hear axes going and trees falling, everyone anxious to get the forest cut down and to hew out a home. The timber in those days was of no value. In the fall of 1855 we in Culross had no mail service nearer than Mr. Ritchie's, who kept the post office on the Durham line near Enniskillen, so a few of us met where Teeswater village is now and forwarded an application to the Postmaster-General for mail service, which we soon got, the post-office being named Teeswater after the river. Matthew Hadwin was the first postmaster. In the summer of '55 and '56 some of the settlers had a little crop and a few cattle. Lumber was much needed to put up buildings for what little crop there was and for the cattle. The need was supplied by the late Peter B. Brown, who had taken up lots 14 and 15 on the 6th concession, which forms a part of Teeswater village now. P. B. Brown was an enterprising man. The river crossed the front of his two 'lots, which gave him a fall of about 8 feet of water, so in the summer of 1855 he built a dam and in the fall he put up a sawmill. In the fall of 1856 he put up a grist mill, which was running in the winter of '56 and '57. The settlers were busy with chopping and logging bees, clearing up their farms and putting up log houses, log barns and also some frame buildings. We were a happy people in those days, and all went on well for years. Culross was, and is, famed as a grain-producing township. I have known a yield of fifty bushels of fall wheat per acre and weighing sixty-four lbs. per bushel, and of thirty bushels of spring wheat per acre of sixty-two lbs. per bushel. Being far from market it became quite a task in a stormy winter to get the grain marketed. Clinton, thirty-four miles distant, was the nearest railway station, and it took two days for one trip. Clinton was our market for years. The farmers became very anxious for a nearer market as the quantity of produce increased, so we were well pleased when in the winter of 1869 and '70 Messrs. Laidlaw, Baxter and Dickey came up from Toronto to Teeswater to agitate in a movement for the construction of a narrow gauge railway. Among other things these men made us farmers believe was that we would realize five or six dollars a cord for two foot wood in Toronto. The Company got a bonus of $43,000 from Culross, although only three miles and three-quarters of the road lies within the township, and I think the road was in operation in the year '74, and it ran four or five years. The narrow gauge was not bad in summer, but in a stormy winter it was no good. The little horse was as nothing in a snow drift. One winter it was put in the engine house about the end of January and stayed there until spring. As the narrow gauge could not do the work required, the Company tried to get another bonus to make the road one of standard broad gauge, but failed, and the road passed into the hands of the Canada Pacific Railway Company. Culross and Teeswater have had very good railway accommodation ever since."

As complemental to the foregoing, another interesting narrative of one of the pioneers of Culross, relating his experiences on entering the bush, is here inserted. It has been furnished by Archibald McIntyre, of that township:

"We, the McIntyre family, consisting of mother, we three brothers and three sisters, left Hinchinbrook, Lower Canada, in the spring of 1854, when the last of the Government Lands in the County of Bruce were to be opened up for sale. We took our teams and waggon and some luggage with us, came up the St. Lawrence, and landing in Hamilton off the steamer Arabian, thankful for having passed in safety through a severe storm on the way up. An older sister and her husband, who had come to Upper Canada some years previously, were settled in Oneida Township, twenty-five miles out of Hamilton. My oldest brother and myself left the family and stuff with them and started for the bush. We tramped all the way, via Goderich, Kincardine, Greenock, and into Culross until we struck the Teeswater River. As we liked the timber and soil there we went no further. From an uncle in Greenock we obtained axes, flour and tea, and set about underbrushing on the lots on either side of the 15 side-line, in order to establish a claim to those lots. We did not see the face of a soul after crossing the stream, to us then nameless, but afterwards called Teeswater. We worked a week and under-brushed quite a piece of land. We baked our scones on coals spread over with ashes. I was cook, Alec was fisherman and fared well, but as I never liked fish I had naught but tea with my scones. We slept peacefully on brush, disturbed by neither man nor beast, until the bright June mornings summoned our armed, winged enemies iv begin their stinging attacks. It was beautiful weather, no rain all the time we were at work on our supposed claim. Sufficient under-brushing done, we trudged back to Oneida and worked among the farmers until near the end of September; then we made a final start with our team and folk for a home in Culross. We came by way of the Garafraxa road to Durham, and thence to my uncle's on the Durham line. From Durham to Walkerton we were in constant fear that our horses' limbs would be broken, the crossway road was so bad. However, we got to Greenock in safety, and there we left our belongings until we should prepare a habitation on our lots for their occupancy. We were amazed at the rush of people looking for land at this time. Every lot appeared to be taken. When we got to what we thought were our lots, we found P. B. Brown and a Mr. Ford had shanties put up on them. We could have held on to the lots, having done the first work on them, but gave way in favor of Mr. Brown as he purposed putting up a grist mill, this being such a necessity in the settlement. We took up our stakes and went south to the second and third concessions and there took up the lots 21 and 22 on each concession. We built a good big shanty, and thither we brought our folks. As the horses would be of no use in the bush we sold them in Greenock and bought oxen. Coming in we had to make our own road, cutting underbrush and small trees, and winding around large ones, avoiding marshes and getting around about hills. Our ox team with waggon was the first that forded the Tees-water River at that point, and the only team in the neighborhood until springtime. Provisions were hard to get the first winter. Many a back load was carried miles through the wilderness of woods in those days. To buy boots for myself and Alec I walked to Goderich, a distance of 30 miles, as we could get them no nearer. There were wolves, but we did not see them. Only once did we hear a howling pack of wolves in the settlement. That was one night the second winter we were in. Their yells were hideous, and many a shanty door was barricaded until their sound died away in the distance. The Highlanders were prominent in the first settlement of Culross. McKinnon, McKay, McKenzie, McDonald and many other representatives of the different clans were strongly in evidence; but many of them not being so famous with the axe in the forest as their ancestors were with the broadsword on the battlefield, they gave up and sold their claims to newcomers from the older counties. P. B. Brown's mill was erected as promised, grinding slowly, to be sure, but sufficient to supply local need. Mr. Hadwin began in a small way to bring some commodities to the village for sale, making it our trade centre. Among those who came to our neighborhood and purchased from the first settlers their claims were the Ballaghs, Colvins, McAllisters, McGregors, Caslick, Straths, Marshalls and Allisons; mostly all these bought small farms. It was thus that settlers came in throughout the township, making an excellent community, who observed the Sabbath and also held meetings for worship in private houses until churches and schools were built, the history of which institutions I must leave to an abler pen than mine. Notwithstanding the dangers of the felling of trees, great and small, there were not many accidents and very few fatalities in the township. Marriages were numerous and every household seemed happy, thus laying a good foundation for the advancement and prosperity which Culross now enjoys."

When the union of the townships comprising the county of Bruce [See Appendix F.] was passed the townships of Greenock and Culross were united, for municipal purposes, to form one municipality. This union lasted for two years, George Cromar being reeve during both years. On January 1st, 1856, the union was dissolved, and the township of Culross from that date onward has existed as a separate municipality. The first Council of the township consisted of Peter B. Brown as reeve, Wm. McKenzie, Thomas Maloney, John Gilroy and Alexander Boss as councillors. In a footnote are given the names of those who have filled the office of reeve from 1856 to 1906. [Names of the reeves of Culross: Peter B. Brown, 1856, '57, part of '58, '59; Wm. McKague, part 1858; Thomas Maloney, 1860; Alex. McIntyre, 1861, '62, '63, '64, '66, '67; F. H. Schoals, 1865, '68, '69, part of '70; A. Gibson, part 1870; George McKibbon, 1871, '72, '73, '74; William Scott, 1875 to 1889; Jos. Moir, 1890, '91, '92; Joseph Welwood, 1893, '94, '95, '96; Henry McKay, 1897, '98, '99, 1900, '01, '02; E. C. Kuntz, 1903, '04; Jas. Donaldson, 1905, '06.] Robert Watson was elected clerk and treasurer. In a footnote is a list of the names of his successors in these offices down to the present time. [Robert Watson was elected clerk and treasurer, which offices he filled for three years, when John Logan received the appointment to both offices. In 1862 Thomas Fairbairn was made clerk, which office he filled until 1873, when it passed into the hands of John Marshall, who held it for the next thirteen years. Since then the position has been held by B. E. Little, A. Gibson, George Wilson, and the present township clerk, Charles Button, who has held the office since 1891. The township treasurership was held by John Logan till 1872, then by Wm. Colvin till 1886, then by Samuel Kirkland until his death, in 1893. He was succeeded by Peter Clark, who also held the office until his death, in 1905. John Clark, his son, is now the holder of the office.] The Township Council of Culross has always contained men of ability, and has ever been economical in the trend of its legislation. A marked exception to this characteristic was the submitting, in 1871, to the ratepayers for their vote a by-law granting a bonus of $43,000 [$5,000 of this amount was a sectional bonus raised by that part of the township afterwards incorporated as the village of Teeswater. ] to the Toronto, Grey and Bruce (narrow gauge) Railway. This action was taken from a recognition of the great need of a local market for farm produce, and which could only be secured by the entrance of a railway into the township. This by-law carried. An effort was made on several occasions to have this large indebtedness assumed, in whole or in part, by the county, but on every occasion the County Council voted the proposition down. The township was relieved of part of this liability by the village of Teeswater when it was separated from the township on January 1st, 1875.

The only attempt made to develop a village within the township of Culross that succeeded was in the case of Teeswater. Other villages, such as Belmore and Formosa, are on the boundary of the township, and are not wholly in Culross. Moscow (or Cheviot P.O.) is different, being nearer the heart of the township. Here Paul Ross [Afterwards a mayor of Walkerton.] tried to lay the foundations of a village, having a survey made in the same year, 1856, as Teeswater was surveyed. He early had a sawmill in operation, and in 1868 he had also a grist mill. A tannery, established by Wm. Clark, was one of the industries of the little burg. Mr. Boss made some money on gravel road contracts, and, wishing to live nearer the county town, he in 1869 disposed of his Moscow property to Andrew McLean, who succeeded to the title, "Emperor of Moscow," one that had been humorously bestowed on Mr. Ross. A farewell supper to Mr. Ross, on his leaving Moscow, was given on January 7th, 1870. The Moscow mills were destroyed by fire January 12th, 1880, and with that catastrophe the prospects of a town developing there faded away. The water power at this point is still available, and may some day be utilized to generate electric power.

The large area of lands in the township of Greenock, and to a less extent in Culross, that approach more or less the conditions of swamp lands, which condition would be changed if the Teeswater River were only deepened for a part of its course, has attracted attention for many years. The first survey made to determine the best course to pursue was made in 1868, and is referred to in Chapter XXX. Nothing, however, seems to have been done until about 1902, when the matter again came up. Andrew McLean addressed the County Council, and tried, unsuccessfully, to get that body to take action. The member for South Bruce, R. E. Truax, Esq., about the same time obtained the promise of a grant towards the work from the Provincial Government. The municipal councils of the two townships interested decided to take action in so far as to find out the probable cost, and also benefit of deepening the river, so in the winter of 1902-03, when the river was frozen over, James Warren, C.E., under the direction of the township councils, made the necessary surveys, and drew a profile of the bed of the river from Chepstowe to the eighth concession of Culross. That part of his report referring to the township of Culross is as follows:

"I have made an examination of the Teeswater River from the boundary of Greenock to the 8th concession of Culross, with the view of having the river deepened, and beg to report as follows, viz.:—

"I find that the river runs very dead in a good part of the way, but from the 8th to the 10th concession the fall is enough to give a good current, there are no very great obstacles in the way of deepening the channel, as most of the bottom is mud, or muck, that can be easily removed.

"I would recommend that the channel be deepened 30 inches at the 8th concession bridge, and continued on as shewn on the profile, as prepared. I would have the channel 20 feet wide so as to include the river in low water, and that would also help to keep the channel clear better than if it was wider. The distance from the south boundary of Greenock to the 8th concession of Culross is 9 1/4 miles.

"I would estimate the probable cost of the work at $4,390. The total acreage of the lots affected in whole or in part is 6,714 acres, of which I would place the value at $101,650, and the total benefit of the lands affected at $5,455, and the average cost of the work, counting the whole acreage of the lots affected in whole or in part, would be 65 1/2 cents per acre nearly.

"Taking the scheme as a whole in both the township of Greenock and Culross the work is quite feasible, and would be of great value to the township, as it would thus enable lands to be cultivated that cannot now be cleared up, owing to the river not giving sufficient drainage for surface water. When these lands are once cleared up, they will make excellent grass lands, and would also be good for roots. When the land would become somewhat consolidated the land would yield good crops of grain."

The above report, although it showed that a most desirable improvement that would add wealth to the municipality was perfectly feasible, was not acted upon, and the Teeswater River flows on now as sluggishly as of yore.

Excepting in the rougher lands towards its westerly boundary, there is no township in the county that exhibits greater evidences of the prosperity of its farmers than does Culross. Some of its farmers have obtained a provincial reputation in their several specialties, such as Henry and Peter Arkell for their breed of sheep.

The author would have made this chapter on Culross longer if he could, but after many futile efforts to obtain further facts and data about the settlement and history of the township from those in the township who could supply the local coloring so necessary, he gave it up, and closes the chapter.


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