of the County of Bruce, Ontario, Canada
Village of Paisley
[The village bears the name
of a town in Renfrewshire, Scotland But why the name came to be bestowed
the author has not been able to ascertain.]
In taking up the chapter on
the history of Paisley the author does so with the consciousness that the
chronicles of the village have been ably and well written by Ainsley
Megraw. His work appeared in a special edition of the Paisley Advocate,
February 20th, 1890. The press has written up various places in the county
at different times, but no village or town has been so fortunate as
Paisley in having its history written so fully, systematically and
accurately. The writing of Paisley's history was a labor of love to Mr.
Megraw. Paisley is his native town, and there he had resided up to the
time he compiled his narrative. He had, as it were, breathed in the
history of the village, and was enabled to impart to his narrative the
local coloring which it is vain for a stranger to try to imitate. Mr.
Megraw had also taken great pains to be accurate in his facts. Realizing
all this fully, the author wrote to Mr. Megraw, and also to Mr. D.
McKenzie, the present publisher of the Advocate, requesting permission to
use the material published, as above mentioned. From both gentlemen a
ready and courteous compliance was given. Where in this chapter portions
are taken en bloc from Mr. Megraw's narrative, credit will be given to the
Advocate. In other cases where his account is mixed in with facts the
author has obtained this may not be possible.
In Chapter V. reference is
made to the settlement made at Paisley by its pioneer settlers, Simon
Orchard and Samuel T. Rowe. Although in a measure repeating what was there
said, the author feels that the story of the settlement prepared by Mr.
Rowe, and which was published in the Port Elgin Times, should here appear,
at least in part. Messrs. Orchard and Rowe were among the pioneer settlers
who took up land in 1842 on the Garafraxa Road, in the townships of
Egremont and Normanby. After the opening up of the free grants along the
Durham Road, they learned of the superior quality of the soil in Brant,
and Rowe decided to settle there and start a tavern at the locality
afterwards known as Gaffaney's Corners, but before he reached the place
the land had been taken up by another. Orchard sold his farm in Egremont,
while Rowe rented his on a ten-year lease. During the winter of 1850-51
they teamed their effects to Walkerton, ready for the opening of spring.
About the middle of April, 1851, Mr. Orchard brought his family to
Walkerton. Learning of desirable lands located down the river, he decided
to try his fortune in that direction. With the help of a hired man, he
made a raft of cedar logs. On this he placed his family and household
effects and started, unappalled by the dangers and difficulties that lay
before them, on a voyage down the Saugeen. Mr. Orchard had some
information about the land and the appearance of the locality at the mouth
of Mud River, as it was then called. He said he had had a dream about it,
and if it were like what he saw in the dream he would stay there, and he
wanted to be there first. It turned out, so he found when he arrived, to
be just like what he dreamed about. Mr. Rowe was delayed owing to the
sickness and death of his son, and was unable to start with Mr. Orchard.
He was also further detained for a few days at Walkerton, to be "corner
man" at the putting up of a two-story log house, owned by his cousin, Wm.
Jasper. While there, on the first day of May, a foot of snow fell, but by
night the logs were swept and the building raised. Mr. Rowe engaged
William Walker, W. Jasper, George Neeley and Alex. McIntyre to build two
large rafts and take him down the river. They started on the 9th day of
May, and landed safely at the site of what was afterwards to be known as
the village of Paisley early that afternoon. The two pioneers were well
pleased with the look of the land. Mr. Orchard was satisfied with his
choice on the north side of the river, and so was Mr. Rowe with his on the
south side. Mr. Rowe's hired men returned next day. leaving the two
families with one hired man alone in the forest, miles from the nearest
settler. Mr. Orchard had already erected a good shanty of poles. In three
days after the arrival of Mr. Rowe and family the three men and two women,
with the help of oxen, put up a large shanty for the newly arrived family.
Mr. Orchard then cut logs for a new house. At this time the party of
surveyors under Mr. (afterward Senator) A. Vidal, engaged in the survey of
the township of Saugeen, happened to come along, and helped to raise it.
This building will be remembered as the store that Mr. Samuel Steel
occupied for some time. The winter of 1851-52 was a notably severe one.
Mr. Orchard had four cows and Mr. Rowe fourteen head of cattle to winter
that season, with nothing to feed them on but tree tops. The two settlers
each hired a man to chop all winter. Mr. Rowe hired his man on the 12th of
October. The first snow fell that night. For months it had an average
depth of five feet, and was to be seen in the swamps in the following
June; but the cattle got through well. When the ice began to break up on
the river Mr. Orchard's four cows came down to the river for a drink, as
usual. Standing on the rotten ice, it broke beneath them, and the cows
were never seen again. In the summer of 1852 Mr. Rowe, with the assistance
of hired help, cut the logs and built what was known for years as Rowe's
tavern. Its site was opposite the present Town Hall, and it stood
projecting on the street at an angle thereto. Its measurements were thirty
by twenty-four, with a lean-to for a kitchen, and another lean-to for a
dining-room. The families of the two settlers were separated by the
Teeswater River. To overcome this inconvenience one of the first things
they undertook was to erect a foot-bridge over the stream. Unfortunately,
the next spring freshet washed it away, and for a while they depended upon
a dog, which was trained to swim across and carry small things from one
shanty to the other.
In August, 1851, John
Valentine sent two men to take possession of the mill site which he had
applied for at the Crown Lands Office. One of the men, David Ross [David
Ross was an uncle of the Rev. J. S. Ross, D.D., of the Canadian Methodist
Church, late of Walkerton, and a brother of Wm. Ross, town clerk of
Fergus.] by name, took ill and died during the following month. Owing to
scarcity of lumber in the settlement, some of the boards that formed the
floor in the house of Mr. Rowe had to be used for the coffin, while a
carpenter, James Benson, had to be brought down the river from Walkerton
to make it. Two brothers of the deceased, who resided at Fergus, were able
to be present at the funeral, which was the first in the township of
In the chapter on Elderslie
is to be found the names of those who early took up land at or in the
vicinity of Paisley. One who early became identified with the settlement
was John Megraw. In 1851 he took up a farm lot in the township of Saugeen,
but had the misfortune in the following spring to have his shanty burned
down. John Valentine, who was passing down the river to Southampton,
happened to meet Mr. Megraw, and persuaded him to leave the farm and work
at the building of his dam and sawmill at Paisley. In the fall of that
year Mr. Megraw took up the farm lot on which the railway station at
Paisley now stands, and in the month of October, 1851, installed his
family in a little shanty he had there constructed. The Valentine sawmill
was running in 1852, supplying settlers near at hand, and also for some
distance down the river with lumber required for building purposes. It was
the practice of the last mentioned to raft and float down the river the
lumber they purchased.
Messrs. Rowe and Orchard,
realizing the possibilities for the development of a town on the lands
they had squatted upon, were desirous to secure a patent therefor from the
Crown, and early paid into the hands of the Crown Lands Agent [Lands in
Elderslie were opened for sale, July 30th, 1852. See Appendix J.] the
required amount. But the Department also seemed to have realized it would
be desirable to have a town plot surveyed at the junction of the Saugeen
and Teeswater Rivers; or quite probably there were those who were pulling
the wires of political influence to obtain the lands and hold the same for
speculative purposes. Whatever was the reason, the Crown patent remained
year after year unissued, notwithstanding repeated visits of Mr. Rowe to
the Crown Land Department at Quebec and Toronto. At last the Department
decided to have a town plot there laid out, and in 1856 Francis Kerr,
P.L.S., made the necessary survey. [The survey was made at the time of the
Crimean War. This explains why there is commemorated in the nomenclature
of the streets the battles, and the names of English and French generals
in command in the Crimea. The survey included lands in both the townships
of Elderslie and Greenock, with an acreage of 1,500 acres, consisting of
318½ acres of streets, 137½ mill sites and rivers, and 1,044 acres in town
and park lots. When incorporated the area of the village was reduced about
one half.] The rights of Messrs. Rowe and Orchard were respected, and
patent after patent in their names, issued on September 17th, 1856, for
village and park lots are to be found entered in the books of the Registry
Office. A plan of this survey was lithographed and published, a copy of
this, in the hands of the author, portrays the extent of development
attained by the village in 1856-57. The plan shows but thirty-six
buildings in all, scattered along Queen Street, and thence down Alma
Street to Valentine's mill. In the plan are shown three sawmills, one
grist mill, the school-house and Rowe's tavern, besides unnamed buildings.
There is no bridge over the Saugeen, or Willow Creek, while the bridge
over the Teeswater seems as if it extended from the high bank on the south
side, nearly to Church Street. After leaving the river bank it most
probably was a sort of causeway till higher ground was reached.
The name of Paisley was
given to the village when the post-office was opened, February 1st, 1856.
The first postmaster was Thomas Orchard. He also was the first merchant.
At the time he opened out his stock of goods it was in a room in Rowe's
tavern, but in 1854 he built the first store erected in the village,
occupied subsequently for years by Robert Scott as a flour and feed store.
As time wore on, "Tradesmen and others began to make their appearance in
Paisley, and bit by bit the cluster of little shanties in the small patch
of clearing began to widen out, and the whole to take on the appearance of
a town. Speaking of tradesmen, Mr. Thomas Irving was in those days an
essential part of the community, and when difficulties of a mechanical
nature arose, invariably his aid was sought. His little workhouse on the
bank overlooking Stark's mill was a veritable curiosity shop. It was a
foundry and a watchmaker's shop; everything from a broken-down printing
press to an old gun or a sick watch, was benefited by his treatment. Long
will the memory of his quaint sayings remain, with the younger people
especially (Paisley Advocate). The hum of industry early pervaded the
village. The grist mill built by John Valentine in 1855 was in operation
in 1856. The mill privilege, now known as the Fisher Mill property, was
purchased from S. T. Rowe in 1859, and developed by Mr. David D. Hanna and
milling actively carried on. Industries of various descriptions also
commenced to develop, such as sash and door factories, owned by Joseph
Christie and the Sinclair Brothers. A tannery was started by James Bone, a
blacksmith shop by Joseph Donald, a foundry by James Bradley, who sold out
in 1870 to Laid-law & Robinson; a brickyard, by Wm. Anstead. Various other
trades and professions also began to be represented, so that by the time
ten years or so had passed Paisley presented all the appearance of a
thriving little village. It was in 1859 that the author paid his first
visit to Paisley, to be present at the opening of St. Andrew's Church.
Willie Bain, a youth of his own age, showed him over the place. The
impressions which he can now recall refer principally to the soiree at the
church; the stores of Thomas Orchard and Richard Dick, which seemed small;
Valentine's mill; the scattered appearance of the buildings, and
Sergison's hotel, where he put up. The fire in the wide brick fireplace in
the bar-room, piled high with four-foot logs, gave out a most welcome
warmth after a long sleigh ride from Kincardine. One looks in vain for
such a cheery wood fire in the now almost deforested county of Bruce.
The narrative of the
schools must be given in Mr. Megraw's own words: "At a public meeting held
on the 5th of September, 1856, steps were taken for the organization of a
school under the provisions of the Upper Canada Consolidated School Act.
At this meeting Thomas Orchard, William McBride and John A. Murdoch were
elected trustees, and after a little sparring as to the school site, they
decided that the building which they purposed erecting should be built on
the centre of lot 11, concession A, and that it be of flatted logs twenty
by twenty-four feet inside. Tenders were called for the job, and it was
let to John McDonald for $120. Miss Stewart was offered the position of
teacher at £50 per annum, on condition that she provide herself with a
legal certificate, which offer she accepted. The first levy made to cover
school purposes was that of £84. Miss Stewart's teaching in the public
school began in January, 1857, and she taught two years. She was succeeded
by Duff McDonald, who only taught a week or so in the beginning of 1859,
and then came Daniel Duff (afterwards the Rev. Mr. Duff, of Malcolm), who
taught for one year and nine months, viz., 1859 and part of 1860. Fleming
May put in the balance of that year and the next.
"With the beginning of 1862
came Mr. James Saunders, who was engaged to teach the school for that year
for £87. In the beginning of 1863 part of School Section No. 8, Greenock,
was added to the Paisley section, and Mr. Saunders' salary was increased
to $380, owing to the extra labor put upon him in teaching and keeping in
order the big boys from the gore of Greenock. The interior of that old
school is now quite distinct in our memory. It sat about twenty feet or so
to the east of the "Old Brick," which is still standing near the station
yard. The door was in the east end, facing the road. The teacher's desk
was in the opposite end. To the left of this desk three long pine desks
with benches in rear, ran the full length of the school, with the
exception of about two feet at each end to enable the boys to get behind.
To the right, in the south-west corner, was a map case, with all the maps
in creation attached to rollers encased in a handsome stained and
varnished case, which was attached to the wall by large wooden pins fixed
in auger holes in about the sixth or seventh log above the floor. From
this frame were a lot of strings with little wooden knots on the end, and
by a skilful and mysterious manipulation of these Mr. Saunders could bring
out any map he wantedIreland, Scotland or the Fiji Islandsand we little
folks thought he was a regular wizard. About twelve or fourteen desks
about eight or nine feet long, arranged one behind the other, filled up
the balance of the space on the right. On the last of these all the big
fellows with whiskers sat.
This left a space down the
centre about eight feet wide from end to end, and in the centre of this
the classes stood. Towards the end of its term the old school began to get
demoralized. A big hole in the floor corresponded with another in the
foundation, and by a subterranean passage the boys occasionally made
surreptitious expeditions to the outer world. One time the boys took a
craze for firing off gunpowder, and any little tube, whether wood, iron or
brass, that could be got was used for shooting. One charge was fixed in a
chink of the school, the muzzle pointing inward, when a boy was detailed
off to ask out, and when outside fire off the shot. The gunner on that
occasion, if we remember right, is now Rev. J. Hay, pastor of the
Presbyterian Church at Renfrew. This old log school is now (1890) a stable
on Mr. Elijah Welsford's farm.
"In June, 1866, the
contract was let for building a new brick school. In July, 1867, a very
rainy Monday, it was opened. Soon an assistant teacher, Miss Lucy McLellan,
was put in the school, and she was succeeded in 1868 by Miss Mcintosh, who
taught for five years. Mr. Saunders was principal until July, 1869, when
he was succeeded by Mr. T. J. Bell. Mr. Saunders was kind-hearted and
frank with his pupils, and the writer will never forget him. True, he had
a little whip with a handle about eleven inches long, and a leather lace
for a lash about eighteen inches long, with a knot on the end, but it was
wielded with mercy, for
"'He was kind, and if severe
The love he bore to learning was in fault."
"With Mr. Bell's advent, we
remember, began the work of logging and cleaning up the ground lying
between the school and where the present railway station is, for a cricket
field. Mr. Bell himself was a finished cricketer. The boys took kindly to
the game, and under his coaching, with practice morning, noon and night,
two years served to develop a team of youngsters that could do Walkerton
men up in an innings. About the time that Mr. Bell took the school the
Education Department had issued a limit table, and for the first time a
fair attempt was made to observe it, but when we consider that the old
style in vogue before that was to teach reading and spelling; as the main
things, and advance from form to form as the pupils became proficient in
these, independent of how much or how little they knew of other studies,
we can easily see how unpopular a movement for grading would be to one who
was in the Fifth Book and could not do short division, perhaps not know
the multiplication table up to twelve times. There was, however, a general
turning back and a considerable amount of howling, but as more stress was
put on arithmetic and other studies that, according to the limit table,
they were most behind in, the matter began to adjust itself.
"The temptation is strong
to devote a few paragraphs to the boys of the 'Old Brick' who wielded the
cricket bat in summer time and did battle with the shinnies when winter
came. There were the McBride boys, the Shaws, Malcolm and Dan; the Scotts,
the Vances, the McDonalds, the Mahers, the Stodders, Jack Reid, Jim
Fitzpatrick, Jack Urquhart, George Nicol, Will McCalder, Bob McGavin, and
who not? There was Jack McCool, [The present Inspector of Public Schools
in East Bruce.] too, a raw boy from the Emerald Isle, who had a hard road
to hoe when he first came to the school, but, full of pluck from top to
bottom, he fought (not metaphorically, but literally) his way into the
heart of his quondam persecutors. Mr. Bell taught until the end of 1873.
During his time the attendance had increased to such an extent that the
trustees had to grapple with the question of more school accommodation.
Accordingly, early in January, 1872, the trustees decided to call a
meeting of the ratepayers to take into consideration the selection of a
site for a new school, and as a result of that meeting the present site
was selected, the old site to be sold for what the trustees could make it
bring. Mr. B. Mills was appointed to draw out the plan, and in June the
contract was let to Sinclair & Blackburn for $4,600. With a new school the
Board seemed to think that everything else should be new as well, and
proceeded to obtain a new staff. Thus Mr. Bell, who had conducted the
school with signal success for three years and a half, was allowed, like
Moses, to have a glimpse of the promised land (the new school-house), but
was not allowed to enter therein. There was engaged for the new school J.
C. Elliot, principal; Anson G. Anderson and Miss Maggie Adair, assistants.
The principal was very lame, and he had an old horse called Paddy, which
drew him around. In fact, the impression was general that they were two
old plugs together, so next year the Board dispensed with the service of
one, and were deprived of the services of the other. Next year an
improvement was made by securing Mr. Hugh McKellar as principal, and the
first assistant that year is now the Rev. Dr. McTavish, of Toronto. Mr.
McKellar was a very successful teacher, and a very superior man. He taught
during 1874, 1875 and 1876, after which Mr. Donald McIntyre came and put
in a year. Mr. McKee taught in 1878 and 1879; Mr. Ming taught in 1880.
During the winter of 1881 he was taken ill. After a month or so of sick
leave absence he returned and resumed work, but died shortly afterwards
from bleeding of the lungs. His place was taken by Mr. John McBride, who
finished out the year 1881. Mr. E. Munro taught during 1882, 1883, 1884,
1885 and 1886, and Mr. John Keith from 1885 to 1892. There have also been
many very excellent teachers among the assistants, both male and female.
"During the summer of 1888
it was found necessary to build an addition to the schoolhouse, by which
all the rooms in the old building were made considerably larger and more
convenient, and two new rooms were added."Paisley Advocate.
Following Mr. Keith, the
principals have been G. F. Morrison, John Taylor, W. I. Chisholm, J. E.
Hodgson, E. W. Dickenson, and, in 1905-06, E. T. Fuller. The
last-mentioned has six assistants; five of the teaching staff attend to
the regular public school work, and the two others to the continuation
The opening of the
post-office in 1856 was concurrent with the establishing of the mail route
between Elora and Southampton. The service was tri-weekly, and the first
mail carrier was one John Lyons. Just how long the tri-weekly service
lasted the author cannot say, but some time in the sixties it became a
daily one. This improved communication was followed in 1869 by the
entrance of the Montreal Telegraph Company, which established an office in
that year in the village.
The route followed by
travel and commerce for twenty years after its settlement, between Paisley
and the wide world beyond, was during the season of navigation principally
by way of Southampton, thence by steamboat to Goderich. After navigation
closed there was nothing for it but to drive a distance of about eighty
miles to Guelph to reach the railway there. Enduring such disadvantages
for so long a time, it is easy to imagine with what pleasure the villagers
viewed the construction of the railway, and how heartily they cheered when
the first locomotive came in on June 7th, 1872. The road was opened for
freight and passengers on August 28th following.
With railway communication
established, the village grew as never before. Instead of witnessing the
passing along its main street of strings of sleighs conveying grain to be
marketed at Southampton, Paisley now could offer as good a market, with
the added advantage of a shorter haul; and, as farmers purchase their
supplies as a rule where they sell their produce, every tradesman and
merchant prospered in consequence. As can readily be supposed, the
population increased, and this led to steps being taken to have the
village incorporated. A census showed that there was 1,038 inhabitants in
the village, being in excess of the required number. On a petition for
incorporation being presented to the County Council, a by-law was passed,
June 7th, 1873, incorporating the village and directing that the municipal
election be held at Graham's Hotel, and that Edward Saunders be the
returning officer. At the election held January 5th, 1874, the following
were the successful candidates: James Saunders, reeve; [The following are
the names of those who have been elected reeves of the village down to
1906 : James Saunders, 1874, '75, '76, '77, '78, '79, '80, '82; I. E.
Fenton, 1881; D. J. Bain, 1883, '84, '85, '89, '90; B. Porteous, 1886,
'87, '88; S. McArton, M.D., 1891, '92, '93, '94, '95; Archibald Fisher,
1896, 1901; W. H. McFarlane, 1897; S. J. Robb, 1898, 1899, 1900; Wm. Rusk,
1902; W. W. Hogg, 1903; James H. Steele, 1904, '05; I. Shoemaker, 1906.
The following are those who
have filled the municipal offices of village clerk and treasurer : As
clerkE. Saunders, D. James Bain, S. Shannon, J. Claxton, Neil MacKechnie
and J. G. Gibson. As treasurerE. Saunders, Dr. P. McLaren, and George
Duncan Fisher, Alex.
Colborne, Wm. M. Smith and Robert Porteous, councillors. The Council
appointed Edward Saunders to the joint offices of clerk and treasurer. The
village was divided into two polling subdivisions in 1876. The first
election under this arrangement took place at the following municipal
election. It was in the fall of 1876 that the present Town Hall was built.
The Village Council held its first meeting therein on March 20th, 1877.
December 15th, 1887, witnessed the installing in the village of an
excellent system of waterworks for fire protection, the cost of which was
$6,500. This has had the effect of reducing the premiums on fire insurance
to a marked extent. Prior to this the town was without any means to fight
a serious fire, and met with some heavy losses in consequence, such as J.
A. Murdoch's woollen mill in 1871 and Stark's mill in 1884. In a footnote
are given a list of debentures issued by the village since the time of its
[Footnote: List of
debentures issued by the village of Paisley : $2,050, for schools, April
14th, 1885 ; $5,500, for waterworks, December 15th, 1887 ; $1,800, for
schools, June 13th, 1888 ; $1,000, for waterworks, December 15th, 1888 ;
$14,000, loan to Carpet Factory, July 8th, 1901; and the following for
granolithic sidewalks: $2,400 in 1903, $1,940 and $1,882 in 1904, and
$1,060 in 1905.
The cost of the public
school building erected in 1872 was paid for by a debenture amounting to
$5,000, issued by the township of Elderslie, but provided for by the
Paisley School Section, and is properly to be included among the debenture
issue of Paisley.]
The first minister to hold
a public religious service in Paisley was the Rev. James Hutchinson; this
was in 1853. The place where the service was held was Rowe's tavern. The
first church erected in Paisley was St. Andrew's, built by the
Presbyterian congregation in connection with the Church of Scotland. The
church was opened in the winter of 1859. The Presbyterians in the
settlement had services held by. representatives of both the "Auld Kirk"
and the "Free" before a congregation of either church was organized. The
date when St. Andrew's congregation was organized the author cannot give,
but in 1856 the Rev. Kenneth McLennan was inducted as its minister, the
first settled minister in the village. Here we would let Mr. Megraw speak:
"Rev. Mr. McLennan was a man of robust constitution, and with a readiness
to adapt himself to circumstances, and make the most of his surroundings.
Mr. McLennan was well suited to the arduous task which he set himself to
perform. In Valentine's mill services were held while the little white
church was being erected on the hill, and while he preached the gospel on
Sundays, he was ready through the week to lend a hand in the building.
This church and its location gave the name to our present Church Street,
and in the olden days no more harmonious flock could well be found than
that which wended its way every Sunday up to this little church door. With
it some of the writer's earliest memories are associated. Among Mr.
McLennan's flock there were none who were stauncher friends than the gore
of Greenock contingent, consisting of James Mair, the Brockie family, the
Lambs, the Davies, Ledgerwoods, and Messrs. Leask and Megraw. George
Brockie led the Psalms and took an active part in the work of the
congregation. There was also a considerable part of the congregation from
Gillies' Hill. At a soiree held in the old log schoolhouse Mr. McLennan,
in the course of a humorous speech, had the misfortune to give expression
to some remarks that gave mortal offence to the Highland part of the
congregation., The words used paid a high compliment to their love of
music, but reflected rather seriously upon both their valor and their
industry, and as a result some thirty of them left the congregation, and
most of these drifted into the Baptist denomination, then in considerable
strength in West Arran. Mr. McLennan left early in the sixties, and the
congregation got along with supplies for a few years until Mr. McLean, a
divinity student from Kingston, preached for a summer, and was given a
call when he completed his studies. This was about 1866. During his
pastorate the congregation made good progress, and a good feeling existed.
He left in 1871, and was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Gordon in 1873. Then the
question of union forced itself on the attention, and a section of the
congregation held out against. The unionists had to take themselves off to
Knox Church, and the remnant being unable to support a minister, an
interval of about eight years ensued, broken only by occasional spells of
service, and during a great part of this time certain properties were in
litigation. In 1884 Rev. Mr. Duncan resuscitated the congregation,
collected funds for the building of a handsome new church on the bank of
the Saugeen, at the corner of Water and Albert streets, and accepted a
call as its pastor. Loss of health compelled him to give up the charge in
1888, and he was succeeded by Rev. John Gillies, who remained as pastor
until 1891. Efforts made to maintain the entity of the congregation
failed, and gradually the members united to Knox Church.
"The first stage of the
history of Knox Church in Paisley was that of St. Andrew's as well, viz.,
visits from Mr. McNaughton. of Southampton, and others. Mr. McNaughton
preached in Mr. Rowe's tavern in 1855. His pulpit was a little washstand,
and his hearers sat around on whiskey barrels, beer kegs and whatever else
they could find handy. Mr. McMorran led the psalmody, and as the strains
of 'Old Hundred,' 'Martyrdom,' and other old, familiar tunes floated out
upon the air and died away among the tall, waving trees, there were some
of the listeners whose thoughts, no doubt, were carried away to former
days among heathery hills. Mr. McMullen, a student from Knox Church, and
Mr. McDonald, of Seaforth, were the next who preached to them, and these
services were held in the old log schoolhouse. Mr. Blount preached in the
summer of 1858; he was afterwards drowned on his way to the Old Country.
The date of organization cannot be fastened on, but it occurred in the old
log schoolhouse, most likely in 1858, possibly in '57. Dr. Scott, of
London, dispensed the sacrament. Mr. Bremner came in 1859, was ordained in
1860, and the first entry in the sessions books is by his hand in February
of that year, the minute showing previous organization. The elders, at
their first meeting of session with a placed minister as moderator, were
John Ewing, Malcolm Campbell and John Rusk, and to these at the next
meeting in May, 1860, were added James Rankin, William McBride and Donald
McIntyre, Sr. The first church which the congregation erected was of
frame, that was moved away to make room for the present structure, which
was built in 1875. The old frame is now standing on the corner of Queen
and Alma Streets, as a dwelling, and as it has sometimes sheltered two or
three families at once, it has been somewhat irreverently called 'The
"Mr. Bremner remained from
1860 to 1870; Mr. Straith, from May, 1871, to October, 1882; Mr. Greig,
from December, 1883, to October, 1886, and the present pastor, Rev. J.
Johnston, has been in charge since February 1888, and has the honor of
being the senior minister of the place, the occupants of the pulpits of
all the other churches in town having come since that date."Paisley
The Methodist Church
furnished the first minister to preach at Paisley, but it was not the
first to be supplied with a regular pastor. It was in 1857 that the Rev.
James A. Iveson came to the village as the first minister of the Wesleyan
Methodist Church. He remained there during that and the following year as
well. During 1859, 1860 and 1861 the congregation was united with that at
Southampton, and ministerial services were supplied from there. The Rev.
George Jacques was settled at Paisley in 1862, and since then there has
been a continuous succession of pastors in the usual itinerary of the
church. At first, church services were held in the old log school-house.
In 1875 (following the union of the various Methodist bodies) Paisley
ceased to be a mission, and became a self-sustaining circuit. The New
Connexion Methodists established a mission at Paisley, 1861, the Rev.
Thomas Fox being the minister in charge. He was succeeded by the Rev.
Joseph Rawson the following year, and he again by the Rev. S. F. Depew;
the mission was closed in 1870.
The first Church of England
service held in the village was in 1855, the Rev. J. P. Hodge officiating.
In 1859 a congregation was organized, when Bishop Cronyn preached, the St.
Andrew's congregation having given the use of their church for this
service. A pretty brick church was built in 1864, known as the Church of
the Ascension, largely through the efforts of the Rev. R. S. Cooper, the
cost of which was about $1,500.
The Baptists at first held
services in Sergison's Hall, which was conducted by the Rev. Neil
Sinclair. In 1862 a church was built on the Elora Road; the locality being
found unsuitable, in 1869 a brick church was erected in the village, and
some twenty years later a manse.
The fact that four streams
meet at or in the vicinity of Paisley made the question of bridges one of
importance from the date when the two lone families of settlers
experienced the inconveniences arising from being separated by the waters
of the Teeswater River. The first bridge over this stream was built by
Simon Orchard, in 1851. Rae's bridge over the Saugeen River was in course
of construction at the time the settlers were going to Southampton to
attend the "big land sale" in 1854. The Goldie Street bridge was built,
Simon Orchard being the contractor, in 1859. All of these bridges have
been replaced by fine steel structures built in the following mentioned
years. The present two-span steel bridge over the Teeswater was opened for
traffic in the first week of January, 1895; Rae's bridge in 1893, and the
Goldie Street bridge in 1891. Before the first, bridge over the Saugeen
was built scows were used to transport the traffic. These were also used
in times of freshet.[An account of Wm. Sergison was presented to the
County Council, June, 1862, for ferrying travellers and passengers across
the river flats at Paisley during the spring freshets of that year, for a
period of six days and nights.] Freshets of almost annual occur-rence have
at times wrought considerable damage to property in Paisley.' It is said
that after the freshet of 1870 nearly every house north of the Teeswater
had its foundation raised, so that inconvenience from this source might be
avoided at next high flood.
The Saugeen has not been
looked upon as a navigable stream, but it remained for a citizen of
Paisley to prove the contrary. In the summer of 1879 D. Hanna built a
flat-bottomed steamer, which he named the Waterwitch. Its dimensions were:
Length, 40 feet, with a beam of 8 feet. The engine used was one of only
six horsepower. Nevertheless it was powerful enough to give the craft a
good headway against the pretty strong current. During Fall Exhibition
week of that year Mr. Hanna did a rushing excursion business, as everybody
wanted a cruise on the little steamer. In 1880 and again in the following
year the Waterwitch steamed up the river to Walkerton, taking thirteen
hours to go up the river, but returning in four hours. In 1883 Messrs.
McLean Brother's, of the Sauble Falls Mills, purchased the vessel,' and
conveyed it on sleighs to Boat Lake. Its further history is given in
Wonder has sometimes been
expressed that Paisley, with the Saugeen River flowing through it ready to
be harnessed and give out its potential powers, has not developed
manufacturing industries to a greater extent than has been. The Teeswater
has two dams across it at Paisley. Why one across the Saugeen has not been
constructed is not for the author to say.
Paisley made a mistake in
the only loan it has made toward the encouraging and establishing of
manufactures in the village. In 1902 a loan of $14,000 was made to George
A. Burrows to help him to build a carpet factory. The factory was built
and run for a while, but closed down long before the first instalment
toward the repayment of the loan was due.
The press has been
represented in the village since February 17th, 1865, the date of the
first issue of the Paisley Advocate. The first publisher was Richard
Goldie. He retained possession of the paper for four years, selling out to
James M. Bishop. In August, 1872, the paper passed into the hands of John
A. Murdoch, an able writer, who published the paper until the fall of
1876. For a very short time it was in the hands of Mr. E. Saunders, who
passed it over to M. A. Clark, and he to John Collie, and the latter to
James R. Aitcheson. On the 1st of May, 1885, Ainsley Megraw purchased the
paper, and proved himself to be a well-qualified journalist. He continued
as the editor and publisher for about eight years. The Advocate is now
issued by D. McKenzie, who maintains a standard worthy of emulating by
publishers of local newspapers.
The Canadian Bank of
Commerce opened a branch at Paisley in 1875. The amount of business
secured did not warrant the bank in continuing the agency, which was
closed in 1877. This want of success is said to have arisen from faults in
the manner of the agent. Following the closing of the chartered bank,
Robert Porteous opened a private bank. For some years Edward Saunders was
in partnership with him in this business, which was continued until Mr.
Porteous' death in 1896. The Western Bank of Canada established a branch
at Paisley in October, 1886, with C. L. Rennie as agent. He was succeeded
by F. Biette, and he by the present popular agent, S. M. Hutcheson.
Ever since September, 1861,
Dr. P. McLaren has been a resident of Paisley, and has practised his
profession there for a far longer period than any other one who has sought
to cure the ills and sicknesses of the community. The first doctor to
reside in Paisley was Dr. Crawford. His daughter, Miss Isabelle Valancey
Crawford, achieved a merited reputation as an authoress in Canadian
literature. Of other medical men long resident in Paisley the names of Dr.
John Baird and Dr. S. McArton will come to the memory of the older
The legal profession has
never been largely represented at Paisley. In the early days of the
county, conveyancers who undertook to draw out deeds, agreements, etc.,
were found in every village and hamlet, Paisley being no exception. The
work done by these conveyancers cut seriously into the business of the
regular legal practitioners. George W. Malloch, who came to Paisley in
1865, was for many years the only lawyer in the village. His practice
there extended over some twenty-eight years. Hector Cowan, since 1885,
when he settled in Paisley, has possessed the leading legal practice of
Space will not permit the
author to refer to all of those who have done their part in the
development of Paisley, while some who deserve an extended notice are but
briefly referred to. John Valentine, James Stark and Duncan Fisher are
names that should be remembered in this connection, for the industries
they carried on have helped to make Paisley what it is to-day, a village
that possesses as much wealth for its size as any to be found in the
county of Bruce.
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