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


[The township derives its name from one of the titles of Lord Elgin, the Governor-General at the time the township was surveyed. Among his many titles was that of Baron Bruce, of Kinloss.]

Extract from the Report of County Valuators, 1901.

"This township runs largely to extremes, some portions being extra good, while other portions are very hilly and swampy. Interspersed with small lakes and being well watered, it is well calculated for mixed farming. No scarcity of timber in this township and the roads are excellent, gravel being plentiful. Portions of Kinloss are greatly improved since the last valuation. The rate per acre is $31.15, including village property, which equals $1.78 per acre for the whole township.''

As pointed out in Chapter II. the first lands within the county surveyed into farm lots were those on the first concession of Kinloss. This survey was made in 1847 by Alex. Wilkinson, P.L.S. Two years later, in 1849, the Durham Road and the adjacent "Free Grant" lots were surveyed by A. P. Brough, P.L.S. [Mr. Brough, in his report, gives the Indian names of the two lakes near the Black Horse, now called Silver Lakes ; translated, the names are Otter and Mud Turtle Lake respectively, for the north and south lake.] Three years after this, in 1852, the residue of the township was surveyed by E. E. Jones, P.L.S.

The "Free Grant" lands were opened for settlement in June, 1849, and Ranges Three, North, and South, of the Durham Road, were offered for sale at the same time. The remaining portion of the township came into the market at the "big" land sale, [See Appendix K.] held September 27th, 1854. The price at which the lots on the first concession were soldóit being classed as School landsówas ten shillings ($2.00) per acre. Concessions 2 to 12 are Crown lands, and the price at which they were sold was seven shillings and six pence ($1.50) per acre.

The first settlers in the township settled on the "Free Grants" in 1850. Among them were Joel Eli Stauffer, John and Wm. Shelton, Thomas Hodgins and Mankin Meredith. These pioneers of the township deserve credit for having located on lands that were far from a base of supplies, Kincardine being the nearest point at which purchases of provisions and other needed articles could be made. During the summer and fall of 1851 most of the settlers were able to earn a little money by working at the government job of opening the Durham Road, either as contractors or as axemen. [Particulars of the Kinloss, Durham Road contracts, let July 11th, 1851: Samuel Colwell, to chop out road in front of lots 1 to 4, at rate of £22 per mile and 10s. per rod for causewaying. J. Eli Stauffer, to chop out road in front of lots 5 to 8, at rate of £22 per mile, and 12s. 6d. per rod for causewaying. John Smith, to chop out road in front of lots 9 to 12, at rate of £24 per mile, and 8s. 9d. per rod for causewaying. Mankin Meredith, to chop out road in front of lots 13 to town line, at rate of £24 per mile. The total amount of all these contracts was £155 2s. 6d. On completion of the work payment was made October 28th and December 13th, 1851.] This public work was indeed a fortunate thing for these early settlers, as it performed the double purposes of providing them with a road and also with supplying them with much-needed cash. A tedious delay occurred in opening the other main roads in Kinloss. The tenth side-road from Lucknow to the Black Horse was opened, under the direction of David Gibson, P.L.S., by the Bureau of Agriculture in 1858, [In 1854 the United Counties Council gave a grant of £50 to open this road, an offer having been received from Thos. Hodgins and others to give a roadway through their lands to avoid Silver Lake. The expenditure of this grant seems to have been the extent of work done on this road prior to letting of the Government contracts in 1858.] which also in 1859-60 opened the county boundary line between Bruce and Huron. The lack of roads in the early days had a decided retarding effect upon the development of the township. The first to take up land and settle in the southern part of the township are said to have been Norman Nicholson, Duncan and Alexander McKenzie, Martin McInnes, John McDonald, R. Gollan, William, David and James Henderson, Wm. Bryce, Peter Reid, James, John, Thomas and David Falconer, Wm. and J. Tiffin, Andrew McManus. All of these and others also had squatted on their lots before they were opened for sale. The year of the "big" land sale witnessed a great inflow of settlers, who took up the choicest of the remaining lots. Among those who came there about this time may be mentioned Alex. Graham, Thomas Harris, [Thomas Harris' name appears elsewhere in this History in connection with the settlement of Kincardine and also with Ripley post-office. He was for some time the only Justice of the Peace in Kinloss.] Robert Purves, [Robert Purves was one of the prominent men of Bruce for many years. A native of Berwickshire, he came to Canada in 1850, at the age of eighteen, and settled in the township of Wawanosh. In 1854 he took up the farm lots in the first concession of Kinloss, on which he lived during the remainder of his life. In 1865 Mr. Purves was elected reeve of Kinloss, an office held, excepting during the year 1868, until the end of 1883. After a retirement from municipal honors, he again, during the years 1893, '94, '95, was elected as the chief officer of the township. The County Council also elected him as warden of the county three times in succession, for the years 1880, '81, '82. The repeated municipal honors bestowed on Mr. Purves emphasized the appreciation in which he was held as a man of sound judgment and prudence. His death occurred July 20th, 1902.] S. A. Ferrie, Patrick, John and Peter Corrigan.

In 1852 Kinloss, in common with the other townships in the county was united to the township of Kincardine for municipal purposes. At the session of the United Council held June, 1854, a petition from the ratepayers of Kinloss was. presented asking that; that township be made a separate municipality. The report of the special committee appointed to consider the petition is here given, as being a reliable statement showing the development of the township at that date. It is as follows: "Our committee cannot recommend that the prayer of the petition of Mankin Meredith and others be granted. The assessment of this township is the least of any in the counties, save one, it being only £1,170, and the expense of a reeve sent from said township would be equal to two pence farthing in the pound on the gross assessment for the year 1853, upon which assessment your Council are now obliged to base their taxations for . the purpose of raising funds which may be available up to 1855. Further, that we had no reliable document before us upon which to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion that this township has the number of names on its assessment roll which are requisite to enable it to obtain a set-off." At the September session following, the question of municipal separation came up again, and on the casting vote of the warden the. prayer of the petition was granted and the necessary by-law passed. The by-law appointed Wm. Shelton as returning officer, and directed that "the election be holden at the house of Wm. Meredith on the sixth concession." The Council elected were: Boyer Paul, Murdoch McKenzie, Murdoch McDonald, Thomas Harris and Wm. Shelton. This Council elected Boyer Paul [Boyer Paul had negro blood in his veins. On his presenting his certificate of election as reeve of Kinloss at the first meeting of the United Counties Council at Goderich, some members took objection to his taking his seat at the council on account of his color, holding that he was non-eligible, and expressed curiosity to know if the majority of the electors in Kinloss were colored. After some discussion he was allowed to take his seat.] as reeve, [List giving the names of the reeves of the township of Kinloss from 1855 to 1906 : Boyer Paul, 1855; John Purvis, 1856 to 1863; Malcolm Campbell, part 1864, 1868; Chester Chapman, part of 1864; Robert Purves, 1865, '66, '67, '69, 1870 to 1883, 1893; James Grant, 1884 to 1891; George Mcintosh, 1892; Alex. Nicholson, 1896; J. Johnston, 1897, '98; G. Moffatt, 1899; Frank Henry, 1900 to 1904; Dan. McDonald, 1905, '06.] and appointed as its clerk Wm. Herndon. He held the office for only one year, when he was succeeded in the clerkship by Peter Reid, [Peter Reid was a native of Glasgow, where he was born in 1819. He settled in Kinloss in 1854, where he followed farming. His family had the pleasure of celebrating the golden wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Reid two years before his death, which occurred in 1900.] who faithfully performed his duties for forty-four years, namely, from 1856 to 1899 inclusive. The office of the township treasurer was held during the first nine years of the municipality by the following: Thomas Hodgins, 1856; Peter Reid, 1857; Murdoch McKenzie, 1858-62, and John McRae for part of 1863. On the 19th October, 1863, Peter Corrigan was appointed the township treasurer, and has held the office ever since to the satisfaction of all.

The lot of the pioneers of Kinloss had certain features which added to the usual hardships that faced a backwoods settler. Being located far back in the bush they had to make long journeys to obtain the most ordinary necessaries. Then the almost total absence of water privileges large enough to drive a good grist mill was a drawback, so that until the grist mill at Lucknow was running in 1859, a trip to Walkerton, Kincardine or Dungannon was necessary whenever a few bags of wheat had to be ground. Sawmills were in operation in Kinloss as early as 1854. The first one built was erected by J. Eli Stauffer at the "Black Horse." It was at this point in the township that the first effort was made to develop a village, which began to form around the post-office, known as "Kinloss," which was opened in 1853-4, with Thomas Hodgins as the postmaster. To him also belongs the credit of having opened the first store there. About the same time, in 1854-5, a tavern was opened by Wm. Shelton. This was called the "Black Horse," a name that was extended until it became that by which the village was and has continued to be known. The first school in the township was also opened at this point. The house put up for its use was, as were most of those at this time, only a log one. The earliest public religious services in the township were held here, the first of which was conducted by the Rev. Thomas Hadwin, a Methodist minister, at the house of Mr. Thomas Hodgins. After the school-house was built these services were held in it, and then, at a later date, in the Orange Hall. About 1857, Presbyterian church services were held, the Rev. Walter Inglis, of Riversdale, officiating. He succeeded in forming the nucleus of the congregation now known as that of North Kinloss. His successor was the Rev. A. G. Forbes. In 1874 a brick church was built by the united efforts of the Presbyterians and the Methodists, still in use by the latter denomination. The Silver Lakes, situated close to the Black Horse, have attracted to them for a number of years parties of campers-out and picnickers from Lucknow, Kincardine and Walkerton. Certainly as long as the groves on their banks are preserved these parties are likely to seek recreation at this delightfully picturesque spot.

Kinlough, two miles and a half south of Kinloss P. O., is the larger village of the two. It began to take form in 1857, when John Scott opened a store there. Shortly afterwards Simon Corrigan helped to centralize business there by starting a sawmill and also an hotel. On a post-office being established in 1864 he was appointed postmaster. The village at present boasts of a handsome school-house, lately erected, and three churches, a Presbyterian, a Methodist and a Church of England.

Holyrood is situated two miles and a half south of Kinlough. Its post-office was opened August 1st, 1856, William McKenzie being the first to have charge of it. Here a large sawmill was built in 1864 and successfully operated for many years. The Roman Catholic congregation at this place was organized about 1870. They built a neat frame church, in which services are now conducted by the priest from Teeswater.

The township of Kinloss has been singularly free of indebtedness. The only debentures issued by the municipality were for drainage purposes, in 1882. They amounted to only $1,946, and were paid in ten years.

At the time (1871) the railways were seeking bonuses to construct lines through the southern part of the county to Kincardine, the people of Kinloss were urged to give a bonus by each of the two railway companies, namely, the narrow gauge from Teeswater or the wide gauge from Listowel, which ultimately was constructed. A meeting was held (July, 1871) at the Black Horse at which a resolution was passed asking the Township Council to submit a by-law to grant a bonus of $15,000 to the road from Teeswater. This the Township Council refused to do. Ultimately the township assumed its share (according to equalized assessment) of the $51,000 sectional bonus given to the Southern Extension Railroad by the townships of Huron, Kincardine and Kinloss. When Lucknow became separated from Kinloss in 1874 it assumed an annual payment of $130 as its share of the obligation of the township.

This chapter may fittingly be closed by relating the history of the South Kinloss Presbyterian Church, as given to the author by its pastor, the Rev. F. A. MacLennan:

"Early in the fifties this district was thickly settled by immigrants, mostly from the north of Scotland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, nearly all of whom were Gaelic-speaking Presbyterians.

"In 1856 they built a log church on the east side of the gravel road, about half a mile north of the present church building. About that time the congregation held its first communion services in the bush close to the log church, two ministerial members of the Presbytery of London officiating. The late Mr. Hugh Rutherford, of St. Helens (who had been ordained in Scotland before coming to Canada), was the only elder present to officiate on the occasion. It seems that there was not an ordained Free Church elder in the whole district from Goderich to Culross at that date but himself. The late Mr. John Gordon, of St. Helens, was the only English-speaking communicant present on Sabbath. For his benefit an English table was served. The fact that the collection taken during the five days of the services amounted to $50, all coppers, not a single silver coin, shows that the attendance would average 1,000 at least.

"Until 1863 the congregation worshipped in the church regularly, receiving such supplies as the Presbytery could send them. At that time the large church standing in the cemetery, and which is still occupied, was built. The late Rev. John Fraser, of Thamesford, formally opened it for public worship. Every alternate Sunday the Rev. Adam McKay, of Teeswater, held service in this church until, in 1867, the Rev. John McNabb was ordained and inducted to this charge. Soon after the following were ordained elders and formed the first Kirk-Session, viz., Messrs. Murdo Mackenzie, Peter Milne, Robert Young, James Gordon, Thomas Falconer and Donald MacPherson. Mr. McNabb resigned the charge in 1869 and was succeeded by the Rev. Duncan Cameron in 1872. Mr. Cameron resigned in 1881 and was succeeded by the Rev. Alexander MacKenzie in 1882. Mr. MacKenzie resigned in 1887, and was succeeded by the present pastor, the Rev. F. A. MacLennan, translated from the Presbytery of Glengarry in May, 1882. Services from the very first have been held in this congregation in both English and Gaelic. Gaelic, the language of the congregation fifty years ago, is approaching the vanishing point. Still it dies hard."


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