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History of the County of Bruce, Ontario, Canada
The County Town Contest Years, 1857-1866


The events recorded in this chapter may lack the picturesque-ness of events associated with pioneer life, or those attendant upon a life in the bush, but they in their own way have had a marked influence in the evolution of the county of Bruce. The settling of the county-town question and the construction of an extensive system of gravel roads, the marked features of the decade recorded in this chapter, did much to consolidate and develop the county.

The necessary legislation having in view the separation of the united counties of Huron and Bruce was passed in May, 1856. In January following the reeves who were to compose the provisional municipal council of the county of Bruce were elected, but owing to the long fight over the county-town question and consequent delay in erection of the county buildings, ten years elapsed before the separation from the county of Huron was completed. In the interim each county carried on all improvements for roads and bridges separately.

The provisional County Council of Bruce was organized in the manner described in the following extract from its Minutes:

"Peacock's Hotel, Southampton,
"March 19th, 1857.

"The Reeves and Deputy Reeves of the several Townships in the County met this day, pursuant to the warrant under the hand and seal of the High Sheriff of the United Counties of Huron and Bruce, for the several purposes for which Provisional Municipal Councils are by law erected. David McKendrick, Esq., Reeve of the Township of Kincardine, who was appointed chairman by the said warrant, having taken the chair, the following gentlemen took their seats, viz., Alexander McNabb, Reeve, Saugeen; William Riddell, Reeve, Arran; George Cromar, Reeve, Greenock; Malcolm McLennan, [Secretary pro tem for this meeting.] Reeve, Huron; William Hall, Reeve, Brant; John Findlay, Deputy Reeve, Brant; Joseph Walker, Deputy Reeve, Brant; Peter B. Brown, Reeve, Culross; John Purvis, Reeve, Kinloss; Peter Mc-Vicar, Reeve, Carrick; John Gillies, Reeve, Elderslie; Alexander McKinnon, Reeve, Bruce."

The deputy reeve of Kincardine, Nichol McIntyre, was not present at the first meeting of the Council. Of the two deputy reeves present from Brant only one, Joseph Walker, was permitted to sit.

The first meeting elected George Cromar as provisional warden. The Council then adjourned to meet two days later at Waterson's Hotel, Walkerton. At this meeting the Council, after appointing William C. Bruce as county clerk, proceeded to select a fit and proper place to recommend to the Governor-General as the one to be mentioned in his proclamation as the county town of Bruce.

The places voted on and the votes taken were as follows:

Greenock Town Plot, 6: vs. Teeswater, 6.—Warden gave casting vote for Greenock Town Plot.
Greenock Town Plot, 6: vs. Riversdale, 6.—Warden gave casting vote for Greenock Town Plot.
Greenock Town Plot, 1: vs. Walkerton, 11.
Walkerton, 8: vs. Southampton, 4.
Walkerton, 10: vs. Inverhuron, 2.
Walkerton, 9: vs. Paisley, 3.
Walkerton, 7: vs. Penetangore, 5.

On the Governor-in-Council being informed of the result of the voting above mentioned, he by proclamation, issued 15th June, 1857, appointed Walkerton as the county town of Bruce. This action, seemingly decisive in favor of Walkerton, was not to be acquiesced in by the supporters of the claims made by other villages for the possession of this coveted honor. So, when on July 8th the provisional County Council sat again, and on the introduction of a by-law to raise $24,000 by debentures to erect county buildings, it was moved in amendment, "That whereas a great and grievous dissatisfaction exists on the part of the ratepayers generally throughout the greater part of the county as to the action taken by the reeves at the last meeting of the provisional County Council of this county with regard to the county town. It is moved, therefore, that no by-law be at present published for raising money to erect county buildings at, Walkerton." This amendment carried by a vote of 8 to 4.

The next move in the game for the county town developed at a succeeding meeting of the Council, held July 22nd, at "Kinnard's Hotel, Penetangore," when William Rastall moved, seconded by John Purvis, "That it is expedient to divide the county of Bruce and to form two counties thereof, the southern portion to be called the 'county of Bruce,' and to consist of the following townships, viz., Kincardine, Huron, Brant, Kinloss, Culross, South Greenock and Carrick, with Penetangore or Riversdale for county town; the northern portion to be called the 'county of Wallace,' and to consist of the following townships, viz., Bruce, Arran, Amabel, Lindsay, Saugeen, Elderslie, Albemarle, Eastnor, St. Edmunds and that part of Greenock north of the line between Brant and Elderslie, with Southampton for the county town." The amendment to the above motion is very pungent in its expression. It is as follows: "That it is only a few weeks since the united counties of Huron and Bruce have been separated by Royal Proclamation; it is as uncalled for, impudent and illegal to ask a second separation and divide the infant county of Bruce as it would be contemptible in the eyes of the community." The motion carried and an advertisement of application for legislation to the above effect appeared in the Gazette. At the same session a motion passed authorizing a by-law to be published to raise, $32,000 to erect county buildings at Penetangore and Southampton, and to take steps to have a Bill passed by the Legislature to confirm the steps taken by the provisional Council.

At the October meeting the action relating to the division of the county and issue of the debentures was revoked, and the following motion passed, "That a special Act be applied for by this Council at the next meeting of the Legislature for the purpose of empowering the Governor-General to reconsider the proclaiming of a county town for the county of Bruce, and empowering him to proclaim either Penetangore, Riversdale, Walkerton, Paisley, or Southampton, after each of the above-named places has been allowed to present their several claims, to be named as the county town of Bruce, the same as if no proclamation had ever been issued." Yet this motion was not allowed to stand, and the warden at the first meeting in the following year was instructed to withdraw the notice of application; so after all the shifts and turns made during the year Walkerton at the end of 1857 still held possession of the title of county town, empty and barren though it might be. The vacillating course pursued by the provisional County Council throughout the year shows what adepts at "log rolling" and "wire pulling" existed in those days.

To have a railway enter the county and connect it with outside markets was a hope long cherished by the citizens of Bruce, but many years slipped by before the hope materialized and became a reality. That the railway did not come sooner was not from want of effort on the part of Bruce. In 1857 a proposal was being considered to build a line, to be known as the North Western Railroad, from Guelph to some point on the Durham Road. Sanford Fleming, C.E., was at the back of it. The provisional County Council thought so well of the proposition that it was prepared to vote £100,-000 towards it, and had the Legislature pass an Act [20 Vic. Chap. 78.] to authorize the county to take stock in the railroad company to that extent. For some reason unknown to the author this railway was never gone on with, and the memory of a name is all that remains of it.

Another proposal was before the county in 1857, one to spend £100,000 in making gravel roads. This scheme bad as abortive a termination as that which characterized the North-Western Railway. A special meeting of the United Counties Council was held 30th December, 1857, to consider a by-law to issue debentures for £100,000 for the above-mentioned purpose. It was read a first time and directed to be published. The Council adjourned to meet at Howe's Hotel, Paisley, at the expiration of the proper time for advertizing the by-law; but without further comment, as far as the minutes of the Council show, the matter here dropped. Not a word of explanation is given why this was so.

With the advent of the year 1858 the first village municipality within the county came into existence. Kincardine village had a census taken during 1857 which showed that it possessed a population of 837, and was therefore entitled to commence a separate municipal career as a village, which it did 1st January. 1858, and forever dropped its double name of Penetangore. Southampton likewise attained the position of a municipality in the same year, being created a village by Act of Parliament, [22 Vic. Chap. 42.] assented to 24th July, 1858. Among the townships during the same year there was one municipal change to be recorded. To quote the words of the by-law, "The newly laid out township of Albemarle" was on the 1st January united for municipal purposes to Arran and Amabel.

During 1858 the struggle for the county town was as bitter and intense as in the preceding year. As the result of a petition of the County Council, Parliament passed on August 16th an Act [ 28 Vic. Chap. III.] voiding the appointment of Walkerton as county town, and directing that the selection shall be left with the Governor-in-Council, and providing that each place shall present its claims to the Governor-in-Council before the 1st of October. That the decision given shall be final, and that the provisional Council shall before action be taken pass a valid by-law providing the necessary supplies.

In December the Council passed a by-law to raise $24,000 for the erection of the necessary county buildings, but owing to some informality this by-law was declared invalid. Plans and specifications had been advertised for [There is in the office of the county clerk a plan drawn up in response to this advertisement, superscribed as follows: "Plan of The Court-House and Jail,—Kinloss, G. W. By William Thomas & Sons, Architects, Toronto and Hamilton. Dec. 2lst, 1858." This is the only trace that the author has met with that "Kinloss" was in the race for the county town, though possibly the fact of the warden's post-office address being "Kinloss" may have led the architects to suppose the county town was there.] and were examined at this session, but nothing definite was done to forward the erection of the buildings.

With the opening of the railway to Goderich on June 28th, 1858, and the establishment of a daily mail to Kincardine, [This mail service was carried on horseback from Goderich. ] the inhabitants of the latter place felt themselves to be no longer outside of the great world. The Toronto daily papers were only a day old when received, and a delay like that was promptness itself compared to the past record. Other parts of the county were not favored so highly as Kincardine, and waited for years for a daily mail.

The office of treasurer for the county of Bruce during the first year of {he provisional County Council was filled by George Brown, treasurer of the united counties. His office was at Goderich, which proved somewhat inconvenient, so the provisional County Council at its first meeting in 1858 appointed the warden of the previous year, George Cromar, as county treasurer. This appointment bears date April 14th, 1858. The office of warden for the year 1858 was filled by John Purvis, reeve of the township of Kinloss.

The summer of 1858 was one long to be remembered in this part of the Province of Ontario on account of the long and severe drought. If the recollection of the writer is correct no rain fell between June 23rd and August 11th in that year. The result was an utter failure of the crops. The harvest of 1858 was in many cases hardly worth gathering. This to numbers of industrious settlers meant nothing less than starvation; they had but a few years previously taken up their lands; what little means they had at first sufficed only to sustain them until enough land had been cleared to raise their first crop; with no reserve accumulated it was a dreadful outlook for them, no crops and no money. Is it to be wondered at that the year from the harvest time of 1858 to that of 1859 will be remembered in this county by those who resided here then as "starvation year."

The feature of the year 1859 which stands out as the most prominent is the distress arising from the failure of the harvest in the preceding year. The direful prospect that stared many of the people of Bruce was realized by the County Council, which at its first meeting, held on February 4th and 5th, appointed a special committee to report on the destitution then prevailing and to suggest what measures should be adopted to relieve it. The report made by this committee is to be found printed as Appendix P, which is worthy of a careful perusal. The result of the report was the passing of a by-law to raise by means of debentures the sum of eight thousand five hundred pounds currency, "for providing means to relieve the destitution, existing and increasing, in the county of Bruce, and to supply a sufficiency of seed grain and provisions for the inhabitants, prior to the ensuing harvest." Such a by-law to be legal required to be confirmed by Act of Parliament, which was done. [Vie. Chap 7. Passed March 26th, 1859.] The debentures were very considerately cashed at par by the government, so saving the county any discount or delay. The money so raised was paid over to the minor municipalities as required as soon as its Council had passed a valid by-law undertaking to issue debentures, payable in ten years, for a sum equal to the amount received from the county, and also binding the local municipality to expend the amount so received in improving roads, thus giving employment to those in need. The proportion of money allocated to the different municipalities varied according to the amount of distress therein. The particulars of this distribution are as follows: To Arran £2,500, Brant £2,000, Bruce £5,400, Carrick £3,000, Culross £2,700, Elderslie, £3,600, Greenock £2,700, Huron £4,400, Kincardine £5,400, Kinloss £3,700, Kincardine village £600. That the reader may form an idea of the manner in which the funds so placed in the hands of the minor municipalities was used to relieve the widespread needs, some extracts taken from the regulations adopted by the Council of the township of Bruce are here given; these may be accepted as a sample of the general practice in other municipalities, all of which purchased seed grain and flour for distribution as needed. The extract is as follows: "That not more than five bushels of seed grain be issued to any one ratepayer until all are served, when if a balance remains it shall be rateably distributed among such as were not fully supplied. That the seed be sold at an advance of one shilling and three pence per bushel over cost price, and that in all cases when the same is paid for in road work this sum shall be deducted from the face of the note. That ratepayers entitled to receive seed grain, who have not performed work, shall be entitled to receive an allowance of breadstuffs not exceeding fifteen pounds per head, for the present, and this after signing a declaration setting forth the nature of the case and that relief was required."

The author here gives some extracts from the Bruce Township Council minutes of June 13th, 1859, which forcibly illustrate the prevailing distress. "That disclaiming any desire on the part of this Council to interfere with matters beyond their jurisdiction, the members of the Council would beg most respectfully to draw the attention of Mr. Gibson (Supt. of Colonization Roads) to the sufferings endured by many of those performing work on the Goderich and Saugeen Road for want of food, and request him if convenient to open a credit with some party or parties for the supply of bread-stuffs until the jobs are completed." Again, "That the corn meal ordered for the relief of destitution be deposited with Mr. Macfarlane, at Port Bruce, to be given out as usual on road certificates, except in extreme cases, when he will take notes, payable in work or money, for the amount advanced. That, as a general rule, regard be strictly had to the circumstances of parties requiring meal, the preference being given to weak families, it being expected that families consisting of two or more able-bodied young men will shift for themselves without calling upon the Council."

Besides the relief furnished by the prompt action of the provisional County Council, contributions came in from outside points, among them some from Scotland. The Grand Trunk Railway aided materially, considerately reducing its freight rates 50 per cent. on grain and provisions sent on to the municipalities. The steamer Islander, running from Goderich to Southampton throughout the spring and summer of 1859, was heavily laden every trip with provisions [Provisions were not only scarce, but high-priced as well. Flour sold at $10 a barrel at many places.] and seed grain. The writer remembers seeing numbers of country people waiting on the Kincardine pier for the arrival of the steamer, so as to obtain without delay their allotment of bread-stuffs and seed grain. After much suffering the crisis was successfully tided over; with a good harvest in 1859 hope returned to the despondent and distressed inhabitants of the county, and an era of prosperity commenced which has not since been materially checked.

The by-law, passed in September, 1858, to provide funds for the erection of the county buildings having been declared invalid, another one was submitted to the ratepayers to be voted upon March 7th and 8th, 1859, to raise £6,000 for this purpose, which was carried; but on being submitted to the Attorney-General, West, was disallowed, owing to some informality. On the 8th and 9th of July following, the ratepayers once more voted that the required debentures be issued. Everything was as it should be on this occasion. and the by-law directing the issue of the debentures was passed by the County Council July 19th. These debentures were made payable in twenty years. As they could only be used for the special purpose of paying for the erecting of the county buildings, it was many a day before they were required. One for $400 was sold in September, 1860, possibly to pay for the plans of the proposed buildings; the remainder of the issue remained unused until 1863. John Gillies was warden in that year; as he was strongly opposed to the way county town matters were going, a mandamus had to be applied for before he would sign the remainder of the issue, which were finally disposed of in December, 1865.

Mr. N. Hammond received in 1859 the appointment of registrar of the county of Bruce, the office to be at Southampton, awaiting the final decision of where the county town was to be located. The provisional County Council on hearing of this appointment petitioned the Governor-General that the registry office remain in Goderich,. a request that was not acceded to. As an account of Mr. Hammond's was presented to the Counties Council for payment of rent from 9th July, 1859, it is probable, therefore, that this is the date on and from which the county of Bruce has had a separate registry office.

Mariners on Lake Huron rejoiced over the completion, in 1859, of the lighthouses at Point Clark (Pine Point) and at Chantry Island. John Brown, of Thorold, had the contract of erecting these two substantial buildings, which in that year first sent their rays over the stormy waters of Lake Huron to guide the sailor on his course.

In the early summer of 1859 an incident took place that created quite a talk throughout the southern part of the county, although the centre of disturbance most of the time was just over the county line in Bentinck. A mile and a quarter east of Hanover, on the Durham line, lived a family by the name of Campbell, in whose veins must have run the blood of those Highlanders whose joy it was to make raids and forays on the lowlands. Certain it is that in many ways they set law at defiance and terrorized the neighborhood on both sides of the county line. With them were associated some young fellows, several brothers named Baillie, Andrew McFarlane, and Wm. McMahon. In 1858 a span of horses belonging to McFarlane were found at Vesta and seized for debt, removed by the Division Court bailiff, J. Benson, and placed in the stables of a Walkerton Hotel. McFarlane and the Campbells were determined to retake the horses, even if the seizure had been under authority of the court. So they broke into the stables one night and decamped with the horses. This was followed by an order to arrest from Judge Cooper. George Simpson and Caleb Huyck were the constables to whom the warrant was given to execute. Word of the coming of the constables had reached the ears of the Campbell gang, so when the constables were crossing 'the bridge at Hanover they surrounded them. Every one of the gang was well supplied with fire-arms. The warrant was ordered to be produced and was immediately torn up; but there being a full sense of humor in the Campbells, they ordered Huyck to eat up the torn fragments. A sorry meal it was to partake of, but it was a case of eat or be shot. A meal of paper is not one to be rapidly finished, and Huyck, like many a greedy boy when he has a chance at a pile of cakes, pocketed a part of his fare, and these parts of the torn and dismembered warrant were afterwards pasted together and produced at the trial of Colin Campbell at Goderich. Such an open defiance of law startled the community, and the necessity for vigorous and prompt measures was felt. Judge Cooper directed that a posse of constables be collected, sufficient in number to enforce the execution of the warrant. The writer remembers seeing a waggon starting for Walkerton from Kincardine filled with constables, each one with a rifle or shot gun. The posse of constables on arriving at Campbell's [June 8th, 1859.] surrounded the building and demanded the surrender of all in the house, seven men in all. The reply was a prompt refusal, with a warning that if they did not leave the premises they must take the consequences. Defiantly the seven armed men stood at the windows, pointing their guns at any who came too near. Mr. Jamieson, the magistrate in charge, endeavored to point out the uselessness of resisting the law, but his reasoning had no weight with the Campbells, or McMahon, who was very wild. Some excited constables set fire to the house, but the wiser and more sober-minded knew that they neither had authority to do so, or yet to be the first to open fire upon these defiers of the law; but a second time the flames were started, and this time the Campbells, to save being burnt to death, were forced to make a break for liberty. They came out of the building holding their rifles at full cock ready to fire if touched. The great bulk of the constables thought it best to be out of the way, and sought shelter behind the house, leaving a number, too few, however, to attempt the task of arresting the gang as they rushed down the side-line to the woods for shelter. Colin Campbell and another of the gang, William McMahon, while on the run were shot in the back with a charge of buck-shot. Being unable to obtain proper attention in the woods, Campbell gave himself up and was tried at Goderich at the next Assize, and sentenced to a term in the penitentiary. The family years after moved to Manitoulin Island and purchased the property of Jos. Walker, the founder of the county town, then lately deceased. A law suit was entered by Campbell against those who had taken part in the burning of his house, which was tried at Owen Sound, the defendants winning their case.

Although a decade had elapsed since the government had commenced the opening up of the main roads in Bruce, the work was far from being completed in 1859. David Gibson, in his report of the work of that year, says: "In April contracts were let to the extent of $6,000 for making the Saugeen and Goderich Road 'a summer road.' At that time much privation and distress were reported to prevail along the line of road. To give employment to as many of the needy settlers as possible, the work was let in sections of five-eighths of a mile each. In this way a great many were enabled to make a little money and relieve themselves of the severe pressure upon them. Most of the contracts have been completed. The whole of the road lying in the county of Bruce has now been cleared of timber to the width of 44 feet and chopped to the width of 66 feet. A considerable amount of causewaying has been laid, as well as extensive ditching on both sides of the road, and the stumps on the space between the ditches grubbed and removed." Reading between the lines of the foregoing extract, it is not difficult to imagine what this road, and many others in Bruce, as well, were like, even after ten years or more of settlement.

A shipwreck, that would have been notable in the history of Canada, nearly occurred (July 3rd, 1859) on the rocky cliffs which form the coast line along the north end of the Bruce peninsula. The steamer Ploughboy, haying on board an excursion party consisting of several members of the ministry and a number of members of the House of Parliament, was on a trip to Sault Ste. Marie. During a severe gale an accident happened to some of the machinery, rendering the vessel perfectly helpless, so that she drifted at the mercy of the wind and waves. As they neared the precipitous rocks hope was almost given up. As a last resort the anchor with full length of cable was let out, but owing to the depth of water it did not catch until the steamer was within about fifty yards of the perpendicular cliff, when it held firmly. The scenes on board, as described after they had all reached a place of safety, had some comical features. The prospect of immediate death made every one feel the desirability of holding some religious service, but there was not a soul on board who had any pretensions to be able to conduct any sort of a meeting but a political one, or to possessing any of the qualifications looked for in a leader of a religious meeting. It was therefore forced on the Speaker of the House, Sir Harry Smith, to read the prayers for those in peril on the sea. While the steamer remained in this perilous position in the midst of the boiling surf, the lives of all on board depending upon the stability of the cable, Duncan McLean, first mate on the steamer (a brother-in-law of Capt. Duncan Rowan, of Kincardine) got a few of the crew to volunteer to row with him through the stormy waters to Owen Sound, which venturesome trip, for such a small boat in such a gale, was successfully accomplished, and help for the endangered vessel and its crew of passengers was promptly forwarded.

The position of warden for the county was held in 1859 by John Valentine, reeve of Greenock. Owing to the extent of the distress which prevailed in that year, the issue and sale of debentures to meet it, and also the county building debenture by-law being twice submitted to the ratepayers, Mr. Valentine's duties were more than usually onerous. His successor, Mr. John Bruce, reeve of Brant, the warden for 1860, had much less arduous duties to occupy him during his term of office.

The year 1860 was comparatively uneventful as far as the county of Bruce was concerned. A bountiful harvest blessed the year, the sale of which brought into the hands of many a poor farmer of Bruce more money than he had ever been the possessor of since he had entered the bush.

The county town question still dragged its weary way along without coming any nearer a final decision. In 1858 the question had been referred to the Governor-General, who was then asked to select a place. That year and the following passed without a place being named. The reason for delay is revealed by the purport of a letter written on the 31st May by the Provincial Secretary, in which he asks, "That the County Council give an opinion as to the most desirable place to name as county town, as owing to the contradictory statements of different municipalities, laid before His Excellency the Governor-General, it was difficult to arrive at a decision." The County Council by a majority of two carried a motion to the effect that His Excellency the Governor-General should select either one of the two villages, Kincardine or Walkerton, the reason assigned being that each of these were located on the Durham Boat]. On the 8th November the Governor-General [Sir W. F. Williams was, at the above date, the administrator of the Government, and the proclamation bears his signature.] for the second time proclaimed Walkerton as the county town. The December session of the County Council, after most exciting discussions, selected plans for the county buildings, but took no steps as to finding a site therefor, leaving that question to be settled by its successors.

The cause of higher education in the county took a marked step in 1860 when the grammar school at Kincardine, the first in the county, was established. Southampton made an effort at the same time to obtain a similar school, but failed to secure the consent of the County Council to this request.

The year 1861 saw a change in the county officers. W. C. Bruce, who had acted as provisional clerk from the first, resigned his office at the beginning of this year. He was succeeded by the late George Gould, [George Gould was born at Enniskillen, Ireland, November 5th, 1820. When nine years of age he came with his parents to Canada, and resided at Toronto for some time. His father and grandfather both were soldiers, the former holding a commission in the 86th Regiment. Mr. Gould received his education at Nashville, Tennessee. The southern climate not agreeing with him, he returned to Canada in 1845, and pursued the profession of surveyor. He assisted in the survey of five townships in the county of Grey, and also of Arran, Amabel, and Albemarle, in Bruce. He was one of the first to take up land in Arran, the location being where Invermay now is. He filled the position of county clerk of Bruce from 1861 until shortly before his death, which occurred in February, 1896. His son, William S. Gould, succeeded to his office. He married on January 19th, 1855, Elizabeth Snowden, of Owen Sound. Their family consisted of four sons and two daughters. Mr. Gould's name is frequently mentioned in this history, he having filled many prominent positions. In private life he was most popular and highly esteemed. ] who filled the position until his resignation in December, 1895. During this long term of office the unvarying kindliness of heart and manner so characteristic of Mr. Gould, combined with his willingness to oblige, made him the most popular of public officers. During the summer of this year Mr. George Cromar, the provisional county treasurer, died. Mr. Cromar entered upon the duties of this office in 1858. During his absence in Scotland in the following year an issue of debentures had to be signed by the county treasurer. It was therefore necessary to appoint someone to do so in his absence. Thomas Corrigan was under these circumstances made treasurer until Mr. Cromar's return, when the latter gentleman was re-appointed. On Mr. Cromar's death Mr. Corrigan received the appointment to the office so vacated, the date being August 16th, 1861. In this year Mr. John Purvis once more filled the warden's chair, it being the second time the honor was conferred upon him.

The general census taken in 1861 shows what strides the county of Bruce took in its infant clays By this census we learn that during the nine years intervening between it and the preceding one, the population of the county increased from 2,837 to 27,499, almost ten fold, whilst the assessment in the same period increased from $147,196 to $3,997,187, an increase of over twenty-seven fold.

This year witnessed another determined fight for the county town in the provisional County Council. No time was lost in commencing hostilities, as we find at the first meeting of the year a motion was passed to petition Parliament to avoid the proclamation naming Walkerton the county town and to divide the county into two counties, the dividing line to be the town line of Brant and Elderslie, the 17th and 18th concessions of Greenock and the 7th and 8th concessions of Bruce. The south part was to be called the county of Bruce and the north the county of Saugeen, with Kincardine and Southampton as the respective county towns. This action of the County Council was met by Joseph Walker, Walkerton's champion, obtaining a mandamus nisi asking the Council to show cause why the erection of the county buildings should not be proceeded with at Walkerton. The council defended the suit and ultimately won the case, but experienced considerable difficulty in recovering their costs. The loss of this lawsuit did not discourage Joseph Walker: whatever effect it may have had upon his friends, he still showed fight, and commenced without delay another suit. This time he sought to obtain a mandamus directing that the county buildings debentures be sold, and also directing that the funds so obtained be used for the purpose specified in the debenture by-law. The County Council defended this suit also, and again came out victor in this contest in the courts, so that the year closed with the county town dispute being as unsettled as ever.

The harvest of 1861 was much below an average one. This fact was used as the basis of a petition forwarded by the County Council to the Governor-in-Council, "To remit the accumulated interest up to the end of the year, and to extend the term for payment of purchase money of the public lands in the county of Bruce." The Crown Lands Department having given notice that payment must be made. About the same time (March 6th, 1861) an order rescinding the Land Improvement Fund [See Appendix O.] was issued by the Governor-in-Council. The payments received from this fund by the various local municipalities had enabled much work to be done in the way of opening up township roads. Possibly on account of the action of the government; the United Counties Council passed a by-law to expend $2,050 during this year on the roads in Bruce. This was the first grant of a comprehensive nature known to the county, though not the last by any means.

The sole change among the municipalities of the county during the year 1861 was the advent of the united townships of Amabel and Albemarle as a separate municipality, the union of these two townships with Arran having been dissolved by by-law of the United Counties Council, passed in September previous. The first reeve of this new municipality was the Rev. Ludwick Kribs, a Congregational minister who had labored faithfully and successfully among the Indians as a missionary for a number of years, and finally took up land at Colpoy's Bay and settled thereon.

The provisional County Council for the year 1862, over which J. T. Conaway presided as warden, followed the practice of the preceding councils in tackling the county town question in a vigorous manner, but only to leave it unsolved as previous councils had done. A special committee appointed to consider the matter reported in favor of applying for a Bill at the next session of Parliament to divide the county of Bruce into two counties, to be called Bruce and Wallace, of which the county towns were to be Kincardine and Southampton respectively. The assent of the municipal electors to this proposition was to be obtained by a vote of the same. A Bill [Bill No. 292, 2nd Sess., 7th Parlt, 26 Vic, 1863.] to this effect passed two readings of the House in 1863, but for some reason unknown to the author it did not obtain a third.

If the County Council of 1862 could not settle the apparently interminable county town question they at least originated a scheme of the utmost importance to the county, namely, the comprehensive system of gravel roads, which, although not approved of when voted upon by the ratepayers in the following year, was, when again submitted in 1865, carried by a substantial vote. When we remember the necessity of good markets and a ready access thereto, we wonder that the proposition did not carry at once, for good roads and safe harbors were absolutely necessary for the development of the county in the days when railways were unknown in Bruce, for then farmers when marketing their grain had to team it to some lake port, from whence it would be shipped by sailing vessel, or else to some station on a line of railway, such as Guelph, Seaforth or Clinton. What this meant to a farmer in the back townships may easily be imagined. Owing to the wretched condition of the roads in the fall of the year, he had to wait until the sleighing was good before he could seek a market. Then, having loaded his sleigh over night, he would make an early start and be miles on his way before it was daylight. If the price of grain was satisfactory and the sleighing good, it would not be long before he found himself in what seemed a long drawn out procession, so numerous were the grain-laden sleighs. The streets of our lake-port villages were a busy scene in those days, when sometimes 10,000 bushels of wheat would be marketed in one day. To save such long hauls, and that a market might be brought nearer to the doors of the farmers of Bruce, the County Council advertized in the Toronto daily papers during the summer of 1862, offering to bonus any railway entering the county. The harvest of this year was secured under most unfavorable conditions; many a farmer found his wheat sprouted in the ear as it stood in the stook. Such grain, of course, was sold at prices that were a disappointment to those who were only getting upon their feet financially, after the hard times attending their settlement upon bush farms and clearing the same.

At Baie de Dore two villages had developed into business centres, known as Port Bruce and Malta, which largely supplied the township of Bruce with all the merchandise required. On July 4th, 1862, in some unrecorded manner a fire started, and fanned by a high wind completely wiped out these two villages, only a few houses being left. The loss was so complete that the people seemed to have become disheartened and moved away with anything they might have saved, instead of rebuilding. The result was that Underwood started up and obtained the trade that previously had gone to Port Bruce and Malta, and nothing now remains of these two villages beyond a name and the outlines of the stone foundations of some of the buildings now mostly hidden by a dense growth of cedar.

In February, 1862, the last bounty paid by the county treasurer for "wolf scalps" ($6.00 each) seems to have been paid, the recipients being Dr. Garner and H. Sperien, but whether the animals were killed in Huron or Bruce is not very clear. Wolves were not common after settlers came in, yet it was less than four years previous to the above date that a Mrs. Sullivan obtained a grant from the United Counties Council on account of her husband having "lost his life from the effects of a desperate encounter with a wolf. We recommend," the motion of Council goes on to say, "that the sum of $60 be granted, as we consider that the destruction of the animal was a public benefit," a sentiment in which all might join.

In its early days Bruce had rarely, if ever, been favored by a visit from any of the leaders in Canadian politics. So when it was announced that the Hon. Geo. Brown was to speak in the Saugeen District in the interests of Mr. John McMurrich in the bye-election for representation in the Legislative Council, [The Hon. James Patton, representing the Saugeen District in the Upper House of our Legislature, had been offered a seat in the McDonald-Sicotte Ministry, as Solicitor-General, West. He was now seeking re-election that he might assume office, but met with a defeat, Mr. McMurrich being elected by a majority of 769. The date of this election was May 1st 1862. ] the enthusiasm of Mr. McMurrich's supporters was unbounded. Ten days before the day of voting Mr. Brown was at Kincardine and spoke at a meeting held in the town hall, a much smaller building than the present one, and on that day it was crowded to its full capacity. This was the only opportunity the author ever had of listening to a speech by Mr. Brown, and he would willingly record the purport of it if his memory of what was said was more vivid and retentive.

In the year 1863 several incidents occurred worthy of record in a history of the county. At the general election for the Legislative Assembly, held in June, James Dickson was again returned as the representative for Huron and Bruce. It was in the same year that the village of Lucknow, having attained growth sufficient to make it desirous to assume the regulation of its own improvements, asked to be erected into a police village, which request the United Counties Council, at its December session, complied with. It also was in 1863 that a change was made in the mode of remunerating township treasurers for their services. Previously, one item to be found in the county estimates was that of the township treasurers' commission, which was a percentage of 2½ per cent. Since 1863 these officers have been paid a fixed sum as a salary by their own municipality.

The by-law to issue $300,000 worth of debentures for the purpose of constructing gravel roads was voted upon by the ratepayers March 31st, 1863. The by-law carried, but by so narrow a majority that although the United Counties Council passed the by-law in April, it thought best to reconsider its action, and at its June session repealed the by-law; consequently no debentures were issued.

The business of the provisional County Council for 1863 was presided over by John Gillies.[John Gillies was a native of the parish of Kilcalomnell, Argyleshire. While still in his teens he left Scotland, in company with two brothers, to seek his fortune in Canada, landing in August, 1852. Shortly after he settled upon a farm in Elderslie, of which township he was reeve from 1857 to 1873, both years inclusive; he was also warden of the county for the years 1863, 1869, 1870, 1871 and 1872. In politics he was a Liberal. He successfully contested the North Biding of Bruce, for the House of Commons, with Colonel A. Sproat, in 1872. In 1874 he was re-elected by acclamation. In 1878 he and Colonel Sproat once more were candidates seeking to be the representative of this constituency, Mr. Gillies again being successful, this time by a majority of 156 votes. In 1882 he was defeated by Alex. McNeill. The following year he contested the same riding for the Ontario Legislature, his opponent being James Rowand, and was elected by a majority of 120 votes. In 1888 Mr. Gillies was appointed police magistrate at Sault Ste. Marie. His death occurred December 10th, 1889.] Of its four sessions the author has only been able to obtain the minutes of those of the session held on October 16th and 17th. One motion then passed shows what action had been taken during the early part of the year in regard to the county town. The motion referred to reads: "That whereas at the last meeting of the provisional Council of the county of Bruce held at Port Elgin, it was agreed by this Council that any place which should obtain a majority of votes was to be the county town for the county of Bruce. And whereas Pinkerton obtained such majority, therefore be it resolved that this Council take the necessary steps to have the county buildings erected at Pinkerton with the least possible delay." The motion was lost on a vote of 6 for, 14 against. At this same meeting of the Council, and after a number of motions had been proposed to settle the vexed question, a surprising proposition, considering that it came from two representatives who lived in Kincardine, was proposed. It was moved by William Sutton and seconded by John McLay, "That whereas this Council have shown by their votes on several occasions their inability to settle the county town at Pinkerton, Southampton, Kincardine or Paisley, therefore it is desirable under the circumstances that the Council should at once go on with the erection of the county buildings at Walkerton," etc. The change of the two votes from being opponents of Walkerton to supporters of it gave the necessary majority in its favor, and there was promptly passed a by-law appointing a committee to purchase the necessary site for the buildings, to advertise for tenders, to let contracts, and directing the treasurer to pay orders issued by the committee.

One would almost expect the foregoing to be the conclusion of this long fought out question, but not so. The provisional County Council of the following year upset the whole matter at its first meeting. After electing James Brocklebank as warden for 1864, it proceeded to consider the report presented by the Building Committee, which, slightly abbreviated, reads as follows: "At the last meeting of your honorable body, held 22nd December, 1863, your committee reported: That they had purchased and paid for a suitable site from George Jackson, whereon to erect the county buildings, for the sum of $600. That David Murray, of Guelph, had been appointed architect. That your committee had advertized for tenders. That the contract had been given to John Elliot, of Brant-ford, for the sum of $21,136.95. That your committee had been prevented from carrying out the instructions of the Council, owing to the warden's refusal to sign the contract, with other particulars. Which report your honorable body adopted. Your Council at said meeting, owing to the warden's continued refusal to sign the contract or vacate his seat, appointed John McLay chairman, and by resolution instructed him in behalf of the Council to sign the contract, which was done in open Council. That Mr. Elliot refuses to go on with the erection of the county buildings till the contract is signed by the warden." The committee appointed to consider this report commend Mr. Gillies, the ex-warden, for refusing to sign the contract. Both reports had eleven votes for and against. The minutes do not say so, but the warden must have given his casting vote against the Building Committee report, as it was dropped, and the Council petitioned Parliament to pass an Act repealing all Acts having reference to the county town question, and empower the ratepayers to choose by vote which of two places, Kincardine or Paisley, be the county town of Bruce. The Legislature acquiesced and passed [27-28 Vic. Chap. 77. ] "An Act to void the proclamation declaring Walkerton the county town of the county of Bruce, and to enable the municipal electors of the said county to select a county town." This Act did not limit places to be voted upon, as requested, but inserted a clause which resulted in the end sought for being as far off as ever, in that the place selected must "receive the assent of the majority of all persons entitled to vote at such election." The election was held on September 20th, 1864, with the following result: Paisley, 1,652; Kincardine, 1,403; Walkerton, 1,110; Southampton, 78; Invermay, 1; Riversdale, 1. Such a futile result, none of the places named having obtained a plurality of votes, made the majority of the Council desperate and resulted in a motion being passed to petition Parliament "to abolish the provisional County Council and remodel the tract of country comprising the counties of Grey, Bruce, Huron, Perth and Wellington and its division into counties of compact form and size, in order to avoid the clashing of opposite interests which inevitably exist when counties are of irregular form and unwieldy extent." The result of the contract for the buildings not being gone on with was the payment to the contractor and architect of $500 and $300 respectively for compensation. An effort to effect some kind of a compromise by way of giving good roads and improved harbors to Kincardine and Southampton in lieu of these villages waiving their claims to the county town in favor of Paisley or Walkerton did not carry, but it may have had some weight when the gravel roads by-law was submitted in the following year.

Two railway propositions were laid before the people of Bruce in 1864. One by F. Shanly, C.E., which was to construct a road running north from the main line of the Grand Trunk Railway at Guelph and known as the "Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway." This had Southampton named as the point where it was to reach Lake Huron. The other projected railway was known as the "Stratford and Huron Railway," which had Kincardine named as its lake terminus. Both roads were sanctioned by Act of Parliament this year. The names of several Bruce reeves appear in the list of each of these companies so seeking incorporation, incidentally showing how anxiously looked for was the advent of a railway, wherever it might be laid to, so long as it entered the county of Bruce. These projects were considered by the County Council which, without committing itself to either, offered a bonus of $400,000, to be paid on the completion of the railway.

Thomas Corrigan, who had held the position of county treasurer since August, 1861, resigned in May, 1864. Alexander Sproat was appointed his successor. Another change in county officials was that of the registrarship. The appointment of Mr. N. Hammond to this office was cancelled early in the year by the government, and Mr. John McLay, reeve of Huron Township, was appointed to it. Mr. Hammond refused to surrender the books. Ultimately Mr. McLay forcibly obtained possession of the same, but the inconvenience to the public was great while the contention lasted, which was settled by the courts, but not until 1868. [In the Provincial estimates for 1871 is this item, "To reimburse John McLay for costs incurred by him in re Hammond, $1,097.46."] A change in the member for the Saugeen division in the Legislative Council occurred this year, D. L. Macpherson obtaining the seat, which he held until his death thirty-three years later. Mr. Snyder, of Owen Sound, was the other candidate in this election.

The year 1865 is a memorable one in the history of the county of Bruce, witnessing as it did the passing of the gravel roads by-law by a vote of the ratepayers, the conclusion of the battle for the county town, and the final settlement of that troublesome question.

James Brocklebank was in 1865 again elected to fill the warden's chair. The first meeting for that year of the provisional County Council was held in Kincardine. After some desultory voting about the county town, which did not further matters in any way, the following motion carried, "That a committee of five be balloted for to draft a petition to the Legislature praying for the passage of an Act declaring Paisley the county town of Bruce, in accordance with the majority of ratepayers, when given at the poll held for that purpose." After the above motion was carried, a committee was appointed to select a site for the county buildings at Paisley. This committee selected a site which was to have cost $300. They also arranged with Mr. Elliott, the contractor, to erect the buildings in Paisley at an advance of $5,000 over his contract price for their erection at Walkerton. The report made by this committee, when presented at the next meeting of the County Council, was not adopted, an amendment being carried to the following effect, "That steps be immediately taken for the erection of the county buildings at Walkerton, and that the warden do sign the contract for the same." This motion was followed by another, which is here given in full, as it is the last motion that carried, although not the last motion voted upon in the Council regarding this long, vexatious and wearisome dispute that had lasted eight years, trying the patience of the ratepayers and making them almost despair of a settlement. The motion reads: "Moved by Wm. Sutton, seconded by Paul Ross, That the warden petition the Legislature in behalf of this Council for a bill to repeal all past Acts having reference to the county town of Bruce, and to pass a Bill appointing Walkerton the county town of Bruce in accordance with the action of this Council." The vote as taken was—yeas 13, nays 10. One of the results of the above decision was the entering of a suit against the county to compel the Council to erect the county buildings at Paisley, the plaintiffs being John Valentine, John Gillies, John McMillan, J. B. Shepman, Samuel T. Rowe, Simon and Thomas Orchard. Parliament acceded to the petition of the Council and passed an Act, assented to 15th September, 1865, [29 Vic. Chap 66.] which declared Walkerton the county town, also legalizing the by-law appointing the Building Committee, and directing all legal proceedings against the Council in the matter to be stayed, and directing the Council to pay all costs of such proceedings. The costs incurred by the plaintiffs, $593.00, were duly paid December 4th, 1865, and the county town question became a thing of the past.

At the June session, 1865, of the United Counties Council the Road and Bridge Committee of Bruce brought in a report recommending a scheme of gravel roads, also the spending of $16,000 on improving other roads, as well as the spending of $22,000 on improving the following harbors: $10,000 at Kincardine; $3,000 at Inver-huron; $3,000 at Port Elgin and $6,000 at Southampton; and that debentures for $220,000 be issued to pay for the same. A by-law to the above effect was voted upon September 21st and 22nd, 1865, and carried by a majority of 738. The by-law was then passed at a special meeting of the United Counties Council held for that purpose October 5th, 1865, at which session a committee was appointed to carry out the scheme. L. B. Hamlin was appointed engineer, and he immediately got out the necessary profile plans, and at the December meeting of the Council fifty-eight tenders were received. The work of constructing the gravel roads and building a bridge at Paisley was let in eight contracts, at a total of $167,397. Extras for about $36,500 were subsequently allowed. The total cost of the gravel road scheme was $199,704.75. The work at the harbors was let in the following year.

It was thought that a separation of the two counties could be effected at the end of the year 1865, and an arrangement was made adjusting the accounts between the two counties, the principal item being the assuming by the county of Huron of $253,000 and by the county of Bruce of $55,000 of the united counties' indebtedness to the Municipal Loan Fund. The Governor-General was also petitioned to dissolve the union by proclamation. This was not complied with just then, owing to the incomplete state of the gaol and court house, and so the union lasted until the end of the following year.

About this time, the days of the American Civil War, this country was flooded with American silver coins, owing to the depreciation of the United States currency. For a time this foreign coinage passed at par, but the bulk of it at length became so great that bank bills were to a large extent put out of circulation. Merchants made their remittances to the wholesale houses at Toronto or Montreal in silver, hundreds or thousands of dollars at a time. It was not until a discount of 20 per cent. was put upon it that the influx was stopped. The people of this county, in common with others, lost heavily thereby. Among the entries in the county treasurer's books at this time is to be found the item, "Discount on American silver."

The agitation for a railway into the county continued in 1865, the route suggested being different from either of those herein mentioned when relating the incidents of the preceding year. This time the route proposed was to start from some point on the Northern Railroad, to pass through the village of Durham and the southern townships of Bruce and find a lake port at Kincardine. In support of this scheme the County Council petitioned the Governor-General to bonus such a line of railway.

The raid made by the Fenians in 1866 called to arms the volunteers of Bruce, who promptly responded and assembled at Goderich, where an attack was looked for. The features of this marshalling of our volunteers is dwelt upon fully in another chapter in this book, devoted to "Militia and Volunteers."

During this year good progress was made in completing the contracts for gravelling the leading roads and on work at the harbors at Kincardine, Inverhuron and Southampton. The weather was not favorable for this work, resulting in many contracts not being completed until the following year. The assuming as county roads of "the public highways known as the Goderich and Saugeen Road, Durham, Elora, Kinloss, Culross and Northern Roads," was one of the most marked acts in 1866 of the United Counties Council that affected the county of Bruce.

James Brocklebank, for a third term, held the position as warden of the county in 1866, and presided over the last of the provisional County Councils, which, compared with its predecessors, had a tranquil term of office. So question of moment arose and its sessions were largely taken up with considering reports of the Building Committee. This committee made an earnest effort to get the county buildings advanced enough to be accepted by the Board of Prison Inspectors before the meeting of the June session of the council. This could not be accomplished, and it was not until November 1st that the committee reported the gaol and court house as complete. The cost of these buildings was greater than expected when the contracts were let, and it was found necessary to pass a by-law to raise $20,000 to pay for the completion of them. Being so late in the year, the dissolving of the union of the counties was postponed until the end of the year, thereby saving trouble in closing up the joint accounts of the two counties.


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