Heritage Site Update
The Ballinafad Oral History Series
THE ROCKSIDE PIONEERS THE
KIRKWOOD FAMILY- FROM ROCKSIDE TO BALLINAFAD
We have been long in returning
but we have not been idle since Update 54. We, of the Ballinafad Oral history
Project of the N.H.C.H.S., have been working intensely with Graeme Morton,
Chair, Department of Scottish studies, University of Guelph and James Jensen,
doctorate fellow and teaching assistant to create a university website specific
to the Oral History project. This site and samples of the interviews done with
pioneer descendants will be available on www.electric scotland.com as well.
In Update 54, we introduced you
to the Rockside Pioneers who first pioneered the region of Caledon by
introducing you to Robert Crichtons wonderful book. In reply to my query, Jim
Kirkwood, great grandson of Donald McKay of Fallbrook and son of James P.
Kirkwood of Ballinafad wrote ``yes, Wm Kirkwood, my grandfather married Mary
McKay, she was born 1871; don't have the year of marriage, but their first child
Oliver was born 1896. Yes Wm Kirkwood was definitely an ancestor of mine.
Margaret would be a relative
since they all sprang from Wm, but she is not in my direct line, I think. ``
Margaret is the link between the Crichtons, the McLachlans (the family of
Alexander the poet) and the Kirkwoods. In chapters 7, 8 and 10 of the Rockside
Pioneers, Crichton writes,
The Kirkwoods (Jim, Marian,
Alan) revisit the burial site of their Rockside ancestor and great grandparents
Robert Kirkwood and Martha McEnery at the Melville White Church Cemetery saved,
restored and managed by the Belfountain Heritage Society. More follows below...
In April, 2008, the Kirkwoods took the author
of these lines on a tour of our rockside and ballinafad roots. Alan K.
served as guide and described in detail the different farms, lots and
pioneer highlights. On the left, Alan, Jim and Marion Smeaton Kirkwood visit
the burial plots of their rockside ancestors. Below right, Marion S.
Kirkwood is seen with Marion Kirkwood, life partner of Jim Kirkwood. Below
left, Marion S. Stands beside a monument at the heritage Providence Cemetery
lan Kirkwood, whom you have
already met also confirmed the connection between the Rockside Kirkwood and the
McKays. Alan has over 18,000 persons documented in his extensive research on
the Rockside pioneers and their descendants. He is the source of most documents
and the information we share with you. It is amateur and very talented
staticians, genealogists, historians and storytellers like he, Joan Kadoke, Alan
and Nancy Sinclair, Ada Kirkwood, Wilma Sinclair and many others who ensure that
the past is not forgotten,. Without their dedication and the work of the various
Womens Institutes as recorded in the Tweedsmuir Histories, all this working
class history would be lost.
The story of William Kirkwood,
the first Scot of his clan to come to Rockside, follows.
KIRKWOOD, William (d.), was b. at Castle Semple estate,
near Howood, Renfrewshire, Scot., and d. in 1850, age 56. William Kirkwood,
Freeholder of Howood, Scot., sailed for Canada on Young Norval in 1820, and
was eight weeks crossing. He left his family in Toronto, and, with his son
John, pushed west in search of land. He located on lot 2, con 6, Caledon
Tp., on the town line of Erin, where he put up a shanty, and the following
year moved up his family from Toronto. They were obliged to walk most of the
way, as the bush was impassable for teams. They crossed the Credit River on
a log. At the time of his death at the comparatively early age of 56, he had
a most comfortable home. He was a Presbyterian, and a Liberal. He m.
Margaret McDonald in Scotland. Issue: John, Mrs. Wm. Beer, Erin Tp.; William
(d.) and James (twins), Erin Tp.; David, Brampton, Co, Clerk, Peel Co.; Mrs.
Daniel Douglas, Norval, and Mrs. George Thompson (d.), Toronto; Mrs.
Creighton (d.), Mrs. Trout, (d.); Mrs. McLachlan (d.), and Mrs. A. Near
John b. in Howood Scot., 1808; d. 1880, age 72. He worked in the cotton
mills for about three years before he came to Canada with his parents in
1820. He helped his father to put up the shanty on his place before the
family were brought up from Toronto. In 1832 he bought 50 acres of lot 1,
con. 6, Caledon and later the remaining 50 acres and finished clearing them.
He was a good business man, and brought the first cylinder separator into
the district, where he operated it for years, and at his father's death he
retained the homestead. He was Township Councillor and Deputy Reeve for
years of Caledon Tp., and served as Deputy Reeve in the old Home District
Council. About 1856 he was appointed a Magistrate, and at Confederation, Mr.
Kirkwood and Isaac Harris, of Caledon, were the first to be re-appointed, so
that oaths, etc., could be administered. He was one of the workers in the
Liberal party, and was active in the support of the Presbyterian church. He
m. Margaret, dau. of Alex. Patullo of Caledon, who d. in 1898, age 84.
Issue: William (d.), Brampton; Mrs. T. H. Lee (d.), Vancouver; Alexander
(d.), and Mrs. James Buckham (d.), Chinguacousy; Mrs. George Sharp, and
James, Caledon; John and Mrs. Charles Overland, Erin.
John, Jr., b. Caledon in 1849, and went to school to the Rev. Dr. Fletcher,
of Hamilton, who was a school teacher of No. 1 Erin. He operated the farm
some years before his father's death, when he succeeded to the homestead,
where he now resides in a large stone house, one of the finest homes in the
section. He also owns 100 acres the east half, lot 3, con. 11, Erin. He has
a local reputation as a breeder of Polled Angus cattle, keeping both
thoroughbred and graded cattle, which he raises for his own satisfaction, as
he likes good stock of all kinds. He is a widely read man, and keeps up with
all current events. For about thirty years he has been Postmaster at
Rockside. He has been an active worker in the Liberal party, being on local
committees at different times. In religion he is a Presbyterian. He m.
Alice, dau. of James Sharp of Caledon. Surviving issue: Bessie L. and George
James, son of the late William Kirkwood, was b. Scotland in 1817, and d. in
1853, age 36. He set. in Erin in 1840, on the 100 acres lot 4, con. 7. He
was an ardent sympathizer with Mackenzie in his troubles against the Family
Compact. Like all of the Kirkwoods, he was a Liberal. He d. of sunstroke at
the early age of 36, just as he had gained a good start in life. In 1840 he
m. Agnes Davidson. Issue: William and John, U.S.; James, David, Thomas, Ann
J.(d.), and Mrs. D. McGregor, Caledon.
James was b. in Erin in 1845. He has been a leading man in the township for
years. He was a Councillor for twelve years, commencing in 1870, being
successively Councillor, Deputy Reeve, for five years and Reeve three years.
In 1891 he was elected M.P.P. for East Wellington, and was in the House for
three years. In 1902 he was appointed Police Magistrate for the unorganized
district of East Nipissing, which position he held for three years, until
removed by the present Whitney Government. He was Sec'y. of Erin Agr.
Society, and Sec'y of East Wellington Farmer's Institute for some years. He
is noted as a man of pronounced opinions in temperance questions and is a
total abstainer He is an Elder of the Presbyterian church n and in politics
a Liberal. In 1871 he m. Agnes McDonald. Issue: Annie, Mrs. F. Brydon, Erin;
Violet, Alexander, teller in Traders Bank, Rockwood, and Herbert.
From: Historical Atlas of the County of
Wellington, Ontario. Toronto:Historical Atlas Publishing Co., 1906
The Family of
Robert Kirkwood & Martha Ann McEnery
In the quotation from the
Genealogical Research Library, we can document the union of the
Rockside-Ballinafad Kirkwood families through the marriage of Mary daughter of
Donald McKay, the farm pioneer of the Fallbrook Farm Heritage Site (1869) to
William Kirkwood. Jims father, James Palmer was named after his uncle whom we
see in the picture above. His mother was Mildred Frieda McMenemy. Alans father
was Donald Cobrough and his mother Kathleen Young. James and Donald were
grandsons of William Kirkwood, the original Rockside pioneer. James P. Kirkwood
moved to Ballinafad in the 1930.s to run the grist mill and general store
The Kirkwood ancestors are one of
the many Rockside pioneer families buried in the Melville White Church Cemetery
at Belfountain between Caledon and Erin, Ontario. A wonderful description of the
cemetery from the Rockside Pioneers is reproduced here. It is written by Miss
Bessie I. Kirkwood who was the daughter of John,son of William Kirkwood.
(Bessie L. daughter. of George S. James, son of the late William
Kirkwood , was b. Scotland in 1817, and d. in 1853, age 36. He set. in
Erin in 1840, ... www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onwellin/pioneers/kirkwood_william.htm
The White Church and cemetery were saved and
preserved by local heritage volunteers from Belfountain working with the City
Council of Erin. The group is now known as the Belfountain Heritage Society.
Built in 1837, the Melville White Church is the
oldest standing church in the Town of Caledon. It represents the communal
efforts of the "Rockside Pioneers", a group of Presbyterian Scots who settled in
the area in the early 1820's. Organized by Rockside Pioneers John MacDonald and
John Crichton, this early congregation first met in MacDonald's home. By 1828,
John Crichton had secured the services of Reverend Andrew Bell, who walked 25
miles once a month to preside over a weekday service. Bell established the
congregation of "West Caledon" in 1831; one of its earliest ministers, Duncan
McMillan, preached in both Gaelic and English. The original church was a log
structure that also served as a school, and was located across the road from the
Built by the Daniel McMillan & Bros. of Erin, the
church was painted white upon completion and quickly became known as "the White
Church". The origin of the name "Melville" remains a mystery. In 1843, the
Caledon Presbyterian congregation joined others in Upper Canada in separating
from the established Church of Scotland and forming the Free Church of Canada.
Land for the adjacent cemetery was deeded to the church in 1866.
Some of the names of those early worshippers who enriched the
history of the White Church are: Crichton, Gibson, Frank, Pattulo, Burnet,
Kirkwood, Foster, Hunter, McLachlan, MacMillan, McEachern, Campbell and Sharp.
Many of these pioneers came from the Isle off the
coast of Scotland.
A small church up the road disbanded in 1990 and,
although Congregationalsits, swelled the ranks of the "White Churchers".
Greenlaw Corners no longer exists, but the remnants of their cemetery can still
be seen at the corner of Mississauga Road and The Grange Sideroad.
Throughout its history, the White Church has had
wonderfully colourful ministers. McMillan often preached in Gaelic. There was an
Irishman, a Mulatto (1857) and a blind Syrian (1886). Multiculturalism was alive
and well in those days!
The White Church's congregation ebbed after its centennial in
1937 and the congregation eventually disbanded in 1964. In 1966, the Credit
Valley Conservation Authority purchased the church and cemetery property. Most
of the church furnishings were sold, although the pulpit was later re-purchased
and other artefacts have been returned. Now owned by the Town of Caledon, the
church is being restored by the Belfountain Heritage Society for use as a public
venue. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the BHS and strong community support,
this important historical landmark has been given a new lease on life!
The Melville White Church is an example of the unadorned
style of architecture popular among many Protestant denominations of the early
to mid-19th century. Its principal features include:
hand hewn squared timer framing, clad with horizontal wood
simple, clean lines with a notable absence of a bell tower or spire
the arched windows with simple forked Gothic tracery are not original, and
likely date to the latter half of the 19th century
the interior is notable for its horizontal wainscoting and upper loft
pews salvaged from the former Knox Church, Caledon East
The stone wall with the iron gate was erected across
the front of the property in 1901 and 1902; at the same time a system of drains
was installed across the cemetery.
The adjacent cemetery is the largest in the
immediate area and contains the headstones of many of the Rockside Pioneer
Architectural technologist Denis Heroux, through the
Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, prepared a stimulating and positive report
and plan for the restoration of the White Church.
He concluded: "The White Church, one of the few
remaining pre-Victorian era timber fame churches in Ontario, is a valuable
cultural resource to the Town of Caledon. The modest size of the church, the
quality of the natural light filtering through the windows, and the simplicity
of the decor made the building highly adaptable for a number of users. It is
also fortunate that the church is built mostly of wood making it possible to use
local skills and materials."
The fact that the White Church is a heritage
building is not an obstacle to its reuse. The building can be easily modernized
while retaining its heritage character.
This report recommended two restoration options -
the first for year around use, and the second, only for summertime. This latter
option is the plan the Belfountain Heritage Society has undertaken.
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