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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Peter Duncan McKellar


PETER DUNCAN McKELLAR, one of the prominent business citizens of Chatham, who for forty years has ably filled the position of registrar of the County of Kent, with a fidelity to the public not exceeded by any other official, is of Scottish descent, and comes from a pioneer family of the county.  The line is traced back to John and Mark (Clark) McKellar, who had one son, Dugall, born in 1673.  Dugall McKellar married Mary McNair, and they had two sons, Duncan and John, of whom the latter married Isabella Campbell, and had two sons, Neil and Patrick.  The former had one son (Duncan) and one daughter.  Patrick was a colonel in the British army, and was present at the taking of Gibraltar.  He left a large estate, but no children.

Duncan McKellar, son of Dugall, born in 1703, married Catherine McLean, and they had two sons, John and Archibald, and two daughters, Mary and Catherine. John McKellar, born in 1731, was the great-great-grandfather of Peter D.

Archibald McKellar, the great-grandfather of Peter Duncan, was born in Scotland May 28, 1760.  He was the father of the following named children:  John, Peter, Neil, Archibald, Duncan, David and Sarah.

Peter McKellar,; of this family was the grandfather of Peter D. McKellar, of Chatham.  On August 1, 1811, he married Flora McNab, and of tgheir children only two grew to maturity:  Mary, born December 10, 1812, who married Duncan McNab, a merchant of Hamilton, Ontario, and is now deceased; and Archibald, born February 3, 1816, at Glenshiel, Scotland.  In 1818 the latter was brought by his parents to Canada, the family settling in Aldborough township, County of Elgin Ontario, where they lived until 1836. During this period Peter McKellar built the first mill for grinding grain in that section.  Prior to the construction of this mill grinding had been done by the primitive method of reducing the grain by means of pulverizing it between two stones, by hand.  In 1836 Peter McKellar removed his family to Lot 17, Raleigh township, County of Kent, where he settled on the banks of the river Thames, and there both he and his wife died, the former January 29, 1861, and the latter February 9, 1877, at the age of ninety-six years.  They led quiet, irreproachable lives, and are recorded as most respected and useful pioneers of the county.

On August 11th, 1836, the date of the arrival of the family in the County of Kent, Archibald McKellar, father of Peter D., married Luch McNab, who was born in 1820.  After their marriage they remained on the old home, Archibald, being the only son, continuing to assist in the operation of the farm there until 1848, when he removed to Chatham, and formed a partnership with John Dolsen in the lumber business, an association which continued until 1863.  During these years of active business life in Chatham, Archibald McKellar had been a member of he Western District council and also of the city council of Chatham.  His ability as a public man was recognized still more fully when he was sent, in 1857, to the Parliament of the United Provinces of Up0per and Lower Canada.  In 1867 he was elected to the Parliament of Ontario, which position he ably held until 1874, and during a part of this time he was a very prominent figure, being Provincial Secretary and a Commissioner of Public Works.  In 1874 he retired to the shrievalty of Wentworth, residing in Hamilton, Ontario and holding that position until his death, February 11, 1894; his wife preceeded him February 13, 1857, at the age of thirty-seven years.  To Archibald McKellar and his wife were born the following named children:  Peter Duncan is a resident of Chatham.  Mary Jane, boarn August 13, 1841, married Rev. John McMeehan, September 18, 1861, and died June 19, 1870, leaving four sons.  Flora, born April 8, 1843, married William H. Birrrell in 1865.  Sarah Ann, born March 13, 1845, married February 19, 1868,Feorge H. Sanborn, of Fargo, North Dakota, and they have one daughter, Millicent.  Janet, born January 222, 1847, married January 20, 1869, John R. Gemmill, (who is the present sheriff of the County of Kent), and died leaving three sons and three daughters.  Donald, born February 5, 1850, married Lomila Bobier, October 17, 1876, and they have four living children.  Thomas, born January 27, 1853, died March 13, 1893, unmarried.  Lucy Marion, born March 2, 1855, married David AG. Fleming, September 1, 1875, and died July  27, 1879, leaving one daughter.

Peter Duncan McKellar was born November 2, 1839, on the old homestead in Raleigh township, County of Kent, and was nine years of age when his father moved to Chatham.  In the public schools of that city he received his early education, which was supplemented by a course in the Upper Canada College, and a law course at University College, at Toronto.  During the se years he had been applyhing himself to the study of the law, and in July, 1862, during his third year, he was appointed to his present position, a testimonial of worth, as Mr. McKellar was at that time but twenty-three years of age.  He has most efficiently filled the office for more than forty years.  By his acceptance of this position his law course was cut short one year.

Mr. McKellar is a stockholder in and secretary of the Chatham Dredging Co., formed in 1883, with D.G. Fleming as president and S.T. Martin as manager and treasurer.  He is the owner of 750 acres of fine farming land in the County of Kent, which is tenanted, and also owns a fine home on Victoria avenue, in Chatham, and is very justly regarded as one of the solid and substantial men of the county.

On October 19, 1876, Mr. McKellar was married to Miss Louise Ann Stegmann, of Toronto, who died June 30, 1890.  Mr. McKellar belongs to the First Presbyterian Church of Chatham, of which his wife was also a member, and he is prominent in the city’s social life.  He views the political field as a supporter of the Liberal party.


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