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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Archie McKinlay


ARCHIE McKINLAY belongs to the very same strong, vigorous, manly race which produced that noble statesman and revered ruler, William McKinley, the late President of the United States.  They trace their descent to a common ancestor, one branch of the family coming to the United States, the other to Canada, about the same time.  The family is of Scotch origin, and has scores of representatives in the vicinity of County Kent, Ontario.  Though these have, for the most part, devoted themselves to agricultural pursuits, possessing to a marked degree all the noble race characteristics, they would, undoubtedly, have come to the front in almost any vocation in life.  As agriculturists they are thoroughly successful and highly influential especially is this true of him whose name heads this sketch.

John McKinlay, grandfather of Archie, was born at Callander, Perthshire, in the Highlands of Scotland, in December, 1748, and, in his native land spent his life.  In 1784 he married Mary McVean, a woman of good judgment and strong character.  After the death of her husband she, hoping to better the condition of the family, came with her children to America, and settled in the State of New York.  She died near Rochester, in that State, in 1816.  Five children born to Mr. and Mrs. McKinlay, all of whom, in 1818, came to Aldborough, County Elgin, Ontario, and settled on land which they received from Col. Talbot, the English government agent; James made his home in that place for the rest of his life; Duncan, Peter, and Robert, each, after, settled on one-hundred-acre tracts given them by Col. Talbot in Howard township, County of Kent, where they made good farms, which are in the hands of their descendants; Mary married John McClarren, and they settled in the County of Kent, where he died.

Duncan McKinlay, father of Archie, was born in Perthshire, Scotland, in 1791.  After the death of his father he came with his mother to New York, where he resided for some time.  In 1818, with his brothers and sisters he settled in Aldborough, County Elgin, and, later, as has been said, on a 100-acre tract, given him by Col. Talbot, in Howard township, County Kent.  With the hardy spirit of the true woodsman he cleared and broke his land, and, in a short time, transformed the wild forest into a highly improved farm.  Here he carried on agriculture with much success, and, by taking advantage of every desirable land deal, was enabled to enlarge his property, so it finally embraced the extensive area of 450 acres in one body.  Upon this he resided for the rest of his life, dying at the homestead, in September, 1875.

In Canada, in 1822, Mr. McKinlay married Sarah MacIntyre, who was born in Argyllshire, Scotland, in 1802.  She died at the homestead in 1885.  By this marriage there were ten children:  (1) Isabella, born at the Howard township homestead in November, 1823, married James McKinlay, of Ridgetown, and is now deceased.  (2)  John, born in 1825, died in his twenty-second year.  (3)  Archie is mentioned below.  (4)  Mary, born in 1829, married Thomas Finley, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and has several children.  (5)  Sarah, born in 1831, married John Ferguson (now deceased), and she resides near Thamesville.  (6)  Catherine, born in 1833, died in her young womanhood.  (7)  Nancy, born in 1835, married Duncan McLaren, has one son James, and they now reside at Monroe, Michigan.  (8)  James, born at the old homestead, in 1837, never married, and he died at his residence on part of the old place, in 1900.  (9)  Duncan, born in 1840, who married a Miss Dodge, and had severall children settled at the old homestead, where he died in 1882.  His widow still lives there.  (10)  Margaret, born in 1843, has never married, and now lives at the home of her brother James.  Mr. McKinlay always put forth his energies on the side of morality and progress.  Zealous in religious works, he played a leading part in the movement for the building of the First Presbyterian Church, of which both he and his wife were active members, he serving very efficiently as elder for many years.  He organized Sunday schools, and was widely known as a prominent Church worker.  In politics he at first affiliated with the Conservatives, but later was a strong Reformer.  He made many warm friends during his lifetime, and won the esteem of all who knew him.

Archie McKinlay has for the most part passed his life in Howard township, County Kent, where, on Concession 11, he was born, June 11th, 1827.  In attending the district schools a few months in winter, and engaging in farm work during summer, his early years were passed, and he developed traits of self-reliance and persistence which have prominently characterized his life-work.  In March, 1865 he married Helen McGregor, who was born in 1842, and reared on the family homestead in Howard township.  Her parents, John and Mary (Robinson) McGregor, both born in Scotland were among the pioneer settlers of Howard township.  On the eleventh Concession they made a good home for themselves and there resided for the rest of their lives, the father dying there in 1889, and the mother in 1890.  By this union there were five children:  Helen (now Mrs. McKinlay) and Margaret (who married a Mr. Williams) are still living.  Janet, Robert and William died young.  Mr. and Mrs. McKinlay have four children, all of whom received their education in the Collegiate Institute of Ridgetown, and are living at home:  Mary H., Duncan F., John A. and Jennie S.

Before his death the elder Mr. McKinlay divided his extensive homestead among his children, and on his share of the land thus received, Archie McKinlay settled after his marriage, and began developing its resources.  Much of it was at that time in a wild state, and this he has cleared and opened, and put under excellent cultivation.  Shortly before his marriage, in 1864, he erected a fine, modern house which he has repaired from time to time, and has kept in excellent condition.  He has two splendid bars; one, erected in 1891, is of cement foundation and especially attractive and well suited to his needs.  He has put the main strength of his manhood into work upon his land, with the result that he now has a farm in which any man might take just pride.  He still resides on this place, but, having now reached his seventy-eighth year, is living in retirement.

Mr. McKinlay has always possessed too large a nature and too fertile an intellect to confine his activities to one field of labour.  In educational, religious and public affairs he has long been a leader, and the Presbyterian Church, to which he and his family belong, counts him among its strong supporters in all its benevolent and helpful enterprises.  Though disinclined to office seeking, in local affairs, he has through the merited esteem of his fellow citizens, served as a member of the township council for fourteen years, exercising great foresight and marked business ability in the management of affairs.  In politics he is an unwavering Reformer, and well informed upon all questions of public interest.  Personally Mr. McKinlay possesses a strong, determined, forceful nature, softened and refined by his kindness, sympathy, and benevolence.  Misfortune appeals to him, and the strength of his manhood goes out to its relief.  Wisdom, honesty and fairness mark his dealings with his fellow men.  His good work and his admirable traits of character have long been recognized, and few townsmen occupy a warmer place in the hearts of the community than Mr. McKinlay.

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