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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Alexander McTavish


Alexander McTavish whose life was ended December 24th, 1903, when, after but a week's illness, he entered into rest, was born March 20th, 1842, in Orford township, County of Kent, on the fine farm of 100 acres, township range, Lot 68, where his whole life was spent, a son of Alexander and Isabel (Gillies) McTavish, of Argyllshire, Scotland, who were married in the County of Elgin, Ontario.

Alexander McTavish, Sr., came to Canada in 1810 with his parents, and located in Orford Township, County of Kent.  Here three brothers, Alexander, John and Malcolm, each took up 200 acres of land.  Alexander remained upon his property until his death, in September, 1860, when he was fifty years of age.  His widow survived him until 1890, dying at the age of eighty-four years, and like her husband firm in the faith of the Baptist Church.  They were both buried in the New Glasgow cemetery, County of Elgin, Ontario.  When they first located in Orford all the land was a wilderness, and they were obliged to guard against wolves and other wild animals.  Their children were:  Catherine, of Duart, Ontario, who married George Gillard; John, Daniel and Archie, deceased; Margaret, who died unmarried at the age of 29 years; Henrietta, who died unmarried at the age of 20 years; Alexander; and Miss Mary, who resided with Alexander.

On October 24th, 1864, at Detroit, Michigan, Alexander McTavish, our subject, married Hannah Marilla Cornwall, and the following named children were born to them:  (1) Miriam, of Ridgetown, Ontario, married L.J. Ruth.  (2) Miss Mattie is at home.  (3)  Edgar Wilson, a farmer of Orford township, married Eva Evaline Congo.  (4)  Frank Cornwall, a physician of Vancouver, B.C. graduated from Toronto University with the degree of M.B., after which he entered Edinburgh University; he next went to London, England, where he received the degree of L.R.C.A.; and then enlisted in the Imperial Yeomanry, as surgeon, spending two years in South Africa.  Returning home at the close of the war, after a few months he returned to England and took the degrees of L.R.C.P. and M.R.C.S.  In July, 1903, he married Grace A. Brown, of Niagara Falls, and since his location in Vancouver has rapidly risen in his profession.  (5)  William Alexander is a physician of Olds, Alberta.  (6)  Miss Edith Marilla, of Woodstock, is a trained nurse.  (7)  Hiram Roy is a student at College.  Mrs. Hannah Marilla (Cornwall) McTavish was born in Orford township, August 13th, 1844, daughter of Joseph and Bethany (Wilson) Cornwall, of England, who were reared in Canada.  They were among the early settlerss of the Dominion and soon after their marriage, which took place in 1837, they located in the County of Kent.  The father died August 27th, 1885, aged 65 years.  Both died at the home of their son-in-law, Mr. McTavish, and they are buried in the Morpeth Cemetery.  Their religious connection was with the Methodists.  The children born to their union were:  Hiram, a farmer of Ellensburg, washington; Nicholas, a farmer of Assiniboia; Mary, who married Archie McTavish (a brother of our subject), a farmer of Howard township; Hannah Marilla; Percilla, who married John Sinnington, of Howard Township; Emily, who married Rev. C. Burdett, of Ridgetown, Ontario; and Jane, deceased.

Alexander McTavish spent his life upon his farm and was frankly and justly proud of his beautiful home and fine land.  The dwelling is one of the modern model farm houses of the county, fitted with all modern improvements, including hot and cold water, baths, gas, etc., and handsomely furnished.  One of the conspicuous features of the furnishings is the collection of various South African curios, including some magnificent tiger rugs, brought to his parents by Dr. Frank C. McTavish.

In politics Mr. McTavish was a Reformer and active in local affairs, for two years serving as a member of the township council, and for six years as a school trustee.  For twenty-three years he was treasurer of the Baptist Church, finally resigning the office in 1903.  His religious affiliations were always with that church, of which he was a liberal and earnest member.  Fraternally he belonged to the A.O.U.W. and the A.F. & A.M., instituted 28 years ago.

Probably no man in the County of Kent was a better representative of the agricultural interests of the locality than Mr. Mctavish.  Although his life was spent within the borders of his native county, he was a man of broad ideas, well informed as to current events, and was a clearly felt factor in political matters.  The family is one of the oldest in Orford township, and its various members fully sustain the reputation gained by the founder, all of the name being upright, honourable and courteous gentlemen, conscientious in the discharge of all duties, whether those of a public or private citizen.  Mr. McTavish not only established himself firmly in the community, but reared a family which does him credit, and reflects favourably upon his wisdom and management.  His death was deeply deplored, and a large concourse of friends came to do his memory honour.  His remains rest in Greenwood Cemetery, Ridgetown, Ontario. 

p.260, 261


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