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Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario
Finlay Oswald


This prosperous farmer of Tilbury East township has since the earliest days prominently identified himself with the development of the agricultural resources of his section, having settled upon a tract of wild land there as early as 1845.   His untiring energy and dogged determination, promoters of his success, he has inherited from his good Scottish ancestors.

John Oswald, father of Finlay, a man of ability and culture, was born in New Falkirk, Perthshire, Scotland.  In a refined home, and under the influence of well-established institutions, he grew to manhood.  Intellectual in taste, he availed himself of every opportunity of pursuing his studies, and thus obtained in the course of time a very solid education.  During his young manhood Mr. Oswald married Catherine McCowan, who died in 1881, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years, and by this union there were seven children, two of whom died very young; Jane, who married Andrew Robertson, of Tilbury East township, is deceased; Lillie, who married Philo G. Belknap, and resided in Detroit, is deceased; Peter died at the age of twenty-one years; Finlay is mentioned below; Catherine, who married William Richardson, is deceased.

After marriage Mr. Oswald continued his residence in Scotland for many years, and in the steady pursuit of business provided a good home for himself and family.  About 1845, hoping to better his own fortunes, as well as to assist his children to good openings, he came to Canada, and after a short residence in Hamilton secured of Col. Talbot the north half of Lot 15, M.R.N., in Tilbury East township, his son, Finlay Oswald, taking Lot 14.  As transportation at that time was poor, the family journeyed to their grants in lumber wagons.  There, on Lot 14, Mr. Oswald first erected a small log cabin, almost directly across the road from where the family residence now stands, and with the Camerons on Lot 16 and the Robertsons on Lot 8 as neighbours, he began the arduous tasks of life in a new country.  Wisely-directed efforts enabled him in the course of time to clear and put under thorough cultivation extensive tracts; and after a while he replaced his log cabin residence with a substantial black ash log building, which, though at present unoccupied, is in a good state of preservation.  After getting a good start on his farm Mr. Oswald left some of the heavier work of the place to his children, and, taking a position in school district No. 2, gave his attention mainly to teaching, following this occupation of eight or ten years.  Strong in discipline, and proficient in imparting knowledge, he gave excellent satisfaction to his patrons, and continued his services in the same community for about ten years.  He commanded moderate wages in his profession, and in time became one of the well-to-do citizens of his locality.  Delicate health impaired his usefulness during the last years of his life.  He died in 1869, at the age of seventy-seven years. 

Mr. Oswald was a man of influence, and gave himself unreservedly to the upbuilding of the community in which he dwelt.  It was through his influence that in 1846 Rev. Mr. Gale, of Hamilton, sent Rev. Mr. Southerland, of Eckford, as a missionary to Tilbury East township, and effected the organization of the Presbyterian society, which soon afterward erected a log church.  Mr. Oswald continued his labours with the organization throughout his life, and in 1862 was one of the leaders in the erection of the present church edifice.  A splendid brick manse, erected in 1881, speaks clearly of the flourishing condition of the society which he was instrumental in founding. 

Finlay Oswald was born in Perthshire, Scotland, June 29th, 1829, and when about seventeen years old came with his parents to Canada.  Of a studious disposition, he availed himself of every opportunity of continuing his studies, and during his young manhood attended for some time the excellent school conducted by Rev. William King, at Buxton.  Ambitious to start life for himself, shortly after coming to Canada he took up the north half of Lot 14, in Tilbury East township, and there began making improvements.  After ten or twelve years of successful work on this farm, in about 1855 he assumed the management of the home place, where he now resides.  Much of the land was at that time wholly undeveloped, but by hard work and wise management he soon made some marked improvements there, and opened up an extensive and highly profitable industry, which he is still continuing.  In recent years he has made a specialty of raising corn and also clover for seed, realizing good profits from the industry.

Mr. Oswald has never married.  He has given his attention entirely to the pursuit of his one main industry, and to the public affairs of him community.  As a Reformer he has long been keenly interested in local politics.  For many years he has been a leading member of the Presbyterian Church at Valetta, acting as Sunday-school teacher for thirty-nine years.

p.141, 142


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