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History of the County of Bruce, Ontario, Canada
Full Development Attained, 1867-1881

The year 1867 is a noted one in the history of the county of Bruce, as it is the year which marks its entrance into the ranks of those counties within the province that had attained the dignity of being a separate municipality. The union of the counties of Huron and Bruce was dissolved by a proclamation of the Governor-General, the dissolution taking place December 31st, 1866, so that New Year's Day, 1867, witnessed a marked change in the municipal status of this county.

It might not be amiss at this point to concisely recall the various forms of municipal government Bruce as a county had known. The first attempt to constitute a municipality was abortive, it being the union of all of the county of Bruce with the united townships of Wawanosh and Ashfield, as directed by the District Council of Huron in 1849, a union not contemplated or sustained by statute. This so-called union ended after a duration of two years on December 31st, 1851. As a separate municipality this territory was first known as "the united townships in the county of Bruce." This endured only for two years, 1852 and 1853; then (January 1st, 1854) came the division of the county into separate local municipalities, consisting of one or more townships, each of which sent a representative to the "United Counties Council of Huron and Bruce. This continued during the years 1854-5-6. The next change in the form of municipal life commenced in 1857, when the provisional County Council was created and lived—the centre of a storm which raged over the county town question—until its existence terminated December 31st, 1866. The next era in the municipal life of the county commenced when the reeves [The election which had resulted in the returning of these gentlemen as reeves was the first election at which reeves were elected by the direct vote of the ratepayers. Prior to 1867, the Council of each local municipality chose its reeve, as now the County Council chooses its warden.] of the various minor municipalities, twenty-three in number, assembled on January 22nd, 1867, and organized as the County Council of the county of Bruce.

The fact of being a separate county required the appointment of certain officials, either by the government or by the County Council. The following list gives the names of all who were appointed to office in 1867, most of whom continued in office for many years after:

J. J. Kingsmill, [John Juchereau Kingsmill, M.A., D.C.L., held the position of Judge within the count}' of Bruce for twenty-five years, retiring toward the end of 1891. During this long term of office he retained the respect and confidence both of the Bar and the general public. He was born in the city of Quebec, May 21st, 1829, and was of Irish descent, being a son of Col. Wm. Kingsmill. He studied at Upper Canada College, Toronto University, and Trinity College. He commenced the practice of law at Guelph in 1853. After retiring from the bench he became a partner in the law firm of Kingsmill, Saunders & Torrance, Toronto. Judge Kings-mill was married four times. He was a prominent member of the Church of England. His death occurred while at sea on a voyage to Genoa, Italy, February, 1900.] County Judge; William Sutton, Sheriff; D. W. Ross, County Attorney and Clerk of the Peace; William Gunn,  [William Gunn was born, May, 1816, near Glasgow. When twenty years of age he came to Canada, residing first at Prescott, from whence, in 1838, he removed to Kingston. In both places he was in the employ of large shipping firms. In 1848 he went to Napanee and opened up a general store ; moving from there, he came to Kincardine in 1852, and for a short time had a store there. Once more he moved, this time to Inverhuron, and for fourteen years conducted a general store there, acting also as postmaster. He was Local Superintendent of Schools in West Bruce from 1853 to 1858 inclusive. In 1859 he was elected reeve of the township of Bruce. He acted as census commissioner in Bruce County when the census was taken in 1861, and when the county of Bruce was separated from Huron he received the appointment of deputy clerk of the Crown and of the Surrogate Court, which office he held until his death. In 1889 Mr. Gunn was appointed by the Dominion Government to visit Scotland and Holland to inquire into and report on the herring fishing industry. He married Susan Douglas, daughter of George Douglas, of Kingston. His death occurred 13th November, 1894. He was survived by but one son, William, who has held for many years a position in the employ of the Government at Kingston.] Clerk of the County Court; John McLay, Registrar; James Brockle-bank, Warden; Alex. Sproat, County Treasurer; George Gould, County Clerk; Alexander Shaw, County Solicitor; Latham B. Hamlin, County Engineer; Wm. Oldright, M.D., Gaol Surgeon; Samuel Roether, Gaoler; William Richardson, Caretaker of County Buildings; James Benson, Inspector of Weights and Measures.

The separation of the counties of Huron and Bruce antedated the Confederation of the Dominion of Canada by six months. Shortly after the latter was accomplished, a general election was held. Bruce had been divided for representation purposes into two ridings. The following was the result of the election then held for the House of Commons: In North Bruce Lieut.-Col. Alex. Sproat was returned, and in South Bruce, Francis Hurdon; the unsuccessful candidates being respectively Dr. Robert Douglass and Wm. Rastall. To the Provincial House of Assembly, Donald Sinclair was returned by acclamation for North Bruce, while in South Bruce Hon. Edward Blake was the successful candidate, defeating James Brocklebank, the warden.

The successful opening of the salt industry at Goderich this year induced the County Council to offer a bonus of $1,000 to any one who would sink, within the county of Bruce, an artesian well to the depth of 1,000 feet in search of salt, the bonus to be divided if more than one well were sunk. This led to wells being sunk at Kincardine, Southampton and Port Elgin. In the following year salt was reached at Kincardine at a depth less than a thousand feet, but the wells sunk in the other two places failed to yield salt. The base of the Onondaga formation, in which salt is to be found, comes to the surface at the mouth of the Saugeen River, so the attempt to obtain salt at the two latter places was an ill advised one, but it has been partially recompensed by the obtaining of a flow of excellent mineral water that now enjoys a widespread patronage. The Kincardine company which sunk the well there received $600 as its share of the bonus, and the Southampton company $400.

On the 20th October, 186?, the Commercial Bank, in which the county account was kept, failed. At this time the county treasurer held $12,000 of the bills of the bank, part of which was intended to pay $7,000 of coupons falling due on the first of the following month. As the county was consequently very awkwardly placed, the county treasurer at once started for Toronto to do all that was possible to protect the credit of the county. On arriving there he found financial circles very much excited over the failure, so much so that it was at first impossible to raise any money, although he offered to put up $10,000 of Commercial Bank bills as security for a $6,000 loan. The Honorable D. L. Macpherson, Senator for the Saugeen Division, came nobly to the rescue of this part of his constituency, and offered, "rather than see the credit of the county of Bruce in the least depreciated, to advance the requisite acount." Fortunately the crisis was tided over, and that, too, without accepting the honorable gentleman's liberal offer.

The year 1868 may be given as that when railway matters commenced to take a deep hold of public attention in Bruce. In the previous year a delegation had addressed the County Council in the interests of a line from Toronto. It was 1868, however, when matters were urgently brought before not only the Council, but the general public as well. Of the several railway schemes discussed throughout the county about this time interest settled chiefly upon the merits or demerits of two propositions, namely, that of the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railroad and that of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railroad. The first mentioned was to be a narrow gauge road, and Kincardine was the lake port it aimed to reach. The other company, generally referred to at that time as "the wide gauge," in contradistinction to the other, sought to pass from the south-eastern corner of the county to Southampton, and was backed by all the influence that Hamilton could bring to bear, to secure the promised bonus offered by the county. Adam Brown, Thomas White and William McGivern, of Hamilton, were its most prominent advocates and speakers in support of its claims for approval. The other company strove just as hard, with Toronto at its back, and with John Gordon and George Laidlaw of Toronto to speak of its advantages at the various public meetings called to consider railway matters. In no political election ever held in Bruce has excitement run higher than it did in this railway contest. Walkerton, with the eastern and northern townships, favored the "wide gauge," as the route proposed was very favorable to them. On the other hand Kincardine and the townships along the southern boundary favored the "narrow gauge," its proposed route suiting them best. It was urged in favor of the "narrow gauge" that, as it was an independent road, Bruce would be under no railroad monopoly, whereas the wide gauge was to be leased, equipped and run as a branch of the Great Western Railroad, recently amalgamated with the Grand Trunk Railway. But the "wide gauge" people pointed out that freight shipped on it would not require transhipment on reaching Toronto, the gauge being a standard one, and ears could go from Bruce direct to any market. But many felt bitterly against the Grand Trunk Railway since its amalgamation with the Great Western Railroad because of a serious advance in freight rates. Before amalgamation the rate from Guelph to Montreal was $45 per car and 13 cents on each bushel of wheat. After the roads were amalgamated the rate was raised to $60 per car and 21 cents per bushel for wheat, rates that were justly stated to be extortionate. Many other arguments on both sides were used, but the above constituted the groundwork of nearly all of them, besides indicating how opinions might be biased.

Waiting for the construction of a railway was a tedious matter. To bridge over the interval, and obtain cheaper freight communication to Walkerton than was paid for teaming goods all the way from Guelph, the distance being over sixty miles, some of the enterprising citizens of the former place purchased at this time a traction engine, (o be used to haul freight from and to Kincardine. Unfortunately the amount of success they met with was not equal to the enterprise shown. Their lack of success arose from want of bridges substantial enough to carry such a heavy engine; besides this, the grades at some of the hills wore found to be too steep to enable a profitable load to be hauled up them.

The completion of the gravel road contracts resulted in many claims for extras; these in many cases were excessive and were contested, with the result that the county had at one time to defend six suits of this description.

When settlers purchased their bush-lots from the Crown at the "big" land sale in 1854, or earlier, as the ease might be, one of the conditions of the sale was that payment for the same was to be made in ten annual instalments. In cases of ill health, poor crops, bush fires, or other misfortunes, the settler found himself unable to carry out this condition; the consequence was an accumulation of arrears and interest that amounted in many instances to a considerable sum. To such unfortunates there came, as the knell of doom, the announcement made by the Commissioner of Crown Lands on October 23rd, 1868, that it was the intention to enforce payment on all arrears not paid by March 2nd, 1869. [An extension of time for payment of lands purchased from the Crown had previously been granted, possibly in response to a petition forwarded to the Governor-in-Council by the United Counties Council of Huron and Bruce in 1862, asking that the time of payment be extended for five years, because of a partial failure of the crops that year.] Thoroughly alarmed, the settlers hastened to take steps to protect their farms by making payment of all claims held by the Crown against their lands. Many had to mortgage their farms to do this, a step which in some cases resulted in seeing them pass out of their hands. Many years passed before the county was relieved of the burden of mortgage indebtedness assumed at this time.

There rests one foul blot on the history of the year 1868, as far as Bruce is concerned. During the month of February a man named Stephen Neubecker, returning from Seaforth with the proceeds of a load of grain he had sold, was assaulted and killed and his money taken. John Haag was convicted of the crime and hung on December 15th, the only man who ever suffered capital punishment in the history of the county.

Before passing on to the events of the next year it might be well to note that what are now two of the most flourishing towns within the county, Chesley and Wiarton, commenced to take form in 1868, this being the year in which the former was surveyed, as well as the date of the opening of a post office at Wiarton. It also was the year when Bruce was first connected with the outside world by electric telegraph.

The various proposed railway schemes tantalizingly brought before the people of Bruce during a dozen years previous were in 1869 brought to a head, after a number of excited meetings, ably addressed by good speakers, had been held in towns, villages and district school-houses, until everybody was well aware of the advantages to be gained by the entrance of the Toronto (narrow gauge) line or of the Hamilton (wide gauge) line. The County Council, at a special meeting held in September, decided to submit a by-law to the ratepayers to aid the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway by "a free grant or donation of debentures by way of a bonus, to the extent of $250,000," upon the terms that "the said company do extend and carry the line of railway through the county of Bruce from the south-east boundary thereof, at or near Clifford, to the waters of Lake Huron at Southampton; the said line to be complete and ready for traffic to Southampton within three years of the passing of this by-law." The vote was taken on November 2nd. 2,911 voted in favor of the by-law and 2,626 against it, the by-law being carried by a majority of 285.

Kincardine Town was charged with casting many illegal votes, the feeling there being very strongly in favor of the "narrow gauge." This charge the reeve had to acknowledge as true at the next meeting of the County Council. As soon as the result of the voting was known, a long procession was gotten up at Walkerton to escort the speakers and advocates of the by-law, present from a distance, on their drive back to Guelph, a photograph of which, taken just before starting, is here given. At Mildmay they were halted, to be feasted and congratulated, a pleasing feature again repeated at Harriston. It was many a long day before the county settled down and forgot the bitter words spoken, and all the attendant unpleasantness of this intense contest. Although the by-law carried by a majority of votes throughout the county as a whole, the municipalities of Culross, Kinloss, Huron and Kincardine Township and Village recorded a heavy vote against it, and in the following year an effort was made by these localities to get the County Council to memorialize Parliament to pass an Act exempting these municipalities from being taxed for the same, but were not successful. In addition to this, some private individuals went so far as to apply to the courts to quash the by-law, but with like unsuccess.

The expenditure made by the county in the construction of gravel roads, bridges and harbors far exceeded the original scheme as voted upon in 1865, consequently it was found necessary to make a further issue of debentures to pay for the same. Debentures to the extent of $20,000 were so issued in 1867; again in 1868 and 1869 debentures for a similar amount and purpose were sold, bringing the amount so raised to a total of $280,000 spent within four years for the purpose of improving the means of communication within the county, so that the produce of the fertile fields of Bruce might reach outside markets more expeditiously and cheaply than in the past.

When the county buildings were first occupied the office of the Registrar of Deeds was within the court house. This arrangement not meeting with the approval of the inspector, in 1869 the separate building now in use was built at a cost of $5,360, but it was not until November, 1870, that it became occupied, the fittings having been long delayed.

The cessation of payments by the government on account of the Land Improvement Fund for five or six years led to an agitation for the resuming of such payments, to which the government in 1869 yielded so far as to appoint a committee of the House to report on the facts (see Appendix 0). A number of prominent men from Bruce appeared before this committee and gave evidence, among whom were Donald Sinclair, M.P.P., John Gillies, M.P., John Eckford, Samuel Rowe, Henry Brown, James Rae, Thomas Adair, James Somerville and Alex. McNabb, Crown Lands. Agent. The report of the committee showed that the government was wrong in withholding payment, and, yielding to the justice of the claim, commenced in 1871, and regularly since, to make payment on this account. The amount involved was so large that to neglect seeking to obtain it would have been gross culpability. How large an amount may be imagined from the figures furnished to the author by the treasurer of Greenock, which show that the aggregate amount he received to the end of 1901 was $11,947.13. Other townships would show proportionately large receipts, making a total of something like $200,000. Up to the end of 1859 this fund paid for the colonization road work conducted by David Gibson, referred to in a preceding chapter. The fund collected from January 1st, 1860, to March 6th, 1861 (the date of the order stopping payment), was made in 1864-5 to township treasurers, and so also all payments made in and since 1871.

The townships in the Indian Peninsula had during the "sixties" been quietly filling up with settlers. As a result we find, with the advent of 1870, Eastnor becoming one of the municipalities within the county, being united to Albemarle for municipal purposes. The union of the latter named township with Amabel had been dissolved the preceding summer by a by-law of the County Council.

In the southerly range of townships a series of meetings were held in 1870 in the interests of the narrow gauge railway, with the intent of getting the ratepayers to consent to a sectional bonus being granted, to enable that road to be pushed on to Kincardine from Teeswater. At these meetings the leading men of Kinloss and Luck-now held out for the road to pass through the village of Lucknow. The railway authorities were just as determined that if the road were to be constructed it should take the straightest line practicable from Teeswater to Kincardine. As neither party would change its views no progress was made, and the railway to this day never got beyond Teeswater.

The year 1870 is to be noted as the year when the county was first invaded by the potato bug, and also of the first use of reaping machines by any of our farmers.

The expenditure of the county being very large and burdensome it was felt by many that the expense of maintaining and keeping in repair the newly-made general roads throughout the county was one that should be assumed by the municipalities in which these roads were situated, the work to be performed by statute labor. Yielding to this sentiment, the County Council in June, 1870, repealed the by-law by which these roads had been assumed by the county. As a result of this action, his duties being greatly minimized thereby, the county engineer, Mr. Latham B. Hamlin, handed in his resignation. Six months' experience satisfied the County Council that a mistake had been made, and in January, 1871, the roads were again assumed by the county, and Cyrus Carroll was appointed county engineer. [Mr. Carroll retained the county engineership until the end of 1877, the year in which the county finally handed over the leading roads to the municipalities in which they were located.]

A census of the Dominion was taken in 1871, which gave the population of the county of Bruce as 48,575, an increase of 21,016 (equivalent to 76 per cent.) during the decade that had elapsed since the previous census of 1861. The assessment of the county during the same period had increased from $3,997,187 to $8,398,651, or something over 110 per cent. Both of these classes of figures give satisfactory evidence of the rapid, and at the same time substantial, development of Bruce in that period.

In the spring of 1871 a general election for the Provincial House of Assembly was held. In the north riding of Bruce, Donald Sinclair was returned by acclamation. In South Bruce the contest was between Mr. Edward Blake, who had sat for this riding during the preceding term, and Alex. Sproat, the representative of North Bruce in the House of Commons, dual representation at that time being permitted. The election was carried by Mr. Blake, who had a large majority of votes. In December, 1871, the John Sandfield Macdonald Government was defeated. Mr. Blake was then called upon to form a cabinet. His undertaking to do so once more brought him before the electors of South Bruce, when he was elected by acclamation, January 5th, 1872.

During 1871 the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway made rapid progress, but fearing that it could not be constructed to Southampton in time to claim the full amount of bonus, the President had a special meeting of the County Council held, at which he offered, if the Council would extend the time for twelve months for the construction of the last section of the road, that is, from Paisley to Southampton, the company would hand over to the county all the bonus it might receive from the government under an Act just passed. The Council held back and nothing was done. At the June session of Council the railway company withdrew its offer, an action that awakened a good deal of ill feeling against it. The company, having further favors to ask, at length agreed to give to the county one-half of what it might receive from the government [$23,000 of cancelled debentures comprised the refund made.] on account of that part of its road lying within the county. There was nothing said, however, about extending the time within which the road was to be completed. An Act of Parliament [34 Vic. Chap 37.] passed that year gave the company permission to construct a branch to Kincardine from some point on the main line, and also sanctioned a sectional levy to pay for bonusing such an extension. The result of this legislation was another conflict between the broad gauge and the narrow gauge railway companies as to which was to secure a bonus from the southwestern municipalities for extending their road to Kincardine. Each company this year pressed on the work of construction, the narrow gauge from the village of Arthur, to which it had been completed, while the broad gauge advertized in November for contractors to tender for the construction of the road from Palmerston to Luck-now, following up which, with the usual ceremonies, the first sod' of the Southern Extension Railway was turned at Listowel, December 16th. In the contest for the bonus, once more the W. G. and B. Railway was successful over its opponent, and we find that when, in February, 1872, a by-law was submitted to the ratepayers of the townships of Kinloss, Huron and Kincardine, granting $51,000 to the W. G. and B. Railway on condition that the road was extended to the lake at Kincardine, it was carried. By the conditions of this by-law these three townships were to raise such an amount by a sectional levy annually as was required to pay the debentures and coupons that were issued in the name of the county for the $51,000 so bonused. The railway company, besides this, received from the village of Kincardine an additional bonus of $8,000 and from the county $20,000. This latter amount was in reality the surrender of the share of the government bonus which the company had arranged, as mentioned above, to hand over to the county.

Work on the main line of the W. G. and B. Railway was vigorously prosecuted during the season of 1871. As soon as spring opened parties of engineers were engaged in laying out the route; during the summer contractors were at work at several portions of the road, with the result that on November 30th of that year the first locomotive steamed into the county town.

The Dominion Government, after much solicitation, decided this year to make an extensive harbor of refuge at Chantry Island, the contract for which was secured by Messrs. Reed and Walker, of Kincardine.

For the first four years after Bruce was set apart as a separate county the county town existed only as a part of the township of Brant. Walkerton had not up to this date even sought incorporation as a village, although it had population sufficient to claim such, but its ambitious inhabitants desired that it should rank as a town from the first. To accomplish this (the population being only 995) it was necessary to have an Act of Parliament passed. This was done, and on February 15th, 1871, Walkerton became a municipality, and without ever having been classed as a village municipality, took rank as a town.

The summer of 1871 was marked by a heavy frost on the 30th June, and also as being a very dry one; in consequence of this there were large bush fires, accompanied by the burning of many barns and farm houses in different parts of the county.

The year 1872 witnessed several political elections within the county. As already mentioned, on January 5th the Hon. Edward Blake was returned by acclamation for South Bruce on seeking re-election when he became a Cabinet Minister. On the passing of the Act doing away with dual representation he resigned, and in September E. M. Wells and James Brocklebank contested the riding, the result of the election being the return of Mr. Wells by a majority of 146. At the general election for the House of Commons, held in August, Hon. Edward Blake was returned for South Bruce, his opponent being Mr. Francis Hurdon, the late member, who retired from the contest subsequent to his nomination. In North Bruce, at the same election, John Gillies defeated the late member, Col. Alex. Sproat, by a narrow majority of 22.

In other chapters of this history are to be found two events belonging to 1872, the presenting of a stand of colors to the 32nd Bruce Battalion of volunteers, and the formation of an increased number of High School districts. But the most noted feature of the year was the completion of the railway to Southampton, the date of which auspicious event was December 7th, being the time agreed upon when the bonus was given. The county at large has benefited and prospered greatly through having railway communications with outside markets, far more so than can be calculated, and its inhabitants can look back with thankfulness to the enterprise of the people of a generation ago, who assumed so large a burden of debt for the purpose of bonusing this initial line of railway, which, with others since constructed, enabled the markets of the province and the world at large to be reached by our farmers and manufacturers at all seasons of the year. The bonuses to the Southern Extension Railway having been granted this year, work was commenced on it at both ends, June 10th being given as the date when the contractors commenced at Kincardine. The northern part of the county could not but cast envious eyes on the more favored inhabitants of the county dwelling south of them in regard to railways, and naturally commenced to agitate for a branch line which was to run from Paisley to Colpoy's Bay, but were unsuccessful in their efforts. Ten years were to pass before their desire materialized, and they entered into railway communication with the rest of the world.

Settlers had in small numbers previous to this entered the two extreme northerly townships, Lindsay and St. Edmunds, and this year these two townships were united for municipal purposes with Albemarle and Eastnor.

The harvest of 1872 was an excellent one, as is shown by the shipments of wheat made from various points within the county during the fall of that year and the early part of 1873. The figures are as follows:

The above was calculated to have yielded an average price to the farmer of $1.15 per bushel, representing $972,900. This large amount received from one description of its crops shows very clearly how rapidly the county was growing in wealth.

In March, 1873, the Ontario Legislature passed an Act [36 Vic. Chap. 47.] whereby a distribution of surplus and refund of indebtedness of Municipal Loan Fund Debts was directed and authorized. According to the schedule attached to the Act there was to be distributed among the local municipalities within the county of Bruce $116,379.40. The Act contained a clause permitting amounts to be changed if errors or omissions had been found in the original calculations. As regards Bruce, this clause must have been made use of to a considerable extent, as the total payments made to the townships and villages amounted to $142,659.55. The first payments were received in 1874 and the final ones in 1877.

[Total refunded in 1874, $71,281.14. Total refunded in 1875, $52.918.36. Total refunded in 1876, $13,029.14. Total refunded in 1877, $5,430.91. ' In all, $142,659.55, distributed as follows : Albemarle, Eastnor, Lindsay and St. Edmunds, $1,951.65; Amabel, $5,238.44; Arran, $10,975.79; Brant, $14,642.52; Bruce, $10,464.44; Carrick, $15,122.29; Culross, $11,186.76; Elderslie, $8,330.40; Greenock, $8,788.11; Huron, $11,970.47; Kincardine Township, $12,194.83; Kinloss, $9,108.38; Saugeen, $5,246.81; Kincardine Village, $5,567.02; Lucknow, $1,128.93; Paisley, $2,844.62; Port Elgin, $2,195.20; Southampton, $2,463.54; Walkerton, $3,239.35. The division was on the basis of population as shown by the census of 1871. The amount allocated to Bruce was about $2.93 per head.]

For years there had been more or less grumbling, in certain sections of the county, over alleged advantages that other sections had obtained when the scheme of gravel roads was adopted, and also from the route taken by the railway; the gravel roads and railway alike being wholly or in part constructed by the county at large. To see what there was in these murmurs of discontent, the County Council at its first meeting in 1873 passed a motion asking Judge Kingsmill to investigate the alleged grievances and report thereon. . The report was made and presented at the June session and discussed, and also again at the December session, but resulted in no action being taken; the expenditure proposed, to construct certain roads so that all might share alike, was more than the heavily taxed ratepayers would have stood, so the matter, after much debate, was allowed to drop.

The necessary preliminary steps required for incorporation were taken in 1873 by the three villages of Port Elgin, Paisley and Luck-now. In regard to the latter village a difficulty arose owing to its lying partly in the county of Huron. It was not until the following summer that the part lying in Huron was annexed to Bruce, when the latter county assumed the amount of debt apportioned to the village of Lucknow of the total indebtedness of the county of Huron, the amount being $1,200.

Alex. Sproat, who had filled the office of county treasurer since May 19th, 1864, handed in his resignation at the December session of the County Council, which was accepted, to take effect at the end of the year. His successor, James G. Cooper, was at the same time appointed, his duties to commence January 1st, 1874. Mr. Cooper had worked as assistant to Mr. Sproat for a number of years, and was fully conversant with the office and its duties.

The inhabitants of the Indian Peninsula, who in 1872 had been scheming to get a branch line of railway from Paisley, in 1873 first learnt of the proposition of the Lake Brie and Stratford Railway to push its line through to Colpoy's Bay, the Grand Trunk Railway being at the back of the project.

The railway to Kincardine was completed in the fall of 1873, but owing to the W. G. and B. Railway Company being financially straitened, owing to the government not paying the promised bonus, it was not handed over by the contractors, but was run by them for a year.

In the ministry formed by Hon. Alex. Mackenzie in November, 1873, the Hon. Edward Blake took office, and once more he had to appear before the electors of South Bruce seeking their suffrages. He was returned unopposed December 4th. Mr. Mackenzie not feeling confident of his majority in the House, Parliament was dissolved January 2nd, 1874, a general election being held that month. On this occasion Hon. Mr. Blake was opposed by Mr. Robert Baird, of Kincardine. The contest was a keen one, in which Mr. Blake was returned by a majority of 321. In North Bruce John Gillies was returned by acclamation.

The peaceful, law-abiding inhabitants of the county were surprised and shocked in the spring of the year when they learned that its borders had once more been stained by the crime of murder, which deplorable event occurred March 17th, 1873, in the vicinity of Baie du Dore. One George Price was the victim. A trivial matter originated a dispute between two families that led to blows, which, later on, when whiskey had been freely partaken of, resulted in an assault being made in which Price was killed. James Johnston was convicted of the crime and received a death sentence, which was commuted to life imprisonment. Four others implicated in the case received sentences varying from six months to three years' imprisonment.

That the reader may be enabled to have some idea of what were the products of the county in the early "seventies," and the proportion of each, there is here given a statement of shipments from Walkerton station from 1st September, 1873, to 20th July, 1874:

Wheat, 160,000 bushels. Oats, 6,500 bushels. Barley, 24,500 bushels. Peas, 5,200 bushels. Flour, 5,300 barrels. Oatmeal, 500 barrels. Eggs, 2,100 barrels. Dressed hogs, 25 cars. Lumber, 202 cars. Lath, 6 cars. Bark, 4 cars. Potatoes, 20 cars. Butter, 6 cars.

The above, no doubt, fairly shows what Bruce at that time produced for export. Compared with to-day, when stock, dairy products and manufactures generally form a large percentage of exports, the change is very marked.

Two years after the advent of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway into the county the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway reached Teeswater, it being opened to that point on the 16th November, 1874. It was hoped that the road would be extended to the lake shortly afterward, but these hopes have not been realized. In the period when operated by the parent company such an extension could not be made on financial grounds; since it passed into the hands of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the reason for not pushing on to a lake port is said to be an understanding that existed between the two great railway companies not to encroach upon the territory of the other; this understanding has lapsed, and hopes are bright for a further extension of this railway within the county. The Southern Extension Railway was after long delay taken over by the W. G. and B. Railway, and from 17th December, 1874, it has been operated by that company or its successor, the Grand Trunk Railway.

The preliminary steps towards erecting the village of Teeswater into a separate municipality having been taken, the County Council in June, 1874, passed the necessary by-law whereby Teeswater became an incorporated village on the 1st January following.

The time was certain to come when Bruce would cease to be looked upon as a locality to which settlers might go in search of a . home, and change to one from which emigration to new settlements might be expected. The latter period was certainly reached when a meeting was held at Southampton April 16th, 1875, the object of which was set forth in the following motion, which was duly carried thereat: "That from the experience we have had as settlers in the county of Bruce, we believe the system of settling by the formation of a colony is attended by less hardships and privations than many of us endured in the early settlement of this county; that being anxious to plant a colony in the province of Manitoba from the
county of Bruce, immediate steps be taken to further this project, and that a suitable location be made as speedily as possible." At this meeting "The Bruce Mutual Colonization Company was organized, and James Stirton was appointed to select a proper location in Manitoba. The movement so started proved to be the prelude to a large emigration, which has not ceased, of the most energetic and enterprising of each generation, as it appeared, until the western prairie land seems to teem with those who are proud to say that they come from the county of Bruce.

A general election for the House of Assembly was held January, 1875. E. M. Wells, the member for South Bruce in the previous House, ran again and was elected. He was opposed by D. W. Ross, who resigned his office as Clerk of the Peace so that he could qualify for nomination. It was an unfortunate move for him, as he lost both the election and his office. Mr. Thomas Dixon received the appointment [March, 1875.] to the vacant office and has held it since. In North Bruce at this election Donald Sinclair was opposed by a namesake, Dr. A. C. Sinclair. The contest resulted in favor of the former.

Hon. Edward Blake, who had accepted a seat without a portfolio in the Mackenzie Ministry on its formation, shortly afterward withdrew therefrom, but was again persuaded to accept office, and on May 19th, 1875, was made Minister of Justice, and so again had to appear before the electors of South Bruce. The nomination was held on June 2nd, when he was returned by acclamation. This was the sixth occasion that Mr. Blake was returned by South Bruce within five years, either to the House of Commons or to the House of Assembly.

From the time the gaol was built, the county held that the government should refund the cost of alterations made in the construction of the building insisted on by the Inspector of Prisons after the original plans had been passed by him, and for the carrying out of which contracts were let. Other counties besides Bruce were pressing similar claims, with the result that the Legislature passed an Act [37 Vic. Chap. 31. Passed March 24th, 1874.] authorizing a refund of $6,000, which was the amount of the county's claim. Some discussion arose as to what would be a proper mode to dispose of this sum. On first learning of the passing of the Act the County Council resolved to distribute the amount among the various local municipalities of the county according to assessment, but in the interval which elapsed before the money was paid over it was made apparent that increased accommodation was required for county offices, so in January, 1876, a committee was appointed to see to the erection of a new building, which was to be paid for out of the refund. [The refund paid for this building, which cost approximately $4,600, and also for an extension to the gaoler's residence, built that year, costing about $1,400. ] This building, that in which the County Council now meets, was erected that year, and was first occupied and used as a place of meeting by the County Council at the following December session. The dwelling of the caretaker of the county buildings was erected the same year. This building was built by Wm. Richardson, caretaker, on the county grounds at Walkerton at an outlay of $1,300. In 1884 an agreement was made with him by which he was to occupy the house as long as he held the office of caretaker, when it was to revert to the county, he to receive in full consideration the sum of $1,000. This reversion took place on Mr. Richardson's death in May, 1888.

In January, 1876, the southern part of the county had another railway route opened to its borders, namely, the London, Huron and Bruce Railway, which connected with the Southern Extension Railway at Wingham. This line has proved of great advantage to those within the county who are doing business in the south-western part of the province or in the western states. The town of Kincardine gave a bonus of $3,000 to this railway, although it did not directly enter the town or come within many miles of doing so.

The County Council of 1876 vacillated about the county retaining control of the gravel roads. The January session repealed the by-law by which they were assumed, but at the June session re-assumed them. However, in 1877 the Council finally handed them over to the local municipalities in which they were situated.

A petition bearing over two thousand signatures was presented to the County Council at the December session of 1876, asking that body to appoint a day on which a vote should be taken whether there should be enforced the provisions of the "Temperance Act of 1864," commonly known as the "Dunkin Act." The Council, at the session held in June following, fixed September 18th, 1877, as the required date. The vote then given showed a majority of 1,142, of a total vote of 6,352, in favor of the Act coming into force in the county, which it did May 1st, 1878. In Bruce the Act had but a short life, it being found to have inherent defects that made it unworkable, and consequently failed in the end sought, and was therefore repealed as far as this county was concerned. The ratepayers voted, by a majority of 1,347, to that effect when the question was again submitted to them January 21st, 1879. The Act ceased to be in force in Bruce from 1st May following.

[The following extract, from the Bruce Herald, of June 7th, 1878, reflects the condition of affairs pretty generally throughout the county regarding the enforcement of the Dunkin Act:

"There has, so far as we have been able to learn, been nothing done in this section of the county to enforce the Dunkin Act. If the present state of affairs is allowed to continue, we should say that the passage of that Act has been a positive injury to the community. There is now no liquor law in force in the county and the liquor dealers have everything their own way. This is a serious evil, and the temperance organizations are mainly responsible for it. Had it for a moment been supposed that they were not prepared to have the Act put in force there would have been fewer votes cast for it than there was. The temperance organizations, in agitating for the passage of the Act, have assumed a responsibility which they cannot get rid of. It was not to produce a worse state of things that outside support was given them, and if they were not prepared to carry the Act into effect, it would have been far better to have allowed matters to remain as they were. The Dunkin Act has been productive of nothing but evil so far.'']

At the opening of the Northern Exhibition, held October, 1877, the county town was honored by a visit from Lieut.-Governor D. A. Macdonald, who had consented to come and open the Exhibition. He was greeted by a large concourse, despite most unfavorable weather.

Agitation for more railways was in the air during 1877, Wiarton still hoping to obtain a line from Stratford, and Walkerton to get a line from Mount Forest, to connect with the T. G. and B. Railway. Owing to financial inability this railway company could promise nothing towards the construction of the proposed extension, but offered to run and keep in repair the line if built. The year ended with the question still under discussion whether or no the municipalities to be benefited would advance the needed amount, some $250,000.

The harvest of 1876 was a poor one, so much so that many farmers did not find their crop of wheat sufficient to supply the needs of their families. As a natural consequence, the following year was one of marked business depression. Bruce was not alone in this experience, as we find, arising from various other causes, such was almost world-wide in extent. Although the harvest of 1877 proved to be an excellent one in Bruce, it could not remove the commercial depression that was so far reaching.

About 1877, or a year or two earlier, the author has not been able to obtain the exact date, the organization or order known as "The Grange" was introduced into the county of Bruce, which was some two or three years after the Dominion Grange was formed. Its membership was confined to those engaged in agriculture. Many lodges were opened within the county, the total of which must have numbered nearly one hundred, judging from the only data the author has been able to obtain, which gave twenty-two subordinate lodges in what was known as the Lucknow Division. The aim of the Grange was to advance the interest of the farmer. One of the means of doing so was by an effort to bring its members, the farmers and the manufacturer, into closer relations, and to do away with all middlemen as far as possible. Another aim was to draw the farmer out of his isolation, so that by an interchange of ideas and by united fiction to strive to promote common interests. In carrying out these objects the Dominion Grange purchased and conducted "The People's Salt Co." at Kincardine. There was also established a so-called wholesale warehouse at Toronto which filled orders for goods as sent in by the various lodges on the requisition of its various members. This practice of sending away for articles of common home consumption, to the loss of the local storekeeper and mechanic, produced strongly antagonistic feelings against the Grange by those who suffered a loss of business as a result of the above-mentioned practice. The Grange reached its fullest measure of activity in Bruce during the early "eighties," but it fell off rapidly, and it is doubtful if there are more than three or four active lodges in the county in 1905. The reader must bear in mind that "The Grange" was not in any sense a political movement; it differed in this particular from the later movement, in the "nineties," known as that of "The Patrons of Industry," referred to in the succeeding chapter.

It is not the object of this history to refer to events outside of the county except as they may have affected it. The political campaign of 1878 was such an event. It was, from a Dominion standpoint, pivotal in character, for in that year the election contest was over the "National Policy" question as laid down by the loader of the Conservative party, Sir John A. Macdonald, and which was enthusiastically sustained by the country at the polls. There is no doubt that the fall of the Liberal government arose from its unwillingness to take any action having in view the amelioration of the commercial depression referred to in the preceding paragraph, holding fixedly to the theory that anything the government might attempt in that line would exert as much influence as "a fly on a wheel,'' as the Finance Minister expressed it, a phrase remembered for many a year. The election was fiercely contested in both ridings of Bruce. Hon. Edward Blake at first declined to accept the nomination, but on pressure being brought to bear, and the party leaders in the riding guaranteeing his election without a personal canvass on his part, he consented to run. The Conservative candidate was Alexander Shaw, county solicitor. [1] Both sides worked with a determination to win. When the votes were counted Mr. Blake, so often the choice of South Bruce, was found to be in a minority of 75. In North Bruce the suffrages of the electors were sought by John Gillies and Col. A. Sproat, who again, and for the last time, contested this riding, which resulted in Mr. Gillies being returned by a majority of 156.

[Alexander Shaw, K.C., was born in the township of Ramsay, January 13th, 1833, and received his education in the town of Perth, where he also studied law. He came to Bruce in 1858, and settled at Kincardine, where he married Anna, daughter of Peter Robertson, merchant, and has had a family of five sons and two daughters. When Walkerton became the county town he moved there and was appointed county solicitor in 1867, which office he has retained since. At the general election in 1878 he defeated the Hon. Edward Blake in the contest in South Bruce, but in 1882 failed to be re-elected. In 1890 he ran as an Independent for Centre Bruce, being opposed by W. M. Dack, who carried this election. Mr. Shaw stands at the head of the Bar in Bruce, and by many years is the oldest practising lawyer in the county.]

For a number of years there had been constant complaint, at the time the County Council struck the annual levy, regarding unequal assessment among the various municipalities. To enable justice being done to all, the County Council in July, 1878, appointed James Rowand, of Saugeen, and M. L. McKinnon, of Tiverton, to make a valuation of the assessable real property in the county. They commenced their duties shortly after the date of their appointment, but were unable to complete their report so that it might be used as a basis for equalizing the assessment of 1879, but that of 1880 and the nine following years was so based. Their work was satisfactory to the County Council, and it seems to have been the means of settling a long-standing grievance. The total assessment of the county was raised $922,906 by the report.

In response to a petition of the County Council the House of Assembly passed an Act [41 Vic. Chap. 31.] to enable the county of Bruce to assume the railway debt of the municipalities that had bonused the Southern Extension and T. H. G. and B. Railways. The next step should have been the submitting to the ratepayers of a by-law for their consent to the county assuming this indebtedness, but on second thoughts the County Council decided to take no further action, consequently the Act became inoperative and the local municipalities obtained no relief.

The eastern part of the county had the subject of railways brought before it continuously throughout 1878. Walkerton was anxious to obtain a competing line of road, and succeeded in having the Saugeen Valley Railway scheme launched, the company being incorporated in 1878 by Act of Parliament, [41 Vic. Chap. 52.] John McLay, Registrar, and Dr. A. Eby, Editor of the Telescope, both of Walkerton, were appointed president and secretary when the company was organized. [The first sod for the proposed road was turned at Walkerton, March 1st, 1880, by the President and Mr. J. P. Johnston.] Stock-books were opened and a fair amount of stock subscribed. Surveys were also made to show that the route proposed presented no special engineering difficulties. Public dinners and speeches, having in view the exciting of public interest, were given and seemed to attain their object, but through some mismanagement the scheme, after being before the public for a number of years, ceased at last even to be spoken of. The other railway scheme was that of the Stratford and Lake Huron Railway, from Listowel to Wiarton. Bonus by-laws were submitted to the ratepayers of Brant, Elderslie, Arran, Albemarle and Amabel in the fall of 1878 and carried. In Carrick and Eastnor similar by-laws were defeated. The bonuses granted by Bruce municipalities to this railway are given in a footnote. [The following are the bonuses granted to the Stratford and Lake Huron Railway by the several municipalities named: Brant, $20,000; Elderslie, $35,000; Chesley, $10,000; Arran and Tara, $45,000; Amabel and Wiarton, $45,000; Albemarle, $10,000; Total, $165,000.]

December, 1878, is the date when Tiverton, the smallest of the village municipalities within the county was incorporated. The next village to seek incorporation was Chesley, which in this respect was just a year behind Tiverton, but nevertheless has forged ahead of it and every other of the newer villages in the county, Wiarton alone excepted.

The year 1879 was rather uneventful as far as the county as a whole was concerned. The harvest was an excellent one. To aid in securing it self-binding reapers were used for the first time, Duncan and Archibald Kippen, of Bruce, and C. Thede, of Saugeen, being credited as being the introducers of these machines into the county.

A general election for the House of Assembly came off June 5th, 1879, in which R. M. Wells secured a majority over Robert Baird in the south riding, while in the north riding, Donald Sinclair was again returned, his opponent on this occasion being J. W. S. Biggar.

Tara, the youngest of the village municipalities in Bruce, became incorporated by by-law in June, 1880. Wiarton preceded Tara by a few months, securing incorporation by a special Act of Parliament.[43 Vic. Chap. 46.] The town plot being partly in the county of Grey and partly in Bruce, this special Act was asked for so as to prevent any difficulty such as Lucknow, similarly situated, had experienced. On becoming annexed to Bruce county it assumed the amount of debt apportioned to the village of Wiarton of the indebtedness of the county of Grey, the amount being $400, which was paid in one instalment. [See County of Bruce By-law No. 173.]

For a length of time reports had been circulated that the county was not receiving from the Registrar of Deeds the correct refund of fees payable to it. Urged on by some individuals who entertained most bitter feelings toward Mr. McLay, the County Council at length, in December, 1879, took action. The matter came before the courts, and as a result of a suit the county, in 1880, recovered $2,496.16. The County Council in December of that year followed this up by forwarding a petition to the Lieutenant-Governor, asking for the removal from office of Mr. McLay. No response was made to this until September, 1881, when A. E. Irving, Q.C., was commissioned to report upon the complaints made against the Registrar. The commission sat in the following November and took a large amount of evidence. The result of the investigation was that on December 19th, 1882, the government dismissed Mr. McLay. For some time the office was in charge of the Deputy-Registrar, Charles Astley. On March 14th, 1883, Donald Sinclair,  late member for North Bruce, received the appointment, and held the office till his death in 1900.

[Donald Sinclair was born in the Island of Islay, Scotland, in July, 1829. He immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1851, who settled the following year in Arran. Mr. Sinclair came to Bruce in 1853 and followed the profession of a schoolteacher here, and also later in the vicinity of Toronto. Prom 1858 he was permanently a resident of Bruce. In 1863 he was elected deputy reeve of Arran. In 1869 Mr. Sinclair moved to Paisley and carried on a general store. In the general election of 1867 he was elected as member of the House of Assembly, by acclamation, for the riding of North Bruce. This seat he held until 1883, when he was appointed Registrar of Deeds for the county of Bruce. In April, 1871, he married Isabella, daughter of Thomas Adair, and had a family of two sons and three daughters. In politics he was a Liberal In religious belief he was a Baptist. Mr. Sinclair possessed a character for uprightness and integrity, ever having the courage to uphold his convictions. His death occurred November 19th, 1900, at Toronto, where he had gone to obtain medical advice. He was buried at Southampton.]

The census of the Dominion taken in 1881 showed the population of the county of Bruce (see Appendix L) at the highest recorded point, the number being 65,218, certainly a wonderful development in population during the thirty-three years which had elapsed since the first settler entered the county. To enable the reader to form an idea of the material wealth of the county of Bruce at this time, there is given in a footnote1 the equalized assessment of the several local municipalities for the year 1881; these figures have changed but little since then, except in the case of some of the towns.

[Equalized Assessment Schedule for 1881, as Passed by County Council, of Bruce.


Early in December, 1881, the contractors had the rails of the Stratford and Lake Huron Railway laid to Wiarton, but traffic to that point was not opened officially until 1st August of the following year. This line of railway has been one of the most profitable in the county, as over it is carried a large part of the commerce of the peninsula.

In recording the completion of the above-mentioned railway, the author brings this chapter to a close, as the title of it, "Full Development Attained," at last had become an accomplished fact. This statement might be qualified by saying that what further development has taken place since has been along lines which were then in existence.

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