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Settlers of Lochaber Quebec - 1937 - by Dorothy Lamb

What a contrast! Lochaber of 1937 with its poor roads, highway and railroad, schools, good homes and barns, to the Lochaber of 1828, when the first settlers arrived. The unbroken forests of cedar, pine and hardwoods. A favorite hunting and fishing ground for the Indians, of whom many of their once implements have bean recently unearthed.

The Campells

The Campbells, Neil, James and Donald Campbell and their families arrived in Lochaber from Argyleshire, Scotland in 1828, after a voyage of 13 weeks in a sailing vessel. Neil Campbell settled on lot 22, on the farm now occupied by Mr. R. H. Cresswell, leaving one son, Archie, in Scotland, who came out four years later with the MacCallums, at the age of 12 years, and of course, could only speak the Gaelic.

James Campbell settled on lot 21, Range 2. His son, John Campbell, was the first white child born in Lochaber. Donald also settled on lot 21 Range 2.

The McLean Family History

Donald McLean, born in Scotland in 1786. Janet McCallum, born in Scotland in 1791. Married at Bunessan, Scotland in 1807.

For twenty-two years Donald and Janet McLean lived at Hull, Scotland, opposite the Island of Iona. Here nine of their children were born, Neil (born before his mother was quite seventeen). John, Allan, Hector, Janet called Jessie, Marion known as Sally, Flora, Alexander and Mary.

In 1929 they left Greenock and emigrated to Canada with seven of their chlldran. Hector, aged nine, and Flora, three, being left behind. After a three months' voyage in a sailing boat they finally located at Lochaber, Province of Quebec, Canada. Two more children, Hugh and Donald were born to them after they settled in Canada.

The family was the second to settle at Lochaher, the first being Mr. Neil Campbell a brother-in-law, who had brought his family to Canada some years before. The two farms were about a mile apart.

Three years later, in 1332, the McCallums came to Canada and broupht Hector and Flora McLean with them.

The McCallum family consisted of Mr. & Mrs. McCallum. father and mother of Janet McCallum McLean, three sons, John, Duncan and Malcolm. The oldest daughter Janet, had married Donald McLean and another daughter, Catherine, had married Neil Campbell. Two other daughters, Mary and Flora, had been drowned at sea several years before and the youngest daughter, Betsy, remained in Scotland having married Mr. McArthur of Iona.

Grandmother McLean's Story as She told It

I was the eldest of a large family of children and was married when I was sixteen. Though my new home was only two miles from the old one I was often lonely and longed for the children left in the old home. Whenever "himself" went fishing for the day, as he often did, fish being one of our main articles of food, I put away my role of a dignified married woman and ran to my old home to play with the children and to be one of the family Again, always getting back before "himself" came home.

One day he returned earlier than usual and I had not yet come home. On my return he said that he could see I was not happy with him and he would just go over to my old home and make arrangements for them to take me back home, and he would take part of the fish he had caught that day as a sort of peace offering. To be sent back home was an awful disgrace in those days and I did love him so dearly, but to tell him so or to plead in any way was an unheard of thing; so I kept silent and when he went out taking the fish with him, I just watched to see whether he took the long or short road. He took the long road of course, and then I took to my heels and ran all tha way over the long road, got there first and got into the lean-to, a sort of addition to every home, climbed up where there was a little opening where I could see and hear all that went on where the family was. Soon the knock came that announced "himself".

He came in and they talked over everything. Said he had 'been out fishing and had brought some of the catch with him. I waited breathlessly for the awful words, but they never came. In course of time he said he would be getting home. They urged him to remain saying the evening was young yet, but he replied "No, I must be going for the one who is at home alone will be finding the time long." Oh, how happy I was and how my heart beat as I ran all the way home, this time taking the short rood. When "himself" got back I was sitting there quietly knitting a sock like a dignified married woman.

Story tas Told by Aunt Mary McLean Currie

When Allan and Hector were students at Montreal Baptist College the students always preached somewhere on Sunday. Father had managed to get one beautiful black broadcloth suit. Whichever boy preached on Sunday wore the suit (both boys were about the same size so the suit fitted both). There were no roads in those days, only bridle paths through the woods, so they made the trips between Montreal and Lochaber by walking a distance of about one hundred miles. They brought the cherished suit home with them. Janet (or Jessie), who had already been mentioned as being pretty and an expert needlewoman, carefully cut exact patterns off it and then put it together again in such a beautiful way, stitch by stitch as it had been, that it never showed in any way that it had been ripped.

From the patterns cut Jessie made many suits for ministers and poor ambitious young men. She, of course, never received any remuneration whatever. Such a thing was never thought of. It was all service of love on Jessie's part and fitted in well with many kindnesses that were continually coming from the McLean home.

All this, of course, was long before the days of sewing machines.

The Lambs

James Lamb and his wife Elizabeth McFarlane and their seven children arrived in Lochaber June 1831, from Thornhill (near Sterling?) Scotland after a passage of 9 weeks, which was considered a fast voyage in sailing vessels.

Landing at Montreal, James Lamb loaded his family on Saturday in canoes or boats and sent them on ahead up the St. Lawrence, intending to settle in Upper Canada. He remained in Montreal over Sunday to attend service in one of the churches. After servico he asked the minister, Rev. Mr. Gilmour, his advice as to a good location to settle. He advised him to settle at Clarence. On Monday he started on foot along the shores of the St. Lawrence and caught up to his family at Prescott, where they turned the canoes back down the river to Lachine in order to come up the Ottawa. He and his eldest son, John, procured Indians who guided them to what was afterwards called Bytown. Then down the river to Rockland where he met Mr. Neil Campbell who sold him the farm we are still living on. This was 106 years ago.

Hugh McDermids ~ William Stout

William Stout and family came to Canada in 1831 from Inverness, Scotland. They had land leased from the Duke of Argyle, and they had to leave him all their belongings to get 10 Pounds in money. They were allowed to take at the rate of one pound per day of luggage which amounted to 365 pounds. Among these was a small grinder for oats and for every 10 bushels of fine screenings threshed, they lot one. The second year they managed to got white flour for Christmas. They belonged to the Clan of Crawford and were the third settlers here, and were the first known as Squatters. They paid at the rate of 60 cents per acre. This payment being made at the county seat at Aylmer, Quebec. The McDermid property is the old original Stout property where they first settled on.

Hugh McDermid and family came to Canada later from the Isle of Lymne, Scotland. Their language strictly Gaelic. They got work at McKay's flour mill, New Edinborough, and worked for ten pounds per year. The McKays sent them to Quebec with a raft of square timber and they were not to receive any money until properly delivered at its destination (10 Pounds yearly - $48,75).

With their money they decided to get a potash outfit, as it seemed to be the only work to bring ready cash. It took two of the boys' wages to get one kettle and the other got the leaches, which were hewn out of pine timber. Elm was the wood they used and it took about 600 bushels of ashes to make a barrel of potash which they hauled to Quebec. One of the boys, Duncan McDermid, was educated in English and taught school for $5.00 per month, and boarded a week with each family. Hugh McDermid was appointed elder In the Buckingham church on 1835.


The McLachlans came from Greenock (formerly Ross Mull) Scotland, Mr. John McLachlan, Sr. father of Robert McLachlan, settled on the Evan's farm. Robert his son, a ship blacksmith, and his wife Mary McDonald settled on the farm now owned by Mr Nesbitt, two of their family being born in Scotland, John, and Sarah - (Mrs. Graham).

The McLachlans and McEacherns spent 4 years in Bredalbane before coming to Lochaber to live.

Duncan McEachern and his wife Marion McDonald (sister of Mrs. Robert McLachlan) settled on the farm where they still live.

The McQueens settled on the farm which is now owned by Mrs. A. P. McLachlan. Mrs. McQueen was Sara McLachlan; Mary McLachlan married James McArthur, and was the first interred in the present Scotch Cemetery in Lochaber Bay.

McInnis and McMillan families

The McInnis and McMillan families came from Scotland together in 1842 and landed in Quebec after a six week voyage. Here they were advised by the Indians regarding the canoes, portages, etc.

They arrived in Lochaber and the McInnis family settled on the farm where their granddaughter, Mrs. W. T. Smith, now resides. James McMillan settled on the farm that John T. Angus and family now live, and Findlay McMillan settled on the farm where his daughter the late Mrs. Hugh McNeil, whom we all knew and loved so well -- lived until the time when she passed on in January, 1923.

The Camerons

The Cameron family arrived In Lochaber on the 24th of May, l849, from Clasglow, Scotland. Two children came with them, Dougal and Flora. They lived two years at Lochaher on the McLachlan homestead.

Grandfather Cameron was a piper at the time of King Edward VII's visit to Canada while he was yet Prince of Wales, he played the pipes at the Prince's arrival at Montreal.

Little by little small clearings appeared in the forests usually on the higher land because of better drainage, the oxen drawing the home made harrows, made with wood or iron pins inserted in the wood. Among the stumps, small patches of grain were sowed and very carefully garnered by sickle, and later by cradle, and bound by hand. Potash, the only means of procuring cash, was made by the labourious method of cutting and piling hardwood logs, when dry burning them, and gathering up the ashes, and putting them in covered bins toll they were ready to leach them. Leaches were made out of hallowed logs placed in horizontal positions once end a little lower so that when the water was poured on the ashes the lye could escape dripping down into the troughs. The lye was then placed in large potash kettles to be boiled down to a powder which was placed in strong barrels to the amount of 500 Lbs. In the winter the settlers loaded two barrels on their single one horse jumper and started to Montreal, a distance of nearly 100 miles to dispose of their product for which they received $40 to $50 per barrel. During the winter hundreds of one horse jumpers would be employed hauling supplies to Bytowne, Perth, and up the Rideau to Kingston which was then a military post. The settlers situated along the river were more fortunate in keeping stopping places and more readily disposed of their farm produce for cash.

The cutting of square timber and going to Quebec with the rafts was a break in the monotony of their lives. It was while going down with one of the rafts that James Campbell, brother of Archie Campbell lost his life. He was swept off the raft at the beginning of the rapids but swam nearly 4 miles after the raft. Some of the men on the raft threw a long heavy oar for bin to cling to when it struck his head, causing him to sink. During the winter of 1829 -- Hamiltons of Hawkesbury cut timber along the edge of the Bay and a portion of an oak log they cut can still be seen between Lot 22B and 23A. The first cemetery was on the hill near the Bay between Lot 22A and 22B.

The first church services were held at Clarence Point by Rev. John Edwards, and on Sunday morning the river would be dotted with the canoes of settlers going there to worship and at Clarence the first church which still stands was built. Most of the first settlers in Clarence were English and Irish and when an invitation came to Lochaber, asking for help to erect a church, a meeting was called and the request considered. Neil McLean, son of Donald McLean, Sr., said "Us wuss no rowing whateffer (meaning himself) twas nothing but Heeland this and Heland that. Us hears when us goes there whateffer"

The first school house built in Lochaber was on the Bay hill about 300 feet east of Mr. R. H. Creswell's home. The first schoolmaster was Duncan McDermid, a very fine old gentleman who was a very strict disciplinarian and did not believe in sparing the rod when it was justly needed. One day the school children all wen in a body to see where the wolves had driven one of Campbell's cows into the deep mud and killed her. Betsy Campbell got caught in a bear trap. The children were not strong enough to release her so hurried off for help to Campbell's who went with bars and released her. Betsy carried the scars as long as she lived. Mr. McDermind and James Lamb Sr. often walked as far as Papineauville and Silver Creek where they had Sunday School and held services every Sunday.

Some of the settlers decided they needed a large canoe to go to grist mill and church, so they felled a very large pin tree south of John McEachern's knoll of which they hollowed out a canoe 30 feet long. Then the question was, how were they going to get it to the bay. However, a road was cut through the dense forest to the bay, and a number of oxen were hitched to it and it finally reached the water's edge.

A number of the settlers decided to go down to the Snye to the grist mill, so they landed their wheat and off they went, arriving at the mill at Hawkesbury conscious of a few more muscles than they knew existed. The idea of paddling the canoe upstream did not just appeal to then, so they interviewed the captain of the first boat on the river (The Phoenix). The captain stated his price to tow the canoe to Whitcombe's wharf, a short distance east of Thurso. He wished them to have their canoe tied to the rear of the boat very early as he would sail at daybreak, but in the morning when the captain spied the canoe, he stated, "I bargained to tow a canoe, not a barge."

The Presbyterian church was erected in Lochaber in. 1871.

The cloth for clothing was spun and woven in the homes, also the flax was beaten and spun for sheets and various uses. And the women had spinning and carding bees, also teasing wool, all speaking the Gaelic. Shoemakers went from house to house making shoes for the families, and very often, was long in coming. McKinnon and Campbell were the two first shoemakers. John Campbell son of James Campbell, was the first mail carrier from Grenville to 0ttawa. Other pioneers were the McArthurs, also the Lamonts and Beatons.

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