HISTORY OF BOWMANVILLE

Part 6

By Mr. J. B. Fairbairn, P. M.

In 1832 there was another important addition to our population, - the late Colonel Reid, who was so marked a personality among our citizens. Romantic circumstances surrounded his early footsteps, of Scottish descent, his father like hundreds of his fellow-countrymen, went to India,- I presume in the service of the East India Co., - and while on the voyage out the Colonel was born. He was educated at Charter House, London, England, returning to the east when about eighteen years of age. He saw the actual horrors of an armed contest in the first Burmese war, and held a command as Captain in the regular army. His thorough military training afterwards enabled him to do the Government good service in Canada. He was married in India resigned his commission, returned to Scotland with his four sons, and wended his way to this dependency of the British Crown, which is destined in the future to dominate the larger half of this immense continent. He at once made himself felt in the place. At the outbreak of the rebellion he immediately came to the front and took command of the heterogeneous mass that was so hurriedly called together by the exigencies of the time. Fortunately, they never met a hostile foe and soon disbanded. He filled several important offices: was Collector of Customs at Port Darlington, issuer of marriage licences, agent for the Bank of Upper Canada, and our principal acting magistrate. Of the four sons, issue of the first marriage, James and Blair, went back to India where the latter became a General and the former had a Captaincy. At the termination of his military career, the General returned to England and is still living there. The Captain came back to Bowmanville and ended his days here. The other two, Harry and George, were educated in Canada and in Edinburgh, Scotland. They both took high standing in the medical profession, George having an extensive practice in Cobourg, and Harry in Bowmanville. They first built a house at the eastern end of the town and it continued to be the home up to the time of Mrs. Reid's death. When the colonel arrived in Bowmanville he was a widower. He afterwards married Elizabeth Haggarty. Here I would interpolate. She was one of a highly educated Irish family. It may not be known to many but the late Chief Justice of the Dominion, Sir J. H. Haggarty, several of his brothers two sisters, lived for a short time on one of the concessions north east of the town in the Bragg Settlement. They soon after moved to Toronto. The other sister married Mr. Holland, a barrister at Oshawa. Of the second family, John Lestock Reid is a prominent man in Alberta and L. H. Reid, M.D. with Miss Reid, are living in this their native town. Let me relate a singular occurrence: As a young man, Mr. John Reid went to Australia. He was married there and, becoming dissatisfied with the outlook, started with his young wife for the country he had left. They were ship wrecked on the way, had a terrible experience, but were rescued, and found themselves stranded on one of the islands of the vast Pacific. A gentleman living there entertained them. One day when in his library, Mr. Reid picked up a book which turned out to be an English Grammar with the following inscription on the fly leaf: "John Fairbairn (he was my brother) Darlington Mills, District of Newcastle Upper Canada." The owner could not explain how it came to be on the island, and the fact remains an unsolved riddle.

Perhaps about 1830 the eastern end of the town began to show signs of life, Mr. Wm, Warren, a brother of J. B. Warren, of Oshawa, built the mill at the present operated by Mr. Samuel Souch. He had also in connection with it a general store and distillery. The house was at the time quite a pretentious one. Lattterly it has been remodelled. For a long time the place was the centre of activity. However, he could not hold his own, as competition had ____________ the western part of the town, so he _______ it. For a year or two he rented my father's place, as before stated, but at last gave that up and left for Whitby. He was appointed Collector of Customs at that port and lived to be a very old man. This place has had quite a history in its checkered career. It came into the possession of Captain Usher, a gentleman without any business training, and as a matter of course the venture ended in failure. He was a strong conservative and took quite an interest in the battle that was so bitterly waged against the Rebellion Losses Bill. This might be expected, as he was either cousin or brother of the Usher killed at Niagara Falls. His sons are scattered I know not where. It was during his regime that I first knew Frank Henderson, who for a long time played such a notable role as hotel-keeper and livery-man. Frank was an original man and Irish to the backbone. Kindness itself, but like many another good hearted fellow, he was the victim of his trade. He was a long time in Usher's employ before embarking in business for himself. One is apt to overlook the important part played by the lesser lights, when taking a survey, as I am trying to do, of old events and the men connected with them.

Mr. James Cooper, a cooper by trade, a Scotchman born and bred, had a shop and supplied the mill with barrels. He was quite eccentric in his way, but was a thoroughly well-informed man, an omniverous reader and a great admirer of Carlyle. I refer to his life as illustrating how often persons endowed with large capabilities do not rise as they should, either through the force of circumstances or from lack of energy or courage. After the business played out he stayed on and eked out a scanty livelihood. He once applied to the town council for a side walk. It was a well written, comical production and very few could have gotten it up. He secured the sidewalk, or an apology for one. There were three boys. The eldest, Robert, I took into my office and taught telegraphing. The old gentleman told me Mr. Simpson had hoped to give the boy a position in the Ontario Bank, which had recently been started, ____ as that did not materialize he appealed to me to take him. Robert was clever and soon became an expert. I applied to Mr. Dwight on his behalf and he gave him the important office at Chatham. The other two boys, James and Thomas also came into the office. The former became on of the fastest and best operators on the continent. The latter was in the service of the old Montreal Telegraph Co. on the Intercolonial Railroad in New Brunswick. His excellent work there was so appreciated that he was made agent at the then important and growing town of Windsor. At an early age he died at his post, his constitution being enfeebled by the hardships he underwent in the lower province. H. P. Dwight was then the manager of the main telegraph line in Canada. He is still the President of the G. N. W., retaining his interest in this wonderful science with which his whole active life has been identified. Here let me pay this tribute to him, - and certainly after 50 years service under his immediate control I am justified in making this statement: - In the administration of the vast interests committed to his care, he has displayed the highest qualities of mind and heart; of the former, in his complete grasp of every detail of the complicated work; and of the latter, in his universal kindness and consideration for every employee, even the humblest, in the service.


Next - Bowmanville and Darlington History Part 7

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