Historical Sketch of Omemee (Written by M.J.O’NEILL, B.A.)

Mr. O’Neill spent considerable time on the preparation of this article. To obtain the facts, statistics, etc., he found it necessary to refer to many old documents and records. He wishes us to express his gratitude to Messrs. J.R. MCNEILLIE and T.C.MATCHETT, Lindsay; also to MESSRS. GRANDY, KENNEDY, and other residents of Omemee, who assisted him very materially in accumulating the historical facts.

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The Village of Omemee is now almost one century old. That this time has not been idly spent by her citizens; the steady village progress and the distinction attained by many of her sons and daughters furnish ample proof. The writer regrets that the space allotted for this sketch will not permit the giving of details, many of which are of local interest, but they are more or less isolated events or circumstances which do not come under the three phases to be discussed. Doubtless it would be of interest to many who know who the earliest settlers were in the Township of Emily and the Village of Omemee. Only a few of those can be given, and I have chosen to make mention only of families who took a prominent part in municipal, educational or other public work.

THE COTTINGHAM FAMILY.

In 1820 MAURICE COTTINGHAM and his sons WILLIAM and SAMUEL came to settle where Omemee now stands. JAMES LAIDLEY came with them. These were the first settlers in this locality. They felled a tree to cross Pigeon River, near where King St. bridge now crosses it. Neither Lindsay nor Peterborough (sic) were then in existence. The COTTINGHAM family secured control of the waterpower available here. They also secured extensive limits, from which they later took the timber, particularly the pine. These limits included much of the land along Pigeon River, extending as far north as where COWAN’S Bridge now crosses it. Of this family WILLIAM took the most prominent part in municipal and educational affairs. His name is closely associated with the early progress of both the Township of Emily and the Village of Omemee; and it may as well be mentioned here that since Omemee did not become a separate corporation until 1874, her affairs until that time were one with the Township of Emily. And even yet, except in purely municipal affairs, a sketch of Omemee, or of any other village, can scarcely fail to include the country immediately surrounding it. In 1821 the COTTINGHAM family commenced the building of a dam, a gristmill, a sawmill, and a carding mill. MR. DOVEY, father of the late JOHN DOVEY, of Lindsay, came from Lower Canada in that year to assist at this building. He was a hewer. For many years the COTTINGHAM family, but particularly WILLIAM, owned so much of the land in the township and so much village property, in addition to controlling the water power and operating a thriving sawmill business and an equally extensive grist mill business, that what is now Omemee bore the name of COTTINGHAM’S Village. The carding mill early passed into the hands of THOS. and JAMES IVORY, who controlled and operated it for many years, doing a good business. In those days, too, a great number of Indians made their home along Pigeon River. After the settlers commenced to move in freely the Government sent CAPTAIN MADGE with a boat to convey many of the Indians with their belongings down to where the Indian Village of Chemong is now situated. MR. DOVEY was sent to build twenty log houses for them. Two of them may yet be seen.

FIRST WHITE CHILD

ROBINSON’S emigration came to Canada in 1825, and after that year the settlers filled in quite rapidly into the Township of Emily. COTTINGHAM’S Village, too, made good progress. ROBERT ENGLISH was the first white child born in Omemee. His son, JAME ENGLISH, was the first assessor of the Township of Emily. Common schools were opened, but they were very much open, as the first of them were without doors or windows to close the openings left for these. In 1837 ROBERT GRANDY was appointed postmaster in Omemee. He held his appointment from the British Crown, and at the time of his death there was not another appointment of similar form in Canada. His son, RICHARD, now has charge of the Omemee post office, which since 1837 has be managed to the complete satisfaction of everyone by the one family. ROBERT GRANDY was also appointed Township Clerk at the first council meeting held in the Township of Emily. The clerkship too has remained in the hands of that family ever since, RICHARD GRANDY taking up the work where his father left off. For a time, too, what is now Omemee bore the name of Williamstown, but since there was another place of this name of the banks of the St. Lawrence, the name Metcalfe was taken. This name it bore until 1857. On January 1st, 1857, a very progressive village took the name of Omemee. It is generally conceded that Omemee reached its highest point, as far as business is concerned, about 1861. Various stories are told to explain how the Indian name Omemee came to be chosen. In one the Indian dialects the word Omemee means pigeon, which name is given to the river on the banks of which Omemee was built. The Port Hope, Lindsay and Beaverton Railway was under construction at this time. It was completed in 1857. The advisability of changing the name Metcalfe was also being considered, so a railway official gave the name Omemee to the station built here.

SOME EARLY SETTLERS.

The first extant assessment roll of the Township of Emily if that of 1844. The Township of Emily was then in the Colborne district. A few prominent names which appear there might be recalled, viz.: FRANCIS ADAMS, father of WM. ADAMS, long a member of the Township Council and the County Council; The BALFOUR family, father and uncles of GOVERNOR BALFOUR, of the County Jail; WILLIAM BOATES, father of J.R.BOATES, for many years a representative on the Township and the County Councils; THOMAS CRAWFORD; THOMAS EVANS; ROBERT GRANDY; the LAIDLEY family; the SWITZER family; the TOOLE family; ROBERT SHERIN and ARTHUR MCQUADE. ARTHUR MCQUADE was an extensive farmer. He took a prominent part in township and county affairs. He was the first collector appointed by the Council for the Township of Emily. He remained collector for many years. In 1874 he was elected to the House of Commons.

MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT

It is interesting to note how the development of municipal affairs in the Township of Emily and the Village of Omemee is parallel with the development of municipal institutions in Ontario. The Municipal Act passed in 1849 provided for the incorporation of local municipalities. The first statutes of Canada contained acts relating to municipal government of those portions of the county having a sufficient number of inhabitants to require it. Under the District Councils Act of 1841 the Government retained the right to appoint the wardens, clerks and treasurers, and to approve by-law. The new assessment roll of 1850 was the first after the Municipal Act of 1849. Emily was then in the County of Peterborough (sic). The total levy on the township, which of course included Metcalfe, was then £326 17s 7d. In addition to those names mentioned in connection with the roll of 1844, the following might now receive mention: REV. ROBERT HARDING, Church of England minister; CHRISTOPHER KNOWLSON; WILLIAM LEHANE; WILLIAM WOODS; WILLIAM BEATTY, and DR.JOHN IRONS. All these men played a more or less prominent part in township affairs in their time. The roll of 1861 brings in a few more names prominent in several lines. Some of these may be briefly dealt with as follows: WILLIAM BEST, farmer, prominent in municipal affairs, in educational matters, visiting the schools considerably. WILLIAM CURRY, prominent merchant, JOSEPH COOPER, editor of the Omemee Warder, which was established at Omemee in 1856; and removed to Lindsay in 1866, being since known as the Lindsay Warder. CHESTER DIES, a teacher, a local preacher, for some time manager of a sheepskin tannery, and at the time of the incorporation of Omemee, he was much upon the platform in public discussions. ROBERT FORD was another prominent figure; he was much in the council. JOHN HANNAH was still another; he carried on a large cooperage business in Omemee for a number of years. R.W.HUNGERFORD, for many years bailiff of the court, must not go unmentioned. WILLIAM LEHANE was auditor for the township for years. He was also a justice of the peace. GEORGE LAMB, manager of a tannery, was prominent in school affairs. He was a member of the High School Board and a councillor of many years. ISAAC MCNEELY was another prominent businessman in his time. He ran a large business in Curry’s present stand. Another widely known and highly respected resident of Omemee at that time was THOMAS MATCHETT. He ran a drug store where R.J.MULLIGAN now runs one. He was Clerk of the Division Court, also Township Treasurer for many years. At the time of Confederation he was elected M.P.P. for South Victoria. JOHN MCCREA, GEO. MORRISON, DAVID THORNTON AND WM. POTTS were also prominent businessmen at the time when Omemee was at its zenith. WILLIAM NEIL AND WILLIAM WOOD were also well known figures in the village. Nor must the name of THOMAS STEPHENSON be overlooked on this roll.

THE ASSESSMENT

The total assessment for the Township of Emily for the year 1861 was $452,679. The assessment for a few years about this time might be of interest:

Year. Assessment.

1855..£ 105,206

1857..£ 121,795

1859..£ 115,049

1860..£ 443,105

1861..£ 452,679

1869..£ 351,452

THE FIRST COUNCIL

The first council for the Township of Emily met on January 21st, 1850. The councillors were MR. BEST, MR. FEE, MR. COTTINGHAM, MR. LEHANE and MR. KNOWLSON. The Reeve was chosen by the council from one of their number.

MR. WM. COTTINGHAM was the first Reeve. ROBERT GRANDY was appointed Town Clerk at a salary of £ 5. At the last session of the first year he was voted £ 2 additional salary. THOMAS MATCHETT was appointed Treasurer, at a salary of three per cent of the monies collected. JAMES ENGLISH was appointed assessor without remuneration. JOHN COLLINS was appointed collector at a salary of £ 8. At the July 15th session of the council in the same year, however, it appears that ARTHUR MCQUADE was appointed assessor. MR. COLLINS evidently had withdrawn his name. The REV. MR. HARDING was appointed Superintendent of the common schools of the Township, at a salary of £ 5.

For 1851 the council consisted of MESSRS. COTTINGHAM, KNOWLSON, BEST, FEE AND LAIDLEY. MR. COTTINGHAM was again Reeve. In 1861 the counties of Peterborough (sic) and Victoria became separate. For ten years before that time their separation was being discussed.

In the Emily Township Council proceedings of June 4th, 1851, the following item appears:

Moved by MR. KNOWLSON seconded by MR. LAIDLEY, that the petition to the Legislative Assembly praying that the Township of Emily may not be included in the intended new County of Victoria, he read, and that the Town Reeve do forward the same to JAMES HALL, M.P.P. Emily continued to be strongly opposed to becoming a part of the County of Victoria.

That the Township of Emily and the Village of Metcalfe were giving attention to the limitation of the liquor traffic in their early days, is evidenced by the following resolution which appears in the proceedings of the February 4th session of 1852: Moved by MR. KNOWLSON seconded by MR. LAIDLEY; that the Reeve be requested to address His Excellency the Governor-General on the subject of grocery licenses, and praying on behalf of the council that His Excellency will be graciously pleased no to grant licenses (to sell liquor) to any inhabitant of the Village of Metcalfe, in the Township of Emily, as there is already a sufficient number of taverns licensed, and the council being of the opinion that the granting of grocery licenses would tend much to injure the morals of the youth and the respectability of the said village.

BUSINESS HOUSES

A list of the places of business at that time in Omemee may serve to show whether there was ground for the above resolution: THOS. STEPHENSON, merchandise and whiskey; WM. KELLS, bakery and grocery; JOHN KELLS, merchandise and whiskey; WM. CURRY, general store; WM. SHERWOOD, shoe shop; BRADBURN Hotel; RICHARD HUNGERFORD, general store and whiskey; RICHARD ATWELL and HUGH HAMILTON, whiskey shop; WM. TURNER, dry goods and whiskey; THOS. MATCHETT, drug store; THOS BELL, shoe shop and whiskey; WM.HILLIARD, dry goods. Later in this same shop JAMES and STEWART BRADBURN ran a dry goods store and whiskey shop in the same building; SIMPSON ran a tavern and shoe shop; IRA SPOONER, whiskey shop; JOHN BROWN, whiskey shop; FRANK ADAMS, tavern; JOSEPH KENT, whiskey; MRS. MCGINTY sold some whiskey near the station. Besides these places of business there was also BLACKWELL’S Hotel. But in spite of all the whiskey for sale, Omemee then possessed more places of business than it now does. The stores already mentioned were as numerous as those now in Omemee; and as other industries which have disappeared from Omemee since that time. I might mention the fact that there was then in the village four shoe shops, for in those days a large percentage of the shoe were made to order; three tailor shops, three wagon shops, two cooper shops, two harness shops and two sawmills which ran night and day have gone the way of the whiskey shops.

 

A SEPARATE COUNTY.

This brings us to the year 1861, when Victoria voted to become a separate county. The Township of Emily was still strongly opposed. In the Township Council on Jan. 21st, 1861, it was moved by MR. STEPHENSON seconded by MR. KELLY, as follows: Resolved, that whereas it appears that the inhabitants of Lindsay are determined by any means to have the County of Victoria separated from the County of Peterborough (sic), they having given public notice of that in the public prints, and whereas it appears to this council that separation at present would be injurious to this county and particularly to Emily and be it therefore resolved that public notice be given that should Parliament take any steps toward the separation of the said County of Victoria from the County of Peterborough (sic), that Emily shall be attached to the County of Peterborough(sic).

But Emily’s opposition availed her nothing. A vote was taken in the county, which decided in favour of separation, and in August 1861, the first County Council for the County of Victoria met in Lindsay. By a curious coincidence WILLIAM COTTINGHAM, Reeve of the Township of Emily, was elected Warden of the County.

PART 2

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In the first part of this sketch of random items connected with the development of Omemee, 1861 was chosen as a convenient time to pause. The Municipality of Emily was then taking its place in the affairs of the newly formed County of Victoria. It might interest some to recall the representatives sent from Emily and Omemee to the County Council since that date; and to note also when one of these representatives was chosen Warden of the county.

Year Reeve Dep.-Reeve.

1861 W. Cottingham Thomas Stephenson

(Wm. Cottingham, Warden)

1862 W. Cottingham Thomas Stephenson

1863 W. Cottingham Thomas Stephenson

1864 W. Cottingham A. McQuade

1865 W. Cottingham A. McQuade

(W. Cottingham, Warden)

1866 W. Cottingham A. McQuade

1867 John Bailey A. McQuade

1868 W. Cottingham A. McQuade

1869 W. Cottingham A. McQuade

1870 W. Cottingham A. McQuade

1871 W. Cottingham A. McQuade

1872 W. Cottingham A. McQuade

1873 W. Cottingham A. McQuade

1874 A. McQuade Mich. Lehane

1874 Omemee sent Wm. Cottingham Reeve as their first representative on the County Council.

 

REEVES OF OMEMEE.

Since 1874 the Reeves of Omemee are 1875, Thos. Matchett; 1876 H. Cottingham; 1877, W. H. Cottingham; 1878, W. H. Cottingham; 1879, Dr. G. A. Norris (Reeve until 1887), (Warden 1880); 1887. Dr. V. C. Cornwall (Reeve until 1895), (Warden in 1889); 1895, T. A. McPherson; 1896, Dr. V. C. Cornwall; 1897, Thos Stephenson (Reeve until 1903); 1903, T. J. parsons; 1904, J. T. Beatty (reeve until

1908); 1908, Geo, Griffin; 1909, J. T. Beatty; 1910, R. J. Mulligan (Reeve since that date).

In 1915 R. J. Mulligan was Warden of the county of Victoria.

Since 1874 the Township of Emile had the honour of sending the following men to the County Council, to be Wardens of the County: 1890, T. H. McQuade, and 1896, W. Switzer.

OMEMEE GRAMMER SCHOOL.

A paragraph in connection with the Omemee High School might not be out of place. The Omemee Grammar School was one of the first grammar schools established. It was in existence for some time before those of Lindsay and Peterborough. In 1862 a by-law was passed whereby the Counties of Peterborough and Victoria were divided into four grammar school circuits, viz.: Lindsay Grammar School Circuit, Peterborough Grammar School Circuit, the Norwood Grammar School Circuit, and the Oakwood Grammar School circuit. And be it enacted that the Board of Trustees of the Omemee Grammar School (already established), with the Local Superintendent of the Township of Emily shall constitute a Board of Examiners for Common School Teachers, and shall have all the powers granted to them that are granted to similar boards by the several statutes of the Province in force, and shall be known as Board Number Five of the United Counties.

By-law No. IX. 1862, of the Victoria County Council, declared the following persons trustees of the Omemee Grammar School: First year, Wm. Cottingham and Thos. Matchett; second year, Wm. Curry and Rev. Henry McDowell; third year, Rev. N. Desborough and Rev. John Ewing; fourth year, Rev. Mr. Colon Isaac McNeely.

Since 1864 the County Council has annually appointed two or three trustees for the Omemee Grammar School (known as the Omemee High School since 1872).

To enumerate these is scarcely necessary. Each in his way has played his pat. Many have served with great advantage to the institution and the community at large. It might interest some to recall the good work done for the common schools of the township village by the Rev. Noah Desbrow. Local Superintendent from 1864 until 1869. In 1869 J. H. De Lamere served in this capacity; while in 1870 Rev. W. H. Jones. M.A., was the last local superintendent. In 1871 Francis Whalley was appointed Inspector of Common Schools for Ops. Emily, Verulam and Somerville. In 1872 J. H. Knight was appointed Inspector of Common Schools for Lindsay, Ops, Emily, Verulam, Somerville, Lutterworth, Anson and Hindon. For about 34 years Mr. Knight served in this capacity and few of the men and women of East Victoria have not had to do some problems he assigned, and few cannot recall some of his stories by means of which he enlivened his youthful audiences. His successor is our worthy inspector, G.E. Broderick, now a well-known figure in the schoolwork of East Victoria.

THE HIGH SCHOOL

The Omemee High School has always been an institution of high educational standing. It has had the good fortune of having many very successful teachers on its staff. And Omemee looks with pride on the number of sons and daughters, who after graduating from the Omemee High School have gone out into the world and proved themselves capable of filling positions of prominence. The roll of honour is a long one hence space will not permit my giving it, but the names of a few men now prominent might be permissible

SOME NOTABLE MEN.

Dr. J. W. Wood of Lindsay, is a graduate of the old Omemee Grammar School. Senator Bell, of Washington, might also be mentioned. Mr. Norris, the Conservative candidate in the recent bye-election in Toronto, is also an Omemee boy. From "Canadian Men and Women of the Time." By Morgan, I have culled the following sons of Omemee; "Walter H. Cottingham, born in Omemee 1865, educated there, became general manager for Canada of the Sherwin-Williams Company 1895-8. He then became general manager of the entire company, and later he was elected president of the company. A man of exceptional ability. "--S.N.

Walter H. Elliott, born Omemee 1863, educated in the Omemee High School, prominent educationist; public school inspector in Toronto since 1908; elected President of the Toronto Teachers' Association in 1911. Chief Inspector Hughes, of Toronto, said of him; "the best man in Ontario for his present position

Wm. A. Sherwood, artist, born Omemee 1859, educated in the Omemee Grammar School, began portrait painting when only fifteen. He has painted many Canadian genre pictures, the best known being "The Gold Prospector" (in possession of the Ontario Govt.), "The Canadian Rancher," "The Entomologist," and "The Negotiation" (in possession of the Dominion Government). Among his most successful portraits have been those of Sir G. W. Ross, the later Rev. Dr. Scadding, the later S.P. May, Lieut. -Col. A. E. Belcher, Alex. McLachlan, Sir A. E. Irving, the later Miss Pauline Johnson, etc. He has exhibited at all the principal art displays in the United States, Canada and England; was one of the founders of the Central School of Art and Design, Toronto. Besides holding prominent positions in many other associations, he has been president of the Victoria County Old Boys' Association. He is also a frequent contributor in prose and verse to the Canadian press."

"George H. Hale, journalist, born Omemee 1846, educated in the Omemee Grammar School; began his newspaper career in the office of the Orillia Expositor. In 1873 he joined his brother, William M. Hale, who had previously established the Orillia Packet, and has since been associated with him in publishing and conducting that paper. He is a man of cultured tastes, taking much interest in historical study and investigation."

These are but some of the more prominent of Omemee's sons at the present day. There are many others quite deserving of honourable mention, and again there are still more of whom it may be said "Nor you, yet proud impute to these the fault

If memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise."

But before leaving this topic the name of Lady Eaton, daughter of the late John McCrea and one of Omemee's daughters, who is now an influence in a wide circle, must not be overlooked. The people of Omemee with reason feel grateful to Sir John and Lady Eaton for the generosity. They have rendered valuable assistance in improving the Methodist Church property, and Omemee's fine new town hall is another monument to their generosity. In patriotic and charitable organizations Lady Eaton has b4en a prominent figure. The 109th Battalion recently gone overseas from Victoria and Haliburton thank Lady Eaton for their badges, their fine band instrument, their colours, and her kindly interest patronage.

So much for the graduates of the Omemee High School. Let us turn not to some other affairs of public interest which from time to time engaged the attention of Omemee citizens. On August 18th, 1862, the Emily Council awarded the contract for building a lock-up in Omemee to John Brown. The building was to be completed by October 1st of that year. Children might now grow to manhood and scarcely know that Omemee possessed such a building. Possible there may be some connection between the precaution then taken and the next item that I shall present.

At the first session of the council in 1863, it was moved by Mr. Bailey, seconded by Mr. McQuade, that the Inspector of Licenses for the municipality be instructed to charge the following rate for licenses for the current year, viz.: Omemee, $40 each; Downeyville, $ 40 each; Fowler's, $40 each; A. Henderson’s, $35; John Callaghan's, $35; elsewhere, $25.

In 1866 the Emily Council called for tenders for the erection of a drill shed not less that 45X 60, in the Village of Omemee. The tender of David Hartley was accepted November 12th, 1866, for $500; $250 by the Dominion Government, the contract to be completed by January 1, 1867.

In July 1868, the council voted $50 to defray the expenses of the Dominion Day celebration held in Omemee.

On April 30, 1872, there was passed in council a by-law to aid and assist the Bowmanville, Lindsay, and Bobcaygeon Railway Company by giving 30,000.

On Sept. 8, 1872, there was read a bylaw granting a bonus of$15,000 to the Omemee, Bobcaygeon and North Peterborough Junction Railway.

In 1874 Emily and Omemee became separate municipalities. The Emily council for 1874 was Arthur McQuade, Reeve; Michael Lehane, Deputy-Reeve; John Mitchell, John Bailey and Dennis Scully. The Omemee council was Wm. Cottingham Reeve; Copelin Laidley, John English, Wm. Neill and James Ivory. Of this first council of Omemee, Mr. Neill alone remains, and he can indeed describe in an interesting manner many events in the history of Omemee.

These councils of 1874 had to grapple with the problem of adjusting the valuation and the claims of the two municipalities. At the session of March 18th, 1874, in the Emily council, it was "moved by Mr. Lehane, seconded by Mr. Bailey, that the financial state of municipal funds of the corporation of Emily previous to the incorporation of Omemee, be this day explained by Thos. Matchett, Treasurer, and that the real property and personal property of the former corporation within the limits of the later be valued this day by both councils here present, with a view of settling the same and apportioning their relative claims to such property." The question was not settled at this meeting, however; arbitrators were later appointed and another year passed, finding the two municipalities at variance on some details. A resolution passed in the Emily council on September 12th, 1874. My show the nature of the question in dispute, It reads as follows; "Resolved, that whereas the Select Committee of the Council of the County of Victoria, at the June session in 1874, appointed to examine and equalize the assessment rolls of said County for 1873, committed a palpable error against the Township of Emily in favour of the village of Omemee, by having augmented the taxed value of Emily $31,812 more than last year, and reduced the value of Omemee from $60942 to $39,000, thereby reducing the county rate to be paid by Omemee to $219 instead of $341.89, which would have been the proper rate for Omemee to pay; we therefore, however disagreeable it may be to us, solemnly protest against collecting and paying over any taxes for county purposes unless the said committee of the County Council reconsider the error and adjust the equalize the value of Omemee, so as to be one-thirteenth of the whole taxation of the former municipality before the separation of Omemee there from; and that the Clerk of this Council is directed hereby to John Fell, Exp., Warden and another to S.C. Wood; Esp. Clerk and Treasurer, and a reply is respectfully solicited."

But Omemee and Emily got their affair adjusted, and Omemee, now mistress in her own household, has a history entirely her own. Omemee has had three disastrous fires, each of which destroyed considerable of the business section of the village. But larger and more substantial buildings have been erected, and seldom will a traveler find a village with a better affairs adjusted, and Omemee, now contains. Four different newspapers have at different times been established in Omemee. The first of these was the Omemee Warder, which was established in Omemee in 1856, the people of the village forming a stock company and purchasing the press. In 1866 the Omemee Warder closed its career in Omemee, and the Lindsay Warder was development. For some time now Omemee was without a paper, until the Omemee Herald was established. This in its turn was burned in 1889, and did not resume business. The Omemee Recorder was, however, soon established, to live but a few years also. Next came the Omemee Mirror. The offices of this paper were later moved to Millbrook, where the paper is now issued under the name of the Millbrook and Omemee Mirror.

I am now dealing with the events with in the memory of the majority of the citizens of Omemee today, and not because the developments are less important or less interesting, but rather because they are already known to all and have not yet been. I shall deal with them but briefly, mentioning them without further comment.

In 1885 the Grand Trunk Railway, Co. completed the present direct line from Lindsay to Peterborough (known as the Missing Link). This has proved a great boom to Omemee, which is now indeed given and excellent railway service, the convenience to the citizens being still further increased of late by the establishing of a second station at the Sturgeon-St. crossing. The building of good concrete walks on King-St. in 1904 and then of Sturgeon-St, was another step in the way of permanent improvement. This was soon followed. This was soon followed by the installation of electric power and electric lighting, the past and the present being somewhat linked together by the fat that the dam which furnished the power to turn the first wheels in Omemee now furnishes the power which is distributed in this modern form, and the mill standing on the site of the first mill built in Omemee now does duty as power house. The building of the fine town hall, 1911, already referred to; the building of the three churches, which are substantial structures, and the erection also of the building in which a branch of the Bank of Toronto was established, in addition to many of the stores and stately residences in Omemee today, tell a tale of prosperity. And just here I might mention a little item, which is a source of interest to many. The importance of it, however, and be best gleaned from reading such works "Sketches of a Little Town." It is the fact that the bell on the present as Stephen Leacock's, "Sunshine Methodist Church, a bell which also did duty of a former structure, and which was purchased from the contribution of a wide circle of friends, many of whom were not of that congregation, or even of that denomination, was first rang to celebrate the fall of Sebastopol in the Crimean War.

The minutes of the meetings of the Omemee councils since 1874 indicate little more than the routine business. The discussions that took place on many occasions, I am assured, would furnish interesting reading; but I am not even giving the names of the councillors who managed Omemee's affairs, and many of these were long entrusted with this responsibility. As for Clerks of the Village, Omemee has had but four, viz., Mr. C. Knowlson, 1874-5; Mr. John Hartly, 1879; Mr. Geo A. Balfour, 1880-1911; Mr. W. H. Kennedy, 1912. Nor must the name of Mr. Wm. Curry go unmentioned, for he has long served as Treasurer of the municipalities of both Emily and Omemee.

With one more item I must deal briefly. It is Omemee's part in the present great struggle. In this Omemee and the surrounding county is assuming its full share of the responsibility. In Red Cross work and in many other ways the ladies of the village are constantly ministering to the wants of the boys of the Allies and their dependents at home. The council chamber has hanging on its walls the pictures of the parents of some of the boys who answered the first call. There hangs there also a picture of Lieut. Wm. Gallagher, on e of the first of Omemee's songs to give his life in Flanders. And Omemee has seen many of her boys going ever since. I am sorry that I cannot give the names of all that have gone, for it would be a list of which any village would be proud, but the time for such a list has not yet arrived. Some have returned having done their bit; some others, alas, will not return, and some have even gone a second time for another innings at the world's greatest game. Col. Wm. Neill, of the Headquarters' Staff in France; Lt.-Col. J. J. H. Fee. O.C. 109th Battalion, now in England; Major J. McCrea and Lieut. C. Mulligan, of the same Battalion, are some of the officers who Omemee calls her own. The list of N. C. O's and men is a long one, and I trust that some day an abler hand than mine will attempt to write a few appropriate words in recognition of the noble part they are playing.


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  Upper Canada Land Leases and Miscellaneous Petitions 10000 Records Indexed 

Upper Canada (Ontario) Sundries Database 


  Upper Canada (Ontario) Toronto Insane Asylum Database

  Upper Canada (Ontario) Kingston Insane Asylum Database

  Upper Canada (Ontario) London Insane Asylum Database 

  Upper Canada (Ontario) Malden Insane Asylum Database

  Upper Canada (Ontario) Hamilton Insane Asylum Database


  Ontario Genealogy Historical Newspaper Collection  Historical Newspaper Files from various regions of Ontario 

NEWSPAPER Genealogical and Historical Records - Thousands of entries


  Ontario (Upper Canada) Map Collection  Great site for locating your ancestors in Ontario

Ontario Genealogy Postcard Site - Great old-time landscape views


  Upper Canada and Ontario CRIMINAL Database 


Ontario Genealogy Database Index Site 400 000 Genealogy Records Indexed


 Join the Ontario Genealogy mail list now. Discussion group for genealogy and history of the Province of Ontario post 1867, or join the Upper Canada (Ontario) mail list now, discussion group for genealogy and history of Upper Canada prior to 1867.

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Echoes of the Past - Ontario Genealogy Home


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