The McElroy Family of Richmond, Ontario, Canada

This account of the history of Richmond was written by William McElroy, during the summer of 1923, and given as an address on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the building of St. John's Anglican Church in Richmond, Ontario.

William McElroy watering his horse (and buggy) in the Jock River

The handwritten inscription on the back of this photo reads:

"Jack" and I in the buggy in the river down from old St. John's Church, Richmond. Church behind the elm tree.
Wm McE
For Harry

Wm McE is William McElroy (grandson of Henry McElroy) and is my great grandfather. "Jack" refers to his horse. His son Harry (Victor Henry) was killed in action in WWI and received a Distinguished Flying Cross posthumously.

The Richmond Settlement

Before any civilized person ever came to live here, when all this and the surrounding country was a virgin forest of grand oaks, maples and elms, etc., the only inhabitants being the wandering Algonquin Indians, that which led up to its settlement was all planned and arranged for; and the suggestion of such plan was first made by no less a personage than the Great Iron Duke, Lord Wellington.

After the final defeat of Bonaparte at Waterloo (June 18, 1815) and the treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States, our nation, after many years of war, in Europe as well as on this continent, was at peace with the world. And as the time of peace is the proper time to prepare for war, the great councils of our nation, in order to protect our frontier here in Canada and keep open communication with the great lakes --independent of the River St. Lawrence - westward from Montreal, decided that it would be necessary to use the waters of the Ottawa river as far as the Chaudiere falls, and from that point construct or dig a canal, using the waters of the Rideau as much as possible to the lake of that name, and drop down through a chain of lakes and artificial waterways to the Cataraqui River and on to Kingston at the foot of Lake Ontario -- Kingston at that time being a strongly fortified naval station. The work so contemplated was eventually carried out under the Ordnance Department of the home government, but it took many years to accomplish this, and first of all, it was found necessary to open up for settlement the country contiguous to the proposed canal and get people on the land. So the land was surveyed into townships, and several town-sites -- of which Richmond was one -- were laid out.

At that time a number of British regiments were in Canada and about to be sent home to England to be paid off and disbanded and amongst these regiments was one in particular -- the 100th Prince Regent's Royal Regiment of Foot -- which had seen long and hard service in Canada in the War of 1812-14 with the United States, along the Niagara frontier at the taking of Fort Niagara, the Battle of Chippewa, Lundy's Lane, and other fights; also on the Richelieu river, at Isle aux Noix and Lake Champlain, and again in the extreme southwest at Port Malden rear Amherstburg. The legend "Niagara" is still emblazoned on the colour of their successors, the 100th Prince of Wales, Royal Canadians organized here in 1858. In the spring of 1818 the officers and men of this regiment were at Quebec, and, in common with those of other regiments, had their choice of a passage home to Ireland or, if they so elected, to remain here in Canada where they would receive free grants of land in the new country to be settled on the Ottawa and Rideau rivers. Each private was to get 100 acres, a sergeant 200, a lieutenant 400 and a captain 800. Free transportation was also to be given them to the new land and in addition to their pensions of from 6d to 1s sterling per day as outpensioners of Chelsea Hospital England, they were to receive their regular allowance of army rations for the first twelve months of their settlement. Also each head of a family would receive the following necessary tools and goods: one axe, one broad axe, one mattock, one pick axe, one spade, one shovel, one hoe, one scythe, one draw knife, one hammer, one handsaw, two scythe stones, two files 12 panes of g1ass, and 1 lb. putty, 12 lbs wrought nails in 3 sizes, 1 camp kettle, 1 bed tic and blanket. Besides which to every five was allotted one crosscut saw and one whip saw and one grindstone; and besides all the above, the Richmond settlement was to receive two complete sets of carpenter's tools. Other privileges included a school master sent out and paid by the home government, besides which a clergyman was also to be sent out by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, to look after the spiritual welfare of the colony.

This very handsome and generous offer was accepted by the greater body of the officers and men, as the officers were to be continued at half pay. So on the 28th of July of that year (1818) a large fleet of Durham boats and bateaux, with all arrangements completed and with the officers and men on board, was about to start out on its long journey when, as they were sailing out the harbour, the British man-of-war which bore the Duke of Richmond, then arriving to assume the governor-generalship of British North America, passed in. And it was then and there decided at a meeting of the officers on board one of the boats to name the place which they were about to settle, "Richmond", in honour of His Grace the Dude. Hence Richmond got its name before there was a single inhabitant.

To in mind follow these veterans, the heroes of many battles, with their wives and families on their long, slow and weary, but eventful, journey would be most interesting; but I shall only refer to it as briefly as possible. Passing out from under the walls of the Citadel on Cape Diamond, the Gibraltar of America, and keeping along the north shore, they passed Sillery and Wolfe's Cove, then Cap Rouge, Batiscan and Three Rivers, at the mouth of the St. Maurice River; then entering Lake St. Peter and on to Sorel on the south shore at the mouth of the Richelieu; thence on to Montreal, landing near the spot where Maisonneuve had landed in 1642, 176 years before. From Montreal, they marched to Lachine and embarked in bateaux bound for Ste. Anne de Bellevue and the Ottawa River. On they came through the Lake of Two Mountains, passing by the old Indian mission of the Sulpiciens, Oka, on the north, till they reached Pointe Fortune on the south side at the foot of the Chute a Blondeau rapids and opposite Carillon, where Daulac, the hero of the Long Sault and his comrades gave up their lives in defense of the colony. From Pointe Fortune our settlers proceeded by land to Longueuil. There they again embarked on the bosom of the Ottawa for the final stage of their journey and late in the month of August arrived at the foot of the Chaudiere falls at a place which they named Richmond Landing.

Tents were pitched and families made as comfortable as possible, while the men went forward to cut out the road to their new homes. The road which is still known as "the Richmond Road", bordered along the high ground near the Ottawa River till it reached Bell's Corners (then known as Steele's Tavern). From there it struck southwesterly to Chapman's on the Jock River, and thence along the river, more or less, to the site of the village.

A number of French habitants had been engaged to assist in erecting houses, which work had to be hurriedly done as the long winter was fast approaching, and it was Christmas before all were safely housed in their new homes.

Thus was Richmond settled on military lines.

Brevet Major George Thew Burke was appointed Commissary and the head of the settlement.

In the month of August, in the following year, the village was visited by the Duke of Richmond, who, leaving Sorel about a fortnight before and coming up the St. Lawrence struck back through the country from Brockville to the town of Perth ( settled in 1816) from there he walked to Richmond. Here he remained a day and entertained the officers of the old 100th to a dinner at Sergeant Hill's hostelry called "The Masonic Arms" -- afterwards, "The Duke of Richmond Arms" in his honour. That night he was not well and next morning he proceeded by Col. Burke's to the foot of the rapids on the Jock and entered a canoe to go on to Chapman's at what was then called the end of the road, where a wagon was in waiting to convey him to Mr. Wright's at Hull. After entering the boat he became very violent and had to be put ashore, when he rushed off madly through the woods, escaping his attendants, and was found in a fit at Chapman's barn, where died on August 2 1819. His body was conveyed to Hull and thence to Quebec, where he was buried in the English cathedral and his heart encased in a silver casket was sent home to England. He was the highest titled Governor ever sent out by England to a colony until His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught our late: General, received the appointment. It was his wife, the Duchess of Richmond, who gave the famous ball at Brussels on the night before the battle of Waterloo, referred to in Lore Byron's poem.

Richmond is laid out in a parallelogram of about 1600 acres; 1200 acres, surrounding it and within the corporation, are laid out into park lots of 10 acres each, 40 each on the north and south and 20 each on the east and west. In the centre, 400 acres are laid out in streets. Beginning on the west side, and running north and south, we have:

QueenCalled after Queen Charlotte, wife of George III.
FortuneCalled after Col. Fortune of the 100th.
MaitlandCalled after Sir Peregreen Maitland, son-in-law of the Duke of Richmond and Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada.
FowlerCalled after Major Fowler of the 100th.
LennoxOne of the titles of the Duke of Richmond.
McBeanCalled after the surveyor who laid out the village.
MurrayCalled after Colonel Murray of the 100th.
CockburnCalled after another officer
KingCalled after His Late Majesty, George III

Then, beginning on the north side of the village, we have:

PerthCalled after Perth, this street being part of the road thereto.
HamiltonCalled after an officer.
MartinCalled after an officer.
StrachanCalled after the first bishop of Upper Canada.
BurkeCalled after Colonel Burke.
YorkCalled after the Duke of York.
OttawaCalled after the Ottawa River.

The Jock River was called after a Frenchman names "Jacques", who was drowned in it. It was afterwards renamed "Goodwood" in honour of the Duke - or, as some say, from the good wood growing along its course. Both names are still applied.

In 1820, Capt. Lyon built mills above the village and constructed a great dam which drowned the country above it for many miles, turning it into a hunter's paradise for many years.

Father McDonnell, an ex-chaplain of the army, was the first clergyman to preach a sermon in the new settlement. This took place in the government school very soon after its erection. Father McDonnell afterwards became Roman Catholic Bishop of Kingston. He died in Scotland but his remains were brought to Kingston for burial. The Rev. Mr. Healey was the second who ever preached in the place. He was a Methodist minister and traveled through the country on horse back. The Rev. Mr. Glenn, a Presbyterian minister was the third to preach here and was the earliest resident minister, living here the remainder of his life and being buried in the Presbyterian cemetery. Two elms are the only monument that now marks his grave. St. John's Church of England, built here in the year 1823, was the first church built in the county of Carleton. The first clergyman was the Rev. John Burns, who had been sent out from England by the society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. He lived to a very old man and died here at the age of 90 years. No monument marks the site of his grave.

For a time Richmond bid fair to be a town of exceptional importance, and long before Bytown was thought of, it was a business centre, containing a large number of places of business. There was at least a dozen good general stores, four breweries and two distilleries -- this was before the days of the Scott Act -- a saw-mill, grist and carding mills, besides all the trades being more or less represented.

In 1837, at the time of William Lyon McKenzie's rebellion, an artillery company was organized here for service if required at the front. The late Edward Mallock, M.P. was the captain, and the late Henry McElroy, of the 37th Regiment of Foot, lieutenant. The Company was drilled in the winter on the ice behind the old windmill (called "Burton's Folly", long since torn down), using two brass field guns -- 3-pounders -- which had been taken from the French in the Napoleonic wars and presented to Richmond by His Majesty King George III shortly after its settlement. In 1842 these guns were lent to Bytown at the celebration there for the opening of the first Union Bridge between Ottawa and Hull and were never returned.

In 1842, the county registry Office was removed from Richmond to Bytown, when the County of Carleton was made into a judicial district and a Court House and Jail built.

In 1850, Richmond became an incorporated village. The first reeve was the late William Richmond Radenhurst Lyon, who died in 1854. He was said to be the first male child born here (1820) and was the son of Capt. George Lyon, late of the 100th.

The first female child born here, in 1819, was a daughter of the late Sergeant Garrett Fitzgerald, one of our earliest school masters.

The first Masonic Lodge in Upper Canada was created here in 1820, as well as the third Orange Lodge in Canada in the same year.

In 1858, at about the same time of the closing up of the Indian mutiny and Sepoy rebellion, there was organized in Canada a Regiment for Imperial Service called the 100th Prince of Wales Royal Canadian Regiment, in order to perpetuate the name of the old 100th disbanded in 1818. Some people enlisted in it and saw service abroad. It is now attached to the Leinsters.

In 1862, at the time of the Mason and Sliddel matter and the likelihood of a war breaking out between England and the United States, a volunteer company over 50 strong was organized here and drilled in the old English Church by Sergeant Law of the Prince Consort's 60th Rifles, at that time stationed in Ottawa. This company in 1864 was merged into No. 6 Company of the 43rd battalion, Carleton Blazers, which saw service at the time of the Fenian Raids, 1866 and 1870.

In my younger days, I was personally acquainted with many of the old veterans of the 100th and other regiments who had settled here. I can well remember seeing them coming in on Quarter Day to be paid their pensions. On these occasions they wore their medal and clasps on which I have often read the names "Niagara", "Salamanca" etc. -- places far apart -- some, even here who had fought with Wellington, then Lord Wellesley, in India. But all these old original pioneers have long since been laid away in their last resting place, here and elsewhere, and their most lasting monument is this beautiful country in which we live. Let us always reverence their names, who came here and under great hardships and privations have made this land what it is today.