Richmond’s Strathcona Rifle Range

by Marion Scott with research assistance from Fred & Joan Darby, Bob Moore & Ian White

Richmond & Strathcona Rifle Range -1908
Richmond & Strathcona Rifle Range -1908

One hundred years ago in the summer of 1914, the great powers of Europe were lurching towards war.  Meanwhile, in Richmond, the Strathcona Rifle Range was at the centre of a kerfuffle between the Canadian Northern Railway and the Canadian Government.  Why, at a time when the British Empire required all the skilled marksmen it could find, did someone want to close a training ground for riflemen?  The answer seemed very simple. The railway executives thought their passengers and trainmen might get shot. Continue reading

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George Lyon & the Montreal ‘China’ Merchants

The end of the War of 1812-1814 brought changes in the lives of many of its veterans. Captain George Lyon of the 99th/100th Regiment decided not to return to his native Scotland. Instead, in 1818, he came to the Richmond Settlement in the wilds of Upper Canada.   Meanwhile, two militia officers, Joseph Shuter and Robert Charles Wilkins, both from respected Canadian families, became partners in the Montreal “China” trade. During the 1820’s Shuter and Wilkins were the exclusive suppliers of various types of ceramic dishes and glassware to the store established by Lyon. Continue reading

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Rielly/Brown House

97 Strachan St.

The Rielly/Brown House 2012
The Rielly/Brown House

This property situated at the corner of Strachan St. and Lennox St. has connections with several well-known families in both Richmond and Goulbourn Township. The Lyon, Shillington, Gemmill, Phillips, Rielly and Brown families have all owned the land. It has also been the site of not only the unique house which still graces the corner, but also, in an earlier era, a butcher shop, a bakery and a store.

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1851 “Canada Directory” vs Canada Census

Walling Map of Richmond 1863 courtesy GTHS
Wallings Map of Richmond 1863
courtesy GTHS

The 1851 “Province of Canada Directory”, which can be found in the Library and Archives Canada collection, provides us with a snapshot of the professional and trades people active in Richmond.  The Directory distinguishes between two Richmond Villages in Canada West.  Richmond #1 is our village in Carleton County while Richmond #2 is located in Middlesex County, 7 miles from Aylmer and 37 from London. Robert W. S. Mackay and his assistants compiled the Directory, which provides good information but also raises many questions.

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The Stewart/Hartin House

2011 courtesy Joan Darby
courtesy Joan Darby

6019 Perth St.

The Stewart/Hartin house, built in the spirit of Neo-Gothic architecture, is unique in Richmond Village not only for its design, but also due to the fact that only two families, both headed by patriarchs with an eye for beauty and detail, have owned it. The first owner, James Stewart, built this house after his original family home was destroyed by fire. The second owner, Dr. Kenneth Hartin, has preserved and restored the building’s finest features. Continue reading

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Richmond Remedies in the 1820’s:

Examining the Invoices of George Lyon`s  Store

Allspice was
Purchased in large amounts
UCLA-Spices as Meds

In today’s world of modern medicine, we take for granted that a quick trip to the doctor’s office will cure our illnesses.  However, things were quite different in the early 1800s.  Settlers were susceptible to the normal aches and pains of the time.  This could include respiratory ailments, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, rheumatism, and even malaria.  A visit to the doctor (if one was available) was a rare occurrence.  So how did the early Upper Canadian pioneers deal with illness?

Through his contact with Montreal suppliers, Richmond merchant, George Lyon had access to traditional remedies such as spices from the Caribbean, as well as patent medicines and the most advanced new products from the large pharmaceutical companies of the day. A review of the suppliers’ invoices reveals a most interesting saga in the history of medical practices of the day. Continue reading

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Seeds for the Future – Gardening in the 1820’s

by Joan Darby

It’s hard to imagine the excitement of the Richmond settlers as they experienced the first spring in their new community. Owning land had been no more than a dream for most of the disbanded soldiers of the 99th/100th regiment, so the offer of free land in a new country was an irresistible lure to stay in Canada at the end of the War of 1812. Now they faced the challenge to succeed in this new venture.

George Lyon purchased Shaker Seeds circa 1820 photo courtesy Hamilton College Library Digital Collection
George Lyon purchased Shaker Seeds circa 1820
photo courtesy
Hamilton College Library Digital Collection

When they accepted the government’s offer of free land, the soldier-settlers were each given a year’s army rations, the tools to succeed in settling their land, and seeds for their future. Few other British emigrants had the luxury of a year’s supply of free food before having to provide food for themselves and their families. The spring of 1819, the first spring on their land, would not have been as crucial or challenging with this safety net in place. We do not know what seeds the settlers were given for their first crops but they were likely the basics. Typical of the time would have been carrots, turnips, onions, potatoes and grain. But once this first year of support was ended, what resources did the settlers have for food and crops?

Many emigrants to Canada brought seeds from “home” or saved seed from earlier crops. This was not the case for the settlers from the 100th regiment, who had traveled extensively throughout the war and who had been provided for by the military establishment. Once the year of rations in the new settlement ran out, they turned to the new store, opened around the fall of 1819 by Lt. George Lyon, for the seeds to plant their crops and the vegetables that would feed their families. Continue reading

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Torney/Hemphill House

74 Fowler St.

Torney/Hemphill House 2012
Torney/Hemphill House 2012

One House.  Two families.  180 years of History.  The history of this two-story log farmhouse in many ways chronicles the history of the village.  Built for/by John Torney, the building was home to Mr. Torney, his wife, 10 children and various workers.  It was from here that Mr. Torney ran his farm and tannery.  After it was sold to William Hemphill, it housed six generations of his family until it was sold in 2012.  These two families typified the work ethic and spirit present among many inhabitants of the village. Both families have an interesting story to tell. Continue reading

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“Going to the Store” – Richmond Merchants in the 1820’s

Port Of Montreal circa 1825
Port of Montreal circa 1825
Société du Havre de Montréal

In 1819, when the Richmond settlers were completing their first year in the area, George Lyon began buying goods from Montreal merchants to sell in his newly established store.  An examination of the entries in his invoice book reveals the wide variety of merchandise that he was able to obtain from about fifty suppliers.  However, Lyon wasn’t the only merchant to provide goods to the Richmond settlers.  Continue reading

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At the Crossroads – the Rielly House Hotel

6092 Perth St.

Rielly House Hotel courtesy GTHS
Rielly House Hotel – 1910
courtesy GTHS

The Rielly House was built literally at the crossroads of traffic through Richmond.  It was situated at the meeting place of the Perth Road ( the major route from Bytown to Perth), and the Huntley Road (the major north-south route that joined Prescott on the St. Lawrence with the communities on the Ottawa River). It was also built at the crossroads of Richmond’s history.  Before 1855, Richmond was booming. Edward Rielly estimated that 300 teams of horses passed through the village during the lumber season as men moved to and from the lumber camps of the Upper Ottawa Valley. This traffic generated a demand for accommodations for men and their horses as well as services such as taverns, stores, blacksmiths, and wheelwrights. This grand stone building is symbolic of the prosperity generated by the traffic.  What do we know about the Rielly family? Why did their prosperity and that of Richmond not endure? Continue reading

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