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
courtesy
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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Richmond Men of the Carleton Blazers

Acquittance Roll #5 1869 officers
The Commanding Officers – Company #5 Carleton Blazers 1868-1869

Several weeks ago when we posted a blog about the encampment of the Carleton Blazers, a question arose.  How did a village of less than 500 people have more than 50 men enlist in the militia?  Who were these men?  These questions prompted a second look at the Acquittance Roll for Company 5 (June 1869).  A search of the censuses and Belden Atlas revealed only a total of twelve militiamen who appeared as living in Richmond. Where did the others live? Continue reading

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Something For Everyone – The Town Hall

6107 Perth Street

Richmond Agricultural Society 'Dining Hall" 2012
Richmond Agricultural Society ‘Dining Hall” 2012

Church suppers beside the jail!  That is part of the history of this building which has been a social centre for villagers for more than one hundred and fifty years. Built on Cockburn St., it was originally the Town Hall for the Village. Then during the term of Reeve Hugh Rielly (1886-1896) the building was moved several blocks to the south side of Perth St. near the corner of McBean (this area is now part of the Memorial Park).  The building was moved for a second time, in 1951, and at its new location, across the street, became the Dining Hall for the Richmond Fair. Continue reading

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The Carleton Volunteers

Beginning in the 1820’s and throughout the nineteenth century, the men of the village regularly demonstrated their loyalty to “Crown” and “Country”.  During the 1860’s, following in the tradition of many of their fathers and grandfathers (who were veterans of the War of 1812), Richmond’s young men volunteered to defend their land against the threat of an American based invasion by the Fenian Society.  They formed one of the nine companies of the 43rd Battalion of Infantry commonly called the Carleton Blazers.  During the year, this militia company (Company #5) would drill at home and then gather with the rest of the Battalion in a summer encampment.  One can only imagine the excitement, resolve and pride felt by most of these men, mainly farmers and/or their sons. (for an exception to this positive response see Murder on the main street) The following sympathetic description of an encampment appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on July 3, 1868. The article tells us about life in the militia, but equally important, it describes the attitude of the wider rural community. Continue reading

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Hemphill Post Office

Building 1902-1904 Courtesy GTHS
Brennery Tailor Shop 1902-1904
Courtesy GTHS

3444 McBean St.

This house, representative of a late nineteenth century village home and commercial building was built at the time when the centre of the village moved north to the intersection of Perth and McBean Streets. The property is interesting for its owners, before and after, the house was built. The structure has housed a shoemaker’s shop, a tailor shop, and the village post office. For almost the last 20 years, it has been the site of “The Country Quilter”. Continue reading

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William Butler’s Store

3451 McBean St.

Home & Store of William Butler
from Belden Atlas 1879

The Historical Atlas of Carleton County, published in 1879, features drawings of the homes of prominent county residents including this McBean St. residence of William Butler.  Mr. Butler was a long time Richmond Postmaster (1857-1902), merchant, tradesman, and village leader.  His home was located in the wing running parallel to the street while his store was in the section to the right with its door in the front facing gable. This configuration made it ideal for future owners, Dr. F.F. Kemp and Dr. R. Fitz-Gerald to combine their homes and offices. Continue reading

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Montreal Millionaire Philanthropist finances Richmond School Garden

A Hundred Gardeners – Richmond
from Queen’s Quarterly- 1905

If Richmond had had a newspaper in 1904, a headline might have proclaimed, “ Montreal Millionaire Philanthropist finances Richmond School Garden”.  Indeed it would have been valid because Sir Charles Macdonald, owner of a multimillion-dollar tobacco empire, did indeed provide funds for a three-year project that placed Richmond on the leading edge of a movement to radically change the nature of Ontario education. Why did he sponsor a garden in Richmond and what was it like? Continue reading

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