Wednesday 11 May 2016

Mapping of Military Settlement Lanark County
Perth, in Lanark County
Perth is celebrating its 200th anniversary as a town. People are exploring its history in many ways. This is an interactive map project for Lanark County, which shows the original land grants dating from around this time. Hubby adores his maps, and I hope he likes this one!

I first found out about this project from our local newspaper:

Historic mapping project plots historic roots in Lanark County 

Barry Crampton wishes his younger self had paid attention now. “My father said, ‘One day, you’ll wish you’d paid...
“(We can) use technology to tell the story of a settlement,” said Crampton, which “can be retrieved for generations to come.”
At the end of the 1812 war, and the Napoleonic War, military were discharged with half-pay.
They sent them off to Canada, where they were the responsibility of the Military for three years. The UK was needing to put these soldiers somewhere. They divvied up the land in these bizarre, rectangular parcels, which totally disregarded the lay of the land, the geology and the quality of the land.

I've written elsewhere about the incredible lack of soil in the area: Flora, fauna, geology of Lanark County The swamps are amazing, like my frog pond, where flora and fauna abound, just not at great depths. Sadly, farming cows isn't a really good option on all plots. Those with land grants were required to clear the land, and open the roads in front of their property. One didn't get title until this was done, sometimes not until 1825, for example. Some gave up and abandoned their land, others came to see it, then left, others sold the land and moved on. It must have been a monumental task.

Families drew land parcels by lottery, and if they didn't like what they pulled, they were able to pull a total of three times.

The bizarre divvying up of the lots left some on one side or another of the lakes, bogs and rivers. Murphys Point Park land was appropriated to establish the park. That must have been difficult for these families who had cleared the land, then worked it. Rather than farming, some mined mica.

Some land was set aside for clergy and crown,
you can see the extensive work done colour coding this map.

What the township has forgotten is that this land was land belonging to the Algonquins. Algonquin Land Claims Ontario.There was a presentation to council to remind them of this fact.

It was posted here:

"A Call to Recognize on Whose Land We Live" by Maureen Bostock

The following was delivered by Maureen Bostock, of Lanark County Neighbours for Truth and Reconciliation, to Perth Town Council on March 1, 2016. While Perth is celebrating its 200th anniversary, the Algonquin people have lived in this unceded territory for some 8,000 years. The establishment of the Town was in contradiction to British law and the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which stated that no land could be granted to settlers without a prior agreement between First Nations and the Crown.

It reads in part...

From At Home in Tay Valley, The Omamiwinini, a chapter written by Paula Sherman quotes Kaondinoketch an Omamiwinini leader from 1840 addressing a council meeting: “Our hunting 
old fencing –in the middle of the wetland
grounds that are vast and extensive and once abounded in the richest furs and swarmed with deer of every description are now ruined.  We tell you the truth, we now starve half the year through and our children, who were accustomed to being comfortably clothed, are now naked.  We own, brother, that we are partly the cause of these present misfortunes; we were too good and generous; we permitted strangers to come and settle on our grounds and to cultivate the land; wood merchants to destroy our valuable timber, who have done us much injury, as by burning our rich forests, they have annihilated our beaver and our peltries, and driven deer away.” 
The chapter also records the Omamiwinini people’s response to the actions of newcomers:“When they came across Philemon Wright cutting down their sugar bush in the early 19thcentury, they were quite upset, and questioned him about his actions.  From what I can tell from the documentary evidence and oral tradition around the incident, Wright lied and told them he had papers given to him by the Colonial Office.  This was untrue as it turns out; he was a land speculator from Massachusetts and had no such papers.  
Wetland, with the leaves down,
you can see where the forest begins again.
While the Omamiwinini people found it difficult to understand how he had “acquired” these lands, they didn’t question the truth of his statement.  To do so would have been an insult and disrespectful.  They did not lie.  Instead, given that he was already there, they chose to welcome and incorporate him into already existing protocols for relationships with neighbours.” 

  My grandmother told of the times when she was helped by local natives, who lived around their settlement. She and her brothers would get lost and they'd be brought back home. Local politicians are frightfully ignorant, it's time they were educated.


William Kendall said...

Looking at the layout of the area, I'm reminded of my home county in southern Ontario, which was also divided up into grids of rectangles back in the day. In the northern part of the county, that still applied.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Oh this is so reminiscent of colonial behaviours in Australia... a key difference as far as land use is concerned is, of course, the Koori peoples never had any concept of land ownership as such, but all were responsible for the 'care and husbandry'... and on a change of note, I love all those familiar place names in this unfamiliar place! YAM xx

Unknown said...

Hi Jenn,

If you find a map showing the original townships of Montague, Elmsley (including north and south), Burgess, Beckwith, Drummond, Bathurst, things may make more sense to you and less bizarre. Also you may find the settling of this area had much to do with the UEL's.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

How interesting this is.

Red said...

Some great history in this map. Probably many of these people gave up on their piece of land.

Anvilcloud said...

These grids of concessions and township lines were laid down all over southern Ontario, but settlers in some areas had it better than around here. I guess the natives didn't fare too well anywhere .

DeniseinVA said...

Fascinating post and so eye opening.

DUTA said...

Happy Anniversary to Perth! Enjoy the celebrating events!
It looks like the region has an interesting history and heritage. It's sad, though, that to this day there are still some unsettled issues with the first nations.

Jenn Jilks said...

OK, funny story, Rideau Ferry. We spent days looking for a book my client loaned out (Leeds County) and didn't get back. We went to every 2nd hand store, as it was published in 1986.
No luck.
Finally, my client had it returned, but it's called South Elmsley, and was likely in Smiths Falls.
I giggled so hard.

My point was that the properties in some spots are cut in half by water. It seemed a little strange. Some properties make perfect sense, as ours, which is a rectangle set into the wetland.