Dalkeith Historical Society

Dalkeith – Ontario – Canada

Dalkeith History

old photoBefore the people came, the land was here. This land was compressed under the glaciers and then later submerged under the Champlain Sea. The Sea dried up leaving fertile plains, a few small rivers & puddles, more hills & glens & lots of Glengarry nuggets – all this in Lochiel township b/w the Ottawa & St. Lawrence Rivers. The Mohawk hunted and fished here but did not stay. By the mid late 1700’s The land was being surveyed, brought up and or offered by the crown to the Military and or settlers who did stay.

Scottish Highlanders and their Families came and settled here bringing familiar & comforting place names with them: Dalkeith, Knoydart, Breadalbane, Brodie, Lochinvar, Glen Andrew, Kirk Hill etc.memorial

These people were “characters out of the book of life”, they came with passion, a bit of craziness and plenty of soul & very determined to cut out a new life to suit their needs.

Come to our Robertson-Clark Building to learn more about what gives Dalkeith its “soul.” -200 years of love & laughter & soul & tears. French, English & Gaelic were the early languages spoken up till WW2 when Gaelic died out completely. We are located in the north east corner of Glengarry.

Dalkeith is a small community with a big heart!
Come visit. Come see what makes us tick!

1750-1800

This area was the eastern section of what was known as Upper Canada. King George the Third was on the British throne. The area in and around the future Dalkeith was being surveyed into lots & concessions by the Crown. Glengarry County went from the St. Lawrence River in the south to the Ottawa River in the North. Within this area could be found Lancaster Township and Dalkeith would be located on the 16th concession of Lancaster. By the 1890’s both the Glen Elg settlement (Kirkhill) and the Knoydart settlement (now Binette Road) had arrived and settled prior to the arrival of the Robertsons who were the founding family of Dalkeith. Lot 7, Concession 16 was deeded to James Ferguson from the crown with the following restrictions….“ and reserving for the King and his heirs all mines of Gold, Silver, Copper, Tin and Coal that shall or may now hereafter be found on any part of said parcel of land…..and reserving for the King and his heirs all White Pine that shall or may now or hereafter be found growing on said parcel of land.

William & Catherine Robertson's Home

CATHERINE ROBERTSONCATHERINE ROBERTSON: 1840-1912
WILLIAM, HER ENTREPRENEURIAL HUSBAND, BUILT THIS HOME FOR HER SHORTLY AFTER THEIR MARRIAGE IN MAY, 1863

1800-1850

By 1800 Glengarry County no longer stretched from river to river. In 1818 the newly formed Lochiel township became the north easterly part of the county. Lochiel is so named in honour of the numerous Scottish settlers in this area and in honour of the “Gentle Lochiel” who headed Clan Cameron. He was thought a great man amongst his followers. In 1811 John Robertson & his wife Janet McKay, from Dalkeith, Scotland bought Lot 7 in the 16th of Lancaster from James Ferguson. Oral history has it that the Robertson brought family and workers to help set up shop. They built a sawmill, a grist mill, a carding mill and a general store on the shores of the River de Graisse. The community was called Robertson Mills. This was still a survival period for many settlers. Land was available. A big contention was the fallow clergy reserves in the area that went unused. In 1829 Breadalbane residents signed a petition protesting against these reserves not being available for settlement. Gaelic was the language of the day. By the early 1840’s Dalkeith village had a primary school with 42 students.

McIntosh SawmillThis is a copy of a photo-courtesy of Lawrence Mclaurin ,a local historian, who now lives in Cornwall. It is a photo of the sawmill as it existed around the time that Donald Mcintosh took over its Operation.

Donald McIntosh Donald McIntosh had been the “woods” expert for McArthur and Rayside (Lancaster area). 1000’s of logs would be driven on the River de Graisse to this sawmill. The Robertson operation was small by comparison to many other initiatives. Nevertheless it served the people who felled logs on their land, dragged them to the river’s edge in winter and then dumped them for the drive to Robertsons in the spring . It was not such a dangerous river to drive as jammed logs could be loosened by workers on the shore using long metal pikes.

 

1850-1900

The second generation Robertsons, John and William, dominate this period. They built rebuilt after their father and mother’s deaths in the late 1850’s. The Mills stayed at the river. A new General Store and Post Office was in place for 1867, the year of Confederation. The village would now be called Dalkeith. They built a new home for themselves. Robertson was called Squire in honour of his position in the community. They expanded their land holdings. They would have been involved in getting the Glen Robertson– Hawkesbury rail line to run through Dalkeith although they did not live to see its arrival. The railway did arrive in 1891 and the village grew a little. A livery, Hotel and other businesses sprung up in and around town

1900-1950

This is the time when the town was at its zenith. The third generation Robertsons left in their private railway car never to return. Others took over.Theorets, Campbells,Goulets, Perriers, McCuaigs, Rangers, Lefebvres, McKinnons , Levacs and others all ran lucrative establishments. There was a well educated and well loved Doctor in the Village as well as a good ole country Vet. The village and its surrounding customers was a self-sufficient entity. It was the time of the Great war when so many men left never to return. It was the time of ww2 when many more men and women served for King and Country. The francophones arrived in greater numbers. Dalkeith had 2 schools and a church, a winter rink and an outdoor playing field for sports in summer. It hosted and boasted one of the best dance halls in the county. Things were about to change

1950-present

The town had survived and thrived through the depression. The arrival of the automobile, electricity, telephone, computers all took its toll on the tiny village with a big heart. All that had been achieved in the previous decades was lost by 2011. Everything closed and the the town is mostly a bedroom community for the bigger cities where the jobs are. The Dalkeith Recreation Association hosts 6 brunches a year as well as the outstanding winter carnival and we have an active library and a budding historical Society.

We have one main industry:Classic Amusements, they have a big heart and bring much needed life to the village. So this tiny little town is still fascinating; brave and bold and determined enough to host a 1000 spectator strong picnic in 2008 as well as charging ahead to organize a lively and entertaining bicentennial party in 2011.