ADALAID [Adelaide] PORTER PRITCHARD
Was born March 28th, 1857, in North Wakefield, and departed this life May
During a revival meeting held in 1863, by the Rev. Mr.
Dingman and Mr. Steel, evangelist from England, she sought and found peace
with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Her beautiful Christian life bore
testimony to the power of god's grace to save to the uttermost. It might
well be said that she exhibited the graces of the Spirit, "adding to
faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge," &c. And this life of loving
words and deeds was not spent in vain. She had left home for a visit with
her brother-in-law, Mr. A. Brown, of Cantly [Cantley], with the object of
improving her weak constitution, and to all appearance she was getting
stronger and more vigorous, and the parents' hearts were hopeful of her
speedy restoration to health. But alas! How uncertain are human life and
hope. Just at the time when least expected the summons came, and all the
efforts of kind friends and a skilful physician could not stay the hand of
death. In a few short hours the spirit had left the body to join the
redeemed on high. In her removal, her parents and family have lost a
dutiful daughter and affectionate sister, but their loss is her infinite
gain. Her remains were conveyed to the family burying ground and tenderly
laid in its last resting place. The mourning ones who are left behind,
sorrow not even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that
Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God
bring with him. Jas. O'Hara.
Adelaide Porter Pritchard was the daughter of Thomas
Pritchard and Elvira Hamilton. Her obituary, and the following obituary
for her mother, appeared in a church paper, likely the Christian Guardian.
Death of Margaret (Morrison) Pritchard
Joseph Pritchard and his wife Margaret Morrison lived
in Naaleho, Hawaii where he was the manager of the local telephone
company. Margaret died giving birth to her daughter Margaret Morrison
Pritchard in 1899. Steve McKenzie has the following letter that was sent to her father in
Bristol township and published in a local newspaper, probably the
Shawville Equity. Joseph was the son of James Pritchard and Eliza
Steenson. See the Photo gallery.
Holualo, Jan 23rd, 1899
Mr. George Morrison
It has become my painful duty to send forth the sad news of the demise
of your loving daughter Maggie, wife of Mr. J. Pritchard. Two weeks ago
there was born to them a little daughter. All went well until the fifth
day, when fever set in. The resident physician and good nurse were in
constant attendance, but the fever gained on them so that on Thursday a
neighbouring physician was called in consultation, but too late; she
departed life on Friday, Jan. 20th at 1 a.m.
All that loving hands could do was done, but it was God's will that she
should be taken.
She was laid away in a pretty little cemetary a mile above Naahelu, in
a village called Walohimo.
The little ones are well and for the present the nurse will care for the
family. The Kan mail leaves a few days later than this and Mr. Pritchard
will then write you fully of his bereavement. The poor man feels his
loss keenly. Just three months ago I spent a few days with them and how
happy and comfortable they did seem. To think that I will never more see
or hear her causes me much sorrow, and I take this opportunity to send
our heart-felt sympathy.
Yours in Sorrow
Mrs. L.S. Aungst
PRITCHARD Mrs. Thomas Pritchard died in great peace,
at North Wakefield, Quebec, on October 15 1899, aged seventy-seven years. She was the daughter of Wm. Hamilton, born on the St. Lawrence and later
lived in the township of Cantly [Cantley], Ottawa county. At the age of
nine years she was converted under the ministry of the Rev Mr. Herman on
the Gatineau Mission, and united with the Methodist church of which she
was a faithful member until her death. She was greatly interested in the
spiritual prosperity of God's people. Among the last thing she said,
she spoke of a revival of religion. The Christian Guardian she read
faithfully. In the year 1841 she married to Thomas Pritchard, who
survives her, together with seven daughters and two sons. All her married
life was spent in Masham, near North Wakefield. H. Krupp
October 1999 marked 100 years since Elvira's death. Being born on the Saint Lawrence after an Atlantic crossing is hard for us
to picture today. Evidently her parents gave-up positions of
influence in Ireland to be together and to become among the first settlers
of the Ironsides area, just north of Hull. They probably moved to
the east side of the river, thus the reference to "Cantly". Hamilton
is a common Scottish name, and their arrival in Ireland is apparently
linked to the Plantation of Ulster in the seventeenth century when they
gained vast tracts of land and became powerful landowners and persons of
Baby Christened at Mother's
Young Woman Dies One Year After Marriage
Judith Ferguson is believed to have been the first
person to be buried at the Alcove cemetery, in 1852; Elizabeth Kennedy
Pritchard was the last, in 1942. The cemetery was used mostly by the
Pritchard family over this ninety years, but not exclusively so. The
following article was included in the booklet "The Alcove United Church
1889-1989" by E. Lois Wilson. Presumably published in an Ottawa paper
about 1917, it shows that the cemetery gate was always open when
compassion called for it to be. Reverend Brownlee was the minister at
Alcove from 1916-1917; the son baptized that day survived, and went on to
serve Canada on Active Service in World War II.
WAKEFIELD, Nov. 9. - A year ago, the little Methodist
Church at Alcove (North Wakefield) was crowded with friends to witness the
marriage of Miss H. D. Wilson, of Aberdeen, Scotland, to Mr. Arthur
Healey, of Glos, England, both young people being popular members of the
community. On Tuesday, November 6, the same friends assembled, at the
same church, to be present at the funeral service held by the same
minister, the Rev. Y. Y. E. Brownlee, over the body of the young wife, who
rested in her wedding dress in her flower-covered coffin, while her
three-weeks-old baby was christened beside his dead mother.
Mrs. Arthur Healey's death at Trenton, Ont., where the
young couple had resided, cast a deep gloom over her wide circle of
friends. The explosion at the British Chemical Co., Trenton, occurred a
few days after the birth of their little son, and the windows of every
house for miles around were shattered.
Influenza, followed by pneumonia, set in, and the young
mother, in spite of every care from a devoted husband and mother, died of
heart exhaustion on November 2nd. A short service was held by the
minister (the Rev. Mr. Ross) of the church which was attended by Mr. and
Mrs. Arthur Healey, at their home, and as a member of the choir and bible
class, a feeling allusion was made by the Rev. Mr. Ross, at the church
service on Sunday, to Mrs. Arthur Healey's death. The funeral took
place at Alcove, Que. The pall-bearers, Mr. M. D. Fitzpatrick, Roy
Newcommon, H. Colbert, H. Rogers, Y. Reilly and Walter Brown, bore the
coffin, covered with flowers sent by friends and relatives to the
Pritchard Cemetery where the Rev. Y. Y. E. Brownlee officiated at the
Mrs. Arthur Healey is survived by her husband and
infant son, Harold; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Wilson, of Alcove,
Que.; three sisters, Mrs. M. D. Fitzpatrick, Alcove, Mrs. E. Bernie, and
Mrs. C. Grant, Aberdeen, Scotland; of the six brothers, John and Alec have
been fighting overseas from the beginning of the war- four younger
brothers, Albert, Alfred, Charlie and Walter are at home.
All Bush and Water, Mrs.
Jas. Pritchard Says
Wife of Alcove Pioneer Did Not Like Country at First
From George H. Wilson's column "Old Time Stuff" in the
Evening Citizen, 10 August 1929, and reprinted in The Low Down to Hull and
Back, a local Gatineau Valley paper, a few years back in the column
"Echoes from the Past with Pat Evans," entitled More on the Pioneering
Pritchards of Alcove.
It is told by Mrs. J. C. Chamberlain [Chamberlin] of
Wakefield that when Mrs. James Pritchard, wife of the Alcove pioneer,
settled in her new home, she sat down and had a good cry. "There is
nothing but bush and water here," she lamented.
But soon the fit of homesickness passed and Mrs. Pritchard
settled down bravely to help her husband and their five (actually six)
sons and three daughters make a home for themselves in the new land.
Mrs. Chamberlain says that the whole Pritchard family went on
foot from Chelsea to Alcove, as there was no regular road past Chelsea at
the time, in the forties (more likely thirties). The family walked
carrying all the family goods they could.
The family broke their journey at the east end of
Wakefield where a daughter Mary, Mrs. Joseph Irwin, was already located. It was, in fact, on the advice of Mrs. Irwin that the Pritchards came to
Mrs. Chamberlin was the granddaughter of Judith and daughter of Ann
[Pritchard] and Thomas Stevenson; she died in 1933. Assuming the trip
from Chelsea was in 1834, Judith would have been 46 years of age, and
James about 51. It is not known how many children accompanied them. James
Jr. apparently came to Canada some time later, according to his grandson
George Pritchard, and had gone to Wales before coming to Canada. (Some
linkage may have been maintained with Welsh relatives, or he could have
been escaping the Irish potato famine of the 1840s.) Thomas Pritchard is
shown in the 1901 census as coming to Canada in 1845, although some of his
children were born in Canada before then.
Gatineau Valley Is Scene
Large Family Reunion
Ottawa Citizen article, probably by Birdsall "Birdie"
(James Pritchard > Ann (Stevenson) > Judith (Robb) > Birdsall)
ALCOVE, July24 -- James Pritchard and his wife Jane
Stevenson [Ferguson], came from Northern Ireland in 1830 and settled on a
grant of land near what is now the village of Alcove. They had a large
family of sons and daughters most of whom settled in the Gatineau Valley. One son moved to Lowell, Mass. Their descendants are now scattered in
various parts of the world. On Saturday last, descendants residing in the
Ottawa district, to the number of almost one hundred, gathered at the old
homestead, now the farmstead of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Pritchard, [not the
Pritchard homestead in Alcove] in a family reunion. After partaking of a
luncheon served on tables arranged under the trees, the afternoon was
spent in a social time renewing old acquaintances and making new ones. A
short program at which Rev. Manley Pritchard, of Athens, Ont., was the
chief speaker, added to the afternoon's enjoyment. An invitation was
accepted and arrangements were made to hold the reunion next year at the
home of Mr. and Mrs. Colborne Nesbitt, Montreal road.
Pritchard Family Reunion is Held
More than 100 Descendants Attend Gathering at Alcester Hall
More than 100 descendants of the old Pritchard family, among the
pioneers of the Gatineau section about a century ago, gathered on Saturday
at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Colbourne [Colborne] Nesbitt, "Alcester Hall",
Montreal road, in the annual reunion of the Pritchard family association,
and spent an enjoyable day under ideal conditions.
Mrs. Nesbitt was formerly Miss Mary Pritchard, daughter
of the late Abraham Pritchard, and many who still bear the name were among
The beautiful old-world stone house formed an admirable
background for a tableau of contrasts presented. A lady's
side-saddle and costume worn more than 100 years ago were set-off against
the latest in stream-lined automobiles and a young miss in the mode of
1935. Races were enjoyed and dinner was served. Later, speeches were
delivered by Ben Rothwell, M. Glass, Rev. Robert Gamble, Dr. W. H.
Pritchard and Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Pritchard. Election of officers for
the ensuing year resulted in unanimous selection of Mrs. Lila Johannsen as
Thanks to the host and hostess and those responsible
for the gathering were passed, and presentation of a silver plate was made
to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pritchard, of Alcove, Que., who some years ago were
foremost in organizing the society of descendants of the family, and in
keeping the association alive.
It was announced that Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Pritchard
would act as hosts for the next year's reunion. Those responsible for the
success of the 1935 celebration included, S. Pritchard, Arnprior,
president, J. A. Pritchard, Manotick, convener, Miss Abby Pritchard,
Wyman, Que., secretary, and D. A. [C.A.] Johannsen, Gordon Moore, Dr. W.
H. Pritchard, and Jack Dinning, committee.
Ottawa Citizen article. Mary Nesbitt was the daughter of John
Pritchard's brother Abraham, so it was established that one need not claim
John as a grandfather to be a true "bald" Pritchard. Alcester Hall was
expropriated by the federal government for the wartime expansion of the
National Research Council. Joe and Clara Pritchard were presented a silver
tray in appreciation of their role in the first two reunions. Joe
Pritchard died within days, on July 12, 25 years to the day after
meeting Clara at an Orange celebration in Cantley.
More than 75 members of the Pritchard family attended the
annual Pritchard reunion held this year at Manotick at the home of Mr. and
Mrs. J. A. Pritchard. Dinner was served on the lawn and later a short
program was enjoyed under the convenership of Mrs. C. A. Johannsen. The
young people were entertained with races and games, the sports
committee being composed of Dr. H. Pritchard, Mr. C. A. Johannsen, Mr. J.
Moore and Mr. J. W. Dinning.
The next gathering will be a basket picnic up the
Gatineau on the last Saturday of June, 1938. Mr. R. Pritchard will
be the chairman of arrangements, Mrs. E. Pritchard will be in charge of
refreshments, Mr. Fred Pritchard will be convener of program and Miss
Abbie Pritchard will be secretary.
The practice of meeting alternately in the Gatineau
and Ottawa valleys was talked about, and probably followed.
Carriages From Old Homestead
Recall Bygone Era in Gatineau
By Gladys Blair
Ottawa Journal, November 17, 1962
The once-elegant Pritchard carriages and sleigh were a familiar sight
in the Gatineau Hills long ago. They are now being housed by the National
Museum of Canada and will be a part of the planned Transportation Museum
which is expected to be built and ready as a Centennial feature. These reminders of an era past have been stored for years in a barn on the
Pritchard property at Alcove, Que.
Harold Pfeiffer is custodian of the Museum collection. He says the vehicles are more than 100 years old and when they are
restored will be a valuable addition to the Museum's interesting parade of
The largest carriage, known as a Victoria was the "social
vehicle" used by the Pritchards for formal occasions. It is upholstered in
green, has a collapsible top and imposing coachman's seat.
The smaller carriage boasts the intriguing name of "coupe
rock-away". It is a dashing affair with hansom cab lines with two front
seats and one large back one. Its upholstery is brown serge edged in
black patent leather. It is a closed carriage with a step and door on
either side. The sleigh - such as your Grandmother used in her romantic
day, dressed in her beaver bonnet, muff and fur-trimmed mantle - is
charming. It has beautiful hand-wrought iron runners and small silver
medallions on either side of the doors.
The Pritchards came to Canada from Northern Ireland in 1834
although they were originally Welsh and the name was Ap Richard. They had
a land grant which, at that time, included all of Alcove extending back to
the hills behind the present village. They cleared the land and
established a general store. Another branch of the family went farther up
the Gatineau to Kazabazua and Low and became farmers.
James Pritchard and his wife, Judith Ferguson, were the first
settlers in Alcove. The second generation to live in the Pritchard
Homestead were the Andrew Pritchards. Mrs. Pritchard was Mary Edey from
Aylmer and is said to have ridden on horseback several times a year all
the way from Alcove across the Gatineau Hills to attend church in Aylmer.
It was Mary Pritchard who donated the land for the Methodist
Church in 1889, and it is still a landmark in Alcove. The Pritchards were
Presbyterians and it came as a great surprise to them when they discovered
the new church was Methodist supported handsomely by Mary Pritchard.
The next generation started the long list of Doctors bearing
the name Pritchard. Dr. James Pritchard, beloved throughout the entire
Gatineau Valley, was a remarkable man. He was an enormous fellow who
could eat a whole chicken at a sitting. He was a sports enthusiast,
sponsoring baseball teams in Summer, and hockey teams in Winter. The
Pritchard family home housed and entertained these visiting teams
overnight and weekends. The open house hospitality of the Homestead was
known far and wide and stories about "the Doc" are numerous. His
bills were often collected in wheat and flour, deer, partridge, beef,
pork, lamb and various other commodities.
Dr. James Pritchard had four sons: Ruggles and Dr. Jack, both
deceased; Andrew L. and Bill; and a daughter, Mary, now Mrs. J. I.
Thompson, of Ottawa, who is the present owner of the old Pritchard
homestead at Alcove. Doctors abound in the family and well-known names
like the Stevensons and Geggies of Wakefield are related, as are the
Mackinnons [MacKinnons], Kenneys and Davies of Ottawa. The late Dr.
Andrew Davis [Davies] and his son Dr. Fred Davies, of the Ottawa Football
Club, are also descendants.
The Pritchard Clan, now enormous, meets for family reunions
yearly. There is a burying ground at the rear of the Pritchard home in
Alcove and provisions are being made to both restore and maintain this
Pritchards Hold Reunion
Members of the Pritchard family from Ottawa and district
held their annual reunion at Vincent Massey Park. J.I. Thompson presided
at a meeting at which greetings were read from family members in
Australia, California and Northwest Territories. It was decided at the
meeting that the bi-annual newsletter should continue to be published.
Executive members for 1961-62: President, James Pritchard of Deep River;
vice -presidents, Dr. Ian Pritchard and Russell Pritchard of Ottawa;
secretary-treasurer, Mrs. Doris Craig of Osgoode; assistant, Miss Bessie
Pritchard of Ottawa.
Pritchard Clan Reunion
July, 1966 -- At the annual Pritchard Clan reunion held at "The
Homestead" summer home of Col. and Mrs. Bing Thompson, Dr. Athol Kenney,
historian, reviewed the family history in Gatineau from early in the
Nineteenth Century. Succeeding Mr. Jim Pritchard as president of the
clan will be Dr. Joseph Pritchard. Vice-presidents are Miss Maralyn
[Marilyn] Pritchard and Mr. Norman Gillen. Secretary-treasurer is
Dr. Hilliard Pritchard.
Ottawa Citizen editorial following the death of Dr. H.J.G. Geggie in
Dr. Harold James Geggie, who has died at the age of 80, called himself
"a simple country doctor" but everyone in the Gatineau knew that he had a
great heart, medical skills and a sense of public service which earned him
honor far and wide. He came to Wakefield in 1911 and gave to the
community not only his personal healing ability but, in time, the services
of three doctor sons and the facilities of a very good hospital he
The specializations of medicine sometimes appear to make
doctors generally remote from their communities but Dr. Geggie was one of
those who shared the weal and woe of the Gatineau and knew well its
difficult trials and private sorrows. R. L. Stevenson said the good
physician was the flower of our civilization and the memory of good
Dr. Geggie will blossom long in the memory of his people.
By Gladys Blair
Ottawa Journal, April 4, 1970
The words of the poet Edgar Albert Guest, "It takes a heap o'livin in a
house t'make it home," could be applied to the lovely old Pritchard house
in Alcove. A heap o'livin indeed has gone into this gracious, white
clapboard country house facing the Gatineau River since the first
Pritchard, James, and his wife Judith Ferguson, arrived from Ireland as
settlers in 1834 to take up their land grant.
The Pritchard property originally ran back to the
Masham Township line and included all of the present village of Alcove. Even today Pritchard descendants have farms reaching far back from the
The Pritchards were originally Welsh and their name was Ap Richard in the old days. They migrated to the Parish of Curran in the County of Cork (sic) and eventually came to Canada.
The Homestead was no doubt the second house as
land had to be cleared and a house of this size would
take some time to build and time was something the early
settlers didn't have when they first arrived.
James Pritchard established a general store and the story of Alcove, then called North Wakefield, began. The second
generation to live in the house were the Andrew Pritchards. Mrs.
Pritchard had been Mary Edey (whose mother was a Wright) of Aylmer and
is said to have ridden on horseback several times a year all the way
from Alcove across the Gatineau Hills to attend church in Aylmer.
It was Mary Pritchard who donated the land for the Methodist Church in 1889, which is still a landmark
in Alcove. As the Pritchards were staunch Presbyterians this caused some consternation in the family.
The Andrew Pritchards moved to Kazabazua about 1860 and Andrew built a sawmill, flour and grist-mill. Then the most
famous and certainly the most beloved, Dr. James Pritchard, took over the family home.
Dr. Pritchard has since become a Gatineau legend and stories of the "Doc" are not only numerous but
He was an enormous fellow who could eat a whole chicken
at a sitting and aside from his busy practice which covered a wide area, he was a sports enthusiast,
sponsoring baseball teams in summer and hockey groups in winter. The Homestead played host to these visiting
athletes and often housed and fed them overnight and weekends.
The "open house" hospitality was known far and wide and no traveller, needy or troubled supplicant was ever turned from the Pritchard door.
Dr. Pritchard and his wife had five sons and one daughter, Mary, now Mrs. J. I. Thompson of Ottawa and present owner of the Homestead.
It is curious how this family occurred in cycles. First
the two eldest sons, Ruggles and Dr. Jack, both deceased, were born two
years apart. After a lapse of seven years Andrew and Ted arrived again
two years apart with Ted only surviving for about two years. After
another seven years Mary and Bill were born, again two years apart.
Doctors abound in the family connection and well-known names like the Stevensons and Geggies of Wakefield are related as are the MacKinnons, Kenneys and Davies of Ottawa. The late Dr. Andrew Davies and his son, the present Dr. Fred Davies of the Ottawa Rough Riders, are also descendants.
The Pritchard clan, now widespread and expansive throughout Canada and the United States, meet for family
The old Pritchard cemetery on the hill at the rear of the Homestead is maintained by the family.
The house, of 1840 vintage is one of many memories,
clearly experienced from he moment you enter the front door. The door
itself is most interesting being similar to the Thompson-Cole-Rochester
house on the Richmond Road. The treatment both inside and out of the
curved mouldings over the entrance, the semi-circular "fan" transom and
matching sidelights are almost identical, and the story is current that
the same builder worked on both houses. The drawing room and sitting room
doors opening from either side of the large hallway downstairs, have
hand-painted graining simulating birds'-eye maple, the skirting boards are
deep and the S-form newel post are all very typical of the period.
The large room behind the drawing room was the doctor's
office. There was a big dining room and, at the rear, a king-size
kitchen. The floor boards in the later are in alternative strips, one of
pine and one of oak. Set in the back staircase which curves upward is the
old boot-box. The window panes throughout are of bubble glass with a
variety of lacey patterns.
Over the kitchen wing upstairs are three rooms and a
bathroom, used originally as servants' quarters. The main part of the
house has a master bedroom and nursery connecting, two other bedrooms, one
of which was occupied by the children's tutor in the early days; and, at
the front, a suite comprising of two extremely large rooms with a library
in between which has the eye-catching window over the entrance doorway.
The homestead still is a mecca for visitors in the
summertime and Mary Pritchard Thompson says it is not unusual to seat from
20 to 30 guests on weekends. Long harvest tables are moved out-of-doors
for this type of entertaining.
It is nostalgic and extremely pleasant to know this
type of hospitality still exists and the true spirit of pioneer life is
alive in this sleepy corner of the ancient Gatineau Hills.
Dr. James Pritchard lived there until his death with the flue in
1918. His wife and family returned to Toronto, and the house has never
since been occupied year-round.
Dr. James Pritchard, who died in 1918, was widely known
and respected throughout the Gatineau Valley. Medicine was his passion;
legend has it that he neither collected a bill nor paid one. The following
Citizen column, written by Geoff Johnson in 1973 following the death of
Fred Pritchard, illustrates that this was not strictly the case.
Fred Pritchard, who was in his 80s when he died recently, could have
shown us a thing or two about keeping down the spiraling cost of health
Fred was farming at Alcove - then called North
Wakefield - nearly half a century ago when an accident with a saw cost him
three fingers on one hand. His doctor's bill, dated Sept. 19, 1916, and
unearthed by executors of his estate, was for $25 - a sizable sum in those
The doctor, whose name also happened to be Pritchard, charged
him $12 for treating and dressing the hand, $10 for the assistance of one
Dr. A. P. Davis [Andrew Pritchard Davies], and $3 for bandages. Fred
countered with an account for seven cords of wood at $14, 183 pounds of
oats at $2.75, threshing at $2, cutting hay at $3, drawing hay at $2.25
and sawing wood at $3. That added up to $27. The doctor duly paid Fred
his $2, and both sides went their way satisfied.
Published by the Historical Society of the Gatineau in their annual
publication "Up the Gatineau", Volume 2, 1976. It arose from an essay
contest for high school students sponsored by the Society. In 1973 Judith
Geggie was the prize winner with this article.
This is a description of the development of the district of Wakefield,
a small village in Lower Canada, situated near what is now Ottawa. However, it is true, in part, of the development and population of a fair
amount of eastern Canada. It exemplifies the sudden wave of settlers that
broke over rural Upper and Lower Canada in the 1800's. In these areas, we
see one or two farming families settling down to clear and plant acres of
virgin land, then others grasping the opportunities offered and rapidly
moving into the area. As the need arises, skilled tradesmen arrive to
serve the people of the growing community, and, alarmed by the pressures
of a greater population, the original families make haste to purchase the
land they live on, to protect themselves. From here on the development and
population of land constantly expands.
Probably the first settler in the district was Thomas
Stevenson who arrived from County Antrim in Northern Ireland in 1830. He
settled on land that was described in 1853 as "the south half of Lot
number 7 in the 3rd Range of the Township of Wakefield." He paid
£25/4/2 for 100 acres although in the 1842 Census returns he declares
having cleared only 18 acres for cultivation. That year he produced 50
bushels of wheat, 100 bushels of oats and 200 bushels of potatoes and he
owned 7 cows, 1 horse and 5 pigs.
The Pritchards, also from Northern Ireland, followed
the Stevensons in about 1834, although James Pritchard did not actually
buy his land until 1845. In 1842 from the 40 acres that he had cleared he
obtained 22 bushels of wheat, 500 bushels of oats and 200 bushels of
potatoes. Eight head of cattle, 2 horses, 5 pigs and 5 sheep constituted
his stock and that year he produced 13 pounds of wool.
The first mill of the area was established by a Scot
from Roxburghshire, Mr. William Fairbairn who came to the valley at the
same time as the Pritchards, 1834. In a letter dated May 2, 1838, to
"His Excellency Sir John Colborn, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Her
Majesty's Forces in the Provencesses of Lower and Upper Canada,"
Mr. Fairbairn said that, "As the place we settled is a place destitute of
mills" and "as your petitioner is of the millwright trade, and viewing a
mill stand convenient to me on unsurveyed land," he thought it proper to
acquaint the Governor of his plan and ask his permission to go on with it. In 1844 Fairbairn's grist mill was sold to James MacLaren, father of the
man who, in 1900, founded the present firm of the James MacLaren Co., Ltd.
at Buckingham, Quebec.
The first census in Wakefield Township was taken in
1842 and it was comprised of a list of inhabited dwellings, the number of
people in them, the name of the head of the house and reports on the land
in use, the livestock and the produce. Of the 37 families listed only 12
were property owners and so entitled to vote. All were listed as farmers
except Charles Lowe who was a lumber merchant. The total population was
262, and the countries of origin were as follows:
|Number of natives of Ireland
|Number of natives of Scotland
|Number of natives of the U.S.A.
|Number of aliens naturalized
|Number of Canadian born
(mainly made up of the children of the households.)
Most people stated that they had cleared 20 to
25 acres or less and they grew, on the average, 30 bushels of wheat, up to
400 bushels of oats, and as potatoes were a major staple, most people grew
over 200 bushels. (One person declared that he had produced 700 bushels.)
Eleven people sheared sheep to produce 12 to 15 pounds of wool and Jarvis
Mullen produced 50 pounds of maple sugar. The enumerator of the census
was listed as James Shouldice.
The next census was in 1851, and from then on it was
taken every ten years. These census' showed the country exploding with
people. By the 1851 returns the population had more than doubled to 588
people. These people owned 11,495 acres of land of which 2,659 acres were
cultivated and 2,003 acres were in crops. Most farms had at least doubled
their cultivated acreage to 40 to 50 acres. They grew the same items as
previously except, by now, butter, cheese and wool productions were
Quite a number of skilled tradesmen had moved to the
area such as:
1. John Pomeray on Lot 4, Range 2, blacksmith from England.
2. John Taggart on Lot 2, Range 2, shoemaker from Ireland.
3. Joshua Breadner, storekeeper from England.
4. Reverend John Corbett, Presbyterian Minister from Ireland.
5. Thomas Wisgate on Lot 1, Range 2, tailor from Ireland.
6. Robert Earle on Lot 1, Range 4, carpenter from England, among others.
A notation for James MacLaren states that he had a two
story frame building used as a place of worship with a capacity of 100
people. Thomas Copeland, a Wesleyan Methodist, had a log house holding
100 persons as a place of worship. The priest, Father Thomas O'Boyle, had
a log house used as a Church that was large enough to seat 300 people. The buildings were mainly log shanties but frame houses were not
By 1861 the population again almost doubled and was
927. The religious distribution was much the same at one half Roman
Catholic and one half Protestant. Their countries of origin were 65%
Upper and Lower Canada but 25% still came from Ireland. The first medical
doctor had now joined the community; this man was Doctor Stephen Wright,
age 27. Seth Cates is listed as being an Innkeeper; he owned the
Temperance Hotel in Wakefield. He possessed one carriage for
pleasure valued at 75 dollars and two carriages for hire at a value of 60
In that year's census a Free Presbyterian Church was
listed at a value of 600 dollars and a capacity of 200 people. A
Roman Catholic church was being built and upon completion would be valued
at 2,000 dollars. This was opposite the home of Patrick McGooey and
close-by was the school-house which had 50 enrolees. The enumerator
was still James Shouldice.
In 1871, Seth Cates was the enumerator. The population
by then was 1,340 people. A wagon-maker, a saddler, a weaver and assorted
other tradesmen had joined the community and Hans Stevenson, son of Thomas
Stevenson and Ann Pritchard, was registered as a medical student. Doctor Stevenson was to return as the community doctor in Wakefield in
later years. The high percentage of Irish immigration into Canada stemmed
from the general living conditions in Ireland, the repeated potato crop
failures and also from the fact that the landowners of Ireland were
forcing the peasants off their farms and reverting to sheep farming. Canada, as a young unsettled country, offered great opportunities.
Even after 150 years,
Irish immigrants still hold family together
By Doug Kelly
Citizen staff writer
ALCOVE, Que. -- When they set foot in Canada 150 years ago, James and
Judith Pritchard had no idea of what their arrival would lead to.
For them, settling in the rugged hills of the Gatineau
after emigrating from Ireland was a hardship. But it was the start
of a tradition for their descendants.
A century after James and Judith's arrival, the first
Pritchard family reunion was held to pay tribute to those early settlers
and bring the ever-growing family together under one roof.
The 50th annual family reunion was held Saturday in
this quaint Quebec town 45 kilometers north of Ottawa, with more than 200
relatives turning up from as far away as Vancouver and Ireland.
The family's legacy was everywhere, with old
photographs, documents and maps being passed around or on display.
The event was also made special by the location. The
relatives gathered at James and Judith Pritchard's second home on the
banks of the Gatineau River near here. Built in the 1840's, it was the
home for James' and Judith's nine children, many of whom settled in the
Wakefield area. The house has remained in the family, with Mary
(Pritchard) Thompson and her husband now occupying the picturesque home.
The oldest member in attendance was 88-year-old Peggy
Pritchard, who had been to more than 30 of the gatherings. "I sure feel a
lot of nostalgia being here and looking around, seeing the many
relatives," she said.
Now living in Ireland, Dorothy (Pritchard) Miller said she
remembers the first reunion "as clear as day". "They always start off a
little stiff because you haven't seen many of these people for years, but
things soon warm up."
Miller said the reunion is also fun for new family members
because they get a chance to meet all those people they've heard so much
A book entitled The Pritchards and Related Families was
prepared especially for the occasion by Patrick Evans, another descendant
[sic]. It includes numerous photographs, shots of earlier reunions, and
an extensive family tree.
Jim Pritchard, one of the organizers, said this year's
gathering was the largest he can remember for quite some time. He said an
extra effort was made this year to bring together relatives who have
settled outside the Wakefield area.
Reunion activities included a hike to the family cemetery to
view the ancestoral [sic] tombstones, a baseball game, a family swim and
lunch and dinner contributed from every part of the family.
The day closed with an evening of dancing at the Alcove
Among the family in attendance was Rev. David Mainse of the
television evangelical program 100 Huntley Street. Mainse said "with
instabilities in families and hard economic conditions, it's important for
people to know their roots as it gives them a sense of purpose and
By Frank Morgan
Published in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, September 7, 1991, and
reproduced in the Wakefield Pastoral Charge Newsletter the same year. Dr.
Morgan is a retired United Church minister and has been the religion page
columnist for the Record since retiring.
There are many ways of preparing your mind and heart for public
worship. The night before you can read from the scriptures of your faith
or from some devotional literature. If the morrow is a special holy
day you may ponder what Lent or Ramadan or Day of Atonement means to you.
Because that holiday Sunday the early service on our
three point circuit was at Alcove, I prepared myself the night before by
reading some of the history of Alcove in Norma Geggie's book "Wakefield
and Its People". Sunday I drove to the little brick church and parked
across the country road in front of it. The church was built by volunteer
labour in the 1860s out of brick hauled by wagon all the way up the
Gatineau from Bytown. Then I turned to watch the logs sailing swiftly
silent down the treacherous river.
Last night Norma Geggie had told me that in 1829 a lad
from Northern Ireland, James [Joseph] Irwin and his wife Mary Pritchard,
with their four-year-old son James had paddled their canoe from what is
now Hull to what is now Wakefield. They portaged around rapids and
waterfalls with this same current dead against them. And Mary was
pregnant with a daughter soon to be born in the wilderness.
Four years later Mary's parents James and Judith
Pritchard followed their daughter from Northern Ireland with other members
of their family. They paddled past Mary's log home at Wakefield and a few
miles further on landed at an alcove in the river. I was standing where
they had landed 157 years before.
When I took my accustomed place in the church I was
only 100 feet from this river that was the first highway into virgin
territory. As Mayme Pritchard took her seat on the organ bench, as she
has always done as long as I can remember, I realized I was surrounded by
descendants of these intrepid pioneers.
Just behind me was my longtime friend Colonel Bing
Thompson, whose wife Mary is a Pritchard. In the summer they live in the
very house that James Pritchard built to replace his first log structure. As I waited for Christine Frye, our minister, to call us to worship I
recalled the old and relevant words, "Since we are surrounded by so great
a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that
clings so closely and run with perseverance the race that is set before
us." The sense of the presence of that cloud of witnesses was so strong
that I could almost hear the whisper of ghostly paddles as they fought
against the current of this turbulent river.
Then I remembered that Norma Geggie had said that the
Pritchard family cemetery was just back of the old Pritchard home. I have
been coming here for three decades and had never heard of it. I asked and
received permission to visit it. Later in the week my son-in-law Alan and
I discovered the anonymous entrance to this ancient burial ground, hidden
among trees between the old and new highways.
Quietly we pushed open the waddle-gate and saw the
grave markers nestling under the pine trees, whose intersecting branches
formed a canopy above and whose needles carpeted the sacred earth. It was
about an acre in extent rising to a high knoll in the centre at the peak
of which we found the slim stone needle that marked the last earthly
resting place of James and Judith Pritchard. There they slept in sight of
their landing place and behind their first home.
In gentler days such places were called God's Acre and
this was truly one. As we quietly identified the graves of other family
members I was gripped with the same feeling I had in church of being
surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. These were no fictional
characters in a story; they were the founders of this place and their
bodies lay at our very feet.
In Britain I have been filled with a sense of awe in
cathedrals as I stood at the grave of the Black prince and Richard the
Lion-Hearted, but until now I had never felt that way in Canada. In this
Cathedral of the Pines I was wrapped in Canadian history. Here were the
people who left the poverty and sectarian strife of Ireland to find a new
life in a new land. After incredible hardship and undaunted courage, they
had found it here - right where we stood - in Alcove.
Today, their new land is torn with divisive strife. If
any think lightly of severing this land in twain then ought they stand in
such a place at the foot of such a grave and make peace with those who
crossed a furious ocean to find unity. We must keep it.