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Tyrconnel Wharf and Harbour Co. 1853 and Dunwich Pier Co. 1861

 

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for

 

TYRCONNEL WHARF AND HARBOUR COMPANY

1853

 

&

 

DUNWICH PIER COMPANY

1861

 

Tyrconnel and Dunwich Twp., Elgin County, Ontario, Canada

 

 

by

Robert G. Moore

Member Elgin OGS

March 2003


 

HISTORY AND COMMENT

 

 

            By 1853 the settlement of the south-westerly portion of Dunwich Township in Elgin County was well advanced.  Nearly all the good agricultural land had been taken up by settlers, with considerable acreage cleared for crops, wheat being the main cash crop.  Other farmers of Ontario were shipping their wheat to Great Britain.  The threat of the Crimean War only heightened the desire of the Dunwich settlers to find an economical way to send their wheat to Great Britain to share in the rising prices as wheat from Russia and eastern Europe would be unavailable. Dunwich area saw mills were in full operation and although pine was not available in the large quantity as in East Elgin, the Carolinian forest produced large quantities of hardwoods for lumber, barrel staves etc, which would find a ready market in Great Britain.

            In the 1840s and early 1850s some grain and lumber had been shipped out of hamlet of Tryconnell on Lake Erie (Lot 8 Concession 10 Dunwich),  David  J. Hall in his “Economic Development in County of Elgin 1850-1880", (page 96)  notes that a “grain elevator”at Tyrconnell had been built in 1840.

            Tyrconnell Creek was the largest of all the creeks other than Talbot Creek emptying into Lake Erie in Dunwich and Aldborough Townships. The wagon access to the creek’s mouth on the lakeshore was not nearly as steep as at any other location in Dunwich.

            (To my knowledge there was not a significant harbour on Talbot Creek in this era.  Although Thomas Talbot had rebuilt a grist mill on Talbot creek just after the war of 1812, Talbot seemed to have discouraged shipping from the Talbot Creek.  It would be most difficult for anyone to obtain the property needed for a wharf at Port Talbot as Talbot and his heirs owned all the surrounding land in the area and they seemed to have no interest in promoting a harbour there.)

            Tyrconnell, as a harbour had a serious drawback, the shallow creek mouth often filled with sand even after a minor storm on Lake Erie. Nearly all cargo had to be transferred to lake ships anchored off shore by scows from the wharfs along the Tyrconnell creek bank.  The blockage of the creek mouth often seriously hampered the transfer work.

            Building of a Pier out into the Lake would lessen these difficulties as scows could be loaded without having to enter the creek mouth and small ships might be loaded directly from a such a pier.

The Tyrconnel Wharf and Harbour Company was formed in 1853 as a stock company to build such a pier.

            Hall notes (page 96) that the company failed to build a pier.  I do not know if construction of the pier was ever started as the stock company appears to have been under capitalized. The depression following the Crimean war certainly finished off the scheme.

            James Blackwood, a local Tyrconnell merchant, had great plans for a major town on the flat land at the top of the lake bank using the harbour at Tyrconnell as its focus.  In 1853 he registered a village plan with over 400 lots on Lot 8 in Concessions 9 and 10 (Registered Plan 9 in the County of Elgin Land Registry Office).  He planned to sell these lots to people eager to cash in on the upcoming bonanza of a major harbour facility.  Alas Blackwood’s bonanza failed caused in large part by the general depression following the Crimean war.  When no one came to purchase his lots, he was forced into bankruptcy.  It is interesting to note that Blackwood did not have stock in the Tyrconnel Wharf and Harbour Company.

            The hard times of this period (mid and late 1850's) likely encouraged some investors in the stock company to leave the Dunwich area. With the absence of a 1851 census of Dunwich, it has been difficult to find an alternative reference to some of the stock holders.

            In 1861 another stock company, capitalized at $2000, the DUNWICH PIER COMPANY,  was organized to build a pier at Tyrconnell.  This company hoped to take advantage of the economic boom which was occurring during the American Civil War. The success of the project was noted by Hall. ( pages 96 and 97)

            “The chief merchant at Tyrconell for many years was Meredith Conn, a Grain buyer. 

In 1867 Conn describes the accommodations and trade of that place.

            “There is a pier and warehouses. There is a good business done here in grain, timber and staves (Barrel). I shipped this past season about 42,00 bushels of grain (read wheat) from that port.

I have generally shipped about 60,000 bushels in the season. There will be about 200,000 staves to ship in the spring beside other timber, consisting of cordwood and hewed logs”

`           Hall continues,

            “Tyrconnell continued to be important as a small shipping centre for a number of years the pier was well maintained and was described as being 500 feet long and 30 feet wide. After this date (1867)  however the place went into decline and by 1890 the was considered unsafe and no longer used”.

            The main access road to Tyrconnell from Dunwich township and the Talbot Road was the Coyne side road (between lots 6 and 7) to the Talbot Road.  In the H R Page’s “Historical Atlas of Elgin of 1877", a road is show running northerly and westerly from Tyrconnell through Lots 7 and 8 in Concessions 8 and 9 and joins the Coyne side road at the mid point of Lot 7 in Concession 8.

This road ran through the property of Meredith Conn (Lot 8 Concession 9) and others. Although there seems to be no legal description of this road registered in the Elgin County Land Registry Office, the road was still shown on a 1910 map of Dunwich.  Tremaine’s map of Elgin County of 1864 shows a pier at Tyconnell jutting into the Lake but does not show the road.

            Commerce at Tyrconnell started to decline with the advent of the depression which followed the American Civil War.  The coming of the Canada Southern Railway through West Elgin was the final straw in the demise of the pier.  By 1872 the railway had been completed through Central Dunwich and Aldborough Townships and lead to the emergence of Dutton as the major trading centre taking the place of both Wallacetown and Tyrconnell.

 

                        Although Meredith Conn Jr may have still utilized Tryconnell as a port, by shipping grain    into Dutton by the Canada Southern Railway and “teaming” it to Tyrconnell, this practice likely did not continue for very long.

            A small concrete pier for the local commercial fishing industry was built sometime after 1900 and its use continued into the 1920s but it too has long disappeared.

            Tyrconnell now basks in the summer sun, the world having passed it by, home to a few seeking peace and quiet.

 

            The stockholder lists are an important genealogical resource, not only giving the residence of some of the area citizens at a particular time period but also some indication of their financial resources.

         

 


TYRCONNEL WHARF AND HARBOUR COMPANY

1853 

 

THE STOCK BOOK

 

            Be it remembered that on this twenty ninth day of August in the year of our Lord One thousand and eight hundred and fifty three , We the undersigned stockholders met at the Tryconnel School House in the County of Elgin and the Province of Ontario and resolved to form ourselves into a company to be called the Tryconnel wharf and Harbour Company according to the provisions of a Certain Act of parliament of this Province entitled an act to provide for the formation of Joint Stock companies for the construction of piers, wharves, dry docks and Harbours for the purpose of Constructing a pier and making a harbour at Tyrconnel. and we do hereby declare that the Capital stock of the said Company shall be four hundred pounds to be divided into eighty shares at the price or sum of of Five Pounds each And we the undersigned stockholders do hereby agree to take and accept the number of shares set by us opposite to our respective signatures and do hereby agree to pay the calls thereon according to the provisions of the said act in part recited act and of the rules,  regulations, resolutions and by laws of the said Company to be made or passed in that behalf and we do hereby nominate Peter Gow, Joseph Mitchell, Thos. G. Coyne, John Hidden, Robert Gow to be the First Directors of said company

 

Deposited and Registered the 6th day of September 1853 at One o’clock pm as No 5

“Tryconell Harbor Company”

Deputy Registrar Middlesex and Elgin

THE STOCK HOLDERS

 

The stockholders list was signed by each individual stock holder and certain names are difficult  to read (As sometimes there was more than one person with same name residing in the Dunwich area, it is impossible to ascertain which person was actually the stock holder)

 

Name                                 Stock Shares   Other Reference to Person

 

Benson William         1   1844 assessment SE 1/4 Con 7 Lot 21      

Coyne Isaac            5   Concession 1 Lot 7

Coyne Thomas G         5   1844 assessment Con 9 Lot 9

                           1842 Census merchant

Coyne Wm               5   merchant of St Thomas and son of

       Henry Coyne who lived on the Talbot road at the Coyne side road

Crane Anthony          5   Con 11 L 15 Cen farmer

Finlayson Alex’r       1   Con A L 6

Finlayson Angus        1

Gow Peter              5   Con 11 L 14 Cen farmer

Gow Robert             5   Con 11 L 14 Cen farmer

Gunn Thomas            1

Hewitt Thomas          3

Hidden John            1

Luxton Thomas          1

McLachlan Hugh         2

O Brien John P.        2   Cen carpenter Voter 1856

Richie? John           1   Cen blacksmith indexed as Rickey

Scott Joseph           1   Con 9 L 9

Stafford James         2   Voter 1856

Weldon Alexander       1   Likely Con 10 L 17 Cen labourer

 

Total shares          48

 

References are

Location of person, Lot and Concession from 1864 Tremaine’s Map of Elgin County

Dunwich Township unless noted

Census listings (Cen) are from the 1861 census of Dunwich Township unless noted

The 1856 Voters were among those in Dunwich Township who voted against the County of Elgin issuing debentures to assist in the building of the London and Port Stanley Railway

 

 


DUNWICH PIER COMPANY

1861

 

THE STOCK BOOK

 

            Be it remembered that on this eighteenth day of April in the year of our Lord One thousand and eight hundred and sixty one, We the undersigned stockholders met at Wallacetown in the County of Elgin and the Province of Ontario and resolved to form ourselves into a company to be called the Dunwich Pier Company according to the provisions of a Certain Act of parliament of this Province entitled an act 16th Victoria Chap 124 An Act to provide for the formation of joint stock companies for the Construction of piers, wharves, Dry docks and Harbours for the purpose of Constructing a pier at Tyrconnell. And we do hereby declare that the Capital stock of the said Company shall be two thousand Dollars to be divided into one hundred shares at the price or sum of twenty dollars each And we the undersigned stockholders do hereby agree to take and accept the number of shares set by us opposite to our respective signatures and do hereby agree to pay the calls thereon according to the provisions of the said act and of the rules and regulations, resolutions and by laws of the said Company to be made or passed in that behalf and we do hereby nominate John Pearce, Peter Gow, John McKillop, Meredith Conn and James Black to be the First Directors of said company

 

Recorded in the County of Elgin Registry office as No 11 Joint Stock Co

Recorded the 4th day of June 1861 at two of the clock PM in Liber A for the Register of Joint Stock Companies Folio 26

 J McKay  Registrar Elgin

 

THE STOCK HOLDERS

The stockholders list was signed by each individual stock holder and certain names were difficult to read  (As sometimes there was more than one person with same name residing in the Dunwich area, it is impossible to ascertain which person was actually the stock holder)

 

Name                    Stock Shares   Other Reference to Person

                      ($20 each share)   

 

Allen George           1 Concession 9 Lot 7, 1861 Census farmer

Backus  Andrew         2 Con 8 L 8  Cen farmer

Backus Robert          1 Con 9 L 13 Cen farmer

Backus Stephen Jr      2            Cen farmer

Barr Robert            1            Cen carpenter and joiner

Black James            2 Con 7 L 9  Cen farmer

Blackwood Georgina F.  5 lived Tyrconell wife of James Blackwood .                            Local merchant

Blue Neil              1 Con 5 South of A, L 14 Cen farmer’s son

Bobier William         2 Cen farm labourer             

Brown John             1 Con 9 L 6 Cen farmer

Brown Robert           1 Con 11 L 19 Cen farmer

Cameron Donald         1

Cameron Peter          1 Cen blacksmith

Conn Atkinson          1 Con 10 L 6 (tenant) Cen sawyer

Conn Meridith          5 Con 10 L 14 Cen farmer

Crane Adam             1 Con 12 L 16 Cen farmer

Crane Anthony          2 Con 10 L 18 Cen farmer

Crane Peter            1 Con 9 L 6 Cen farmer

Curtis Samuel          2 Tyrconnell Globe Hotel Cen innkeeper

Gorme Thomas           1 Cen wagon maker

Gow John               1 Con 11 L 14 Cen farmer’s son

Gow Peter              5 Con 11 L 13 Cen farmer

Gow Robert             3 Cen farmer

Grainger William       1 Cen farmer

Gunn Donald A          2 Con 7 L 4&5 Cen Daniel A, postmaster

Gunn Donald B          1 (signed by same person as Donald A Gunn)

                              Cen Daniel B., farmer

James Richard          1 Cen carpenter

Kerr John              1 Con Broken Front A L 6 Cen farmer

Liberty Henry          2 Cen farmer  

Liberty Septimus       1 Cen labourer North West 1/4 of Lot 8

                        Con 8

Matheson Donald        1 Con 7 L 1 Cen farmers son

McBeath A              2 Cen retired Hudson Bay business

McBrayen Daniel        2 Wallacetown merchant Cen merchant

McColl Duncan T        1 Con 7 L 17 Cen no occupation listed

McIntyre L.(Lazers)W   2 Cen carpenter and joiner

McKellar Donald G      1 Con 4 L 3

McKillop Arch          1 Con 6 L 21 Cen farmer

McKillop Archibald     1 Con 6 L 21 or Con 7 L 15 Cen farmer

McKillop John          2 Wallacetown Cen merchant and postmaster

McLaws David           1 Cen Blacksmith (Wallacetown)

McLean Alexander       1 Con 4 L 10 Cen farmer

McMillan Donald        1 Con 3 L 13 Cen farmer

McPhail Alexander      1 Cen farmer

McPherson Alexander    1 Con 5 South of A L 12 Cen machinist

McPherson Peter        1 Con 4 L 5 or Con 3 L 6 Cen farmer

McRae John             1 Con 2 L 7 Cen farmer

McVannel John          1 Con 3 L 7 Cen farmer

Michen Hugh            1

Mitchell Joseph        2 Cen miller

Morden William         1 Con 10 L 6

Morris Robert          2 Con 9 L 7 Cen carpenter (listed as Morish)

Morrish Richard        1 Cen farmer

O’Brien John P.        1 Cen carpenter

O’Neill Thomas         1 Cen shoemaker

Page James             1 Cen farmer

Parker Peter           2 Con 10 L 16 Cen farmer

Parker James           3 Con 10 L 16 Cen farmer

Paterson Neil          1 Con 7 L 20 Cen farmer

Paton Robert           1 Cen labourer

Pearce John            4 Con 9 L 10 Cen farmer

Pearce Thomas          1 Con 9 L 10 Cen farmer (census indexes as                             Pierce

Rankin Donald          1 Cen Innkeeper(indexed as Daniel)

Sanders John           1 Con 11 L 24 Cen farmer

Scott  Joseph          2 Con 9 L 9

Stevenson James        1 Cen shoemaker and postmaster

Thomson Widow          1 (Is this Ellen Thomson Cen farmer?)

Trothen William        1 Con 9 L 4 (son of Richard) Cen farmer

Walters George         1 Con 10 L 5 Cen farmer

Weldon Peter           1 Likely Con 11 L 17 

Illegible              1

 

Total Shares         105  

 

 

References are

Location of person, Lot and Concession from 1864 Tremaine’s Map of Elgin County

Dunwich Township unless noted

Census listings (Cen) are 1861 census listings Dunwich Township unless noted

 

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