Perth County Settlement

Perth County was settled through the efforts of the Canada Company. The Canada Company was a large private chartered British land development company, incorporated by royal charter in 1826 under an act of British Parliament to aid in the colonization of a large part of Upper Canada.  It was formed to acquire and develop Upper Canada’s undeveloped clergy reserves and crown reserves which the Company acquired from the Province of Upper Canada.

The Huron Tract purchased by the Canada Company was a large area of land in southwestern Ontario bordering on Lake Huron to the west and Lake Erie to the east. The area spans the counties of Huron, Perth, Middlesex and present day Lambton County. The company surveyed and subdivided the massive Huron Tract, built roads, mills, schools and advertised lots for sale to buyers in Europe. The company then assisted in the migration of new settlers, bringing them to the area by means of a steamboat, which the company owned on Lake Ontario.

The southern eight townships were laid out in 1827 named for the directors of the company. These included: North Easthope, South Easthope, Ellice Logan, Downie, Fullarton, Hibbert, Blanshard. The northern three townships were part of the crown lands known as the “Queen’s Bush” that lay between the Huron Tract and Georgian Bay. These included Wallace, Elma and Mornington.

The first settlers who arrived in December 1828 were Sebastian Fryfogel and Andrew Seebach (with their families) who operated Canada Company Inns along the Huron Road near Shakespeare and Sebringville respectively. They lived in virtural isolation until 1832 when a flood of settlers – German, Scotch, English, and Irish started pouring into the townships around Stratford.

John Linton cam to Upper Canada in 1833. He met with Mr. Daly of the Canada Company in Guelph and was directed westward to Stratford. He cleared farmland on Lot 7 Conc. 3 Downie. During 1834 he opened the first school, a short distance west of Stratford. His wife, who he married in 1829, opened a school in North Easthope. His desire was to see Stratford made a district capital. He helped draft a bill by which the eastern section of Huron became Perth County – a name apparently chosen solely by Linton for all the settlers who had come from Perthshire, Scotland.

By 1850 the southern part of the county was fairly densely populated. The Queen’s Bush area started somewhat later but was quite fully settled by 1860. The County of Perth was officially established in January 1850 with 11 townships from the former Huron and wellington Districts. Our township (except Mornington) were part of the Huron District and before 1841, the London District. With the opening of the first courthouse at Stratford in January 1853, the County was separated from the united counties of Huron, Perth and Bruce. Township councils also began in 1850 and several villages and towns were incorporated.

The City of Stratford was formed from parts of Downie, Ellice and Easthope Townships. In 1831, William Sergeant was given a lot by the Canada Company on the condition that he open an inn and by 1832 he had erected the first frame building in the region by the Avon river and called it the Shakespeare Hotel. First purchaser of land was John Sharman (1834), a blacksmith from Bedforshire, England. His son, Henry was the first born with in the limits of the city.


The Townships of Perth

Originally from the Huron Tract

  • Blanshard – Named for Richard Blanshard, Director of the Canada Company
  • Downie– Named in honour of Robert Downie MP one of the directors of the Canada Company
  • Easthope – Named for Sir John Easthope, MP a Director of the Canada Company. In 1843 the townships were divided into North Easthope and South Easthope
  • Ellice – Named in honour of Rt. Hon. Edward Ellice, a Canadian-born director of the Canada Company. His father was managing director of the Hudson’s Bay Company
  • Fullarton – Named for John Fullarton, Director of the Canada Company
  • Hibbert – Named in honour of William T. Hibbert, Director of the Canada Company
  • Logan – Named in Honour of Hart Logan, Director of the Canada Company and uncle of Sir William E. Logan, the founder of the Canadian Geological Survey

Originally from Queen’s Bush

  • Elma – Named in honour of Lady Elma Bruce, daughter of Canada’s newly arrived Governor General James Bruce, better know as Lord Elgin(8th Earl of Elgin)
  • Mornington – Named in honor of Richard Wellesley, Earl of Mornington, eldest brother of the Duke of Wellington
  • Wallace – Named in honour of Thomas Baron Wallace, Vice-President of the British Board of Trade under Lord Goderich in 1820