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[Welland Tribune, 29 May 1896]

To Tribune Editor:

DEAR SIR-Having a little leisure time and thinking some of the many readers of our valuable paper might feel interested in this part of the country, I write you a short account of a pleasant evening that occurred at the residence of Mrs. J.L. Becker, Olds, Alta., on the 22nd April, being the marriage of her sister, Isabella, daughter of the late Geo. M. Maier, to Mr. A. J. Brown (both formerly of South Pelham). The marriage ceremony w performed by Rev. C.R. Sing of Innisfail, and witnessed by the immediate relatives and seven chosen friends of the bride. The bride and groom were ably supported by her sister, Miss J. Maier, and Rev. J.W. McKay of Olds. The presents shewed the great esteem in which the bride is held by her new acquaintances.


Olds, Alberta, May 13, 1896

LETTER TO THE EDITOR – International Falls, Minnesota

February 16th, 1967

The Editor, Lanark Era

Lanark, Ontario

Dear Sir:

Today I had the pleasure of calling on Mrs. George Easton, nee Margaret Miller, daughter of Stuart Miller, to congratulate her on the observance of her 90th birthday, on Feb. 14th.

She was a native of Lanark before the turn of the century; having come to the Rainy River District of North-western Ontario in 1897.

When I was minister of the United Church of Canada in Fort Frances I had many happy visits with Mrs. Easton concerning Lanark and some of the well-known families in that area. My acquaintance of the area was as a young boy when my father the late Rev. Frank Saunders was minister of the Congregational Church at Middleville, Hopetown and Rosetta. -1910. -14.

Mrs. Easton is remarkably well preserved & loves to talk of her pioneering experiences Up until about a year ago she was real active, keeping house for her daughter, , who has a Ladies Wear store in Fort Frances,  However for the last few months she has been confined to bed, but still is bright and cheery. We recalled such names as Rev. Mr. McIntosh, who was a frequent visitor in our home. The Ed Buffins , at whose home I stayed when I tried my entrance examinations in Lanark, the Caldwells, Steads and Langstaffs.

I believe Mr. Eric Somerville use to be blacksmith in your community some years ago. He was one of the older boys in the school at Middleville when I attended there.

Yours truly

Leslie Saunders


NIAGARA, Sept. 28th, 1897

[Welland Tribune, 1 October 1897]

To the Editor of the Welland Tribune:

DEAR SIR- I have just read with great pleasure an article in your issue of Sept. 24th relating to Capt. Martin McLellan, and so I am able to add a few interesting particulars, think it only right to do so, hoping that every municipality in the country may be stirred up to imitate the very laudable example set by Thorold in preparing a local history. In two old record books in the town may be found items referring to both William McLellan, the father, and Martin McLellan, the son, honorable to each. In the record book of St. Andrew’s church, dated 30th Sept., 1794: “A number of people met this day and resolved that as religion is the foundation of all societies, and which cannot be so strictly adhered to without a place dedicated solely to divine purposes, that a Presbyterian church should be erected in the town of Newark, and that subscriptions for that purpose be immediately set on foot, as well as for the support of a clergyman of the same persuasion. “ The committee consisted of seven-John Young, Four Mile Creek, chairman; Ralph Clench, Andrew Heron, Robt. Kerr, Alex. Gardiner, William McLellan and Alex. Hemphill.

In the record book of the Niagara library, from 1800 to 1820, the name of Martin McLellan, who must then have been twenty-two years of age, occurs as one of the forty-one proprietors who formed the library, and also one of the tow trustees the first year (the other Andrew Heron}; during the years following he is frequently mentioned as trustee till 1811, and in the list of payment of fees, his name occurs till 1812, the year of his glorious death, showing that he was not only a brave soldier but a reader, and one who wished to help others in the laudable undertaking of founding a library.

In the rooms of the Niagara Historical society may be seen the pocket book kindly loaned by Mr. Martin McClellan, Fonthill with the subscription in his own hand, the writing the same as the signature in the above mentioned record book. Since the pathetic circumstance is now known in respect to his giving the purse to his wife the night before his death still greater interest will be shown by visitors in inspecting this valuable historic relic.

It is also told that the morning of the battle, when our forces retreated before such over-whelming forces, he and his three companions went back, favored by the heavy fog, to spike the guns, but the fog just then lifting they were all shot down.

It is believed that many interesting historical items might be collected, and it is to be hoped that all will help to gather these into suitable form while those are yet living who know the full circumstances, and thus prove conclusively that Canada has indeed a history of which she may be proud.

I am yours sincerely,



[Welland Tribune, 2 April 1897]

Editor Welland Tribune

DEAR SIR- Thinking that a short letter from California might perhaps be welcomed by your many readers, among whom I claim a few friends. I decided to ask for a little space in your valuable paper.

I left Smithville, Ont., on Feb. 24th, on the T.H.& R., westbound at 4:19 p.m., and arrived in Stockton on March 2nd at 4:08 p.m., Eastern Time or LOS Pacific time. I stopped over twenty-four hours in Los Angles, however, so I could have made the trip in six days. The roads I travelled over were as follows: The T.H.& R., to Waterford, the Michigan Central from Waterford to Chicago, the Illinois Central from Chicago to New Orleans and the Southern Pacific from New Orleans to Stockton. You will see that I took as round about road as possible without going around South America.

I found Los Angeles to be a very pretty place, with the most beautiful climate imaginable-at least it was the day I spent there. I did not see any orange groves, however, as it was night when we came in and went out of Los Angeles. The country around Stockton is devoted mostly to grain and stock raising. This part of California is very level. Stockton is on a branch of the San Joaquin river, and by a glance at the map you will see that the San Joaquin valley is completely shut in by mountain ranges, except for the gap through which the San Joaquin river finds its way into the Pacific. Both ranges of mountains are visible when one gets out of the city, and their summits are crowned with perpetual snow, which looks in the bright sunlight like molten silver. The ranches, as they call them, comprise on an average about five hundred acres. The land is fertile and yields good crops of grain and grass without irrigation, and all kinds of fruit when irrigated. The time I think is fast approaching when this valley will be divided into one hundred acre ranches, and farmed somewhat after eastern methods. They plough here with gang plows, using from four to ten teams on one plough. There is no mixed farming here. If a man goes in for grain he won’t bother with anything else, and if he goes in for mules or horses it’s just the same. He will sell horses and spend half of his profits buying what he could just as well raise. I have found part of this out for myself and have got the rest second hand.

The weather here has been mostly cool, but without frost, or at least very little. One effect the climate has had on me has been to increase my appetite. I know that my friends will not believe this, thinking it impossible, but it is nevertheless true.

To conclude. I like California very much already and I think I shall like it better the longer I stay in the “land of sunshine and flowers.” Very truly yours, FRANK PUTMAN.


[Welland Tribune, 31 January 1908]

To the Welland Tribune:

Mr. Editor- Dear Sir,-Please find enclosed $1.50 for the Tribune and Press for one year. This is the twenty-first year I have sent for the Tribune.

We are having a fine winter here: have had no snow nor rain since last October. On January 11th there was plowing done in the south west part of this state. This is my twenty-fifth year here and I never saw such a winter as this is. Crops were good here last year and prices good. Wheat has sold here as high as $1.10 per bushel; barley was up to 98c per bush, oats 50c per bush, corn 65c, potatoes 60c, wild hay sells from $5 to $6 per ton, flax $1.18 per bushel. Land is selling around here from $25 to $65 per acre; one 320 acre farm was sold last fall for $65 per acre, five miles from Aberdeen. I own 800 acres of land here, 6 miles from Aberdeen, which I rent. We threshed 7250 bushels of grain off 460 acres, this last year; over 5000 of that was wheat and flax. Our threshing bill was $500.

Aberdeen has over 8000 population and is a good railroad centre. The city paved one mile of street and this coming summer will do more. Property in the city is very high and rent also, most any kind of a house will rent for $15 per month. James Ringrov is building a new hotel, the contract for the building is $186,000, the stone and brick are laid and the roof is on since last September.

I remain yours,




The North Main street bridge problem is one which resolves itself into a matter of business and it looks as if the members of the council are inclined to view it in that light. It is generally agreed that the present bridge cannot last very much longer. It is old, decrepit, unsightly and inadequate and must be replaced by a more modern structure in a year or two at any rate.

At the present time a condition of unemployment exists and it is desirable to provide as much work for local men as possible. Since the whole nation is affected by the economic depression, the Dominion and Provincial governments are prepared between them, to provide half the cost of approved undertakings carried out by municipalities for the purpose of providing jobs for men out of work.

The combination of circumstances is not without its advantage to the municipality. It means that a necessary work can be undertaken and half the cost paid by the federal and provincial authorities, for a North Main street bridge has already received the necessary approval in official quarters.

As to the type of bridge to be constructed, that is something that must be given careful consideration. It is a case where all the information available should be sought before a decision is made. The council has done the right thing in authorizing the employment of a reputable consulting engineer to submit plans and specifications and to give expert and impartial advice to the municipality.

The construction of a new North Main street bridge is sufficiently important to demand the most serious thought. If the bridge is built, it will be a feature of the business centre of Welland for generations to come. It should be as substantially attractive as possible for a reasonable cost, and should be of sufficient width to take care not only of present but also of future traffic.

Citizens feel that the members of the council are giving a lot of consideration to the matter and that the final solution will be found to be satisfactory.

The Welland-Port Colborne Evening Tribune
24 Ocotber 1931



(By Fred Williams in the Mail and Empire)

[The Welland-Port Colborne Evening Tribune, 5 December 1931]

When Professor W. Stewart Wallace belittles the story of Laura Secord’s warning to Fitzgibbon in 1813, he is liable to bring down upon his head a storm of protest from Loyalists all over Ontario, and more especially in the Niagara district. It is, indeed, placing hands on the very temple of Niagara history. No mere student of records like myself should tilt with so learned an authority as Professor Wallace; but it would be interesting to know upon what he uses his declaration that FitzGibbon had been warned of the coming of the Americans before Mrs. Secord arrived. It is true that William Wood in his history of the war says that FitzGibbon had been previously warned by an Indian scout; as against this, it is pointed out by J.H. Ingersoll, K.C., in a paper (Ontario Historical Reports, XXIII) that FitzGibbon does not say so, but in his report to Major deHaran, dated 24th June, after the engagement at Beaver Dams says, “At Decew’s this morning about 7 o’clock, I received information that about 1,000 of the enemy with 12 guns were advancing towards me from St. David’s,” etc. Upon which Mr. Ingersoll comments: “FitzGibbon gave a certificate to Mrs. Secord setting out the fact that she had warned him of the intended attack and in it does not mention that he had received any previous warning. I think it is fair to infer, therefore, that the warning from Laura Secord was the first that he had received (she is said in most versions to have reached FitzGibbon’s camp on the evening of the 23rd) and that the information received by him at 7 o’clock in the morning of the 24th was brought to him by the Indian scout whom he had sent out to watch for the approach of the enemy.”

What Certificate Says

The certificate mentioned above reads: “I do hereby certify that Mrs. Secord, the wife of James Secord, of Chippawa, Esq., did, in the month of June 1813, walk from her house in the village of St. David’s to Decamp’s house in Thorold, by a circuitous route of some twenty miles, partly through the woods, to acquaint me that the enemy intended to attempt by surprise to capture a detachment of the 49th Regiment, then under my command, she having obtained such knowledge from good authority, as the event proved.

Mrs. Secord was a person of slight and delicate frame and made the effort in weather excessively warm, and I dreaded at the time that she might suffer in health in consequence of fatigue and anxiety, she having been exposed to danger from the enemy through whose line of communication she had to pass.

The attempt was made on my detachment by the enemy, and his detachment, consisting of upwards of 500 men, with a field piece of 50 dragoons, were captured in consequence. I write this certificate in a moment of much hurry, and from memory, and it is therefore thus brief.

James FitzGibbon, formerly lieutenant in the 49th Regiment.”

There is, unfortunately (in the copy before me) no date to this certificate; it may have been written many years later; but the supporters of Mrs. Secord, who include most Niagara folk anyway, claim that it was in consequence of her warning that the scouts were sent out.

Her Own Declaration

Then there is Laura Secord’s own declaration when the Prince of Wales visited Niagara in 1860. When she went to the office of the Clerk of the Peace, for the purpose of signing the address to the Prince, along with the veterans of 1812, the clerk demurred, and she insisted asserting that she has done her country more signal service than half the soldiers and militiamen engaged in the war, which prompted William Kirby to write in the Niagara Mail: “We say the brave and loyal old lady ought not only to be allowed to sign the address, but she deserves a special introduction to the Prince of Wales as a worthy example of the fire of 1812, when both men and women vied alike in their resolution to defend the country.” In a later issue of the Mail, Kirby stated that the Prince visited Laura Secord at Chippawa. In March following he related how Mrs. Secord received a gift of one hundred pounds from the Prince.

Professor Wallace may consider the Laura Secord story as of little historical importance. He is entitled to his opinion; but the people of Niagara and most, of Ontario, will prefer to treasure the old story of the brave woman who risked her life to save her country.


[The Welland-Port Colborne Evening Tribune, 11 December 1931]

Editor Evening Tribune:

I was much surprised to read in an issue of the Mail and Empire of Dec. 1st an article headed, “Laura Secord as Heroine, Fading out of History.”

The first reading suggested that the writer was laboring under the effects of a brainstorm or that a new mental disorder had appeared to afflict mankind.

The article is a disparagement of a feat well authenticated by indisputable documents and traditions received at the time as genuine. The main issue is that historians (sic) are omitting the story of Laura Secord from Canadian history on account of its mythical character; in other words disposing of it as a recent lecturer in Toronto did with “Wm. Tell.”

Let me say at the outset, that until I learn it from his own pen, I shall refuse to think that Professor Wallace omitted the story from present school histories, because he thought it mythical.

It is true, however, that in a school history, written by Mr. Wallace now in use in Alberta, he proved himself unreliable in accuracy. As to the contents of the article, we will notice the “lost key,” something unheard of before, and on the face of it most absurd. Why should she lock up her wounded husband and five children, prisoners in their home until her return, and carry the key with her through the “Black Swamp?”

These critics have not said that she locked the door; to have done so would have excited the suspicion of the enemy sentry at her door. Another paragraph reads: “It was only when Laura Secord was an old woman that her part in the episode became generally known, it was said.” This statement is the reverse of the truth.

In the Niagara district Laura’s story was told to admiring friends, who often invited her to their homes. One of them was the late Mrs. John Munro of Thorold, later vice-president of the Thorold Historical Society. The details of the story as told by Laura herself, were given when the heroine was in the full possession of all her faculties, unimpaired and not in old age. It may be found in the Historical Society’s “History of Thorold Town and Township,” published by John H. Thompson, editor of the Thorold Post. Mrs. Munro’s version of Laura’s story was corroborated by her eldest daughter, who had heard it at the time, and also Miss Amy Ball, a member of one of the oldest families in the Niagara peninsula, and familiar with the history of the period. Another statement reads: “It (Laura’s story) was dropped after investigation revealed that the troops at Beaverdams knew all about the surprise American attack, before Laura Secord’s arrival.” This looks like a fabrication to support an assertion of which no proof is given. On the contrary it may be safely assumed that if a previous warning had been received, Fitzgibbon would have received it. He says nothing of a previous intimation, but writes some years later, a certificate saying he received the warning from Laura Secord and acted upon it.

The certificate reads: “I do hereby certify that Mrs. Secord, the wife of James Secord, Esq., of Chippawa, did, in the month of June, 1813, walked from her house in the village of St. David’s to Decamp’s house in Thorold, a circuitous route of about twelve miles, partly through the woods, to acquaint me that the enemy intended to attempt by surprise to capture a detachment of the 49th Regiment, then under my command. She having obtained such knowledge from good authority, as the event proved. Mrs. Secord was a person of slight and delicate frame, and made the effort in weather excessively warm, and I dreaded at the time that she must suffer in health in consequence of fatigue and anxiety, she having been exposed to danger from the enemy through whose line of communication she had to pass. The attempt was made on my detachment, by the enemy, and his detachment consisting of 500 men with a fieldpiece and fifty dragoons were captured in consequence. I write this certificate in a moment of much hurry and from memory, and it is therefore brief. (Signed) James Fitzgibbon, formerly Lieutenant to 49th regiment.”

It should be observed that the merit of Mrs. Secord’s action would not be diminished in the least if warning had been given before or after her’s by some other person. It is  now in order for those historians (?) whose modesty made them “decline to be quoted,” to come forward and tell to whom and in what manner, whether by dream or vision was knowledge of a previous warning “revealed.” The use of the last word, suggests that a good part of the article is a pipe dream. Unless some proof is forthcoming a discriminating public will hold them guilty of defamation of a worthy person.

In 1897 the Thorold Historical Society published their “History of the Town and Township,” which circumstance brings the battle of Beaverdams within the scope of their activities.

Great pains were taken by the committee to obtain details from all reliable sources available, so that the work might be a truthful narrative of the past. Chapter V gives the story of Laura Secord as she told it while in the vigor of life. This chapter also gives particulars of the battle of Beechwoods, gleaned largely from military documents including Brigadier General Cruikshank’s pamphlet. I quote from the first paragraph of the narrative: “Many circumstances connected with the engagement commonly known as the battle of Beechwoods, or Beaverdams, combine to make it one of the most interesting episodes of recent Canadian history. It is indissolubly connected with the memory of one of the most patriotic and courageous women of any age, or country.”

Such is the tribute of General Cruikshank to Mrs. Secord. He supports it by Capt. Fitzgibbon’s certificate already quoted, which he placed in the appendix of his pamphlet. The only portraits in the pamphlet are those of the heroine and Fitzgibbon.

In a hundred years and more since the event, the writer of the article under criticism appears to be the first to cast doubt on the truthfulness of the story as received for many years.

Other writers than those already named have written the story. Mrs. Curzon interviewed Mrs. Secord’s third daughter, who remembered her mother leaving home on that fateful morning.

Mrs. J.G. Currie, also a native of Great Barrington, Mass., from which the Ingersoll’s came, has written a sketch of Laura’s life, the profits on which were to go towards a fund for a monument not built until 1901.

When King Edward, as Prince of Wales, visited Niagara Falls, in 1861, Laura Secord, then living at Chippawa, was present at a public reception, given to the prince. A prominent citizen , a member of the committee, drew the attention of His Royal Highness to the heroine, telling what she had done. The prince asked for an interview in which he expressed regret that she had not been rewarded for distinguished action. He afterwards sent her a personal gift of £100.

Ridgeway, Dec. 3, 1931
One time Secretary Thorold Historical Society.

Decew Road, Thorold, ON

Headquarters of local British forces under James Fitzgibbon to which Laura Secord came from Queenston to warn of the American invasion. The house, destroyed by fire in 1950, was designated an historic site. The name Decou is now spelt Decew.

A Study in Vanity by Louis Blake Duff

On October 24, 1952, the University of Western Ontario conferred on Louis Bake Duff the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

For more than thirty-five years chairmen of meetings have been introducing Louis Blake Duff to audiences all across Canada and the United States. Depending upon the auspices under which he was speaking, the organizations which he was addressing, and the caprice of the introducer, Mr. Duff has been labeled as a successful newspaper man—intimating perhaps, that he began as a reporter and ended as a publisher—and this is true;he has been called an historian—and this too, is accurate, as his twenty-five years as secretary of the Welland County Historical Society. As his term as President of the Ontario Historical Society, and his twenty-five years on its council, and his membership on the Canadian Historical Association, will testify; he has been classed as an author, not only as a writer of scores of reviews, literary notes and contributions to newspapers, magazines and learned journals, but as the author of books which have given him stature as a Canadian writer; he has been styled a public speaker—and one need only recall his, “Cabbages and Kings,” “the Immortal Memory,” and “ An Appreciation of Stephen Leacock.”some of his lectures which have appeared in printed form, to understand why examples of his writings and his addresses appear in Robbins’ Book of Canadian Humour.

Mr Duff has been called a bibliophile and his famous library on the history of printing and his Canadiana alone warrant his admission to this class.

In fact, Louis Blake Duff has been called a lot of things—but all relative to his status as a great Canadian and it is this composite man to whom the University wishes to pay tribute—a true scholar, an eminent historian, a dignified compatriot, an inimitable humorist, and a solid citizen of this country.

Mr Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate of the University of Western Ontario, I request you to admit to the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Louis Blake Duff, that he may have the added distinction of being like each of his daughters, a graduate of Western.

Louis Blake Duff

{Editorial, The Globe and Mail, Toronto, August 31, 1959}

Louis Blake Duff was one of those rare men whose intellectual curiosity molds their lives and enriches all who come in contact with them. His death at the age of 81 ends a fruitful career during which he made a notable contribution to the life and letters of this country, particularly of the Niagara Peninsula.

Dr. Duff was a man of many parts—a composite man, as a university president once called him. He began work as a teacher, became a capable newspaper editor, then had a successful career in the world of finance. Whatever he was doing, he found time to indulge his love of books, his respect for and sensitivity to local and national history.

He had the articulate ease of expression which made writing and speaking a pleasurable experience for both him and his audience. His career as a public speaker spanned 40 years in Canada and the United States, he took every opportunity which this broad platform offered to stress the importance of history, its lessons and pleasures. As a scholar. His original research brought to light many hitherto unknown facets of Canadian history and facts about the personalities who made that history.

Dr. Duff deplored what he called the booklessness of Canadians, their disinterest in literature. As a passionate bibliophile—his own library contained 10,000 volumes—he could not help but be depressed by this characteristic which he considered a national trait. He decried, too the absence of museums in Ontario, particularly in the small towns where local history could be preserved. He was critical of Canadians for ignoring their history, in contrast to the way Americans venerated their heroes and national shrines.

A man of warmth and wit, he had a multitude of friends. We join them in paying tribute to his achievements and his memory.