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The TALES you probably never heard about

Dr. Robert Hamel de la Matter (1824-1899)

Dr. Robert Hamel de la Matter (1824-1899)

[Compiled by ‘S’]

Robert was born March 18, 1824 on the south side of Tice Road near Centre Street in Pelham. The original home was destroyed  by fire

The de la Matters were originally French Hugenots. The family name was spelled several ways.

Claude de Maistre was the first to emigrate to America, settling in New Amsterdam (New York) on Long Island in 1652. His family was raised in what is now Harlem. He was a successful farmer.

Martin de la Mater, father of Robert was a rebel sympathizer at the time of the American Revolution, afterward he immigrated to Canada.

Martin first settled in Canborough and on November 3, 1818 he married Sabina Smith, one of the daughters of Matthew and Mary (Wright) Smith. Matthew Smith was a prominent farmer, millwright and entrepreneur of Canborough.

Martin and Sabina de la Matter had eight children, five were born in Canborough, Cyrus, Ryan A., Eben J, Cornelia and Smith.

Three more were born after they moved to Pelham Ferrand, Peter Morse and Martin.

In 1828 the family located on 200 acres in Pelham on Tice Road.

Sabina died February 10, 1835, then, Martin married Mary Magdalene Vanderburgh born June 20, 1806 she was the daughter of Garret and Catherine Vanderburgh, who lived on a farm in Allanburg, a loyalist grant.

Sabina’s children Ryan, Ferrand and Martin all died in infancy. Cyrus, Eben, Smith and Peter received their education at common schools in Pelham and learned the farm trade here. However they all left Pelham went to the United States and farmed in the Midwest states of Illinois and Iowa.

The children of Martin’s second marriage were Sabina, Henry, Ira, Robert H., Isaac, Mary Emily and Francis Elizabeth.

Martin and Mary Delamatter became prominent members of the Pelham community. Martin was a Officer of the local Militia during the Mackenzie rebellion of 1837. He had one of his barns burned because of the commission.

He was a trustee of the Fonthill Wesleyan Methodist Church and one of the trustees involved in the purchase of land for the North Pelham Cemetery. In 1845.

Martin and Mary sent all of their children to local schools in Pelham and their sons went to university.

Sabina married a lawyer, Alisha Morse and lived in Smithville. Henry was a successful teacher, teaching at Fonthill Grammar School. He also was principal of Welland High School. Also taught in schools in Owen Sound, Wiarton, Colborne, and Williamsville, New York.

Henry married Maria Blaghorne and they had eight children. He died in Toronto after being blind for several years.

Ira graduated from Victoria College in Cobourg, where he was a prize winning essayist. He became a teacher in Fonthill and ran the family farm in Pelham.

Isaac was a trained lawyer, he contracted tuberculosis and died on an overland route to California, at a military post, three weeks after his marriage.

Robert attended Hansler school and the grammar school in Fonthill. He entered the University of Toronto where graduated with a B.A. degree in 1868, receiving a silver medal. He then entered Faculty of Medicine and obtained an M.D degree in 1871, winning a silver medal.

After graduation Robert interned in a hospital on Statten Island, New York. He then moved to Fonthill and practiced with Dr. J. Fraser.

Dr Robert Delamatter then left Fonthill and practiced in Springfield, Ohio and Buffalo , New York before establishing himself in Attercliffe where he resided until his death in 1899.

Robert married a school teacher, Janet Henderson and their daughter Elizabeth Magdalena became a latin teacher at Pelham District High School.

The Delamatter residence is still standing on the south side of Canboro road at the west end of the Attercliffe village.

According to his daughter , the doctor did not have regular office hours, people came to the house at any time. House calls were made on horseback or horse and buggy. He referred surgical patients to Dr G.A. MacCallum of Dunnville. This was the man whose son, William MacCallum became a professor of Pathology at John Hopkins Medical School and wrote a textbook on the subject.

Dr Robert Delamatter died following a stroke in 1899. He is buried at the Riverside cemetery in Wellandport along with his wife Janet and Daughter Elizabeth.

His tombstone can be located on this website  Gallery—cemeteries- Riverside Pt 1 section 7.