Roderick Dewar of Harrington

John Ban to BarryIn 2006, my last-known relative bearing the Dewar name died. The family had been living on the same plot of land at Lot 14 Rang 4 (14.4) in Harrington, Argenteuil County, Québec for four generations. And it was here that my great grandmother, Sarah Ellen Dewar was born 1852. But the Canadian chapter of my Dewar Family story goes back another generation to the early 1800s in Glengarry County, on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River.




In 1795, on February 1, at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Williamstown, Rev. John Bethune presided over the baptism of Roderick Duer. His parents were John Duer and Katharine (Catherine) McLeod who had emigrated from Glenelg, Scotland in 1793 and settled a year later on Lot 29 Concession 7 (29.7) in Lochiel township of Glengarry County. (see Voyage of the Argyll)

Between 1796 and 1810, the records of St. Andrew’s in Williamstown list the baptisms of Roderick’s siblings, Donald, Angus and Isabella.

By 1826 oldest son Roderick, had married Nancy (Ann) McLellan, and were living at his father’s farm when their first child, Isabella (More) was baptized by Rev. John MacLaurin at the Lochiel church.

Lochiel Lot 29 Con 7 Land Abstract Index 7 (1)

In 1828 John sold the west half of his farm to a William Dewar of Lochiel for £50. I don’t know how William was related to the family or whether he ever actually lived at Lot 29.7 but the farm in its entirety had reverted to John’s possession by the time he wrote his Will in 1841.


Donald Roderick Dewar BaptismIn 1829, Roderick and his wife were still living at John’s farm in Lochiel when their first son, Donald was born.

About 1832, Roderick and Ann had a second son, John, presumably the namesake of his grandfather and possibly born at 24.7 Lochiel. I have not found any birth or baptism record and the only document I have found for him is the 1851 Census of Harrington.

There was frequent back and forth movement of settlers between the Ontario counties of Prescott and Glengarry and Argenteuil County in Quebec. Many of the young men who farmed the flat rich lands on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River during the warmer seasons spent the long winter months earning money as “shantymen”, logging giant trees in the Laurentian hills on the Quebec side. Roderick was one such, and from the early 1830s was spending his winters as a “shantyman” in Argenteuil.

Harrington Survey Map 1834In 1834, in the autumn, a survey of the township of Harrington was carried out by Owen Quinn for the Surveyor General of Lower Canada. His field notes and maps identify and describe the Rangs (Concessions) and Lots in this part of Argenteuil County. The Rangs were arranged from south to north; the First Rang running east to west along what is now Chemin Harrington at the Grenville Township line. Each lot, was about 200 acres; approximately 1.5 kms. long by 0.5 kms wide. Every seventh lot in the Rang was reserved as Crown Land. Ouinn makes specific reference to a 200 acre property at Lot 14 Rang 4 (Lot 14.4) noting, “A Squatter residing on this Lot with small improvements”. Roderick was the squatter occupying a shanty on the lot, at least in the winter-time.

In 1834 Roderick and Ann were no longer living on John’s farm in Lochiel but in the adjacent township of East Hawkesbury on Lot 24 Con. 7. It was here that another child, Mary was born on October 11.

In 1836, on May 16, Mary Dewar was baptized by the minister of Lochiel.

In 1837, on September 19, daughter Ann was born. She was baptized in Lochiel on November 4 but the family was still living in East Hawkesbury at the time.

In 1837, likely in early winter, or perhaps the following year,
Roderick moved with his wife Ann, and four children, Isabella, Donald, Mary and Ann across the Ottawa River to Harrington.

In 1839, on December 7, Roderick and Ann, now in Harrington had another son, William. Early the next Spring, on March 21 he was baptized by Rev. John McIssac at the church back in Lochiel. Was baby William named after the William who had paid £50 for part of his grandfather’s farm eleven years previously suggesting a potential family relationship?

In 1841 Harrington was officially established as a township.

John Ban Dewar page from WillIn 1841 in Lochiel, John Dewar, Roderick’s father wrote his Last Will and Testament. In it he left the east half of Lot 29.7 to his second son, Angus and the west half to his third son, Donald. He ordained that these two sons would jointly take care of his wife and their mother, Catherine until the end of her life. John also ordained that his son Angus was to pay the sum of one English shilling to his eldest son, Roderick as his share of the Patrimony whenever he require it. It is difficult to attribute motivation to John for this gesture, but he had some definite intention in mind at the time. Was it an acknowledgement that Roderick was already established on his own land in Harrington and didn’t need any land, or was it a way of disinheriting him and preventing him from making a claim against his two younger brothers?

1842 Census HarringtonIn 1842, on January 13th, when the Census of Canada East took place there were 110 people living in 17 households in Harrington. The census only listed the names of the head of the household and the number of people in each. Roderick Dewar was listed as a “squatter” and “yeoman” and there were 8 members of the household with one person temporarily absent. So that’s Roderick and Ann and their 6 children accounted for, but I don’t know who the absent person was. But there is another mystery revealed by the census; another household headed by another Roderick Dewar. This one was a yeoman who had purchased his land and who had one other person in the house and one temporarily absent. Other details would be revealed at the next census a decade later, but I think that the second Roderick might have been my Roderick’s uncle and his namesake!

In 1842, sometime after the census, Roderick and Ann had another daughter named Sarah. I have found only one record of her in the Harrington census, a decade later. No birth or baptismal records have been found.

John Ban Dewar St Columba CommemorationIn 1844, John, Roderick’s father died in Lochiel and on July 17 of that year his Will was registered (probated?). And on July 23 his two sons Angus and Donald became the owners of the Dewar family farm in Lochiel. Sometime, soon after John died, his son Angus died also. John, Angus and Angus’s wife, Flora Fraser (died 1846) are all buried in the same plot (marker 145) of the cemetery of St. Columba’s Church on Kirkhill.




In 1845, Catharine, the last child of Roderick and Ann was born, presumably in Harrington. I have not found birth or baptism records for her and the only record I have is the 1851 census.

1851 Census HarringtonThe 1851 census, which actually took place on 12 January 1852 includes an Agricultural Schedule which identifies lots and their owners as well as land use. Roderick is the holder of 100 acres at 14.4 (Lot.Rang) which is 90% covered by trees with the remaining 7 acres under cultivation and 3 acres of pasture. Donald, Roderick’s son is the holder of the 100 acres adjacent to his father at 15.4. His lot is completely covered with forest.

The Nominal Schedule lists family members, their ages, and other details. Enumerated along with my Roderick, now 50, is his wife Agness (Ann) (49) born in Scotland and the only non-Canadian born family member; also their children: Isabella (More) (29), John (20), Mary (16), Ann (14), William (12), Sarah (10) and Catherine (7). It’s obvious from the census that the “family farm” is a working wood lot because the household includes 11 shantymen, apparently mostly Roman Catholic, Irish and French Canadians from Hawkesbury.

Next door is Donald (23), his 21-year old wife Margaret, whose maiden name is Campbell (from other sources) and their one-year old son Duncan. Also in the household is Catherine Dewar (50) and 14-year-old John. I don’t know who these relatives are.

As mentioned above there was another Roderick Dewar living nearby in Harrington and the 1851 Census provides more detail about him. He is enumerated as Roary Dewar, age 74 (for a calculated year-of-birth of 1778) and his 60-year-old (calculated YOB 1792) wife, Mary, both born in Scotland. Mary’s maiden is Campbell based on other sources. Roary and Mary live on 100 acres, half of Lot 15.2. Living on the other half of the same lot is 42-year old Norman, no wife, and his seven children, all born in Scotland. I speculate that Roary (Roderick) was Norman’s father. I have researched this family further and will write about it at some future date.

By 1861, based on the census, Roderick seems to have passed from the scene. HIs wife Ann will live on until at least 1871. And the “Dewar Farm”, shown below on the official plan of Harrington (1883) continued to be occupied by the descendants of Roderick Dewar for another 3 generations.

Harrington Official Plan (1883>)

Dewar Farm  Lot 14.4 Harrington 2012In 1995, John Roderick Dewar, unmarried, without children, and unable to carry on, on his own, sells up and spends his remaining years in a nursing home in Lachute.



Dewar Gravestone HarringtonIn 2006. Johnny, my last Dewar relative died. He is buried in the Shaw Protestant cemetery in Harrington just down the road from where his family had lived for 158 years. Somehow I never met him.

This entry was posted in Dewar, Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s