Down Memory Lane, April 22 2022

A 1903 photograph of the Reid family of Georgetown. Elizabeth's grandmother, Janet junior, can be seen on the back row, second from the right.
A 1903 photograph of the Reid family of Georgetown. Elizabeth's grandmother, Janet junior, can be seen on the back row, second from the right.

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This early 1900s photograph tells the success story of an immigrant who walked off the farm at Skipness Estate in the 1850s and emigrated to Canada.

By the time he sat for this photograph with wife and children in 1903, Dugald Reid had become a prosperous hardware merchant in Georgetown, just west of Toronto.

As well as renting heavy equipment, he had the local coal franchise.

The stone building he built for his business in the 1870s is still the only one of three storeys in the town. Now a pub, it was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Dugald was born on North Calfin Farm on Skipness Estate in 1836, the second youngest of 11 children born to Donald Reid and Katherine McMillan, who are buried in Skipness Chapel Cemetery – on the left-hand side of the path, with a marble slab placed on granite, as you enter from the gate.

Dugald wasn’t the only member of the Reid family to emigrate to Canada and they all did very well for themselves, thanks to the Scottish Parliament legislating a teacher into each civil parish in the 1790s which meant they were able to read and write.

In the 1861 census, for example, Dugald’s brother Donald enumerated the township of Brant in Canada West.

While she knows the fate of those who travelled to Canada, Dugald’s great-granddaughter, Elizabeth McDonald, of Ontario, has contacted the Courier in the hope of finding out more information about Mr and Mrs Reid and their parents.

‘Their parents died within two weeks of each other in 1847 and I have hit a brick wall on the parents of both because of their early demise, the discrepancies in dates on the tombstones and the number of McMillans in Kintyre,’ she said.

‘There is a DNA link between me and an Elizabeth Reid Young of Barony, Glasgow, of the 1780s but beyond that Reid family – John Reid/Margaret Marshall – I am stymied.

‘Any help from your readers would be appreciated.’

Dugald’s wife, Janet McGill, was the first Canadian-born child, in 1839, of Peter McGill of South Carnbeg, Correchrivie, and Nancy McPhail of Ronachan. In the 1901 Canadian census, they stated they still spoke Gaelic at home.

Anyone who thinks they may have information that could help Elizabeth with her family research can contact her by emailing