Perth & District Historical Society

Local History
An Introduction to Our Area's History
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Perth Military Settlement Map Thumbnail
Map of Settlement Area
(click to enlarge)

By following the links on the left of this page, you'll find the history of our area documented through a range of reports and photos - beginning with the 'Perth Military Settlement', an 1815 concept that covered present-day Perth and the adjoining early townships of Bathurst, North Burgess, South Sherbrooke, Drummond, North Elmsley and Beckwith. This was one of three military settlements - the other two being in nearby Lanark and Richmond - that were conceived by the British Government in 1815 to deal with several serious problems arising coincidentally at the end of the 1812-14 war with the United States.

As Jean S. McGill wrote in an early book1, "The industrial revolution of the century previous had continued to displace tradesmen and craftsmen throughout the British Isles. Now, with the end of the War ….. , Great Britain was overrun with discharged soldiers also seeking employment. Something had to be done quickly ….. .' Second, "……..the British Government had recognized that a loyal population must be established inland away from the St. Lawrence 'front' as a second line of defence in any future (American) threat."

Opening the uncharted area north of the Rideau system offered a creative, if challenging, solution to both problems. In early 1815, the British Government commenced an emigration program that offered land and support, including transportation, to families from Scotland, joined by discharged soldiers, willing to take up a new life in this isolated part of Upper Canada.

Within a few years, the British Government program brought in thousands of immigrant families from Scotland, Ireland, the United States, and even Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Poland - and the once unpopulated area rang with the clearing of land and construction of houses and roads. The stories from these earliest days to the present are told in this section of 'Local History'. If you have any that could be added, we would welcome hearing from you.

1 A Pioneer History of the County of Lanark, by Jean S. McGill, T. H. Best Printing Company, Toronto, 1968 and subsequent printings. ISBN 0-9690087-1-6
Perth, the Capital of the District of Dalhousie; from the N-East bank of the River Tay - painting by Thomas Burrowes, 1828, Archives of Ontario, I0002141

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