Salt Spring Island Archives

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The McLennan Family of Salt Spring

Mary Davidson

Mrs. Davidson talks about the origins of the McLennan family on Salt Spring in the 1880s, and their family and community life at Beaver Point to the present day. Mrs. Davidson does not mention her own central role in the creation of the SSI Archives in 1989.

Accession Number Interviewer
Date Jan. 9, 1990 Location Central Hall
Media Audio CD
ID Topic The McLennan Family of Salt Spring




Unknown Speaker 0:01
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We don't need the lights off just for a sec. Alexander McLennan and his wife Elizabeth Dunn were Saltspring Island pioneers. They were my grandparents. They settled on a farm on Beaver Point Road at McLennan road about 1882. Alexander was an educated Scot who raised a large family and contributed to his community. He was justice of the peace for a short time, and postmaster for beaver point for more than 20 years. Elizabeth was a large, hard working woman, the mainstay of a pioneer family. They were one of the group of early families who founded the repoint school. Alexander was born in February 1845 in the district of kintail, in the Northwest highlands of Scotland. kintail hereditary homeland of the McLennan is located on the Scottish mainland by the Isle of Skye. The center of Jacobite sympathies and Alexander's ancestors were LM Jakob Jacobite who fought for Bonnie Prince Charlie. His McRae line is traced back to Robert Bruce and beyond to the Duncan slain by Macbeth

Unknown Speaker 1:23

Unknown Speaker 1:44
Alexander's father Ewan McLennan, was an affluent merchant with a plantation in Jamaica. His first wife died at the birth of their second child. In time you and married again in Scotland to Helen McCray, daughter of a Scottish tenant farmer, or taxman spelled ta CKS ma AM. A taxman was a tenant who was the younger son of somebody who had owned land at one time, and they were therefore not eligible to own the land. He farmed 10,000 acres in kintail, a prosper sheep farmer with six indoor servants according to the 1851 census, us first family remained in Jamaica and there are letters in existence from Alexander's half sister to hand telling much of life on a plantation in Jamaica you and died when Alexander was five years old. Well, family tradition and available records indicate a fairly well off family we were surprised to discover that Alexander's home was a whitewash stone, thatched roof cottage much as you see here, this cottage is actually in the same neighborhood as a McCray house. His grandfather McRae's home where Alexander lived with his mother and sister has been enlarged and now his upstairs dormers, but still is not what we would consider even adequate. It's hard to say where the six indoors, servants slept, perhaps on the floor around the fireplace. When Alexander was a child, he attended a parish school that was located about three miles from his home. He walked to and from he and his sister had a nurse and may have had a tutor at times. When he was older Alexander attended a school in Inverness, where he boarded. This school would likely be equivalent to an English Grammar School. After finishing grammar school how Xander was a well educated bright young man of 17 with absolutely no prospects of employment or income. So he was sent out to Canada to two uncle's who had emigrated earlier. While he was with Uncle Robert a teacher in Glengarry County. amongst many other Scottish immigrants, he attended a military college in Kingston, that because of lack of funds and inheritance that never materialized. He was forced to quit military Cago college after only one year. He did some tutoring, but was not able to pay his way. He then went to the other uncle in Prescott County where he served in uncle Alexander's General Store and post office. This picture was taken in Montreal soon after Alexander's arrival in Canada about 1861. being dissatisfied with his position in life, Alexander headed west hoping to seek his fortune in the gold fields, but ended up tutoring the children of the chief essayer in Barkerville. He visited the Peace River Country and must have been impressed as he talked of going to several there off and on over the years. At some stage, he worked as a surveyor for his cousin Roderick McLennan, who is in charge of surveying the CPR line through BC, he has complete surveying equipment that we have all admired. He was also a clerk for the CPR handwriting many volumes of records and apparently beautiful Highland scripts. Finally, Alexander McLennan settled in Victoria, where he was employed in the men's tailoring and clothing store as a clerk Gilmore and Mike McCandless. Alexander McQueen and Elizabeth Dunn about this time they were married in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Victoria on September the 11th 1879. It isn't but Dunn was born in Ontario in 1858. To Jason and his wife, Jane Sargent. She came to Victoria with her family by way of Panama, stopping for a few years in San Mateo, California on the way where her father and engineer drilled artesian wells. He missed the Union Jack so moved on up the coast to Victoria. The dust settled at Parsons bridge about 1864 and Elizabeth and the other children attended Creek flower school. Jane, Elizabeth's mother died at childbirth in 1871, leaving Elizabeth age 16 to raise her younger brothers and sisters. James is one of the earliest graves in ROSS Bay cemetery and Victoria. Alexander and Elizabeth settled in the James Bay Area of Victoria. And while there have two sons, you and Robert and Alexander Edwards, the family appears on the 1881 census for Victoria. Mr. Henry Rocco senior Bobby's close at Jamar and MacAndrews and he and Alexander became friends. One day Henry ruffled told Alexander about the farm for sale at beaver pond to join in his own large holdings. They went out to Sydney from where they took a rowboat to records farm on Saltspring Island. Alexander likes the farm and immediately arranged to purchase it. He named it blend she'll farm after the valley in which he was born in Scotland. There was already a log cabin and smaller log building. This picture comes from the Upper Canada booklet, Upper Canada Village booklet, same kinds of log cabins to which he added a dining family room and two bedrooms with two more bedrooms upstairs. The original log cabin was used as a kitchen and a small cabinet storage space. The addition was made of logs using pegs instead of nails. Some of this construction is still still to be seen at the site of the old house. In 1883, Ellen Jane was born weighing only just over three pounds. She spent her first weeks on the oven door of the big cookstove Mrs. Henry, Ella Rocco acted as midwife for all the McLennan children born on Saltspring no doubt Ellen was given the Scots equivalent for Ella in her honor. Then came Douglas Stewart, who weighed in at 15 or 16 pounds depending on which family members telling the story. He was so fat that he could harm they can hardly see his eyes. In 1891 When the next baby was expected, Elizabeth was understandably cautious after to such extremes. So she went to Sydney to the home of the Wesley brothers were the first white child born in Sydney was delivered without incident. She was named Jesse brother McLennan after Mrs. Wesley Wesley brother, who was an experienced Scottish midwife. Mrs. Wesley rather boring Jessie McCray, was a foster sister to Alexandra McLennan being raised by his mother probably for a member of her McCray family in Scotland. Although no one seems to know her origin or the relationship. However, the social relationship was very close. And then Jessie brother was a highly respected and greatly loved family member. He met Wesley brothers through the records, who were close friends for generations, when she came out to stay without a senator and Elizabeth. Another daughter, and Elizabeth was born at home at 94 and Margaret Christina in 1896, both with Mrs. Morocco in attendance. In the mid 1880s, there was concern in the beaver Point area that there was no school for the growing number of children. Theodore Trevi gave the land and he and a group of parents founded the beaver point stool, which was built by Sam and Charles Pettis. This picture shows the first class with the teacher Mr. Levine, Alec and Mulan are number two and number four in the front row. All and take a common is on extreme right. Other families represented here might include Trevi, Rocco Pettis, King and Fisher. This family portrait taken about 1897 shows the homoclinic family at that time. There's Elenin you and Alexander and Douglas in the back row. And the three little girls, Maggie on Elizabeth's knee, Jesse in the middle, and, and on

Unknown Speaker 10:38
her father's.

Unknown Speaker 10:42
The three girls have their heads shaved, which I found very disturbing. I asked my aunt Jessie about it and she said that was to encourage thick hair growth happens frequently apparently.

Unknown Speaker 11:02
Alexander McLennan had a large farm to clear which he could not manage alone. Through an arrangement with an organization in Victoria he hired three Japanese nationals declared the lab. The Japanese were with the family for several years and in order to assist them with English the three little girls were each assigned a man to teach the girls Jessie, Annie and Maggie learned some Japanese to the Japanese did not remain in Canada but returned to Japan with their earnings and a little English. The farm grew from the original 350 acres to 600 and stretched from Demetri road to be the point Hall, there was an orchard of 350 trees according to river Nielsen's booklet, and the farm was classified as mixed. I can remember cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, chickens, geese, ducks, x and a colleague, as well as a vast garden very snapped trees and a wonderful orchard. In 19, two, Robert Murray was born, this snapshot was taken about 19 Four. He was the caboose of the family, six years younger than maybe, no doubt the girls spoil him. But he turned out to be as II an easygoing, kind and generous man much beloved by all. He is holding a gun he had still in the dresses that baby born boys war in those days. A gem of a snapshot of waste. Baby Marie with Maggie and Anne and two men with a freshly killed Cougar. I don't know who the men are, would appreciate advice on saying my guess is a company or maybe Reynolds if we were on the island before. In 1886 Alexander McLennan became postmaster for beaver point, a position he held until 1980. He was also justice of the peace for a short time, but he felt that this put him into the position of interfering in the affairs of his neighbors. So he resigned last part feelings develop. Some close friends and neighbors and friends of the McLennan were the woman's and our sons who ran the mill at the end of Bowman road at Cushing, coal. This is Maggie with the bohlmann baby Marie in the middle and the Bowman boy Mr. And Mrs. Bowman on the porch. This photograph snapshot was taken about 98 Another family portrait about 19 sticks showing and Jesse Katherine Catherine breath are standing seated is another breath of girl probably eat it. Maggie and Marie with the Border Collie. The long portion of the house shows up very well in the background. This is Douglas Murray brothers. Not father and son as sort of looks like with the team about 96 or seven that was would have still been in his teens at that time. And he he's much much darker than the other children being more like his mother who had dark hair and brown eyes. I'm sorry this is so dim but the original is very very faint. A photo of the pupils and teacher at Beaver point school about 93 Maggie and Annie are the two with shaved heads this time for the purpose of getting rid off and or avoiding lice. Annie did not appreciate her appearance with a shaved head. So snippers out of picture. Miss Bertha tradie is the teacher. Others in the picture are Elma either and Frank Johnson who are the the two girls on the left of birth a tradie and the little boy in front of them him and three others are lofty Clara and Alice Williams, who would be the one next to the snip head. And the two little girls on the far right. The middle one and slunt is the child of the itinerant photographer

Unknown Speaker 15:26
another photo of the pupils of beaver point school about my team eight. Marie is the blonde in the center. And Maggie has the big bowl. A burden Berta and Hazel King and Reggie and Geraldine good are the children in the front row. Walter Paton burger is right behind the king children and may Pyatt is next to me. Now, the other children are just you just can't tell who they are. But they would probably be Reynolds and fishers. The barns on the farm at Beaver point. In the foreground is the original barn and in the background the new barn built sometime before 19 tamp with the help of Elizabeth's engineer father who died in 1910. The new barn still stands and Dimitri Stevens present owner of part of the farm is considering restoration according to his mother June. It has us solid concrete foundation and the wood is still in excellent condition. As the family grew, so did the need for more living space in the house. The old original log cabin was torn down and a large kitchen built in its place with a covered porch extending out to the storage buildings and the outhouse. At the front of the house was added a large living room with a guest bedroom and two more bedrooms upstairs, the house total 10 rooms and all with seven of them bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room and a living room. The kitchen had a pantry attached which was almost as big as another room. It had a sink with a tap for cold water brought down from the well by gravity and the drain to save muscle power. Cooler compartments were arranged under the floor for crops containing butter, meat and other preserves. The big covered porches a well used outdoor living space and a place to do the washing. The front addition was built on a stone foundation with a big food house in the cellar. A family portrait about 19 Eight showing Maggie Annie Douglas and Jess Alexander and Elizabeth Seton and marine front sitting on a plate of McLennan tartan a Scottish tradition carried on in Canada by a traditional Highland Scots a family and French snapshot about 1912 showing Maggie I don't know who the person in the hat is Mrs. Bowman with the child in this suburb. McLennan me, who was pilot who married Douglas Alexander McClellan and Mr. Bowman's seekers are thinly Murray and be friendly and be being orphan children of Elizabeth's sister who came to live with Glen shield farm farm after their parents died. Married no baby point school about 1914 Somebody's peeking out behind the baby point pupils about 1914 in the back roll. Can't see her very well is Audrey curly. Then Hazel King, Grace Reynolds. Marie McLennan, and Eddie Reynolds. In the front row is all the Johnson tech curly Lloyd Reynolds, Kenny King and Joe Peters. A school picnic at Beaver point school about 1914 in the back roll one and two are unknown. Number three is Mrs. PIAAC seniors. Four and five are unknown. And number six is Mrs. ruckle. Number seven is Elizabeth McLennan. Number eight is unknown. And number nine is Maggie. In the front row with the beard is Alexander McLennan, and Douglas then somebody Richards number four is toss up at Meg thought it was Johnny Pat burger and Bob increment thinks it's fall roll or Pete rolling so I don't know who it is. Number five and six are unknown. Number seven is George Stevens number eight Frank Reynolds and number nine veiny Stevens, and anybody else I didn't mention is I know an awesome probably will be people that could identify some of the others in that picture Alexander McLennan growing older. We had that beard from the time it grew originally until he died. The house about 1914 with two of the girls in the upstairs window

Unknown Speaker 20:53
this is the family of Alexander handled his first few and Robert, the eldest son of Alexander and Elizabeth McLennan. He died of good poisoning at age 21 in 19 one, and was the first person buried in Burgoyne churchyard. Here's his the tall Red Stone brought from Scotland around the horn. He got a scratch on the back of his hand, while helping a neighbor with some construction. Before it was healed, he worked in the peak metal below the house. The scratch healed over and nothing more was thought of it until you became ill Several weeks later. The doctor at the north end fight was finally sent for but it was too late. The doctor said that the P had gone into the scratch causing infection and the scratch being healed over no one thought of it as a cause of the illness.

Unknown Speaker 21:59
Alexander Edwards he went to Oregon as a young man married and raised his family have two daughters and one son there. He had a large sheep farm. Alan J accompanied out to Oregon as his housekeeper, where he met and married a cousin from Scotland and raised one daughter and two sons in Portland. Douglas Stewart remained on Saltspring he built or have built what is now southbound farm house for his bride Mae Piatt. They have one son Stuart who lives on the island. May Darwin Stewart was a young child and Douglas remarried. Jesse breath are married a son of Victoria pioneers al Williams. They lived in Vancouver where they raised three sons. My granddaughter, Karen Archer, who lives on the island. Jesse Williams is now 98 years old. She still lives independently in an apartment in Vancouver, does her own cooking and baking as well and is a marvelous conversationalist and Elizabeth, married a son of Victoria pioneers William Stewart. They lived in Victoria and later Vancouver where they raised two daughters and a son. The son Bill Stewart was killed in a logging accident on Moresby island in 1955. Agnes Cunningham running the projector is one of the daughters. Agnes was named for Agnes reco, who was a close and dear friend Margaret Kristina, better known as Maggie Lee. She married Hudson Lee, son of Saltspring Island pioneer advocate, because they were two Hudson's sons of brothers, Maggie's husband was heartsie Ed, while his cousin was hotsy. Ta, Maggie and Hudson Edie lived in the original empty house on Fulford Ganges road. It is the large white farmhouse you can see behind the holly farm and orchard. Only in the winter when the leaves are off the trees. And it's just as you come along the top again is Roadrunner about to go up the hill just before the bottom of the hill. After Hudson died about 1936 Maggie continued to farm there until the late 1950s When she sold the farm and retired to Victoria, Maggie and Hudson have two sons Arthur and Elmer Arthur was killed in World War Two. Elmer worked many years for BC Hydro and is now retired living in Victoria. Maggie died June 1989 H 93. Because this is a Saltspring Island family from two Saltspring Island pioneer families added items of interest and these wife Martha Pollard died leaving eight young children. He then employed his housekeeper and later married me Harry Potter, a widow from the ninth, she brought with her two children William and Polly. William Paterson returned to the island after working away for some years and bought the beaver point store. Later moving to Fulton. Pauline married Henry Rocco Jr. And they were the parents to Gordon Norman Nan and Helen. The lead girls for Laura, Bertha, Winnie, all paella and Lily, Winnie married sands of sands mortuary and Lily Mary Charles Mala Bertha married in North Andrew Ganges boy that I have seen as I read over the documents in the archive, but I can't remember who it was, but I think it was a wealth. This is the weed farm in 1930. As you can see, it's right below Baines P. This is a close up of the house at the same time. These two pictures were taken from a very, very large picture that I believe must have been photographed from the air. In the early days when bush pilots were coming in on forums and taking pictures. It was very hard to coffee and didn't come out very well. The eighth child in the McLennan family was Robert Murray. I'm sorry that I hadn't picture off him the only pictures that were in existence. Were him with other people. I should have taken one of them but I didn't I never thought of that at the time. He left home and was a carpenter in Vancouver. But in 1928 he heard that an attractive young woman was teaching at Beaver point school, so he came home on a holiday to have a look. It seemed to have been love at first sight although there was competition in the neighborhood. At any rate, Maria McLennan and Dorothy viewer were married the following October. They have two daughters and a son. After working in Vancouver for a couple of years, the family returned to Beaver point when Alexander died in 1932. During the Depression, Murray could not make a living on the farm. So when I think 3060 left Saltspring Island to work in Duncan. The farm was rented to the Chester K. Juanita Reynolds family for a few years and was sold in 1944. The Stevens Andrew and Peter bought it some years later and Peter's family still owns it. When Murray left the island and 1936 Elizabeth went to live with Maggie Lee. Alexander McLennan was an avid fisherman. Here he's getting his gear ready about 1950s He made his own flies from peacock feathers. We have quite a number of them still on hand. He delivered the mail in his buggy when beaver Point Road was not much more than a capitol trail 1886 to 19 Eight a family snapshot about 1926 standing and Stewart and Bill Stewart be Leonard in the front and Douglas McClellan behind Maggie Lee. Jesse Williams with the infant Kathleen Stewart. Maria McLennan, and ELF Williams seat it is Mrs. Allison from the meal. Kitty Allison less les McLennan Lawrence and Ted Williams and Alexandria.

Unknown Speaker 28:49
Alexandria Elizabeth McLennan celebrated their golden wedding wedding anniversary in September 1929. There were many well wishers, Reverend Allen on extreme right and mullets father was a very close family friend. Other familiar faces Agnes, kind of the blonde front row center. At the bottom there you can just see her hip Nam runkles To the right of Alec and Elizabeth Hudson and next to Reverend Allen. And directly behind Alec, sander and Elizabeth are Anne Marie and Dorothy. Maggie. Jessie Zahra Douglas, a second wife and Douglas. Alexander McLennan died in 1932 at the age of 87. He was ill for only a short time Alexander was a good farmer and worked hard to make his farm successful he contribute to contributed to his community and this is remembered as a fair and honest man at strict but kind and loving father. A family snapshot taken in 1940 on occasion of Elizabeth's birthday. Those in the snapshot, the back row first, Douglas, Jessie Sora, sort of behind Jesse Allen, also behind and with her hand over her face, Maggie, Dorothy and Marie and Marie's folding Robert in the front row is Beverly that listens or his adopted daughter, Jean Elizabeth McLennan, and Mary

Unknown Speaker 30:51
Glen shield farm as photographed by the real estate in 1944. After Maria left Saltspring Island, Elizabeth went to live with Magdalene. She died in 1941 at Maggie's house after a satisfying day working in the kitchen garden as she loved to do she went to bed that night and did not wake up and that's the view of Glenfield farm just before it was sold. And this is the same pretty well same position in 1988. As you see the houses you can see a little bit there but most of it's gone these are views of the remains you can see the stone foundation from the front of the house which was the root cellar and this is from a little further back

Unknown Speaker 31:59
and you can see how the logs have been shaped to fit together this this could be the long portion of the house another long portion I feel very sad when I see these pictures

Unknown Speaker 32:24
this is a view of the barn that Dimitri might save I will restore I'm hoping that he will be inside as this wonderful cement floor everything is all very stable it seems the props are there to hold it up. Obviously there must be something that's about ready to give this is the new barn not before night who can but not too much before another view of the barn

Unknown Speaker 33:01
and this is the other side

Unknown Speaker 33:07
this is so dumb farm Stan. The picture was taken when we were standing up by the barn. Now southbound farm is the house that was built or had built for his bride made pie and just beautifully restored that Jonathan yard

Unknown Speaker 33:32
I hope somebody can help me with this later on. This is Dorothy McLennan is the person on the on the left that's my mother and the rest of those teachers I presume somebody must have told me who they were at one time but I don't seem to have any record of it. These are all former teachers of beaver point school this is all yes

Unknown Speaker 34:08
this is beaver point or can store even point more than store probably taken from the ship or ferry or whatever. It was pulled into the dock. I actually think this is a better picture than the one that was made in the postcards. This came from Agnes collection there's some controversy over this. I thought it was the site pack but somebody told me that it wasn't that it's the Iraq war.

Unknown Speaker 34:48
It's 9664. The picture came from the Hamilton collection and the name is written on the back and and perhaps I'd forgotten then and it does say it requires like it's not your fault or the side pain

Unknown Speaker 35:07
and I think it's very much like the picture of the dome in the the the one of the postcards

Unknown Speaker 35:14
or whoever wrote on the back of the Hamilton's picture it's not correct come to the island

Unknown Speaker 35:31
and this is this is one of Bob examines pictures this is the dedication of St Paul's, which would be a ti 85 With over 100 years now oh no, no, this is an old old picture 1885 I believe this is for third grade. I also want to Bob increments pictures. The house in the background is the Sewell house which later became the Drummond house. Apparently school was an architect. But I have heard I think too many German that architecture was not up too much and

Unknown Speaker 36:24
and this is the first Fulford in

Unknown Speaker 36:34
well that's what Maggie said the third What is it the one is the private one the third one the White House is the fourth well this is the White House this is my third

Unknown Speaker 37:03
well that's good I'll find out well about these pictures that I have

Unknown Speaker 37:12
this is the earliest known picture of the we're going church the chimney has been moved now and is on the side there is vestry or front door area at the front the boundary was removed for many many years and is back up there one of our groups made a new one and put it up candidly least you can't see the road but across the road is the original Burgoyne school and of course you can see main seats in the background

Unknown Speaker 37:51
covered up oh, is it

Unknown Speaker 38:01
oh no, no, no, no, that restored house Oh, you mean it's in the back there somewhere. So that's that's the second burgling school. They restored that that's coming up. I think that's all Yeah, now there's three more pictures that didn't fit in that parasol with.

Unknown Speaker 38:48
This picture came from the United Church archives. And at UBC I got this and several others when I was when we were doing the project for the birthday. Actually, on the right of the in the original photograph, you can see the math which is now art in this house. And it seems like the road is in a different place. It seems like we're much closer to the front of the church. We're very fortunate that our role is not like that anymore. This is the school this is the one that's been renovated Israel home. Sharon Hawk was here in the renovated house. The think of the name of the people who did the work. The bump of the carpenters change the building. It's really quite beautifully done. These are the few to false, the date is up there. I don't know if you can see it. We think it's at 96 That would be the date that it was built and this is another picture of the same building with a beautiful car in front and that's I'm sorry that we had all that delay just to see pictures but that's the that's the end