The Emigrant Woman in the 1850s

The Female Emigrant's Guide: Cooking with a Canadian Classic
Cover for The Female Emigrant’s Guide: Cooking with a Canadian Classic

To consider pioneer living in Derby Township in the 1850s and 1860 from the point of view of Jean Stewart Fleming and her daughters, there may be no better resource than Catherine Parr Traill’s The Female Emigrant’s Guide published in 1855. Traill wrote this guide explicitly to help women manage the difficult and unfamiliar conditions in Canada West in order to procure, harvest, and prepare foods for their families whether living deep in the bush or on a cleared farm. From her experience during her first  twenty years in Canada , Traill could advise women on everything from salting pork, storing potatoes, making  dandelion coffee, or furnishing a log cabin.

Titled Catharine Parr Traill’s The Female Emigrant’s Guide. Cooking with a Canadian Classic, this edition of 2017 from McGill Queen’s University Press was edited by  Nathalie Cooke and Fiona Lucas, both with academic and culinary credentials.   It includes the 1854 first edition of Traill’s guide with explanatory notes, and an equally sized supplement providing background and explanation of the “foodways of the period”.  The editors expand on Traill’s life and writings to describe the foods, availability of supplies, type of menus, measuring practices and tools, and much else to help the reader in the 21st century have a greater appreciation of the period.  Moreover, the editors help the curious prepare historical recipes adapted to current materials and cooking arrangements.

Catharine Parr Traill’s general guidance on life and housekeeping in Canada West and her carefully written instructions on food stuffs and preparation show us how extremely capable pioneer women had to be to feed their families and survive themselves.

“The pioneer’ wife’s knowledge and capabilities had to extend far beyond the home, the kitchen and the promotion of gracious and thrifty living – ideally, she must also be competent in the garden, in the fields, with the animals, as nurse and mid-wife, as manufacturer of clothing, and in emergencies, she must have hands as strong and head as clear as a man’s”. [Quoted from Clara Thomas, “Happily Ever After”.  (Pg xxvii)]

Traill provides practical advice on clearing the land – underbrush in the fall, and chop large timber in the winter, then pile appropriately to burn well. This advice she obtained from her brother Sam Strickland, and included in her book so that women, on whom so much fell, would know too. (p. 49)

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Harvey Gladstone Fleming (Pte)

One more Fleming went to war. Harvey Gladstone Fleming, 21 years old, living in Kilsyth, Derby Township, responded to the Country’s now more fevered call for volunteer recruits.

He went even though he was a farmer. Farmers were usually discouraged from enlisting because of the importance of food production; and under the Military Service Act of 29 August 1917 they were exempt from conscription.   In

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Recruitment Poster c 1916. Coutesy of Toronto Public Library

fact at Vimy in April 1917, only 6% of the men who fought were farmers; clerical workers made up 19% and manual workers 65%.(1)

Born 17 September 1895, Harvey was the son of John and Emma Fleming (John farmed 50 acres on Concession 9 Lot 11), and grandson of Alexander “Sandy” Fleming.

Like many other Fleming men he was of fair complexion, blue (or hazel) eyes, and light brown hair. He was a bit taller than others  at 5 feet 10 inches, weighing 145 pounds.

He was attested on 24 January 1917 into the 248th Grey Overseas Battalion.  By mid-1917 he was in England in the 8th Reserve Brigade. During training he was hospitalized for a mild case of mumps for two weeks (10-July-1917 to 1 August 1917).

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George Donald (G.D.) Fleming (Maj)

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147th Battalion at Camp Borden, 1916. Courtesy South Grey Museum

Another Fleming to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force for World War 1 was George Donald (G.D.) Fleming, son of C.A. Fleming and Margaret Donald. When he left in 1916 as an officer in the 147th Grey Owen Sound Battalion, he was 27 years old, (born 22 October 1889), had a wife Alice Naomi Beaton, and a daughter “Peg” of 16 months.

He was a “secretary treasurer” by profession according to the attestation record – probably at the Northern Business College his father had founded in Owen Sound.

A man of medium height at 5 feet 9 inches, weighing 165 pounds, he had a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair. George had been in the 31st Regiment militia for seven years. Feeling a very powerful loyalty to King and Country  and having seen his militia colleagues leave, he enlisted with the  76th Battalion 13 November 1915 (date of attestation)  for training at its Niagara Camp. He transferred to the  147th Grey Overseas Battalion 1 January 1916. Official papers show that he enlisted for overseas  service with the rank of Captain (3 February 1916).   It was the practice to direct troops from training into reserve battalions  in England and from there move men into a Division as needed. Continue reading

Fleming Descendants in World War One

poppy-pixabay-2754984_960_720As we pause to remember the 1917 on Remembrance Day 2017, this blog posting recognizes seven men in the Fleming Family Tree who were soldiers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War 1. The digitization by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) personnel service files and the War Diaries in which are recorded the daily events of the battalions give us access to a great deal of information. Four Fleming members fought in France and survived; three were very lucky and never saw action. No lives were lost. Continue reading

Rural Diaries

Good news: The Rural Diary Archive, a project at the University of Guelph to showcase rural life in Ontario 1850 to 1900 through diaries, has added two Fleming diaries to its online collection. Many thanks to the Library and Department of History at the University of Guelph.

Jennie Fleming kept a diary of her trip by train to Toronto and Bowmanville in June 1869, and jotted some notes about her return voyage from Marquette, Michigan in 1871. Her profile page is at https://ruraldiaries.lib.uoguelph.ca/jean-jennie-fleming

Roy Fleming, her nephew, when only 12 years of age, kept a short entry diary throughout 1891, the year his mother died. It’s poignant and informative about rural living from a young person’s view.  https://ruraldiaries.lib.uoguelph.ca/roy-franklin-fleming

Scans of both diaries are available, as well as transcriptions of the content accompanied by explanatory notes.   Click on the Browse tab to locate the images and transcriptions.

More diaries  can be easily discovered by reviewing the list of diarists.   Filter by county, ethnicity, religion or occupation.

For Meaford in Grey County, Mary (Williams) Trout appears. Married to James Trout, a land agent in Trout and Jay and a prominent member of the Church of  Disciples of Christ, she also figures into Fleming Family history because her sister, Elizabeth, married William Fleming. Mary kept a diary from 1867 to 1920 about her family, the church, and activities. Occasionally  Mary mentions her sister “Lib”, children Lincoln and Ottie,  and trips to Owen Sound. The Rural Diary Archive has posted the 1867 diary. The complete set  of scans and transcriptions is online at the Grey Roots Museum and Archives site: Mary Williams Trout: Diaries of a small town lady.

 

Some Updates

We have not foresaken the family history.  Gradually we are making progress through the period 1850 to 1900 during which the Flemings of Derby built up their farms, founded new businesses, and raised their children.  This website will carry shorter versions of the family annals.  Two are available now. If you have more information about the Fleming family please comment on this blog to connect with Ruth Larmour. We thank those who have done so already.

  • Isabella Fleming and Abraham Finch : the family tree (chart) has been updated to fill in some blanks for life dates and children’s names.
  • Janet Fleming – or as she preferred to be called – Jessie, and James Agnew : Jessie’s biography with capsule accounts for the children is now available and the family tree has been updated for new findings.

The Fleming family tree is also being built out in Ancestry.ca and now has some photos.  This is a public tree for easier viewing – the  only challenge is to get the hang of Ancestry’s display.

A full biography of Roy F. Fleming, Charles’s son – a man of many talents and capabilities as artist, historian, and teacher, is also available as a download. This was written for Grey Roots Archives in 2016.

Clan Stewart Camp

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During the 1900s the Fleming family formed a deep and abiding love for the Fishing Islands at Oliphant, on the Lake Huron side of the Bruce Peninsula.  Attracted by the rugged nature of the islands, the abundant fishing, and the beautiful blue waters, they established camps in the very early 1900s on Main Station, Little Squaw, Sunset, Frog, and others.  Clan Stewart Camp on Little Squaw continues as a family gathering place. Roy Fleming, Ruth Larmour’s grandfather, and Roy’s Aunt Jennie bought this parcel of land in 1909 on Indian Channel and built a Victorian cottage.  They named their cottage Clan Stewart Camp after Jennie’s mother, Jean Stewart Fleming. The cottage has been modified a few times since, but its porch is still a favourite place for lounging in the afternoon.

The story of the early Fleming campers, their descendants, and of Clan Stewart Camp is told in “The Fleming Family – Early Oliphant Campers'” published in the Yearbook Edition 2017 of the Bruce County Historical Society.  Ruth Larmour is the narrator  with tales of early cottage life, the changing connections of family with the islands, and her own deep attachment.

Read the full article at  Fleming-Oliphant-Version3a-2017.pdf (in Dropbox)

 

Birth, Marriages, and Deaths

Much can be learned from the announcements in newspapers for births, marriages, and deaths. For  marriages, in addition to the names of married couple, the  location, and name of the presiding minister,  the notice might mention the number of guests and names of attendants.  Birth notices were much less informative – limited in most cases to the father’s name, the date, and the gender.  Obituaries vary widely, from a sparse  statement of  name, date, place, to more effusive ones with a brief biography and names of immediate family.

For the Fleming families of Derby Township and Owen Sound we turn to the papers published in Owen Sound from 1850 onward.  Thankfully, the Bruce and Grey Branch Ontario Genealogy Society has transcribed these announcements to CD ROMs that may be purchased from the branch or may be viewed at the Toronto Public Library, the Owen Sound Public Library, and perhaps others.  [Price list: https://brucegrey.ogs.on.ca/?page_id=62 ] Continue reading

Derby Township Assessment Rolls

In investigating the lives of our ancestors much can be inferred from the tax assessment rolls.  In researching the Flemings of Derby Township we can see  acquisition of acreage, clearance of forests for pasture and crops, and the growing value in real property. Five of Alexander’s sons (James, John, Alexander II, Donald, and Charles), and his son-in-law (James Agnew)  became established as farmers. William, the sixth son, left his farm and moved to Owen Sound in the early 1880s.

Assessment rolls were completed annually by the township in order to determine taxes payable by its residents.

Assessment rolls are used to record information about a resident’s property in order to determine the amount of taxes payable on real property.  The following information is recorded: land and building value; status as residence or business, religion (for school taxation purposes), age, and occupation of head of household and number of people living on the property.  Other information is collected from time to time reflecting local or provincial requirements. [Source: Finding Municipal Record, Research Guide 209, Archives of Ontario]

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Diary of Young Roy

Among the Fleming family papers is a diary that Roy F. Fleming, son of Charles and Lyda Warren, kept in 1891 when he was a boy of twelve living on a farm near Kilsyth in Derby Township.  It was a sad and tumultuous year for him and the Fleming family. The greatest tragedy was that his mother died  in March while receiving treatment at the Kellogg Sanatorium in Battle Creek, Michigan. Roy with his two older brothers, Howard and Stuart, and two younger sisters, Ruth and Annie,  carried on working with their father on the farm and in his general store, going to school and to church. Charles’ sister “Aunt Jennie” stepped in to help raise the young children.

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Front page of Roy Fleming’s 1891 Diary

Roy recorded his diary in a journal printed by  C.A. Fleming,  Roy’s cousin, for the Northern Business College, Owen Sound. Continue reading