am fortunate in being able to give you this week a letter from
Mr. Charles Beauchamp of Port Rowan, the last survivor of an
enterprise in early days of St. Williams area.
Beauchamp is in his 85th year but writes an interesting letter
in fine English script. I will see that it is placed among the
valuable papers of the Norfolk Historical Society. I give you
his letter in full:
part of July in 1912, an ad was in the English Daily Mail for
men wanted as prospective settlers by the Dominion Syndicate
Settlement Association, to go to St. Williams, situated on the
shores of Lake Erie, Ontario, Canada.
bought from local farmers and fruit trees were planted by the
company. [D.S.A.] settlers were to buy the land, also houses
and, by hard work, in the course of years, prosper and make good
At the age
of 23 years I was anxious to better myself from 21 shillings per
week. The company in St. Williams was offering $1.00 per day,
which was good pay for 62 years ago. I went to visit Mr. Walter
Fielding in St. James Square, London, England. He said at the
interview that he wanted me, who had seven years experience as a
gardener, to go at once to St. Williams, Norfolk County, to look
after the greenhouses and push plants already for planting on
those days by train and boat from Blackheath, Kent, England to
St. Williams, Ontario was 7-10 pounds or about $37.50 in
On [23 Jul
1912], two other men and myself landed at St. Williams. The
train arrived at St. Williams from Hamilton at 8 p.m.
of lighted streets to pitch dark streets [it] was quite an
experience to keep on the very narrow sidewalks. Mr. Charles
Bates kept the hotel at St. Williams and there we slept for the
night. A request for something to eat at that hour of the
evening brought a reply that nothing was served after hours but we
could have all the ale or spirits we needed.
McCall of Queen St., St. Williams came and had an introduction
A very good
bed and lovely breakfast was provided. The waitress was Miss
morning, Alfred Tomlinson, the [D.S.A.] manager, came and
visited us and took us to our boarding house at Mr. and Mrs.
Richard Watts'. Here we had the best of board for $4 per
job was to hoe corn and the new-found friend was Mr. C. Rokeby,
who was taking a course at Guelph.
greenhouse which I was to look after never was erected. The
metal rafters laid on the ground at Mr. Nixon's house on the
front road. This house, until a few years ago was owned by Mr.
and Mrs. Lou Lipsit.
growing cucumbers and these were picked every day and shipped to
required a short cut from Queen St. to the front road. So we cut
a sand road through so a horse and democrat could use it and
save time going through the village. At the time we named the
road Piccadilly after the great namesake in old London.
tractor was bought at the time, but no one was ever able to use
Many of the
old friends of 1912 were killed in the war.
testing ground was at the southeast corner of the new-made road.
We found some very fine people, kind hearted and hard working:
Professor Alfred Tomlinson of the [Ontario Agricultural College
at Guelph]; Mr. Warren McDonald, the sash and door maker at
McCall's factory; Mr. Nat Jilly [sic, actually Nathaniel
Jolly] one of the finest cabinet makers; also Mr. Harley
ministers of the churches made a special welcome to us
minister, Rev. Schofield, walked from Port Rowan to St. Williams
then on to Forestville, [then] back to Port Rowan every Sunday,
a distance of 16 miles.
Brock, now Mrs. Harold Jackson of Simcoe, and Miss Kathleen
Brock, widow of the late F. W. M. Ross of Simcoe, were very
anxious to get us boys to attend the Anglican Church --
minister, Rev. Bloodworth.
Huyke and John Cope, the postmaster at St. Williams, gave us a
special plea to join the Methodist Church.
Mrs. Beauchamp and I have been members of the United Church at
Port Rowan. We have spent a happy life and will soon celebrate
our 60th wedding anniversary."
like to add, that Mr. Beauchamp married Bessie McCall, a
descendant of one of the early settlers of Norfolk.
I had an
early interest in the [D.S.A] settlement at St. Williams; Alf
Thomlinson was a classmate of mine and close friend. C. C.
Rokeby, also an O.A.C. graduate, later farmed at Port Rowan and
we did not know more of soil management in those days. The
[D.S.A settlement at St. Williams] might [still be] flourishing
F. W. M.
Ross came from Crosse and Blackwell in England and was
[owner-manager] of the St. Williams Jam Factory. He made jam,
100 pounds sugar and 100 pounds strawberries. Berries were 5
cents a quart and sugar 5 cents per pound.
afraid many of the D.S.A. settlers were just starved out.