header updates & additions
Family Tree Family Lore guestbook Links Contact


The Family in Canada

John and Agnes Darroch were seven weeks and three days on a sailing vessel crossing the Atlantic to Montreal. Here they borrowed enough money from a Captain Milloy, a cousin of John's mother, to continue on their way. They went by boat to Oakville, and , as there were no railways in that part of Ontario then, they took a stage to Stewarttown and walked the remaining fifteen miles to Erin. They chose Erin as their destination because John had a number of his mother's brothers and sisters in the neighbourhood. He worked as a blacksmith for John Walker for two years and then bought him out. He ran the business for eleven more years until the shop burned down. The house he lived in is still standing across a small stream some distance behind the first store on the west side of the main street of Erin. The first six of their children were born there. In fact, Agnes Darroch had a child , including a pair of twins, born in each even year from 1850 to 1876, making fifteen in all. The first William, born in 1860, lived for a year, and there was a James born sometime in 1872, but his birth was not recorded.

John Darroch's business in Erin consisted not only of general blacksmithing, but he also made wagons. While there he was a school trustee and became a member of the church of the Disciples of Christ. At that time in Erin there was about a dozen taverns and he did not want his children to be influenced by them. He had already bought 200 acres of land ( two farms ) at Cotswald, five miles from Harriston on what is now Highway #9, in Minto Township, and after the fire he moved there. Possibly his brothers and sisters were already there. In any case three brothers, John, James and Hugh and two sisters, Margaret and Janet, with their wives and husbands, were on adjoining farms on opposite sides of the Highway. Mary, who was married to George Walker, remained in Erin and died about 1865. She is buried in the old cemetery a mile north of Erin. Catherine also stayed in Erin.

Archibald Darroch and his wife, Mary Milloy, came to Cotswold with their children. He did not live long in Canada. He was 74 in 1862 and he died at ' over 70 years of age '. But he did preside as precentor at church meetings in his new country. Mary, ' Granny Darroch '. lived to be 94 years old. Born in 1797, she died February 26, 1891. For some time she lived in the original log cabin on the farm of her daughter, Margaret Reed, with her unmarried, youngest son, Archibald. He died at an early age, under 40, from tuberculosis. Margaret Reed's son, Robert played in the cabin with his grandmother and caught the disease also. He grew up with a deformed spine. That may also have been the source of the infection of Catherine Darroch Ross who died of tuberculosis of the bone in 1894, leaving a son, three years old and twins a year old. The oldest boy, Stanley, stayed with his father but the twins, John and William, were separated. Each went to his namesake grandfather, John Darroch and William Ross. Little William died soon after from dysentry contracted from eating apples contaminated by pigs on the farm. John Ross grew up to be a doctor.

Archibald and Mary Darroch with their son Archibald, William Greenlees, father of Agnes Darroch, some of the Reeds and probably an infant son of John Darroch are all buried about 100 yards from the road in an unmarked graveyard on the line fence between the second and third farms east of the Cotswold church corner. The third farmhouse is on the left side, going west, near the bend in the highway. Tradition says that there are about a dozen burials there. At one time there were markers on the graves, but as they weathered and toppled over, the farmer propped them up against the fence and eventually they were taken away. The only indication of the graves, lately, has been a few burnt stumps of trees and a growth of orange lilies that are commonly found in cemeteries.

After john Darroch moved to Cotswold he built a blacksmith shop on the corner of his farm and carried on his trade as well as working his land. The early houses were log cabins but eventually more substantial houses were built. John Darroch built his large, white brick house about 1880. On the corner, diagonally across to the smithy was the first school. Here on Sundays, he ministered without pay to a large congregation, composed, probably, of the numerous members of the Darroch families, along with a few neighbours. He was also a member of the County Council for many years, being deputy reeve for two years and reeve for eight years. In 1892 he retired to Harriston and the farm was taken over by his second son, Archibald. In 1972 the farm was sold by Archibald's grandson, Archie Calder, after being in the family for 110 years. John Darroch died in Harriston April 6, 1910. Agnes Darroch died May 4th, 1928, aged 98 years and 7 months. They were both buried in Harriston Cemetery.

Katherine Darroch ( she spelled it with a ' C ' but they called her ' Kate '. ) was the oldest child of Archibald Darroch. She married Edward Stephens March 17th, 1857, when she was 36 years old. He may have been married before. He was born in Dublin of Roman Catholic parents who wanted him to become a priest but he joined the British Army and spent some time with his regiment in Gibraltar. Katherine and Edward may have lived in Erin village because a son John D. Stephens wrote that he spent the first twenty-five years of his life in the West Corner of Erin. John became a Disciple of Christ minister and wrote many articles of pioneer life, some in poetry, for the Erin Advocate. He was related to a large proportion of the farming community through the Milloys who were some of the first settlers and had large families. In 1910 Katherine was living in the village of Orton. She died November 20th, 1912.

Hugh Darroch married Margaret Bolton. It was on his farm that the old graveyard was established. The land in general on the farms is flat and may be wet at times. At this spot there is a small knoll that is better drained. He and his family of five sons and two daughters went west. He died in Douglas, Manitoba in 1895.

James Darroch came to Canada in 1854. His wife, whom he married here, was Isabelle Campbell MacMillan, who was born Isabelle Campbell in Paisley, Scotland. She came to Canada as a small girl and her father died on the way over. She was adopted by her uncle, Hugh MacMillan. All of their children were born in Minto Township. In 1882 they moved to Elmore, Saskatchewan, and settled on a homestead, living at first in a sod house. James died January 19th, 1915, and Isabelle died October 21st, 1920.

Janet Darroch married Robert Brown. They left Cotswold and went to Port Sydney, in the district of Muskoka. To-day that is ' holiday country ' with a few pockets of fertile soil among the granite ridges and lakes of the Laurentian Shield. In those days it was an important lumbering area. They had a large family and many of them still live in the area around Huntsville.

Margaret Darroch married Robert Reed. Quite a number of the family spell the name ' Reid '. In 1886 the Reeds moved to farms eastward in the Arthur and Everton area. For seven years other families were on the farm at Cotswold and in 1893 it was bought by the father of Abe McComb, then four years old. Abe McComb later married Jennie Reed and Reeds were once more in possession. Abe McComb finally gave up the farm in 1967.

This ends the saga of these descendants of Mulmorich Darroch as far as it can be learned to-day. Possibly more facts will turn up at some time to fill in the gaps.

Most genealogies in North America begin with the first ancestor to migrate to this continent. Except for listing the generations as far as possible, this one will have to end with the brief biographies of those who were born in Scotland and came to this country. Any further biographies will have to be the work of some members of the different branches of the family tree. The first families born in Canada had as many as fifteen children. Now families are small. Times have changed. In pioneer times a large family was a great help in clearing the land and working it. For the children schooling was sparse and sporadic. Most of them lived on farms in Ontario and the west. Now the latest generations have a wide variety of vocations that require much more formal education and many work in the cities.

This family history may help the grandchildren's grandchildren to understand the cultures that their forebears left in the old land and came to in the new country. It will help them to learn that they are the descendants of the Picts and Scots whom the Romans with all their legions could not conquer. The have a heritage to be proud of.

The following article, published by the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, was the result of a discussion with other members about the scarcity of Darroch names in Scotland and Canada, in spite of large families. Of about 1155 names listed of Archibald Darroch's descendants, only 144, or one-eighth, are males who carried the Darroch name. According to the article, in five generations five out of 62, or about one-twelfth, should carry the name. The Darrochs in Canada were about 50% over theoretical average.

» back to history Table of Contents