Cat No.: CA0146:
I propose to write a history of the County of Perth, in order that those whom futurity will bring may know the story of pioneer life in this portion of Canada. So begins William Johnston's thoughtful and detailed history of this section of the great Huron Tract. Published in 1903 it recounts the events which took place but a mere 70 odd years before, bringing the advantage of relative freshness, and even living memory, to the account.
Perth County's beginnings are a little different to those of the more easterly districts of Upper Canada in that its land allocation, and so settlement, was made the responsibility of the Canada Company, and they decided to discharge this responsibility by initially using a system of land allocation described as leasehold as opposed to the more conventional direct sale, or freehold system, employed elsewhere. The importance of this is that it enabled settlement by pioneers who had little or no actual material wealth other than a strong back and a dream of carving their own farm from the wilderness. The early chapters of William's book explain all of this in some detail, pointing out both the advantages and the disadvantages of the system, even though he makes no bones about favouring it.
Having dealt with these early details the author settles down to follow the development of the county in many detailed aspects leading, inevitably to a discussion of the founding and growth of each of the significant centers of population including giving credit to those who took a leading part in the process.
Finally, more than 10% of the book is given over to what are more normally termed Biographies of the early settlers, although Mr. Johnston calls them sketches. There are several composite photographs of the leaders of various administrations.
This is a fine, detailed, well constructed and illustrated history of the county rich with information on civic development and naming many, perhaps all, of the bold pioneers who played their own part in the development of Perth County.
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FastFind: Yes; ISBN No.: 978-1-897405-37-6 ;