Page 6 James and Margaret’s Other Children- McLean emigrants to Canada

Three of James Douglas and Margaret Christon‘s daughters left Scotland in the early 1830’s. Grace had been put to shame, as I discovered in my search of the Kirk Sessions for a clue to her brother Charles and the mystery of his unrecorded marriage. On February 26th 1815 “Grizal Douglas in Mid-Lethendy an unmarried woman acknowledged that she is with child and after being admonished gave up Wm McLean farmer in Milnrodgie…” both were rebuked till 5th November 1815.

Through RootsWeb I made contact with Norah McLean, near Calgary, Alberta, Canada. From her I learned that Grace had emigrated to Canada. Apparently she had given birth to a son named John McLean, (though his birth is not to be found in the OPR) as a result of her liaison with William McLean. Grace and son John McLean emigrated to Canada. William may have married her as later Grace is described as a widow although I think this unlikely. She didn’t marry anyone else.

The Kirk Sessions for Monzie (CH2/654/7) tell us that Gilmerton village included a labourer named Alexander McLean with 3 in his family and there was also William McLean at Gilmerton, who was blind, with two people in his family. William died on 21st September 1842. His wife was Margaret. Presumably it was the same William who received poor money on August 7th 1837 of 2 shillings and 6 pence (CH654/6).

Her sister Margaret Douglas had also emigrated after her husband John McRobbie (married in 1808) died. According to Nora McLean four sons travelled first (the eldest, James, having died in Scotland) via Quebec and mother came later. The McRobbies and McLeans were at Puslinch Township,Wellington South, Ontario. The Dictionary of Scottish Emigrants lists Margaret Douglas and her children leaving Scotland in 1832, bound for Quebec. Brief biographical information is given for each. I am deeply indebted to the Puslinch Historical Society and to Norah for most of the information on the Canadian side of the family. The Blacks, McLeans, McRobbies and Camerons were certainly in Pulinch County, Ontario in 1840. There are partial lists of emigrants available on the internet and in books but these do not list any of our relatives.

The other sister, Isobel Douglas, also emigrated. She married Thomas McEwen from Fowlis Wester, the banns read there in May and on June 7th 1821 at Monzie (Census 357/0040 0003).Isobel and Thomas don’t seem to have had any children. The 1851 Puslinch census includes Isabella McCuen, aged 65 (giving a birth year around 1786- certainly compatible with Isabel Douglas). Maurice Rhodes in Canada found the gravestone at Burgoyne Cemetery, Arran Township, Bruce County, Ontario of Isabella Douglas, aged 97, native of Perthshire, Scotland which confirms it is her!

Family Tree of John McLean:

John McLean Family Tree continuation (P48):

I have been gathering more information on this side of the family and when I have it completed will re-present the trees above in a more satisfactory way.

Grace Douglas and her McLean Descendants

An 1851 census of Canada includes Grace Douglas, a widow, aged 61, living in Puslinch County. She may have been living at Nassagaweya Township in 1845 as her son was there at the time.

Her son John McLean married a girl born in New Brunswick named Rhoda Black. Tragically, Rhoda’s father died when she was young (drowning after which her mother moved the whole family from New Brunswick to Ontario). For some reason Rhoda required permission of the Governor-General of Canada to marry. Perhaps she was a ward of court because of her age when her father died.

John McLean had nine children by her but they did not settle for good in Puslinch. John made his mark in Puslinch before the move as a letter was addressed to him in 1856 by the Township Clerk regarding a proposal to build a school (Puslinch Historical Society). There were Blacks, McRobbies, Camerons and McLeans at Puslinch in 1840.

Although John and Rhoda had 9 children and 34 grandchildren the surname McLean itself was lost except in the line of John’s youngest son, also called John McLean.

Generation VI: family of Grace or Grisals Douglas

1. John McLean, 1815-1892

John McLean, born at Glenalmond in 1816.

John and Rhoda lost two children young, their third and seventh children. Young John was shot dead in a hunting accident at the age of ten. He was a twin of Alexander. As the panel to the side shows, Alexander died in his early 40s. The other young loss was daughter Rhoda, who died in 1861. The names of both these children were then given to later siblings.

The grave of Isabella Douglas; the other side marks her sister’s grave (from Maurice Rhodes)

Grave of Isabella Douglas, daughter of James Douglas and Margaret Christon

Photo of Alexander McLean, sheriff, who died tragically in a farm accident (source to follow):

Headstone marking the grave of Alexander McLean, the sheriff son of John McLean:

Generation VIII: Family of Clementina McLean and Robert Wishart

1. Mary Grace Wishart

2. Jessie Wishart, born 1874

3. John Wishart, born 1875

4. Alexander Douglas Wishart, born 1877

5. Margaret Ann Wishart, born 1880

6. George Wishart

7. Robert Touchwood Wishart, 1882-1962

8. William Archibald Wishart,1883 – 1967

9. Daniel Black Wishart, born 1885

10. Clementina Wishart, 1887-1960

The 1911 census of Touchwood, Assiniboia East, North West Territories, includes several of Clementina and Robert Wishart’s family members- Robert 9, William 7, Daniel 5, Clementina 4 and George 11/12 months. However, they are put down as the children of a Peter Brown, 45, and his wife Mary, 29 (I think). Also present were 6 Brown children.  This presents a bit of a mystery.

The image above shows the family on the 1901 census. By 1911 the census also featured John Wallwin and Clementina with their children.

On the 1921 census William Archibald Wishart was earning $1600 a year as a farmer. He and wife Catherine M Wishart lived at Main St, Ward 3, Dauphin, Dauphin, Manitoba. Also present was 3 year old daughter Olive. He later married Gertrude Ursula Gordon (November 22, 1911 in Winnipeg) and they were both listed as voters in Carleton, Ontario in 1962. William was retired. William died on 29th November 1967 in Hamilton, Ontario.

Other Generation VIII Grandchildren of John McLean and Rhoda Rebekah Black:

Alexander McLean married Margaret Barth and had a son and a daughter named Rhoda, born in 1890. Rhoda married Roy Chapman and had 5 children. They were Leigh (1914), Roy (1917), Margaret (1918), Robert (1922) and Lipscomb (1925).

Daniel McLean married Louisa Winterbottom and had 4 children, Lillian (1894), Daniel (1895), Dorothy (1901) and Grace (1909). Dorothy had a son, Richard Brunt.

Rhoda McLean married Duncan McCaig and had 6 children: John (1890), George (1894), Frank (1896), Duncan (1899), Grace (1901) and Frederick (1904).

Mary McLean married Alexander Anderson and had 8 children: MaggieEdwardJohn, a daughterRobertFredericWilliam and Henry. Frederic had a daughter, Edith.

I have not had a lot of success at tracing the family of Mary McLean and Alexander Anderson, though I have found a photo of their grave. They are buried at All Saints Anglican Cemetery, Duck Lake. I do know that in 1901 John McLean, described as a retired farmer was earning $400 a year. He was said to be blind. Living with him at Portage la Prairie, MacDonald, Manitoba were Maggie Anderson, James E Anderson, John Alexander Anderson and Alice M McRobbie (also known as Allison). These were his grandchildren. Where were their own parents?

Below is a newspaper account from a source in Canada who is a member of Ancestry. It tells of a fire at the Portage la Prairie home of Sheriff Alex McLean’s widow, Margaret Ernestine Barth. I understand she was known as Ernestine. I’m still trying to identify which Miss McRobbie was her housekeeper. I was a little confused that there were no children in the house as I know the couple had children but they must have been elsewhere for some reason.

I have uploaded the whole story below. I apologise for not naming my source- when I work out/what I will cite them.

John McLean and his descendants

The McLeans moved to Portage la Prairie in Manitoba in 1862 on the first journey of the steamship International (according to one source- another says they came overland. This seems more likely to me). John bought land to farm from a local Metis for $375. The First Presbyterian Church of Portage la Prairie notes that McLean and his family with Kenneth McBain and his family were the first to settle at that spot. These were the first farmers in what had been a hunting and trapping area populated mainly by Native Americans.  According to their website a Jack McRobbie is a 4th generation descendant of John McLean. McLean and McBain founded the first church there. ( According to the Manitoba Agiriculture Hall of Fame John had to fight off Native Americans who stole his horses.  Nonetheless he persevered and succeeded.

They did not have an easy time at first and the colony community wrote an appeal in May 1867 for protection and support to the British Government and its local representatives:

Being beyond the fifty miles limit from Fort Garry and the jurisdiction of the Council of Assiniboia. this settlement, containing a population of nearly five hundred, is totally without law or protection, civil or criminal, and entirely at the mercy of lawless hands of Indians and others.”  they wrote.

As this brought no response the local community decided to elect their own local government, with McLean as one of the three. Unfortunately there was soon division at Portage la Prairie with rumours circulated by a man named McPherson that resources were being diverted from a scheme to build a jail into buying alcohol. McPherson was arrested and was to be put on trial. This led to McLean taking his side as he objected to a Mr Spence (who wanted the area to become a republic) being in the position of accusing McPherson and declaring himself the judge of the trial in his own house. This illustrates the difficulties the fledgling colony had and the need for it’s position to be formalised by the government. The full text of the Manitoba History p212-220 but as it is an ebook and scanned there are some errors in places.

John was with his son Alex carrying the mail between Portage la Prairie and Fort Garry 1864 when they met a party of starving Native American Sioux whom he gave food to packed by his wife for the journey. The Manitoba History has a lengthy account of a fight in 1866 between John (who had been planting potatoes with his family at the time) and a man named Francis de Mouris who apparently was hot tempered and had difficulty coping with drinking (p181-189) which led to John’s son Alex facing trial for killing de Mouris and John McLean  bailed for £400. Clementine McLean is noted in this story as being a good shot. The trial in October at Fort Garry led to his acquittal. Alex must have been a determined man: the story goes that he was carrying a concealed firearm at the trial and had armed friends at the door. They were determined that he would escape if found guilty!

Manitoba History also tells of John standing guard over a Native American who was to be hanged next morning for stealing and killing horses (p238-9) leading to a close shave when the prisoner tried to escape. He did escape later from Fort Garry.

Later (p229) he got into an argument with Native Americans who were breaking branches off cherry trees to gather the fruit rather than just lifting it off.

Son Alex or Alec on finding part of a fence broken and horses missing recruited another man named Bartlet to help him recover them. This involved an armed confrontation with a group of Sioux.

John exhibited at the first Portage agricultural show in 1870 (The History of Agriculture in Manitoba (1812-2007), Morris Deveson- Manitoba Agriculture Hall of Fame).

Generation VII: Family of John McLean and Rhoda Rebekah Black

1.Clementina McLean, 1847-1892

2. Alexander McLean, 1849-1891

3. John McLean, 1849-1859

4. Mary McLean, 1851-1928

5. Margaret McLean, 1853-1941

6. Daniel McLean, 1855-1924

7. Rhoda Rebekah McLean, 1857-1861

8. Rhoda Rebekah McLean, born 1863

9. John McLean, 1866-1938

John and Rhoda had a daughter named Margaret McLean. Margaret subsequently married  John J McRobbie at Portage la Prairie in Manitoba in 1887. Thus, two grandchildren of sisters Isabella and Grace Douglas married each other. You may read about their family on the McRobbie page on this website. This John was born in Ontario, probably Puslinch County. His mother had three Cameron step-children as her husband had been married before.

Alex or Alec, referred to above, became sheriff of Portage la Prairie in 1889 but was killed in an accident at home only 2 years later. Nora McLean has very kindly supplied information on his death, which was located by researcher Pierre Gagne:

From the Manitoba Free Press – July 23, 1891 (page 2)
A Portage La Prairie Official accidentally killed near McDonald station Portage La Prairie – July 22 –  A telephone message has just come from
McDonald station with the sad news that Alexander McLean, sheriff of this
place, was killed this morning while assisting to bring a traction engine
from his farm to the station.  The engine got stuck in a mud hole and while
attempting to reverse the machine he was struck in the neck and killed
instantly.  He is a young man, about 40 years old, and leaves a wife and
family.  This is a great shock to the citizens, as he was held in very high
esteem. Later Particulars
Portage La Prairie – July 23 – The sad intelligence of the death of Sheriff
McLean at McDonald is the subject of conversation throughout the town.  It is
a great shock.  He has a large circle of relatives, and was a very popular
person, and has a host of friends.  He always took an active part in public
affairs, was a jolly sportsman, and a very benevolent citizen.  He was about
40 years of age and came to this city in 1862, and with his father, John
McLean, settled here.  He was a very successful farmer, and with his
partner, J. McRobie, carried on large farming interests at McDonald station.
He leaves a wife who is now prostrate with grief, and a child, a father,
sisters and brothers, who reside here. It appears Mr. McLean woke this morning at 4 o’clock on his farm.  He was
heard to say that he would be at Portage at 4 in the afternoon.  He started
with one of his hired men with a traction engine hauling a tank and a
seperator to McDonald station.  They got fastened in a mire hole and left
the seperator in the mire and brought on the tank and when attempting to
back up the engine so as to couple it with the seperator in some manner his
head got jammed and he was instantly killed.  The helper fell over in a
fainting fit and for a few minutes poor McLean was pinned by the head with
his companion under the influence of a fit.  When the assistant came to, he
opened his eyes only to see that death had come to his employer.  The body
arrived here about 4 o’clock.  The whole community extended their sympathy
to the bereaved relatives. As for his funeral, Nora has supplied the following: From the Manitoba Free Press – July 27, 1891Funeral of the late Sheriff McLean Largely attended

Portage La Prairie – July 25 – The funeral of the late Sheriff McLean took place here yesterday afternoon.  It was the largest ever held in the town, no less than 176 carriages helping to swell the procession.  The members of the bar attended in a body.  The coffin bore a floral wreath from Mr. and Mrs. W. J. James, a floral pillar from the members of the local bar, and a Maltese cross of flowers from Messrs. Martin and Curtis.  Services were held in Knox church, conducted by Rev. Allen Bell, D. D., of Beaver Dam, an old and intimate friend of the deceased.  The preacher delivered a eulogy on the life of the departed, and the service was very impressive.  It was a solemn sight to see the procession down the aisle of the church.  First came the pallbearers, Messrs. Judge Ryan, John Watson, J. McKenzie, M. Blake, John McDonald and W. Forsyth, bearing the coffin, followed by the young widow supporting the aged and blind father of the deceased.  The stores were closed and the town hall tolled during the funeral. 

Alex had been a twin with the first John McLean, who had died aged 10 in a hunting accident.

Other Generation VIII Grandchildren of John McLean and Rhoda Rebekah Black:

John McLean married Charlotte Edwards and had two children, John in 1893 and Daisy in 1895. Daisy had 7 children with Victor Bruce (Melville, Gladys, Hazel, Elizabeth, Grace, Reginald and Russell). John had 5 children with Louella Bell and 4 more with his second wife Margaret Laird.

John Alexander McLean was the grandson of the original John McLean. He was born in Portage la Prairie in 1893. He became a miller like his father (on the 1916 census he was described as an engineer but was working at his father’s mill). On 19th November 1917 he was assessed at Portage la Prairie for the army, being called up on 12th March 1918 at a very worrying point in the war for the Allies. Whether he actually made it to France I do not know. Anyway, we have a description of him from the call-up. He was 5 feet 8 and a half inches tall, medium complexion, blue eyed and brown haired. John’s number was 530720JC. His chest was broad, 40.5 inches, expanding to 45 inches, so he is likely to have been a strong man.

I have not had a lot of success at tracing the family of Mary McLean and Alexander Anderson, though I have found a photo of their grave. They are buried at All Saints Anglican Cemetery, Duck Lake. I do know that in 1901 John McLean, described as a retired farmer was earning $400 a year. He was said to be blind. Living with him at Portage la Prairie, MacDonald, Manitoba were Maggie Anderson, James E Anderson, John Alexander Anderson and Alice M McRobbie (also known as Allison). These were his grandchildren. Where were their own parents?

John McLean and his grandchildren (1901 census):

Below, drawing of Portage la Prairie in 1884: