Kincardine Ontario's
First Settlers 

Kincardine Ontario's First Settlers using a bit of savvy and some luck created a future for themselves and their families on the Lake Huron shoreline.

One hundred and fifty-four years ago, on March 5, 1848, two adventurous men set out on a voyage that would signal. the beginning of a new settlement on the Lake Huron shoreline. 

William Withers and Allan Cameron had spent the winter in Oxford County gathering supplies and preparing for life in the last unsettled region of what would become the Province of Ontario. As the end of winter approached, the brothers-in-law headed to the Lake Huron port of Goderich. There they anxiously awaited the breakup of the ice and good sailing weather. 

Early on the morning of March 5, 1848, Withers and Cameron boarded Captain McGregor's schooner and sailed northward to begin their adventure. The same day, McGregor dropped them on sandy stretch of land near the mouth of a river. 

As the two men stood on the beach surrounded by their gear, they must have stared at the heavily timbered lands crowding the shoreline and despite their excitement, may have been a little overawed by the tasks which lay ahead. They also knew they would be the first of a legion of settlers who would be soon arriving to call this place home. 

Their first objective was survival. Therefore, they needed a place to stay. They cleared brush, cut some trees and erected a crude shelter for their first night in the Upper Canadian wilderness. 

The next day, they began work on a more substantial dwelling. When completed, it would serve as a residence for Cameron and as a place of business. It would become an inn and tavern serving the needs of the wave of settlers that soon would arrive. 

Meanwhile, Withers walked the river's edge looking for a suitable place to build a sawmill that could serve the needs of the settlers. A short distance from the mouth, he discovered a narrows, which, when dammed, could provide the power to run the mill. The mill was complete and ready for business in early 1849, but there was a stumbling block on the horizon. 

In their rush to get the mill ready, they had neglected to secure waterpower rights from the Crown Lands Agent in Goderich. Once the agent became aware of the mill, he issued an order to Withers requiring him to comply with regulations or move his mill. 

Nature Provides a Little Bit of Luck

Fate provided Withers with his answer for the land agent. Heavy rain and a mild spring created a flood on the river. The raging torrents ripped the mill from its location and carried it downstream. For Withers, the situation was simple. He moved his mill to a new location just east of the town plot on Concession 2 south of the Durham Road. When the prospective settlers arrived, Withers' mill became a successful business. 

On March 5, 1848, William Withers and Allan Cameron became the first settlers in the area that would become the Bruce County town of Kincardine. 

A version of this story first appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on April 3, 2002.

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Bruce County History

Bruce County history is rich with stories about the development of communities along the Lake Huron shoreline and shaped by memorable events and the people.

The "Battleship By-Election" was the result of a debate that embroiled all of Canada but was settled in a rural region of southwestern Ontario prior to the First World War.

Bruce Road 3: A Colonization Road linked prospective settlers to undeveloped Crown Lands and a new life.

British Peerage a Source for Township Names. It is interesting to check the origin of the names bestowed on pioneer places such as towns, townships and counties.

Chesley Ontario Welcomes the Krug Brothers who were looking for a place to make their future and their fortune. They were not only successful, but they made significant contributions to the social fabric of their adopted home town.

Billy Crawford: Pioneering Spirit Personified. If you take the time to consider the people you have met during your life you too may know or have known, someone with pioneering spirit just like Billy Crawford.

Frozen Rivers & Lakes can be Hazardous: Icy waterways offer many benefits such as ice fishing, but beware weak, or thin ice is not easily detected and can spell disaster.

Kincardine Ontario's First Settlers using a bit of savvy and some luck created a future for themselves and their families on the Lake Huron shoreline.

The Krug Impact on Chesley Ontario was immense not only in terms of the community's social fabric but with regards to community's economic growth.

Wilfrid Laurier: Despite the town's best efforts to make Wilfrid Laurier's visit a memorable occasion, it would be clouds of dust that would remind the Prime Minister of  the Lake Huron community.

Mildmay Ontario overcame competition from other communities to claim its spot in Carrick Township on an important settlement route to the Lake Huron shoreline.

Pioneer Diaries provide Interesting Information about many topics, but sometimes information about the weather can be quite surprising!

The pioneer settlement in Arran Township was completed in 1851. The survey crew had been impressed, by the cheap cost and the potential of the land, that two members of the team, George Gould and Richard Berford, took up plots of land. 

Port Elgin Ontario Started with a Storm. A ship forced to seek refuge from Lake Huron's stormy wrath signalled to one man the idea of starting a new community.

Southampton's early history was a time of identity crisis, and with a connection to an early Arctic mystery story. 

Southampton Ontario Suffered a Major Fire in 1886: The havoc was created by a furious high wind storm that spread the flames over much of the town.

Tara Ontario's Mill Started the Village Economy and with the entrepreneurial and inventive genius of one man the community prospered!

Walkerton Ontario: The Beginning of this Bruce County town is the result of the drive and determination of one man, Joseph Walker.