The house at 1208 Oliver Street sits on a rocky eminence. The spacious residence originally occupied a six-lot property that backed onto Monterey Avenue. It was the home for more than fifty years of the Young family, Henry Esson Young (1862-1939), Rosalind Watson Young (1874-1962) and the four children they raised there.
Henry Esson Young was a physician who in 1903 was elected Member of the Legislative Assembly for Atlin, the gold-mining centre near the Yukon and Alaska borders. He held the seat until retiring from politics in 1915. In 1907 he was appointed both Minister of Education and Provincial Secretary in the Conservative government of Richard McBride. Dr. Young was a tireless instigator of social and institutional change. He is considered the founder of the University of British Columbia, established 1908. He was likewise responsible for the establishment of the Mental Hospital at Essondale, a locale named for him. He reorganized the province’s public education system; established a Normal School for teacher training in Victoria; reorganized the province’s civil service. In 1916 Dr. Young became secretary to the Provincial Board of Health and Provincial Health Officer, where he remained for more than 20 years. He is considered the founder of B.C.’s public health system. Under his direction, the province was the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to offer nursing degrees in public health.
Henry Esson Young had a dark side that seems to have changed the course of his life at two junctures. One may have started as a youthful indiscretion; it seems to have driven the young doctor to disappear for a decade. The other left a blot on Young’s admirable record as a public servant.
Rosalind Watson earned an M.A. in Geology from McGill in 1901, while teaching at Victoria High School. She published many papers on the geology of British Columbia and made significant inroads into that hugely male profession. She taught English to the first class of Victoria College in 1903. She co-authored a textbook, A History and Geography of British Columbia, published in 1906 and long a standard issue in the public school system. She was an organizer and the first president of the University Women’s Club of Victoria, in 1908. In 1941 she famously hosted Emily Carr’s seventieth birthday party and tribute, which the artist implied was the only recognition her work had ever received in her home town.
Henry Esson Young and Rosalind Watson both hailed from Huntingdon, Quebec, a farming district southwest of Montreal in the triangle between the St Lawrence River and the US border. Both attended at different times McGill University. The fathers of both were Presbyterian ministers from Scotland. Henry’s mother was born in Canada of immigrant Scots parents. Rosalind’s mother immigrated with her husband from Scotland.
This essay proceeds in a genealogical manner: backwards first, tracing the paternal and maternal lines of Henry and Rosalind. Where information is fragmentary we work indirectly. The narrative then goes forward to recount in turn their early lives, remarkable careers and family fortunes.
Henry’s paternal families — Young/Allan(?)
Henry Esson Young was the son of Rev. Alexander Young, a native of Ross-shire, Scotland — according to a biographical sketch — who “came to Canada in 1858, settling in Quebec and subsequently went to Ontario, where he pursued a course of study in the University of Toronto and in Knox College.”(1) He probably immigrated before 1858, since Presbyterian records have it that “Alex. Young” was ordained in the English River congregation on January 28, 1857.(2) We shall see that English River was Rev. Young’s parish for several decades.
1. British Columbia from the Earliest Times to the Present [By F. W. Howay & E. O. S. Scholefield], Volume 3, Biographical. Vancouver: S. J. Clark Publishing Company, 1914. http://archive.org/details/britishcolumbiaf00schouoft. Pp. 915-7. ¶ 2. Minutes of the Fifth Session of the Synod of the Canada Presbyterian Church, held in Montreal, June 6-15, 1865. Toronto, C.W: Observer Book and Job Printing Office, 1865. static.torontopubliclibrary.ca/da/pdfs/37131055425821d.pdf. P. 249.
Alexander’s Ross-shire roots are uncertain. There is an 1822 birth record in Avoch parish, Ross and Cromarty [shire], for Alexander Young, son of Alexander Young, tenant at Pitfure, and Christian Allan.(1) No records have surfaced that link those families with the minister, although the birth year squares with Henry’s father’s stated age at death.(2) There’s nothing to explain when, why or how Alexander came to Canada.
1. Old Parish Register (O. P. R.) Births 059/00 0020 0009 Avoch. scotlandspeople.gov.uk. A son, James, was born to the same parents in Avoch or May 28 , 1825. Enumerated in the 1841 census was a family in Avoch that included Alexander Young, a farmer, age 50, Alexander, 18 and James, 15. ¶ 2. B.C. Death Registration #1899-09-046389.
Henry’s maternal families — McBain/MacDonald/Davidson/Ogilvie
Henry’s mother was Ellen McBain. Her father’s family history is relatively well-documented; he immigrated from Inverness-shire, Scotland to the Huntingdon area of Quebec early in the 19th century. Her mother seems to have been born in the Huntingdon area of parents who emigrated from Dundee, Scotland during the same period.
Ellen’s tangled lineage is suggested in a 1960 grant of arms embedded in a Wikipedia article on Clan MacBain:
To all and sundry whom these presents do or may concern, We, Sir Thomas Innes…….Lord Lyon King of Arms, send Greeting; Whereas; Hughston Maynard McBain of McBain, Chief of the Name and hereditary head of the Clan McBain…….. ……………; That the Petitioner’s said father, born 1863 and died 1907, was the third son but eventual heir-male and Representative of William McBain and his wife Catherine Mackintosh; That the Petitioner’s said grandfather, born in Saint Amicet, Ontario [St Anicet, Quebec?] Canada, 1823, was son and heir of Alexander McBain of La Guerre, Ontario, Quebec [sic] and his wife Susan Davidson (who as his widow married John Macdonald by whom La Guerre estate was appropriated); Which said Alexander McBain of La Guerre, killed by lightening 1830, was third son of William McBain of Pittourie and his wife Christina Macdonald …*
* Transcriptions from an extract of Matriculation and Confirmation of the Arms of McBain of McBain by the Lord Lyon 8 March 1960. “Clan MacBain” in Wikipedia. Was at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_MacBain. Now at http://www.amazon.com/wiki/Clan_MacBain. Emphasis added.
The parents of Ellen’s father Alexander McBain are clearly indicated in two Scottish parish records. This marriage:
William McBain in Pittaurie and Chirstan McDonald Serv’t in Kincraig, attested free of scandal, were matrimonially contracted, proclaimed & married 21 March 1784.*
* O. P. R. Marriages 090/OB 0010 0169 Alvie. Scotlandspeople.gov.uk. Kingraig and Pitturie are near Alvie, in what was then called Invernessshire.
In the Alvie Register of Baptisms, 1797, is this:
McBean Alexander son to William McBean & Christian Macdonald in Pitourie was born on the 29th and baptized on the 31st of Jany 1797.*
* O. P. R. Births 090/0B 0010 0105 Alvie. Scotlandspeople.gov.uk
As to how, when or why Alexander McBain made his way to Canada — nothing. Burke’s Peerage, quoted in the Wikipedia article, does state that “William [McBain], dwelling in Pittourie; born 1751; emigrated to Canada; married 21 March 1784 Christina Macdonald, and died 1849…”* But the sequence is out of order with the documentary evidence. No evidence has turned up to corroborate William and Christian/Chirstan/Christina’s immigration.
* “Clan MacBain” in Wikipedia; see footnote above.
We can, however, get a good idea of Alexander McBain’s brief career in Canada. In The history of the county of Huntingdon [Quebec] and of the seigniories of Chateaugay and Beauharnois from their settlement to the year 1838, we learn that the McBains settled in Lancaster Township, Glengarry County, Canada West, north of the St. Lawrence River — Lac St.-François, as the wide stretch of the river west of Montreal is known — before 1820:
Alexander McBain, whose people lived on the north side of the lake visited the Laguerre [River] in search of timber limits, and in 1820 took out several rafts, and continued to lumber each winter thereafter. … Colonel Davidson also perceived the encouragement there was to commence business on the Laguerre and assisted his brother-in-law, Alexander Ogilvie, to open a store on its banks. … Ogilvie … was the son of a Dundee manufacturer, had left Scotland in 1820, and clerked with Colonel Davidson, so acquiring a knowledge of storekeeping.*
* Robert Sellar. The history of the county of Huntingdon [Quebec] and of the seigniories of Chateaugay and Beauharnois from their settlement to the year 1838. http://archive.org/details/historyofcountyo00sellrich. P. 190.
La Guerre, or LaGuerre or Laguerre, was also called Godmanchester Village. It occupied lowland that was mostly flooded after the Beauharnois Canal was built in 1849.*
* The abandoned village of Rivière-La Guerre. Urbex playground. http://www.urbexplayground.com/rurex/abandoned-village-rivière-la-guerre.
Alexander McBain married Colonel Davidson’s daughter Susan, according to the grant of arms above, which identifies William, born 1823, as the heir. The mother and two other children, including Ellen, are enumerated in the 1851-52 census. There are, however, no surviving marriage or birth records to confirm this. We have to triangulate from anecdotal and census records.
The strange circumstances of Alexander McBain’s untimely end are related in The history of the county of Huntingdon:
An irreparable blow was dealt [La Guerre] in July, 1830, by the death of [Alexander] McBain. He had gone to Quebec with timber, which he had sold well, and on his way back bought a boatload of goods for his store, which he accompanied. Leaving the boat at Coteau he was rowed home by his brothers, and joined his family in great spirits. It being Sunday, business was suspended, and after dinner, on his father and brothers preparing to go back, it was proposed that the family should accompany them as far as the lake. The day had been sultry and they had not gone far until it was seen a thunderstorm was approaching. They hauled up at Dr Fortune’s, who was living in Bouthillier’s old house, to wait until it passed over. While gathered in the sitting-room, McBain’s father, who had been sitting at the window, rose and asked his son to take his chair. He did so, and drew his eldest daughter on to his knee. A minute or so after, there was a vivid flash, followed by a stunning crash of thunder. When the occupants of the room recovered their sight after the dazzling light, they saw McBain and his daughter stretched on the floor. Their first impression was that he had fallen in a faint, but on loosening his clothes it was seen that the bolt had traversed his body, which quickly turned black. A steel watch-chain that he wore was conjectured to have conducted the fatal bolt. His daughter was prostrated for some time, but ultimately recovered. The sudden and entire suspension of his business and the removal of its leading-spirit, gave a blow to the embryo village from which it never rallied.
The narrative continues with the advent of John MacDonald, who as the grant of arms quoted above attests, “appropriated” Alexander McBain’s La Guerre estate:
After an interval of some two years, his widow married John MacDonald, who had come to Canada shortly before. He was a native of Alvie, Invernessshire, had seen much of the world, and was an excellent man of business. With indomitable energy and good management he did much to restore the prosperity of the place. … Associated with his father-in-law, Colonel Davidson, he assisted in getting the road made from Huntingdon to Dundee, towards which a grant was made by government in 1831 … *
* Sellar, p. 199. Emphasis added. John Macdonald may have been a cousin or nephew of Alexander McBain’s mother, since both hailed from Alvie.
The story of Susan Davidson’s two husbands is corroborated by the 1851-52 Census, which links the Davidson and McBain families:
John McDonald, Marchant, born Ecosse, Presbyterien, 48
Susane Davoison, b Canada, Presb, 48
Ellen McBane, b Canada, Presb, 26
Jannet McBane, b Canada, Presb, 22*
* 1851 Census of Canada East, Beauharnois County, St. Anicet parish, p. 51a.
Susan died in Huntingdon Village in 1875:
Susan wife of John McDonald of Laguerre, Parish of Ste. Anicet, County of Huntingdon, died on the twenty first of February & was buried on the twenty-fourth of the same month in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-five.*
* Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967). Ancestry.com.
As to Susan Davidson’s lines, Henry Esson Young’s 1914 biographic sketch has this: “the great grandparents on the maternal side were natives of Dundee, Scotland. They came to Canada in 1810, and settled in Dundee, Quebec.” And: “His great grandfather was Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Davidson, who served through the Salisbury campaign of 1814.”*
* “The Salisbury campaign of 1814” draws a blank. Could it be a reference to the British harrowing of communities on Chesapeake Bay? There is a town of Salisbury in Maryland.
But Susan Davidson’s father’s name was probably not Alexander. We read in The history of the county of Huntingdon:
On Salmon river John Davidson established himself, and proved to be the leading man of the young township. He was a native of Perthshire, and had gone a poor boy to Dundee, where he was taken into the household of a Mr Ogilvie, who owned a small factory, and who gave him work and whose daughter he subsequently married.*
* Sellar, p. 173. Emphasis added.
The account of Davidson’s marriage is corroborated by an 1802 marriage record for the City of Dundee:
Contracted May 8; married May 26; John Davidson weaver and Helen Ogilvie, daughter of Alexr Ogilvie Manufr both in this parish.*
* O. P. R. Marriages 282/00 0130 0524 Dundee. scotlandspeople.gov.uk.
Susan was said to have been 48 years old in the census of 1851-52, which points to her birth in 1803/04. According to the census, she was born in Canada. There is, however, this 1805 birth record for the parish of Dundee, Scotland:
Born January 1, baptized Jan 20
Child — Elspet
Parents — John Davidson Corpl Forfa[r](?) Militia & Helen Ogilvie
Name Fathers or Mothers (?) — E Davidson*
* O. P. R. Births 282/00 0090 0113 Dundee. scotlandspeople.gov.uk. The only children of John Davidson and Helen Ogilvie born anywhere in Scotland between 1 Jan 1802 and 31 Dec 1817 were Elspet and Alexander, according to scotlandspeople
Could John and Helen have travelled to Canada and then back to Scotland? There’s a possible clue in The history of the county of Huntingdon:
He was unfortunate enough to be drafted into the army and served 7 years abroad, and on his discharge at the peace in 1817, emigrated to Canada…*
* Sellar, p. 174. Emphasis added.
If we attach these scraps of information to the assumption that John’s military service was in Canada, it does seem possible that his active duty might have been interspersed with leave, such that he and Helen could have established a beachhead in Quebec. In any event, during the War of 1812-15, a Major John Davidson appears in the rolls of the 4th Quebec Division as of 15 April 1812. He was transferred to the 1st Lotbinière Division on 15 January 1813.* Whether that is the Colonel Davidson of Sellar’s narrative, or the John Davidson in the Scottish records, is not clear.
* Canadian Military Institute. Officers of the British Forces in Canada During the War of 1812-15, by L. Homfray Irving, Honorary Librarian. Welland Tribune Print. 1908. http://archive.org/details/officersbrit00irvirich. Pp. 149, 150.
John Davidson’s career is further detailed in The history of the county of Huntingdon:
[H]e earned sufficient money as a travelling-merchant to enable him to start in 1819 a small store at Dundee lines, and his log shanty, consisting of one room, was the nucleus of that village, to which he gave the name of the fair town by the Tay in which he had spent the greater part of his life—Dundee.*
* Sellar, p. 174.
John Davidson and Helen Ogilvie appear in the 1851-52 census of Russeltown, Beauharnois County, Canada East. He was listed as Collector of customs, 72 years old; she was 73.(1) Parish records show that Helen died in 1854,(2) and John in 1856.(3)
1. Census of Canada East, 1851, District 1, Subdistrict 15, Enumeration district 7,p 77. Ancestry.com. ¶ 2. 1854 Huntingdon Registres. Photographies au Grefffe de Valleyfield. Church of Scotland and Presbyterian Church. Ancestry.com. Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967. ¶ 3. 1856 Laguerre Presbyterian Church Registre Photographies au Grefffe de Valleyfield, P.Q. Ancestry.com. Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.
Rosalind’s maternal families — Lind/Whillas/Fyvie/Paterson
Rosalind Watson’s baptism record:
Rosalind, daughter of James Watson, Ministry of the Canada Presbyterian Church, Huntingdon Village, County of Huntingdon, and his wife Margaret Lind, was born on the nineteenth day of April, and baptized by the Reverend Robert Binnie on this the third day of July, one thousand eight hundred and seventy four.*
* 1874 Huntingdon Registres, Photographies au Greffe de Valleyfield. Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Church of England Saint Andrew`s. Ancestry.com. Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.
Rosalind’s mother Margaret was, we discover in the 1914 biographical sketch, “daughter of the Rev. Adam Lind of Aberdeen, Scotland.”*
* Biographical sketch of Henry Esson Young in British Columbia from the Earliest Times to the Present (1914), p. 915.
The Rev. Adam Lind’s career was summarized in 1904:
Presbytery of Buchan: Third Minister.—Adam Lind, from Craigdam. … Ordained, 7th August 1823, Mr. Lind was no mere youth when he entered on his studies, and he was now in his fortieth year. … He died, 3rd May 1862, in the seventy-ninth year of his age and thirty-ninth of his ministry. A Memoir of Mr. Lind, consisting chiefly of a very racy and interesting autobiography, was published by his nephew, the Rev. Dr. Lind, some time after his death.*
* History of the Congregations of the United Presbyterian Church by Rev. Robert Small, D.D., in two volumes, Volume I. Edinburgh: David M. Small, 3 Howard Street, 1904. P. 137.
Lind’s memoir is nowhere to be found on the internet. An 1862 review provides more detail about his life:
The deceased Mr. Lind seems to have led a very chequered life, being first a mechanic In Edinburgh and London, then a teacher, afterwards a student, and finally the time-honoured minister at Whitehill. The autobiography which he has left us is written with good taste, and is full of sagacity …*
* The United Presbyterian Magazine, New Series—Vol. VI. December 1862. Edinburgh, 1862.
Craigdam was in the parish of Tarves, a few miles south of New Deer. Adam Lind, the child of Adam Lind and Margaret Fyvie, was born there in 1784,(1) two years after his parents’ marriage in Tarves.(2)
1. O. P. R. Births 243/00 0010 0326 TARVES. scotlandspeople.gov.uk. ¶ 2. O. P. R. Marriages 243/00 0020 0147 TARVES. scotlandspeople.gov.uk.
Rev. Lind’s marriage in 1824 was noted in a periodical:
May 22. At Edinburgh, the Rev. Adam Lind, Minister of the Gospel, Whitehill, to Margaret, eldest daughter of Mr. James Whillas, ordained surveyor.*
* Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. XV No LXXXVIII, May, 1824, p 617. Books.google.ca. James Whillas shows up in the Edinburgh city directory of 1837-38, identified as “ordained valuator and surveyor.”
Margaret Whillas came from Eyemouth, Berwickshire. Her mother was Elizabeth Paterson.(1) She and James Whillas were married in 1785 in Eyemouth.(2)
1. O. P. R. Births 739/00 0020 0064 Eyemouth. scotlandspeople.gov.uk. ¶ 2. O. P. R. Marriages 739/00 0010 0204 EYEMOUTH. scotlandspeople.gov.uk.
The birth of the Linds’ daughter Margaret Fyvie is documented in the register of New Deer parish:
Rev’d Adam Lind in Whitehill had a child brought forth by his wife Margaret Whillas ^25th May 1829^ [baptized?] June 11. 1829 by the Revd Mr. Ellis Saltcoats(?) & named Margaret Fyvie. Witnesses James Andrew and George Coverly(?) Elders(?)*
* O. P. R. Births 225/00 0030 0115 New Deer. scotlandspeople.gov.uk. Margaret was their second child. (Curiously, the births of seven Lind children were listed on the same page of the register.)
And here is Margaret and her family in the 1851 census of Scotland, at the Manse of Whitehill, New Deer, Aberdeenshire:
Adam Lind, 66
“Margrat” gave her occupation as “miliner.”*
* Ancestry.com. 1851 Census of Scotland.
Rosalind’s paternal family — Watson
Rosalind’s father James Watson’s background is obscure, even though Robert Sellar was a son-in-law. Sellar, author of The History of the County of Huntingdon was also the editor-publisher for 56 years of the Canadian Gleaner, published in Huntingdon, and an indefatigable activist for the rights of the English-speaking minority in Quebec. His father-in-law seems not to have appeared in his writing.*
* In his “Gleaner Papers,” itemized in Robert Sellar and the Huntingdon Gleaner: The Conscience of Rural Protestant Quebec 1863-1919 by Robert Andrew Hill (PhD thesis, McGill U, 1970), are references to the Rev. James Watson Papers, including “Sermons of Adam Lind” (1839), “Memorandum Book of Rev James Watson 1849-1892” and Watson’s pamphlets on philosophical topics. It may be that some biographical information is sequestered there.
The earliest reference to Watson that turns up in Canada is the Roll of Synod of the Canada Presbyterian Church: James Watson, A.M. was ordained on August 20, 1849 in the Huntingdon Congregation, Presbytery of Montreal.*
* Minutes of the Fifth Session of the Synod of the Canada Presbyterian Church, p. 249. A.M. presumably means Master of Arts.
He does not appear in the 1851-52 census of Canada. But in Scottish parish records of 1854 we find these:
James Watson Aberdour & Margt Lind New Deer proclaimed April 30th 1854.(1)
James Watson in this parish & Margaret Lind in the parish of New Deer were on this and the preceding Sabbath three times proclaimed and married on the 11th [May] by the Revd Mr Lind, Whitehills.(2)
1. O. P. R. Marriages 225/00 0030 0284 New Deer. Scotlandspeople.gov.uk. ¶ 2. O. P. R. Marriages 225/00 0030 0285 Aberdour [Aberdeen]. Scotlandspeople.gov.uk
From this and the ages given in subsequent censuses it’s possible to reconstruct James Watson’s origins. The record of Aberdour parish:
Baptisms Anno 1824. John Watson in Middlemuir had a son born 1st December 1824, baptized 6 January 1825, and named James.*
* O. P. R. Births 169/00 0030 0032 Aberdour [Aberdeen]. Scotlandspeople.gov.uk
And this in the 1841 census of Scotland:
John Watson, 60, Farmer
Margrat “, 45
Ann “, 6
John “, 20
William “, 16(?)
James “, 15
George “, 14
Margrat “, 12
Isabella “, 8
Joseph “, 3*
* Census 1841 169/00 003/00 005. Aberdour, Aberdeen, p 6. Scotlandspeople.gov.uk.
The place name Middlemuir or Midlemure seems to have been quite common — there were several places so named in Aberdour parish. Was one of them near a Whitehill in New Deer Parish?
In John Thompson’s 1832 Atlas of Scotland, the map Northern Part of Aberdeen and Banff Shires, Southern Part shows “Middle Moor” in Aberdour, just east of New Pitsligo. Whitehill, in New Deer parish, is no more than a mile east of New Pitsligo.
Aberdour was a parish with two separate segments, according to the Statistical Account of Scotland 1834-35:
The form of the parish is extremely irregular, extending from east to west along the sea coast about 7 miles, while its greatest length from north-east to south-west, including a vast extent of moss and moor, is not less than 10 or 11 miles. There are three farms at the south-east extremity, completely cut off from the rest of the parish of Aberdour by that of Tyrie. Some suppose that these farms were originally grazings for the cattle belonging to the tenants upon the sea coast; but it is more probable that, at the time the pariah was erected, they formed a separate estate, belonging to the then proprietor of Aberdour, who would naturally wish to have all his landed property in one parish.*
* Parish of Aberdour, Presbytery of Deer, Synod of Aberdeen. Statistical Account of Scotland 1834-35, Vol XII, p 258. http://stat-acc-scot.edina.ac.uk/link/1834-45/Aberdeen/Aberdour/
It’s possible, then, that James Watson grew up knowing the “time honoured minister at Whitehill,” Rev. Lind, and his family, from church. Perhaps he and Margaret started a romance, and he returned to Scotland to claim his bride.
It is difficult to trace James Watson’s ancestry further.*
* In Aberdeen in the years 1820 and 1821 scotlandspeople.gov.uk shows three John Watsons marrying three women named Margaret; none of them in Aberdour parish.
As for James Watson’s education — where and when he earned his A.M. and his D.D. — nothing comes to light. One can surmise that, like his in-law Rev. Alexander Young, he came under the guiding influence of a man of the cloth, possibly Rev. Adam Lind.