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Martin J O'Donnell family
Martin J O'Donnell family
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    GARNETT FAMILY HISTORY
    ________________________

    Lieutenant James Seddon GARNETT married Sarah Ann CRESSWELL on April 26,
    1816 at Collegiate Church, Manchester. They had four children born between
    1817 and 1823 [Jane GARNETT, James Cresswell GARNETT, Joseph GARNETT and
    Elizabeth GARNETT]. During the 1820s, Lieutenant GARNETT was posted to the
    Isle of Man where the family lived in Belfield House in the town of Douglas.

    According to his military service records, Captain GARNETT’s term of
    service in the British Army ended in October 1828. At some point in the 1830s,
    perhaps due to the outbreak of a cholera epidemic on the Isle of Man, the
    entire GARNETT family apparently decided to move to Upper Canada.

    They were the earliest settlers in Rama Township, Ontario. Sarah Ann
    [nee CRESSWELL] GARNETT died there about 1836 and James Seddon GARNETT
    continued to live near Orilla until his own death in 1866.

    Their eldest daughter, Jane GARNETT, married a husband named James
    McPHERSON. The youngest daughter, Elizabeth GARNETT, married Alexander McDONALD.
    One of the sons, James Cresswell GARNETT, married a wife named Elizabeth and
    had a daughter named Marianne [or Mary Ann] GARNETT who subsequently
    married Benjamin HOPKINS and had a total of nine children. The other son, Joseph
    GARNETT, apparently had a serious disability of some kind and died at an
    early age without marrying or having subsequent descendants.

    Captain James Seddon GARNETT and the other members of his family lived in
    the area around Orilla, Ontario.
    Of the first settlers granted land in Rama, only the McPHERSONs and the
    GARNETTs were successful in surviving on the land.
    Being ex-British army officers, Captain Alan MCPHERSON had served 21 years
    with the 78th Highlanders and came to Canada in 1835 at the age of 63 and
    Captain James GARNETT with the 82nd Regiment of Foot also came late in life,
    at age 57. They came complete with grown families and a sufficiently large
    accumulation of wealth to hire staff to do such work as was needed. Some
    of the other early settlers at Rama found themselves surrounded by
    inaccessible bog in the spring of the year, unable to leave their property to
    acquire any need whatever.
    But the GARNETTs and their MCPHERSON neighbours lived comfortably near
    Orillia at their extensive properties on Lake Couchiching. The two families
    became even more closely aligned following the marriage of Captain James
    Seddon GARNETT’s daughter, Jane GARNETT to Captain Alan MCPHERSON’s son, James
    MCPHERSON in about 1845.
    The MCPHERSONs started quarrying “… on the lakeshore at Quarry Point
    and Geneva Park.” They quarried close to Lake Couchiching because water
    transport was the only way available to bring the stone to market. The quarrying
    business was primarily carried on by Alan MCPHERSON, the son of James
    MCPHERSON and Jane GARNETT.
    It is only after the Northern Railway built right through the new quarry
    site, about 40 years later, that quarrying really hit the big time at
    Longford, or more properly described, at “Vinegar Hill.” That is almost two
    kilometres north of Longford, well north of “the stone church” as St. Peter’s
    Anglican Church was referred to colloquially, and about the same distance
    from the original workings on the shore of Lake Couchiching close to the shore
    of Lake St. John.
    Captain James Seddon GARNETT’s grandson, Alan MCPHERSON became very
    wealthy from the sale of limestone quarried on the land owned by the GARNETT and
    MCPHERSON families in Rama Township. Later on, Alan MCPHERSON was joined by
    THOMPSON’s Longford Mills in operating its own quarry nearby and these two
    were joined by Andrew TAIT, Orillia’s prime shingle mill operator, as well
    as John ADAMS, MCPHERSON ‘s brother-in-law, each operating his own quarry
    until they all amalgamated to form the Longford Quarry Company, before
    1925, and later sold to the Queenston Quarry Company.
    The MCPHERSONs were also in the shingle business in competition with TAIT
    and THOMPSON and in the lumber business for Laidlaw Lumber company as well
    as shipping ” … at least 12 cars per week of lime and building stone to
    Port Hope, and shingles on an average of 20,000 a day … he could give
    employment to 100 men …”
    There were four distinct types of quarrying carried on at Rama. There was
    quarrying for building stone. Nearly all quality brick buildings of the
    time had window and door lintels of limestone and windowsills of the same.
    Then there was quarrying for broken stone shipped to Midland and used in the
    iron ore furnaces for making pig iron. Third there was quarrying for crushed
    limestone burned in the open-air furnaces adjacent to Geneva Point to make
    lime for plaster in the days of the great mansions whose lath walls were
    coated with as much as two inches of coarse plaster and finished with 3
    /4–inch to one-inch of finishing plaster. And finally there was quarrying for
    foundation stone.
    Many buildings in Toronto were built with stone quarried from the GARNETT
    and MCPHERSON properties at Lake Couchiching and Rama. Casa Loma’s interior
    walls were built that way. Longford stone was used for the foundation of
    the Ontario Legislative Buildings at Queen’s Park in Toronto in the days
    when most foundations were constructed of stone, before poured concrete or
    block foundations came into vogue.
    Stone from the GARNETT and MCPHERSON quarries was also used in the
    construction of Orillia municipal buildings, the Opera House, the Sir Sam Steele
    building, St. James’ Court (formerly the YMCA), Toronto’s old city hall,
    North Bay’s post office, Orillia’s Guardian Angels Church, Martyr’s Shrine,
    Church of St. Joseph Midland, Toronto’s Gooderham and Worts Distillery,
    Canada Life building which carries Toronto’s weather beacon, parts of the
    Toronto subway, Peterborough High School, provincial parliament buildings in
    Toronto, Sebright Church and the Collingwood grain elevator.
    But much of the later growth and success of the quarries owned and
    operated by the GARNETT and MCPHERSON family at Rama Township took place in the
    years after Captain James Seddon GARNETT’s death.

    Note:

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