Waterloo Region Generations
A record of the people of Waterloo Region, Ontario.

John Telfer

Male 1799 - 1871  (72 years)


Personal Information    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    Event Map    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name John Telfer 
    Born 1799  Yarrow, , Selkirk, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Christened 2 Jun 1799  Yarrow, , Selkirk, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Interesting life story, land, misfortune 
    Residence 1837  North Dumfries Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Occupation 1840  Owen Sound, Grey Co., Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location 
    land agent 
    Eby ID Number Waterloo-85367 
    Died 1871 
    Person ID I85367  Generations
    Last Modified 2 Feb 2023 

    Father William Telfer,   b. Abt 1770, of, Yarrow, , Selkirk, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Mother Elizabeth Laurie,   b. Abt 1770, of, Yarrow, , Selkirk, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID F40455  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Mary Scott,   b. Abt 1807, Of, Dundas, Wentworth Co., Ontario Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Married 10 Mar 1837  North Dumfries Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Last Modified 2 Feb 2023 
    Family ID F22141  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • By 1816, he [Absalom Shade] had acquired sufficient money to buy 95,000 acres of forest. In this wilderness, he planned to establish homes for his Scottish friends, where their unremitting, diligent toil could yield rewards as well as blisters. Absalom Shade, young, strong and competent, prepared the way for them. When Absalom Shade left civilization, he had one hundred dollars with him and a set of carpenter tools. Since dollars could buy nothing for him in a deep forest devoid of trading posts or settlers, he soon found the dollars valueless. But the tools were invaluable, especially the axe. Alone, he hewed at the centuries' old trees until a clearing of wheat could be planted. He fashioned first a rough cabin of unhewn logs, chinked with mud. When three scotch settlers were finally lured from New York State it is a tradition that eight cabins, a bridge, an unequipped grist mill, and a sawmill also lacking machinery, awaited their arrival. Dickson encouraged settlers, sometimes assisting them to establish their homes on the tract he named Dumfries, in honour of his old Scottish shire. He wrote his well-to-do Scotch friends, pressing the opportunities offered by this new land for their sons. None came. Four years after Absalom Shade began his labours, a young man named John Telfer was sent to Scotland to gather the poverty-ridden Lowlanders, who were glad to come. Even John Hogg, the Ettrich Shepherd whose poetry made the Yarrow famous, was nearly persuaded to hymn the praises of the wilderness but decided finally to send his nephew and his wife into the New World.

      Hazel M . Stockhouse, A Young Carpenter from Buffalo (a tribute to Absalom Shade, Founder of Galt, Ontario)

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      John Telfer in 1834 he came to Galt , Ontario, and was recruiting settlers in the Border Country of Scotland for William Dickson who owned most of the land in the Galt area at that time. In 1840 he worked as Land Agent in opening up the land to settlement in the village of Sydenham ( Owen Sound ). In the winter of 1840-41, Telfer went back to Galt and left Thomas Rutherford in charge of the government stores by himself. In 1845 both he and John Telfer came out to what is now Leith; Telfer to take up 425 acres on part of which Leith now stands, and to build the local grist mill on what is now Telfers Creek.

      Rutherford.ca

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      In 1820 one John Telfer a retired Nor'wester trader, went to Scotland to induce immigration, and a large colony was obtained for the Galt settlement from Roxburgh and Selkir shires. in 1825 this movement was still in force, and even in 1831 and succeeding years the flow to Dumfries continued.

      George Bryce, M.A.,LL.D., A Short History of the Canadian People

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      John Telfer was an employee of the Hudson Bay Co. in 1819 or 1820 when he reached an agreement with the Honourable William Dickson to travel to Selkirkshire, Scotland to encourage the people there to immigrate to Canada and to settle on lands in Dumfries township owned by Mr. Dickson. In return for his services, Mr. Telfer was to receive a parcel of land on the East River Road south of the village of Shade's Mills. Mr. Telfer expected that he would receive the land for free. When he returned from Scotland, he found that he was to be charged four dollars an acre for the land. As late as 1839 he wrote to Mr. Dickson requesting that the issue be settled and that he be properly compensated for his labours. He went so far as to complain to Lord Sydenham, the governor of Canada, when Lord Sydenham visited Galt. The governor refused to interfere but offered Mr. Telfer a position as agent for the Crown in the settlement of the Sydenham Tract near Owen Sound. Mr. Telfer accepted the offer in 1840, left Galt and purchased a mill at Leith, near Owen Sound. Unfortunately the mill was not profitable and after a time, Mr. Telfer sold the property to James Wilson. He returned to Galt where he engaged in business for a time and then moved to Sarnia where he died in 1871.

      Sources:
      1. Adam Ainslie On Life's Stage, Jim Quantrell Editor, City of Cambridge Archives 1987.
      2. Andrew Taylor Banners Unfurled The History of First United Church 1824-1949 First United Church Galt 1949.
      3. Andrew Taylor Our Todays and Yesterdays North Dumfries and Ayr Centennial Committee Galt 1970.
      4. James Young, Reminiscences of the Settlement of Galt and North Dumfries Hunter, Rose and Co. Toronto 1880.


      Cambridge Mosaic, Jim Quantrell, 1998, City of Cambridge [used with kind permission of Jim Quantrell]

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      Besides articles about the township and the village, published in Chambers' Journal and the regular press, he wrote freely to leading Scotchmen on the subject, with many of whom he was acquainted. Among others he communicated with James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd , who took great interest in the matter, and was the means of securing many of the best settlers which the township obtained, not a few of whom brought letters of introduction from the poet to Mr. Dickson. A nephew and niece of his own were among the number,* and it would appear as if, at one time, some hope was entertained that Hogg himself might be tempted to cross the water. However this may be, it is a well-attested fact that, during a trip of Mr. William Dickson, jr., to Scotland, he visited the poet, and offered him a farm in Dumfries, if he would come out and accept of it. Hogg laughingly replied, " The Yarrow couldna want him!" and that was the last I heard of the matter.

      About 1820, Mr. John Telfer was specially sent to Scotland to induce intending Canadian emigrants to settle in Dumfries. This gentleman, in conjunction with Michael Knox, for at least thirty years one of the "characters" of Galt, had entered the Hudson Bay Company's service some years before. They soon tired of the hunting, trapping, and Indians of the North-west-which no one at that time dreamed would ever become part of Canada-but to escape from the Company's service was at once difficult and dangerous. In company with two others, however, they ultimately took French leave, starting together from the Selkirk settlement, and were vigorously pursued by officers of the Company, with dogs and sleds, on the snow and ice. Through the assistance of friendly Indians, who concealed them for three months, they succeeded in making their way out of the country, and ultimately reached Shade's Mills in safety. Mr. Telfer, who was an intelligent, energetic man, soon after his arrival in the village, bargained with Mr. Dickson, in exchange for part of the plains, about a mile south of Galt, to visit Selkirkshire, Scotland, and bring out a number of new settlers, This duty was, we believe, performed in a very satisfactory manner.


      *Mr. Samuel Hogg, at one time clerk in Mr. Shade's store, and his sister, Mrs. James Dalgleish.

      Having no friends to take care of him, old Knox was removed to the Waterloo County Poor House, in 1869, His iron constitution enabled him

      Reminiscences of the Early History of Galt and the Settlement of Dumfries in the Province of Ontario, by James Young, 1880 Toronto: Hunter, Rose Pg. 41-42

  • Sources 
    1. [S27] International Genealogical Index - Extracted Church Records, Parish registers for Yarrow, 1691-1854 Church of Scotland. Parish Church of Yarrow (Selkirkshire) Film 1067929.
      John Telfer Chr: 2 Jun 1799 s/o William Telfer & Elizabeth Laurie

    2. [S507] Church Records - ON, Waterloo, Galt - First United Presbyterian.
      John Telfer of Dumfries and Mary Scott of Dundas married 10 Mar 1837 in Dumfries, witnesses: George Telfer and William McKenzie.

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 1799 - Yarrow, , Selkirk, Scotland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsChristened - 2 Jun 1799 - Yarrow, , Selkirk, Scotland Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - 1837 - North Dumfries Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 10 Mar 1837 - North Dumfries Twp., Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsOccupation - land agent - 1840 - Owen Sound, Grey Co., Ontario, Canada Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth