1854 By Robert G. Moore
St. Thomas, Ontario
26 January 2003
amended January 2008
Economic Conditions in Bayham in the 1850's

Lake boats into Vienna, Port Burwell, Port Bruce and Port Stanley were the economic life line of Elgin County in the early 1850’s. Railway development was another 20 years thence and road were just trails and travel tended to be limited to horseback and the odd wagon and stage on the main roads. Exports from Port Burwell were mainly timber, wooden plank, singles, wheat, flour and wool with imports of iron goods, tea sugar and some textiles. The demand in Great Britain for timber, wheat, wool etc. greatly increased with the advent of the Crimean War in 1854. No doubt some of the local residents decided it was a good time to cash in on the boom and a toll road to Port Burwell would enhance the boom for Northern Bayham and Malahide Townships and could extend into southern Dereham Township of Oxford County .

   The toll road from Ingersoll to Port Burwell had been in operation since 1850 and seemed to be thriving.

After the war ended in 1856 the British markets not only weakened greatly but the British depression spread to Canada. Even if the road had been finished (which it was not) the toll traffic would extremely light.

The depression in Bayham caused many of the local resident to migrate to the United States mostly to Michigan.  It appears that the small economic boom which occurred in Ontario during the American Civil war did not really affect Bayham and migration continued as the lost British markets for timber and wheat did not rebound to their early 1850’s status.


   Any route south of Richmond to connect to Bayham-Malahide townline. a mile north of Calton would have been extremely costly to construct. In the two and half mile section, two crossing of the Big Otter Creek would be required. Extra teams would be required to assist on the steep grades on both sides of these crossings. (Even today the road south of Richmond has steep grades, numerous curves and restricted sight distances even though 2 new bridges have been built in the past 10 years). The remainder of the route to both Vienna and Port Burwell would be relatively level other than the steep grades down to the Big Otter Creek.

   The soil from Calton south and east to Vienna and Port Burwell is for the most part, a shallow, poorly drained sand. Spring breakup (or even a heavy rain) has plagued this route into to the 1970’s. Mud season in Bayham meant “Stay at Home”. Thus the use of the route would be restricted to winter (sleighs) and mid summer (for wagons) 

   There was ample timber for planking some of the bad spots but there were no gravel supplies other than from the beach at Port Burwell. (I know of no gravel pits in the area).  I feel that the route would have received very limited use even if it had been completed because of the difficulty in maintaining it and the limited commercial area that it would draw from around Richmond especially after the collapse of the local economy following the Crimean war (Richmond and the saw mills around it were likely at their height in the mid 1850’s) The portion of the proposed route from Richmond south to the Lake Road (Elgin County Road 42) still draws very limited traffic even today.

   To extend the road into southern Dereham Township would require an other 6 miles or so of road building and another crossing of Otter Creek at Willsonville would be necessary. The grades to both sides of the creek were similar to the ones to the Otter Creek south of Richmond.  This extension was likely only wishful thinking by those shareholders who lived in north Bayham and Dereham townships 


David J Hall in his “University of Western Ontario” Master’s Thesis “Economic Development in Country of Elgin 1850-1880 (published 1972 by Advertiser-Topic Ltd of Petrolia Ont) states in part on pages 64-66.

“A considerable amount of controversy surrounds the Bayham Richmond and Port Burwell Road Company formed in March 1854.  Capital stock was 4000 pound divided into 800 shares.

   A majority of the Township council (Bayham) were stockholders and they decided to pass a bylaw enabling the Township to take stock in the company, issuing 4000 pound worth of debentures which would be a debt on the local taxpayers. Although a general meeting of the Bayham Township rate payers voted down the proposed by law by a four to one margin the council went ahead and ratified the measure. The scandal increased when it became know that A (Ambrose) M Willson who had been Deputy Reeve in 1854 was the contractor for his work on the road and received in excess of 530 pounds for his work the first year of operations.  At the next election the rate payers voted out the entire council other than the Reeve who had opposed the by law.

One resident pointed out ” That a good road (toll road) had already been built (1850) from Ingersoll to Port Burwell through the township and in his opinion an other one really parallel to it was not needed for the general benefit and the general opinion was that route over that track would never pay and the cost would be four times as much as any other route.

An other resident noted that of the five men on council, three have moved to a foreign country or absconded and the two remaining claimed not to have any considerable amount of property.

The Road was never completed. In the 1860 when the debentures matured, the arguments continued but in 1868 the Provincial legislature legalized the by law and the Township of Bayham  rate payers were forced to pay $29,000 principal and interest.”


As the 1851 census for the southern part of Bayham township including Vienna and Port Burwell and souther part of Malahide Township has been lost, Stock holders list such as this one help us track the very transient population of eastern Elgin County.


“TITLE PAGE” Bayham   RICHMOND  and Port BURWELL Road como’ STOCK BOOK 1854


Schedule No 4
Recorded the 20th Day of June 1854 at 10 minutes past 11 o’clock A.M in Liber of Joint Stock Companies Folio 12M McKay        Registrar          Elgin  20 June 1854 10 minutes past 11 o’clock

(some words illegible)

Be it remembered that on this 25th day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty four, We, the undersigned stock holders met at Richmond in the County of Elgin in the Province of Canada and resolved to form ourselves into a company to be called The Bayham, Richmond and Port Burwell Road Company according to the provisions of a certain act of the parliament of this province entitled “An Act to amend and consolidate the several acts for the formation of joint stock companies for the construction of roads and other works in Upper Canada” for the purpose of constructing a plank or macadamised or gravelled this ?  of Bayham by way of the road from the Village of Richmond and the ?  to Richmond in the Township of Bayham to Port Burwell on Lake Erie in the same township of the distance of about sixteen miles passing as near as may be along the Townline of the Townships of Bayham and Malahide south to the rear of first (scratched out and replaced by second and which was also scratched out and replaced by first) concession and then east till ? it intersects the line between lots Ten and Eleven then south to Port Burwell.

And we do hereby declare that the capital stock of said company shall be Four thousand Pounds to be divided into eight hundred shares at the price of five Pounds each and we the undersigned hereby agree to take and accept the number of shares set opposite our respective signatures and

we do hereby agree to pay the calls thereon according to the provisions of the ? in part recited act and of the rules, regulations resolutions and By Laws to be made or passed in that behalf and we do hereby nominate David Merrile, John S McCollum, Sylvester Cook, Ambrose M Wilson and ? Firby to be the first directors of said company

At a meeting of the directors of the Bayham Richmond and Port Burwell road company held at Seth Cook’s hotel at Richmond on Tuesday the thirteenth day of June AD 1854 (all the directors being present) It was resolved by the directors aforesaid to construct a plank road along the allowance for road in the rear of the Second Concession of the Township of Bayham commencing at the townline between Bayham and Malahide thence easterly along said Road allowance for road until it reaches the western limit of the Village of Vienna as a branch to their road it being a distance of about two and a half miles.  Said Branch having been surveyed and reported on by Mr. Charles Fraser C.E. at the expense of the aforesaid company and this resolution is hereby required to be registered with the stock book of  the said company hereunto attached. 

Richmond 13 June 1854 signed A W. Willson President John Livingston Secretary

Schedule No 5

Recorded 20 day of June Ad 1854 at 11 minutes past 11 o’clock A.M. in the Liber for Joint Stock Companies signed J.W McKay Registrar 

Following names written in very bad writing on back of one of the schedule sheets (no explanation for them) H Saxon, L Soper, J Meir??, ? Cottingham, J Martin, S Arnele ?, J McKinnen, Fitzgerald,

C Choot (likely Chute)

The Stock Holders 

Stockholder’s list was signed by subscriber and some signatures were most difficult to read

Stock Shares were Five Pounds each

Name                         Shares of Stock      Other References to Person found by RGM 

Acker, William      5 Tre Bay Lot 16 Con 9

Anderson Andrew     1 scratched out (withdrawn)

Anderson Wm         5 scratched out (dead)

Anger, Elisha       5 Tre Bay Lot 5 Con 8

Berry, Bishop       5 Bay 42 Lot 1 Con 5

Birdsall, Jacob     5 Bay 42 miller Lot 111 STR

Bisscier? Richard 10

Brainerd, B. S      5

Brown, Brinton P.  10 Dereham mid 1850’s travelling preacher

Bruce, John         2

Burgar, John P.    15 Bay 51 mill owner d 1859 bur Richmond West

Burgar, Hiram       6 Bay 61 age 35 no occupation

Burwell. L         20 Bay 42 Port Burwell

Camp, Isaac         4 Bay L.R. patent Lot 1 Con 3 Tre Lot 1 Con 3

Cascadden, William  2 Mal 51 farmer Lot 32 Con 9       

Cascadden Thomas    5 Mal 42 Lot 35 Con 9

Chiverton,  Wm T   10 Mal 42 Lot 35 Con 5

Chute, Sidney      10 Bay 61 farmer age 35   

Connelly, James O. 10 Bay Tre Lot 20 South Gore 

Cook, Cabel        10 Bay 51 farmer

Cook, Seth         10 Bay 51 innkeeper

Cook, Silvester    60 Bay 51 storekeeper Lot 113 N/STR

Cook, Haggai        5 Bay 51 farmer

Cook, Robert       20 Bay 51 farmer

Cook, Ira           5 Bay 51 farmer

Cooper, Thomas      2

Crane, Wm           2 Tre Bay Lot 1 Con 9

Daken, George       2 (by L Burwell)L.R 1852 Bay Lot 10 Con 1

Day, Samuel        10

Dean, Benj          5 Bay 42 Lot 6 Con 10

Denton Locie        5 Bay 51 farmer Tre Lot 8 Con 8

Eaton D.P.          5

Firby, Thomas      25 Tre Bay Lot 3 Con 9

Firby, Joseph       2 Bay 42 Lot 3 Con 9

Firby, Robert       5 Tre Bay Lot 3 Con 9

Gates, E. H         5 Bay 61 Port Burwell medical doctor

Glover, Wm. A.      2 Mal 51 merchant/clerk

Godwin, Thomas Jr  15 Bay 51 machinist

Griffin John        2 Bay 61 farmer

Griffin, William    2 Bay 61 teamster

Harris, James       2 Bay 42 cooper Vienna, Bay 51

Hartt, Nicholas    10 Bay 51 age 29 iron foundry Lot 113 NTR

Hartwick, Joseph    1 Bay 51

Herdman, Thomas     5 Tre Lots 5/7 North Gore

Holden, Horace      5

Hughs, Isaac        2 Tre Mal Lot 32 Con 5 (withdrawn)

James ? John       15 Mal 61 carpenter

Jones, William C.   5 Bay 51 farmer’s son

Jones, John J.      5 Bay 51 farmer Tre Lot 113      

Kipp Thomas         5 farmer’s son Richmond area  

Lang, Elijah        5

Laur, Abram         3 

Livingston,S Harvey 5 Bay 42 Lot 16 Con 10

Maginnes, Alexander 5 Bay L.R. Lot 5 Con 2 carpenter P Burwell 1853

Marlatt, Paul      10 L.R Bay 1852 Lot 7 Con 1

Marlatt J.B.        5 Bay 61 farmer

McBride, Angus      5 Bay 61 no occ Richmond?

McBride, Alex       5 Bay 61 mariner (Port Burwell)

McCollum, John. S  10 Bay L.R 1854 Lot 2 Con 3

McCurdy, Lyndes     5 Died 1889 bur Calton lived Bayham

McKinnon Angus      2 Bay L.R. 1848 Lot 3 Con 3

Merrill, D          5 Bay 61 hotel L.R 1842 Pt Burwell Erieus St

Merrills, Ira       5 Tre Bay Lot 13 Con 2

Millard, John      10 Bay 51 blacksmith

Moore, Jeremiah Jr. 5 Bay 51 chair maker 

Moore, Andrew      10 Bay 51 farmer Lot 116 NTR

Moore, William      5 Bay 51 miller

Moore, Robert       5 Bay 51 mill owner’s son

Moore, John         5 Bay 51 farmer/mill owner’s son

Moore, Richard      2

Moss, Hiram         5 Bay 51 farmer Tre Lot 10 Con 1   

Moss, Daniel        3 Bay 51 farmer Tre Lot 10 Con 1

Nims, Egbert         5 Mal 51 cooper

Orton, Wm          5 Tre Bay 111 NTR

Parlee, Benjamin   10 Buried Calton  Mal L.R. Lot 34&5 Con 4 

Parlee, George A.  10 Tre Mal Lot 35 Con 4

Pearson, Joseph Sr 10 Bay 51 farmer

Pearson, Joseph     2 Bay 51 farmer

Phelps, Daniel      3 Mal Lot 30 Con 5 ?

Phillimore William  2 Bay 51 clothier

Pound, Daniel      10 Bay 51 farmer

Pound, Daniel       3 additional stock Bay 51 farmer

Procunier, Geo, N   5 Tre Bay 114 NTR

Pye, James          1 Tre Lot 5 North Gore

Redding, John       5 Bay 51 sailor  L. R. 1847 Port Burwell

Rees, David         4 Bay 51 farmer L.R. 1851 Port Burwell

Richardson, Obadiah  1(signed as Richison) Dereham 51 Con 12

Saxton, Alex       10 Bay 52 L.R.Bay Lot 10 Con 1

Saxton, Elijah      5 (by his attorney L Burwell)L.R Mal L30 C1

Saxton, Alex       10 add’l shares Bay 42 Lot 10 Con 1

Spitler, David      5 Bay 51 wheelwright(waggon maker)

Spore, Nicholas     10 Bay 51 tanner

Springall, T        2 Bay 51 Tailor

Spurr, Wm           5 son of Wm & Mary bur Edison Pioneer Cem

Storey, William     3 Dereham 51 Con 12 near Lot 21 farmer

Summers, Alexander 20 Bay 51 farmer Bay 42 Lot 6 Con 7 

Swan, Henry H.(?)   4 Bay 42 tanner Pt Burwell

Timpany, B.J.      10 L.R. Bay patent Lot 1 Con 4

Tisdale &Co         2

Titus, James        2 Bay 61 shipwright Pt Burwell

Titus, Isaac        2 Bay 42 blacksmith L.R Lot 10 Con 1

Titus, Daniel       2 L.R. 1855 Pt Burwell Lot 10 Con 1

Tywell, Myles       5 Mal 42 Lot 32 Con 8   

Veitch Wm           2 Tre Bay North Gore

Wallace, John       2

Ward, Charles      10 Bay 61 mariner

Weaver, Swain       5 L.R Bay 1853 L3 C 2  Bay 61 farmer

Weaver, H.A         5 (Henry) L.R 1855 Bay Lot 3 Con 1

Wedge, John         1 Dereham 51 Lot 21 Con 12 farmer

Wedge, Josephus     1 Dereham 51 son of John

Wheaton, John       5 Bay 51 millwright

White, Moses        2

Williams, Adolphus  2 Mal 42 physician

Willson, A. M      35 Additional stock

Willson, A. M      15 (Ambrose) Bay 51 mill owne(Willson’s Mills at Willsonville on the Otter near Richmond)  Deputy Reeve Bayham 1854

Woods James H.      2 Bay 51 cabinetmaker Richmond area    


Tre       Tremaine’s map of Elgin 1864

Bay 42   Bayham Twp census 1842

Bay 51   Bayham Twp census 1851 (south part of Twp missing)

Bay 61   Bayham Twp census 1861

L.R       Land Records from Searches by RGM

N.T.R    Concession North of Talbot Road 

S.T.R    Concession South of Talbot Road

Mal 42   Malahide Twp census 1842

Mal 51   Malahide Twp census 1851  (south part of township missing)

Mal 61   Malahide Twp census 1861

Dereham 51 Dereham Township Oxford County census