Submitted by

Robert G. Moore

St Thomas Ontario N5R 3K6

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February 2007

In 1853, the southern part of Southwold Township had been settled for some 35 to 40 years and the farmers of the Township were producing grain (Wheat in particular) in excess of local needs.

Demand for wheat in Great Britain was greatly increasing as the ongoing Crimean War had greatly diminished the previous supply from eastern Europe. There was also an increased demand in Great Britain for various timber products including sawn lumber. There was a large amount of various hardwoods available in Southwold.

The residents of the southern portion of Southwold saw this demand for wheat and lumber as an opportunity to improve their modest incomes. The Union Road (now Elgin County Road Number 20) from Fingal to Port Stanley was the main access road to the harbour at Port Stanley from which all wheat and lumber would be shipped to Great Britain. The Union Road, like all roads in Elgin County in the early 1850s was little more than a trail and in wet weather a “great adventure”. The road was not suitable even in dry weather for the increased amount of wagon traffic that residents felt would be generated.

Improvement of the Union Road was a must and to that end a joint stock company was formed to improve the road by graveling it. (Stock companies for public works projects had been allowed for some years under the statutes of Upper Canada). Fingal at the time was a thriving village and its business owners and residents could see the advantages of increased traffic traveling though the main intersection.

Originally the Union Road Company proposed to gravel the road from the west end of the Bridge across Kettle Creek at Selbourne (now Warren Street in Port Stanley), northerly through Fingal to the rear of the lots on the north side of Talbot Road East. Many of the residents on the North Branch of the Talbot Road wanted the Union Road project extended northerly another two miles to the rear of the North Branch of the Talbot Road. This increased the total distance of the proposed road improvement to about ten and one half miles.(Shedden did not exist until after the Canada Southern Railroad was constructed in the early 1870s).

Obviously the council of Southwold Township was very much in favour of the project, signing up for 900 shares (at five pounds per share or 4500 pounds of the 7300 pounds subscribed for the company). This amount was in excess of the initial objective of 1300 shares or 6500 hundred pounds. but the length of the Road to be improved had been extended by twenty five percent The money pledged for the shares would not have been paid to the Union Road Company treasurer when the company was initially formed but only upon the “Call” of the treasurer to finance the work as it progressed.

The Reeve of Southwold, Levi Fowler a business man in Final was the first to sign the stock book subscribing for 20 shares (100 pounds).

Most of the stockholders were residents along the Union Road between Port Stanley and Fingal, the Talbot Road, east and west of Fingal. A number of residents on the North Branch of Talbot Road as well as business people of Fingal and some in Port Stanley also became stockholders.

One might suppose that Union Road company would have been originally organized to operate as a Toll Road and thus provide a return on the stockholder’s investment. I have found no indication that tolls were or would be charged so it can only be concluded that the stockholders hoped to recoup their investment through an improved means of transporting wheat and timber to Port Stanley for export.

The Road Company let the contract the building of the road to a contractor who seemed to have been unable to fulfil the task.

David J Hall in his book “Economic Development in the County of Elgin Ontario Canada 1850-1880″ ,“Unfortunately the contractor encountered numerous difficulties and four year later the road had not been built. In 1857, the President of the Company referred to the depression following the Crimean War as a reason that the Company was unable collect all the funds from the subscribed stock and was unable to obtain assistance from without (outside the company). The company petitioned Elgin County Council in both 1855 and 1858 for an extension of time to complete the road. The Company also received a loan of 225 pounds for two years from the Southwold Township council. It appears that the Road Company failed and management of the Union Road was returned to Southwold township during the 1860s.”

The project which had started in1853 with great hopes to “cash in” on the market for wheat and timber in Great Britain had failed for several reasons. The most obvious was the world wide depression that followed the war, Great Britain again turned to eastern Europe for it’s wheat supply and to a certain extent the United States. Timber from Southwold was no longer in high demand.

Thus the local farmers had no export markets and some who could no longer cover their debts were forced to move on to Michigan and mid west USA. Fingal was no longer the centre of commerce as St Thomas had taken over in its place. The economic boom of the early 1860’s from American Civil was short lived. By the early 1870s the Canada Southern Railroad went through the area some three miles north of Fingal and created the hamlet of Shedden thus leaving Fingal in the “dust” The better economic times of the 1890s did little to revive either Fingal or Port Stanley and a need for a major road between them. The main thoroughfare was now the Talbot road from Fingal to St Thomas.

Union Road between Fingal and Port Stanley reverted to the status of a road used by local traffic only. Although an “Elgin County” for many years, commercial use of the Union Road has been quite limited in past 50 years, other than a few years when the Port Stanley Harbour was deep enough to permit shipments of corn, soya beans and wheat out and some fertilizer in.

I feel an other reason for failure was that the Company undertook a much too ambitious project with insufficient funds. The initial project to gravel some eight miles from Selbourne to Fingal was extended to the north of the rear of the lots north of the North Branch of the Talbot Road, a twenty five per cent increase. Some stockholders also wished to gravel the Oneida Road. Certainly the building of some 10 miles of road would be impossible with the 7300 pounds even if it had all could have been collected from the stockholders.

The soil between Fingal and Port Stanley is excellent for farming but is a poor subsoil for road building. Gravel is non existent in the surrounding area other than the small amount of gravel that could be salvaged from Kettle Creek about a mile north of Selbourne near what is now Meeks Bridge, (a most difficult process at best as I know from experience). The major source of gravel would have been from pits on the Fifth Line (Gore Road) west of County Road 20 (Union Road North of Shedden). Thus the haul for teams and wagons would have been extremely lengthy (about five and one half miles just to Fingal)

It is no wonder the contractor found himself in financial difficulties. The Union Road Company was a project doomed from its conception, as it was based on the theory that GOOD TIMES would continue forever and that over ten miles of road could be built with INSUFFICIENT MONIES.

Stock books such as the Union Road Company help to track the very transient population of Elgin County during the 1850s even though we have both the 1851 and the 1861 census of Southwold Township to aid us . The stock list also give us some indication of the financial means of the stockholders in 1853.


Be it remembered that on the third day of November in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred and fifty three, we the undersigned shareholders met at Fingal in the Township of Southwold and the County of Elgin, in the Province of Canada and resolved to form ourselves into a company to be called the Union Road Company, according to the provisions of a certain act of 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 construction a gravel road from the west end of the bridge across Kettle Creek at the village of Selbourne by the Union Road through Fingal to north side of the lots facing on Talbot Road East a distance of about eight and one quarter miles (eight scratched out and ten written in) and we do hereby declare that the capital stock of the said company shall be six thousand five hundred pounds to be divide into thirteen hundred shares at the price of five pounds each and we the undersigned stockholders do hereby agree to take and accept the number of shares set by us opposite the signatures and we hereby agree to pay the calls thereon according to the provisions of the said in part recited act and the rules regulations and by laws of the said company to be made or passed in that behalf and we do nominate William Glasgow, Abel Stafford, Hannibal Burwell, William Arkell and Samuel “Illegible” Esq, to be Directors of the said company


As the list is signed by each individual subscriber some of the signatures were most difficult to read

several were completely illegible.
Name Shares at Other reference to the person
Five Pounds each – Southwold Township 900 Signed by Levi Fowler Reeve

Anderson, William 1 Port Stanley

Arkell, Wm 10 Merchant Fingal Lot 18 NTRE

Atkins, Henry 5 Saddler 61 census Fingal

Ball, J (James) 5 Farmer 51 census Lot 19 NTR NB (Tre)

Barber, Phineheus 10 Farmer Lot18 STRE

Barber, J.D, 5 Farmer 51 census Lot 5&6 STRE

Barnes, Amos 5 Farmer Lot 23 NTRE

Begg, James 5 Farmer Lot 2 2ndR NLR

Benedict, Elijah 5 Farmer Lot 13 NTRE

Benton, O.E. 5 Drover 61 census Hotel operator 1857 Fingal

Best, Elisha 5 Farmer Lot 18 NTRE

Best, John 2 Dentist 51 census lot 12 NTRE (Tre)

Bissell John 5 Farmer Lot 16 NTRE

Bissell, Rufus 5 Farmer Lot 16 NTRE

To be paid if the gravel is put on the

Oneida Road

Bissell, Stewart 3 Shoemaker Lot 16 NTRE

Blackwood, Robert 10 Merchant Fingal Lot 19 STRE

Bobier William 1 Farmer 51 census Lot 16 1stR NUR (Tre)

Bodine, Mahlon 5 Farmer Lot 19 NTRE

Brotherhood, Horace 3 farmer Lot 7 STR NB (Tre)

Brown, Archibald 5 Farmer Lot 5 STR NB

To be paid if the gravel is put on the

Oneida Road

Burwell, Adam 5 Farmer Lot 12 NTRE

Burwell, Hannibal 5 Traveler Lots 4 NTRE

Burwell, Saml 5 Farmer lot 19 STRE

Campbell, Dugald 2 Farmer Lot 9 1stR NUR (Tre)

Campbell, John 5 Farmer Lot 6 1StR SUR

Campbell, Malcolm 1 Saddler& Harness Mkr Fingal Lot18 STRE

Carmichael, Arch 5 farmer Lot 14 STRE

Carpenter, Daniel 5 Joiner 51 census Fingal Twp clerk 1857

Caruthers, John 2 Grocer in Port Stanley in 1849

Clark, Elijah 2 Lot B&C Con 9 Dunwich Buried Iona cem

Collier, William 2 Clerk 51 census Fingal

Dewar, Neil 4 Farmer Lot 5 3rdR SUR

Drake, Thomas 1 Blacksmith 51 Census Fingal

Farr, Saml 2 Farmer Lot 14 1stR NUR(Tre)

Ferguson, James 5 Farmer Lot 11 1stR SUR

Fowler, Levi 20 Farmer Lot 19 TRE & Reeve of Twp

Fowler, William 2 Farmer 51 census Lot 13 STR NB

Froom, William 10 Farmer 51 census Lot 21 STR NB

Genge, Richard S. 2 Cabinet maker 51 census Lot 19 STRE 1/4 acres

Gilbert, Elijah 5 Farmer Lot 11 STR NB

Glasgow, William 10 Pattern maker Fingal 51 census

Hale, W.D 4 51 census in Port Stanley

Hamilton, Henry 5 Farmer Lot 9 STR NB

Higman, W.H. 2 Clerk 51 census Port Stanley

Hodge, Alex 4 Merchant 51 census Port Stanley

Hooper, Francis 2 wagon Maker 61 census Fingal

Hovey, M (Mathias) 10 Engineer 51 Census Fingal

Houghton, Emery 2

Johnson, Jacob 2 Farmer Lot 6 Con 4

Johnson, John 5 Farmer Lot 6 Con4

Kilday, Patrick 5 Farmer Lot 18 STRE

Kilday, William T 4 Farmer Lot 18 STRE

upon condition that road will be removed on our west line and that payment be made of all a year from 1st January next

King, John 5 Farmer Lot 28 STRE

Leitch, John 2 Farmer Lot 13 1stR NUR

Lewis, Chanucy 5 Innkeeper Fingal

Lloyd, Benj 3 Lot 14 Con 4 ?

Llurns,(?) E 5

Lodge,Joseph 3 Farmer Lot 2 NTR NB

Lumley, G.O 2 Joiner 51 census Fingal

MacBeth, Geo 30 Port Talbot heir to Thomas Talbot

Lot B Con 11 Dunwich and many otherlots

Magill, Robert 1 Lot14 NLR 1851) Wheelwright 1861 census

Mallory, George 4 Farmer Lot 15 1st WRR

Marell, W.H. 10 Clerk 51 census Fingal

Martin, Richard 2 Innkeeper Lot 16 Port Stanley

Mason, John L. 3 Farmer 1861 census Lot 14 1ndR NLR

Mason, Robt 3 Tavern Keeper on Proof Line north of London

Had child bpt in 1861 at Port Stanley Anglican church

Mason, Saml 5 Clothier Lot 15 UR Port Stanley

Mayward, B.E. 2

McColl, Nicol 2 Farmer 61 census Lot4 NTR NB

McDiarmid,Archibald 5 Farmer Lot 11 STRE

McGinn, Sam’l 5

McLauchlan, James 5 Tanner 51 census Fingal

McLaughlin, John 5 Farmer Lot 20 STRE

McLaughlin, Thomas 3 Farmer Lot 20 STRE

McLaughlin, William 4 Farmer Lot 20 STRE

McMillan, Campbell 3 Yeoman 1861 census Lot 21 STR NB

McPherson, D 10 Machinist 1861 census Fingal

McPherson, George 2 Lot 18 NTR Fingal

McQueen, Isaac B. 2 Son of Col James McQueen of Fingal

Went by name of Brock McQueen

McQueen John 2 Merchant 1861 Port Stanley

Meek, James 5 Farmer Lot12 1stR SUR

Meek, John 2 Farmer Lot12 1stR SUR

Meek, W.H 2 Farmer Lot12 1stR SUR

Mellor, Thomas 1 Farmer Lot 4 1stR ERR

Metcalfe, Geo 5 Cabinet maker 51 census Fingal

Moore, Charles 5 Farmer Lot 11 NTR NB

Morse, Jacob 1 Joiner 51 census Fingal

Munro, Colin 10 Lot 25 STR (Sheriff)

Neal, William 5 Tailor Fingal died 1888 bur Fingal Cemetery

Orchard, John 2 Farmer Lot 13 NTR NB

Orchard, Joseph 2 Farmer Lot 16 NTR NB

Orchard Thos 4 Farmer Lot 16 NTR NB

Partridge, John Sr 10 Farmer Lot 19 NTRE

Pettit, William 5 Farmer Lot 20 NTRE

Pindain Coaug 5 very poor writing only a quess

Routh & Davison, 6 Robt Routh commission agent Port Stanley

Foundry Port Stanley in 1857

Saunders,John 5

Schultz, John 2 Farmer Lot 12 NTR NB

Shaw, Timy 2 Farmer Lot 15 NTR NB

Silcox, Daniel 3 Farmer Lot 7 NTR NB

Silcox, Henry 5 Farmer Lot 8 NTRE

To be paid if the gravel is put on the

Oneida Road

Silcox, John 5 Farmer Lot 8 NTR NB

To be paid if the gravel is put on the

Oneida Road

Silcox, William 2 Farmer Lot 21 NTR NB

Smith, John L. 5 Farmer Lot 11 STRE 1861 census

Stafford Abel 5 Farmer lot 9 NTR NB

Stevenson, John 5 Labourer, son of Robert Lot 12 STRE

Stevenson, Peter 5 Farmer Lot 12 STRE

Sutton, C 4 Farmer Lot 14 SNB TR

Swisher, Philip 2 Farmer Lot 25 NTRE

Talld, (?) Freeman 10

Teetzel, Jonathon J. 2 Farmer Lot 22 NTRE

Teetzel, William 5 Carpenter Lot 18 NTRE Fingal

Thomson, Bryce 5 Gentleman Lot 16 SLR Port Stanley 1/4 acre

Thomson, Rob 5 Gentleman Lot 16 SLR Port Stanley 1/4 acre

Tomlinson, James 5 Lot12 SLR

Travers, R, W 10 Physician Lot18 STR Fingal

Turner, John 2 Farmer Lot 6 3rdR SUR

Vail G. M 10 Merchant Lot 18 NTR Fingal

Vail, Hiram 2 Farmer Lot 13 NTR NB (1861 census)

Vance, Andrew 2

Van Velsor William 5 Farmer Lot 8 STR NB

Wade & Moore, 4 John Wade Port Stanley druggist

Wallace, William 5 Farmer Lot 2 NTRE check

Waddel, James 1 Port Stanley

Warne, William 5 Farmer Lot 5 NTRE

Waters, Charles W. 5 Farmer Lot 7 NTRE

Watson, David 5 Farmer Lot 5 STRE

Watson, Hugh 5 Farmer Lot 2 2NDR NLR

Watson, James 5 Farmer Lot 8 STRE

Watson, John C. 5 Farmer Lot STRE

Waugh, Wm 2 Farmer Lot 16 SNB TR

Weldon, Andrew 1 Farmer Lot 19 NTRE

Williams. A.N.(Asa?) 5 Yeoman Lot18 Con 3 (1861 census)

Williams, John 5 Farmer Lot 8 NTRE

Williams, Samuel 5 Farmer Lot Con Dunwich

Williams, Thomas 5 Farmer Lot 8 NTRE

Willson, Jepithah 5 Farmer Lot 12 STRE

Willson, Gilman 2 Joiner Fingal

Wood, Asama 10 Farmer Lot 19 NTRE

Wood, Philo 5 Farmer Lot 23 NTRE

Unreadable 5

Daniel McPherson, Treasurer of the Union Road Company requested that the stockholders book be registered in the registry office of the County of Elgin on the 19th June 1854.

The stock book was registered by John W. Mackay, County Registrar at 15 minutes past 2 pm on 19 th June 1854 as the Union Road Company in Liber A Folio 7 of Joint Stock Companies


Unless otherwise noted Census is the 1851 and 1861 Census of the Township of Southwold.

Port Stanley was part of Southwold for 1851 and 1861 census

Con Concession

NTRE North of Talbot Road East

STRE. South of Talbot Road East

NTR NB North of Talbot Road North Branch

STR NB South of Talbot Road North Branch

NUR Ranges North of Union Road

SUN Ranges South of Union Road

NLR Ranges North of the Lake Road

ERR Ranges East of the River Road

WRR Ranges West of the River Road

Tre. Tremaine’s map of Elgin 1864 (complete index on Elgin OGS website)