Between 55,000 and 60,000 settlers came to colonial America in the same year (1842) that Alexander Ross and Janet Fraser immigrated. Some 3161 Scottish passengers passed through the customs and immigration sheds at the Port of Quebec. Many others would land in Halifax to settle in the Maritime Provinces, which were growing rapidly.
The area where our first two branches would begin their homesteads in 1844 was still a wilderness, although it had been surveyed by Mr. S. S. Wilmot in 1807. Several townships, including Scott, had been attached to the East Riding of the County of York during the 1821 session of the Legislature of Upper Canada. It was not until 1854 that York, Peel and Ontario Counties became divided into separate units in "Canada West". This has some bearing upon the complicated process by which Alexander Ross obtained the deed to his land.
The earliest development in the Township of Scott
occurred along the sixth concession on the "road" north of Uxbridge. The first actual settler, a Welshman named Evan Jones, began clearing lot seventeen of the same concession in 1830; the first schoolhouse was also built upon his lot, and the first council meetings were held there between 1843 and 1860 as well. A short distance along the road, a Crown Patent to the 200 acres of lot thirteen had been granted to Samuel Ridout on August 21, 1810. This was the parcel of land, which was bought by Alexander Ross on September 21, 1844, for the sum of one hundred fifty pounds (and five shillings). The deed was signed and sealed
in the presence of two witnesses and delivered in accordance with the law to John Ridout, District Registrar and Commissioner in Britain in and for the Home District of the old County of York. One of the witnesses to the record made a further sworn declaration before the District Registrar, and the deed was officially registered at 10:30 A.M. on September 27, 1844, to complete the legal documentation.
When his brother Donald arrived in 1844, they were able to complete a habitable log cabin during the Autumn, in order that Donald could begin to prepare the Western half of lot thirteen for his own use during the following year. Another tenant, William Montgomery with his wife Jane and children, was found to share fifty acres on Donald's portion on a ten-year lease.
Alexander's purchase of lot thirteen involved another do-it-yourself service of that era. The upkeep of other sideroads was done by "statute labour" under the supervision of a "Pathmaster". Each ratepayer, or someone paid by him, was required to spend a certain number of days each year working on the roads.
The Census of Canada for 1851 actually began in January of 1852 and it was completed over a period of two months. One sheet covered population and another gathered information about agriculture. The agricultural census
for the 100 acres which Alexander Ross farmed shows that forty acres were cleared for cultivation. Up a slight rise to the north of the log cabin, stood three small barns
; the closest, facing north and south, housed the cattle, and the other two barns contained grain and smaller livestock. In addition to the impressive amount of produce during the seventh season of cultivation, the farm had resources to make several unreported items, such as soap, tallow candles, dyes, clothing. Seasonings. Bread, herbal remedies, etc. The Ross families met most of their own needs, and they were among those who sent wagon-loads of grain to the Port of Whitby for shipment overseas during the Crimean War.
The agricultural report provided an excellent cross-reference for the population census, which recorded "the name of every person who sojourned in the house on the night of Sunday the 11th of January, as well strangers as members of the family who are temporarily absent, but whose usual residence it is".
The census indicates that both Alexander and Donald had "strangers" living at their "houses" ... one with Alexander's family ... and two with Donald and William. That leads one to suspect that the Rosses showed some compassion towards a few refugee-immigrants who were befriended by William during his voyage.
The Madill family was recorded on lot fourteen of the seventh concession across the road and one lot north of the Alexander Ross farm. Henry Madill (December 24, 1805) and Elizabeth Quinn (March, 1810), arrived in Canada from Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland, in 1837, with three children. Jane (b. & d. 1830) was survived by Mary Ann, John and Elizabeth. A further six children were born in Canada. Donald Ross and Mary Ann Madill were married on May 30, 1854. Their first child, whom they named Alexander Ross, was born on March 13, 1855, and on June 19th of the same year, Donald obtained a mortgage of 400 pounds and purchased the western half of Alexander's 200 acre lot.
William Ross (listed in the 1851 Census of Scotland) was now located with his brother Donald. It was also apparent that Scott could be used as a base for the remaining family members, who would arrive at three-year intervals. William would also be the key to their relocation in Minto, since he travelled there in 1853 and staked his claim to slightly over 200 acres of lots 1 and 2 on the fourth concession in the forest beside other squatters. Donald Fraser accompanied him there in 1854 to re-inforce the land claims. The story of these pioneers will be covered in the next story.
As the immigrant families passed through Scott, the following children were born there. The sixth child of William Young and Isabella Ross, Colin, was born in the log cabin of Alexander Ross on July 21, 1857. Roderick Ross and Christiana Junor stayed with Donald, and their first child, Margaret Ann Ross, was born there on December 4, 1857; she was baptized on February 1, 1858, at the Quaker Hill Presbyterian Church which was about five miles south.
On November 14, 1872, Donald Ross obtained a mortgage and bought another 130 acres, the northern part of the 200-acre thirteenth lot of the second concession in Scott Township for $2200. Twenty years after their son John D. Ross went to Brandon (c. 1882), Donald Ross and Mary Ann Madill made similar plans to travel to Manitoba with several other members of their family. Henry, Benjamin and Eliza remained in Ontario.
Except for a five-year period when the family rented their farm to stay in Minto (1867-1872), Alexander remained on the Board of Trustees for St. Paul's Presbyterian Church at Leaskdale.