St Marys Ontario - Early Pioneers
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Blanshard
Founding of St Marys
Commemorative Plaque

From History of Perth County 1825-1902
by William Johnston, published in 1903

To this spot came Mr. Thomas Ingersoll in 1841, and was first pioneer at Little Falls.   Subsequent to Blanshard being surveyed, in 1839, Mr. Ingersoll had made certain arrangements with the Canada Company to erect a saw and grist mill as an inducement for settlers to locate in this new township.   To attain an object so desirable Mr. Ingersoll sent a staff of workmen to proceed with these improvements in the autumn of 1841.   With these pioneers came James McKay. still living in St Marys, and last remaining of those hardy backwoodsmen who came to Little Falls previous to 1845.   A saw mill was erected on what is now Water street, on its west side, and close to Trout creek.   At this point was cut down the first tree in St. Marys.   A log house was erected, into which William Carroll came with his wife and child, also in 1841.   This building was used as a boarding house for Mr. Ingersoll's workmen and such travellers as ventured into this remote settlement.   Another log house was erected on the northwest corner of Water and Queen streets, and another near the corner of Church and Park streets by Mr Tracey.   These buildings were completed in 1842, and constituted at that period the hamlet of Little Falls.

Prior to 1844, as will be noticed by a reference to "Historical Sketch of Blanshard," a number of settlers had located in this new section.   On the occasion of a visit during that year by Mr. Jones, Canada Company Commissioner at Goderich, who was accompanied by his wife, it was decided by the citizens that a more euphonious name than Little Falls should be given to this now important village.   The honour of giving a new name was accorded to Mrs. Jones, who had subscribed ten pounds towards erecting a school.   This building stands on the corner of James and Queen streets, and is still used for school purposes.   Mrs. Jones, therefore, named Little Falls in honour of herself, calling it St. Marys, her name being Mary.*  The next buildings erected in St. Marys were two stores, one by Mr. Cruttenden, from Beachville, and another by James McKay.   These stood together about the centre of the block between Water and Wellington streets, on Queen street, north side.   This was in 1843.   On the south side of Queen street was another log building, erected also by Mr. Cruttenden for a hotel, the first in St. Marys.   Between this hostlery and Water street was fenced in with a rail fence, forming an enclosure where the oxen were fed while their owners were guests of the hotel or transacting business elsewhere.   This space was afterwards occupied for a period of nearly fifty years by the National hotel, and now by the Whelihan block.   South of this cattle yard, east side of Water street, was a coal pit, where coke was made, to supply the only blacksmith shop in Blanshard.   This shop was opened by a person named Smith, near where is now the post office, corner of Jones and Water streets.   The next importact branch of trade established in St. Marys was that of shoe-making, by Mr. Dunn.   Meantime Mr. Ingersoll had completed his grist mill, and St. Marys began to assume the airs of a smart business centre.

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*L.W Wilson & L.R. Pfaff wrote in their 1981 book Early St Marys:
'the place was called St. Marys well before 1845.   J.B. Brown's Views of Canada and the Colonies (Edinburgh, 1844) contains a description of the village which is refered to as St. Marys, and Ingersoll in his letter to Jones refers to St. Marys "Blanshard" Falls in 1843.' **

**Letter from James Ingersoll to Thomas Mercer Jones, June 23, 1843. Ontario Archives, Toronto (R.G.1, Series A - Subseries I-6, Box 22).