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BOOK - Montague, A Social History of an Irish Ontario Township 1783-1980
By Glenn J. Lockwood
When Montague was surveyed in the 1790s, it was intended to accommodate Loyalists and post-Loyalist settlers, to continue settlement started in the 1780s by the first caucasian settler on the Rideau, Roger Stevens. Montague's proximity to the military settlements at Perth, Beckwith, and Richmond attracted additional settlers inthe post 1812 decades; however it was the shock of mass Irish immigration during the 1830s through to the 1850s which gave the township its distinctive character by mid century.
The book's unifying theme is one of survival. From the slowly growing frontier settlement at the end of the ninteenth century, through the years of large-scale settlement and squatting by Irish immigrants in the early ninteenth century, to the failure of the local wheat economy by the 1870s -- followed a century later by the deline of the dairy economy for many farmers, the struggle against the township's thin soil allowed many inhabitants little more than a subsistence living. Other forms of survival continue this pattern of Montague's history.
Attempts were made to develop schools and churches whithin the townshop, but these gradually declined in favour of adjacent towns such as Smiths Falls, while a continual battle was waged to prevent Smiths Falls from expropriating fertile farmland for industrial development. Social groups and local fairs, villages and post offices, cheese factories, and rural telephone companies: all doomed to failure as adjacent towns grew, as railroads sliced through the township, and as Montague's population dropped between 1860 and 1940. In addition, there were social problems -- ranging from families on the brink of stavation, to inadequate roads and schools, to religious and ethnic intolerance -- problems which would contribute to the irish feeling of inferiority that persisted in Montague from the mid ninteenth century onward.
The story of Montague illustrates many of the reasons that there are so many descendants of Montague Township families who have migrated to points across the country and around the world. This book is an valuable connection to those roots.
8.75 X 10.25"
Hardcover ( with dust jacket)
Published 1980 by the Corporation of the Township of Montague
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