We know William Montgomery as the woolen mill owner in Kilbride. The mill that can be confirmed as his was located just north of Baker Street (Kilbride Street) just west of Ella Foote Hall on Brittas Creek (the creek flowing through Kilbride), Lot 10, Concession 2 NS (New Survey). The footprint of the mill, the race and the mill pond can just barely be seen to this day.
William Peter Montgomery was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England about 1812. He was baptized on December 13, 1812. Hitchin is located a bit north of London. He was Scottish by ethnic origin. His parents were Constant Morton and William Montgomerie. Note the different spelling of the surname. William Sr. was born in 1780 in Scotland.
On July 20, 1834, William P. married Margaret Templeton in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire Scotland. His father-in-law, John Templeton, was listed on the Scottish census as a weaver. The question arises if William P. was influenced in his profession by his father-in-law as in the Scottish census of 1841 William was listed as a Cotton Hand Loom Weaver. That profession weaves cloth on a home based loom. His surname at that time was spelled Montgomeri. He and Margaret had 2 children, John and Mary Mackay while in Scotland.
John was born in 1835 and died in 1855 in Nelson Township, Halton. In the 1851 Census, John at the age of 17 was listed as a clothier as was his father. He was buried in the Kilbride Presbyterian Cemetery.
Mary Mackay was born in 1841 and died in 1926 in British Columbia. Her middle name was giving in honour of her grandmother’s surname. She married Alexander Fraser in Nelson Township. Alexander was listed as a school teacher in the 1861 Canadian Census and lived in Cumminsville. She and Alexander were still in Halton in the 1891 Census but left shortly after that for Manitoba where they and their two younger sons were farming in Landsdowne, Manitoba. By the 1911 Census they had moved to Summerland, BC where they were living at the time of their deaths.
The Montgomerys came to Canada sometime between when the Scottish census was taken in 1841 and 1843. We know this because their third child, Margaret Elizabeth Morton Montgomery (note the spelling once again) was born in Canada on July, 23, 1843 possibly in Waterdown, Wentworth County. This may not be accurate as her death was reported by her son who may have assumed her birth place was Waterdown as that is where she lived after her marriage. Margaret married William Smith Burton of Flamborough. She died in 1941 in Manitoba.
William P. and Margaret went on to have 4 more children.
William Jr. was born on June 25, 1845 in Nelson Township, Halton County. He married Margaret Ann Alderson, daughter of John Alderson and Jane Veach on March 7, 1869 in Wentworth County. He died on April 13, 1931 in Vancouver, B. C. His wife, Margaret, was born on August 28, 1850 in Flamboro East, Wentworth County. She died on July 12, 1906 in Landsdowne, Manitoba. Alderson is a prominent name in the neighbouring village of Carlisle. There is even a road named in honour of the Alderson family. It is interesting to note the migration of several of the Montgomery children to western Canada.
James Templeton was born on June 15, 1848 in Ontario. Note the use of his mother’s surname as his middle name. He was married three times. His first marriage was to Eliza Jane Morden who was from the Waterdown area. On her death, he married Margaret Cumming. Margaret had come to work for James as a nanny for his children. They moved to Manitoba. When she died James returned to Ontario. Lastly, he married Isabella Burgess. James died on December 24, 1915 in Hamilton, Wentworth County.
Allan was born on May 31, 1849 in Halton (most likely Nelson Township). He died on August 15, 1871 in Halton and was buried in the Kilbride Presbyterian Cemetery.
In the 1851 Canadian Census, William Peter and his son John were listed as clothiers. By definition at that time, a clothier was a person who made, sold, or dealt in clothes or cloth. Of interest were his neighbours at that time, Thomas and Matilda Simpson on one side and William Lambert and family on the other. William Lambert was also listed as a clothier. Looking at the Cumminsville land records, there is no listing of land being owned by either William P. or William Lambert in 1851. Most likely they were tenants at that time.
The Census also mentions that William was manufacturing cloth by water power with a 6 horse power machine. His output in 1851 was 600 yards of cloth. This would lead one to assume he was working in the creek at the woolen mill on the Cumminsville survey.
Janet was born on September 17, 1852 in Kilbride. She married John Wesley Burton of the Waterdown area. This was the same family that her older sister, Margaret, had also married into. Of the Montgomery children, she was the only one who stayed in the area as an adult. She died on January 9, 1923 in East Flamboro and was buried in the Carlisle Cemetery as were many of the Burton family.
There are few early records of the religious activity in this area. However, the original record book for the Cumminsville Bible Society, which began on May 9, 1854, shows its founding members included William P. Montgomery who was listed as their Treasurer. Earlier, a Presbyterian church under the branch of the Free Church of Scotland had begun as a mission in 1846. A pastoral charge was formed in 1855 and, in 1856 a church was built east of Kilbride. That Presbyterian Church most likely had its start on East Street, now known as #8 Side Road beside where the Presbyterian Church cemetery is still located.
In 1855, William’s son, John died at the age of 20.
By the 1861 Census, William P. was now listed as a cloth manufacturer. Manufacturing would require a loom. We can definitively place William P. in the Cumminsville area as on Sept. 5, 1861 he purchased Lot 3 Block 1 in Cumminsville from Titus G. Cummins and wife. In the 1857 survey of Cumminsville, there is a woolen mill located on the creek. One can assume that William P. either worked at the mill or possibly owned the mill.
It was not long afterwards; in 1862, that William P. purchased 100 acres of land on Lot 10, Concession 2. He had the westerly ½, except the lane. This was purchased from George Agnew and his wife. George held the mortgage in the amount of $2400. We do know that William had the woolen mill here. Whether he built it or purchased it is an unanswered question. However, the mortgage of $2400 could indicate that a building was already there. In 1860, $2400 would be equivalent to about $75,000 today.
In 1864, he sold his lot on Cumminsville.
In 1873, he sold 43 acres of Lot 10 to Donald McGregor. Also on April 10, 1873, William sold 6 acres to his sons, William Montgomery and James T. Montgomery. The land records include “reserving about 1/12 of an acre with right to use the road to the woolen factory”.
On April 15, 1873 Wm. Montgomery sold to Duncan McNab and Robert Parker. Unfortunately, the acreage is not listed. Their advertisement indicated that the mill was renovated with new machinery. Samuel Beaumont, an immigrant from Yorkshire, operated the mill in 1875 and 1876. By 1877 he was in Norval operating the mill there.
One of the hazards of machinery use was overheating with the result being fire. In August of 1877, that is just what happened. It was reported that a spark escaped through the chimney and resulted in the mill being destroyed. The immediate proximity to the creek and a water supply was not sufficient to save the mill. Unfortunately the $1000 insurance policy did not cover the reported $4000 loss. The mill was not rebuilt.
On September 15th 1888, William Peter Montgomery passed away at the age of 76. He was identified on the death certificate as a manufacturer. He had been ill for 9 days with diarrhea. His son-in-law, Alexander Fraser notified his death. Alexander was listed as the Postmaster in Cumminsville. On May 12, 1896 James Montgomery, William Montgomery et al & heirs of William Peter Montgomery, sold part of the SW1/2 of Lot 10 with right to use the road to the woolen factory to John H. Bradley.
William’s wife, Margaret (Templeton) Montgomery died April 16th, 1898 in East Flamboro. She had been ill for 4 months with senile debility. Her address was given as Lot 9, Concession 9 in East Flamboro. On the 1875 Wentworth County Atlas, the property was owned by R. Burton. R. Burton was Richard Burton and was a member of the family that the two Montgomery girls married into. Nearby was a lot owned by William Montgomery who was most likely William P.’s son.
Contributing Author: Helen Callaway