Monthly Archives: January 2015

James Paris Lee – Galt Resident, Famous Gunsmith

James Paris Lee was born in Hawick, Scotland on August 9, 1831, the son of nine children of George Lee and Margaret Paris. The family emigrated to Galt in 1836 where George, a skilled watchmaker and jeweller, set up a business at the north west corner of Water and Main. The family home was a rough cast frame building on Melville St. which was later demolished to make room for the Central James Paris LeePresbyterian Church Sunday School building. James Lee learned the trade of watchmaking and was interested in mechanisms but his great passion was firearms. It was a passion that nearly cost him his life when he was still quite young and that left him with a permanent limp when he accidentally shot himself in the heel. Mr. Lee left Galt when he was nineteen and in about 1852 married Caroline Chrysler with whom he had two children. She died in London, England in 1888. Mr. Lee moved to the United States just prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1860 and it was there that he developed the idea of the quick firing rifle. While experimenting with a forty shot repeating rifle, Mr. Lee invented a method of turning the old and popular Springfield rifle into a breechloader, an adaptation soon adopted by the U.S. Cavalry. It was not until 1878 that the Lee magazine rifle, capable of firing 30 shots per minute was perfected. The weapon was adopted first by the American Navy and then by China. In 1888, the British Army approved the Lee-Metford rifle for extensive field tests. The rifle combined Mr. Lee’s quick firing design with a barrel rifling method developed by Col. Metford. When the rifling in the gun proved inadequate, the British Army went back to the old Enfield rifling method and approved the Lee-Enfield for general use for its forces throughout the world. Although Mr. Lee never benefited financially to any great degree from his inventions, he was remarkably prolific and is said to have produced more guns and gun parts than any other inventor up to that time. He is also credited by one source with the development of the first keyboard used on a rudimentary Remington typewriter. Mr. Lee returned to Galt in 1899 where he lived until returning to the United States to live out his final days with his son. He died on February 24, 1904 in New Haven, Connecticut.

Cambridge Mosaic, Jim Quantrell, 1998, City of Cambridge


Dr. Samuel Richardson – Early Galt Doctor

Dr. Samuel Richardson

Among the old “land marks” in the medical profession, in the county of Waterloo, is Dr. Samuel Richardson, forty years a practitioner in Galt. He is better known than almost any other man in the town, having been up and down the valley of the Grand river for a long period, a distance of twenty or thirty miles, and at an early day, much farther; and even now, with all the comparatively new settlers, there are very few families in a radius of ten or fifteen miles, that do not know the Doctor. He is a native of the county of Longford, Ireland, and was born February 3, 1809, his parents being Euchmuty and Jane (Moffatt) Richardson. He was educated at a clergyman’s school and Trinity, Dublin; there studied medicine; and was graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons in that city, in 1834. In the autumn of the same year he embarked for the western world to follow his profession in Upper Canada, locating first at Guelph, and there practicing for five years. Many of his rides at this date were not only long, but extremely tedious. In 1839 the Doctor removed to Galt, then a small village; and in forty years has seen the country settle up with thrifty farmers, and Galt become a manufacturing town of perhaps 5000 inhabitants. Other doctors had preceded him, or soon followed him hither, but they have gone, some to other parts of the country, one, a pioneer, Dr. Robert Miller, back to England, and others to “that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns.”

Dr. Richardson has been in general practice, and made a comfortable living by his profession. He was seventeen years in the town council; has been deputy reeve and reeve; is holding the office of justice of the peace, and has long been a valuable citizen of the town. He is a member of Trinity Episcopal church, and has served as warden at different times. He is a Master Mason, but pays little attention to the meetings of the lodge.

The Doctor has been twice married, first in 1834 to Miss Mary Ann Brereton, of Dublin, Ireland, she dying in 1849 and the second time, in 1850, to Miss Annie Orr, of Galt. He has two children living by each wife.

The Canadian Biographical Dictionary


Death of Dr. Richardson – The feelings with which we write these words will be well understood by the people of Galt and surrounding country. A face and form associated with the town and its neighborhood ever since its earliest days has suddenly been removed by the hand of death. In chronicling the fact, we simply do our duty; but the present generation will have to pass away before its memory of the kind and worthy Doctor will be allowed to fade and grow dim, or the green spot he occupied in every heart becomes seared and withered.

The death of our old friend was sudden and unexpected. Apparently in the best of health he went about his usual avocations on Friday morning last, and in the course of the morning went up as far as the Post Office to receive his mail. Walking back to his residence again, he handed the papers to other members of his family, and went into his surgery. Returning in a few minutes he asked if there was any news, and these were the last words he was ever heard to utter. A gentleman calling to consult with him a short time afterwards, it was found that the Doctor was not in his surgery; but it was thought that he had stepped out into the garden and would be back in a few minutes, and the patient was asked to take a seat til he returned. He did so; but as the minutes flew by he began to get impatient and at last said that he would call again. It was at this time that the door of the drawing room was opened by a member of the family; and there, lying on the floor with his head resting on a sofa cushion lay the Doctor in an utterly unconscious condition. Everything that medical skill could suggest was done in the hope that he might rally; but as hour succeeded hour the fatal attack only more firmly secured its hold, had at half past 8 o’clock on Saturday morning he calmly breathed his last.

Dr. Richardson was born in Richmond County of Longford, Ireland, in the year 1808, and was consequently in his 74th year at the time of his death. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and came to Canada in the year 1835. When first he came to this country, he resided for some five years in Guelph, where his brother, Robert, and sister, Mrs. Geo. Harvey, still reside, removing to Galt about the year 1840. He has from that time been a constant resident of our town taking an active party in everything calculated to advance its interests. Able and enthusiastic in his profession, he rapidly attained to an extensive practice in Galt and surrounding country. For the long period of over forty years he was indefatigable in the discharge of his professional duties, never wearying when good could be done, or when he felt it his duty to attempt it. In all those years, while he was the rich man’s professional adviser he was essentially the poor man’s friend and if the record of his professional life could only be written, how eloquently it would speak of the sympathy which turned the Doctor into a friend the professional adviser into the beloved confidant. There is scarcely an old family in our midst today but what the members thereof bear the strongest feelings of love for the genial, hearty man who ministered to them in their distress or soothed the weary hours of those near and dear to them. He has now been called to the enjoyment of the perfect rest; but the memory of his long and active life will remain in our midst till time itself shall fade away with all those who knew him in life.

Notwithstanding the arduous duties of his profession, the Doctor found time to take an active part in Municipal affairs, and was for many years a member of the Town Council, finally resigning a few years ago. He held his seat in the stormy days of our Municipal politics, when feeling in the town n certain questions ran very high; but throughout it all he retained the respect and esteem of his constituents and townsmen generally. On one occasion, if we are not mistaken, he was elected Deputy-Reeve, and served the town in that capacity with his accustomed ability. He was also an enthusiastic Oddfellow in the days of the old Galt lodge, and occupied the position of Treasurer therein up to the time of its breaking up.

Dr. Richardson was twice married, his first wife dying about the year 1848. He afterwards married Miss A. Orr, formerly of Stratford, who still survives. By his first marriage he had six children, two of whom are yet living – Mr. A. Richardson, of San Francisco, and Mrs. J. Dowker, of Chicago. By his second marriage he also had four children, two of whom are living – Mr. S. Richardson, of Galt, and Mr. John A. Richardson, of the Imperial Bank, Toronto. The Doctor’s house was always his castle; and in social life it was his aim, as well as that of his bereaved partner in life, to make their friends feel that they were indeed friends in the broadest meaning of the term. The funeral Took place on Monday afternoon, all the places of business being closed as the cortege passed through the streets on its way to Trinity Church Cemetery.

Galt Reporter 29 Sep 1882 pg 1

Christopher Kress – Hotel Kress – Preston, Ontario

Christopher Kress

One who will soon be classed among the old settlers of Preston is Christopher Kress, who by his energy and pluck has accumulated considerable property and who has greatly aided in giving Preston a good name as a desirable place of resort for the cure of rheumatism and kindred diseases, through its mineral baths.



The demolition of Hotel Kress. Photo facebook 2015. Submitted by Tom Stanley

The demolition of Hotel Kress. Photo facebook 2015. Submitted by Tom Stanley

The mineral springs were struck by one Peter Erb while boring for salt in 1838, which he never obtained. He placed no value in the sulphur water he had so struck. After abandoning boring, the water of the spring was employed for driving an overshot wheel of a wagon making shop, occupied by one Daniel Hagey, until Mr. Samuel Cornell obtained from Mr. Joseph Erb sufficient land near the spring to erect an hotel. Mr. Cornell with great energy built suitable premises and a bath house with boiler to enable him to furnish hot and cold baths.. His undertaking proved successful but death terminated his career. The property was sold and Christopher Kress became its owner. He greatly enlarged, improved and ornamented it and the invalids who have sought and obtained relief at the Preston mineral baths count by the hundreds.Preston-HotelKress-1910s-001

Fifth Annual Report Of The Waterloo Historical Society, 1917 pg 32

James Thornton Huber – more than one business

J.T. Huber & Co., manufacturers of Patent Compressed Insoles, Upholsterers’ Wool Batting and Flock – The manufacturing industries of Berlin are varied in character and important in extent, and aid materially in developing the commercial prosperity of the town. Among the number of prominent specialties may be mentioned that conducted by J.T. Huber & Co., manufacturers of patent compressed insoles, upholsterers’ wool batting and flock. The present firm succeeded Mr. George H. Nelson two years ago, and putting fresh life and vigor into the enterprise, are increasing the business weekly. The premises occupied, which are located near the Grand Trunk Railway station, are 50×100 feet in dimensions and two stories in height, where employment is furnished to 20 skillful workmen. The machinery used is all of the latest and most improved designs, consisting of carding and batting machines, pickers, etc., which are operated by a 30-horse power steam engine with boiler of 40-horse power. The product of the works is sold throughout the entire of Canada to shoe manufacturers, upholsterers and cabinet makers, amongst whom it is in active demand. Mr. Huber is always on the lookout for improvements, and is constantly adding to his reputation for the excellent quality of material manufactured by him, which is the cause of his constantly growing trade.

Industries of Canada Historical and Commercial Sketches Hamilton and Environs 1886



image from Waterloo Region Museum An advertisement or trade card cut in the shape of a cup and saucer with coloured decoration. Printing on the cup and on the back of the card: J.T. HUBER / Largest stock of / CROCKERY, / IN THE COUNTY. / Berlin, Ont. Possibly ca. 1880. 11.3 x 7 cm

J. T. Huber, Groceries and Crockery, King St. – Among the many industries in Berlin that call for special notice in a work of this kind is that which deals in the necessaries of life, principal among which is that of groceries. Berlin contains several first-class stores in this line of business, principal among the number being that of Mr. J.T. Huber, whose establishment is located on King Street in the American block. This business has been established for the past eight years, and since its inception has improved steadily and rapidly. The premises occupied are 23×75 feet in dimensions, and tastefully and appropriately fitted up for the requirements of the trade. A very large and well-selected stock of staple and fancy groceries is carried, consisting of the choicest brands of teas and coffees, pure spices, table delicacies, hermetically sealed goods, flour, etc. Mr. Huber makes a specialty of crockery and glassware, of which he carries a large fine stock, and sells at prices that defy competition. His trade extends throughout the town and country; he gives employment to four painstaking and competent assistants, and uses one team in the delivery of goods. Mr. Huber is a native of Canada, and a gentleman who understands most thoroughly every department of the business he now so successfully conducts. He is a man of indomitable energy and enterprise, and is held in high esteem in the community.

Industries of Canada Historical and Commercial Sketches Hamilton and Environs 1886

James Blain – A Galt Titan

Death of James Blain, Esq. – This gentleman, for many years one of Galt’s leading citizens, passed to his rest on Monday last. Up to 1875 the deceased was an active, energetic business man, but during that year he was stricken with apoplexy, from which he never entirely recovered, and since then he has suffered from a partial stroke of paralysis which greatly weakened his once iron constitution. For the last few years he has been a severe sufferer from a form of epilepsy. A short time ago he met with quite a severe fall, and the powers of life being almost exhausted, he gradually sank.

Mr. Blain was a native of Cumberland, England, having been born in Bowness-in-Solway, on the 10th March, 1805, and was consequently in his 78th year at the time of his death. In the spring of 1831 he came to Canada, preceding Mr. Richard Blain and others of his brothers by some years. On arriving at Niagara he at once entered the building trade, one of his first works being the erecting of the Presbyterian Church there, which building still stands. Niagara was then the Capital of Upper Canada, and a busy, flourishing place, and Mr. Blain was successful there in laying the foundation of the competence which for many years he usefully employed. Besides the building trade, Mr. Blain engaged largely in the shipment of flour to the seaboard Provinces, and in this line he was also successful.

The decadence of Niagara caused Mr. Bain to leave it, and in 1850 he removed to Lockport, N.Y., where he joined Mr. Lyman A. Spalding in the forwarding business. In the fall of 1854 he came to Galt and entered into partnership with Mr. Richard Blain, in the Milling business, the firm carrying on the Dickson Mills. In 1858, the partnership was dissolved and in 1866 Mr. Blain acquired by purchase from the Dickson Estate, the Mill, the water privileges in connection therewith, and a large number of lots on the hill where the homestead new stands. To the development of this property Mr. Blain largely gave his energies for some years, although at the same time he was an active Director on the great Western Railway and also engaged in the shipping business, being part owner of the steamer Arabian, running between Quebec and Shediac.

Almost immediately upon his coming to Galt, Mr. Blain identified himself at once with its interests and was elected and served for several years as Councilor. Possessed of an active temperament, he entered freely and willingly into all the schemes which seemed likely to conduct to the progress of the town and lent valuable aid in securing the connection with Grand Trunk Railway and subsequently with the Credit Valley railway. It was during these years that the Great western, under the Managership of Mrs. Thomas Swinyard, was passing through perhaps its most trying time, and there was no Director on the Board who took more interest or gave more of his time and influence for its benefit than the subject of these remarks.

The deceased gentleman was twice married, his second wife, who still survives him, having been his loving partner through all the trials of his later years. His only son, Mr. James L. Blain, is well known in this locality and at present occupies a responsible position in connection with a College in Paris, France. Of Mr. Blain’s brothers and sisters there are yet living – John Blain, Esq., of Cumberland, England; Wm. Blain, Esq., of Niagara; Capt. Isaac Blain, of Brampton; Richard Blain, Esq., of Galt; and Mrs. T. Devenish , of Scarboro’.

Mr. Blain’s funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon to Trinity Church Cemetery, and was largely attended by his old friends in the Town and by many from all parts of the Province, who thus testified their respect for him.

Galt Reporter 21 Jul 1882 pg 1

Ward Hamilton Bowlby, M.A, LL.B., County Crown Attorney and Clerk of the Peace for the County of Waterloo, Berlin, Ont.,


Ward Hamilton Bowlby was born in the Township of Townsend. in the County of Norfolk, Ontario, Canada, on October 4th, 1834. His father was the late Adam Bowlby, of Townsend, an extensive farmer and speculator in farm lands, who owned large tracts of land in Norfolk and adjoining counties, acquired considerable wealth, and died, at the advanced age of 91 years, on the 26th February, 1883. His grandfather, Richard Bowlby, during the American Revolutionary War, was a resident of the then Province of New Jersey, and being firm in his allegiance to the British Crown, became a U. B. Loyalist, left the United States, and settled in Annapolis county, Nova Scotia, where Adam Bowlby was born in 1792. Adam Bowlby served, while a mere lad, in the war of 1812, having been placed in command of a company of coast, guardsmen to prevent the landing of piivaleers on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, and for this service he was in receipt of a pension from the Canadian Government, up to the day of his death, as one of the veterans of the war of 1812. The Bowlbys are an old English family, but as the ancestors of the subject of this sketch settled in the British provinces of America at such an early period, this branch of that family may be now properly called the colonial branch of the family, and are descended from good U. E. Loyalist stock. Tilomas William Bowlby, an English barrister and an eminent war correspondent, who, in the capacity of correspondent of the London Times, accompanied Lord Elgin as ambassador to China in I859, and was there treacherously killed by the Chinese, and to whose family the Chinese government were compelled to pay a large indemnity, was a distant relative of this branch of the same family.

The mother of the subject of this sketch was Elizabeth Sovereign, daughter of the late Leonard Sovereign, of Waterford, Ont., and niece of the late Philip Sovereign, M.P.P., member in the first parliament of Upper Canada at Niagara. Mr. Bowlby’s great-grandmother, on the father’s side, was a sister of Josiah Wedgwood, the celebrated English chemist who invented the Wedgwood ware. Ward Hamilton Bowlby was educated in a clergyman’s school at the Woodhouse Rectory, near Simcoe, and in the grammar schools at Simcoe, Streetsville and St. Thomas, and at University College, Toronto, and graduated both in arts and in law at the University of Toronto. During every year of his college course he held a first scholarship, and on graduating to the degree of B. A. in the University of Toronto, in 1856, he obtained the Jamieson gold medal, and again on graduating to the degree of LL.B., in 1858, Mr. Bowlby obtained the University gold medal in law, he being the first person who ever had that honour from the Toronto University.

Mr. Bowlby studied law in the office of the law firm of Wilson, Patterson & Beaty, of Toronto, which firm was then composed of the present Chief Justice Wilson. Judge Patterson, and Mr. James Beaty, Q.C., M.P., and he was called to the bar and admitted as a solicitor in May, 1858, and has now practised the legal profession for over twenty-seven years in Berlin. Mr. Bowlby is a member of the law firm of Bowlby & Clement, one of the leading law firms in the County of Waterloo, and is a sound lawyer, a good counsellor, an excellent cross-examiner of witnesses, and a shrewd man of business. He is also a solicitor for two of the chartered banks doing business at Berlin and Waterloo, and is solicitor for one of the largest insurance companies in Ontario. During his long professional career he has argued many important cases in the High Court at Toronto, and in the Supreme Court at Ottawa, and has always enjoyed a large and lucrative practice, and been in every way most successful, and is financially rated as one of the wealthiest citizens of Berlin.

Mr. Bowlby has often been a member of the town and county councils; was reeve of Berlin from 1863 to 1868, and has been a member of the Public School Board of Berlin for the past twenty years, and has always done his utmost to promote the interests of education. In February, 1862, the Cartier-Macdonald Government issued a proclamation dividing the County of Waterloo into two registration districts, and offered Mr. Howlby the position of registrar of North Waterloo at Berlin, but, in consequence of the fact that the old registrar afterwards elected to retain the registrarship at Berlin, the Government appointed Mr. Bowlby registrar of South Waterloo, at Preston, on March 17th, 1862, and although he, at first, accepted the office and performed its duties for a length of time, yet he refused to comply with the law requiring him to remove his place of residence from Berlin to Preston, as he would not give up his law practice at Berlin for the registrarship at Preston, and a change of government having taken place in the meantime steps were thereupon taken to abolish the new registry office for South Waterloo, and on October 15th, 1863, under the auspices of the Macdonald-Dorion Government, there was passed the Act of Parliament. 27 Viet. cap. 35, whereby the ridings of Waterloo were re-united for registration purposes. Mr. Bowlby was appointed to the offices of County Crown Attorney and Clerk of the Peace for the County of Waterloo, by the first Provincial Government of Ontario, on December 24th, 1867, which offices he has ever since held, and in both of which he has given every satisfaction.

Mr. Bowlby has travelled much in foreign parts, having crossed the Atlantic several times, and in the years 1877 and 1880, in company with his wife and daughter, he made a tour of fourteen months abroad and visited all the principal cities and places of interest in Great Britain and continental Europe. He is a member of the Church of England. Holding government offices for the last eighteen years, he has not recently taken any part in political matters, but in politics he is now generally supposed to be in sympathy with the Liberal party. Mr. Bowlby has one of the prettiest and most delightful residences in Berlin, situate in an enclosure of eleven acres, surrounded by a beautiful well-kept lawn, dotted over with clumps of evergreens, deciduous trees and shrubbery, and here and there flanked with spruce and cedar hedges. Mr. Bowlby has four brothers, viz., Alfred Bowlby, Esq., M.D., of Waterford ; William Bowlby. Esq., of Simcoe ; D. S. Bowlby, Esq, MD of Berlin, and J. W. Bowlby, Esq., LL. B., barrister, of Brantford ; and he has an only sister, Mary Ursula, wife of Col. Walker Powell, the Adjutant-General at Ottawa. Mr. Bowlby was married on April 10th, 1861, to Lissie, eldest daughter of the late J. Hespeler, Esq., founder of the village of Hespeler, and he has an only child, a daughter, Annie Hespeler Bowlby, now the wife of George H. Perley, Esq., a junior partner in the well-known and extensive lumbering firm of Perley & Pattee, of Ottawa

A Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography Being Chiefly Men of the Time.1886

August Drechsler – Violinist – barefoot or in slippers

Many stories are yet to be told of those who were once residents of the Waterloo County House of Industry and Refuge in Kitchener. Here is one:

“August Drechsler, a violinist, who, for approximately 45 years wandered around this area for the most part barefoot and in slippers and in the lightest possible clothing, has finally come to rest. On Monday morning, he died in the poorhouse here, where he had lived for some years, at the age of 78 years. In addition to music, his favourite activity was translating from classical works. He used to get paper from printing houses and glued several sheets together, until the desired thickness was obtained. On this, he wrote a line of Greek at the top, and below that, the translation, line by line, in Latin, French, English and German, and in the most beautiful script possible. He was a polite, harmless human being, whom one had to like despite his peculiarities. He left his estate, consisting of approximately $60., to Mr. Jakob Hagey of Waterloo and his beloved violin to the latter’s daughter. He was born in Saxony.” – Translated by: Patricia J. Kauk November 4, 2005

Berliner Journal 22 Mar 1900 pg 3 Col 3