Speaking Notes

Drummond / North Elmsley Reeve
Aubrey Churchill

Shaw Family Reunion
01-04 July 2005


On behalf of the Township of Drummond / North Elmsley it is my pleasure to welcome you all home. As you know it was in this corner of what was then Upper Canada that your ancestors, William Alexander Shaw and Agnes Dunn, planted your Canadian roots in 1832.
Those pioneer Shaws raised a family of seven on their Drummond Center farm, all of whom contributed significantly to the early and later development of this part of Ontario.
Alexander “Sandy” owned and operated a pharmacy at Almonte; Margaret, Jane and Janet were schoolteachers in various Lanark County towns; John and James were farmers here in Drummond Township; and Sarah a farmer’s wife at Appleton.
The descendents of this first generation of Drummond Township Shaws spread themselves across Canada, the United States and the world. I can not speak for the achievements of  Shaws elsewhere, but here in Drummond Township we know William & Agnes and their descendents for a long history of service to their community.

Shortly after the first Township Councils were formed under the Municipal Institutions Act of 1849, Scots immigrant William Alexander Shaw was appointed as “librarian and caretaker” at the Drummond Township Hall. For his services … the most important of which was do doubt lighting the fire for winter meetings … William received an annual salary of 5 pounds per year. This stipend was actually slightly more than the councilor’s salary of 4 pounds, 2 shillings and 6 pence …. which may tell us something about how drafty the old hall was and the importance of those fire-lighting duties.
As the tapestry of tradition is woven from small threads it is worthy of note that William’s great-grandson, Douglas Shaw, also laid the fire at Drummond Township Hall in the 1950s. He recalls his salary as being $10 per year, which seems little improvement over that paid his ancestor a century before. Apparently Drummond Township has always had a “thrifty” council.
Caretaker William’s son James was elected to Drummond Township Council in about 1875, served as Deputy Reeve from 1878 to 1880 and, in that capacity, represented Drummond on the Lanark County Council.
Even after leaving elected office James continued to take a strong interest in the physical and moral state of the township. In 1908 he and neighbor William McLaren presented a petition signed by 200 electors seeking a by-law “prohibiting the sale of spirituous liquors within the limits of the Township”. Council agreed to put such a by-law to the electors but it was defeated in both 1908 and 1912. A number of years later James received satisfaction however, and it was not until 1973 that electors of Drummond reinstated the legal sale of alcoholic beverages in this Township.
James was also actively engaged in the economic development of Drummond. He founded the Cheese Factory at Drummond Center in 1874. In 1905 the first telephone line in the Township was strung between James Shaw’s farm and those of Pat “Walsh and Dan Malloch. By 1909 the Drummond Center Telephone Company was founded on the basis of eight subscribers. James was also a Charter Board Member of the Lanark Mutual Insurance Company which well serves this part of Ontario to this day.
James’ wife Charlotte Moulton-Shaw, was a founding member of the Drummond Center branch of the Women’s Institute established in 1913 …. an institution which, in addition to maintaining the local cemetery, organizing showers for brides-to-be and providing magazine subscriptions for local schools, also paid a one cent bounty on groundhog tails.
William’s grandson Homer Shaw concentrated on education and served the community by sustaining many of the institutions founded by his father James.
He was a Trustee of Drummond Center Public School and then a Charter Trustee of the Drummond Township School Board when it was founded in the 1950s. Homer was a Director of the Drummond Center Telephone Company for many years, a long serving Director of the Drummond Center Cheese Factory and a Director of the Lanark Mutual Fire Insurance Company for more than half a century.
Hazel Haig-Shaw, wife of Homer, helped found the Drummond Literary Club, was a life member of the Drummond Center Women’s Institute, taught 4-H homemaking classes, and toured many a “little theater” production on the rural circuit.
William Shaw’s great-grandson, Willard Shaw, continued the Shaw tradition of public service into the fourth generation.
Willard was a Township Councilor from 1973 to 1978, Deputy Reeve from 1979 to 1982, and Reeve from 1983 to 1991. He served for 12 years on Lanark County Council and was elected County Warden, our highest municipal office, in 1988. Willard was also a Board Director of the Great War Memorial Hospital at Perth for 18 years and a Director of the Hospital Foundation for nearly as long. In 1967 Willard was honored with the Centennial Meal for public service to the Township of Drummond.
While, from 1949 to 1998, Willard farmed the land on which you are gathered today, he also spent 35 years as an employee of the Lanark Mutual Insurance Company … the company founded by his grandfather and sustained by his father … as Treasurer, Assistant Manager and then Manager for 14 years.
Vivian Greenly-Shaw, Willard’s late wife, served for 16 years as a Lanark School Board Trustee, for 25 years as a local Canadian Cancer Society Volunteer, was a founding member of the local “Meals on Wheels” program and was an Honorary Life Member of the Balderson Branch of the Women’s Institute.
Willard and his brother Douglas are the fourth generation, and Douglas’ son Robert is the fifth generation, of Shaws to serve on the Board of the Drummond Center Community Cemetery where many of your early ancestors have been laid to rest.
In a township built on agriculture it is particularly worthy of note that the families of William Shaw’s great-grandson, Douglas, and his great-great-grandson Robert, still own and farm the Drummond Township land settled by your ancestors 172 years ago. A family farm with a heritage of nearly two centuries, home to a sixth generation of descendents, is a rare and admirable achievement in the 21st century world of corporate agriculture and globalization.
Douglas’ wife Muriel Code-Shaw has also continued family traditions in contributing significantly to the local 4-H movement, sustaining the Drummond Center Literary Club and as a volunteer at the annual Perth Fall Fair. Muriel has also served as a Sunday School Teacher at St. Paul’s United Church, the church which evolved from the Free Presbyterian Church founded in 1844 with William Shaw as one of its earliest elders …. and the church which absorbed the congregation of the Drummond Center Presbyterian Church, where his son James was a founding elder.
If the story of the Shaws in Drummond Township is indicative of the contributions and achievements of your now far-flung family, and I have no doubt it is, Drummond is proud to have Shaw “roots” planted in its soil.
On behalf of the Township of Drummond / North Elmsley I welcome you home. I invite you to visit the many historic, cultural and natural sites this township has to offer. I also urge you not to wait another 172 years to re-assemble your clan in Drummond. Visit us often, there is no better place in the world for a weekend break or a summer-long vacation.