01-04 JULY 2005

Ron Shaw

The reunion of descendants of William Alexander Shaw (1798-1866) and Agnes Dunn (1805-1890), held at Shawhaven Farm near Perth, Ontario, 01-04 July 2005, was the first known attempt to assemble descendants of all of William and Agnes’ children.

William and Agnes Shaw, born at Doune and Dunblane, Perthshire, Scotland, were married at Duntocher (near Glasgow) on 19 June 1832 and sailed to Canada in the same year via the brig Crown out of Greenock.

By 1833 they were settled on a farm in Drummond Township, Upper Canada, and by 1843 had a family of seven; Alexander “Sandy” (1834-????), Margaret (1835-1924), Jane McKillop (1837-1924), James (1839-1922), Janet (1840-1919), John (1842-1926), and Sarah A. (1843-1929).

The 2005 Family Reunion brought together approximately 200 descendents over the course of the four-day event, with representatives of all seven family lines present. One hundred and eighty one (plus seven guests) were at table for the official reunion dinner in the barn loft on Saturday evening.

Reunion events got underway on Friday morning with the commencement of registration. All those attending received a nametag, color-coded by family line, showing their line of descent from William and Agnes Shaw. Registrants also signed each of three flags (Scottish, Canadian & U.S.), destined to be raffled off as souvenirs of the event.

Despite a brief thunderstorm in the late afternoon official opening ceremonies were held outdoors on Friday evening commencing with music by piper Daryl King, an address of welcome from Drummond / North Elmsley Township Reeve Aubrey Churchill, and the reading of greetings from Canadian Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Federal Member of Parliament Scott Reid, Provincial Member of Parliament Norman Sterling and Clan Shaw Society President Meredith L. Shaw.

A representative of each family line then answered the roll call by presenting a short biography of the founder of their individual family line.

The history of Clan Shaw was presented by Ron W. Shaw (Perth, Ontario), followed by sketches on William & Agnes (Elmer Shaw, Calgary, Alberta), Alexander “Sandy” (William Shaw, Sarnia, Ontario), Margaret (Malcolm Dewar, Winnipeg, Manitoba), Jane (Janet Gerla, Climax, Minnesota), James (Marie Shaw, Perth, Ontario), Janet (Gwynneth Livesay, New Hope, Minnesota), John (Helen Marshall, Brockville, Ontario), and Sarah (Sarah More, Waddington, New York).   

Highland dancer Heather Shaw (Windsor, Ontario), accompanied by piper Daryl King (Ottawa, Ontario) performed twice during the course of the opening ceremonies. Rev Les Grant (Shawville, Quebec) offered an opening prayer. The ceremony concluded with the hoisting of the signed flags to fly over the event.

Following the opening ceremony many attendees drove into Perth to attend the Canada Day (01 July) program and fireworks display.

Family members reassembled at the farm on Saturday morning and, during the afternoon, visited the original William & Agnes Shaw homestead at Drummond Center (hosted by Robert and Susan Shaw) and the James Shaw farmhouse (hosted by Douglas & Muriel Shaw). Douglas & Muriel are the fourth, Robert and Susan the fifth, and Robert & Susan’s children the sixth, generation of Shaws to live on the land settled by William & Agnes 172 years ago. These visits provided the opportunity to see the original log cabin (now a machine shed) built by William & Agnes in 1833 and the home where his son James Shaw raised a family of 11. The village of Drummond Center is located about two kilometers east of Shawhaven Farm.

Saturday evening family members gathered in the Shawhaven barn loft for a catered buffet dinner (chicken & beef). With such a large turnout accommodation was tight but a place at table was found for everyone. Many diners wore costumes of the 1890s, the decade in which so many Shaw descendents left eastern Ontario for points west and beyond. Following dinner Willard H. Shaw (Perth, Ontario) spoke on the economic and political conditions which led to the founding of the Perth and Drummond Township settlement and which brought William & Agnes to Upper Canada in 1832.

With the tables cleared from the loft the Ottawa band “Revival” took the stage. Driven by the band’s classic rock & country covers, combined with the attention of not a few mosquitoes, enthusiastic dancing went on until midnight.

On Sunday morning the reunion gathered at the nearby Drummond Centre Community Cemetery where the earliest Canadian Shaw ancestors are buried for a memorial service for William, Agnes and their children. Rev. George Richardson conducted the service and spoke on the theme “Honor your father and your mother”. Music was provided by Rev. Les Grant (Shawville, Quebec). On behalf of the family a memorial wreath was laid on the graves of William & Agnes by Olive Lane Horning (Fenton, Michigan). The offering, in support of the Cemetery Board’s project to recover and repair the many fallen and damaged stones in the cemetery, yielded $575.00.

Sunday afternoon included a performance by “Jeff Kiddin” the clown whose antics and magic entertained children and adults alike. “Mrs. Kiddin” came along to provide face painting for the children. On Sunday evening a large group of participants joined a walking tour of the historic town of Perth, led by Marie Shaw (Perth, Ontario). A marshmallow roast, with the missing marshmallows provided at the last moment by Phyliss Shaw, followed back at the Shawhaven Farm campground.

By mid-day Monday numbers had thinned considerably but a good crowd was still in attendance for the closing ceremony. This included the Saskatchewan contingent performing their song “Shaw Family Reunion” (drawing upon the Saskatchewan centennial song “Saskatchewan – We Love You”) and the drawing for raffle prizes. The Scottish flag went to Willard H. Shaw (Perth, Ontario), the Canadian flag to Priscilla Shaw (Calgary, Alberta) and the American flag to Olive Lane Horning (Fenton, Michigan).

The Family Reunion souvenir book, “Do You Mind?” (360 pages), edited by Olive Lane Horning (Fenton, Michigan), immediately sold out its initial press run of 100 copies and orders were taken for a second printing. The slide show of several hundred family photos dating back to the 1860s proved equally popular and all available copies of the DVD were sold. Participants also took home Drummond / North Elmsley Township pins and copies of “The History of Drummond Township” (by John C. Ebbs, 1999) donated by Township Reeve Aubrey Churchill and Province of Ontario pins provided by MPP Norman Sterling.
Over the four days of the reunion those attending also enjoyed a number of exhibits. Both the museum of Shaw memorabilia, artifacts, photos, letters, etc., and the exhibit provided by the Lanark County Genealogical Society, proved popular and informative. Also on display, in the house yard, were the ox yokes and a grain cradle scythe once used by William Shaw and a “democrat” buggy, box sleigh and farm wagon once used by his son James Shaw.

Those attending the Shaw Family Reunion occupied a significant portion of available hotel, motel and B&B accommodation space in Perth and surrounding area while six “rigs” (motor homes & tent trailers) accommodated about 25 persons in the campground behind the Shawhaven farmhouse.   

While the Shaw Family Reunion generally ran smoothly it was not entirely without incident.

Unfortunately family Piper Erin Shaw (Halifax, Nova Scotia) could not secure leave from her employer and was thus prevented from performing at the Saturday dinner and the memorial service as planned.

Two days prior to opening day organizers learned that the Lanark & Renfrew Pipe Band, which had been hired (a year in advance and confirmed a month in advance) to perform a tattoo at the opening ceremony, did not in fact exist and had not existed for several years. How this “misunderstanding” occurred remains a mystery to be resolved, but we were fortunate to have piper Daryl King step into the breach and provide appropriate music. What would a Shaw reunion have been without a piper?

Horse drawn wagon rides were schedule for each day of the event, including rides to visit the Shaw Homestead at Drummond Center on Saturday. In preparing to arrive at the reunion on Friday however the horses bolted (however briefly) and broke the wagon pole.

Where did they all come from? Alberta, British Columbia, Europe, Florida, Manitoba, Michigan, Minnesota, Nunavut, New York, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Virginia.

Who came the furthest? Richard Gibson-Shaw and wife Anila from Tirana, Albania.

Who was the oldest person attending? Margaret Evelyn Rose, aged 101, of Shawville, Quebec.

Who was the youngest person attending? ???? ___________ ??????