Robert Jameson [ 1809 - 1850 ]

  • 1833 - 1842 (Approx.)

Robert Jameson is the lesser known of the two so-called founders of Fenelon Falls, for he was an infrequent resident of the new settlement at Cameron’s Falls (as it was initially called), and there is some debate how much he actually accomplished here. According to H.M. Wallis he was born in 1809, a grandson of the Dublin whiskey distillers who owned John Jameson & Sons Ltd. Jameson was John Langton’s nearest neighbour and most of what we know of him comes from his pen. Langton describes Jameson as “an agreeable, gentlemanly Irishman,” [Early Days; 50], and as “tall” and “short-sighted” (24). Jameson was a “great land speculator” who had “brought out a good capital, intending to enter into business, but speculated in U.E. rights till he found he had gone so deep that he must become a resident himself” [62]. He had begun a clearing at the Falls, possibly in the summer of 1833, but did not plan to spend the winter (24, 50, 69).

Jameson found it to be profitable as well as advantageous to his investment, to supply goods to his neighbours. Like Langton, he had sufficient money to buy surplus goods in Peterborough, and available transportation to move such goods to the backwoods; Langton was always borrowing his scow. He then sold what he had to area farmers and settlers who did not have the time or resources to travel south. John Langton records [24 May 1834] that “Jameson, used to be our principle reliance in case of want…” [109]. He also wrote that Jameson “acknowledges 20 percent profit” on the sale of pork [Langton Collection (25 June 1834; 117)].

Jameson brought James Wallis to see “Cameron’s Falls” on January 22nd, 1834 [69] and a partnership appears to have been arranged “soon afterwards.” In partnership with James Wallis, Jameson built the first saw mill at the falls. Construction began in 1834, and the saw mill was in full operation by 1835 [133 (18 Feb 1835)].

Langton then complained that progress suddenly stopped. “All last year however [township improvements] remained stationary or nearly so; Jameson whose interest it certainly was to promote settlement, was so busy with making love and wandering about the country after one speculation or another, that with the exception of building his mill he did nothing; he has 12,000 acres of land and has not brought up one settler” [141 (2 July 1835)]. Langton was convinced that Jameson would “like to back out” if he had not “gone so far already.” [145 (12 Aug 1835)]. Langton states that Jameson “has never brought his wife1 up and I think will go home” (166 [21 June 1836]).

Jameson appears to have been a summer resident, and this threw much of the work on the shoulders of Wallis [189-90], especially when it came to raising money for the new church in 1837. Jameson returned to Fenelon Falls at the end of April 1839 (Gentlewoman; 40fn) and he was still here in July [116]. His house and farm was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Hoare in March 1840 [140]. Jameson may have left the village for good by 1840, although he remained in Canada for perhaps another two years. The partnership with Wallis was dissolved in October 1842 [Wallis; 261], no doubt when it became clear that the Trent canal scheme was dead. Jameson had also been selling Wallis land since 1836 [Wallis Papers].

Jameson died on Christmas Eve 1850 in Queenston County, Cork, Ireland, but it was not until April 1853 that Wallis made “the final financial settlement with his heirs.”

385 Variant spelling: Jamieson.

386 Wallis (1961). 259, fn.16.

387 Langton was not an unbiased observer. He eventually described Jameson as “very impracticable” (179), and as “a mule that will neither be led or driven” (189). Unless otherwise stated all references are from John Langton’s Early Days in Upper Canada… (Toronto : Macmillan Company of Canada, 1926).

388 The Langton Collection papers are in the Ontario Archives (Toronto).

389 Jameson was married about 1835, but his wife died in October 1838. He married for the second time in 1841, and he then determined to return to Ireland.

390 Newcastle District Quarter Sessions of the Peace Papers, Probate Court Records, RG22, Vol. 155; see under Jameson.

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