Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Margaret's emigration to Canada

A year after Robert Gardner emigrated to Canada, the rest of his family boarded a ship to join him. He traveled seventy-two miles on foot to meet the ship because he had heard that twenty-five wives of the society settlers were arriving. He did not know whether his family was on that ship. However, the year before, the families had hoped that the wives and children could follow the next spring. After the migrations of 1821 were completed, Robert Lamond wrote:

"As many families were divided last spring, on account of their inability to raise money sufficient for emigrating, but who may now have procured the necessary assistance, we cannot doubt, but Government will graciously afford them an opportunity of joining their friends, next spring."(1)

Archibald wrote in his autobiography that his family sailed on the Buckinham. It is likely that the ship was actually the Earl of Buckinghamshire. This ship was chartered by the government to take the settlers to Canada in 1821. If that was the ship said to be arriving with twenty-five wives, Robert would have known that it was one of the ships the government was using, increasing the chance that his family was on it. With excitement and hope that his family would arrive safely and join him after so many months of separation, Robert walked the seventy-two miles to meet the arriving ship. Carol Bennett, author of The Lanark Society Settlers, wrote:

"In many cases, families had become divided by the move to Canada. Some husbands travelled alone, or accompanied by older sons, planning to send for their wives and children later. In several cases wives stayed in Scotland because they were pregnant, or because a child was too ill to be moved. We can imagine the anguish caused by such separation. Strangely enough, when these family members came out to Canada the following year, their passage was not automatic; they had to petition the government and show proof that their husbands or fathers were already established there."(2)

It would appear that Margaret was required to go through a process of proving that part of her family had already gone to Upper Canada, in order to obtain permission for the rest of them to follow in 1822. Boarding a ship and crossing the ocean with her three remaining children would have been a significant challenge, especially after learning that her daughter Mary had almost died of smallpox on a ship the year before. She had no idea where her husband had settled in Upper Canada, but she went on faith that she could find him. Robert had no idea if Margaret was on the arriving ship, but he walked seventy-two miles in hopes that they were.

1. Robert Lamond, Narrative of the Rise & Progress of Emigration, from the Counties of Lanark & Renfrew, to the New Settlements in Upper Canada (Glasgow: Chalmers & Collins, 1821), 112.

2. Carol Bennett, The Lanark Society Settlers, 1820-1821 (Renfrew, Ont: Juniper Books, 1991), 8.


  1. I enjoy reading your stories, and I wonder as I read them how you have found so much detail. I have found stories of my ancestors, but they are very sketchy at best.

  2. The key to the details is researching the historical context. Archibald's autobiography has just enough information that I can identify the details when I find them. To my knowledge, the family has not previously known that the Gardners migrated as part of the Lanark Society Settlers. It's been a great adventure to learn more about what was happening in the community around them.

  3. I am interested in the Lanark Society Settlers. I, too have a family line from Lanark. Thanks for the tip on the book.