Section 1. History of the Patterson Lake Area
This first section outlines the history of the Patterson Lake area
from just after the last ice age to the present.
The website references are not listed as Internet links because
these may change. The Patterson Lake Association of Lanark Highlands
has no control over them. They were active websites when this
document was written in 2008.
Ice Age and Post Ice Age
Patterson Lake lies in the area of southern Ontario that was once
covered by salt water called the Champlain Sea. The Champlain Sea was
a temporary inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, created by the retreating
glaciers during the close of the last ice age. The Sea covered parts
of Ontario, Quebec, Vermont, and New York. It was bounded on the west
by the Madawaska highlands and Frontenac arch, and in the south by
the Adirondack highlands and Appalachian highlands. The Laurentian
highlands formed the northern boundary.
The weight of the mass of ice from the continental ice sheets
depressed the rock beneath these areas over millennia. While the
areas were depressed, they were below sea level and when the glaciers
retreated gradually, they were flooded with sea water.
The sea lasted from about 13,000 years ago to about 10,000 years
ago and was continuously shrinking during that time, since the
rebounding continent was slowly rising above sea level. The
retreating glaciers fed the Sea during that time, making it more
brackish than typical seawater. It is estimated that the sea was as
much as 150 meters above the level of today’s Saint Lawrence and
Ottawa Rivers. Further information on the Champlain Sea and fossil
evidence can be found at
As the land rebounded, the flora and fauna from the neighbouring
areas gradually moved into the new area to the extent that they could
adapt to the soil and climatic conditions.
Dalhousie Township and thus Patterson Lake lies within the area
claimed by the Algonquins. Historical evidence indicates that the
Algonquins over time have occupied portions of the lands of the
Ottawa River watershed and travelled through surrounding territory as
a hunting and gathering society. The Algonquins assert that the
Algonquins of Ontario never surrendered its territory by treaty,
sale, or conquest and have made such claims since 1772.
Larry McDermott, the former Mayor of Lanark Highlands is an
Algonquin and part of Algonquin claim of the land. An April 22, 2005
article by Matt Ross is Indian Country Today stated “Currently
McDermott is involved in land claims for the Algonquin that encompass
8.9 million acres in eastern Ontario, or about 14,000 square miles,
overlapping all of the nation’s capital. While he said negotiations
would only involve Crown (public) lands and not private property, the
enormity of such a claim demonstrates how this area was never
The anecdotal evidence of aboriginal occupation of Patterson Lake
is that an island in the lake is called Marys Island. Mary is
reported to have been an aboriginal living on the island at the same
time (circa 1825) that Archie Patterson homesteaded the area just
south of the bay on the south side (Concession 6, Lot 13W). Mary is
also reported to be buried south of the lake. There is no anecdotal
evidence of aboriginal artifacts being found in or around Patterson
European Land Survey
A township in Southern Ontario is usually rectangular in shape,
unless it borders a major river or lake. Townships are divided into
concessions. Each concession is a strip of land one and one-quarter
miles wide. Concessions can run in any direction and are usually
separated by a road. Concessions were numbered with Roman Numerals
(V, IV, etc), although the practice has fallen into disuse and the
most used system now is Arabic number (5, 6, etc.) When concession
roads do not run the length or width of the township because of
water, they are usually labelled with letters (A, B, etc). A gore is
a part of a township that does not fit into the regular shape,
because the earth is round and the surveys are squares.
Concessions are divided into lots that use Arabic numbers (3, 4,
etc). Originally lots were 200 acres, which could then be easily
divided into parcels of 100 acres. The lots ran parallel to the road.
The 100 acre farms were common in southern Ontario as it was the
amount of land that could be tilled by one man usually with a team of
horses. The early farming settlers harvested the timber to build
their homes and barns. When the work was too much for one man to do,
such as raising a barn, the community came together for a work bee.
The Township of Dalhousie was surveyed by Captain Rueben Sherwood,
UEL, about 1820. He laid out the standard square layout of
concessions running roughly east and west, and lots running roughly
north and south.
European Settlement of the Area
The European settlement of the area started in 1812 when the
British Government designated all of Lanark County as a potential
settlement land for European immigrant settlers. With the
establishment of Perth as a military town in 1816, Lanark Township,
Dalhousie Township and North Sherbrooke Township were opened for even
greater settlement in 1820.
The first wave of settlers to the area were Scots from Glasgow and
Lanarkshire around 1820. Lanarkshire is the area next to Glasgow in
Scotland. Glasgow is on the River Clyde. In the 1830s and 1840s a
wave of Irish settlers arrived. Although the Scottish and Irish
settlers tried to open up the land, much of the terrain was not
conducive to farming, and in the end many ended up in timber related
trades. Much of the land returned to native forests.
One of the earliest records of the area is Smith’s 1846 Canadian
Gazetteer, which gives an interesting description of the electoral
district of Bathurst, which today we would normally call a riding.
DISTRICT Consists of the counties of Lanark and
Renfrew, which are united so far as relates to
representation in the Legislative Assembly, and return one member”.
DALHOUSIE. A Township in the Bathurst District : is bounded on
the north-east by the township of Lanark; on the north-west by
Levant; on the south-west by Sherbrooke; and on the south-east by
Bathurst. In Dalhousie 23,440 acres are taken up, 8,112* of which are
under cultivation. Two small branches of the River Clyde stretch
across the north of the township, and the north branch of the
Mississippi runs through the south of the township from west to east.
At its entrance into the township it expands into a lake, containing
about 1,200 acres, and its course is very tortuous and irregular.
Several small lakes are scattered over the township. The base of a
large portion of the north and east of the township is marble of
different shades of colour, varying from pure white to dark grey. In
Dalhousie 17,200 acres of Crown lands are open for sale, at 8s. c’y
per acre. In the township are one grist and two saw mills. Population
in 1842 : 1,258. Ratable property in the township : £17,601.
These include the township of Levant, no separate assessment having
In the 1901 Census, the name of Lanark (North/Nord) and Lanark
(South/Sud) is used to describe the political division at the time.
Dalhousie Township was in Lanark North.
Settlement of the Patterson Lake Area
Patterson Lake lies within the Township of Dalhousie in Lanark
County in Eastern Ontario. The lake straddles Concession 5 on the
eastern end, Concession 6 in the middle, and Concession 7 on the
western end. In a north-south division of surveyed land, Lot 15 is on
the northern side, Lot 14 in the middle section and Lot 13 on the
southern side. The lake is positioned on an angle, with the western
end higher and the eastern end lower, on the square grid of the
concessions and lots layout. Note that each lot is 200 acres, or 100
acres on the east half and 100 acres on the west half. Legal
descriptions may say West half Lot 15, or part of West half Lot 15
Concession 8 is also important to Patterson Lake because the
Purdons settled there. Concession 8 starts just a short distance from
the end of the lake, and is on the western side of what we would call
today the 8th Concession and Umpherson Mills Rd South.
The man who lent his name to Patterson Lake was Archie Patterson.
He is listed in the Settlers to Lanark County as arriving in 1821 and
settling in Concession 6, Lot 13W, which would put him just below the
large bay on the south shore of Patterson Lake. The record is
Patterson Archibald Dalhousie 6 13W 7 26 1821 (July 26, 1821 –
which appears to be the date that a settler was “located”,
i.e. allocated land. The reference is not clear on the meaning.). A
good guess would be that he came in the first wave of Scots from
Glasgow and Lanarkshire.
Further evidence that he was there is a record of a burial site on
Concession 6, Lot 13, of Dalhousie Township. This would put the
burial site just south of the bay. The notations are “M.P 1925.”
and “Believed to be a child of a Patterson Family”.
Keith Thompson who lists the burial site said that he has never
found the site. His record is at:
Other burials on Concession 6, Lot 13W are James Hay Fair, born
April 17, 1785, died 1854 and his wife, Jane Watson, born 1806, died
1862. Apparently there is a plaque marking the graves. Keith Thompson
noted that apparently there are five burial plots at this site. The
record is at:
Archie Patterson’s land was Concession 6, Lot 13W. If the
Patterson child were buried there in 1825, and the Fairs were buried
there in 1854 and 1862, and if there are five at this site, then it
strongly suggests that part of the land was considered a cemetery at
that time. It would not be typical to bury all over the place. It
would be far more likely to have a place set aside for burials. A
good example from another place is Albury Cemetery in Prince Edward
County. From family tradition and records, the land was given in 1825
for a Church and a burial ground. But by 1825 there had been three
recorded burials, (the first in 1812), in what would become the
cemetery. These three show up in the proper place in a cemetery plot
layout. It is a mystery still today.
(http://www.bowerman.ca/albury/). It is not beyond reason that there
is a pioneer cemetery there containing the graves of the Patterson
family, the Fair family, and Mary from Mary’s Island.
Do not miss the connection with Fairs Creek, Fairs Way, Fairs
Lane, and Nelsons (Fair) Way.
Another well know name found in the same settlers list as Archie
Purdon Robert Dalhousie 7 8E 7 18 1821 (Consession 7 Lot 8E, July
18, 1821) This location is south of the western end of the lake. The
record is contained in:.
The H. Belden Atlas of Lanark County in 1880 shows a stylized map
of the lake with the title of Patterson’s Lake. There were three men
listed as farmers with acreage around the lake. These were James Reid
on the north eastern side, David Machan on the north western side,
and Donald Purdon on the western end. The details are:
David Machan, Concession 7, Lot 13 & 16, 225 acres
James Reid, Concession 6, Lot 15, 20 acres
Donald Purdon, Consession 8, Lot 14 & 15, 180 acres
A voters’ list dated June 13, 1905 gives a listing for the Lake.
These would be only property owners and it would be their residences
so if any had a cottage, it would not be recorded. The details are:
For the Municipality of The United Townships of DALHOUSIE and
NORTH SHERBROOKE in the COUNTY OF LANARK in the PROVINCE OF ONTARIO
Names for Dalhousie Township Concessions 5, 6,or 7; Lots 13, 14,
or 15, and for Concession 8 Lot 14:
BARRIE, James Dal C 5 L13 021 j MF&O Fa WC
HARPER, Hugh Dal C 7 L13 031 j MF&O Fa MC
PURDON, Donald Dal C 8 L14 E 031 j MF&O Fa MC
021 or 031 are polling divisions; “E” is east half; “j”
is eligible for juror duty; “MF&O” – married with
family and owner; “Fa” is farmer; “WC” is Watsons
Corners and “MC” is Macdonalds Corners.
The 1918 Dalhousie Township Directory provides the next set of
Barrie James 13 1 O 5 13 (Concession 5 Lot 13). James Barrie is
the only one listed from Concessions 5, 6, or 7 and Lots 13, 14, or
Purdon Rufus 174 2 O 8 14 (Concession 8 Lot 14)
Hugh Harper is not listed in this 1918 Directory.
The most noticeable missing piece of data is the farmstead of
Archie Patterson. The 1880, 1905, and 1918 do not contain any listing
for anyone on Concession 6 Lot 13W.
On the positive side, the most consistent data of long loyalty to
the area are the Purdons.
A table showing dwelling count on Patterson Lake since 1825 is
available as a spreadsheet at this link.
In 1975 Lavant Township amalgamated with Dalhousie and North
Sherbrooke Township to form the “Township of Lavant, Dalhousie
and North Sherbrooke”. This was followed in May 14, 1997 when
Lavant, Dalhousie and North Sherbrooke Township, Lanark Township and
Lanark Village amalgamated to form North West Lanark. However, very
shortly afterwards on July 1, 1997, North West Lanark Township and
Darling Township amalgamate to form The Township of Lanark Highlands.