McNeish Canada

McNeish Canada

This is a blog for all McNeish's in Canada. If your last name is McNeish and you want to post to this blog, send your Name and email address to I will send you instructions on how to post.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

John McNeish 1811 - 1878, Margaret Mitchell1817 - 1892

This is the grave marker for John McNeish, 1811 – 1878, his wife Margaret Mitchell, 1817 – 1892 and eldest daughter Mary Ann, 1842 – 1894. They are interred at Molesworth Cemetery. The cemetery is on Hwy 86 about 17.4 km West of Listowel. You still have 6 km to go when you get to Molesworth. It is about half way between Listowel and Wingham.

When John McNeish came to Canada he brought his wife and three Children with him. Two more children were born in Perth county, Ontario. He was born in Scotland in 1811 and died in Perth County in 1878. He is interred at Molesworth Cemetery.

He brought his wife, Margaret Mitchell who was born 1817 and died 1892 and His eldest daughter Mary Ann, born 1842 and died 1894 who are interred with him. Also his too eldest sons came with him. John, who married Ellen Cooper, was born 1848 and died 1914. Andrew was born 1851 and died 1921. We know very little about John, but at some point, Andrew moved to Bruce Mines. I’m not sure how long he lived there, but he is interred at Molesworth.

Sometime after the birth of Andrew, the family came to Ontario. Census records show that the first to be born in Ontario was James. In 1897, James moved with his wife, Margaret Cooper, a sister of Ellen, to join his brother, Andrew, at Bruce Mines. They made the move with seven children in tow. James A, Elizabeth, Edith, Mary, Clara, Russell and Ella. An eighth child, Percy, was born at Bruce Mines.

The Youngest Child of John McNeish and Margaret Mitchell was Margaret Jane McNeish. She was born in 1857 and died in 1943. She married James Brown who was much older than her. It appears that he may have been a long time family friend as a 1861 Census lists a Margaret McNeish (married) in Oxford county with an out of area address of Wallace, Ontario, directly after a James Brown (single) who was 31 years old at the time. Wallace was the township that the McNeish family lived in when the1871 census was done. They do not appear in the 1861 census but were very likely getting settled there at that time. There is some evidence, then, that his wife was visiting James Brown in 1861. Perhaps the family was with her and Mr. Brown met his future wife when she was only 4 years old.

James Brown is interred at Molesworth with his wife and her brother, Andrew. He died on January 22, 1918 when aged 87 years, 10 months and 16 days.

I have found a directory listing from an 1885 – 88 Directory listing for the Stratford area that list members of the McNeish family as living in Wallace Township. The address given for Andrew, John, James and Margaret is concession 1 lot 60 with the post office as being Molesworth. A North Perth travel agency has told me that this lot would be at the heart of the present day Molesworth community.

I will attempt to go to Molesworth to visit the graves of my ancestors and determine if any others may be buried there. I will also try to locate concession 1 lot 60 to see if there is any possibility that the 1800’s dwelling still exists. Any help I can get would be greatly appreciated.

Robert James McNeish in 1938

Dear Lord

I thank you for my mate

You gave to me to share our fate

The two of us to live as one

Until our earthly life is done

Then take us Lord to live with thee

Forever in eternity.


The prayer was written by my dad, Robert James McNeish, and recited to my mom each year on their anniversary. This year they will have been married for 67 years and not only have they stayed in love, but their love for each other has grown over the years.
Dad, Back row far right, would have been 12 years old in this school picture.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

James Angus McNeish

James Angus McNeish

James Angus McNeish was the first born of James McNeish and Margaret Cooper. He was born April 7, 1881 and died February 7, 1956.

His uncle, Andrew McNeish, bought a Lakeshore property at Bruce Mines in 1905 which he shared with his brothers family. James died in 1909 and Andrew in 1921. The property was left to Margaret (Cooper) McNeish, the wife of James and the mother of James Angus. According to the book, “Bruce Mines Heritage,” James Angus lived at this location until the 1960’s with his sister Elizabeth. The burial records indicate he died in 1956.

The glimpses we get into the life of James Angus McNeish show that he led a simple but perhaps troubled life. On May 15, 1915 he became a “Keeper of the Light” at McKay Island near Bruce Mines. The main job for the keepers of the light was to keep the light well cleaned and fueled, and to light and extinguish it at the proper times. The lighthouse records have him as Angus James McNeish and descended from a Cornish family. This appears to be untrue as his grandfather is known to have come from the Isle of Arran Scotland, about 880 km and the opposite end of the UK from where the Cornish people originated. Of course, knowing the McNeish family, perhaps they intended to say he was descended from corny people.

James Angus, (Uncle Angus to my father) was a faithful keeper of the light for almost thirty-one years, until April 7, 1946, his 65th birthday. During his time there he would be married and divorced. He was 46 years of age when he married 32 year old Ethel May Martinson. They married July 27, 1927 and divorced June 14, 1932.

When I asked my dad about uncle Angus he said he never met him. When I told him where he was buried he said he never knew. I was surprised to find him among 1,511 forgotten people at the Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery. We do not know when he entered the facility, but he never left. He Died February 7, 1956 and was interred two days later in grave 22 of plot 13 of the Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery.

Much of the Lakeshore Asylum was built by inmates. The philosophy was that work aided in healing and the asylum even grew much of its own food. Although the inmates worked they did not get paid.

In the 1930’s the facilities had deteriorated so much that it was regarded as a fire trap. It wasn’t until 1959 that a new superintendent had the buildings revitalized. We can only imagine what hardships Uncle Angus suffered. He never lived to see the revitalized facility.

After working steady until retirement age, James Angus McNeish was thrown into an inadequate facility to live out his final years with a mental illness. If he didn’t have one before, surely such treatment would have brought on a mental breakdown. How I wish I would have known and had the chance to visit him. Perhaps we could have brought him home to live out his final years among friends and family.


James Angus

·         James Angus McNeish died Feb 7, 1956. He was interred on Feb 9 of that year in plot 13 Grave 22 of the Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery

The Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery Project

·         In a cemetery at the corner of Evans and Horner in Etobicoke 1,511 forgotten people are buried. These people were patients of Mimico Insane Asylum, later called Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, between 1890 -1974. When the hospital was closed 1979, the cemetery was closed to further interments. The people buried in the cemetery have been forgotten due to the prejudice against people with a psychiatric history. They are forgotten no more.

·         The Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery Project involves the restoration and maintenance of this cemetery. The work is done by a group of volunteers from the community who have been meeting since January of 2006. Many of the people working on the project have had experiences with the mental health system. The group is dedicated to restoring and maintaining the dignity of those who are buried there.

The former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, originally known as Mimico Hospital for the Insane, was built in 1888.
It was originally a branch of the Toronto Hospital for the Insane. The hospital underwent several name changes, opening as the Mimico Lunatic Asylum, in 1911 it became the Mimico Hospital for the Insane, in 1919 it became the Ontario Hospital, New Toronto, and later renamed as the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.

The first occupants in 1889 were 10 male patients and 2 attendants from the Queen Street Asylum who were sent there to ready the institution for the influx of inmates. Dr. Nelson Henry Beemer became the first superintendent of the Mimico Asylum. Dr. Beemer was a strong believer in meaningful work as a form of rehabilitative therapy. But, like all other male and female asylum inmate labourers in Ontario during this period, none of these workers received any pay for their work.

The Assembly Hall, located on the southeast corner of Kipling and Lakeshore was originally constructed using patient labour in 1897 to provide the residents of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital with a recreational facility and a place to come together as a community; it served as a place of healing, celebration and worship. In the earliest days, the second floor of the Assembly Hall was used for performances and dances by the residents of the Psychiatric Hospital - and on Sundays the chairs were turned to face the chapel at the south end so the residents could worship.

The asylum had its own farms and was self-sufficient for vegetables. The Government contracted for everything else, such as potatoes and milk. Bread was baked on the asylum grounds. Tea and sugar were bought on the open market. What was once the farm at the Mimico Asylum is now the R.G. Filtration Plant.

By the late 1930’s, the hospital was in such a state of disrepair, it was described as a “firetrap” during an inspection. In 1959, Dr. H.C. Moorhouse became the new superintendent and revitalized the entire facility. The Assembly Hall was used for square dances, religious services and local celebrations until the hospital closed its doors in September 1979.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The brain tumor is all in his head.

Just started doing some serious research on my family and already found some interesting facts.

John McNeish 1811 – 1878 was born in Scotland. Came to Ontario with Wife Margaret (Mitchell) 1817-1892. Eldest daughter Mary Ann (on 1871 Census as M Ann) , sons John (1849?) and Andrew (1851 – 1921)

James was born about 1854 in Ontario and another daughter M Jane (Margaret Jane 1857-1943) came along a few years after.  I have not yet found a date of arrival, but it must have been between 1851 when Andrew was born in Scotland and 1854 when James was born in Ontario.

This was the household of John McNeish as listed on the 1871 Census. They were living at  Wallace in Perth North (North East of Listowel) 

The eldest daughter, Mary Ann (1842-1894),  is buried with her parents at Molesworth, Ontario.

The Youngest daughter, Margaret Jane (1857-1943), is also buried at Molesworth with her husband, James Brown (1830-1918) and brother Andrew (1851-1921).

James, (1854-1909) the first in the family to be born in Canadian, was known to have been living at Molesworth (West of Listowel) until 1897 when He moved to join Andrew at Bruce Mines. He brought his wife Margaret(1861-1940) with him as well as daughters Elisabeth, Edith, Clara and Ella and his Son Russell. (Born May 5, 1894)  Another son, Percy, was born in Bruce Mines about 1899.

Russell was the father of my Dad, Robert James McNeish. He joined the 119th overseas Battalion on December 1st, 1915 and was discharged on February 20th, 1919. He married Francis Elisabeth Dixon on November 5, 1919.

Going into my own memory,  I remember an Aunt Eileen who was an older sister of my dad and uncle Bill. I don’t know when she was born or when she died.

My uncle Bill, William Edward McNeish, was born on August 13, 1924 and passed from this earth on June 5, 2012. He left his wife, Minnie Wilson; sons James, Bruce, Brant,  Keith and Ian; and Daughters Janet de Groot, Nancy McNeish and Anna Beth Donald.  

My Father, Robert James McNeish (known as Bob to his friends and as Dad to his children) was born on January 24, 1926 and we hope to have him with us for many more happy years. He is loved by his sons, John Angus, George Edward, Robert Alexander, Thomas Oliver, William David, and Adam Donald Allan; and adored by his daughters Mary Ann Rife, Evelyn Grace Lillian Gould, and Sandra Alice Percy.

Robert James McNeish often brags about his three and a half dozen children and is admired greatly by the three daughters and half dozen sons he is referring to. Today the doctors are telling us a brain tumor in his head is incurable and will take his life, but I believe that, at times like this, it is dangerous to believe doctors. My Father has always been a man of strong faith and his children and friends are praying for him. I have heard many times of such tumors completely disappearing through divine healing and know of many other cases were the patient lived far beyond the doctors expectations. My father discounts the brain tumor, claiming he is not sick, but it is all in his head. His sense of humor transcends all difficulty and his faith has earned him the highest reward. Eventually he will leave this earth to receive his prize but that will not happen until the Lord Himself tells him it is time to go home.

James Brown, Margaret Jane McNeish, Andrew McNeish
Molesworth Cemetery
M Jane and Andrew were children of my great-great-grandfather, John McNeish.

Francis Elizabeth Dixon McNeish
St. Catherines.
This is my grandma who died in 1929 when by dad was 3

John McNeish (1811-1878) was born in Scotland and came to Canada between 1851 and 1854.
He is buried in Molesworth Ontario, (West of Listowel) with his wife, Margaret Mitchell (1817-1892) and his eldest child, Mary Ann (M Ann) (1842-1894) are buried with him. Shortly after this, in 1897, James McNeish moved with his family from Molesworth to Bruce Mines to join his brother Andrew. My grandpa, Russell, would have been 3 years old when his father (James) took him north.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Google maps street view.

When you go to street view on Google Maps you never know what you will see. Can anyone identify the man in this picture?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

James to Russell to Robert

James McNeish Married  Margaret B Cooper on Wednesday, September 24, 1879 in Wellington, Ontario (I assume Wellington County). It is interesting to note that there were two other James McNeish's that Married in Ontario in the 1800's. James McNeish and Jessie Hunter Married on Saturday, November 19, 1870 in Peterborough, Ontario and Anna McCullogh and James E McNeish Married on Wednesday, April 1, 1896 in Rat Portage, Ontario.
James and Margaret had 7 Children when they lived in Molesworth, Ontario in Perth County. They joined James' Brother, Andrew, in Bruce Mines in 1897 and Andrew Boarded with them for some time. The Children that moved with them where James Angus, Elizabeth, Edith, Mary, Clara, Russell Oliver, and Ella. An eighth Child, Percy, was born in Bruce Mines in 1898.
In 1905, Andrew Purchased a lake shore property where James and family joined him. There is no indication that Andrew ever married. He died in 1921. James Died in 1909.
In 1927, James Angus McNeish at age of 46, the oldest son of James and Margaret, Married Ethel May MARTINSON who was 32 years old. They divorced 5 years later. There is also indication that he had a wife named Caroline, but I've found no records as to when that was. He was a light house keeper by trade. The Light house on McKay Island near Bruce mines lists Angus James McNeish, Born on April 7, 1881 and descended from a Cornish family, as the light house keeper from May 15, 1915 to April 7, 1946.  
Russell Oliver McNeish was born on Tuesday, June 5, 1894 in Perth, Ontario. He fought in the 119th Battalion during the First World War (1914-1918).  He Married Frances Elizabeth Dixon on November 5th, 1919 at Grand Valley in Dufferin County, Ontario. She was born in Grand Valley on August 26th, 1902 and died of  thyrotoxicosis and myocarditis in St. Catherines  Jul. 18, 1929.
My Father, Robert James McNeish is a son of Russell and Frances McNeish. His older brother, William “Bill” Edward McNeish died at his home in Mount Forest on Tuesday, June 5, 2012 in his 88th year. They had three sisters, Eileen, Dorothy and Evelyn, but I know little about them and can't seem to find any information on them. I remember Aunt Eileen coming to our house for a while when I was a child. We went to visit Aunt Evelyn a few times and I last saw her in 1974 when I stopped in on my way home from a vacation out west. I think she came to visit in Kitchener after that sometime, but I don't recall.
If anyone can help me fill in the details it would be greatly appreciated.
Email me at

George McNeish  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Bob and Bill McNeish in 1932

Bob and Bill McNeish in 1932

Here is the class picture this was taken from

U.S.S. #10, Proton and West Luther; 1932
Front Row: Allan Morgan, George Beckner, Jack coutts, Claude Kelly, Bob McNeish, Bill McNeish, Mac Coutts, Harvey Kramp, Walter Smith
Middle Row: Bessie Smart, Shirley Arnott, Fern Morrison, Verna Graham, Jean Smith, Mary Shortt, Margaret Smith, Stella Morrison, Geraldine Morgan, Mable Manion, Laura Hunter
Back Row: Leona Kramp, Ed Beckner, Bill Smart, Hazel Smart, Alfa Arnott, Dinah Hunter (zigzag) Lena Kramp, Margaret Arnott, Hazel Hunter, Murray Jack, Murray Beckner, Clifford Morrison.
Teacher: Mr. Dingwall

My Dad, (Bob) would have been about 6 years old back then. He was and still is pretty cute, at least my mom thinks so.