The Scots of Beechwood

The Scots have immigrated to Canada in steady and substantial numbers for over 200 years, with the connection between Scotland and Canada stretching farther — to the 17th century. Scots have been involved in every aspect of Canada's development as explorers, educators, businessmen, politicians, writers and artists.

The Scots are among the first Europeans to establish themselves in Canada and are the third largest ethnic group in the country. With a history and heritage this long, it was only natural that the Scots of Ottawa found a home at Beechwood Cemetery.

1 . TOMMY DOUGLAS - Section 64, Graves 285, 286

Born on October 20, 1904 in Falkirk, Scotland. In the fall of 1928, Tommy became a minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. He felt first hand the harshness of the Depression in the prairies. Douglas knew that something had to be done for the common man. His experience with the vast unemployment and poverty transformed T.C. Douglas, the clergyman, into a social activist.

By 1932, Douglas helped organize an Independent Labour Party in Weyburn of which he became president. The movement soon evolved into the Farmer Labour Party. This party offered hospital care for everyone on an equal basis, including unemployment insurance and universal pension. By July of 1932, the labour parties of the four western provinces formed an alliance under the name Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). The CCF became Canada’s first national socialist party. In 1935, Douglas was elected into parliament under the CCF.

By the early 40’s, Tommy moved away from the federal politics and became leader of the Saskatchewan provincial CCF party (1942) while maintaining his seat in the House of Commons. In 1944, the CCF under Douglas, won the provincial election to become the first socialist government in North America. Douglas emphasized that his brand of socialism depended on political and economic democracy.

In 1944, the old age pension plan included medical, hospital and dental services. Douglas’ government radically changed the education system and established larger school units and provided the University of Saskatchewan with a medical school. In his first four years in government, Douglas paid off the provincial debt, created a province wide hospitalization plan, paved the roads, and provided electricity and sewage pipes to the common man. In 1948, Douglas was re–elected Premier after a long and difficult campaign due to surging fears of Communism. He would be re–elected for three more terms to serve Saskatchewan as Premier for 17 years.

In 1961, the CCF joined with big labour unions to create the New Democratic Party in which Douglas was elected leader. In Saskatchewan, the North American Medical Establishment tried to defy Medicare, Douglas’ top priority project. The striking doctors were no match for Douglas. Tommy proved two things: that it was possible to develop and finance a universal Medicare system and that the medical profession could be confronted.

By 1971, Douglas resigned as leader of the NDP, although he remained the party’s energy critic until 1976. Tommy Douglas died of cancer on February 24, 1986 at the age of 82. During 42 years in politics, Douglas proved himself as an outstanding Canadian leader. He is largely responsible for our central banking, old age pensions, unemployment insurance and our universal Medicare.

2. JOHN MANUEL - Section 53, Lots 3 & 4, 10 & 11

Born in Muirhead, Scotland on March 7, 1830, Manuel came to Canada in 1854 and became chief financial representative to Gilmour & Company, lumber merchants in Ottawa, Trenton and Quebec. He was president of the Ottawa Curling Club and Metropolitan Rifle Association as well as a founder of St. Luke’s Hospital. Manuel was also the largest individual shareholder of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. A millionaire, capitalist and keen sportsman, John Manuel passed away on September 12, 1914.

2. JAMES MANUEL - Section 53, Lots 3, 4, 10 & 11

Born in Lanarkshire, Scotland on November 10, 1854, Manuel was called to the bar of England in 1888. He subsequently immigrated to Canada and was appointed justice of the peace for Lanark County. He became a resident of Ottawa in 1900 and put much of his energy into hospital work; he was particularly concerned with tuberculosis. He was also vice president of St. Luke’s Hospital and treasurer of the company of the Carleton General Protestant Hospital. In 1910, he was elected vice president of the Canadian Club in Ottawa. Manuel died on February 20, 1918.

2 .ALLAN GILMOUR - Section 53, Lots 3, 4, 10 & 11

Born on August 23, 1816 in Scotland, where he learned the lumber trade working for his uncle (also named Allan Gilmour), a partner in the lumber firm of Pollock, Gilmour & Company in Glasgow, Scotland. The firm had branches in Quebec, Montreal and Miramichi. The younger Gilmour came to Montreal in 1832 with his cousin James Gilmour. Year after year, Gilmour supervised the sawing and shipping of millions of feet of lumber on timber rafts floated down the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers to the Gilmour timber coves in Quebec. He was appointed to the rank of major in the local militia at the time of the Fenian Raids (1866-1867) and was later made colonel. Gilmour was also a cultivated man with a fondness for poetry and history; he was a steady friend of the Ottawa Literary and Scientific Society and other local institutions. Gilmour died on February 25, 1895.

3. JOHN GUNION RUTHERFORD - Section 50, Lots 103 SW, 123 NW

Born in Peeblesshire, Scotland on December 25, 1857, Rutherford came to Canada in 1875 and studied at Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College and Ontario Veterinary College. In 1885, he served as veterinary officer with the northwest field force during the Riel Rebellion. From 1892 to 1896, he represented Lakeside in the legislative assembly of Manitoba and from 1897 to 1900 represented MacDonald in the Canadian House of Commons. In 1902, he was appointed veterinary director general for Canada and in 1906 he became livestock commissioner. In 1918, he became a member of the Board of Railway Commissioners and held this post until his death in Ottawa on July 24, 1923.

4 GEORGE BURN - Section 50, Lot 98

Born in Thurso, Scotland on April 10, 1847, Burn came to Canada in 1866, where he joined the staff of the Royal Canadian Bank in Toronto. He then became an accountant for the Exchange Bank in Montreal and was appointed general manager at the Bank of Ottawa in 1880. During his years as a banker, Burn was a member of the central committee of the Canadian Patriotic Fund, a director of Toronto branch of the General Trusts Corporation and the vice president of the Canadian Bankers’ Association. In Ottawa, Burn was involved with the Clearing House, the American Surety Company and the St. Andrew’s Society, and was president of the District Bankers’ Association. Burn died in Ottawa on December 5, 1932.

5. WILLIAM WASHINGTON WYLIE - Section 40, Lot 90 W Ctr

Born to Scottish parents on May 17, 1860 in Ovalle, Chile. As a young man, back in Scotland, he apprenticed to the carriage trade in Paisley. In the mid 1880s, Wylie travelled to Ottawa, where he began working in partnership with Richard Shore, who owned a small carriage shop on Queen Street, behind Davidson & Thackeray’s mill, Shore & Co.,

He continued to build carriages, busses and sleighs, and soon started to build cars for the Ottawa Electric Railway Company, founded that same year. Initially the OERC brought in several dozen streetcars in from St. Catherines; but Wylie’s work proved to be of equal quality, and having the streetcars produced locally saved the OERC a great deal of money.

By mid-1891, Wylie had been approached by several stockholders of the OERC, proposing that he expand the company to create a new branch dedicated entirely to producing streetcars. Wylie did just that in September, starting the Ottawa Car Company (Limited), where he served as Vice-President and managing director. The company’s first board boasted several notable Ottawa names (many of whom are also buried at Beechwood), including Thomas Ahearn and Warren Soper.

By 1893, the OERC bought the Ottawa Car Company, keeping Wylie on in the same position. The business continued to grow – fifty to sixty streetcars were being made each year, and were shipped to cities across Canada. Wylie became “one of the most expert, successful and widely known car and carriage builders in Canada.”

By 1904, the company had grown in leaps and bounds – from the original 35-man staff of Shore & Co. in the early 1890s, the Ottawa Car Company employed 185 men, and was “one of the most progressive and flourishing industrial establishments of the capital.” In 1911, Wylie retired from building his streetcars, and built a house at 190 Carling Ave (now Glebe Ave). He died in Ottawa on June 24, 1921.

6. THOMAS MacFARLANE - Section 39, Lot 53 S

Born in Pollokshaws, Renfrewshire, Scotland on March 5, 1834, MacFarlane was educated at Glasgow and at the Royal Mining School in Germany. He came to Canada in 1860 as a mining engineer and discovered the famous Silver Islet mine on Lake Superior. In 1882, he was appointed a charter member of the Royal Society of Canada. In 1886, he was appointed chief analyst at the Department of Inland Revenue. He contributed frequently to scientific periodicals and published With the Empire (1891). MacFarlane died in Ottawa on June 10, 1907.

7. CAPTAIN JAMES FORSYTH - Section 29, Lot 50

Born in Aberdeen Scotland on June 25, 1806, little is known about James Forsyth’s early life. His listed profession was labourer before he joined the Royal Artillery Regiment on November 30, 1822 at the age of 17. He remained in service with the Regiment, at the rank of Company Sergeant, until March 31, 1846.

During this time he served for 14 years abroad, almost 8 of them in Canada, including a stint in Montreal, QC in 1841. By 1855, Forsyth had found employment as a clerk with the Board of Ordnance. The Militia Act passed that year, and Colonel John Baillie Turner took up the task of creating an Ottawa unit, which would become the Ottawa Field Battery. Turner personally recommended Forsyth for the position of the permanent Sergeant Major of the unit, calling him “a very respectable man.”

The unit was installed in the Commissariat Building beside the Rideau Canal, which required extensive repairs before the 100 or so men and 70 horses could be accommodated. The Commissariat Building no longer exists today – it was located at the very head of the Rideau Canal in what is now downtown Ottawa, opposite the present Bytown Museum.

During his time with the Ottawa Field Battery, Forsyth received his commission and was appointed Adjutant, after other officers resigned or were transferred to other units. The unit saw action during the Fenian Raids, when it was stationed at Cornwall in 1866 (then under threat of attack), by which time Forsyth had been promoted to Captain. Captain Forsyth died in Ottawa on September 2, 1872. The Forsyth monument was the first one erected in Beechwood, and was paid for by members of the 2nd Ottawa Field Battery in the 1870s.

8. EDWARD MORRISON Section 29, Lot 16 N

Born to Scottish immigrants in London, Ontario on July 6, 1867. He was involved with the military all his adult life, first with the Militia. He served with distinction in two wars; first in 1900 in the Boer or South African War where he was an artillery lieutenant commanding the Left side of D Battery (it’s worth noting that his close friend, John McCrae - writer of poem In Flanders Fields - commanded the Right side of D Battery).

In between wars, Earl Grey tasked Morrison with organizing the Boy Scouts in 1910. Then, from 1914 to 1919, Morrison served first as Lieutenant- Colonel commanding the 1st Brigade, CFA (Canadian Field Artillery), then the 2nd Brigade CFA and finally, late in 1916, he was promoted to Brigadier-General commanding all Canadian artillery until the end of the war and demobilization, and was promoted again to Major General, and knighted.

He completed his war service as Major-General Sir Edward Morrison. Major General Morrison commanded the Canadian Artillery at Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele and the pivotal battles of “The Last 100 Days,” that brought WWI to an end. Morrison’s other career was that of a journalist and editor. He began as a reporter in 1888, first with the Hamilton Spectator, eventually becoming its editor. On July 1st, 1898 he then moved up to become the editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen until 1913, just before World War One.

Upon returning from Europe after the war, in 1919 he became Deputy Inspector- General of Artillery and was on a committee to reorganize the militia. In 1920 he became Master General of Ordnance and served as Adjutant-General in 1922-1923. He retired in 1924 and died the following year, May 28, 1925 in Ottawa.

9 .DAVID EWART - Section 22, Lot 40 SW

Born on February 18, 1841 in Penicuik, Scotland, Ewart came to Canada in 1871, where he was appointed assistant engineer and architect to Thomas Fuller in the Department of Public Works. Upon Fuller’s retirement in 1897, Ewart was named chief Dominion architect, a position he held until his own retirement in 1914. In 1878, the French government awarded him a silver medal for his work on the Canadian contribution to the Paris Exposition of that year.

In 1903, he was one of the first Canadians to receive the Imperial Service Order. Some of Ewart’s work in Ottawa includes the Dominion Observatory, the original Dominion Archives building, the Victoria Memorial Museum, the Royal Canadian Mint and the Connaught Building. Although Thomas Fuller designed the original Parliament Buildings, Ewart evidently did much of the work on the main tower, which was destroyed by fire in 1916. For 17 years, all of the plans for public buildings constructed by the department were prepared under his direction. David Ewart passed away on June 6, 1921 at the age of 81.

10. JOHN MATHER - Section 22, Lot 9

Born in 1825, Mather was an experienced millwright and machinist. He came to Canada from Forfarshire, Scotland in 1857 and settled in Chelsea, Quebec, where he directed woods operations and sawmilling for a company in the Gatineau. Very experienced in forestry and conservation, Mather was known for his expertise, energy, thoroughness, ability and integrity. He was the first owner of Munross house (453 Laurier Avenue East), president of the Free Press Publishing Company (Winnipeg), and director of the Keewatin Lumber and Power Company. Mather, a prominent lumberman and contractor, died in Ottawa on June 10, 1907.

10. JAMES WILSON ROBERTSON - Section 22, Lot 9

Born in Dunlop, Scotland on November 2, 1857, Robertson was an educator and agricultural expert. He came to Canada in 1875 and became a farmer. From 1886 to 1890, he was professor of dairying at the Ontario Agricultural College. In 1890, he was appointed dairy commissioner for Canada and agriculturist on staff of the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa. From 1895 to 1904, he was commissioner of agriculture and dairying for Canada. In 1919, Robertson was appointed Canadian director of food supplies and represented Canada on the food section of the Supreme Economic Council in Paris. He received honorary degrees from many universities. Robertson is credited with regenerating Canadian agriculture by raising its standards. He died on March 19, 1930.

11. DANIEL McPHAIL - Section 34, Lot 26 Ctr

Born in Perthshire, Scotland in 1810, Daniel McPhail came to Canada at the age of 10. At a very young age he was known to be beyond his years in his ability to teach and preach the Scriptures. In 1839, he was ordained a Baptist minister and devoted himself to spreading the word. Daniel’s labours took him to other communities and as a result, he was instrumental in establishing churches across the land. It was because of his work in church planting and evangelism that he became known as “The Elijah of the Ottawa Valley”. On August 23, 1875 Daniel passed away. In 1888, the second Baptist Church in Ottawa was to be built and to be known as the McPhail Memorial Baptist Church.

12. DOUGLAS BRYMNER - Section 37, Lot 39 NW

Born in Scotland in 1823 and immigrated to Quebec in 1858. In the 1870’s there was a petition to Parliament seeking the preservation and accessibility of archival documents in Canada. In 1872, the government created a position for Brymner in the Department of Agriculture where he was to spend half of his time on the public archives service and the other half on agricultural statistics.

Brymner was known as the “Historical Archivist of the Dominion” as he was the person who created and maintained the National Archives of Canada from 1872 to his death in June of 1902. He thirty year tenure was remarkable, in that time period the ground work had been laid, practices and principles had been developed, archives had secured a place for themselves, important and valuable historical records had been preserved and made available. Brymner’s dream would be fulfilled – creating a great storehouse of information.

13. SIR JAMES ALEXANDER GRANT - Section 37, Lots 59, 60 NE

Born in Scotland in 1831, Grant came to Canada and opened his own medical practice in 1854. Physician to every governor general from 1867 to 1905, he tended to all the vice-regal family’s ills. For instance, he treated Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria and wife of the Marquis of Lorne, when she was seriously injured in a sleighing accident on Sussex Street (now Sussex Drive) near Rideau Hall in 1880.

Grant also sat as a member in the first Parliament of Canada, in the government of Sir John A. Macdonald. He also served as president of the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal Society of Canada, and was knighted by Queen Victoria. Grant lived in a beautiful home built by Braddish Billings Jr. in 1875 at the corner of Elgin and Gloucester Streets, an establishment was known as Friday’s Roast Beef House. Grant passed away on February 6, 1920. According to legend, Grant (who was asthmatic) still haunts the halls of his home with the sound of chronic coughing and an eerie presence.

14. REVEREND WILLIAM DURIE - Section 37, Lot 69

Born in Glasgow in 1804. Durie was ordained as a minister to the Relief Church at Earlston, Scotland in 1834. He later joined the Free Church of Scotland when it was formed in 1847 and appointed to St Andrew’s Church in Bytown. In the heat of the summer of 1847, 90,000 Irish emigrants landed in Canada as human ballast in empty timber trade ships to escape the potato famine. The Grosse Île quarantine station to Montreal was not perfect in controlling the rampant ship fever: typhus.

At Kingston, 3,000 emigrants were packed into barges in June and July, and towed up the Rideau Canal by tugboats to Bytown, where the first typhus case – a young girl – was diagnosed on June 5th. The subsequent epidemic overwhelmed the Sisters of Charity who had hastily constructed a typhus hospital. The very ill lay on the ground in quickly-built fever sheds or under upturned boats along the canal and river banks. Bytown largely closed down; those who could leave did so.

On August 2nd, the Rideau Canal closed to emigrant traffic; it took 3 months more for the epidemic to run its course. The Sisters and volunteers fell ill themselves and the Catholic and Protestant clergy, Father Molloy and Rev. Durie, sustained the aid effort. Durie was stricken and died a bachelor on Sept. 12th, 1847. He begged the people comforting him to build a hospital for the sick and the poor; they would do so. His funeral service was conducted in St. Andrew’s, “a large concourse of people of all creeds followed Durie’s remains” to the cemetery in Sandy Hill and all public business closed.

15. GEORGE HAY - Section 37, Lot 117 N

Born June 18, 1821 in Scotland, Hay came to Canada in 1834 and moved to Bytown in 1844 to work with Thomas MacKay. In 1847, he established his own business (hardware and construction) on Sparks Street near Elgin.

George Hay designed the first coat–of–arms for Ottawa and it is believed that he suggested the name Ottawa for the city. He was founder of a long list of enterprises including the Bank of Ottawa, the Board of Trade, Knox Church and Beechwood Cemetery (he was one of the original shareholders). He passed away on April 25, 1910 at the age of 88.

15. JAMES MATHER - Section 41, Lot 97 NW Ctr

Born in Usan, Scotland, on December 9, 1833. When Mather arrived in Ottawa in 1872, he was almost forty years of age. His previous experience as an architect is not known, nor the reason for his choice of Ottawa, but soon after his name appeared in the city directory’s list of architects in 1873, he was designing buildings. He eventually became associated with the new Beechwood Cemetery, preparing plans for staff residences at the cemetery, which are still in use today. Many leading citizens had Mather design their houses.

Mather also designed a residence on Laurier Avenue for jeweller John Leslie, completed in 1878. It was later occupied by two prime ministers, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King. The latter bequeathed it to Canada and it has since become a museum. Mather was also involved in the design and development of Lisgar Collegiate, the Teachers’ College (Normal School), the First Baptist Church at Elgin, the Rideau Club building, which was occupied from 1875 until 1911.

The Roxborough Apartments, built to Mather’s plans, were favoured by politicians such as Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, until an official residence was established on Sussex Drive in 1950. His works also included the Protestant Orphan’s Home, Munross House (Le Cordon Blue Ottawa), the Bank of Ottawa, the Market Annex Building, the Wellington Market, and many others. One of the finest architects of his time, Mather was an expert draftsman who closely supervised every detail of his work. He passed away on October 3, 1927.

16. SIR SANDFORD FLEMING Section 49, Lots 13, 14

Born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland on January 7, 1827, Fleming studied surveying and engineering in Scotland and came to Canada in 1845 to work in the railway industry. He was appointed chief engineer of the Northern Railway in 1857 and was the chief engineer of the International Railway during its construction and in 1871 was appointed chief engineer and surveyor for the historic Canadian Pacific Railway.

In 1880, Fleming retired and devoted himself to literary and scientific work. Fleming spent most of his life in Peterborough, Halifax and Ottawa. Author of many scientific papers on railways and other topics, he was one of the founders of the Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Scientific Knowledge. He published the first large-scale surveyor’s map in Canada, designed the first usable chart of Toronto Harbour and promoted the trans-Pacific submarine telegraph cable, doing all this in addition to handling his duties as chief engineer of the CPR and as chancellor of Queen’s University. Fleming also designed Canada’s first postage stamp, the “three-penny beaver,” in 1851.

One of the major problems Canadian travelers encountered in the late 19th century involved keeping proper time. How could one be sure of having the correct time at every stop along the way? More importantly, how could rail connections be coordinated in a coherent, permanent system? Traditionally, it was noon in each place when the sun was directly overhead. So if it was noon in Toronto, for example, it was 12:25 in Montreal. This system became complicated as voyages became longer. For instance, during the Halifax-Toronto rail journey, passengers had to re-set their watches in Saint John, Quebec, Montreal, Kingston, Belleville and Toronto.

In 1878, Sandford Fleming decided to do something about this situation. In a series of papers delivered to the Canadian Institute, he suggested that the planet be divided into 24 time zones, each covering 15 degrees of longitude, from an accepted meridian. The time in each zone would be the same, notwithstanding the position of any point in relation to the sun. Fleming, with his reputation and his energy, encountered little resistance to his idea. By 1883, all railways in North America were using this system. In 1884, the first International Meridian Conference was held in Washington D.C., and Fleming’s idea was officially adopted. The only objections came from some religious groups who accused him of being a communist and of proposing a system contrary to God’s will.

Fleming passed away on July 22, 1915 at the age of 88.


Born in Annapolis, Nova Scotia, on October 28, 1813. He graduated from the Pictou Academy and went to study law in Halifax and was called to the bar of Nova Scotia in 1837. In 1846, Ritchie was elected to the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, representing Saint John. In keeping with his pledge to resign if a fellow Liberal candidate failed to win a by-election, he gave up his seat in 1851, only to be re-elected three years later.

In 1855, Ritchie left politics to accept an appointment to the Supreme Court of New Brunswick, and 10 years later he was named Chief Justice of New Brunswick. On September 30, 1875, Ritchie was appointed to the newly formed Supreme Court of Canada. On January 11, 1879, Ritchie was named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, a position he held for seventeen years, until his death. Ritchie was knighted on November 1, 1881, and on March 5, 1884 he was appointed deputy to the Governor General, Lord Lansdowne. After a protracted illness, Ritchie passed away on September 25, 1892 in Ottawa.

18. THOMAS MacKAY - Section 62, Lot 65

Born in Perth, Scotland in 1792, MacKay earn his living as a mason, contractor and worked on various fortifications and on the Lachine Canal. A contract to build the first bridge across Chaudière Falls and plans for the Rideau Canal first brought MacKay to Ottawa. With his partner, John Redpath, he was the chief contractor for the eight main locks at the entrance and also for certain other locks at the Ottawa end of the canal. During lulls in the canal construction work, he also built St. Bartholomew’s and St. Andrew’s churches.

Due to the speed and skill of his work, and to his shrewd business sense, MacKay apparently made a very substantial profit on his canal contract. According to one story, when Colonel By awarded the contract to MacKay, he assumed that the stone for the lock masonry would have to come from across the river in Hull. MacKay, however, dug down in Major’s Hill Park, close to the locks, and discovered stone that he said was as good as the stone in Hull. After some hesitation, Colonel By agreed to the use of the Major’s Hill stone. MacKay’s gain from eliminating much of his transport charges must have been considerable.

In 1832, with the canal system completed, MacKay and Redpath found themselves relatively well-to-do men. After a while, Redpath moved into sugar refining, but MacKay decided to settle in the district and to exploit the power of Rideau Falls. Between 1837 and 1855, he built a gristmill, a woollen mill, a brewery and a new sawmill at the falls. To house his workmen, he founded New Edinburgh on the eastern side of the Rideau River. Everything he touched seemed to succeed.

In 1838, he built a grand house for himself, Rideau Hall. It was sold to the Canadian government in 1868 as the official residence of the governor general. MacKay also bought a thousand acres of land around Rideau Hall. Then known as MacKay’s Bush, it became Rockcliffe Park. In 1834, MacKay became a Tory member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada, and from 1842 he was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Canada. He also commanded the county militia and travelled widely.

MacKay was an early advocate of the scheme to bring a railway to Ottawa; the railway - which conveniently passed through his land - was completed shortly before his death in 1855.

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