Monday, November 7, 2016


Winterbourne Presbyterian Cemetery, Woolwich, Waterloo, Ontario
Winterbourne Presbyterian Cemetery is a medium-sized cemetery located south of the village of Winterbourne in Woolwich Township east of Waterloo, Ontario. It contains a significant number of gravestones that date from the mid-19th century.

The land on which the Presbyterian Cemetery and the village lie has a convoluted and confusing history. It was part of the Haldimand Tract — the large plot of land to either side of the Grand River that was acquired by the British Crown from the Mississauga in 1784, and granted to the Joseph Brant and the Iroquois in recognition of their loyalty to the Crown during the American Revolution.

In 1797 Brant sold most of what is now the Townships of Woolwich and Pilkington to land speculator William Wallace. After the War of 1812, Wallace's land was seized by the Crown because Wallace had disappeared and was suspected of having supported the Americans. In 1821, the Crown sold 7048 acres east of the Grand River to William Crooks, who in turn sold it to William Allen. Eventually small parcels were sold off to various buyers, including Robert Douglas, who subsequently sold one acre of his land to the Trustees of the Presbyterian Church.

Gravestones at Winterbourne
Unfortunately, time and vandalism have taken their toll at Winterbourne Presbyterian. Many of the oldest stones are weathered, sunken, broken, obscured by shrubs, or leaning at a precipitous angle. Some stones lie face down on the ground. Scattered throughout the cemetery can also be found small piles of broken gravestones, often containing the remnants of two or three stones.

Anna Maria Cole
One such pile triggered an interesting chain of research. In this pile were two gravestones each broken into two pieces. After carefully lifting the uppermost stone, it was positioned it so that oblique sunlight would enhance readability of the inscription. The stone commemorates Anna Maria Cole who died on 18 Feb 1872 at the age of  one year, six months, and 23 days. A break in the stone obscures the names of her parents. A transcription of the cemetery, published by the Waterloo Branch of the OGS, apparently missed this gravestone. A check of the Ontario Death Registrations, however, confirmed her death and stated that her father was Isaac Cole, a blacksmith.

While Anna Maria Cole's birth registration has not been found, there is a marriage between Isaac Cole and Zipporah Woods in Woolwich Township on 17 Nov 1869. Zipporah was the daughter of John Woods (1798-1893) and Eleanor Hardy (1816-1877), and had been born in Wilmot Township, Waterloo County. Her parents had emigrated to Canada West from Norfolk County in England. Isaac was the son of Jeremiah Kohl and Hannah Hammacher, both of whom were born in Canada.

Mary Cole (1839-1869)
Isaac was ten years older that Zipporah, and even though the marriage registration states than he was a bachelor, Zipporah was his second wife. Elsewhere at Winterbourne is a gravestone for Mary, wife of Isaac Cole, who died in 1869 at the age of 30. Beside Mary's gravestone is the sunken stone of their son Alexander.

According to census data, Isaac and Zipporah did not remain in the Winterbourne area. At the time of the 1881 Census they were living in Somerville Township, in Victoria County north of Lindsay, Ontario. With them were four children, Charles, aged 23, Clarissa, aged 20, Isaac, aged 12, and Malcolm, aged 9. Charles and Clarissa were apparently children from Issac's first marriage. Isaac and Zipporah were still in Somerville Township twenty years later, however, by 1906 they had moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Zipporah died in 1909 and was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Saskatoon. Isaac died seven years later in 1916.

Unfortunately, the name on the gravestone that lies underneath Anna Maria Cole's has weathered away. "Scotland" appears on the stone as does "died Sept. 28" and "Aged 68 Years." Neither the transcription nor the Ontario Death Registrations could help determine whose gravestone this was.

A significant number of gravestones at Winterborne Presbyterian record Aberdeenshire, Scotland as the place of origin. These gravestones are representative of the wave of Scottish settlers that came to Canada West (now Ontario) after the War of 1812. Encouraged by the British government, Scots from the Lowlands came to Canada in large numbers. While many immigrants were farmers, blacksmiths, masons and carpenters; there were also teachers and clergymen. Quite a few Scottish families, as well as English families, settled in the Winterbourne area in the 1830s.

Chalmers Church
For many years the cemetery was associated with Chalmers Church in the village of Winterbourne. But before 1876 the cemetery was the location of St Andrews Presbyterian — a frame church erected in 1838. Chalmers Church was the result of the 1844 split between the established Church of Scotland and the Free Presbyterian Church. The Free Presbyterians were barred from worshipping at St. Andrews. The Free Presbyterians build a frame church in the village, and in 1870 built the yellow bricked building which still stands today. In 1876, after the reunification of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, St. Andrews joined with Chalmers, and in 1878 the frame church on the cemetery site was sold and dismantled. Chalmers Church itself closed in 2011, but not before the building was designated a heritage structure.

The name Winterbourne dates to the construction of a dam, sawmill and gristmill on Cox Creek by William Henry Lanphier in 1854. Lanphier was born in Sunbury-on-Thames, England in 1809, the son of the Reverend Dr. William Henry Lanphier (1774-1823). Lanphier joined the Madras Army of the East India Company as a Cadet in 1826. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant but retired in 1839. He came to Canada in 1854 but returned to England the following year to pursue a career as a Church of England minister. He graduated from Cuddesdon College in 1856 and was ordained by the Bishop of Oxford in 1858. Lanphier was appointed Vicar of Long Compton in Warwickshire in 1861.

It is said that Lanphier named the village Winterbourne after his ancestral home in England. There is no record, however, of a Winterbourne in Sunbury-on-Thames. There are numerous Winterbournes elsewhere in England, but it likely that Lanphier just liked the name. Previous to 1855 the settlement had been known as Cox Creek, named after blacksmith Michael Cox who came to the area about 1840.

Presbyterian Manse, Winterbourne
The same year he built the mills, Lanphier also build a house which still exists and was used as the Presbyterian manse for many years. He died in St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex in 1875, and was buried at Long Compton.

William Henry Lanphier's brother Thomas Halifax Lanphier (1811-1872) had settled in the Winterbourne area more than fifteen years earlier, and owned a farm east of where his brother built the mills. He married Jane Gordon (1806-1891) in 1840. Jane had been born in Aberdeenshire, and had come to Canada with her parents. John Gordon (1776-1862) and Elizabeth Davidson (1776-1862). According to his obituary Lanphier had served in the Royal Navy and came to Upper Canada after his discharge in 1835. The obituary states:

He was a man of large means and kind heart, and was never slow to aid the distressed, and many now comfortable homes can date their early prosperity to his helping hand. He leaves a widow and two daughters to mourn his loss. (Galt Reporter, November 29, 1872)
Thomas Smith 1768-1850
The earliest settler in the Winterbourne area, however, was Thomas Smith. Smith was born in Vermont in 1768 and came to Upper Canada in the 1790s. He married Mary Weaver (1778-1845) and settled in Woolwich about 1807, probably as a squatter. Thomas and Mary lived with their three children on the east bank of the Grand River opposite the mouth of the Conestoga. Their daughter Priscilla was born in 1808 and was likely the first white child born in Woolwich.

During the War of 1812, Smith was a Lieutenant in the 2nd York Militia, and was wounded in the knee at the Battle of Lundy's Lane. In 1835 he started a coach service from Winterbourne to Preston (Cambridge) via Berlin (Kitchener) than ran until 1850. Unlike most of his neighbours, Smith was a Methodist. He died at the age of 82 after suffering a stroke at a religious meeting, and was buried at Winterbourne's small Methodist cemetery.

Rachel Hewitt 1797-1846
Another early settler in the area was Elisha Hewitt. Hewitt was born in Cayuga, New York in 1800 and came to Upper Canada in 1819. In 1823 he settled in Woolwich Township and the same year married 26-year-old Rachel Cress. Elisha and Rachel had seven children, all of whom survived to adulthood. After Rachel's death in 1846, Elisha married Elspit Meldrum (1812-1860). Rachel's and Elspit's gravestones survive as does the gravestone of Elisha and Elspit's daughter Jane (1849-1853).

The earliest gravestone in the cemetery is that of George Wright who died at the age of 19 in 1841. The gravestone of George Mackie records an earlier death date of 1840, however, the stone was erected after the death of his wife Jean Forsyth in 1850. George Mackie was born in Aberdeenshire about 1758 and came to Canada in 1837 with the families of his adult children.

It is interesting to note that the Winterbourne area was also briefly home to a Black settlement known as Colbornesburg. In 1829 a group of freed slaves from Ohio, led by Paola Brown, convinced Lieutenant Governor Sir John Colborne to let them settle in Upper Canada. Brown chose the area north of Cox Creek for his settlement. By 1832, nine families totalling 34 individuals were living there, and a church and schoolhouse had been built. Thirty-four Blacks are known to have settled in the area but within a few years most had moved away, many to the Queen's Bush settlement further north.