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A week and a half after arriving in Scarborough from Scotland at the home of Robert Stobo, his brother-in-law, Robert Hamilton (the abstainer) was invited to a Scottish wedding. Perhaps expecting the behaviour to be below his standards and the "country customs" to be as boisterous as in Scotland, he chose to not attend:

They [are] all busily engaged preparing to go to a wedding. It is Robert Hogg who is to be married today to Mary a daughter of Samuel Carr. There is to be a great number of Scotch people at it and they wished me to go also that I might see the country customs, but as it is [a] good distance I think I will be better at home.[i]

Hamilton's neice however, fifteen year old Janet Rae, was evidently looking forward very much to the festivities scheduled to follow her own wedding to William Purdie on December 10, 1839. One of the older ladies present was quoted as saying:

I was greetin' (crying) and so-and-so was greetin' and so-and-so was greetin' and then I looked up at Jennie's face and there she was looking up into Wull's face and laughing.[ii]

John Gemmill, a mason, had lived for a number of years in Old Cumnock, the native parish of his wife, Ann Weir. He was obviously very fond of some of the Ayrshire customs that he had left behind when he emigrated to New Lanark, Upper Canada, in 1821[iii]:

In a letter sent by care of a Mr. Barrowman who came home [went to Scotland], a formal intimation was sent you that Janets marriage was to take place, wishing you to make all speed to come forward and bring a horse and spurs along with you to ride the bruise, as we have only oxen here and they are hard wrought and too stiff to ride bruises upon. However there was a midling merry wedding, about 32 sat dinner, since you did not come forward to be best man they made as merry as they could without you and when they were tired dancing went to bed.[iv]


Rev. John Gray was the first Presbyterian Minister in Oro Township on the northwest side of Lake Simcoe. He was about to perform a wedding when the bridegroom asked him to overlook the usual fee for the moment as he "had to pay four dollars for a barrel of whiskey" -- all that he had in his pocket.[v]

[i]         Letter from Robert Hamilton, Scarborough , May 27, 1830, to his father in Lesmahagow. R.H. Martin Collection.

[ii]        Interview, July 13, 1980, with Robert H. Martin, a descendant of Janet Rae's aunt, Janet Hamilton Martin: "I've heard my grandaunts retelling stories which they had heard about the wedding..."

[iii]        Gemmill Papers, TD 293/1/5/1.

[iv]        John Gemmill, Lanark Township, to his son, Andrew, in Glasgow, Nov. 8, 1824. Gemmill Papers, TD 293/1.

[v]         Smith, Pioneers of Old Ontario, p. 305.



The Scarboro Heights Record V13 #6