Preserving and Promoting local history for the former Rideau Township
Log Fence

Sometimes the past is viewed through rose-coloured glasses. Much respect is directed hereabouts to the Loyalists who settled the land and built strong communities. But, in truth, it takes all kinds to make a world - and some pioneers were rascals! 

RTHS member Brian Booth was trained as a chemical engineer and retired as a section head with the patent department. Booth has spent years researching regional history in the greater Manotick area and has authored a number of books on the subject – from the geological age, the Algonquins, early settlement, the canal era and beyond. Drawing upon that background, Booth presented highlights from the life of Richard Latham Garlick (1780 – 1863). Twenty-seven stalwarts gathered at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Kars to hear Booth's talk, in spite of blustery weather and snow-slicked roads.

Richard Latham Garlick was born in Massachusetts to an Anglican Clergyman and physician, Reuben Garlick and his wife, Lucy (Latham) Garlick. The Reuben Garlick family supported the crown during the American Revolution and suffered as a result. Rueben moved to Quebec's Eastern Township region in the early 1800s, and received a land grant of 5,000 acres based on his prior military service with British forces.

Richard Garlick arrived in Canada even ahead of that, where he courted, impregnated and then married Sarah Jacobs in 1800. They had 11 children in all. Booth describes Garlick's subsequent life as that of an "opportunist” who sometimes “took it too far” and was “not too concerned with legalities”.

According to Booth's research, with his father's help Garlick began buying lots in the North Gower region early on, circa 1803. He bought more lots in the 1820's, when it is believed he moved to reside in the area. Eventually he owned 21 lots, about 10% of the township. Most were never cleared. It appears that Garlick was after the lumber – quoting Booth, the “tall pine and stout oak” so desired by the Royal Navy. Booth surmises that Garlick harvested the best trees from his lots and quite probably from other land he did not own. (Booth added that the usual oak of this region was not the type most valued.)

Records of the time provide tantalizing – but incomplete – glimpses of people's lives. For example, sometime before 1819, records indicate Garlick was found guilty of an offense in Lower Canada. He may have fled the jurisdiction of the Court of Montreal which issued writs that called for him to appear.  The charge, or threatened punishment, are not known from documentation available to date.

But changes were affecting the economic landscape. By 1825, British demand for lumber was in decline, planners were about to build the Rideau Canal and the North Gower Township survey was completed. This meant amalgamation with Marlborough Township and the collection of land taxes.

As Garlick had mostly been after timber, regular land taxes were the last obligation he wanted. He began selling his lots and redirected his energy to running a tavern on Lot 31, Conc 1, up the Rideau from present day Kars. He built a wharf to serve steamers with firewood and improve access to his tavern. He had a steamboat built (the “Bytown”) and ran a passenger service between Kemptville and Manotick. He secured a contract with the Ordinance Department to transport supplies between Hog's Back and Burritt's Rapids. With partners, he also cut a winter (sleigh) road to Richmond, where there were breweries and distilleries - important connections for a man now running a tavern.

Unfortunately for Garlick (and his creditors) he ran into financial difficulties that necessitated a loan, which he could not repay.

Richard Latham Garlick 

Presenter:  Brian Booth

Article and picture by Lucy Martin

In this time period Col. By was actively buying land along the canal route to secure that project's future. Garlick saw a chance to make money by selling lots he no longer owned to Col By. It took a whole decade for that fraud to be detected and brought to court. By the time the title swindle was straightened out Garlick had to give up his remaining leases and he lost his tavern. But he was able to begin anew as a farmer in 1849 - at age 69.

Brian Booth

Brian Booth at the display of his books after the presentation of his research on Richard Garlick. Brian is standing beside a table featuring a display of a number of his book on area history.

Garlick's role in pioneer society over the decades seems to have been a mixture of respectable civic engagement along with some less-reputable dealings. He established a school and hired a Mr. Grove as the teacher. He provided bail for some Tory friends charged with rioting in relation to the Alien Act of 1828. He was appointed a sergeant in the 2nd Regiment of the Grenville Militia in 1829. He was nominated (though not appointed) to be a magistrate in 1842. That position went instead to John Eastman Sr.  

In later years, Garlick was largely out of the public eye. By 1862 he went to live with a son in Osgoode. On May 13, 1863, while walking the train tracks to visit another son in Kemptville, he was struck and killed by a train, at age 83. Because trains of the day were slow enough and loud enough to detect at  a considerable distance there is some suspicion inebriation may have been a factor in his death.

 Post-talk discussion included comments about where Garlick owned land and why Col. By was purchasing so many lots - some were bought as flood plain to avert damage claims. Most lots were 200 acres in area, though they were often cut in half.

Owen Cooke expressed his admiration for the broad degree of expertise found within RTHS, as demonstrated by the many well-researched presentations given by members.  

Chatting during the reception, I asked Booth in what ways Garlick may have been typical - or atypical - for his time and place. Booth replied with this summary: “He was an American! He may have been a Loyalist but he had the American bent for entrepreneurship. He was looking for ways. And most of the other people weren't.”

It was an interesting presentation on the different types of people who contributed to settling this part of Ontario.