Family History: James Gordon Gillespie, Dundas Co, Ontario



  • Born Jan 1, 1824 Aberdeen, SCOTLAND  (says 1826 on tombstone).
  • Died: Dec 29, 1904 Chesterville, Dundas Co, Ontario CANADA, age 78 years.
  • Burial Maple Ridge Cemetery, Chesterville, Dundas Co, Ontario CANADA
  • Presbyterian
  • A merchant & funeral director “giving freely of his time. ” He also became Reeve of Chesterville for a period of his life.

James’ parents were both born Scotland, and were William Gillespie & Barbara Michael. See their chart.

Immigrated 1864 through USA to CANADA. Settled in Chesterville, Dundas Co, Ontario, where James and Margaret lived for the rest of their lives. They may have lived at first in Morewood where they oldest son, William,  later resided, then moved a few miles away to the larger village.

This area around Chesterville was surrounded by a huge forest and was first settled in 1817 when a United Empire Loyalist, George Hummel, established a home. A village sprang up over time on the banks of the Nation River, in the township of Winchester. The development of a mill at the village, first called Armstrong Mills, led to the development of other buildings, schools, churches, stores and even a post office, which opened in 1845 under the Winchester name. The village of Chesterville  received its new name after Mr Chester Casselman, who was the telegraph operator there in 1875. The Canada Directory of 1857-58 describes Chesterville as having a large trade with the surrounding country, which is well settled. It has a tri-weekly mail, and a population of about 500. So when James, Margaret Gillespie and several of their children arrived in the area from Scotland, it was prosperous, not a pioneering situation.

James married: Margaret (Margret) Cameron (March 61829-July 25,1911) about 1848. She died age 82 yrs. Buried Maple Ridge Cemetery, Dundas Co, Ontario CANADA. She raised at least nine children,  and outlived her husband by seven years.


Children of James & Margaret Gillespie: (note there are no Gillespies buried in Morewood Cemetery.)

  1. William Gillespie (“Billie”) born May 24, 1849 Scotland. Died July 30, 1922 in Winchester Twp, Dundas Co, Ontario. Married Lucy Emeline Beach  June 9, 1875 in  Newington, Stormont Co, Ontario (her dates b Aug 20, 1854 Aberdeen, Scotland- d April 3, 1943 in Toronto, Ontario).

They lived for a while in Stormont County. He was a miller, also called ‘Willie” in  1900 in the flour mill in Morewood, Dundas Co, just north of Chesterville,  where his parents lived. The mill was owned by the Moffat Brothers. He would grind different grains into flour and feed for human and animals.  Willie was short of stature and looked much younger than his age. He lived in Morewood his whole life. Lucy moved to Toronto to live with her ill daughter, Minnie (My father, Sam’s wife) after William passed away.  She later died there about 10 years later.   2 children:

  •  Minnie Gillespie  June 25, 1876 in  Stormont Co, Ontario. She was still living at home, single, age 34 in 1911 but by 1913 had started a relationship with Sam Gillespie, (my father), whom she  married in  1918 in USA during war days. No children. This couple returned to Toronto.  She died of kidney failure in her 57th year April 3, 1933 in Toronto. Buried together in Park Lawn Cemetery, Etobicoke, Ontario, CANADA. “Minnie and her father often rode their bikes, starting early Sunday mornings for long hard rides into the country. She would be dressed in some very up to date ladies fashion, and he would wear  tweed plus fours and a peaked cap.”
  • Clifford  Beach Gillespie b Oct 31, 1891 in Winchester Twp, Dundas Co, Ontario. He was living with his parents, age 19 and single in 1911.  Married Oct 8, 1897 in Ottawa.   15 years younger than his sister.  Died about 1955 in Peterborough, Ontario, age 64.

2. Mary Gillespie, born April 2, 1851 Scotland. Married March 22, 1870 William MCKAY (Jan 26, 1849-) of Winchester.  Living in Winchester Village 1901 with their daughter Florence. No McKays there in 1911.  Three children: Alexander (1873), James  (1876)  & Florence McKay (Aug 24, 1882) Note: There is an interesting article about the McKay farm in Morewood, and how it was the centre of considerable activity by youth of the area. ” The benevolent spirit of Alexander McKay Sr extended to the family of his wife’s sister, the William Gillespies, by using acreage east of  his own house to erect house with lawns and a garden. Although they were of a lesser scale than his own, they served to gain considerable favourable attention and to give his own property greater value.”

3. Lavinia E Gillespie, born July 13,  1857 in Aberdeen, Scotland. She married April 16, 1878 in Winchester Twp, Robert BEATTIE of Winchester, Dundas Co, Ontario. His birth Sept 10, 1855.  Family living in Chesterville in 1891 . In 1901 the couple  (ages 45/her 43) have two adult daughters and son living with them in Chesterville. In 1911, Lavinia’s widowed mother, Margaret, 82 is living with the couple in Winchester Twp, ages 56 & 52, but their children are gone.

  • Effie F Beattie b April 28, 1879
  • Minnie Beattie b Dec 15, 1880
  • James A Beattie b June 9, 1882

4. James Gordon Gillespie, birth May 15, 1863 Old Macar, Aberdeen, Scotland. No further information found about him and he may have died as an infant.

5. Isabella Laird (“Bella”) Gillespie, born April 6, 1865. Married William JOHNSON May 11, 1886 in Chesterville. Moved to Vancouver, British Columbia by about 1888.  Address: 1039 Burnaby St, Vancouver. She died June 16, 1933, age 68. Two children:

  • Georgina Johnson b May 11 1887
  • Jean Johnson b May 9, 1892

6. John Gillespie, born about 1867. Died March 25, 1878 aged 11 yrs, 6 months, 11 days. Buried Maplle Ridge Cemetery near his parents.

7. Margret (Margaret) Cameron Gillespie: Born 1869. Married Clark WASHBURN Oct 27, 1890 Chesterville, Ontario. She died July 25, 1911.

Isaac Laird Gillespie, born April 4, 1870 Canada.  World War I soldier, age 46, single,  enlisted from Whitehorse, Yukon Oct 13, 1916. Current living address Atlin, British Columbia. 5 ft  6 3/4″, blue eyes, brown hair. “Fought in Reil Rebellion as a boy.” Listed his sister, Mrs Johnson in Vancouver as next of kin. A painter.

(Difficulty in these two records regarding birth dates and there may have been a twin Grace to fit in here as well)

8. Matilda Chord Gillespie b July 17, 1870 in Chesterville, Dundas Co, Ontario. Baptized May 24, 1871. Married Mr. MACGREGOR  Oct 12, 1900. 2 children:

  • Margory MacGregor  b Feb 24, 1899
  • Hugh MacGregor b Oct 8, 1900

9. Lillie Gillespie, born 1871.  married Oct 12, 1898 in Chesterville to Wm G M McGregor. (somewhat confusing information between the last two sisters. Yet to be clarified).


Total Records: 15

Source of Records:

  • Scotland 1861 census for Old Machar, Aberdeenshire; Old Machar Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island, Address: Skene Road    James G Gillespie, head, married, age 34. Yarn Bundler (Bleachfields), Born Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen, Scotland.  2 rooms. Margaret C Gillespie, wife, married, age 31, Born Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen.
    • William Gillespie, son, age 11, scholar, born Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen. See notes above.
    • Lavinia E Gillespie, daughter, age 3, born (1858) Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen. See notes above
  • on BR Aberdeen, Scotland.
  • Tombstone in Maple Ridge Cemetery, Dundas Co, Ontario ) see photo
  • 1871 census: James 45, Winchester, Margaret…
  • 1881 census: James 54,   Margaret 51,   Isaac  17, Isabella 16, Margret 12, Matilda 10; William 41, Lucy 38, Minnie 14
  • 1891 census: William 32, Lucy 27, Minnie Emaline 24
  • 1901 census: James 75, Margaret 72 alone now; William 51, Lucy 46. Minnie 24; Clifford 9
  •  1911 census: James has died. Margaret 82 living with Robert  & Lavinia Beattie. William 62, Lucy 56 with Minnie 34 and Clifford 19.
  • Interview of Clarence Cross, a Dundas researcher in Chesterville with extensive records.
  • History of Morewood Village about 1900 by Dr J. A. McGregor.
  • Vital Statistics for Births, Marriages, Deaths for some of these people.
  • Pioneer Burial Places, page 21.
  • Memories of Chesterville by Ella York.
  • The History of Chesterville by O. D. Cassleman
  • Military records for World War I
  • Birth Records for James Gordon Gillespie and his two siblings