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BEACH, David Jr. and Sarah Luke

The original Beach land grant of 1,000 acres and initial array of Beach businesses were the foundation stones of present-day Beachburg. When David Beach, his wife Sarah Luke, and his family of nine children settled beside a stream, they founded what has become a pretty village in the heart of the Ottawa Valley. This village is inland from the Ottawa River; situated on a height of land on the old portage trail used to avoid the river rapids west of Portage du Fort.  Beachburg Village

David soon built a grist mill beside the house using the stream for water power. In a few years, a settlement of a grist mill, saw mill, store, tannery, shoe shop, hotel and post office was established and named Beachburg.

“The village of Beachburg was established about 1835 by David Beach. Initially a tannery, post office, grist and sawmill, together with a tavern and a few scattered log houses, comprised the “village”. The first fair was held in 1857 in Beachburg at the hotel of David Beach, situated at the corner of Main and Morris Streets.”        -from Whiskey and Wickedness, No. 4, by Larry Cotton.

Surviving a Holocaust in 1853.

The Beach family, as well as all their neighbours, was hit very hard by a devastating wild-fire in May of 1853, when a large swath of Allumette Island, and parts of the townships of Pembroke, Westmeath and Ross were swept over. The fire zone extended as far as the east shore of Muskrat Lake and to Portage du Fort on the Ottawa. The settlers in many instances barely managed to save their lives. Every dwelling, business and public building was “devoured”.  For more on the Great 1853 Forest Fire see Gould’s Line.

Two years later a traveller in February of 1855 gave this description:

“Passing through the Townships of Ross and Westmeath, the awful ravages of the great fire are visible on every hand.   For miles and miles the eyes rest on nothing but the trunks of burned and blackened trees, giving the appearance of the country quite a dreary aspect.  Many of the inhabitants suffered severely having lost everything. At the village of South Westmeath I noticed a great change. The entire village had been burned down. On driving to where Mr. Beach’s commodious hotel formerly stood, I passed the place not knowing it from its altered appearance. Mr. Beach lost everything mils, houses, stables, furniture, etc. He has got his mills again in operation, however, and has laid the foundation of a large frame house, intended for a hotel.”     -from Whiskey and Wickedness, No. 4 by Larry Cotton.

David Beach died in 1866, aged 76 years. Two of his sons, Abel and Joseph, remained settled in the village. Abel became a magistrate and notary public. His daughter, Sarah Jane Beach, was a school teacher and married William Smyth of Perretton a  generation later. See SMYTH entry.

beach, Nancy

Nancy Beach Melvin Fleming, daughter of Pioneer David Beach

The Maps section of this website lists a number of historic Westmeath Township  maps – an important one being the Beach Properties in the Village of Beachburg. Beach-Properties-Map-of-Beachburg-1830s. The original 1,000 acres from the Crown provided a steady income to the family as lots were severed, developed and sold to new incoming village residents.

The Beach in “Beachburg” Family History

On the occasion of the 175 Anniversary of Beachburg an excellent book was produced: “Beachburg – A Rich Heritage, 1835-2010”  The Beach family’s submission of text and photographs to this commemorative book is used here.  Information Submitted by Grace (Beach) Stephen, Kaye Beach and Ann Thomson. Numbers indicate generations. For this website this material has been expanded with new additions. Thanks also to contributors.

The Beach family’s recorded history begins around 1638 when John Beach from England arrived in New Haven, Connecticut. Directly descended from John Beach in the 4th generation is David Beach designated as “Pioneer David”.

1. Pioneer David Beach Sr. born in Morris County, New Jersey, 1761. By 1795 David was married to Phoebe Daniels and living with his family of 8 children on a farm near Plattsburg New York. Between 1800 and 1802 Pioneer David Beach moved to South Gower where he acquired 200 acres on Lot 8 in the South Concession. Of his 8 children, David Beach Jr. born in 1790, 4th child of Pioneer David, was the adventurer who found his way to the spot which grew to be the village of Beachburg.

2   About 1815 David Beach Jr. married Sarah Luke of South Gower Township where 11 of their 12 children were born, their 12th being born in Beachburg. David farmed in South Gower and also became a teamster driving freight wagons to lumber camps up the Ottawa River. He and his eldest son Abel Beach journeyed up the Ottawa Valley exploring and searching for new land. At the present day location of the Anglican Church in Beachburg Village, he found the ideal site, acquiring 1,000 acres of land and built a log cabin.

Using the stream running beside his house as a source of water power he could establish his saw and grist mill. David and his children built several places of business in the hamlet and David became the first postmaster, holding the position until 1859, two probable reasons why the village was named Beachburg.

Of the large family of David and Sarah, sons Abel and Joseph settled here. Abel Beach became a magistrate, and Joseph Beach worked part of the homestead. Three of David’s daughters married into the families of the original settlers – Hannah Beach married Andrew Condie – see CONDIE entry, Sarah Beach married Alexander Stewart, and Caroline Beach married Robert Lavender who owned a carriage and wagon shop. Joseph Beach was the eleventh child of Sarah and David, born in South Gower in 1834.

3   Joseph Hume Beach (1834-1888) married Annie Shiach (1841-1905) of South Gower Township, Grenville County and they raised their family in Beachburg; Joseph being a farmer and a carpenter. Joseph worked on the homestead and lived in the log house at 31 Hume St.

Annie & Joseph Beach

Annie & Joseph Beach


1871 Census – Joseph Beach Household includes his widowed mother Sarah Luke Beach

BEACH, Joseph Family

Of their family of 10 children, Mahlon, Joseph and William lived or returned to the Beachburg area.  The 10 children of Joseph and Annie were:

1.  Mahlon Wesley Beach (1859-1945) married (1) Margaret Jackson (1872- ) of Lake Dore, Ontario. (Margaret’s sister Emma also married a Beach brother.) They had 4 children;

i. Irene May Beach,1917 Irene Death;

ii. Earl Jackson Beach (1895-1966) m. Ada Mabel “Lois” Johnston (1901-1988) in 1922 in Winchester, Ontario.  – and they lived in Beachburg in the house on Main Street which is now “The Paddler’s Inn”. They had one son Robert Wesley Beach (1923-1996) m. Catherine (Kaye) Crothers of Detroit, Michigan. Kaye Beach now resides in Beachburg.

 iii. Lennox Beach (  – 1917)1917 Lennox Death;

 iv.  Annie Elizabeth Beach.

This first marriage was not successful and when Mahlon married (2) Margaret Elizabeth Fraser in 1925 he is listed as being divorced. 1925 Mahlon & Margaret Wed.

2. Annie Elizabeth Beach (1863-1920) 

3.  Silas Edgar Beach (1865 – 1916) m. Christine Kemp Wilson (1868- ) in 1893 in Ramsey Township, Lanark County. When Silas died in 1916 he was a merchant in Pembroke, Ontario.1916 Silas Death.

4.  James Albert “Bert” Beach (1867 – 1951) took over the homestead farm and he married Emma Catherine Jackson of Lake Dore, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Warren) Jackson, and sister of Margaret Jackson, who married Mahlon, as already described.  In 1898 a strange incident occurred when James Beach was stabbed by a young lad.1898 Beach Stabbing.BEACH, B&E

Five children were born to Bert and Emma – Hazel Beach, Vera Beach, Elizabeth Beach, Joseph Wesley Beach (1903- ) and Doris M. Beach. 1935-Doris Beach

Their only son Joseph Wesley Beach was born in 1903, and in 1940 he married Rhoda Catherine Fuller of St. Marys, Ontario, who came to Beachburg as a teacher in the Continuation School. They lived and farmed on the homestead at the end of Hume Street.

1957 Advert

1957 Advert


They had one daughter Grace Catherine Beach was born in 1943 and married Barry Stephen of St Marys, Ontario in 1966. They moved to Beachburg in 1969, Barry teaching at Renfrew Collegiate and Grace part time teaching. They have four children.

5.   Joseph Hugh Beach (1869 – 1937) m. Mary Jane Cardiff (1870- )  in 1896 from Admaston Township, Renfrew County. They settled there for a short time and then moved to Saskatchewan and later Portage de Prairie, Manitoba where he is listed as a mine foreman in the 1921 Census.

 6.  Abel  Edwin Beach (1871 – 1945) 1871 Abel Edwin Birth Reg  m. Mildred “Minnie” Louise Wright (1882-1959), daughter of Francis and Fannie Wright.   Edwin-Minnie Marriage. Edwin was a mail clerk when the married in Algoma District in 1907. Their children: i. Muriel Beach (1904 – );  ii. Ethlyn Beach (1906 – ); iii. Noble Beach (1906 – 1930); iv. Edwin Lennox Beach (1910 – ) – the family had moved to Ottawa’s Glebe area  and Abel Edwin was working as a real estate agent when son Edwin Lennox Beach was born. 1910 Edwin Lennox Birth Reg.

7. David Samuel Beach (1873 – 1940) m. Sarah Pettigrew Dunlop in Nippissing District in 1898. 1898 David& Sarah Marriage. David was a tailor at that time. They would first live in Alberta and then British Columbia.

8. William Herbert Beach (1875 – 1927) In 1908 he married Alfaretta Allan of Stokes NY. They lived for a time in Kenora, and then returned to Beachburg where Willy took over the furniture store and funeral home. The business was subsequently sold to William and Esther Reynolds. William died suddenly in 1927 while on route to direct a funeral. 1927 Beach, Wm. Death. Their two children were Eleanor Beach and Marion Beach, who both became teachers. Eleanor Beach married Millar Thomson, and they raised three children Ann Thomson, Nancy Thomson and Bill Thomson in Pembroke where Millar taught at Pembroke Collegiate for many years.

9. Alice Mildred “Millie” May Beach (1878 – 1934) m. telegraph operator William Smith Carley in 1899. 1899 Millie & William Marriage. 1934 Mildred Death.

10. John Lennox Beach (1881 – 1904) , – died at age 23 in Alberta.

Another branch of the Beach family who vacations on our shore just outside Beachburg, relates back to Benjamin Beach, a brother of David Beach, the founder of Beachburg. Rev. Hector Beach and his wife Annie May Kyle (married 1918) came every summer from the Frankford area to their cottage. Their son Dr. John Beach and his wife Ruth (married 1943) also built a cottage and now their children Eleanor Beach, John Beach, Anne Beach and David Beach come with their families.

Beach Homestead

Beach Homestead, Hume Street, Beachburg Village

“The pretty red brick house at the curve, now home to a travel agency on the Beachburg’s Main Street,  is significant because on a very windy day in April of 1948, a disastrous fire started in the back of the house.  Fanned by the wind, the flames quickly spread and destroyed several village homes and burned the roofs of others. The Joseph Beach farm at the end of Hume St. was one of the worst casualties suffering the loss of the original farm-house and all the farm buildings.”                                         From “Beachburg: A Rich Heritage”.

To see more BEACH photos:  Beach Photos and photographs on My Heritage.


1851 Canadian Census – Abraham Beach.

 “Good Fences Make Good Neighbours” – turns tragic:

“A fishing expedition on a hot June day in 1873, turned into a tragedy in Beachburg. William Condie and two of his nephews, coming from fishing on a lake beyond the property of John Beach, wantonly pulled down two rails of Beach’s fence and walked on. Beach’s family hearing the rails fall, John Beach and one of his son went out of the house to ascertain who the parties were who pulled down their fence. Following the Condie party, as they approached them the Condie’s hid to avoid detection. William Condie picked up a large stone and threw it at John Beach, as he approached his hiding spot. Beach was struck on the temple by the missile and fell senseless. A few hours later, he died of a massive blood clot to his brain. Condie was charged with murder and placed in Pembroke jail. Found guilty he was sentenced to six months in jail.”       -from Whiskey and Wickedness, No.4, by Larry Cotton.


Thank you to Larry Cotton, author of the Whiskey and Wickedness series of books, for his permitting use of these excerpts.