BELLOWS, Caleb S. and Esther Mansell.
Caleb Bellows was a strong community builder in Westmeath Township. He was a lumberman, magistrate and mill owner and the lands of the current Westmeath Provincial Park area. Bellows Bay, on the eastern shore of Lower Allumette Lake; a widening of the Ottawa River, bears his name.
“In 1835, he removed his family to the then new settlement in Westmeath,C. W., and was their first postmaster and first magistrate. As no physician or surgeon lived within 60 miles of them at the outset, he often administered medicine and even set broken bones sometimes.
He was Lt. Col. of the Second Battalion of Renfrew Militia (1853-63). He was a man of well-stored mind and refined manners, of a robust figure and handsome mien, and of a high social character and position. In his later years (1861), he became a sincere and positive Christian. He d. of paralysis, April 21, 1863. His last words to his youngest son Caleb were: “Keep Heaven in view.” His widow resides at Portage, Du Fort, C. W.”
For the full excerpt: Bellows Family Excerpt
“Caleb S. Bellows was the son of a risk-taking, entrepreneurial Yankee, who came into Upper Canada after the War of 1812. His father initially settled in Bytown where he built a steamboat wharf at Richmond Landing, below the Chaudiere Falls. Caleb Bellows upon maturity struck out on his own by moving inland to Morphy’s Falls (Carleton Place) in the early 1820’s. Building a grist mills and opening a distillery on the Mississippi River, he served on the Bathurst District Council. Before 1830 he had moved again, back to the Ottawa River, but this time deep into the wilderness of Westmeath Township in the Upper Ottawa – a sort of terra incognito for settlers at the time.”
– from Whiskey and Wickedness, No. 4, by Larry Cotton.
Thanks to Judith Salley for submitting information on Mrs. Bellows: “Wife of Caleb Bellows was Esther Mansell daughter of Robert Mansell and Susannah Hinsley born in Yorkshire, England. Family settled first in Ramsay Twp,Lanark in 1821. Alfred T Manuela who gave land for St Mary’s church in Westmeath was a cousin.”
Bellows himself was a Westmeath Township lumberman along with David Beach and Jason Gould. And like them, made his fortune from the great pine and oak stands. In the 1851 Census, the Bellows family numbered ten and Caleb is listed as a lumber dealer. Unfortunately the names aren’t given in full with Mrs. Bellows only known a E.M. in both the ’51 and the ’61 Census lists.
That 1851 Census lists a second Bellows family headed by Moses and his wife Fanny. Perhaps Moses was a younger brother, as he was also American-born.
An eye-witness account of meeting Caleb Bellows, and the hospitality of his household, is found in William Logan’s 1845 Diary:
“Walking thence we got a good ducking, & arrived at Mr. Bellows who would have us stop & dine with him, to eat a bite to support nature as he expressed it.
“Mr. Bellows has a pretty good house for this part of the world. There are several rooms in it & he has a fine family. One of his daughters officiated as cook on the occasion & by means of a very good cooking stove soon got pork & potatoes & tea ready, with toast & butter & bread. I doffed my wet jacket & my wet beef shoes & my wet stocking & hung them all up by the stove to dry. Mr. Bellows lent me a pair of stockings & slippers & so I dined in my red flannel shirt sleeves. Mr. Bellows has a garden and he gave us a melon, not a very good one, but I took two slices notwithstanding. He produced some red plums also, which he said were not ripe, neither were they, but I ate a dozen of them notwithstanding. No doubt they grow wild in the neighbourhood.”
Beef shoes: this was the everyday footwear made in the style of Aboriginal moccasins, but using cow hide or horse hide, and European shoemaking techniques. Such shoes were common in Quebec from the mid-1600s until the late -1800s.
“Mr Bellows says the land here about produces 20 bushels of wheat to the acre on an average. He has very excellent land on a flat about 6 feet above the highest water, which produces much more. There was a capital crop of potatoes on it. It has given 4 tons of hay to the acre. The price of hay is here seldom under £3 per ton.
“Mr. Samuel Adams, who is settled in the vicinity, and has a mill, used to grind some 10,000 bushels of wheat annually until another mill was erected. How much the two divide between them I have not been informed. Moffatt is the name of the other person who has a mill. Mr. Bellows has the post office.”
At this meeting with Logan, the Bellows had settled at the Lower Allumette Lake shoreline, as did others using the river as a highway. But when the railway was built through the area, Bellows moved inland to take advantage of that new form of transportation.
A devastating wild fire in May of 1853, swept through a large swath of Allumette Island, and parts of the townships of Pembroke, Westmeath and Ross. 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”.
Author Larry Cotton continues:
-“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.
“On arriving at Westmeath proper where there is a store, post office, blacksmith’s shop….I learned there was no road across the ice to McCurries. I was directed to follow a road through the bush which would lead me round to the new government road. Travelling along this bush road about five or six miles, I came suddenly upon a small settlement called Bellowston.
‘C.S. Bellows, who formerly resided at the lake shore, …resolved to take advantage of a small stream running trough his lands, and within a mile and half of a railroad track, to erect mills and factories… It is abut ten miles from Pembroke. Mr. Bellows has a saw mills and grist mill now in operation… is also erecting a sash factory and door and blind factory…”
The Government Road mentioned by the traveller was the Beachburg-to-Pembroke Road. In 1852 the road opened from Arnprior to Pembroke. By the mid-1800’s, both it and the new Canada Central Railway line were the result of strong lobbying of the government to give assistance to the lumbermen who wanted better access to the pine stands. From that point onwards, the settlers were no longer tied to using the Ottawa River for transportation.