||Dec. 6, 2002
Lumberman William Mackey Memorial
Pioneer lumber king William Mackey died on Dec. 1, 1902,
100 years ago last Sunday.
He had a sixty-year career including his primary focus at Eau Claire
in Calvin Township on the Amable du Fond River.
At Eau Claire he took out
squared timber and ran a sawmill, shipping his lumber on the CPR when
it went through Eau Claire in the 1880s. I
wrote about him a year ago when I
noted that for such a successful man, very little is known about him. Significant
new information came to light when North Bay genealogist Tom Carkner
discovered his obituary while researching a book at the National Archives
in Ottawa. I had asked Tom to keep an eye out for anything on Mackey,
and he found copies of material that he passed on to me.
||Pioneer lumber man
William Mackey (1819-1902) died one hundred years
ago on Dec. 1st.
The first brief note in the 1902 newspaper stated that
Mackey began as a lumberman on the
Bonnechere River in 1842, sixty years prior to his death, at
his home at 201 Cooper Street at Elgin in Ottawa at age eighty-two.
He was born in 1819 at
Mackey, a small village in County Down Ireland.
He came to Canada to Perth,
Ontario, with his father, a sister and a brother in 1835.
His father died shortly thereafter, and William, his sister and brother
moved to Bytown (Ottawa). He began
to work for well-known lumberman George
Buchanan, and was a volunteer in the Papineau Rebellion of 1837-38.
His obituary indicated that William began to work for well-known
business man the Hon. James Skead,
and soon went out on his own in the squared timber trade
on the Madawaska River, where he maintained limits until his death.
William's sister Rosena married James Skead, who besides having a
successful business career became a
Member of Parliament and Senator.
William married and had seven children, and was a staunch
Roman Catholic and supporter of
Ottawa's St. Patrick's Church. He
was a conservative in politics but
did not run for public office. The
first report of his death listed
his two daughters, Mrs. J. St. Denis and Mrs. D'Arcy McMahon, and an unmarried son Walter. Later
reports listed more of his children, including Percy
who was slow and lived at Eau Claire, usually with Roderick Mackenzie, Booth's
accountant who lived in a house next door to Mackey. Mackey's house,
which became the local store and post office, remains today just over the
second bridge going south at Eau Claire, and Mackenzie's house is just south
of Mackey's house. Mackenzie
oversaw the building of the log slide on the
Eau Claire Gorge for Mackey. Mr.
Mackenzie, Mackey's manager Andrew Ryan,
and son Percy attended the funeral in Ottawa.
Mackey's estate was estimated to be in the millions in
early reports, but on probate in
May 1902 the amount was about one million two hundred thousand dollars, a significant amount 100 years ago.
The estate was divided as follows:
Walter $100,000, William $75, 000, to the trustees of his son Percy $70,000,
to Roderick Mackenzie $34,000, to his son Henry $8,000, to his sister-in-law
Mrs. Hubeck $4,000, to his servants and some friends $1000 each,
and the remainder of his estate between his two favourite Ottawa daughters,
Mrs. St Denis and Mrs. MacMahon. William's
brother was a successful lumberman,
and it is believed that the town of Mackey on the Trans-Canada
highway was named after him. His
brother and thirteen other lumbermen
died while trying to break a logjam in the spring run off.
William Mackey's lumber camp on the Amable du Fond River
in the 1800s. William's son
Percy is seen on the left holding the gun.
One of Mr. Mackey's obituaries noted that he made much of
his money on the Amable du Fond and
Lake Kioshkokwi. He bought his
limits there for a few thousand
dollars and sold them to J.R. Booth shortly before his death for $665,000. Mr.
Booth apparently had the chance to pick up the property in the 1870s for a few thousand dollars but put his money
elsewhere. Booth, who
was Canada's most successful lumberman was quite prepared to pay the higher
price at the turn of the century and his men logged there for years, as
did the Staniforth Lumber Company (1936-1973) which followed Booth.
Son Henry, who received the $8000 legacy, challenged his
father's will but apparently lost
because he had previously received money from his father, $133,000
for a business he owned in Buffalo. Mr
Mackey's son John, known as Todd,
who received nothing, ran J.R. Booth's bunkhouse at Eau Claire until he
abandoned his wife and children and disappeared. Two of his daughters, one
now deceased, lived in North Bay and received a request to bury him decades
after he had disappeared. They
Son Walter later married, and his three granddaughters
contacted me recently while
completing a family history and we shared some information on William. A
hundred years have passed, and William Mackey is still remembered for his
contribution in the Amable du Fond area and for helping to open pioneer Ontario.
Although my name is Mackey, I have no connection to
William, but my great-grandfather was called William (and my grandfather
Henry), and he came from Ireland
about the same time as the Mackey above, and died in 1905.
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