Messrs. ORCHARD and ROWE were among the pioneer settlers who took tip land in 1842 on the Garafraxa Road, in the townships of Egremont, and Normanby. After the opening up of the free grants along the Durham Road , they learned of the superior quality of the soil in Brant, and ROWE decided to settle there and start a tavern at the locality afterwards known as Gaffaney's Corners, but before he reached the place the land had been taken up by another. ORCHARD sold his farm in Egremont, while ROWE rented his on a ten-year lease. During the winter of 1850-51 they teamed their effects to Walkerton, ready for the opening of spring. About the middle of April, 1851, Mr. ORCHARD brought his family to Walkerton. Learning of desirable lands located down the river, he decided to try his fortune in that direction. With the help of a hired man, he made a raft of cedar logs. On this he placed his family and household effects and started, unappalled by the dangers and difficulties that lay before them, on a voyage down the Saugeen. Mr. ORCHARD had some information about the land and the appearance of the locality at the mouth of Mud River, as it was then called. He said he had had a dream about it, and if it were like what he saw in the dream he would stay there, and he wanted to be there first. It turned out, so he found when he arrived, to be just like what he dreamed about. Mr. ROWE was delayed owing to the sickness and death of his son, and was unable to start with Mr. ORCHARD. He was also further detained for a few days at Walkerton, to be corner man at the putting up of a two - story log house, owned by his cousin, Wm. JASPER. While there, on the first day of May, a foot of snow fell, but by night the logs were swept and the building raised. Mr. ROWE engaged William WALKER, W. JASPER, George NEELEY and Alex. McINTYRE to build two large rafts and take him down the river. They started on the 9th day of May, and landed safely at the site of what was afterwards to be know as the village of Paisley early that afternoon. The two pioneers were well pleased with the look of the land. Mr. ORCHARD was satisfied with his choice on the north side of the river, and so was Mr. ROWE with his on the south side. Mr. ROWE's hired men returned next day, leaving the two families with one, hired man alone in the forest, miles from the nearest settler. Mr. ORCHARD had already erected a good shanty of poles. ln three days of the arrival of Mr. ROWE and family the three men and two women, with the help of oxen, put up a large shanty for the newly arrived family. Mr. ORCHARD then cut logs for a new house. At this time the party of surveyors under Mr. (afterward Senator) A. VIDALl, engaged in the survey of the township of Saugeen, happened to come along, and helped to raise it. This building will be remembered as the store that Mr. Samuel STEEL occupied for some time. The winter of 1851-52 was a notably severe one. Mr. ORCHARD had four cows and Mr. ROWE fourteen head of cattle to winter that season, with nothing to feed them on but tree tops. The two settlers each hired a man to chop all winter. Mr. ROWE hired his man on the 12th of October. The first snow fell that night. For months it had an average depth of five feet, and was to be seen in the swamps in the following June; but the cattle got through well. When the ice began to break up on the river Mr. ORCHARS's four cows came down to the river for a drink, as usual. Standing on the rotten ice, it broke beneath them, and the cows were never seen again. In the summer of 1852 Mr. ROWE, with the assistance of hired help, cut the logs and built what was known for years as ROWE's tavern. Its site was opposite the present Town Hall, and it stood projecting on the street at an angle thereto. Its measurements were thirty by twenty-four, with a lean-to for a kitchen, and another lean-to for a dining-room. The families of the two settlers were separated by the Teeswater River. To overcome this inconvenience one of the first things they undertook was to erect a foot-bridge over the stream. Unfortunately, the next spring freshet washed it away, and for a while they depended upon a dog, which was trained to swim across and carry small things from one shanty to the other.
In August, 1851, John VALENTINE sent two men to take possession of the mill site which he had applied for at the Crown Lands Office. One of the men, David ROSS' by name, took ill and died during the following month. Owing to scarcity of lumber in the settlement, some of the boards that formed the floor in the house of Mr. ROWE had to be used for the coffin, while a carpenter, James BENSON, had to be brought down the river from Walkerton to make it. Two brothers of the deceased, who resided at Fergus, were able to be present at the funeral, which was the first in the township of Elderslie .
In the chapter on Elderslie is to be found the names of those who early took up land at or in the vicinity of Paisley . One who early became identified with the settlement was John MEGRAW. In 1851 he took up a farm lot in the township of Saugeen, but had the misfortune in the following spring to have his shanty burned down. John VALENTINE, who was passing down the river to Southampton , happened to meet Mr. MEGRAW, and persuaded him to leave the farm and work at the building of his dam and sawmill at Paisley . In the fall of that year Mr. MEGRAW took up the farm lot on which the railway station at Paisley now stands, and in the month of October, 1851, installed his family in a little shanty he had there constructed. The VALENTINE sawmill was running in 1852, supplying settlers near at hand, and also for some distance down the river with lumber required for building purposes. It was the practice of the last mentioned to raft and float down the river the lumber they purchased.
Messrs. ROWE and ORCHARD, realizing the possibilities for the development of a town on the lands they had squatted upon, were desirous to secure a patent therefor from the Crown, and early paid into the hands of the Crown Lands Agent the required amount. But the Department also seemed to have realized it would be desirable to have a town plot surveyed at the junction of the Saugeen and Teeswater Rivers; or quite probably there were those who were pulling the wires of political influence to obtain the lands and hold the same for speculative purposes. Whatever was the reason, the Crown patent remained year after year unissued, notwithstanding repeated visits of Mr. ROWE to the Crown Land Department at Quebec and Toronto. At last the Department decided to have a town plot there laid out, and in 1856 Francis KERR, P.L.S., made the necessary survey. The rights of Messrs. ROWE and ORCHARD were respected, and patent after patent in their names, issued on September 17th, 1856, for village and park lots are to be found entered in the books of the Registry Office. A plan of this survey was lithographed and published, a copy of this, in the hands of the author, portrays the extent of development attained by the village in 1856-57. The plan shows but thirty-six buildings in all, scattered along Queen Street, and thence down Alma Street to VALENTINE's mill. In the plan are shown three sawmills, one grist mill, the school-house and ROWE's tavern, besides unnamed buildings. There is no bridge over the Saugeen, or Willow Creek, while the bridge over the Teeswater seems as if it extended from the high bank on the south side, nearly to Church Street . After leaving the river it most probably was a sort of causeway till higher ground was reached.
The name of Paisley was given to the village when the post-office was opened, February lst, 1856. The first postmaster was Thomas ORCHARD. He also was the first merchant. At the time he opened out his stock of goods it was in a room in ROWE's tavern, but in 1854 he built the first store erected in the village, occupied subsequently for years by Robert SCOTT as a flour and feed store. As time wore on, Tradesmen and others began to make their appearance in Paisley , and bit by bit the cluster of little shanties in the small patch of clear- ing began to widen out, and the whole to take on the appearance of a town. Speaking of tradesmen, Mr. Thomas IRVING was in those days an essential part of the community, and when difficulties of a mechanical nature arose, invariably his aid was sought His little workhouse on the bank overlooking STARK's mill was a veritable curiosity shop. It was a foundry and a watchmaker's shop; everything from a broken-down printing press to an old gun or a sick watch, was benefited by his treatment. Long will the memory of his quaint sayings remain, with the younger people especially (Paisley Advocate). The hum of industry early pervaded the village. The grist mill built by John VALENTINE in 1855 was in operation in 1856. The mill privilege, now known as the FISHER Mill property, was purchased from S. T. ROWE in 1859, and developed by Mr . David D. HANNA and milling actively carried on. Industries of various descriptions also commenced to develop, such as sash and door factories, owned by Joseph CHRISTIE and the SINCLAIR Brothers. A tannery was started by James BONE, a blacksmith shop by Joseph DONALD, a foundry by James BRADLEY, who sold out in 1810 to LAIDLAW & ROBINSON; a brickyard, by Wm. ANSTEAD. Various other trades and professions also began to be represented, so that by the time ten years or so had passed Paisley presented all the appearance of a thriving little village. It was in 1859 that the author paid his first visit to Paisley , to be present at the opening of St. Andrew's Church. Willie BAIN, a youth of his own age, showed him over the place. The impressions which he can now recall refer principally to the soiree at the church ; the stores of Thomas ORCHARD and Richard DICK, which seemed small: VALENTINE's mill; the scattered appearance of the buildings, and SERGISON's hotel, where he put up. The fire in the wide brick fireplace in the bar-room, piled high with four-foot logs, gave out a most welcome warmth after a long sleigh ride from Kincardine. One looks in vain for such a cheery wood fire in the now almost deforested county of Bruce.
The preceding historical sketch was copied from the History of Bruce County by Norman Robertson, Published 1906. It was originally narrated by Ainsley MEGRAW in the Paisley Advocate of Feb. 20, 1890.