The family is descended from the Stewarts of Drumcharry, Crossmonut and Duntalich. John and Margaret immigrated to America in 1817 and settled in Esquesing Township. Halton County. John was known as Father of Scotch Block although not recorded as first settler. They built a big house in 1827-1830 which was the only frame house in township and they lived there the rest of their lives. Their son John 1808-1893, took part in the McKenzie Rebellion of 1836, see below. Research by Mary MacKay, August 2010.
John Stewart - A Rebel of '37, from The Bruce County Museum "Military History"
In the middle of Paisley there is a town park with a vine-covered chimney. It is a relic of the old Paisley Agricultural Works, a 19th century factory that once made farm implements. That factory once belonged to John Stewart, a rebel who stood with William Lyon Mackenzie on Yonge Street on December 7th, 1837. It was a call to arms that would leave many a rebel in jail, exiled or standing on a gallows waiting for the end.
John Stewart was born in Perth, Scotland in 1808. Part of the Scottish migration to Canada, the Stewarts settled in Esquesing Township in Halton County. The family prospered. Two sons became architects in Toronto while John stayed home to become a farmer. He also took an interest in politics, believing that the common man must be free to own land, vote and hold office.
Stewart, a frequent visitor to Mackenzie's Toronto print shop, joined the attempt to overthrow the Family Compact, the government of that time. The Rebellion of 1837 failed and John Stewart was sent to Kingston's Fort Henry prison. He escaped to New York State where he lived until pardoned (1843
) by Queen Victoria. Returning home to Esquesing Township, he lived quietly until 1862 when he sold his farm to buy the Paisley Agricultural Works.
There, the Rebel of '37 manufactured straw cutters, turnip harvesters, horse rakes, and potato hillers. Stewart's factory would continue to meet the needs of area farmers into the 20th Century only to fail when competition from large corporations like Massey-Harris proved fatal. John Stewart died in 1893. It had been nearly a half-century since he marched with Mackenzie on that snowy December day. .
To see more on the Foundry go to the The Historic Paisley Album.