A Canadian municipality is endeavouring to conserve a 170 year-old log house which has strong links with Rogart.
The City Council in Mississauga, Ontario plans to transport the house, which is constructed from hand-hewn logs, from its original site now in an area of light industry, to a new site several miles away and restore it to its original condition.
The house was built in 1826, according to a date found during renovations about 30 years ago, by John Leslie who with his wife Esther, nee Beattie, and a family of seven sons, had left his native parish of Rogart two years previously to settle in Streetsville, Upper Canada, as the province of Ontario was then called.
John was a member of one of the several families of Leslies who lived along the south side of Strath Fleet from Rovie to Rossal, but Esther had been born in Co Tyrone in the North of Ireland.
During the 1790s when Ireland was in a state of unrest, which culminated in the rebellion of 1798, the 3rd Sutherland Fencibles had been stationed at a number of places throughout the island and Esther had married a Rogart man, William Leslie.
When the Fencibles were disbanded she accompanied him to his native parish where four sons were born to them - George, John, Robert and William.
William, senior, however, died and Esther remarried, her second husband being John Leslie, who was William's cousin. They had three sons - James and another George and William - known as Geordie and Willie to distinguish them from their half brothers.
Meanwhile, in 1819, Esther's brother John Beattie who had left Ireland for New York in 1810, had moved to Meadow Vale, on the Credit River in Upper Canada. It was probably at his persuasion that the Leslie family decide to embark on the tremendous undertaking of emigration, assured of a grant of land far superior to the steep, stony little fields which they had in Rogart.
Esther's eldest son, George, now 20 years of age, was apparently also anxious to improve his prospects. From the age of 16 he had been employed as a gardener on Lord Ankerville's estate at Tarlogie, near Tain. He was to prosper in Canada, in due course opening a nursery business in what is now Toronto, where the area which developed around his premises was given the name Leslieville.
John and Esther Leslie with their large family of sons traveled from Rogart to inverness by wagon, by boat on Loch Ness from Inverness to Fort Augustus, by wagon again to Fort William and from there, via the Crinan Canal, by sea to Greenock. There they had to wait for 10 days before embarking on the Larch, of London, for a six-week voyage to Quebec. From there they sailed up the St. Lawrence river until they eventually reached Streetsville about three miles from Meadow Vale, where John Beattie was settled.
In Streetsville, John Leslie leased 200 acres of land for 21 years, later purchasing it outright. There he built the log house which still stands today. He died in 1872 at the age of 86. His wife Esther predeceased him in 1867 at the age of 86.
The log house is now surrounded by industrial development and is virtually inaccessible to the general public, so the Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee last year approved plans to move it south to a rural property on the banks of the Credit River. Other historical buildings occupy the site which remains a working apple orchard with many examples of rare fruit trees, some dating back a century or more.
After nearly 170 years of sylvan seclusion on the east bank of the Mullet Creek, on the second farm north of Derry Road, now an industrial area, the Leslie log house was moved on 24 May 1994 to its new location in the Pinchin orchard on Mississauga Road south of Streetsville.
John Leslie with his wife Esther Beatty and their family came to Upper Canada in 1824 from the ancient parish of Rogart in Sutherlandshire, Scotland, to join Esther's Irish brother John Beatty who had settled in Meadowvale in 1819 - later he was ordained in the Methodist Church and helped to found the Academy of Upper Canada (Victoria College) in Cobourg.
John Leslie leased 200 acres from King's College - Lot 12, Con 5W in Toronto Township - and on the south half in 1826 built a storey-and-a-half log house, 26 ft by 36 feet, with the help of neighbours. Its size and architectural features distinguished it from most log cabins, and before long it was covered with clapboard. Removal of the siding about 1960 disclosed the excellent squared log construction.
John Leslie Jr. inherited the farm, and his son George lived on the north half. In the early 1880s they sold the south "String hundred acres" to Christopher B. Rutledge whose family kept it to about 1925 when Wilbert Leslie bought back the old homestead. It passed to Fred Reeves, W.H. Ledden, and to Markborough Properties Ltd. who agreed to designation of the house in 1978 and seven years later gave it to the City of Mississauga.
Since the removal of the house to land owned by the City, it has had some exterior repairs, but complete restoration for a heritage use awaits the availability of funds. Already the unique old building is becoming a landmark among the apple trees.
An article and picture, "A Rogart Family Home in Mississauga," appeared in the April 1994 issue of the Northern Times, Scotland, written by Rev. J. Leslie Goskirk, minister of St. Callan's Church and the Parish of Rogart, Sutherlandshire.