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Puslinch Historical Society Spirit Walk
June 26, 2016
Rev. Andrew MacLean was born at Moy, Invernesshire in the Highlands of Scotland in 1821. he was one of eight children. The MacLeans were a Gaelic speaking family, part of the McLean of Duart clan of the Isle of Mull, Scotland, whose history goes back to the 1300’s.
Andrew went to work early in life. As a young boy, he worked for the parish minister, and in 1838 when he was 17, he went to Inverness to work as a “flesher,” which is an old Scottish term for butcher. But he obviously wished to better himself, for he taught himself English at this time, and then attended Edinburgh Normal School. Thereafter he taught school for a time at Sutherland and in North Uist. He then studied divinity for 8 years at University of Edinburgh, partly assisted by a Free Church scholarship. By the time he graduated in 1856, he was 35 years old, a newly minted minister, ready for his first charge.
Meanwhile in Puslinch, The West Puslinch Presbyterians log church on Lot 15 which dated from 1840 was by 1854 too small to serve the number of new families moving in. A bigger church was needed. It was decided to rebuild and move the location of the church to Lot 26 1st Con. on land donated by Alexander Fraser.The new church was up by 1854, built to hold 400 people. A new minister was needed.. The congregation was mainly Gaelic, and they wanted a minister who preached in Gaelic.
Reverend John Bayne from Galt happened to be visiting Scotland that year, and the Crieff congregation asked him to find a Gaelic speaking minister. Reverend Andrew McLean accepted his offer, and they sailed back to Canada together. Thus in 1857 Rev. Andrew became the first minister of the separate charge of West Puslinch In this new church, he preached his first sermon.
Andrew met Catherine Cameron from Chatsworth in Grey County about three years later. Catherine was born about 1840, so she was about 20 years younger than Andrew. The Camerons had immigrated from Scotland in 1860 to Grey County. Andrew and Catherine married in 1861,.
Andrew and Catherine had two sons - John Bayne born in 1862, and Hugh Cameron born in 1866,- both born at the manse in Crieff. Reverend Andrew remained lifelong friends with his mentor Reverend John Bayne who had brought him to Canada , so much so that he named his first born son after him.
For a time there were three Reverend McLeans in this area, Rev. McLean of Strabane who was known as “Good” McLean, our Rev. McLean of Crieff known as “Kind” McLean, and Rev. McLean of East Puslinch known as “Fearless” McLean, for his fulminations against Catholics.
Our Rev. Andrew was kindly and well loved by his parishioners. However, he could be stern when doctrine was involved. For instance, he refused to provide the certificate of membership demanded by the Crieff blacksmith who habitually argued theology with him both in private and in public. Rev. Andrew drew up a list of 18 charges against the man when he wanted to leave the Crieff church. After weeks of bickering, the district Presbytery provided the certificate over his head, and Rev. Andrew had to accept the decision.
His ministry included families from Beverly district, Gore District, and the First, 2nd and 3rd Concessions of Puslinch. Our records tell of him travelling between the 3rd of Puslinch to the 4th of Beverly to administer baptisms.
His responsibilities also included serving at Synods, officiating at the ordination and induction of a new minister, and he was often called upon to preach in Gaelic at other churches. On the death of Rev. Bayne, he was appointed moderator of the Kirk-Session. An item in our archives from 1858 describes another of his duties. Along with two of the school Trustees, he conducted the annual official examination of the local school.
Reverend Andrew served at Crieff for 16 years. By 1870 his health was failing, he suffered from dropsy, or edema, which is often due to heart failure, but he conducted services when he could until 1873. He died at the age of 53. Obituaries told of his earnestness and fidelity, a faithful and affectionate pastor and a thoroughly evangelical preacher.
His wife Catherine and the two boys, aged 11 and 7 , moved back to Chatsworth to be closer to Catherines brother, Rev. James Cameron.
By 1882, times had changed, and the congregation was smaller. The church was too big and too hard to heat and uncomfortable. It was torn down and a smaller brick church built, and designated “Knox” church at this time.
The last Gaelic service at Crieff was held in 1908.
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Membership in the society is open to anyone interested in the history of Puslinch Township giving you access to the archives, assistance with your research from committed volunteers, a newsletter and occasional events of historic interest.
29 Brock Road South
Puslinch Historical Society
c/o Puslinch Library
29 Brock Road South
Puslinch, ON N0B 2J0