OMAH welcomes Larry Cotton for talk
Submitted From left to right, Mary Ann Grant, OMAH history committee member, Larry Cotton, speaker and Harvie ancestor, and Daphne Mainprize, history committee member.
There was a large contingent of Harvie ancestors in attendance for Larry Cotton's talk about the local pioneering family, held at the Orillia Museum of Art and History on Nov. 16.
Cotton recounted the bleak economic times John and Agnes Harvie were facing in the small town where they lived near Glasgow, Scotland. With little means, they believed a better future for themselves and their eight children was elsewhere.
John and Agnes took up an offer by the Canada Company to immigrate to Upper Canada in 1832.
After landing in Muddy York, (now Toronto) they made their way north to Hawkstone where they resided for a few years. They purchased 100 acres from a half pay officer in the area of Old Barrie Road and the 15th line. This was the beginning of the Harvie family tree and their instrumental impact in the settling of this area.
Cotton spoke of a hard working, religious, independent, resilient and innovative family who met the challenges of a tough, untamed environment head on.
They prized education and faith. When there was no place to worship or educate their children, they petitioned the government for a Gaelic Minister and property to build a school.
The Harvies were innovative and mechanically-inclined farmers. At Springbank farm, located at the Old Barrie Road and 15th Line, they built their own pumping station to bring water from the creek to the farm. Their national dish being oatmeal, they erected a grist mill on the farm. They were willing to embrace new ideas, spreading manure on their fields (an unheard of practice) and importing pure bread livestock from Europe.
They had success in agriculture, medicine, in law and as merchants. They got involved in local politics.
Cotton spoke of Eric Harvie, Orillia Hall of Famer, who was born in a primitive log cabin and ended up being the richest man in Canada. He used his wealth to build institutions like the Glenbow Museum in Calgary for the betterment of all.
James and Alec Harvie were instrumental in the building of Soldier's Hospital, spearheading a fundraising campaign. The Harvie Clinic located on Colborne Street brought medical care into the community.
The Harvies were here long before the incorporation of the City of Orillia. Larry Cotton helped to acknowledge and celebrate the legacy they have left this community.