People: Scots of Windsor's Past
Alexander Wallace (1800-1876)
This pioneer family of the Scotch settlement on the shore of Lake St. Clair first came to Canada in the early part of the nineteenth century. Alexander Wallace, who was born in Fifeshire in the year 1800, immigrated to Quebec as a young man and worked as a carpenter. While he was living there, he met and married Jane Dickson, an immigrant girl six years his junior whose family had come to Toronto in 1831. The couple moved to Windsor in 1834, and Alexander continued to work as a carpenter and joiner for a few more years. In 1838 he set upon the life of a pioneer farmer, buying land in Maidstone Township on the lake shore in Essex County. With the assistance of his two sons, Alexander and William, he cleared off 100 acres of bush and built a house, a barn, and outbuildings.
Jane died in childbirth in 1841, leaving Alexander to raise their two sons and daughter alone. He never remarried, and was cared for by his devoted children in his old age. Both he and his wife had been among the founders of the local Presbyterian Church, and he served as school trustee for many years. In politics he was a Reformer, and although "he never aspired to office ... on account of the reliability of his character he was considered a man whose opinion was always worth consulting, and whose judgment would be just and sensible." 1
William Wallace (1836-1905)
The second child of Jane and Alexander Wallace, William was born in Windsor and grew up on the Maidstone farm, where he learned the value of a hard day's labour at a very young age. He later went to Detroit and worked in the saw mill for some years, but returned to his home town in 1872. He bought the family farm from his father, in preparation for his marriage to Elizabeth Thompson, a twenty-four-year-old Glasgow native who had come to Canada six years prior.
Like his father, William was active in the Presbyterian Church, serving on its Board of Managers, and acted as a Maidstone school board trustee for over thirty years. William and Elizabeth raised five children on the old pioneer homestead, which they developed "into one of the ideal country homes of the county." 2 Their oldest son, Malcolm, went on to become an English professor at the University of Chicago, and their second child, Albert, served as Reeve of Maidstone Township from 1934 until 1941. Together, William and Elizabeth "reared a family which justifies the pride the locality feels in it," and ensured that the Wallace family name would survive in Maidstone for generations. 3