2010 Leamington, Ontario

Roadhouse/Mellow Family Reunion

In the early 1800’s, two sons and one grandson of William (1740-1831) and Sarah Roadhouse of Monkfryston England came to Canada and were some of the first settlers in Albion Township north of Toronto.  This Civic Holiday weekend, over 150 of their descendants came from Australia, California, Alberta, Florida, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Michigan and all parts of Ontario for the family’s 8th Biennial Reunion which was held on the farm of David and Janette Chevalier in the Municipality of Leamington.

As seen by the distance many travelled to attend the reunion, it wasn’t long before the sons and daughters of those who came to Canada started to spread out across both Canada and the United States.  In 1857, William Roadhouse (1828-1880) purchased sixty-six acres on what is now Mersea Rd. 7 in the Municipality of Leamington for two hundred pounds.  William came to this area by oxcart the following year to land that was described six years earlier by James King, Enumerator in the 1851-1852 Canada West census returns, as follows:

The soil of Mersea is admirably adapted for dairies, grazing and raising of tobacco, Indian corn, potatoes, rye and wheat.  The Settlers are exceedingly scattered, some almost isolated, perhaps there are but few Townships in which they are so much so, this arises from the large blocks of Canada Company Lands and Clergy Reserves which being held at too high a price are a great barrier to the compact settlement of the Township.  The Municipality is doing all in its power to facilitate settlement by opening roads, but in the Township as in many others, in this country, the lands being dear and requiring draining, interested settlers seek a home in the neighbouring Republic and many of our best and handiest men are driven to a foreign country enriching, by their labour the locality in which they settle.  Through the high price of wild land in this area, the failure of the Indian corn crop last year was owing to the immense havoc caused by the black squirrels. Potatoes too were much affected by the lot.

This Township contains two taverns, one English Church (framed), one Wesleyan Methodist, two water mills which run seven months in the year and one Furnace.

This Township requires but little other encouragement than a reduction in the price of wild lands and with this it would speedily settle and become flourishing.  When it is taken into consideration that most of the land is low and necessarily requires ditching as well as clearing, it will be readily supposed that but few persons are able or willing to enter the “Bush” and commence farming, the great complaint among the Back Settlers is, that it takes half as much to drain as to clear and in consequence of much unsettled land it is impossible in many cases to drain at all.  The people are generally poor and the Council feels unable to make roads through miles of unsettled land with a remote prospect of their settlement.

I would especially submit the consideration of this important subject to those who have power to reduce the price of these lands, being fully convinced that if the price of wild land was considerably reduced, it would soon settle but without such reduction it will be many years before much improvement takes place in this Township with respect to settlement.  James King – Enumerator – February 13, 1852.

William’s descendants purchased more land along Mersea Rd. 7 and David Chevalier and wife Janette, the great great granddaughter of William Roadhouse, now own one of these farms.  Their farm came into Roadhouse possession in 1901 when the land was purchased by Janette’s great grandfather, Brewin Roadhouse.  It was later owned by her grandfather Earl Roadhouse, then her uncle, Ernie Roadhouse, and today David, Janette and their son, Kevin reside and farm here. Their newly completed implement shed provided the perfect shelter for reunion attendees to share information, have fun, eat great meals and learn about the family’s vast history in North America.

The reunion officially began on Friday afternoon when cousins began arriving with mobile homes and tents, setting them up in the Chevalier’s yard.  By Saturday some 150 family members had gathered at the farm for the festivities.  The children enjoyed a fun-filled day of games with even the oldest family member present, ninety year old Floyd Roadhouse of Guelph, being one of the first to join the children on board the barrel train and the hay wagon for a ride around the farm.  The adults played musical chairs and joined their children and grand children in a tug of war. Two and a half year old triplets, Michael, Georgia and Morgan Clark of Tecumseh, wasted no time digging into the delicious evening meal which was followed by a performance of “Old Time Religion” by the Cottam United Church Choir. Later, the youngest family member present, six-week old Davis Roadhouse from London, slept peacefully in his father Kenneth’s arms as they danced to music provide by Gord Ciliska. A large number returned again Sunday morning when Roadhouse descendants, Larry and Paul Chalmers, told us about John Wesley and the beginnings of the United Methodist Church.  Our ancestors were strong followers of the movement and brought their beliefs to Canada which they passed along to their descendants even to this day. Dale Butler provided some old fashioned tunes that had everyone clapping and singing as well as songs he had written himself which were so appropriate for the occasion and setting.  As the family departed Sunday afternoon they were already thinking of 2012 when the next reunion will be held in Spruceview, Alberta.

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Triplets, Morgan, Georgia and Michael Clark, along with big sister, Jaclyn, enjoy the evening meal at the Roadhouse/Mellow Family Reunion held over the weekend at the farm of David and Janette Chevalier on Mersea Rd. 7 in the Municipality of Leamington.  Michael, Georgia and Morgan are the only known triplet descendants of William (1774-1857) and Elizabeth Roadhouse, one of the first of the Roadhouse clan to come to Canada in 1819.

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