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Up the Gatineau! Selected Articles

The Pink and Moffatt Families of Hull, 1822-1938

Volume 1, page 7

Bruce Elliott

In the “Quebec Gazette" of Monday, July 8, 1822, notice was given that the brig “Alexander of Whitehaven" out of Belfast had arrived at the port of Quebec with 141 settlers aboard. Here began the Canadian history of two prominent pioneer families.

Among those who disembarked from the “Alexander” that summer day were three brothers — James, Charles, and Samuel Pink, their sister, Isabella Moffatt, her husband Alexander, and three young children, Timothy Moffatt, age five, Jane, four, and Alexander Junior, age two.

On May 10th they had left their homes in Ireland and set sail for the New World aboard the “Alexander”, of which Alex. Moffatt was first mate. The long voyage had been beset by terrible disease, a common occurrence in those days of wooden vessels and overcrowded conditions. Although the sight of corpses being buried at sea, tied up in sacks and weighted with shot, made an indelible impression upon the children, the family reached Canada safely.

At Quebec City the family embarked in bateaus for Montreal and there, changing bateaus, proceeded up the Grand or Ottawa River, finally landing in a wooded wilderness where an American named Wright had established a settlement scarcely two decades before. There were small, scattered clearings, but on the whole the region was a forbidding one of dense bush and forest.

It was now November and winter had set in. The family presumably found lodging in Wright’s Village, overlooking the rapids and falls of the river there in the Township of Hull, County of York.

Soon afterwards Samuel and Charles Pink returned to their homeland, where their elderly parents still lived.

The following summer James obtained employment in the construction of the first church building in the area. He was paid five shillings per day. Saint James Anglican, when completed, was a small stone building, and the Rev. Amos Ansley, missionary, became its first minister.

On October 23rd of that year, 1823, a third son was born to the Moffatts, the first of five children to be born to them in Canada. He was named Robert after his uncle. The uncle, a naval veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, soon arrived in Hull to join his brother.

James Pink volunteered to serve in the Hull and Templeton Militia in addition to his construction work and by 1825 Robert and Alexander Moffatt were also drilling under Captain Wright down at the head of the Chaudière Green, near the site of the present E. B. Eddy offices.

In April of 1826 the Moffatt brothers and James Pink began clearing lot seventeen in the sixth range of the township. An acre of potatoes and four of corn were planted, and in the fall a log cabin was constructed near the centre of the farm, which became home for the Moffatts the following spring.

James, meanwhile, took up the lot immediately to the east of his brother-in- law and on September 21st, 1827, having fulfilled the conditions of settlement, each received a grant of his respective lot. Robert meanwhile was beginning to clear land just north of his two relatives.

Two years later, however, a rumour circulated that their deeds, obtained through Squire Wright as land agent, were no good. Men with grudges against the old gentleman or who were in debt to the firm of P. Wright and Sons began at once to expand these stories until Wright's reputation and his position as agent were in danger. Alexander Moffatt, who had earlier signed a petition to the Governor expressing sympathy for the case of one John Chamberlain, who had cleared a lot and yet, due to legal considerations of which he was ignorant, had never received a grant to it, hastened to pen a statement clarifying the situation: “I am sattisfied with the conduct of P. Wright Esqr. as agint", to which James Pink added: “I never heard any dissattisfaction among the settlers tell the report circulated of thar Deads not being good.”

The situation, which was much more complex than indicated above, was eventually cleared up, and the settlers were assured that they did in fact hold clear title to their lots.

On his return to Ireland, Charles Pink had returned to his parents’ home in Holywood parish near Belfast. In 1825 he had married Catherine McGechan of County Antrim and now, in 1830, he decided to return to Canada. With him, in addition to his wife and two young children, Charles brought his elderly father, Charles Pink, and his mother lsabella. As a young man Charles Pink, Sr. had worked as a coachman for Captain James Currie, a well-to-do gentleman in lreland, and had eventually married the Captain's youngest daughter, lsabella.

The same year another sister of the three brothers, Margaret, arrived from Belfast with her husband, William Larmour, and three children. They were later to settle in the northern part of the township.

Just as James Pink had helped build St. James Church, so the Moffatts realized the need for a school-house closer to their farms than Wright's Village. So in 1830 their friends and neighbours gathered up on the Mountain Road and prepared to conduct a “school-raising". However, when it was noted that no one had brought along any whiskey, the entire company sat down and waited until a good load had been brought from Symmes’ Landing, now Aylmer. Once the whiskey had arrived, work proceeded rapidly and by nightfall the log structure was completed. Mrs. Alex. Moffatt supplied the meals on this festive occasion, the dinner consisting of pancakes and maple syrup. Various names for the new building were proposed but finally John Heyworth’s suggestion, the “Tabernacle", was adopted. In the years to come, the Tabernacle was to serve as both school-house and church.

In 1831 the final member of the Pink family, Samuel, returned and bought land near his brothers. With him came his wife, Mary Elliott, and three small children.

The following year, Jane Moffatt came out to join her brother Alex. in Canada, and in that same year Alexander died. On March 31st, 1832, he was crushed by we weight of a tree he was felling. He left eight children, the youngest of whom, Margaret, was only seven months old.

For the next six years his widow valiantly carried on, aided as much as was possible by her brothers and brother-in-law and by her sister-in-law Jane, who was married in 1835 to Emanuel Radmore, who had come from Devonshire England to join his brother Calvin in Hull.

By 1838 the Moffatts had built a new home, and in September of that year Isabella remarried. Her new husband was John McMaster, an Anglican minister.

The adult members of the family continued to train with Wright‘s militia. By this time, despite the fact that only a few of the volunteers were armed, Timothy Moffatt, the eldest son of the late Alexander, Samuel and Charles Pink, Emanuel Radmore, and David Larmour, son of William, were drilling down in the Village. As the years passed, the old parents passed away, followed soon afterwards by Samuel Pink in 1854 as the third generation began to marry and to begin families of their own.

Of the years that followed many stories could be told — of how Henry Pink went off to fight in the American Civil War, of how the children of the pioneers were left homeless by the Great Fire which swept the region in 1870, of how Alexander Pink won awards as a champion rifleman, of the descendants who served in the wars of 1898, 1914, and 1939, and of the descendants who served their township in municipal politics.

The Pink and Moffatt families have now been in Canada for one hundred and fifty years. Some thirty acres of the Moffatt farm are still owned by a descendant. The Radmore farm is still in the family also, and although portions of the original Pink properties are now within the limits of Gatineau Park, descendants still farm in the area.

In large part, the story of the family is the story of the Valley. The family name is perpetuated in the names of a road and a lake, in the name of Pink's Cemetery, which grew from the solitary mound where the parents of the pioneers were laid to rest in unmarked graves, and in the names and memories of hundreds of descendants scattered throughout the world.

Bruce Elliott is a descendant of both the above-mentioned families and he researched and wrote this essay which won top prize in our first Essay - Contest for High School students in 1972. His winning essay also included three pages of the genealogy of the two families.


List of articles - Volume 1