John Steckley, Bolton

My Brodie History

In 1835 a nine year old Scottish lad named Alexander Brodie came to southern Ontario by ships and boats from Peterhead in northeastern Scotland. He and his family spent their first year on Lot Street (now Queen Street) in Toronto then called York. He described seeing cows being walked down that now busy main street of the city. The next year they moved northeast to the Stouffville area. There they established their farm. That farm remained in our family (my great grandfather Abram Steckley married a Brodie) until the 1960s. My parents, sisters, grandparents and cousins enjoyed many a summer’s day there with picnics and games.

In 1906, as an old man, my great-great-great-great grandfather Alex wrote his memoir, focussing primarily on the trip over and the first years in Ontario, including the Rebellion of 1837-8. They had come to the new country with a letter of reference to be shown to William Lyon Mackenzie, the first mayor of the newly-named Toronto, and one of the leaders of the Rebellion. Although the family did not take part in the Rebellion, they fed some of the Rebels, and saw a man they knew and trusted, Ludwig Wideman return to town dead in a wagon with a bullet through his head.

Uncle Alex gave copies to his nieces, which included my great aunt Nell Steckley. My sisters and I were raised with those stories. I own a copy, and will be publishing my edited version of the manuscript. The old stone farm house burned down in the 1930s, but remnants of the walls still stand, especially the south wall that included the fireplace. To me it was what castles and forts were to boys growing up in lands that have an abundance of such buildings.

When I give Steckley cousins from Australia tours of our family history, that farm, especially the remnants of the old stone house is a high point of the tour. Uncle Alec’s stories and that land connect us to the past of our family and of our province.

(Photos by Angelika Steckley)

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