Menzies great-great grandson searches for Almonte roots

by Edith Cody-Rice

Victor Menzies, the great-great grandson of  John Menzies of Almonte, was recently in town researching his family history.

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Victor Menzies relaxes in the library of Menzies House

Victor was born in Prince Rupert B.C. and lived there until he was 32. As a young man he was hired by B.C. Ferry plying the inside passage to and from the Haida Gwai. In 1992 he transferred to Victoria B.C. where he now lives and works for B.C. ferry. In January of 2016, he decided out of the blue, to research his family history. With the help of a friend, Ancestry.ca and Google, he has been tracking down ancestors, and he discovered he is the great great grandson of John Menzies of Almonte.

John Menzies emigrated from Scotland, lived in Almonte and built the Menzies House, the white house across the Mississippi River from the Old Town Hall. A National Historic property, it is now a bed a breakfast run by Pat and Frank Vetter who purchased it in 1969 and restored it. When Victor read on the internet that his ancestral home was still standing and that he could stay there, he decided he had to make the trip to Almonte.

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I met Victor for breakfast at the Menzies House and we talked in the library about his family history and his search for places and relatives. As he stated, he is the first Menzies to sleep under the Menzies House roof since his great great grandfather died in 1900.

John Menzies was the son of Basil Menzies and Jean Campbell. He was born in Little Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland on April 8, 1820. He had 2 brothers and 2 sisters one of whom was the mother of Lord Amulree and Mir James Mackenzies, who was a famous heart specialist. Mr. Menzies  worked on his father’s farm until he emigrated to Canada in 1842 and settled in Almonte. He married Mary Agnes MacFarlane of Pakenham on September 27, 1852.  Mary had also emigrated from Scotland. John was a successful business man and eventually became the registrar for North Lanark. The couple  had 6 children, 3 of whom died in infancy. Two sons Basil and Robert and a daughter Mary survived into adulthood. He died on December 17, 1900 as the result of a fall on the ice in Almonte.

Victor Menzies is the descendant of John’s son Robert Menzies who was born in 1858. After attending the Guelph Agricultural College, he moved to Souix City Iowa where he married a Guelph native Eliza Pike. Robert relocated his family to Vicotia B.C. The couple had four sons between 1889 and 1897. Victor Menzies is descended from the youngest son Victor who relocated to Prince Rupert B.C. at the urging of his elder brother Harry. He there established a successful trucking company, married and raised two sons. The Victor Menzies who visited Almonte  is descended from this family.

In all, Victor Menzies has traced the roots of 8 generations of his family – an impressive accomplishment and he considers a highlight of this quest to be his visit to his great great grandfather’s home in Almonte.