Cullen Family History and Genealogy

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The Cullens of Templeton Township




















Mark L. Cullen
























To my father, John Anthony Lawrence Cullen,

 whose original research inspired me to continue the family tree project and to undertake this history





















              This work is a history of John Cullen who settled with his family in Templeton Township, Lower Canada in the late 1820s. It's the story of a family of pioneers and builders who contributed to the development of the area in the 19th century. It culminates 25 years of genealogical research by my father Lawrence Cullen and me and provides a family record for the benefit of the fifth, sixth and later generations of descendants of John Cullen. The book also includes information on other marriage-related ancestral lines on my father's side.


      For many of our ancestors, there is limited story material. Research has produced biographical material for some of these individuals, but for many, raw census and church records data are the only information available. For the first and second generation, we are fortunate to have gathered enough information to provide an appreciation of their lives and their collective contribution to the growth of Templeton.


The book is structured as follows:


o        chapters on the first four generations of Cullens;

o        material on marriage-related lines of descendants of John Cullen;

o        Selected family trees; and

o        Selected exhibits.


       Principal sources of information include the (i) Canadian, Quebec and Ontario archives ii) the National Archives, National Library and several county genealogical research centres in Ireland and iii) Canadian census microfilms, land records and transcriptions of church baptism, marriage and burial records. In addition, I have made four trips to Ireland. My father and I made a research trip to Dublin and County Cavan in 1998 and I made another trip in 2001. In 2003, my family and I visited the Killinkere area of County Cavan where we believe our Cullens originated, And in 2008, my wife Barbara and I returned to the Killinkere area.


       I have also made extensive use of internet sources, in particular, the,,, the Early Canadiana Online websites and the Worldconnect Project. These sources have resulted in much material and many internet exchanges with other researchers, some of whom have contributed missing data and introductions to others with data. Clearly, the internet has been of significant benefit in producing this work.


       The complete data and most sources of my genealogy files, including other branch lines, can be found at my website  and in the WorldConnect Project at If readers see errors or have new information, please advise me at .


       The Cullen story is ongoing. Certain descendant Cullen and other family lines are incomplete. Some basic information of those described herein remains undiscovered. As more archival information is digitized, no doubt additional data will become available. It is hoped that others will carry on the family history in later years.
























            The Cullen family epitomized the pioneer spirit of Irish settlers in Canada in the early 1800s - industrious people who fled suffrage under English rule to become successful farmers and businessmen in a new land. John Cullen and Elizabeth Carolan emigrated to Canada with their family in 1826. He had some involvement with the construction of the Rideau Canal, for which he was granted 200 acres of choice land in Templeton Township, just a few miles north east of Bytown in Lower Canada. By the mid 1850s, John and his family had become the most important farming and lumbering family in the Township and were leaders in church and community affairs.











Cullen Origins


       Where was John Cullen from? The only hard evidence of the Cullen Irish origins discovered to-date is the inscription on son Bernard's headstone at St. Anthony of Padua Cemetery in Val des Monts, Quebec (formerly Perkins Mills). The inscription reads "native of Co. Cavan Ireland". Another view, expressed at one time by my grandfather Barney to my father, was that the Cullens were from County Wexford. A third possibility is the view of my father who thinks that John and his family may have moved to Wexford from Cavan for economic reasons and from there emigrated to Canada. If this in fact occurred, the move would have been sometime during the 1816-1826 period. It would mean that daughter Catherine (1821) and son John Jr. (1824) would have been born in Wexford. We have no evidence of such a move or of these births, but certainly there were many later marital and neighbourhood ties to Wexford.


       It is frustrating that we cannot definitely establish the origins of our ancestors. However, it is not unusual for Irish who emigrated to North America before 1850 since many of the vital statistics records were burned in a Dublin fire in 1922. I was advised early in my research that we would be fortunate to find exact locations of Irish births and homesteads. And to-date, that has mostly been the case. We have yet to find baptismal records for John or any of his children. But I'm of the opinion that Bernard's children would have known where their parents were from. So I have assumed the headstone reference to Cavan is correct and our research to-date provides further support.


       Our research in Ireland commenced in 1998 when my father and I traveled to Dublin and Cavan. While in Dublin we researched the family in the National Library and the National Archives. At the Library, we searched the surname index and cross-referenced the surnames Cullen and Carolan with the Tithe Applotment and Griffiths Valuation records, looking for Cavan parishes in which both families resided. This is the traditional method of narrowing a search for Irish ancestors in that, in the 1700s-1800s, transportation was limited and the norm was for men to marry women from the same or neighbouring townlands. Cavan is one of the few counties where both surnames are found and their principal area of residence within Cavan is 1-3 miles northeast of Virginia where the Killinkere, Lurgan and Mullagh parish borders meet.






                                                                                                             Courtesy Google Maps

The Cullens and Carolans were from the Killinkere area



 At the Archives, I searched the remaining 1821 Census records and the 1824 Tithe Applotment records for Cavan parishes and recorded all Cullen and Carolan families listed. The Census records list all family members' ages and occupations while the Tithe Applotment books list only the heads of families, acreage farmed and required lease payments. As the map below shows, around Killinkere there were several Cullen and Carolan families residing at that time. Cullen families lived in Virginia, Murmod, Upper Killinkere, Doon, Annagharnett, Ardlow, Lisnabantry and Corradooa. Carolans lived in Doon, Enagh, Kilmore and Annagharnet and several other Carolans lived further south in townlands in Mullagh. The complete listing of Cullen and Carolan families is included in Appendix 1.






The Killinkere area of County Cavan. Cullen families lived in townlands highlighted yellow; Carolan families

lived in black-circled townlands. Note proximity of the Killinkere townlands.

Map courtesy of Ordnance Survey of Ireland



                Irish families often followed naming conventions for their children.  Fathers often named their first son and daughter after their parents. If this pattern was followed by John, his parents were Anthony and Mary. There are two known Anthonys from the area who could be John's father.


There is a possibility that John is the eldest son of Anthony and Mary Cullen of Murmod Townland, just north of Virginia. We found this family in the 1821 Census. [1]In this and another Cullen family in Murmod, there are many of the same Christian names found in later generations in our family.[2] Included in the Tithe Applotment list for Murmod, dated November 1824, is an entry for a John Cullen who was leasing 8 acres at the time.


In early 2008, through an internet contact, I corresponded with Martina McPhillips of Lisnalsky near Baillieborough. She is a Lynch, a native of Killinkere and a noted local genealogist with expertise on families of the area. Her 92 year old father is knowledgeable about the Cullen families and prior to his suffering a stroke a few years ago, toured other Cullens from North America around the area. He has stated that all Cullen families in the Killinkere area were related. Martina toured my wife Barbara and I around the area and she and husband Dan hosted us to an evening singsong in their home. She also showed us the "Cullen" homestead in Corradooa. It probably dates from the late 1700s and is now a cowshed on Josie Clarke's farm. Its original thatched roof has been replaced with corrugated metal and the exterior walls have been plastered with a concrete-like coating. There is no way of knowing whether this homestead is our John's, but if not, it is likely that of a relative. (Josie is likely a distant relative of ours through Catherine Clarke, mother of Elizabeth Carolan.)




      The "Cullen" Homestead - Corradooa    Mark Cullen, Josie Clarke & Martina McPhillips

                                                                                      at the Cullen Homestead April 2008



During our stay in Killinkere, I also visited the Gallon and Raffony graveyards. Both have long been in use for Killinkere burials. The Gallon Graveyard is also the site of the original St. Ultan's RC Church of Upper Killinkere and the ruins pictured below were part of a monastic settlement dating from the 14th to 16th centuries. Cullen ancestors are likely buried in both cemeteries.





     The Gallon Graveyard showing St. Ultan's ruins                             Cullen headstone Raffony Graveyard


At the Raffony Graveyard, I found the large Cullen memorial headstone pictured above. The inscription reads:


"Patrick Cullen of Savannah U.S. America

in memory of his father James Cullen

who departed this life in Jany 1843 aged 66 years

and of his mother Catherine Cullen

who departed this life in Oct 1825 aged 40 yrs

also of his grandfather Anthony Cullen

who died in Feby 1826 aged 84 years"


James is the same generation as our John and could have been his brother.



        In The McCabe List, a publication listing Irish workers employed in the construction of the Rideau Canal in 1829[3], there is a listing for an Anthony Cullen of Lisnabantry. The listing contains a reference to his uncle James of Killinkere. In the Tithe Applotment records, there are two James Cullens in the area : one in Annagharnet and the other in Lisnabantry. There is also a John Cullen in Ardlow.


          In 2004, the Cavan Genealogical Research Centre provided us with details of the baptism of John's wife, Elizabeth Carolan[4]. She was baptized on October 17, 1779 in the united parishes of Killinkere and Mullagh. Her parents were Simon Carolan and Catherine Clarke of Doon and she had at least five siblings: Mary, Matthew, Andrew, Michael and Anne. In the 1821 census, Simon, age 77, was farming 12 acres and Catherine, age 65, was a spinner. Brother Andrew, age 40, lived with his wife and three children and farmed 12 acres. Two other possible brothers, Patrick, age 45, and John, age 28, also lived with their families and farmed in Doon.


          On our 2008 trip, Martina McPhillips showed us the "Carolan" homestead in Doon. As can be seen from the photo, only ruins remain. It probably dates from the 1700s and is constructed of stones with a concrete-like coat added to the exterior at a later date. It is most likely the house of Simon Carolan, and, if so, is the only firm record to-date of our ancestral lines. I took three small stones from the structure as a keepsake.




  Carolan Coat of Arms                             The "Carolan" Homestead, Doon


            The Killinkere area has pleasant, pastoral vistas with low hills and pretty scenery.  My father and I toured the area in 1998. I recall sitting in a restaurant looking out at the patchwork of small plots of land likely the same as our ancestors toiled over daily. At that time, most Irish were farmers tending a small plot of 2-10 acres leased from English land owners. They lived with their family in one-room, stone huts like the Cullen and Carolan homesteads pictured above. They had a cow (which slept indoors with them in winter) and worked hard to provide for their families. Life would have been difficult at best. The father worked on his potato crop while his wife cooked, cared for the children, tended the garden, and was a flax spinner in her spare time. Teenaged daughters were also flax spinners. The fibre from the flax plants was spun into yarn and ultimately used in linen production, thus supplementing their meagre earnings from farming. The contrast to today's large and mechanized North American farms is marked. With regular crop failure, poor living conditions and life controlled by English masters, it is not surprising the new land beckoned.


In 1805, John and Elizabeth were married. We don't know where they lived their early married life or John's occupation. We have assumed John was a farmer, although his success in later life from farming and timbering in Canada might suggest an occupation and means of more substance. Perhaps he was a carpenter or stone mason. Also, many Irish immigrants of the pre-famine period (1847-1850) were middle class, suggesting a higher occupation or skill class and more financial resources. It is hoped that as more early Canadian colonial papers are digitized and available online, more biographical information about John and family will emerge.



          John and Elizabeth parented a large family of seven children (Anthony, Mary, Michael, Bernard, Elizabeth, Catherine and John Jr.), all born in Ireland. At the age of 50, he and Elizabeth and family emigrated to Canada. What moved him to emigrate at such an advanced age? We know that 1826 was a particularly difficult year for Cavan as the economic recession in Britain adversely affected the linen industry in Ireland. Also, continuous oppression by the English as a contributing factor cannot be dismissed. Furthermore, there had been several British government programs established to encourage Irish citizens to emigrate to North America as a means of solving the "Irish problem". Also, in Ireland there were glowing reports of Canada as a land of opportunity. Not discounting any of these reasons, the 1826 timing suggests the pragmatic reason for emigrating was the recruitment of Irish workers to Canada to build the Rideau Canal.





The Journey


       It is difficult for us to imagine the troubles they incurred in making the journey from Cavan to Bytown. What would take about 10 hours today, would have required packing belongings and keepsakes, a 2-3 day trip by horse and cart to Dublin (their most likely port of disembarkation) and a six week trip by ship to Quebec; then by steamer up the St. Lawrence to Montreal, before carrying on to Bytown via the Ottawa River by boat or steamer with portages around rapids and some of the way possibly by stagecoach. No leg of the journey was easy, particularly the ocean voyage.


       In 2008, we visited New Ross in County Wexford. This was a shipping point for immigrants to America. Moored there is a replica of the Dunbrody, a 176 foot, three-masted barque built in Quebec in 1845 and used to carry timber and lumber from America to Britain and immigrants on the return trip. It carried up to 300 passengers, most of whom were immigrants in steerage. The Dunbrody is a good representation of the many similar ships that plied the Atlantic in the 19th century.



The Dunbrody New Ross Co. Wexford[5]                Immigrants’ quarters  -  Dunbrody


Quarters for immigrants were makeshift and conditions were generally abysmal. For the entire passage immigrants were crammed into 6' x 6' bunks below deck. Up to four people shared a bunk. Food was mainly grain and biscuit and cooking was on an open stove. Water was rationed. Toilets were open buckets. Rats, fleas and bedbugs abounded. Illness and death during these trips was common and it is no wonder that immigrant ships became known as "coffin ships".[6]


Few passenger lists exist for crossings to Canada prior to 1865. There are, however, records of passengers on many of the steamboat trips from Quebec to Montreal for the 1819-1830 period. In the Ship's List website, the passenger list for the steamship "Chambly" on July 28, 1826 includes a record of a John Cullen and his wife, steerage passengers who paid 1 pound for their passage.[7] From the same website came the information that within the previous two days, 489 settlers had arrived on three ships from Dublin, Sligo and New Ross, Wexford.[8] The timing is about right, although there is no mention of their children on this or other steamboats in the same timeframe. And so, unfortunately, we can make no firm conclusions.




Quebec Port 1840s Source LAC



Bytown of the 1820s


          Bytown of the 1820s was a creation of the Rideau Canal construction project. Prior to that time, little settlement activity had occurred. The early French regime did not encourage settlement as the French were largely interested in securing furs from the mid and west continent for delivery to Montreal and Quebec. The Ottawa River, or Grande River as it was then known, at 600 miles in length, had been used for centuries as the transportation highway to the west and south mid-continent: first, by native tribes; then by French explorers like Champlain and voyageurs such as Nicolet, La Verendrye, Lasalle and Radisson and de Groseillier; French missionaries; and latterly, by Scottish fur traders like MacKenzie, Fraser and Thompson.


          A natural stopping point on these travels was the Chaudiere Falls, about 120 miles upstream from the St. Lawrence River and just west of the mouths of the Rideau and Gatineau Rivers.  The Chaudiere consists of several falls and was named for the main chute or cauldron, known as the Great Cauldron or Big Kettle. The Falls required a major portage.


The Great Kettle, Chaudiere Falls, Thomas Burrowes, c1830 Ontario Archives


          In 1800 the area's first settler was Philemon Wright, an American visionary from Woburn, Massachusetts, who had explored the area four years earlier. The fertile lands, vast stands of timber and the power potential of the Chaudiere Falls were the location's main attractions. By agreeing to settle in present day Hull, he was given the opportunity to receive significant land grants in Hull and Templeton townships. He and five families and 25 men formed the first settlement a little down stream of the Chaudiere Falls. Within five years, he had attracted more settlers, surveyed all of Hull Township, built houses and farms and was producing crops, had a saw mill, gristmill, foundry, blacksmith shop, tailor's shop, shoemaker's, bakery and a church and had constructed roads and bridges. In 1806, he pioneered log rafting by transporting logs, boards and staves to Quebec. Wright continued to expand commerce in the area and was its most important settler for the next two decades.







                                   Philomen Wright's mills 1823  Henry DuVernet LAC        Philomen Wright c1810 LAC                             



On the Upper Canada side of the Ottawa, settlement was slow. One of the first settlers was Braddish Billings, an employee of Wright's who settled on the Rideau River in 1812 near the present day Billings Bridge. The end of the War of 1812 further spurred settlement near Perth by members of the military and later at Richmond and March Township. Richmond's Landing on the south side of the Ottawa below the Chaudiere, became the important 'port of entry' to these settlements from Montreal. Stepped up immigration from England and Scotland produced more settlers near the Rideau. Over the same period, individuals acquired and traded large tracts of land in now downtown Ottawa. These included Thomas Fraser, John Burrows, Nicholas Sparks and Lord Dalhousie in the name of the Crown. Little settlement had occurred on these lands, but this was to change with the building of the Rideau Canal.


Rideau Canal


       The Rideau Canal was one of the largest engineering/construction projects in the world of that era. The War of 1812 with the Americans had provided ample evidence of the vulnerability of Canadian trade and troop movements along the St. Lawrence River, and the threat of invasion from the south. Concerns lingered, and over several years, a plan was developed by the British to link Kingston at the head of Lake Ontario to Bytown via the Rideau River and Rideau Lakes with separate, parallel or connecting canal sections as needed. The 125 mile route could then be used to bypass the part of the St. Lawrence River that flowed past New York State.


       Lieutenant Colonel John By of the British Corps of Royal Engineers was appointed chief engineer for the project, planning for which took place in 1826 with a construction start in 1827 and completion in 1832. Approximately 5000 - 6000 workers were used in the effort, including an estimated 2,000 Irish immigrants and many French Canadians, Scots, English and Americans, many of whom converged on Bytown within the first two years.  Most of the workers were used as common labourers. Many Scottish immigrants were employed as stone masons. Labourers were paid as little as two shillings per day. Many Irish workers and their families lived in shacks in Corktown by the canal works between Laurier Avenue and Cartier Square of today. Living conditions were wanting.






       Colonel John By                Entrance to the Rideau Canal, Bytown 1838

"C.K" Royal Engineers Museum        P.Bainbrigge, Coverdale Collection










                                                                                                                                            Rideau Canal Waterway 1827[9]


          A total of 47 masonry locks and 52 dams were built to circumvent rapids and allow for changes in elevation. This monumental task was completed largely by hand. The channels were dug with pick and shovel. Rock was cleared by hand-chiseling holes and blasting with gunpowder. Working conditions were unbearable. Many deaths resulted from accidents and malaria, or "swamp fever" as it was then known. Workers thought the bad air of the swamps was its cause, unaware that the disease is transmitted by mosquito.


          By the completion of the canal, the fear of war with the Americans had largely passed. For the next 30 years the Canal was used mainly for transporting timber to Bytown and Quebec and lumber to the United States and, with a low fare structure, became the principal route for immigrants to Upper Canada. However, it was not successful in permanently displacing traffic along the St. Lawrence and, with the completion of the latter's canal system in 1847, and the development of the railway network, the Canal's doom was sealed as a major transportation route. The age it represented had passed.

          The Canal is now a pleasure boating venue and an Ottawa tourist attraction - one of the city's beautiful features. The Commissariat Building, constructed in 1827 on the west side of the first set of locks, has been converted into the popular Bytown Museum. In June 2007, the Canal was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List as "the best preserved canal in North America from the great canal-building era of the early 19th century to remain operational along its original line with most of its original structures intact".



John Cullen's Land Grant


       Colonel By had genuine concern for the health and well being of the Canal workers and he dealt with his superiors in an attempt to arrange land grants for them. Their petitions were numerous. The bureaucracy in those days, based in Quebec, was as cumbersome as we sometimes experience today. A few years ago, I discovered John's land petition and grant records in the National Archives. Copies of all related documentation are included in Appendix 1. The background follows.


       In September 1827, Colonel By requested that a survey be conducted of the rear concessions of Templeton and Eardley Townships. The purpose was to provide home-sites for his canal workers. He proposed that these lots "be placed at his disposal for the settlement of deserving workmen to be selected by him".[10] The survey of Templeton was carried out by John Burrows in the fall of 1827 at a cost of 163 pounds sterling. Those granted lots would pay their share of this cost in payment for their lots.[11]


       On December 11, 1827, John was issued a 'location ticket' granting him 200 acres on Lot 8, Range 2 in Templeton Township. On the same date a ticket was issued to his son Anthony for 100 acres on the north part of Lot 8, Range 5.[12] These were the only tickets issued that day. The number of people in the families is also listed on the ticket register. John's shows 5 males and 3 females. These numbers total less than the family of nine and I am assuming that his 20 year old daughter, Mary, was away from home working as a servant, a common occupation of older female children. Anthony's ticket entry showed him as being single.

       Significantly, only eight of the grants in that November/December period were for 200 acres and each of these had to be recommended by an officer. John's was recommended by Colonel By. So, the connection to Colonel By leads us to the conclusion that John and his son Anthony had some involvement with the construction of the Rideau Canal. Their exact involvement will likely never be known because there are no records of the canal workers, who were actually employees of private companies awarded construction contracts by Colonel By. However, our John must have had some type of foreman's position or have provided some service to the Canal effort or to Colonel By himself; or perhaps he was involved with transportation of goods along the Ottawa River. In short, there would have been some good reason for him to be awarded a 200 acre grant within 2 years of his arrival. He was 50 years old.


John Cullens Land




Chaudiere Falls &

Union Bridge


Rideau Canal


                    Bytown 1831 Joseph Bouchette - see Endnote 14




Templeton Township


          Joseph Bouchette, an early surveyor of new settlements in Lower Canada, reported in 1824 that the front ranges of Templeton Township were timbered with spruce, cedar, basswood and balsam and the rear ranges with elm, birch, beech, maple and basswood. There was also an abundance of Norway, white and yellow pine. The land in the front ranges "have been found of an excellent quality, abounding with meadows, and rising, from the fore part, into fertile swells of fine land, some sections of which are stony". Templeton is "exceedingly well watered by the Great and Little Rivieres Blanche, the entrance of the River Gatineau and a number of other inferior streams—besides several ponds along its front, which overflow in the spring and fall of the year. The Grande Riviere Blanche ........ alters its course southward, to the division line between the first and second Ranges, and winding Eastward through the second Range, it discharges itself at lot No. 3 into an arm of the Ottawa, which connects that River with one of the Ponds already alluded to."[13]


          In 1824, Templeton Township was essentially barren land. Although many of the lots on the front ranges had been granted two decades earlier, few pioneers homesteaded the land. In fact, only 20 males and 16 females lived in the Township and but 186 acres had been cleared of which 156 acres were under cultivation. There were 7 houses, 4 barns, 11 horses, 11 pigs and 25 "horned cattle" in the Township. There was one road which passed through Range 1, but it was in poor condition, owing to the lack of settlers.[14]


John’s Land


          As for John's land, I assume he had scouted the property in advance and had petitioned By and the Land Agent well before the ticket was issued. It was a beautiful layout, one range (about one mile) north of the Ottawa River just south west of the present day Gatineau Airport. The east lot line was Rue Cheval Blanc and the north lot line was Chemin Industrielle, just north of the Autoroute. Boulevard St. Rene bisects the property. The Blanche River also bisects the southern part of the property. It would have been well treed. When my father and I visited the site of the property in 1998, there was still standing the massive tree pictured below, spared despite a new housing project adjacent. By 2007, the tree was gone and the entire lot is now occupied by subdivision-style housing.


          The only requirements to earn the deed to the lot were, within three years, to build a house and become a settler thereon, and to clear a portion of the land (at that time four acres in Lower Canada).


Site of John Cullen's land- Blvd St. Rene and Rue Cheval Blanc, Gatineau, Quebec


            We assume that John took possession of his land immediately and in the Spring of 1828 began to complete the required upgrading of the land. We believe his sons and hired employees helped in the effort. Regarding the hired workers, there are two relevant entries in the 1828 journal of Colonel John Macdonell of Pointe-Fortune.[15] Macdonell, a retired North West Company fur trader and veteran of the War of 1812, operated a freight forwarding business and dry goods store from his manor house on the banks of the Ottawa River (now the Macdonell Williamson House Museum). On July 9, 1828, Hyacinthe Mallet dit Leblanc bought goods on credit. A second similar entry follows for July 22, 1829 for purchases by a Hubert Mallet. The two purchases seem to be guaranteed by John Cullen. It is likely that the Mallets worked for John. In the 1842 Census, there is a Hyacinthe Mallette living in Templeton. (There are three different John Cullen signatures associated with these entries– one for a John G. Cullen; all signatures are different. It is not known which, if any, of the three are our John's signature.)  John Cullen may have met Macdonell on their initial settlement trip up the Ottawa River in 1826. There are several ties between the Templeton Cullens and Pointe-Fortune. They will unfold below.



               John Macdonell's 1828 Journal           Journal entry showing John Cullen's guarantee of

                                                                                            Hyacinthe and Hubert Maillet's goods purchases

                                                                                         and three John Cullen signatures


            John and his family may have lived near the Rideau Canal works or in Lower Town until sometime in 1828 when he most likely moved his family to his land. John had erected a log dwelling of "piece-sur-piece" construction and cleared and cultivated land (amount unknown). On February 20, 1830 the land agent certified in writing that the 'settlement duties had been performed'.[16] It took another eight months for the bureaucracy to catch up with John. He and Peter and Francis McGuire, also from Cavan, joined forces to petition for deeds to their lands, having complied with the requirements and having paid their share of the surveying costs.[17] On October 18, 1830, John's land was officially granted[18] and on December 7, 1830, the Surveyor General noted his name on the official diagram of Templeton Township. Yet it wasn't until July 22, 1833 that letters patent for the land were issued. Obviously, bureaucracy reigned supreme even in colonial days.






Life of the Settler in the 1830s


          Obtaining his land was the settler's first task. Then his real work began: doing all the things necessary to occupy his land, feed and provide for his family and start to enjoy life in his new land.


          For the uninitiated immigrant, there was much assistance. There were four emigrants' guides[20] to the Canadas, one by William Watson of Dublin in 1822; a second published by His Majesty's Chief Agent for the Superintendence of Settlers and Emigrants in 1832; a third by Francis Evans, agent for the Eastern Townships in 1833; and a fourth in 1834 by A.C. Buchanan, Chief Agent for Emigration to the Canadas. These guides were detailed instruction manuals on labour climate, means of transportation and obtaining land, currency use, building a home and planting crops and were useful to settlers, who, as soon as their boat docked at Quebec, were met by many providers of advice and services, not all entirely trustworthy.


          John Cullen would have seen the Watson guide. Watson described himself as "a practical and experimental agriculturist" who had spent time in the Canadas and deplored the sensational "grass is greener in the Canadas" information getting back to prospective emigrants in his country.


          John came face to face with the realities of being a settler. He had to clear land, build a house and plant crops. On his land, there would have been a mix of hardwood and softwood trees. With his sons and hired workers, his first task was to chop trees to provide timber and clear an area for a home. The open area surrounding the house location had to be sufficient in size to protect the homestead against fires. The trees were cut into 10-20 foot lengths, squared, notched and placed to fit on top of one another with dovetailed corners, then chinked with lime and sand mortar to provide insulation. This was so-called "piece-sur-piece" construction. The houses were up to 24' X 30' in size with 10' ceilings and included a wooden floor to provide some insulation in winter. Also, nearby or under the floor, the settler dug a 5-6' deep root cellar for storage and protection of his farm produce from the cold of winter and the heat of summer. As winter approached, the settler would "bank up" the house foundation with earth to protect the cellar against frost and make the house as warm as possible.


          Most of the Templeton settlers built homes of this type of construction. Initially, the houses would have been cabin-sized, but over time expanded in floor space and stories. By 1850, most of the Cullens had 1 1/2 storey homes.


          The 1833 Emigrant's Guide had this to say about the settler's new home:


        "In such a house a family may live comfortably, cheered by the gratifying reflection that they are residing in their own estate, which will become more valuable every year, and for which they do not have to pay rent, taxes, nor any other of those charges, which have been to them, while in their native country, a source of perpetual uneasiness: where they can taste the sweets of freedom, independence, serenity and repose."


 Amen for the liberated Irish Canadians!

Howard home, Rue Notre Dame, Gatineau - A good example of "maison piece-sur-piece" construction


          The cleared land was a source of revenue to the settler. There would have been much extra wood cleared including brush and small timber. The excess would be used for firewood and the balance burned in a large pot to produce potash. Potash in this state was worth six pence to 1 shilling per bushel. If processed further into salts of lye, the value increased to 17 shillings and 6 pence per cwt. An acre of hardwood would produce about 3-4 cwt. of potash. Then there was the timber itself. Pine, spruce and cedar, when cut and floated downriver (the Blanche River bisected John's land), could be delivered to timber merchants at a price of between 1 shilling and 2 shillings 6 pence per tree.


          Tree stumps were left in the fields. Leaving them "injured" the land less than digging them out. They would eventually dry out and rot and then could be dug out more easily. In the meantime, the settler could plough and plant between them without difficulty. The more troubling hassle was removing stones from the land, which on some properties took many years.


          The settler then had to purchase livestock and farm implements. Prices at the time, in pounds, were as follows: a milk cow from 3 to 5, steers more, a working horse from 7 to 10, a yoke of oxen from 8 to 12, sheep from 7 to 15 shillings and pigs from 3 to 15 shillings depending on age. A plough cost from 2 to 3 pounds. As well, he needed seeds for planting, an array of axes, hoes, saws, files, chisels, planes, hammers, nails, hinges, glass and putty.


          By the mid 1850s, all the Cullens were operating sizeable farms which produced milk, cheese, eggs, butter, cereals, vegetables, fruits, potatoes, beef, pork, corn and hay for the animals, potash and wood for construction, fences and heating. Horses or oxen were used for plowing and for transportation. Sheep wool was used to make clothes. Excess product was sold or used in their winter timber operations.




Another example of early settler's house, Pontiac County





          While the settler's life was strenuous, particularly in the initial years, it was not all toil and no play. There was regular singing and dancing on Saturday nights with the family and neighbours. And the Irish loved their card games. No doubt also there were private stills which made use of rye grown on their lands. No wonder our ancestors loved their rye whiskey. They could also make the occasional trip to the inns in nearby East Templeton and Pointe Gatineau. One of the inns in Pointe Gatineau was owned by son-in-law James O’Hagan.












Selected Pictures from The Picture Gallery of Canadian History[21]



                    Emigrants in a new land                                                          Clearing Land                                    




First Furrow





                                         The Reaper                                                                 Spinning Wheel





                        Potash Boiling                            Anthony Cullen had a blacksmith shop on his farm in 1851





Anthony Cullen may have used corduroy pole construction for his bridge


The Timber Industry


            Templeton Township was a thriving part of the colonial Canadian timber industry and many inhabitants, including the Cullen family, played a part in its development. Templeton and other townships along the Ottawa River were ideally suited for the industry being blessed with the largest stock of red and white pine in British North America and a variety of hardwoods including oak, elm, maple, birch, ash and butternut. White pine with its height of up to 250 feet and girth of up to six feet, together with its strength and lightness characteristics, was much in demand for ship masts and spars in Britain. Red pine was heavier and used for structural work and also for spars.


The stimulus for initial development was Napoleon's blockade of Baltic ports to British ships in 1805, thus depriving its shipping industry from its source of wood for ship building. The British then looked to colonial North America for a new source and initial shipments came from Vermont and the St. Lawrence and Richelieu Rivers via Quebec as the port. In 1806, Philemon Wright floated his first raft of timber from Wrights Town to Quebec and thus was born the Ottawa River timber business.


This initial success proved an incentive for settlers to become timbermen, cutting pine and hardwoods from their properties. After clearing a space and constructing a log cabin and planting a few crops, settlers still had an abundance of trees for additional logging for the export market. All that was needed was set of axes, a team of horses, access to water transportation, and much toil.




                   Tree cutting Upper Ottawa River c1871  McCord Museum


          Throughout the entire Ottawa Valley, entrepreneurial types had greater ambitions. The government owned most of the land and auctioned off the right to cut timber from "timber limits". These were 10 mile square land plots which were auctioned to the highest bidder at about $1.00-$1.50 per square mile. Annual rent for the limit was also paid. Then, once the timber was cut, an additional tax or duty of 1/2 to 4 pence per cubic foot, depending on type of timber, was due. The timberman hired 25-50 labourers to work the limits. Most of the work was done in the winter. Their base was called a “shanty” (from the French 'chantier'), a large log building in which the workers were housed and fed. There was a hole in the shanty roof which let light in and smoke out. Meals were cooked over the open fire in the centre of the shanty and the fire burned all day and was also used for heat. Sleeping quarters surrounded the fire.


  The workers were called "shantymen" and included many of the settlers earning much needed income in the winter months to supplement their farm earnings the rest of the year. They would leave their wives to look after the family while working in the woods. French and Irish worked together. The work consisted of felling timber, squaring felled logs (removing bark and wood by broadaxe to "square" the log for easier transporting), and hauling timber by horse or oxen to the nearest tributary to wait for the spring breakup. The skilled workers were the axemen and the hewers and were paid accordingly. Shantymen worked six days a week with Sundays off. Their spare time was spent sharpening their axes, smoking pipes, playing cards and drying their clothes. On Saturday nights there was fiddle playing, singing and dancing and story telling (in English and French). Occasionally on Sundays a priest would visit the shanty to say Mass.





                                                          Blasdell broadaxes made in Bytown             Shanty Upper Ottawa c1870  McCord Museum                                                    




    Squaring Timber c1871  McCord Museum   Hauling Logs Upper Ottawa River c1871 McCord Museum




          With the spring thaw, logs were dumped in the rivers for the trip downstream to the Ottawa River, aided by the "draveurs" who worked on the river to keep logs from jamming. Once there, the logs and squared timber were formed into 24' wide cribs of about 20 squared logs tied together by other logs and cross timbers. Cribs were then joined together to form large rafts for the trip to Quebec.





     Timber Raft on the St. Lawrence 1859  LAC                         Draveur at work LAC                                            



          Timber cut above the Chaudiere Falls had to be transported through numerous rapids and falls. Many "timber slides" were built to circumvent these obstacles. These were wide enough to accommodate a crib. Rafts would be broken down into cribs above the falls and reassembled below. In 1829, Philemon Wright's son Ruggles, built the first timber slide to bypass the Chaudiere Falls, on the Hull side of the Ottawa.


          If there was no slide, depending on the force of the rapids, the cribs would be broken down into timber then reformed once through. This process continued on down the Ottawa to Montreal and the St. Lawrence where the raft continued downstream to Quebec. Steam powered boats were also used to tow the rafts in open water.


          The rafts were manned by "river men" who used 30 foot oars or "sweeps" to propel the current-assisted rafts. They lived on the rafts for the duration of the trip. Cribs at the rear were used for cooking  (known as a "cambuse") and for sleeping quarters.




Timber Slide Hull 1855 Hunter                   J.R.  Booth Raft c1890  LAC


          At Quebec, an agent handled the sale of the timber which was then loaded into specially designed ships (built in Quebec) and transported to Britain.




Cape Diamond at Wolfe's Cove Quebec  LAC     Ships Loading Timber Quebec c1860  LAC



                The life of the shantymen was lonely and dangerous. They were away from their families for months on end. Many accidents occurred and lives were lost in timber cutting, draveuring and rafting accidents. The industry was inherently dangerous and many of the same conditions remain in today's forest industry.


          The timberman either provided his own working capital or arranged for his winter inventory of provisions and supplies from a supplier, with payment plus commission made the following spring or summer when the timber was sold at Quebec. To avoid the uncertainties of markets and pricing, many operators balanced staying small within their means against becoming larger on credit. As discussed in detail below and in the next chapter, the entire Cullen family was involved in the timber business, Anthony being the largest operator. However, each of the brothers and brothers-in-law had enough employees at one time or another to have operated shanties. Yet, as relatively small operators, they may have prudently contracted their winter timber production to larger lumbermen or arranged for transport to Quebec through rafting conducted by others.


          Today's cycles of lumber demand and pricing are not new. The early entrepreneurs faced the same market circumstances and suffered similar economic results. Moreover, the industry was plagued with government favoritism for the large operators in licensing and taxation. And because there were so many small players, there likely would have resulted many more personal bankruptcies and life-altering cases of financial ruin.


          In the colonial forest products sector, squared timber was the primary product until the early 1860s. At that time a number of factors influenced the rise of sawn lumber for export. New milling technology was emerging and a reciprocity treaty with the U.S. stimulated exports. Also, transportation of exports through the Rideau Canal was a boost to Ottawa area sawmills. Underlying growth of exports from the Canadas was due to American economic expansion throughout the Midwest and western states. Dependence on the U.S. market is still pretty much the same story with today's forest products industry in Canada.


          I have not described the sawmilling and lumber industry in depth since the Cullens are not known to have engaged in this sector. Suffice to say that the lumber industry was an equally important economic driver in the Ottawa Valley and Bytown area throughout the 19th century.




John Cullen and Elizabeth Carolan



                Although there is little information about John Cullen and his family in the 1830s, it is evident they were active in establishing the first farm and early beginnings of their timber activities. I attribute the lack of references to their advancing years and John's turning over the family business to Anthony by around 1840.


  The first reference to John is on a c1836 map of Eardley, Hull and Templeton Townships obtained from the Archives which shows lands for sale  at that time.[22] It also identifies lot owners and from this we can see the growing land base of the Cullens. By 1836, they had amassed 900 acres, including purchases totaling 600 acres - a choice 200 acre lot fronting the Ottawa River (Range 1, Lot 11), 200 acres to the east of the original grant (Range 2, Lot 7) and 200 acres in Perkins. While John likely supplied the influence and capital to obtain the land, it is assumed that he and Anthony used part of the land base, particularly the more northerly-located lots in the Township, as the start of their timber business.


In the 150 year history of St. Francois de Sales parish of Pointe-Gatineau, there is an account of its early organization efforts by Templeton area Catholics. On July 10, 1838, Messrs J. McGoey, Homier, Cullin (sic) and Laurent met with the Church’s representative, Patrick Phelan, regarding an eight arpent parcel of land at Pointe Gatineau to be donated by Philomen Wright and the community's desire to create a new parish. A small chapel was built later that year. The "Cullin" reference must be to John as our Cullens were the only ones in the area at that time.[23]


By the 1850s, all John's sons and his sons-in-law were involved in the timber business. They likely got their start with John and Anthony, with the younger sons working with their father and older brother during the 1830s.


          The 1842 census shows that John was a farmer occupying 100 acres of which 16 acres were 'improved' and producing 150 bu. each of oats and potatoes. He had 4 milk cows, 7 hogs and 6 horses. At the time, the number of horses was a sign of prosperity and, undoubtedly, the horses were needed for the family timber business. They employed one female servant. We assume John’s farm was in Range 2 and was part of the original grant. A later census indicates that Anthony was living on 100 acres of John’s original granted lot. So it's probable that John severed the property and Anthony built a house on the lot beside his father.[24]


          By the 1851 census, John was in his mid 70s and he and Elizabeth still lived on the same farm. He was producing oats, potatoes and hay, but at a much smaller scale than in prior years. His livestock consisted of only 4 cattle and 2 pigs. He was obviously in retirement.[25]


          In August 1858, John died of unknown cause at age 82. Subsequently, Anthony took over his father's land and in 1861, the Census shows Elizabeth living with her youngest son John Jr. on his farm at Range 1, Lot 11.[26] Elizabeth died at age 82 on March 4 1862. No death notices or obituaries have been discovered.


Both John and Elizabeth were buried at St. Francois de Sales Church in Gatineau Point. When my father was doing early Cullen research, he sought out their graves with no result. A church worker advised him that when a new school was being built behind the church, bones were unearthed. The bones were collected and put in a composite crypt near the Church. Church officials denied this account. However, the St. Francois parish history states that in August 1885, civil and church officials gave permission to exhume the bones from the original cemetery in order to complete the church construction. There is no mention of a crypt.[27]


          At age 82, John and Elizabeth were to outlive, in chronological terms, many of their descendants. Two of their children, Catherine and Michael, had predeceased them. They had shepherded their family through the trials of Ireland, emigration and a new life of prosperity in Canada. To this time of writing, they had fostered a family of several hundred descendants.


Templeton Township Cadastral Plan 1878 showing the extent of known Cullen family landholdings in the 1800s






Other Cullen Families in the Bytown area


            During and after the Rideau Canal construction period, there were several other Cullens in the Bytown and Templeton areas. We have not been able to link them to John, but the assumption is that some of them are probably related.


A possible relative is Anthony Cullen from Lisnabantry, Killinkere, County Cavan. He is listed No. 558 on The McCabe List and it is noted that he was married and that "his uncle James Cullin & family reside at Killincare .....". This James may be the one referred to in the Raffony Graveyard (see Page 6).  No further record of this Anthony has been found.


In the 1861 census there was a Thomas Cullen (age 62) living with wife Bridget (58), married in 1829, both born in Ireland, living in the 6th to 13th Range in Templeton (location unknown). Thomas was a school teacher. In 1856, a Thomas Cullen was godfather to Michael Thomas, son of Michael and Mary Cullen. This is the only record of a Thomas Cullen in the area. The likelihood is Thomas is related to our Cullens.


             There was a Martin Cullen in Aylmer. He was a tailor. He arrived in the early 1840s. His son Martin married into one of the Cantley Burke families and later became a blacksmith in Pointe-Gatineau. We have found no church-related connections to our line such as godparents or witnesses at weddings and burials. Although Martin is a name in our Cullen line of descendants, I doubt we are related to this Martin.


          There was a Margaret Cullen resident in Templeton until the early 1850s. She was related by marriage to Owen Lynch (No. 359 on the McCabe List) and Peter Lynch, both from Killinkere, Cavan, who also worked on the Rideau Canal and would have been known to John Cullen. Both Owen and Peter were issued their tickets for Templeton land grants one day after John and Anthony. In the early 1850s, the Lynches and Margaret Cullen and other families relocated to Jo Daviess County, Illinois. Also living in Illinois at that time were Edward and Catherine Cullen.


            Simon Cullen worked on the Rideau Canal. He is listed No. 50 on the McCabe List. He was from Kings County and relocated to the Peterborough area. Simon is most likely not related.




Other Things Cullen


          In the Buckingham area, south of the old town, there is a Rue Cullen, located south of Rue Pierre Laporte and joins rues Scullion and Arthur Gratton. The street may be named after the original Cullen family or the family of Martin Cullen, son of John Bernard, who was prominent in Buckingham in the 1900s.


          In the northern part of Wakefield Township in Range 11, Lot 8, there are two lakes Lac Cullen and Petit Lac Cullen. There is also Lac Cassidy in Range 11, Lot 7.  How these lakes came to be named is unknown, but they are most likely named after our family (Anthony's timber activities perhaps and great great great grandfather Thomas Cassidy and his son James, whose homesteads were in Range 11, Lots 4 and 5, respectively).


          The lakes are located in a hilly, wild area of crown land which is populated by many small lakes as well as the larger Lac St. Charles. The elevation of the area is about 350 metres. Access to these lakes is off Chemin Hogan from the south and from Chemin Paugan in the north, but is restricted as the entire tract is reserved for a private fishing club. Barbara and I searched for the lakes in May 2007, but were advised by our relative Basil Carroll and his neighbour Thurlow Canavan that the trek in to the lakes was long and arduous and that one had to be mindful of the wildlife including bears. We took their advice.




Lac Cullen, Petit Lac Cullen & Lac Cassidy, Wakefield Township  cGoogle Earth














[1] In the 1821 Census for County Cavan, Lurgan Parish, Murmod Townland there are nine Cullen families listed (41 people in total) for houses No. 38 to 46 and No. 55. The enumerator spelled

the name as "Quillen". There are two brothers Anthony (age 75) and Matthew (70) and the others are likely their sons (Michael, Joseph, Matthew, Michael, Edward, Anthony and


[2]The URL for this family tree is part of the WorldConnect project at

[3] The McCabe List - Early Irish in the Ottawa Valley, Bruce S. Elliott, Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto 1991

[4] County Cavan Genealogical Research Centre letter to Mark Cullen dated September 2, 2004;

ref C-5903

[6] Information about the Dunbrody and life aboard ship courtesy of the Irish Family History website


[9] Map of Rideau Canal Waterway courtesy of Ken Watson's website

[10] Letter dated September 6, 1828 from A.W. Cochran to the Executive Council

[11] Schedule of surveyor general's office dated February 12, 1829.

[12] Schedule entitled List of locations made in the Township of Templeton by Colonel Marshall, Agent; from 19 November to 28 december 1827

[13] "General Report of an Official Tour through the New Settlements of the Province of Lower Canada" performed in the Summer of 1824, in obedience to the commands and instructions of His

            Excellency George Earl of Dalhousie, GCB Captain General and Governor in Chief British North America; Thomas Cary & Co, Quebec 1825, Page 47.

[14] Ibid, Appendix B.

[15] The background for this is as follows: In 1997, my father visited the Macdonell Williamson Museum in Pointe-Fortune, Quebec, a small village on the south shore of the Ottawa River at the

Quebec/Ontario border. The Museum is located in John Macdonell's manor house built in the early 1800s. Ms. Valerie Verity, one of the founders of the Museum showed my father

Macdonell's 1828 business ledger book. In 1998, my wife and I visited Ms. Verity, studied the journal and took the photographs published herein.

[16]Certification by W. Marshall, Agent dated February 20, 1830.

[17] Petition of Francis McGuire, Peter McGuire and John Cullen to Sir James Knight KCB, Administrator & Commander in Chief of Lower Canada dated 11 October 1830

[18] By order of His Excellency the Administrator dated 18 October 1830.

[19] Map of the District of Montreal, Lower Canada, Bouchette, Joseph; Wyld, James, 1831. The full title is "To his most Excellent Majesty, King William IV, this Topographical Map of the District

of Montreal, Lower Canada, Exhibiting The New Civil Division of the District into Counties pursuant to a recent act of the Provincial Legislature; also a large section of Upper Canada,

Traversed by the Rideau Canal, Is ... most humbly & gratefully dedicated by ... Joseph Bouchette, His Majesty's Surveyor General of the Province and Lieut. Colonel C.M. Engraved by

J. & C. Walker, 47 Bernard Street, Russel Square. Published by James Wyld ... Charing Cross, London May 2nd 1831. Courtesy David Rumsey Map Collection.

[20] The Guides were (i) The Emigrants' Guide to the Canadas, Wm. Watson, Dublin 1822; (ii) 1832 Emigrants Handbook for Arrivals at Quebec, His Majesty's Chief Agent for the

Superintendence of Settlers and Emigrants in Upper and Lower Canada, Thomas Cary & Co.; (iii) The Emigrant's Directory and Guide to Obtain Lands and Effect a Settlement in the

Canadas, Francis A. Evans, late agent for the Eastern Townships to the Legislature of Lower Canada, William Curry, Jun and Co., Dublin, Simpkin and Marshall, London and

Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh.

[21] The Picture Gallery of Canadian History, Vols 2 & 3, C.W. Jeffreys, Ryerson Press, Toronto 1945

[22] The 1836 map is included in Appendix __.

[23] "Heritiers, temoins Un people batisseur - La paroisse Saint-Francois-de-Sales de Gatineau 150 ans d'histoire", 1840-1990 , Page 22.

[24] 1842 Census Templeton Township LAC Microfilm C729 Page 1273 Line 32.

[25] 1851 Census Templeton Township District 1 Page 43 Line 5 and Page 49 Line 25.

[26] 1861 Census Templeton Township District 1 Page 43 Line 25.

[27] Ibid, Page 52.