Photo of school
The former schoolhouse, now a community centre
©Jeri Danyleyko

The opening of lands in the Queens Bush attracted numerous settlers from Scotland to Huron County. Hardworking and resourceful, they immediately set about the task of clearing the land and setting up small townsites. Moncrieff, named after an area of Scotland, was a small milling hamlet that was first settled during the 1860s.

The settlers lost very time getting established. Moncrieff’s first school opened in 1872. The small log schoolhouse also served as a Methodist church until the 1890s, when they finally constructed a real church.

In October 1874, John McTaggart set up a post office that operated out of his home until 1896. By 1879, he was serving 32 postal clients.

Some of Moncrieff’s early settlers included the McTaggart, Fulton, McNaught and Speiran families. By the mid-1880s, Roek and Matheson were operating a flour mill and William King and A. Matheson were both operating sawmills. Moncrieff supported a population of about 50 at the time.

In the late 1880s, Charles Querengesser bought one of the sawmills. By 1895, he was also operating a feed mill and had added a grinder to chop grain. Matheson and Co. were still operating the saw and shingle mill. John McMullen was responsible for maintaining the saws and John Brays was the local blacksmith. In 1896, the post office moved to the new store, operated by George McKay. James Noble ran a boarding house near one of the sawmills.

The early part of the 20th century saw a number of changes and improvements. Construction of the Knox Presbyterian Church, a substantial and striking brick structure, took place in 1911. Robert Munn opened a blacksmith shop, located between the store and the church. In 1924, they replaced the schoolhouse with a much larger two-storey structure. Joseph Riehl added a chopping mill, later purchased by F. A. Harrison, who made further improvements by added a one-cylinder engine. The Harrisons operated the mill until 1980.

A few families continue to live in Moncrieff and several of the earlier structures still stand. The Knox Presbyterian Church, later the Knox United Church, closed in 1971. It remains beautifully preserved and is now in use as a private home. The schoolhouse was purchased by the community and has found new use a community centre. Although the large store closed a number of years ago, it still stands and remains in use a s private residence. The remainder of the area has reverted to farmland.

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