The Irish Potato Famine lasted from 1845 – 1848, devastating Ireland – leaving one-million dead and losing another million who emigrated to Canada and the United States. John Carmichael, a weaver in Lislea, Kilrea Parish, County Derry, arrived in Spencerville, Ontario, in 1847 with his wife Mary Price and their first four children, Andrew, Mary, Joseph and Samuel. John and his brother James were the sons of Daniel Carmichael a weaver (1773-1847) and Nancy Murdoch of Kilrea Parish.
In 1836 James came over from Ireland with the British army, was awarded 100 acres for his service and settled in Spencerville, Ontario. John was able to purchase a tract of land from him. There is a note in the Prescott Land Office that John, who was illiterate and signed with an X, purchased his property from his brother. James owned Lot 27 and John Lot 31.
Andrew and his father John built the brick home pictured above between 1872 and 1877 about the same time St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was constructed across the street. Andrew was a senior warden of the church and was involved in its construction. Both John and Andrew are buried in the churchyard along with their wives, Elizabeth and Isabella, Harvey’s mother.
Isabella Johnstone’s parents were born in Dumfries-shire, Scotland, introducing the first documented Scottish blood – Clan Dougless – into our branch of the Carmichael family.
The Rev. Dr. Harvey Carmichael was born in Spencerville, Ontario, in 1869. Due to working on the farm and in the family store he was home schooled until the age of 16 when he was admitted to Kemptville High School. He completed all course work in one and a half years and was admitted to Queen’s University in Kingston.
His father Andrew had opened a grocery store on the first floor of their home where all 12 surviving children helped out. They each became proficient at Morse Code as there was a direct line coming into the store (preceding the telephone). Before earning his Master’s in Philosophy at Queen’s Harvey spent almost a decade working for the Canadian Pacific Railway where he won recognition for being the fastest telegraph operator in the province.
Andrew also built carriages in a shop to the south of the church and was the village blacksmith, census enumerator, registrar and a major with the local militia. He is written up in the History of Grenville County.
Harvey simultaneously received his Bachelor’s in a dual major of Arts and Philosophy and Master’s in Philosophy from Queen’s in 1897 and won the coveted Gold Medal for highest marks in Philosophy. In 1921 he received a Doctorate in Religious Education from the Hartford (CT) Theological Seminary.
He was married in 1898 to Liz White and their daughter, Margaret, was born in 1900. After his wife’s death in 1907 he married artist Adele Lilian Miller from Richmond, Quebec, where she was singing in the choir of his church. Their son, Ralph Miller [my father], was born in 1912 in the manse of St. Andrew’s, Scarboro Junction, Ontario.
Harvey served as the minister of what is now Knox and Dunbar Presbyterian Church in Dunbar, Ontario; St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Richmond and Melbourne, Quebec, and from 1912 to 1919 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Scarboro Junction, Ontario. From 1922 to 1929 he served at First Congregational Church, Cromwell, Connecticut, after studying for his doctorate.
Following three years as a high school principal in Coaticook, Quebec, he returned to the ministry. From 1932 until his retirement in 1939, he served St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Whitby. He and his wife then purchased a cottage in Toronto not far from Prescott where his youngest sister, Elizabeth lived with her family. He died on June 11, 1943 and is buried at St. Andrew’s Church Yard, Scarboro.
His wife, Adele, who didn’t learn to drive until age 50 travelled to New York, Toronto and Montreal on her own studying art and showing her work in Montreal.
After Harvey’s death she continued on in Prescott until she was slightly injured in an auto accident. For a time she lived with her step-daughter Margaret in Scarboro and then from 1953 made her home with her son Ralph’s family in Wilmington, Delaware, until her death in Albany, New York, in 1970. She too is buried in St. Andrew’s, Scarboro, churchyard along with her husband Harvey, step-daughter Margaret with her husband Ewart, and son Ralph with his wife Jean.