The Sole Society, a Family History Society researching Sole, Saul, Sewell, Solley and similar names

The Establishment of SOULs in Canada

By Helene Weaver

This article was originally published in the April 1998 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.

My maternal grandfather, Joseph Brooks Soul was born in Olney, Buckinghamshire in 1843. His father Thomas Pettit Soul was a butcher with a shop and home on the High Street. After his mother died and his father remarried, he emigrated to Upper Canada (now Ontario). On his departure from England in April of 1862, the Baptist Chapel presented him with a Bible Hand‑Book for the Study of Sacred Scriptures (now in my Library) 

He found employment as a butcher in Peel County north of Toronto. Two years later when he turned 21, he went north by rail to the end of the line at Collingwood (named after the British naval officer). From here he set off on foot to see the wild lands in the "Queen's Bush". Here, between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay were stands of  virgin timber for sale. He selected 200 acres nine miles south of the town of Thornbury. The price was $1500 with no down payment. (Money had changed to dollars from pounds sterling in 1858.)

Joseph Soul arrived with an axe in his hand and a bundle of clothes over his shoulder, leaving his trunk to be brought later. He lived with a neighbour until he cleared enough land to build a log home 18' x 24'.  Carving a farm from the wilderness was a chore that we can marvel at today. Hardwood trees of immense size covered the land. Five years later he married Ellen Shaw whose family had come from Yorkshire a decade or so earlier. An orchard of fruit trees was growing well.

I inherited my grandfather's account book with entries from 1872 to 1901. He was a newcomer to farming ‑ but not to business. His first cash crop was from the sale off lime. On a rocky bluff he built a kiln which for nearly ten years supplied lime to people in a large area. The arrival of the railway to Thornbury in 1871 increased business, as the influx of new settlers began building houses, and needed that precious grey‑white substance, lime, which, when mixed with sand and cow hair, was used to plaster between the logs.

The small black book lists, in a fine flourishing hand, the names of the people who bought lime for 25 cents per bushel. It also shows that he hired people to work the kiln, clear more land and harvest the crops of peas and wheat.

Another resource was the maple trees. Tapped in spring, they gave a sweet liquid that, when boiled down in a hog's head made an amber‑brown liquid. As a child, I remember seeing the great iron kettle in the barnyard being used as a cattle trough. The final product was maple sugar. In 1874 the entire crop of 40 pounds, which sold at 10 cents per pound, was bought by a single customer who was later charged with illegally making liquor!

Initially, at his new estate, Soul cut trees only as need for his hungry kiln but after 1876 when he built a frame barn and had more land clear, he was able to raise cattle, sheep and hogs which he butchered and sold to the stores in Collingwood and to the boats in the busy port. Before 1876 the farm work was all done by oxen.

Joseph Soul was a lay preacher who rode horseback to hold services where there there was no resident clergy. He was called a "saddle bag preacher" under the direction of the Primitive Baptist Church. He was well read and studied the Bible daily in order to answer questions. For this he had a book listing 565 "Queries and Answers" such as:

101: where did Elijah find twelve barrels of water at the end of a three year drought?

He placed great store in education. Three of his five daughters graduated as teachers and had careers that was not the norm for pioneer Canada. He was instrumental in the building of a fine brick church on the corner of the farm. In "Old Country " fashion, the Soul's farm had a name, Mapleshade.

In the original house. eight children were born, Elizabeth in 1870 (Mrs Ben Carruthers). Margery in 1873, Jane in 1875 (Mrs R.D. Carruthers), mother of Donna Maine, a new Sole Society member; Thomas in 1877 married Lizzie Wallace; Rhoda in 1879 (Mrs John McIntosh); Frances in 1881; Edgar in 1883 married Rose Teed; and my mother Ellen Josephine 1886‑1969 (Mrs Morley Brown).

In 1899 Joseph & Ellen Soul built an eight room white brick house with water on tap and a toilet that flushed when farm houses did not have these conveniences. When Grandfather was going to Thornbury to get a furnace to supply central heat, his spirited horses bolted and threw him to the ground, killing him instantly (June 1901 ). The buildings have all gone having been vandalised and burned.

Only one of Joseph's brothers came to Canada. William Henry born 1855 died here of typhoid fever in 1877 with no issue. So, all of us Souls in Canada are descended from one man. Siblings left in England were:

John James 1837‑1886 buried at Poole Dorset; Mary, Rhoda and Elizabeth died young; Thomas Pettit II 1841 ‑1913; Jane was still alive in 1885. These were the offspring of Thomas Pettit Soul 1811‑1858. A second wife, Eliza 1840‑1906, had a daughter Ada. We would like to get in contact with any descendants of these. Thomas Pettit's father was John Soul born 1775 and died 1858. His wife was Mary Brooks 1779‑1853. John's father was Richard Soule 1734 ‑1783 (lace buyer) married Judith Marriott 1760 at Olney. Richard's father was William Soule who married Elizabeth Peach. This William was a brother of Samuel Soule.

Bob Soul and I are descended from Cornelius of Olney making us seventh cousins! We visited Bob and Dorothy in 1982 when we toured Great Britain. I wish to thank Dot and son John Patrick for doing the research to make the connection.

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