Photo of the first Smith-McWilliam family picnic in 1907

(actualisé le ) by Ray

The first full gathering of the descendants of the Innes, Smith and McWilliam pioneers who had emigrated from Banffshire in Scotland to the Embro area in southern Ontario between 1846 and 1853 [1] took place at a family picnic at the home of our Dad’s grandfather James Smith (then a widower, aged 87) in Embro on August 13, 1907.

This gathering was held to honour a close relative from Scotland who had come to visit his Canadian cousins: James McIntyre, a son of Janet McWilliam, who had been the only member of the emigrating McWilliam family to have remained in Scotland.

This photo shows all of the 71 persons who participated in that first picnic. All of the participants, who can, with very few exceptions, be found in the Smith-McWilliam-Campbell family chart posted elsewhere on this site, are identified in the accompanying list.

Our great-grandfather and host of the gathering, James Smith, is seated in the middle of the second row, eighth from the left.

The write-up of the event in the the Embro Courier (see below) mentioned that «dinner was served at 12 o’clock, and the afternoon was spent in speeches, social chat, games and races for old and young and music. Dr. McWilliam, of London, was the conductor of ceremonies, and none could be better».

So the rather serious mood of the subjects in the photo could surely not have lasted long with all that food and and chatting and music and games and races around.

This picnic was such a success that it was decided to make it an annual event - and they have continued up until the present day! [4].

Perhaps worthy of note is that:

- all of the 10 surviving children of the pioneers James and Helen Smith are present in this photograph [2], with the notable and intriguing exception of our own grandfather William Smith (1856-1922). We do know that he lived two townships away in West Nissouri, near London, but that hardly seems a sufficient reason for missing out on such an occasion. Perhaps he was estranged from his family at the time? However if that was the case he must have been reconciled with the family by 1914 at the latest, as he made a speech at the picnic of that year, as documented in the minutes of the Smith-McWilliam family picnic of that year.

- there were two doctors among the family members in the photograph : Dr. David Smith (1873-1966, youngest son of James Smith: second from the left on the fourth row), and Dr. John McWilliam (1854-1926, eldest son of the pioneers John and Jessie McWilliam: seventh from the left in the fourth row). And there were three doctors-to-be : George, John and Robert McDonald.

- without wishing to be critical or negative, I cannot help feeling that some of the people in this photo have a distinct "Smith" look about them!

1. Photo of the first Smith-McWilliam family picnic in 1907

2. List of the people in the photo

3.Write-up of the event in the the Embro Courier


[11846 - Margaret McWilliam and her husband David Innes, with their 6-year-old daughter Annie Innes ;
1850 - James Smith and his wife Helen McWilliam;
1853 - John McWilliam and wife Jessie Smith, sister of James Smith;
1853 (autumn) - the father George McWilliam with son James and daughter Ann McWilliam and James’s wife Betty, née Shearer.

[2the names of the children of James Smith and Helen McWilliam present at the picnic are highlighted in the list of participants above.