James & Elspeth Durie

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James & Elspeth Durie in Canada by Robert W. Durie

James Durie was born July 15, 1810 in East Lothian, Scotland, the son of George Durie and Annie Douglas. In 1834 James married Elspeth Aitcheson Hope and in 1847 they departed Scotland for new opportunities in Canada. They settled near Seaforth, Ontario. James brought with him skills as a stone mason and he worked at tasks such as building stone drain tiles at farms being developed in this new land. He eventually acquired a farm a few miles East of Seaforth. A photograph taken in 1904 shows a modest two-story wood-frame house.
James and Elspeth had a daughter Jane who was eleven years old when they left Scotland. Two more children, Ann and George, who were born in Canada. Ann died in infancy. James lived to be 88 years old and was in good health into his final years. When he died, Elspeth felt her life too had come to an end and she took to bed and died the following month. George married Jane Gibson Aitcheson and continued on the family farm. The father of this writer, William Aitcheson Durie, was one of seven children born to George and Jane Durie. He came of age working on the family farm in Ontario.

William (Bill) Durie had the drive and determination of his grandfather which led him to seek new challenges. When only eighteen years of age he took the train to Western Canada where farm land was being carved from the raw prairie. Seeing the opportunities he returned for his sixteen year old brother and together they acquired land. They prospered in the spirit of the times, eventually establishing homes on the Saskatchewan prairie. Today, Riverdale Farm which was purchased by Bill Durie in 1911 has grown to become a substantial commercial farming enterprise managed by his grandson Bruce Wallace Durie.

The effort to establish the family line in Scotland was challenging. The family bible which James brought with him to Canada recorded the marriage of George Durie and Annie Douglas as well as the birth of their seven children at North Berwick and Whitekirk. This gave this writer a starting point but information was scarce. Mother recalled that my father’s mother, who lived with them for a period when newly married, spoke of letters to “Bucksley Farm” as she spelled it at that time. Mother regretted that as she was busy with her household routines she had little time to ask about these life stories. She did recall that Grandma Durie spoke about a Durie boy marrying a Douglas girl, stressing that it was a “Red Douglas”,from above his status. Was that the marriage of James’ parents? And she spoke with terms of regret that a substantial family property was lost to the Duries when a female inherited a Durie property. Again, could that be a reflection back many generations to when Janet was forced into marriage with Henry Kemp who became the laird of Durie?

Serendipitous events gave meaning to these vague bits of information when the writer visited East Lothian and found Buxsley farm on a back road near North Berwick. This led to meeting Tom Durie in North Berwick and through Tom finding more connections with Duries in East Lothian. After seeming to disappear in Fife the Durie name reappeared on the south shore of the Firth of Forth recorded first in 1642. The Duries were successively tenants on a farm at Elphinstone in East Lothian and were part of the life of this area for at least seven generations. James Durie was a part of that society until he emigrated to Canada.

We would like any Canadian Duries or those with Durie connections who feel they could be included in this section to send us their names and some information about their lives and their families. Please send your story and if possible photographs as well to secretary@duriefamily.co.uk. All will be reviewed and may be used in a Newsletter &/or posted on the website. Durie Family Association members will, we hope, be able to provide detail they have on parents, grandparents and ancestors to help us all build up our extended Family Tree.

If you have someone or a history for us to consider adding to the website please send your copy (attached in Word Document or Plain Text only) by email, accessible from our Contact page. If possible attach photographs in Jpeg format (.jpg). All information will be reviewed and may be used in a Newsletter and/or posted on the website and shared with the family genealogist.

We hope you will also be able to provide details have on parents, grandparents and ancestors to help us build up our extended Family Tree.

There is an historical information section on Overseas Duries included in '750 Years of Duries' by Dr Bruce Durie. Click Here

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