The Thunder Bay
Historical Museum Society

Papers and Records
Volume XI, 1983

Special Seventy-fifth Anniversary Issue

The Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, Inc.,
219 South May Street, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Canada, P7E 1B5.


At its meeting on February 25, 1936, the Thunder Bay Historical Society heard Laurel Conmee Whalen present what she called a tribute to her father, the long-time representative of this area in the Ontario Legislature and, later, in the House of Commons. She perceived "Fighting Jim" Conmee as "an apostle of the Northland, with titanic strength, hewing his way through barriers that to ordinary men would appear insurmountable."
With very minor excisions, Mrs. Whalen's address is printed here with emendations (in red) and addenda by his second great-grand nephew Marshall Davies Lloyd and comments by his granddaughter Gwen Corley Conmee:

As a background to his tenacious spirit, let us view in retrospect his earlier youth. Born in Sydenham, Ontario, Oct. 13,1848, the son of Matthew Conmee and Rosanna O'Shaughnessy, both of whom were of sound Irish stock, James was the youngest of four children, three boys (Bernard, John, and James) and one girl (Margaret), and at his birth his mother died. He obtained his education at the Owen Sound Grammar school, and while still 16½a at an early age -- probably not more than seventeen -- followed the trail of the adventurous, and with his brother, John, left home to enlist in Company G of the 8th Regiment of the New York Cavalry Volunteersa Brigade under General Custer, in the American Civil War. With the surrender of General Lee, his interest waned, and he returned home, carrying the marks of battle on his body to his dying day.

The romantic side of James Conmee's life showed early tendencies of determination and courage, which characterized his life throughout. With the urge to "go West, young man," surging through his vigorous veins, the lad of some twenty years secured a position in a mill owned by Adam Oliver,1 built on what is now known as Island No. 1, Fort William, on the Kaministiquia river, and almost opposite the original Hudson's Bay post. He had practically to cut his way through the thick forest growth in order to reach his destination, but his enthusiasm knew no obstacles; for behind him was a soul-sustaining thought. His venture to the West was, of course, of great importance in his early life and would, no doubt, be fraught with many dangers; so, like young men and lovers from time immemorial, James Conmee and Emily Florence Cox, his sweetheart, had plighted their troth in the little village of Centerville, near Meaford, and arranged that on James' return, in a year's time, they would marry.

Imagine the passing of that year, with little or no communication possible, the youthful lovers never dreaming with the fulfillment of their vows, what history their lives were to make in the new West of Canada. With October, the date set for the marriage, in the offing, it behooved young James to return home -- exactly when, he knew not, as navigation in those days depended upon weather conditions.

One day, in the midst of his work, a panting lad brought word to the mill that the last boat was in Port Arthur, and would leave in the evening. It was well on then in the afternoon. To miss that boat was not to be thought of. He would catch it, or -- but there was no "or" with James Conmee. Hurriedly he resigned his job, packed his belongings, and made for the river, only to discover the ferry was not there.


With time at a premium and no way available -- save one -- to reach the opposite bank, James, nothing daunted, took off his clothes, rolled up what he could within them, tied the bundle to his head and swam across. But there was still Port Arthur to reach. Then, espying a man ploughing in a nearby field, James (either by high-pressure salesmanship or pure bravado) induced the man to let him have one of his team of horses. The horse was freed from the harness and, mounting it, he dashed off towards that "last boat," over field and corduroy road, to reach the dock with a minimum of time to spare. Such was the manner in which obstacles were disposed of by the young lover who, already, was showing signs of the great pioneer he was to be; whose entire life was built around episodes such as his, always calling for initiative, quick action, courage and a sense of duty.

Thus, on the twelfth day of October, 1874, Emily and James became man and wife, and thereby began the really big venture in James Conmee's life. And how much bigger for his young wife! Many were the times Mrs. Conmee accompanied her husband into the wilderness when he took up the contracting end of railway construction. Not any sense of duty, but devoted love and affection merged her life with his. This marriage was a most happy and blessed one and had much to do with the rounding out of a career full of the things that constitute "Life" -- home, children, grandchildren, and always a helpmate willing to assist in any and all undertakings that arose in the swift-moving drama enacted by a man destined to leave his mark on his generation and blaze a trail for those who should follow.

In 1877 Mr. Conmee was elected to the municipal council, where he remained a number of years, and in 1881 he was created a justice of the peace. His life in public enlarged when, in 1885, he became Mayor of Port Arthur, and the town at once benefited by his indefatigable energy. He installed the first telephone system here in the early days, and from the power supplied by his own saw mill, furnished the first electric light the city ever had. He took an active part in forming the local 96th Lake Superior Regiment and, from its inception until his death, was honorary colonel. His versatility seemed boundless, for some years later he was appointed first president of the Ontario Mining Institute, and in 1896 became president of the Ontario Mine Development Company. With all these side crests, Mr. Conmee was engaged in timber trade until such time as the Canadian Pacific began operations, when he dropped his activity in lumbering and subsequently built a considerable portion of the Canadian Pacific, (over 60 miles in all); the Port Arthur, Duluth & Western (P.A.D. & W.), Algoma Central and Canadian Northern railways. He was also one of the citizens who promoted the building of the first railroad in the district, namely the Prince Arthur and Kaministiquia Railway. One of his most cherished dreams was to see the inauguration of a railroad between Port Arthur and Duluth, and with his own money he completed a portion of the line known as the P.A.D. & W., the immediate object in the building which was to reach and mine the silver ores southwest of these cities, and the iron ore that had been discovered in the Gunflint and North Lake area, near the United States border.


Before the railway reached this point, development of iron ore mining on the Mesabi range, north of Duluth, reached the point where it was evident there were rich and extensive deposits in soft formation that could be mined very cheaply, and it became evident that negotiations then being pursued for free entry of Canadian iron ore to the United States market would not succeed. The promoters of the P. A. D. & W. despaired of the financial success of the project and abandoned further construction. This section was later absorbed by the Canadian Northern Railway.

At that time the only communication with the outside world, in winter, was by dog-team via Duluth, and it was but a minor event in his colorful career when Mr. Conmee took the contract to carry the mail for a winter and, with an Indian and five or six huskies, made several trips, mostly following the lake shore, carrying the mail in a sleigh from Port Arthur to Duluth.b

During the completion of the middle link of the C.P.R. in the winter of 1882, James Conmee, in a company known as Conmee & McLennan, had his headquarters located near Blind River, inland from the present C.N.R. bridge. A boat load boatload of supplies, needed by the railway contractors for the winter, including camp stoves for Conmee & McLennan, failed to arrive before freeze-up of Thunder Bay commenced. The boat had run into difficulties with ice in the Sault River, and was delayed. The lower end of Thunder Bay was well frozen over before there appeared to the anxious camp at Blind River the welcome sight of the steamer's smoke outside the field of ice.

At the edge of the ice those precious metal pieces were unloaded, thence relayed by small boats and human hands to the shore and, by sheer, indomitable determination of the pioneers of those day, one more hazard was overcome. Then until the warm shunshine sunshine of spring again made travelling to civilization possible, the little community, including the intrepid Mrs. Conmee, was marooned.

The story is told that one day James Conmee stopped to watch rails for the C.P.R. being loaded onto cars, with four men hoisting at either end of a rail. To the foreman, Mr. Conmee suggested that two men at either end should be enough. The foreman looked dubious and, to settle any doubts in a manner that he knew would not only gain favour with the type of men engaged in railroad construction in those days, but would also get more work out of them, Mr. Conmee bade the four men at one end to step aside, while to the other four he said: "All right -- up with it!" at the same time taking hold of his end of a rail ... and it was tossed onto the car! He repeated the performance with two or three more rails, then, saying no more, went onward on his trip of supervision. On his way back, later in the day, rails were still being loaded -- but with two men at each end of a rail.

At one time in the town when wrestling matches were quite the things as a source of amusement, as much as a test of strength, it is related many wrestlers of various nationalities drifted in, looking for sport. It is told of


James Conmee, with his Irish characteristic "for a scrap," and possessing remarkable physical strength, that he often took on some of the so-called "new-comers." Among the "threats" on one such occasion was one immense man, Conrad Gehl2 (no doubt many here remember him). The yarn goes that James Conmee threw him easily, but Conrad wasn't satisfied and one day while the family was at its noon-day noonday meal, he came to the door with a challenge for another round. Mr. Conmee, realizing it wasn't taking an unfair advantage, as he did not want to be bothered at the time, asked his brother, John, who was, by the way, much smaller than himself into going out, there and then, in the yard to take on the waiting Conrad. John threw him without much difficulty, and Conrad, realizing he was beaten, shook hands and said: "Well, Jim, I'm satisfied now that you are the best man." There being a marked resemblance, he had mistaken the younger olderc brother for the Conmee who had worsted him on the former occasion.

Throughout his whole life Mr. Conmee had been of an inventive turn of mind, and enjoyed working at inventions which were of a mechanical nature. His earliest attempt in this line was a computing scale. His children well remember the room -- always locked -- in the attic of their home on Pearl street, where their father worked often, sometimes all through the night, and where they were on rare occasions permitted to peep into the mysteries of pulleys, whittled pieces of wood, tin frames and a conglomeration of all sorts of what, to them, looked like a jig-saw puzzle. It was, however, his conception of a way for a farmer or merchant to weight and value his produce, and it was well on its way to become a useful machine when, through lack of time, it was delayed in its final construction and, subsequently, other minds contributed to what we now know as a computing scale.

A great many dollars and a good deal of work was expended by him on a "Multiple Steam Plough." Long before such a machine became a fact, he had conceived the idea of such an aid to agriculture and had more than one costly model reproduced in his experiments on a machine that would exceed animal power and mechanically plough three or four furrows at once. This, too, was set aside as other work delayed its achievement. He also conceived the idea of operating brakes on trains by mechanical means, using steam or air, and put in a lot of time working on plans and models. Unfortunately, he missed being the first to accomplish this notable achievement, due to the many claims on his already busy life, but judging from the date that steam or air brakes first came into use, it has been maintained by many friends (among them railway men) that he was to present the idea and develop it on practical lines.

A joke about this inventive characteristic in James Conmee was the various times he ws was warned about being a nuisance on sleeping cars en route to the East or homeward bound. Diligently he would hammer and saw all through the night, trying to make what he considered a necessary comfort to travelers (and which I believe is yet lacking) - a screen for the


window tht that would provide ventilation, but eliminate cinders and dust.* In fact he usually carried a few tools on the trips and, to ensure privacy, engaged the parlor car for his contemplated experiments.

Still another aspect of his foresightedness was when he purchased five or six thousand acres of land along the C.P.R. right-of-way on the Saskatchewan prairie at Wolseley. Here he erected houses, granaries and brought out thorough-bred thoroughbred horses and cattle from Eastern Ontario. He was busy with contracting work and politics and had to entrust the farm to managers who did not make a go of it. After a few years he decided to give it up. The stock was sold first and the land gradually disposed of, but this venture was, nevertheless, an illustration of his unerring foresightedness as to the course development in this country would take. This was before anything but ranching and wheat growing was thought of by the average farmer in the West. He had started in to do what is now known there as "mixed farming".

His spare hours, while in Toronto during Session, often found him at Niagara when the power development was in progress there, for electricity was always most interesting to his active mind. This was evident, in that his was one of the brains that first conceived the possibility of power development from the Lachine Rapids for the City of Montreal. He purchased the rapids (or, at least, the right to utilize them for power purposes) and endeavored to interest capital in them as a means of supplying power for mills and factories. Hydro power Hydropower, as we know it now, was not, I believe, known at that time, but he perceived the potential possibilities of the force of these mighty rapids. However, he could not get others to see it and so, after holding them as long as he could, he finally sold his rights for $5,000, for the simple reason, as he put it "I had to. I needed the money."

Then too, it was his idea to develop power on the Nipigon River to furnish electricity at the Lakehead. Some of his life-long friends ridiculed the idea and when it was later made a political issue, Sir Adam Beck, "Father of Hydro", as he was soon to be called, fought against it and advocated a source closer to these cities. This is almost current history and many here today will, no doubt, remember it. However, when the Hydro developed power for this district (and it was begun in Sir Adam Beck's time) the development was on the Nipigon and on the site originally surveyed by the company James was supporting at the time. Even the lands owned by that company, adjacent to Cameron Falls, were expropriated by the Hydro Commission at the price that can hardly be considered proper compensation, considering the expenditures the company had made for development and engineering.

It was another episode in his eventful life which portrayed a keen, advanced intellect, and familiar to many still in these parts as the final contribution of his life work for this constituency he loved so well. It was, too, a chapter in his life which proved that to the very last ounce of his strength he carried on the good fight for the development of the Head of the Lakes.


In 1885, James Conmee became the first member to enter the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from this constituency of West Algoma, and those who knew him well said it was a treat to hear one of "Fighting Jim's" speeches extolling New Ontario. The story is told of his wit and quick thinking when, at a real old-fashioned political meeting, two candidates were holding forth with great bursts of oratory. The usual pitcher of water and glasses were on the table. Mr. Conmee's opponent, evidently in heated argument, frequently took a drink of water. When Mr. Conmee arose to ply to his opponent's tirade, he said he had just listened to the greatest amount of wind he had ever heard, and confessed he had learned many things from such a speech, among them the interesting fact that "appartly a windmill can be run by water." This has always been a political yarn among his friends.

Mr. Conmee represented the area until his resignation in 1904 to contest Thunder Bay and Rainy River in the Dominion election, when he, being successful, then entered Parliament at Ottawa. In 1908 he was re-elected, and though seriously ill in 1911, engaged in the reciprocity campaign of that year, when Laurier and his Government went down to defeat on this platform.

A strong believer in reciprocity, he had, however, opposed making it the basis of an election appeal and was, apart from being unwell, not enthused about contesting the election of 1911. In a caucus of Liberals at Ottawa, in which Laurier and Fielding advocated going to the country, two years before the Government's term was up, and using the reciprocity agreement as what they considered a safe and sure means of obtaining another full term of four years. James Conmee and Sir Allen Aylesworth were the only Liberals to oppose such a course. They saw danger in such an issue as too complicated a subject for the mass of voters, and advocated instead that the agreement be put in force by the government, and given two years to run. Its benefits would, by that time, become apparent and the people would endorse its adoption. Had the policy advocated by these two astute political minds been followed, it is altogether likely that the course Canadian history would have been changed. The Laurier Government was strongly entrenched in power at the time; had a good record, a strong cabinet, and one of the best beloved and most popular of leaders (also one of the most astute) in Sir Wilfrid Laurier. It has since been almost unanimously conceded that the agreement would have been beneficial to this country, and two years would have been long enough to make these benefits apparent, at least on the horizon, and the Laurier Government would, undoubtedly, have been re-elected. The election in this constituency was deferred, however, and with the return of the Borden Government, Mr. Conmee withdrew from the contest, having served a term of nineteen years in the Provincial and seven years in the Federal Parliaments.

James Conmee was of the old school of politicians. As he launched into the swift tide of its glamour he never, in all those 26 years, relinquished his hold on the helm. Instead, each succeeding year found him in deeper


and the going harder, all of which served to define more clearly that strong Irish character that knows no defeat. During most of the time he was in the Legislature he represented all of the area from the Manitoba boundary to Sault Ste. Marie, later broken up into several ridings. His career in the Legislature was chiefly marked for the work he did in the interests of New Ontario, and to which intense energy the north owes much of its present stage of advancement. At the time of the boundary war between Ontario and Manitoba, it was James Conmee who fought in the front ranks for Ontario. Manitoba, it will be remembered, demanded everything as far east as Port Arthur, and to one of Mr. Conmee's characteristic battling speeches the position of the present boundary was largely due. At the time the decision of the Privy Council in favor of Sir Oliver Mowat in the famous contest between the Liberal Provincial Premier and Sir John A. Macdonald, over the boundaries of Ontario was announced, he said in a speech to the Legislative Assembly that "strong men had wept for joy and mothers had held their children closer for very gladness." He is remembered as a provincial legislator as the author of a number of Acts, mover of many motions, amendments, and a front rank debater and defender of Liberal principles and policies, among which to mention a few, were the Conmee Act, which provided that municipalities should buy out existing utilities before establishing new ones themselves, as it was unfair that a municipality should ruin an investment made in good faith without making compensation.

A provision for the protection of workers in the timber industry, which gave to the employee, for wages earned and unpaid, a first lien on the product of the forest that his labour had helped to produce. This was the forerunner of the present Mechanics' Lien Act and other similar legislation. A Bill to Amend the Separate School Act by providing for the optional use of the ballot at Separate School trustee elections, was another.

In his speech as seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne in 1894, he said in regard to mining development, he "hoped that the measure to be introduced regarding mining would be the right kind. Had he the drafting of that measure he would abolish the royalties imposed upon minerals, lay aside a sum of $500,000 to be loaned [lent] at four per cent for the development of mining, and provide not only for the creation of a Department of Mines, but the appointment of a Minister of Mines, also." Later the same year when, on behalf of the Government, a bill that only partially abolished mining royalties was moved by Mr. Hardy (later Liberal Premier for the province) Mr. Conmee moved an amendment "to abolish royalties on all mining lands heretofore sold or leased, as well as lands that hereafter shall be sold."

In the debate that followed, a member objected, saying "that would virtually mean giving up the mining lands of the Province to a band of speculators," to which Mr. Conmee, as the reports quote him, replied with


a show of indignation "that those who invested in mining and mining lands required as much brains and intelligence as people who made money in other ways." The final outcome of this legislation to amend the mining laws so as to reduce charges at the initial stages of operation, was a change from royalties of three percent, to a charge of two percent, on the value of the ore, less primary mining costs.

It was a dull week in the committees, either in the Legislature of Ontario or later at Ottawa, when he was Dominion member, if no bill fathered by James Conmee was up for consideration. Having an unusual natural ability along legal lines, he was quick to detect any flaw or loophole in the drafting of bills, especially those pertaining to the House and, on one occasion, it is said that Laurier himself was moved to ask: "Where did this Conmee come from, and how is it he can come here and teach the lawyers law."

During his terms in the Provincial and Dominion Houses of Parliament, Mr. Conmee was said to be one of the greatest fighters ever known, that he proposed and carried through more legislation than any of his colleagues. Instancing the man's tireless energy, in all of his elections he covered the whole of his riding from Lake Superior to Manitoba, even in days when to do so was a Herculean task, and called for travel partly on horseshoes, partly by dog-team and horse and sleigh. Apart from Port Arthur, Fort William and Kenora, which were connected by railway, these the only modes of travel available. There were but few and scattered settlements, but he covered them all, and stopped Several times a day, whenever he could get an audience of 15 or 20 men.

One of the many stories which earned for him the soubriquet of "Fighting Jim" resulted some forty years ago, when Mr. Conmee and a Mr. Savage3 were opposed for a seat in the Provincial legislature. Mr. Conmee was invited to speak at a meeting that was being held by his Conservative opponents, only receiving the word while electioneering near Murillo an hour or so before the meeting was to begin. At that time automobiles in this territory were still unknown, and friends and opponents alike thought it would be impossible for the Liberal candidate to finish his Murillo meeting and attend. "He got here on time, and his trip to the city was remindful of the retreat of Napolean Napoleon from Moscow," related a witness. "He engaged a relay of horses, changing animals every few miles, and by getting the best out of each team, arrived at the old Town Hall with time to spare."

Lincoln once said: "I like to see a man proud of his city, and I like to see him live so that it is proud of him." There are many living here who testify to the untiring efforts at home and abroad of the so-called Father of New Ontario, to bring his chosen part of the country into prominence. What it meant to do this, the district will, perhaps, never fully appreciate, but the pioneer was never one to look for personal recognition -- is sufficed that a foundation was being laid for greater things.

Always happiest in the confines of his own home, Mr. Conmee was


deprived of that pleasure more as years went on, and his life became taken up with political and other interests. However, during the great amount of travelling he did for the welfare of his constituency, he occupied his spare time in writing, a great amount of which was poetry. This was not known to any but his family, and much of it lay undiscovered until after his death. Among it was a sweet little poem he had written about each of his children, depicting their characteristics as he saw and loved them. Mr. Conmee also wrote poetry of patriotic nature, a piece of which was set to music in Toronto, entitled "The National Flag," and at one time was considered being made a school anthem, as it portrayed so well what the Flag meant to Canadians. One other poem, of a religious nature, was written in the closing of his life, and is now being arranged to music for church purposes,, purposes, by one of his admirers.

The last few years of Mr. Conmee's life were spent in enforced retirement, due to his physical condition, which became seriously impaired by his insistent participation in political affairs at a time when it most jeopardized his health. Like many others of his calibre, he would not heed the warnings of physicians and nature, and a fatal malady finally broke down that strong physique, and gradually sapped his resistance, a thing which he had thought impossible, and against which he battled with the same tenacious spirit that characterized his achievements during his life. From a lad who, at 17 16½, ran away from home to fight across the border, to a man of 64 who, in a comparatively short number of years arose to the enviable position of having been one of the greatest factors in the development of the cities of Port Arthur and Fort William; during whose life three transcontinental railways were built, small towns became thriving cities and surpassed others of their size in trade and commerce; who was a delegate to the Deep Waterways Convention, and a consultant for the power and light development of Montreal; a man who essentially cosmopolitan, combined the best qualities of woodsman, soldier, pioneer, contractor, politician, husband and father. In his personal relations to his fellow-man, Kipling's Motto:

"Fellow to a beggar, brother to a king, if he be found worthy.

might well apply to this typical Canadian, whose personality and career would well repay study, and whose regrettable passing in 1913, in Arizona, left a niche that will not soon be forgotten by his countrymen, be they Liberal or Conservative.

This tribute to the memory of a noble man, a great politician and, above all, a beloved father, is but a poor attempt on the part of his loving daughter to portray to others a few of the cherished memories at home, as well as in public life, with sincerest appreciation to the Historical Society for having made it possible.


1. Adam Oliver (1823-1882) was the Liberal member for South Oxford in the Ontario Legislature from 1867 to 1875. With his partners, Peter Brown and Joseph Davidson, he built a saw mill at Fort William in 1872.
2. Conrad Gehl and his two brothers emigrated from Bavaria, and all three were well-known figures in early Lakehead history. Conrad established the first brewery in the region in 1876. (It later became the Port Arthur Beverage Co. Ltd.)
3. J.M. Savage, Conservative, won the 1894 provincial election in Algoma West by a margin of six votes. After a recount, he was unseated but so glaring had been the irregularities on both sides that a by-election was called. James Conmee won that contest with a majority of 269 over Savage. The entire process took so short a time that Conmee was again the representative from Algoma West by the time the new assembly convened for its first session. His years of service at Queen's park can thus be seen as continuous, from 1885-1904.

From notes on an excerpt of the above in Gwendolyn Corley Conmee's possession:
During the great amount of travelling he did ... he occupied his spare time in writing, a great amount of which was poetry. This was not known to any but his family, and much of it lay undiscovered until after his death. Among it was a sweet little poem he had written about each of his children, depicting their characteristics as he saw and loved them. Mr. Conmee also wrote poetry of patriotic nature, a piece of which was set to music in Toronto, entitled "The National Flag," and at one time was considered being made a school anthem, ... this particular poem was written during a newspaper contest for patriotic uses. It was I believe at this time, the Maple Leaf, now our national anthem, was selected. I always understood the one my father wrote, The National Flag, was given second place. The music was written by Henry Herbert Godfrey. One copy of the original (while not complete) is all we have. I was able to obtain a Photostat copy from the old Nordheimer Music Co." In Laurel Whalen's handwriting, this poem reads as follows:--

I Unfurl to the breeze let the emblem float free
'Tis the flag with the beaver in splendour you see
As high o'er the hills and over the sea
It's borne by the hands of the brave and the free
As a sign to the world that united we'll be
Chorus: 'Tis the flag I'll defend where'er I may be
The flag I'll defend by land and by sea
'Tis the flag of the North and the sweet maple tree
The flag of my country so dear unto me
II 'Tis the flag that has waved o'er each action of fame
On the heights at Quebec and at old Lundy's lane
Where'er it is planted, there freedom shall reign
While valour and vigour our sons shall retain
No sign of dishounour that banner shall stain
III 'Tis the flag of a nation whose pride it shall be
To maintain its Dominion from sea unto sea
Yes free are her people and ever shall be
For over each mountain and river and plain
That flag in its freedom shall ever remain

Gwen Corley Conmee's comments:
The family moved from Pearl Street to Court Street Ridge in 1890.
It is interesting that his attempted inventions related to his work experience, i.e. the earliest pertained to farming, followed by railroading.
* Aunt Laura apparently knew nothing of air conditioning in 1936. It was certainly around, if in its early stages, in 1945 when one of GCC's first Certified Accountant student experiences was at the Arthur S. Leitch Company, Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers.

Marshall Davies Lloyd notes:
a. According to military records, John, then age 23, enlisted on March 21, 1865 at Rochester New York. According to his testimony, his younger brother James (who then should be 16 years 5 months), enlisted 3-4 days later. Both men joined as privates in Company "G" of the 8th Regiment of the New York Volunteer Cavalry. Their surname was erroneously entered as Conway instead of Conmee, an mistake which caused John some difficulty in obtaining a pension. See National Archives, Washington D.C.; claim 950517, certificate 894411.
b. In 1853 James' and John's older sister Margaret married John Lloyd, Jr. who ran a saw mill in St. Vincent Twp., near Meaford, Ontario. Their son Marshall Burns Lloyd (March 10, 1858-August 10, 1927) was the founder of Lloyd Manufacturing, inventor of the Lloyd Loom, the holder of some 200 patents, and the Mayor of Menominee, Michigan. At eighteen (Winter of 1876) "he became a rural mail-carrier on the sixty-five-mile route between Port Arthur and Pidgeon River" (Dictionary of American Biography). The Herald-Leader, Menominee, Michigan, August 10, 1927, P10:1 adds, "being offered the position of mail carrier between Port Arthur and Pidgeon River, he accepted. In these days the service over the 65 miles was conducted with a team of six dogs, and the trip was made in two days." James Conmee and his nephew Marshall shared several intrests: poetry, invention, running mail, and politics. In discussing these similarities with Gwen Corley Conmee, she noted that James' father-in-law Joseph Cox ran a mail route near Meaford.
c. John was smaller than James in size but older by birth. At 59 he was 5 feet 6½ inches tall and 175 lbs. By affidavit James affirms, "I am a younger brother of the above [John]." Note also that on page 53 L. C. Whalen refers to James as "the youngest of four children." See National Archives, Washington D.C.; claim 950517, certificate 894411.

Letter to Margaret "Madge" Gertrude (Corley) Conmee [wife of Arthur Bernard Conmee-- James' youngest offspring and only son] from Marion ["Maron" Ezilda] S[weezy]. Conmee, 105 Pembroke Place, Kew Gardens, New York, dated November 24, 1941. The text appears courtesy of Madge's daughter Gwen Corley Conmee, but the square bracketed comments are mine:

My daughter Ruth returned from her trip and told me about meeting some of her father's relatives in Toronto. I often wondered why William [Wm. James Conmee] didn't keep in touch with his people in Canada after coming to the States--he told me about living with his grandmother, then later with Uncle James Conmee in their lovely home, also with his Aunt Margaret (Conmee) Lloyd, Marshall [Burns Lloyd]'s mother, so feel sure Arthur and my children are cousins. William's father died when he was six months old [c. 1870]; they were living in Bay City, Michigan, and he was a contractor putting the Sault Ste. Marie R.R. through: the mother [Ellen McClurry] went to Owen Sound [vicinity of Meaford], and later married a man by name of Woods [in the 1881 census for Keppel, Grey North, Ontario; FHL#1375898 Dist 156 Sub F Div 1 p42 we find a Jessie Wood not Woods, wife Ellen who is Roman Catholic, and son William Conway, a common alias for Conmee. This William, also RC, is 11 years so born abt. 1870]--then William's father's people [the Conmees] took him, and he lived with them until he was seventeen, and he came to the U.S. and made his own living and never returned. He died six years ago [1935], at age of 65. We have three children. My son Richard is 30, Ruth is 27 and Isabelle 19 years ... we never found any Conmee's in New York, and are the only Conmee in the N.Y. telephone directory under Queens Borough or any other part.

GCC notes: 1. Margaret Conmee [Mrs. John Lloyd] was Marshall Burns Lloyd's mother; 2. She must still have been alive in 1887, as she is the last relative listed where William lived, and he left at age 17 [1887; I have since found her in Minneapolis, MN in June 14, 1900 at 2526 Taylor N.E. a few blocks from Marshall B. Lloyd, her son, who resided then at 2509 Buchanan St.]; 3. William was born in 1870 [one source gives December 21, 1870], and one of James Conmee's brothers [Bernard] died in 1870 or 1871; 3. That means James Conmee's other brother [John] was still living in 1876 [Gwen is right, John died in L.A., California, December 04, 1903 at the Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers], when Matthew Conmee died and was survived by three children [Margaret, John, and James]. 4. One of James Conmee's brothers was engaged in railroad construction before James was: either that, or James Conmee was into railroad construction before he first went to Port Arthur--which doesn't fit the rest of the evidence; 5. That might explain how James Conmee managed to get a contract on the building of the CPR from Winnipeg to Port Arthur; 6. Marshall Burns Lloyd had left James Conmee's home before Arthur Conmee was born [September 23, 1887].

 Name  Marital Status Gender Ethnic Origin Age Birthplace Occupation Religion 
 Jessie WOOD   M   Male   English   35   Ontario   Farmer   Methodist  
 Ellen WOOD   M   Female   Irish   28   Ontario      Roman Catholic  
 A. Mary WOOD      Female   English   6   Ontario      Methodist  
 William CONWAY      Male   Irish   11   Ontario   Farmer   Roman Catholic  
 Wellington WOOD      Male   English   5   Ontario   Farmer   Methodist  
 Maggee WOOD      Female   English   4   Ontario      Methodist  
 R. Louisa WOOD      Female   English   2   Ontario      Methodist  
 Solomon WOOD      Male   English   --- Born: Jun; *   Ontario      Methodist  

Source Information:
  Census Place Keppel, Grey North, Ontario 
  Family History Library Film   1375898 
  NA Film Number   C-13262 
  District   156 
  Sub-district   F 
  Division   1 
  Page Number   42 
  Household Number   172 
  or possibly
   George WOODS   M   Male   English   38   England      Catholic  
 Ellen WOODS   M   Female   English   38   England      Catholic  
 Mairey A. WOODS      Female   English   19   England      Catholic  
 William J. WOODS      Male   English   17   O    S   Catholic  
 Elizabeth A. WOODS      Female   English   15   O       Catholic  
 Emma E. WOODS      Female   English   10   O    School   Catholic  
 Elener T. WOODS      Female   English   10   O    School   Catholic  
 John W. WOODS      Male   English   8   O    School   Catholic  
 Samuel F. WOODS      Male   English   6   O    School   Catholic  
 Alless WOODS      Female   English   4   O       Catholic  
 Edeth M. WOODS      Female   English   2   O       Catholic  
 Henery WOODS      Male   English   --- Born: Feb; *   O       Catholic  

Source Information:
  Census Place Sydenham, Grey North, Ontario 
  Family History Library Film   1375898 
  NA Film Number   C-13262 
  District   156 
  Sub-district   B 
  Division   2 
  Page Number   16 
  Household Number   61 

Marshall Davies Lloyd