For those who have asked us about our delicious organic potato wedges, and how they came to be called Harkin's Wedges, we present here the story of Mr. Neil Harkin, who most certainly frequented the old Queen's Hotel in the 1800s, as Hwy. 27 was the main route from Collingwood to Toronto, and all by horse and buggy, of course.

Mr. Harkin symbolizes the spirit of perseverance and the indomitable will to overcome adversity. He arrived from Ireland on a ship stricken by disease, which killed two-thirds of its inhabitants, representing hundreds of people buried at sea. Fleeing poverty and famine in Ireland, the trip overseas must have felt like a journey of the damned for those onboard. Nearly escaping death himself, Neil Harkin would go on to become one of the most successful and loved men of Simcoe County. He was rich in love and family and friends, and he served his community staunchly and helped bring civilization to this neck of the woods. We present below the obituary from 1902, from the Stayner Sun, the year of Neil Harkin's passing.

 

Neil Harkin, Ex-Reeve of Sunnidale Township

Neil Harkin, Ex-Reeve of Sunnidale Township

Death of Neil Harkin, Esq.

One of the Oldest and Best Known Residents of North Simcoe Passes away, in his 74th year

Neil Harkin, Esq., J.P. died at his home at Corn Hill on Wednesday, Sept 24th, 1902. By reason of his long residence here and the active interest he took in public affairs, Mr. Harkin was known all over Simcoe County, and not only will his familiar figure be missed from the streets of Stayner, but many former residents of Nottawasaga and Sunnidale will learn with regret of his death.

Mr. Harkin was 73 years of age and his health had been poor for the past few years, but he was confined to his bed only two days before his death. He was in town the Saturday previous.

The funeral left his late residence, Corn Hill, on Saturday, Sept 27th, to St. Patrick's Church, Stayner, where high Mass was celebrated by Rov. Father Jeffcott, who delivred an excellent sermon, suitable to the occasion. The music of the choir was appreciated. Mrs. Hargraves leader and organist, sang Lead Kindly Light and Nearer my God to Thee. The pal-bearers were the deceased's six granddsons, Thomas, Joseph and Justin Guilfoyle, Joseph and Leo Harkin, and Alfred Shauacy. Interment was made at the R.C. cemetery, Nottawasaga, where the remains were laid in the family plot.

Neil Harkin was born in 1829 in the county of Mayo, Ireland, and sailed from there to Canada in 1847 by the ship Wolfe Villa, of Ardrosson, Scotland. Of the 750 passengers on board, 500 died during the voyage and their bodies were cast into the sea, among them being Mr. Harkin's mother and one brother. On arriving at Quarantine the Wolfe Villa cast anchor among other plague stricken ships from sone of which death had claimed every human being, passengers and crew. There Mr. Harkin lost two brothers and lay sick himself for weeks before he was able to proceed to the interior. He first settled on the first concession of the township of Nottawasaga, where he lived until 1865, and then removed to his last place of residence, the wet half of Lot 3 Concession 5, Sunnidale. At that time there was an unbroken forest for miles around, but Mr. H., though commencing with little or nother beyond the talents, physical and mental, with which he was endowed, used these so well as to secure the blessing of comfortable home, a title of 500 acres of land, 300 being cleared and improved, and an enviable reputation in private and public life. He was one the the first Township Councellors and contined to be a municipal representative for many years, being reeve in 1869. He was made J.P. in 1876. In 1879, he recieved the unanimous nomination of the Reform convention as candidate for election to the Ontario Legislature but sickness in his family led him to decline. He was of the staunchest type of Reformer in politics and was one of the first readers of The Toronto Globe. He was President of the Reform Association of the riding for 20 years and License Commissioner for Centre Simcoe for 28 years. in 1852, he married Mary, daughter of Mr. Patrick Dunn, of Vespra. They reared a family of eleven children, James and John dead; P.J. and Mrs. O'Keefe, Buffalo; Mrs. Shanacy, Tornoto; M.C. Harkin, merchant, Stayner; Mrs. J. Guilfoyle and Andrew, Corn Hill; Neil, Sarah and Agnes at home. Mr. Harkin's wife predeceased him seventeen years, she having died Sept 23rd 1885."

Source: Stayner Sun

learn more about Neil Harkin at http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/CountyAtlas/showrecord.php?PersonID=54266

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