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Sinclair:
A Name in Canadian History



Article from the Winter 1997 issue (Vol 3 No 6). The photos that accompanied the original article are not presently available online.



The Sinclair Inn is an important document in the history of building in Canada.

In the 1780's, tavern keeper Frederick Sinclair created this inn by combining two existing structures. One of them was originally owned by William Skene, a surgeon from Boston who was also a Mason. His house and hence the Sinclair Inn, is pointed out as the meeting place of the first Masonic Lodge in what is now Canada. Both houses were frame construction and the walls of one were filled with wattle and daub, an insulation used in Acadia and New England in the 17th and 18th centuries. Sinclair attempted to give this union certain Georgian features of symmetry and classical detail.

Restored to its present state in 1982, the building stands as a rich composite of materials, techniques and styles spanning 3 centuries. It is now a designated a National Historic Site.

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Sinclair Court in Hamilton is named after Bill Sinclair a native of Orkney but who became a strong Canadian patriot and a firm believer in the development of Hamilton.

Bill Sinclair served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War and then took over the Sinclair Construction Company that had been founded by his father George and is now run by his son Bud. Bill Sinclair was responsible for building the first condominium in Hamilton as well as many other developments in the east and south of Hamilton as well as some well-known developments in Stoney Creek.

The photo at the left [not navailable online] shows Bud Sinclair beside a street sign that is named after his father and his sister.

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Sometime in the early 1800's, settlers began arriving in the around the Welland River and Chippewa Creek. Little is known about these first residents but one was a Mr. Sinclair and it was after him that the town was named.There is a possibility of a connection to some Winnipeg Sinclairs as evidenced by some early letters but it is by no means confirmed. Perhaps some of our clansfolk might have some idea.

The town was surveyed in 1849, and by 1850 most of the farms had been taken up. By 1854, there was a Post Office and by 1857, a Wesleyan chapel had been built using entirely local labour and materials.

Sinclairville was typical of hundreds of other pioneer towns that grew out of the perseverance and ingeniousness of their early inhabitants.

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In 1874, the first Sinclair School was built in Whitby on land donated by John Sinclair, a teacher and local trustee who donated the site and who dedicated over 30 years of his life to public education.

This building was in use until it was destroyed by fire in 1953, and renovations were made that resulted in a 2 room school for grades 1-3 and 4-8. In 1962 the increased growth of the area supported a 4 room addition.

In 1972 the building ceased being a school and Was used for various educational offices and special projects until in 1992, the trees from this original site were relocated all over Durham region as the land was prepared for the construction of a new education centre and secondary school.

In September 1994, Sinclair Secondary School welcomed 800 new students from grades 9-11. Clan members George Sinclair and his son Neil, both in full Highland regalia (Sinclair tartan to be sure) piped and drummed respectively at the official opening.

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