Gibb Road

The Clearances

Gibb Road now formally known as Perth Line 29, is Stratford's southern city limit. It crosses Erie Street (Highway No. 7 and 119) at right angles, when the highway  from London and St. Marys  officially enters the city. It is named in honor of John Gibb one of Downie Township’s earliest pioneers.

The Stratford-Downie Township boundary (Concessions 4 and 6 of Downie Township) runs down the centre of Gibb Road. Because Fraser Gibb lives on the south side of the road, he is in Downie Township. His house is built on part of the farm purchased by his grandfather, George Gibb, in 1872. The original stone house on that farm was built in 1850-1855. Fraser Gibb's great-grandfather, John Gibb, emigrated from Northumberland, near the Scottish border of England, in 1834. That was near the end of the period in which English nobility brought in soldiers to remove tenants from their land, so they could replace them with sheep. Mr. Gibb has a book called the Clearances (see below) in which he tells the story of displaced farmers. John Gibb brought his son George with him, and because George later had three boys and 10 girls, the population started to grow.


When John was appointed tax collector for Downie, one of his early tasks was to walk along the blazed trail to Goderich, carrying with him the tax money to be turned in to the Huron District headquarters. It was a long, lonely trip through the tree-darkened Huron Tract.

There was great unrest among settlers in the eastern part of the district because they felt the district council was spending all its tax revenue building and improving roads in the vicinity of Goderich. It must have been disheartening for John Gibb to walk all that way (and back) and see settlers in his area getting no benefits from their tax money. By Stanford Dingman

Note: The Gibb Road name no longer exists; it is now called Perth Line 29.

Ruined croft houses. The land was cleared of its inhabitants in 1841 and used for grazing sheep. 

The Clearances

The Clearances were the evictions of a significant number of tenants in the Scottish Highlands and Islands, mostly in the period 1750 to 1860. Facing crippling debts and threat of bankruptcy, many Scottish farmers needed to enlarge and improve their agricultural operations, and thus their income. That involved the enclosure of their open fields, managed on the run rig system and shared grazing. Especially in the region's north and west, they favoured large-scale pastoral farms stocked with sheep, for which much higher rents could be collected. The displaced tenants were directed to alternative tenancies in newly created crofting communities. There they were expected to be employed in industries such as fishing, quarrying or the kelp operations. The reduction in status from farmer to crofter was a cause of resentment, and many of the affected opted for emigration. Several of the Scottish pioneer families who settled in Perth County came to Canada because of the Clearances.