Makins Street

The brothers Makins, magistrate and judge

John A. Makins

James C. Makins

Makins Street is named for John and James Makins, members of one of Perth County’s leading pioneer families and sons of William and Ann (Cardwell) Makins of North Easthope Township. Both sons made valuable contributions to the administration of justice in Ontario.

The elder, John A. Makins, was born in 1869 and became a successful farmer. He was reeve of North Easthope in 1915-1916, a position from which he resigned upon his moved to Stratford.

In 1919, he was appointed county magistrate and began a run 28 years, through his retirement in 1944. For 18 of those years, he was also a judge of the juvenile court. He was one of the few people outside the legal profession to attain that position. He continued to play an important role in the community and was a member of the Stratford General Hospital board for 25 years, its chair from 1925 to 1934.

James Cardwell Makins, the younger brother, was born at the Makins homestead in North Easthope Township in 1872. He received his elementary education at Brocksden school and then went to the Stratford Collegiate Institute. After entering Osgoode Hall at the University of Toronto, he read law with James P. Mabee of Stratford, who later became the commissioner of railways for Canada. He was was called to the bar in 1899, and in 1910 was created King's Counsel, the youngest KC in Ontario at the time.

He became a partner in the firm of Mabee and Makins, and while James Mabee was elevated to the bench, James Makins continued his practice in partnership with Walter Herbert Gregory, and later on his own until going overseas at the outbreak d the First World War. He served served as a major under the command of Col. D. M. Sutherland, a former Canadian minister of national defence. While on furlough leave in London, England, he attended court in the Old Bailey and as a KC of the Province of Ontario was accorded a seat at the solicitors' table during the famous treason Trial of Sir Roger Casement.

126 Mornington St.

On return to Stratford, he entered partnership with George G. McPherson, KC, in the law firm of McPherson and Makins. He was counsel in many important cases, some of them provincially famous. He was one of the foremost criminal lawyers in Ontario and was also a recognized authority on his specialty of drainage law. He was frequently called on for Crown counsel work in Toronto and became Crown attorney for Perth in 1932.

In 1934, James Makins was elevated to the bench of the Supreme Court of Ontario, where he was long regarded by his associates as one of Ontario's best trial judges.

He took great pride in his house, which still stands at 126 Mornington St. After he became a judge and moved to Toronto, he continued to spend summers in Stratford ,where he grew "glorious dahlias." His Stratford library contained a valuable collection of books and treatises on law and history. At the time of his death, in 1946, he was recognized as the successor to these noted Stratford counsel: John Idington and James P. Mabee. By Stanford Dingman

The Brockden schoolhouse

The Brocksden schoolhouse where James Makins went to school deserves a mention.

At 165 years old in 2018, the Brocksden schoolhouse on Line 37 in Perth East is the oldest one-room school in Perth County. It is now a museum.

Built in 1853 by Scottish settler Peter Crerar, the school, which served area students for 113 years before it closed, is now owned and operated by the Easthope Historical Group as a sort of living museum, where groups can spend a day of learning, the way students did back in 1910.

"In 1832, Peter Crerar came from Scotland with his family and he claimed land in this area to clear and to farm,” said Gloria Hutchison, the woman who acts as the museum’s schoolmarm.

During his first winter here in Canada, he didn’t have a house or a barn or anything to sleep in, so history says he found an overturned tree. He used that hole, perhaps made it bigger, and spent his first winter in it.

As the story goes, when Crerar’s family found him in the spring, they told him his winter shelter looked like a broc’s den — broc being the Irish, Celtic and Scottish Gaelic word for badger. In an attempt to retain the area’s history, 13 years later, when Crerar built the first schoolhouse, down the road from its current location, he called it Brocksden School. Source: Beacon Herald