Skip to main content


Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Archibald McMillan, who was born in Scotland in 1762, is credited with being the first settler in Grenville.

In 1802, he and his cousin Alan McMillan brought 344 adults and 104 children as Highland emigrants to Montreal, on board the vessels Friends, Helen and Jane. His plan was to set up a Highland style fiefdom in Argenteuil County, with himself as a New-World laird. When land negotiations bogged down, many of his followers settled in Glengarry and Stormont counties in Upper Canada, where relatives and friends were already established.

Commemorative plaque to Archibald and Alexander McMillan. (Photo - Gordon Rainey)McMillan finally got the land he sought in Argenteuil in 1807-08, settling in Grenville in 1810. He had put deposits down for clan members who still wanted to come, but it was on the basis that each would have their own title (i.e. there would be no feudal lord). Many of those who had already settled in Upper Canada did not wish to leave the Scots community and relocate again. When they refused to go to Argenteuil, McMillan suffered major losses. He remained a leader for some but was no longer chief of a branch of the clan, just another land owner. This was Canada, the land of equal opportunity – quite different from the Scotland these settlers had left behind.

McMillan was active in the War of 1812 and rose to the rank of Major. He and his eldest son, Alexander, however, fell victim to the 1832 cholera epidemic.

The commemorative plaque seen here was originally installed at Saint Giles Presbyterian Church in Grenville. When that church closed, the plaque was placed in safe keeping and eventually put on display at Margaret Rodgers Memorial Presbyterian Church in Lachute. For a more comprehensive biography of Archibald McMillan, please go to: