By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca
In the mid 1800’s many wealthy Montreal families, being attracted by the beautiful scenery of Lake St. Louis, decided to built their country homes along the lakeshore road. One of these is a large wooden Victorian house on the shores of Pointe Picard in Dorval. It was the summer home of Duncan McEachran, born in 1841 at Campbeltown, Argyleshire, Scotland, and a descendant of one of the oldest families in Scotland, the McEachrans of Kilellan and Penygowan.
Duncan received his early education in Campbeltown. At the age of seventeen entered the Veterinary College of Edinburgh, where he graduated in 1861. In 1862, he came to Canada, and settled in Woodstock, Ontario, where he successfully practised his profession for three years, and at the same time giving lectures in Toronto, which proved to be very valuable in the establishment of the Veterinary College in that city. In 1866, he left Ontario and settled in Montreal, the largest and richest city in Canada. With a large population and a large number of animals (2160 cattle, 2892 horses, 91 sheep, and over 2600 pigs, according the 1861 census), Dr. McEachran envisioned his dream of starting a veterinary school. With help of Sir William Dawson, Principal of McGill University, and Dr. George Campbell, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and President of the Board of Agriculture, he was able to open a “Horse Infirmary and Office” on Craig Street (today’s St. Antoine). In 1866, the Board of Agriculture awarded him $300 to establish his veterinary school. The $300 represented a free $50 tuition fee for six students chosen by the Board. In 1874, during a trip to Europe he met with various veterinarians and discussed Foot and Mouth, Pleuro-pneumonia, and other contagious diseases, a regular occurrence in Europe. McEachran designed and established stations, where imported cattle would be quarantined and inspected against contagious diseases. If Canada today is free from contagious diseases, it is due to his energy and knowledge. In 1875 larger facilities were needed and larger premises were built on Union Avenue. In 1889 the Montreal Veterinary College became part of McGill University as the Faculty of Comparative Medicine and Veterinary Science with McEachran as its Dean. The Faculty was discontinued when Professor McEachran retired in 1903.
Professor McEachran served in the militia force for ten years as Veterinary Surgeon to the Montreal Field Battery of Artillery.
The first time his summer home in Dorval was mentioned was in the Lovell’s Directory of 1896. McEachran bought the large Victorian house from the estate of Jackson Rae and named it “Kilellan”, after his ancestral home in Scotland. He added a blacksmith’s shop to the house, and bought adjacent lots to the north of his property to excercise the horses and dogs he kept. We know this lot today as St. Charles Park.
McEachran was also an active member of the Montreal Hunt Club, the Saint James Club and the Forest and Stream Club in Dorval. In 1908 the property was sold to Notary Ernest Décary, who sold the land, where McEachran excercised his horses, to the City. Over the years renovations have been done, additions have been made, and an in-ground pool has been added, but all without changing the architectural style of the home as it was built in 1879.
Source: Gazetteer of Montreal / Sebastiaan Smit / Dorval Historical Society