Marking history in St. Clair Township


Cara Vosburg

The Independent

What may have been the first settlement in Lambton County is now marked for all to see.

Five years ago local historian Cliff Roy asked St. Clair Township for a plaque recognizing Baby Point, the first European community established in Lambton County. Saturday, Heritage St. Clair unveiled a plaque marking the boundary of Baby Point along the St. Clair River.

The plaque stands in Brander Park, south of Port Lambton. Dave Pattenden, Chairman of Heritage St. Clair, says Baby Point could very well have been the first settlement in Lambton County adding Roy did most of the work to uncover the history of the area.

Roy, who calls himself an “amateur writer” just released the second version of his book The Baby Pointe Settlement, containing updated information and some new material.  The book provides a detailed history of the area and the family that the land was named after: the Bâby family (pronounced “Baubee”).

Francis Bâby moved to the area in 1815 and established the settlement that would be known as Bâby Pointe.  In 1828, his father, Col. François Bâby, received the land in a Crown grant for his service in the War of 1812.

Roy has been pursuing Baby Point’s history since the early 1980s. He calls his research a hobby, but says he always had a clear view of his goals.  Roy wanted to see a plaque erected to preserve the area’s heritage, and he wanted his book to highlight the community’s history. “I wanted it to be something that would enlighten the general public on their heritage,” he says.

Heritage St. Clair also honoured Dr. Maud Leonora Menten, who was born in Port Lambton in 1879. Menten was one of the first Canadian women to achieve a medical doctorate degree. She helped discover an equation—the Michaelis-Menten equation—instrumental to modern drug therapy and biochemistry. Some of the medical tests Menten developed are still in use in today.

“We were behind the times in our community in recognizing Maud Menten,” says Al Anderson, Vice-chair of Heritage St. Clair. Menten has received global recognition for her work. There is  a plaque honouring her in Queen’s Park. Until now, she had not received recognition in her place of birth. “We’re finally correcting that wrong,” says Anderson.

Menten’s plaque along the pathway in Brander Park stands where her former home would have stood in 1879.

“This is such a wonderful way to recognize people in our community,” says St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold.