William, Francis and Laura Bain

The Bains

William Bain was born in Caithness, Scotland, 1802.  He was one of five children born to Donald and Janet (Water) Bain.1  The family immigrated to Prince Edward Island, more specifically the York Point area, sometime in the early 1800’s.  William Bain worked as a stonemason and in 1839 married Ellen Dockendorff, daughter of William Dockendorff.  William and Ellen had four children: William, Francis, Jane and Jacob.2  William died at a young age in 1849.  The Bain family was very active in the newly established Baptist Church in North River.  An interesting fact about William Sr. is that he had a hand in building the Province House in Charlottetown.3  From the following Royal Gazette article dated January 6, 1835, one can see that William was a hard worker who took great pride in his work.

Plain and Ornamental Stone Cutting
The Subscriber respectfully tenders his grateful acknowledgements to the Inhabitants of Charlottetown, and the Island at large, for the favours he has received since he commenced business, and begs leave to inform them that the is now carrying on the above business in Water Street, opposite Mr. John Gainsford’s brick house, where an extensive assortment of the very best quality of Head Stones, Tomb Stones, Hearth Stones, Grinding Stones, Stove pipe Stones, Jamb Stones, and all descriptions of House-building stones, are furnished and executed punctually, in the neatest manner, and on the most reasonable terms.
As the Sub-scriber intends residing in Charlottetown, he most respectfully offers his services, to furnish Plans and Estimates, and to enter upon any Contract for House-building &c. From several years’ constant practice in several of the principal towns in Great Britain, the Sub-scriber feels confident that he will give satisfaction to those who may favour him with their commands.
   William Bain
      Charlottetown, Dec. 28, 18344

William Bain died on November 4, 1849.  His obituary read, “On Sunday the 4th inst., after a lingering illness, which he bore with much composure and pious resignation, at York Point, Mr. William Baine, Stone Cutter, aged 47 years.”5


Francis Bain was born on February 25, 1842 in York Point. It is said that as a child, Francis was fond of reading.  He received his early education from the minister’s wife, who taught from her home.  During his adolescence, Francis took one year at Central Academy in Charlottetown.  His education was cut short when his older brother William passed away.  As a result Francis moved back to his family home and took his place working on the farm.6  Francis continued to study on his own and also continued collecting shells, insects, and plants.  It is thought that Francis’ interest in fossils and rocks may have stemmed from his father’s occupation as a stonemason.7
On September 3, 1875, Francis married Caroline Matilda Clark of Cavendish.  Together the couple had nine children; William, Waldo, Herbert, John, Gifford, Nellie, Carrie, Laura, and Addison.8  Between caring for his family and tending to his farm, Francis found time to continue his studies and explored different regions around the Island making careful observations and meticulous notes and descriptions about the birds, fossils, and plants that he saw.  He even made details drawings of the elements he observed.  Francis Bain quickly became known as an expert geologist and naturalist, writing many articles for many different journals and even presenting lectures.9  Francis wrote two books, one of which was approved as a textbook in the school curriculum.  He went on to study the bedrock of the Northumberland Straight and was involved with the idea of constructing a tunnel between Cape Traverse and Cape Tormentine.10
With all of his duties, obligations, and hobbies, Francis ensured that he made time to devote to his church.  Francis served as deacon, church clerk, Sunday school teacher &  superintendent at North Rive Baptist Church.11  Considered a pious man, he shared his faith with his family.  Francis’s daughter Laura served as a missionary for many years.
After some complications and health issues during the last year of his life, Francis died on November 23, 1894. He is buried in the East Wiltshire Cemetery.  A monument was erected in his honor several years after his death.  It was laid in a place where Francis often delivered his lectures, in front of the George Coles building in Charlottetown.12  The stone can still be seen today.  The plaque on the stone reads, “Francis Bain Naturalist. 1842-1894. Erected by the Natural History and Antiquarian Society of P.E.I.”

*** To read the full biography of Francis Bain, please click here to view Francis Bain, Farmer Naturalist, written by Kathy Martin.  Her article appeared in the Spring-Summer 1979 issue of The Island Magazine



Laura Adelaide Bain was born to Francis and Caroline Bain on February 19, 1891.13  Laura became a missionary, a calling which took her to across the world.  According to Frank MacArthur’s book, The Old Cornwall and the New 1799-1964, Laura worked as a missionary in India with the Canadian Baptist Missions for thirty six years from 1921-1957.14  Unfortunately not much more is known about her life.  She must have received an excellent education as her tombstone indicates she had obtained a B.A. and M.A.  It also appears that she was unwed.  She died July 15, 1969.

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