The McKinley clan originates from the Lennox district, near Glasgow, Scotland. They are said to have descended from a clansman called Finlay Buchanan of Drumikill. The name McKinley, or the way it was spelled in Scotland MacKinlay, means 'son of Finlay'. Many Scots were brought to Ireland at the time of the 'Plantations'. This was a British plan, after a war where Ireland was defeated, to take away land from the native Irish and give it to the English and Scots. Some McKinleys were settled in Northern Ireland, near Ballycastle in the county of Antrim. The area is called 'The Glens of Antrim". Most, like the ancestors of US President William McKinley (1843-1901) were Protestants. Somehow others, like the ancestors of James McKinley, were, or became Roman Catholics.
According to a document from the Ontario Archives, our ancestor James McKinley (1799-1881) by trade a farmer (yeoman), came to Canada from Toar Head, Near Cushundun, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. ("Cushun" in old Irish means 'the mouth of', and "dall" is the river 'Dall' in county Antrim.) He arrived in New York on the 17th of April 1817, and was given assistance to proceed to Upper Canada via Albany and across Lake Ontario from Oswego NY. He was also given a loan of 4 dollars by the British Consul General for New York, James Buchanan. (It seems ironical that the McKinleys are said to have descended from Finley Buchanan). His wife Mary McCauly Must have arrived some time later since the record shows a wife and two daughters in Ireland. Records show that the voyage took about thirteen weeks on the old sailing vessels of that time.
Around 1820 there was a tremendous migration of Irish tenants driven from their land by high rents, high taxes and poor crops. There was a potato crop failure in 1821 which caused great hardship to the poorer people. It was not the problem which attacked the plants at the time of the potato famines in the 1840s, though, but the rot or curl. The reason why the loss of the potato was so devastating was because it seems that the only diet of these people was potato, salt and buttermilk. They had cattle so you would think they had cheese and meat, but everything these tenant farmers produced had to go towards paying the rent, otherwise they would lose their homes and their means of livelihood.
Another reason for leaving Ireland was the political situation. The penal laws, which affected those who did not belong to the established church (Anglican), were extremely hard on Catholics and other religions such as Presbyterians and Methodists. Catholics were forbidden to get an education, were often prohibited from attending Mass, and could not inherit land from their parents.
Many of these immigrants Irish tenants from the Glens of Antrim came to Plantagenet Township and settled in an area west of the present village of Plantagenet. They came after The War of 1812, and about 1817 on, settlers became more numerous, and soon there-after the Irish Settlement was formed near the south west of corner of the township. An early history of Plantagenet says that their early livelihood was the lumber business, more so that working the land and stock raising, for lumbering was much more profitable, especially in this area, rich in every kind of hardwood. One of these early settlers Daniel McCormick wrote to his brother John McCormick in Toar Head '....there is land here that begs to be worked. We get sugar from the bush, and all the fish we want from the river...'.
Provincial land records show that on the 21st of April 1821, James McKinley was granted 100 acres of land in Plantagenet Township on Concession 6 on the north half of Lot 13.
Pierre Lavallée was born about 1610 in St-Jean de Roun, Normandie, France. He married Madeline Dumesnil. They arrived in Beauport, near Québec City about 1630. Several generations later the name was spelled Vallée.
In 1934, Arthur McKinley married Sophie Vallée.