Scottish roots run deep in Virden area

The Frame Family

James Frame was born on September 4th, 1841 to John and Mary Frame. The family was originally from Glasgow, Scotland but relocated to Simcoe County, Ontario. James attended a variety of public schools, and then attended a private college in Williamsville, New York. After this he enrolled at a business college in Poughkeepsie, New York. Once done school, James started working in a sawmill at Glencairn, where he was the manager. During the American Civil War, James served as a Private for five months in the Collingwood Company. This company helped in protecting the border against any possible raids.

            In 1880, James moved to Winnipeg and lived there for 2 years before he moved to Virden in 1882. Once he had settled in, he became a member of the first municipal council in town. He became a Reeve for the Municipality of Wallace from 1887-1891. In 1892 he was elected to represent the Constituency of Dennis in the provincial legislature, and in 1896 he was defeated in a re-election bid.

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            In 1888 James married Abbie Mary Layton, daughter of David Layton of Meaford, Ontario. They built a house in Virden, Manitoba in the part of town known as “Quality Hill.” This area of town was where some of the wealthier members of the community built their homes. It was full of large houses with large properties including a buggy house, lawn tennis courts, gardens, and croquet lawns. James worked with George Miller who was his wife’s cousin. They started a company together called Frame and Miller and sold general hardware and lumber. James used his business venture to get lumber and build him and Abbie a nice home to start a life in. He built the house in 1888 in the same year he and Abbie married.

During their time in this house, James and Abbie had 3 children. Their first son, George Dawson Frame, who was born in 1896, died of typhoid fever in infancy. Their second child was a baby girl named Eleanor Mary Frame, and she was born in 1892. Eleanor married a man named Burrows Sexsmith and they raised two sons together in Vancouver, BC. Eleanor died in 1970. James and Abbie’s third and last child was William Layton Frame, who died in World War I in 1917. He is buried in Surrey, England and his Memorial Cross, which was given to his mother after his death, is on display in the Virden Pioneer Home Museum.

James and Abbie retired to Vancouver in 1911 where their daughter and grandkids lived. James passed away in September of 1923 and Abbie passed away in 1946.

            The Frames were a very well respected family in their time; in fact, they now have a street in Virden named after them.

A donation to the museum helps conserve local history. Call 204-748-1659 or email us at The museum staff looks forward to seeing you all in person soon!

Submitted by Kim Johnson - museum staff

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