Tombstone in the Perm Cemetery©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko
It was 1832 when the Hugh Gallaugher family first arrived in Simcoe County from their native home in Ireland. It was not an easy journey. Like many other early settlers, they arrived in virgin land where there were no roads or even trails to speak of. The first leg of their journey took them to Mono Mills. From there they had to carry their meagre possessions across a crude log bridge, spanning the entire Boyne River. Once they arrived at their final destination they were faced with having to clear the land and build a shelter. One of the few possessions to survive the trip was their treasured Irish linen. There were seven children in the Gallaugher family, all of whom left their mark in one way or another on the township.
By the mid 1850s the small community of Perm had grown around the Gallaugher settlement. In 1845 a warrant was issued to establish an Orange Lodge in Perm. Whatever happened to the original warrant is unknown but a later warrant was issued to Robert Hunter in 1854. The Perm Orange Lodge No. 355 met in various homes, including a log house next to William Gallaugher's new stone home. A lodge building was later built on lot 10 at the fourth concession.
The Gallaugher sons and their descendants were active in local politics. Paul Gallaugher served as the first reeve of Mulmur Township in 1851 and again as reeve in 1859. Other family members who followed were Robert who served as reeve from 1887 to 91 and then as township treasurer from 1893 to 1915. Paul's nephew and namesake, Paul, followed in Robert's footsteps serving as treasurer for a lengthy run from 1915 to 33.
In the early days, Perm was an important centre, possibly due to Paul Gallaugher's influence. By 1855 plans were being put in place to construct a township hall. A committee consisting of two of the Gallaugher brothers, Paul and William, along with John Cooper was put in place to make that plan a reality. The hall was completed in 1857 with the first council meeting being held on May 26, 1858. During that first meeting the township was divided into five wards. On October 24th a bylaw was passed establishing the locations where elections would be held in each ward. The town hall was used for about 20 years before it fell into disuse.
The Bethel Methodist Church was erected in 1872 on lot 10, Concession 5. Construction of the church was made possible in part by a $500 donation from Hugh Gallaugher, a contribution that was quite substantial for its time. Gallaugher put in many long hours in both time and labour to help with the building. For many years afterwards, he made annual donations of $200 to cover the costs of upkeep and maintenance. A large cemetery was established on the south side of the property behind the church.
There were never many businesses in Perm. Paul Gallaugher opened a general store in 1868 and added a post office in 1872. There was also a home and blacksmith shop, owned and operated by Joseph Donohue, just to the east of the church. By 1880 there was a shingle mill, operated by Robert Hughson. Other postmasters included Henry Gallaugher in 1877 and James Gallaugher in 1882. By 1884 James had entered into a partnership with J.J. Morrow, who took over as postmaster in 1885. Other businesses included a sawmill run by John Amoss and later Thomas Hunter. By the 1880s, the blacksmith shop was being run by James Tate who remained the village smitty for many years.
The distribution of school sections was confusing. The first log schoolhouse, measuring around 6 X 9 metres was built on lot 15, Concession 3 around 1870 or earlier. The school was primitive even by 1870 standards. There were no desks - only two rows of benches. The school was also reportedly used for church services. Early teachers included a Mr. Black and a Mr. Burton. This school was officially known as SS No. 8, Mulmur and also as the Upper Perm School. In 1884 the school was replaced with a new frame structure, built on Lot 16 and painted red. Land for the new school was donated by Moses Cherry. William Gallaugher and John Ireland both served as trustees.
In the meantime another log school, also known as SS No. 8, was built on the west half of Lot 11, Concession 3. This school was later replaced with a brick school, located on the east half of the lot. The second school became known as the Lower Perm School. Both schools formed one section until 1917 when they were divided into separate sections. The school known as Upper Perm, retained SS No. 8, whereas the Lower Perm School was renamed SS No. 21.
Political distribution was equally confusing. In 1867 two polling sub-divisions were set up in the township. This proved to be insufficient and by 1874 the council passed a bylaw dividing the township into four sub-divisions. The bylaw also stated that nominations should be held in the Perm town hall, although by this time the town hall was barely being used.
In 1876 the location of Polling Sub-Division No. 4 was changed from SS No. 5 to the Orange Hall on the fifth line. It moved around several times; by 1879 it was being held in the Anglican Church at Whitfield.
In 1869 proposals were already being put forth to divide the county of Simcoe. By 1875 the provisional county of Dufferin had been established. Dufferin became an official county in 1880 with the township of Mulmur joining Dufferin in 1881. The polling sub-station moved over to Mansfield and finally, by about 1900, over to the Orange Hall at Perm where it remained for many years.
Other than a few institutions such as the church, schools and Orange Hall, very little of Perm survived into the 20th century. Perm was never large and its population averaged about 50 at best. The post office was closed in 1915 following the arrival of rural mail delivery. The Bethel Church lasted until 1925 when it was demolished following church union. Remnants of the foundation can still be found. The old Upper Perm School, SS No. 8, lasted until 1935 when it was destroyed by fire. The following year it was replaced with a newer brick structure.
Today all that remains of Perm is the cemetery, a memorial stone for the church, and the Lower Perm School, which is now a private home. The cemetery continues to be well maintained.