WINDROW – A RARE, UNUSUAL FAMILY NAME (March 13/07)

Windrow, says the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, is a noun meaning a “line of raked hay, sheaves, etc., laid out for drying by the wind.

Windrow also happens to be a surname; it’s also a rare surname, possibly one of the rarest in Canada if you can take Statistics Canada at its word, and it happens to be found right here in Kings County.

Lowell Windrow of Canaan Avenue, Kentville, discovered just how rare his family name is when he was contacted by Statistics Canada in 2003. At the time there were only three people in Canada with the Windrow surname. Two weeks ago Lowell was talking with Statistics Canada and they told him that his was now the only family in Canada with the Windrow surname.

Besides being rare, the Windrow surname also has historical connections with this region. In 1816 the British government was busy disbanding military regiments that had been formed during the War of 1812. Among them were the Nova Scotia Fencibles, led by Captain William Ross, and the Royal Newfoundland Fencibles. These regiments were disbanded in Halifax during June and July of 1816. The officers and soldiers of the disbanded regiments were given land grants in what was then known as Sherbrooke and later New Ross. Among the grantees was the great great grandfather of Lowell Windrow, one Captain William Windrow who served with Ross and who settled in an area known as Glengarry about two miles south of New Ross proper.

In her history of New Ross, published in 1966, Caroline Leopold mentions the Windrow surname twice. Once in the list of the early settlers of New Ross (Glengarry is considered to be part of greater New Ross) and in a note that hints that the surname began to disappear early on in the community: “Of the Windrows, a name one time prominent in the community, some of whom settled in Glengarry, but one remains.”

Lowell Windrow tells me there was another Windrow who was in the military with Captain William Windrow and he was a relative. This second Windrow, first name unknown, also settled in the New Ross area but his line has disappeared. However, Lowell has what he believes is a medal once worn by this Windrow. He also has two swords that belonged to Captain William Windrow.

After talking with Lowell Windrow about his family, by the way, I visited Acadia University and consulted nearly 20 books devoted to surnames in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. I failed to find the Windrow surname and I have to conclude that it is indeed rare. An Internet search turned up two Windrows – you can usually depend on the ‘net to come up with something – and both were in Texas.

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