The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series
Lower Lake Heron — (Runs 249 and 279)
Lower Lake Heron
(Runs 249 and 279)
I think this station should properly be called Lake Heron, and the Upper Lake Heron Station should be the Lake; that is the way their wool is branded. But for many years Lower Lake Heron was known as Dunbar's, and Lake Heron came to mean the Upper Station. Nowadays people speak of them as the Top Lake and Little Lake, or as Upper and Lower Lake Heron, so I have used those names to prevent confusion.
Lower Lake Heron joins Clent Hills at the lake flat, and from there takes in the country between the Ashburton River and the Cameron Creek. It runs back to Mt. Arrowsmith.
Run 249, of ten thousand acres, was taken up by Captain Harding on May 1st, 1858, but Harding transferred it unstocked to A. Olliver almost at once. Run page 309279 was taken up on November 1st, 1858, but whether by Harding or Olliver I do not know. Olliver built the homestead where it stands now, but sold the station, I believe, within a few years to a man named Seymour, from whom W. C. and A. J. Walker bought it about 1862, though the leases remained in Olliver's name until 1869, when they were reissued to Walker Brothers in W. C. Walker's name. The Walkers engaged Johnstone at Home to come out to New Zealand as their manager. He arrived in 1863 with his family—one of them was the present T. S. Johnstone, who probably knows the Ashburton Gorge better than any other man living.*
The Walkers sold Lake Heron to Captain George Scott, who was an Englishman, but had been a captain in the American Civil War. Scott's manager was Alexander Urquhart, the father of the present owner.
Scott came to grief in the 'seventies, and in 1878 Miles, Hassell and Co. took over the station. Scott went to Australia. Some time afterwards his brother, an admiral in the British service, died and left him money, but before he could be traced he had himself died in poverty.
Miles and Co. kept Lake Heron until 1884, when they sold it to Dunbar Brothers, and in 1886 Peter Dunbar bought out his brother. He sold the station about 1902 to James McGregor. After he left Lake Heron Peter Dunbar had a grazing run on the Highfield Estate at Waiau. His brother, I think, managed Woodstock in the late 'eighties. In 1905 McGregor sold out to A. R. C. Kilian. The lease ran out in 1911, and Kilian, who also owned Clent Hills at that time, could not go in for it again. It was put up to ballot, and H. Feary drew it, and bought Kilian's freehold and improvements.
Feary sold Lake Heron to Maurice Harper in 1915, and Harper sold it to the present owner, Colin Urquhart, in 1926.
They used to keep a sailing boat on the lake, and page 310once, when one of the owners had a friend from Christchurch staying with him, after a very good lunch indeed, he took him for a sail. The owner fell overboard, but the friend, though he couldn't handle a boat, managed to turn it round, and fish him out with the boat-hook. 'Are you wet? 'asked his friend kindly —which nearly led to his murder.
I have described all the early owners in other articles except A. Olliver and Seymour, whom I cannot identify.
* T. S. Johnstone died in 1936.