In Gaelic, Emo means “Edge of the Plain.” In English, it means “The Place our First Reeve was From.”
Alexander Luttrell was born Feb. 14, 1845 near Emo, Ireland (which is spelled Ioma in Gaelic). After the potato famine, his mother and father, with their eight children in tow, came to Canada and settled in eastern Ontario.
Young Alexander later married and settled near Guelph, Ont.
Then in 1880, he heard that homestead land was opening up in Rainy River District. Wanting to get a fresh start in a promising new land, he left his family in the spring of 1881.
He took a boat from Goderich and sailed to Fort William, and then went by canoe via Pigeon River and—many portages later—came to the Rainy River.
When he saw the river, he said, “This is the place I have been looking for.”
He began homesteading in Aylsworth Township, and then moved to Lash Township to be closer to two neighbours, Thomas Shortreed and James McQuat. In 1883, he went back east to pick up his family and bring them to their new home.
Since the place had no name, someone suggested they give it one so that mail could be addressed. Luttrell thought it should be a name that would be easy for people to spell and pronounce so he named it Emo, which was close to where he had lived in Ireland.
Another man, F.W. Stuart, thought it should named Balmoral but Emo was chosen. At first it was called Emo River sometime between 1883-1887 but was shortened to Emo by 1899.
Luttrell was a well-liked outgoing Irishman and farmer. He was Emo’s first postmaster in the mid-1880s and became its first reeve on Oct. 7, 1899.
The first meeting was held Oct. 20, with the first councillors being Charles Fisher, Thomas Shortreed, Benjamin L. Phillips, and John Dungey. J.M. Dougherty was the first clerk-treasurer.
Luttrell died in 1911 and is buried in the Emo Cemetery. The house where he lived in Ireland is now occupied by a Mr. Gerard Delaney and is about one mile outside of Emo, Ireland.
The Emo centennial committee has been communicating with different groups back in Ireland via the Internet, including the parish priest there, to get more input into the town’s 100th anniversary celebrations over here.
Neil Grant also has made several trips to Ireland visiting with relatives, and had made a trip to Ioma to view various scenes that may have some familiarity to our own Emo.
Contact also has been made with local school principal Brian Davis. It is hoped local fifth and sixth-graders at Donald Young, Our Lady of the Way, and the Sturgeon Creek Alternative schools would start corresponding with students in the same class in Ireland.
The present village of Emo (Ioma), with a population of just 200, has a school, church, a small shop and post office, a pub, and public housing scheme. The village grew up around the nearby Emo Court, an old estate house built by Lord Portarlington and designed by the well-known architect James Gordon.
The house was built in the late 1700s.
While the day of the landlords has long since gone, the house remains unchanged. It has been taken over by the government and is open to the public.
The land is quite good, with local farmers keeping cattle and dairy herds, and also sowing crops. As regards groups and clubs, the local gaelic football team commands a strong following.
The area is predominantly Catholic but it also has a strong Protestant population. Here they live side-by-side in harmony since religious differences in the south do not have the same significance as they do in parts of the north.