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Canadian History
John Crerar


Barrister-at-law and County Crown Attorney, Hamilton, was born at Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland, in 1836. His father was a mechanic, possessed of great natural talent, had strong literary tastes, and was a well-known contributor in his own locality, to the journals of his day. Though long dead, his "sayings and doings" are still often quoted in the "reminiscence" columns of the Perthshire newspapers. Our subject was the eldest of five sons, all living with one exception, and occupying prominent positions. One is a well-known divine in the Free Church of Scotland (the Rev. Thomas Crerar, M. A. of Leith). This divine has contributed to the literature of Scotland several valuable translations from the German writers on theological subjects. Our subject was educated partly in his native town and partly at the famous "Madras College" of St. Andrew's. He entered a Scotch law office at an early age, but after three years' study he gave up the law, and entered the service of the old Perth Bank, whence he joined the ill-fated City of Glasgow Bank, in Edinburgh. In 1857, he was induced by the late T. M. Daly, of Stratford (a relation by marriage) then M.P. for Perth in the old Parliament of Canada, to come to this country. In the fall of 1857 he received an appointment in the Bank of Montreal. Here he remained for ten years. In 1864, while stationed in the Bank of Montreal, at London, he maried Miss Hope, eldest daughter of the late Hon. Adam Hope, Senator of the Dominion. In 1866, at Mr. Hope's suggestion, Mr. Crerar abandoned banking and commenced life afresh, as a law student, in the office of E.J. Parke, Barrister, London, C.W. Subsequently he studied with S. B. Freeman, at Hamilton, and with R.A. Harrison, afterwards Chief Justice, at Toronto. Mr. Crerar carried off the first Law scholarship at Osgoode Hall, in each year of his course; and in 1871 opened his office as a barrister, in Hamilton, where he now resides, and is the senior partner of the firm of Crerar, Muir & Crerar, Barristers, &c. He is solicitor for various corporations including the Molsons Bank, in that city, and the firm are reputed to do a large and lucrative law business. From 1872 to 1880 our subject became widely known as an active and trusted member of the Liberal party in politics. Notably a man who has the courage of his opinions, his political platform was rigidly defined and uncompromising. A student, con amore, of political economy, he was ever a pronounced Free-trader of the Cobden and Bright school. Thoroughly familiar with the literature of free-trade, he plunged into the parliamentary campaign of 1878 with singular enthusiasm, and through the press and on a score of platforms throughout Ontario he publicly analysed from the scientific economical point of view propounded by the recognized authorities of Free trade and Protection, the new dogma called the National Policy. His efforts were recognized by the press of his party as an exposition of trade principles from the Free trade standpoint which for thoroughness and ability were not excelled by those of any platform orator on the Liberal side during that memorable contest. In 1881 Mr. Crerar was appointed County Crown Attorney for the County of Wentworth, which necessarily precluded him from further active work in politics, and it is supposed that he accepted the position with that result specially in view. He is a powerful debater and a man of intense convictions. His views on public questions are given in a way to indicate that the speaker is absolutely indifferent whether these views are popular or unpopular. Immediately preceding his appointment to his present office, he served for a time as an alderman in Hamilton City Council, where his uncompromising method of dealing with city affairs, purely upon their merits, was fully recognized. Mr. Crerar is a man of prepossessing appearance and possesses many social accomplishments. Himself an actor of great versatility he founded, some ten years ago, the celebrated "Garrick Club" of Hamilton, of which he is now president, a dramatic association whose productions on the stage, on behalf of the charitable institutions of that city, have always been excellent. In the social meetings of the members of his profession, "bar-dinners", our subject is always a prominent figure, his post-prandial speeches being singularly happy and amusing. It is by no means improbable that the subject of our sketch will again take his part in public politics, in which case there is little doubt, but we shall hear of him on the floor of one or other of our Houses of Parliament. He is a Freemason.


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