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John M. Lumsden


Obituary copied from the Galt Daily Reporter, September 28, 1898

DEATH OF JOHN M. LUMSDEN

Sketch of the Life of the Distinguished Statesman and Townsman

After months of weary struggle against the great destroyer, waged amidst the calmest assurance of a peaceful outcome, the spirit of John McVeagh Lumsden, ex-mayor of Galt, and ex-member of the Old Legislative Assembly of the Province of Upper Canada, passed into the presence of its maker at six o’clock on Tuesday evening at the beautiful family residence, “Coldstream,” at the southern extremity of West Main Street. The tidings of his death created in the minds of the townspeople universally the profoundest regret, but at the same time inspired a feeling of intense respect and satisfaction at the career of one who had always stood for righteousness in the community and nation and whose life was as it were a book of precepts for the guidance for his fellows.

Of Mr. Lumsden it may truthfully be said that he had imposed in him the confidence of the body of the people of Galt; that his integrity carried with it and commanded the respect and esteem of all classes, and that the fragrance of his associations in public and private life will live until the last of his acquaintances follows him into the great beyond. Born into one of the grand old families of Scotland, he lived to bring still greater honor upon its escutcheon and to mould for himself a place in the pages of the history of the Dominion of Canada. The following is a short sketch of the life of the deceased, which must necessarily exclude much that would be of public interest and importance, but incomplete as it is will be perused with interest by Canadians generally.

John McVeagh Lumsden was born at Meerut, near Delhi, India, on September 7, 1823. He was the second son of the late Col. Thomas Lumsden, C B., of Belhelvie Lodge, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. His mother was Hay, second daughter of John Burnett, of Elrich, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. There were eleven of a family----six sons and five daughters. The sons, besides the deceased, who was the second, were General Sir Harry Burnett Lumsden, who died at Belhelvie Lodge, in September 1896; the late Thomas Lumsden of St. Francis Xavier, Manitoba, killed in September 1885, by being gored by a favorite bull; General Sir Peter Stark Lumsden, lately commissioner for the settlement of the Afghan boundary still living; William Henry Lumsden, killed in action, near Delhi, India, in August, 1857, a lieutenant in the 68th Native Infantry, and second in command of the 1st Punjaub Infantry; and Hugh David Lumsden, C.E., of Toronto at present on the CPR’s, chief of the staff on the Crowe’s Nest Pass extension. Of the five daughters, the eldest married the Rev. James Johnstone of Potterton, Aberdeenshire; the second married the late Col. John Paton, of Grandholme, Aberdeenshire; the third married Capt. George Cleghorn, an officer in the Scots Greys, now of Weems, Roxboroughshire; the fourth, Clementina died at Aberdeen in November, 1895, and the fifth married the late Capt. Frank Sherlock, of Brighton, England.

The late John M. Lumsden received a thorough education, attending school at Bromeley, Kent, England and subsequently entered Marischal College, Aberdeenshire. He came to Canada in 1840, and resided at Quebec for four years, where he was associated with his uncle, David Burnett---who represented Quebec City in the legislature during Lord Sydenham’s administration---in the export lumber business. Removing to Ontario, then Upper Canada; he resided for two years in Whitby, after which he went to the township of Pickering, of which township he became Reeve. He was a member also of the County Councils of York and Ontario and represented South Ontario and the Old Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada from August 1854, to November 1857, as a Liberal-Conservative but maintained his independence, when he was succeeded by Oliver (now Sir) Mowat.

He remained in Pickering Township until 1858, when he removed to the Township of Arran, Bruce County. While there he was elected to the Reeveship of the Township, and was a member of the County Council of Huron and Bruce. In 1876 he removed to North Dumfries, purchasing form the late Wm. Robinson the farm now owned by Mr. George Hogg and Mr. Peter Gilles. He resided there for a few years, when he purchased the Crombie house, at the end of West Main Street, from Mr. Siddall, where he resided until his death.

He was married in 1864 to Margaret Ballengal MacKay, of Caithness-shire, Scotland who survives him, and by whom he had three children. The eldest, Thomas Harry Lumsden is a resident of Memphis, Tennessee, being on the staff of the Memphis Scimiter; the second Miss Etta Hay Lumsden , resides at home, and the youngest, Joseph was killed by a fall while the family resided on the farm adjoining Galt.

The subject of this sketch was always a prominent and active man during his residence in this town. He took a deep concern in municipal administration in all its branches, occupying a seat at the Council Board as Reeve for three years, 1885 to 1887 inclusive, and was elected Mayor on three occasions, in ’88, ’89, and ’92. His regime was marked by clean legislation and steady advancement in the public weal. Having ample means of his own, he never accepted the monetary grant, that was made by Council to Mayors of the township for personal use, but spent it on something which he believed was needed by the municipality. He built the steps leading up to the eastern entrance to the Town Hall, presented the large clock which hangs in the Council Chamber, built the crossing from the Vegetable market to the Town Hall and made some improvements to Dixon Park.

He was also one of the valued members of Knox Presbyterian Church, one of the connecting links between Presbyterianism in the days of the “Old Kirk” on Dixon’s hill, and the present. With a number of others he joined Knox when the old church was closed. He took an aggressive part in the proclamation of the truths of Christianity, being President of the Galt Branch of the Upper Canada Bible Society for a number of years and always willing to encourage and lend his assistance to every good work. Of late years he had retired from public life of all branches, and his absence was severely felt at all public gatherings of whatever nature. He was chairman for several years of Knox Church Board of Managers.

A good citizen, an honest and upright man has fallen, but the impression of his life’s actions will remain and bear fruit. The Town Hall flag is flying at half mast as a token of respect to the honored dead.

Thanks to Mrs Janus Gregorash for sending this in.


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