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Hon. Sir John Rose


Bart., G. C. M. G., London, England, was born at Yurriff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland on the 2nd August, 1820. He is a son of the late Mr. Rose, of Turriff, by his marriage with Elizabeth, daugher of Captain James Fyfe. John received his education at various schools in Aberdeenshire, concluding his course at King's College, Aberdeen. While he was still a youth he accompanied his parents to Canada, settling with them in the County of Huntingdon, Province of Quebec. For a time, pending an opening more suited to his tastes, John Rose engaged in school teaching in the Eastern townships. He soon abandoned this make-shift pursuit and proceeded to Montreal, where he began the study of law. In 1842 he was called to the bar of Lower Canada, and at once entered upon the practice of his profession. He at once attracted attention at the bar by his fine presence, which was commanding and tall; but better than all, his language was fluent and resonant, and his arguments searching, lucid and direct. He was soon master of the largest commercial practice in Montreal, and his place at the Lower Canada bar was among the very foremost. He conducted several important cases for the government of the day; and in this way, acquired his first thorough insight into political questions. In 1848 the silken gown of counsellor was conferred upon him, in recogntition of his splendid legal talents; and during the Baldwin-Lafontaine administration he was strongly pressed to enter public life. But Mr. Rose was a man of cool head and sound judgement, and he resolved that no allurement should draw him into political quicksands till his fortunes, in the commercial sphere, had been laid on firm foundations. Thereafter up to 1857 he held many of the foremost positions in banking and other circles in Montreal. In the year last mentioned he began his parliamentary career, and on the 26th November, accepted office in the Macdonald-Cartier administration as solicitor-general for Lower Canada. Thereafter, till the close of his political career, the record of this disyinguished and gifted man is a series of successes unparalleled, save in one other instance, among our Canadian staesmen. After the collapse of the Short Administration, Mr. Rose accepted, nominally, the office of receiver-general, but almost immediately passed back again to the solicitor-generalship. On the 10th of January following, he assumed charge of the department of public works, holding the port-folio till June, 1861, when the combined strain of his official duties and private business caused his health to give way, and he was obliged to resign office, continuing, however, to represent Montreal in parliament. In 1864 Mr. Rose was appointed by the Imperial government a commissioner on behalf of the Empire, under the treaty with the United States for the settlement of the claims which had arisen out of the Oregon treaty. At the first general election after Conferderation, Mr. Rose was elected for Huntingdon, and shortly afterwards - upon the retirement of the Hon. (now Sir) A. T. Galt - entered the cabinet as minister of finance. To him fell the greater portion of the task of constituting the new and difficult financial programme for the confederated provinces; but his splendid genius acted as a swift solvent of the difficulty. In July, 1868, Mr. Rose went to England and successfully floated hald of the Intercolonial Railway loan. In 1869 he resolved to take up his abode in England, and resigning his seat in parliament, he brough his splendid parliamentary career (of twelve year) to a close. He entered the well-known banking firm of Morton, Bliss & Co., at London, which thereafter was known as Morton, Rose & Co., the subject of this memoir still maintaining his connection with the same. In 1870 he was nominated a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. Georgel and in August, 1872, in recognition of his services as executive commissioner of Canada at the Paris Exhibition, he was nominated a G. C. M. G. He married, 1843, Charlotte, daughter of the late Robert Temple, of Rutland, in the State of Vermont. There has been issue by this marriage, three sons and two daughters.


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