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The Scot in British North America
Chapter VIII Journalism and Literature


There is no sphere of the intellectual life of Canada in which Scotsmen have from the first been more prominent than that of journalism and literature. It will be impossible within the limited space now remaining at our command, to give as comprehensive a survey of this field as would be desirable, but this is to be the less regretted as a great portion of it has already been traversed in connection with the political history of the country. Most of the leading journalists of the past have been keen politicians, and active participants in public life, as is usually the case in a new country where the process, known to the political economist, as subdivision of labour, and to the scientist as differentiation of functions, has not been carried to the same degree as in older communities. Political writers and speakers hold much the same relative positions as attorney and counsel. The latter functions, separated in England, are nearly always united here, and so to a large extent with the former. True the process of social evolution is rapidly bringing about a change, but in the exciting struggles of the past it was frequently the case that those who framed the pleadings and worked up the case for the respective parties, also urged it viva voce before the parliamentary tribunal, and the supreme court of the hustings. The journalists who remain to be dealt with, therefore, are those who have either not taken a conspicuous part in active political life, or who have entered it subsequently to the issue of the preceding portion of this work.

There is probably no man on the press in Canada to-day possessing a larger measure of that indefinable quality known as "newspaper sense" than Mr. John Gordon Brown, who succeeded his brother the late Hon. George Brown as editor of the Toronto Globe. The public have never yet realized to how great an extent the success of the Globe was due to the sound judgment and rare executive capacities of the younger brother. Hon. George Brown as ostensible and virtual leader of the Reform party attracted so large a share of the public attention, and his reputation as a public man was so indissolubly linked with the name of the journal upon which he held the leading position, that the intrinsically important part taken by his relative in the less obtrusive sphere of journalism proper was necessarily thrown into shadow. John Gordon Brown was born in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, on the 16th of November, 1827, being the junior of his brother by some six years. He received his education partly in Edinburgh and partly in New York, to which latter city he came with his parents in his eleventh year. Some five years later he arrived in Toronto. He was connected with the Globe from the time of its foundation, excepting during comparatively short intervals. He edited the Quebec Gazette for about a year during one of these periods and also travelled a good deal in Europe from time to time, in 1851 he visited the great International Exhibition in London, contributing a very comprehensive and interesting series of descriptive letters to his newspaper. From the time of his return the editorial department of the Globe was mainly under his control, subject of course to the broad general lines of policy laid down in respect to its political course. Hon. George Brown for very many years before his untimely death concerned himself but little with the every-day details of editorial management, devoting himself almost altogether to the commercial department and political matters not directly connected with the newspaper. It was Mr. Gordon Brown’s close and practical supervision and forcible pen which during these years maintained and extended the well won prestige of the Globe. When his brother fell by the hand of a murderer, many people who were in ignorance of the real relation in which Mr. Gordon Brown stood to the journal, expected a marked falling off in vigour and interest. But as time wore on it became plainly evident that its old-time reputation was destined to be fully sustained by his formal elevation to the position he had long virtually occupied. Mr. Brown’s leading idea was to make the Globe before all things a newspaper, and while remaining faithful to the traditions of Liberalism to assert a wider liberty of expression than the narrow trammels of party conventionalities had previously permitted. His attitude towards the Liberal leaders was not unlike that of the public man who when accused of disloyalty to the Sovereign, replied that he could never so far forget his duty to His Majesty as even to entertain a disloyal thought, but that he did not consider himself bound to be loyal to the king’s "man servant and his maid servant, his ox and his ass." Mr. Brown was of too independent a spirit to permit every ward politician, pettifogger and on-hanger claiming to be an adherent of the party, and to speak in its name to sway his course or use the columns of the Globe for their personal advantage. At the same time be spared no pains or expense in improving the paper, and developing that feature of many-sidedness which had not previously been a characteristic of the Canadian press. It would be out of place here to enter into the cause, or rather the combination of causes, which resulted in Mr. Brown’s retirement from the control of the journal to the development of which he had devoted his life’s best energies. Suffice it to say that of all concerned directly or indirectly in the matter, Mr. Brown has least reason to fear full publicity. Shortly after the change he was appointed Registrar of the Surrogate Court in Toronto. Mr. Brown possesses a thoroughly cultivated mind and a vast store of general information, the result of a remarkably wide range of reading. He has been a keen student ever since boyhood, and in addition to diligent perusal of the abundant standard works of literature has kept en rapport with the spirit of modern thought and research. He is an excellent judge of character, and to this intuitive knowledge of the dispositions and capacities of men, his success in a position requiring large administrative ability was in no small measure due. There are few men in this country who possess an equally full and accurate knowledge of the politics of Continental Europe as he has acquired by his personal observations as a tourist followed up by extensive reading.

Mr. John Cameron, Mr. Brown’s successor in the editorial chair of the Globe, is a Scottish Canadian. He was born in Markham Township, Ontario, on the 22nd of January, 1843, his father being from Argyllshire and his mother a native of the North of Ireland. Removing when a boy to London, Ontario, he learned the printing trade in the office of the Free Press. Immediately on the expiration of his apprenticeship Mr. Cameron, then about twenty-one, conceived the bold idea of establishing an evening paper in London. He had no means, and the paper, in order to live, would have to pay its own way from the start. Such an undertaking now-a-days would be utterly Quixotic, but at that time the demands of the public in the way of news, were much less exigent and expenses in every department much smaller than to-day. The Evening Advertiser was accordingly launched on the 27th of October, 1863, and fortune smiled propitiously upon the venture from the outset. The paper was at first of very small dimensions, but it really in the language of the prospectuses "filled a long felt want," and grew in circulation, size and prestige year by year until it ranked among the prominent dailies of the province. Morning and weekly editions were published, and a valuable newspaper property built up. Of course this was not accomplished except by long years of persistent, unremitting labour on the part of Mr. Cameron and his brother William, who was associated with him in the enterprise. A specialty of the paper is the short, crisp, pungent paragraphs in which the politics of the day are discussed—a style of writing a good deal less common when first adopted by the Advertiser than it has now become. During his editorship of that paper, Mr. Cameron visited Great Britain and the European Continent, giving his impressions in a series of graphically written letters to his journal which were afterwards republished in book form.

Mr. Cameron became editor and general manager of the Globe in December, 1882, his position on the Advertiser being taken by Hon. David Mills as editor, while Mr. William Cameron assumed the business management. Under Mr. John Cameron’s direction, a policy of rigid economy was adopted in the Globe office, many expenses deemed superfluous being cut off. The prevailing idea in the arrangement of news matter is that of brevity and condensation in place of the extended notice formerly bestowed on matters of secondary importance. Mr. Cameron has always been a Liberal of somewhat advanced views, and an advocate of temperance reform and the enlargement of the sphere of woman. He is essentially a man of tact, shrewdness and resource, and though criticism has not been silent as to the effect of the change upon the style of the great newspaper, the destinies of which have been entrusted to his keeping, it must be admitted that he has, on the whole, borne well the trying ordeal of comparison with his veteran predecessor.

Mr. William Houston, the recently appointed Librarian of the Ontario Parliamentary Library, was born in the County of Lanark, Ontario, on the ninth of September, 1844. He is of Scottish ancestry, his father being an Orcadian from Mainland, near Stromness, and his mother of mixed Highland and Lowland origin from Glasgow. Both parents came to Canada in youth with the early settlers of Lanark, and were subjected to the hardships and privations incidental to that period. Mr. Houston received only a common school education in his boyhood, in Lanark and Bruce counties, to which latter he went at the age of thirteen, shortly after the region had been thrown open for settlement. Here he spent some years in school teaching. Determined to obtain a thorough education he went to the University of Toronto, at an age somewhat later than the usual period of college life and graduated with honours in 1872. He entered immediately upon the profession of journalism obtaining a position on the staff of the Toronto Globe. He continued in connection with that newspaper for eleven years, with the exception of brief intervals when his services were engaged by the St. John Telegraph, and the short-lived Toronto Liberal. In the latter part of 1883, he was appointed to the office he now holds for which he is well fitted by his intimate knowledge of Canadian political history, no less than by his literary information and the painstaking accuracy which is so marked a feature of his character. His journalistic career was marked by great assiduity and a thorough grasp of the questions with which he undertook to deal. His style is not ornate, but his points are always clearly and forcibly put, from a practical common sense standpoint. In short he has the national characteristics of soundness and clear-headedness in an eminent degree.

Mr. Christopher Blackett Robinson, the editor and proprietor of the Canada Presbyterian newspaper, is a Canadian by birth, of partly Scottish and partly English descent, the former element predominating. His father was born in London, but was educated and for many years resided in Scotland. His mother was of Highland extraction, belonging to the Clan Gunn. Mr. Robinson was born in Thorah Township, in the County of Ontario, in 1837. He engaged in journalism in his twentieth year, editing the Canadian Post, then published in Beaverton, for a couple of years. In 1861 the paper was removed by Mr. Robinson to the rising town of Lindsay, where he continued to publish it for about ten years. It was greatly superior to any newspaper ever previously issued in that section of the province, and, under Mr. Robinson’s able management, soon became a valuable newspaper property, taking high rank among local weeklies. In 1871 Mr. Robinson parted with the Post and removed to Toronto, where he commenced the publication of the Canada Presbyterian, which, under his energetic and prudent control, speedily attained a marked success. Without seeking to be in any sense the official organ of the Presbyterian Church, the Presbyterian has won for itself appreciation as a fearless and forcible exponent of the general public opinion of that body, and the recognised vehicle, of intelligence specially affecting its interests, and indicative of its progress. Mr. Robinson has also built up a large, and flourishing book and job printing establishment, and is the publisher of The Week, the new literary journal just issued under the editorial charge of Mr. Charles Goodrich Roberts, whose poetical talents have been widely recognised.

Mr. Thomas McQueen, the founder and for many years the editor of the Huron Signal, published at Goderich, was a shining instance of the aptitude frequently displayed by the sons of the Scottish peasantry for rising to positions of eminent usefulness and honour. He was "self-made" in the best sense of that much abused phrase by the cultivation of all his intellectual faculties. Born in Ayrshire about the year 1803 of humble parentage his school education was extremely limited, as he was early necessitated by the pressure of poverty to contribute by his labour to the support of the family. The turning point of his life was an accident sustained in boyhood, which rendered him permanently lame and afforded him the opportunity for indulging his natural bent for study and reflection. He became a stone mason by trade and soon distinguished himself as an eloquent and brilliant advocate of the rights of labour. While continuing to work at his trade he threw himself with intense and consuming earnestness into the vanguard of the ranks of labour reform, as orator and writer. He was a poet of no mean order and published several volumes of poems which largely partook of the tendency of his prose writing, being instinct with the spirit of progress and liberalism. Mr. McQueen arrived in Canada in 1842 settling in the County of Renfrew, where, for a short time he pursued his original calling. But his strong political feelings were speedily enlisted in the struggle for responsible government and the allurements of journalism were too powerful to be long resisted. The County of Huron appeared to offer a desirable field for the establishment of a liberal newspaper and the first number of the Signal was issued on the 4th of February, 1848. It quickly obtained a leading position among the journals of that period, owing to the vigour, incisiveness and soundness of the articles from Mr. McQueen’s prolific but always careful pen. He remained steadily devoted to this undertaking during the remainder of his busy and influential career with the exception of a period of about two years during which he occupied a position on a Hamilton newspaper in 1854, after he had returned, to Goderich, he became a Parliamentary candidate for the County of Huron, in the Reform interest, but was defeated. His labours in the liberal cause were unceasing and to the last he continued to cherish a warm interest in the class from which he sprang and to work for their intellectual and moral advancement. He was no mere partizan valuing success and the prizes of office more than consistency. To him success was worthless excepting as it resulted in advancing the principles which he had so deeply at heart. His death which took place on the 25th of June, 1861, left a void, not easily or soon replaced in the ranks of local journalism.

One of the best known writers on the Ontario press is Mr. John Maclean, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 10th of April, 1825, his grandfather, of the same name, having come from the Island of Mull. He is descended by his mother’s side from the Cummings of Gallowayshire. He came to Canada in 1888, but it was not until 1862 that he turned his attention to journalism being for many years engaged in commercial pursuits. For four or five years he was the Hamilton correspondent of the Globe, and an editorial writer for the Hamilton Times and other Reform journals. Though a thorough Liberal, he was convinced of the necessity of a protective policy, which he advocated from time to time as opportunity offered. In 1867 he took the matter up in a more comprehensive manner, and wrote a pamphlet entitled "Protection or Free Trade," four thousand copies of which were sold by subscription. Two years afterwards Mr. Maclean started the People’s Journal for the advocacy of protective principles. It was published for about a year in Hamilton, but in 1870 the office was removed to Toronto. After full and repeated exchange of views with the leaders of both political parties Mr. Maclean made up his mind that he could no longer remain connected with the Reform party as it appeared indissolubly wedded to Free Trade principles. He accordingly gave his support to Sir John Macdonald solely on the ground that the cause of protection seemed likely to be taken up by the Conservatives. The publication of the People’s Journal was discontinued early in 1872, the editor being engaged on the staff of the Toronto Mail with the understanding that the paper was to advocate protectionist principles. Here he remained for upwards of six years during which he made his influence powerfully felt in the agitation for the adoption of the National Policy. After the restoration of the Conservatives to power Mr. Maclean was engaged for two years in Ottawa in special statistical work for the Minister of Finance, and acted for some months as Secretary to the Board of Appraisers of the Customs Department. He returned to journalism in 1881 when he became editor of the Canadian Manufacturer on its removal to Toronto—a position he still holds. He is also a frequent editorial contributor to the Toronto World. Mr. Maclean’s style is clear and vigorous, and his articles show a thorough mastery of the class of questions with which he principally deals, while surprisingly free from the limitation of view which too often accompanies the concentration of thought into particular channels. Although a specialist he retains a broad outlook on political and social life.

The pen-name of "The Whistler at the Plough" has been familiar to the reading public of Britain for nearly half a century, and during later years has become widely known throughout Canada. Alexander Somerville, was born on the fifteenth of March, 1811, in the parish of Oldhamstocks, Haddington-shire, being the youngest child of James and Mary Orkney Somerville. He is of Norman descent by his father’s side and draws through his maternal ancestry a strain of Scandinavian blood. His early training was of the kind which has developed so many sterling qualities among the Scottish peasantry, and secured a foremost place in the world for such a large proportion of those who leave their ranks to push their fortunes in other countries. His body was nourished by homely fare and strengthened by rustic labour while his intellectual faculties were stimulated by reading of a substantial character. From infancy he displayed that love for the beauties of nature and enthusiasm for rural life and scenery which distinguishes his writings. The earlier years of Mr. Somerville’s manhood were passed in military service, and in 1832, he became the central figure in an episode which excited a great deal of public indignation. For a slight breach of discipline at the military riding school, in Birmingham, he was tried by court-martial and according to the inhuman code then in force was sentenced to receive two hundred lashes. Half of this punishment was actually inflicted. The alleged violation of military rule was a mere pretext, the real cause of the brutality of the authorities being ‘Mr. Somerville’ refusal to become a political informer. The agitation which ensued upon the carrying out of this shameful sentence had a beneficial effect in mitigating the injustice and severity of military discipline. During the years 1835-37, Mr. Somerville served in the Auxiliary Legion in Spain, under Gen. Sir De Lacy Evans, as colour-sergeant in the 8th Highlanders. His superior officers have testified in strong terms as to his bravery and efficiency in the performance of his duties. After leaving the army he turned his attention newspaper writing and his graphic descriptive sketches under the signature of the "Whistler at the plough" full of local colouring and written in a readable sketchy vein, soon attracted widespread attention. During the twenty years between 1838 and 1858, Mr. Somerville represented several leading metropolitan papers, travelling all over the United Kingdom, describing local industries and institutions, sketching the condition of the people and describing, in short, everything noteworthy that came within the range of his keen powers of observation. These letters were largely reproduced by the British provincial press, and became a powerful factor in moulding public opinion upon current political questions. "I know nothing in the English language," wrote the late Mr. Cobden, "which for graphic narrative and picturesque description of places, persons and things surpasses some of the letters of Alexander Somerville, the ‘Whistler at the Plough.’" He rendered efficient aid to the agitation in favour of Free Trade; and in the years 1848-50 wrote a "History of the Fiscal System," and various other papers for the Financial Reform Association of Liverpool. Mr. Somerville was not at any time a dogmatic advocate of Free Trade in all commodities. In Canada he soon observed that the conditions of manufactures and commerce were not the same as in Britain. During the last twenty-three years he has travelled extensively in Canada, sending to many English journals vivid and interesting pen-pictures of our natural scenery, and our industrial conditions. His writings have undoubtedly done much to familiarize the British people with the realities of Canadian life, and to disabuse their minds of the misapprehensions respecting this country which so long prevailed. His is an industrious and a facile pen and few journalists have had a more active and varied experience of, or are more familiar with, life in all its phases than the "Whistler." He has for some years been a resident of Toronto, having adopted Canada as his home.

Among the new members returned to the Dominion Parliament in 1882 were two leading representatives of the local press of Ontario—both Scotsmen. James Innes was born in Huntley, Aberdeenshire, on the 1st of February, 1833. He began life as a school-teacher in his native land, but on arriving in Canada, in 1853, adopted the vocation of journalism. In 1862 he became editor and publisher of the Guelph Mercury, which has a high standing among the Reform newspapers of Western Ontario. Mr. Innes has been a High School Trustee for a number of years, is chairman of the Guelph Board of Education, and has taken an active interest in many public enterprises. He was always on the Reform side of politics, and was returned in that interest for South Wellington at last general election. James Somerville is a life-long Reformer. His parents came from Fifeshire, Scotland, about half a century ago, settling in Dundas, where he was born, on the 7th of June, 1834. After receiving a good education at the public and grammar schools of his native town, he acquired a knowledge of the newspaper business, and in 1854 established the Ayr Observer. In 1858 he disposed of this journal, and returned to Dundas where he started the True Banner, which he has successfully conducted ever since. For many years Mr. Somerville has been prominent in municipal matters, having occupied the position of Warden of Wentworth County and Mayor of Dundas, as well as many less important trusts. He represents North Brant in the House of Commons.

Alexander Whyte Wright is well known in connection with journalism and political agitation though not at present actively engaged in either direction. He was born in Markham Township, at what is now the village of Elmira, about the year 1845, his father being from Glasgow and his mother from Fifeshire. He was engaged for several years in the woollen and carpet manufacturing industries in Preston and St. Jacobs. In 1874 he became regularly connected with the press, though, for several years previous he had from time to time contributed fugitive articles to various journals. He edited, with marked ability and power, the Guelph Herald, Orangeville Sun, and Stratford Herald; and, in 1876, came to Toronto and took charge of the editorial department of the National. He took a prominent part in the National Policy agitation, supplementing his journalistic labours by the delivery of numerous speeches throughout the country in favour of a protective tariff. Being an apt, ready speaker, well-versed in the details of the question and the practical needs of Canadian industries, and having unusual powers of repartee and illustration, his services on the stump were greatly in demand during the campaign of 1877. After the triumph of the National Policy, Mr. Wright turned his attention to other and less popular reforms, advocating the adoption of a national paper currency with the same zeal and enthusiasm which had animated him in the struggle over the tariff question. In the fall of 1880 he came forward as a candidate for West Toronto for the House of Commons on a platform embracing national currency, and other measures. His views, however, did not meet with general acceptance. Shortly afterwards Mr. Wright withdrew from journalism, and became Secretary of the Manufacturers’ Association, and also of the Niagara Steel Works. As a popular orator, Mr. Wright holds a leading position. He is a man of marked individuality, not afraid to reason from first principles, and totally devoid of that slavish deference to authority and conventional opinion which has done so much to sap the intellectual vitality of Canadian life, and render much of the journalistic field an arid waste of platitude interspersed with oases vivid with a tropical luxuriance of invective. He has given much thought to the social question, in its various phases, and is an unswerving advocate of the rights of labour.

The name of "Cousin Sandy" will be remembered by a great many of our readers in connection with the press of a dozen years ago, many telling prose contributions and poetic squibs appearing in different journals over that signature. Their author was Mr. John Fraser, a Scot either by birth or descent, who, prior to emigrating to Canada achieved a considerable reputation in England in connection with the Chartist movement. He possessed great power of sarcasm and invective, which found full scope for their exercise in that memorable struggle for the rights of the people. His original vocation was that of a tailor which he followed for a considerable time at Stanstead, in the Province of Quebec, indulging at the same time those literary pursuits for which he had a natural gift. He afterwards accepted the position of canvasser for a prominent book-publishing firm in Montreal, and in this capacity his travels extended widely throughout Canada. His versatile talents and genial disposition secured him a wide circle of friends and acquaintances wherever he went. He distributed his contributions among a number of newspapers, mostly of the Liberal school of politics, many of his clever satirica1 verses appearing in the Montreal Herald. He met his death by accident at Ottawa, in the early part of June 1872, by falling down the precipice in rear of the Parliament Buildings. He struck the rocks in his descent and was instantly killed.

Mr. George Maclean Rose has been so long and prominently associated with the development of Canadian literature that his name may well be introduced in this connection. He was born in Wick, Caithness-shire, Scotland, on the 14th of March, 1829, and learned the printing trade in the office of the John O’Groat Journal. A year after he had attained his majority the family settled in Canada. He entered the employ of Mr. John C. Beckett, of Montreal, who was then engaged in the publication of the Montreal Witness and other journals. After the death of his father, which took place in 1853, the care of the family devolved upon him. The means at his command were but scanty, but in partnership with his elder brother, Henry, he started a small job printing office. By strict industry and economy they obtained a fair measure of success. In 1856 they dissolved partnership, George having become convinced that Western Canada offered more scope for his energies than Montreal. In connection with Mr. John Muir he established the Chronicle, in the village of Merrickville, but he did not remain there any length of time. Among his other engagements about this period, was that of city editor of the London Prototype. In 1858, he came to Toronto as manager of the printing office of Mr. Samuel Thompson, for whom he published the Toronto Atlas, started in opposition to the Colonist, which had taken ground adverse to the government of the day. Mr. Thompson having obtained the contract for government printing, Mr. Rose was assigned to take the management of the office in Quebec, whither he removed in 1859. This arrangement did not long continue. Mr. Thompson found himself unable financially to carry out his contract alone, and a company was organized for the purpose, including Mr. Rose and Mr. Robert Hunter, an experienced accountant. Mr. Thompson retired from the business altogether soon afterwards, leaving it to the new firm of Hunter, Rose & Co., who completed the contract and secured its renewal. On the removal of the seat of Government to Ottawa in 1865, the firm of course followed. A large and lucrative business was soon built up, and in 1868, a branch was established at Toronto; the firm having secured a ten years’ contract for the printing of the Provincial Government. In 1871 their relations with the Dominion Government terminated, and the business was consolidated in Toronto. The firm now entered extensively into the business of publishing Canadian reprints of English copyright books, principally the popular novels of living writers, for which a ready market was found. The firm honestly compensated the authors whose works they reproduced, although this of course placed them at a disadvantage as compared with the piratical publishers of the United States. Another and probably a greater service to the intellectual progress of the country rendered by this enterprising firm, was the publication—at first for others, but latterly at their own risk—of the Canadian Monthly, the last and by far the best literary magazine ever issued in this country. This venture unfortunately did not prove pecuniarily successful, and though sustained for many years with a liberality and public spirit highly creditable to the publishers, was at length discontinued. In 1877 the death of Mr. Hunter left Mr. Rose the sole member of the firm, and a year afterwards he took his brother Daniel into the concern, the well-known firm name being still retained. Widely as Mr. George M. Rose is known to the Canadian people as a successful and enterprising publisher, he has acquired a more extensive reputation by his unselfish exertions in the cause of temperance and moral reform. A life-long total abstainer and prohibitionist, he has taken an active part in temperance work in connection with various organizations. He has attained the highest offices in the gift of the Sons of Temperance in the Dominion, having been several times chosen to fill the chair of Grand Worthy Patriarch of the Order both in Quebec and Ontario, and has also held the second highest position conferrable by that Order for the whole continent, having been Most Worthy Associate of the National Division of America. His heart and purse are always open to the appeals for the advancement of the temperance cause, which he regards as being of vastly more importance than mere party issues. Though a Liberal politically he regards all public issues from the standpoint of temperance reform. Personally Mr. Rose is genial, sociable and unassuming. As his career shows, he has abundant business capacity, and the enthusiasm which forms so strong a feature of his character is well regulated by a fund of practical common sense.

Mr. David Wylie, of Brockville, known as the "father of the Ontario Press," was born in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland, his parents being William and Mary Orr Wylie, on the 23rd of March, 1811. He evinced a taste for reading at an early age. In January, 1826, he was apprenticed to the printing trade in the office of Stephen Young, Paisley, where he remained for upwards of three years, finishing his term of apprenticeship at the University Printing office, Glasgow. He first commenced to write for the Greenock Advertiser, to which he contributed some short stories and sketches in addition to ordinary journalistic work. He afterwards held a situation on the Glasgow Guardian for about a year and a half. Subsequently he went to Liverpool where he became reporter and proof reader on the Mail, remaining in that employment for about eight years. After a period spent in Manchester on the Anti-Corn-Law Circular, the organ of the Free Traders, Mr. Wylie returned to his native land taking the management of the Fife Herald, published in the town of Cupar, at that time edited by the celebrated Mr. Russell afterwards of the Edinburgh Scotsman. In the year 1845 he was offered a situation in Montreal by Mr. John C. Becket, then publisher of the Witness and several other serials. He accepted the proposition and for several years remained in Mr. Becket’s employ. In 1849 he became parliamentary reporter for the Montreal Herald besides doing a great deal of miscellaneous work for the press of Montreal. Later in the same year he came to Brockville and took charge of the Recorder which under his able management soon became noted as a powerful Reform journal and commanded a wide-spread influence in that section of the Province. He continued to edit the Recorder for nearly thirty years. During the last few years of his proprietorship he issued a daily edition which met with encouraging success. Mr. Wylie is a poet of marked ability and taste, and in 1867 issued a collection of his poems under the title of "Waifs from the Thousand Isles" which met with deserved acceptance at the hands of the public. He revisited Scotland in 1870, being commissioned by the Ontario Government to present the claims of Canada as a field for settlement to the Scottish people. He delivered numerous addresses on that subject in addition to writing a series of letters to the Glasgow Herald, in which the advantages held out by Canada to intending emigrants were fully set forth. While resident in Montreal Mr. Wylie became connected with the volunteer force with which he has ever since been associated, having risen to the rank of Lieut-Colonel and Paymaster of Military District No. 4. For upwards of twenty years he has been Chairman of the Board of School Trustees, and has taken an active interest in many public enterprises.

Evan MacColl, who has gained a wide celebrity both as a Gaelic and an English poet, was born at Kenmore, Loch Fyne-side, Scotland, on the 21st of September, 1808, in which neighbourhood he was known as "Clarsair-nam-beann" or the Mountain Minstrel. He was the child of parents in a humble walk of life, though boasting a long lineage his paternal ancestors being the MacColls of.Glasdruim Glencreran. His mother belonged to the Clan Cameron and the poetic faculty of MacColl was inherited from her. Evan received a fair education, his father, though ill able to afford the expense, engaging a tutor for him in order that he might have advantages superior to those which the village school could afford. He soon acquired a decided taste for literature and read with avidity such books as came in his way. The perusal of Burns’ poems and some of the standard English classics give a marked impetus to the literary bent of his mind and when hardly out of his boyhood, he began to compose poetry. He was during his youth employed in farming and fishing, but though the nature of his avocations retarded they did not suppress his intellectual development. Evan MacColl was not destined to be a mute inglorious Milton, and chill penury did not "freeze the genial current of his soul." In 1837 he became a contributor to the Gaelic Magazine then published in Glasgow. His poems excited much interest and speedily won a reputation for the youthful author. Before long a collection of his Gaelic poems was published under the title, of "Clarsach nam Beann," or "Poems and Songs in Gaelic." This was followed by another collection under the title of "The Mountain Minstrel, or Poems and Songs in English." This publication won him fresh laurels and many competent literary authorities were loud in his praise. Dr. Norman McLeod, editor of Good Words, wrote as follows: "Evan MacColl’s poetry is the product of a mind impressed with the beauty and the grandeur of the lovely scenes in which his infancy has been nursed. We have no hesitation in saying that the work is that of a man possessed of much poetic genius. Wild indeed and sometimes rough are his rhymes and epithets, yet there are thoughts so new and striking—images and comparisons so beautiful and original—feelings so warm and fresh that stamp this Highland peasant as no ordinary man." Mr. MacColl’s family emigrated to Canada in 1831 but he remained behind, and in 1837 procured a clerkship in the customs at Liverpool. Here he remained until 1850, when his health having became impaired he visited his friends in Canada. Here he met with Hon. Malcolm Cameron, then in office and was by him offered a position in the Canadian Customs at Kingston which he gladly accepted. He remained in this post for thirty years being superannuated about the year 1880. He has written numerous poems, chiefly of a lyrical character, during his residence in Canada, one of the most noted of which is his Robin, written for the occasion of the Burns Centennial celebration in Kingston, the easy and melodious expression of which is in excellent imitation of Burns’ own style. He has been for many years the bard of the St. Andrew’s Society of Kingston, and his anniversary poems are greatly appreciated by all Scotsmen. Mr. MacColl is a thorough Scot in his tastes, sympathies and characteristics. His nature is simple and sincere and his many amiable qualities have won the sympathy and esteem of a wide circle of friends. His poetic gifts have been transmitted to his daughter, Miss Mary J. MacColl, who recently published a meritorious little volume of poems entitled "Bide a wee," highly commended for their sweetness and delicacy.

An old time journalist who, in his day, did excellent service in the cause of political and religious freedom, is Mr. James Lesslie, whose family took a prominent part in the commercial and public life of the then town of York. His father was Edward Lesslie, a native of Dundee, Scotland, who carried on an extensive book and stationery business in that town for many years. Mr. Edward Lesslie had a family of twelve children, and rightly considering that their prospects in life would be improved by emigration to the New World, determined to settle in Canada. In 1820 John Lesslie, one of the sons, came out in advance of the rest of the family, and selected the town of York as a good field for commercial enterprise. It was then little more than a village, the buildings being of wood, and the streets chronically in the condition which earned it the soubriquet of "Muddy Little York." John Lesslie began business in a two story house opposite the English Church, at that time a wooden structure on the site of the present St. James’ Cathedral. In accordance with the customary practice at that time, he kept a general stock of goods, but his specialties were books and drugs, in which lines he had for some time a monopoly. William Lyon Mackenzie, who arrived at York shortly afterwards, found employment for a time with Mr. Lesslie, and in 1821 was entrusted with the management of a branch store opened in Dundas. The other members of the Lesslie family came out in 1822, and the following year, making their home in Dundas. The business of "Lesslie & Sons" was extended, another branch being opened in Kingston. Mr. Edward Lesslie died in 1828, and some years afterwards the firm was reorganized, John retaining the Dundas branch, and the interests of the others being concentrated at Toronto under the name of "Lesslie Brothers." The partnership continued until the death of Mr. William Lesslie, in 1843. Mr. James Lesslie took a leading part in many social and public movements of a moral and intellectual character. He was President of the "Young Men’s Society," organized in 1833 on a basis somewhat similar to the Young Men’s Christian Association of to-day, and Secretary of the Mechanics’ Institute established in the same year. When the town of York became the city of Toronto in 1834, Mr. Lesslie was chosen alderman for St. David’s ward. In 1836 he took a leading part in conjunction with James Hervey Price, James Beaty and others in establishing the House of Industry, and about this time made his influence strongly felt in combating the Church of England ascendancy in public affairs He was appointed cashier, and afterwards President of the "Bank of the People," a joint stock institution, established in 1835, in opposition to the chartered banks under Family Compact control. This bank successfully passed through the trying ordeal of the crisis of 1836, and in 1840 was merged in the Bank of Montreal. In February, 1836, Mr. Lesslie was chosen in connection with Mr. Jesse Ketchum to deliver to Sir Francis Bond Head the celebrated "rejoinder" to the official reply of His Excellency to an address presented by the citizens—a proceeding which being contrary to official etiquette required no little tact, and was adroitly accomplished. When the insurrection of 1837 broke out, James and William Lesslie, whose influence had been thrown on the side of law and order, were subjected to imprisonment simply because they were known as staunch advocates of civil and religious liberty. Their premises were occupied and plundered by the disorderly militia—a proceeding said to have been ordered by Attorney General Hagerman. After examination by the Commissioners of Treason, both brothers were released. William shortly afterwards started on a journey to be married, and was again arrested on the stage when near Kingston, and without any legal formality thrown into jail at that town, and treated as a convicted felon. The matter was brought to the notice of Sir Francis Bond Head, but he refused to interfere. Such outrages were perpetrated with great frequency at this time by the official party. The extent of this persecution of the friends of constitutional reform, led James Lesslie to transmit a strong memorial to the Imperial Government through Sir Henry Parnell, then the representative of Forfarshire in the House of Commons. It formed the subject of a dispatch from the Colonial office to Lieutenant-Governor Head, who, in his published correspondence, stigmatized the Lesslies, and all constitutional Reformers as "notorious republicans." Very many left the province, as political progress and redress of existing wrongs appeared for a time hopeless, and the Family Compact intrenched the more firmly in power by the abortive attempt to overthrow them. A scheme for a general emigration to some of the newer territories of the United States was set on foot, and a society formed for this purpose entitled "The Mississippi Emigration Society," of which Mr., now Sir Francis Hincks, was secretary. Three delegates were chosen to proceed to the far West and select a site for the proposed Canadian colony, viz.: - Mr. Peter Perry, representative of Whitby, in the legislature; Mr. Thomas Parke, member for Middlesex, and Mr. James Lesslie. They selected Davenport, Iowa, then a small village, as the most promising location. Mr. Lesslie suffered from a severe attack of bilious fever, owing to the hardships endured by the party in their travels through a wild and uncivilized region. The scheme eventually fell through owing partly to the conciliatory course of Lord Durham, and the prospects held out by him of speedy reform.

About 1844, James Lesslie purchased the Examiner newspaper, published in Toronto, from Mr. Hincks, who then went to Montreal and became editor of the Pilot. His brother, Mr. Joseph Lesslie, assisted him in the editorial conduct of the paper for a year or more, when he gave it up, James Lesslie carried on the paper successfully, and his able pen rendered it a powerful factor in the conflict for religious equality. In 1854, the question was forever settled by the abolition of the State Church, when he sold out the paper to Mr. Brown, of the Globe. In 1855, he disposed of his book, stationery and drug business, and two years later purchased the homestead of Hon. James Hervey Price, near the village of Eglington, where he now resides having passed his 80th year. His brother John, also an octogenarian, lives in Dundas with his unmarried sister, Helen. [John Lesslie has since died.] Two other sisters, Mrs. John Paterson and Mrs. Robert Holt, widows, also reside in that town. Charles Lesslie, who went to Davenport, Iowa, in 1889, is resident there but in feeble health.

Mr. Daniel Morrison was for a long time connected with the Toronto press and obtained a high reputation as a powerful and sarcastic writer. He was the son of Rev. Mr. Morrison, of Inverness, Scotland, and came to Canada at an early age. For some time he was engaged in farming in Wentworth County, and subsequently edited the Dundas Warder, in which capacity he speedily achieved a reputation as an able journalist. He afterwards obtained a position on the Toronto Leader. In conjunction with Mr. George Sheppard he purchased the Colonist from Mr. Samuel Thompson and continued to edit that journal until 1859, when he was appointed by the government one of the provincial arbitrators. The year following he resigned his office and accepted the editorship of the Quebec Morning Chronicle. In 1861 he had charge of the London Prototype and shortly afterwards went to New York, where he was engaged on the staff of the Tribune and other journals. He returned to Canada some years afterwards, having accepted the position of editor of the Toronto Telegraph. He died about the year 1869. In 1858 he married the talented Canadian actress, Miss Charlotte Nickinson, who survives him.

Reference has already been made very briefly to Mr. John Galt, the father of Sir Alexander T. Galt, and known as a distinguished Scottish novellist and the founder of the city of Guelph. Mr. Galt was born in Irvine, on the 2nd day of May, 1779. The following year his father, who was the captain of a ship in the West India trade, left Ayrshire and took up his residence in Greenock, in which town John Galt received his education. He early manifested a strong predilection for study and literary composition, which was fostered by congenial associations. During his youth he was engaged in mercantile pursuits. In 1804 he quitted Greenock for London, where he started in business on his own account, in partnership with a young man named McLachlan from the same part of Scotland. While engaged in this venture, Mr. Galt published an epic poem on the battle of Largs, and continued to pursue his literary studies with indefatigable industry, especially in the direction of metaphysics, political economy, and belles lettres. In the course of two or three years his business affairs became heavily involved, and insolvency followed. Mr. Galt then went abroad for his health. At Gibraltar he made the acquaintance of Lord Byron, then in the first flush of his literary triumphs, and his friend Mr. Hobhouse, and for some time accompanied them on their tour. He afterwards visited Sicily, Malta, and Greece, where he renewed his acquaintance with Byron, and had an interview with Ali Pacha. Constantinople and the Black Sea were also visited. The literary fruits of this tour were a series of Letters from the Levant, which attained considerable success. Mr. Galt during the period of his absence from England, also outlined several dramas, which were afterwards completed and published. The Ayrshire Legatees, issued in 1820, was, however, the work which thoroughly established his reputation, in the line particularly his own, of a graphic delineator of the provincial life of Scotland. He followes up this vein by The Annals of the Parish, a book of superior power, which appeared in 1820. Having made his mark in literature and secured a wide circle of admirers, his works succeeded each other rapidly. Sir Andrew Wylie, The Recital, The Steamboat and The Provost, followed in succession. Mr. Galt was not so successful in the direction of historical romance, to which he next turned his attention. Ringan Gilhaize, a tale of the Covenanters, was the first of his essays in this line. It was succeeded by several others which, though comprising many effective scenes, and some brilliant descriptive writing, were nevertheless, uneven and lacking in the naturalness and sustained interest of his previous books. The Last of the Lairds was published just before he left England for the scene of his labours in Canada, in 1826. His connection with Canada was brought about by his appointment as agent to urge upon the Imperial Government the claims of Canadians who had sustained losses by the American invasion during the war of 1812. The negotiations and investigations that ensued led to the organization of the Canada Company for the acquisition and settlement of a large tract of land in the Western Peninsula of Upper Canada. The company procured a grant of 1,100,000 acres in one block. A scheme for emigration on a large scale was adopted. Mr. Galt was appointed superintendent, and began the work of colonization by selecting a site for a town. The spot upon which Guelph now stands was fixed upon as the most eligible, and on 23rd of April, 1827, Mr. Galt set out from the town which bears his name—bestowed upon it by Hon. William Dixon before his arrival in the country—accompanied by the eccentric Dr. Dunlop, Mr. Prior, an employee of the company and a couple of labourers. A large maple tree was selected which was cut down, when the party with due formality, drank prosperity to the city of Guelph. The present importance of that rapidly growing commercial centre vindicates the foresight of Mr. Galt. In view of its recent admission to the civic status the following passage from Mr. Galt’s autobiography is of interest—"In planning the city," he says, "for I will still dignify it by that title, though applied at first in derision, I had, like the lawyers in establishing their fees an eye to futurity in the magnitude of the parts." [Autobiography of John Galt, Vol. II, 43. Am. Edition.] He reserved sites for Catholic, Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches upon rising ground, which have been long since adorned with handsome edifices. The building of a school house was undertaken by the company. The road work and other improvements undertaken, soon attracted an influx of settlers, and the new community grew rapidly, and the price of land speedily rose. Shortly afterwards Mr. Galt undertook an extended voyage on Lake Huron, and visited Detroit, Buffalo and other localities in the United States. The Canada Company’s affairs did not prosper despite the energy of Mr. Galt. The stock of the company was heavily depreciated, and various troubles and disagreements occurred. The indefatigable superintendent still pursued his plans for opening up the land for settlement on a large scale. He caused a road nearly a hundred miles in length to be constructed through the dense forest, with which the Huron tract was then covered, by which an overland communication was, for the first time, established between Lakes Huron and Ontario. The labourers employed were paid partly in money and partly in land. Mr. Galt’s relations with the directors of the company becoming unsatisfactory, owing to their considering the outlay incurred in these improvements extravagant, his connection with the company terminated in 1829, when he returned to England, and recommenced his literary labours. He shortly afterwards produced a novel entitled Laurie Todd, which was followed by Southennan, a romance of the days of Mary Queen of Scots. A Life of Lord Byron which excited a great deal of angry criticism ran through several editions. In 1834 Mr. Galt published Literary Miscellanies, in three volumes. His health, shattered by a very arduous and wearying life, shortly afterwards broke down completely, and he returned to end his days in his native Scotland, dying at Greenock on the 11th of April, 1839, after several attacks of paralysis. The best vindication of the wisdom of Mr. Galt’s course as superintendent of the Canada Company is the success which ultimately attended this enterprise, consequent upon his exertions.

There are several other journalists worthy of an extended notice concerning whose careers, we would gladly present a few details were the requisite data accessible. Among them we may mention Messrs. John Dougall and James Redpath Dougall, of the Montreal Witness —a journal which takes a deservedly high rank, no less as an enterprising and well-edited newspaper than a staunch advocate of social and moral reform, especially the cause of Temperance. Mr. John Dougall has been the principal proprietor of the Witness for many years, his controlling idea being to establish a daily paper in which the spirit of earnest, practical religion should pervade every department. In the face of many obstacles he succeeded in what a great many people considered a hopeless experiment. A similar venture in New York did not prove equally satisfactory, and after a hard struggle the New York Daily Witness was discontinued. The weekly issue, however, still flourishes, Mr. John Dougall devoting his principal attention to the New York establishment, while his son, Mr. J. R. Dougall, has charge of the Montreal publications.

Alexander McLachlan, poet and lecturer, is the son of a Scottish mechanic, and was born in the village of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, in the year 1820. He is largely self-educated his schooling having been very limited; but being of a studious and thoughtfu1 disposition he early gained an extensive knowledge of English literature. He followed for some years the trade of a tailor, and during his youth took a leading part in the Chartist movement, which at that time flourished in Britain. His poems are largely tinged with the spirit of this agitation, Mr. McLachlan having through life retained a strong sympathy for the victims of social injustice and oppression. In 1840 he emigrated to Canada, quitting the needle for the axe and the plough. He settled in the backwoods, and his rich experience in the hardships and struggles, triumphs and pleasures of life in the bush, furnished the material for some of his most characteristic poems. Mr. McLachlan published several volumes of poetry, the last, which embraced the cream of his previous writings as well as many new poems, appearing in 1874. In the same year he revisited Scotland, where he delivered many lectures and addresses, dealing with Canadian life, and literary and philosophical subjects. Much of Mr. McLachlan’s poetry is well worthy of a place beside the utterances of more celebrated British bards, who, by the accident of residence near the heart of the empire, have attained a renown which no Canadian, no matter how deserving, could hope to acquire. He is pre-eminently one of the poets who, according to the old proverb, are "born, not made." His style is simple and natural. There is no straining after effect, no attempt to simulate a poetic fervour that is not genuine and heartfelt. He is no mere rhymester dealing in pretty conceits and elegant trifling, but appeals to the strongest and most deeply-seated emotions of humanity. The clearness and simplicity of his writings are in marked contrast to the involved sentences and confused meaning of the "incomprehensible" school of poetic thought so much in vogue. He is a poet of the people, and has much of the freshness and spontaneity, as well as the force and beauty of Burns, whose influence, as well as that of Wordsworth, appears traceable in McLachlan’s mode of thought and expression. His poems breathe an intense love for nature and the freedom and freshness of rural life, and he has given some of the finest descriptions of the glorious scenery of our forests, rivers and lakes. His most noticeable fault is a tendency to repeat the same phrase somewhat too frequently. In dealing with the great problems of life and thought he evinces broad sympathies with humanity and faith in its noblest aspirations. In private life Mr. McLachlan, who is still engaged in farming, is one of the most genial and loveable of men. He has rare conversational powers, and when in congenial society his native eloquence and humour impart a vivid interest to every subject upon which he touches. Alexander McLachlan has received but scant justice at the hands of those who assume to be the special guardians and promoters of Canadian literature. The devotees of that superficial "culture" which regards form of expression more than the underlying thought, have extended to his poetic genius such a cold and grudging recognition as that which drew from the indignant heart of the poet Burns his scathing satire upon the literary precisians and pretenders of his day:

—" An’ syne they think to climb Parnassus
By dint o’ Greek?"

Had the Ayrshire bard himself appeared in the present generation would he have been appreciated by these sticklers for poetic formalism? It is very doubtful. Apart altogether from the verdict of this class of critics, it is not creditable to the Canadian people that a singer of the power and pathos of Alexander McLachlan, should not have met with wider and more general appreciation than has been accorded him. True, his is by no means a singular experience, and much of the best literary work of Canada has been but poorly rewarded. The people who take no pride in their poets and who pass over really able and meritorious home writers in favour of foreigners, are yet very far from the attainment of a robust national and patriotic feeling:

"Spoke well the Grecian when he said that poems
Were the high laws that swayed a nation’s mind—
Voices that live on echoes—
Brief and poetic proems,
Opening the great heart-book of human kind.
"Songs are the nation’s pulses, which discover
If the great body be as nature willed.
Songs are the spasms of soul
Telling us what men suffer.
Dead is the nation’s heart whose songs are stilled!"


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