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John Gordon Brown

Brown, John Gordon, Toronto, was born in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, on the 16th November, 1827, being the junior of his brother George, by some six years. [For his parentage, see sketch of his brother, the Hon. George Brown, in these pages.] 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. Five years later he moved to Toronto, where he has resided almost constantly since. On going to Toronto, he connected himself with the Globe newspaper, at that time the mouth-piece of the more vigorous and progressive portion of the Reform party of Canada West. Mr. Brown edited the Quebec Gazette for about the space of a year, and from time to time he has travelled much through Europe. In 1851, be visited the Great International Exhibition in London, contributing a comprehensive and interesting series of descriptive letters to his newspaper. From the time of his return home, the editorial management of the Globe was mainly under his control, for the Hon. George Brown, for many years before his death, concerned himself very little with the details of editorial management, devoting himself almost altogether to the commercial department, and political matters not directly connected with the newspaper. "It was," says an authority lying before us, "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 was eminently a journalist of enterprise and of originality, and when the complete management of the Globe passed into his hands, it attained a position as the purveyor of news which it had never approached before. Mr. Brown is a man of quick insight, and has a decided faculty for "sizing up" men, and in the selection of his staff he saw almost at a glance in what way a man could be most useful to him. As a writer, Mr. Brown’s style was swift, direct and vibrating, and there were always present in his contributions evidence of sincerity and marked strength. He frequently dictated an editorial to his amanuensis as he paced up and down the floor of his office, and the sentence once uttered, there was little changing or tinkering with it afterwards. But it was only upon important occasions that Mr. Brown himself did this, and you could easily find in the Globe the articles that were his, from the fine ringing and rousing tone which they exhibit. But Mr. Brown was not destined to remain long at the head of the Globe. The lesser kind of politicians and other adventurers were desirous of using the paper for the promotion of their own ends, but Mr. Brown was a man of too strong an individuality and too high a sense of duty to permit anything of the sort to happen. The rest is known. One and all conspired against him, and he withdrew from the Globe. His secession from the journalistic field is an enormous loss, and his place cannot easily be filled. He was soon afterwards appointed registrar of the Surrogate Court of Toronto, and in this office still continues.

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