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Geroge William Ross, member of the House of Commons for the West Riding of Middlesex, and one of the leading temperance men in that legislative body, dates his birth on the 18th of September, 1811, in the township of Williams, county of Middlesex, his parents being James and Ellen (McKinnon) Ross, both natives of Rossshire, Scotland. His father came to Upper Canada in 1834.
The subject of this notice was educated at the public schools, and the Provincial Normal School, Toronto; taught school in his native county for ten years, ending in 1867; was editor of the Strathroy Age and the Seaforth Expositor for four or five years; founded the Ontario Teacher, a strong and popular education periodical, which has been merged in the Canada School Journal of Toronto; in 1871 was appointed Inspector of Schools for the County of Lambton, and held that position until 1877, when he was appointed Inspector of the Model Schools of Ontario, an office for which he has admirable fitness, and the duties of which he is discharging with great satisfaction. The Province is indebted to him for having worked up unusual interest in this class of schools, and for having elevated their grade. He is a member of the Central Committee of Examiners for the Province.
Mr. Ross has long been an earnest worker in the temperance cause, and has an exalted post among the Sons of Temperance. He was Grand Worthy Patriarch of that Order in 1870 and 1871, and for the last two years has been the Most Worthy Patriarch for North America. It was Mr. Ross who succeeded in obtaining the appointment of the Commission to the United States, and the meeting of the Dominion Convention in 1875, at Montreal. At the meeting of the National Division of the Sons of Temperance, held at Washington, D. C., in 1879, a visit was made to the tomb of Washington. Among the speeches made on that occasion, in response to call, was the following by Mr. Ross: “I wish, on behalf of the Canadian visitors particularly, to reciprocate those feelings of respect which touched the hearts of Canadians so much at the time the National Division met in the city of Ottawa. On that occasion the Representatives from the United States formed themselves into a group, around the statue of Her Majesty the Queen, that occupies the position of honor in the Senate Chamber of our Parliament Buildings, and united their voices in singing, most heartily, our national anthem. Today the Representatives from Canada are standing on the most sacred spot, to the American citizen, within the boundaries of this great Republic. Nowhere on this continent does the mind revert so forcibly to the origin of this great nation as it does here. Here sleeps the founder of Republicanism the true Republicanism of the nineteenth century. His genius, his forethought, and his courage laid the foundation stone of what, since his time, has grown to be a mighty Nation. He loved his country, therefore he was prepared to fight her battles, and although, to all appearance, the odds were against him, although his forces were very limited in number and indifferent of equipment, he was borne up by the conviction of duty, and by the desire to liberate his people from what he could not help but regard as foreign encroachment. And although we, the subjects of that very nation over whom the founder of this Republic achieved such a victory, might feel that we stood in the presence of the man who humiliated our people, yet when we regard the fact that Washington’s work was to widen the liberties of man kind, to make government by the people, constitutional government as we now understand it, more secure, we cannot help but say, that in fighting the battles of his own country, he was fighting the battle of liberty everywhere. In this sense we do him honor; in this sense we claim the spoils of victory; and in this sense we say that he has done a work in which every nation can rejoice, and of which all kindreds, and peoples, and tongues may reap the fruit. He may be the founder of your Nation, but the spirit which he infused into his own people permeates everywhere. Although you have peculiar claims upon the honor of his name, like the great men of other nations his labors were, in a certain sense, cosmopolitan, and all of the world has felt the influence of the institutions which he founded. As a Canadian, and on behalf of the Canadians present, I wish to recognize the sacred character of this spot, and to say that so long as Freedom is appreciated by the human race, so long as courage, virtue and loyalty to country and kindred are ranked among the qualities of true heroism, so long will the name of Washington be honored alike by American and Canadian, and the record of his deeds valued as evidences of the good that one man, inspired by a lofty spirit, can do for his fellow men.”
Mr. Ross was first elected to Parliament at the general election in 1872; was re-elected at 40 the general election in 1874 by acclamation; after a severe contest, in 1878, being one of those stiff Reformers whom the political tornado of September, 1878, did not sweep down.
Calton, in “Lacon,” says that, “the man of principle is the principal man.” Mr. Ross belongs to that class; carries his temperance principle into Parliament, and if not the principal advocate of prohibitory measures, is one of the foremost men in proposing, advocating and securing the passage of bills bearing on that point.
He matriculated in law at Albert University in 1879, and is now pursuing the course of studies required for a barrister and attorney.
He is an Elder of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian church; an ardent christian as well as temperance worker, and a very valuable member of society.
He was first married in 1862, to Miss Christina Campbell, of the township of East Williams, County of Middlesex, she dying in 1872, and in 1875, to Miss Catherine Boston, of Melrose, same county.