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The subject of this sketch, Mayor of Toronto for 1879 and 1880, was born at Ashdale Farm, township of Trafalgar, County of Halton, on the 10th of November; 1831. His father, John Beaty, emigrated from the County of Cavan, Ireland, to Canada, and engaged in agriculture, residing at Ashdale Farm for over fifty years. He died at the age of eighty years, in 1870. The mother of our subject was Elizabeth Stewart, and early in the present century, while still a young woman, she came with her father, George Stewart, from Bundoran, Ireland, to New York. Mr. Stewart, after accumulating considerable property, left the landed portion of it to be confiscated; and during the war of 1812 came to Canada in consequence of his attachment to British rule. He lived to the age of 102 years, and his wife lived to be over 96 years old.
The family of John Beaty consisted of four sons and nine daughters, of these, one brother and two sisters of our subject are dead; his surviving brothers are Robert and William C., the former a banker in Toronto, of marked financial ability, and director in various public companies, and the latter a farmer residing on the old homestead, and a public man of great usefulness. The remaining sisters are all married except the youngest. The parents were intelligent people, and the children were well educated according to the times, in public schools. and colleges and by private tuition. Ashdale Farm, as was the custom in the country in an early day, was almost constantly the home of clergymen and travelers, and a careful educational training was kept up by well directed reading and conversation. Habits of industry and strict morality were rigorously enforced, and the practice of religious duties never allowed to be forgotten.
James Beaty was educated, first at the common school and afterwards at a grammar School at Palermo, in Trafalgar, the latter being a well conducted school under a Mr. Andrew Hall, a thorough scholar and disciplinarian, from under whose training many active men went forth to find the advice he so kindly gave them, of valuable assistance in the battle of life. Judge Miller, of Milton, Rev. John Langtry, M. A., of Toronto, Rev. Mr. Campbell, of Clifton, Mr. Winters, a P. L. Surveyor, Mr. Sproat, M. P., Mr. Livingston, P. L. Surveyor, of Hamilton, Dr. Anson Buck, of Palermo, and many others were all educated in this school. Mr. Beaty was also instructed by private tuition in Toronto, preparatory to entering as student-at-law in Trinity term in 1850; was called to the Bar in 1855, having studied in the office of Mr. Adam Wilson (now Chief Justice), and Dr. Larratt W. Smith; and in July 1856, entered into partnership with Mr. Wilson and Mr. C. S. Patterson, at present one of the Justices of the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The firm of Wilson, Patterson and Beaty continued until the elevation of Mr. Wilson to the Bench in 1863, and subsequently with the addition of his present partner, Mr. J. C. Hamilton, M.A., LL.B., under the name of Patterson, Beaty and Hamilton. Mr. Patterson having been elevated to the Bench in 1874, the business continued under the name of Beaty, Hamilton and Cassels, Mr. Allan Cassels, B.A., a student in the office being added to the partnership. Since then Mr. Daniel W. Clendenan, B.A., has also entered the firm. Their business has continued in succession from Dr. William Warren Baldwin, through Hon. Robert Baldwin, Hon. R. B. Sullivan, John Hector, Q. C., and the gentlemen named, for over fifty years. Mr. Beaty was created a Queen’s Counsel by nomination of the Dominion Government in 1872, Sir John A. Macdonald being Minister of Justice, and afterwards by the Ontario Government, Hon. Oliver Mowat being Attorney-General. He was entitled to the degree of B.C.L. in Trinity College in 1856, but in consequence of differences as to a religious test, did not receive his degree until 1872, and in 1875 the degree of D.C.L. was conferred upon him. In 1877 he was elected Alderman for St. James’ Ward by a vote of all parties; introduced what is known as the “Beaty By law,” changing the whole management of civic affairs; ran for mayor in 1878, against Mr. Angus Morrison, Q. C., who had been mayor for two years, and was defeated through strong influence, after leaving the matter to the citizens almost entirely without work, organization or canvass; ran for the same office in 1879 and was elected by a majority of 635 over the largest vote given to five of the strongest men the city afforded in municipal affairs ex-Mayors Medcalf and Manning, and Aldermen Turner, Britton, and P. G. Close. So satisfactorily was his administration of municipal affairs conducted during 1879, that he was re-elected for 188), by over 900 majority over ex-Mayor Morrison.
Mayor Beaty’s professional career has been varied, but more as an office lawyer than a public one; he has, however, conducted many important cases from the Court of Appeal down, including the Criminal and Election Courts; has always bad a large and responsible business, especially in the management of property, having at times clients’ property approximating in value to three-quarters of a million of dollars under his care as trustee and otherwise, and for all the time having every year over half a million dollars worth to invest and manage in some form or other.
Mr. Beaty took an active part in conjunction with the late John M. Trout, founder and Editor of the Monetary Times, and who had also been a law student with him, and with the present managing director, Mr. John K. Macdonald, in establishing the Confederation Life Association, which in a few years has reached great importance under the presidency of Sir Francis Hincks, and latterly of Sir W. P. Howland, as a life insurance institution. His firm are solicitors for the Association and have been since its organization. They are also solicitors for the Commercial Building and Investment Society, one of the oldest institutions of the kind in the city. His late partner, Mr. Justice Patterson and he, with the cooperation of Dr. L. W. Smith and others had much to do in the formation of the Building and Loan Association which is now one of the most flourishing societies of that class in Toronto. Mr. Beaty’s firm are solicitors for this, and also for other societies and companies besides those named. He is a director in the Scarboro’ Heights Hotel Company, which recently built a hotel east of Toronto a few miles on the “Balmy Beach” property on the shore of Lake Ontario. He has refused other directorships for various reasons, principally on the principle actuating him through life, not to undertake any more than he can well perform. For many years he has refused all solicitations for public life, chiefly for professional and personal reasons. He was waited upon by various deputations to run for East Toronto at the last election, consequent upon the elevation of Mr. Justice Cameron to the Bench, and it was generally believed he would have had no opposition, and that even if he had he could have carried the riding by a large majority. The contest for the mayoralty was then actively progressing, and he bad pledged himself to citizens interested, as he himself was, in economy and faithful administration of civic business, to go to the polls, and therefore he refused to step aside and become a candidate for what seemed a far better opening for a public man.
The subject of this sketch never engaged in military training, although offered in the volunteer force a lieutenancy, first by the Hon. Robert Baldwin, and afterwards by Hon. Mr. Justice Morrison, who were commanders of battalions.
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In religion he claims to be only a christian, taking no creed but the Bible. Although educated a churchman his parents being then of the Church of Englandhe soon began to think for himself, surrounded as he was by various sorts of religions, and happily as he thinks was saved from infidelity by finding out that there was only one Divine religion in the world at one time, and that religion at the present time was the christian. To this he adheres since youth and has taken an active part in speaking and writing in advancing those views.
He has written occasionally for political and religious papers,, literary magazines, law and commercial journals, articles which have been often under noms de plume, as efforts of taste and recreation and with the special object of combating some error or stating some truth.
Politically he is a Conservative, as was his father all his life. His uncle, James Beaty, sen., ex M.P. for Toronto, and proprietor of the Leader, being for a time a Reformer of the Baldwin and Hincks school. The mayor has often been looked upon as a moderate party man inconsequence of his associations and personal connections, and as such has received support from both parties. As counsel for contractors to build the Pacific Railway, he took an active part in the negotiations which resulted in the downfall of the Sir John Macdonald Government in 1873. He regretted the fall of the Macdonald Administration and did his share in restoring Sir ohu again, in every way he could. He sacrificed his own prospects to the views of others so as to not disturb the current of events, although he was generally understood to be the candidate for Centre Toronto in the interests of the Conservative party at the last election until nearly the last moment, and it was generally conceded that he was about the only man who could have carried it, the constituency being so equally divided.
Mr. Beaty was married on the 10th of November, 1858, to his cousin, Miss Fanny Beaty, and there were two children of the marriage, both daughters, only one of whom, Katie, is living.
Mayor Beaty, although a clear and forcible speaker, from constitutional temperament unwillingly speaks in public, unless impelled to it by a strong sense of duty or force of circumstances.
In personal appearance he is about 5 feet 8 to 9 inches in height, with brown hair, reddish whiskers and florid complexion, looking healthy and robust now, although in early life he was rather delicate; is very temperate and abstemious in his habits; has done a great deal of work and is capable of doing much more; moderate in his views of things, and temperate in language and argument; he is regarded by his friends as usually safe and more than likely to be in the right course. He possesses the confidence of his fellowcitizens, who, as a rule, believe he means right and will come out right. He has convictions of his own on most subjects of public interest and carries them out without fear or favor, being persistent rather than demonstrative, and determined to maintain his own views with firmness, tempered with courtesy and consideration, however, for others.
On the occasion of the official visit of His Excellency the Governor-General and Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise, to Toronto, in September, 1879, their reception and entertainment devolved very largely upon the Chief Magistrate of the city, and the manner in which Mayor Beaty managed his part of the affair was creditable alike to his tact, good sense and judgment, and to the city of Toronto.