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Biography of John McCleod

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Canada | No Comments

The subject of this sketch is a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, and was born on the 13th of September, 1816. His father, John MacLeod, senior, was a type founder, and foreman for years of the only foundry of that class in the City of Edinburgh. The family were from the Highlands. The mother of our subject, before her marriage, was Ann Gordon. He was educated in part in the common schools of Edinburgh and Inverness; in 1832 came to Nova Scotia, finished his literary studies at Pictou, and there read law; went to New York city, having the legal profession in view, but changed his mind, and after clerking a while in a dry goods store, came to Detroit, and was in the mercantile trade in that city until 1838, when he settled in Amherstburg. Here, for thirty years, Mr. MacLeod was engaged in the mercantile trade, and in building steamboats and sail vessels, being the leading business man in the place. He built the first vessel that ever sailed from Chicago to Liverpool. It is not unlikely that in a business sense, Mr. MacLeod erred on virtue’s side was too diligent, for ten or eleven years ago his health began to fail, and his physician said he must retire. He did so.

In 1857 he was elected to the Canadian parliament, representing Essex, and serving the full term of four years, the sessions in those days being held in Quebec and Toronto alternately. He is a Conservative.

On the 30th of November, 1838, Mr. MacLeod married, at Detroit, Miss Mary Kenyon, a native of England; and of eight children born to them, only two are living, Emma wife of James Hedley, editor of the Monetary Times, Toronto, arid Annie, wife of Dr. Lett, of the Asylum for the Insane in the same city.

In 1875 Mr. MacLeod purchased the Old Fort property, and resides in the house formerly occupied by the physician to the Asylum, the loveliest site for a residence on the Detroit river. The house stands within one hundred feet of the river, facing the West, with a sixteen-mile view up the stream at the right, and to the left Lake Erie, spreading out as far as the eye can see. One may travel many a hundred miles in the valley of the great lakes without finding a prospect to match this in picturesque beauty. At the rear end of the house, as you step out of doors in the second story, you are in the grounds of the Old Fort, teeming with historical reminiscences, with the stump of the flag staff still standing where it was erected ” long, long ago.” On that spot, said to be the highest ground in the county of Essex, cast up as a defence against the threatening foe, stand huge poplars, black walnuts, maples, and the handsomest English lime the writer ever saw. Beautiful shade trees in front as well as in the rear, add very much to the loveliness of the place a rural retreat which a poet might covet, and a prince be proud to own.
Mr. MacLeod has a library of about 3,000 volumes, the works of the standard European and American authors, from Dante and Chaucer to Tennyson and Bryant, from Froissart to Froude, Motley and Parkman, nearly all in the best editions for library purposes. It is the best private collection of books which we have seen in nearly a year’s travels in Ontario. It is specially rich in illustrated works Dante, Shakspeare, Milton, Don Quixote, etc., etc., with such works of Art as Hogarth, the Wilkie Gallery, Boydell’s Shakspeare, and the like. Mr. MacLeod has the London Illustrated News complete for thirty-two years. He reads a great deal, and is thoroughly posted in European and American history.

One of the early and most prominent settlers at Amherstburg, was Francis Caldwell, who came to America in 1773; was an officer under Lord Dunmore, in an expedition against the Indians, in 1774, and was wounded in the battle of Ranaway; commanded a company at the storming of Norfolk, Va., in 1776, and was there wounded; was on the Niagara frontier from 1777 to 1780; whipped Col. Crawford by the aid of Indians at Lower Sandusky (now Fremont), O., in 1782; was Paymaster General in 1812; was at the battle of Fort Meigs, Frenchtown, Chippawa, Lundy’s Lane, etc.; and was a member of the first Upper Canada Parliament, which met at Niagara in 1792. He died at Amherstburg many years ago.


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