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John Laing, pastor of Knox Presbyterian church, Dundas, and one of the best scholars of any profession in the town, is a native of Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, and was born March 24, 1828. His father, James Laing, was, in middle life, factor for Lady Hay Mackenzie, and his mother, Isabella Thomson, was a daughter of John Thomson, of Prior Letham and Waterluss, Fifeshire, a contractor for the British navy at Leith, during the war of the allied powers against France. This branch of the Thomson family is very old.
Our subject was educated in part at the high school of Edinburgh, holding a high place in his class, in 1842; came with the family to Canada in 1843; and finished his education at King’s College and Knox College, Toronto, holding a distinguished position in his classes. While a student at Knox College, he also taught in the Toronto Academy, and was subsequently tutor in Hebrew and the classics in that college. He received the degree of B.A. from Victoria College, Cobourg, in 1871, and that of M.A. in course.
Mr. Laing was ordained at Scarboro in 1854; preached there five and a half years, and twelve years at Cobourg; spent one year at Ottawa in connection with the Ladies’ College, which he commenced, and in 1873 settled in Dundas, being pastor of the strongest Protestant church in the town. He is a hard worker, has great power and efficiency as a minister, and there are very few pulpits in the Province which he is not capable of filling. He is noted for the plainness of his preaching, being outspoken and fearless in denunciation of wrong and sin of every kind.
Mr. Laing has always taken a leading part in educational matters in the several towns where he has been located, and has also been prominent in the work of the church with which he is connected.
He has written a good deal for newspapers and religious periodicals, including a paper in the Princeton Review; has had several sermons and a small catechism for children published, and is the author of a small work entitled, “The Second Coming of Our Lord,” Toronto, 1877. He has poetical taste and talent, and occasionally indulges in this class of composition. An unpublished scriptural drama, “The Betrayal,” he has read in public in many places, with great acceptance. It is a work of decided merit.
The wife of Mr. Laing was Eliza Smith, daughter of James Smith, Toronto, married in October, 1854. They lost four children by diphtheria, and have eight living.