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Biography of John McLay

John McLay, the pioneer journalist of the county of Bruce, and now registrar of the county, was born in the city of Glasgow, June 11,1831. His father, who was a manufacturer, died of cholera the following year. His mother was Ann Kerr Bell. His paternal grandfather who was a stock farmer in Argyleshire, belonged to an old family of agriculturists. The subject of this sketch received his early education in St. Enoch’s school, and afterwards at the Hutchesons institute. At an early age he entered his uncle’s office, and learned the trade of a compositor. At twenty one he commenced business for himself as book printer, and shortly afterwards combined with it lithographing and engraving, which he carried on successfully for five years, when the state of his health necessitated his removal to a dryer and more bracing climate. December 4, 1855, he married Helen Cox Watt, daughter of John Watt, wine and china merchant, Glasgow; and in the summer of 1857, having contracted with parties in the county of Bruce to publish a newspaper, came to Kincardine with his wife, child, and mother. On the 4th of August of that year he issued the first number of the “Commonwealth,” the first paper published in the county, bringing his printing material with him from Scotland. He continued to publish and edit that paper between six and seven years, during which time he resided on his farm in the township of Huron, about two miles from the then village of Kincardine. During that period he held at sundry times the offices of councilor, deputy-reeve, and reeve of the township, and...

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