Biography of Angus Morrison, Q.C.
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The subject of this sketch was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, January 20th, 1824, and came to this country when but eight years old, in company with his father Hugh Morrison, and other members of the family. Mr. Hugh Morrison was killed by an accident at the old Market Square in Toronto, while taking part in a political meeting in 1836. He had been one of the famous 42nd Highlanders and served with his regiment through the Peninsular War.
Angus Morrison was educated partly in Belfast, Ireland, and partly in Upper Canada College; Toronto, but after a short attendance at the latter institution, he left it to enter a Grammar School where he finished his studies. During this time and for several years after leaving school Mr. Morrison took great interest in all manly outdoor sports, but his forte was in the use of the oars. Strong in body and thoroughly trained in exercising and developing his muscular powers, he won and held the championship of Toronto Bay in 1840-41 and ’42 and still possesses the trophies of his victories, and continued President of the Toronto Rowing Club for fourteen years. Curling, shooting, cricketing, and kindred sports, he also excelled in; was first Secretary and afterwards President of the Toronto Curling Club for two years; was Secretary of the St. Andrew’s Society for eleven years, and two years President. Discontinuing all connection with sporting matters, he devoted his time to the study of law, in the office of Messrs. Blake & Morrison, and was called to the Bar in 1846. He at once entered upon a most successful practice, and for about five years worked indefatigably about eighteen hours a day. His business was a lucrative one, and in this time Mr. Morrison amassed considerable money. In 1853-54 sat in the City Council for St. James’ Ward; in February, 1854 was elected to the Canada Parliament far North Simcoe, representing that constituency until 1863, when he was defeated. After being defeated in Simcoe he went to Niagara, and contested that constituency successfully, in 1864, and continued to represent it in Parliament until the Government was defeated in 1873.
In 1874 he declined offering himself for Niagara division, preferring to contest Centre Toronto for the Dominion House but was defeated by Robert Wilkes. Three months after the election, however, Mr. Wilkes was unseated, and Mr. Morrison was solicited to take the seat, but, after a successful Parliamentary career of twenty years, his inclinations prompted a refusal. In 1875 he was a candidate for mayor, but withdrew from the contest owing to its being made a political one, and Mr. Medcalf was elected. In the following year Mr. Morrison again entered the field and defeated Mr. Medcalf by 1980 of a majority, and was re-elected in 1877, defeating Mr. Warring Kennedy by 1100 majority; again in 1878 was again elected, but in 1879 he refused to be a candidate; Mr. James Beaty, junior, was elected. In the chief municipal office of the city, Mr. Morrison was always very popular, and administered the affairs of the office in the interests of the whole city. He effected many improvements in the conduct of matters connected with the Mayoralty, and always in a dignified and strictly nonpolitical manner. He was mainly instrumental in getting the Exhibition grounds from the Government at a nominal price, which has proved so great a success, established here. It was during his administration that Lord Dufferin made his official visit to Toronto, and it was doubtless largely owing to the handsome way in which Mayor Morrison entertained him, that he formed so favorable an opinion of the city.
Mr. Morrison was made a Queen’s Counsel in 1867, and is at present senior member of the noted law firm of, Morrison, Wells and Gordon. He is not now in active practice owing to the effects of injuries received in the Credit Valley Railway accident, in May 10th, 1879.
In politics he is a Conservative, and during his long service in Parliament was a prominent and popular member of his party, and a continued follower of the Right Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald.
Mr. Morrison was married August 5th, 1856, to Janet Gilmor, daughter of Commissary-General Gilmor, of Three Rivers, Canada, a veteran of 1812. By this union they have six children, four sons and two daughters. One of the latter is wife of Capt. Dickson, of the 3rd Hussars, now residing in England.
Generous almost to a fault, naturally genial and pleasant in manner, possessing a courteous and hospitable disposition at all times, and withal a true gentleman, Mr. Morrison is a man who has many warm and sincere friends throughout the wide circle of his acquaintances.