Biography of Hon. George Brown
George Brown, Senator, managing director of the Globe Printing and Publishing Company, and one of the most prominent and influential citizens of Canada, is a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he was born on the 29th of November, 1818. His father was Peter
Brown, merchant, of Edinburgh, but later connected with the newspaper publishing business in New York and Toronto, and his mother was the only daughter of George Mackenzie, Esq., of Stornoway, Isle of Lewis. He was educated at the Edinburgh high school and afterwards spent a few years in London. In 1838 he accompanied his father to New York, where they engaged in the mercantile business. Peter Brown was a man of intelligence and Duch general information, and in 1842 he commenced the publication of a weekly paper called the British, Chronicle. This paper he edited for about eighteen months, at the end of which time he brought his family to Toronto, being induced to come hither to establish an organ to represent the Free Church party. Soon after his arrival the Toronto Banner, an independent paper of liberal Presbyterian views, was started, Mr. Brown, the elder, being editor, and the subject of this sketch the proprietor. Before leaving New York the former published an able reply to Lester’s Shame and Glory of England,” under the title of “Fame and Glory of England Vindicated.”
In 1844 the Toronto Globe, then as now an organ of the Reform party, was founded, of which Mr. George Brown at once became the political editor. It is almost unnecessary to mention the success of the Globe newspaper under his management since. Its name is known and influence felt throughout the Dominion, while abroad it is justly recognized as the representative of Canadian journalism. Through its widely circulated columns, Mr. Brown has probably exerted a greater influence on the growth and development of his adopted country than any other one man. In addition to his journalistic and public duties, he has also interested himself in agriculture and thoroughbred stock raising at “Bow Park,” his farm near Brantford, Ont. In 1864 he founded the Canada Farmer, a weekly journal devoted to the farming interests. In 1849 he was appointed, with others, a commissioner to investigate the alleged mismanagement of the Provincial Penitentiary, and their report brought about many changes for the better in the conduct of that institution. He has always taken a warm interest in educational affairs and has been a member of the Senate of Toronto University for several years.
The following brief epitome of Mr. Brown’s active political career is an extract from a recent number of the Parliamentary Companion:
“Was for many years leader of the Reform party of Upper Canada, and as such called onto form a Government for the late Province of Canada, August 2, 1858, which he succeeded in doing in cooperation with the Hon. A. A. (now Chief Justice) Dorion. Before it was possible for the members of his Administration to be re-elected, the House of Assembly passed a vote of want of confidence. He consequently determined to dissolve Parliament, but the Governor-General (Sir Edmund Head) refused to grant a dissolution, when Mr. Brown and his colleagues resigned. He again entered the Executive Council, 30th June, 1864, as a member of the Administration formed to carry out the scheme of Confederation, being leader of the Reform section, then in a majority in the House, as Mr. Macdonald was leader of the Ontario Conservatives, and Mr. Cartier of the French Canadian Conservatives. Mr. Brown had, in the session of 1864, obtained a select committee to inquire into and report upon such changes in the constitution as might satisfy the just expectations of Western Canada. The committee reported in favor of a Federal system, such as was afterwards established. He resigned 21st of December, 1865, after the Confederation scheme was arranged, though the Imperial Act was not passed, owing to his disapproval of the policy of the Government with reference to a Reciprocity Treaty with the United States. Was a member of the Charlottetown Union Conference, 1864; of that at Quebec in the same year, and of the Confederate Council of the British North American Colonies for the negotiation of commercial treaties, that sat in the latter city, September 1865. Proceeded to England as a delegate on public business, in 1865, and to Washington, March, 1874, on behalf of Canada, and the Empire, as joint plenipotentiary, with Sir Edward Thornton to negotiate with the Government of the United States, a commercial treaty. He declined the Lieut.-Governorship of Ontario, 1875. Sat for Kent in the Canadian Assembly, from the general election 1851 to the general election, 1854; for Lambton from the latter date to the general election 1857, when he was returned for North Oxford and the city of Toronto (elected to sit for Toronto); for South Oxford, from March, 1863, until the Union. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Haldimand, April, 1851; for Toronto East, at the general election in 1861; and for South Ontario, in the House of Commons at the general election in 1867. He was called to the Senate December 16, 1873.