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John Carling, member of the Dominion Parliament, representing the City of London, was born in the Township of London, Middlesex County, January 23, 1828, his father being Thomas Carling, a native of Yorkshire, England, coming to Canada in 1818, and settling in London Township the next year. His mother was Margaret Routledge, also a native of England.
Thomas Carling was a farmer in middle life, and subsequently a brewer, dying in 1880. Our subject received a common school education; did more or less farm work in his youth; in 1849 commenced the brewing business in company with his elder brother, William Carling, the firm name being W. and J. Carling. Since July, 1875, the firm has been Carling and Co., Messrs. J. and D. Dalton, long connected with the management of the old brewery, and Thomas H. Carling, son of our subject, being then added to it.
On the night of the 13th February, 1879, the brewery was destroyed by fire, and by exposure and hardships on that occasion, William Carling lost his life in the course of a few weeks, leaving John Carling as the senior member of the firm. The loss by fire was upwards of $100,000, of which $65,000 was covered by insurance. The walls were not destroyed, and on the 29th of April, two and a half months after the conflagration, the great manufactory, the largest of the kind in the Dominion of Canada, was once more in operation. The malt, house and brewery are built of stone and white brick; is 250 feet long, by 150 wide, and has five main stories, increased to seven in the malting range. In its walls are 500 cords of stone and 2,500,000 brick, its style of architecture being Norman. In the basement are four large compartments, known as the working cellar, the stock cellar, the bottled cellar and the vaults, with a central passage fourteen feet wide, affording accommodations for a railway passing from end to end. The entire building, in all its internal arrangements, is admirably designed for the purposes for which it is used. It has a capacity for 50,000 barrels a year. A lager beer branch was added in 1877.
The Toronto Mail of June 2, 1879, after speaking of the disaster of this Company of the 13th of February, and the speed with which the brewery was rebuilt, adds that “between April 29, and May 29, of that year, no less than 150,000 galls. of ale, lager and porter were manufactured, and the brew constantly increases. These results are, we believe, without precedent, and they afford proofs of the highest courage and commercial enterprise. A country which can show an example like this is surely to be congratulated, and Mr. Carling, much as he was honored and esteemed before, has gained a still higher place among Canadian business men. He and his partners suffered heavy pecuniary loss it is true, but the ultimate result is gain, for the brewery becomes more celebrated than ever throughout the Dominion and the United States, wherever is told the history of its destruction and immediate revival.”
Mr. Carling was returned as a member of Parliament from London to the Canadian Assembly, December 18, 1857, and held that seat constantly until the Confederation, ten years later, when August, 1867 he was reelected for the House of Commons, and held that position up to the general election in 1874. He was also returned for the Ontario Legislature in 1867, and held the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture and Public Works in the Sandfield Macdonald Government from July, 1867, until December, 1871, when, the Government being defeated, he retired from office. He was Receiver-General in the old Government of Canada, in 1862. He now represents the city of London, being elected by the Conservative party, to which he has always belonged, in September, 1878.
Mr. Carling has been a School Trustee and Alderman; a Director of the Great Western, London, Huron and Bruce, and London and Port Stanley Railways, and is Chairman of the Board of Water Commissioners, being one of the most enterprising and public spirited citizens of London.
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In 1849 he married Hannah, eldest daughter of Henry Dalton, of London, Ont., and they have six children living.
While in the Ontario Legislature, Mr. Carling was prominent in bringing forward a liberal emigration scheme, and for opening free grants of lands to settlers in Muskoka; also a scheme for an agricultural college, now established at Guelph; and an Act for the drainage of low lands.