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John Simpson, Senator, was a son of John Simpson, senior, who came from Scotland in 1815, and settled at first on the “Scotch Line” in the county of Lanark, subsequently removing to Brockville. The family in the old country county of Forfarshire were largely traders, builders, and physicians, our subject being a second cousin of the celebrated James Simpson, so eminent in surgery.
Mr. Simpson was born at Rothes, near Elgin, Scotland, on the 12th of May,1812, his mother being Margaret Petrie Simpson, a native of the town of Elgin. He received a common school education; when between twelve and thirteen years of age, entered the store of Charles Bowman, after whom Bowmanville was named, and was connected in business with him and his family for thirty-seven years, taking charge of and settling up his estate after his death, in 1848. In that year Mr. Simpson opened a branch of the Bank of Montreal at Bowmanville, and not long afterwards another at Whitby; assisted in 1857 in founding the Ontario Bank, of which he became president, holding that position until 1878, being still a director, and for more than forty years has been one of the leading men in Bowmanville in encouraging local enterprises. He served in the capacity of a magistrate for many years; was at one period a member of the district council, and a commissioner to manage the Insane Asylum, Toronto, being appointed to the latter office by the Hon. Robert Baldwin; represented the Queen’s Division in the Legislative Council of Canada, from 1856 until the Union in 1867, and was called to the Senate by royal proclamation in May of that year, having been connected with legislative bodies constantly for twenty-four years. Senator Simpson is a lifelong Liberal.
In religious belief he was originally a Baptist, joining when thirty-four years old; afterwards joined the Disciples, and for years was a local Evangelist. His interest in religious matters does not moderate with age, no news to him being more gratifying than that of the spread of the Gospel. He is a man of warm and kindly feelings, in whom the poor find an unfaltering friend.
Senator Simpson has a second wife, the first being Annie, (laughter of David Burke, a Baptist preacher of the county of Durham, married in 1844 and dying in 1846; and the second is Sarah Burke, sister of his first wife, married in 1848. By the latter he has had nine children, eight of them yet living.
Senator Simpson was for many years very actively engaged in business with milling as a specialty. He competed at the exhibition held in London in 1851, against the whole world, in the article of flour, and obtained the highest award and a diploma; he also obtained a gold medal offered by the Earl of Durham for the best flour produced in. Canada.
Having retired from active interest in the bank mentioned above, Senator Simpson is spending his time with his family on his farm, two and a half miles east of Bowmanville, on which farm he has a small herd of Durham cattle, which he thinks are as fine as the country can produce.