John Borlase Warren, the pioneer mill builder in Oshawa, and a native of Kin sale, county of Cork, Ireland, was born in 1798, his father being a captain of dragoons in the British army. Members of the family held prominent positions in the country, John B. being a cousin of Sir Augustus Warren, and Sir Borlase Warren. In 1821, he and his brother William, now collector of customs at Whitby, came to Canada, went to “Little York” (Toronto), and soon afterward purchased a hundred acres of land in the township of Whitby, and tried their hands awhile at farming, but did not like it as a pioneer work, with its isolation from society, and its very great hardships, and they sold out and abandoned the business.
Our subject went to York, became a clerk in a store, learned the mercantile business; traded a while on King street, and was soon afterwards appointed postmaster at Oshawa, the first officer of the kind in the township. In 1837 he built the Oshawa flouring mills, on Oshawa creek, now the property of Gibbs and Brother. He was an enterprising man; at one time had branch stores at Greenwood and Prince Albert, and at the same time was engaged largely in the produce trade. When the Ontario Bank was opened in this place, he transferred his former business to two sons, and assumed the management of its agency.
In 1865 Mr. Warren resigned the management of that institution and retired from business. He was a justice of the peace, and an officer in the militia, doing a little business at times on the bench. He died on the 23rd of February, 1879.
The Ontario Reformer, Oshawa, of February 28, 1879, spoke of Mr. Warren as follows:
“He had the manners of a gentleman of the old school, and yet withal was of that genial temperament that made him approachable to all. His well known form and erect bearing, long so familiar on our streets, will be missed, and the old residents of the county who best know him will lament the death of an old friend, and will sympathize with the large circle of relatives in their loss.”