Biography of John T. Leckie
John Luckie, banker and reeve of the village of Brussels, is a son of Robert and Margaret (Gardner) Leckie, and was born in the township of Dalhousie, county of Lanark, June 27, 1834. His grandfather, John Leckie, came from Scotland and settled in that township something like sixty years ago, and died in the county of Lambton, near Sarnia, three or four years ago, at the advanced age of 95 years, his wife dying a little earlier, aged 93 years.
In the early youth of our subject, school houses in the greater part of the county of Lanark, were few and far apart, the first one where he attended being five miles from his father’s house. It was built of logs, with a stone chimney of huge dimensions at one end, split slabs for seats and rough boards for desks. In that house he conquered his abc’s, and words of a minor number of syllables. His grandfather lived not far off, and in stormy weather he found shelter there for a few days, instead of returning every night the five miles to his father’s house. The other log houses, at which he subsequently attended school, were very much more accessible, and their style of architecture indicated a slight advance, though there was nothing Gothic or Corinthian about either of them. The first teacher which our subject had was John Donald, the second, John Livingston, a cousin of the celebrated missionary and African explorer.
In his younger years Mr. Leckie did a variety of work farmed, aided in getting out square timber, working in a lumber shanty, ran a threshing machine, &c.; was always ready, like Wilkins Micawber, for “something to turn up,” and unlike Wilkins, had the faculty, in case of emergency, of turning something up. So far as we can ascertain, there does not appear to have been any laziness in the Leckie family; if there was, he failed to inherit it.
In July, 1854, Mr. Leckie came into the county of Huron, his father’s family following three months later, and located in the township of Grey, six miles from the present village of Brussels, there being at that time not more than a dozen families in the township. There he took up for himself and father 400 acres of land; subsequently disposing of his half of it; and experienced some of the hardships of backwoods life. The nearest grist mill was eighteen miles away, at Roxborough; there were no roads; traveling was done through the forests, with blazed trees for a guide, and more than once, Mr. Leckie, in company with other pioneer settlers, brought sixty pounds of flour on his back from the mill, making the eighteen miles in six or seven hours.
There he helped build a saw mill, and in 1856 put up a log store for himself, hewing the logs and making the shingles with his own hands; and he drew his first stock of goods by teams from Woodstock, they coming by rail f rom Hamilton, where he made his purchases. There he traded between eight and nine years, and was postmaster the last half of that time, the name of the office being changed from Grey to Cranbrook. It was five miles from Brussels.
In July, 1864, Mr. Leckie settled in this place, which became an incorporated village in 1873. Here he traded in general merchandise and grain for twelve years; continued in grain and produce two years longer; built a cheese factory in 1869, and managed it till 1878, and in August of that year, was appointed manager of the Exchange Bank, closed and now carrying on a private bank, called Leckie’s Bank.
He is one of the most energetic, public spirited men in this section, being foremost in every enterprise of the least importance to the community, no man fought more bravely or perseveringly than he to secure the railroad which now runs through Brussels the southern extension of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce branch of the Great Western Railway. He represents the Freehold Loan and Savings Company, the Western Canada Permanent Loan and Savings Society, the National Investment Company, the North British Canadian Investment Company, all of Toronto, and the Hamilton Provident and Loan Company, and two or three other leading money saving institutions of Ontario.
Mr Leckie has been reeve, first of Grey, and then of Brussels, for the last fourteen or fifteen years; was warden one year; has been a magistrate nearly twenty years, and is Captain of a volunteer company, No. 5, 33rd battalion, Huron.
His affiliation in politics are with the so called “Grits,” or Reformers; was president of the Reform Association of Grey for some time; is a leader of his party in this part of Huron, and was their candidate for the House of Commons in the North Riding of Huron, 1874, greatly reducing the usual Conservative majority.
He is a Master Mason, an Odd Fellow, an adherent of the Presbyterian church, and a liberal patron of religious and charitable enterprises.
November 5, 1859, Mr. Leckie married Miss Annie Underwood, daughter of John Underwood, then a resident of Whitby township, county of Ontario. They have no children.