John McLeod

Born: September 13th, 1816, Edinburgh, Scotland
Master: 1852, merchant, ship builder
Died:  Friday July 1st, 1887, age 71, Amherstburg

 Obituary, Amherstburg Echo, July 8, 1887

On Friday evening last, John McLeod, who has been seriously ill at his residence in this town for some months back, passed quietly away in the midst of his family and friends, and a long and eventful life of 71 years was terminated.  The funeral took place on Sunday afternoon on the family burying ground at the cemetery after service at the family residence, by the Rev. A.S. Falls, A.B., Rector of Christ’s Church.  The pall bearers were Mayor Twomey, Collector of Customs George Gott, Simon Kemp, Simon Fraser, John Bell and Loftus Cuddy.  The Canadian Biographical Dictionary gives the following sketch of deceased: --”John McLeod was a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, and was born September 13th, 1816.  His father, John McLeod, Sr., was a type founder, and foreman for years of the only foundry of that class in the city of Edinburgh.  The mother of our subject, before her marriage, was Ann Gordon.  He was educated, in part, in the common schools of Edinburgh and Inverness; in 1832, came to Nova Scotia, finished his literary studies at Pictou, and there read law; went to New York City, having the legal profession in view, but changed his mind, and, after clerking awhile in a dry goods store, came to Detroit, and was in the mercantile trade in that city until 1838, when he settled in Amherstburg.  Here, for thirty years Mr. McLeod was engaged in the mercantile trade, and in building steamboats and sail vessels, being the leading business man in the place.  He built the first vessel that ever sailed from Chicago to Liverpool.  It is not unlikely that, in a business sense, Mr. McLeod erred on virtue’s side -- was too diligent, for, seventeen or eighteen years ago, his health began to fail, and his physician said he must retire.  He did so.  In 1857 he was elected to the old Canadian Parliament, representing Essex, and serving the full term of four years, the sessions in those days being held in Quebec and Toronto alternately.   He was a Conservative.  On the 30th of November, 1838, Mr. McLeod married at Detroit,   Miss Mary Kenyon, a native of England; and of eight children born to them, onlytwo are living, Emma, wife, of James Hedley, editor of the Monetary Times, Toronto, and Annie, wife, of Dr. Lett, Manager of the Homewood Retreat for the Insane, at Guelph.  In 1875, Mr. McLeod purchased the Old Fort Malden property, and resided in the house formerly occupied by the physicians to the Asylum, the loveliest site for a residence on the Detroit River.   The house stands within one hundred feet of the river, facing the West, with a sixteen-mile view up the stream at the right, and, to the left, Lake Erie, spreading out as far as the eye can see with the whole navigation of the western world passing right in front.  One may travel many a hundred miles in the valley of the great lakes without finding a prospect to match this in picturesque beauty.  At the rear end of the house as you step out of doors in the second story, you are in the grounds of old Fort Malden, teeming with historical reminiscences, with the stump of the flag staff still standing where it was erected “long, long ago.”  On that spot, said to be the highest ground in Essex, cast up as a defense against the threatening foe, stand huge poplars, black walnuts, maples, and the handsomest English lime the writer ever saw.  Beautiful shade trees in the front as well as in the rear, add very much to the loveliness of the place -- a rural retreat which a poet might covet, and a prince be proud to own.  Mr. McLeod had a library of about 3,000 volumes, the works of standard Europeans and American authors, from Dante and Chaucer to Tennyson and Bryant, from Froissart to Froude, Motley and Parkman, nearly all in the best editions for library purposed.  It is the best private collection of books which we have seen in nearly a year’s travels in Ontario.  It is especially rich in illustrated works -- Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, Don Quixote, etc., with such works of Art as Hogarth, the Wilkie Gallery, Boydell’s Shakespeare, and the like.   Mr. McLeod had the London Illustrated News complete for thirty-two years.  He read a great deal, and was thoroughly posted in European and American history.”

 The election referred to in 1857 was contested with Colonel Arthur Rankin and is one of the most memorable not only in the history of the County of Essex, but also of Canada and innumerable stories of that stirring political fight are still told by the older residents of Essex.  The sailing vessel referred to as going to Liverpool was the Thomas F. Park, which took out a load of square timber and brought back a cargo of merchandise, which Mr. McLeod distributed among his stores at Goderich, Wallaceburg, Windsor and this town.  His vessels were mostly engaged freighting wheat from his northern stores and shipping back all kinds of merchandise.  The present site of the spoke factory and neighbourhood were at one time covered with busy hives of mills, distillery and other establishments belonging to Mr. McLeod.  Mrs. McLeod survives and she and the other members of the family inherit a very large personal estate left by the deceased.