History of the County of Perth, 1825-1902
William Johnston, 1903
John James Edmondstoune LINTON was born at Rothsay, Isle of Bute, in 1804. He was the son of a gentleman of prominence, and received a good education. In 1833 he arrived in Canada, and meeting with Mr Daly, agent of the Canada Company at Guelph, he was directed westward to Stratford. He at once located on lot 7, concession 3, Downie, and began clearing a farm.
In November, 1829, he married Margaret Dallas, who accompanied her husband in his wanderings, and like a true woman came with him to his lonely shanty, willing to share his burden for weal or woe. It is only those who have experienced the trials and depressing thoughts of other days, or that continuous weeping of a heart ready to break at the dismal environment of a pioneer, who can know the bitterness of life in the woods to people of refinement. For a poor over-laboured hind, who may have "begged a brother of the earth to give him leave to toil," this change from his daily grind, without hope, in the old land, was often a relief. But, O! how sad, how painful it was to look at the puny efforts of those in clearing land who were unaccustomed to manual labour. It seemed like refined cruelty, and in many cases their utter wretchedness was more than they were able to bear.
During 1834 Mr Linton opened the first school in this county, a short distance west of Stratford. Mrs Linton also opened a school in North Easthope. Throughout the winter of 1834 and 1835 a night school was kept in the latter place, where those youths who had recently arrived from Perthshire, Scotland, received their education. He soon abandoned this profession, and entered into business in Stratford. At this time he was appointed clerk of the court of requests, a position corresponding to division court clerk. He also took an active part in promoting an agricultural society, an account of which will be found elsewhere.
During 1847 he was closely associated with Mr Daly in agitating for county organization apart from Huron and Bruce. In this he was successful, visiting the Government on two occasions. He was subsequently appointed clerk of the peace, holding that office till his death in 1869. In him temperance principles had a consistent adherent and a conscientious supporter. He was fully possessed of those traits peculiar to all good men, truthfulness in thought, action, and utterance. In him there was no equivocation nor duplicity; he was sincere. To support his anti- slavery and anti-liquor principles he published for many years, at his own cost and charge, a paper called the Challenge, and which was distributed far and wide, not only in this county but in Ontario. Many old settlers in Perth will remember that having completed their period of service attending court as jurors each returned to his home with a good supply of literature, which the kind-hearted old clerk of the peace considered was for their good.
He was a man of great goodness of heart, strong individuality of character, outspoken in his sentiment, firm in resolution, and tenacious of purpose. Conventionalities had no effect on his conduct, and whatever others might do, he acted according to the light of his own judgment. The most prominent point in his nature was benevolence, not of purpose only, but of action. An illustration of this principle in his conduct will be found in a report of the relief committee to Stratford council during 1859, a year in which he found ample scope for his charitable feeling in relieving the pressing necessities of the poor. He was extremly [sic] susceptible to distress among the helpless, and was often imposed upon, but unable to resist a pathetic appeal from those who pleaded for assistance, he was -
"Careless their merits or their faults to scan;
His pity gave ere charity began."
This old pioneer was eminently a good and useful man, and honour to the place of his birth, and a power for good in the land of his adoption.
Meg Fuller Perth County Coordinator
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September 22, 2007
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