History of the County of Perth, 1825-1902
William Johnston, 1903
James TROW was born at Newton, Montgomery, Wales, December 16th, 1826. He received a fair education, and in 1841 emigrated to Canada, settling in North Easthope. Mr Trow's success in this county furnishes a good illustration of what can be attained by courage, perseverance, and a fixed purpose. When he came here he was penniless, friendless, homeless, and unacquainted with those hardships inseparable from pioneer life.
In 1842, when North Easthope had been divided into three school sections, he having travelled on foot to Goderich, and passed an examination before the superintendent of education, returned in triumph with a certificate in his pocket as a duly qualified teacher. He at once applied for and obtained a school in one of these new sections, and continued as a teacher for ten years. It was not as a teacher, however, he was designed to succeed. Although of a more versatile character than any of our public men in this county, it was as a speculator that he raised himself and attained to prominence. He was by nature a leader and manipulator of men. Under all conditions he was always calm and collected. He had great penetration of character, and an intuitive feeling which enabled him to form correct conclusions of men's motives. He could sing a good song, tell a good story, was genial and sympathetic in his manner, kindly in his nature, a hale-fellow-well-met sort of man, respected by all, but really and truly known only to few. It is not surprising, then, that during his life he was, and continued to be, one of our most popular men.
Mr Trow was for a long period of years a useful public man. His municipal career was brilliant and advantageous to our people. He was a man of broad views, and on all public questions stood up manfully, and threw his whole influence in favour of those measures calculated to ameliorate the conditions affecting the great mass of the people. He was a fluent talker on the platform, but by no means a great speaker. He had all those qualities necessary to successful political life, using them effectively during an extended public career. From his first appearance as a public man he filled every municipal office, from pathmaster to county warden, in a manner creditable to himself.
At Confederation, in 1867, he was returned to the Provincial Legislature for South Perth. His long experience in municipal affairs fitted him admirably for such a position, and he succeeded in carrying through several important and useful amendments to the Assessment and Municipal Acts. In 1871 he was defeated by Mr T. B. Guest, of St. Marys, but in 1872 was elected for the House of Commons. Subsequent to dissolution, in consequence of the "Pacific Scandal," he was re-elected by acclamation. In 1878 he survived the wreck of his party under Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, and defeated Dr. Hornibrook, of Mitchell. At the next two elections he was again triumphant over H. F. Sharp, of St. Marys. Subsequent to his last contest with Mr. Sharp he was unseated under a protest by the indiscretion of an agent, and in 1892 was defeated by Mr William Pridham, of Fullarton. This was his last appeal to South Perth, and on September 13th, 1891, died James Trow, after a successful parliamentary career extending over nearly 25 years.
During his long period of service as member of the House of Commons he was Liberal Whip for 15 years, a position for which his kindly and jovial nature eminently fitted him. He also advocated and carried through Parliament several measures in the people's interest, such as the Railway Passenger's Act and the Act declaring life insurance policies non-forfeitable except under certain conditions. He was also for years chairman of the immigration committee. He travelled extensively in our newly- acquired north-west territory, and did much by his writing to draw public attention to that "grate lone land," now a home for thousands. Subsequent to a second visit to that new country his letters were published by Government, and 35,000 copies circulated in Great Britain. These letters were the greatest work of his life, and were much admired by people of literary taste for their easy, graceful style of composition.
Amongst other positions held by Mr Trow was that of president of the Perth Mutual Fire Insurance Co, which he filled for many years. He was also president of the British Mortgage Loan Co., of Stratford, president of the Dominion Life Assurance Co., and a director of the Ontario Life Assurance Co., of Waterloo. He was an old magistrate, and in every position of trust to which he was elected his conduct was such as to rank him with the best men of Perth county. In 187 he married Mary Moore, of Blenheim township, a former pupil in his days of teaching school, to whom were born four sons and one daughter.
Meg Fuller Perth County Coordinator
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