JOHN RICHARDSON
c 1755-1831

From: "A History of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, St. Gabriel Street, Montreal"
By Rev, Robert Campbell, M.A., 1887


The junior member of the firm [Forsythe, Richardson & Co.], John Richardson, who was a native of Banffshire, Scotland, was a man of energy and action par excellence. The Montreal of the period owed more to him a great deal, than to any other of its citizens; for whenever anything was to be done, requiring skill and energy for its accomplishment, John Richardson was the man whom his fellow-citizens called to the front. The late Mr. John Dougall, speaking to the writer, a few months before his death, of Montreal sixty years ago, when he knew it first, singled out three of the citizens as men greatly beloved and trusted, Hon. John Richardson, Hon. Geo. Moffat, and Hon. Peter McGill; and added that the public have not perhaps been as well served since, as it was by these three men in succession.

With Joseph Frobisher, he represented the East Ward of the city, in the first Parliament of Lower Canada. He was one of the commissioners for removing the old walls of the city, from 1802 onwards. He got a bill passed for the construction of a canal to Lachine, as early as 1795-96, although he did not see the work commenced till 1821, on the 17th of July, in which year, he turned the first sod, at the commencement of the work. He was chairman of the company that secured the completion of the undertaking, in 1825, at a cost of $440,000. And in this connection, it is believed that his singleness of mind, and fear of being reproached with self-seeking, actually proved detrimental to the best interests of the community. The canal ought to have been carried down to Hochelaga, through what is now Craig street; but he opposed the project lest it should be said that he promoted it for the purpose of enhancing the value of his own property, which lay in the Quebec suburbs.

He was named second on the list of gentlemen appointed by His Excellency Sir Gordon Drummond, in 1815, a committee to obtain subscriptions in aid of the families of the slain at Waterloo.

He was one of the six commissioners for building the Nelson monument. He was chairman of the committee that prepared the articles of the association of the Bank of Montreal, published in the Montreal Herald, in May, 1817. He was a director of the first Montreal Savings Bank, as also a trustee for improving the highway to Lachine, and a justice of the peace to administer oaths to half-pay officers of the district of Montreal. He took the oath as a Legislative Councillor at Quebec, the 81st January, 1821.

With Hon. William McGillivray and Samuel Gerrard, he formed a committee to purchase the land on which the General Hospital now stands, which was then a nursery; and when, in 1821, it was resolved to erect a building on it, he was appointed chairman of a committee to superintend its construction,— and when it was got fairly under weigh, he was chosen its first president. 

His eldest daughter was married to Judge Ogden, and, after his decease to the late T. B. Anderson, President of the Bank of Montreal. His second daughter, Eweretta [Richardson], was married to Alexander Auldjo. She died in 1808.

Besides that the firm to which he belonged was always foremost in aiding every good work connected with St. Gabriel Street Church, he subscribed personally three pounds annually towards the stipend of  Mr. Somerville, to whom he showed a strong attachment to the end of his days. The firm occupied pews 6 and 47.

It was a fit memorial of  him which his friends erected, in the "Richardson wing of the General Hospital," on which is the following inscription: “This building was erected, A.D. 1832, to commemorate the public and private virtues of the Honorable John Richardson, a distinguished merchant of this city, and member of the Executive and Legislative Councils of the Province. He was first President of the Hospital, and a liberal contributor to its foundation and support. He was born at Portsoy, North Britain, and died the 18th of May, 1831, aged 76 years.” The firm, “Forsyth, Richardson & Co.,” received a grant of 1073 acres of land, in the Township of Onslow, from Sir R. S. Milnes, Governor, in 1805.


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