John Joseph Kelso

Plot 18, Lot 33
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

A native of Dundalk, Ireland, where he was born in 1864, J. J. Kelso emigrated to Toronto with his family in 1874. He was educated at Ryerson Public School and Jarvis Collegiate after which he obtained a job as a printer, first with The Mail and then The World newspapers. Kelso went on to become a reporter with The World for three years before moving over to The Globe, where he worked until 1902.
   It was as a reporter that he saw, first-hand, the cruel treatment afforded both youngsters and animals throughout the city. Following an address to the Canadian Institute, during which Kelso revealed various examples of what he had witnessed to a shocked audience, Kelso sought out supporters, and in February of 1887, established the Toronto Humane Society. Twenty-three-year-old Kelso was the new organization’s first secretary. At first, the Humane Society also looked after children, but in 1890 Kelso organized the Children’s Aid Society of which he was elected president. In addition, Kelso was responsible for the province’s Adoption Act, the Children of Unmarried Parents Act, the Alexandra School for Girls, and several other child welfare projects, including school dental services and the Toronto Playground Association. Kelso helped the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia set up similar acts and programs. At the personal request of President Theodore Roosevelt, Kelso addressed the White House sponsored Child Welfare Conference in 1906. On September 30, 1935, at the age of 71, John Joseph Kelso died at the home of his daughter, 31 Delavan Avenue, in the village of Forest Hill.

Mike Filey
Mount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide
Second Edition Revised and Expanded