George Brown

Section E, Lot 85
Toronto Necropolis

Born in Scotland in 1818, he and his father, Peter, moved to New York in 1837. They tried to run a newspaper, without success, and moved to Toronto to try. In August 1843, they produced the first edition of their new Toronto newspaper, called the Banner. George then started his own paper, which would champion responsible government and, with some backing, the first edition of the Globe, a 4-page weekly hit the streets on March 5, 1844. In the then Province of Canada, Brown's pronouncements against church-state ties drew favour within its predominantly Anglo-Protestant Upper Canadian half, but animosity in largely French-Catholic Lower Canada. Moreover, in 1853 he supported the idea of representation by population, which would give the more populous Upper Canada a majority of seats in the legislature. The Reform regime collapsed in 1854. The Liberal-Conservatives took office, while Brown sought to rebuild the Reform Party. In the interest of Reform unity, he won over the Clear Grit radicals, who were strong in rural Upper Canada. In January 1857, a reorganised Upper Canadian Reform Party adopted Brown’s policies of “rep by pop” and annexation of the Northwest, the fur trade expanse beyond the Great Lakes. This potent combination of Toronto leadership, the Globe’s influence and agrarian Grit numbers helped Brown’s Reform party sweep the Upper Canada elections of late 1857. In August 1858, Brown formed a government with Antoine-Aimé Dorion, head of the Lower Canada Parti Rouge; but the party was too fragmented, and it swiftly fell. Brown advocated, and worked very hard for confederation of the provinces, thus becoming a “Father of Confederation.” On March 25, 1880, while working in his newspaper office, Brown was shot in his King Street East office during a struggle with a distraught, drunk, recently fired newspaper employee. Though he survived the shooting, the wound became infected and after lingering for seven weeks, Brown eventually slipped into a coma and died on May 9, 1880. His assassin, George Bennet, was hanged at the Don Jail and buried, unidentified, in the prison graveyard*. Brown’s newspaper eventually merged with another to form today’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

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


*George Bennet’s body was exhumed during an archaeological investigation in 2007 – 2009 and, along with 14 other bodies, was re-interred in St. James Cemetery.

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