The story of John Glasgow

John Glasgow was born on Feb. 15, 1821 in Leitholm, Berwickshire, Scotland. He emigrated to Canada with his family in 1832 and settled in Hamilton. After a few months, the family moved to East Flamborough because they were concerned about the cholera epidemic.

After his parents’ death, John stayed on the family farm and worked it until 1840, when he returned to Hamilton, where he served in the 1st Battalion of the Incorporated Militia. This was not his first military encounter; in 1837 he served at Toronto and Navy Island during the Mackenzie Rebellion.

In 1842, John returned to the farm in East Flamborough and was appointed lieutenant and adjutant of the East Flamborough militia. He also married Robina Mackenzie that year. Three years later he was promoted to the rank of captain, while still serving as adjutant. In 1865, he went to Toronto to enter the Military School.

In 1866, the Fenian Raids – attacks by the American-based Fenian Brotherhood on British military installations in an attempt to pressure Britain to pull out of Ireland – began. In response, John created a company of volunteers from East Flamborough, which he commanded. In 1868, he enlisted in the 13th Battalion of Hamilton and around the same time assisted in the creation of the 77th Battalion of Wentworth Volunteers, in which he remained until his retirement in 1883.

Glasgow was elected to the township council of East Flamborough from 1861-1868. In 1879, he was elected alderman for Ward 5, Hamilton and was chairman of the Board of Works for four years. He was also a Freemason and the Chairman of the Board of the St. Andrew’s Benevolent Society and a member of the Wentworth Historical Society.

When the Society published its first volume of papers in 1892, it included Glasgow’s reminiscences of his early years in East Flamborough, telling of arriving in the township when it was a wilderness, with hardly any trees chopped along the 5th Concession and the Finley, Foster and Baker families the only residents on the west side of Centre Rd. His father paid $4 an acre for their property on the east side and Hugh Creen was their nearest neighbour.

Glasgow died on Nov. 5, 1893. John was also a poet and his friends had a book of his poems published a few years after his death, a copy of which is held by the Flamborough Archives.

Sylvia Wray is the former archivist with the Flamborough Archives. She can be reached through the Archives at

This article was originally published in the Flamborough Review, 8 August 2013.


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