Who was James Johnston?
He was born in Ireland and came to Canada in 1815, moving to Bytown in 1827. He worked as an auctioneer and merchant there. He was a member of the Orange Order and for a short time, operated a newspaper, the Bytown Independent, and Farmer’s Advocate, which he used mainly as a platform to criticize a number of prominent political figures of the time. In 1837, he suffered a number of attacks from organized Irish thugs known as Shiners. Johnston had complained to Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head against their leader, Peter Aylen, because of his apparent immunity to the law. Aylen's men attacked him in his home and then attempted to kill him while he was returning home at night. These incidents helped establish the need for police services in the town.
In 1841, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada representing Carleton and he was reelected in 1844. He helped promote the interests of his area and lobbied for the selection of Bytown as a capital. Although he originally considered himself a Reformer, he opposed responsible government.
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- Jun 16, 1849
on July 23, 2013
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