JAMES BROWN*
1776-1845

From "Montreal History and Gazeteer  to the year 1892"
By Rev. J. Douglas Borthwick,  John Lovell & Son, Montreal 1892

He was born in Glasgow in 1776, and came as a lad to Quebec. He then married at the early age of nineteen. In 1801 or 1802 he removed to Montreal and became a bookseller and stationer. He was the first of that class ever in the city. He also acquired, some time after, the proprietorship of the Gazette newspaper. As such, and in his store, quite a number of men were employed. About this time an American company (Thomas Mears, Ware and Jackson) commenced the erection of a paper mill at St. Andrews, Province of Quebec. This was the very first paper mill in all Canada. The mill fell into difficulties, and Mr. Brown had to take over as payment the entire concern, so that, over and above his store and newspaper, he was obligated to manufacture paper to keep the mill going. He industriously carried on the work for some twenty-five years, until the lease of the water-power expired. He also had disposed of the Gazette to Mr. Turner and his shop and business to other parties to enable him to give his attention to the mill.  Year after year he lost heavily by it. He died 23rd May, 1845, aged sixty years. His son was a well-known name in Montreal a quarter of a century ago - John O. Brown - who was one of the best auctioneers of Montreal.



From "James Brown, A Biography and Family History", Volume One.
Published 1967, by Alan O. Brown

James Brown was born in Glasgow January 20, 1776, one of  six children of John Brown and Isobel Paterson.  He arrived at Quebec in 1794, the only member of his family to make the journey at that time. He promptly went to work as a bookbinder for John Neilson, owner and publisher of the Quebec Gazette.  On December 31, 1795, at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Quebec City, he married Lydia Slater, born at New York October 3, 1781. The first two of their eleven children were born at Quebec.  In 1801 James left the employ of John Neilson and moved to Montreal where he set up a book and stationery store, and offered his services as a custom bookbinder.  By the end of his first year in Montreal, Brown realised that Edward Edwards, job printer and publisher of The Montreal Gazette, was not popular among local business men. At the end of his first year in Montreal he placed a large order for stationery supplies from England, confident that he could attract that portion of Edwards’ business.

In 1803 a group of New England paper makers arrived in Upper Canada and settled on a site in the village of St. Andrews for their mill. They promptly appointed James Brown as collector of  “Clean linen and cotton rags” for the mill, and as agent to sell their paper. In 1805 the mill  shipped its first paper to Brown.

Also in 1805 Brown realised the business men of Montreal were thinking of importing a printer because of Edwards’ local unpopularity. He had his own problems with Edwards when he discovered that as Postmaster he was delaying Brown’s mail. He gained proof of this and launched a suit in which he won £20 sterling and costs. In 1806 Brown decided to launch his own newspaper and ordered the necessary equipment. He published his first bilingual edition of The Canadian Gazette/La Gazette Canadienne August 3, 1807. Just nine months later Edward Edwards business failed. James Brown wrote, “Mr. Edwards office is seized by the landlord and the King; the former for rent and the latter for the post office affair, the title of our paper will be in the future The Montreal Gazette. This company Brown established has continued through various owners to the present day.  click on image for larger view

By 1806 the paper mill was having problems and accepted James Brown as a partner. He soon became the mill’s largest creditor, and then discovered they were selling paper elsewhere contrary to their partnership agreement. He launched a successful action against his partners, and by 1809 had taken over ownership of the mill.

He was now Publisher of The Montreal Gazette, owner of a papermill, sawmill and extensive farming operations at St. Andrews. During this period he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and Magistrate of Montreal. During the War of 1812 he was appointed Captain in the Parish of Argenteuil by Sir George Prevost. He took an active part in the Rebellion of 1836/37, at one point being made prisoner by the rebels.

By 1822 James Brown had disposed of his bookstore, and in May of that year he sold The Montreal gazette to Thomas Andrew Turner of Allison and Turner, so that he could devote his energies toward his businesses in St. Andrews. He played a large roll in the growth and prosperity of St. Andrews, supporting the community and Churches. By 1834 he was experiencing grave financial difficulties and was unable to renew his lease with the Seigneur for water rights.  His business ventures in St. Andrews collapsed and he returned to Montreal.  He died in 1845, and was buried in one of the old burial grounds in Montreal. His family later moved his remains and headstone to Mount Royal Cemetery. Upon the death of her husband, Lydia Slater returned to St. Andrews where she lived on for 29 years among members of her family. She died there in 1874.


*Researching James Brown................  Alan O. Brown   ggg grandson

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