Henry W. Peterson

Author: Greta M. Shutt

Publication Date: 1967

 

An extract from The High Schools of Guelph, by permission.


.......Henry W. Peterson remained in Guelph, where he became County Crown Attorney. He served on the Guelph Board of Education for 45 years as member, chairman and secretary. He was remembered vividly by the late John M. Kearns, Q.C., County Crown Attorney in 1961, who was a young lawyer in the County when Peterson was C.C.A. Mr. Kearns described Henry Peterson as tall, gaunt and very quick. Some old records in Henry Peterson’s handwriting ... show a meticulous attention to detail.


Henry W. Peterson was not world renowned. He used his considerable abilities to build the young community. His work as County Crown Attorney was instrumental in maintaining law and order. He was named Clerk of the Peace in 1873. He served several years on the Town Council and was Mayor in 1863. As Reeve, he represented Guelph on the County Council.


He was a Royal Arch Mason of St. Andrew’s Chapter, Toronto. Brought up a Lutheran, he was a staunch churchman, first in the Church of England and later in Knox Presbyterian. What a weary load of tedious meetings he attended! His private life was not altogether happy; he had both domestic and financial troubles. However, his sense of public duty never faltered.


The Mercury of July 17, 1919, in recording his death, pays the following tribute:


“His life work has been of such a character as to render his services of signal usefulness and benefit to his fellow men ... He advocated many progressive measures which did much toward raising the standard of the schools. In 1899 he compiled the rules and regulations adopted by the Board of Education, which still govern the schools. (1913). The latter work remains a tribute to the knowledge and conception which Henry W. Peterson had of educational matters.


“His official services have been characterized by the utmost loyalty and fidelity to duty as well as promptness and efficiency in meeting the various calls made on him ...In politics he was never extreme. In municipal affairs he was always impartially free from politics and in the public interest.


“In private life he was a man of literacy and artistic taste, as his home, one of the most picturesque in Ontario, bears ample testimony. For 20 years or more he generously placed his extensive grounds at the command of various Sunday School organizations for picnics and other pleasures.”


Henry W. Peterson has been thus described at some length because he typifies many of the school’s brilliant graduates who have spent their lives for others, in public service.
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When the above was written, the author was able to contact a grandson of Henry W. Peterson, Clayton T. Peterson, then living at 318 Lake Promenade, Long Branch, Ontario. He is probably retired from school teaching by now; he was in charge of the commercial classes in one of the Toronto public schools. He had two sons, both lawyers, and both living in North Toronto. Henry W. Peterson had several children, one unmarried daughter kept the house for him. The charming old house, near Maple Street, was torn down to make room for a housing development.