John Galt's Sons

Author: Unknown

Publication Date: 1963

Edited: 2021


One of the honoured members of the Society, Mr. Findlay Weaver, has lately been writing in his column, 'Lore of Bygone Days', articles about the three sons of John Galt, founder of Guelph. With assistance from Mr. Weaver’s articles, the files of the Galt Reporter for 1866, O.D. Skeleton’s Life and Times of Alexander Tilloch Galt, Western Ontario Historical Notes March 1963, the Encyclopedia Canadiana, and other sources, the GHS President, Mr. Hugh Douglass has written this short account of the three men who, like their father, dedicated their lives to serving Canada.


John Galt, Sr.

m. April 20, 1813

Elizabeth Tilloch

1. John Galt, Jr.

  b. August 13,1814

  d. May 21,1866

2. Thomas Galt

  b. August 12,1815

  d. June 29,1901

3. Alexander Tilloch Galt

  b. September 6,1817

  d. September 19,1893


In 1828, the three boys with their mother joined their father in Upper Canada. They came via New York, the Hudson River, the Erie Canal to Burlington, where they made their home at 'The Mountain.' Later, they came to Guelph and lived in 'The Priory.'     

In 1829, Galt lost favour with the Canada Company, and returned to England. He had spent his money and creditors crowded him. He was imprisoned for debt, the most outstanding account being that for £70 billed to him by a Mr. Valpy of Reading, tutor to John Galt’s sons. To pay off his debts, John Galt turned to writing plays, poems, novels, and magazine articles.

Before the end of April 1833, the boys left home and sailed for Canada to seek their fortune in the land they had already visited. John Galt, Jr. got the position of Collector of Customs and Registrar of Deeds and Goderich. He married Helen Lizars. On Friday, May 25, 2866, the Galt Reporter printed the following paragraph:


"A telegram from Ottawa on Monday last contains the following: A great sensation was caused here by the death this morning of Mr. John Galt, registrar of Huron and Bruce, who expired in an apoplectic fit in the Parliament Buildings. The deceased was the eldest son of the distinguished novelist and brother of the Finance Minster and Thomas Galt, Q.C., of Toronto."


He was 41 years old when he died.

The second son, Thomas, began work for the Canada Company in Toronto in 1833. He later went into law and became a judge. In 1847, he married Francis Louisa Perkins. In 1888, he was knighted and on August 31, 1894, he retired from judicial life. He did not move from Toronto. On the south wall of the plaque erected to commemorate Sir Thomas Galt and his family. That church, by the way, was also attended by the Chadwicks, another well-known family, some of whose members lived in Guelph.

The third son was Alexander Tilloch Galt. He was born in Chelsea, London, England. On his arrival in Canada, he became involved in the settlement of immigrants with the British American Land Company in the province of Quebec. Later, he was elected representative of Sherbrooke County as an Independent 1849-50 and 1853-72. He was one of the promoters of the Grand Trunk Railway. In 1858, he was a finance minister in the Cartier-Macdonald administration.  He was a delegate to the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences in 1864 and to the Westminster conference in 1866. He was one of the most important Fathers of the Confederation, because he was able to enlist Cartier’s assistance to get Lower Canada to come into Confederation. He also helped to frame the terms of the union. Especially interesting in his wording of Clause 93, paragraph three of the B.N.A. Act regarding the respect of the educational rights of religious minorities which was to extend to all of the provinces. He was the first Minister of Finance in Sir John. A. Macdonald’s parliament in 1867 but resigned. In 1869 he was knighted. In 1872, he retired from parliament being opposed to the construction of the C.P.R. From 1880 until 1883 he was appointed Canada’s first High Commissioner to London.

In 1848, he married Elliott, daughter of John Torrance of Montreal. She died, and in 1851 he married her sister, Amy Gordon Torrance. Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt died at the age of 76 at his home on Mountain Street, Montreal.


There are several descendants of Thomas and Alexander Tilloch Galt, but I do not know if John Galt, Jr. had any children.