A Gentleman of Substance: The Life and Legacy of John Redpath (1796-1869)

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Dundurn, Apr 12, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 144 pages

A Gentleman of Substance covers the remarkable life of John Redpath. Born to humble circumstances in Scotland in 1796, he emigrated to Canada in 1816 to become a stonemason in Montreal. By 1818 he had his own building and contracting firm and was working on the Lachine Canal as well as much construction and restoration work on buildings in Montreal. His work on the Rideau Canal, as contracted by Colonel John By, established his business reputation, while his leadership within the Presbyterian Church stabilized his position in the community. His involvement in the political and military life of Montreal is traced from before the 1837 Rebellion period through to his involvement with the Annexation Movement, making him an obvious candidate for the Montreal City Council.

The author traces John Redpath’s upwardly mobile social status, his friendship with Peter McGill, and his acceptance into the elite society of Montreal, earning him a place within the coveted “Square Mile.” Despite a rigorous business schedule and extensive family responsibilities (he fathered 17 children), he was a frequent benevolent contributor to community needs, as well as participating on numerous Boards and Committees and contributing to the shaping of the urban design of Montreal. Attention is given to his expansive home, Terrace Bank, the subsequent subdivision of his estate and the early residential expansion of Montreal, and to his founding of the Canada Sugar Refinery and its growth.


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Chapter 1 From the Old World to the New
Chapter 2 A New Life in a New Land
Chapter 3 Working in the Wilderness
Chapter 4 A Tragic Loss and a New Beginning
Chapter 5 Defending Against Rebellion and a New Home
Chapter 6 We Stand on Guard
Chapter 7 Interlude
Chapter 8 Changing Fortunes
The John Redpath Family
Excerpt from Representation upon the Legislative Union of Upper and Lower Canada
Excerpt from When I Was a Little Girl by Lily Dougall
Excerpt from Charles Bullers Journal
Excerpt from the Montreal Annexation Manifesto of 1849
Selected Bibliography

Chapter 9 Realist Reformer Reactionary or Revolutionary?
Chapter 10 A New Direction
Chapter 11 A Gentleman of Substance
Chapter 12 But What Happened to ?

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About the author (2006)

Richard Feltoe was born in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, and initially came to Canada in 1967 at the age of 13. After completing high school in the Montreal suburb of Pointe-Claire, he returned to England in 1971 to undertake advanced (A) level studies and subsequently gained a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Economics from London University in 1976.

Richard has worked at the Redpath Sugar Museum since 1977 and currently holds the position of Museum Curator and Corporate Archivist. His major published works include A Gentleman of Substance: The Life and Legacy of John Redpath (1796-1869) and the two-volume corporate history Redpath: The History of a Sugar House and Let Redpath Sweeten It, and as well as several shorter monographs, pamphlets, research papers and magazine articles.

In addition to his comprehensive knowledge on the subject of sugar, he also has an avid interest in the military history of Canada, in particular the North American War of 1812-1815, and was a founding member of both the Military Re-enactment Society of Canada and the Upper Canada Living History Association. Since taking up re-enacting as a hobby in 1979, Richard has participated in Living History events throughout Canada, the United States and in Europe. He has also written a number of articles on facets of the war for various publications and is currently in the process of completing two larger military histories about the War of 1812-1815 within Upper Canada (Ontario).

Married in 1976, Richard and his wife Diane have two adult children (Jane and Mark) and live in the Toronto suburb of Brampton, Ontario.

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