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John George Muir (1859 - 1939)

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John George Muir
Born in Scarborough Township, Canada Westmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married about in Aurora, Ontariomap
Descendants descendants
Died in Newmarket, Ontario, Canadamap
Profile last modified | Created 7 Jun 2013
This page has been accessed 495 times.


John George is born in Canada West on January 30, 1859, the son of Agnes Thomson (1837-1865) and Alexander Muir (1830-1906). He is baptised in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Bendale, Scarborough Township on May 1, 1859. His father, who was born in Scotland, is most famously known as the composer of the “The Maple Leaf Forever” which, for a time, was an unofficial national anthem for many Canadians. On his mother’s side, James is descended from two of the earliest Scotch families to settle in Scarborough – the Thomson’s who were the first European settlers in Scarborough in 1799 and the Paterson’s who settled in 1820 along what is now the east side of Kennedy Road between Finch and Sheppard Avenues. Scarborough Township is now a part of Toronto, Ontario.

The Baptism record indicates that John George was living at “Springfield” at the time of the baptism. This is Springfield Farm located in Lot 23, Concession 1 of Scarborough Township. His parents may have lived the first few years of their married life with the parents of Agnes Thomson – Agnes Paterson (1800-1875) and James Andrew Thomson (1802-1884) who was known as “Springfield Jimmy.” In today’s geography, this is on the north side of Lawrence Avenue, west of McCowan Road. Today this land sits beside the Thomson Memorial Park. While the Baptism Register records “Springfield” as the residence for the first two children born to Agnes Thomson, the obituary for John George actually suggests he was born at the corner of Kennedy Road and the Danforth, a few kilometres to the southwest of Springfield. This is where his father was teaching.

John George shows up in the 1861 census as a three-year old living with his parents and one younger brother in Scarborough. He has not been found in the 1871 census. In 1873 the family moves to Newmarket, Ontario. This is about 50 kilometres north of Toronto. His father had a teaching job in Newmarket and, in 1875-1876, was the village clerk.

On May 5, 1875, John George starts as an apprentice at the Newmarket Era, the local newspaper. Working hours are 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (likely for six days a week) and an apprentice often has to work longer to do things like get the fire going in the morning or sweep up after work.

In 1880, John George goes to Michigan where he lives for about two years. Interestingly, the Canadian census of 1881, conducted in the spring of the year, shows him as a 22-year old living with his family in Toronto. The census shows his occupation as a printer. It is possible that he was in Michigan in the spring of 1881 and someone in the family just reported him as a part of the household in Toronto when the census taker came knocking.

The information that he went and lived in Michigan for two years is from a biography in the Newmarket Era published in 1933. It is always possible that this biography got some of its facts incorrect. But, and while on the subject of possibilities, it might also be noted that the US census of 1880 shows a 20-year old John G. Muir working as a farm labourer in Spring Valley, Colusa, California. (This is northwest of Sacramento.) This particular John G. Muir was born in Canada and the census record shows that both parents were born in Scotland (only his father was). So here in the period 1880-to-about-1882 we possibly have John in Michigan, or California, or back at home with his family in Toronto. It is impossible to untangle all these threads. Suffice it to note that John George went to the United States for a period of time and then returned to Canada.

When John returns to Canada, probably in the spring of 1882, he works for the summer on a freight boat in Lake Simcoe. He then gets a job at the Aurora Borealis where he stays until September 1883. It has not been determined who or what the Aurora Borealis is or was – it sounds like a newspaper, but no Internet searching has yet confirmed this.

On about September 21, 1883 -- the newspaper announcement was on September 21 -- John George Muir marries Minnie OUGH (1860-c1924) in Aurora. Aurora is on Yonge Street directly south of Newmarket.

Minnie Ough was born on November 16, 1860 in Ontario, the daughter of William Ough (c1838-?) and Mary Ann Unknown (c1841-?). William was born in England; Mary Ann was born in Ireland. Minnie – her proper name is Mary Elizabeth – is in the 1871 census, at the age of ten, living with her family in Aurora. Her father appears to be (the writing is not clear) a tin smith. In the 1881 census, Minnie (“Libbie”) is working as a servant in the household of Mrs. and Mrs. Lloyd in Newmarket.

At about the same time as the wedding (September 1883), John George and Minnie move into Newmarket where John buys or opens a billard parlour which he runs for about three years. In 1887, John George gets a job in Ottawa for the Government Printing Bureau. This job only lasts a year. He then returns to Newmarket and goes back to work for the Newmarket Era, where he would stay until retirement. He is active in the Masonic Order, which he joins in 1910 and, as a hobby, he takes up painting.

Although the famly has not been found in the 1891 census, they are in both the 1901 and 1911 census records living in Newmarket. The 1901 record shows John (“George J.”) as a printer making $500 a year. The 1911 record puts the family’s address on Church Street and shows John as a printer making $750 a year. In both census records the family’s religion is shown as Methodist, suggesting that John George adopted Minnie’s religion after they were married.

Minnie dies in about 1924 and John George stays on in the house in Newmarket – although in 1933 he does rent the house and move in with his daughter in Thornhill for a least one winter.

In June 1939, after finishing putting coal in his house for the next winter, John George is walking on Main Street in Newmarket and is in the process of crossing Timothy Street when he is struck by a car driven by an inexperienced driver. He dies the next day in York County Hospital. The headline in the Newmarket Era reads “Artist and Printer Dies Following Main St. Motor Accident.” A person who witnessed the accident is Dan Teasdale, the grandson of John George. Dan did not know it was his grandfather who was struck by the car until the day after the accident. It is not known where John George and Minnie are buried.

John George and Minnie had four daughters, although one dies as an infant (so her position in the following list is uncertain):

  • Gertrude Muir (1884-?) + William Howarth (1881-?)
  • Colline Edna Muir (1890>1957) + Joseph Rennie Teasdale
  • Vera Muir (?-?)
  • Rhena Jean Muir (1896-1978) + Herman Ellrie Gilroy (1894-?)


[1] The 1968 Paterson family tree shows John as the 1st child of Agnes & Alex; his spouse, Elizabeth Ough; 3 children – Gertrude, Edna & Rhena [there was a 4th, Vera, who died in childhood]; and it shows many grandchildren and great-grandchildren..

[2] St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Bendale, Baptism Register: John George, born 30 Jan 1859, baptised 1 May 1859, father Alexander Muir, mother Agnes Thomas, Springfield.

[3] Newmarket Era, Oct. 13, 1933, pg 1: This contains a biography of John George Muir and many details have been incorporated into the biography appearing here.

[3] 1861 census, Ontario, York, Scarborough, pg 73, lines 7-10; Alexander Muir (30), born Scotland, [cannot read occupation, it is clearly not “farmer” and may be anything from “Icailar” to “Jailar” – can’t read it]; Agnes, (36), born Upper Canada, ; John G. (3); James (1).

[4] John’s early years: even though he has not been found in the 1871 census, it is known that his father was a teacher in Toronto until 1870, after which he taught in several schools, one of them being in Newmarket ( Further, his father, Alexander Muir was the village clerk in Newmmarket from April 1875 until January 1876. He moved back to the city of Toronto by 1880. ( J. Paul Green, “MUIR, ALEXANDER,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed November 11, 2013,

[5] 1871 census, Ontario, 43 York, village of Aurora, pg 34, household 120: William Ough (33), born England, [?occupation looks like Tim Smith]; Mary Ann (30), born Ireland; Mary E (10); Ann J (8); William J (6); Mary (2); John (9 months). All children were born in Ontario. The family’s religion is Wesleyan Methodist.

[6] "United States Census, 1880," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 03 Nov 2014), John G Muir in household of John Ruser, Spring Valley, Colusa, California, United States; citing sheet 459C, NARA microfilm publication T9. The record shows a John G. Muir (20) born abt 1860 in Canada working as a farm labourer. He is single and the record shows both his parents were born in Scotland. There is no proof that this is the John George Muir of interest to this biography.

[7] 1881 census, Ontario, Toronto, 134, St Andrew Ward G, division 2, pg 35: Alexander Muir (50), born Scotland, school teacher; Mary A. (33); John G (22), printer; James J (19); Colinette (17); Alice A (14); Charles (10); ?Eda Thomas (23)

[8] 1881 census, Ontario, 137, pg 65, household 332: Thomas Llyod (35) & family. Thomas is a Vet Surgeon; he is Welsh and has a wife and 3 children. Living in the household is a Libbie Ough (22), a servant, born in Ontario. She is English and her religion is Methodist. (The Lloyd family is Presbyterian).

[9] Newmarket Era, Sept 21, 1883, pg 3 – wedding announcements “Mr J. G. Muir, formerly of this office, [barely legible] Miss Minnie Ough eldest daughter of Mr. William Ough of Aurora.” The wedding occurred in Aurora at the residence of Mr William Ough.

[10] 1901 census, Ontario, 99 Ontario [?West], Town of Newmarket, pg 5, household 59: George J. Muir (42), born Jan 30, 1859, printer ; Minnie E. (40), born Nov 13, 1860; Gertrude (16), born June 30, 1884; Edna (11), born Jan 23, 1890; Rena (4), born July 5, 1898. All members of the household were born in Ontario. They are all labelled “Scotch” with the exception of Minnie who is English. The family’s religion is “Meth” [Methodist]. George is an employee earning $500/yr. (This record was found with the help of, transcriber Jo Anne Cottrell.)

[11] 1911 census, Ontario, 137 York North, Newmarket Town pg 21, household 241: John Geo Muir (51), born Jan 1859, occupation is [?] freeman printer and he works in the “Era office” [Newmarket Era, the local newspaper], making $725/yr; Minnie (50), born Nov 1860 ; Rena (13), born July 1897, in school. All household members were born in Ontario, they are all labelled “Scotch” and their religion is shown as Methodist. They live on Church [?St?]

[12] staff report, Jan 31, 2000 at The report is about naming a street in Toronto after Agnes Thomson and, in the report, the life of Alexander Muir is dicussed. There is a short paragraph on the 3 children of Agnes & Alexander: “John George, James Joseph and Colinetta Campbell. Colinetta married a New Yorker, Converse Kellogg and moved to the United States where she raised her family. John George settled in Newmarket, Ontario, where he had moved with his father as a child. He worked at the Era Newspaper and remained there until his death. He married and had a family. His descendants are still in Newmarket today. James never married and became destitute before being placed in a charitable men's home later in his life.”

[13] Newmarket Era, June 1939 – reports on the death of George Muir [John George Muir] “Accident. Was 80 Years. Son Of Alexander Muir “ “Seriously injured by a car which carried him from the street up on the sidewalk and crushed him against the Bank of Montreal building on Main St. on Friday evening at 9.30 p.m., George Muir died the following morning shortly before 7 o'clock at York County Hospital. “


Thank you to Katharine E for creating WikiTree profile Muir-653 through the import of andrew thomson.ged on Jun 7, 2013. Click to the Changes page for the details of edits by Katharine and others.

The current biography was prepared by Fred Paterson Nix on Nov 3, 2014.

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Categories: Scarborough Township, Canada West