MONTGOMERY, JOHN, shipbuilder, merchant, and politician; b. 12 May 1800 at Fox Point, P.E.I., son of Donald Montgomery and Nancy Penman; m. 6 Feb. 1834 Elizabeth Hamilton, and they had seven daughters and one son; d. 9 Jan. 1867 at Dalhousie, N.B.
John Montgomery’s father was a magistrate in Prince County, P.E.I, and for many years a member of the assembly for the county. John was educated in public schools in Prince Edward Island and moved to New Brunswick, where he was among the first settlers of Dalhousie, a community laid out in 1826. There he established a shipyard in partnership with his brother Hugh, and they became leading shipbuilders and exporters of timber and fish. The great expansion in lumbering and shipbuilding along the Restigouche River, which had begun after the Miramichi Fire of 1825, brought about a rapid growth of the settlement and led to the creation of Restigouche County in 1837.
Montgomery took an active interest in the public affairs of Restigouche County and held a number of important county and parish offices. He was a justice of the peace, a justice of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas, an officer in the militia, a commissioner for solemnizing marriages, a commissioner of buoys and beacons for the port of Dalhousie, a commissioner for sick and disabled seamen, and a trustee of the Restigouche Grammar School. In 1848, 40 residents of Restigouche County complained to Lieutenant Governor Sir Edmund Walker Head that Montgomery was monopolizing local offices for himself and his friends. At that time the assembly had complete control over county and parish affairs, and as a mha Montgomery’s power to control local patronage was considerable.
Montgomery had a long career in New Brunswick politics. In April 1843 he had been appointed to the Executive Council and continued as a member of the council, without office, until February 1846. In the same year, he was elected to the assembly for Restigouche County and was re-elected in 1850. He was again appointed to the Executive Council in February 1853 and served until the new “smasher” administration took office in October 1854 [see Charles Fisher*]; he had, however, been re-elected in the 1854 elections. In July 1856 he was appointed surveyor general with a seat on the Executive Council in the administration of John Hamilton Gray* and held this post until June 1857. He was re-elected to the assembly in 1857 and again in 1861. He was in favour of confederation and was defeated in the anti-confederate election of March 1865. Subsequently he retired from politics.
A conservative, Montgomery was strongly opposed to universal suffrage and believed that the franchise should be based on property qualifications. He was an advocate of the north shore route of the Intercolonial Railway because he thought it would attract settlers and expand trade in the northeastern section of New Brunswick.
Montgomery was survived by his son William who was an mha for Restigouche County from 1867 to 1874. His grandson, William Scott Montgomery, was the first mayor of the town of Dalhousie when it was incorporated in 1905.
Montgomery’s initiative in the development of the lumbering and shipbuilding industry along the Restigouche and his prominence in public affairs at both the provincial and the local levels made him a man of considerable importance in 19th century New Brunswick.
PAC, MG 27, I, D15, Montgomery to Tilley, 9 July 1858, 8 Nov. 1859, 13 Nov. 1861, 10 Nov. 1863. PANB, J. C. and H. B. Graves, “New Brunswick political biography” (copy at UNBL); REX/px, 107, pp.5446–51 (mfm. at PAC). PRO, CO 193/25-48, blue books, 1842-65. Gleaner (Chatham, N.B.), 29 April 1834, 18 March 1865, 12 Jan. 1867. Morning Telegraph (Saint John, N.B.), March 1865, 24 Jan. 1867. N.B., House of Assembly, Debates, 1852, 1854–55, 1857, 1860. Thomas Pye, Canadian scenery: district of Gaspé (Montreal, 1866). CPC, 1869, 1871–74. Commemorative biographical record, county York, 113. The merchants’ and farmers’ almanack . . . (Saint John, N.B.), 1840–41, 1843–46, 1852–53, 1855–63. New-Brunswick almanac, 1825–36, 1842, 1849–51, 1864–66. Prominent people of New Brunswick in the religious, educational, political, professional, commercial and social activities of the province; also a brief historical and biographical reference to New Brunswickers of the past and to others of the province who have attained prominence elsewhere, comp. C. H. McLean ([Saint John, N.B.], 1937). G. B. MacBeath, The story of the Restigouche: covering the Indian, French, and English periods of the Restigouche area (Saint John, N.B., 1954). Past and present of Prince Edward Island . . . , ed. D. A. MacKinnon and A. B. Warburton (Charlottetown, ). Campbellton Graphic (Campbellton, N.B.), 4 March 1915. Daily Telegraph (Saint John, N.B.), 10 May 1907. Dalhousie News (Dalhousie, N.B.), 25 Aug. 1955. Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, N. B.), 7 Nov. 1940.