LYNCH, JOHN, farmer, brewer, office-holder, real estate broker, and essayist; b. 9 Nov. 1798 in Gorham, N.Y., son of David Lynch who was a native of Ireland; d. 12 Oct. 1884 in Brampton, Ont.
John Lynch immigrated with his family from New York State to the Cornwall, Upper Canada, area in 1813. Six years later he homesteaded his own farm in Chinguacousy Township, on land which is now part of Brampton. In 1832 he put his farm out to rent and began a new career in York (Toronto) as a brewer. The next year he was appointed a justice of the peace, a commission he held for the rest of his life. After a few years in the city he returned to his farm, but by 1839 he had joined John Scott, his neighbour and brother-in-law, in a brewery and ashery in the Brampton area. In 1859 he left the business and established himself as a real estate broker and land conveyances in Brampton. By that time he had acquired several town lots in addition to his own land on the edge of the growing village.
Lynch threw himself into the municipal life of Brampton and its locality. In 1852 he was elected reeve of Chinguacousy Township and after Brampton was incorporated as a village in that year he served as the first reeve. The next year he helped found the County of Peel Agricultural Society in which he remained active as the secretary treasurer from 1853 to 1869. His leadership abilities were recognized in 1855 when he was appointed commander of the local militia unit, the 6th Peel Battalion, in which he rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Throughout these decades Lynch was part of the campaign which achieved the complete separation of Peel County from York County in 1866 and the incorporation of Brampton as the county town.
Although Lynch had little formal schooling, he succeeded in gaining a modest reputation as an essayist and compiler. Between 1856 and 1858 he submitted five prize-winning essays to the Journal and Transactions of the Board of Agriculture of Upper Canada. Four of the essays, models of careful research and thorough if optimistic analysis, related the farming methods being used in the counties of Peel, Simcoe, Grey, and Bruce. The other essay, “Agriculture and its advantages as a pursuit,” printed in the journal in 1856, is a typical example of 19th-century agricultural “boosterism.” It concludes that the “pursuit of agriculture may be considered as desirable to the higher classes, or the affluent, as a source of healthful recreation and rational enjoyment; profitable to the middle classes as the best means of acquiring and retaining a competency; and necessary to the lower classes, as affording the means of subsistence, and almost the only pursuit by which they can ever hope materially to improve their condition.” In 1874 he compiled a directory of Peel County, enlivened with historical sketches and personal reminiscences. Lynch’s last literary effort of note was the publication as a pamphlet of a lecture he had given before the mechanics’ institute in Brampton in 1867, Canada: its progress and its prospects (1876). It epitomized his guiding philosophy: Canada is a great land with the capability of outstripping even the United States in material development if its people have the fortitude to take advantage of the opportunities so abundantly offered.
Lynch’s personal life, like that of many a pioneer, was marked by tragedy. A devout Roman Catholic (he donated the land for the local church), in 1832 he married Susan Monger, the daughter of a prominent Methodist, but the union ended with her untimely death the following year in childbirth. In 1845 he married Anna McCormick, who died nine years later, leaving an infant daughter.
Abstemious, respected, and full of the earnest dignity of the self-made man, Lynch earned a prominent place in Peel society. He symbolized that class of pioneer whose patriotic faith, local pride, and personal initiative forged communities and made their institutions work.
John Lynch wrote “Agricultural report on the county of Peel – 1853”; “Agriculture and its advantages as a pursuit”; “Report of the agricultural condition and prospects of the county of Bruce”; “Report on the industrial condition, resources, prospects, extent and boundaries of the county of Simcoe”; and “Report of the state of agriculture, &c., in the county of Grey – 1853” in vols.1 (1856) and 2 (1858) of Upper Canada, Board of Agriculture, Journal and Trans. (Toronto). He also wrote Canada: its progress and its prospects; a lecture . . . for the Brampton Mechanics’ Institute on the 10th of April 1867 . . . (Brampton, Ont., 1876), and compiled the Directory of the county of Peel, for 1873–4 (Brampton, 1874); the section on Brampton in the latter was reprinted in 1973.
Peel County Surrogate Court (Brampton), no.873, will of John Lynch, 14 Nov. 1885 (mfm. at AO). PAC, RG 68, General index, 1841–67: 472. United Counties of York and Peel, Municipal Council, Minutes ([Toronto]), 1854. United Counties of York, Ontario, and Peel, Municipal Council, Minutes ([Toronto]), 1852–53. Conservator (Brampton), 24 Oct. 1884. Canadian biog. dict., I: 711–12. Brampton’s 100th anniversary as an incorporated town, 1873–1973 (Brampton, 1973), 152–54. W. P. Bull, From Brock to Curries: the military developments and exploits of Canadians in general and of the men of Peel in particular, 1791 to 1930 (Toronto, 1935), 207; From Macdonell to McGuigan: the history of the growth of the Roman Catholic Church in Upper Canada (Toronto, 1939), 283–84, 388–89.