ARMSTRONG, JAMES ROGERS, merchant, foundry owner, and politician; b. 17 April 1787 at Dorchester (Iberville), Que., son of an Irish father, John Armstrong, and Mary Rogers, oldest daughter of loyalist Major James Rogers* who commanded a battalion of King’s Rangers during the American Revolution; d. 13 July 1873 at Whitby, Ont.
After the early death of both his parents, James Rogers Armstrong was in 1796 sent to school in Vermont. He was living in Upper Canada by 1807, when on 9 October he married, at Hallowell (later part of Picton), Hannah Dougall, daughter of William Dougall, a pioneer Prince Edward County doctor. Armstrong acquired land in Hallowell Township (and, as the son of a loyalist, in Vaughan Township, York County) and farmed in Hallowell for a short time. He then became a merchant, first in Picton, then in Kingston about 1822, and finally in York where he opened a dry goods store in 1828. Some time in the 1840s he established the Toronto firm of J. R. Armstrong and Company, Toronto City Foundry, which specialized in the manufacturing of stoves, some of them of Armstrong’s own design. At the age of 69 he moved to Whitby, where he spent the rest of his life, leaving the management of the company to his son James Rogers Armstrong.
During the 1830s he played some part in public life. He served briefly on the first York Board of Health during the cholera epidemic of 1832. He was elected to the House of Assembly of Upper Canada for Prince Edward County in 1836 as a Conservative but he was not a candidate in the election of 1842. In 1837 he was appointed a justice of the peace for the Home District.
Armstrong was a prominent member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, a fact evidenced by the marriage of his daughter Mary to the Reverend Egerton Ryerson* (as his second wife) and of his daughter Eleanor to Dr John Beatty, professor at Victoria College. A third daughter, Phoebe Anne, married George Duggan, recorder of Toronto and judge of the county of York.
PAC, RG 1, L3, A15/10, 31; RG 68, 1. PAO, James Dougall papers, J. R. Armstrong to the electors of Prince Edward County, 11 June 1836. “Assessment of the township of Hallowell for the year 1808,” Ont. Hist., VI (1905), 168–70. J. of Education for Ont., XXVI (1873), 140. “Marriage register of Stephen Conger, J.P., Hallowell,” Ont. Hist., I (1899), 109–12. Town of York, 1815–1834 (Firth). Upper Canada, House of Assembly, Journals, 1837–40. The Canada directory . . . 1851, ed. R. W. S. Mackay (Montreal, 1851). The Canada directory for 1857–58 . . . (Montreal, 1857). Chadwick, Ontarian families, II, 7–10. Canniff, Medical profession in Upper Canada, 223–24, 241–42, 344–45.