ELLIS, JOHN, printer and musician; baptized 21 Jan. 1795, at Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, Eng., son of Anne Ellis; d. 19 Nov. 1877, near Toronto, Ont.
John Ellis was apparently comfortably established in London, England, by 1836. He had a business in the City in Old Broad Street and was a freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company; he owned two country properties in Essex; his wife of eight years, Rhoda Anne Benton, had just had their first child. But in that year he sold the London property and in August the family sailed for British North America, reaching Toronto in October. For a year or two Ellis “bushed it” west of the city on land adjoining that of John George Howard*.
In the early 1840s Ellis opened an office in Toronto as an engraver, eventually extending into lithographic printing of substantial projects, including the Plan of Toronto in about 1858. Probably the main line of business was stationery. In 1867 the firm was bought by Joseph T. Rolph and, with mergers, has since grown into the modern lithographic house of Rolph-Clark-Stone, Limited.
Ellis was an enthusiastic, and reportedly an accomplished, amateur cellist, prominent in the city’s young musical life. With the Reverend John McCaul* he organized the Toronto Philharmonic Society in 1845 and served on its committee for many years. He was also a founder, and the orchestra leader, of the Toronto Vocal Music Society.
Ellis was Anglican, Conservative, and an early member of the St George’s Society in Toronto. After retiring from business he lived at his old home overlooking Humber Bay, where he died in 1877.
MTCL, Plan of Toronto, surveyed and compiled by W. S. and H. C. Boulton, Toronto, 1858(?). A xerox of a manuscript, “R.C.S. LTD,” with additional comments by Arthur Alder can be found at Rolph-Clark-Stone, Limited, Toronto. Globe (Toronto), 21 Nov. 1877. The Toronto directory and street guide for 1843–4, ed. Francis Lewis (Toronto, 1843), 35. Brown’s Toronto city and Home District directory, 1846–7 (Toronto, 1846), 23. City of Toronto directory for 1867–8 (Toronto, 1867), 380. W. C. Chewett & Co’s Toronto city directory for 1868–9 (Toronto, 1868), 399. Commemorative biog. record, county York, 519–20. Helmut Kallmann, A history of music in Canada, 1534–1914 (Toronto and London, 1960), 98. Middleton, Municipality of Toronto, I, 525. W. H. Pearson, Recollections and records of Toronto of old, with references to Brantford, Kingston and other Canadian towns (Toronto, 1914), 213–14.