READ, JOHN LANDON, farmer, militiaman, merchant, justice of the peace, and office holder; b. c. 1787 in Township No.7 (Augusta, Ont.), son of Obediah Read and Lydia Landon; m. first c. 1812 Jennet Breakenridge (d. 1832), and they had four sons, including David Breakenridge Read*, and four daughters; m. secondly 23 July 1835 Hannah Elizabeth Harper (d. 1836) of Ogdensburg, N.Y., and there were no children; m. thirdly 12 Sept. 1837 Ann Miller (d. 1845), with whom he had two children; d. 19 Feb. 1857 in Chatham, Upper Canada.
John Landon Read’s father and his grandfather, Moses, came from Connecticut and arrived in Upper Canada as unincorporated loyalists, who had not done military service. Obediah settled on lot 37, concession 3, of Township No.7 (named Augusta in 1788), where he built a stone house, Readholme, which still stands. He was a deacon in the Baptist church and often held meetings in his home. John grew up in a large family of nine children. He served in the War of 1812 and reputedly was present at the taking of Ogdensburg in February 1813. From that year to 1829 he lived on lot 36, concession 2, in Augusta, where he placed 40 acres under cultivation and prospered enough to live in a frame-house. By 1819 he had become a Methodist and had established a mercantile business at Maitland.
In 1830 he moved north with his growing family to Merrickville, a milling centre founded about 1800 on the Rideau River in Wolford Township. With the construction of the Rideau Canal (1826–32), opportunities for secondary services such as stores increased. Read quickly established himself as a merchant, supplying settlers not only in Wolford and adjoining Montague Township but also as far away as Perth. In 1836 he joined three other merchants in petitioning the government, on behalf of the village, for land on which a joint-stock company could erect more mills. This petition, which was eventually placed before Captain Daniel Bolton, the royal engineer in charge of the canal, might be read as the rising élite challenging the old. In 1838 Read, now a member of the Church of England, headed a petition to Bishop George Jehoshaphat Mountain* asking him to consecrate Trinity Church in Merrickville.
Read became involved in municipal affairs at an early date. He received his first commission as a magistrate on 22 July 1833. During the troubled general election of 1836 he was returning officer for the riding of Grenville. The election was being held at Merrickville when, on the fourth day of voting, the poll was attacked by a mounted party from adjacent Leeds County, where a strong anti-reform coalition had been formed to support Lieutenant Governor Sir Francis Bond Head*. The horsemen seized the poll-books and proceeded to shred them over the village green. Read knew that the reform candidates, Hiram Norton and William Benjamin Wells*, were leading the poll at the time of the attack and confirmed their election, although he himself was a staunch tory. For a number of years Read also served as a road commissioner for Wolford Township and in 1850 was its first reeve.
By 1848 the operation of his store, which stood alongside the Rideau River where high waters occasionally caused problems, appears to have been taken over by William Case Read, his second son. In the 1851 census John Landon Read is still listed as a merchant in Merrickville, living with his youngest son. By 1853 he is no longer there and it seems probable that about this time he went to Chatham, where his eldest son, James, had lived. John Landon Read died there on 19 Feb. 1857 but was buried in Merrickville. Born into a prominent pioneer family, he had proved himself a man of integrity and substance.
ACC-O, Merrickville parish records, J. L. Read et al., petition to G. J. [Mountain], 4 Nov. 1838; reg. of baptisms, marriages, and burials. AO, RG 21, United counties of Leeds and Grenville, Augusta Township, list of inhabitants and assessment rolls; Wolford Township, assessment rolls, 1830, 1844–48; RG 22, ser.179, Moses Read. PAC, RG 1, L3, 423: R3/3; 427: R11/10; 435A: R20/58; RG 5, A1: 105277–79; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841: 479. QUA, United counties of Leeds and Grenville, land registry copy book, liber F, instrument 321. A summary of the proceedings of the council of the District of Johnstown and the council of the united counties of Leeds and Grenville, 1842–1942, comp. William Jelly (Brockville, Ont., 1943), 11, 58. Chatham Planet (Chatham, [Ont.]), 19 Feb., 6 March 1857. Christian Guardian, 7 March 1832. Church, 8 Aug. 1845. Correspondent and Advocate (Toronto), 20 Aug. 1835, 26 July 1844. Chadwick, Ontarian families. Illustrated historical atlas of the counties of Leeds and Grenville (Belleville, Ont., 1973). Marriage notices of Ontario, comp. W. D. Reid (Lambertville, N.J., 1980), 115. Ella Read Wright, Reed–Read lineage; Captain John Reed of Providence, R.I., and Norwalk, Conn., and his descendants through his sons, John and Thomas, 1660–1909 (Waterbury, Conn., 1909). T. W. H. Leavitt, History of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario, from 1749 to 1879 . . . (Brockville, 1879; repr. Belleville, 1972). D. B. Read, The Canadian rebellion of 1837 (Toronto, 1896).