Col. John Walker, a native of Argyleshire, Scotland, was born in 1832. He was educated in Stirling, and began business first in Leith, but subsequently removed to Glasgow where he continued until 1864 when he came to Canada. Being a man of excellent business qualifications he was selected by Scotch capitalists to come out here to take charge of the Bothwell property which they had acquired from the Hon. George Brown, for the purpose of farming the lands and developing the oil interests. During the oil excitement subsequent to Col. Walker’s arrival at Bothwell, the population being greatly augmented by a decidedly rough element from the States, he was, in addition to his other duties, specially appointed magistrate. He seemed specially fitted for the position, and by prompt and energetic action speedily compelled the disturbing classes to have a wholesome respect for the laws.
In 1867 he removed to London, his present home, and erected chemical works for the manufacture of sulphuric acid; subsequently went largely into the oil refining business, and in both of these enterprises he is still successfully engaged. Since coming to London he has become well known as a public spirited citizen who takes a decided interest in all matters affecting the welfare of the city, and is very properly recognized as one of its representative and influential men. For several years, up to 1880, he was president of the mechanics’ institute. It was under his auspices that the fine structure which this association now occupies was erected, and he still takes much interest in its work. At the present time he is president of St. Andrew’s society. At one time he was connected with the Canada Pacific railway, being vice-president under Sir Hugh Allan.
In 1866, at the time of the Fenian troubles, Col. Walker raised the Bothwell company of volunteers, and in 1870 when the Fenians threatened another invasion he having become Major in the 7th battalion, was sent to Windsor in command of the militia forces there. In 1877 he was made Colonel of the 7th, and has been its commander since. He is a member of the council of the Dominion rifle association, and is one of the vice-presidents of the Ontario rifle association. Although having an aversion to political office, Col. Walker has by force of circumstances taken an active interest in politics in London and surrounding constituencies since 1874, on the Liberal side. At the elections for the Commons in that year he contested the city against the Hon. John Carling, and was elected by a majority of over seventy votes, but subsequently was unseated. He again contested the seat in 1878 and was defeated by Mr. Carling.
The wife of Col. Walker is Laura, daughter of Jacob Hespeler, of Hespeler, Ont., by whom he has one child a daughter.