Biography of Lieut-Colonel David Wylie

David Wylie, generally called “the father of the Press,” and certainly a journalist of great experience as well as ability, is a son of. William and Mary (Orr) Wylie, who were married in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland, in 1804, and reared a family of five children, of whom David was the fourth child. Two of his brothers were sea captains, one of them of the Inman line of steamers. David was born in the village of Johnstone, parish of Paisley, March 23, 1811. Fortunately for him his father, who was a shoe dealer, was very fond of books, and encouraged David to cultivate a taste for reading, which he did at a very early age.

At fourteen he was apprenticed to a printer for the period of seven years, the last half of which period he spent in the University Printing Office, Glasgow, where, at the same time he also took lessons in Latin, French, and Stenography.

On completing his apprenticeship, Mr. Wylie spent three or four years on the Greenock Advertiser, there writing his newspaper items, and two or three short stories for that paper.

Afterwards he had a situation on the Glasgow Guardian, removing at the end of eighteen months to Liverpool, where he was reporter and proof reader for the Mail for eight years. We next find him at Manchester, on the Anti-Corn-Law Circular, the mouth piece of Cobden, Bright, and statesmen of that ilk. In a short time that publication went to London and he returned to Scotland, taking charge of the Fife Herald office, in the town of Cupar, a paper owned by George Tullis, and edited by Mr. Russell, afterwards of the Edinburgh Scotsman.

While in that place Mr. Wylie published a story called ” Life of a Convict,” and several metrical compositions in the Herald. At that period he was invited by John C. Becket, of Montreal, to come to Canada and take charge of his printing office, he being the publisher of several monthly periodicals. This offer Mr. Wylie accepted, arriving in Canada in September, 1845. At that time the subject of “Responsible Government” was claiming much attention, and he wrote several letters to the Fife Herald, earnestly and ably advocating the claims of such Government.

In 1849 Mr. Wylie left Mr. Becket to accept the situation of Parliamentary reporter for the Montreal Herald, writing meantime, more or less miscellaneously for the daily papers of Montreal, and a monthly magazine called The Literary Garland.

When the Parliamentary building was burned in 1849, he came to Brockville and took charge of the Recorder. Before leaving Montreal, however, and while the Government buildings were in hot ashes, a ” call for the Upper House ” was made, and Mr. Wylie wrote the report for the Herald all his but a single French speech occupying eighteen columns of that paper. So well pleased were the members of the House with his work during the session, that at its close they voted him a bonus of $50.

He made the Recorder a staunch Reform paper, and a power in this part of the Dominion. He advocated large liberties for the people, and limited powers for the Crown, being early made a Radical from witnessing the tyranny of the Government in the old world, when sixty years ago the spy system was in vogue, and when men who kept fire arms or even a rusty sword in their house, and spoke in contempt of the Government, were imprisoned or driven out of the country.

Mr. Wylie published the Brockville Recorder nearly thirty years, issuing a daily edition as well as weekly the last three years, selling out in September, 1875. In 1867 he collected his poems and published them in a small volume under the title of ” Waifs from the Thousand Isles,” which volume, we understand, had a cordial reception at the hands of the press and the public.

In 1870, under an engagement with the Provincial Government to bring the subject of ” Canada as a field for Immigration ” before the people of Scotland, he visited that country and his childhood’s home, and made a successful trip, his expenses only being borne, and he giving four months’ time gratuitously to the interests of his adopted country. By pen as well as tongue he laid the subject of his mission before the people, writing a series of letters for the Glasgow Herald.

While in Montreal Mr. Wylie joined a rifle company, and from that time has warmly favored the volunteer system of Militia, having passed through every grade from a private and corporal to major, and is now Lieutenant Colonel and Paymaster of the Militia District No. 4.

Colonel Wylie has been connected with the School Board since 1849, and is chairman of the Board in Brockville, and has been so for nearly twenty years. Nobody here takes a livelier interest in educational matters than he.

He is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and while in Montreal was an elder in that body. He has long borne a stable Christian character. His life has been one of great usefulness as well as activity, and he is well preserved, being a man of excellent habits. His stock of knowledge is very large, his communicative powers are admirable, and he is a good entertainer in the social circle.

Colonel Wylie has a second wife. His first was Miss Janet McNab, of Glasgow, married in 1834, and dying March 16, 1865. She had one child, Christina, a lovely young lady, who died at 23 years of age. His second wife was Mrs. Sophronia Craig, daughter of James Holden of Augusta, Grenville, married October 5, 1865. They have two children, William David Holden, aged thirteen, and Mary Esther, aged eleven years.



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