A Blupete Biography Page


John Young
(1773-1837)

Young was born near Falkirk; he was educated at Glasgow University. It was thought by the family that John should go into the ministry; John had other ideas. These other ideas were not going to be supported by his family, so John was on his own. He eked out a living as a small time merchant at Falkirk and later at Glasgow. After a few years, Young determined that his fortune might lie across the seas. Professor MacLean gave us a short description of John Young's arrival at Nova Scotia:

"On 30 April 1814 he arrived at Halifax with his wife and four sons, and immediately turned his attention to the disposal of a large stock of dry goods he had brought with him. Shortly thereafter he began a business under the name of John Young and Company."1
While a merchant at Halifax, Young's main interest was agriculture. This interest led him to write, anonymously, a series of articles beginning in 1818 in the Acadian Recorder which became known as "Letters to Agricola." The Lieutenant-Governor, Lord Dalhousie, was much impressed:
"He ['Agricola'] is a Mr. John Young, a small merchant here [Halifax], & the same person that has Long been supposed the author. He is a Scotchman from Falkirk, educated for the Church, a good classical scholar, & fond of study, so much as perhaps to have injured his pursuit in trade ..."2
All of this sparked an interest in agriculture, or rather the improvement of it, in the highest of circles. In 1818 the authorities set up a Board of Agriculture and appointed Young to be its Secretary. Joe Howe wrote of Young:
"The secret about 'Agricola's' letters had been well kept and the mystery became very mysterious. At last the authorship was announced, and it was then discovered that a stout Scotchman, who kept a small grocer's shop in Water Street and whom nobody knew or had met in "good Society," was the great unknown. Ovations were got up under the patronage of the Earl [Dalhousie]; and the Judges, and leading merchants, and lawyers came forward and fraternized with the stout Scotchman, who being a man of good education and fine powers of mind, was soon discovered to speak with as much ease and fluency as he wrote."3
In 1819, Young purchased a farm on penninsular Halifax. It was called Willow Park4. Young persuaded his supporters to make it a model farm and he ran it as such to the year of his death in 1837.5

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NOTES:

1 DCB. Though Young had a retail store at Halifax, he also bought and sold goods in large lots. When the British took Castine, he went there and apparently made money. Though the two nations were at war, he sold British goods to Americans and smuggled American goods back to Halifax for resale. (See, D. C. Harvey's "Pre-Agricola John Young," NSHS, Vol. 32.)

2 The Dalhousie Journals, (Oberon Press; 1978, 1981, & 1982), Vol. 1, p. 109.

3 "Notes on Several Governors and Their Influence," NSHS, Vol #17 (1913), p. 197.

4 The farm was, in time, bought up by developers. It covered an area in Halifax bounded by Windsor Street, Oxford street, Young Street and Vienna Street.

5 Young, incidentally, served as a member of the legislature from 1825 to 1837 for Sydney.

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Peter Landry
2011