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John Langton – One of the First Settlers in Fenelon Township, Founding Father of the University of Toronto, Canada’s First Auditor General

November 29, 2021

John Langton

For someone who lived grew up in the English elite, lived at the pinnacle of backwoods society, and went on to be a delegate as Canada was founded at Confederation, John Langton did not have an easy life. As a youth he had to overcome his family losing their fortune and business in the financial crisis that followed the Napoleonic Wars. As a younger son he would not inherit what was left of his father’s wealth, so he left for Canada to try to establish himself as a gentleman farmer. As a gentleman he was quite successful, and quickly became one of the most important figures in the district. As a farmer, he created a larger farm than anyone else in the township, but he was losing money.

In his heart he wanted to farm, but if he had carried on he would have lost it all. He had a way out, being an articulate gentleman with connections, he became a politician. Locally, he invested heavily in developing communities where he would never see a return on his investment. As a politician his talents shone through and he made essential contributions creating the University of Toronto as a secular institution (it originated as denominational, church-run colleges). He then went on to help establish the Canadian government and served as the country’s first Auditor General.

John Langton had a gift for language and writing, and his collection of papers Early Days in Upper Canada, is an engaging and witty read. It is now available on our website, along with his sister’s The Story of Our Family.

Early Days:

The Story of Our Family:

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