This Week in History
Honest John Carling - Brewer and Politician
For the week of Monday January 18, 2010
His political career began in 1855, when he was elected to London’s city council. In this role, Carling helped found the city’s Board of Trade and collected funds to rebuild several shops that had burned down. At a GWR meeting, soon-to-be Prime Minister John A. Macdonald asked Carling to leave local politics and run for the Conservative party in the 1857 election. He took Macdonald’s advice and was elected to the Upper Canada Legislative Assembly. In 1867 he served in Canada’s first federal government.
In 1885, Macdonald appointed Carling the Minister of Agriculture, a role in which he preformed exceptionally. Carling’s most notable contribution was the creation of the Dominion Experimental Farms. These experimental farms conducted research into agricultural problems in an effort to improve farm production. Five experimental farms were opened across Canada to meet the regional needs of the many different climates and ecosystems.
The belief that one should serve his community ran strong in Carling, and he never forgot his hometown. Among his many contributions to the city, he opened up a soup kitchen and an orphanage in order to share his fortune with the community. Late in life, Carling returned to London permanently and continued working in the brewery where he had begun his public life many years earlier. “Honest” John Carling passed away on November 6, 1911.
Mainly for establishing the Dominion Experimental Farms, Sir John Carling was designated a national historic person. The Establishment of the Experimental Farm Branch was designated a national historic event in 1981 and the Central Experimental Farm a national historic site in 2000.
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