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An Early Jones

Montreal's First Child of British Parents - Montreal Gazette, 1932.

Who was the first child born in Montreal of English speaking parents?

The early records are not complete but as far as can be determined this first child was John Jones. His father, John Jones Sr. was quartermaster of a British regiment. This regiment was being sent from New York to Quebec. John Jones Sr. and his wife spent one week in Montreal on their way. And during this week their son was born in a house on little St. James Street. It was the year 1761, the year after the establishment of British rule in the city.

The Jones family soon returned from Quebec to New York where John Jones Sr. was appointed Captain of Fort Edward. When the American Revolution broke out, the Jones family came back to Canada. By the time the boy born in Montreal was about 15 years of age he was considered old enough for military service. He and his father both joined the army formed in Canada by Gen. John Burgoyne to attack the rebellious American colonies.

Not Necessarily A Military Hero
The expedition ended in disaster. General Burgoyne was forced to surrender at Saratoga. John Jones and his son were held prisoner. When peace was declared, they returned to Canada.

John Jones Sr. was then placed in charge of the military station in Sorel and was also appointed agent for the seigniory of Sorel. For his services on the Loyalist side during the American Revoloution, he was given a grant of 5000 acres. On this land a great part of the City of Sorel now stands.

John Jones Jr. followed his father in a military career. He became Colonel of the militia and volunteers for the district of Montreal. While Canada was again at war with the United States in 1812-14, Colonel Jones fought against the Americans at the battle of Plattsburgh. He was accompanied in the war by his son C.H. Jones (WD's grandfather). Souvenirs of this battle have been retained in the family and now reside with Kenneth Ogden Black in Salmon Arm.

Apart from his military service which was mostly with the militia, Col. John Jones Jr. became an important property owner on St. James Street. The land on which the Merchant Bank and Nordheimer's Hall were later built once belonged to him. He was also appointed Inspector of Ashes at Montreal. This was an important office at the time. The land bordering the St. Lawrence River was still being cleared for settlement and when the trees were burnt, the wood ashes were exported overseas for use in bleaching and other trades. Ashes by the ton were passing through Montreal. Colonel Jones inspected and graded them.

John Jones Jr. married Mary Heney of Lachine Quebec where her father was in charge of the fur depot of the North West Company. One of his wife's relatives called Lepailleur took an active part in the rebellions of 1837-38. It was said that he might have suffered death on the scaffold in Montreal as did a number of the rebels were it not for the influence of Colonel Jones who had his sentence limited to exile in Australia.

The efforts of Col. Jones to save the life of one of the rebels was more impressive because he himself and his five sons had served with the militia to put the rebellion down. Two of his sons had fought the rebels as colonels and three as captains.

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