John Galt, novelist, colonial promoter (born 2 May 1779 in Irvine, Scotland; died 11 April 1839 in Greenock, Scotland). Galt was superintendent (1826–29) of the Canada Company, a colonization company created to settle part of Upper Canada (Ontario). During that time, he founded the town of Guelph (1827); the town of Galt (now part of Cambridge) was named after him.
While struggling to survive as a man of letters, Galt became involved with Canadian affairs, first as agent for those claiming losses in the War of 1812, and subsequently (1824) as secretary of the board of directors of the Canada Company.
Galt came to Upper Canada on several occasions. He was superintendent of the Canada Company from 1826 to 1829 and founded the town of Guelph in 1827; the town of Galt (now Cambridge) was named after him. He had continual conflict with the directors and was eventually recalled and spent his last years in impoverished ill health.
Galt's best-known fiction deals mainly with Scottish life, and his writings, except for his Autobiography (1833) and Literary Life (1834), show only a limited influence of his Canadian involvements. Two of his novels embody his idea of emigrants best suited to the US (Lawrie Todd, 1830) and Canada (Bogle Corbet, 1831).
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One of John Galt’s sons, Alexander Tilloch Galt, became a leading figure in Confederation (see Fathers of Confederation.)