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John Hallam, 1833-1900

Toronto library trustee

John Hallam was born in Chorley, Lancashire, England on 13 October 1833. After he came to Canada in September 1856, he began working in Toronto as a labourer. He started his own business in June 1866 as a hide, wool and leather merchant and expanded it successfully in the 1870s.

Hallam served as a Toronto alderman for eleven years prior to his resignation in 1883. He was an ardent proponent of free public libraries and became the first chairman of the newly formed Toronto Public Library in the same year. While serving as a trustee, he presented the library with a valuable collection of 2,000 books.

After leaving the library board in 1888, he returned to municipal politics as an alderman and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1900. He died later in the same year on 21 June 1900. His publications include:

  • The days of advance: British civilization as shown in some institutions, free libraries and water supply systems. (Toronto, n.p., c.1881)
  • Notes by the way on free libraries and books with a plea for the establishment of rate-supported libraries in the Province of Ontario (Toronto, Globe, 1882)

Photo caption: John Hallam, no date
Photo source: Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, T-13698
Page created on 10 May 1997
Last modified on


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