(905) 579-9554



DRLA's First President


Photo of John E. Farewell The first President of what was then the County of Ontario Law Association was Lt. Col. John E. Farewell, KC, from the inception of the Association in 1879 until 1897. Let’s take a quick look at his life.

John Edwin Chandler Farewell was a local boy who made good. Born in 1840 in East Whitby Township to an Irish family, he was adopted by Abraham Farewell, MP (Ontario South). The reasons for his adoption are lost in the mists of time, but John made the most of the privilege that fortune bestowed on him. After schooling in Whitby and Barrie he attended the University of Toronto, where he received a Bachelor of Law degree in 1864.

Returning to his home area, Farewell set up shop and practiced law in Whitby, Oshawa, and Bowmanville. Eight years later, in 1872, he was made Crown Attorney of Ontario County. Five years after that he became Clerk of the Peace, followed by the formation of the County of Ontario Law Association in 1879. By 1882 he was County Clerk.

Farewell was a pillar of his community. He joined the Whitby-based 34th Battalion, with whom he saw action in the Fenian Raids and eventually became its commanding officer. Farewell was a director of the Ontario Educational Association, as well as member and chairman of the Whitby Public School Board. His name can be found on the historical plaque outside the offices of Flaherty McCarthy: the building was originally the Carnegie Public Library of Whitby, opened by Farewell in 1914.

Photo of John E. Farewell, 1900

In 1907, Farewell published a book titled County of Ontario: short notes as to the early settlement and progress of the county and brief references to the pioneers and some Ontario County men who have taken a prominent part in provincial and dominion affairs"  (the full text of which can be found here).

Our first president got around, as they say. From the Indianapolis Journal of 12 September 1901, in the details of a meeting of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Odd Fellows: “Address – Hon. John E. Farewell, grand representative, Ontario” (link here).

After a long and eventful life, Lt. Col. Farewell passed away on 29 December 1923, in Oshawa, and is buried at Union Cemetery.