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J.J. (John James) Stewart was a teacher, lawyer, editor, publisher and businessman. He was born 13 May 1844 in East Branch River Philip (Williamsdale), Nova Scotia, son of William Stewart and Sarah Emily Peppard. Educated at his local public school and then at Amherst Academy, Stewart taught and served as headmaster at the Academy until 1870, when he moved to Halifax to study law with Howard Maclean, being called to the bar in 1874.
In 1875 he became one of 88 shareholders of the Morning Herald, Halifax's fledgling Conservative daily. In 1876 he became the paper’s first president and in 1878 its third editor. He left his law practice and in 1883 bought out the majority of shareholders to become the Herald’s first publisher. Following this success, Stewart branched out into banking, rising to the presidency of the Acadia Loan Corporation and the People's Bank of Halifax.
Stewart was a member of the Masons, the Navy League, the Good Templars and the YMCA, but his primary commitments were to the North British Society and the Nova Scotia Historical Society. He was an ardent British imperialist, Canadian nationalist and supporter of Confederation. He devoted much time to the province's Conservative Party and made two unsuccessful bids for election to the provincial assembly.
Stewart died as the result of burns suffered during a fire in his home. His widow, Catherine Olivia MacKay, whom he'd married in 1880, donated his collection of 3,200 books to Dalhousie University Library.
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