Material relating to J. D. Edgar and Matilda Ridout Edgar

Title: Material relating to J. D. Edgar and Matilda Ridout Edgar
Dates of Material:
1768–[ca. 1910]
6 cm of textual records
Biographical sketch

James David Edgar (1841–1899) was a lawyer, journalist, politician, writer and businessman. He was born in Hatley, Lower Canada, the son of James Edgar and Grace Matilda Fleming. He married Matilda Ridout in 1865 and they had three daughters and six sons, including Oscar Pelham Edgar. He died in Toronto.

Edgar attended private schools in Lennoxville and in Quebec. He began to study law in 1859 and was called to the bar in 1864 after which he established a successful law practice in Toronto. In 1890 he became a QC.

In 1867 Edgar was elected an alderman for St. George Ward in Toronto but was unseated by judicial decision. He moved into the ranks of the Reform Party and played a central role in their organization. He was Secretary of the Reform Association (1867–76). He held Parliamentary office from 1872–73 and again from 1884 to 1899. He was the Party’s Chief Whip from 1872–73 and again appointed one of the Parliamentary Whips in 1884. By 1887 Edgar had become chairman of the party parliamentary committee on organization. In 1896 he was appointed Speaker of the House, a position he would hold until his death.

Edgar was President of the Ontario Literary Society in 1863 and later of the Toronto Reform and Literary Debating Club. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1897. In 1898 he was knighted.

Edgar was the author of non-fiction (including works about law and politics) and poetry, including two collections: The White Stone Canoe: A Legend of the Ottawas (1885) and This Canada of Ours and other poems (1893).

Matilda Ridout Edgar (1844–1910) was a writer and a feminist. She was born in Toronto, the daughter of Thomas Gibbs Ridout and Matilda Ann Bramley. She died in London, England, while doing research for a book.

Ridout’s literary career did not begin until she was in her mid-forties when most of her children were grown. Besides she lent her patronage to many philanthropic enterprises including the Infant’s Home in Toronto, the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire and the Women’s Art Association of Canada. She assisted in organizing the National Council of Women and served as its President from 1896 until her death. She was also involved in the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Toronto, serving as its President in 1899.

Matilda Ridout Edgar was the author of historical works, including a collection of family letters entitled Ten Years of Upper Canada in Peace and War, 1805–1815 (1890), a biography of General Brock for inclusion in the Makers of Canada series (1904), and A Colonial Governor in Maryland: Horatio Sharpe and His Times (1912).

Scope and content

Series consists of correspondence, literary, and other material.

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of series.


The series is stored in 1 box.

Finding aids

File list available (see below).

Box 1
13Edgar, Matilda Ridout: 14 letters (original) from James David Edgar, n.d., 1873-1898; 1873-1898

Subjects: personal and political topics; Wilfrid Laurier; John A. Macdonald; Charles Tupper.

13[Unidentified correspondent]: 1 letter from James David Edgar, 1874.1874
14Edgar, James David and Matilda Ridout: 11 letters in, 1874- 1900; 1874-1900

Correspondents include: Alexander MacKenzie (1 in, 1874); Wilfrid Laurier (1 in, 1900); other political figures.

19Edgar, Matilda Ridout: 7 letters in, 1896-1909;1896-1909

Includes: correspondence of Ridout family; letter to "Maria," 1908.

Literary Material -- Notes
18Transcripts of letters, for Ten years in Upper Canada by Matilda Edgar: holograph;
Literary Material -- Addresses
12Early Rome and its relation to modern civilization: address by James David Edgar, holograph;
17Address by James David Edgar at the unveiling of a monument to Jean Olivier Chenier: ts., cc., annotated;

File includes clipping, photocopied.

Literary Material -- Book (non–fiction)
110A colonial governor in Maryland: ts., cc., annotated;


Literary Material -- Poetry
16Poems by James David Edgar: holographs; tss., cc.;
Literary Material -- Broadside
15Open letter from James David Edgar to Andrew Carnegie: broadside, photocopied;

Original held in Canadiana Collection.

Literary Material -- Other Material
11Papers of Pearson family: business records, 1768, 1817;1768, 1817
111Hymns by D.H. Rowe (including Onward, Christian Soldiers): printed, inscribed;