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John Goldie was born in Ayreshire, Scotland. He married Margaret Smith on June 18, 1815 and they had eight children : William, John, Elizabeth, James, Jane, Margaret, David and Mary. A botanist and plant collector, he travelled to Canada, New York State, the Maritimes and Russia and discovered species unknown at the time. In 1844 Goldie moved his family to Ontario, to a property which became known as Greenfield, near Ayr, where the family founded first a sawmill, and then a flour and oatmeal mill in 1848.
These letters are addressed to John Goldie's son James (1824-1912), who was working in New York at the time that they were written. James Goldie was the third son of John Goldie. He had moved to the United States in 1842, where he was employed as a gardener and was involved in the flour and lumber business. In 1860 he moved to Guelph, where he built the Speedvale Mill. He operated the mill until 1898, at which time it became the James Goldie Company, Ltd.
Sources: "Waterloo County Hall of Fame - Inductees G-I." Region of Waterloo Website. www.region.waterloo.on.ca (14 April 2004), "Historic Place Names of Waterloo County - Greenfield, North Dumfries Township." Region of Waterloo Website. www.region.waterloo.on.ca (14 April 2004), Bricker, I.C. "History of the Gowdy-Goldie-Goudie family." Waterloo Historical Society. 1938. 26: 20-37, and Stuffling, Roger. "John Goldie, early Canadian botanist 1793-1886." Waterloo Historical Society. 1987. 75: 98-116.