Chorley has its own special namesake in Canada in tribute to the memory of one Lancashire man John Hallam

John Hallam left Chorley to start a new life in 1856. Over 160 years later, his legacy lives on in Toronto. Local historian Stuart Clewlow tells the story.

By Stuart Clewlow
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 4:55 am

Chorley borough can boast many famous residents who have done great or noteworthy things… from Sir Henry Tate, Lightoller of the Titanic, England Rugby Union Captain Bill Beaumont, and Victoria Cross hero William Mariner, to name but a few.

However, one Chorley-born man went on to achieve great success, and did so in Canada.

John Hallam was born in Chorley on October 13 1833.

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John Hallam left Chorley for Canada to make a new life. Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

After sailing to Canada in September 1856, he began working in Toronto as a labourer.

At the age of 30 he started his own business as a wool and leather merchant.

He proved very successful and expanded his interests throughout the 1870s.

Having entered into politics, John served as a Toronto alderman for 11 years prior to his resignation in 1883.

The beautiful ballroom at Toronto's Chorley Park. Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

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He was an advocate of free public libraries and became the first chairman of the newly formed Toronto Public Library in the same year.

He presented the library with a valuable collection of 2,000 books and stayed on the board until 1888.

After his achievement with Toronto Library, John returned to municipal politics as an alderman and ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Toronto in 1900, shortly before his sudden death on June 21.

The imposing Chorley Park which was named in tribute to the birthplace of John Hallam. Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

Government House in Ontario was the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and from 1915 to 1937, the fourth such building constructed for this purpose, was named Chorley Park.

It was named in honour of the birthplace of Alderman Hallam, such was the esteem in which he must have been held, having died 11 years before building work began on the estate.

At the time, Chorley Park was the most expensive residence built in Canada and finished to such a palatial standard that the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) spent three days there during his 1919 Canadian tour.

Sadly, the Government estate quickly became outdated and, particularly during the great depression, became a huge financial burden.

One of the beautiful rooms inside Chorley Park. Picture courtesy of Stuart Clewlow

Following its sale, it was used for a variety of purposes, before being demolished in 1961.

However, Chorley Park remains in name, as a naturalised park of some 12 acres for the people of Toronto to enjoy.