Now this man actually could have a book written about him. There are chapters of books about him but he was one heck of a Character. James Vint Laughland was born in Southampton England the 9th of 15 children of William Laughland and Margaret McGuigan. He was born in 1885 and died in 1957. His father had a successful tailoring business at 1 Above Bar in Southampton. They had moved from Kilmarnock Scotland to Southampton when they were early in their marriage.
There were several tailors in Laughland family and not everyone could run a tailor shop in Kilmarnock. So William and Maggie headed south. James Vint was well educated and his father was involved in politics so he was exposed to this style of life early on. At 18 he went by ship to Canada to attend University in Toronto. He lived with his Aunt Peggy Laughland McMillan and her family. I am told by one of my brothers that this family came to our home one Christmas but I don’t remember meeting them. I must have been pretty young.
I don’t know how far James got in his studies but we do know that by 1909 he was living in the Owen Sound area and was married Margaret MacDougall a young nurse. He was a minister some where in that area. In 1910 my father was born in Owen Sound. But soon they were on the move. My Dad’s brother was born in Toronto in 1912. I have never tried to make a chart of all the places my Dad lived but there were many. James as a minister had a way with words but he was also becoming more and more a socialist and that appears to have interfered with is being able to stay anywhere for long.
In 1915 they took a ship to Southampton England and James found a church outside of London to work in. It appears around then he got involved in Unitarian Churches. By 1920 he was at his third Church, the Pembroke Chapel in Liverpool England. From there he got involved in Dock workers strikes and ran for parliament on the Labour Party Line. He did not win and he brought in many socialist leaning folks to the Pembroke Chapel. At some point he put his wife and his sons out on the Isle of Man. I am not sure they were put out there for safety as he got more involved in the strikes etc. but that is where they were. In the Museum in Liverpool they have an exhibit about the strikes and James Vint’s picture is there. During one of the violent incidents between the police and the strikers James was pretty beaten up and was arrested. There is quite a bit written about him and newspaper articles about the trial. I think he got off with a slap on the wrist but he wanted to take the punishment for the dock workers.
In 1924 the family left England and returned to Canada. First he was at the Presbyterian Church in Richmond Ontario and then the one in Stella on Amherst Island near Kingston. My Dad graduated from High School on Amherst Island. We have some of his text books from that school.
During the Depression James Vint was living in Rochester NY and got involved with the Townsend Plan and precursor to social security. He left his family and went off all over the place trying to sell the program. I think his family did not have an easy time of it. My memories are of the fun Grandfather at the farm they eventually bought in Webster NY but from letters written to his wife while he was moving around sound like things were never easy for Margaret or the boys. It may explain why my Dad loved my mom’s family. They were stable, stayed in one place, and were together as a family.
Not sure if I have any pictures of James Vint in this computer. I will look and see what I can find. He was an interesting looking fellow with a head of wirey brown hair.