Category Archives: James Vint Laughland

August 19, 2017 – Final James Vint Laughland Segment

James, Margaret and the two boys returned to Canada via NY City in 1924. They passed through Ellis Island where the records reflect that they were going to Canada. But first he went on a lecture tour for several months which included speaking at Cooper Union, Ford Hall, Harvard Liberal Club, the House of Commons in Ottawa and several Unitarian Churches in Chicago and Montreal.  These presentations were all set up by the Open Forum Speakers Bureau of Boston.

From one of his letters it appears he had left wife and kids in Ottawa while he was out touring.  He became ill while out touring so at some point decided to engage with the Presbyterian Church in Canada and they sent him to Richmond Ontario to the Presbyterian Church where he served as a fill in pastor for a period of time.   There is a booklet about the Church with pictures of JV and his family. My dad was around 15 then.

A year or so later they moved on to Amherst Island on Lake Ontario near Kingston to again a Presbyterian Church.  This information was why I always thought he was a Presbyterian minister.  Guess he kept evolving depending upon his needs. They were on Amherst Island for four and a half years. During their time on Amherst Island my Dad finished High School at Stella and was accepted to the University of Toronto to study pharmacy.  He did well there, made friends which I am sure he was good at from all that moving around.  He got an internship or placement at Bests Pharmacy in Kingston and at some point met my mom who was at Queen’s University or maybe she was just graduated. She went to University when she was 16 so graduated quite young.

In May of 1930 James Vint and Margaret moved down to Rochester NY.  Their second son ended up going to St. Lawrence University in Canton NY at some time after they moved to Rochester.  In Rochester, James again affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and continued to preach and give lectures in that area.  He also had a radio show during the depression years.  In his letter from 1940 to the Unitarians he leaves out about working for the Townsend Plan during the depression and setting up labour exchanges so people could barter work for food etc

The letters only provide one other picture of his life from the time he was going to leave England and then during the 30s and 40’s.  James Vint wanted to get back into the Universalist Society and start preaching again and there were people determined to prevent him from doing this.  His Unitarian friends in Rochester who had known him for years by 1940 tried very hard to get him reinstated but they resisted passionately to keep him out.  And in the end, he was not accepted back into the fold. Mainly it appears because of his passionate style and lack of acceptance of others who disagreed with his more socialist leanings.  The comments, by those writing to keep him out for actions which occurred when he was in his 20’s, were unforgiving.  They had totally tainted views of his behavior and did not consider he might have matured over time and calmed down.  It would be interesting to find comments about him which reflected how others saw him as he matured.  His Unitarian friend David Rhys Williams gave the eulogy at his funeral and was totally positive about him and by then they had been friends for 30 years or so.

Reading these letters from the Harvard collection have been quite eye opening to me.  As I have said before I wish I had been old enough to find out something about James before he died. What fun it would have been to speak with him about this time in his life.  And my grandmother who was always judged so harshly for her attitude and some of her behavior, I can see how she might have been angry with this man she loved.  He had not made life easy for her.  I was not a youngster when my grandmother died so I could have if I had known anything asked her questions or encouraged her to speak to me about this time in her life. But alas, I knew nothing to ask.  And I never thought to ask my Dad either. In fact, I doubt if anyone of my siblings had a clue about so much of this. Will have to ask them.

Picture of Margaret and James Vint with my dad in front and his brother behind.



April 11, 2015 – j is for James Vint Laughland

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.

James_Vint_and_Margaret_MacDougall_Laughland James_Vint_Laughland_Family