John Alexander Gemmill Canada

Biography of John Alexander Gemmill

John Alexander Gemmill was born at Carleton Place, Upper Canada, on 10 March 1846. His father, John Gemmill, was a merchant, lawyer and author. The elder Gemmill, himself the son of an emigrant from Scotland, sent his own son back to Britain for his education. J.A. Gemmill attended the Montgreenan House School in Ayrshire and The Grange, Sunderland. He matriculated at the University of Glasgow in Arts at the age of 15 in 1861, and continued his studies until 1863, but does not appear to have graduated. Instead, Gemmill returned to Ottawa to study law. His return to Canada ensured that he was able to participate in the defense of Upper Canada during the Fenian Raids of 1866-1870, in which American members of the Fenian Brotherhood invaded the Canadas to protest continued British presence in Ireland. On 14 September 1866 Gemmill enlisted with the Carleton division of the militia, possibly in response to the Battle of the Ridgeway in June of that year. Gemmill served with the Canadian Volunteer Artillery as a Lieutenant until 1870.

Following his time in the militia, Gemmill was admitted as a solicitor. In 1871, he was called to the bar at Osgoode Hall, the Superior Court of Upper Canada. He went on to have a distinguished career in Canadian law scholarship, and was also an amateur historian. In 1896, he was elected Queen’s Counsel. Gemmill is best remembered for his Practice of The Parliament of Canada Upon Bills of Divorce (1889). In addition to his legal work, Gemmill served as a director for three separate railway companies, including the Canadian Pacific Railway.


John Alexander Gemmill
Born 10 March 1846.
Died 7 November 1905.
GU Degree: Arts, 1861-1863;
University Link: Alumnus, Student
Occupation categories: Lawyer
Record last updated: 29th Aug 2012

Country Associations

Canada Canada, Ontario, Carleton Place
Place of Birth

Canada Canada, Ontario, Ottawa
Place of Death

University Connections

University Roles

  • Alumnus
  • Student