John Goldie (botanist)

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For other people with the same name, see John Goldie.
John Goldie
John Goldie
Born (1793-03-21)21 March 1793
Kirkoswald, South Ayrshire, Scotland
Died 23 July 1886(1886-07-23) (aged 93)
Ayr, Ontario, Canada
Resting place Ayr Cemetery, Ayr, Ontario
Fields Botany
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Author abbrev. (botany) Goldie
Spouse Margaret Smith
Children 9

John Goldie (21 March 1793 – 23 July 1886) was a Scottish-born botanist and author. He is credited with recording the existence of fourteen plant species previously unknown to science including Dryopteris goldiana.

Personal life[edit]

Goldie was born in Kirkoswald in 1793, the son of William Goudie and Janet McClure.[1] When Goldie was a teenager he apprenticed as a gardener and was employed at the Glasgow Botanic Garden where he accumulated most of his knowledge of botany.[1][2] He also studied language at the University of Glasgow and could speak fluent Greek, French and Hebrew, although he never registered for a degree due to financial problems.[3][4] While in Glasgow Goldie made the acquaintance of James Smith, a well known local botanist and florist, and began spending time at his home near Minishant in Ayrshire. Smith would teach Goldie about horticulture and help him expand his knowledge of botany.[4] In 1815, Goldie married Smith's daughter Margaret and would go on the have nine children with her.

Botanical career[edit]

Shortly after his marriage in 1815 the English Government decided to send an expedition to the coast of Africa to explore the Congo River.[1][5] After passing an examination Goldie was selected to accompany the expedition as a botanist but at the last moment was superseded by someone else. Many of the officers and crew of the expedition contracted and died of coast fever and the expedition was later abandoned.[4]

In 1817, at the instance of his colleague William Hooker, Goldie was able to raise enough money to voyage to North America to collect botanical samples.[5] He departed from Leith and landed in Halifax after being diverted from his original destination of New York due to bad weather. From Halifax he traveled to Quebec and collected botanical samples for two weeks before departing to Montreal.

While in Montreal Goldie met with Frederick Traugott Pursh, a fellow botanist and author of Flora americae septentrionalis; or A Systematic Arrangement and Description of The Plants of North America.[1] After leaving Montreal Goldie crossed the Saint Lawrence River and walked down the Hudson River to his original destination of New York.[5] It is possible that the pine barrens of eastern New Jersey were known to Goldie as a rich source of plant life because he went directly to the area and began collecting. His notes record that he assembled a considerable amount of material "as large a load as my back would carry".[1][4][6]

With very little money Goldie took a job as a teacher and stayed in New York over the winter in 1818.[6] He returned to Montreal looking to accompany traders heading to the north west but was unable to find any. He decided to take another job as a laborer and would spend weekends plant hunting, on one occasion he explored a short distance up the Ottawa river. In the fall of 1818 Goldie packed up his latest collection of plants and sent them out to sea. Unfortunately, his first three shipments of collected materials were lost at sea en route to Scotland.[1]

During the next winter, in 1819, Goldie had earned some money making flower designs in Montreal. After accumulating enough money he decided to set out on one last expedition before returning to Scotland.[7] This journey, which started in early June and ended in late August, is documented in his surviving diary and provides a rare glimpse of life in the sparsely settled land around the Great Lakes.[4]

In late 1819, Goldie returned safely home with specimens intact. He continued to work with the Glasgow Botanical garden where he met the young David Douglas, who apprenticed under Goldie for five years.[6]

In 1822, with the help of William Hooker, he published Description of some new and rare plants discovered in Canada in 1819 in the Journal of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society. One of the plants which Goldie had brought back was named Aspidium goldianum, later Dryopteris goldiana, by Hooker in honor of Goldie.[1][5] Seeds of the newly discovered fern were also propagated in the Glasgow Botanical Garden.[4]

Goldie traveled to St. Petersburgh, Russia in 1824, where he was employed by Alexander I, and later Nicholas I, to help establish a new botanical garden.[8] He also established his own nursery business during the same period with the object of providing additional income for his family.

The standard author abbreviation Goldie is used to indicate this individual as the author when citing a botanical name.

Later years and death[edit]

After many visits to Canada Goldie decided to move his family to Ayr, Ontario in 1844, where he rented and later purchased a farm. The family would go on to construct and operate a number of successful mills throughout the Waterloo Region.[8] In 1861 Goldie retired and his son David took over management of the mills.[9][10]

Goldie's other son John co-founded the Goldie & McCulloch Co. which manufactured steam engines in Galt, Ontario.[11]

In 1876 David decided to build a house that could accommodate his growing family.[12] When construction of the house was completed Goldie moved in with his son and planted two specimens of the Douglas fir on the property in memory of his friend and colleague David Douglas.[12] He later died there at the age of 93.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "John Goldie, Botanist and Traveller" (PDF). Royal Botanical Gardens. Retrieved 2011-06-11. 
  2. ^ "Goldie, an important early family of Waterloo Region". Waterloo Region Generations. Retrieved 2016-02-10. 
  3. ^ "Goldie, John: 1793-1886. Correspondence". University of Waterloo. 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f P. M. Eckel. John Goldie in North America, Parts 1 and 2. Clintonia Vol. 4, Issue 5, Pages 1-5. September 6, 1989.
  5. ^ a b c d "John Goldie b. 31 MAR 1793 Kirkoswald, , Ayr, Scotland d. 25 JUN 1886 Ayr Village, Waterloo Region, Ontario: Waterloo Region Generations". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  6. ^ a b c Spawn, William. 1961. In Goldie, 1819. Diary of a Journey Through Upper Canada and Some of the New England States. Privately Published, Toronto.
  7. ^ "Wellington County, Ontario GenWeb - Pioneer - GOLDIE Family". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  8. ^ a b "Goldie Family and the Village of Greenfield Historical Plaque". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  9. ^ Record, The. "Flash from the Past: Goldie family prospered in Guelph, Galt and Ayr". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  10. ^ "David Goldie b. 15 JUL 1831 Kirkoswald, , Ayr, Scotland d. 24 SEP 1894 Ayr Village, Waterloo Region, Ontario: Waterloo Region Generations". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  11. ^ "Goldie & McCulloch Galt b. 1859 Galt (Cambridge), Waterloo Region, Ontario d. Y : Waterloo Region Generations". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  12. ^ a b Goldie, Theresa. The Goldie Saga, Parts 1, 2 and 3. 1968, 1972, 1982

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