John Roaf Barber

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John Barber
John Roaf Barber.png
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded by District created
Succeeded by Frederick William Lewis
Constituency Dufferin
In office
Preceded by William Kerns
Succeeded by District abolished
Constituency Halton
Personal details
Born (1841-07-05)July 5, 1841
Georgetown, Upper Canada
Died March 3, 1917(1917-03-03) (aged 75)
Georgetown, Ontario
Political party Liberal
Occupation Businessman

John Roaf Barber (July 5, 1841 – March 3, 1917) was a Canadian enterprising and utilitarian businessman and represented Halton in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1898 to 1904.

He was born in Georgetown, Ontario in 1841. His father came to Canada from County Antrim in Northern Ireland in 1822. His father and uncles had established a paper mill in the area after being involved in woollen milling since 1837. Barber became the manager in 1861. In 1876, with his brother James and John Fitzallen Ellis, he established Barber and Ellis, which would become one of the largest stationery manufacturers and suppliers in Canada. He took over operation of the mills in 1880. In 1881, he helped establish Toronto Paper Manufacturing Company Limited and set up a mill at Cornwall, Ontario. By 1883 this mill was producing newsprint and high quality paper. He visited Europe in 1886 to find alternatives to wood pulp from Quebec, and afterward in 1887 he set up a sulfite mill in Cornwall to supply high quality wood pulp to his plant and others.

The only other paper product supplier in Canada in the 1870s was Alexander Buntin, which Barber saw as an opportunity to expand.

In 1888, he upgraded the original paper mill on the Credit River to use hydroelectric power, believed to be the first industrial application of this technology in Canada.

Besides his paper mills, he held high ranking positions in a number of other companies. He was president of many small companies such as Leadville Mining Company in Leadville, Colorado, Canadian Brass and Tube works in Toronto, and the Inter-Ocean Mining and Prospecting Company, also in Toronto.

He also served in the militia and was reeve of Georgetown from 1867 to 1876 and in 1882. He saw active duty in 1866. He was elected as a Liberal to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1898.

He lived in a grand mansion, Berwick Hall, which was designed by the architect E. J. Lennox

He retired from business in 1912 following a heart attack the year before. He died in Georgetown in 1917.