"John Gillies, M.P. for North Bruce, is a resident of the Township of Elderslie, of which he was one of the pioneer settlers in the year 1853. He is the son of Henry Gillies, is a Scotchman by birth, and emigrated to Canada with his father’s family in 1852, when 24 years of age, settling temporarily in the Township of Esquesing.
Mr. Gillies’ participation in public affairs commenced with the first organization of the Township of Elderslie, in 1856, he being a member of the Township Council that year. Next year (1857) he was chosen Reeve and continued to discharge the duties of the position for 17 successive years, when he voluntarily retired in 1874. During this period he filled the Warden’s chair from 1869 to 1973 continuously.
He successfully contested North Bruce in the Reform interest at the general election for the Commons in 1872, against the previous member, Colonel Sproat, and at the general election of 1874, was returned by acclamation by the same constituency. At the general election of 1878 for the Commons, he was opposed the second time by Colonel Sproat, but defeated him by a majority of 256; the majority on the first occasion being only 23.
Mr. Gillies, a farmer by occupation, and is one of the most liberal, intelligent and best informed men in the County of Bruce, and his decided political success against Lieut.-Colonel Sproat, himself one of the best men in the county and the “strongest” man the Conservative party could put into the field, is an undoubted evidence of his great personal popularity, and the esteem in which he is held by the people of his adopted county."
Belden 1880 Atlas of the County of Bruce