From "The Story of Manitoba", Volume 3, published in 1913:


John Leslie, one of Winnipeg's foremost business men, who for more than a third of a century has been identified with the mercantile life of that city, is a native of the land of hills and heather. His birth occurred on the 16th of August, 1852, at White Hill, in the parish of Colvend, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, his parents being Thomas and Mary (Wilson) Leslie, the former a native of Dumfriesshire and the latter of Kirkcudbright, In 1857 the family left Scotland and came to Canada, settling in Prescott, Ontario, where the father carried on the business of merchant tailoring. He afterward removed to Spencerville, where he conducted a similar business, but eventually settled in Cumminsville, in the county of Halton, removing later to Wingham, where his wife died in 1899. The latter years of his life were passed at Listowel, Ontario, where his death occurred on the 6th of June, 1906, at the age of eighty-five.

John Leslie was but a lad when his parents settled in Canada. His education, begun in Scotland, was finished in the common schools of Ontario. He served an apprenticeship at the carriage maker's trade in Milton, Ontario, and in the spring of 1880 came to Winnipeg, arriving here on the 9th of April. Throughout the intervening period he has been engaged in the furniture business. Starting independently in 1885, his trade has constantly grown until it has now assumed large proportions. The business built up by Mr. Leslie has become the foremost one of its kind, not only in Winnipeg, but the Dominion as well, and has long set the standard for others in the sale of high-grade furniture. Catering to the most select class of trade and utilizing strictly honorable business methods, the furniture house of John Leslie has acquired a reputation for commercial integrity that stands second to none, in any line, in the Dominion.

Seldom will there be found a merchant with such a thorough knowledge of his business in its every detail, and no small part of Mr. Leslie's success has been due to his unusual mechanical skill and expert knowledge. Throughout the whole of North America and especially in Canada he is known among the leading dealers in furniture and is a recognized authority on goods of both foreign and American manufacture. He visits Grand Rapids, the furniture market of the world, several times each year to keep in touch with the newest ideas in his line and his stock shows most attractive designs furnished by the old as well as the new world. He is one of the best known and most popular men in commercial circles of the province and has acquired a most enviable reputation for reliable and progressive business methods. Besides his business, Mr. Leslie has important outside interests, mainly in a number of financial institutions of magnitude.

On the 27th of December, 1882, Mr. Leslie was married to Miss Phoebe Andrews, of Milton, Ontario, and they are the parents of two daughters, Jessie and Louise, the former the wife of Edgar Roberts, of Winnipeg. In social, military and church circles, Mr. Leslie has also become widely known. Prominent in Masonry, he is a past grand master of the order in Manitoba and honorary past grand master of Saskatchewan, while in 1907 and 1908 he was grand first principal Z of the Royal Arch Masons of Canada. He has attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite. He was the founder of The Assiniboine Lodge of Masonry, which now has a large and very select membership. Also active in military affairs, he is captain and quartermaster of the One Hundredth Winnipeg Grenadiers and he holds membership in the Manitoba, Carleton and Canadian Clubs and the Military Institute. In the Canadian Club he is an officer. Holding membership in the Knox church, he is serving on its board of managers and is likewise one of the board of management of Manitoba College. Both he and his wife are life governors of the Winnipeg General Hospital. Mr. Leslie is a man of interesting personality, genial in manner, kindly in spirit and at all times approachable. He holds friendship inviolable, is devoted to the welfare of home and family and at the same time manifests unfaltering loyalty in citizenship. Mr. Leslie has not lived solely to accumulate; he has always done his part as a public-spirited man and represents the type of a citizen whose life record is inseparably a part of the history of the community that has been the scene of his activities.