From Artists to BusinessMen
Lithography invented around 1796 in Germany by Alois Senefelder. He was a playwright by profession and accidentally discovered that he could duplicate his scripts by writing them in greasy crayon on slabs of limestone and then printing them with rolled-on ink. The local limestone retained crayon marks applied to its surface, and even after repeated inking and printing, lithographs (so called from the Latin for stone, litho, and mark, graph) could be printed in almost unlimited quantities.
When improvements in printing technology made it possible to add color to lithography and increase the size of the printing base, commercial possibilities ballooned. Advertising was revolutionized in the 1880s and 1890s by the production of bright mural posters (32.88.12) and art collectors began to enjoy a greater range of offerings in color prints and illustrated books (1970.713)
Robert Stevenson McEwan, John’s eldest son immigrated to Chicago around 1885 where he worked as a lithographic artist. I am not aware of where he worked but do know that his trade forced him to travel somewhat. He was in St-Louis, Missouri in 1890, back to Illinois in 1891 and then in St-John’s, New Brunswick in 1894 before returning to Chicago permanently
Bookbinding in the late 19th century was like all else. Very Victorian in form. They had elaborate lettering and were composed of several components on one book cover. Most were still black and gold but colour was being introduced at this point. White metal stamping to imitate silver was also the latest technique and unlike silver it did not tarnish.
It was during the 1880’s that the trade progressed a great deal. Such things as mail-order catalogs made available nationwide due to the railroad system.
In New York the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened and George Eastman patented roll film at this time as well and cities had their first electric streetcars. All these new conveniences made it possible for people to be transported to and from large cities for their jobs.
John (Jack) McEwan worked for Philip Hano's a book-bindery in New York City after first following his older brother Robert to Chicago.
Jack would be one of the latest type of employee who lived outside the city and commuted. The towns he lived in were within an easy commute to NYC by train. According to the 1910 census he immigrated to the USA in 1900 (assumingly Chicago and then NYC).
One of John’s other son’s became a printer. There will be more about him in the next blog.
London Life was founded in 1874, in London, Ontario. It received its charter from the Ontario provincial government on March 24th 1874. At that time London was thriving and was a financial and distribution centre for western Ontario businesses. It boasted head offices of five saving and loans companies, eight banks, twenty-one insurance companies and three daily newspapers.
“The five provisional directors and founders of London Life were Edward Harris, a lawyer; William Woodruff, a leading doctor who became the company's first consulting physician; Colonel John Walker, who had commanded the local militia during the Fenian Raids; James Magee, a young lawyer who became the new insurance company's legal counsel; and Joseph Jeffery, the manager of the local branch of Molson's Bank, who became the first president of London Life. Mr. Jeffery and his descendants continued their active participation in the management and ownership of London Life for more than a century.”
In 1884, the company received a Dominion Charter and also the expertise of John G. Richter a man of convictions and a visionary. He would make insurance available not just to the upper class but also to average citizen.
John McEwan’s second son was the only one of his boys not to follow a trade. He had taken a trade of shoemaking but William Brown McEwan abandoned his trade to become an insurance agent and eventually a manager.
 Ives, Colta. "Lithography in the Nineteenth Century". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/lith/hd_lith.htm (October 2004)
 University of Alabama
 London Life: Company History
more on Robert Stevenson McEwan, William Brown McEwan and John (Jack) McEwan