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The Canadian Biographical Dictionary

The Canadian Biographical Dictionary contains 527 biographies of men who were deemed by the publishers to be representative of all who took part in the social, intellectual, and material progress of the Country of Canada. Our presentation currently consists of volume 1 only, which was specifically devoted to the County of Ontario.

Biography of George Watson

George Watson; Collector of Customs at Collingwood, was born near Aberdeen, Scotland, December 2,1828. He lost his mother when about six years old. In 1836 the remainder of the family, father and two sisters, immigrated to Upper Canada, settling on a farm in the Township of Chinguacousy, twenty miles from Toronto. George finished his education at a grammar school in Toronto; continued on the farm until 1855; then became a passenger conductor on the Northern Railway, and was in that position between eleven and twelve years, his home being at Collingwood. He left the road on account of ill health on the 4th of November,1866; on the 22nd of the same month was appointed Sub Collector at the out port of Collingwood, and when the port was made an independent one, he was appointed Collector of Customs, an office which he still holds, and in which he is very prompt and faithful. In politics he is a Reformer, and belongs to a family of staunch Reformers, who know no “shadow of turning.” He has considerable prominence as a politician in that part of Ontario. Mr. Watson was elected Mayor of Collingwood on the first of January, 1867, and by repeated re-elections held that office five consecutive years, when he declined serving longer at that time; but in 1877, he was again elected and served another term. He made an eminently useful chief Magistrate of the town. He is a Justice of the Peace, Surveyor and Registrar of shipping at the port, and Chairman of the Board of License Commissioners for West Simcoe, and has the reputation of being a...

Biography of Rufus M.P. Stephenson

Rufus Stephenson, member of the Dominion Parliament since the Dominion’s formed, representing the County of Kent; is a native of Springfield, Mass., dating his birth January 14th, 1835. His parents are Eli and Chloe (Chapin) Stephenson, his father being still alive, and in his 94th year. His mother is a descendant of Deacon Samuel Chapin, a Puritan who came to Roxbury (now in Boston) Mass., prior to 1640, and settled at Springfield, same State, in 1642. His descendants form one of the most numerous families in the United States, embracing many names of a national reputation. Among them are Hon. Henry Chapin (Judge), Worcester, Mass., Edwin Chapin, D. D., N. Y. City; A. L. Chapin, D. D., President Beloit College, Wis.; Hon. Moses Chapin, Hon. William H. Seward, Hon. Solomon Foot, Henry Ward Beecher, J. G. Holland, Roswell D. Hitchcock, D. D., and scores of other persons who might be mentioned. In September, 1862, a meeting of the descendants of Deacon Samuel Chapin was held at Springfield, Mass., and between 2000 and 3000 of them were present. The grandfather of our subject was from Lancashire, England, and was of that branch of the Stephenson family from which sprung George and Robert Stephenson, so famous as railway engineers. His grandmother was of the Murphy family, Londonderry, north of Ireland. She died in St. Catharines in 1854, at the advanced age of within a few months of 100 years. In the infancy of Rufus the family moved to St. Catharines, Ontario, where he was educated in the Grantham Academy. His father’s youngest brother, the late Colonel Eleazer Williams Stephenson of that...

Biographical Sketch of Zacheus Burnham

Zacheus Burnham, son of John Burnham, elsewhere mentioned in this volume, was born in the Township of Hamilton, County of Northumberland, Ontario, March 31, 1819. His father was a native of New Hampshire; his mother, whose maiden name was Hannah Harris, was from New York. He received his literary education at the Cobourg Gram mar School; studied law a while with his elder brother, Elias Burnham, at Peterborough; finished his legal studies with Hon. Robert Baldwin, in Toronto; commenced practice at Port Hope in 1842; removed to Whitby the next year; was called to the Bar at Easter Term, 1847, and continued to practice until 1852, when he was appointed Junior Judge of the United Counties of York, Ontario and Peel. In 1854, when Ontario was set off, he was appointed Judge, and still holds that position. In the discharge of his duties he is painstaking and conscientious. In politics the Judge is a Reformer, like the larger number of the Burnhams in the Province, and before going on the Bench, took an active part in political matters. For many years his religious connection was with the Church of England; he is now a member of Christ’s Body, commonly known as Brethren. Judge Burnham was first married in October, 1848, to Sarah, daughter of John Borlase Warren, of Oshawa. She had one son, John Warren Burnham, Clerk of the Court, at Port Perry, and died in August, 1856. His present wife is Helena, sister of his first wife, married in June, 1870. By her he has had three children, two yet living, Arthur Warren and Clarence...

Biography of William Grey

One of the oldest residents in Woodstock, and one of its most prominent citizens, is William Grey, who settled in Oxford County in 1825, two and a half miles from the present Town of Woodstock, before the place, as a town, had a name, except “Town Plot.” The spot on which his house now stands, a quarter-mile from the Post Office, was a sugar bush half a century ago. He saw a village start here, and gradually expand into a town of 6,000 inhabitants, industrious, thriving, and intelligent; and no man now living here has done more to build up the place than Mr. Grey. He is a native of West Pennard, Somersetshire, England, dating his birth October 18, 1812. His father, Thomas Grey, a farmer, was a descendant of a family of large property holders in Somersetshire; married Jane Carter, of his native county, and, in 1822, brought his family to Canada, halting two or three years at Nicolet, Lower Canada, and, in 1825, coming as far west as the County of Oxford. William received a good start in his education before leaving the Old Country, and, after coming to Canada, availed himself of the best means at his command to complete it; but never, we believe, grew proud of his store of knowledge. Mr. Grey farmed for many years, owning, at one time, three or four farms, all of which he has sold. He has some woodland, and considerable town property, beside his pleasant home on Graham Street. Mr. Grey built the first brick building, for dwelling purposes, erected in Woodstock the Royal Hotel, still one of...

Biography of Charles G. Charteris

The subject of this sketch is a descendant of a very old Dumfriesshire family. The Charteris, of Amisfield, who are believed to have been originally from France, and to have settled in Scotland in the reign of Malcolm IV. (1153), more than seven centuries ago. A large tract of land was granted to the Charteris for important services rendered to the King, in Dumfriesshire, some of which land is still in possession of the family. In that County Charles George Charteris was born, July 25, 1828, and was the youngest son of Charles Charteris, Esq., of Cullirait House, Dumfriesshire, by his wife, Diana, daughter of John Reed, Esq., of Craggs, Northumberland, England. His father was a Captain in the 28th Light Dragoons, who, on the disbandment of that regiment, became Adjutant of the Dumfriesshire Yeomanry Cavalry. Our subject was partly educated at the High School of his native County, and partly at a private Academy, in Brampton, England. At eighteen years of age he started out to seek his fortune in the new world; came to Chatharn, and was for some time in the establishment of Witherspoon and Charteris, general merchants, and Agents for the Gore Bank, his cousin Alexander Charteris, being one of the partners; and five or six years later went into the lumber business with William Baxter, continuing in it until 1857, when he was appointed Treasurer of Kent County, an office which he still holds, much to the satisfaction of the people. Very few men in the Province of Ontario have held that position longer than Mr. Charteris, or with more credit to themselves and...

Biographical Sketch of Finlay McCallum

Finlay McCallum, County Treasurer, is a son of Finlay and Christian (Campbell) McCallum, and was born in Breadalbane, Perthshire, Scotland, January 12, 1813, and received his education in the parish schools of that county, including the classics. He is good in mathematics. He became a school teacher at fifteen years of age; came to Canada in 1833, and continued teaching until 1853, the first two years in Toronto, and after that mainly in the County of Halton. From 1853 to 1855 Mr. McCallum farmed in the Township of Nassagaweya; then became Deputy Registrar of the County, and occupied that position until appointed Treasurer in June, 1860, which latter office he has held for twenty years. He is a good sample of the “honest Scotchman;” and the people of the county have the greatest confidence in his integrity. He is a very faithful county official, and a member of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. McCallum has a farm in the Township of Esquesing, three miles from Milton, and there makes his home. He is often called upon to act as Auditor for the County Agricultural Society. In politics he is a Conservative, rather mild of late years, owing, probably, to his official position in the county. He has been married since November 1, 1850, his wife, before her marriage, was Jane Laidlaw, a native of Halton County. Her parents were from Scotland. Mrs. McCallum is the mother of eleven children, nine of them, six daughters and three sons are yet living. Agnes, the eldest daughter, is the wife of John Creighton, farmer, in Culross, County of Bruce; the others are...

Biography of Lieut.Col. William Allan

William Allan, Lieut.Colonel 20th Rifles, was born in the Parish of Halkirk, Caithness, Scotland, September 25, 1815, his parents being James Allan, contractor and builder, and Diana nee Waters, both of Caithness. His mother was a daughter of George Waters, of Broadwell Castle. Young Allan received a parish school education; at nineteen years of age entered Her Majesty’s service in the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders; served eight years as sergeant in that regiment, most of the time in Canada, coming over at the time of the rebellion of 1837-38, and participating in the engagements at St. Denis, St. Eustace, the Windmill, etc. He was subsequently transferred to a Colonial corps, as Ensign Adjutant, and has continued in the service, and has been breveted Lieut.Colonel of the 20th Rifles. He was for some time a merchant at Cheltenham, Township of Chinguacousy, and while there was Reeve of the Township; and when the Grand Trunk Railway was building from Toronto to Guelph, he represented the stock of that township as Director of the Board. In 1859 Col. Allan removed to Acton, County of Halton, continuing the mercantile business until 1861, when he retired, and gave his time exclusively to military matters, it being at the time of the Trent affair, when Mason and Slidell were seized by Capt. Wilkes, of the United States Navy. During that period of excitement Col. Allan was very busy in raising troops, and was on the front during the Fenian raid. He still holds his commission of Lieut. Colonel in the active service. He has held for a long time the offices of Magistrate and Commissioner in...

Biography of John Smith

John Smith, Sheriff of the County of Brant since this county was separated from Wenworth and Halton, was born on the “Grand River Tract,” on the present site of the City of Brantford, February 9, 1808. His grandfather, for whom he was named, was a United Empire Loyalist, and taken prisoner during the Revolutionary war, and liberated about the time that a British ship, passing up the North (or Hudson) river, broke the chain that was strung across that stream. The parents of our subject were Joseph and Charlotte (Douglas) Smith, both natives of the Empire State. Mrs. Smith is a descendant, in the 6th generation, from William Douglas, who came to America near the middle of the 17th century and settled at New London, Connecticut. Hon. Stephen Arnold Douglas, United States Senator for many years, from Illinois, was of the same branch of the Douglas family. John was educated in country schools at Blenheim, County of Oxford and Smithville, County of Lincoln, losing his father in the former township about 1838. He farmed until about seventeen years of age, and clerked for a merchant at Grimsby three or four years; opened a store for himself at Paris in 1831; removed to Hamilton in 1837, and after merchandising there for three years,. returned to Paris, and was in trade there until 1853, when he was appointed Sheriff of the newly set off county, all the Sheriff the County of Brant has ever had. He is very punctual and efficient in discharging his duties. _ Sheriff Smith was secretary of the first meeting held at Hamilton after Lord Durham had...

Biography of Fredrick Schofield

Fredrick Schofield, son of James Lancaster Schofield, nearly thirty years Treasurer of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario, was born at Smith’s Falls, Leeds, January 10, 1836. His grandfather and great-grandfather were United Empire Loyalists. The mother of Frederick, was Maria Campbell, a native of the County of Leeds, and of Scotch pedigree. Her father was an officer on the British side, during the American Revolution. The subject of this brief sketch was educated at the University of Trinity College, Toronto, graduating in 1856; read law with Sherwood and Steele of Brockville; was called to the Bar in 1860, and practiced more or less for a few years, speculating at the same time, and assisting his father in the Treasurer’s office. Mr. Schofield was in the Council of Brockville several years, and took his present county office, that of Treasurer of Leeds and Grenville, in 1873. He is President of the Conservative Association of Brockville, an active politician and an influential man, with a good share of enterprise. His religious connection is with the English Church, of which he was warden for several years. He has also been a delegate to the Synod, and is among the leading lay members of that Christian denomination in the Diocese of Ontario. His standing in society is excellent. He is a Master Mason, not often, however, meeting with any lodge. The wife of Mr. Schofield is Letitia Lockhart, daughter of the late James J. Hargrave chief factor of the Hudson Bay Company, they being married in September, 1864, and having five children. The father of our subject, whom we have...
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