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No citizen of Sarnia filled so large a place in the public eye while living as the Hon. Malcolm Cameron, and no one who has passed away is more affectionately and proudly remembered. This would be readily inferred from the marks of public confidence placed on him while in active life, and from the eulogies which yet linger on the tongues of his survivors, Malcolm Cameron was born at Three Rivers, Province of Quebec, April 25, 1808. He was the son of Angus Cameron and Euphemia (nee McGregor) Cameron, both natives of Scotland, the former of Argyleshire, the latter a daughter of Duncan McGregor, Esq., of Stranire, Loch Lubnaig, Perthshire. His parents came to Canada about the year 1806. His mental training was such as could be gained from. the schools in the community in which the family lived, and his early experiences, tastes and habits were not unlike those of any active and healthy boy, subject to like influences.
In early life, however, Mr. Cameron developed a capacity for business, as in more mature years he showed a taste and fitness for public affairs. He came to Sarnia about 1837, which, for the greater portion of his life, continued to be his home, though he resided eleven years in Ottawa, and temporarily at Kingston, Toronto and Quebec. At Sarnia he was for years actively engaged in mercantile pursuits, and had large transactions in wheat, flour, lumber, and other commodities. His business ventures were characteristic of the spirit of enterprise which animated him, and if they were not always successful, they left no stain upon his honor or integrity as a business man.
Mr. Cameron became a member of the Upper Canada Assembly in 1836, and occupied a seat in that body until the union. Also, after the union, he represented Kent in the Assembly from 1848 to 1851, Huron from 1851 to 1854, and Lambton from 1858 to 1860, when he resigned, but was immediately chosen to represent St. Clair Division in the Legislative Council, which he continued to do until his appointment as Queen’s Printer in 1863.
In 1841, under Sir Charles Bagot, he was made an inspector of revenue, and his administration resulted in an augmentation of the revenues to the amount of more than $50,000. He was a member of the Executive Council from March 11, 1848, to February 1, 1850, and also from October 28, 1851 to September 10, 1854, during which period he also served as assistant commissioner of Public Works, President of the Executive Council, Minister of Agriculture, Postmaster-General and a member of the Board of Railway Commissioners. He was also a government director of the Grand Trunk railway during the period of its construction. In 1854 he was a delegate to Washington in behalf of the western mercantile interests, to aid the Government delegate in the negotiation of a Reciprocity treaty, and rendered important assistance in that work. In 1862 he visited British Columbia, and was there appointed a delegate by the people to go to England in the interests of self government for the colony. His mission was successful and led to the presentation of an address to the secretary of State for the Colonies from both Houses of the Canadian Parliament, recommending him for the office of Lieut.-Governor of British Columbia.
Mr. Cameron held the office of Queen’s Printer from 1863 until October 1, 1869. He was in the Parliament of Canada from 1836 to 1863, except during the period from the general election. of 1854 to the next general election. He was first returned to the Commons at the general election in 1873, and held a seat there until the time of his death. He also held other important positions, such as a directorship in the Ontario and Quebec railway, and a life membership, from its foundation, in the Agricultural Association of Upper Canada.
In all humane, benevolent and religious organizations, Mr. Cameron was active and efficient. He was a governor of the Carleton Protestant Hospital, vice-president for thirty years of the Upper Canada Bible Society, president of the Ottawa Reform Association, and he had been an active worker in the temperance reform movements, and an officer in various leagues and associations designed to promote that cause.
He was also a member of the Masonic Society.
In politics Mr. Cameron was an advanced Liberal. As such, he ably advocated the secularization of the clergy reserves, the abolition of imprisonment for debt, homestead exemption, the vote by ballot, municipal institutions, the canal system of the late Hon. Hamilton Merritt, and the construction of the Intercolonial and Pacific railways.
In 1855 Mr. Cameron was an honorary commissioner to the first Paris exhibition.
In his religious views and associations Mr. Cameron was a Presbyterian, and a liberal supporter of that church.
Mr. Cameron was married April 29, 1833, to his cousin, Christina, daughter of Robert McGregor, cotton spinner, Glasgow, Scotland, by whom he had one child, a daughter, who yet survives him.
Mr. Cameron died on the first day of June 1876, at Ottawa, at the time a member of the Canadian House of Commons.
Though honors came thick upon him, Mr. Cameron was not an office seeker, and he was more ready to decline than to accept office. His modesty was so incompatible with political aspiration, and his generosity so characteristic, that he would seek a friend’s advancement as readily as his own. He was of a social and companionable disposition, of pleasing and courteous manners, and fluent and vivacious in conversation. His benevolence was a trait of character, which is yet held in grateful remembrance by multitudes, for he was ever ready to lend a hand to the needy.