Biography of Horace Merrill

One of the landmarks in the Valley of the Ottawa River, is Horace Merrill, who commenced building saw mills in this section of Canada nearly fifty years ago, and the marks of whose skill are visible in this valley from Ottawa to Hawkesbury, sixty miles below.

Through his hands the Crown conveyed the first water lots at the Chaudiere Falls to private parties for the utilizing of the power, he early seeing that these Falls could be improved, and resorted to the means of bringing enterprising men hither to start the grand movement.

Mr. Merrill is a native of Grafton County, N. H., a son of Nathaniel Merrill a contractor, and Sarah Huse, and was born in the Shaker town of Enfield, May 10, 1809. His grandfather lived and died there, being an Elder among the Shakers.

At fourteen years of age our subject commenced learning the cabinetmaker’s trade in his native town, with only one month’s schooling after that date. He had twenty dollars a year, all paid to him in clothing out of a store, continuing to work, according to contract, at such wages until of age, when he purchased his first overcoat, and his first underclothes. Mr. Merrill was now “his own man;” had a good trade, and started out to see the world, but not to become a professional “tramp.” He expected to find work in every town and plenty of it; went to New York city and failed to find anything to do; proceeded up the Hudson to Albany, and there made twenty-six panel doors at one dollar each, and was happy; proceeded to Troy and Whitehall, N. Y., but found no work, and pushed on to Burlington, Vt.; there did a small job for a hotel keeper; then found a year’s employment at Willsboro, N. Y., at pattern making; in 1826 came to Canada, and worked eight years at Hawkesbury, on the Ottawa river, at the millwright business for George Hamilton, one of nature’s noblemen. Proceeding up the river to Buckingham, he there worked the same period at the same business, for Levi Bigelow.

In 1842, Mr. Merrill built a saw mill for J. C. Blaisdell at Gateneau; in 1845 went into the employment of the Canadian Government, improving the Ottawa river for the descent of lumber, and continued in. that situation for thirty years, with his residence at Ottawa, his field of operations taking him hundreds of miles up and down different streams. During that period he had an interest in the Victoria Foundry and machine shop at Ottawa, the carrying on of which is now his sole business. He has always been an industrious, hard working man, and enters on his three score years and ten in robust health and a sound constitution. His capital at twenty-one years of age was the well learned trade of a wood mechanic, a strong arm, a willing man and the spirit of perseverance in the search for work. His industry and skill placed him long ago in comfortable circumstances. His home is at Chaudiere Falls, one mile from the centre of the city of Ottawa, only a few rods from the scene of his first labors here, the cataract having been his lullaby for thirty years.

Mr. Merrill has kept out of politics and office, and led a very quiet life. He is a Knight Templar, and for nine terms was Master of the Masonic Lodge in Ottawa. His religious conviction is with the Church of England, and his character is untarnished.
February 10, 1842, Miss Adaline Church, a native of Canada was joined in wedlock with Mr. Merrill, and of nine children resulting from this union, only five are living, three sons and two daughters. Two of the sons, Horace B. and Milton W., have an interest with their father in the Foundry, and William is with them, learning the machinist’s trade. The two daughters, Emmeline and Kate, are with their parents.

MLA Source Citation:

The Canadian Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self Made Men, Ontario, Volume 1. Toronto: Toronto American Biographical Pub. Co. 1880. Web. 1 February 2015. - Last updated on Aug 8th, 2012


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