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The subject of this biographical sketch was born in the township of Uxbridge on the 29th December, 1808. About 1720, his ancestors emigrated from Ireland, and settled in Germantown, a suburb of Philadelphia, where they remained until after the war of Independence. His father, Jonathan Gould, removed thence and settled in Uxbridge, in the spring of the year in which Mr. Gould was born. The township and those surrounding it, were then covered with the primeval forest. In due time other settlers arrived from Pennsylvania, all like Mr. Gould’s family, adherents of the Society of Friends; in which faith Mr. Gould was carefully trained. His education was very limited, owing to the great difficulty in maintaining schools. However, he was early taught those habits of economy and industry, which he has practiced with the utmost care throughout life. Having assisted his father to clear up his farm, he afterwards acquired a knowledge of building, which has been of the utmost service to him. Soon after coming of age, he boldly struck out, resolving, unaided, to push his fortune in life. He bought a farm and a saw mill in what is now the village of Uxbridge. At first his lumber enterprise was not very successful, as he met with a series of reverses; but he persevered, until by virtue of energy and foresight, it became a most lucrative business. As was to be expected of one possessing his ability, and being a close observer of passing events, he early took an active part in politics. Every scheme, liberal and progressive, secured his most hearty support.
He took part in the Rebellion of 1837, being in hearty sympathy with W. L. Mackenzie in his efforts to break up the “Family Compact,” and secure for this country the priceless boon of Responsible Government. He was present at the battle at Montgomery’s. After the battle he was apprehended, and spent ten months in confinement seven in Toronto jail, and three in Fort Henry, after which, on the recommendation of Lord Durham, he was liberated. He often alludes to his prison days with some degree of pride, and expresses himself perfectly willing to leave the matter to the judgment of posterity.
On the first of January, 1839, two months after his return from Fort Henry, he married Mary, daughter of Ezekiel James, who, with Mr. Gould’s father, was one of the first settlers in Uxbridge. She proved to him a helpmeet in the best sense of the term, To her frugality,
industry, energy, wise counsel in his most trying experiences, and her great moral worth, Mr. Gould confidently ascribes much of his success in life.
Mr. Gould’s history is inseparably bound up with the history of his native county. J. H. Beers and Co., in their Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of Ontario, speak as follows of the prominent part he took in its municipal and political affairs:
“Mr. Gould represented the township municipality in 1836-37 under the Township Commissioners’ Act; was district councilor from 1842 to 1854; was the first reeve of Uxbridge the first warden of Ontario; the first member of Parliament for North Ontario, and finally the first reeve of the village.” He was among the earliest advocates of municipal institutions, and few men in the Province have done more to secure and popularize them. His long experience and close attention to their working, fitted him in an eminent degree for working out the details of many important measures. Through his instrumentality the county obtained a separate existence from York and Peel, after a severe and protracted struggle. In order to effect this he acted with great boldness, at the same time with strict legality, in voting as the representative of his own township, and then gave a second vote as warden. The same authority quoted above speaks of the ” heroic fortitude of Joseph Gould, of the noble township of Uxbridge, who, amidst the whirlwind of rage and disappointment of the enemies of this county, and every species of abuse that malice could invent, with the firm and unwavering spirit of a man who can be relied on in any emergency, braved the storm, and by his casting vote on the 1st of June, 1852, according to the provisions of the Municipal Law, founded this county.”
Mr. Gould represented North Ontario in the Parliament of Canada for seven years, He was first elected in 1854, polling almost as many votes as his opponents, Hon. T. N. Gibbs, and O. It. Gowan together. In 1861 he was defeated by Hon. M. C. Cameron, since which time be has remained in private life. His defeat was due to the firm stand he took to preserve intact the endowment of Toronto University, thereby alienating many of his friends, who were strong advocates of the distribution of the fund among the other Universities of the Province. He has been frequently asked since by many of his friends to offer himself as a candidate, but ha s uniformly refused, affirming that politics had become too much a trade, and that he considers his own more productive of honor and profit. Throughout he has, politically, been a consistent and pronounced Liberal, and is yet foremost in promoting the interest of his party in the Ridings, being President of the Reform Association for many years. Since retiring into private life, he has used his influence in securing the passage of several important measures.
He was an active promoter of the Toronto and Nipissing Railway; and has been; since the formation of the company, to the present time, a shareholder and director. He has always taken a deep interest in education, and although the largest ratepayer in the township, was throughout, a strenuous advocate of free schools. He early secured a grammar school for the village, and for many years, at a great sacrifice, maintained its existence. He took an active part in promoting and securing the secularization of the Clergy Reserves, and has ever been an uncompromising opponent of everything that had the semblance of State Churchism.
Mr. Gould is possessed of great business ability, and through energy and close application, has amassed a large amount of property. In 1843 he built a woolen factory; in 1844 a saw mill; in 1845 a flouring mill, and some years later a second, together with a large amount of valuable property in Uxbridge. In 1854, with his usual foresight, he bought three hundred acres of land, upon which the larger portion of the village of Uxbridge has been built. Largely through his liberal policy in encouraging improvements, Uxbridge has reached the proportions of a town, being the most important station of the Toronto and Nipissing Railway. In addition, he possesses considerable landed property, extensive timber limits in Parry Sound district, and many valuable investments of different kinds.
Altogether he ranks among the first of the wealthy men of the county.
Mr. Gould has five sons and four daughters, all married and living in and about Uxbridge, with the exception of one daughter, residing in the city of Brantford. He has given them a liberal education. On his sons becoming of age, he gave each a valuable farm in the immediate vicinity of Uxbridge. His oldest son, Isaac, has been for a number of years reeve of Uxbridge village, and Charles is a Deputy-Reeve of the township. Uxbridge, and the county of Ontario in its infancy, owe more to Mr. Gould than to any other man. For a period of nearly forty years, he has performed the duties of a magistrate, in a fearless, faithful, and satisfactory manner. He has taken a leading part in everything calculated to advance the material, social, and moral welfare of the community. His success is a striking illustration of what can be accomplished by industry, economy, perseverance, and strict integrity. His watchword has ever been promptness and punctuality in every act of life. In this way habits of the utmost value to a public man are acquired, and the confidence and respect of all with whom there are business relations secured. Did these principles prevail more widely, a healthier tone would pervade business circles, and the commercial interests of our country would be established on a sounder basis. Young men, whose advantages have been the most limited, will find Mr. Gould’s career and success in life a most interesting and valuable study, and discover much that is wetthy of imitation. Mr. Gould is still living; his physical strength is much impaired, partly owing to the very active life he has led, and partly to asthma, from which he has been a great sufferer for many years. His intellect is yet clear and vigorous.