Thomas Wilson, late mayor of Dundas, and one of the leading machinists and manufacturers of the town, was born in Dumbartonshire, Scotland, May 27, 1828. His grandfather was a manufacturer in Glasgow, and his father, Charles Wilson, was a distiller in the old country, and a farmer in Canada. His mother was Margaret McGregor, a descendant of the McGregors and Grahams of Stirlingshire.
In the early youth of our subject the family moved to Lanarkshire, where he received a parish school education, and in 1843 they all came to Canada West. Thomas learned the trade of a machinist with John Gartshore, of Dundas, commencing at sixteen years of age, working twenty-five years for the same man, and managing the machinery department of his shops for sixteen years. Mr. Wilson then purchased the foundry and machine works, and for thirty-six years he has been working in the same buildings, with some enlargement and alterations from time to time.
Business in their line is a little depressed just now, but ordinarily they give employment to seventy-five skilled mechanics, and do a business of about $125,000 annually, their specialties being steam engines, boilers and mill machinery, though they make all kinds of machinery. Their market is mainly in Ontario and Manitoba. They do a great deal of marine work for the latter Province, and the firm of Thomas Wilson and Co., is nearly as well known in the valley of the Red River of the North, as in almost any part of Ontario. The old “Dundas Foundry and Engine Works,” established more than forty years ago (1838), were never in better hands or turned out more excellent work.
Mr. Wilson was connected, many years ago, with an artillery force, being Sergeant-Major of the same, and was Captain of a company of home guards during the Fenian raids, but has never had occasion to deal in a serious manner with “villainous saltpetre.” Some of his most useful work has been done in the municipality of Dundas, he being in the council a. number of years, and mayor in 1876-1877 and 1878. His practical good sense and working qualities cropped out there as well as in his own shops. He has also been of good service at times on the school board, and is a justice of the peace.
Though not a rabid politician, nor in this respect very active, Mr. Wilson is an unwavering Reformer, and is president of the local association of his party, and has a high standing in its councils. In religion he is a Presbyterian, and has been one of the managers of Knox church for years. His character stands well, and in religion as well as secular matters is active and efficient.
His wife was Miss Agnes Jardine, a native of Renfrewshire, Scotland. They were married June 13, 1851, have lost two children, and have eight living. Charles, the eldest son, is married and lives in Dundas; Mary is the wife of John A. McMahon, of Kingston, and the rest are single.