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The town of Pembroke, the seat of justice of the county of Renfrew, owes its rise, growth and present status to its lumber interests; and among the enterprising men who have aided to make the town what it isa place with about 3,000 inhabitants, fine churches, large school houses, commercial blocks, and spacious and elegant hotelsis the subject of this short sketch, who settled in Pembroke when it had two buildings, “all told.”
Mr. Bell is a son of William Bell, Tanner, and Margaret, nee Wilson, residents of Dumfriesshire, Scotland, where he first saw this world’s light, on the 3rd of June, 1821. He laid the foundation of his education in the parish schools of his native country; in 1832 came with his parents and other children to the county of Kent, New Brunswick, where he gave three more years to study, and then went into the woods and commenced lumbering, a business which he has followed almost constantly for more than forty years.
In 1843, Mr. Bell came from New Brunswick to this Province, and located at Pembroke, then simply the site of a village. The country at this point of the Ottawa valley, was very wild, and settlers were scarce, the denuding axe of the muscular chopper having made but few, and these were small, openings in the pine and hardwood forests. At one period, Mr. Bell was in partnership with Andrew and Peter White, and they did a very heavy business. For some years the firm has been Bell and Hickey, and as there has been a depression in the lumber trade for the last six or seven years, they have done only a moderate businessfrom 200,000 to 250,000 feet of square timber, and from 15,000 to 18,000 saw logs. Their best market for square timber they find at Quebec. The winters of 1877-78-79, Mr. Bell spent in Florida, and seems inclined to “take the world easy.”
He was chairman of the school board of Pembroke for a number of yearsthe only office we believe, that he would accept; he seems inclined to let the offices go to those who like such honors and responsibilities.
He is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and was for a long period an elder, resigning when he went south.
Mr. Bell married Elizabeth, daughter of Peter White, a pioneer settler in Pembroke, in 1850, and they have five children living, and have lost two.
Mr. Bell has an older brother, John Bell, who was born in the same place, came to Canada at the same time, and until recently has been in the lumber business here with fair success. He has a wife and four children; is a man of a solid christian character, and, like his brother, a very substantial citizen. He has a farm two or three miles from town, on which he lives, and which he is cultivating.