Among the early settlers and prominent citizens of Smith’s Falls, may be numbered John McGill Chambers, known far and wide as Captain Chambers. He comes of United Empire Loyalist blood on both sides, his grandsires removing from the United States to Canada about the time of the American revolution. His parents were James and Mary (Thurber) Chambers, both born in the State of New York. The Chambers family was originally from Derry, north of Ireland. Our subjects birth is dated at Edwardsburg, county of Grenville, Ontario, August 20, 1805. He received a common English education; in 1832, became Captain of a boat in Canadian waters, and held that position on canals and rivers until 1854, having made his home at Smith’s Falls since 1828, when the village had little more than “a local habitation and a name.”
Captain Chambers is one of the best known men in this immediate section of the Province of Ontario, though of late years he has lived somewhat quiet and retired, looking after his property and attending to the duties of a few offices. He has been a magistrate and notary for more than twenty years, and was reeve of the township of Montague, in which part of the village of Smith’s Falls stands, for eleven years. As a citizen, he has made himself quite useful; has been connected with the militia for a long time, and holds the rank of Captain. He is connected with the Church of England; politically is a Conservative, decided and unwavering; and sometimes he takes quite an active part.
Captain Chambers was first married in 1828 to Miss Elizabeth McKenzie, of Augusta, county of Grenvile. She died in 1849, leaving five children, only three of them, all daughters, now surviving. One son, Edward Chambers, lived to be fifty-three years of age, dying in December 1879. Annabella is the wife of Trueman R. Ward, and Elizabeth, of Dr. McKenzie, both residing at Smith’s Falls, and Winifred is at home. He was married the second time on the 20th of January, 1852, to Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Casey, Esq., of Adolphustown, Bay of Quinte, and by her he has one son, James H. Chambers, who is with his parents. Mrs. Chambers has long had a taste for landscape painting, and still continues to gratify it to a moderate extent. The walls of her parlor and other rooms are decorated with paintings, largely her own workmanship, and showing decided talent in that beautiful art.