Daniel Black Chisholm, barrister, ex-member of Parliament for Halton, and for many years one of the leading citizens of Hamilton, is a native Canadian, as was his father before him, and was born in the township of E. Flamboro’, County of Wentworth, Out., on the 2nd of November, 1832. He is a grandson of George Chisholm, a Highlander, who emigrated from Inverness, Scotland, as early as August, 1772, to New York, whence he afterwards removed to Nova Scotia, where he lived for about seven years. In 1781 he settled at Niagara, but removed thence in 1791, to the north shore of Burlington Bay, neat the present site of Hamilton, when he continued to reside on land granted him by the King, (as a U. E. Loyalist) until his death in 1842, at the age of 100 years.
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This farm was for many years the homestead of this branch of the Chisholm family, and was the birth place of our subject. His father was the late Col. George Chisholm, who participated in the war of 1812, though but little more than just entered on his teens, and also in the Rebellion of 1837, being a Colonel of Militia in the latter. One of the exciting incidents of which he was a witness in the stormy times of 1837-38, was the sending of the ill fated “Caroline” over the Falls of Niagara. On one occasion he had a narrow escape with his life, the ball which was fired at him lodging in the stock of his musket, which is still preserved as an interesting heirloom in the family. He died at Oakville in 1872.
By the death of his mother, a native of New Brunswick, in 1850, our subject was left almost wholly dependent on himself. Possessing but a limited common school education and no money, he decided to adopt farming. Renting some land he followed agricultural pursuits successfully till the winter of 1857, when he sold out, and went to Victoria College, Cobourg, where he remained two years. While there he made up his mind to study law, and in 1859 entered the office of Miles O’Reilly, Q.C., at Hamilton, as a student at law. After pursuing a regular law course, he was admitted an attorney, and called to the Bar of Upper Canada in Easter Term, 1864, since which time he has resided and practiced his profession in Hamilton, being at present the senior member of the well-known law firm of Messrs. Chisholm and Hazlett. He enjoys an enviable reputation as a lawyer of recognized ability, and has attained a high standing in the profession. One of his leading characteristics is to throw his whole energies into whatever he undertakes to accomplish, and being an indefatigable and untiring worker, and possessing more than ordinary powers of endurance, his labors have been as exacting and multifarious as his talents are diversified. Never having been ill, he has been, and still is able to endure great fatigue, even to working twenty-four hours a day if necessary, and it is doubtless largely owing to these qualities that he has been enabled to undertake, carry on and succeed in so many enterprises, and still seem, to the wonder of many, always fresh and vigorous both mentally and physically.
Mr. Chisholm has always taken an active interest in municipal affairs, and was elected a member of the city council in 1869, and again in 1870. In the following year he was elected Mayor, and re-elected in 1872, filling the office of Chief Magistrate with marked ability and satisfaction. In politics he has been identified with the Conservative party, though reserving independence of action. At the general election in August, 1872, he was elected to the House of Commons, for Hamilton, and retained that seat until the dissolution of Parliament in January, 1874, when he retired from that constituency, and was elected for the County of Halton as an independent candidate, though under the auspices of the Liberal Conservative party. He retained this seat in the Commons until 1875, when, the election having been contested, it was declared vacant, and at the subsequent election, Mr. Chisholm was defeated, since which time he has taken no active part in politics.
He has long been identified with many prominent financial and other institutions, and is President of the Standard Fire Insurance Company, the Alliance Insurance Company, and the Canada Loan and Banking Company; a Director in the Mutual Life Association of Canada, the Ontario Camp Ground Company, and the Navy Island Fruit Growing Association; and has been President of the Burlington Literary Society of Hamilton, and Chairman of the Provincial Board of Directors of the Hamilton and North Western Railway Company. He has also taken some interest in militia matters, and is a Major in the Sedentary Militia of Hamilton.
The great cause of Temperance has always held in Mr. Chisholm an active, earnest advocate. He favors prohibition and total abstinence, and never having used intoxicating drinks in any form, he has been a consistent worker for this great moral reformation, As an able speaker and a ready writer, as well as by his exemplary habits, he has unquestionably done much to advance the work of temperance. He was the first President of the Hamilton Gospel Temperance Reform Club, which position he still holds, having been elected seven times in succession, and has been connected with and held offices in nearly all the various temperance societies.
Since 1854 Mr. Chisholm has been a member of the Wesleyan (now Canada) Methodist church. Although both his parents were Presbyterians, his mother was a frequent attendant at the Methodist church, and from her example and the interest awakened by attending services with her, his religious impressions were early in favor of the church with which he afterwards united. He is and has been for many years a class leader in Centenary church, and for the past seventeen years has been Superintendent of its Sunday school, which is the largest in Hamilton.
In 1864, Mr. Chisholm was married to Addie, daughter of Milton Davis, Esq., of Hamilton, by whom he has had two children, only one of whom, a son, survives, the other having died in infancy.
In personal appearance Mr. Chisholm is nearly six feet in height, with dark complexion, long heavy beard, and weighing about 160 lbs. His fine physical development and great mental activity is a remarkably strong argument against the specious plea that the stimulant of drink is requisite to the sustenance of a man’s powers, and he is one of whom it may well be said that his whole life is worthy of emulation.