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One of the Pioneers in what is now the town of Simcoe, and one of the most successful business men that ever resided here, is Duncan Campbell, a native of Greenock, Scotland, dating his birth April 2, 1802. He is a son of Archibald and Ann Campbell, both parents being members of the Argyle branch of the Campbell family. Duncan received a moderate English education, and in 1815 came to Lower Canada, his parents having preceded him. Was clerk in a store two years, at Montreal, and in 1818 came to Simcoe, then called Birdtown, to take charge of a store kept by William Bird. Subsequently Mr. Campbell had the name changed to Simcoe, in honor of Governor Simcoe, who had given Aaron Culver 200 acres of land,that land being embraced in the present site of the town.
Mr. Culver settled at first in the Township of Townsend, in this county. When Governor Simcoe came through this part of the Province, he camped near the site of Col. Campbell’s place, and Mr. Culver came to see him, bringing a bag of water melons as a present to His Excellency, as he had nothing better. The Governor, in reward for his kindness, presented him with 200 acres of land, now covered by the Town of Simcoe, Mr. Culver having previously hinted that he thought there was a good water power in this vicinity, which he would like some day to improve. He afterwards built a mill on the creek (Lynn River), and died many years ago.
When Mr. Campbell settled here, a youth in his 17th year, there were but three houses in the place. The only families were those of Aaron Culver, William Bird, and McFarland Wilson, Mr. Culver’s house being on the eastern side of Patterson’s Creek, now called Lynn River. From the time that Mr. Campbell took charge of the store, which had been occupied by Mr. .Bird, he continued to sell merchandise for several years. For a few years at Victoria, then the county seat, six miles southwest, was the nearest post office, but at length one was established at Simcoe, and Mr. Campbell was appointed the first postmaster.
When he went out of the mercantile trade he was appointed agent of the Gore Bank, continuing thus to act until he was appointed Government Land Agent, an office which he held several years. During that period he sold the principal part of the lands in the County of Norfolk not previously disposed of.
At an early day Mr. Campbell joined the militia of the Province, was appointed Lieutenant, and rose, step by step, till he became Lieut.Colonel.
Something like forty years ago, Colonel Campbell was appointed a magistrate, and still holds that office, but rarely acts in that capacity. For some years he has done little more than look after his own property, which is quite extensive. He was long ago placed in independent circumstances, and is well fitted, by life long habits of temper and general correctness, to enjoy his wealth. He is a member of the Church of England, and a Christian gentleman of the pure Scotch type.
Col. Campbell has fitted up himself a home quite central in the town, and beautiful enough in its surroundings, and elegant enough in all respects, for any Campbell of the old world. His ten acre park is the finest private park we have ever seen.