James Cox Aikins, Senator and Secretary of State of Canada, is a son of James Aikins, who left the County of Monaghan, Ireland, in 1816, and after residing in Philadelphia, Pa., four years, came to Canada and settled in the township of Toronto, now in the county of Peel, where our subject was born on the 30th of March, 1823. His mother’s name, before her marriage, was Ann Cox. James Aikins was a hospitable christian man, and his backwoods house, half a century ago, was the frequent resort of evangelists and the centre wherefrom radiated strong religious influences.
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Our subject received an academic education at what has since become Victoria College, Cobourg, and has followed the occupation of his father, that of an agriculturist, and made his business a success.
Mr. Aikins has held a few civil offices in the township in which he resided in the county of Peel; is Major of the 3rd Battalion Peel Militia, and has been in some legislative body almost constantly for a quarter of a century. He sat for the county of Peel in the Canadian Assembly from 1854 until the general election in 1861, when he was defeated; was a member for the “Home” Division of the Legislative Council from 1862 until the Union, and was called to the Senate by proclamation in May, 1867. He was sworn into the Privy Council on the 9th of December, 1867, and was soon afterwards sworn in as Secretary of State of Canada, and held that office until the resignation of the Macdonald Government, November 5,1873, organizing during that period the Dominion Lands Bureau; and was again sworn into the Privy Council on the 19th of October, 1878, and once more accepted the portfolio of Secretary of State.
Senator Aikins lived the life of an independent yeoman, in Peel, until 1869, in which year he joined the Government of Sir John A. Macdonald, and removed to Toronto. In changing his party affiliations at that time, from a Liberal to a Conservative, no one who knows him thoroughly can doubt his sincerity or his honesty of purpose. That change on his part was the result of a change of front of the leaders of the Liberal party immediately prior to Confederation. He is president of the Manitoba and North West Loan Company, and vice-president of the National Investment Company.
Aikins is a member of the Methodist church of Canada: and holds the offices of trustee and steward in that connection; was at one time Vice-President of the Ottawa Auxilliary Bible Society, and is a man whose christian integrity is unquestioned. It is fortunate for any Government to have this class of statesmen at the head of its departments.
In 1845 he married Miss Mary Elizabeth Jane Somerset, of Toronto, and she had eight children, seven of them yet living. His eldest son, John S. Aikins, is a member of the Legislature of Manitoba, and his second, Jas. A. M. Aikens, is a practicing barrrister in the city of Win nipped.
Mr. Aikins has two younger brothers, who are physicians and surgeons, Dr. William T. Aikins, a prominent physician in Toronto, and Dr. Moses H. Aikins, who lives on the old homestead in the County of Peel.