James Hall, late member of the Dominion Parliament, dates his birth April 14, 1806, County of Clackmannanshire, Scotland, being a son of James Hall, senior, merchant. He was educated in the grammar school of his native town; spent some time in the office of his older brother, Francis Hall, civil engineer, and in 1820 came to Canada, with the family, locating in the township of Lanark, then in Carleton, now in Lanark county. His father built the first house in that township. There the son farmed a while, then had a store and distillery, doing more or less surveying at the same time.
In 1830 Mr. Hall disposed of his stock and distillery; went to Halifax, N. S., and practised his profession as civil engineer and land surveyor; returned to Lanark in about two years, and went into the tanning business. In 1834 he sold out; went to Peterborough; started a tannery and store, and continued in trade until 1848, and in the tanning business till 1856. He was the first man who bought wheat at Peterborough, and that sent flour to Montreal and lumber to the American side Albany and Troy, N. Y.
Mr. Hall was Sheriff of the united Counties of Peterborough and Victoria from 1856 to 1863, when the counties were separated, and of the County of Peterborough from the last date until November, 1872, when he resigned.
Mr. Hall represented Peterborough and Victoria in the Canadian Parliament from 1848 to 1852, and in the Dominion Parliament from 1873 to 1878, representing East Peterborough. While in the latter body he succeeded in getting the Trent Canal bill through. In politics he is a Reformer. He has been a town and county councilor, was mayor two or three terms, and in many ways has made himself a useful citizen. He has quite a literary taste; has a library of about 1,000 volumes, including some of the British Classics, and was at one time President of the Peterborough Literary Club, and also of the Mechanics’ Institute.
He aided in starting a Sunday school in Peterborough, in 1835; was its superintendent many years, and has been an elder in the Presbyterian church for more than thirty years.
In 1830, Jane Albro, daughter of Samuel Albro, of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was joined in marriage with Mr. Hall; she died in 1868, while crossing the ocean with her husband and other members of the family, who were intending to make with her the tour of Europe. She left eight children, five sons and three daughters, all yet living. James Albro, the oldest son, has a family, and has been sheriff of the county of Peterborough since his father resigned, and has an excellent record as a citizen. Jane, the eldest daughter, is the wife of Sanford Fleming, Chief Engineer of the Pacific Railway, residing at Ottawa; Martha is the wife of Bingham Higginson, of Liverpool, England; Eliza is the widow of Alexander Smith, formerly a lumber merchant of Peterborough; Frank is a hardware merchant, Walkerton, Ont.; Frederick is deputy sheriff; and Henry is a barrister, both in Peterborough; and Charles is in the Civil Service Department at Ottawa. The present wife of Mr. Hall was Miss Jane Gifford. Ferguson, eldest daughter of Fergus Ferguson, of Edinburgh, Scotland, by whom he has one daughter, Alice Mary, aged eight years.