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James Sutherland Chisholm, of Strathglass, who, in Gaelic, is called Chisalick. This family, we learn, is of Lowland origin, yet has long been in possession of estates in the Highlands, and has been for centuries quite assimilated to the manners and customs of their Celtic neighbors. The memorial of Charles Forbes ranks them among the friends of Prince Charles Edward, and estimates their force at two hundred men. The Highland possessions of the family consist of Comer Strathglass, etc., in which is situated their castle of Erchless. The original seat of the family was, in all probability, in Roxburghshire, as the only person of the name who signed Ray man’s Roll is “Richard de Chisholm, del County de Roxbury,” and in that county the family still remains.
The branch of the Chisholm family which eventually settled in Oakville, came to Upper Canada in 1791, the progenitor being George Chisholm, who was born near Inverness, Scotland, in 1745, who settled first in Nova Scotia, where the late Col. William Chisholm was born, October 15, 1788. The former died at Burlington, in 1843, aged 98 years; the latter was educated in Flamboro, East; was lieutenant in No.1 flank company, Lincoln militia, in the war of 1812-14, one of the companies that stormed and captured the Fort at Detroit; was also at Queenston Heights; after that war settled (1816), on his farm in Nelson, County of Halton, where, in addition to agriculture, he carried on merchandising for more than twenty years, being also postmaster, settling in Oakville in 1838. Col. Chisholm was appointed Captain 2nd Gore Militia, in 1816; colonel of the 4th Regiment Gore Militia, in 1824; colonel of the 2nd Regiment in 1830; commanded one of the divisions of militia in 1837-38, and was in the engagement at Montgomery’s Inn, on Yonge Street (December 7, 1837), and was at Chippawa while the rebels occupied Navy Island.
Col. Chisholm was a Liberal Conservative, and represented Halton in Parliament for sixteen years; was appointed collector of customs at Oakville in 1834, and held that office until his demise, May 4, 1842; and he was one of the commissioners for building the Burlington Bay and Welland Canals. He was an enterprising business man; built and owned the first vessel that passed through the Burlington Bay Canal; also built at Oakville, the steamers “Constitution,” “Oakville,” and “Burlington,” as well as several sailing vessels, and the Oakville harbor. Although he has been dead nearly forty years, he is well remembered by the surviving pioneers in this part of the Province, and to all of them his memory is precious.
In 1812 he married Miss Rebecca Silverthorne, of Etobicoke, county of York, and she bore him six sons and four daughters, of whom one son, Robert Kerr Chisholm, and two daughters, Mrs. William F. Romain, and Mrs. Peter A. McDougald, are now living. She died in 1865.
Of the four sons, two should have mention in this connection, Col. George King Chisholm, and Robert Kerr Chisholm. The former was born in Nelson, September 4,1814; educated at Upper Canada College; Sergeant at arms of the Upper Canada Parliament after the union of the Provinces; in active service during the rebellion; colonel of the 20th Halton Battalion for several years, and an enthusiastic promoter of the volunteer militia; aided with a company to form three provisional battalions and stationed them on the line, immediately after the St. Alban’s raid of Southern sympathizers (1864); and during the Fenian raid (1866), his old Oakville company, now No. 1 in the Halton regiment, with him in command, was stationed at Fort Erie. Colonel Chisholm was reeve of Trafalgar in 1830-1852, mayor of Oakville for eight years, and was elected to the Canadian Assembly by the Liberal Conservatives in 1854, being for years a prominent man in this riding; married in 1840, Isabella, daughter of Colonel Robert Land, of Hamilton, by whom he had four sons and a daughter, who all survive him, he dying in April, 1874. He was a prominent member of the Masonic order; at the time of his death was Master of White Oak Lodge, No. 198, Oakville, and a great concourse of the fraternity attended his funeral, and assisted in paying the last respects to the remains of the greatly lamented brother.
Robert Kerr Chisholm, the only surviving son of Col. William Chisholm, senior, and collector of customs at Oakville since his father’s demise, was born at Nelson, on the 26th of May, 1819; finished his education at the Gore District school, at Hamilton; settled permanently in Oakville in 1834; was reeve of Trafalgar in 1854 and in 1856, and of the town of Oakville from 1862 to 1865; was mayor in 1866, and a member of the town council from 1857 to 1871, and in 1879 and 1880, and has held the office of collector of customs steadily for thirty-eight years. His politics accord with those of his venerated father. He is a Royal Arch Mason, an Odd fellow, and a member of the Presbyterian church.
In 1858 he married Flora Matilda, daughter of Shubael B. Lewis, of the State of New York, and they have one daughter and four sons.
The name of no family in Oakville is so fully identified with its history as the Chisholm, or has a more honorable record.