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If anybody, in the County of Ontario, is self educated or self reliant, it is Nicholas Wood Brown, member of the Provincial Parliament, from the South Riding of Ontario. He is of Scotch descent, though both parents, Abram and Bathsheba (Wood) Brown, were from Vermont. They moved from Ferrisburg, in that State, to Whitby in the Spring of 1821, and our subject was born on the 8th of August following, first seeing the light of this world in a half finished, doorless shanty. Fifty years ago literary privileges in what is now the well settled, wellimproved county of Ontario, were of a meagre and very ordinary character, and Nicholas, living in a little opening in the woods, browsed as best he could on the tree of knowledge, making no attempts to reach the higher branches. His education, however, did not end with his few school days; he has been a reader and thinker all his days, and has always had a disposition to “cipher in his head,” otherwise his calculations would have been missed, and he been left out of Parliament.
Mr. Brown farmed until eighteen years old; then learned the carpenter and joiner’s trade at Whitby; worked at it seven or eight years, and then started a carriage shop. He seems to have been a born wagon maker, turning out one with his own hands without ever having seen one made or being shown how it was done. He has a buggy of his own make which has run eighteen years, and which having had a little repairing, now and then, looks “amaist as weel’s the new.”
For nearly twenty years Mr. Brown has been engaged in the manufacture of agricultural implements and machinery reapers and mowers, fanning mills, plows, &c., employing about sixty men and doing $80,000 a year. He is of the firm of Brown and Patterson. The “Whitby Harvester,” invented by Mr. Brown, is a favorite machine in Canada, about six hundred being sold annually. It has a wrought iron frame, with the least possible gearing, a broad faced drive wheel, and as the frame and table tilt at the same time, the pitman is always in line with the knife. It is no doubt one of the most perfect machines of the kind ever invented.
Mr. Brown was a school trustee five or six years; was in the common council fourteen years; has been deputy reeve, reeve, and mayor, and on the 17th of January, 1875, was elected to the Ontario Legislature. While in that body the first term he introduced and secured the passage of a bill of great importance to his section of the Province an Act authorizing the building of a Railway from the town of Whitby to Georgian Bay. In June, 1879, Mr. Brown was again the candidate of the Conservative party for the South Ontario Riding, and was defeated.
October 28, 1845, Susan, daughter of Joseph Chapman, of the township of Pickering, county of Ontario, was married to Mr. Brown, and they have three children living and two dead.