Robert Simpson, the first mayor of the town of Barrie, and many years a prominent man in the municipalities of the town and county, is a native of Yorkshire, England, being born in Salton, March 16, 1817. His father, John Simpson, who was a yeoman, was from Fifeshire; his mother, Mary (Richardson) Simpson, was English.
Robert received a parish school education; farmed in the old country until 1835; then emigrated to Upper Canada; attended school one winter after learning the brewing business at Newmarket; carried on that business for himself at Kempenfeldt, three miles from Barrie, about two years, when he was burnt out, and removed across the Bay to Allandale, where he brewed about seven years and was again burnt out. In 1848 Mr. Simpson settled in Barrie. A few years ago he suffered a third loss $10,000 without insurance by fire, on a rented brewery at Newmarket; yet, notwithstanding his repeated reverses, he has been, on the whole, quite successful. Since locating in Barrie, with the exception of two or three visits made to his native land, he has remained very diligent at his post, looking after his business interests.
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In 1856 Mr. Simpson entered the town council, and was a member of that body until Barrie became an incorporated town, when he became the mayor, and held that office, at sundry times. He has also been deputy-reeve and reeve, and has held the office of magistrate for the last fifteen years or more. Mr. Simpson has given a good deal of time to local matters of a public character, and the community in a measure appreciates his services. He is a Master Mason.
Mr. Simpson has a second wife. The first was Miss Sarah Ann Soules, a native of Canada, married June 20, 1843. She died in 1874, leaving two daughters and one son. Elizabeth, the elder daughter, is the wife of ex-alderman Nathaniel Dickey, of Toronto; Mary Jane is the wife of John Neill, Jr., of the same city, and Thomas W. is partner with his father in the brewing business. Mr. Simpson was married the second time, on the 14th of August, 1877, to Miss Margaret Purves, of Edinburgh, Scotland, by whom he has one son.