Biography of William Moffat
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One of the prominent families at Pembroke is that of the Moffats, who came from Haddingtonshire, Scotland, in 1834, and after spending six years at New Edinburgh, adjoining Bytown, now Ottawa, moved to Pembroke in the autumn of 1840. At that date the principal settlers here were Peter White, Campbell, Arhuna and John Dunlap, James Jardine and Hugh Fraser. Here Alexander Moffat built a grist mill and laid out the village of Pembroke into lots, and was engaged in manufacturing flour until his death in April, 1872. He also built a woolen mill. He was the first postmaster here, being appointed by the British Government when Lord Landsdowne was Postmaster-General; was a justice of the peace for a long period, and did a great deal of valuable service in both the village and County councils, serving for one or two terms as warden of the united counties of Lanark and Renfrew. He was once nominated by the Reform party for the Canadian parliament, but for satisfactory reasons given, declined to contest the riding, He was never a strong party man, and was liked by men of all political shades of belief. He was an elder of Calvin Presbyterian church, of which he was a founder and liberal supporter,
Alexander Moffat married Miss Margaret Dickson Purvis, of Edinburgh, who was the mother of five children, four sons and one daughter, the mother dying at Grosse Isle, on the St. Lawrence River, on her way to Canada in 1834.
William Moffat, the oldest son of Alexander Moffat, was born at Haddingtonshire, November 29, 1825, and came to Canada in his ninth year, finishing his education at Bytown, Hugh O’Hagan being his last instructor. When. he came to Pembroke with his father forty years ago, this immediate section of Upper Canada was almost an unbroken wilderness. Here he worked with his father in the mills until twenty-three years of age, when he commenced the lumber business, and continued it until 1865. Since that date he has been manufacturing flour, his mill being on the original site where his father built in 1840.
Mr. Moffat was Captain of militia some years ago, and now holds the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of sedentary militia; was four years reeve of the town of Pembroke, and four years warden of the county of Renfrew, and was one of the first directors of the Kingston and Pembroke Railway, being the projector of that enterprise. Of no man can it be said. with more propriety than of Colonel Moffat, that he is “liberal to a fault.” It is too true of him. He is too generous to become rich. He will accommodate others to his own financial detriment, so kind, so accommodating, so noble is his nature.
Colonel Moffat is a Reformer, and has been twice a candidate to represent his party for the north riding of Renfrew, once in the House of Commons, once in the Local Legislature, but was defeated both times.
The Colonel is a member of the Presbyterian church and of the Masonic fraternity.
In 1849 he chose for his life companion Miss Isabella Ambrose Kennedy, who was from Dumfries-shire, Scotland, and they have had six children, three sons and three daughters, all yet living but one of the latter. One son, Alexander, has a family, and is in the foundry business in Pembroke; the others are single. William is in the Quebec bank, at Quebec, the rest, Thomas, Margaret and Isabella, are at home.