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Canadian History
Adam Brown


Hamilton, was born at Edinburgh, Scotland, on the 3rd April, 1826. He is a son of William Brown, of Milntown, Langholm, Dumfriesshire, his mother being Elizabeth Johnston, of Berwickshire. The family emigrated in 1833, and settled in Montreal. Mr. Brown in his earliest years attended the celebrated school in Edinburgh taught by Mr. Adams, the author of Adams' Grammer."  In Montreal he attended the school conducted by the Rev. Edward Black, D.D., the well-known minister of St. Paul's Church. He left school at the age of fourteen, and entered the establishment of A. Laurie & Co., dry-goods merchants, of Montreal. after a few years service there he entered the employment of Robert Campbell, but soon afterwards was successful in obtaining a position as junior clerk in the firm of Gillespie, Moffatt & Co., of Montreal. He was advanced from one position to another in the house, during the seven years that he was in their employ. Donald McInnes (now Senator McInnes), offered Mr. Brown a position of responsibility in his firm in Hamilton, which he accepted, and left Montreal in the winter of 1850 for Hamilton. After spending some time with D. McInnes & Co., the late W. P. McLaren offered him a position in his wholesale grocery house, which he accepted. Soon after he was admitted as a partner, and continued in the firm until Mr. McLaren retired, when he became the principal of the firm of Brown, Gillespie & Co., who succeeded W. P. LcLaren & Co. ; and has continued the business under different partnerships since, being now the head of Brown, Balfour & Co. Mr. Brown was connected with the Mercantile Library Association of Montreal, and at the time of his leaving that city was vice-president; and carried with him to his new home a letter of commendation from that association. He was one of the original founders in Montreal of the Athenaeum Club, a debating society which counted among its members many young men who have since been in parliament, and some who have become ministers of the crown, and others now occupying very high positions at Ottawa. While yet a young man, Mr. Brown took an active part in the debates; and in 1848 he delivered the inaugural address as president. The society had rooms in what is now Nordheimer's Hall, Great St. James street, Montreal, and on public nights the large hall used to be crowded. It was in connection with this society that Mr. Brown first tested his powers as a public speaker. To the strength and readiness gained by taking part in its debates, are no doubt due the fluent and polished qualities which mark his public speeches. When a young man, he received a commission as ensign in the militia regiment of which the late Hon. George Moffatt was colonel. On his arrival in Hamilton, he was exchanged to the Hamilton battalion, and subsequently retired with the rank of major. He has never been connected with the active militia. With respect to Mr. Brown's public offices, it may be said that he has been secretary and president of the Board of Trade; was president of the Dominion Board of Trade; and the year previous to his election as president, moved the resolution approving the national policy, which was carried. He was commissioner and chairman of water works; and presented the address to the Prince of Wales when His Royal Highness turned the water on to the city. He has likewise been president of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway. Mr. Brown was president of the Northern and Pacific Junction Railway, connecting Ontario with the Canadian Pacific Railway, until the same was leased to the Northern and Northwestern Railway. He is now a director of the Northern and Pacific Junction road, and was on the first train which ran over the road, on the 28th of January, 1886, connecting Ontario with the Pacific Ocean. He likewise is a director of the Great North-Western Telegraph Company; is a trustee for the bondholders of the Wellingston, Grey and Bruce Railway; was vice-president of the St. Andrew's Society; and chief of the Caledonian Society; and has lent a helping hand to many a Scotchman arriving in distress. He was appointed vice-consul for the kingdom of Hawaii in 1884. In politics Mr. Brown is a staunch Conservative. He ran for Hamilton for the Local Legislature. He was elected president of the Conservative Association, and still continues his connection with that organization. He was originally a Presbyterian, but for the last thirty years has been a member of the Church of England. He has been a delegate to the diocesan and provincial synods ever since both were organized. Mr. Brown was married, in 1852, to Maria Z. Evatt. His second marriage was in 1862, to Mary Kough, eldest daughter of the late Thomas Harley Kough, of Shrewsbury, England. There are four sons living by the first marriage, and three sons and two daughters by the second marriage. Mr. Brown is a ready, careful, comprehensive, and exceedingly effective speaker. His speech in advocacy of the national policy before the Dominion Board of Trade was an exceedingly able deliverance, and attracted considerable attention, and was published in pamphlet form. His oratorical ability was further shown in his inaugural address when he became president of the Dominion Board of Trade. In 1878 he addressed the great Conservative Convention at Shaftesbury Hall, Toronto, and his speech was regarded as one of the most exhaustive and telling utterances on that important occasion. It will be remembered that at the commencement of the Americal civil war, the American government prohibited the export of live hogs, which embargo would have the effect of killing the packing trade at Hamilton. Mr. Brown was dispatched to Washington to confer with the authorities there, with a view to rescinding the order; and with such force and tact did he present the case, that the decree was cancelled. In 1865, Mr. Brown visited England, and was the first merchant who introduced Canadian cheese, as Canadian, into the British market. It had been sent there before, but under State of New York names. The trade has since grown to gigantic proportions. In 1882 he, in company with a number of gentlemen from the United Kingdom, visited the North-West, and his notes of travel were published. His enthusiasm for the development of that country, and his opinion of its great future, are well known through his public utterances. Ever since his arrival in Hamilton, Mr. Brown's manifold activities have been felt in all the public enterprises in which the city was concerned. With the devotion of enthusiasm, he has come to the front whenever and wherever the city's interests were to be served. When the project of constructing the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway was revived in 1866, Mr. Brown was, as we have seen, elected president of the company. For four years his time was almost exclusively devoted to the promotion of the project. These were probably the four years of the hardest work of Mr. Brown's life, and the result of his labours was the most valuable service to the city and the country served by these railways. This is not the place to give even a sketch of the novel contest between Toronto and Hamilton, which ended in the construction of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce railway. It will serve the purpose in hand to say that for its construction from the municipalities along the line of route from Guelph to Southampton, and that every bylaw for that purpose was fiercely opposed by Toronto, which desired bonuses from the same municipalaties for her own line. Mr. Brown gathered around him a band of men in Hamilton, and throughout the districts affected, whom he inspired with his own enthusiasm, and who felt unbounded confidence in his leadership. Mr. Thomas White, now the honourable the minister of the Interior, united with Mr. Brown in the fierce battle of the gauges, and roused the people by his magnetic eloquence and convincing addresses. Every side line was penetrated by canvassers, and in every school-house meetings were held at which subject was discussed. The result of the long contest was that all the bonuses necessary for the construction of the road were voted, and more than the most sanquine hopes of its promoters at first were realized. A large and fertile territory was opened up to railway communication and the commercial position of the City of Hamilton was saved from disaster. It is not awarding too much credit to Mr. Brown, to say that it is mainly to the confidence with which he inspired the people of the counties interested, and the ability with which he conducted the campaign, that this result is due. Though the fight with the Toronto men was keen, and in its details sometimes bitter, it left no rankling feeling of animosity behind. Each side recognized that its opponents were engaged in a perfectly legitimate contest from their own point of view. With all the cares of a large business to engross his attention, Mr. Brown has always found time to interest himself in whatever was for the good, not only of Hamilton, but of the Dominion. He took an active interest in organizing the Hamilton Coffee Tavern Company, of which he is president. Mr. Brown is a gentleman of the most genial manners, full of good humour, and free from affectation. His companionship is much prized by all who are admitted to its privileges.


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