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Canadian History
William Colquhoun


Colquhoun, WiIIIam, Cornwall, was born on December 23rd, 1814, at Charlotteburgh, within four miles of Cornwall, Ont. He is a son of Robert Colquhoun and a grandson of Walter Colquhoun, proprietor of Calico Print Works, on the banks of Kelvin river, Gilmour Hill, Glasgow. Robert his father came to New York city in 1801, where he entered mercantile life. In 1803 be left New York, and came to Canada, settling in Cornwall, where he cornmenced business as a general merchant. A few years afterward he moved to the Indian reservation on the front of Charlotteburg, in the County of Glengarry, where he carried on a mercantile business and extensive farming operations. He also acted in the capacity of Indian agent. He continued to reside here until his death, which occurred in 1828. Robert Colquhoun married E]izabeth, a daughter of John McNairn, a native of Galloway, Scotland, who moved to Pennsylvania, on the banks of the Susquehana. After the revolutionary war, in which he served as sergeant in the British forces. Mr. McNairnr was obliged to leave his property, and like many other loyalists came to Canada, settling near Cornwall. Here the mother of our subject first saw the light, and she is said to have been the first female white child born in the settlement. She died in 1873. in her eighty-ninth year. The issue of thus marriage was four sons and two daughters, William being the third son. He received his early education at the Cornwall Grammar school, conducted by the Rev. Mr. Leith, under whom he received both an English and classical education. When he was thirteen, he left home for Montreal, and entered mercantile pursuits. He afterwards commenced business for himself at Dickinson’s Landing; Ontario ; and in 1841 he was appointed the first postmaster of that place —the post offices being then under Imperial control—and this position he retained until 1863, when he retired, having served a period of twenty-two years. His general mercantile business he continued until 1876, when he. removed to Cornwall. When the Ontario Municipal Act because law, Mr. Colquhoun became the first treasurer of the township of Osnabruck, which position he held until elected to the council in 1852. He was elected warden of the united counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, in 1855, having previously served as reeve for his own township. In 1863 he was a candidate for the parliament of Canada, but in consequence of the too brief space of time for canvaas, he was unsuccessful. In 1867 Mr. Colquhoun was returned for the County of Stormont, for the first legislature of Ontario, as a supporter of the Sandfield Macdonald administration . In 1871 he was elected again for this constituency over the late James Bethune, Q.C. His majority however, was narrow. and in consequence was contested, this being the first protest under the controverted election act. A compromise was finally agreed upon, each party paying his own costs, and a new election was ordered. This took place in 1872, when Mr. Bethune was returned by a majority of thirty-four. Mr. CoIquhoun triad conclusions with Mr. Bethune again in 1875, as no other parson could be found to do so ; but he was again unsuccessful. In 1878 Mr. Colquhoun was elected president of the Conservative Association of the Electoral Division of Cornwall, which position he held for some time. After coming to Cornwall, Mr. Colquhoun took an interest in municipal politics, and in 1879 was elected to the council. He filled the mayor’s chair in 1881, 1882 and 1883, each year being returned by acclamation. Mr. Colquhoun has erected some of the finest buildings in Cornwall, both commercial and otherwise ; and he is unquestionably one of its most enterprising spirits in the community. He has visited Great Britain and the continent, and, of course, the greater portion of our own country and the United States. He married in 1852, Hester, daughter of Martin Bailey, of Massachusetts, U.S, whose mother came of  U.E. loyalist stock. There is a family of nine children, four of whom are living, one son and three daughters. Mr Colquhoun was appointed J.P. over a quarter of a century ago. In his case the office was anything but a sinecure, the America border being so near, and furnishing important and at the same time difficult cases for adjudication.


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