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Canadian History
Ezra Butler Eddy


Hull, Province of Quebec. This gentleman, to whom the inhabitants of Ottawa and neighbourhood owe so much for his business enterprise, was born on the 22nd of August, 1827, on a farm near Bristol village, in the State of Vermont, U.S. He is a son of Samuel Eddy, a gentleman of Scottish descent, and his mother was Clarissa Eastman, a direct descendant of the famous Miles Standish, and his grandmother was also a Standish. Mr. Eddy was married on the 29th December, 1846, to Zaida Diana Arnold, who was born on the 26th June, 1828, in Bristol, Vermont, U.S., and is a daughter of Uriah Fields Arnold, son of John Arnold, of Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany. Our subject was brought up on the farm until he was about ten years of age, and during part of this time he attended the district school. His father then moved from the farm into the village of Bristol, and began hotel-keeping, and young Eddy became his assistant. While here he again had the privilege of attending school for four winters. Not caring for his mode of life, and having a strong inclination for general business, at the age of fifteen, Ezra left home and went to New York city, and here he procured a situation in a mercantile house at three dollars a week, and on this sum had to board himself. He was, however, promoted in three months, and received ten dollars per week, and he was soon entrusted with the banking business of the firm. After a year, not enjoying city life, he returned to Vermont, and commenced business for himself, by purchasing butter, cheese, etc., and taking the same to Boston and New York markets. In 1851 he engaged in the manufacture of friction matches, at Burlington, Vermont, and continued here until 1854. This year he went to Ottawa (then Bytown), in search of a location in which to establish business, and he then decided upon Hull, opposite Ottawa city, and moved there in the fall of 1854. He at once began the manufacture of matches, and the present magnificent business had then its first start. In 1856 he added the manufacture of wooden ware, such as pails, tubs, washboards, clothes-pins, etc., to his business. In 1858 he commenced lumbering in a small way; but all these branches increased in volume from year to year, up to 1868, when the business had reached a magnitude of one million dollars per annum; and at the present time the yearly out-put is upwards of $1,500,000. In 1882 his entire premises were consumed by fire, and this entailed upon him a loss of $250,000 over and above insurance. With characteristic enterprise and courage, in the space of twelve months new premises were erected, and he was able to turn out nearly the same quantity of goods, as during former years. with respect to his religious connections, Mr. Eddy was brought up a Baptist, and still continues in that faith. His wife is a Methodist. In 1871 he was elected to the Quebec Legislature, and sat for four years. Upon the establishment of the Ottawa Ladies' College, he was made president, and held that position for some years; and he was also mayor of Hull for several years. Mr. Eddy, joined the Corinthian Lodge, A. F. & A. M., in Hull, was named after our subject, and he was its first master. When it was instituted it had only a membership of nine persons, but at present it boasts of seventy members. Mr. Eddy has occupied the position of district deputy grand master, and is now a past district deputy grand master of the Masonic order. When he went to Hull in 1854, there was only a population of about 125 persons in the village; but after he had established his works there, it began to grow rapidly, and now numbers about 9,000. His works alone give employment to something over 3,000 persons. Between 1847 and 1854 he had three children born to him, two boys and one girl. Both boys died when very young, but the daughter is still living. Altogether, is summing up the career of this enterprising, far-seeing and honourable business man, there is not to be found anywhere in our young country, one who better deserves the appellation of a go-ahead Canadian.


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