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Alexander Nairn


Nairn, Alexander, Toronto, is one of those Scotchmen who are endowed with pluck, and despite the attractions of native country, leave it for the purpose of advancing their fortune, and who, in the majority of cases, succeed. The subject of this sketch was born in the City of Glasgow, on the 22nd of March, 1832; and his parents were John Nairn and Margaret Kirkland. His father was well known in Glasgow as a large mill owner and grain merchant, and for a number of years carried on the Garroch Flour Mill near the Three Tree Well, on the river Kelvin; and later on, the Washington Flour Mills, of Glasgow. Alexander received his early education at the Normal School, and afterwards finished it in Flint's Academy, Glasgow; and when he left Principal Flint, he had what nearly all Scotch boys have, a fair and useful knowledge of things generally worth knowing. At the age of sixteen he entered his father's office, as an assistant in the business. In 1851 his father died, leaving six children, Alexander being the eldest son. The whole management of the business now devolved upon him and for five years he carried it on very successfully. In 1856, having sold out the business in Glasgow, he joined his mother and borthers in Stirlingshire, where they had already purchased a mill and a farm. Here, however, Mr. Nairn could not content himself, and he left for Canada, and landed in Toronto in 1857. He did not remain long in this city, but removed to Rockwood village, County of Wellington, Ontario, with the object in view of studying and making himself proficient in the system of grain purchasing and milling, then carried on in the country. In 1858 he commenced business for himself in Rockwood, as a general store-keeper, and grain commission merchant, and had the honour of being among the first to ship grain over that section of the Grand Trunk Railway, and this was in a large degree the means of building up Rockwood. In 1865 he purchased the Everton flour and saw mills, and also the farm, and carried them on with his other business, while at the same time he took a very active part in the erection of a Presbyterian church and public school, and was one of its trustees. On his departure in 1874 for Toronto, the inhabitants of the village, as an expression of their gratitude for what he had done for the place, presented he and Mrs. Nairn with a handsome illuminated address, accompanied with a beautiful mantel-piece ornament. While in Rockwood, Mr. Nairn became one of the directors of the Toronto Fuel Association; and in 1871, becoming interested in the coal mines of Ohio, he was the first to introduce into Canada the celebrated Streetsville coal. In 1875, Mr. Nairn entered into partnership with his brother Stephen, under the name and style of A. & S. Nairn, wharfingers and coal merchants, and shortly after, the firm built one of the finest docks in the city, and which is known as the Nairn docks. Mr. Nairn, apart from A. & S. Nairn, still carried on several contracts, and supplied, among others, the Grand Trunk and Great Western Railways with wood, giving employment to a large number of men in the State of Michigan, as well as along the Buffalo and Goderich Railway, in making and delivering timber and railway ties. He was also interested in the lake trade, and a large shareholder in the Western Transportation Coal Co.; and in 1879 he was elected a director of the Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway. In 1880 he purchased the flour, saw and woollen mills at Hanover, in the County of Bruce, and this property is still controlled by him. In 1884 the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Nairn virtually retired from active business. In 1865 he was elected to the Corn Exchange, which is now knows at the Board of Trade, and in which he still holds a seat. He is a director of the London and Ontario Investment Co., and is also on the directorate of several other institutions. In religion Mr. Nairn is a Presbyterian, and belongs to St. James' Square Church, and is the chairman of its board of management. In politics he is a Reformer, and takes an active interest in all public questions. He was married, in 1864, to Elizabeth Ann David, daughter of the late Frederick Davis, St. Helier's, Island of Jersey. As will be seen, Mr. Nairn's business career has been a very successful one, and is worthy of imitation by our young men. Now that he is able to take the world easy, we hope he will be long spared to enjoy the abundant fruits of his industry, and help in all the good movements that have for their object the bettering of the world.


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