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Pioneer - DAVIDSON, Charles

Biographical Sketches of
Early Settlers of Wellington County

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Information from: Historical Atlas of the County of Wellington, Ontario.
Toronto: Historical Atlas Publishing Co., 1906

DAVIDSON, Charles, (d.), was b. at Woodside Farm, parish of Daly, near Girvan, Aryshire, Scot., on the 23rd Feb., 1816. He was the eldest son of John Davidson and Jeanie Mitchell, and was of the 13th generation of that family that was born at Woodside. The Davidson family had been in possession for nearly 300 years. His father's poor health and a succession of bad seasons (the season of '39 in particular, when the last of the oats were taken in on Christmas Day) discouraged father and son, and they decided to give up the farm, and move into Glasgow, where Charles served an apprenticeship to the grocery business for three years, then decided to come to Canada. He arrived in Montreal June 1st, 1841, and came up from Kingston to Toronto on the steamer City of Toronto," commanded by Captain Dick, the well-known founder of Queen's Hotel. Through the recommendation of Mr. Kerr, an old Glasgow friend, he engaged with Mr. Blackwood of St. Thomas. While with him Mr. Blackwood opened a store in Fingal, and gave Mr. Davidson the management. He was with them three years when he was offered a large salary to come and take the management of Mr. Ross's store in Guelph, as he (Mr. Ross) was in poor health. He was with him for a short time, when he had a good offer to travel for the 'British Colonist' newspaper, and as that would enable him to see the more of the country he accepted it. In 1846 he became partner in the firm known as Jackson and Davidson, who occupied a building on the Market Square, where the Massey-Harris wareroom now stands. He later moved to Acton, where he opened a small store, in which he died well on account of the building of the Grand Trunk Railway, getting a large share of the trade. At the close of the third year he was offered a position with Mr. James Webster, and became general manager for him of his real estate and loaning business, and was appointed with him a commissioner to buy up the right of way and settle all claims for the Grad Trunk Railway between Guelph and Stratford. He accepted this and sold out the business in Acton to Mr. Young, of Georgetown, and was appointed Manager of the Wellington Fire Insurance Co., which he was able conducted all these years, and has watched over its growth from a small beginning up to the present time.

In 1890 Mr. Davidson was presented by the Association with a gold headed cane with the following inscription, "Presented by the Mutual Fire Underwriters' Association, to Charles Davidson, Esq., June 1890."

About this time he, with others, engaged in the oil business at Oil Springs, and was looking forward to a large return, but the Fenian Raid spoiled it all, the Americans leaving the country in a hurry, not to return, and the properties in which the money was invested having to be sold at a great loss. About 1867 he entered into partnership with the late F.J. Chadwick, and for some ten years they carried on a real estate business. Mr. Davidson took a prominent part in municipal affairs. He represented the East Ward from 1858 to 1862, and again in 1874-5. In 1860, before Guelph was entitled to a Reeve in the County Council, e represented the town as Deputy Reeve. When the city was re-divided into six wards he represented St. George's Ward in the Council for 1881-2-3. His general knowledge of business and in financial affairs, coupled with his usually sound judgement, gave him an influential position in the Council, and even those who differed from him gave him credit for his honesty and sincerity in the discharge duties, however unpopular his course might be. He was always true and loyal to Guelph, felt a pride in its growth and prosperity, and his best services to promote these. He was all his life a staunch Conservative, and an active worker for the party, but never would accept political office. In 1846 he was m. to Jean Kennedy, dau. of the late William Kennedy, who will be remembered by older inhabitants as "Upright Kennedy" from having built his log house with the logs on end instead of horizontal. Mrs. Davidson survived him at the age of 83 and resided at "Sunnyside." Five children were born- three daughters and two sons. The youngest son, Charles was drowned in 1871; the rest of the family still alive are Major Davidson, Mrs. Loch, Mrs. Galbraith and Miss Davidson.

John Davidson, son of the late Charles David, b. in Guelph, was educated at Guelph Grammar School, and Rockwood Academy under William Wetherald. He served his apprenticeship with Fischer, of Waterloo, in general store, then went to Toronto and took a course in James Day's Business College and entered millinery house of Thomas May & Co., for 7 years. His health demanding a change in 1876 he came to Guelph and went into office with his father in City Hall, being local agent of Wellington Mutual Fire Ins. Co. and others. At father's death, 1898, he was appointed Manager of Wellington Mutual Fire Ins. Co. In 188- he joined the 16th Battery as gunner, and in 1881 got commission in 11th Battery, and was appointed adjutant under Col. McDonald. In 90 on retirement of Major Hood, took command of 16th Battery, which he retained until 1900 and during that time had honour of placing his Battery five times at head of list for Canada for general efficiency. On retirement of Lieut. Col. Nicoll he was appointed to command of the Brigade. In 1904, on its being turned into brigade of Howitzer Batteries, and 1905 the 16th and 11th stood first and second respectively in Canada for efficiency and target practice. He has not been an aspirant for municipal honours. Is Clerk of Sessions since 1898 in succession to his father and has been elder of St. Andrew's church for over 20 years. He is an active worker in Sunday School, being Superintendent on three occasions, and is a member of the Board of Trade. He m. Grave Davidson, of Hamilton. Issue: A. Roy W.

From: Historical Atlas of the County of Wellington, Ontario. Toronto: Historical Atlas Publishing Co., 1906


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