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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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GILMOUR, JAMES (1782-1858)

GILMOUR, JAMES, lumber and trading company head, farmer, JP, and militia officer; b. South Waltoun, Mearns parish, Renfrewshire, Scotland, 14 Oct 1782, s/o Allan Gilmour and Elizabeth Pollok; m. 1818, Clementina Stewart; d. Eaglesham, Scotland, 29 Jan 1858.

A younger brother of Allan Gilmour of the trading firm of Pollok, Gilmour & Co. of Glasgow, Scotland, James Gilmour was sent to New Brunswick in 1812, together with Alexander Rankin, a relative of the Polloks, to open a branch of the parent firm on the Miramichi. This marked the beginning of the lumber and mercantile business of Gilmour, Rankin & Co.

Although he was the elder and senior partner, Gilmour was "not regarded as a serious quantity" in the lumber firm. Certainly he had many outside interests. Between 1819 and 1841 he was one of the most active of the Newcastle parish school trustees and one of the founding and longest-serving of the trustees of the Northumberland County Grammar School. He played a prominent part in the militia, being appointed a captain in the 1st Battalion in 1822 and lieutenant colonel and commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion in 1839. In 1826 he was a founder and one of two vice-presidents of the first Miramichi chamber of commerce. He was a trustee for the construction of St James Presbyterian Church in Newcastle and one of its original elders. He was named a justice of the peace in 1830. In 1838 he was appointed as one of three Indian commissioners for the county. Together with Rankin he was a founder of the North British (Highland) Society of New Brunswick at Miramichi and was its first president, from 1841 to 1843. He was also a member of the first curling club organized on the river.

Gilmour played an important role in the agricultural sphere, being a vice-president of the first local agricultural society, at its formation around 1824, and later an active member of the Northumberland Agricultural Society, which was organized in 1838. He raised prize livestock on his farm at Douglastown. An amusing story was told by William Wyse concerning "the winter of the big pig." The year was 1834, and Gilmour had a pig that stood four feet tall and weighed a thousand pounds. The animal was delivered to Chatham for butchering, and when Gilmour himself arrived in the town shortly afterwards a salute of cannon was fired, either in the pig's honor or his own.

The Gleaner stated that Gilmour was known for "his blunt honesty, ingenuousness of character, and charitable nature." Believing the Gilmour and Rankin firm was facing a period of decline, he withdrew from partnership and retired to Scotland in 1842, at age sixty. His fears for the ongoing profitability of the company proved unfounded, but he had already accumulated a considerable fortune. His sons became even wealthier in 1849 when their bachelor uncle Allan Gilmour died, leaving them several valuable properties in Scotland.


[b] church records [m] official records [d] Fraser (D) / Advocate 28 Aug 1935; Commercial World 19 Nov 1942; DCB (re. Allan Gilmour); Facey-Crowther; Gleaner 15 Sep 1829, 27 Apr 1830, 17 Apr 1838, 19 Jan 1841, 21 Jun 1842; Hoddinott; Mercury 9 Jan 1827; Manny Collection (F22); Rankin