Among the self educated and remarkably successful business men of Ontario, the subject of this notice has a front rank. He never went to school but six weeks after he was ten years old; was put to work at eleven, and by his industry, pluck and perseverance placed himself years ago, among the independent “commoners” of this Province. He is a son of mills and Phoebe (Wells) Flint, and was born in Elizabethtown, county of Leeds, Ontario, February 9, 1805. His paternal grandfather was from Cornwall, England, and immigrated to New England a century ago, where both parents of our subject were born. Phoebe Wells was of Trish descent.
Billa Flint, senior, came to Canada about the beginning of this century; in 1816, our subject left Elizabethtown for Brockville, and there, at eleven years of age, we find him in his father’s store, learning the art of selling goods, he remaining in that situation until March, 1829, when he left Brockville, and in the summer following settled in Belleville. Here he has been a lumber and general merchant for fifty years, doing, much of the time, a very heavy business some years as high as $300,000, though the average for the last fifteen or twenty years would not exceed $200,000. His centre of lumbering operations is at the village of Bridge water, township of Elzevir, thirty miles north of Belleville, and he has usually employed from 100 to 200 workmen sometimes as high as 300; and the writer once heard Mr. Flint remark that he was never happier than when he had a strong force of men around him.
In addition to lumbering and merchandising, Mr. Flint has done a great deal of building houses, stores, mills, barns, &c., probably a hundred structures in all, not including log cabins and less pretentious shanties. He has just retired from business.
While pushing his work with almost astonishing energy during these many years, Mr Flint has held a great variety of public offices. He was elected president of the Police Board of Belleville in 1836, and made justice of the peace the same year; was reeve of Elzevir for twenty-one years, and of Belleville three years; mayor of the town of Belleville in 1866, and warden of the county of Hastings in 1873.
Mr. Flint sat for the county of Hastings in the Canadian Assembly from 1847 to 18.51, when he was defeated, and for South Hastings from 1854 to 1857. He was an unsuccessful candidate for “Trent” Division Legislative Council in 1861; represented that Division from 1862 until the Union, and was called to the Senate in May, 1867. He is a life-long, inflexible Liberal.
Mr. Flint is a member of the Methodist Church of Canada,; a liberal supporter of the gospel; a kind hearted man to the poor and suffering of all classes, and exemplary in all the walks of life. He has been a “teetotaller” for fifty-three years, and opposes the use of tobacco in any form.
His wife is Phoebe Sawyer, second daughter of Philip Clement, deceased, of Brockville, they being joined in wedlock in September 1827. They are a hale couple, fully realizing the blessings of a life of moderation in all things, and abstainers from whatever is injurious to the physical system.