Biography of Thomas M. Nairn, M. P. P.

Thomas Macintyre Nairn, son of James and Agnes (Macintyre) Nairn, dates his birth at Balloch, at the foot of Loch Lomond, Dumbartonshire, Scotland, June 16, 1830. His father was a builder and contractor. Thomas attended public schools until thirteen years old; was connected with his father’s office for about two years, and then spent five years in the office of a writer and land agent in Dumbarton, there receiving a practical business training, which has since been of very great value to him.

In May, 1850, Mr. Nairn started for the Western World; spent a short time as a clerk in a book store and publishing house at St. John, New Brunswick; went thence to Boston, Mass., and wrote a while in an insurance office; started for the Western States, but on the way halted in the County of Elgin to visit some friends, and concluded to remain; and Aylmer has been his home since November, 1851, he serving as book keeper for Tisdale and Co., the first three years.

In 18.54, in company with Henry Martin, he became a general merchant, and with branch houses afterwards at Lyons and Port Bruce, continuing in this line of business, dealing also in grain until 1874, when he became Agent of the Great Western Railway Company, at Aylmer, which position he filled till 1877. Since that time he has been acting as Official Assignee and Notary Public in Aylmer.

For nearly a quarter of a century Mr. Nairn has been kept constantly in public life, serving the people in different positions and with eminent satisfaction; was township councilor and reeve of Malahide, from 18×8 to 1872, and since the latter date has been reeve of the village of Aylmer, being re-elected to both offices most of the time by acclamation. Probably no other man in the county has given as many hours, unremunerated, to its service, he having been in the County Council eighteen years, and of this period was warden six consecutive years.

In 1867, Mr. Nairn brought before the County Council the subject of a line of railway across the western peninsula, from Fort Erie to Detroit, bisecting the County of Elgin, a subject which had been discussed before at sundry times in the county papers, but no successful movement had been made. Communication was opened with the wardens of other counties along the line; and at the same time (November, 1867) a proposition was made to secure a charter for the continuation of the existing Erie and Niagara road from Fort Erie to the Detroit River. This was done, Mr. Nairn and others securing it at the next session of the Legislature, Mr. Nairn being afterwards appointed Provisional Director and then Vice-President of the Provisional Board. Thus the matter stood for two or three years, and in 1869 application was made for a change in the charter, altering the gauge of the road, and an extension of time. At the same session, the Great Western Railway Company applied for a charter for a branch road over the same line; a long fight ensued, in which Mr. Nairn was put forward as a leading man, and the final result was the granting of two charters, one to the old Erie and Niagara Company, with the name changed to that of the Canada Southern Railway Company, and the other in the interests of the Great Western Railway Company, under the name of the Canada Air Line Railway Company, both of which Railways have since been put in successful operation. Mr. Nairn was appointed a Provisional Director of the Air Line road, and then a member of the Permanent Board, a position which he held until the road was merged in the Great Western proper. During the contest for the charters and before the road was built, he had secured a pledge of the Great Western Directors that their road should pass through Aylmer, and they kept their pledge, and that town is feeling today the great benefits of the enterprise.

Mr. Nairn is as full of public spirit “as an egg is of meat,” and in various ways has advanced the interests of Aylmer. He is a leader in educational matters, and in whatever will benefit his adopted home mentally, morally, or pecuniary.

In 1867 he contested the East Riding of Elgin as the candidate for the Reform party, and came within a few votes of an election. In June, 1879, he again contested that Riding, and was successful. His practical good sense and great working capacities will, no doubt, make him a valuable member of the Legislature.

In September, 1854, Mr. Nairn married Delphine, daughter of John Vanpatter, a pioneer in Malahide, and they have five children.



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