William Paterson

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William Paterson

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William Paterson (1839-1914), minister of customs for Canada (1897-1911), was born in Hamilton, Upper Canada, on September 19, 1839, the son of James and Martha Paterson, of Aberdeen, Scotland. His parents died from cholera in 1849, and he was adopted by the Reverend Dr. Ferrier, a Presbyterian minister. He was educated at Hamilton and at Caledonia, Haldimand county, Upper Canada, and he went into business in Brantford, Upper Canada. There he established himself in 1863 as a manufacturer of biscuits and confectionery, and built up a successful business. In the same year he married Lucy Olive Davies, daughter of T.C. Davies of Brantford, Canada West. From 1872 to 1896 he represented South Brant in the Canadian House of Commons; and during the latter part of the period he became one of the leaders of the Liberal party in the House. In 1896 he was defeated for South Brant, but was returned for North Grey, and was appointed controller of customs, and in 1897 Minister of Customs, in the Laurier Administration. This Department he administered continuously, until the defeat of the Laurier Government in 1911, sitting successively for North Grey (1896-1900), North Wentworth (1900-1904), and Brant (1904-1911). In 1902 he was delegate to the Imperial Conference; and in 1911 he was one of the ministers who negotiated the abortive reciprocity agreement at Washington. He died at Picton, Ontario, on March 18, 1914. (taken from "The Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Biography," fourth edition. 1978.)

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