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McLAUGHLIN, JOHN JAMES – Volume XIV (1911-1920)

b. 2 March 1865 near Enniskillen, Durham County, Upper Canada


Responsible Government

Sir John A. Macdonald

From the Red River Settlement to Manitoba (1812–70)

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

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The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864

Introductory Essays of the DCB/DBC

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BUCHANAN, ISAAC, merchant, politician, and pamphleteer; b. 21 July 1810 at Glasgow, Scotland, fourth son of Peter and Margaret Buchanan; m. in January 1843 Agnes Jarvie at Glasgow, and they had 11 children; d. 1 Oct. 1883 at Hamilton, Ont.

Isaac Buchanan’s father was a successful manufacturer who later became a merchant in Glasgow. During the Napoleonic wars Peter acquired Auchmar, an historic 1,378-acre estate in Buchanan parish, Stirlingshire, possession of which entitled him to add “of Auchmar” to his name. He was an elder of the Church of Scotland, and his Glasgow home was often visited by leading lay and clerical figures in the evangelical wing of the Kirk. The family valued education, and Isaac, after attending the Glasgow Grammar School, began preparing for university and a profession. Then, instead, in October 1825, he began an apprenticeship with the Glasgow firm of William Guild and Company, West Indian merchants. Buchanan always said this decision was entirely his own, and entirely impromptu; his father, however, had recently lost heavily in the depressed Caribbean trade, and the set-back to the family’s fortunes may well have prompted the change in plans.

William Guild had branches in Jamaica and Honduras, but he decided that Montreal might be a better place to launch his own son, William Jr, in business. In March 1830 he and his son formed William Guild Jr and Company of Montreal, dry goods importers; Buchanan, whose energy and enthusiasm had greatly impressed the elder Guild, was made junior partner, to receive one-quarter of the profits. Buchanan left home for the first time early in April, travelling to Montreal via Liverpool and New York. To compete with established firms, the new business sought out merchants arriving in Montreal for the first time, most of them from Upper Canada. Because these merchants lacked capital, sales to them could be made only on 12 months’ credit. This use of credit alarmed the elder Guild, who feared his capital would be locked up in Canada; accordingly, Buchanan suggested that the firm be relocated farther from their competition and closer to their customers in order to try to secure cash business. In December 1831 Buchanan moved to York (Toronto) and in 1832 opened William Guild Jr and Company, possibly the first and certainly the largest exclusively wholesale firm in the town. But again sales could be made only on a long-term credit basis.

Despite periods of loneliness and depression, Buchanan was confident of Upper Canada’s future. He speculated in land, bought some steamboat shares, and then, with his only surviving brother, Peter*, agreed to buy the Guilds’ share in the York business. In 1834, using their two-thirds share of their parents’ estate, about £12,000 sterling (much of it realized from the sale of the Auchmar estate in 1830), the brothers opened Peter Buchanan and Company in Glasgow, to handle finances and purchases, and Isaac Buchanan and Company in Toronto, to manage sales and credit. The two brothers jointly owned each company. An important ally was Robert William Harris*, dry goods manager of the Guild firm in Toronto, who in 1835 became a partner in Isaac Buchanan and Company.

Isaac Buchanan quickly became a figure of some note in Toronto. He helped found in 1835 the city’s board of trade, of which he was president from 1835 to 1837, the St Andrew’s Society in 1836, of which he was also president, and the Toronto Club, the city’s first men’s club; and he was chairman of the trustees of the Presbyterian St Andrew’s Church. He found himself resented by the city’s Tory oligarchy, which he in turn regarded as extremely provincial. He was particularly aggrieved by the inferior position of his church, the Church of Scotland, in Upper Canada, and in 1835 published a newspaper extra to demand that it be given a share of the revenues from the clergy reserves. Like most of his later pamphlets and open letters, this was important more as a symptom of local problems than as a contribution to their solution; Buchanan seldom had strikingly original ideas to present, and his strident rhetoric did little to persuade the unconvinced.

On the outbreak of rebellion in Upper Canada in early December 1837, Buchanan accepted a commission in the local militia and served in Toronto and then on the Niagara frontier. He saw his chief problem as being the troops he commanded, all Irishmen, “incarnate devils,” but, he pledged, “if I do get to close Quarters with these infernal Rebels and Yankees I am prepared to sell my Life as dearly as I can.” In February 1838, back in Toronto, he published a warning that “the selfish principles of the high church party” would soon provoke another rebellion unless changes were made to provide equal distribution of funds from the clergy reserves. That month, however, he left for Britain, to place the 1838 orders for Isaac Buchanan and Company and to take charge of the Glasgow office for 18 months; meanwhile Peter came to Upper Canada.

In 1839, inspired by high profits for 1838 at Toronto and by low prices in Britain, Isaac Buchanan decided to increase Peter Buchanan and Company’s shipments vastly, borrowing heavily to finance this venture from their Glasgow bank and a number of ‘mercantile firms in Glasgow and in England. To sell these goods, Peter Buchanan and Harris had to expand the firm’s clientele rapidly. But now the business, with its heavy accounts outstanding in the western part of Upper Canada, could, Isaac Buchanan feared, be outflanked by a strong firm based in Hamilton, and rumour had it that several Montreal firms were planning such branches. To anticipate them he went to Hamilton in the spring of 1840, rented a very large warehouse nearing completion, and with John Young*, Hamilton’s leading merchant, founded a new business known as Buchanan, Harris and Company. To help attract customers to so small a centre a grocery department was opened and to buy its supplies an office was needed in Montreal. Using the firm’s western connection, the man hired to manage this Montreal office, James Law, soon built it into a highly successful operation, known from 1845 as Isaac Buchanan and Company (the Toronto firm of this name having ceased to exist); it had a warehouse on the Lachine Canal and to its substantial grocery trade were added iron, hardware, and grain. Buchanan’s decisions to expand were taken largely without consulting his brother, but backed by rapid Upper Canadian expansion and his partners’ business abilities, they succeeded handsomely. By the end of 1843, Peter and Isaac’s original capital had increased fivefold. But Isaac found little pleasure in business routines, which offered an unsatisfactory outlet for his “superabundant vitality.”

In 1841, under the auspices of a new governor general, Lord Sydenham [Thomson*], Upper and Lower Canada were united in one province. Although when he was in Glasgow Buchanan had protested the appointment of Thomson because of the governor’s links to the Baltic trade, he soon agreed entirely with him on the union and the clergy reserves, and on the importance of pursuing policies for economic development that would transcend older colonial issues. Hence Buchanan readily accepted nomination in the governor’s interest in the election of 1841 to represent Toronto, citadel of the compact Tories, and he contributed £1,000 to help his cause. In a bitter campaign, which Buchanan’s speeches did nothing to calm, Buchanan and John Henry Dunn* won a narrow victory, receiving strong support from many Toronto merchants.

At the first session of the post-union assembly, Buchanan claimed to “have been very instrumental in all thats going on.” Most notably, he helped to block Sydenham’s proposed provincial bank of issue, which would, he feared, shrink the money supply in Canada West and, by destroying many businesses (though not his own), reduce commerce there to total dependence on Montreal merchants. But it was not his nature to seek or to understand compromises and alliances, and he found the role of private member ultimately uncongenial. Thus he returned to Glasgow while his brother again came to Canada; after missing the 1842 session, he resigned his seat early in 1843, convinced that his basic aims, the union and “responsible government,” had now been safely achieved.

Buchanan was not an original or a leading theoretician on constitutional matters, and his opinions here were typical of many moderates. In essence he thought the term “responsible government” implied that the oligarchical rule of the 1820s and 1830s had ended and that a majority in the Legislative Assembly would now dictate the complexion of the government. But the term need not imply the full application of the principles of cabinet government as Robert Baldwin* understood them. Specifically Buchanan considered that the governor had a central responsibility to work to preserve the British connection and to prevent the spread of American ideas in Canada; the governor was entitled to act independently to fulfil this responsibility. To Buchanan and many like him, such as William Henry Draper*, Baldwin was a dangerously doctrinaire extremist who, while personally above reproach, was surrounded by potentially subversive influences; Baldwin’s ideas were seen as leading inevitably to a breaking of the imperial tie.

While in Glasgow, Buchanan courted and married Agnes Jarvie, the daughter of a Glasgow merchant, who was half his age. Throughout their life together she was a vital and loyal support to him. In mid 1843 they returned to Canada, planning that Isaac would earn enough for them to retire eventually to Scotland. In keeping with this more conservative objective, he agreed to his brother’s plan to close the Toronto store at the end of 1844 and to consolidate the Upper Canadian business at Hamilton, the more successful branch; another department, hardware, was now added. Thus, Buchanan, Harris and Company became full-fledged general wholesale merchants, with the intention of monopolizing the trade of those customers whom they chose to support with credit.

Despite his resignation as mla, Buchanan never really left politics; while in Britain, for example, he advocated legislation along the lines of the Canada Corn Act of 1843, for the passage of which he always claimed some credit. Back in Toronto, he strongly criticized the Reform ministers, led by Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine* and Baldwin, for resigning from the Executive Council in late 1843. Their actions, he said, were too narrowly partisan and indeed, because more than a few of their followers were republicans, threatened the British connection. Principally in the columns of Hugh Scobie*’s Toronto newspaper, the British Colonist, he engaged in an increasingly acrimonious correspondence with several Reform leaders, including James Hervey Price, James Lesslie, and Francis Hincks; it was published in February 1844 under the title First series of five letters, against the Baldwin faction. During the election of 1844 he campaigned widely in Canada West in support of Governor Sir Charles Theophilus Metcalfe*.

Buchanan was in Glasgow as the disruption of the Church of Scotland built up in the early 1840s, and, following events closely, he unhesitatingly took the evangelical side. On his return to Canada West, he became “one of the key lay figures” in the establishment of the Free Church of Scotland. He was chairman of its Sustentation Fund board; neutralized Scobie’s newspaper, the voice of moderate Presbyterianism, by using subsidies; and contributed a total of at least £650 to the foundation of churches bearing Knox’s name in Toronto, Hamilton, and eight to ten other locations in Canada West. Within the Free Kirk, he took a moderate stand, opposing both clerical control of church property or the press and complete congregational control (which he regarded as an American principle), and he advocated that the Free Kirk obtain a fair share when funds from the clergy reserves were distributed.

Late in 1844, the Buchanans and their newborn son, Peter, moved to Hamilton. At once Isaac took steps to found the Hamilton Board of Trade and in April 1845 he was elected its first president. Yet by summer he was once more on the move, journeying to New York in response to the first Drawback Law of the United States, which remitted duties on foreign goods being re-exported to Canada. There in August he opened an office, similar in purpose to the earlier Montreal one, to buy and sell on the firm’s behalf in the New York market.

Buchanan was still in New York when repeal of the Corn Laws was announced early in 1846; immediately he took ship for England, to lobby and to write widely to newspapers and politicians both there and in Canada. Repeal, he predicted, would, in a “fiery ordeal,” lead to Canada’s annexation to the United States. His partners, his brother especially, doubted the acuteness of the danger and the wisdom of his alarmist talk, and there is no evidence that his views were heeded. Nevertheless, determined to continue his crusade, he quit the business in 1848, sold his Hamilton house, and returned to Scotland where he lived first in Edinburgh and then in Greenock. A pamphlet, which appeared in 1850 as an extra edition of the Greenock Advertiser, is representative of his views. Entitled Moral consequences of Sir RPeel’s unprincipled and fatal course, it argued that free trade would not only cost Britain her colonies but also, without monetary reform, sharply increase imports over exports, thereby drastically increasing unemployment in Britain. The same year, with the issue of free trade in mind, Buchanan organized an essay contest for working men on “their own interests,” offering prizes totalling £200 for the best essays.

Britain’s prosperity in the 1850s belied Buchanan’s predictions, while in Canada West the business he had left also prospered remarkably. His crusading activities having been costly, Isaac decided in 1850 to return to business, probably in Liverpool. Peter, doubting his ability to succeed alone, persuaded him instead to rejoin the old business at Hamilton. Discussion of Isaac’s return set in motion major changes in the business, beginning in 1851 with the opening of a new branch at Liverpool, known as Buchanan, Harris and Company, and another at London, Canada West, in partnership with Adam Hope, and known as Adam Hope and Company. With his wife and five children, Buchanan moved back to Hamilton in late 1851. His readmission to the partnership, however, led to arguments that culminated at the end of 1853 in the establishment by Young and Law of a separate business, competing directly with that of the Buchanans and Harris. To defend their position, the Buchanans further expanded their trade as the Upper Canadian boom of the mid 1850s rushed to its peak. By the end of 1856, their firms’ total assets, principally outstanding accounts in Canada West, exceeded $3,000,000; liabilities were just over half this figure. Isaac Buchanan’s share of the firm’s capital, though much smaller than his brother’s or Harris’, exceeded $200,000; he was rich, and his business was among Canada’s largest.

Signalling his intention to live permanently in Hamilton, Buchanan built between 1852 and 1854 a large and attractive house, called “Auchmar,” on an 86-acre estate and farm that he named “Clairmont Park,” situated on the mountain outside the city. He sought to improve the local schools (though his sons received much of their schooling at a private academy in Galt and his older daughters were sent to Edinburgh for their later education) and he was a leader in the “Hamilton Educational Movement,” which in 1855 secured a charter for a college in the city; lack of funds prevented further progress on the project. He also gave the land and £25 for the new MacNab Street Presbyterian Church. Indeed, although he made enemies by a somewhat high-handed manner, his generosity was legendary, and few local causes can have gone entirely unpatronized by him.

To Buchanan, his most important cause was Hamilton’s Great Western Railway. He was a director of it in 1853–54 and, for longer periods, of some of its subsidiary lines. But his real power in the Great Western was informal, the result of his relationship with his brother and with Harris who were more central figures in the company. In 1854 it became plain that the member for Hamilton, Sir Allan Napier MacNab*, was abandoning the Great Western for its rival, the Grand Trunk. Ignoring a written pledge to his brother to eschew active politics, Buchanan ran for election. His aim, he said, was only to compel MacNab to change his views on the railway and on the clergy reserves, which Buchanan now felt should be secularized because it was impossible to divide the funds equitably among the churches. MacNab, easily evading these issues, won re-election convincingly.

In 1856 Buchanan sought to persuade the Great Western to take control of the “Southern route,” the most direct route between Michigan and Buffalo, N.Y. Charters for the Amherstburg and St Thomas Railway and the Woodstock and Lake Erie Railway and Harbour Company had been granted by parliament in 1855 and 1847 respectively and together they covered this route. The former charter had not been acted upon by its promoters and the latter project was stalled for lack of funds, but in the summer of 1856 Buchanan learned that Samuel Zimmerman*, the great contractor, was moving to take full control of both charters. He was convinced that Zimmerman, with Grand Trunk backing, would build the line, and capture the valuable American through trade, thereby destroying the Great Western and with it Hamilton’s commercial independence. With John Smyth Radcliff, vice-president of the Great Western, Buchanan set out to battle Zimmerman, ignoring the unfavourable state of capital markets, the resistance of shareholders in the Great Western to new expenditure, and the opposition of Charles John Brydges, the powerful managing director of the Great Western, and also without consulting Peter Buchanan and Harris, who were in England. First, without immediate expenditure, Buchanan secured control of one of two competing boards of the Amherstburg and St Thomas. He then paid £25,000 to one or more of the directors of the Woodstock and Lake Erie to induce them to resign from its board in favour of his nominees and gave a bond to that company’s bank, guaranteeing to pay its debts. Radcliff issued drafts to reimburse Buchanan, but these the Great Western’s board in London, England, refused to accept. Attempting, unsuccessfully, as it turned out, to have the board reverse this decision, Buchanan rushed to England. There he also faced his brother and Harris, who were appalled that he had committed himself to pay more than $1,000,000; in order to protect their credit they demanded his resignation from the business. Nominally no longer a partner, Isaac remained active in the business, when time permitted, because Harris was too ill to manage at Hamilton alone.

Two committees of the provincial assembly explored aspects of the tangled Southern railway issue in 1857. To both, Buchanan told his story candidly, for he had, he said, acted from the highest of motives, and had not sought personal profit. Remarkably, although he was sharply criticized for bribery, Buchanan’s reputation for honesty, affluence, and even business competence apparently survived almost unscathed. Nevertheless his experience before these committees convinced him that he needed to be in the assembly to protect his Southern interests. Stressing the need to build the Southern line under the auspices of Hamilton businessmen and politicians, he again ran for Hamilton in 1857, and, aided by the usual large outlay of funds, won handily. Once in the assembly he helped to secure passage in 1858 and revision in 1859 of the charter for a company called the Niagara and Detroit Rivers Railway Company. This consolidated the Amherstburg and St Thomas and the Woodstock and Lake Erie railways, and its provisions defined the legal relationships in such a way that Buchanan was cleared from further liabilities. Ultimately, Buchanan’s 1856 venture into the Southern cost him over $200,000, but the wounds to his honour and self-esteem haunted him more in the years to come, and in an effort to vindicate his judgement and to secure some return from his outlay he later sank still more money into the Southern project when William Alexander Thomson* took it up. Yet he really had little to do with the ultimate creation of the Canada Southern Railway, which was finally built after 1870. The episode is revealing of Buchanan’s overestimation of his power and his lack of perspective on the feverish railway politics of the  1850s.

In 1857 the great boom of the 1850s ended in a sharp crash. In response, Buchanan early in 1858 led in the formation of the Association for the Promotion of Canadian Industry, an organization of manufacturers and merchants in Canada West who pressed for tariff protection. Tariffs did rise in 1858 and 1859, but despite Buchanan’s later claim to have been the father of Canada’s protective tariff, the government’s need for revenue, not this association, was probably the major cause of the decision to raise them; nor are the links between this increase and the later National Policy tariff strong enough to support his claim.

The collapse of 1857 left the city of Hamilton effectively bankrupt as a result of its heavy borrowing for railways and waterworks. With others from the city, Buchanan sought to negotiate a refinancing with the creditors (most of them in Britain) and then to see it through the assembly. In 1864 he at last secured passage of a law that reorganized the city’s debts and allowed it to resume payments. Throughout this period Buchanan continued to patronize Hamilton organizations. Closest to his heart were the Hamilton Board of Trade, for which, as its current president, he secured a charter of incorporation in 1864, and the 13th (Hamilton) Battalion of Infantry (later the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry), of which he was founder in 1862 and lieutenant-colonel for about two years.

Buchanan’s career in the legislature was genuinely independent: no party, he said, was sufficiently patriotic. Yet his intense opposition to “political economy” pushed him towards the Conservatives, and for three months in the spring of 1864 he became president of the council in the short-lived government of Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché* and John A. Macdonald*. Buchanan is, however, remembered more for his economic writings in these years, notably The relations of the industry of Canada, with the mother country and the United States (1864), edited by Henry James Morgan* whose Sketches of celebrated Canadians Buchanan had recently subsidized. Like most of his works, Relations was largely compiled from his speeches, previously published letters, and extracts from favourite authorities such as Henry Charles Carey, an American economist, and John Barnard Byles, a British jurist. Still regretting the victory of Manchester-style liberalism in Britain, he spared no opportunity to criticize those in Canada, particularly George Brown*, who held similar views. In arguments that were distinguished more for repetition and forceful language than for political insight, analytic rigour, thoroughness, or subtlety, he dwelt on the need for reform of the tariff and the currency.

A protective tariff, he argued, would limit imports of goods that could be manufactured locally, put the many unemployed to work, encourage immigration, and keep in circulation in the province money that would otherwise have flowed abroad. Unlike Canadian protectionists of later periods, he strongly advocated a Canadian-American zollverein, that would extend reciprocity to manufactured goods and erect a common Canadian-American tariff against outside goods. Revealing his continuing concern with imperial issues, he argued that a zollverein would help to decentralize the manufactures of the empire, for both British working poor and British capitalists and their capital would then come to Canada to secure full access to the American market. The increased urban population in Canada which would have to be fed would free agriculture in Canada West from dependence on a single crop and hence from soil exhaustion. Thus, protection was in the interest of all producers, including the farmer and the working man; convinced that the latter would agree, he had long advocated universal manhood suffrage. Representation by population in the union parliament he opposed, however, because the present tariff was being sustained with the help of votes from Canada East.

On the currency question, Buchanan called for the issue of irredeemable paper currency, “emblematic money instead of money containing in itself intrinsic value. . . .”This would free Canada from the “sudden expansions and contractions” that foreign trade and purely monetary factors induced. “Our error lies in this, that the circulation is based upon and in proportion to GOLD, the rich man’s property, instead of upon LABOUR, the poor man’s property – that this basis is therefore a thing that car. be sent away instead of a thing that cannot be sent out of the country. . . .” In this case, he said, the desired object could be achieved simply by eliminating the “vicious interference of [monetary] legislation, militating against the laws of nature.”

Buchanan’s ideas derived from wider bodies of protectionist and currency thought. Though in some ways internally inconsistent, as his opponents often noted, they were informed, finally, by a conservative outlook on society, and he was better at criticizing than at proposing convincing alternatives. Although it is doubtful if his writings were widely read or attracted many consistent supporters, they do have a place in the limited literature of social criticism in mid-Victorian Canada.

Buchanan’s publishing and politics cost him much time and money (indeed his expenditures from 1860 to 1864 averaged the enormous sum of $25,000 annually) and the Buchanan enterprises, which he had formally rejoined in 1858, had also been severely struck by the crash of 1857. Only months before his death in 1860, Peter Buchanan had drastically reorganized their business to enable it to recover from its problems if given careful management. But, although he was aware of the situation, Isaac gave little time to his business, and his decisions, when he could be brought to make them, were often harmful to it. Thus the main Hamilton and Glasgow business, despite large annual sales, ran increasingly deeper into debt. Only a narrow escape from failure in 1864 induced Buchanan to resign from the assembly on 17 Jan. 1865 and to turn all his energy to saving the business. Most important, he persuaded the very capable Adam Hope to move to Hamilton in 1865, but it was now too late. In the fall of 1867, Buchanan, Hope and Company and Peter Buchanan and Company failed.

By offering his creditors more than did his two erstwhile partners, Hope and Robert Wemyss (the Glasgow manager since Peter’s death), Buchanan secured control of the business estate. Although he reopened an importing business in 1868 at Hamilton, under the name Buchanan and Company, the firm dealt only in dry goods because Buchanan now lacked the capital to do a general business. He did not reduce expenditures sufficiently for the smaller scale of his business, and Hamilton had become less and less an ideal location for a dry goods importer. In 1871 he could not pay the last two instalments due to his old creditors. Endeavouring to protect a position in the business for one son, he transferred control of the Hamilton firm to John I. Mackenzie in 1872. Two years later he was ousted from the Montreal firm by the other partners there, Robert Leckie and F. B. Matthews, as they sought, ultimately unsuccessfully, to avoid bankruptcy themselves. The New York and Glasgow offices expired for lack of business. A variety of highly speculative ventures failed to yield profits, and businesses into which Buchanan put his four older sons, who had received modest bequests from their uncle, likewise lost money.

By 1876 Buchanan had sold the mountain estate, given such assets as remained to him to his creditors, and was living in rented quarters in Hamilton. Though he still wrote and held some honorific local positions, he was now entirely dependent for income on a testimonial organized by friends at his urging. He applied to the Liberal government of Alexander Mackenzie* for a postmastership, but, not surprisingly, was refused. The creditors, some of whom were aggrieved by Buchanan’s recurrent promises since 1860 that his financial situation would soon improve, would not give him his final discharge from his second bankruptcy until 1878. Early in 1879 the Macdonald government appointed him an official arbitrator for disputed property expropriations in connection with public works, and this appointment enabled him to live his last years in modest but once more secure circumstances. Although the careers of his three oldest boys did not prove successful, his fourth son, James, after an early bankruptcy in Hamilton in the 1870s, went on to earn a fortune in Pennsylvania. In 1900 he bought back the old family home in Hamilton, and some of his sisters lived there for almost 30 years thereafter.

Isaac Buchanan is remembered chiefly for his writings and his role as a grandee in Hamilton, but also for his careers in politics, railways, the church, and early Toronto business. He was a leader within Upper Canada’s Scottish community particularly before 1846, and though the focus of his concerns shifted thereafter, his values and activities continued to reflect his links to Scotland and to indicate the importance of the Scots in Upper Canadian life. Yet he was probably most important as a businessman, for here he had his greatest success and earned the wealth that underlay his other roles. Although his very range of activities made him scarcely a “typical” entrepreneur, his confidence in the future of Upper Canada, his willingness to take risks, and the success he gained thereby exemplify the intertwined processes of Scottish expansion overseas and Upper Canadian business development in the provincial economy’s formative years. If in the end his business failed, that too was far from an unusual outcome.

Douglas McCalla

Isaac Buchanan was the author of the following works: . . . Britain the country, versus Britain the empire: our monetary distresses – their legislative cause and cure (Hamilton, [Ont.], 1860); Can the British monarchy be preserved? (n.p., 1848); First series of five letters, against the Baldwin faction, by an advocate of responsible government, and of the new college bill (Toronto, 1844); A government specie-paying bank of issue and other subversive legislation, proposed by the finance minister of Canada (Hamilton, 1866); Letters illustrative of the present position of politics in Canada, written on the occasion of the political convention, which met at Toronto, on 9th Nov., 1859 (Hamilton, 1859); Moral consequences of Sir RPeel’s unprincipled and fatal course, disquiet, overturn and revolution (Greenock, Scot., 1850); The patriotic party versus the cosmopolite party; or, in other words, reciprocal free trade, versus irreciprocal free trade (Toronto, 1848); The real state of things in Canada; explained in a few rough sketches on financial and other vital matters in both the Canadas . . . (Toronto, 1837); The relations of the industry of Canada, with the mother country and the United States . . . , ed. H. J. Morgan (Montreal, 1864); A thoroughly British legislature wanted, or, in other words, legislation combining patriotism and popularity . . . (Greenock, 1850). Among the extra issues of newspapers he published was one of the Albion of U.C. (Toronto) in 1835.

AO, MU 1876, file 3854. HPL, M. H. Farmer, “Calendar of the Buchanan papers, 1697–1896 . . .” (typescript, 1962); Hamilton biog., Buchanans (newspaper clippings). PAC, MG 24, D16; RG 30, 1, 2, 11, 326, 327, 329, 361. Scottish Record Office (Edinburgh), Court of Session, Unextracted process, CS 249/493; Office of Court, Concluded sequestration process, CS 318/12, 1869, no.56. The Arthur papers; being the Canadian papers mainly confidential, private, and demi-official of Sir George Arthur, K.C.H., last lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, in the manuscript collection of the Toronto Public Libraries, ed. C. R. Sanderson (3v., Toronto, 1957–59), III. Can., Prov. of, Legislative Assembly, Journals, 1841, 1857–64; Statutes, 1864, c.71, c.72. “Parl. debates” (CLA mfm. project of parl. debates, 1846–74), 1858–64. W. J. Rattray, The Scot in British North America (4v., Toronto, 1880–84), II: 541–43. [Hugh Scobie], “Letters of 1844 and 1846 from Scobie to Ryerson,” ed. C. B. Sissons, CHR, 29 (1948): 393–411. British Colonist (Toronto), 1838–44. Canadian Merchants’ Magazine and Commercial Rev. (Toronto), 1857–59. Dominion annual register, 1883: 302–4. Hamilton directory (Hamilton), 1853–80. Morgan, Sketches of celebrated Canadians, 553–81. Notes on the members of the Buchanan Society, nos. 1–366 (1725–1829), comp. R. M. Buchanan (Glasgow, 1931), nos.84, 89, 96, 102, 123, 131. Notman and Taylor, Portraits of British Americans, I: 381–400. T. M. Bailey, Traces, places and faces: links between Canada and Scotland ([Hamilton], 1957). P. A. Baskerville, “The board room and beyond; aspects of the Upper Canadian railroad community” (phd thesis, Queen’s Univ., Kingston, Ont., 1973). H. J. Bridgman, “Isaac Buchanan and religion, 1810–1883” (ma thesis, Queen’s Univ., 1969). M. F. Campbell, A mountain and a city: the story of Hamilton (Toronto, 1966). Careless, Brown, I: 33–40, 59–60, 259. Dent, Last forty years, I: 105, 125, 138, 307, 362; II: 295, 365, 392–93, 435, 443. C. D. W. Goodwin, Canadian economic thought: the political economy of a developing nation, 1814–1914 (Durham, N.C., and London, 1961), 49–51, 82–83. C. M. Johnston, The head of the lake: a history of Wentworth Country (Hamilton, 1958). M. B. Katz, The people of Hamilton, Canada West: family and class in a mid-nineteenth century city (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1975), 190–95. Douglas McCalla, “The Buchanan businesses, 1834–1872: a study in the organization and development of Canadian trade” (dphil thesis, Univ. of Oxford, 1972); “Peter Buchanan, London agent for the Great Western Railway of Canada,” Canadian business history; selected studies, 1497–1971, ed. D. S. Macmillan (Toronto, 1972), 197–216; The Upper Canada trade, 1834–1872: a study of the Buchanans’ business (Toronto, 1979). Marion MacRae and Anthony Adamson, The ancestral roof: domestic architecture of Upper Canada (Toronto and Vancouver, 1963), 179–81. Walter Neutel, “From ‘southern’ concept to Canada Southern Railway, 1835–1873” (ma thesis, Univ. of Western Ontario, London, 1968). J. D. Barnett, “An election without politics – 1857 – I. Buchanan,” OH, 14 (1916): 153–62. Douglas McCalla, “The Canadian grain trade in the 1840’s: the Buchanans’ case,” CHA Hist. Papers, 1974: 95–114; “The decline of Hamilton as a wholesale center,” OH, 65 (1973): 247–54.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Douglas McCalla, “BUCHANAN, ISAAC,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 2, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/buchanan_isaac_11E.html.

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Author of Article:   Douglas McCalla
Title of Article:   BUCHANAN, ISAAC
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1982
Year of revision:   1982
Access Date:   March 2, 2024