James Blain – A Galt Titan

Death of James Blain, Esq. – This gentleman, for many years one of Galt’s leading citizens, passed to his rest on Monday last. Up to 1875 the deceased was an active, energetic business man, but during that year he was stricken with apoplexy, from which he never entirely recovered, and since then he has suffered from a partial stroke of paralysis which greatly weakened his once iron constitution. For the last few years he has been a severe sufferer from a form of epilepsy. A short time ago he met with quite a severe fall, and the powers of life being almost exhausted, he gradually sank.

Mr. Blain was a native of Cumberland, England, having been born in Bowness-in-Solway, on the 10th March, 1805, and was consequently in his 78th year at the time of his death. In the spring of 1831 he came to Canada, preceding Mr. Richard Blain and others of his brothers by some years. On arriving at Niagara he at once entered the building trade, one of his first works being the erecting of the Presbyterian Church there, which building still stands. Niagara was then the Capital of Upper Canada, and a busy, flourishing place, and Mr. Blain was successful there in laying the foundation of the competence which for many years he usefully employed. Besides the building trade, Mr. Blain engaged largely in the shipment of flour to the seaboard Provinces, and in this line he was also successful.

The decadence of Niagara caused Mr. Bain to leave it, and in 1850 he removed to Lockport, N.Y., where he joined Mr. Lyman A. Spalding in the forwarding business. In the fall of 1854 he came to Galt and entered into partnership with Mr. Richard Blain, in the Milling business, the firm carrying on the Dickson Mills. In 1858, the partnership was dissolved and in 1866 Mr. Blain acquired by purchase from the Dickson Estate, the Mill, the water privileges in connection therewith, and a large number of lots on the hill where the homestead new stands. To the development of this property Mr. Blain largely gave his energies for some years, although at the same time he was an active Director on the great Western Railway and also engaged in the shipping business, being part owner of the steamer Arabian, running between Quebec and Shediac.

Almost immediately upon his coming to Galt, Mr. Blain identified himself at once with its interests and was elected and served for several years as Councilor. Possessed of an active temperament, he entered freely and willingly into all the schemes which seemed likely to conduct to the progress of the town and lent valuable aid in securing the connection with Grand Trunk Railway and subsequently with the Credit Valley railway. It was during these years that the Great western, under the Managership of Mrs. Thomas Swinyard, was passing through perhaps its most trying time, and there was no Director on the Board who took more interest or gave more of his time and influence for its benefit than the subject of these remarks.

The deceased gentleman was twice married, his second wife, who still survives him, having been his loving partner through all the trials of his later years. His only son, Mr. James L. Blain, is well known in this locality and at present occupies a responsible position in connection with a College in Paris, France. Of Mr. Blain’s brothers and sisters there are yet living – John Blain, Esq., of Cumberland, England; Wm. Blain, Esq., of Niagara; Capt. Isaac Blain, of Brampton; Richard Blain, Esq., of Galt; and Mrs. T. Devenish , of Scarboro’.

Mr. Blain’s funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon to Trinity Church Cemetery, and was largely attended by his old friends in the Town and by many from all parts of the Province, who thus testified their respect for him.

Galt Reporter 21 Jul 1882 pg 1

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