Etc. -- Duncan Campbell's 1892 obituary
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A lightly edited transcription of an article from 24 Mar 1892 issue of the Norfolk Reformer. 

Simcoe's Oldest and Norfolk's Wealthiest Citizen
Passes Quietly Away
Aged 90 Years

When the people of Simcoe went about their business on Saturday morning last, they learned that the Grim Harvestmen had some few hours before, visited the town and called to his last long sleep one of the oldest and most highly respected of our citizens.

About 12 months ago it will be remembered  The Reformer chronicled the fact that Mr. Duncan Campbell had met with an accident resulting in a fracture of one of his thighs.  Since that time he has been confined to his bed and a wheel chair and has required the services of a trained nurse to attend to him.

His health has of late been, for one of his advanced years, exceedingly good and when his son left his bedside an hour or so after midnight on Saturday morning there was nothing to cause any uneasiness as to his condition.  It was, however, the last time that Mayor Campbell was to see his aged father alive.

Shortly after five o'clock the nurse was attracted by a choking noise and going to the bedside saw Mr. Campbell was dying.  He went to arouse Lorne and on their return they found that during the nurse's absence the spirit of Duncan Campbell had taken flight.

Coming now, at a time when Mr. Campbell has been for so many years removed from the activities of business and so long confined to his residence, his death will not create that remark that it undoubtedly would have done had he been taken during the long period that he was so largely identified with the town's affairs. "Duncan Campbell is dead," does not mean so much to the generation that occupies the field of effort in Simcoe now as it would have to the two or three that preceded it on the stage.

The young and busy Simconian of to-day knows Duncan Campbell only as a very old man, seen a year or so back, upon our streets at intervals.  He does not know, or if he does he fails to pause and think, that the life just closed runs back side by side with the history of this good town that strangers have long called "old and quaint" to it very dawn -- that considerable of it he built and more of it he at one time or another owned.

He was born in Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland, 2 Apr 1802, the son of Archibald and Ann Campbell, members of the numerous House of Argyle.  Though born to a good name there was no patrimony to accompany it.  The young Scotchman had his fortune to win, and following the example of many of his fellow countrymen, he early left the hills and heather of his native land to try his luck in Canada.  He was but barely in his teens when he struck out for himself for he often told how the ship that bore him over the Atlantic when leaving British waters met the ships coming back from France laden with soldiers who had fought at Waterloo.

Landing in Montreal some time in 1816 he found employment as a clerk in the warehouse of Gellespie & Moffet, a firm still in existence as the Canadian Agents of the Phoenix Fire Insurance Co'y. of London.  

He rapidly rose in the esteem and confidence of his employers and when the occasion came for sending some one to take charge of the store in Simcoe kept by Mr. Bird, then in financial difficulties, Duncan Campbell, though only a youth less than 18, was elected for the post. He arrived in the little settlement sometime near or during the year 1820. 

A popular legend is to the effect that he travelled the last stages of the journey on foot, and that his worldly possessions were on a stick over his shoulder.  The legend goes on to say the stick was a branch of willow, which, planted by the young Scotchman, grew into a great willow tree that stood until almost the present day at the corner of Norfolk and Argyle streets. 

However this may be, it is certain that the clerk was not long in growing into the proprietor.  Mr. Bird's business became Mr. Campbell's property and he continued to conduct it with ever-increasing success for some years. 

From time to time other enterprises were added. First, under a lease from Aaron Culver and then as owner, Mr. Campbell ran the "old red mill" that stood at the foot of what is now Water Street, and of which the fine merchant mill of W. B. Browne & Company is the lineal descendent.  A distillery was also connected with the business.

Mr. Campbell was Simcoe's first postmaster and many now living can remember when his political opponents, temporarily in power, took the office away from him and gave it to Thomas Mulkins, the father of the gentleman who now occupies the position.

Success seemed to follow every venture, and it was not long -- some time in the later thirties -- before Mr. Campbell was able to go out of mercantile life.  He did not, however, retire from business. He had before this been appointed crown land agent, and for years continued to transact the business of that office, disposing of the principal part of the lands in Norfolk County. 

After giving up his store he accepted the post of manager of the old bank of Upper Canada. Leaving that institution he took the managership of Gore Bank, which he held until it went out of business, some 25 or 30 years ago. 

Since that time he has lived quietly at his beautiful home, Lynnwood, surrounded by all the luxuries that his great wealth could provide him, and happy in the watchful attention of a fond wife and dutiful son.

In 1844 he was married to Clara, daughter of Captain Perkins, a retired navy officer.  Of this union were born five children, two sons and three daughters.  The eldest son, Archibald, a brilliant university graduate and lawyer and one of the daughters, Miss Jessie Campbell predeceased their father some years.  His widow and three children, Mayor J. Lorne Campbell, and Mrs. Beecher of London, and Mrs. Hale of Brantford, survive to mourn his loss.  

One of Mrs. Campbell's sisters, is Lady Galt, wife of Chief Justice Sir Thomas Galt.  One of her brothers was Frederick Perkins of Perkins, Ince & Co.'y, Toronto, whose death took place a month or so ago.  Another brother lives in South America.


With Mr. Campbell died a thousand recollections of the early history of Simcoe that no one can now replace.  His memory of Simcoe went further back by a good many years that does that of any man now living. 

The Reformer had a long and interesting talk the other day with Mr. Jonathan Austin, who for almost 71 years has lived in or near the town and has come to be one of our veteran citizens.  The conversation was occasioned by the death of Mr. Campbell, and took the form largely of a story of early times as Mr. Austin remembers them.

Indelibly stamped on his mind's eye, says Mr. Austin, is the time that he first saw Duncan Campbell. He was a child, he would suppose of about four or five years of age, and he had been taken for the first time in his life "to town" by his father and mother.  

The object of their visit was to trade at Bird's store, and he remembers their talking to the clerk, a handsome young man whom they all addressed as Duncan.  The store was a huge two-storey frame building, rough and unpainted, that stood about where Mr. Christie's house now stands. When Mr. Campbell left it, it was converted into a hotel and kept by "Daddy" Beaupre, grandfather of Mr. John Beaupre, until it was burned.  

Mr. Campbell had not been long in business for himself when Mr. Austin moved into town and went to learn painting with a man named Farnham. 

Mr. Austin says that of those who lived then in Simcoe, or Birdtown -- it was called by either indifferently -- only two beside himself now live here, his brother John and Mr. J. J. Parke, at that time a young lad living with his father in a house that stood where his present residence now stands.  

The place itself consisted of a small cluster of frame buildings.  He thinks that when Mr. Campbell came there were not more that a dozen buildings in the settlement.  

When Mr. Campbell left the old Bird store he occupied a new building ... burned, and another one built in its place.  It was burnt after a comparatively short existence and the present structure was erected by Ritchie, Ford & Co. Hugh Ross & Co. gave place eventually to Robert Angus, a burly Scotchman from Montreal, and then 47 years ago, Duncan Campbell, as manager of the Gore Bank, sold the same property for creditors to Ritchie, Ford & Co. 

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