Series 1 - James Dawson

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

James Dawson

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on content of series.

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Reference code

CA MUA MG 1022-1

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Date(s)

  • 1800-1861 (Creation)
    Creator
    Dawson, James

Physical description area

Physical description

30 cm of textual records

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1789-approximately 1861)

Biographical history

James Dawson was a Scottish immigrant to Pictou, Nova Scotia. Born in 1789 in Overtown, Banffshire, Sotland, he emigrated to Canada in 1811. He married Mary Rankine over Lonerig, Scotland, in 1818. Their son, John William (called William) became a well-known Canadian geologist and McGill University principal. At one time a successful merchant, shipowner, stationer, and shopkeeper, James Dawson found himself in severe financial difficulty due to a depression in the mid-1820s and accidents to several of his boats. Archival records attest to several investment attempts. Despite his failure as an investor, James Dawson re-established himself as a successful bookseller, stationer, and printer by the 1840s. A devout Presbyterian, James Dawson was involved with various Bible and Christian missionary societies, as well as the temperance movement.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The series contains materials associated with James Dawson, a Scots immigrant to Nova Scotia, printer, stationer, unsuccessful investor, and zealous Presbyterian. The series contains some letters from family and friends in Scotland, and later, some correspondence with his son John William and his grandson George, but the bulk of his correspondence is concerned with his business interests and legal affairs. This includes deeds to land in Pictou, Nova Scotia, authorizations, copies of wills, and other legal documents; correspondence concerning publishing ventures and other money-making schemes, as well as government economic policy; and finally, bills, invoices with books titles and receipts from his book and stationery store. The series also contains correspondence, reports, and notes on Dawson's involvement in Bible and missionary societies. James Dawson also wrote two autobiographies: a "Narrative diary" from 1849-1861, and the more formal "Incidents of a Life", around approximately 1859.

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