1780 – 1824
Who was Robert Nichol?
Robert Nichol was a businessman, judge and political figure in Upper Canada.
Born in Scotland around 1780, he arrived in Montreal in 1792 after becoming a seaman at an early age and headed west to the Niagara Peninsula. He found work on one of Robert Hamilton's ships, worked for several years as clerk for John Askin at Detroit and, in 1800, entered business transporting goods in partnership with Thomas Clark. In 1802, Clark returned to Scotland, leaving Nichol to run the business; this caused him financial hardship. In 1806, he was appointed justice of the peace in the Niagara District. In 1808, he took over the operation of several mills, a distillery and other businesses in Woodhouse Township; he also secured contracts supplying the British garrisons in the region. In 1811, he was accused by Joseph Willcocks in the Legislative Assembly of having mishandled public funds as a road commissioner; Isaac Brock, administrator of the province, felt that this accusation was retaliation for Nichol's actions in support of the administration. He was jailed but later released and filed suit for damages against the speaker of the house, Samuel Street.
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