William Hamilton Merritt papers

Available reels: 10

Document Record

William Hamilton Meritt
William Hamilton Merritt papers
MG 24 E 1
Politics and politicians
Document source
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada
William Hamilton Merritt (1793 - 1862) was a soldier, businessman, and politician. He was an influential figure in the Niagara Peninsula of Upper Canada in the early 19th century and was one of the fathers of the Welland Canal, which was chartered in 1824. Earlier, he was a captain and leader of the volunteer dragoons throughout the War of 1812. He was captured during the Battle of Lundy's Lane and held as a prisoner of war in Massachusetts until March 1815. After the war, he would build a house and a store at Shipman’s Corners in Upper Canada. In 1816, he bought a rundown sawmill on the Twelve Mile Creek, and added a grist mill and another store. The idea of the Welland Canal likely arose from his plan to connect the water of the Welland River to Twelve Mile Creek to provide water for his mills. Merritt enlisted government support, raised funds and supervised the canal project. He was also very influential in promoting early railway projects, also with government aid. Later, Merritt served in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada from 1832 to 1841 for Haldimand County. After the unification of Upper and Lower Canadas, he served in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1841 to 1860 for Lincoln County. He supported free trade policies and transportation projects, including the first steel suspension bridge over the Niagara River. In 1860, he was elected to the Legislative Council in the Niagara Division. In 1844, the residents of a community on the Welland Canal named Aqueduct, renamed their village Merrittsville to acknowledge the role Merritt had in founding the hamlet. The road connecting the former Merrittsville to St. Catharines is to this day named Merrittsville Highway. Merrittsville was later incorporated as the Village of Welland in 1858. Merritt’s son, Thomas Rodman Merritt, would become a member of the Canadian House of Commons.
Microfilm reel C-7067 consists of a ledger for stock raised in England, 1829-1846; a Welland office ledger, 1843-1846; transfer certificates for English stock, 1830-1846; and a record book for Port Dalhousie, 1831.
Microfilm reels C-7065 to C-7067 consist of notebooks and diaries, 1808-1855, containing rough and fragmentary notes. This Includes the diary of Mrs. Merritt, 1847-1848, and journals kept by W.H. Merritt, Jr. when travelling, 1843-1844. There is also a biography of W.H. Merritt, Jr. by his brother Jedediah.
Microfilm reels C-7064 and C-7065 consist of subject files, many of which are fragmentary, concerning business and financial affairs, political life, military affairs and miscellaneous.
Microfilm reels C-7061 to C7064 consist of correspondence relating to Merritt's political career, the Welland Canal, the Grand River Navigation Company and numerous other business interests, 1804-1862, together with a few letters dealing with family and personal affairs.