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Thomas Chandler Haliburton

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Title: Thomas Chandler Haliburton  
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Subject: Windsor, Nova Scotia, Robert Grant Haliburton, New Canadian Library, Susanna Haliburton Weldon, Haliburton County
Collection: 1796 Births, 1865 Deaths, 19Th-Century Canadian Novelists, Canadian Historians, Canadian Humorists, Canadian Judges, Canadian Male Novelists, Canadian People of Scottish Descent, Conservative Party (Uk) Mps, Historians of Atlantic Canada, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Constituencies in Cornwall, Nova Scotia Pre-Confederation Mlas, People from Hants County, Nova Scotia, People from Windsor, Nova Scotia, People of United Empire Loyalist Descent, Persons of National Historic Significance (Canada), Pre-Confederation Nova Scotia People, Uk Mps 1859–65, University of King's College Alumni, Writers from Nova Scotia
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Thomas Chandler Haliburton (December 17, 1796 – August 27, 1865) was a politician, judge, and author who lived in the British Colony of Nova Scotia. He was the first international best-selling author from what is now Canada and played a significant role in the history of Nova Scotia prior to its entry into Confederation.


  • Life 1
  • Family 2
  • Legacy 3
  • Works 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Thomas Chandler Haliburton

Haliburton was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, the son of William Hersey Otis Haliburton, a lawyer, judge and political figure, and Lucy Chandler Grant. His mother died when he was a small child, and his father remarried when he was seven, giving him as stepmother Susanna Davis, the daughter of Michael Francklin, who had been Nova Scotia's Lieutenant Governor.[1] He attended University of King's College in Windsor and became a lawyer, opening a practice in Annapolis Royal, the former capital of the colony.

Haliburton became a noted local businessman and a judge, but his great fame came from his writing. He wrote a number of books on history, politics, and farm improvement. He rose to international fame with his Clockmaker serial, which first appeared in the Novascotian and was later published in book form throughout the British Empire. The books recounted the humorous adventures of the character Sam Slick and became popular light reading.

From 1826 to 1829, Haliburton represented Annapolis County in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

Haliburton retired from law and moved to England in 1856. In that same year he married Sarah Harriet Owen Williams. In 1859, Haliburton was elected the Member of Parliament for Launceston, Cornwall as a member of the Conservative minority; he did not stand for re-election in 1865.

Haliburton received an honorary degree from Oxford for service to literature and continued writing until his death on 27 August 1865, at his home in Isleworth, near London.[2])


Mrs Louisa Haliburton (née Neville) first wife of Thomas Chandler Haliburton
Daughter Amelia Gilpin by William Notman

While in England, Thomas Chandler Haliburton met Louisa Neville, daughter of Captain Laurence Neville, of the Eighth Light Dragoons, whom he married in 1816 and brought back to Nova Scotia. Her story before marriage is related in the "Haliburton Chaplet," edited by their son, Robert Grant Haliburton (Toronto: 1899). The couple had two sons and five daughters:

  • Susannah Lucy Anne, later Weldon, 1817–1899, ceramic collector[1]
  • Mrs. A. F. Haliburton
  • Mrs. Bainbridge Smith
  • Amelia (Jul 25, 1829-Jan 14, 1902), landscape artist, married the Rev. Edwin Gilpin, Dean of Nova Scotia, in 1849; the couple had four sons and one daughter,[3] including Edwin Gilpin (1850–1907), a mining engineer and author[1]
  • Robert Grant Haliburton, Q.C., D.C.L., 1831–1901, lawyer, author, and anthropologist[1]
  • Arthur (1832–1907), later 1st Baron Haliburton, G.C.B., civil servant
  • Laura Charlotte, artist, married William Cunard, son of the shipping magnate Sir Samuel Cunard at Windsor, Nova Scotia, 30 December 1851; three sons, one daughter. Exhibited her pictures at the Royal Academy, the Gallery of British Artists, and at other institutions in London.

Louisa died in 1840, and was buried at Windsor. Haliburton married a second time in 1856, to Sarah Harriet Owen Williams, and died in England.[3]


Haliburton was eager to promote immigration to the colonies of British North America. One of his first written works was an emigrant's guide to Nova Scotia published in 1823, A General Description of Nova Scotia; Illustrated by a New and Correct Map[4] The community of Haliburton, Nova Scotia was named after him.[5] In Ontario, Haliburton County, is named after Haliburton in recognition of his work as the first chair of the Canadian Land and Emigration Company.

In 1884, faculty and students at his alma mater founded a literary society in honour of the College's most celebrated man of letters. The Haliburton Society, still active at King's College, Halifax, is now the longest-standing collegial literary society in the Commonwealth of Nations or North America.

His comment of him remembering "playing hurley on the ice" is the first known reference to hockey in Canada and is the basis of Windsor's claim to being the town that fathered hockey.

A memorial to Thomas and his first wife was erected in 1902 in Christ Church, Windsor, by four of their children: Laura Cunard, Lord Haliburton, and two surviving sisters.

Nova Scotian artist William Valentine painted Haliburton's portrait.


  • A General Description of Nova Scotia - 1823
  • An Historical and Statistical Account of Nova Scotia - 1829
  • The Clockmaker - 1836
  • The Clockmaker, 2nd Series - 1838
  • The Bubbles of Canada - 1839
  • A Reply to the Report of the Earl of Durham - 1839
  • The Letter-Bag of the Great Western - 1840
  • The Clockmaker, 3rd Series - 1840
  • The Attaché; or Sam Slick in England - 1843
  • The Attaché; or Sam Slick in England, 2nd Series - 1844
  • The Old Judge, Or Life in a Colony - 1849
  • The English in America - 1851
  • Rule and Misrule in English America - 1851
  • Sam Slick's Wise Saws and Modern Instances - 1853
  • The Americans at Home; or, Byways, Backwoods, and Prairies - 1855
  • Nature and Human Nature - 1855
  • The Season-Ticket* - 1860
  • Maxims of an Old Stager Not by Haliburton, but pseudonym may be "Sam Slick"


  1. ^ a b c d Cogswell, F. (2000). Haliburton, Thomas Chandler. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. John English, Ed. (English version). Retrieved on: 2012-02-08.
  2. ^ Richard A. Davies, Inventing Sam Slick: A Biography of Thomas Chandler Haliburton (2005)
  3. ^ a b Morgan, Henry James Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada : (Toronto, 1903) [2]
  4. ^ Richard Davies, Inventing Sam Slick, pp. 28-29; Original online text: (Halifax: Printed at the Royal Acadian School, 1823) Internet ArchivesA General Description of Nova Scotia; Illustrated by a New and Correct Map
  5. ^

External links

  • Haliburton House Museum Museum dedicated to the life, writings and time period of T. C. Haliburton. Part of the Nova Scotia Museum.
  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Thomas Chandler Haliburton
  • Dictionary of Canadian Biography OnlineBiography at the
  • Works by Thomas Chandler Haliburton at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Thomas Chandler Haliburton at Internet Archive
  • Works by Thomas Chandler Haliburton at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • Photos of 1937 plaque by Historic Sites and Monuments Board
  • The Haliburton Club
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hon. Josceline Percy
Member of Parliament for Launceston
Succeeded by
Alexander Henry Campbell
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