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McIlwraith, Thomas G.
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Thomas McIlwraith was born December 25, 1824 in Ayr, Scotland. As a youth, he was apprenticed as a cabinet-maker and was employed by a gas works company in Edinburgh. In 1853, he married Mary Park Forysth and immigrated to Canada, settling in Hamilton, Ontario. That same year he became the manager of the Hamilton Gas Works Company where he remained for eighteen years. He lived in a home called “Cairnbrae” on MacNab Street North with his wife and their four sons and three daughters. In 1871 he purchased a coal business and ran this operation until his retirement in 1893. McIlwraith served on the boards of directors of several banks and insurance companies, as well as serving as President of the Hamilton Mechanic’s Institute and as an alderman for St. Mary’s Ward where he resided. His prominence came from his devotion to ornithology (the study of birds). McIlwraith was a founding member of the American Ornithological Union and wrote extensively on the subject of birds, from his observations of bird species, nesting patterns and eggs. He was particularly interested in birds within the region of Hamilton and identified hundreds of species in the surrounding area. He published two books, including the Birds of Ontario (1886) and the Birds Observed in the Vicinity of Hamilton (1860). McIlwraith died at his home in January of 1903 and is buried in the Hamilton Cemetery.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
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Fonds processed and finding aid created by Archives Technician Kelly Bucci, 2017.
Bailey, Thomas Melville. Dictionary of Hamilton Biography, Vol. 1, p.132. Hamilton: W.L. Griffin Printing Limited, 1981. Library Call Number: R971.352 DIC