McCALL, DUNCAN, merchant, politician, jp, and militia officer; b. 18 Nov. 1769 in Basking Ridge, N.J., son of Donald (Donell) McCall (McColl) and Elsie Simpson; m. first Jemima Fairchild (d. 1798), and they had a son and a daughter; m. secondly Mary Lockwood, a widow, and they had a son; d. 25 Nov. 1832 in York (Toronto), Upper Canada.
Donald McCall came to North America from Scotland as a private in the 42nd Foot (Royal Highland Regiment) and transferred in 1762 to the 77th Foot (Montgomery’s Highlanders). After the Seven Years’ War he settled in New Jersey and raised a family. He saw service again during the American revolution. At the conclusion of that conflict he tried; briefly, to re-establish himself in New Jersey; he then moved to New Brunswick. Like other loyalists such as Samuel Ryerse* and Thomas Welch*, he became dissatisfied with life there; again like them, he was attracted by the possibilities offered in the new province of Upper Canada. On 26 June 1795 the colony’s Executive Council approved the petition of McCall, his son John, and Patrick Haggarty for a tract of land on the north shore of Lake Erie “for the establishment of at least one hundred settlers” from New Jersey. McCall and his three sons, including Duncan, each received a grant of 600 acres. Every settler they brought with them was promised 200 acres. The family, with the exception of Duncan, arrived in 1796 and took up land in Charlotteville Township. He came the following year with a shipment of goods and merchandise from New York. For many years afterwards, Duncan McCall operated a store in the township; by 1816 he was farming as well, having 60 acres under cultivation.
The McCalls were a prominent local family in the Long Point region and became involved in the extreme factionalism that characterized the politics of the area prior to the War of 1812. John McCall, for instance, had supported Benajah Mallory* in his opposition to the office-holding élite symbolized by Ryerse and Welch. Welch dismissed him as an “abandoned Character . . . accustomed to escape from the penalties of the Law in New Jersey, where nothing less than Grand Larceny is laid to his Charge. . . . He is certainly a very bad Man.” Early in 1810, when Duncan McCall was being considered for local office, Ryerse expressed concern to Chief Justice Thomas Scott. For one thing McCall was a trader who occasionally resided in the United States. For another and just as distressing, he had been seen in a tavern “deeply Engaged in a game of Chance (throwing Dice and pitching Dollars) which would seem to indicate a partiality for low Company.” McCall, needless to say, did not receive the appointment.
Duncan McCall made his mark at a later date as a politician. He was elected one of the two members for the riding of Norfolk in 1824, 1828, and 1830. The focus of his legislative activity was local. His major accomplishments included the rebuilding of the Vittoria jail and court-house after a fire in 1825 and the erection of a lighthouse on Long Point. His career witnessed the beginning of entrenched opposition in the assembly and an increase of political strife. He had close associations with opposition leaders such as John Rolph* and was an early subscriber to William Lyon Mackenzie*’s Colonial Advocate. Although issues such as the alien question [see Sir Peregrine Maitland*] touched him closely, he had an independent voting record, siding most often with members from neighbouring constituencies. In short, he reflected the major concern of legislators for material development in the areas they knew best. Asahel Bradley Lewis’s St Thomas Liberal considered him “always the firm, uncompromising and vigilant friend of equal laws, equal justice, and liberal opinions . . . , the unyielding friend of the people, alike regardless of the frowns and smiles of the little York official.”
An officer in the 1st Norfolk Militia, a justice of the peace (appointed in 1829), and a Presbyterian, Duncan McCall died in November 1832, having suffered from diarrhea and fever for several days. The house was still in session. George Gurnett*’s Courier of Upper Canada (York) claimed he had been the oldest member in the assembly. He was survived by his wife and three children.
AO, ms 75, Thomas Welch to Russell, 31 Jan. 1805. Eva Brook Donly Museum (Simcoe, Ont.), Norfolk Hist. Soc. Coll., Walsh (Welch) papers. PAC, RG 4, B47, 3, naturalization reg., 1832; RG 5, A1: 4658–60; RG 68, General index, 1651–1841: 465. Charlotteville Township assessments for the years 1808–1811, ed. W. [R.] Yeager (Simcoe, 1976). Corr. of Lieut. Governor Simcoe (Cruikshank), 4: 31, 77. “Grants of crown lands in U.C.,” AO Report, 1929: 101. Pioneers of Charlotteville Township, Norfolk County, 1798–1816, ed. W. [R.] Yeager (Simcoe, 1977). “The roster of Capt. John Reid’s company of the 42nd Regiment of Foot, taken at Lake George Camp, 24th October 1758,” ed. Mary McCall Middleton, Ontario Reg. (Lambertville, N.J.), 3 (1970): 223–30. Transcript of the McCall–Fairchild cemetery, ed. W. [R.] Yeager (Simcoe, 1978). Colonial Advocate, 18 Nov. 1830. Liberal (St Thomas, [Ont.]), 6 Dec. 1832, 10 Jan. 1833. Death notices of Ont. (Reid), 136. Sources in McCall genealogy, ed. W. [R.] Yeager (Simcoe, 1978). Wills of the London District, 1800–1839: an abstract and index guide to the London District Surrogate Registry registers . . . , ed. W. R. Yeager (Simcoe, 1979).