DANIEL, THOMAS WILDER, businessman and philanthropist; b. 26 June 1818 in Woburn, England, son of Wilder Daniel and Hannah Maria Lancaster; m. 23 Aug. 1848 Louisa Sophia Jordan, daughter of Daniel Jordan, in Saint John, N.B.; d. there 2 Jan. 1892.
Thomas Wilder Daniel immigrated to Saint John in 1837 to work for his uncle Thomas Daniel in the dry goods firm of Holdsworth and Daniel. The elder Daniel returned to England in 1847 and Thomas acquired the firm, reorganizing it as T. W. Daniel and Company. In 1854 he took as a partner John Boyd, an employee of the firm, which became known as Daniel and Boyd. From its premises at London House on Market Square the company traded British, American, and French dry goods wholesale, and some time in the early 1850s it began to retail as well. A later commentator noted that under the partnership “scores of young men” trained for the business world.
Besides operating his business, Daniel was most interested in promoting settlement and investment in New Brunswick. In 1859 and in 1862 he suggested to Samuel Leonard Tilley, with whom he appears to have had a cordial relationship, that the province should send “a selection of woods, . . . minerals and grain” to museums in Britain as “the best advertisement for emigration.” His desire to develop Saint John and the province intensified after confederation. In 1869 he was one of a group of businessmen who sought to construct a dry dock in the city. This group, and others like it, was keenly aware of changes occurring in the shipbuilding industry during the late 1860s and believed that a dry dock would add a new dimension to port-related activities along the waterfront. Unfortunately, divisions within the city council, which leased waterfront land, prevented the scheme from becoming reality.
Daniel nevertheless was able to show his intense commitment to his adopted city and province through the growth of his firm. In 1874 Daniel and Boyd was described by R. G. Dun and Company as doing “by far the largest [business] . . . in the maritime Provinces.” The previous year it had been employing approximately 27 people in its wholesale department and 22 in its retail department. The company had also established a thriving ready-made clothing department employing about 120 men and women, the largest in the Maritimes. This movement into manufacturing demonstrated the willingness of businessmen such as Daniel to change the local economy from one dependent on imports to one which had secondary manufacturing as an integral component.
London House was destroyed during the Saint John fire of 1877, and although it was rebuilt the “vicissitudes” encountered by most Saint John business houses during the late 1880s may have hampered the expansion of Daniel and Boyd’s manufacturing department and reduced imports. A comparison of the firm’s sales in 1875 ($1,702,000) with those in 1887 ($750,000) illustrates that prospects were lessened.
Daniel was active in a number of other companies based in Saint John. From 1856 he was a director of the Bank of New Brunswick, and in the 1870s he was involved in the Victoria Coal Mining Company, the People’s Street Railway, and the Saint John Rural Cemetery Company; at some time he was also president of the Joggins Coal Mines Association. His desire to promote Saint John within Canada led him to serve in varying executive capacities on the city’s Board of Trade for 15 years between 1867 and 1887.
Esteemed within the business community, Daniel appears to have been held in equally high regard by the clergy. An Anglican and a member of St John’s (Stone) Church, where he served as churchwarden for many years, he was a director of the Diocesan Church Society and vice-president of the New Brunswick branch of the British and Foreign Bible Society. At his death he was serving as president of the New Brunswick Auxiliary Bible Society and as vice-president of the Evangelical Alliance. The interest Daniel took in charitable works continued long after a social need had been met by an appropriate building. Thus he helped finance the establishment of the Home for Aged Females and with his wife was active “in looking after its arrangements.” He was also a founder of the Protestant Orphans’ Asylum in 1855 and a trustee of the Wiggins Orphan Asylum, the Madras school, and the Industrial School. For many years he was affiliated with the Young Men’s Christian Association.
Daniel was survived by his wife, two daughters, and three sons. Two of the sons became Anglican ministers and the third eventually assumed control of the business. He reorganized it as F. W. Daniel and Company, a name which endured until 1950.
Baker Library, R. G. Dun & Co. credit ledger, Canada, 9 (mfm. at NA). N.B. Museum, Tilley family papers, T. W. Daniel to S. L. Tilley, 3 March 1859, 26 Dec. 1862. PANB, RG 18, RS427, 17 Sept., 20 Oct. 1869. Our dominion; mercantile and manufacturing interests of St. John and environs . . . (Toronto, 1887), 42 (copy at N.B. Museum). St. John and its business: a history of St. John . . . (Saint John, N.B., 1875), 60–61. St. John Daily Sun, 4–5 Jan. 1892. St. John Daily Telegraph and Morning Journal, 21 Oct. 1869. Canadian biog. dict., 2: 610–11. N.B. directory, 1889–96. N.B. vital statistics, 1845–47 (Johnson), 138. Harold McCullagh, A century of caring: the story of the New Brunswick Protestant Orphans’ Home (St Stephen[-Milltown], N.B., 1986), 145–46. E. W. McGahan, “The port in the city: Saint John, N.B. (1867–1911) and the process of integration”