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ARCHIBALD, CHARLES DICKSON, lawyer and businessman; b. 31 Oct. 1802 at Truro, N.S., eldest son of Samuel George William Archibald* and Elizabeth Dickson; d. 12 Sept. 1868 at London, England.

Like his brothers Edward Mortimer* and Thomas Dickson, Charles Dickson Archibald attended Pictou Academy, graduating about 1822. His mentor there was Thomas McCulloch*, whom he was to support in the 1820s through the political controversies surrounding the repeated vetoing by the Legislative Council of the Nova Scotia assembly’s attempts to grant financial aid to the school. Archibald studied law in his father’s office in Truro, and was elected in 1826 to the assembly representing Truro Township. Although his four-vote victory was challenged by William Flemming, his nearest rival, the election was subsequently upheld by a select committee of the assembly. At age 24, one of the youngest members of the house, Archibald was under the shadow of his father, then speaker and solicitor general. Unlike many other members of the Archibald-Dickson family, Charles Dickson tired of political life and did not contest the election of 1830; instead he accepted an appointment as chief clerk and registrar of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland. He resigned from this post a year later to be succeeded by his brother Edward Mortimer Archibald.

On 18 Sept. 1832 Archibald married Bridget Walker, daughter of Myles Walker and heiress to Rusland Hall, a large estate in the parish of Colton, Lancashire, England. They had four daughters and one son, Charles William, who inherited this family property.

Throughout the remainder of his life, spent in England, Archibald maintained close ties with Nova Scotia and frequently visited the province. Between 1836 and 1838 he actively encouraged Thomas McCulloch to accept the presidency of Dalhousie College, and advised the latter on the political manœuvring necessary to win this post. In 1840 he was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society of London, the first Nova Scotian to be accorded that honour. Archibald had a wide range of business interests: from helping to raise funds in the 1850s for the development of iron ore extraction at Acadia Mines (Londonderry), N.S., not far from his former home, to acting as lobbyist for Peto, Brassey, Jackson, and Betts, British railway promoters.

In 1851, when hopes for an intercolonial railway linking the Canadas and the Maritimes were revived, Archibald attended a conference in Toronto on the question with Joseph Howe* and Edward Barron Chandler*. On 21 June 1851, he addressed an open letter to Lord Elgin [Bruce], the governor general, pleading for a transcontinental railway from Halifax to the Pacific as part of a world-wide transportation network binding the British Empire together. In florid prose he argued: “on the one side are the countless millions of the Indian archipelago, China, India and Hindustan . . . on the other the overcrowded busy marts of Europe. The British possessions in North America lie midway and I believe that the day is not far distant when this great highway of nations will traverse our neglected territory as surely as a straight line is the shortest distance between two points.”

Archibald’s next foray in imperial affairs was in June 1854 when he directed two letters to the Earl of Clarendon, then foreign secretary. These were later published under the title A look toward the future of the British colonies. Fearing a breakup of the empire and the “territorial aggrandizement” of the United States, Archibald called for the creation of “indissoluble ties” with the mother country. These could be best achieved, he believed, by the crowning of “a prince of the blood royal” as viceroy of British North America. Unlike his close friend Joseph Howe, Archibald was opposed to any form of colonial representation in the British parliament. Instead, he urged the development of a loose form of imperial federation.

William B. Hamilton

[There are scattered references to Charles Dickson Archibald in PAC, MG 24, B29; MG 27, I, Hl; and in PANS, MG 1, 88 (Archibald family papers); 55058 (Thomas McCulloch papers). Thomas Miller, Historical and genealogical record of the first settlers of Colchester County (Halifax, 1873), 34108, contains a complete genealogy of the Archibald family. C. D. Archibald, A look toward the future of the British colonies: two letters addressed to the RtHon. the Earl of Clarendon (London, 1854), may be found in the Legislative Library of Nova Scotia.  w.b.h.]

E. J. Archibald, Life and letters of Sir Edward Mortimer Archibald, K.C.M.G., C.B.: a memoir of fifty years of service (Toronto, 1924). G. P. de T. Glazebrook, A history of transportation in Canada (Toronto, 1938). W. B. Hamilton, “Education, politics and reform in Nova Scotia, 18001848” (unpublished phd thesis, University of Western Ontario, London, Ont., 1970). D. C. Harvey, An introduction to the history of Dalhousie University (Halifax, 1938). R. S. Longley, Sir Francis Hincks; a study of Canadian politics, railways, and finance in the nineteenth century (Toronto, 1943). William McCulloch, Life of Thomas McCulloch, DDPictou ([Truro, N.S., 1920]).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

William B. Hamilton, “ARCHIBALD, CHARLES DICKSON,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed July 28, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/archibald_charles_dickson_9E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/archibald_charles_dickson_9E.html
Author of Article: William B. Hamilton
Title of Article: ARCHIBALD, CHARLES DICKSON
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1976
Year of revision: 1976
Access Date: July 28, 2014