HAMILTON, DANIEL SALMON, Congregational minister and social worker; b. 8 March 1864 near Forest, Upper Canada, son of David Hamilton, a farmer, and Elizabeth Macpherson; m. 31 Dec. 1910 Edna Irene Walker, a teacher, in Odell, Middlesex County, Ont., and they had a daughter (who may have predeceased her father) and a son; d. 22 April 1929 in Winnipeg.
Daniel Salmon Hamilton was first educated at a public school in Forest and the Business College in Toronto. He then attended McGill University in Montreal. A well-known athlete, he played rugby with the McGill team, provincial champions. After obtaining a ba in 1892, he undertook theological studies at the Congregational College of Canada, also in Montreal, and graduated in 1894. He led his class easily, receiving the Barbour gold medal and the Calvary Church silver medal.
In 1894 and 1895 Hamilton served a Congregational church in Forest. Probably in the mid 1890s he undertook postgraduate studies in Christian sociology at the Chicago Theological Seminary with Graham Taylor. Under Taylor’s tutelage he also did social settlement work. He then took up pastorates in Pointe-Saint-Charles (Montreal) (1898–1902) and London, Ont., at First Congregational Church (1902–8). He was particularly successful in London, where he developed a strong congregation. He became a member of the school board, served for four years as president of the London Temperance League, and was a councillor in the Royal Templars of Temperance. As a member of the local Charities Organization Board, he tried to develop an awareness among the public of its obligations toward the needy, but he did perhaps his best work as a member of the board of the Children’s Aid Society.
Hamilton became a prominent figure in the councils of the Congregational Church and was president of the Western Association in Ontario. In favour of the proposed union of the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational churches, he believed that amalgamation would increase the efficiency of church work. He served in 1906 as a member of the national joint committee on church union. In 1909 he went west to take charge of a church in Creelman, Sask., but finding the congregation divided on the issue of union, he left shortly afterwards. By June 1910 he had accepted a call as assistant at Central Congregational Church in Winnipeg. Active in the Congregational Church Extension Society of Western Canada, he had organized a congregation in Calgary in the spring of 1910. The following year he became superintendent of the society. Although he left this post and the ministry shortly afterwards, he would continue to be active in the church for many years. By 1925 he had served three terms as president of Central Church.
In 1911 Hamilton was appointed inspector of foster homes by Felix John Billiarde, the provincial superintendent of neglected and dependent children. Manitoba’s initial child welfare legislation, the Children’s Protection Act of 1898, had been established to protect children from abusive or incompetent parents and to keep society safe from delinquents. To the private orphanages and children’s homes already existing the act had added the ostensibly private Children’s Aid societies and a part-time, government-appointed superintendent, who provided services for children in regions not covered by these organizations. Billiarde, the first full-time superintendent, had been appointed early in 1908 in anticipation of the Juvenile Delinquents Act of that year; when the juvenile court was established, he was also made chief probation officer and he occasionally acted as judge. In 1910 he had been given powers to advise and supervise the Children’s Aid societies and in 1912 he was authorized to oversee orphans’ homes and asylums. Hamilton had been appointed to assist the overburdened superintendent. According to Billiarde, Hamilton’s job required “a very large measure of discrimination and tact.” The superintendent later reported that in selecting and visiting foster homes across the province, Hamilton travelled over 10,700 miles per year.
Hamilton succeeded Billiarde as superintendent in 1919. He made few changes in his predecessor’s programs. The number of rural cases he investigated remained relatively constant (212 in 1921–22, 182 in 1922–23, and 232 in 1923–24) and the number of children brought into care increased (63, 92, and 93 respectively). The majority of these children were placed with Children’s Aid societies; the rest were sent to various institutions. In addition he dealt with cases requiring the cooperation of other government bodies, oversaw relations with other child-care agencies, mediated disputes between agencies and vetted the quality of their work, investigated applications for adoption, assisted the general public, promoted the work of his office, collected statistics, and reported on all of the above to the government. Although he continued to hold the title of inspector, he gave no indication of visiting institutions or foster homes. He counted on public-spirited individuals to inform his office of any problems and sought to cultivate the recognition of local responsibility with regard to the needy.
The superintendent also had responsibilities under the Juvenile Delinquents Act, including occasionally acting as judge, cooperating with the chief school attendance officer, and helping to find employment for boys. In keeping with modern methods of juvenile work, Hamilton sought to “conserve rather than disrupt homes, and to reduce rather than increase institutional care,” placing as many children as possible on probation rather than in jail.
In 1924 the government of John Bracken* proclaimed the Child Welfare Act. The original intention of the act, passed by the government of Tobias Crawford Norris* in 1922, had been to create a central department of public welfare coordinating all work in the province. The legislation, once amended and implemented under an economical government, combined the administration of child welfare with that of mothers’ allowances and relegated child welfare programs to a position of secondary importance. Moreover, when the child welfare division of the new department was created in 1924, the former secretary of the Mothers’ Allowance Commission, Alfred Percy Paget, was appointed director and Hamilton was given the subordinate position of chief inspector. He retired the following year.
Elected president of the Social Workers’ Welfare Club of Winnipeg in 1925, Hamilton passed away in 1929 after an illness of three years. He was survived by his wife and son.
During Daniel Salmon Hamilton’s years of service, responsibility for the care of neglected children had continued to be gradually shifted from private charity to the provincial government. Much of the impetus for the transition came from government legislation, but some may be attributed to the work and enthusiasm of the first two superintendents. Hamilton had followed the pattern set down by his predecessor and extended his influence. Although he frequently lacked resources and the legislation under which he operated was not always adequate to meet the needs of the population, he had nonetheless helped to lay the foundations of the modern child welfare system in Manitoba.
AO, RG 80-5-0-416, no.15348. Winnipeg Tribune, 2, 23 June 1910; 23 April 1929. Conference of the Joint Committee on Church Union, Proceedings of the second conference . . . together with the reports of the sub-committees as adopted by the joint committee (Toronto, 1906). “The Congregational churches of Canada: a statistical and historical summary,” comp. Douglas Walkington (mimeograph, [Toronto], 1979; copy at UCC-C). Directories, London, Ont., 1902, 1908; Montreal, 1900–10. L. F. Hurl, “An analysis of social welfare policy: a case study of the development of child welfare policies and programmes in Manitoba, 1870–1924” (msw thesis, Univ. of Man., Winnipeg, 1981); “The politics of child welfare in Manitoba, 1922–1924,” Manitoba Hist. (Winnipeg), no.7 (spring 1984): 2–9. McGill Univ., Annual calendar (Montreal), 1889–92. Man., Dept. of Education, Annual report (Winnipeg), 1913–25. Pioneers and prominent people of Manitoba, ed. Walter McRaye (Winnipeg, 1925). P. T. Rooke and R. L. Schnell, Discarding the asylum: from child rescue to the welfare state in English Canada (1800–1950) (Lanham, Md, 1983). F. H. Schofield, The story of Manitoba (3v., Winnipeg, 1913). UCC, Conference of Manitoba, Minutes (n.p.), 1929.