MALCOLM, ELIAKIM, miller, farmer, politician, and rebel; b. 18 March 1801 in the township of Oakland, U.C., son of Tryphena and Finlay Malcolm, an early American settler in the area; d. 26 Sept. 1874, at Scotland, Ont.
A miller and “yeoman” like his father, Eliakim (or “Liak”) Malcolm laid out the village of Scotland and served as surveyor and as a justice of the peace. He married Samantha Sexton in 1822 and became the father of eight children.
Malcolm was a vocal Reformer and opposed the administration at York (Toronto) in the 1830s because of its alleged neglect of remote communities such as Oakland and its awarding of lucrative monopolies in transportation and banking to its “extravagant” friends. Following the lead of Dr Charles Duncombe*, the principal Reformer in the London District, Malcolm and members of his family spoke at protest meetings in Burford and Oakland townships in 1837. When the rebellion broke out in December, Scotland was the gathering place for Duncombe’s armed supporters, who included Malcolm. Following the defeat of William Lyon Mackenzie*’s force near Toronto, many loyal militiamen were released for duty in the west and they soon descended on Scotland, from which the disheartened rebels had already withdrawn. The militiamen uncovered on Malcolm’s property incriminating corresponddence and a muster-roll of local dissidents. A few days later, on 16 Dec. 1837, a proclamation offered a reward of £250 for his apprehension. He succeeded, however, like Duncombe, in escaping to the United States. On a list of rebels drawn up in October 1838 Malcolm’s name still occupied a prominent place after that of Duncombe.
Yet he seems to have been able to return to Upper Canada about three years later. Resuming his life as a farmer and miller (he constructed the first sawmill in Scotland in 1848), Malcolm still found time for local politics. In the less turbulent political atmosphere of the mid-century his Reformist ideas were more acceptable. Malcolm was elected to Oakland Township’s first council and was named its first reeve at the council’s inaugural meeting in 1850. In 1853 when the county of Brant (of which Oakland formed a part) was separated from its neighbours, Halton and Wentworth counties, the one-time rebel was selected as its first warden. He strongly championed such “internal improvements” as navigation on the Grand River and the Buffalo and Brantford Railway (named, in 1856, the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway Company), called for the effective use of the county’s vaunted “hydraulic power,” and promoted social improvements such as penal reform and public sanitation.
In 1855 Malcolm was defeated in a bid to serve a third term as warden and in 1857 stepped down as reeve of Oakland. He spent the remainder of his life farming and milling.
Oakland, Ont., Township offices, minutes of the Oakland Township Council, 1850–56. Brant County Council, Minutes, 1853–57. [George Coventry], “A contemporary account of the rebellion in Upper Canada, 1837,” ed. W. R. Riddell, Ont. Hist., XVII (1919), 113–74. J. H. Land, “The recollections of Lieut. John Land a militia man, in the rebellion of 1837,” Wentworth Hist. Soc. Papers and Records (Hamilton), VIII (1919), 20–24. Brantford Expositor, October 1874. Mirror (Toronto), 26 Oct. 1838. Upper Canada Gazette (Toronto), 2 Dec. 1837, 25 Oct. 1838. J. K. Malcolm, The history and genealogy of the Malcolm family of the United States and Canada (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1950). Dent, Upper Canadian rebellion, II. The history of the county of Brant, Ontario (Toronto, 1883). Fred Landon, An exile from Canada to Van Diemen’s Land, being the story of Elijah Woodman transported overseas for participation in the Upper Canada troubles of 1837–38 (Toronto, 1960); Western Ontario and the American frontier (Toronto, 1941). F. D. Reville, History of the county of Brant (2v., Brantford, 1920), I. W. C. Trimble, “Historical sketch of the county of Brant,” in Illustrated historical atlas of the county of Brant, Ont. (Toronto, 1875), iii-xvi.