MILLS, SAMUEL SYLVESTER, businessman and politician; b. at what later became Hamilton, U.C., 1 Dec. 1806, one of 11 children of James Mills and Christina Hesse; d. at Hamilton, Ont., 24 Jan. 1874.
Samuel Sylvester Mills’ parents, born in the United States, pioneered on a farm in the Hamilton area in 1800. Available evidence does not support the claims that either his father or his mother were uel. Samuel was educated at a Hamilton grammar school and went into the wholesale hardware business. Later he also involved himself in shipping, milling, real estate, and construction. He built and rented a large number of houses in workers’ districts. He owned a sizeable amount of stock in insurance companies and banks, and served as a director of the Bank of Hamilton and of the Canada Life Assurance Company. For a short period he was president of the Gore Bank.
Described as one of “the three wealthiest men in Hamilton,” Mills was generous with his wealth. An Anglican, he donated to his diocese the land and money required for the construction of All Saints’ Church. He also presented land to Hamilton for use as a cemetery.
Samuel Mills served briefly as a Hamilton alderman and for several years was chairman of the board of commissioners of the Provincial Lunatic Asylum. In 1849 the government of Robert Baldwin* and Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine* made him a life member of the Legislative Council, in which he served until 1867. Although one of Baldwin’s local Reform lieutenants during the 1840s, he was a Conservative during the confederation period, a pattern of political evolution consistent with that of numerous Baldwinites. He was called to the Senate on 23 Oct. 1867 but did not play a prominent role in the upper house.
He had married in 1831 Aurora Holton, an American, by whom he had eight children. He died in Hamilton in 1874.
Hamilton Public Libarary, A. W. Roy, “Newspaper clippings scrapbook,” 14. MTCL, Baldwin papers, A58, ff.32–41. PAC, MG 26, A (Macdonald papers), 508–10, 512–15, 518. Can. directory of parliament (Johnson), 367–68. Can. parl. comp., 1873. A. M. Brock, The Mills, Holton and Smith families (Toronto, 1927). M. F. Campbell, A mountain and a city, the story of Hamilton (Toronto, 1966). Genealogical and historical records of the Mills and Gage families, 1776–1926, 150 years, comp. Stanley Mills (Hamilton, Ont., 1926). Ross and Trigge, History of the Canadian Bank of Commerce, III. A. C. Cawthra, “The Mills family,” UEL Assoc. of Ont., Annual Trans. (Toronto), I (1897–98), 46–48.