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    Updated: 05 Apr 2010     HomeCanada  
                Nova Scotia 


15 Mar 2009

 Source: The History of Kings County, Nova Scotia, Heart of the Arcadian Land
Published in Salem, Mass, by the The Salem Press Company - 191O

Of the Higgins family of Rawdon, Hants County, three brothers, William John, born in Rawdon, Feb. 11, 1821; Thomas A., b. Feb. 17, 1824; and Daniel Francis, b. in 1830, came to Wolfville as young men, and here spent the rest of their lives.
William John Higgins married, Feb. 1, 1847, Rachel, youngest dau. of Peter and Susanna (DeWolf) Strong of Horton, and had children: James Edward; Jessie (m. to Professor Albert Edward Coldwell); Amelia; Thomas Frank; William John; Melinda Rose; Charles Rupert. Wm. John Higgins, Sr., d. Jan. 10, 1902; his wife Rachel d. Nov. 2, 1906.
Rev Thomas A. Higgins, D. D., graduated at Acadia Univ. in 1854, and was an instructor in Horton Academy from 1854 to 1856, His subsequent career was: Pastor of the Baptist church at Liverpool, N. S., 1857-1861; Principal of Horton Academy, 18611874; Pastor of the Baptist church at Annapolis, 1874-1882; and at the Wolfville, Baptist church, 1884-1895. He m. Eliza, dau. of the Rev. John Mockett Cramp, D. D., and d. May 9, 1805. He had no children. He received from Acadia Univ. the degrees of M. A., in 1857, and D. D., in 1885.
Professor Daniel Francis Higgins, grad. at Acadia Univ. B. A., 1859, M. A., 1861, Ph. D., 1882. He was tutor at Acadia, 1859-1861; and Professor of Mathematics, 1861-1898. He was also at one time Mathematical Examiner for the Council of Public Instruction. He m. Amelia, dau. of  William and DeWolf, and d. June 27, 1902. His children were: Rev. Walter Vaughan; Elizabeth; Daniel Francis; George E.; Rev. Mockett Cramp; and J. Edgar, who is an instructor in the Government School of Agriculture in Honolulu.


28 Apr 2005 
Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online 

HIGGINS, THOMAS ALFRED, Baptist minister, educator, and author; b. 17 Feb. 1823 in Rawdon Township, N.S., son of James Higgins and Margaret McLellan; m. 22 July 1863 Eliza Cramp in Wolfville, N.S.; they had no children; d. there 9 May 1905.

Thomas Higgins’s father was a miller and farmer, of strong Baptist leanings, who died when Thomas was only five, his wife having predeceased him. Thomas, with his brothers, sister, and half-brother, was raised by his stepmother and eventually a stepfather. He apparently worked on the family farm until the visit to Rawdon of the Reverend Edmund Albern Crawley*, of Acadia College, Wolfville, in the late 1840s. Uninterested in education, Higgins intended to work instead of attending Crawley’s meeting, but a broken axe handle forced a change in plans. Through the influence of Crawley, Higgins studied first at Horton Academy in Wolfville and then at Acadia, institutions with which he would be associated for the rest of his life. Tragedy at Acadia in 1852 forced Higgins into his first experience with teaching. One of the college’s two professors and all of the members of the classes of 1853 and 1854 (except Higgins) were drowned in a boating accident on the Minas Basin. The president, John Mockett Cramp*, hired a recent graduate and the only remaining senior student, Higgins, to teach first-year students so that the institution could reopen in early 1853. Finding the experience to his liking, after graduating ba in 1854 Higgins accepted a position at Horton Academy. Since the founding of Horton in 1828 and Acadia in 1838 there had been consistent concern for the spiritual as well as the intellectual well-being of the students. A number of revivals had swept the institutions over the years, encouraged by the local Baptist clergy and the university faculty. In 1855 one of the most memorable took place, a vivid account of which was left by one of the participants, Edward Manning Saunders*, himself a student at Acadia. A number of men were converted who would leave an important mark on the college and the Baptist denomination, including Higgins, Daniel Morse Welton, Charles Frederick Hartt*, and Theodore Harding Rand*. In March 1855 Higgins and 61 others were baptized by President Cramp.

Two years later Higgins left teaching for the ministry, accepting a call to the Baptist church in Liverpool, N.S., where he was ordained. In 1861 he returned to Horton Academy, this time as principal, the first Acadia graduate to assume the position. In his years at the institution he encouraged public speaking by forming the Horton Academy Lyceum and student writing by establishing the “Academy Budget,” a handwritten newspaper which began “publication” in 1862. Higgins was responsible for opening the doors of the academy to females, and by 1873 the former Grand Pre Seminary had become the Female Department of Horton Academy, an important step in the move toward higher education for women. He also encouraged among his students the spiritual growth that had played such an important role in his own student experience.
After leaving Horton Academy in 1874, Higgins spent the remainder of his life in the ministry, at Annapolis Royal (1874–82) as its first settled Baptist pastor and then in Wolfville (1884–95). He served on the board of governors of Acadia from 1880 to 1893, for the last ten years acting as secretary. He was awarded an honorary dd by the college in 1885. His major publication was a lengthy biography of President Cramp, whose daughter he had married. A memorial window in the Wolfville United Baptist Church commemorates the many contributions that Higgins made to his denomination.

Barry M. Moody 

28 Apr 2005  

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

HIGGINS, DAVID WILLIAMS, journalist, politician, and author; b. 30 Nov. 1834 in Halifax, son of William B. Higgins, a merchant, and Mary Anne Williams; m. 12 March 1863 Mary Jane Pidwell (d. 1900) in Victoria; d. there 30 Nov. 1917 and was survived by two sons and two daughters.

The family of D. W. Higgins moved to the United States from Halifax when he was two, and he was educated in Brooklyn (New York City). He became an apprentice in the printing trades at age 13 and subsequently was a journeyman printer. In 1856 Higgins left New York for California. Not long after arriving in San Francisco, he helped begin a newspaper, the Morning Call. It was successful, but he sold his interest in it in 1858 and moved to what is now British Columbia. The Fraser River gold-rush was at its height, and for the next year and a half Higgins lived in Yale, where he ran a store and dabbled in mining. This eventful period provided him with much of the material that would later appear in his two books of reminiscences. Higgins left Yale in early 1860, intending to return to California. A chance meeting with Amor De Cosmos, owner of the British Colonist (Victoria), brought an invitation to join the staff of that newspaper instead. Higgins and De Cosmos had a common background, both born in Nova Scotia and with later experiences in California. Their political views seemed congruent as well, for the two men opposed the undemocratic structure of Vancouver Island’s government. None the less, they became estranged and in the autumn of 1862 Higgins left the Colonist to start a competing newspaper, the Victoria Daily Chronicle. De Cosmos sold the Colonist the following year, but the new owners were unable to turn a profit, and in 1866 Higgins purchased it and amalgamated it with his other paper to form the Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle. As editor of the Colonist, Higgins was an indefatigable proponent of confederation; in the summer of 1868 he even travelled to Ottawa to meet personally with the federal cabinet. In 1869 he employed John Robson* as editor, and the two men worked hard to ensure that democratic reform accompanied British Columbia’s entry into the new nation. They went so far as to pay the expenses of a “People’s Delegate,” Henry E. Seelye, who accompanied Joseph William Trutch*, John Sebastian Helmcken, and Robert William Weir Carrall*, the official representatives dispatched to Ottawa in the spring of 1870 to negotiate the terms of confederation. After Robson left the staff in 1875, Higgins resumed the editorship and held it until he sold the paper in 1886. The Colonist was the city’s foremost newspaper and through it Higgins helped to shape public opinion in Victoria. A political adversary claimed that Higgins controlled the opposition to the administration of George Anthony Walkem*. The part was one which carried its share of liabilities. Walkem brought a successful libel suit against Higgins for linking him too closely with the mismanagement of work on the Esquimalt dry dock. Higgins was also active in municipal affairs throughout his time in Victoria. He organized the first Victoria fire department, sat on the city council, the school board, and the provincial Board of Education, and ran (unsuccessfully) for mayor. A keen promoter of street railways, he led the company that secured the franchise for the city, but it proved a commercial failure as well as a personal financial burden. The call of provincial politics was too strong to resist, and in 1886 Higgins was elected to the Legislative Assembly as one of the two members for Esquimalt. In January 1890 he became speaker. In his more than eight years in the speaker’s chair Higgins was associated with the various ministries which held power, a group without any clear party affiliation and with little ideological consistency other than a commitment to economic development. Toward the end of this period, however, he began to distance himself from the government, and in a dramatic gesture he resigned the speakership in March 1898. The reason is unclear, although several of his erstwhile colleagues suggested thwarted political ambition. In defence of his actions Higgins attacked the government’s policies of deficit financing and generous subsidies to railways. “The interests of the Province demanded that the present oligarchy and reign of syndicates be put down,” he insisted. Although he was returned in the provincial election of 1898, he played no significant role in the new ministry, and following an electoral defeat in 1900 he left politics altogether.
      Higgins then embarked upon a career as an author, writing two volumes of somewhat fictionalized reminiscences, The mystic spring and other tales of western life (Toronto, 1904) and The passing of a race and more tales of western life (Toronto, 1905). These books were well received: one influential journal declared, “Mr. Higgins has done for Victoria and British Columbia what Bret Harte did for the Western United States mining districts.” A New York publishing house printed a revised edition of The mystic spring in 1908, and shortly before his death in 1917 Higgins attended a screening of a film based on one of his stories. He contributed a chapter on politics to R. Edward Gosnell*’s A history o[f] British Columbia (n.p., 1906). He also continued to write articles for the press and in 1906–7 was editor of the Vancouver Daily World. For a short period he resided at Port Angeles in Washington State, where he had earlier made some substantial investments, and he was appointed British consul there in 1916. In his last year his health failed and he returned to Victoria.

Higgins had been a member of a small but influential group of men who became prominent in colonial affairs in the 1860s and who subsequently exercised considerable political power in the province. Although not as clearly remembered as De Cosmos and Robson, like them he was an important journalist and advocate of confederation. He was less notable as a politician, but a Toronto magazine remarked that years after his resignation “many people still call him from force of habit Mr. Speaker Higgins.” His longevity as well as his literary work assured Higgins of a special place in the minds of many, and when he died the Daily Colonist observed that “his death signifies the passing of the race of British Columbia pioneers.”

Jeremy Mouat 


added 05 April 2010

Source: Biographical dictionary of well-known British Columbians - By John Blaine Kerr - Published 1890

Higgins, Hon. David Williams, (Victoria), was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on November 30th, 1834. His father was a native of Manchester, England, and in 1814 emigrated to Canada and settled in Nova Scotia. In 1836 Mr. Higgins' parents removed to Brooklyn, New Jersey, and here Mr. Higgins was educated. He went to California in 1852, and in 1856 he founded the Morning Call newspaper, which he sold in 1858, when he removed to British Columbia. He settled in Victoria and for many years subsequently he was connected with the newspaper business. For a number of years he was editor and proprietor of the Colonist. He organized and was first president of the Victoria fire department and was a member of the Board of Education from 1866 to 1869. He has been a member of the city council and was returned to the Local Legislature as member of Victoria district at the general election of 1886. In 1869 he was elected speaker of the house and at the recent elections was returned by his constituents. In politics he is a Liberal Conservative. Mr. Higgins is interested in many important enterprises in the Province. He was the promoter and is president of the electric street railway of Victoria.

Name Age
W B Higgins 49 b. England - Occupation Soap Manufacturing
Mary A Higgins 46 b. Wales
Mary Higgins 29 b. Nova Scotia
Jeanette Higgins 22 b. Nova Scotia
Wm Higgins 20 b. Nova Scotia
David Higgins 16 b. Nova Scotia
Rachel Higgins 14 b. New Jersey
Charles Higgins 9 b. New Jersey
Elizabeth Higgins 6 b. New Jersey
Ellen Higgins 6 b. New Jersey

1881;Census Place: Victoria City Johnson Street Ward, Victoria, British Columbia. Roll: C_13285, Page 44, Family No: 405
Name Age

David Wm Higgins 47 Occupation: Newspaper Proprietor
Mary Higgins 35
William Higgins 14
Elizabeth Higgins 16
Maude Higgins 12
Frank Higgins 10
Charles Higgins 3

1891;Census Place: Victoria City Yates Street Ward, Victoria, British Columbia. Roll: T-6292, Family No: 12.
Name Age

David W Higgins 56 b. N.S. Parents born Wales - Speaker in House of Assembly
Mary J Higgins 46
Maud Higgins 21
Frank Higgins 19
Paul Higgins 13
Higgins 20

1901;Census Place: Victoria (City/Cité), Victoria, British Columbia. Page 6, Family No: 48
Name Age

David W Higgins 66
Name: David W Higgins Gender: Male Marital Status: Married Age: 66
Birth Day & Month: 30 Nov Birth Year: 1834 Birthplace: Ns
Relation to Head of House: Head Racial or Tribal Origin: English
Nationality: Canadian Religion: Church Of England Province: British Columbia District: Victoria District Number: 4 Sub-District: Victoria (City/Cité) Sub-District Number: D-5

Frank Higgins 30
Name: Frank Higgins Gender: Male Marital Status: Single Age: 30
Birth Day & Month: 26 Dec Birth Year: 1870 Birthplace: British Columbia
Relation to Head of House: Son Father's Name: David W Racial or Tribal Origin: English Nationality: Canadian Religion: Church Of England
Occupation: Barrister Province: British Columbia District: Victoria
District Number: 4 Sub-District: Victoria (City/Cité) Sub-District Number: D-5

British Columbia Death Index
Name: David Williams Higgins Gender: Male Age: 83
Death Date: 30 Nov 1917 Place of Death: Victoria
Registration #: 1917-09-035085 bca #: B13083 gsu #: 1927293


ISBN 1-895811-24-4
Tales of a Pioneer Journalist - cover art "David William Higgins was a notable public figure who came to British Columbia during the 1858 Fraser Valley gold rush. Two years later, he moved to Victoria, joining the staff of the Colonist, the paper he later purchased. For the next half-century, he devoted himself to public life as a journalist, philanthropist, and politician. When he retired from public life in 1897, he wrote two collections of stories about life in B.C. Tales of a Pioneer Journalist is a selection of these delightful and readable tales..." - Charlene Porsild 

The Vancouver Times
BIRTHS: 1865
Victoria (BC), June 8, a daughter to the wife of D.W. HIGGINS, 
                       one of the Proprietors of the "Daily Chronicle". 



Also See  Nova Scotia 1901 Census 

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