Hugh Nelson (Canadian politician)

Hugh Nelson (May 25, 1830 – March 3, 1893) was a Canadian parliamentarian and the fourth Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

Hugh Nelson
Hugh Nelson.jpg
4th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
In office
February 8, 1887 – November 1, 1892
Governor GeneralThe Marquess of Lansdowne
The Lord Stanley of Preston
PremierWilliam Smithe
Alexander Edmund Batson Davie
John Robson
Theodore Davie
Preceded byClement Francis Cornwall
Succeeded byEdgar Dewdney
Senator for Barkerville, British Columbia
In office
December 12, 1879 – March 1, 1887
Nominated byJohn A. Macdonald
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for New Westminster
In office
Preceded byElectoral district created.
Succeeded byJames Cunningham
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for New Westminster District
In office
Preceded byElectoral district created
Succeeded byElectoral district abolished
Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia for New Westminster
In office
Personal details
Born(1830-05-25)May 25, 1830
Larne, County Antrim, Ireland
DiedMarch 3, 1893(1893-03-03) (aged 62)
London, England
Political partyLiberal-Conservative

Born in his father's residence, Shore Cottage in Magheramorne, Larne, County Antrim, Ireland, the son of Robert Nelson, Esq. and Frances Quinn,[1] he emigrated to California in 1854. He arrived in British Columbia in 1858, but unlike the horde of others who arrived in that year he had not come in pursuit of gold but to participate in the building of the colony as an English dominion. Eschewing the goldfields themselves, he founded the B.C. & Victoria Express Company, which had the dominant share of the freight and travel market between Victoria and New Westminster and Yale, with partner George Dietz, and also the lumbering firm Moody, Dietz and Nelson, the third partner of which was Sewell Moody, which was the operating name of Moodyville Sawmill Co. in what is now North Vancouver. The freighting firm was sold off early on to Frank Barnard Sr., whose B.C. Express Company then became the leading firm for shipments and travel to and from the Cariboo region

Although active in politics, he did not stand for office to the Legislative Council until 1870 (for the colonial riding of New Westminster), by which time he had become one of the principal promoters of British Columbia's merger with the Confederation of Canada. He was a member of the Yale Convention, which ushered in BC's union with Canada, and was on the committee of that body charged with seeing the agreement come into effect. He was a member of the colonial Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, and in 1871 was one of the first Members of Parliament from British Columbia to the House of Commons, representing New Westminster District.

A Liberal-Conservative, he was re-elected in 1872. He did not run in 1874. In 1879, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada representing the senatorial division of Barkerville, British Columbia. He withdrew from business in 1882, and in February, 1887 married Emily Stanton, daughter of J.B. Stanton, Esq., of the Canadian civil service. He and resigned his senate seat in 1887, when he was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia. In 1892, he resigned as Lieutenant-Governor and returned to England where he died the following March of Bright's disease.


Mrs Emily Nelson by William James Topley

Hon Hugh Nelson, then a Senator married September 17, 1885 Emily Stanton, daughter of Isaac Brock Stanton and his wife, Maria Wilson. Emily was born and educated in Canada. The couple lived at 354 Cooper Street, Ottawa and Government House, Victoria during Hugh Nelson`s terms of office. He died in London, England on March 3, 1893.[2]


  1. ^ Gemmill, J. A. (1883). The Canadian Parliamentary Companion (PDF). Ottawa: J. Durie & Son. p. 67. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  2. ^ Morgan, Henry James, ed. (1903). Types of Canadian Women and of Women who are or have been Connected with Canada. Toronto: Williams Briggs. p. 252.

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