Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
August 2004

Biographies of Prominent Quebec and Canadian

Historical Figures


Erastus Wiman




Damien-Claude Bélanger

Department of History

McGill University

Businessman and journalist, was born at Churchville, Upper Canada. With little formal education, he entered the world of journalism at the age of sixteen when his cousin, William McDougall, managing editor of the North American, hired him as a printer's apprentice. When this journal amalgamated with the Toronto Globe in 1855, Wiman became the paper's commercial editor. In 1860 he joined the staff of R. G. Dunn and Co.'s mercantile agency. He was transferred to the company's head office in New York six years later. Wiman would later become the firm's general manager. He became the president of the Great North Western Telegraph Company of Canada in 1881. Known as the "Duke of Staten Island" for his attempts to develop the New York island, his fortune evaporated during the financial crisis of 1893. He became an American citizen in 1897 and died at New York in 1904. Convinced that Canadian prosperity could only be secured through free trade, Wiman was one the most energetic and prominent promoters of commercial union with the United States. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, he gave dozens of speeches throughout Canada and the United States and published several pamphlets advocating the scheme. Erastus Wiman authored one book, Chances of Success (1893), a rambling collection of essays advocating commercial union, solid business ethics, and rugged individualism.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College