In 1820, Joseph Merrill Currier was born in North Troy, VT on the border between Canada and the United States. At the age of 17, he moved to Buckingham, Upper Canada, where he became a labourer at Bigelow’s Mill. This was the beginning of his career in the milling industry.
He married his first wife, Christina Stenhouse Wilson in Buckingham on January 28th, 1846 and had four children: William, James, George and Ida. Currier then moved to New Edinburgh in 1847 where he managed lumber mills owned by Thomas McKay. By 1853, Currier was renting McKay’s mills with Moss Kent Dickinson and two years later, after McKay’s death, they became owners.
Unfortunately, in 1855, three of Currier’s children passed away from suspected scarlet fever. Their untimely deaths came within weeks of one another, leaving James as Currier’s only child. His wife, Christina, died in 1858 and Currier decided to movie up river to begin his new project with Dickinson. Water rights were purchased at the future mill’s location by the partners in 1858, and the construction of the sawmill began. The grist mill followed soon after and opened in 1860.
On January 29th, 1861, Currier married his second wife, Ann Crosby, of New York state. He brought his new bride to the celebration of the Mill’s first anniversary on March 11, 1861 where she tragically died when her dress became caught in part of the machinery, throwing her into a nearby wooden pillar. This tragedy pushed Currier away from his interests in Manotick and by 1863, Dickinson bought out his share in the milling enterprise.
Currier then moved to Ottawa where he began a multi-faceted life. In 1863 he was elected as a representative for Ottawa in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. In 1868, he built a house at 24 Sussex Drive for his new bride, Hannah Wright. This house became the residence for Canada’s Prime Ministers. Hannah came from another large lumber family with whom Currier went into business with. A mill was built in Hull under the business name of Batson, Wright & Currier and was a large source of income.
In 1878, the Hull mill burned down, leaving Currier bankrupt. He continued his life in politics and went on to represent Canada in parliament until 1882, when he was appointed postmaster for Ottawa. In 1884, Joseph Merrill Currier died at the age of 64 of “cerebral softening” according to his death records, which is usually used to describe encephalomalacia.