William Allan (banker)

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For the English banker with a similar name, see William Allen (banker)
William Allan
Chairman of the Home District Council
In office
Preceded by Thomas Ridout
Succeeded by Alexander Macdonell
Constituency York, Upper Canada
Personal details
Born c.1770
Huntly, Scotland
Died July 11, 1853
Toronto, Province of Canada
Political party Family Compact
Spouse(s) Leah Tyrer Gamble
Children George William Allan
Occupation Banker, Politician
Religion Anglican

William Allan, JP (c.1770 – July 11, 1853), was a Canadian banker, businessman and politician.

Life and career

Allan was born at Moss, near Huntly, Scotland, around 1770. He came to Upper Canada around 1787 under the auspices of family friend John Forsyth, of Forsyth, Richardson & Company and settled at Niagara a year later. In 1795, he moved to York (now Toronto). In 1797, he opened a general store with Alexander Wood, later becoming sole owner.

In 1800, Allan was named a justice of the peace in the Home District and, in 1801, became the postmaster at York. During the War of 1812, he served as major in the York militia and negotiated the terms of surrender when York was first captured by the American forces. His store was looted during this period. Allan also served as supplier to the British forces. He later served on the commission responsible for reviewing claims for losses during the war, including his own.

Allan served as an associated judge at the 1818 trial of several members of the North West Company charged with the murder of Governor Robert Semple after the Battle of Seven Oaks. In 1818, he became the agent for the Bank of Montreal at York and, in 1821, he was part of the group that established the Bank of Upper Canada and he was its first president from 1822 to 1835. Allan also served as a director of the Canada Company, which was formed to develop and sell property within the province. In 1834, he became governor of the British America Fire and Life Assurance Company. From 1829–1831 he was chairman of the Home District Council.

Allan was a close friend of the Reverend John Strachan and his close connections to the Family Compact led to an appointment on the Legislative Council in 1825. He became the first president of the Toronto Board of Trade in 1834. In 1836, he was named to the Executive Council for the province after the existing council resigned en masse to protest new Lieutenant Governor Francis Bond Head's autocratic style of government. Allan retired from the two councils after the union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841.

Allan died in Toronto in 1853. His son, George William Allan, would become mayor of Toronto and a senator.

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