In response to questions about the sign on the roadside at 1021 River Rd. W. that reads “Daniel Biddeson 1873.”
Daniel Biddeson, born in Birmingham, England, came to Canada in the 1860s, settling in eastern Ontario. A steam engineer, he was approached by Hugh Sutherland, representing the Dominion government, to be steam engineer in charge of steam engines at Fort Frances (or Alberton) in the year 1873.
After the operations at the canal shut down, Daniel Biddeson decided to stay in the area and took settler’s rights to a river lot of 220 acres. He cleared the land and started farming.
He was one of the first farmers in this area.
As a steam engineer, he also captained several supply vessels on the Rainy River. When in the employ of the Canadian government, he was the first to cross Rainy Lake by steam-powered supply vessel.
Daniel Biddeson also was a machinist, blacksmith, gunsmith, and a lay preacher. He served on the first council of the Township of Alberton (Fort Frances was part of Alberton at that time).
He also served as a trustee on the first school board.
It was said of him, “His walk matched his talk.” An honest, just man, indeed.
Daniel Biddeson’s wife, Prudence Green Biddeson, was trained as a nurse in Birmingham, England under Dr. Gray, a prominent physician of that city.
As there was no resident doctor in the Fort Frances/Alberton area at that time, Prudence Biddeson was much in demand. But she had the help of the Hudson Bay factor’s wife, Mrs. James Calder.
These two Christian women travelled by horseback, boat and canoe, or walked ministering to all in need—the sick, the dying, and women delivering babies.
They received little pay for their ministry of love and caring.
The Daniel and Prudence Biddeson home was always open to those who came by—a place to stay, a meal, a good Christian testimony. All were welcome to stay regardless of colour or creed.
Their need was the main concern of Daniel and Prudence Biddeson.
Their motto was: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)
on behalf of the