Hamilton was born in Hamwood in County Meath, Republic of Ireland in 1781 and came to Quebec City sometime before 1807. He and his brother, William, were merchants importing Madeira wine and selling other goods. In 1809, they set themselves up in the timber trade in Lower Canada, exporting lumber and supplying shipbuilders. As a result of a timber operator being unable to honour his contract, they became owners of a mill at Hawkesbury, Ontario associated with lumbering along the Rideau River. During the War of 1812, George served in the Quebec militia reaching the rank of major. When his brother retired, he moved to Hawkesbury to look after the mill. In 1816, Hamilton became a Justice of the Peace and judge in the new Ottawa District Court of Upper Canada. During the 1820s, a downturn in the timber trade resulted in hard times for the Hamilton family and the business teetered on the edge of bankruptcy.
In 1830, Hamilton formed a partnership with Charles Adamson Low. The mill at Hawkesbury grew to become one of the top producers in the country. Although Hamilton had resorted to illegal cutting on crown lands when establishing his business, he now began to lobby the government to introduce a system of licenses to control timber cutting on crown land. A fee-based system was introduced and, at Bytown, a down payment was collected against future cutting fees which favoured the wealthier operators and discouraged speculation.
In the valley of the Gatineau River, Hamilton helped establish the so-called Gatineau Privilege, established by an order-in-council in November 1832 which limited the number of operators in the region. Despite protests, it remained in effect until 1843. Hamilton and Low had a similar arrangement in the valley of the Rouge River.
He died of a severe cold at Hawkesbury in 1839.
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