Mr. Silas B. Fairbanks was the eldest son of Mr. Levi Fairbanks, who resided in the town of Whitby. He was born in Little York, now the city of Toronto, on the 1st of January, 1821, and was at the time of his death, therefore, in the fifty-first year of his age. After receiving the best education the country afforded, he entered the office of Mr. John Bell, as a student of law. After completing his studies, he took up his residence in Oshawa in 1841, for the practice of his profession. He also received the appointment of Clerk of the Division Court which that year superseded the old Court of Requests. His district was an extensive one, embracing, we believe, the whole of the present South Riding, and the townships of Reach and Uxbridge. He continued to hold the office until the separation of the County from the Home District, although for a portion of the time his father performed the duties of had an extended practice, which woud have been much greater if he had not too often sacrificed the office. He became a very skilful attorney, and
At an early period his active temperament led him to take part in public affairs. In 1850 he was elected to the council, and in 1856, he was elevated to the position of Reeve. He held the same office in 1861, ’62 and ’63. He was not in the Council until ’66, when he was again elected Reeve, which position he held to thetime of his death. He has been for many years the chief magistrate ; as such he was an upholder of the good order which prevails amongst us. He was unceasing in his attentions to his public duties, devoting a large share of his time to them. He was far-seeing and broad in his views of public improvements. Amongst other things for which we are largely indebted to him is our system of drainage. In the County Council he always held a prominent position, being the almost permanent chairman of the Road and Bridge committees, and generally chairman of any important special committee.
At the time of the Trent difficulty, Oshawa loyally participated in the volunteer excitement, and Col. Fairbanks was chosen as captain of one of the two companies which were then formed. As in every other undertaking, he zealously performed the duties of his office, and old No. 2 became one of the leading volunteer companies of the province. During the Fenian raid of ’66 he was appointed to the command of the Provisional Battalion which was assembled in Toronto. In September of the same year the 34th Battalion was gazetted, and Lieut. Col. Fairbanks was made its Colonel. This position he held too at his death. The welfare of the battalion he held at heart, and spared neither pains nor time to qualify himself for his office and to bring the battalion up to a thoroughly efficient state.
Mr. Fairbanks was also long a member of the School Board, and rendered efficient service to the education of the town. He held a high position in the Masonic Order, and was highly revered by his associates.
He had for many years been a prominent member of St. George’s and for a long period one of its churchwardens, lay delegate to the Church Synods, and superintendent of its Sunday School. He labored untiringly in its interest, and seldom missed a Sabbath in his attendance. He always strained a point, sometimes to the disadvantage of his business, to be present to fulfill his duties in the church and school.
In 1851 he married Hannah, a daughter of Charles Arkland, with whom he raised a family of four children.
The Press said of him at the time of his death, Aug. 15, 1871: “May his ashes rest in peace, and the memory of his virtues ever be cherished that others may learn to emulate them.”