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Alexander Begg was born in Scotland and emigrated in 1846. He taught school in West Huntington and Oshawa, and later published pioneer newspapers in Ontario. In 1869 he was made collector of customs and inspector of inland revenue for the North West Territories. He subsequently accepted a position as emigration commissioner in Scotland for the Ontario government; however, in 1881 he returned to the N.W.T. as a special correspondent for the Toronto Mail. In 1887 he became special commissioner for the settlement of crofter fishermen on Vancouver Island. In 1894 Begg published his History of British Columbia, and in 1895 he founded The Mining Record. From 1897 to 1899 he and his sons were involved in promoting railway construction.