Hiram Wilson was born in Acworth, New Hampshire in 1803. He began his religious training at the Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati in 1833. Soon afterwards, he joined the Lane Rebels, an abolitionist organization which compelled him to complete his ministerial studies at Oberlin College in Ohio.
By 1836 Wilson had moved to Toronto where he worked as an agent for the American Antislavery Society. Wilson spent the next six years travelling around Upper Canada during which time he established at least ten schools. In 1842 he joined with Josiah Henson and James Canning Fuller to establish the British-American Institute, a manual labor school on the Dawn Fugitive Slave settlement.
After the death of his wife Hannah in 1850, Wilson left the Dawn settlement. He wanted to leave Canada, but with the coming of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Laws, Wilson decided to stay in Canada West. He settled in St. Catharines and established an evening school where he preached and operated a fugitive relief station. It was this relief station that Harriet Tubman used throughout her time in St. Catharines as the final terminal for her passengers on the Underground Railroad.