Like his father he graduated from University of King"s College and was part of the local volunteer militia where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant-colonel.
He was a lawyer, called to the bar in 1853. The Canada First movement was organized in Ottawa in 1868. lieutenant was at first supported by Goldwin Smith and Edward Blake.
Ontario residents, George Denison, Charles Mair, William Alexander Foster and Robert Grant Haliburton founded the movement.
Haliburton and like minded authors that made up the Canada First movement saw that the milder southern climate was said to lead to "degeneration, decay, and effeminacy." The harsher northern climate they argued was said to produce the most Canadian of characteristics, "the inclination to be moderate". The Canada First movement saw the French Canadian and Métis cultures as dead weight that was holding the advancement of English Canada back.
Illinois health required Haliburton to move to warmer climates and he spent his winters in Jamaica. After a lucrative career in law he was able to live off his investments and spent some time as an anthropologist and was instrumental in discovering the "dwarf races" of northern Africa and the Atlas region.
A "rover" he died in Pass Christian, Mississippi, United States, on 6 March 1901.
He was 69.