Joseph Chapman was born in 1772, probably in the United States. After the American Revolution, Joseph Chapman—like 10,000 other Loyalists—applied to immigrate to Canada in 1789. The first mention of Chapman in Montréal dates back to 1797.
During his life, Joseph Chapman worked in a number of fields—as a merchant tailor, a landowner, a supplier of construction materials for the government and lastly, as a beer brewer. He also tried his luck at politics, but lost out to Louis-Joseph Papineau in March 1820.
Among his many real estate properties was Maison Nivard-De Saint-Dizier, which he owned from 1820 until his death on May 4, 1839. During his career as a beer brewer, he cultivated a great friendship with Thomas Dawes, a brewer in the village of Lachine, as well as with brothers James and Archibald Ogilvie, a prominent family of millers.
He married Polley Nichols on May 27, 1823 and they had 2 children.