Haliburton was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia to an upper class family. He attended King's College, Halifax and became a lawyer, opening a practice in Annapolis Royal.
Haliburton became noted local business man and a judge, but his great fame came from his writing. Haliburton wrote a diverse number of books on history, politics, and farm improvement. He rose to world wide fame with his Clockmaker serial that first appeared in the Novascotian and was later published in book form throughout the British Empire. The books recounted the humourous adventures of the character Sam Slick and became extremely popular light reading.