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Colin Campbell was the second child of Colin and Maria Campbell (née Taylor). He was born in 1822 in Shelburne, Nova Scotia shortly before his family moved to Weymouth. He was educated there and in Digby, Nova Scotia. Campbell established a general store at Weymouth in the early 1840s and became the owner of several ships. He established an interest in the lumber trade and set up a shipyard in 1854. In 1871 he went into partnership with George Johnson to run a dry goods and grocery business at Weymouth Bridge. He was the local agent for the Merchant Bank of Halifax, founded the Weymouth Marine Insurance Company, and had an active political career, serving on the province's Executive Council from 1860 to 1863 and 1875 to 1878.
In 1845 Campbell married Phoebe Ann Seely, with whom he had ten children. He died at Weymouth on June 25, 1881 at the age of fifty-eight.