Solidarity of the Gooderhams

Industry, Thrift and Attention to Business Exemplified

W. A. CRAICK February 1 1914

Solidarity of the Gooderhams

Industry, Thrift and Attention to Business Exemplified

W. A. CRAICK February 1 1914

Solidarity of the Gooderhams

Industry, Thrift and Attention to Business Exemplified


THERE are many older families in Canada than the Gooderhams, if by age is meant the length of time that they have been naturalized to the Canadian soil. William Gooderham, founder of the family, did not set foot in the country until 1832 when already second and third generations of earlier settlers were in evidence. Yet few families have multiplied so extensively or have come to enjoy a reputation for responsibility and solidarity so unquestioned as they. It has been frequently said of them that no instance has ever been known when a Gooderham was not as good as his word and as reliable in the performance of his obligations as a human being could possibly be.

The Gooderham connection was a considerable one even when the founder of the Canadian branch crossed the Atlantic. A fairly accurate report has it that no fewer than twenty-four relatives accompanied him on the ship in which he emigrated to the new world. Since then men and women of theGooderham name have not become any scarcer.

William Gooderham himself had a

Interest In the series of family sketches which have become so prominent a feature of MacLean’s Magazine will be well maintained this month by the history of this prominent Ontario family. No one can read this sketch without admiring the solid qualities of thrift, industry and close application to business which are the characteristic attributes of the Gooderhams, and which have been instrumental in placing them in the forefront of the notable business families of Canada. It is qualities such as these which have enabled our pioneer ancestors to place our country well on the way to becoming one of the foremost in the world.—Editor.

large family and several of bis sons after him had large families. So much so that when he died in 1881, there were no less than ninety descendants,—children, grandchildren and great grandchildren,—to mourn his loss. Since then yet another generation has risen and has added materially to the total.

The military streak which is noticeable in certain members of the family has been come by naturally enough. William Gooderham, who by the way was born at Scole in Norfolk, England, August 29, 1790, entered the army as a youth. He enlisted in the Royal York Rangers, an Imperial corps, which has been long since disbanded, and accompanied the regiment to the West Indies, where some hot fighting took place at Martinique and Guadaloupe. On the return journey which he took in H. M. S. Majestic, he had an exciting experience that might have put an end to the whole story. The ship caught fire and it was only after the most strenuous efforts that the blaze was kept under control until land was reached.

Arrived back in England, Mr. Gooderham obtained employment in the recruiting service, apparently a lucrative kind of job, for he was able to amass quite a large sum of money by the time he carried out his project of migrating to Canada. The nucleus of the famous Gooderham fortune, acquired in this way and amounting it is said to something like three thousand pounds sterling or fifteen ‘thousand dollars, was very carefully conveyed to America, along with the worldly goods of the twenty-four relatives aforementioned.

One may well conjure up the picture of William Gooderham, old-time English settler in the crude backwoods town of York, going to the Bank of Upper Canada and there depositing his precious capital. Three thousand pounds was a pretty sum for any one man to be in possession of in those days and T. G. Ridout, cashier of the Bank, must have received the newcomer with considerable deference. Never before had the Bank seen such an amount put on deposit to a personal account and the Gooderham name was accordingly solid from the very first day it was known in Toronto.

Among the twenty-four family connections who made up the party of new arrivals was a brother-in-law, James Worts. He had married Elizabeth Gooderham, an only daughter. When it came to getting into business, as the pair were determined to do at once, he naturally took the lead. Some one tells how an old citizen of York came across him one day wandering around the wild marshy ground to the east of the town in the neighborhood of the Don River.

Thinking he was out for sport, the citizen made some remark about the shooting, but the Englishman assured him he was not looking for game but for a good site on which to erect a windmill.

The topographical history of Toronto is inextricably woven into the old red brick windmill which James Worts and his brother-in-law put up on the eastern edge of the town. Though the structure itself has long since disappeared, the name and location of the building remain in the famous “windmill line" which still forms the basis of all subsequent surveys. It is the thread on which all Toronto property is strung and when old “Jim” Worts figured out a favorable place for its erection, he was unconsciously establishing the basic line of a metropolis.

The Gooderham name is of course associated for good or ill with distilling but it was not as distillers that William Gooderham and James Worts began their mercantile career in Canada. They were primarily flour millers and the windmill saw service for many years in grinding the wheat produced by the old York County farmers. Originally ’driven by wind power, the sweeps were taken down in 1846 and steam was substituted as a propelling force. A few years later, the hemispherical top of the building was lifted off by a windstorm and after flying through the air like an umbrella was dashed to pieces on the ground. A new roof was put on but about 1859 this early landmark of Toronto was removed to give place to a more modern structure.

A souvenir of the old milling days is still preserved in the office of Gooderham & Worts in the form of an early invoice,—perhaps the first, — which w!as made out on January •30, 1834. It was for a barrel of flour and the price the partners got for it was £1. 2s.

6d. or $4.50. For a firm whose turnover now totals hundreds of thousands of dollars, this first transaction was surely humble enough. And yet one may venture to assert that it was good flour, for the Gooderhams have always given the best value in anything they have produced.

They have not made their fortune by substitution or using inferior materials.

James Worts died very soon after the milling business was established and for eleven years William Gooderham conducted it by himself. Then lie took his nephew, James Gooderham Worts into partnership and the present firm of Gooderham & Worts was launched. Their property lay at the east of Toronto’s waterfront with the mill a conspicuous object in the landscape. Nearby stood the distillery and adjoining it the

Gooderham residence, where William Gooderham brought up a family of thirteen children.

As the years passed the business expanded very considerably. Branch mills were built at different points and the younger Gooderhams were given charge of them. Ultimately these off-shoots of the parent business were disposed of and attention was concentrated on I he distillery which was developing into a large and profitable industry.

The subsequent success of the distilling business must be attributed in large measure to tbe foundation laid by its originator. William Gooderham was afti indefatigable and painstaking worker and what he did himself he expected others to do. Hours of employment were long but he kept them with the utmost punctuality. The success of the

Long an interesting landmark, it was erected by William Gooderham soon after his arrival in Canada. (Reproduced from the John Ross Robertson collection, Public Library, Toronto.)

business was everything and nothing that did not contribute to this end mattered. This may be taken as a family characteristic,—the steady and persistent drive that permits of no let-up to effort.

The lineal descent of the Gooderham name and wealth is through the third son of this Norfolk gentleman, the late George Gooderham, who up to the pres-ent time has been the ablest representative of the house. George Gooderham had two brothers older than himself but neither left families. William, the firstborn, whose death occurred in 1889, was connected with the distillery in his earlier years but gave this up to engage in other pursuits. For a time he was managing director of the Toronto and Nipissing Railway. Latterly he developed a strong religious bent and did much to assist both the Methodist Church, of which he was a prominent member, and the Salvation Army, whose work for fallen humanity he greatly appreciated. At his death, he is said to have left the whole of his estate to charity.

The second son, James Gooderham, also had his share in the paternal business as a young man but he too retired later on. He met a tragic death on May 11, 1879, when being one of a party who were travellingen an inspection train on the new Credit Valley Railway, he lost his life in an accident, of which he was the sole victim. His wife was a sister of Senator Thomas N. Gibbs, of Oshawa, and a strong Methodist, and went to Japan for a time as a missionary.

Before referring to the third son and his descendants, mention might be made of the other members of William Gooderham’s family. Edward Gooderham, who was born in the year which witnessed his father’s arrival in Canada, only lived two years. Henry, the fifth son. is still alive in his eightieth year, but he has no children. Alfred LPP Gooderham, the sixth son, is also living. He has one son, E. G. Gooderham. head of the Toronto Silver Plate Company, and four daughters. Robert Turner Gooderham, the seventh son. whose death occurred recently, had two sons, both of whom died in childhood, and six daughters, of whom three are living. Charles Horace Gooderham, eighth and youngest son, left two sons and four daugh-

During the later years of his father’s life and up to the time of his own death. George Gooderham was one of the foremost as he was one of the richest citizens of Toronto, if not of Canada. He

was in every respect a strong character, gifted with splendid business ability and excellent judgment. On the foundation laid by his father he raised the family fortunes to their present commanding position. His family, comprising the present generation, consisted of four sons and eight daughters, of whom three daughters are dead.

The four Gooderham brothers are worthy representatives of the family name, occupying prominent positions in the business and social life of their native city. William George, the eldest, who unites the names of both his father and his grandfather, combines in his personality many of the characteristics of each. Albert Edward, the second brother, who is associated with his elder brother in the Gooderham & Worts business, has attained considerable prominence through his connection with military affairs. George Horace, the third brother, is the only member of the family who has gone in for public life, being now M.P.P. for South Toronto. Melville Ross, the youngest of the four, is a lawyer by profession and is now a member of the firm of Blackstock, Galt and Gooderham. Of the daughters all are married and have families.

Such a category as the foregoing may make somewhat dry reading but it is necessary to give in some detail the family connection to form a basis for the further consideration of the family characteristics and achievements. If one were to seek for the traits which have contributed most to their success, it would be found that practically all the members of the family have been gifted with a good supply of commonsense. They have been shrewd, practical and sagacious men of affairs, never dissipating any of their energies through

useless channels. Even the women of the family have been seemingly dowered with an equal capacity for business. A prominent Toronto lawyer, commenting on the family slated that he was surprised at the aptitude shown by the nine children of George Gooderham, when it came to the division of the estate. There was not one of them who was not capable of handling his or hexshare without assistance.

When it came to work, there was the example of father and grandfather to follow and live up to. George Gooderham may never have formxxlated his theories in words, but he had a good notion of how to bring xxp a family. His sons had to obey, and for years they were compelled to get doxvn to office oxdistillerv at an hour when most people turn over for their second sleep. It is said that he paid them no fixed salaries, i-ewarding them at the end of the year with such sxxms as he thought fit and varying the amounts according to their merits. Beyond this he encouraged them to marry young. Presumably he had no rule of thumb as to the precise age at which young men should marry, though

oddly enough the two eldest sons were just twenty-two when they entered the connubial state, his third was twenty and his fourth twenty-one.

With their incomes dependent on good behavior, unspoiled by a lavish supply of pocket money and early in life anchored to homes and families of their own, small wonder that the Gooderhams have developed into exemplary men. There is this credit to be given them that, in spite of a life-long association with the liquor traffic, they have all been noticeably temperate men and have one and all been examples of clean living. This, when the coming of wealth, particularly in such a calling, has brought disaster on many families, is an indication of the sturdy, self-respecting character of the family stock.

George Gooderham was himself a plain-living man despite certain appearances. The big house on Bloor Street, now the home of the aristocratic and exclusive York Club, which he built at a cost of something like a quarter of a million dollars, scarcely represented the

character of the man. His simple tastes did not assort particularly well with the magnificence of his mansion.

In all his business dealings, George Gooderham was the soul of honor. He was extremely sensitive about the good name of the family and on several occasions is known to have assxxxned obligations that were not strictly his own, just because his name was associated with them. It is said that during the building of the King Edward Hotel, when others fell down in their support of the undertaking, he stuck to it through thick and thin and kept the venture from going to the wall. Torontonians owe it to him personally that they were provided with a first-class hotel at a time when it was greatly needed.

It is undoubtedly the case that in Toronto the Gooderhams are regarded in many quarters as people with plenty of money, who might give liberally to various causes but who do not often head subscription lists with large amounts. There is perhaps an element of truth in this, though it has been magnified oxxt of all proportion and has done rank injustice to the family. The Gooderhams do not put their names down with a flourish for this and that philanthropy but not for the l-eason commonly assigned. To understand their attitude one must consider several features of the case.

First of all there is an absence of ostentation and snobbishness among them. Despite their wealth they are very friendly and decent people, who ask nothing better than to be allowed to go their oxvn way without molestation, W. G. Goodex-ham, the px-esent head of the family, typifies this attitude most of all, for he has all along shrunk from public position and display, being quite content to go about his work in a quiet

and unassuming manner. This trait furnishes one reason for the family’s dislike of publicity, even in the shape of public giving.

Coupled with this there is a feeling lest the making of contributions to charity might be considered as a bribe to secure public favor for the business in which they are engaged. They are extremely sensitive on this point and it is to their credit that they should be so. Cases are known where members of the family have refused to give to certain causes, not because they did not sympathize with them, but because the promote, s insisted on having their names appear on the list.

For these reasons the Gooderhams rarely give publicity to charity or philanthropy, but this is not to say that they do not give at all or are not liberal in their gifts. As a matter of fact nobody knows the extent of their generosity, for secrecy is one of the conditions imposed on those who approach them for help. Their benefactions, if one is to believe those in close touch with them, are neither few nor small. They are loyal to their dependents and never forget the services of those who deal squarely with them.

In matters educational they have been most friendly towards those institutions in which they have a personal interest either through early association or through their children. W. G. Gooderham is chairman of the board of trustees of Upper Canada College, and is ' most loyal to the school He it is who was leader in the movement to sell the present College property and transfer the school to a distance from the city where it can be made into a purely residential institution on the lines of the great English public schools. Albert Gooderham is a prominent supporter of St. Andrew’s College, whilst George H. Gooderham is interested in Bishop Ridley College at St. Catharines, to the extension of which he has given liberally.

Excepting the latter, the family have steered clear of public life. George H. Gooderham, the exception, has been more in the popular eye than any other member of the family. At a time when men of his social position rarely enter municipal politics, he has shown himself willing to put up with the abuse that is usually showered on such as have the temerity to enter the field. Yet his very position has made him immune from the usual kind of attack and he has come through several contests without much unpleasantness.

His first essay at testing his popularity among his fellow-citizens was when he offered himself for the Board of Education in 1899. He succeeded and served four years as an ordinary member and one year as chairman. Then he made an attempt to gain the mayoralty but failed. Still later he has stood out prominently as president of the Toronto

Exhibition Association. In the provincial election of 1908 he contested one of the seats in South Toronto for the conservatives and of course had little difficulty in winning such a sure thing. He has represented the constituency continuously ever since.

Albert Gooderham occupies a semipublic position through his connection with the 10th Regiment, Royal Grenadiers. The regiment, with which he has been associated since 1885, has been his hobby. He is to it very much what Sir Henry Pellatt has been to the Queen’s Own. He rose to the command of the Grenadiers six years ago with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and has only just retired from the position. His wife, who is one of the most capable and ac-

complished ladies in Toronto, contributed to the fame of this branch of the family through her position as president of the Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire and her work in connection with various public and semi-public organizations in Toronto.

It has already been indicated that the eldest brother, W. G. Gooderham, has shrunk from public life. At the same time his share in the promotion of yachting in Toronto should not be overlooked in any estimate of the family’s achievements. While all the family including the late George Gooderham, have been extremely fond of yachting, he has perhaps done more than any of the others to encourage racing and promote the interests of the Royal Cha-

dian Yacht Club. In emergencies he has been ready with support and, though the public may not be aware of it, he has been at the back of most of the international contests for several years. Incidentally his son, Norman Gooderham, is now regarded as the most expert skipper in Toronto.

There are two financial institutions with which in particular the Gooderham name has long been associated. These are the Bank of Toronto and the Canada Permanent Mortgage Corporation. The former might not inappropriately be called Gooderham’s Bank. The family are extensively interested in it and are largely holders of its stock. William Gooderham was one of its first presidents, George Gooderham succeeded him and to-day W. G. Gooderham is vice-president, with Colonel Albert Gooderham as a fellow director. As for the other institution, W. G. Gooderham is president and Colonel Gooderham a director.

The family has many other financial interests and business associations. George H. Gooderham especially has taken up a variety bf undertakings, more perhaps than his friends imagine. He is into this, that and the other enterprise with tireless energy and yet finds time for considerable relaxation. In short the Gooderhams are all workers. There are no voluptuaries or “idle rich” among them. They say that even when old William Gooderham was approaching the nineties, he would still insist on going to the Bank, where he busied himself signing bank notes seated in a chair in the board room. The same thirst for work extends down to the rising generation. All W. G. Gooderham’s sons for example, —and he has nine of them—are occupied in some mercantile venture.

Blessed with large families, there has been little need for the Gooderhams to go outside the immediate circle of their relatives for society. Yet they have not limited their intercourse to such. The present generation at any rate has evidenced agreeable qualities of sociability, and has been most hospitable. The homes of the brothers are the scene of pleasant family gatherings, for family affection is strong among them, as is also the desire for the genial and lavish entertainment of the temporary guest. They are all fond of the lighter side of life, appreciate the company of congenial friends and go in for a good deal of sport.

Yachting has been the family amusement par excellence. The late George Gooderham knew no more enjoyable form of pleasure than to get together a small party of friends, go aboard his yacht the “Oriole,” and take a ten-day cruise around Lake Ontario. His sons have inherited this fondness for the water and all own yachts, which they are quite capable of handling themselves. George H. Gooderham in particular used to be one of the keenest yachtsmen on the Continued on page 140

The Solidarity of the Gooderhams

Continued from page 8

Bay, though he has latterly substituted motoring for yachting to a considerable extent. This same member of the family may be regarded as the hobbyist of the tribe. He has dabbled in many pursuits and has collected all sorts of collectable objects, being at one time owner of the finest lot of terriers on the continent.

As a race the Gooderhams are a stalwart lot, physically large men of erect bearing and good presence. William Gooderham is recalled as a tall, wellproportioned man, a good specimen of the old-time English gentleman. His son was also a big man, stouter even than his father, while his grandsons conform to the family standard. Temperate habits and a somewhat stolid, unexcitable disposition, have combined to maintain the physical supremacy of the race.

Among all the characteristics which have been mentioned, it should not be difficult to estimate the reasons for the family success. For the family has enjoyed a continuance of prosperity that is rarely observable. The old saying, back to the soil in three generations, obviously fails in their case. They have carried along the family fortunes with uniform results and have done nothing to minimize the reputation established by the founder of the business.

Commencing with a capital which, for the times, was comparatively large, they have never hazarded its safety in foolish speculations. The Gooderhams are not speculators in the common acceptance of the term; they have not gained their wealth in real estate or promotion. It has all come from business and investment.

They are men again who are never phased by big figures. When perhaps the judgment of the average person might be unstrung by the very magnitude of a certain transaction, they bring to bear just as much coolness on its consideration as on a trifle of a few hundreds. One might not consider them brilliant financiers in the sense of being quick-moving, but they are very sane and sensible and their decisions are rarely wrong. They are masters of negotiations, evincing a baffling skill in “jollying” their opponents.

Habits of industry and thrift, taught Dung, a sound mentality in strong Ddies, pleasant home surroundings,— 1 these have contributed to the welfare E the family. Their recreation and itside interests have not been allowed i interfere with their work, nor have ley let politics withdraw them from íe business arena. They have above all immed their sails to meet every favorita breeze and have done nothing, Dart from arousing the natural enmity : the temperance party, to incur popu,r displeasure. If to this be added a stable loyalty one to the other and a liet attention to their own business, srhaps enough will have been written i explain, in part at least, the success f the Gooderham family.