Showing 55 results

People and organizations
Baldwin, William (family)
Family · 1775-

William W. Baldwin (1775-1844) and his son, Robert Baldwin (1804-1858), were lawyers in Ontario, who gained prominence in the administrative affairs of the province and Canada during the nineteenth century.

Benson (family)
Family · 1804-

The Benson family lived in Port Hope and Peterborough, Ontario, and were involved in businesses such as a general store and railways, and in the administration of law during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Benson family played a particularly prominent role at the local and provincial levels during the nineteenth an early twentieth centuries in both business and law. The head of the Benson family was businessman Thomas Benson (1804-1857), originally from Ireland. Of his twelve children, Thomas Moore (T.M.) Benson gained the greatest prominence, as both a lawyer and a judge. T.M. Benson's younger brother, Frederick Albert Benson (184[3]-1918) also practised law. Among T.M. Benson's children, Clara Cynthia Benson (1875-1964) is best known as a pioneering Canadian woman in the sciences. Many other members of the Benson family continued the family interest in law and business, as well as cultivating an appreciation of their own family history.


The Bidwell family were involved in law and politics in the United States and Upper Canada during the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

Family · 1831-

The Blackstock, Gibbs and Gooderham families were prominent early settlers to Upper Canada during the 19th century. Of British and Irish descent they played an important role in the development and growth of industry, in particular with mills, distilleries, banking, mining, and railways.

The Blackstock, Gibbs and Gooderham families were prominent early settlers to Upper Canada, who played an important role in the development and growth of industry, in particular with mills, distilleries, banking, mining, and railways.

Of British and Irish descent, the three families migrated to Upper Canada in the first half of the nineteenth century. Here, they established themselves in industry and through marriage became intertwined.

The Gooderham family began their immigration to Upper Canada in 1831 when William Gooderham Sr. (1790-1881), along with his brother-in-law James Worts, began a large scale migration of their two families, settling near York. Gooderham invested in Worts' already established milling business and the two years later added a distillery.

William Gooderham Sr. rose to prominence through his milling and distillery business, also adding to his influence through railways and banking (he was president of the Bank of Toronto from 1864 until his death). He married Harriet Tovell Herring and had eight sons and five daughters. His eldest son, William Junior, refused the family business and moved to New York to establish himself. His other son George (1830-1905) took over a large part of the family business; he became president of the Bank of Toronto.

George Gooderham also established himself in other industries, notably in mining. He invested in the War Eagle and Centre Star mines in Kootenay, British Columbia. George greatly expanded on his father's wealth, but avoided the public eye and remained relatively obscure in Toronto society. He married Harriet Dean and had a great passion for yachting. He entertained various guests and distinguished visitors on 'The Oriole', including the governor-general and prime minister.

Rev. William Schenck Blackstock (1824-1905) was born in Black Rock, New York (his father having arrived in New York from Ireland in 1816). In 1827, at the age of 3, he travelled from Queenston to York with his family, settling in the township of Cavan, within what later became Durham Region. He became a Wesleyan Methodist Minister. In 1850 he married Mary Hodge Gibbs, daughter of Thomas Gibbs and Caroline Tate. Mary and William had five children: Thomas Gibbs (1851-1906), Amelia Eliza (Millie) (1854-1936?), George Tate (1856-1921), Caroline Jane (Carrie) (1860-1919) and Mary Elizabeth (May) (1863-1924).

Thomas Gibbs Blackstock married Harriet Victoria Gooderham, daughter of George Gooderham and Harriet Dean. He played a large role in the business dealings of his father-in-law, becoming his business manager, as well as co-investor in the Kootenay mines. He also trained as a lawyer. His yacht 'Cleopatra' once entertained the prime minister and other distinguished visitors.

George Tate also studied law and rose to prominence as a lawyer and orator. Known for his loyalist and conservative values he was often asked to speak at lectures and other events both in Upper Canada and in Britain. He married Emiline Moulton Fraser, although their marriage ended in divorce, not long after his diagnosis as a hypochondriac.

For further information on the Blackstock, Gibbs, Gooderham and Tate families, please refer to the book “All the Journey Through” by C.M. Blackstock (University of Toronto Press, 1997). The book is available from the Archives of Ontario Library.

Blake, Edward (family)
Family · 1809-

The Blake family came to Upper Canada in the early nineteenth century, where William Blake (1809-1870) and son Edward (1833-1912) became distinguished in law and the administrative affairs of Canada.

Botha (family)

The Botha family, headed by Frank C.B. Botha, originated in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Frank C.B. Botha immigrated to Canada ca. 1907 and eventually settled in Montréal, Québec.

Francis Carr Bayly Botha, the son of Schalk Jacobus Botha (1848-1930) and Catherine Ann Bayly Botha (1841-1904) was born ca 1882-1884 in South Africa. He immigrated to Canada ca. 1907 and first lived in the District of Yale and Cariboo in British Columbia. Frank married Gertrude May Young (1892-1963) ca. 1919 in Québec. Gertrude was one of six children of Thomas Samuel Young (1864-1926) and Jenny / Jeanie / Jane Campbell (1862-1938). Frank and Gertrude Botha had one child, Beatrice Irene. Beatrice married Murray Stewart on the 22 January 1944 in Montréal, Québec, and they had three children: Brenda, Murray, and Theresa.

Britnell (family)

The Britnell family originate from Chinnor in Oxfordshire, England, but immigrated to Toronto, Ontario in 1881, where they were the owners of a concrete business.

William Britnell (1858-1943) was born in Chinnor, Oxfordshire, England. He married Agnes Mary Hursey (1860-1958) and they had ten children: George William, Albert Edward, Agnes Marion, Charles Sulston, Edward Ernest, Vera Narcissa, an unnamed infant daughter, Gertrude Ardella, Wilfred Thomas and Hilda Edith Ann.

George William Britnell was born in London, England on the 5 February 1880. George married Annie Priscilla Aldous (1880-1976) in September of 1920 and they had two daughters: Winifred Agnes and Muriel Ethel Britnell. George and Annie Britnell lived at 112 Summerhill Avenue in Toronto. George was a WWI veteran, active member in the Ontario provincial Liberal party, and a member of the St. George's Society of Toronto (1929-1956).

The Britnell family's Toronto based concrete business was owned and operated by William, and then his son George William Britnell. The Britnell business had various titles: Dual Mixed Concrete and Materials Limited was at one time located on Kenwood Avenue in Toronto; and Britnell and Company Limited at 1200 Yonge Street.

William, Agnes, George, and Annie Britnell are all buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto.

Carnegie (family)

Originally from Scotland, the Carnegie family came to Upper Canada in the early nineteenth century, where two of its members served as Conservative politicians in Ontario.

Cartwright (family)

The Cartwright family were businessmen and politicians active in the Kingston, Ontario area from the 1780s to the present.

Cawthra (family)
Family · 1759-

The Cawthra family, descendants of Joseph Cawthra (1759-1842), were prominent in Toronto, Ontario in the 1800s and early 1900s and included professionals, merchants, military men, and politicians.

Connon (family)

The Connon family were resident in Elora, Ontario in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. They operated a general store and a photographic studio.

Crysler (family)
Family · 1746-2002

The Crysler family (1746-2002) flourished in Niagara Township from the late eighteenth century, holding prominent community roles until the twentieth century as military, business, farming and church leaders.

The Crysler family emigrated to the Niagara Peninsula in 1781 from Schoharie County in New York State in the midst of the American Revolutionary War.

As Loyalist settlers, the Crysler family were granted nearly 4000 acres of land in Niagara Township.

Much of the land was sold in the early settlement years; however, successive generations of Cryslers farmed portions of this land from the 1780s to the 1970s.

The Crysler farms were primarily fruit farms specializing in peaches but also producing pears, plums, cherries, apples and grapes. The family also produced grains, vegetables, dairy and poultry products.

Products were sold to the 'basket trade' in Toronto and also in bulk to canning factories, the Greaves jam manufacturer in Niagara-on-the-Lake and to wineries.

Members of the family were active in a variety of positions in Niagara community life including involvement in militias, local business, civic politics, fraternities including the Masons, as well as church groups and local instrumental bands.

The Cryslers were avid record keepers and they maintained detailed domestic and farm accounts, correspondence and diaries, and many other family-related documents.

The family was of German Palatine descent and various spellings of the family name appear throughout the records. In early family records, the name is frequently spelled Kryslaer or Greisler but in the Niagara area branch was standardized to Crysler by the early 1800s.

The Niagara Crysler family was related to the Cryslers of the Battle of Crysler's Farm fame (1813) and also to the American Chrysler auto company family.

Dinnick, Wilfrid S. (family)
Family · fl. 1890-1923

Wilfrid Servington Dinnick (d. 1923), and other family members, came to Ontario in the late nineteenth century, where he was businessman in Toronto and an organizer of the 109th Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces, and other W.W.I efforts.

Dinnick was born in England, where he eventually retired about 1921 and died in London August 16, 1923. During his residence in Canada, Dinnick was involved in a wide variety of commercial enterprises, principally in Toronto, involving loan companies, real estate development, country clubs, hotels, automobiles and warehousing. He originated the idea of backyard garden development in Toronto and was involved in the creation of the Lawrence Park estates and many other suburban developments.

On December 21, 1914, Dinnick formed the 109th Regiment, and later had a continuing interest in its organization and activities as well as in various other war efforts.
He also involved in many social clubs around Toronto, including the National Club, the Albany Club, the Toronto Swimming Club, and was President of the Lawrence Park Bowling Club.

Dinnick wrote several articles intended for, or published in the newspaper of the time, as well as a booklet entitled "Tremendous Toronto," which promoted the real estate investment possibilities of the city.

W.S. Dinnick's sister, Annie S. Dinnick came to Canada about 1890 and lived in Toronto. A brother, Rev. Samuel Dunn Dinnick, was a Methodist Clergyman who applied as Chaplain to the 116th Battalion. Another brother, Dr. Oswald Tilson Dinnick, studied medicine at the University of Toronto, fought in Belgium in W.W.I and was wounded, and was afterward on the staff of the Royal Free Hospital as an outpatient surgeon. Another brother, Augustus George Cuthbert Dinnick, was a businessman who came to Canada in 1890. He sometimes worked with his brother in rounding up British investors for Canadian investments.

Dyas (family)
Family · 1859-

The Dyas family of Ontario was a family of Irish immigrants which maintained a strong connection with journalism and the publishing trade in the province.

The Dyas family originated, according to some accounts, with a Spanish Albigensian named Diaz who settled in England via Holland in the early seventeenth century. Of this family, Edward Dyas later settled in Ireland during the days of Oliver Cromwell. The Dyas family of Toronto, Ontario descend from his son, John Dyas of Clonturkan, whose grandson of the same name (b. ca. 1807) emigrated from Ireland to New Orleans in 1849 and afterward, in 1859, to London, Ontario. There he joined the editorial staff of the Farmer's Advocate and tutored students in Greek. His wife was Ellen Warren, with whom he had several children.

Thomas Winning Dyas (1845-1899), son of John and Ellen Dyas, was trained as a land surveyor but gave this up briefly to apprentice as a printer in 1865. He resumed surveying in 1868 but simultaneously continued to be active in publishing, producing Canadian Builder and Mechanics’ Magazine in 1869. In 1874 George Brown lured him from London to Toronto as a manager at the Globe, but in 1877 he left to become superintedent of printing at the Mail and Empire, rising to advertising manager in 1881. He founded the Mail Newspaper Advertising Agency in 1887, credited as the first advertising agency in Canada. He purchased stock in the Grocer Publishing Company of John B. MacLean, whom Dyas had met and advised at the Mail. Dyas died in 1899 at the age of 53.

Thomas W. Dyas married Emma Ball of Massachusetts, credited with writing the first women's page in North America, and together they had a number of children. A daughter, Bessie, attracted the attention of both John and Hugh MacLean. She married Hugh in May 1894. After bearing two children - Katherine Dyas MacLean, born 10 March 1895, who died after five months, and Andrew Dyas MacLean, born on 20 November 1896 - Bessie died suddenly on 29 May 1897. Other daughters of Thomas Dyas were Ellen, called Nell, and Marjorie, both journalists in Toronto.

Emma Ball was descended from John Ball (d. 1655) of Watertown, Massachusetts through her father Ezra Homer Ball, an engraver. Her mother Betsey Fletcher Nichols, who married Ezra H. Ball around 1848, was the daughter of Ebenezer Nichols of Charlestown, Massachusetts and his wife Betsey Fletcher.

Edgar, J. D. (family)

Sir James David Edgar (1841-1899) was a lawyer, politician, and writer. His wife, Lady Matilda (Ridout) Edgar (1844-1910) was an historian, writer, and philanthropist.

Born in Hatley, Lower Canada, Sir James David Edgar moved to Woodbridge, Canada West, in 1858. In 1859 he entered the law office of John Hillyard Cameron in Toronto, and was called to the bar in 1864. He was made a K.C.M.G. (Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George) in 1898. He served in the Dominion Parliament from 1872 to 1874, and afterwards was entrusted by the government of Alexander Mackenzie with a mission to British Columbia concerning its entry into the Confederation. He was later re- elected to the House of Commons and served there until his death in 1899, acting as Speaker from 1896 to 1899.

Edgar was also interested in literature and history and was active in numerous societies. He was the author of a book of poetry, This Canada of Ours and Other Poems (1893), and the author of a descriptive work Canada and its Capital (1898), and also wrote several law works and essays.

James Edgar's wife Matilda was active in the work of many philanthropic, educational, and patriotic organizations. She was also an historian, and wrote Ten Years of Upper Canada in Peace and War, 1805-1815, published in 1890, as well as a volume on Sir Isaac Brock for the Makers of Canada Series in 1904. At the time of her death in 1910, she was President of the National Council of Women of Canada.

James Edgar and his wife Matilda had nine children, including James Frederick Edgar, K.C., Pelham Edgar, Professor of English at Victoria College, James F. Edgar, Maud Edgar and Katherine Beatrice Edgar. James was the son of James Edgar Sr.

Elden / Eldon (family)

The Elden / Eldon family emigrated from England to Ireland in the 17th century and from Ireland to Canada West in 1847. In Ireland they worked primarily in the linen trade and in Canada they worked in commerce and education. Robert Eldon (1821-1894) was responsible for changing the spelling of the family's last name from Elden to Eldon.

The Elden / Eldon family emigrated from England to Ireland in the 17th century. The earliest known Irish Elden was William Elden who lived from the late-17th century to ca. mid-18th century. William married Martha, and they had two daughters (Rachel and Elizabeth) and one son, John. William was a linen draper.

John Elden (ca. 1711-1785) of Clanmakesh, Tartaraghan Parish, County Armagh, Ireland, married Margaret Holyday and they had two sons (William and Joseph). John was involved in the linen trade.

Joseph Elden (1760-1846) married Dorothy Delap and they had five daughters (Martha, Elizabeth, Mary, Dorothy, Sarah) and three sons (Joseph, John, and Robert.) Joseph was a brown sealmaster, involved in the brown linen trade. In 1847, Dorothy Elden and some of her children including Robert left Ireland and immigrated to Canada (Canada West), arriving in Toronto.

Robert Eldon (1821-1894) married Rebecca Smith and they had five daughters (Elizabeth Ann, Lavinia Adelaide, Minnetta Christina, Dorothy Evalina, Rebecca) and four sons (Robert Henry (Rob) or (R.H.), Newton Joseph, Albert Wesley, John George). Robert changed the spelling of his last name from Elden to Eldon. He worked in a store in Claremont, Pickering Township and in 1871 moved with his family to Kintore in Oxford County near Woodstock, where he owned the general store and later became postmaster.

R.H. (1861-1945) married Mary Hannah Mitchell (Min) and after her death, he married Henrietta Elizabeth Adams (Beth). Rob and Min had two daughters (Minetta Roberta and Verna Irene) and one son, Frank Irving. R.H. was an educator with an interest in commerce. As well as writing books on bookkeeping for Ontario and Saskatchewan schools, R.H. was considered the founder of Toronto's civic commercial schools and the Dean of Commercial Education.

Frank Irving Eldon (Frank) (1895-1969) married Daveda Elinor Louise Ridley and they had one son, Walter Donald Ridley. Frank was a poet, a World War I veteran, and a school teacher.

W. Donald Ridley Eldon (Don) (1926- ) married Jean Elizabeth McLennan and they have two children (Elizabeth Lucinda Louise (Betsy) and Donald McLennan) and three grandchildren (Bria Chloe, Lily Gray, and Alexander McCrady Eldon). Don was an economist and educator, and is currently a volunteer and an author of books concerning Elden / Eldon genealogy.


The Ellis family, of Toronto, were involved in many different businesses in Ontario during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, including The P.W. Ellis Co., The Hungerford Marble Co. and the Bedford Park Real Estate Company.

The Ellis family of Toronto, Ontario originated with James E. Ellis (b. ca. 1818), a jeweller who emigrated with his family from England around 1847, and many of whose descendents carried on in the jewellery business in Toronto.

James Ellis founded James E. Ellis and Company, jewellers and clockmaker, in Toronto soon after immigrating to Canada. In time the principals of the company consisted of himself, his eldest son James E. Ellis the younger, and his son-in-law Matthew J. Cain. Frank Ellis, another son, was also a jeweller. Among the remaining sons in the large family of James E. Ellis the elder were William Henry Ellis, an engineer and civil servant involved in the Grand Trunk Railway, and Richard Yates Ellis, who worked for a time as a commercial traveller. Richard later joined several of his nephews, sons of his brother William, including Philip William Ellis, in a separate Toronto jewellery firm, P.W. Ellis and Company, in the 1880s, with James E. Ellis and Company continuing to operate as a separate company.

Members of the family were involved in other business interests as well, including The Hungerford Marble Company and The Bedford Park Real Estate Company.

Ferguson (family)

Murray Ferguson was a pilot, radio-navigator and CPA who settled with his wife Beatrice on a farm near Uxbridge, Ontario in 1948; in 1960 the family moved to North York, Ontario.

Murray Stewart Ferguson was the son of John Alexander Ferguson (1867-1959) and Clara Ann Beggs Ferguson (1886-1929). Murray initially worked as a pilot in the Royal Air Force (RAF), first as a Radio officer and later in the RAF Ferry Command, and eventually became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Murray Stewart Ferguson married Beatrice Irene Botha on the 22 January 1944 in Montréal, Québec and they had three children: Brenda, Murray, and Theresa.

Murray and Beatrice Ferguson lived in Montréal until 1946, when they moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Murray was employed as a radio-navigator for the Flota Aérea Mercante Argentina (FAMA) airline. In 1948, Murray and Beatrice returned to Canada and purchased a farm near Uxbridge, Ontario. They lived on this farm until 1960, when they moved to Spring Garden Avenue in the Willowdale neighborhood of North York, Ontario.

Fletcher (family)

The Fletcher family were Scottish immigrants who settled mostly in Tilbury East Township, Kent County.

John Fletcher (1809-1873), son of Scottish farmers James Fletcher (1774-1856) and Helen Gray (1780-1856), emigrated to Canada in 1836, bringing with him his wife Margaret Smith (1814-1899). After a year spent in Port Stanley, Ontario, they settled in Tilbury Township East, Kent County. John worked as a teacher and also operated a general store. He was later joined by his brothers David (1811-1881) and William (1821-1881), as well as his sister Margaret (1815-1885) and her husband Charles Farquharson (1810-1895).

Other members of the family worked primarily as farmers in the area. In addition to farming, William Fletcher became a Presbyterian minister, living for a time in Manitoba and Nebraska, before returning to Ontario. John's daughter Charlotte (1837-1896) also moved to Nebraska after marrying David Fraser.

The family members who remained in Tilbury became prominent citizens in the community. After many years as a teacher, John Fletcher served on the township council, and later became clerk of the township. His son William (1846-1891) also served on the township council, first as deputy reeve and then as reeve. His youngest son David (1855-1930) served in the same offices.

Gowan (family)

Sir James Robert Gowan (1815-1909) was a lawyer and judge in Barrie, Ontario, while his cousin, Ogle Robert Gowan (1796-1876), was a politician and journalist in Brockville, Ontario. Elizabeth Burkitt Gowan (d. 1854) was the mother of James Robert Gowan; Henry Hatton Gowan (1788-1863) was his father. James Robert's sisters were Anne Henrietta Gowan-Ardagh (1813-1889) and Susan Elizabeth Gowan-Strathy (1822-1893). James Gowan's wife was Anne (Anna) Ardagh-Gowan (d.1905); they married in 1853 and had no children. Ogle Robert Gowan's wife was Frances Anne Colclough-Turner Gowan (b. 1811).