James Worthington was born October 30, 1823 to James Worthington (1795-1830) and Olivia Worthington (nee Corden, 1793-1829) in Wetley Rocks, Staffordshire, England. The third of five children, James Worthington was orphaned one month before his seventh birthday. He apprenticed as a stone mason and most likely immigrated to Canada with his brother John Worthington (1818-1873) in 1841.
On December 18, 1847, James Worthington married Hannah Shun (1824-1856) in the Home District in Ontario. They had two children, John Charles Worthington (1848-1889, born in Toronto, Ontario) and Louisa Worthington (later known as Louisa Harder, 1850-1936, born in Perth County, Ontario). In 1851, the Worthingtons were farmers, living in a log shanty in Blanchard, Perth County, Ontario. Hannah Shun Worthington died around 1856 and James Worthington married Caroline Frances Hitchcock (1832-1905) on March 16, 1859 in Toronto, Ontario.
Caroline Hitchcock was born August 19, 1832 to John Hitchcock (1805-1865) and Caroline Hitchcock (nee Wright, 1808-1890) in Ballingdon, Sudbury, Suffolk, England. The second daughter of at least ten children, she immigrated to Canada circa 1858, most likely with her sister Emily Sarah Hitchcock (1838-1896, married Carpenter John William Malcolm in Caledonia, Haldimand County, Ontario on April 16, 1859).
Around the time of his first wife's death (circa 1856), James Worthington became a partner in his brother, John Worthington’s contractor business in Toronto, Ontario. The firm Worthington Brothers employed over 350 workers and included stone-quarries in Ohio. Notable buildings constructed by Worthington Brothers include University College and the Chapel of St James the Less. The business also partnered with F.W. Cumberland to form the Toronto Patent Pressed Brick Company in Yorkville, Ontario.
By the early 1860’s, James Worthington, in addition to his duties as a building contractor, served as Captain of the No. 4 Company of the Tenth Battalion of Royal Regiment of Toronto Volunteers, retiring as a Major in 1869. His brother John Worthington left the Worthington Brothers’ business in 1860 to pursue business avenues with railway construction. In 1865, James Worthington partnered with his younger brother George Worthington to build forts for the military (Fort # 2 and Fort # 3) in Point Levy, Quebec. After the forts were completed in 1869, James Worthington followed his brother John’s example and left the Worthington Brothers to explore railway opportunities.
In 1871, the Worthingtons (James, Caroline and Louisa) were living in Trois Pistoles, Témiscouata, Quebec, along with Caroline’s sister Eliza Hitchcock (1839-1913, aka Elizabeth Hitchcock). John Charles Worthington was living with his wife and child in Fraserville, Temiscouata, Quebec at this time.
In 1874, James Worthington built “Worthington Block” in Toronto, Ontario. A three storey, six-bay building designed by architect William Storm. During that same year, on June 30, 1874, James Worthington was awarded custody of his niece, Annie Louisa Yates (1863-1957, married James Saunders June 25, 1881), daughter of iron-moulder Thomas Yates from the Township of Holland in County Grey, Ontario. Annie Yates’ mother, Olive Jane Worthington Yates, died three years previously and her father required assistance with her care. Annie Yates lived with the Worthingtons in Quebec most likely until her marriage to James Saunders in 1881.
On July 1, 1878, the Canadian Central Railway Syndicate began its lease of the Windsor Hotel, with James Worthington as its President. In 1879, James Worthington purchased control of the Canada Central Railway with Duncan McIntyre. By February 1880, he declared bankruptcy and sold his Canada Central Railway interest to settle his debts.
In 1881, James and Caroline Worthington resided in Brockville, Ontario with Caroline’s sister Eliza Hitchcock Mondelet (married Dr. William Mondelet October 25, 1876, filed for divorce in 1877). In 1883, James Worthington worked as the Construction Superintendent for the Canadian Pacific Railway. His position included the responsibility of establishing railway stations across Northern Ontario from Pembroke to Pogamasing Lake. In mid February 1883, Worthington named one of the new railway stations “Sudbury” after his wife’s hometown in England.
In May 1884, James Worthington had a disagreement with William Van Horne and retired at the age of 61 from the Canadian Pacific Railway. During his time in Northern Ontario, Worthington invested in the mining industry. In 1889, one of the mines James Worthington heavily invested in was named after him (Worthington Mine) and eventually the town which grew around it became known as Worthington, Ontario.
In 1889, James Worthington purchased the Ontario Bolt Works Company in Swansea, Ontario. During the 1890's, the Worthingtons resided in Toronto, Ontario (St. Patricks Ward) where they both remained for the rest of their lives. James Worthington died November 24, 1898 at the age of 75 while Caroline Worthington died February 20, 1905 at the age of 72. The Worthingtons are interred at St. James Cemetery in Toronto, Ontario.