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People and organizations
Business and commerce

Kingsmill's Ltd.

  • Corporate body
  • 1865 - 2014

The iconic Kingsmill department store was founded as a dry goods store in London, Ontario in 1865 by Thomas Frazer Kingsmill (1840-1915). He and his wife, Anne immigrated from County Tipperary, Ireland in 1858. Kingsmill's department store was successfully run by Thomas Frazer Kingsmill's direct descendants until it closed in 2014. The history of the family is inextricably linked with that of the store.

The store at 130 Dundas street, London, Ontario operated from 1876-2014. It survived two fires (1911 and 1932) and expanded over the years to include at times: a carpet warehouse, a Chatham location and a kitchen store (2001 -2014). The Kingsmill family also operated a real estate business in London and surrounding areas in Southwestern Ontario in the early 20th century. The first family farm, Bellevue was sold to Western University for their new campus in 1916. The family later owned and operated a dairy at Bellevue Park Farm off of Sarnia Road. The store continued to operate successfully in the same location at until its closing.

The Kingsmill family has contributed significantly to the social, political and religious life of the city of London. Family members were well-known in many different local circles, acting as chairs, presidents and committee members for a number of commercial, academic, religious, political and charitable organizations. Thomas Ford Kingsmill served as Mayor of London from 1936-1938 George Frederick Kingsmill was a board member at Huron College, and as the bell-ringer and clock maintenance worker at St. Paul's Cathedral for most of his life. Thomas Frazer Kingsmill, Thomas Frazer Kingsmill Jr, Thomas Ford Kingsmill, George Frederick Kingsmill and T. Fred Kingsmill were all actively involved in London's Masonic community. Thomas Frederick Kingsmill was a major member of London's Downtown Business Association, as well as the Ad and Sales Club. Henry Ardagh Kingsmill and George Frederick Kingsmill.were active in the military, serving in WWI.

When the store closed, it had grown to 73,000 square feet on five floors and had operated successfully for 148 years. Tim Kingsmill, the last store president, closed Kingsmill's Department Store on August 10, 2014.

Kingsmill, Thomas Ford

  • Person
  • 1891 - 1970

Born April 24, 1891. Died March 29, 1970. Son of Thomas Frazer Kingsmill (Jr.) and Kate Isabel (Ford) Kingsmill. Brother of George Frederick Kingsmill and Alice Ruth (Kingsmill) Hodgins. He married Margaret Campbell (October 10, 1889 - June 25, 1968) on October 27, 1917. They had one child, Katherine Elizabeth.

Thomas Ford Kingsmill was heavily involved in the London community. He was elected to the Victoria Hospital Trust 3 times, and resigned to run for mayor. He was elected Mayor of London in 1936, 1937 and 1938. He then returned to the Victoria Hospital Trust. Appointed provincial representative on the Hospital Trust in 1948, serving until 1960. He was a member of: Kiwanis Club, St Paul's Cathedral's Men's Club, St. John's Lodge No. 209a, Mocha Shrine, Knights Templars and the Orange Order. Was a 32nd degree Mason in the Scottish Rite.

He became managing director of Kingsmill's Limited in 1915 when his father Thomas Frazer Jr. became head of the business. He was subsequently elected president and general manager of Kingsmill's Ltd in 1939 upon the death of his father. Remained as such until 1968, when he relinquished the position but remained as director until his death. He held a directorship in the Ontario branch of the Retail Merchants Association, and was active in the London Chamber of Commerce.

Kingsmill, George Frederick

  • Person
  • 1892 - 1973

George Frederick Kingsmill (1892-1973). Son of Thomas Frazer Kingsmill Jr. and Kate Isabel (Ford) Kingsmill. He and Netta May Nixon (June 1, 1888 - August 30, 1976) were married on October 11, 1918. They had three children: Mary Netta, Doris, and Thomas Frederick.

He held a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and majored in beekeeping at the O.A.C. Upon graduation, he was appointed Assistant Dominion Apiarist.

During WWI he enlisted as a gunner and served in France with “E” Battery. He was decorated as an M.B.E (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) and for Civilian Service in WWII.

He was involved in the London community including: as a member of Huron College Council; Chairman, Dependents Board of Trustees, London District, 1940-45; a member of the Canadian Consistory Club; Advertising and Sales Club; Camera Club and was Deputy for Ontario Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite. He was also active in the local Anglican community serving for 43 years as bell-ringer and clock maintainer at St. Paul's Cathedral.

Active in Bellevue Park Farms, Bellevue Park Farms Dairy. He served as Secretary-Treasurer for Kingsmill's Limited from 1920 - 1923.

O'Connor and Lancaster, Photographers

  • Corporate body
  • [1870 - 1879]

O'Connor and Lancaster, Photographers, operated in London, Ontario during the 1870s. They also went by the name "Popular Photo Studio".

London Motors Limited

  • Corporate body
  • 1881-

William Riley Stansell was born March 26, 1881 in Courtland, Ontario to Ephream and Eunice Belore Stansell. He began his career as a baker’s apprentice working in St. Thomas, Portsmouth, and Windsor. He started his own business selling baking equipment in Dundee, Michigan in 1902. Stansell married Bertha Buchner, daughter of A.O. Buchner, on October 12, 1903. They had six children together.
Stansell changed careers and began work in the machinery business with positions at the Read Machinery Company and the Lynn Superior Machinery Company. He founded the Motor Car Sales Company in Detroit, Michigan in 1915 selling and distributing Lexington, McFarlane, and Premier Motor cars. After working at Packard in Detroit, he joined Deby Motor Truck Company as their City Sales Manager. In 1919, Stansell was transferred to the Deby Motor Truck Company’s factory in Chatham, Ontario as their Factory Sales Manager.
In 1921, Stansell raised $750 000 to start London Motors Limited and set up shop in London as the President and General Manager. The company acquired space on Hale Street, near the family’s home at 367 Hale Street, and a second site at 67-69 King Street, the original site of the White Portable Steam Engine Company. Production began on pilot models in autumn 1921. The London Six was displayed at the London Motor Show in February 1922 and the CNE in August 1922. Stansell was known for his abilities in marketing and in April 1922 Governor General Lord Byng and his party were transported to and from the ground breaking ceremony for the new Western University campus in London Sixes.
London Motors built 98 London Sixes over the course of their operations. The cars were priced at $2700 to $3700. The price tag depended on the specific model, touring, roadster, or sedan. The London Six included a Herschell-Spillman engine underneath a rounded aluminum body. A variety of finishes were available, including polished, painted, or covered in cloth.
In 1924, Stansell needed to raise more capital for the business, and when he was unable to do so, the Board of Directors took control of the company. London Motors was unable to change their finances and the company dissolved in early 1925.
After the company dissolved, Stansell sold real estate in London before leaving for Detroit around 1928, where he worked as a car salesman. He retired to Courtland, Ontario in the 1950s and died on July 22, 1961.

O-Pee-Chee

  • Corporate body
  • 1911 - 1996

In 1897, brothers John McKinnon McDermid and Duncan Hugh McDermid joined the C.R. Somerville Company in London, Ontario. C.R. Somerville manufactured chewing gum, popcorn, and boxes, among other products. In 1908, the company was sold to an American firm and the candy manufacturing division moved to Toronto while the box division remained in London under the new name, Somerville Paper Box Company, with J.K. McDermid as its President. In February 1911, the McDermid brothers purchased the company for the manufacture of chewing gum. Their new company was named the O-Pee-Chee Gum Company. Opeechee, meaning Robin in Ojibwe, was the name of the McDermid cottage in Grand Bend, Ontario.
In 1921, the O-Pee-Chee Gum Company was incorporated as a public company with members of the McDermid family holding the five shareholder positions and the four director positions. The company’s name changed from the O-Pee-Chee Gum Company to the O-Pee-Chee Company Limited at the time of incorporation. The company now manufactured chewing gum, mints, and popcorn, including the popular Krackley Nut. A manufacturing plant was constructed at 430 Adelaide Street in 1928. The company experienced an increase in production in the ensuing decade as a result of various licensing agreements in Canada and the United Kingdom. The 1930s also saw the introduction of collectable cards sold within their gum packaging. These included a baseball set, a Mickey Mouse set, and a Fighting Forces set.
The O-Pee-Chee Company was forced to rethink their business strategy during World War II and the onset of sugar rationing. They signed war contracts to supply dried egg powder overseas. The only confectionary product sold during the war was Thrills chewing gum. In addition to changes in production, there were many leadership and corporate changes during this time. D.H. McDermid passed away in 1942 and J.K. McDermid passed away in 1945. The company changed from a public company to a private company in 1945. John Gordon McDermid, son of J.K., took over the role of President in 1946. He remained in this role until his death in 1953.
Frank P. Leahy, who had worked as a Sales Manager for many years, became the company’s next President. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Leahy arranged multiple licensing agreements with various companies, such as Topps Chewing Gum Company, to manufacture and market brands to the Canadian market, which substantially increased the company’s sales. In 1958, the O-Pee-Chee Company began promoting trading cards on a regular basis. This first year included hockey and football cards. In the 1960s, the company produced cards for baseball, football, and hockey, as well as entertainment cards, such as the Beatle Bubble Gum cards.
In 1961, Frank Leahy purchased the company from the McDermid Estate. He remained President until his death in 1980. Leahy’s son-in-law, Gary Koreen was the owner and President of the company until it was purchased by Nestle Corporation in 1996. The O-Pee-Chee brand is still used in the trading card business through licensing agreements with Topps (1996-2004) and Upper Deck (since 2007).