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The Gooderham & Worts families emigrated from the Scole / Bungay area of England in the early 1830s, arriving in York, (now Toronto, Canada). First came James Worts, accompanied by his 13 year-old son, James Gooderham Worts. They built the windmill near the mouth of the Don River. They were followed in 1832 by William and Ezekiel Gooderham, their sister, Elizabeth (James Worts' wife) and 54 extended family members. Over the following 75 years, these families created the largest distillery in the world, as well as contributing to milling, banking, railways, shipping, farming and other essential components of the growing industrial country. They were active in the church and in various communities, as well as in health care and even in our political institutions. In 2013, descendants of the Gooderham and Worts families created an online website that includes a family tree with photos, documents and stories.


1905 George Gooderham – a great benefactor

George Gooderham, William’s son, was a brilliant financier and became one of the major benefactors of Toronto. By the time of his death, succession duties on his estate paid off Ontario’s debt.

1888 portrait of George Gooderham by JW Forster

He was President of the Bank of Toronto, was one of the founders of Manufacturer’s Life Company, supported the work of Toronto General Hospital, was a benefactor of the Toronto College of Music, and the University of Toronto and he built the Gooderham building, his home at St. George and Bloor St. and the King Edward Hotel.

“His last and grandest gesture was unprecedented and, in its impact, will likely never be surpassed.

By the time of his death on May 1, 1905, his personal fortune was estimated at more than $25 million. As The Star reported on May 3, it was then learned that he had never transferred a single share of his stock to anyone with the intention of evading the government’s succession duties. Such an act he considered unconscionable, and especially unworthy of anyone who had made his fortune in an adopted country.

As a result, a vast amount of his wealth now passed to the government and, as The Star recorded, it was large enough to wipe out the province’s debt that year and provide it with an unexpected profit.”

Excerpt from an article in The Saturday Star by Donald Jones, Saturday, April 9th, 1994.


We ask you to help! If you are a descendant, historian or some other person with relevant information or material, please get in touch. Nothing related to living descendants will be available to the public. In fact, public information will be limited to people who died in the 19th or early 20th centuries.

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