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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.


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1863 Alice Worts – Toronto’s First Skating Champion

Did you know that Toronto’s first skating championship was won by a ten-year old girl? What are the chances that the overall winner of this city-wide championship would be Alice Rebecca Worts, the second youngest daughter of James and Sarah Worts, of the G&W Distillery?

Miss Alice Worts, winner of first prize at the Victoria Skating Rink, Toronto as seen on the cover of the Canadian Illustrated News

The April 4, 1863 issue of the Canadian Illustrated News also carried an article describing the event, of which the following excerpt provides a sense of how the championship unfolded.

“…On Saturday, March 7, 1863, a grand prize skating match came off on this rink. It was considered by skaters the great event of the season, and many ‘fair women and brave men’ looked forward to it with delight. It was the first of the kind that had taken place in the city. The frost on Friday night hardened the ice sufficiently to admit of skating in the forenoon, and many availed themselves of the opportunity to practise for the contest in the afternoon. At twelve o’clock it was thought advisable to haul down the flag, as the frozen surface was being deeply cut by the magic irons. The ‘cuttings’ were then swept off the ice to have it in better condition for the coming sport at three o’clock. About half past one, hundreds of the elite, from all parts of the city, began to arrive… It was estimated that more than one thousand persons were present at four o’clock.

About half-past three o’clock, the judges advanced to the centre of the rink and requested that the ladies who wished to compete for the first prize would enter the ring. There was a commotion among the spectators and thirteen young ladies instantly rushed forward. It reminded one of a fairy scene, as the skaters flitted hither and thither, surrounded by a large circle of enchanted admirers, while Maul’s quadrille band played many lively airs. The ice, however, was in a bad condition for the larger ladies, and, in consequence, a few fell by their skates breaking through, while the younger and lighter ones glided along without incident…”

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