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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.


1891 The Gooderham Building

The historic Gooderham Building, built in 1891, has come to symbolize the defiance of 1960’s urban renewal by its very existence standing proudly at the apex of Church, Wellington and Front like the bow of some great ship. To us it has always been there but for a hundred years prior to its construction the building that at one time stood there was, to the people who once called this area home, just as important and historic to them as it is to us.

The Gooderham Building.

Around 1800, Church Street was considered the outskirts of town and Wellington, then called Market Street, was an access road for farmers coming into the town to sell their produce at the Market. The only other reason to come out this far would be to visit Coopers wharf that lay at the foot of Church Street just south of Front, to collect your mail, say good-bye to old friends or shop at the first general store in York that once stood on its massive wooden pylons. The only other major structures in the area were Chief Judge Scott’s home at Scott and Front Sts. and York’s first jail where the King Edward Hotel now stands.

In 1820 Peter MacDougall, a French Canadian of Scottish descent, arrived in York and built a small farmhouse on the corner of what would later become Church and Wellington where Pizza-Pizza now stands. The land was once owned by the Attorney General John Macdonell, the aide de-camp to General Isaac Brock who died at his side during the War of 1812 at the bloodbath at Queenston Heights. The land was passed on to his nephew, James, on the condition that he change from being a Catholic to becoming an Anglican and it was he who in turn leased it to Peter MacDougall.


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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