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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.


1881 Toronto Island Connections

First Toronto Island RCYC Clubhouse, 1884 TPL Geo. Gooderham house, Aug. 1954 CTA

Before the Toronto Island became an island during the great storm of April 13, 1858, it was physically linked to Gooderham & Worts. “Mill Street” (now Trinity Street) was a dirt road that wound past the windmill and off to the Peninsula where Michael O’Conner opened his new hotel, Retreat on the Peninsula, in the fall of 1833, and the 1808 Gibraltar Point Lighthouse flashed its warnings to ships approaching the growing town. (Both the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Island and the 200th anniversary of the building of the Lighthouse were celebrated in 2008.)

After the physical link was severed, ships could enter Toronto harbour through an Eastern Gap, as well as the original, more distant Western Gap. Many of Gooderham & Worts’ vessels undoubtedly saved time as a result, delivering raw materials like coal and corn to the growing distillery and distributing Gooderham & Worts products to far-flung customers.


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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