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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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1831 Where are the Journals of James Worts?

In our featured story 1831 The Adventure Begins, we told how James Worts and his 13 year-old son embarked on a great adventure to begin the move of the Worts and Gooderham families from England to Upper Canada and to startup the milling business he and William Gooderham envisioned.

Thanks to a book, written by E. B. Shuttleworth, privately published in 1924 by William George Gooderham, many fascinating insights into the early days of this adventure have survived. "The Windmill and its Times", as this book was titled, was produced in a limited-edition of 200 numbered copies. It was commissioned to reflect on the long history of the firm, just at the moment that the distillery was being sold out of the family.

In “The Windmill and its Times”, the author discusses some of the primary documents he used to source information and to weave his narrative. Among them were the personal journals kept by James Worts. Shuttleworth reveals,

“… In a room over the present office of the Messrs. Gooderham there is a numbered series of boxes containing the account books of the old firm and in the first of these were found several partly used vellum covered volumes, brought from England by Mr. Worts, and pressed into service here. One of these, evidently the first, was missing, and likely contained items relating to the voyage, the arrival in Canada and the selection of York. The second furnished accounts of payments made day by day in the construction of the windmill. Under date of Nov. 26th, 1831, there appears in good old fashioned round hand that would have done credit to any head boy’s copy book, “Finished the tower.””

It was in these journals of James Worts that many insights have been gleaned into the early days of the ‘Worts and Gooderham, Millers’ business. For example, the entry on Nov. 26, 1831 goes on to say, “…It took 105,000 bricks to build the mill, 216 bushels of lime and 100 loads of sand…”

An example of a handwritten journal from 1830s

There are numerous references in "The Windmill and its Times" to the Worts journals – although Shuttleworth only had the 2nd and 3rd volumes to work with, since the first was already missing when he began his research in the late 1910s. These journals clearly had an importance to the firm – being kept in a prominent location in the Head Office, almost a century after they were penned. The fact that the first one was already missing by the mid 1910s, raises many questions about its whereabouts. Could it have been given as a gift when the Worts family sold their share of the business to the Gooderhams, after JG Worts died in the early 1880s? Could it have been damaged, lost or stolen?

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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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