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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.


1890 Victoria College’s move to Toronto was strongly opposed

Victoria College’s move from Cobourg to Toronto was controversial and it was all because of a conditional legacy left by William Gooderham Jr in 1889.

Founded in 1836 in Cobourg, Ontario, by royal charter from King William IV, Victoria federated with the University of Toronto in 1890 by decision of the board. “The Victoria senate rejected the board's decision. The Victoria Alumni Association was also against federation, as was the town of Cobourg, which did not want Victoria to leave and promised it $25,000 plus yearly grants if it stayed.

Cobourg brought a lawsuit, claiming that it was illegal for Victoria to move. Pamphlets were circulated for and against the move. One pamphlet argued that "Cobourg is a much more desirable place for the residence of youth, in pursuing their student work - especially of youth who may not resist the temptations or afford the expense of a large city - than Toronto."

Furthermore, it went on, Cobourg "is a notably healthy town - not subject to the effects of the doubtful water and bad drainage for which Toronto has become notorious." The pamphlet set out government statistics showing that the death rate in Toronto was more than double that in Cobourg. It was a well-known fact that Taddle Creek had been so polluted it had had to be covered over. Disease was widespread. (Even in Cobourg, four of Principal Nathanael Burwash's children had died of diphtheria in one week in 1889.)

Victoria College in Cobourg

Not only did Cobourg offer Victoria money to stay, but Hart Massey, the head of the farm implement company that earlier had had its headquarters near there, offered the college $250,000 if it would consent to remain as an independent institution in Cobourg. In September 1889, however, Victoria received $200,000 from the will of William Gooderham. He had made his money in railways, having declined a role in the family's distillery business.

The money was given on the condition that Victoria move to Toronto. Gooderham had favoured an independent college not in federation on an 11-acre site on the high ground just west of the present Casa Loma, but acceptance of the concept was not made a condition of the bequest.


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