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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.


1907 William George Gooderham Springs to Hoggs Hollow

William George Gooderham, William Gooderham’s grandson and George Gooderham’s son bought more than one-hundred acres of land in Hogg’s Hollow from the Bathgate family in 1907. He started at Gooderham and Worts as an entry level clerk in the 1870s and worked his way up until assuming the presidency following his father’s death in 1905.

William George Gooderham (1853-1935)

He was quiet and retiring, and while he shunned any sort of publicity, he proved an astute businessman and a skilled yachtsman. Like his father and grandfather before him, he became director—and president—of a dizzying array of companies including the Bank of Toronto, the Manufacturers’ Life Insurance Company, and Canada Permanent Savings and Loan. Although he already owned at least two other homes in the city, he apparently built another grand new home in York Mills. He was also a founder of the Toronto Cricket Club and helped the club acquire its grounds on Wilson Avenue. It was his discovery of a hillside spring on his new property however, that cemented his place in Hogg’s Hollow history. Ever the entrepreneur, William turned his hillside spring into a bottling plant and was soon selling his products around the world.

The facility—initially known as The Mineral Springs Limited—seems to have been re-branded as the York Springs Bottling Plant by 1920. It was sold to the O’Keefe Brewery Company Limited in 1931, the same year the main building was destroyed by a terrible fire that burned for a full day and injured several firefighters.

The Mineral Springs Limited bottling plant, 1911

The Mineral Springs Limited bottling plant is seen here, roughly three years after it was constructed on the west side of Yonge Street. This view looks north, down the hill into Hogg’s Hollow. The water produced here was known as York Springs Water, and the facility was later known as the York Springs Bottling Plant. The plant offered much-needed employment to a York Mills community that had been in economic decline since it was by-passed by the railway over fifty years earlier. Two workers stand beside the radial tracks in the lower-right corner. (NYHS00976, 1911)

The Mineral Springs Limited bottling plant, 1931

By the time this photo was taken on February 7, 1931, ownership of the bottling plant had changed and the sign out front advertised “O’Keefe’s Dry,” referring to a soft drink of the day. Sadly, this was also the year the main building was destroyed by fire. O’Keefe’s graded and sodded the land where the bottling plant once stood, although they left operational water pipes and a water tank inside a windmill on the property to ensure a continued supply of spring water. (City of Toronto Archives f16, s71, it8279)

William George Gooderham was one of Toronto’s great philanthropists. It was said that he never refused assistance to any worthy cause. He exhibited genuine sympathy and humanity in his dealings with others and was renowned for the good relations he had with his employees.

Excerpt from Tales from The Hollow; The Story of Hogg's Hollow and York Mills by Scott Kennedy. It is being published by Friesen Press in the near future.


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