Family Stories

» Show All     «Prev «1 ... 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 ... 44» Next»     » Slide Show

1863 William Henry Beatty established Beatty and Chadwick which became the principal law firm to the Gooderham and Worts empire

William Henry Beatty articled in Toronto to John Leys and in 1863, was admitted as a solicitor and entered into partnership with Edward Marion Chadwick, soon to be his brother-in-law.

The success of the law firm, Beatty and Chadwick was intimately connected with William Henry Beatty’s marriage in 1865 to Charlotte Louisa, a daughter of James Gooderham Worts, a partner in the Gooderham and Worts distilling and milling operations and an important figure in such other businesses as the Bank of Toronto and the Canada Permanent Building and Savings Society.

Beatty and his law firm, however, had to earn the family’s business; it was not until 1877 that the firm became the solicitors of the Bank of Toronto. By 1879 Beatty had moved his offices to the bank’s building at the corner of Church and Wellington. The link with the bank was solidified in 1881 when Worts became its president and Beatty its vice-president. The following year Worts died; in his will he had directed that Beatty be elected to succeed him on the bank’s board of directors. In addition to assuming this role, Beatty became an executor of his father-in-law’s estate and for many years directed its business interests.

Beatty and Chadwick remained partners for almost 50 years. Of the two it was Beatty who made the firm, in one estimate, “the largest legal business in Canada.” He recruited skilled practitioners, some Gooderhams and Blackstocks (who were related to the Gooderhams by marriage) and his own son Charles William. In 1901 the firm numbered 16 lawyers. As a commercial lawyer, Beatty helped clients establish and run their businesses. According to Cecil Francis Lloyd, he devoted “his time to questions of organization and management, leaving the execution of his plans to the . . . lawyers and expert office men with whom . . . he surrounded himself.”

But Beatty was more than a business lawyer. He was also a businessman. As the Bank of Toronto’s board noted at his death, “His wide experience in commercial affairs and his far-sighted and well balanced judgement made his counsels of the highest value and his deep sense of responsibilities . . . made him most scrupulous in the discharge of [his] duties.” By 1890 he had become the principal legal and business adviser to the Gooderham and Worts empire and was one of the most prominent members of Toronto’s financial community. After George Gooderham’s death in 1905, Beatty effectively left law – David Fasken became the firm’s managing partner the following year – and turned to running the Gooderham businesses. He served as a director of Gooderham and Worts Limited (the company he had incorporated on Worts’s death to continue the partnership business).

Although, in his own words in 1883, he did not take “any active interest in politics,” he was a “true blue Conservative.” When necessary Beatty used his political connections with Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Charles Tupper to assist his clients. In 1879, for example, he asked Macdonald to intercede on behalf of the Bank of Toronto, which was seeking to collect money owed by the government to one of the bank’s debtors in connection with the building of the Lachine Canal. In 1888 he called on the prime minister to assist the Gooderham and Worts distillery in preventing the Canadian Pacific Railway from using the former estate of his father-in-law, just north of the distillery, for a shunting yard.

Outside law and business, Beatty was a president (1892–1907) of the Old Boys’ Association of Upper Canada College, a member of the college’s board of governors, a club-man and yachtsman, and a member of St James’ Anglican Cathedral. In November 1910 he was forced by poor health to give up his various positions. He died two years later at his home, the Oaks, on Queen’s Park Crescent.

Excerpt from article by C. Ian Kyer, “BEATTY, WILLIAM HENRY,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed January 17, 2021,