Biography of Alfred Watts

Alfred Watts, senior member of the well known mercantile firm of Messrs. A. Watts and Co., is a native of London, England, where he was born in 1830. His parents were Charles and Eliza (Riddiford) Watts, and in 1832 the family emigrated to Canada, settling first at Niagara where they remained two or three years, and subsequently removing to Brantford. Here the father of our subject engaged in retail merchandising in a modest way at first, but gradually increasing his business and enlarging his facilities until he controlled a wholesale grocery trade recognized as one of the best in the place. He also engaged largely in the manufacture of soap and candles, and being a practical, clear headed man, he was very successful, and at the time of his death, in 1868, had attained the position of one of the leading citizens of Brantford. Alfred received his elementary education from private tutors, and subsequently spent a year at the Upper Canada College, Toronto, after which he entered his father’s store where he obtained, in the school of experience, a good practical business education, such as well qualified him for his chosen pursuits. In 1848 his father turned over to his management the soap and candle manufactory, and he conducted that business until 1851, when his father again took control of it, our subject going to England. After his return to Canada, in 1851, he started a distillery in Brantford, and continued in that business until 1863 when he sold out. About the same time he bought out what was known as the Bunnell Flour Mills, situated on the canal, and from that time to the present, Mr. Watts has been actively interested in the milling business. In 1867 he bought out the mercantile interests of his father, who had decided to retire, and from that time until 1871 was sole proprietor. In the latter year Mr. Robert Henry was taken into partnership, since which time the firm has been A. Watts and Co. They are largely interested in the manufacture of soap and candles, being proprietors of the Brantford Soap Works, one of the largest establishments of the kind in the Dominion, and yearly increasing in importance as a leading industry. They manufacture a very superior article, and supply a demand that is constantly increasing, having worked up and developed a trade that extends from the Maritime Provinces to Manitoba and British Columbia. Their transactions amount to nearly half a million dollars yearly, at present, with good prospects for a healthy growth in future. In addition to his operations in Brantford, Mr. Watts owns quite a large hardware store in Paris, Ont., which is being managed by his eldest son, Charles Watts. Although never seeking to be other than an active, practical business man, Mr. Watts has had to bear his share of local official duties. He has at different times, been reeve, deputy reeve, and councilor, holding office in all about twelve years. Since 1875, however, he has been ineligible for municipal offices owing to the terms of his purchase of the canal or water power situated in and previously owned by the city. Under its management there was being lost yearly from $4,000 to $5,000, but since Mr. Watts has had control of it, it is a paying property and has been greatly improved by him.

That Mr. Watts has been an eminently successful business man is fully attested by the enviable reputation which he enjoys wherever he is known as well as by his excellent financial standing. His political views are in favor of the Conservative party and he is a firm believer in the beneficial results of their protection tariff policy.
In 1857 Mr. Watts was married in Brantford, to Miss Clara Brooke, daughter of T. Richard Brooke, of Toronto, by whom he had four children, two of whom are now living. After her death he married in 1868, Mary A. Brooke, sister of deceased, by whom he has had four children, three only now living.

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