Charles Raymond, one of the leading manufacturers in Guelph, is a son of Daniel and Sarah (Greene) Raymond, and was born in Ashburnham, Mass., January 6, 1826. He acquired his education in the district schools of his native village and Fitchburg, and the Dracut (now Lowell) Academy. His father was a carpenter and joiner, and later in life a carriage maker, and the son early showed marked skill in handling tools. Specimens of his juvenile manufacture, exhibiting decided mechanical talent and ingenuity, are still preserved as keepsakes, by his friends in his native town.
At the age of seventeen, Mr. Raymond engaged with the Massachusetts Cotton Mills Company, Lowell, as machinist apprentice, and after serving his time out, worked three years as a journeyman for the same Company. From Lowell, as we learn from a sketch of Mr. Raymond, published in The World, Toronto, in October, 1877, he went to Bristol, Conn., where, after a few years, he engaged in business on his own account. While thus employed his attention was called to the efforts of others to bring out a practical sewing machine. He constructed one for himself in the spring of 1852, and had brought it to a considerable degree of perfection, when the issue of patents to Mr. Singer led him to lay it by for a season and give his attention to perfecting machinery for the clock making business which was extensively carried on at Bristol. After four years, however, be again took up the sewing machine, and brought out several new devices. His first patent was granted in 1857, since which time he received several others in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. In the year 1858 he gave up the business of a machinist and commenced manufacturing sewing machines. In 1860 he made an effort to start business in Montreal, but the difficulties to be overcome were too great to admit of its being made a success, and he had to yield, sacrificing one-third of his capital. Nothing daunted, Mr. Raymond determined to try another point in Canada, and in 1862 he located in Guelph, and began to turn out his little hand sewing machines, now known and sold all the world over. After locating at Guelph the business increased very rapidly; new and different patterns of machines were added to his list, until now he manufactures four distinct kinds, and cases them in all styles known to the trade. The small shop of 1862 has given place to two large factories, with facilities for turning out from six to seven hundred machines per week. He is doing a business of from $150,000 to $200,000 per annum.
On settling in Guelph, Mr. Raymond took at once a lively interest in the prosperity of the place, and has never shrunk from any responsibility placed upon him. In the School Board and as Chairman of the Building Committee, he labored long and untiringly in overseeing the erection of the Central School Building, now so much of an ornament as well as honor to the city. In the building also of the General Hospital he had a liberal hand, and has funds in more than one church in the city in several for that matter. Says the Guelph Herald:
“It is to his personal efforts that the people of Guelph are largely indebted for the advanced public school system, which we now have, and we do no injustice to others who heartily co operated with him when we state that the movement which resulted in our handsome central school originated with him. The same is true of the County Poor Housea credit to the great County of Wellington, and which would doubtless not have been secured had it not been for his efforts while in the county council. We don’t make these statements as a mere matter of laudatory writing, but as a matter of fact, and to show that, while immersed in the cares of a great business enterprise, Mr. Raymond had not forgotten less material interests. The large sum he contributed towards the building of the Congregational Church ushered in a new era in church building here, and to other churches he has also contributed generously.”
The large and elegant Baptist house of worship owes its existence largely to his liberality. Without his aid no such a house could have been built.
A few years ago, after being deputy reeve two years, Mr. Raymond was obliged to resign on account of ill health. He does not seem to have sought official preferment, yet in office or out of it his influence, as a local paper remarked not long ago, “has been felt in everything that has for its object the good of his chosen home.” Evangelists, temperance lecturers, moral reformers of every kind the high and the low from the Princess Louise to the humblest Sunday School worker, have had a welcome reception in his hospitable mansion.
Mr. Raymond is a member and Deacon of the Baptist Church, and Superintendent of the Sunday School, and is one of the live christian workers of the city, giving his time and spending his money freely to advance the cause of religion. He has long been connected with the Baptist Missionary Societies of Canada; has been President of both the Home and Foreign Missionary Conventions, and is now an active member of the Executive Board for Foreign Missions.
Mr. Raymond was first married August 9, 1847, to Miss Mary C. Marston Sharon, Vt., she dying in June, 1869, leaving two daughters, a son having died in infancy. The second marriage took place August 17, 1870, to Miss Helen J. Gill, of Brattleboro, VT. The elder of the two daughters, Emma A., is the wife of John Crowe, foundry man, Guelph, and Ada F. the younger, is the wife of John B. Miner, confectioner, Brantford.