Biography of James Gooderham

The subject of this sketch was the second son of William Gooderham, senior, whose sketch appears on another page, and was born in Norfolk, England, December 29, 1825. At the age of seven years he accompanied the other members of the family to Canada, and was educated in Toronto. He was always an earnest, thoughtful, and conscientious youth, and his mind was early imbued with serious thoughts of religion. It was when he was about sixteen years old and during a short residence at the village of Thornhill, that he became converted, and the event left its impress upon his character through all the subsequent years of his life. In 1847 his impressions concerning the ministry induced him to enter Victoria College with a view to prepare himself for the sacred calling of a Methodist minister. In 1848 he was appointed junior preacher on the Whitby Circuit, and so earnest was he in preaching, so diligent in the discharge of pastoral duty, so devoted in his self sacrificing zeal, that during that year between two and three hundred were added to the membership of the church on that circuit by conversion. The following year he was appointed to the Markham circuit, but the wasting labors of his previous charge had so utterly exhausted his physical powers that it soon became evident that it would he impossible for him to continue in the regular work of the ministry. But, though forced by circumstances beyond his control to abandon his cherished calling, he never lost the spirit of a minister of Christ. He loved to preach the Gospel, and, amid the cares and activities of everyday life, he found frequent opportunity to labor in various ways for the salvation of shiners, and took a deep interest in missionary work. He was often associated with leading ministers of his church at dedicatory services in various parts of the country, and it was not an uncommon thing to see the announcement of Dr. Ryerson, or Dr. Wood, or Dr. Rose, or some other distinguished divine to preach in the morning, and James Gooderham, Esq., in the afternoon.

July 23, 1850, Mr. Gooderham was married at Oshawa, to Miss Gibbs, sister of Hon. T. N. Gibbs of that place, and soon afterwards engaged in business in Norval, with one of his brothers; in 1859 removed to Meadowvale, and in 18G3 to Streetsville, engaged in merchandising and milling. At the latter place he also managed the linen mills of Messrs. Gooderham and Worts, until they were burned down. During his residence in Streetsville, which continued until 1877, he was a prominent and useful citizen, taking a deep interest in the prosperity of the town and holding the office of reeve for eight years. In 1877 Mr. Gooderham removed to Toronto where his home henceforth remained, though he still retained his large property and business interests at Streetsville. He was a director of the London and Ontario Loan Society, from its conception, and vice-president of the Dominion Telegraph Company, both of which corporations at his death presented, to Mrs. Gooderham, handsomely engrossed resolutions testifying to the respect in which he was held, and lamenting his sudden loss.

Mr. Gooderham was one of the first to advocate the project of the Credit Valley railroad, and actively supported the enterprise until its success was assured. He was a man of remarkable business talents, pushing and energetic, but, withal, as quiet and unassuming as one could be. He induced the residents of Streetsville and other municipalities to grant bonuses to the road. May 10, 1879, he accompanied a party of prominent citizens from Toronto, to inspect the road as far as completed. At Streetsville he made a short address, justifying himself for the course he had pursued in connection with the road, and pointing with pride and pleasure, to the rapid completion not only of that branch, but of the whole line; and, as might have been expected, he was warmly congratulated upon the result of his expectations, even by those who had strongly opposed him at the outset.

A few hours after this address of congratulation a collision occurred on the road which resuited in Mr. Gooderham receiving fatal injuries. He survived long enough to be brought home, where, retaining consciousness to the last, he died the death of a sincere and exemplary Christian. He was buried in the family vault in St. James’ cemetery, his funeral being from the Metropolitan church, and one of the largest ever seen in the city. There is no more fitting eulogy on the life of any man than is expressed in the words of Rev. Dr. Potts on this occasion; “If you extract all that was good in the character of James Gooderham, there is nothing left.” “Wise in counsel, prudent in action, intuitively discerning and unflinching in performing the right, there was in his character the true ideal of a man and a Christian.”



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